Homeopathy Awareness Week: Bloggers versus Journalists

June 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Homeopathic Remedies, Homeopathy, Media) (, , , )

It’s Homeopathy Awareness Week. I’m not sure we can really trust the mainstream media to be fully aware of the nature of homeopathy. Perhaps we can trust bloggers though? Let’s see: the Daily Mail, having produced (predictably enough) an article headlined ‘Homeopathy works!’, is taken to task by a blogger in this, the beginning of Homeopathy Awareness Week (although I’m not clear on when the Mail article was first published#). Read the rest of this entry »

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“Chicken-hearted, craven, faceless cowards.” (I think she’s talking about me.)

May 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm (Bloggers, Media) (, , , , , )

I should really be blogging about swine flu, the conspiracy theories, the daft claims to have remedies for the snoutbreak (Elderberry and vitamin C? Homeopathic mp3 files? I can hardly believe I can read advice like this), or perhaps the silly puns involved (aporkalypse, the remedies produced by Pig Pharma, parmageddon etc…) but this article by Carol Midgley caught my eye (via the HolfordWatch miniblog) so I’m writing about anonymous bloggers instead. In bemoaning the vitriolic nature of the nastier end of internet-based discussion, she inadvertently wrote something quite hilarious: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Promotion of Counterknowledge

March 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm (Alternative Medicine, Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Bloggers, Briffa, Conspiracy, Dangerously Wrong, government, Media, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Religion, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

[BPSDB] Those promoting Counterknowledge are winning. Possibly because the public actually don’t really care that much*. (Damien Thompson’s book Counterknowledge is available from local libraries in my area, yet I am the first person in the 14 months since it has been in the library catalogue to borrow it.) It is also possible that Counterknowledge is spreading at least partly because people with a measure of influence in society are among those who promote it. Members of the British royal family, politicians, the mainstream media, celebrities, Alternative Medicine practitioners posing as authority figures, members of churches, and even universities have helped to promote Counterknowledge. Not to mention maverick scientists such as Andrew Wakefield. Those with less authority are playing an important part too, though. For example, full-time conspiracy theorists such as the owner of the whale.to website are disseminating bullshit that is reproduced on forums such as What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or JABS. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bloggers – Beware the Drive-By

October 21, 2008 at 5:03 pm (Bloggers, Miscellaneous) (, , )

Spotted this on teh Guardian site today and thought of DUllman. Disappointingly, the article doesn’t seem particularly relevant to our homeopathic friend but there are a couple of half-decent lines and one or two interesting titbits. This chap Gessen at one point apparently invokes Orwell and says: “Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.” Doesn’t pull his punches, does he? The article also reports that Gessen stormed into Gawker’s comments section and laid down a piece of his mind [which calls this to mind: http://xkcd.com/386/] and it seems he got something of a shitstorm in return – “Gawker’s writers and commenters responded by performing close readings on Gessen’s posts the likes of which not even IA Richards could have imagined. Half a dozen websites sprung up denouncing Gessen and his blog.”

Incidentally, this bit reminded me of Marianne Mikko:

In 2006 US judge Edward Fadeley called the blogosphere “a veritable wild west of verbal ambushes and shoot-outs, with very little fear of legal recourse to keep character assassination, defamation and dirty business tricks in check”.

Here’s just one of my favourite Dana moments: homeopathic revolution. If you have any funny examples of Drive-By Dana visiting your blog (or any drive-by commenter visiting any blog, come to that), please leave a link in the comments section below.

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On Anonymous Bloggers

September 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm (Bloggers) (, , , , , , )

I think the title of this blog post puts it best: Marianne Mikko is wrong. The Estonian MEP is campaigning for bloggers to be identified – “We do not need to know the exact identity of bloggers. We need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source”.

