Why Skeptics are non believers?

This article was captured October 2013  and is from the former blog Subversive thinking  subversivethinking.blogspotdotcom

Many who loudly advertise themselves as skeptics are actually disbelievers. Properly, a skeptic is a nonbeliever, a person who refuses to jump to conclusions based on inconclusive evidence. A disbeliever, on the other hand, is characterized by an a priori belief that a certain idea is wrong and will not be swayed by any amount of empirical evidence to the contrary. Since disbelievers usually fancy themselves skeptics, I will follow Truzzi and call them pseudoskeptics, and their opinions pseudoskepticism.

Organized (Pseudo-)Skepticism

The more belligerent pseudoskeptics have their own organizations and publications. In Germany, there is an organization called the Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften e.V., or GWUP, ( “society for the scientific evaluation of parasciences”) which publishes a magazine called Der Skeptiker (“the Skeptic”). In the United States, there is the so-called “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal”, or short, CSICOP. The name suggests a serious, unbiased institute or think tank whose mission is to advance human knowledge by sorting out true anomalous discoveries from erroneous or fraudulent ones. Indeed, that was what some of the original members of CSICOP envisioned when they founded the organization in 1976. But in the very same year, CSICOP faced an internal crisis, a power struggle between the genuine skeptics and the disbelieving pseudoskeptics that was to tilt the balance in favor of the latter.

At issue was the Mars Effect, an extraordinary claim made by French statistician and psychologist Michel Gauquelin. Gauquelin had discovered an apparent statistical correlation between the position of Mars in the sky with the odds of becoming a sports champion, producing a genuine piece of empirical evidence that astrology might not be nonsense after all. This dismayed the pseudoskeptics, who until them had been comfortable dismissing astrology on purely theoretical grounds and were unwilling to even entertain the hypothesis that Gauquelin’s analysis might be correct. In 1976, in an attempt to make this embarrassment go away once and for all, Harvard professor of biostatistics and CSICOP fellow Marvin Zelen proposed a simplified version of the original Gauquelin study which he subsequently performed with the assistance of CSICOP chairman and professor of philosophy Paul Kurtz and George Abell, a UCLA astronomer. In order to get the result they wanted, the trio had to commit a total of six statistical blunders, which are discussed in detail in the article The True Disbelievers: Mars Effect Drives Skeptics to Irrationality by former CSICOP fellow Richard Kammann. Proper analysis showed that the new study actually supported the Gauquelin effect.

But Kurtz and his fellow pseudoskeptics had never been interested in performing proper science. Their minds had been made up long before the study was performed, and they adamantly refused to admit their mistake in public. This lead to the resignation of many fair-minded CSICOP members, among them Richard Kammann and co-founder Marcello Truzzi. Truzzi wrote about his experience in Reflections On The Reception Of Unconventional Claims In Science:

Originally I was invited to be a co-chairman of CSICOP by Paul Kurtz. I helped to write the bylaws and edited their journal. I found myself attacked by the Committee members and board, who considered me to be too soft on the paranormalists. My position was not to treat protoscientists as adversaries, but to look to the best of them and ask them for their best scientific evidence. I found that the Committee was much more interested in attacking the most publicly visible claimants such as the “National Enquirer”. The major interest of the Committee was not inquiry but to serve as an advocacy body, a public relations group for scientific orthodoxy. The Committee has made many mistakes. My main objection to the Committee, and the reason I chose to leave it, was that it was taking the public position that it represented the scientific community, serving as gatekeepers on maverick claims, whereas I felt they were simply unqualified to act as judge and jury when they were simply lawyers.

After the true skeptics had been purged from the committee, CSICOP and its magazine, the Skeptical Inquirer, degenerated into little more than a propaganda outlet for the systematic ridicule of anything unconventional. Led by a small, but highly aggressive group of fundamentalist pseudoskeptics such as chairman and humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz, science writer and magician Martin Gardner and magician James Randi, CSICOP sees science not as a dispassionate, objective search for the truth, whatever it might be, but as holy war of the ideology of materialism against “a rising tide of irrationality, superstition and nonsense”. Kurtz and his fellows are fundamentalist materialists. They hold the nonexistence of paranormal phenomena as an article of faith, and they cling to that belief just as fervently and irrationally as a devout catholic believes in the Virgin Mary. They are fighting a no holds barred war against belief in the paranormal, and they see genuine research into such matters as a mortal threat to their belief system. Since genuine scientific study has the danger that the desired outcome is not guaranteed, CSICOP wisely no longer conducts scientific research of its own (such would be a waste of time and money for an entity that already has all the answers), and instead largely relies on the misrepresentation or intentional omission of existing research and the ad-hominem – smear, slander and ridicule.

Eugene Mallove, editor of Infinite Energy Magazine, relates the following telling episode in issue 23, 1999 of his magazine:

On the morning of July 14, 1998, I called Skeptical Inquirer’s editor, Kendrick Frazier, to ask him, among other things, what research or literature search he had done on cold fusion. He rebuffed me, saying that he was too busy to talk, because he was on deadline on an editorial project. We spoke briefly; he was transparently irritated. He said, “I know who you are.” He said that he did not want to talk to me because, “We would have diametrically opposed views.” I said, “Oh, what research have you done to come to your conclusions about cold fusion.” I had thought that the careful investigation of “diametrically opposed views” was part of the work of CSICOP. Perhaps I was mistaken. Frazier said, “I’m not an investigator, I’m an editor.” The conversation ended with Frazier stating that he had nothing further to say.

The entire article is available online: CSICOP: “Science Cops” at War with Cold Fusion.

Even though it is largely run by scientific lay people, and its practices are anathema to true science, CSICOP has enjoyed the support of a number of highly prestigious scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould, the late Carl Sagan, Glenn T. Seaborg, Leon Lederman and Murray Gell-Mann. This support has enabled it to project an image of scientific authority to the opinion shapers in the media and the general public.

