Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Review of “Vaccines? Safe. Parents? Dangerous”.

“Inside Vaccines” is an interesting blog that offers views from a variety of standpoints concerning vaccines issues. Like many group blogs the articles differ massively in quality. This blog is seen by some as a model of good debate and scientific advocacy and is promoted by certain parties as such. For my part, I think someone really ought to systematically review “Inside Vaccines” and see how well this claim holds up to scrutiny. Some of the articles seem a bit creative in their interpretation of epidemiology.

Relative to our topic today, I would like to review “Vaccines? Safe. Parents? Dangerous”. I cannot determine whether this post has one or many authors. This is of no concern. What is a concern is the attitude toward science promoted within the posting. I will quote large chunks of the post and my reply to them below.

“Lately I’ve been noticing an increasing number of journal articles, blog articles and opinion pieces on a terrible problem: Parents have questions about vaccines.”

This is not a problem. It is reasonable and perhaps necessary to inspect both current health issues and older science from time to time. Scouring for merit and questioning are the tools by which correction of science may occur. However, what is a problem is the promotion of pseudo or anti-science under the guise of self-correction. For many of us, this is our concern, not the legitimate questioning of science.

“You would have to look far and wide to find anyone who thinks that these questions are valid and should be taken seriously.”

Perhaps the author(s) of the post have done neither.

“Common explanations are:1) It is all about the parents who think they are really smart.2) It is all about the parents who are very stupid and read stuff on the Internet.3) It is all about the bad stuff on the Internet which is deceiving the parents who aren’t very smart and who think they are smarter than doctors. And infinite variations on this theme, which is really one argument…and the real argument is (drum roll)…vaccines are perfect and parents are the problem.”


And do we see this among the science based bloggers or scientists that are well known? Or is this a reference to Mr. Haggen-Daas, your grumpy and opinionated old neighbor down the street. If you mean the former, I think I am going to have to ask for quotes or call straw argument at this point.

“Oddly, however, the number of parents with questions seems to be increasing. Perhaps the vaccine defenders need to reconsider their approach.”

Yes, the numbers do seem to be going up. That is okay, questioning is not the problem. I don’t think science has anything to fear from questions. On the other hand, there is a big problem when information is dressed up as science, but is actually.... not science.

Let me be direct here. I do not care if people question vaccines. For that matter I do not care if the majority people hear a variety of argument and adopt a very different view from the one I hold. What I do care about is the consistent application of science; this is a concern based on logic. What I also care about is that people have a right to be given accurate even if emotionally hurtful information; this is a concern based on ethics.

“Here are some suggestions, kindly meant, from an admirer of their efforts. These guys have put a lot of sweat equity into defending vaccines and they ought to be getting better results”

Why so? People exposed to our arguments will still make up their own minds. Our efforts do not somehow intrinsically merit the greater popularity. Of actual concern to me and those like me is how science is used and promoted.

“One argument which comes up over and over again is herd immunity.”

This actually seems to be a talking point of the vaccine etiology of harm theory advocates, not of those bloggers who hold a similar view to myself. I am not saying that it is never used, but that it is rare.
In fact, I would argue that herd immunity is one of the favored whipping-boys of those who advocate a vaccine etiology of harm theory and that mention of it is disproportionate. I think a great little “study” would be to look at the Autism Hub and look at the Age of Autism blog and see how many times “herd immunity” pops up and who uses it. The results could be quite interesting no matter what they find.

“In addition to the defenders acting as though all vaccines are identical in their efficacy, safety and relevance, they also tend to act as though all vaccine questioners are identical. Anyone who has a question, is, in the defenders view, anti-vaccine.”

You treat us as monolithic; moreover you offer no quotes or references for such an opinion. Your comment here should not be mistaken as being logically sound.

“And people who are anti-vaccine are bad people. As a result the defenders respond with sarcasm, rudeness and repetition.””

There are indeed people who are largely or wholly anti-vaccine. They are not the majority, but they are out there. I do not think of them as bad people. I do not think of them as fools. I understand too, that all people are going to occasionally land on a stupid, illogical, or anti-scientific comment, perhaps in spite of their general inclinations. To counter-act this, I select to make my own arguments which attack and correct the errors that I see. Some people may be hurt by the information I provide or by the questions I pose. Even so, I am obligated to speak up if I see a problem, this is the same for anyone and everyone. I would cite failure to do so, as a form of unethical behavior.

“Some parents who raise concerns are just raising concerns. They haven’t gone over to the dark side. But with enough rudeness and sarcasm from the vaccine defenders they will definitely be moving in that direction.”

They may, but that is their choice. Do not misplace their decision on others. Please note, I am advocating neither the appropriateness of rudeness nor sarcasm, but only that people can select a course based on what they value. In my view however, this course of action is particularly illogical. It is not their emotions or desire to be treated with respect that is illogical, but their decision based on their emotions. Most of us will have had a teacher at some point in our lives we could not stand. Does this somehow make what they taught us untrue? Do we now have license to reject fact, because we were mistreated?

“Which leads me to the next problem. It is not, absolutely not, all about autism and vaccines.”

True, but for many of us coming from many views, this is indeed the main bone in contention.

“Try being polite and sympathetic. I know this is tough and doesn’t come naturally, but it is absolutely essential if the vaccine defenders want to get anywhere in this battle.”

I understand polite, but what do you mean by sympathetic? Do you mean that I should:

A) Consider the author’s view and try to understand their feelings?
B) Accept (or at least avoid questioning) certain accounts that my inclination towards science has taught me to question?
C) Both A and B
D) None of the above

There are two choices above that I am going to reject as being unethical.

“The articles on this blog provide good models for a sympathetic, thoughtful and scientifically oriented approach.”

I would be interested to know which of the above your particular post models.

“Vaccine defenders need to deal with the science. Saying that the science is all on the vaccine side, without actually presenting said science is a hollow argument.”

Here we stumble upon some agreement.

“A sub-point on science: the scandals about faked science in medical journals are undermining people’s faith in doctors and science in general. If Merck did some bad stuff with Vioxx, is it unreasonable to have questions about their trustworthiness when it comes to Gardasil? The defenders need to be able to explain why vaccines are an exception to dirty dealing from the pharmaceutical companies. I’m wondering about this one myself and look forward to seeing what the vaccine defenders come up with.”

It has been tackled before…. multiple times in fact. The blogosphere is a big place, no doubt explaining why you missed it. The answer is this; vaccines should not be a special case, but the general case. Because companies are run by imperfect beings they occasionally deal dishonestly. This is a very good reason to be careful, scientifically conservative, to expect replication, and to revisit old issues. This is no excuse at all to offer a carte blanche dismissal of well designed science.... no matter who funded it.

“Calling people anti-vaccine isn’t actually an argument.”

Exactly, it is a description that may or may not be accurate.

