Internet troll connects the dots – mockery ensues

This blog, and by extension this writer, has been skewered on the internet so many times, it has become a badge of honor. I mean, I don’t really take myself too seriously, the whole point of this blog is mock pseudoscience.

Let’s see. I’ve been accused of being a shill of Big Pharma (about a thousand times), Kaiser Permanente, and Monsanto (another thousand times).

I’ve been called a sock puppet of Dorit Rubinstein Reiss (who’s a nice person, a description that could be use for me only if you’re stoned). I’ve been called an astroturfer by the antivaccine “journalist,” Sharyl Attkisson.

One more silly accusation, and I believe I get the skeptic merit badge for Laughing at Ad hominem attacks. I’ve been working hard on it.

But most of the junk science that comes my way is fairly easy to mock. It writes itself, as they say. Frankly, there’s just too much out there on the internet. I bet most skeptics ignore 99% of the silliness on the internet. I mean Natural News would require 24/7 debunking.

So that brings me to something that showed up on my email this morning. It’s a blog post, by a blogger named Marco Cáceres di Iorio, entitled “Internet Trolls Attack Anyone Resisting Vaccine Party Line.” Read away if you want, it’ll probably be the most hits his blog will get ever.

Usually, I ignore this stuff. But hey, he called me “troll.” Oh no. Except, he connected the dots in such a way that I’m not sure if I should feel honored. Or insulted. Possibly both? 


Internet troll connects the dots


I’m not going in any particular order for di Iorio’s bad investigative work, but I thought I’d start with the silliest. It’s because I snorted my coffee this morning when I read it:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]Predictably, every time you give the name of a contrarian doctor or scientist in response to the 99.9% figure, what you tend to get is, “Eh, well, he’s a quack, she’s not credible.” Also, you get referred to blogs such as Science-Based Medicine, or Respectful Insolence, or the Skeptical Raptor’s Blog. They’re often written by or associated with a guy named David Gorski, MD, who also goes by the alias “Orac.” Gorski is a surgical oncologist and an assistant professor of surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, MI.[/infobox]

First, let’s start with David Gorski. I’m guessing that 99.9% of you know who Dr. Gorski is. If you don’t, well, we need to expand your knowledge base. He’s one of the contributors (but not the only one) to Science Based Medicine, a website that is probably the first on my list when I need to find out more information about any pseudoscience or junk medicine.

I don’t know Gorski’s full background, but he’s an MD and PhD, and specializes in surgical oncology. Gorski is regularly attacked in blog articles from websites like the Age of Lying about Autism, and on Twitter. I usually watch Dr. Gorski’s Twitter stream while eating lunch. It’s fun. Really, not quite as entertaining as seeing Rick miraculously evade a whole herd of zombies (oops, I mean walkers), but pretty close.

Now the second part of this conspiracy is that David Gorski is Orac. Whether he is or not is up for debate. Orac’s identity is one of the best kept secrets on the internet, right up there with President Obama’s desire to institute Sharia Law.

I’m sure that di Iorio is proud of himself so far. We can safely conclude that he knows a bit about Google.

But he also accuses Dr. Gorski of being me. Now, I can take this one of two ways:

First, I make such a minimal impression on internet trolls that they conflate me with Gorski.

Or Second, I should just accept it. I hope that Gorski will start writing here, and I can go cruise the internet for information to improve my fantasy hockey team. It’s in 8th place. In an eight team league. Balls.

My first instinct is to just let this go. I know that 99.9% of the readers here know who Gorski is. And I’m guessing that a few of you know who I really am.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 15.08.14

But here are more points:

  1. Gorski likes the Detroit Tigers. I like baseball, but my general support goes to any team that’s not the New York Mets or New York Yankees.
  2. Gorski went to the University of Michigan, a fine school. But my school, the University of Utah, beat Michigan this year. I should have bet Gorski.
  3. Gorski is an oncologist. I know how to spell oncology correctly 99.9% of the time.
  4. Gorski lives in Detroit (or someplace close to Detroit). I used to fly through Detroit when I was a Republic Airlines frequent flyer. OK, you really have to be an expert of airlines to remember Republic Airlines.
  5. Gorski writes on like 500 different subjects in medicine. I focus on about 10 different topics. some of which he addresses maybe once a decade or something.
  6. Gorski is very snarky. OK, you got me, there’s the evidence. The dots connect.