For a detailed study of pseudo-skepticism in general, and CSICOP in particular, I refer the reader to George P. Hansen’s article CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview (published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research), in which CSICOP’s history, goals, tactics and membership structure are discussed in some detail. In his conclusions, Hansen finds that

CSICOP’s message has often been well received, particularly among scientific leaders. The growth of CSICOP, the circulation figures of “SI”, and the academic credentials of its readership prove that there is wide interest in the paranormal among the most highly educated members of our society. Many readers of “SI” undoubtedly assume that CSICOP presents the best available scientific evidence. The readers are rarely told of the existence of refereed scientific journals that cover parapsychology. The effect of CSICOP’s activities is to create a climate of hostility toward the investigation of paranormal claims; indeed, at one CSICOP conference, the announcement of the closing of several parapsychology laboratories was greeted with cheers.

The remainder of this text is devoted to a detailed discussion of pseudoskeptical arguments and debating tactics.

      • If it was true, there is no way that science could have missed it!

        This is a variation of the end of science argument – since science already knows everything, and does not recognize the unconventional phenomenon, it cannot be real. Besides being based on a mere belief – that science has discovered everything there is to know – this argument ignores the nature of human perception. Even scientists tend to see only what they want to see, and that is how phenomena that we find completely obvious today, such as Wegener’s plate tectonics – look how South America fits into Africa! – went unnoticed for a long time, and were violently opposed when they were finally pointed out. As Arthur C. Clarke put it:

        “It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible. When this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them.”

        True skeptics appreciate that the principal flaw of human perception – seeing what one wants to see – can afflict conventional as well as unconventional scientists. Their opinions are moderated by the humbling realization that today’s scientific orthodoxy began as yesterday’s scientific heresy; as the the December 2002 editorial of Scientific American puts it:

        All scientific knowledge is provisional. Everything that science “knows,” even the most mundane facts and long-established theories, is subject to reexamination as new information comes in.

      • Confusing Assumptions with Findings

        Pseudoskeptics like to claim that the assumptions underlying modern science are empirical facts that science has proved. For example, the foundational assumption of neuroscience, that the functioning of the brain (and, therefore, the mind) is explainable in terms of classical physics as the interaction of neurons, is said to be a scientific fact that is proved by neuroscience, despite the embarrassing and long-standing failure of this assumption to explain the anomaly of consciousness.

        In a recent BBC program on homeopathy Walter Stewart (the same one who was part of the Nature team that visited Benveniste in his laboratory in 1988) is quoted on the subject of homeophatic dilutions:

        Science has through many, many different experiments shown that when a drug works it’s always through the way the molecule interacts with the body and, so the discovery that there’s no molecules means absolutely there’s no effect.

        But science has shown no such thing. That the functioning of biological organisms is reducible to the physical interaction of molecules is not the result of decades of bio-molecular research, it is the assumption underlying this research. The fact that homeopathy confounds that assumption refutes the latter, not the former.

      • “Debate Closed” Mentality

        Since Pseudoskeptics have by their nature made up their minds on any question long before the evidence is in, they are not interested in participating in what could become an involved, drawn-out debate. On the contrary, their concern is with preserving their own understanding of how nature works, so discordant evidence has to be disposed of as quickly as possible. When sound evidence to that end is unavailable, anything that sufficiently resembles it will suffice. Pseudoskeptics like to jump to conclusions quickly – when the conclusion is their own, preconceived one. Once the pseudoskeptical community has agreed on an “explanation” that is thought to debunk claim X, that explanation then becomes enshrined in pseudoskeptical lore and is repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseam in the pseudoskeptical literature. Subsequent rebuttals are ignored, as is new data that support claims X. Examples are legion.

        • Gurwich’s 1932 discovery of mitogenetic radiation is still derided by pseudoskeptics as a classical example of “pathological science” (Irving Langmuir, who coined the term, used it as an example), even though it has been vindicated by three decades of biophoton research.
        • Pseudoskeptics continue their ridicule of Cold Fusion as a mistake, even use “cold fusion” as a metaphor to refer to what they deem pathological science in general, ignoring a full decade of successful replication of the effect.
        • Parapsychology continues to be attacked by the hard-core pseudoskeptics with criticisms that were addressed and resolved long ago, leading Radin to remark that

          (..) skeptics who continue to repeat the same old assertions that parapsychology is a pseudoscience, or that there are no repeatable experiments, are uninformed not only about the state of parapsychology, but also about the current state of skepticism!

      • Overreaching and Armchair Quarterbacking

        Faced with contradictory or inconclusive evidence, the skeptic will only say that the claim has not been proved at this time, and give the claimant the benefit of the doubt. The pseudoskeptic will make the (incorrect) counter-claim that the original claim has been disproved by the evidence (and usually follow up with generous amounts of name-calling and other extra-scientific arguments discussed below).

        This distinction between simply not accepting a claim and making a counter-claim is important because it shifts the burden of proof. The true skeptic does not have to prove anything, because she is simply unconvinced of the validity of an extraordinary claim. Pseudoskeptics, on the other hand, making the claim that the extraordinary phenomenon only appears to be extraordinary, and has a conventional explanation, have to bear a burden of proof of their own. Do they? The general answer is no. Most of the professional pseudoskeptics engage in mere ‘armchair quarterbacking’, conducting no research of their own. As far as parapsychology is concerned, Radin sums this situation up as follows:

        The fact that most skeptics do not conduct counter studies to prove their claims is often ignored. For example, in 1983 the well-known skeptic Martin Gardner wrote:

        How can the public know that for fifty years skeptical psychologists have been trying their best to replicate classic psi experiments, and with notable unsuccess [sic]? It is this fact more than any other that has led to parapsychology’s perpetual stagnation. Positive evidence keeps coming in from a tiny group of enthusiasts, while negative evidence keeps coming in from a much larger group of skeptics.