“Selective and delayed vaccinators are potential allies who will fight for vaccines, but currently the vaccine defenders want nothing to do with them. Some of these parents are quite knowledgeable and have done extensive research into vaccines. They know more of the science than the defenders, frankly.”

If you are going to offer an argument, then offer an argument please.

But defenders want nothing to do with them, because in a black and white world you are either with us or against us and there is no middle ground. Pushing away allies is dumb.”

If we both advocate for certain vaccines then we are already allied on this particular issue, right? If this is the goal then we simply press on. But if what you mean is actually mutually coordinated advocacy then I would want to know to what extent you will be simultaneously advocating your other views that I do not agree with. And to what extent will I be creating a platform for you to advocate such views. Also, I would want to know whether I am expected to put aside our disagreements, because of our coordinated advocacy. Based on this cost-benefit analysis I may or may not see our collaboration as the best option. Perhaps too, the people who want nothing to do with the selective and delayed vaccinators see a proposed collaboration as creating more problems than it solves. I think mutually coordinated advocacy is possible, but a number of issues would have to be resolved first.

“Now comes a truly tough one: The vaccine defenders should be strongly, passionately, in favor of a philosophical exemption to vaccines.”

I am in favor of such, but not for scientific or practical reasons. My agreement here is based on an ethical reason, the right to self-determine, in this case via proxy. My agreement here is neither strong nor passionate. Instead it is tentative, quite possibly to be removed. The post author(s) predict that this would actually increase the vaccine rates. I see zero evidence for that. It may be true, but then maybe not. If not and certain vaccine rates plummet, then one or more very serious health issues could arise. If so, then I would argue that a significant amount of parents have failed to be a reasonable proxy for their child in this regard, and that philosophical vaccine exemptions should be removed.

“Now, listen carefully, because this is the most important point of all. Defenders should stop denying vaccine damage.”

Illness or injury from vaccination happens. A new or newly modified vaccine may not be as safe as initial tests suggest. A batch may go bad. An individual may have a unique or rare reaction. Although there may very well be disagreements about rates of injury, that fact that injury itself occurs is not a point of contention among any players in the debate.

“When a parent testifies that their child was damaged by a vaccine they should fall all over themselves to acknowledge what happened, to agree that vaccines can, indeed cause injuries, to encourage the parent to report what happened to VAERS, to sympathize if they say the doctor denied the incident and refused to report it.”

Wouldn’t this depend on the case? If you said that your child regressed a month after her MMR and now meets criteria for Autistic Disorder, I am probably going to question whether there is a connection. These events are not that close in proximity. I have reason to question and/ or to suggest that you question your assumptions. If I offer nothing but sympathy, then I am probably helping you feel better, but I am also engaging in enabling behavior towards anti-science. It seems to me that the author(s) try to assume the mantle of science, but reject it when expedient.

“They even see, as I recently did, a vaccine defender proclaiming gleefully that the VAERS system is useless and cannot be used as a source of information about the risks of vaccines. What sort of message are vaccine defenders sending out to the public? Clear enough, unfortunately.”

The VAERS does a good job doing what it was designed to do. Being a rapid and ongoing system to monitor and hopefully detect problems with vaccines. It is an imperfect system, but it does the job it was designed for. When it is forced fit into epidemiology then the VAERS has very little utility. It is a database that controls for none of the 6 types of statistical threats. It has been used this way by a variety of people working on a variety of issues. The VAERS data are un-refereed and uncontrolled. Don’t confuse monitoring and formal epidemiology, and don't twist a data set into something it is not.

“On the same note, a good study comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations will obviously prove that vaccines are safe, right? So why don’t the vaccine defenders fight for such a study? Vaccines make children healthier and the evidence should be easy enough to find. Yes?”

I have no problem with additional research.
However, since this is what you are calling for, this is your burden.

“Are they really fighting to defend vaccines or are they just out there to tell everyone how smart they are? Some of us are wondering.”

Using an ad hominem to close I see.

Well, thank you for the advice. I would like to reciprocate your gesture and offer some advice too.

1) Do not claim to be an admirer of our efforts and then slander us with ad hominem arguments, we will note the inconsistency.

2) Do not claim your blog as a model of science then abandon it when an emotive issue arises, we will note that your work is not as scientifically oriented as you claim.

3) Do not claim your advice is kindly meant and then deploy arguments that are really quite snotty. We will question your work's intellectual integrity.

Thank you for your time.

13 Comments:

Blogger Minority said...

Insidevaccines has been up and running for a year now. We are still waiting for someone to critique our science oriented articles, effectively. Our more playful articles seem to attract critiques...but the heavy science stuff is ignored. Beats me.

Thanks for the review.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Minority,

I am sorry to say I only stumbled across yor blog within that last few days. However, now that I know you exist, I have the opportunity to begin to read your work. I also agree that it is disapointing that no one has reviewed your science based articles.

Perhaps others see a value in your science based articles that is lacking in your opinion pieces. That certainly seems to be the case for me thus far.

See you soon then.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal,

"And do we see this among the science based bloggers or scientists that are well known?"

I am interested in whom you consider to be on this list? One of the noisiest "science" bloggers is Orac whos writing is filled with vitriol and loads of inaccuracy that is never corrected. The popular ND blogs (i.e. LBRB) when backed in a corner will retort with things like "Well, I'm not a scientist" rather than issue a correction.

Even in your joint article last year with Do'C I vaguely recall you distancing yourself from discussion outside of the portions you wrote. I would be shocked if you can find the diligence and rigour you place on your work in other places.

Additionally, if you read the comments in these blogs you will find that they do tend to digress into the types of discussion described above. Admitedly, these are not the express opinion of the author, however, these comments are often encouraged, and the authors almost never correct their cheerleading teams regardless of how silly the responses are.

"I think a great little “study” would be to look at the Autism Hub and look at the Age of Autism blog and see how many times “herd immunity” pops up and who uses it. The results could be quite interesting no matter what they find."

Again, it seems you're only referring to the blog topics. If you check the comments of some of these "science" based blogs, you'll find the argument of herd immunity comes up all the time, in addition to a common thread of anger directed at those who dare question the merits of any aspect of vaccination.

"“Calling people anti-vaccine isn’t actually an argument.”

Exactly, it is a description that may or may not be accurate."

Outside of your own blog, I am curious out of your recommended "science" based blogs which one does not regularly use the term "anti-vaccine" in the articles or promote the term in the comments?

"The VAERS does a good job doing what it was designed to do. Being a rapid and ongoing system to monitor and hopefully detect problems with vaccines. It is an imperfect system, but it does the job it was designed for."

I'm not sure it does that good a job meeting it's objectives. I find it interesting that infectious disease reporting is much more strongly controlled while vaccine (or pharmaceutical) damage is a voluntary matter? The public availability of aggregated infectious disease information is quite contrasting with the general lack of data behind vaccine lot issues etc. From my perspective, some of the compulsary apects of infectious disease reporting should be integrated into VAERS. Additionally, the diligence with which outbreaks are studied far eclipses the efforts put into investigating cases of suspected vaccine damage or death.