Look, anyone who reads this blog carefully probably knows that Gorski occasionally gets annoyed with my comments. Sure, this could be some elaborate ruse of someone with a personality disorder, but, relying upon parsimony, the simplest explanation is that we are two different people.

So are we now clear? By the way, I have it on good authority that certain individuals will clear their good name from being associated with me. And Orac decided to respond to di Iorio by also denying that Orac is Spartacus. Good to know.

Internet troll connects the dots, part deux


Enough with David Gorski. I mean, with respect to this internet troll. I’ll continue to quote him in the future.

Next up, vaccine arguments. The internet troll, who can’t even get his conspiracy half-right, makes these inane comments about how I (or Gorski) “debate” vaccines:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]Here’s how it usually goes… You say you have some doubts about vaccine safety and all those vaccinations the government requires you to give your kids. You say you’re concerned about serious side-effects you keep reading about, and particularly potential links to autism and autoimmune disorders, and the reports of encephalitis and shock.

A typical response from mainstream proponents of vaccines would proceed like this… Oh, you’re being silly, you don’t know the science. Look, 99.9% of all doctors and scientists will tell you that vaccines are safe and effective. The science is solid, it’s long been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Ninety-nine point nine percent. That sounds pretty convincing.[/infobox]

As I’ve said about a hundred times, literally, science is not an election. I do not care if 99.9% or 50% or 1% of qualified and educated scientists agree or disagree with something. I only care about the evidence.

And here’s the thing – the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that vaccines are safe and effective. Not “beyond the shadow of a doubt,” because that’s not science. Science does not make dogmatic statements, only those who have “beliefs” that ignore evidence.

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]Of course, it’s unclear what formula, study or survey was used to come up with that figure, so you start to do your own research, and you quickly realize there are lots of doctors and scientists, in addition to well informed parents, journalists and consumer advocates, who do not subscribe to the establishment’s mantra about vaccine safety and effectiveness. They do not believe the myth that the science is settled, and some are very vocal about their reservations or opposition to it.[/infobox]

Ah yes, the old “doing your own research” gambit. So I’m supposed to accept the rantings and claims of any twit on the internet? That’s why scientific evidence matters – quantity and quality of such evidence is what makes science, and science-based medicine so special.

Connect the dots – appeal to false authority


Next up, di Iorio tries to ridicule us for our pointing out the antivaccination gang’s over-reliance on false authority:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]One of the most irritating problems I have with the antivaccination movement is their over-reliance on false authorities, where they trumpet the publications or commentary from someone who appears to have all of the credentials to be a part of the discussion on vaccines, but really doesn’t.[/infobox]

OK, I wrote that here. And without a doubt Tetyana Obukhanych is one of the worst “false authority” figures ever. (And Gorski/Orac/Spartacus needs to write about her.)

But I don’t really care. Evidence matters, and Obukhanych has none. She’s published nothing regarding vaccines. Nor has she ever done research in a real lab to support any of her antivaccine ideas. Without a doubt, she’s a joke.

Then, the irony meter blows up. Seriously, di Iorio owes me a new meter from Amazon.

Although he deleted several sections of his post (embarrassment perchance?), he turned around the “appeal to authority” and claimed that various people like Dr. Bob Sears know more about vaccines than me or Gorski or Offit. That’s rich.

Or that Dr. Diane Harper is a “renowned vaccine researcher”? That’s relying upon the appeal to authority using someone who is actually pro-vaccines, but has a rather confusing personal record of what she supports and doesn’t support with regards to one vaccine – Gardasil.  She actually supports other HPV vaccines, but she hates Merck or something.


What dots were connected?


Well this was the funniest connect the dot exercise ever. I see randomness. Or maybe a seagull. Can’t tell for sure.

Finally, di Iorio finishes his trolling effort with:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]So yes, if you take Orac’s trolling and his blogs seriously, you are likely to believe that 99.9% of all doctors and scientists are enthusiastically onboard with the mainstream vaccine paradigm, because you have automatically excluded all those who Orac and others like him are afraid of and try really hard to discredit and silence.

There’s that pesky cognitive dissonance rearing its ugly head again.[/infobox]

Couple of points that need to be addressed:

  • An internet troll is defined by someone who  “sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.” I don’t do this for my own amusement (other than to mock stupidity, like di Iorio’s). I attack the antivaccination cult because their lies, misinformation, science denial and ignorance cause harm to children. That’s it. I’m sure my sock-puppets, Orac and Gorski, do the same.
  • Oh, and cognitive dissonance? You keep using those words di Iorio…I don’t think it means what you think it means.