        As Honorton points out, “Gardner does not attempt to document this assertion, nor could he. It is pure fiction. Look for the skeptic’s experiments and see what you find.” In addition, there is no “larger group of skeptics.” Perhaps ten or fifteen skeptics have accounted for the vast bulk of the published criticisms.

      • Assuming False Scientific Authority

        Many high-profile pseudoskeptics pass judgement based on scientific expertise they don’t have. James Randi, for example, shares the following tirade in a July 13, 2001 commentary on his web site:

        Just so that you can see how pseudoscience and ignorance have taken over the Internet merchandising business, I suggest that you visit http://www.hydrateforlife.com and try to follow the totally false and misleading pitch that the vendors make for this product, magically-prepared “Penta” water that will “hydrate” your body miraculously. A grade-school education will equip you to recognize the falsity of this claim, but it’s obvious that the purveyors are cashing in on ignorance and carelessness. Just read this as an example of pure techno-claptrap:

        Normally, the water you drink is in large clusters of H20 [sic] molecules. That’s because its [sic] been affected by air, heat, and modern civilization. PentaTM is water that, through physics, has been reduced to its purest state in nature — smaller clusters of H2O [sic] molecules. These smaller clusters move through your body more quickly than other water, penetrating your cell membranes more easily. This means PentaTM is absorbed into your system faster and more completely. When you drink PentaTM, you’re drinking the essence of water. You get hydrated faster, more efficiently, and more completely than with any other water on earth.

        Folks, water is water. It’s burned hydrogen, no more, no less. The molecules of H2O — not “H2O” as these quacks write — do not “cluster,” under any influence of the dreadful “air, heat, and modern civilization” that you’re cautioned to fear. True, water exhibits surface tension, and the molecules do “line up” to an extent, though almost any foreign substance in there disturbs this effect — soap/detergent “wets” it readily. But water molecules in “clusters”? No way! The illustrations you see here are totally wrong and fictitious. There’s no such thing as “essence of water,” by any stretch of scientific reasoning, or imagination. This is total, unmitigated nonsense, a pack of lies designed to swindle and cheat, to steal money, and to rob the consumer. And “through physics” has nothing to do with it. I await objections to the above statements. There will be none, because the sellers of “Penta” know they’re lying, they do it purposefully, and they know they can get away with it because of the incredible inertia of the Federal agencies that should be protecting us against such deception and thievery. Those agencies just can’t do the job, and they bumble about endlessly while the public continues to pay through the nose. But notice: the Penta people, on their web page, beneath a family picture of the founders, clearly assert that: At first, [the Penta engineers] tested Penta on plants. They discovered that test seeds would germinate in half the time as the control seeds. Bingo! Hallelujah! We have the means for a test! A simple, inexpensive, clearly demonstrative, test! Such a demonstration would clearly establish the claim these folks are making. Ah, but will PentaTM apply for the million-dollar prize? Dear reader, with your experience of Tice, DKL, Quadro, Josephson, Edward, and all the parade of others who have declined to be tested, I think that you expect, as I do, that PentaTM will apply as promptly as Sylvia Browne did. The PentaTM page advises us to “Penta-hydrate — be fluid.” Translation: “Believe this — be stupid.”

        Randi could not be more wrong. Water is not simply “water- burned hydrogen, no more no less”. It is a highly anomalous substance, and its fundamental properties are still the subject of basic research. Admittedly, the claims made for “Penta-Water” are scientifically extravagant. But can they be dismissed out of hand? Contrary to what Randi asserts with such rhetoric force and finality, water clusters are discussed in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The interested reader may want to visit Martin Chaplin’s web site for an overview of scientific work on water clustering. Chaplin is not a stage magician, but a Professor of Applied Science at South Bank University, London and holds a degree in chemistry. He is also an active researcher in the field of water clustering, and concludes that

        (..) there is a sufficient and broad evidential base for it’s existence [the existence of the icosahedral water cluster], including the ability to explain all the ‘anomalous’ properties of water.

        The existence of scientific evidence for water clusters does of course not imply that “Penta” and similar products have any merit, but it does caution against outright dismissal of these kinds of product. Randi’s sweeping negative statements betray lack of knowledge on the subject and qualify him as a blundering pseudo-scientist. His petty, adolescent criticism of a simple typographic inaccuracy on the “Hydrate for Life” web site and his use of ridicule (he asserts that “Penta” is “magically-prepared” and works “miraculously” while the manufacturer simply states that the process is “proprietary”) support that impression. And yet, Randi rhetorically assumes an air of scientific authority, even infallibility.

        Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer makes the following ignorant argument in “Baloney Detection” (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36):

        The biggest problem with the cold fusion debacle, for instance, was not that Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman were wrong. It was that they announced their spectacular discovery at a press conference before other laboratories verified it. Worse, when cold fusion was not replicated, they continued to cling to their claim. Outside verification is crucial to good science.

        The argument against “science by press conference” is a good one, but it would be more credible if Shermer applied it to accepted science too. A prime example is Robert Gallo’s announcement of the discovery of the “probable cause of AIDS” in a press conference in 1984 that preceeded publication of his research in Science and secured a political commitment to his alleged facts before critical scientific discussion could take place.

        What makes Shermer’s argument ignorant is his use of cold fusion as an example. Real scientists who have actually studied the evidence for cold fusion have come to very different conclusions. In February 2002, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center of the United State Navy in San Diego released a 310 page report titled Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System that discusses the overwhelming experimental evidence that the cold fusion effect indeed exists. Dr. Frank E. Gordon, the head of the center’s Navigation and Applied Sciences Department, writes in the foreword:

        We do not know if Cold Fusion will be the answer to future energy needs, but we do know the existence of Cold Fusion phenomenon through repeated observations by scientists throughout the world. It is time that this phenomenon be investigated so that we can reap whatever benefits accrue from additional scientific understanding. It is time for government funding organizations to invest in this research.