"1) Do not claim to be an admirer of our efforts and then slander us with ad hominem arguments, we will note the inconsistency.

2) Do not claim your blog as a model of science then abandon it when an emotive issue arises, we will note that your work is not as scientifically oriented as you claim.

3) Do not claim your advice is kindly meant and then deploy arguments that are really quite snotty. We will question your work's intellectual integrity."

Who are you speaking on behalf of? Your statements may apply to this blog, but will certainly be found to be inconsistent when applied to the broad "autism web" or "science" blog posters and commentors.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Schwartz,

I consider Autism Street, A Photon in the Darkness, and other simialr blogs to offer fair criticism which is not simiualr to what is decribed by the author of the opinion piece. I certainly do include Orac in that list. The fact that he and others play rough doesn't matter to me. What does matter is that he plays fair and doesn't misrepresent the issues.

That said anyone can land on a stupid statement. That is every bit as true for me as for anyone else. If I don't agree with what someone who I usually agree with writes, then I will rapidly either take issue with it, or distance myself from it.

I can speak for no one else, but I tend to let them go unchecked unless I feel they need a response. Maybe others feel the same.

As to the herd immunity, no, I think that it is just as true in the comments. I am happy to eat my words though.

"From my perspective, some of the compulsary apects of infectious disease reporting should be integrated into VAERS.'

Hmmmm... maybe. That would certainly be a worthy topic.

"Additionally, the diligence with which outbreaks are studied far eclipses the efforts put into investigating cases of suspected vaccine damage or death."

I am not sure that is true. I would be willing to hear arguments in favor of this though.

"Who are you speaking on behalf of? Your statements may apply to this blog, but will certainly be found to be inconsistent when applied to the broad "autism web" or "science" blog posters and commentors."

Everyone at Autism Hub. Even those of us who do not play nice at all deserve better than what we were given. I stand behind that.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal,

"The fact that he and others play rough doesn't matter to me."

I find it curious that you consider broad based generalization, and ad hominem acceptable when termed "playing rough". It is a trivial matter to find both in any article of Orac's and it won't take long to point out a long list of factual inaccuracies -- i.e. using definitive terms when significant caveats apply -- that will forever remain uncorrected.

"What does matter is that he plays fair and doesn't misrepresent the issues."

So logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks are deemed acceptable when the person is "Playing fair"? Playing fair of course being entirely subjective. It also reads as if you'll accept all sorts of inaccuracies and fallacies as long as the key issue in not misrepresented according to your position? And I'm not referring to the odd mistake either. Even with the odd mistake, those should be corrected, but almost never are.

IMO, this has nothing to do with "Playing rough". I would argue that from a practical perspective, you play far rougher. My point is that the very issues you raised at the end of your post are littered throughout some of the sites you listed, certainly on many in the autism web.

"I am not sure that is true. I would be willing to hear arguments in favor of this though."

To start with: infectious disease reporting is compulsary by law in most states. Reporting of vaccine adverse events is entirely voluntary. It is well established that voluntary tracking systems capture a small fraction of the actual occurences so right off there is a difference in implied importance and surveilance. The CDC devotes a lot of effort in tracking infectious diseases and publically reporting on them. There are no public reports on vaccine tracking, either by vaccine type or specific lots despite the fact we know these both have had problems in the past. If a child suffers from seizures after vaccine application, recovers, and doesn't suffer from any obvious lasting effects, very little followup is done because it is acknowleged that it is an expected side effect of some vaccines. This is despite the knowledge that seizures can result in brain damage that may very well not exibit themselves in an infant of that age.

"Even those of us who do not play nice at all deserve better than what we were given. I stand behind that."

I certainly agree with some of your complaints. It's your attempt to contrast what you complain about here from your friends (if I can use that term) which I find inconsistent.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Schwartz,

1) I do not consider a sweeping generalization or ad hominem arguments to be appropriate at any time.

2) Ad hominems are not what I refer to when I say "plaing rough".

3) I do not agree that Orac offers ad hominems. If you think so, then you need to start quoting. However, make sure you understand what an ad hominem is before you do so.

"My point is that the very issues you raised at the end of your post are littered throughout some of the sites you listed, certainly on many in the autism web."

I raised 3 specific issues. If you think others have made the identical errors and that I have not called it, then you should offer quotes at this point.

Thank you for your thoughts on mandatory reporting.

"I certainly agree with some of your complaints. It's your attempt to contrast what you complain about here from your friends (if I can use that term) which I find inconsistent."

I await your quotes.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal:

Orac broad based generalizations and ad-hom:
From one of his most recent posts:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/andrew_wakefield_worst_person_in_the_wor.php
His whole article is about rating Andrew Wakefield as the worst person in the world. He fully endorses the rating. To add embelishment, he adds add-hominem attacks to any Andrew Wakefield supporting in addition to making broad based generalizations to anyone who supports him.
"I wonder how long before the antivaccinationist loons descend on Olbermann's website and try to tell him that Paul Offit is the Worst Person in the World. Feel free to send him a congratulatory message at countdown@msnbc.com. You know the antivax zealots will be deluging his mailbox."

From another recent post:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/dr_jay_gordon_get_away_from_my_alma_mate.php
"Speaking of the Michigan Law Review, this time around the embarrassment comes in the form of an article in that august journal by a person who has previously been a subject of posts by me and others. I'm referring to Dr. Jay Gordon, who has been--correctly, I believe--labeled as being, if not fully anti-vaccine, at least a prominent and major apologist for the anti-vaccine movement."

"Unfortunately, Dr. Gordon lacks the intestinal fortitude to stop the piteous denials any time he is called out for his parroting of antivaccine pseudsocience and to embrace his inner antivaccinationist. "

"The reason is transparent, at least to me. By going after the "weaker" vaccines in the vaccine schedule, Dr. Gordon hopes to convince readers that there is a similar level of doubt about the entire vaccine schedule, a level of doubt so high that it is not unreasonable for parents to refuse to vaccinate based on the beliefs that vaccines are not that efficacious in preventing disease and that they carry unacceptable risks."

Another recent article:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/why_am_i_not_surprised_it_looks_as_thoug.php
"Quite frankly, such conduct beggars the imagination. It's about as unethical as it gets. But it's all of a piece with Andrew Wakefield's behavior. After all, as I pointed out before, he was in the pocket of a lawyer named Richard Barr seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for "vaccine-induced" autism before he undertook his research. Not only that, but Barr was affiliated with the antivaccine group Jabs and had arguably concocted his new "syndrome" with at least some consultation with Barr. But perhaps the most unethical, at least from a human research standpoint, was that the patients recruited to his study were not anything resembling a random or neutral sample. As pointed out by Brian Deer, the parents of these children heard through word of mouth about Wakefield. Moreover, Wakefield subjected these children to unnecessary invasive medical procedures, and then incompetently analyzed the specimens obtained from them for measles virus in order, it seems, to come to a preordained conclusion, even if it required "tidying up" the data beyond recognition to do so. Given such a level of ideological blindness that seems to think his cause so just that good science and ethics are optional in pursuit of it, a lack of concern over blatant conflicts of interest, and an appallingly inflated opinion of himself that he is seems to believe that he is actually a persecuted Galileo, is it any surprise that Wakefield may have stooped so far as to falsify research results in his campaign?"

