My involvement with a right-wing hate group revealed!

A little while ago Vancouver homeopath Sonya McLeod, with whom I have a bit of a history, posted an article on her blog discussing the relation between the H1N1 vaccine and miscarriages. It was an irresponsible piece citing a handful of anecdotes, ignoring anything resembling responsible research, and lacking any discussion of clinical studies, control groups, or base rates. A few skeptics jumped into the comments thread, attempting to be as diplomatic as possible, explaining Sonya’s mistakes. She put up a pathetic defence at first, but soon realized that we were somewhat (barely) organized as a group, and deleted all of our critical comments. You can read the entire exchange here at Asshole Skeptic.

Before she deleted the conversation, she posted this paranoid and delusional bit of shrill nuttery that I simply must share with the world:

It has just come to my attention that Grace is actually [removed]; “she” is a man. [removed] and Jesse are both members of a group called the “skeptics society.” The skeptics have a political agenda: they are anti-environmental and oppose all restrictions on business, especially biotechnology. They are avid supporters of Big Pharma. They are also men, and I believe that they have are addressing me and belittling this blog post in a sexist manner. Instead of listening to what me and these women have to say, they belittle our experiences and tell us that we are wrong. Well I have one thing to tell you: our experience is more real and true than any of your sexism and put-downs.
To read more about the political agenda behind the skeptics society go to: http://elephantsandmice.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/the-weird-beginnings-skeptic-confusion/

I’m almost proud of this – like I’ve earned a skeptical merit badge by being labelled a shill for “Big Pharma.” This is the kind of crap we’re dealing with in Vancouver though. Think about this: there are some people for whom Sonya McLeod is the primary healthcare provider. Think of everything you’ve ever gone to see your family doctor for, then imagine there are people who would have gone to this woman instead. And they would have done what she told them to.

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~ by jbrydle on December 16, 2009.

10 Responses to “My involvement with a right-wing hate group revealed!”

  1. You have a penis, ergo your arguments are invalid. Can we coin this as the phallic fallacy?

  2. Haha! Love it.

  3. I can’t believe how offensive you were to that poor woman. I always knew you were working for Big Pharma and the government. And the H1N1 vaccine totally causes missed carriages. For example, I got my shot the other, and then my arm was sore, and as a result I couldn’t hail the carriage as it was going by and I missed it. So there you go. And you know what else I …. oh wait …. she said miscarriages …. I misread. Well it probably causes that too. Actually, I’m sure it does. Like before I got my shot, I had gained a bit of weight and I was really hungry all the time, and after I got my shot, I stopped being hungry. Coincidence? I think not. It’s clear that I miscarried my precious baby after getting my H1N1 shot. Now I know your going to quote “science” and tell me how a “man” can’t get “pregnant” with a baby. But you know what I have to say to that … Hitler liked science. So there you go.

    Plus, she clearly outlined how the H1N1 vaccine is toxic. Remember when she made reference to the earlier post where she talked about it being toxic. Obviously if she has references, it must be true. And to have a decent enough long term memory to be able to remember that she talked about it earlier clearly means that she is a genius. Plus she is a homeopath. And if you can’t trust a sociopath for medical advice, then who can you trust. I mean homeopath … not sociopath … little slip of the tongue there. So shame on you Big Pharma. Next your going to be telling us that Uri Gellar can’t actually bend spoons with his mind, and that drinking lots of water can’t cure AIDS. You need to grow up sir and take a christian science lesson sometime … then maybe you’ll know what you’re talking about. All hail Lord Xenu.

  4. But in all serious, son of a bitch! She’s fucking insane. How do you know her from before? You guys were so reasonable, and she was just spewing garbage left and right.

  5. What clinical studies for the vaccines? Where?

    Anecdotal information and consumer activism is very important for the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. Look at Vioxx. It was lawyers and anecdotes that initially stopped that killing field, Ditto Thalidomide.

    The fact that anecdotally woman are miscarrying from the H1N1 vaccine and doctors are stating it is a coincidence is the first stage of denial that is built into the evidence based system that you are touting for the pharmaceutical companies. The next stage will be lawyers and finally some real objective clinical studies. Bravo to a consumer activist like Sonya Macleod!

  6. Rightskeptic, a large collection of anecdotes can raise suspicion and lead to studies which, sometimes, show that a drug or treatment is harmful. Anecdotes alone, though, prove nothing. What we have here is not a disturbing trend emerging, it’s a vanishingly tiny number of stories that fit exactly as we would expect with a perfectly safe vaccine plus the base rate of miscarriages.

    Sonya McLeod is not whistle-blowing, she is fomenting distrust and mongering fear. Is it a coincidence that this “consumer advocate” also happens to sell a supposedly alternative treatment for the flu? One which not only has been proven ineffective, but has no possible mechanism by which it even could work.