        Yet Shermer, a psychologist by trade, feels called upon to pass summary negative judgment on this field of research.

      • Double Standards of Acceptable Proof and Ad-Hoc Hypotheses

        The true skeptic will apply her skepticism equally to conventional and unconventional claims, and even to skepticism itself. In particular, the true skeptic recognizes an ad-hoc hypothesis regardless of the source. The pseudoskeptic, on the other hand, reserves her critical facilities for unconventional claims only.

        William R. Corliss, the author of The Sourcebook Project (a comprehensive collection of anomalies and unexplained phenomena reported in scientific journals) gives a salient example of that kind of behavior in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Vol. 16, 3 p.446):

        One would expect a lively interface between the Sourcebook Project and the several groups of skeptics, as typified by the Committee for the [Scientific] Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). After all, my catalogs do challenge those paradigms the skeptics defend so ferociously. Actually, there has been no traffic whatsoever. While mainstream Nature has reviewed five of my books, the skeptics have shown no interest in evaluating any of the Sourcebook publications. The skeptics, it seems, are never skeptical of established paradigms, onlythose observations that threaten to disestablish them.

        The Skeptic’s Dictionary, a leading pseudoskeptical online resource, gives us a great example of this selective blindness. Under the heading “ad hoc hypothesis”, we find the following definition:

        An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists.

        What Todd Caroll, the author of the Skeptic’s Dictionary does not see fit to share with his readers is that some of the most celebrated “discoveries” of mainstream science are mere ad hoc hypotheses designed to cover the failure of theories to agree with observational evidence. Some of these ad hoc hypotheses, such as the hypothesis that almost all of the matter and energy of the universe exists in a form undetectable by the instruments of science, that there is a particle that causes mass (the Higgs Boson), and that people who fail to improve on AIDS drugs must be infected with a resistant mutation of HIV, are then taken as facts, with the strongest evidence for the existence being that accepted theory requires them! And yet, you will search skeptical publications in vain for truly skeptical discussion of these subjects (as opposed to ones that agree with the mainstream consensus). “The Mainstream Consensus Is Always Right” seems to be the motto.

        The following is an anecdotal example of an ad-hoc theory in established science. In its June 2002 issue, Scientific American ran an article on AIDS that contained a chart titled “World AIDS Snapshot” ( p.41). Combining the absolute numbers of people who are HIV positive with population figures from the CIA world factbook, I found that in Australia/New Zealand, only one person in 1548 was HIV positive, while in North America (Mexico counts under Latin America, according to the UNAIDS website), 1 person in 329 was. Given that the predominant strain of HIV is the same in both regions (clade B), how can the rate of infection be almost 5 times higher in North America than in Australia/New Zealand? Sexual (mis)behavior in both regions is comparable, as evidenced by the fact that incidence rates for classical STDs are virtually identical (according to WHO figures for 1999):

        STD North America Australia/New Zealand
        Gonorrhea: 1 in 196 1 in 192
        Trichomoniasis, men 1 in 78 1 in 79
        Trichomoniasis, women 1 in 71 1 in 72
        Chlamydia: 1 in 78 1 in 77
        HIV (prevalence) 1 in 329 1 in 1548

        I emailed Sciam staff writer Carol Ezzell and inquired what the cause of this discrepancy could be. I received the following reply:

        Our statistics come from the UNAIDS (see the website at http://www.unaids.org). Australia/New Zealand has a 0.1 percent adult prevalence rate, whereas North America has a rate of 0.6 percent. Most of the cases of HIV infection in Australia/New Zealand occur in men who have sex with men. A key tipping point in the broadening of HIV infection occurs when the virus rages through IV drug abusers and then enters people (men and women) who have sex with those drug abusers. For whatever reason, this hasn’t happened in A./N.Z.

        Actually, the alleged broadening of HIV infection into a general epidemic that effects large numbers of heterosexuals has not happened anywhere in the developed world, even though it was widely predicted by experts in the 1980s. The claim that it somehow exists nonetheless, and, for some unknown reason, more so in North America than in Australia/New Zealand, is a perfect example of “a hypothesis created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s theory”. Skepticism towards the prevailing view of “HIV/AIDS” seems to be called for, but you will find none in the pages of the Skeptical Inquirer and other “skeptical” publications.

        Skeptic has published an article on this subject titled The Aids Heresies – A Case Study in Skepticism Taken Too Far (vol. 3, no. 2, 1995) by Steven B. Harris, M.D. that seeks to affirm the correctness of the conventional viewpoint and, in typical pseudoskeptical fashion, ignores at least one key argument of the AIDS critics. That is the argument that HIV tests are completely invalid. The Perth Group had already made that case in 1993 in a paper published in Bio/Technology (Vol.11 June 1993). Their claims were reported in a headline story on June 1, 1993 in the Sunday Times of London. Yet, over one year later, Dr. Harris does not even mention this critical component in the skeptical case against the conventional theory of HIV/AIDS in his article. Instead, he misleads his readers into believing that AIDS skeptics recognize the validity of HIV tests in the first place by stating that “critics of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis have had to struggle to keep up with sensitivity increases in HIV testing”.