"Sadly, none of this will matter to antivaccinationists, who view Wakefield as exactly that--a persecuted scientific hero. Although I have yet to see any response from antivaccine blogs like like Age of Autism, I'm sure that they'll wax ridiculous about what a great doctor and man Wakefield is and how it's big pharma and its minions who, frightened by the implications of Wakefield's work, are working hard to demonize him and suppress his "science.""

Of course, I hope I don't need to point out the factual issues with that post, but I'd be happy to point them out if you can't spot them.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/david_kirbys_logic_the_hepatitis_b_vacci.php
"None of this stops our master of obfuscation, Kirby the Klueless, who is practically orgasmic at a recent ruling of the special masters of the vaccine court on a different omnibus proceeding."

This same article also contains several factual errors and misrepresentations as is the norm for his articles.

I'll stop now with Orac, I no longer find that vitriol entertaining -- sadly, I did at one time.

In case you forgot or didn't read the full comment exchange on "A tale of two tales parts 1-3" I'll post some of the ad hominem and other flawed arguments posted by commenters (many of whom blog or frequent those Autism Web blogs as we discussed earlier).
This is a shame, since Do'C is among the very few writers on the Autism Web I consider credible, but his inconsistentency is quite apparent in his commenters and his moderation of comments. You'll note that he is quite quick to threaten and moderate those who argue off-topic with moderation except when it comes to the AW bloggers who invoke off topic ad-hom attacks or bizarre arguments when not a single word is mentioned.

Comment by Isles (part 2) 25-Jan,2008 --> No warning from Do'C
"A remarkable bit of foot-stomping by Dr. DeSoto. I suspect a certain valedictorian and early tenure recipient is having a hard time coping with attention that isn’t unqualified adulation.
...
HTFU, Dr. DeSoto."

Comment by Prometheus (part 3) 28 Jan, 2008 --> No warning from Do'C"Well, if Dan Burton believes it, it must be baloney (meaning no disrespect to the luncheon meat)."

Comment by Puddintain (part 3) 5-Feb, 2008 --> No warning from Do'C
"Schwartz,

Please just go away. You have no standing in this discussion. This is not some idle chat room for novices who obviously lack professional background or a personal stake in the lives of autistics. You are completely overbearing and just plain wrong to be a part of this. Take your anti-vax nonsense someplace far away from the world of autism.

As I’ve said before, your omnipresence is just plain weird dude."

Comment by Isles (part 3) 5-Feb, 2008 --> No warning from Do'C
"If that’s the universe where you live, well, hope you enjoy Schwartz’s incessant ranting, the screeching catfights of the mercury moms, and the sight of children suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases. Think about coming to visit us in the reality-based universe sometime."

Comment by Interested Party (part 3) 20-Feb, 2008 --> No warning from Do'C
"Schwartz,

What is your exact beef with vaccines?

I have seen you expound on the anti-libertarian practice of mandating vaccines. You comment all over the place on the inefficacy of the flu vaccine and the economics of making it mandatory. I have seen you insinuate that none of the diseases on the current vaccine schedule were that bad to begin with. You argue that the mercury hypothesis, poor excretor idea and the measles hypothesis have not been adequately challenged. You believe in all of these things yet bristle at being called anti-vaccine?

You proclaim yourself a skeptic, but I have yet to see you applying any skepticism to anyone in the mercury/anti-vaccine crowd. You CONSTANTLYInstead, you ally yourself with them whenever you can.

Why not declare yourself as what you appear to be: a dyed-in-the-wool anti-vaxxer who found a community of like-minded individuals on the biomed boards? Why is this so hard to admit?"

I'll just comment that I was threatened with moderation on that thread despite not invoking any ad hominem and being quite specific about what I was discussing including quotes. My comments may not have been 100% correct in all instances, but the threat against me is starkly contrasted with the complete silence on blatent off topic and ad-hom posts.

From LeftBrainRightBrain's latest post:
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1894
"There are so many other examples that I would be here for a long time putting them all down. The JABS loonies attacks on Brian Deer whilst refusing to tackle the content of what he says, Kent Heckenlively’s petulant ranting about the decisions following his gloating predictions on AoA that victory was assured, Melanie Phillips statement that the Omnibus decisions looked ‘pretty thin’ to her – as if she had the intelligence or familiarity with the subject matter to offer a legitimate opinion – I could go on and on."

The following was linked directly from Kev's site (news link today) -- not sure why this guy is linked, but as you probably agree, you should take responsibility for what you promote on your site...
http://jamesomalley.co.uk/blog/2009/02/scientific-study-proves-mmr-sceptics-are-dicks/
"The results are pretty conclusive - the trend is very clear. The bigger fan of Wakefield you are, the more of a dick you are. Now, I know there may be “MMR sceptics” reading who might dispute this - you might argue that correlation does not prove causation, or perhaps allege that my research was completely fabricated or not conducted properly. If that’s the case, I ask you: why are you holding me to a higher standard than Andrew Wakefield?"

Having covered Ad Hominem, I'll address point #2, the science based aspect of the writing:
Venturing over to LBRB:
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1252
"So, MMR doesn’t cause autism. No news and of course won’t convince the flat earthers but still – another welcome addition to the ever growing canon of evidence against MMR causation."
Clearly the first statement is scientifically inaccurate, yet it is purposefully stated that way here and in the headline. The rest is a pure editorial attack.

In the comments section of LBRB by Kev:

Kev:
"Vaccines do not cause autism. There is absolutely no science to indicate they do. No vaccine, vaccine ingredient or vaccine schedule causes autism. To insist – despite all evidence to the contrary – that they do indicates a level of blindness to reality that is worrying for those in your care."

Schwartz
"Kev,

You were doing well until your last list of facts. Based on the science, you can’t make statements of fact about lack of causation.

The only thing you can say is that based on the best available studies, there is no evidence of causation. To state otherwise, is to misinterpret the science."

Kev:
"And thus I prove once more why I am not a scientist :D"

No appology, no retraction.

You will find this same sort of error repeated continually by Kristina Chew as well.

Let's skip briefly over to Orac and comments about Hannah Poling:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_hannah_poling_case_and_the_rebrandin.php
"“Ultimately, a metabolic disorder, specifically a mitochondrial disorder was suspected, and ultimately confirmed through genetic testing, which showed “a mitochondrial DNA (“mtDNA”) point mutation analysis revealed a single nucleotide change in the 16S ribosomal RNA gene (T2387C).” As part of her course, the child also developed a seizure disorder.”"