I had fun with this. Now let me read some more of di Iorio’s trolling blogs on vaccines. He’s apparently got a few, one where he thinks that Trump and Carson actually know anything about vaccines. That should be worth a laugh or two.

Oh, and di Iorio? Yeah you, trolling this blog. There’s no debate about vaccines, except in your simple mind. ¿Lo entiendes?

By the way, I think I got that merit badge. Maybe Orac will pin it on me. He’s a surgeon, so I’ve got to believe he won’t hurt me too badly.



The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

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  • “As I’ve said about a hundred times, literally, science is not an election. I do not care if 99.9% or 50% or 1% of qualified and educated scientists agree or disagree with something. I only care about the evidence.”

    Thank you. I could not agree more.

    Now, please take a close look at the science I have assembled on our blog,

    • Chris Preston

      Now, please take a close look at the science I have assembled on our blog

      That blog is only cargo cult science. It is the work of a single person with delusions of grandeur (or perhaps some other sort of delusions. “Our blog”? Really? Pull the other one it plays Jingle Bells.

      • Actually the science I use in the articles is from well respected institutions like Caltech, UC Davis and NIH, and published in mainstream science journals. I use quality science, and its not funded by “antivaxxers”.

        • Chris Preston

          I think you need to look up the meaning of cargo cult. It describes accurately the way you deal with science.

          • In order to make a comment like that, you have to explain how/why I get the science wrong. You have not done so.

            • Chris Preston

              In order to make a comment like that, you have to explain how/why I get the science wrong. You have not done so.

              No I don’t. I only need to read what you write to determine that you treat science like some sort of outfit shopping exercise. Needing to find just the right coloured and shaped red shoes to match the red dress.

              If you are really wanting a critique of how you have got the science wrong, you were provided a series of extensive critiques just a month ago.

            • You really must enjoy picking cherries, because you’re really good at it.

            • Virtually every paper published on immune activation-mediated brain damage supports our point of view.

            • shay simmons

              No, you believe whole-heartedly that they do, even when the original scientists make no such claim. I’m not a scientist and don’t pretend to be one, but I know crappy research when I see it.

            • Simba

              Except for the papers provided to you which contradict your hypothesis, which you conveniently ignore. And the obvious gaps in your assumptions, which you conveniently ignore. Guess you think
              honestly evaluating the evidence wouldn’t drive up traffic to your website?

            • He’s good at cherry picking like all science deniers.

            • Royal “our.” You mean you and all there other science deniers. Outfuckingstanding.

    • Troll, you lack evidence, because you are neither qualified to understand science, nor have the critical thinking skills to look beyond your own uneducated bullshit. Now, please go troll someone who might think you have an IQ above that of slime mold. Which I think is kind of low.

      BTW, your blog is so full of inaccuracy that I believe I wet myself. You are one of the most ignorant people who have dropped a deuce here in a long time. You remind me of a sober, though still deranged, Lowell.

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  • smut clyde
  • Chris Preston

    I mean Natural News would require 24/7 debunking.

    I had a good laugh, but I do want to take issue with the above.

    Anyone who has spent even a few minutes at Natural News would realise that the pool of stupid there is so deep that 24/7 debunking would barely make a dent on it.

    • If only it were so. Do you know how often Natural News is used as a “reliable source”?

      It’s frightening.

    • Sandy Perlmutter

      Thanks for this link – I had no idea.

  • Sandy Perlmutter

    Research from “well informed parents, journalists and consumer advocates”, as opposed to scientists and actual doctors. That’s troll country. Rely on your Google University for medical information.

  • Leatherface

    Lol if troll make shills miserable online.. shills unstable and need lives…

  • Leatherface

    Troll no like Kermit the frog doppelganger and muppets.

  • shay simmons

    About that medal-pinning…Gorski’s a surgeon. If he’s really annoyed, he knows how to hurt you.
    Kidding aside, this is part and parcel of the paranoid conviction prevalent in antivaxx circles that all arguments in favor of vaccination come from a paid cabal.

    • I had inside information that Gorski might deal with the troll.. I’m not sure if he will however.

      • shay simmons

        Your information appears to be correct.

    • Correct. The “shill” gambit is wrong. Gorski and other vaccine advocates are simply not keeping up with the science on the subject of autism and other brain damage caused by vaccines.