        To discuss an example in physics: University of Michigan physicist Gordon Kane writes about the Higgs Boson on the Scientific American Web site under the heading “ask the experts”

        There are currently two pieces of evidence that a Higgs boson does exist. The first is indirect. According to quantum field theory, all particles spend a little time as combinations of all other particles, including the Higgs boson. This changes their properties a little in ways that we know how to calculate and that have been well verified. Studies of the effect the Higgs boson has on other particles reveal that experiment and theory are consistent only if the Higgs boson exists and is lighter than around 170 giga electron volts (GeV), or about 180 proton masses. Because this is an indirect result, it is not rigorous proof. More concrete evidence of the Higgs came from an experiment conducted at the European laboratory for particle physics (CERN) using the Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider in its final days of operation. That research revealed a possible direct signal of a Higgs boson with mass of about 115 GeV and all the expected properties. Together these make a very convincing—although not yet definitive—case that the Higgs boson does indeed exist

        A researcher making that kind of case for an unconventional phenomenon would be laughed out of town. A single sighting, so the skeptics would say, is anecdotal evidence and proves nothing. And that a theory requires it merely means that the scientists saw what they wanted to see. But particle physics is conventional science, hence different (i.e. much less stringent) standards of proof apply. Results are accepted, even said to be “convincing”, based on relatively weak and purely indirect evidence, and because a handful of experts vouch for their accuracy.

        Another example of established science that should not be so established is the neutrino. Neutrinos are ghostlike particles that were introduced by Pauli as an ad-hoc hypothesis to save the relativistic law of energy conservation (which fails to correctly describe radioactive beta decay otherwise). Neutrinos can not be detected directly, and require giant detectors for indirect (statistical) detection. Decades of neutrino detection experiments have failed to detect the correct number of solar neutrinos. To account for the discrepancy, physicists have come up with the idea of neutrino oscillations. In other words, the neutrino meets several of Langmuir’s criteria of pathological science: the maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, the effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results and criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses. Maybe there is no neutrino, and the relativistic law of energy conservation is simply wrong? Autodynamics is a proposed theoretical alternative to relativity that correctly describes beta decay without a neutrino, but you won’t find it mentioned in physics journals or the pseudoskeptical literature.

        So pseudoskeptics often fail to apply their skepticism to conventional wisdom. But worse yet, when confronted with evidence of unusual phenomena, pseudoskepticism itself will take refuge to outrageously arbitrary ad hoc hypotheses: swamp gas, duck butts and temperature inversions can create the appearance of flying vehicles in the sky, pranksters are able to produce elaborate geometrical designs in crops within seconds, in complete darkness, and without leaving footprints (but somehow changing the microscopic structure of the crops in a manner consistent with microwave heating), and shadows can conspire to make a mesa on Mars look like a face, an illusion that persists under different viewing angles and lighting conditions.

        Critics of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (such as self-appointed “quackwatcher” Stephen Barrett) habitually employ this double standard. They will piously denounce alternative medical procedures for not having 100% cure rates, but ignore the fact that the side effects of conventional drugs kill over 100,000 in the US alone each year. They will condescendingly point to a lack of proper (i.e. double-blind) scientific studies supporting certain alternative procedures, and simultaneously ignore the fact that many conventional surgical procedures and drug protocols are equally unproven by the same standard. Worse yet, they will hold alternative medicine responsible for every case of malpractice that has ever been committed in its name, but they would not dream of applying the same standard to conventional medical practice.

        The Friday, May 14, 2004 edition of Robert Park’s What’s New Column contains the following gem:

        “Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) is a new international journal that seeks to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine…particularly traditional Asian healing systems.” So begins an Oxford University Press announcement http://www.oup.co.uk/jnls/list/ecam/. All eCAM papers are available online at no cost and without subscription. Unlike other open-access journals there are no author submission fees. Who pays, skeptics might ask? The “generous support of Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center, co-owner of the journal with OUP.” Yes, it’s the ancient-wisdom scam. (..) Other industries might be equally generous. Perhaps the Journal of Gambling Studies, which deals with gambling addiction, could cut a deal with the slot-machine industry. And perhaps Join Together Online, which opposes gun violence, could team up with the National Rifle Association. On the other hand, maybe not.

        Park’s double standard with respect to medical ethics boggles the mind. Corruption and violation of scientific ethics is endemic in the maintream medical system. Drug companies are permitted to write their own studies or to pay allegedly independent researchers to produce results, and to suppress results that are not favourable to their products. Medical journals receive significant funding from the pharmaceutical industry through advertising. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times published on August 9, 2004, Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, made the following statement:

        Research is biased in favor of the drugs and drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry spends a great deal to influence people in academic medicine and professional societies. It does a super job of making sure [that] nearly every important person they can find in academic medicine [who] is involved in any way with drugs is hired as a consultant, as a speaker, is placed on an advisory board — and is paid generous amounts of money. Conflicts of interest are rampant. When the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of antidepressants, we didn’t have room to print all the authors’ conflict-of- interest disclosures. We had to refer people to the website. I wrote an editorial for the journal, titled “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” Someone wrote a letter to the editor that answered the question, “No. The current owner is very happy with it.” That sums up the situation nicely.

        Dr. Park has evidently heard of Dr. Angell, because he mentions her as a skeptic of CAM in his May 11, 2001 column. But when the same person makes public statements that confirm that conventional medicine is suffering from a large-scale epidemic of the very same disease that Park finds intolerable in the field of CAM, he shows no interest, at least not in his What’s Newcolumn. If CAM studies are invalid because of financial conflicts of interests, should not the same ethical standard be applied to mainstream medicine? They should, but Dr. Park is apparently more interested in making a system of medicine he doesn’t like look bad than in applying ethical standards even-handedly and dispassionately.