"This settlement was based on the fact that Poling had a rare genetic mitochondrial disease that may have been exacerbated by a series of vaccines that she had" -- inaccurate description again

"Mitochondrial disorders of the sort suffered by Hannah are genetic in nature and rare, an estimated 5.7 individuals per 100,000 worldwide," --> More inaccuracies. Mito disorders of this sort are not always genetic. Evidence in this case does not point to a genetic cause at all.

These statements are highly inaccurate and don't show a good understanding of the science or the specifics of the case at all. If you read through his description of the Hannah Poling case, it is completely filled with many other factual inaccuracies. This article is full of emotional appeal and personal opinion, which clearly falls into the cateogry #2 which you describe.

On to topic #3:
I think Orac more than covers this, but to be thorough I'll go back to LeftBrainRightBrain:
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1891 --> Another post just days old
"I found that statement very ironic, coming as it did from someone who aided significantly in manufacturing the thimerosal controversy, and who now seems to owe some of his employment to servicing that same controversy." --> This is the snotty part
"David, if you read this (and we both know you will), take the message to heart and write a correction to your blog piece on the Huffington Post. Better yet, put up a new one with an explanation and apology." --> This is the friendly advice

One final example -- In a Tale of Two Tails (Part 3), you and Do'C offer some friendly advice to Dr DeSoto's and Hitlan. Amongst the advice was a link to Prometheus' blog article about hair/mercury excretion. I quote from the conclusion of his article you reference in your friendly advice section:
http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=142
"That’s right, folks. The “poor excretors” had elevated hair mercury. And Dr. DeSoto cited the study that showed it in her own “FAQ”. If that’s not hoisting yourself on your own petard, I don’t know what is."

If that isn't enough, let me know. I only covered a very small sample. Though these things aren't hard to find, they do take time to compile. Thanks for your time.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Schwartz,

Now I see the problem. You have made a common error. You have misunderstood what an ad hominem is. A hominem is not a personal attack. An ad hominem is an accusation that because something about a person is inherent or wrong, a given argument that person emits is wrong. Moreover, although ad hominems should be avoided, my point in writing my 1st point was to not tell others that you admire their efforts….. and then employ and ad hominem.

Non-examples

Interverbal is a quack.

Do’C is incompetent.

Orac is a meany.

Actual Examples

Interverbal’s grandfather is the head of Eli Lilly (not true) and we should remember that when he talks about his autism statistics.

Autism Diva has autism. She is not well enough to understand why her arguments are bad.

So, the only ad hominem you gave was from Prometheus and he was obviously and very clearly joking.

I don’t think you understand my second point either. It was about claiming oneself as a model of science, and then failing to advocate for the scientific method. Kev and Christina have not claimed their blogs to be a model of science. So, the second point doesn’t apply.

“These statements are highly inaccurate and don't show a good understanding of the science or the specifics of the case at all.”

Fine, so he could be dead wrong (let’s say so for the sake of argument). But….. where does he advocate anti-science? That is my concern.

“"I found that statement very ironic, coming as it did from someone who aided significantly in manufacturing the thimerosal controversy, and who now seems to owe some of his employment to servicing that same controversy." --> This is the snotty part”

Well this is an ad hominem. But the author didn’t claim the advice as kindly meant. That relates to my third point.

Thanks for your time.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal

On point #1, let's look at some of these more closely:
In the first Orac case, I argue that a whole post against the character of a person, is an attempt to discredit anything they say without ever addressing a single word. He as much admits this in commentary elsewhere where he justifies his tone: "I used to be less sarcastic when I first started blogging, but over time I have realized that the targets of my criticism are virtually ineducable and therefore their message must simply be countered. As Thomas Jefferson once said:
"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them…""
He clearly reasons that the message must be countered regardless of whether the counter is scientific, logical or not, but this is arguable only in a bigger context, so I'll leave it with that.

Prometheus' full quote on AutismStreet is an ad hom attack as it attempts to argue against their responses and paper with allegations of misconduct due to conflict of interest:

"Seriously, the DeSoto and Hitlan paper is a “smoking gun”, of sorts. In the editorial accompanying the paper, it was mentioned that DeSoto and Hitlan scrutinized the Ip et al results because they were applying for a grant.
Has anyone asked them what organization they were applying to?
Why do I suspect that they were applying for an Autism Speaks grant?
Is it because their website has a link to the Autism Speaks fundraising site?
Or is it because their article seems to be eschewing scientific accuracy in order to curry favor with the mercury-causes-autism sect of Autism Speaks?
An errata is the least of the actions that should be taken in response to the DeSoto and Hitlan errors."

In Orac's case, another of his arguments against Wakefield that I quoted:
"After all, as I pointed out before, he was in the pocket of a lawyer named Richard Barr seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for "vaccine-induced" autism before he undertook his research. Not only that, but Barr was affiliated with the antivaccine group Jabs and had arguably concocted his new "syndrome" with at least some consultation with Barr."
This attempts to infer that his work was all an elaborate conspiracy to make money from a lawsuit. He similarly tries to argue against any legitimate work with Mr. Barr by alleging his association with Jabs was also a conspiracy to create a new class of illness. He uses these alleged character flaws to defend a different allegation of scientific fraud.

Looking at another Orac quote I provided: "The reason is transparent, at least to me. By going after the "weaker" vaccines in the vaccine schedule, Dr. Gordon hopes to convince readers that there is a similar level of doubt about the entire vaccine schedule, a level of doubt so high that it is not unreasonable for parents to refuse to vaccinate based on the beliefs that vaccines are not that efficacious in preventing disease and that they carry unacceptable risks."
In this case, Orac is painting a picture, that the motivation for Dr. Gordon's point here is based in anti-vaccination, while avoiding any discussion of the argument itself. That certainly seems to qualify under assuming a motivation for a given position.

All of the comments made on A tail of two tales against me were in direct response to the points I made. The attacks against me are clearly against my standing as a person in an attempt to discredit the points I was making in that thread.
My ancillary reason for illustrating the commentary moderation (or lack thereof) on AutismStreet -- in your own co-authored article -- is the clear blind eye to illogical arguments (ad hom and all) allowed by those posting in favour of ND while quick moderation decends upon those who are deemed off-topic, or even worse impolite. That is a very distinct logical inconsistency among one of the best writers you noted.

From LBRB quote: "Melanie Phillips statement that the Omnibus decisions looked ‘pretty thin’ to her – as if she had the intelligence or familiarity with the subject matter to offer a legitimate opinion"
No discussion of the details of the opinion, just an attack on her intelligence as an argument against the opinion.

On point #2:
OK, we'll agree then that LBRB is not a model of science.
In Orac's case, repeated use of incorrect facts (without correction to make it twice as bad) stated as fact without caveat in the efforts to support an emotional opinion does not reflect a model of scientific behaviour or writing.
Getting easily verifyable facts wrong is bad enough, but stating them so definitively in an area outside of his expertise as a scientist or expert in this case is even worse. In this case it is a clear abandonment of good scientific writing in the face of an emotional situation, exactly as you describe.