I first read about this in the Guardian, where Marcel Berlin wrote about the problems of “abuse, very personal remarks and hysterical ranting” in the comments threads that accompany his online articles. He also referred to libellous remarks. Let’s take Marcel’s comments first. If someone wrote something abusive about me in the comments section on my blog, I’d laugh. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics’ Circle

September 9, 2008 at 8:56 pm (Skeptics' Circle) ()

Just a quick post to point you to the 95th Skeptics’ Circle. Everything from “Is Kava Kava Safe?” to “UFO versus Bigfoot”. Someone’s covered the Ayurvedic Heavy Metal issue and Coracle’s Arnica/Diclofenac post is there too. Nice.

Edited To Add: The circle was seemingly planned for September 11th, but has appeared early. Maybe they were worried, like Daily Mail readers, about the Large Hardon Collider being turned on? Probably the best person to ask for reassurance about the LHC is Stephen Hawking. The Skeptics’ Circle page is now back up and my original link is active again. Wahey!

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What kind of person blogs? Part two

August 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm (Bloggers) (, )

Well, I’ve had a quick look at the Guadagno paper and I’ve done the Big Five personality test. Disappointingly, I came out as being incredibly neurotic and not very conscientious. More pleasingly, I did confirm my prejudice that I am very dutiful – I’d have made a good Quaker!

The paper has some interesting results, albeit few that are statistically significant. Read the rest of this entry »

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What kind of person blogs?

August 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Trivial) (, , )

Just a brief, speculative snippet this – rather than a full blog post. Via BPS research digest, I’ve seen the abstract of this paper in Computers in Human Behavior [unfortunately, it's paywalled]. Read the rest of this entry »

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Legal Chill and Other Threats

June 6, 2008 at 8:37 pm (Alternative Medicine, Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Bloggers, Briffa, Homeopathy, Legal Chill, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve recently witnessed some examples of slightly threatening behaviour on the internets and I was reminded of a few of the previous spats I’ve seen covered on the various blogs I read. There have been lawyer’s letters, accusations both of libel and of copyright breach, and comments posted or letters sent by angry nutritionists (in the main – there has been the odd homeopath too). Read the rest of this entry »

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Briffa – as bad as Holford

May 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm (Alternative Medicine, Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Big Pharma, Bloggers, Briffa, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Supplements) (, , , , , , )

I always thought that Dr John Briffa was like a more grown-up version of Patrick Holford. He was just a doctor writing diet books and a magazine column – as far as I knew, he was not employed by supplement companies, recommended no inappropriate allergy tests and generally sounded fairly sensible. He’s blown it now though.

Now, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that those of the pro-vaccine lobby will want to claim that this blog is scaremongering by making out that MMR vaccination causes autism. So, just to be clear, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying though is that there’s a huge pile of anecdotal evidence and some experimental evidence too which supports the idea that MMR vaccination might cause autism

Uh, John – that is scaremongering. You have claimed there is experimental evidence which supports the idea that MMR vaccination might cause autism. Are you talking about the discredited paper, published in the Lancet and written by discredited scientist Andrew Wakefield? So, a discredited paper (retracted by most of its authors) and some anecdotes from parents justify a claim that MMR vaccination might cause autism. You know how that will be taken by readers of your blog – and please don’t pretend that you don’t. Suggesting that MMR vaccination might cause autism is reckless and stupid. I expected better from you Dr Briffa.

I might blog this properly later on today. I didn’t want to waste time on another daft, hypocritical and scaremongering nutritionist who casts doubt on the significance of scientific findings (except when they suit his purpose), pontificates on MMR-autism and uses different standards for evaluating scientific evidence depending on whether it is a product he already approves of or not. But I think he needs to be challenged. In case you are interested in reading a bit more about Briffa, I have included some handy links below:

Holford Watch

Dr Crippen

Away From The Bench

Away From The Bench #2

Apathy Sketchpad

Apathy Sketchpad 2

Apathy Sketchpad 3

Dr Aust

Dr Aust 2

Left Brain/Right brain

PJ

Black Triangle

HolfordWatch guest on Black Triangle

Me on aspartame! (Heh – nearly forgot to include this one. It’s an early, primitive example of my work – please don’t laugh).

AP Gaylard on living with uncertainty.

Coracle on Briffa and Arnica.

Me on Dr John Briffa’s Alternative Mindset.

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