        Marcello Truzzi, one of the original founders of CSICOP, deftly exposes the hypocrisy of pseudoskepticism when he writes

        Those who leap to call parapsychology a pseudoscience might do well to look more closely at the social sciences in general. Those who laugh at the implausibility of a possible plesiosaur in Loch Ness should take a close look at the arguments and evidence put forward for the Big Bang or black holes. Those who think it unreasonable to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects might do well to look carefully at the arguments and evidence of those who promote current attempts at contacting extraterrestrial intelligence allegedly present in other solar systems. Those who complain about the unscientific status quo of psychic counselors should be willing to examine the scientific status of orthodox psychotherapy and make truly scientific comparisons. Those who sneer at phony prophets in our midst might also do well to look at the prognosticators in economics and sociology who hold official positions as “scientific forecasters”. Those who concern themselves about newspaper horoscopes and their influence might do well to look at what the “real” so-called helping professions are doing. The scientist who claims to be a skeptic, a zetetic, is willing to investigate empirically the claims of the American Medical Association as well as those of the faith healer; and, more important, he should be willing to compare the empirical results for both before defending one and condemning the other.

        Cremo and Thompson, in Forbidden Archeology, p. 24, write under the heading “The Phenomenon of Suppression”:

        One prominent feature in the treatment of anomalous evidence is what we could call the double standard. All paleoanthropological evidence tends to be complex and uncertain. Practically any evidence in this field can be challenged, for if nothing else, one can always raise charges of fraud. What happens in practice is that evidence agreeing with a prevailing theory tends to be treated very leniently. Even if it has grave defects, these tend to be overlooked. In contrast, evidence that goes against an accepted theory tends to be subjected to intense critical scrutiny, and it is expected to meet a very high standard of proof.

        Skeptics, both of the genuine and the pseudo variety, have elevated this double standard to a principle of science: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence! But this principle does not hold up to logical scrutiny, because a claim is only ordinary or extraordinary in relation to a theory. For the sake of making this point, let us assume a scenario in a hypothetical new science in which there are two pieces of evidence to be discovered, A and B, each equally credible, each one suggesting an obvious, but incorrect explanation (call them (1) and (2)). (1) and (2) are mutually incompatible, and a third, highly non obvious explanation (3) that accounts for both A and B is actually correct.

        As chance would have it, one of the two pieces of evidence A,B will be discovered first. Let A be that piece of evidence, and further suppose that the scientists working in that hypothetical field all subscribe to the principle of the double standard. After the discovery of A, they will adopt explanation (1) as the accepted theory of their field. At a later time, when B is discovered, it will be dismissed because it contradicts (1), and because A and B are equally credible, but A is ordinary relative to (1) and B is extraordinary.

        The end result is that our hypothetical science has failed to self-correct. The incorrect explanation (1) has been accepted, and the correct explanation (3) was never found, because B was rejected. I therefore submit that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is not suitable as a guiding principle for sound scientific research. All evidence, whether it supports accepted theories or not, should be given the same level of critical scrutiny.

        Pseudoskeptics of course would argue that they simply do not have the resources to be skeptical about everything, so they have to concentrate on the obvious targets. But that doesn’t get them off the hook. Pseudoskeptics apply the “extraordinary evidence” standard only selectively to controversial phenomena- namely, precisely when they fit their ideological preconceptions! When Doug Bower and David Chorley made the extraordinary claim that they had created all of the thousands of crop circles that had appeared in English fields between 1978 and 1991 (some of which had appeared on the same night in different regions of the country), there were no armies of skeptics loudly insisting that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Apparently, as long as the extraordinary claim is one that agrees with what the pseudoskeptics have “known” all along, it does not even require ordinary evidence. Bower and Chorley were never able to substantiate their claim, let alone prove it, but the “skeptical” community accepted it on faith – and without a trace of skepticism.

      • Responding to Claims that were not made aka Demolishing Straw Men.

        Benveniste (who showed that ultradilutions, i.e. homeopathic preparations not containing a single molecule of the original substance can still have a biological effect) was attacked by Nature editor John Maddox with the argument that dilutions of the kind used by Benveniste can simply not exist because they would require “1074 world oceans” (that is more water than contained in the entire universe) to manufacture. That is correct, if the definition of “dilution” requires that at least one molecule remain, but Benveniste (and generations of homeopaths) have readily conceded that very point! Everyone agrees that high homeopathic dilutions do not contain a single active molecule, so Maddox’s argument is nothing but the ritual dissection of a straw man. He is not alone – “skeptical” discussions of homeopathy invariably spend a lot of time making this completely uncontested point.

        Our favourite resource for invalid criticisms, the Skeptic’s Dictionary, tries to downplay the important of the Gauquelin data by stressing that correlation does not imply causation. But astrologers do not claim causation! Both adherents and skeptics agree that astrology is a branch of magic, and as such is based on the principle of correspondences. This principles claims that nature exhibits meaningful, not necessarily causally mediated analogous behavior on all levels. The Gauquelin data shows correlation between the movements of the planets and certain aspects of human behavior; nothing more is claimed by astrology.

        In a personal note published on James Randi’s Website, Robert Park makes the following statement about the “Motionless Electromagnetic Generator”, a claimed free energy device:

        I’ve been following the MEG claim since Patent 6,362,718 was issued in the spring (What’s New 4 Apr 02). The claim, of course, is preposterous. It is a clear violation of the conservation of energy.

        But Park is only demolishing a straw man. The first law of thermodynamics states that the energy of a closed system is conserved. But the inventors of the MEG claim that their device takes energy from the zero-point field of the vacuum, thereby conserving the energy of the total system (which in this case would be the MEG and the surrounding vacuum). Whether it can actually do that is an open question. But the existence of the Casimir force proves that in principle such extraction of energy from the vacuum is possible (even though the potential energy gained from the Casimir force between two plates is negligible). Therefore, one cannot dismiss claims for free energy devices such as the MEG on a priori grounds of energy conservation. Since Park is a physicists, he could not possibly be unaware of this. By making this argument, he is therefore intentionally misrepresenting the claims of the MEG inventors. They do not claim to have found a way around the first law; they merely claim to have accessed a source of energy not previously accessible to human technology.