As a followup, out of your "we" group, who do you consider to be a "model of science"?

On point #3:
On LBRB, You only appear to have noted only the snotty part. The polite part I quoted below it: ""David, if you read this (and we both know you will), take the message to heart and write a correction to your blog piece on the Huffington Post. Better yet, put up a new one with an explanation and apology." He is clearly mixing snotty commentary with polite advice. If your point is that they aren't in the same sentence, then your point number 3 needs to be much more specific because the examples I quoted fit the general description you provided.

You also avoided discussing the Do'C and yourself being quite polite but part of the suggested reading section directly linking to a very snotty post. Is your lack of comment an acknowledgement of my point?

Thanks for your time.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Schwartz,

Many people can and do use ad hominem arguments. People do goof up and use poor reasoning on many sides of a debate. My argument was not that we don’t occasionally use a logical fallacy, but that we don’t state one thing….. and then do another.

“In the first Orac case, I argue that a whole post against the character of a person, is an attempt to discredit anything they say without ever addressing a single word.”

Without a specific sub-part this doesn’t work. Ad hominem arguments are not based on impression. This isn’t an ad hominem.

“"I used to be less sarcastic when I first started blogging, but over time I have realized that the targets of my criticism are virtually ineducable and therefore their message must simply be countered.”

That is still not an ad hominem. Let me change it for you if you like:

“I used to be less sarcastic when I first started blogging, but over time I have realized that Do’C and Interverbal are virtually ineducable and therefore their message must simply be countered”

This might be wrong, but it is still not an ad hominem. Here, Orac would not be saying we are wrong because we are stupid, but simply that we are not educable….. Therefore, he is not going to try to help us understand he is simply going to counter our message. That is 100% legitimate.

Continuing…….

No, Prometheus did not use an ad hominem anywhere in that discussion. I would say that you still don’t understand what an ad hominem is. Here is the one place a person could get confused:

“Or is it because their article seems to be eschewing scientific accuracy in order to curry favor with the mercury-causes-autism sect of Autism Speaks?”

An ad hominem is not per se a personal attack. It is also not an accusation of misconduct in and of itself, although, it may involve these things. What is important in an ad hominem is that the argument and the person are not separated. The argument is wrong because the person is wrong. Look at what Prometheus is saying. He said the argument is wrong in and of itself. He also made an accusation of misconduct which is in addition to the person being wrong. This might be rude, but it is not an ad hominem.

"After all, as I pointed out before, he was in the pocket of a lawyer named Richard Barr seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for "vaccine-induced" autism before he undertook his research. Not only that, but Barr was affiliated with the antivaccine group Jabs and had arguably concocted his new "syndrome" with at least some consultation with Barr."

Yes, this is an ad hominem. Now where does Orac claim to admire Wakefield’s efforts, which he would have to do in order for my point 1 to apply?

"The reason is transparent, at least to me. By going after the "weaker" vaccines in the vaccine schedule, Dr. Gordon hopes to convince readers that there is a similar level of doubt about the entire vaccine schedule, a level of doubt so high that it is not unreasonable for parents to refuse to vaccinate based on the beliefs that vaccines are not that efficacious in preventing disease and that they carry unacceptable risks."

No, this is not an ad hominem.

“All of the comments made on A tail of two tales against me were in direct response to the points I made. The attacks against me are clearly against my standing as a person in an attempt to discredit the points I was making in that thread.”

Rude… yes… ad hominem….. not from what you have shown me. Again, you need to understand what an ad hominem is.

“My ancillary reason for illustrating the commentary moderation (or lack thereof) on AutismStreet -- in your own co-authored article -- is the clear blind eye to illogical arguments (ad hom and all) allowed by those posting in favour of ND while quick moderation decends upon those who are deemed off-topic, or even worse impolite. That is a very distinct logical inconsistency among one of the best writers you noted.”

Okay, but he still didn’t violate any of the three points I wrote about.

“From LBRB quote: "Melanie Phillips statement that the Omnibus decisions looked ‘pretty thin’ to her – as if she had the intelligence or familiarity with the subject matter to offer a legitimate opinion"”

Yes, now that is an ad hominem. Still doesn’t violate my points though.

“In Orac's case, repeated use of incorrect facts (without correction to make it twice as bad) stated as fact without caveat in the efforts to support an emotional opinion does not reflect a model of scientific behaviour or writing.”

No, this is not Orac using anti-science. Nor does emotion play into it at all. I reject your argument flat out. This is Orac and you disagreeing what those facts are. That is legitimate.

“As a followup, out of your "we" group, who do you consider to be a "model of science"?”

The same folks as last time. Go back and re-read if you forgot.

""David, if you read this (and we both know you will), take the message to heart and write a correction to your blog piece on the Huffington Post. Better yet, put up a new one with an explanation and apology." He is clearly mixing snotty commentary with polite advice.

Did the author claim to be an admirer….. No
Did the author claim the blog as a model of science….. No
Did the author claim the advice was kindly meant…. No
I don’t care that the author was sometimes polite and sometimes not. It has nothing to do with my points.

“You also avoided discussing the Do'C and yourself being quite polite but part of the suggested reading section directly linking to a very snotty post. Is your lack of comment an acknowledgement of my point?”

No, I simply missed it. I am happy to address it now. If I ever have the arrogance to think that someone can’t teach me something I had wrong, then that is the day I stop learning efficiently. 3rd graders have taught me things, people whom I consider complete quacks have taught me things, stay at home parents with barely any college have taught me things. You have taught me things…. Maybe some issues you didn’t realize. So, if you teach me something especially as it relates to a debate I will let you know.

I believe that being polite is a preferable action for me, even if I dislike the issue or the person who I am speaking with. I do my best to treat others with respect, so that they will know how to treat me. However, these are my standards. I do not impose them anyone else, nor do I fail to link to blogs or articles that offer important information if they fail in this regard. Nor do I fail to sometimes criticize quite harshly relative to the topic at hand. None of this is a contradiction of what I wrote.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal,

"Without a specific sub-part this doesn’t work. Ad hominem arguments are not based on impression. This isn’t an ad hominem."

OK

"That is still not an ad hominem. Let me change it for you if you like:"

You missed the explanation as to why I included that quote: "He as much admits this in commentary elsewhere where he justifies his tone:" I was not holding that up as an Ad Hom, just to illustrate that his primary objective is countering the message, not scientific or logical accuracy.

"No, Prometheus did not use an ad hominem anywhere in that discussion. I would say that you still don’t understand what an ad hominem is."

OK I'll accept that one.


"Yes, this is an ad hominem. Now where does Orac claim to admire Wakefield’s efforts, which he would have to do in order for my point 1 to apply?"

