Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quack of the Day: Jenny McCarthy

Just remember... she wants to be known for her brain.
If anyone has spent more than ten minutes researching autism, they are bound to come across Jenny McCarthy during their searches.  It isn't because McCarthy is influential or educated.  It isn't because she has done research on the subject nor is it because she has contributed to the field of knowledge that surrounds autism.  Rather the reason McCarthy's name seems to go hand in hand with autism is because she is a celebrity... and as such that gives her access to people like Oprah Winfrey or Larry King, and it also allows her to get her "story" published in People magazine or various supermarket tabloids.

The reality is if McCarthy wasn't a famous Playboy Playmate or B-list actress, nobody would bother to listen, but because she is rather well known, that (for whatever reason) has convinced certain media figures that her story is worth repeating.

So what is the story she is so willing to tell?  Well essentially McCarthy claims vaccines cause autism and these same vaccines in turn harmed her son Evan.  She also claims she was able to reverse Evan's condition and "cure" his autism via a mixture of good old fashioned hard work, truckloads of love, and some miracle biomedical treatments.  Of course McCarthy has zero scientific evidence to support her theory that vaccines cause autism, and in fact when she originally published her book and started going around the country trying to convince others that she was more knowledgeable on the subject than any of the thousands of doctors and scientists who work in the field every day.... there were no less than ten different published studies that had tried to examine the supposed link between vaccines and autism and not a single one of them had ever found even so much as a casual link.

Oh well... science really isn't that important right?  Surely a former Playmate knows more about complex scientific subjects like vaccines than those who spend their entire careers studying them.  We should just accept the fact that McCarthy is right and that all of the experts are simply out of touch.

The irony in this entire situation is that Jenny McCarthy is very much anti-science, yet science is responsible for her most famous assets (her silicone enhanced chesticles).  So apparently she trusts science when it comes to such important matters as enlarging her breasts, but science goes out the door when it comes to her son.  Check.

It is probably worth noting that many experts believe that Evan was actually misdiagnosed in the first place and that he never actually had autism.  As it turns out, some of Evan's initial symptoms were tied to seizures he experienced, and after those seizures were treated his condition improved.  It has been stated that Evan's symptoms were actually more reflective of Landau-Kleffner Syndrome rather than autism and therefore any "cure" that Jenny McCarthy claims to have used has nothing to do with autism.  Other doctors have even suggested Evan had no medical condition at all and was merely developmentally delayed in comparison to his peers.

No matter what McCarthy seems to believe, it seems rather odd that her miracle cure hasn't translated so well.  We don't hear of hundreds or even thousands of autistic kids being cured, so it would seem slightly odd that her magic only happened to apply to her son and nobody else.  So aside from scaring parents away from vaccines, what else has Jenny McCarthy done with all of her anti-vaccination crusading? Go to this website to find out and read the is very interesting.

Jenny McCarthy Body Count

The basic premise is that as of the time this post was written, McCarthy has indirectly led to the deaths of 738 children which could have been prevented with proper vaccinations, and she has indirectly led to over 85,000 children contracting preventable diseases.  And in all that time what is the number of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations???


Yes.... ZERO.

These are the ramifications when people ignore science, and while Jenny McCarthy could have chose to use her celebrity status to educate people about vaccinations and/or to help parents of autistic children come to grips with the diagnoses, she instead decided it was better to scare parents based upon personal opinion which has no scientific backing whatsoever.  Amazing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Broken Promises From Lowell Hubbs

About a month ago (October 14, 2011 7:48 PM to be specific), Lowell Hubbs left the following comment on a previous blog post:

"Watch me get bailed out next week on a million dollar bail, if you think nothings [sic] true! Keep watchin [sic] the news."  ~ Lowell Hubbs
Well, I must say I was curious, but once again it appears to have been just another broken promise from Mr. Hubbs as nothing ever came to fruition and to the best of my knowledge Mr. Hubbs has not been in the news lately.

I'm not sure what he thought was going to happen or if he was planning on a major crime spree, but perhaps even more comical than Mr. Hubbs' growing list of broken promises is the fact he somehow feels he is capable of finding the financial resources to get bailed out when the bail itself is a million bucks. Seriously? I'm pretty sure a $1,000 bond would be out of his range, so how he feels he can come up with seven figures is beyond me.