  7. Jesse- Based on the track record of serious morbidity and mortality from drugs and procedures that have gone through evidenced based studies, I would say that your comment about lack of proven effectiveness (and safety) should also apply to relying only on an evidence based medical philosophy..

    So what is a consumer to believe or do? Well, when millions of people use homeopathy safely and effectively and there is enough historical evidence then a consumer has a right to at least try it and continue to use it.

    You can continue to argue that it prevents them from getting conventional medical care, but then you are not really addressing the real reason why people are not choosing conventional medical care. The real problem is that conventional medical care is not attracting many consumers because it is fraught with illogical and dangerous practices that are at once in vogue and at once out of vogue. It seems irrational and it is. Last week- “you must have mammograms and CAT scans and if you don’t you are being irresponsible”, and the next week- “they are dangerous” One week its “take Vioxx for your pain” and the next week, “it has killed over 50,000 people but we didn’t want to tell you until it was published in a medical journal”.

    I think giving people the right to choose alternatives and being less pejorative about them will actually improve health care all around.

  8. Rightskeptic, I absolutely agree that people should (and do) have the right to try any treatments they want. I am not in any way advocating that those rights be taken away. Still, you must agree (in fact, you DO agree) that some treatments are effective, and some are not.

    You criticise a reliance “only on an evidence based medical philosophy.” What is there other than evidence? I use the word ‘evidence’ to mean “reasons to believe.” Some reasons are good, and some are bad. Anecdotes and mere correlation are certainly bad evidence. As I said, they can be the basis for further investigation, but to say “I hear that 4 women got a flu shot, and then later on, had a miscarriage” is not a good reason to believe the shot caused the miscarriage. If it can be shown that, say, 5% of all women miscarry without having the vaccine, but 15% miscarry shortly after the vaccine, then you’ve got something.

    Do you accept that it is possible for someone to be mistaken about such a correlation? For example, if somebody took an antacid tablet then got into a car accident and claimed that antacid tablets reduce driving ability, any doctor would tell them it was most likely a coincidence (and wouldn’t they be right?). By your logic above, you could say “the fact that anecdotally people are having car accidents from antacid tablets and doctors are stating it is a coincidence is the first stage of denial that is built into the evidence based system that you are touting for the pharmaceutical companies.”

    I hope you agree that would be a silly argument.

    Your claim that conventional medicine is irrational, I think, is confusing things a bit. It’s true that medicine, and indeed all of science, changes its views occasionally, but that is precisely its strength – it constantly re-evaluates new evidence and carefully makes reasoned recommendations based on the evidence available. No one ever said “you must have mammograms and CAT scans and if you don’t you are being irresponsible”, and now no one is saying “they are dangerous.” Previously, the recommendation was that, based on available evidence, annual mammograms for women over 40 had benefits that outweighed the risks. Now, in light of new studies and new evidence, they have changed that slightly to say semi-annual mammograms for women over 50 have benefits that outweigh the risks. It’s a refinement, not a reversal.

    Just one more point – how do you think harmful drugs like Thalidomide are discovered to be harmful? Was it a study done by homeopaths? Was the announcement made in a blog post by an acupuncturist? No, it was the very same clinical studies and scientific processes you are suspicious of.

  9. Rightskeptic: Vioxx correct, but Thalidomide is the opposite. The FDA banned Thalidomide for indications other than leprosy. The families that used it during this period were ‘health freedom’ advocates who argued that they had the right to take medications of their choice, and used loopholes to obtain supplies.

    The FDA bureaucrat responsible for holding the line against this consumer demand was Frances Kelsey, who won the Gold Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service. ‘health freedom’ advocates went so far as to threaten her life because she felt pregnant women shouldn’t have access to Thalidomide.

    The system isn’t perfect, but it does seem to reduce harm.

  10. Rightskeptic: you seem to be using “evidence” in a way that I’m unfamiliar with, perhaps you could clarify it for me?

    For example, you criticise someone for “relying only on an evidence based medical philosophy”, but then you claim that “there is enough historical evidence” to warrant the use of Homeopaty.

    You seem to be arguing against “evidence” in one breath, and then in favour of “evidence” in the next. You’re spelling both words the same, and there’s no special capitalisation to distinguish them: could you tell me the difference between evidence and evidence please?

    Also, when you say that people use homeopathy “effectively”, could you clarify what you mean by that word, and how you track the ‘effectiveness’ in a manner that is not captured by an “evidence based medical philosophy”?

    Also, if you could cite your reference for that quote (“you must have mammograms and CAT scans and if you don’t you are being irresponsible”), and (more importantly) the statement by the same person/medical body that “they are dangerous”, I’d really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance.

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