Yes, Orac admiring Wakefield would be something else. You are correct about this applying to point #1. However, in the case of Orac, I also only need to demonstrate the use of Ad hom. In your first comment response you stated: "3) I do not agree that Orac offers ad hominems. If you think so, then you need to start quoting. However, make sure you understand what an ad hominem is before you do so."

"Rude… yes… ad hominem….. not from what you have shown me. Again, you need to understand what an ad hominem is." -- AS DeSoto Hitlan P3

I'll post all of Isles comment for you:
"I don’t think it is worthwhile to enumerate the counterfactual statements in Schwartz’s last two posts. (Well, in all of his posts, really, but I’m particularly not addressing the last two at this time.)

Apparently, in his universe, it’s possible for something to create an effect without being more commonly observed in association with that effect (it’s the New Physics!), and even well-designed studies by well-trained researchers can be invalidated by the keystrokes of Internet yahoos.

If that’s the universe where you live, well, hope you enjoy Schwartz’s incessant ranting, the screeching catfights of the mercury moms, and the sight of children suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases. Think about coming to visit us in the reality-based universe sometime."

Let me know if I got it wrong. Despite claiming otherwise he addresses the argument against my points by inferring I live in a different universe. Isles has never claimed to be an admirrer of mine, however, I'll go back to the question if you accept ad hom from blogs that "play fair". In this case, I've even argued that AutismStreet does not play fair, for the moderator accepts vastly different levels of insults depending on the side being insulted.

"Yes, now that is an ad hominem. Still doesn’t violate my points though." -- LBRB

OK on point#1. As per earlier question though, do you accept ad hom from these sites as long as they "play fair"?

"No, this is not an ad hominem." --> Orac on Dr. Gordon.
OK, what I quoted is not enough. His whole post attempts to discredit Dr. Gordon's article in the law review by illustrating Dr. Gordon's "inner anti-vaccinationism". I think this quote stands on it's own though:

"It beggars the imagination that Dr. Gordon could be so oblivious to these simple facts. Of course, he's more interested in demonizing vaccines than in being scientifically accurate."

... On to point #2

"No, this is not Orac using anti-science. Nor does emotion play into it at all. I reject your argument flat out. This is Orac and you disagreeing what those facts are. That is legitimate."

You never stated anti-science in your post. You stated: "Do not claim your blog as a model of science then abandon it when an emotive issue arises"

Perhaps our definitions of "model of science" differs. Let me be specific why this small segment in this post is not even close to scientific:

"and ultimately confirmed through genetic testing" --> no mitochondrial metabolic disorder was confirmed through genetic testing. A simple review of the case report would illustrate this in addition to the initial commentary provided by Dr. Poling himself at the press release.

"This settlement was based on the fact that Poling had a rare genetic mitochondrial disease that may have been exacerbated by a series of vaccines that she had" --> first he is completely misstating the fact of the decision. The decision states quite clearly that the vaccines significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder. He even quotes this himself:

"In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder,"
This is a complete misrepresentation of the decision to inject doubt into a decision where there isn't any.

"Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a disorder of her mitochondria due to a point mutation in the gene for the 16S ribosomal RNA (T2387C)"
Again, a statement of fact, not supported by any evidence. As was well described on Day #1, she had a homoplasmic point mutation in the mito RNA. This was not identified as the cause of her disorder. Quite the opposite, as both Dr. Poling and Dr. DiMauri (having to correct himself) point out. Dr. Novella also makes this significant error in scientific judgement --> perhaps that's why Orac got it wrong too.

"Mitochondrial disorders of the sort suffered by Hannah are genetic in nature and rare, an estimated 5.7 individuals per 100,000 worldwide,"
There is no information in any of the published documents to indicate that her disorder was rare. He again makes this statement as a definitive one of fact without knowing the patient, without any caveats, and under the incorrect assumption that the source/cause of her disorder was known. Not even the data in the concession document describes this.

These mistakes don't reflect good scientific reporting (he can't claim to have missed the references because he linked them himself), therefore I don't consider this writing to be indicative of a blog that purports to be a "model of science". This has nothing to do with my opinion on his commentary.

As for an emotive issue, Orac pretty much acknowledges the issue as emotive right at the beginning of his post: "I had had another topic entirely in mind for this week's post, but, as happens far too often, news events have overtaken me in the form of a story that was widely reported towards the end of last week. It was all over the media on Thursday evening and Friday, showing up on CNN, Larry King Live, the New York Times, and NPR."

The topic of Hannah Poling certainly qualifies as emotive in my book and Orac certainly demonstrated that he abandonned good scientific commentary by making easily verifiable misrepresentations and mistakes on data he himself referenced. Remember you also stated: "What does matter is that he plays fair and doesn't misrepresent the issues." There are clear misrepresentations here.

... On to point #3

Let me provide some background on Kev at LBRB and David Kirby:

Kev at LBRB is on the record many times saying he likes David Kirby, but that he disagrees with him. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=981
"As I’ve said before, I like David Kirby personally. We exchange friendly emails. We even recently discussed the idea of having a private blog – readable by all but one that allowed only two posters (David and I) and no commenters. This would, I suggested, give us the opportunity to have a civil debate."

A mere 4 weeks ago: http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?cat=45&paged=6

"Once more for the record, I like David. I tried very hard to get to see him in London last time he was over and we’d arranged to meet up for a drink but due to my family situation it wasn’t to be. However, I cannot let that stop me from recalling that we have very differing views on a wide range of things to do with autism and vaccines."

His snotty post follows a couple of posts where he goes out of his way to note how he likes David Kirby personally and is friendly with him. Perhaps not as direct an admirer as the complaint you lodge (although one could argue that was editorial sarcasm) it certainly flies in the same vein.

... To the closing comments:

"3rd graders have taught me things, people whom I consider complete quacks have taught me things, stay at home parents with barely any college have taught me things. You have taught me things…. Maybe some issues you didn’t realize."

On another day, I could consider this an insult by being grouped with 3rd graders, quacks, and stay at home parents with no college. However, I'll assume the grouping was not an attempt to imply by association that I'm childish, quackish, or uneducated?

" I do not impose them anyone else, nor do I fail to link to blogs or articles that offer important information if they fail in this regard. Nor do I fail to sometimes criticize quite harshly relative to the topic at hand. None of this is a contradiction of what I wrote."

I offer this thought: The act of holding a very reasonable scientific debate, compiling good arguments and references, and offering polite advice is effectively shattered when in your reference material you include a political cartoon personally skewering the person you are having the scientific discourse with. From an appearance perspective, you have just as effectively shattered the veil of politeness and professionalism. It certainly has a very similar appearance to what you object to in your review. In this particular case, it is ironic because after Do'C argues in previous entries that Dr. DeSoto was not attacked on the blog your followup suggested reading includes a direct rude personal attack on the Authors. Although I don't ascribe the intent to you, it certainly appears that you take the high road, while letting the attack dogs do the dirty work. In the case of Autism Street, it appears re-enforced due to the inconsistent moderation and tolerance of personal attacks in the commentary but in one direction only. If you really wanted to include the useful information from Prometheus, then you could have excerpted the scientific parts and gave him the credit while maintaining the air of politeness -- something I give you credit for.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Schwartz,

“You missed the explanation as to why I included that quote: "He as much admits this in commentary elsewhere where he justifies his tone:" I was not holding that up as an Ad Hom, just to illustrate that his primary objective is countering the message, not scientific or logical accuracy.”