Hey maybe I'm wrong... maybe meat packing plants pay better than I thought?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Natural News: Another Website For Quacks

Recently, Mr. Hubbs thought it prudent to leave the following comment on an earlier blog post:
"[...] My site receives thousands of views per day world wide [sic]. My site pages are now even referenced to on Natural News, the second largest read alternative medicine and information website existing. Even the stupidity of your blog is referenced to on the N.N. page below. Check it out. How the medical monopoly hides inconvenient vaccine truths Learn more:" [...]  ~Lowell Hubbs
I had to laugh that NaturalNews couldn't even spell "vaccinations" properly in their URL (which tells us how knowledgeable on the subject matter they really are) but beyond that there are a few interesting points here.  Whether or not Mr. Hubbs cute little conspiracy theorist website gets "thousands of views" on a daily basis is doubtful... unless of course you count Mr. Hubbs own visits.  The reality of the matter is the traffic rank on Mr. Hubbs' website is 4,799,934.  To put that in perspective, the traffic rank for (a website primarily devoted to funny pictures of cats) is 2,711... which means there are approximately 4.8 million websites more popular that Mr. Hubbs' website, but yet less popular than random pictures of cats. 

Better yet, the ranking for is 3,014 which means there are only 4,796,920 websites standing between the CDC website, and Mr. Hubbs' website.  Heck even (the aluminum / tinfoil hat wiki page) has a ranking of 539,607 which means there are only 4,260,327 websites less popular than tinfoil hats but yet more popular than Mr. Hubbs' website.  Yes... a website which is meant to be a joke and pokes fun at conspiracy theorists is ranked over four million pages higher than an actual conspiracy theorist.  Sort of puts things in perspective now doesn't it?  Oh and in the off chance you are curious, receives about half as many hits per month as a website devoted to photoshopped pictures of cats.  Seriously.

Not that website rankings really mean anything of course.  First you need to realize that search engines can (and often do) skew rankings do to how they catalog specific pages and how the automated bots perform searches.  Second, even if a website is "popular" it doesn't mean it is being visited by unique people.  It can be a handful of people (or bots) who cycle the page hundreds of times a day.  Third, popularity doesn't equal influence.  Websites that are controversial (or dare I say it)... even ignorant and silly tend to get hits out of morbid curiosity.  That doesn't mean they are influential.  One has to keep in mind the website devoted to two girls and one cup received millions upon million upon millions of hits... that doesn't mean people are going to repeat that practice at home.  (If you don't know what 2Girls1Cup is... be warned you do NOT want to google it and find out).

Hell even that stupid Rebecca Black "Friday" song received more than 175 Million hits.  Yes... over one hundred and seventy five MILLION views of that one single YouTube video.  Yet that video is well known to have exponentially more "dislikes" than "likes" which tells us one thing: Popularity does not equal agreement, (in fact even suggesting there is a link is a common appeal to popularity logical fallacy) and sometimes when something is popular it is merely because people are curious what all the fuss is about.

So, beyond the actual popularity (or lack thereof) what is the point of Mr. Hubbs?  He seems to be proud of himself that his website was linked in an article which is posted to but is that anything to actually be proud of?

Truth be told ANYONE can write an article and have it posted to by filling out a simple form.  NaturalNews is a pseudoscience aggregating site and provided the article is written with an anti-science and pro-alternative medicine slant, it will most certainly be published.  There is no requirement that articles be fully sourced nor are there are any requirements the author even be a journalist.  Heck, NaturalNews even admits they don't provide editing services so the authors are pretty much on their own.  Mr. Hubbs himself can actually write and submit articles to them and they may even be published (assuming Mr. Hubbs can perform a basic spelling and grammar check before submission which could be his downfall).  There is no check of credentials, no verification of identify, and no attempt to determine conflict of interest.  The only requirement is that the author has a Google adsense account so they can collect ad revenue.  Red flag number one.

Is this how a reputable "news" website operates?  No.  Is this how a website operates when they are only concerned over aggregating biased materials in order to drive traffic to their website and in turn sell all types of advertisements, nutritional supplements, books, newsletters, gadgets and other alternative medicine swag?  You bet.  Red flag number two.