      Much better to look at recent scientific evidence, which clearly shows cause for concern regarding vaccine safety, and has accumulated quite strong evidence that vaccines are indeed responsible for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

      • shay simmons

        Recent scientific evidence such as the SafeMinds study that came out this fall?

        • No, definitely not that one. See our blog for the research I am talking about.

          • shay simmons

            Attempt to drive traffic to your site duly noted. Post links to these studies.

            • All studies are provided on our blog.

            • shay simmons

              Too bad I’m not going to be suckered into going to your blog. Post or it didn’t happen.

            • Translation: Case closed, mind is shut, dont bother me with the facts.

            • shay simmons

              Translation: VP has nothing.

            • ok here is a paper that may pique your interest. Its one of the papers used to make our case.


            • Apparently you passed “How to use logical fallacies.” You’re an ignorant fool – cherry picking one article versus the thousands that say “vaccines are safe and effective” will not impress any of us with real scientific backgrounds.

              Please go troll Age of Lying about Autism. Meh.

            • Boris Ogon

              Please go troll Age of Lying about Autism.

              Oh, he made quite a splash over there as “Ddanimal.”

            • I can’t keep up with the trolls.

            • We have MANY scientific references on our website. But apparently your audience here wont even look at our website. Thats why I posted the link above. Im trying to be tolerant of the closed-mindedness here. But of course I cannot provide links to every paper we use.

              And it wouldnt be very useful either, because the papers have to be woven together in a narrative, to explain how and why the results are relevant to the argument we make. That is what I have done in the articles on our blog.

              I invite you and others who disagree with our view to politely and rationally explain the flaws in our arguments. Thats how science progresses.

              This name-calling is not reasonable, not helpful to anyone and I will not engage in it. Please stop.

            • shay simmons

              Not “the” cause but certainly A cause. One of several.

              Not even in the same grid-square. From the study: “In sum, this study provides new evidence that environmental risk factors such maternal infection during pregnancy yield the offspring with autistic-like behaviors, including communication and social interaction impairments as well as high repetitive behavior.”

              In mice.

              All the more reason for me not to waste my time looking for the needle in your haystack.

              (Does anyone know why this person keeps using the royal “We?”)

            • Cytokine function and brain development are conserved across species. Not reasonable to argue that the results in mice are not relevant to humans. Also, the experiments have been repeated in monkeys, with the same results.

              The human brain is also damaged by immune activation long past the fetal stage of development. Just published a new article on that topic.

              Over time, I will be addressing each specific objection made by critics.

              So please let me know what objections you have and they will be addressed.

            • shay simmons

              The paper you insist supports your claim does not — that’s the only objection required. If this is an example of your “research” then any article you post on any topic is highly suspect.

            • Boris Ogon

              Does anyone know why this person keeps using the royal “We?”

              He thinks it’s a form of anonymity and has advanced a superfluous defense of sorts at SBM, which I have no interest whatever in looking for because nobody cares about pseudonymity. The brain-dead fake-plural battering ram, on the other hand, is basically an invitation to wasting 45 minutes dismantling the facade.

              I’ve already warned @vaccinepapers:disqus that I can be mercurial.

            • shay simmons

              Mercurial? You?

            • You mean you drink thiomersal as an aperitif?

            • Boris Ogon

              You mean you drink thiomersal as an aperitif?

              No, but my pharmacist seems to be getting tired of the quip about wanting extra mercury.

              I will add, though, that my offers to swallow a teaspoon of elemental mercury have been met with deranged spluttering but zero escrow. It’s at least a lot more feasible than the “weight-adjusted” babbling point.

            • Chris Preston

              So maternal infections are the cause of autism?

              That would absolve pediatric vaccines from being a cause then.

              Perhaps you might want to re-think your case?

            • Not “the” cause but certainly A cause. One of several.

              “The” cause seems to be immune activation, and there are many causes of immune activation, including both infections and vaccines.

              No it would not absolve vaccines, because vaccines cause immune activation. Certainly makes the issue more complicated because vaccines can both cause and prevent the thing that causes autism.

              Our view is that vaccines have a greater causative role than preventative, because of the timing and number of vaccines. They are given when the brain is sensitive. Also, aluminum adjuvant is a powerful immune activator not present in natural infections of course.