Okay, but it is still moot. One can still not care about educating one’s opponent, focus only on countering the message, and still maintain scientific accuracy. None of these are exclusive.

“Yes, Orac admiring Wakefield would be something else. You are correct about this applying to point #1. However, in the case of Orac, I also only need to demonstrate the use of Ad hom. In your first comment response you stated: "3) I do not agree that Orac offers ad hominems. If you think so, then you need to start quoting. However, make sure you understand what an ad hominem is before you do so."”

Point ceded. I duly retract my comment that was made in this posts comments section. However, the points made in my article stand.

“Let me know if I got it wrong. Despite claiming otherwise he addresses the argument against my points by inferring I live in a different universe.”

S/he was playing rough, but this is not an ad hominem.

“Isles has never claimed to be an admirrer of mine, however, I'll go back to the question if you accept ad hom from blogs that "play fair". In this case, I've even argued that AutismStreet does not play fair, for the moderator accepts vastly different levels of insults depending on the side being insulted.”

I don’t think ad hominem arguments are a good way to debate for anyone, especially the people who should know better. That said, I may have linked and may continue to link to authors who have employed an ad hominem. However, I have never yet to my knowledge, linked directly to an article where ad hominem arguments were employed. I do not consider comments sections to count in this regard. I do not answer, nor do I care to answer for the commenter’s policies on blogs other than my own.

“do you accept ad hom from these sites as long as they "play fair"?”

I do not consider an ad hominem argument as playing fair, no matter who offers it. I may link to an article or blog in spite of this fact however, if I think the blog has good information elsewhere or if there is a very good article. I think that an ad hominem is a invalid argument to make, but it doesn’t ruin the validity of any other argument the person makes, including within the same post.

“OK, what I quoted is not enough. His whole post attempts to discredit Dr. Gordon's article in the law review by illustrating Dr. Gordon's "inner anti-vaccinationism". I think this quote stands on it's own though”

No, inner anti-vaccinationism is an unsupported assertion. Whip it around and say Interverbal obsesses on archaic logic rules to offer solace to his inner lawyer. In either case it is flippancy, not an ad hominem.

“"It beggars the imagination that Dr. Gordon could be so oblivious to these simple facts. Of course, he's more interested in demonizing vaccines than in being scientifically accurate."”

Still not an ad hominem

“You never stated anti-science in your post. You stated: "Do not claim your blog as a model of science then abandon it when an emotive issue arises"”

I equate abandoning science and anti-science as the exact same thing…. Not similar…. Not mostly alike…. But the exact same thing.

“no mitochondrial metabolic disorder was confirmed through genetic testing.”

An error of fact then. Take it up with Orac, then based on how he acts, go from there.

“This is a complete misrepresentation of the decision to inject doubt into a decision where there isn't any.”

Explain this please?
As to the Poling case, I am a researcher, but I am woefully ignorant of her specific case. I am not going to agree with you or disagree until I have had a chance to inform myself on the matter. That is not going to be for a while; I am working on other matters. However, I don’t agree that dropping other matters to deal with current events constitutes giving in to an emotive issue. In the mean time I would love to see an Orac vs Schwartz debate.

Thanks for the background on Kev and David, but my opinion in unchanged.

Moving on, I don’t see being a 3rd grader or stay at home parent as being bad or wrong. As to quack… well yes, this is an insult. However, I didn’t create this list to insult your vicariously, but to generate a list of unlikely people who have provided me with things I didn’t know.

“I offer this thought: The act of holding a very reasonable scientific debate, compiling good arguments and references, and offering polite advice is effectively shattered when in your reference material you include a political cartoon personally skewering the person you are having the scientific discourse with."

I disagree with your thought. I too have generated “suggested reading” which contained very rude material advocating a view either for or against the view I hold. It is not suggested because it is insulting or because it is correct, it is suggested because it gives an interesting view.

“Although I don't ascribe the intent to you, it certainly appears that you take the high road, while letting the attack dogs do the dirty work. In the case of Autism Street, it appears re-enforced due to the inconsistent moderation and tolerance of personal attacks in the commentary but in one direction only. If you really wanted to include the useful information from Prometheus, then you could have excerpted the scientific parts and gave him the credit while maintaining the air of politeness -- something I give you credit for.”

I have indicated the road I will take. This is my policy only. I stand behind my previous actions 100%.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Schwartz said...

Interverbal,

"S/he was playing rough, but this is not an ad hominem."

OK.

"I do not consider an ad hominem argument as playing fair, no matter who offers it. I may link to an article or blog in spite of this fact however, if I think the blog has good information elsewhere or if there is a very good article. I think that an ad hominem is a invalid argument to make, but it doesn’t ruin the validity of any other argument the person makes, including within the same post."

OK.

"No, inner anti-vaccinationism is an unsupported assertion. Whip it around and say Interverbal obsesses on archaic logic rules to offer solace to his inner lawyer. In either case it is flippancy, not an ad hominem."

OK.

"I equate abandoning science and anti-science as the exact same thing…. Not similar…. Not mostly alike…. But the exact same thing."

Noted for future discussion.

"An error of fact then. Take it up with Orac, then based on how he acts, go from there."

From experience, Orac does not correct factual errors in his blogs -- he's probably far to busy writing more vitriol. I still maintain blatent uncorrected errors of fact based on references quoted within the same article is not scientific.

"As to the Poling case, I am a researcher, but I am woefully ignorant of her specific case. I am not going to agree with you or disagree until I have had a chance to inform myself on the matter. That is not going to be for a while; I am working on other matters. However, I don’t agree that dropping other matters to deal with current events constitutes giving in to an emotive issue."

Fair enough.

"In the mean time I would love to see an Orac vs Schwartz debate."

It is disappointing that there is nothing for me to gain from that. Unlike Orac, providing entertainment for others is not my objective.

"Thanks for the background on Kev and David, but my opinion in unchanged."

OK, we disagree on this point.

"Moving on, I don’t see being a 3rd grader or stay at home parent as being bad or wrong. As to quack… well yes, this is an insult. However, I didn’t create this list to insult your vicariously, but to generate a list of unlikely people who have provided me with things I didn’t know."

That's what I thought. It's just when I read it, it looked a bit clunky, and I would hate to have some cheerleader take it out of context. Thanks for the clarification.

"I disagree with your thought..."

OK, we disagree then.

"I have indicated the road I will take. This is my policy only. I stand behind my previous actions 100%."

Thanks for the discussion.

2:26 PM  

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