Did I mention that is NOT recognized as a non-profit in the US?  You read that right... they can claim to be non-profit all day long, but legally speaking they are not and the IRS does not recognize them as non-profit.  They can (and likely do) make millions from the sales of various supplements and gadgets most of which have never undergone any testing to prove efficacy.  This is part of the explanation for the disclaimers found throughout their website which remind you their products are "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease".  Red flag number three.

So this brings us to the actual article that Mr. Hubbs cited.  I'd love to tell you a bit about the author, but "PF Louis" doesn't provide us with any background information about him or her.  In fact there is no byline information and nothing can be found on the NaturalNews website telling us about this particular author.  Red flag number four.

So aside from the 25-30 graphic advertisements shown in and around this article and ignoring the numerous unrelated links trying to get you to visit other quack websites (which in turn drives ad revenue based upon click-through rates) the article itself really doesn't contain any actual reporting.  It starts off by repeating a couple of quotes taken out of context, and inserts some opinions... but where is the actual reporting?

Of course what vaccine conspiracy article would be complete without an accusation that the CIA is helping "Big Pharma" control the media?  For good measure, Louis goes on to speak about the Rockefeller conspiracy (something Mr. Hubbs has been known to jabber on about quite often), and then Louis goes on to mention the Wakefield incident.... conveniently ignoring the fact that Wakefield was found guilty of fraud or that he fabricated patient records as well as glossing over the fact that Wakefield had a vested financial interest tied to the idea that vaccines can be harmful.  Oh how soon we forget... or in this case - ignore.

All of the above is interesting of course, albeit predictable considering we have seen this same pattern of grouping together various conspiracy theories, accusations, and opinions and presenting them as "journalism", but Louis is just getting warmed up.  Louis uses the last few paragraphs of this 'article' to bring up Andrew Moulden.  Note that Louis doesn't say "Dr. Moulden", but instead references him as "Canadian medical scientist Andrew Moulden, PhD".  Could that be because Moulden has no license to practice medicine?  Could it be because Moulden has no actual expertise in the fields of study surrounding vaccines or autism?  Or could it be because the terms "medical scientist" seem harmless enough to cover the work of someone that has never had a single one of this theories proven or even published in a peer-reviewed journal of any type?

I can't really say, but this is where Louis lack of credibility really shines.  He doesn't cite Moulden's work to validate his theories.  He doesn't cite scientific research nor does he reference the work of others to validate any of Moulden's views.  Instead, Louis claims that any doubt about Moulden's work shall be cast aside because (are you ready for this?) Moulden was listed as a "Quack of the Day" on this very blog.

Yes... you read that correctly.

This is what is so amazingly comical about so many of these alternative medicine bloggers and self-proclaimed "citizen journalists".  They don't even understand the basic premise of journalistic integrity and instead they spout off opinion that they don't even attempt to support with evidence.  Louis actually believes because I wrote a blog post about Andrew Moulden, that it somehow means Moulden must be credible.  I know... I can't exactly wrap my head around that type of logic either and it is nothing more than a guilt by association logical fallacy, but I'm flattered that my blog seems to be so darn influential within the NaturalNews community that I'm single handedly able to sway opinions.

Of course Louis couldn't be bothered to link to the blog posts of mine which he cites because that would be objective journalism, and not only is Louis incapable of journalism... it is obvious he/she is incapable of remaining objective as well.  Instead, the search of my site lead Louis to Mr. Hubbs, and it was a match made in heaven.  So I suppose if you are actually honest about the situation you would agree that if anything Mr. Hubbs should be thanking me for allowing him the recognition he so desperately was seeking, because without this humble little blog, Louis would never have found Mr. Hubbs silly website. 

Am I the only one who sees the irony here? 

I should thank good old PF though.  I noticed a spike in my blog traffic a bit over a week ago all based upon common search terms (various versions of "Andrew Moulden" and "Quack" etc) and I honestly had no idea what was causing it until Mr. Hubbs was so kind as to show me this "article".  So kudos to you PF... you not only directed a few of your fellow vaccine conspiracy theorists to Mr. Hubbs website, but you diverted a few of them my direction as well.  Of course more importantly, PF has shown the true colors of NaturalNews and how don't appear to care about facts or the quality of their content... only the quantity.