        [Note: The author is aware of no legitimate scientific evidence that the MEG works as claimed. The purpose of this example is not to suggest that it is a legitimate “free energy” device, but simply to point out the invalid nature of some of the arguments against it.]

      • Technically Correct Pseudo-Refutation (credit for the term goes to Daniel Drasin):

        Pseudoskeptics are fond of arguing that hundreds of respectable scientists believe that a certain idea is bunk, and therefore, it must be. When one points out to them that many scientific breakthroughs were ridiculed and dismissed by the scientific establishment of the time, they retort that not every idea that has been ridiculed or dismissed turned out to be correct. Correct, but completely irrelevant, because it responds to an argument that was not made. The argument was not that ridicule or dismissal by scientific experts is sufficient grounds for accepting an unorthodox claim, simply that it is insufficient grounds for rejecting it.

        Robert T. Carroll, a Professor of Philosophy at the Sacramento City College no less, falls into this logical trap when he writes in his Skeptic’s Dictionary about what he calls “selective thinking”:

        Let’s begin with his version of the “they laughed at Galileo, so I must be right” fallacy, a non sequitur variation of selective thinking.

        In his book Alternative Science, and on his web site under what he calls Skeptics who declared discoveries and inventions impossible, Milton lists a number of inventors and scientists who struggled to get their ideas accepted. Many were ridiculed along the way. But, like many others who commit this fallacy, Milton omits some important, relevant data. He does not mention that there are also a great number of inventors, scientists and thinkers who were laughed at and whose ideas have never been accepted. Many people accused of being crackpots turned out to be crackpots. Some did not. Thus, being ridiculed and rejected for one’s ideas is not a sign that one is correct. It is not a sign of anything important about the idea which is being rejected. Thus, finding large numbers of skeptics who reject ideas as being “crackpot ideas” does not strengthen the likelihood of those ideas being correct. The number of skeptics who reject an idea is completely irrelevant to the truth of the idea. Ideas such as alien abduction, homeopathy, psychokinesis, orgone energy, ESP, free energy, spontaneous human combustion, and the rejection of evolution–all favored by Milton–are not supported in the least by the fact that these ideas are trashed by thousands of skeptics.

        True, but irrelevant! Milton’s argument shows precisely what it is supposed to show: that the skeptic’s knee-jerk dismissal of unorthodox claimants as “pseudo-scientists”, “fringe-scientists” and “crackpots” simply carries no evidentiary weight one way or another. In his skeptical zeal to convict Milton of blundering in the realm of logic, Carroll commits a much more elementary error than selective reasoning: he responds to an argument that is not being made. Milton’s argument is not “they laughed at Galileo, therefore every unconventional claimant is right”, it is merely “they laughed at Galileo, therefore unconventional claimants cannot be presumed wrong.”Carroll’s attempt to hold Milton responsible for an argument not made is a variation of the popular pseudoskeptical technique of Demolishing a Straw Man.

      • Making criticisms that apply equally to conventional and unconventional research.

It should be obvious that a criticism is invalid if it applies just as well to established science as it applies to an unconventional claim (such a criticism is called


      ). But pseudoskeptics get away with using this technique anyway. What follows are some common examples of uncontrolled and therefore invalid criticisms.

      • Demanding an Unreasonable Degree of Reproducibility:

        Reproducibility means that a phenomenon can be demonstrated on demand, anywhere, at any time. Pseudoskeptics believe that an unconventional phenomenon can safely be considered nonexistent unless it is reproducible in this sense. But the same standard of evidence would invalidate much of accepted science. Discoveries in archeology are by their nature unique, non reproducible. Astronomy and geology are not reproducible in the strictest sense – astronomers cannot produce a supernova on demand, nor can geologists an earthquake. Even physics, the “hardest” of all sciences, is less and less reproducible in practice. Cutting-edge discoveries of high-energy physics, such as the discovery of the top quark are accepted by the physical community and then the public largely on faith, because no one else has the facilities to replicate them. The top quark is simply one of those discoveries whose experimental verification is beyond amateur science.

        Similarly, the complete inability of ordinary humans to influence macroscopic systems with their minds alone, even in the slightest, strongly suggests that mind-matter interaction, if it exists, will be hard to demonstrate experimentally. A skeptic who rejects the conclusion of statistically sound meta-analysis of decades of mind-matter experiments because she feels that the phenomenon should be proven directly, by producing a person who can consistently, say, levitate objects, should similarly reject the discovery of the top quark until such time as a demonstration kit be made available that allows any physics high school teacher to produce said particle on the kitchen top. Either demand is unreasonable and denies the difficult nature of the subject matter.

      • Profit Motive:

        Pseudoskeptics try to invalidate unconventional claims by pointing out that the claimants derive financial support from their research (through books, newsletters or speaking engagements), blithely ignoring that conventional scientists derive their livelihood from their work as well. If a cold fusion researcher who is trying to commercialize his discoveries is a priori suspect, should not by the same token the hot fusion physicist’s 1989 dismissal of the cold fusion discovery be viewed with extreme suspicion, since their very livelihood depends on the continued flow of billions of federal research dollars into their field, a field that has produced no tangible results, despite 50 years of research?

To mention an anecdotal example, I have personally observed skeptics of the claim of adverse biological effects from microwave radiation produced by cellular devices having the gall to argue that critics of cellular technology cannot possibly be taken seriously because they make money from publishing their criticisms, while the same skeptics do not find fault with studies funded and written by the multi-billion-dollar cellular industry!

      • Statistics can prove Anything!