            • Chris Preston

              No the cause is not immune activation per se. And this particular paper has nothing to say about vaccines. Indeed it suggests that if immune activation was a cause of autism, it is in utero where it is important. This is because it is the maternal immune activation that is involved.

              Also there is this.

            • Yes I am familiar with some of the literature on maternal autoimmune antibodies. its just another way to cause brain inflammation and cytokine exposure in the developing brain. So this paper you cite (thank you) is more confirmation of the immune activation mechanism. Would have been nice if they measured cytokine expression, but that requires animal sacrifice and hence prevents behavioral measurements.

              All the literature so far shows that it is indeed immune activation and cytokine exposure PER SE. IL-6 has direct effects on neurodevelopment that results in autism-like changes.

            • You should read this paper.


              “The goal of this review is to
              describe the important role of the immune system during brain development, and to discuss some
              of the many ways in which immune activation during early brain development can affect the laterlife
              outcomes of neural function, immune function, mood and cognition.”

              Immune activation is a cause of not just autism, but of many psychiatric disorders.

            • Nothing to do with vaccines. Go away you science denying cretinous piece of slime mold.

            • Chris Preston

              It is a review yes. It posits, based on mice studies, that prenatal immune activation may lead to certain cognitive illnesses. Autism is barely mentioned in passing. Vaccines are not mentioned at all. Infection is mentioned a lot.

              So the take-home message of this review is that infection (mostly maternal infection) leading to neuroimmune dysregulation during early brain development may have an important role in some cognitive illnesses.

              But it is all based on animal models and provides no evidence at all that there might be a connection between vaccines and autism.

            • VP, the myth that autism is caused by vaccines has been dismissed over and over and over in 100s of articles. Quit cherrypicking and bring as much quality and quantity of research as we have. Or not. But your science denying crapfest is boring the holy shit out of me.

          • Boris Ogon

            See our blog for the research I am talking about.

            Dan, you really don’t want to try my patience.

            • Go ahead and attempt to explain why I get the science wrong. You will not be able to.

            • Boris Ogon

              Go ahead and attempt to explain why I get the science wrong. You will not be able to.

              I don’t think you actually understood what I was saying (hint: boldface), but the superfluous concession is duly noted. Would you like to replay your attempts at cipherin’ sample sizes?

            • I wouldn’t. 🙂

  • Rick got away??? Spoiler alert!!!

  • haha hilarious

  • kfunk937

    Very entertaining. I especially liked the sock accusation and the first guffaw-worthy phrase of many

    [Dorit Rubenstein Reiss]’s a nice person, a description that could be use for me only if you’re stoned

    . BUT– have you and Dr Gorski ever been seen together in the same place simultaneously? Hmmn.Har. These people are unreal.I hope you’ve shared this with Orac . . .

    • David Gorski has actually never been seen in the wild. He might be a myth.

      • Todd W.

        I’ve seen David Gorski with my own eyes! I tried to take a picture, but it came out blurry.

        • That’s because I’m supernatural, like a vampire. My reflection in the mirror is very blurry too. Or it could be that all the existing pictures of me are fakes, like blurry pictures of Bigfoot, shot from a distance and not showing any detail.

          • Todd W.

            There was this fellow next to me with an old film camera that I think caught Gorski for a brief moment as he was walking along. What his name…something Zapruder? Anyway, the weird thing is that when I watched his film, it just looked like some guy in a rubber mask.

          • shay simmons

            Please don’t sparkle.

  • c0nc0rdance

    Orac’s secret identity is about as well guarded as Superman’s (will we ever discover it?). If you take the blinking lights off the box, pull back the curtain, it’s clearly Bizarro Mike Adams… but, like… wearing glasses.

    • I always find it hysterical when someone points out Orac’s “secret” identity like it took James Bond to uncover it. About the only thing secret about Orac’s identity is if he prefers Chicago or New York style pizza.

      • Neither. I prefer Detroit style pizza. Buddy’s, yes…

        Now there are no secrets.

        • Wait. What? There’s a Detroit style pizza?

          • Chris Preston

            There are strange things to be found in Michigan that exist nowhere else.

            Personally, I have a soft spot for this place, but that is more to do with the beer than the pizza.

          • Of course. It’s a deep dish pizza that is not as thick and doughy as Chicago style pizza. Truly, Buddy’s Pizza and other Detroit-style pizzas rule supreme. That’s not to say that I don’t have a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) for thin crust New York-style pizza. It just depends on my mood.