Such is essentially the argument that the spokesman of the American Physical Society, Robert L. Park, makes against psychokinetic research in his book Voodoo Science (p. 199). In the context of a discussion of an obviously pseudoscientific Good Morning America report on anomalous phenomena (debunkery by association: as if TV shows were the principal outlet for reporting the results of psi research!), Park writes

Why, you may wonder, all this business of random machines? Jahn has studied random number generators, water fountains in which the subject tries to urge drops to greater heights, all sorts of machines. But it is not clear that any of these machines are truly random. Indeed, it is generally believed that there are no truly random machines. It may be, therefore, that the lack of randomness only begins to show up after many trials. Besides, if the mind can influence inanimate objects, why not simply measure the static force the mind can exert? Modern ultramicrobalances can routinely measure a force of much less than a billionth of an ounce. Why not just use your psychokinetic powers to deflect a microbalance? It’s sensitive, simple, even quantitative, with no need for any dubious statistical analysis.

There are many things wrong with this statement, and I refer the reader to my review of Park’s book for details. For the purpose of this argument, I am interested in Park’s assessment that effects that are only indirectly detected, by statistical analysis, are suspect. Where does that leave conventional science? Deprived of one of its most powerful tools of analysis. The cherished 1992 COBE discovery of minute fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation would have to be thrown out, since it was entirely statistical in nature, and therefore by Park’s argument, ‘dubious’. The most celebrated discoveries of particle physics, such as the 1995 discovery of the top quark, or the results of neutrino detection experiments, or the synthesis of superheavy, extremely short-lived elements, would have to be thrown out, since they, too, are indirect and statistical in nature. Modern medicine would have to be invalidated as well because it relies on statistical analysis (of double-blind trials) to prove the efficacy of drugs.

For comparison: the American Institute of Physics’s Bulletin of Physics News, #216, March 3, 1995 gives the odds against chance for the top quark discovery as a million to one. A 1987 meta-analysis performed by Dean Radin and Roger Nelson of RNG (random number generator) experiments between 1959 and 1987 , on the other hand, shows the existence of an anomalous deviation from chance with odds against chance exceeding one trillion to one (see Radin, The Conscious Universe, p. 140).

Park’s argument is the quintessential uncontrolled criticism: accepted scientific methods that constitute the backbone of modern science suddenly become questionable when they are used on phenomena that don’t fit his ideological predilections.

      • Fraud cannot be ruled out!

The pseudoskeptical argument of last resort. If a body of research supporting an unconventional claim is airtight, the pseudoskeptic will argue that since the conclusion contradicts established theories of nature (she will call them “facts”), and all other alternative explanations have been exhausted, the results must therefore be due to fraud. Of course, such an argument from theory turns the scientific method on its head (unless the skeptic can prove that fraud has actually been committed) , but what is more important, the same argument can be made for any research. Indeed, when funding or scientific prestige are at stake, results are frequently faked in the conventional sciences, probably much more frequently than in, say, parapsychology where skeptical scrutiny is intense.

      • In Medicine: It’s Unsafe!

A favorite argument of the professional “quackbusters” like Stephen Barret is that an alternative procedure is unsafe. On the Acupuncture page of his site, Barret states that

Improperly performed acupuncture can cause fainting, local hematoma (due to bleeding from a punctured blood vessel), pneumothorax (punctured lung), convulsions, local infections, hepatitis B (from unsterile needles), bacterial endocarditis, contact dermatitis, and nerve damage,

missing the mark of controlled criticism by a wide margin. Why not similarly list the dangers of improperly performed surgery and then denounce the whole field as quackery?

    • Accusations of Selective Reporting (the “File Drawer Effect”)

      One of the standard criticisms levered by pseudoskeptics against unconventional research that relies on statistics (primarily parapsychology) is that only successful experiments were reported and the unsuccessful ones were suppressed (by burring them in the “file drawer”). Unlike the previous criticisms, the file drawer criticism is valid in principle, but I mention it in this list anyway because pseudoskeptics obsess only about the (largely imaginary) file drawers of the parapsychologists while ignoring the large file drawers of suppressed conventional science.

      To cite just a few examples of what has been buried in those file drawers: fundamental criticisms of relativity are a priori ineligible for publication in the mainstream scientific journals. That’s why most physicists are not aware of experimental evidence that apparently refutes special relativity. Positive results on cold fusion are similarly banned from publication, as are papers that radically question the accepted time line of human evolution. Cremo and Thompson’s Forbidden Archeology contains several hundred pages of archeological discoveries that have been left to be forgotten in that particular file drawer. Veteran astronomer Halton Arp, who has been made a persona non grata in astronomy due to his discovery that modern cosmology is catastrophically wrong, describes how most of his own papers ended up in the astronomical “file drawer” instead of the astronomical journals as follows (Arp, Seeing Red, 1998):

      “In the beginning there was an unspoken covenant that observations were so important that they should be published and archived with only a minimum of interpretation at the end of the paper. Gradually this practice eroded as authors began making and reporting only observations which agreed with their starting premises. The next step was that these same authors, as referees, tried to force the conclusions to support their own and then finally, rejected the papers when they did not. As a result more and more important observational results are simply not being published at the journals in which one would habitually look for such results. The referees themselves, with the aid of compliant editors, have turned what was originally a helpful system into a chaotic and mostly unprincipled form of censorship.”

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that the file-drawer of medical and other profit-oriented research that has been suppressed due to economic conflicts of interest is at least as thick as the body of published research. The tobacco industry had suppressed evidence that smoking causes cancer for decades, and the chemical industry has likewise suppressed evidence of public-health risks caused by its products. Examples of manipulated drug trials in medicine are legion. On July 25, 2002, The Nation published a special report titled Big Pharma, Bad Science that gives the following devastating assessment of the quality of modern medical research:

      “In June, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and “consulting fees” are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge. Isn’t that comforting? This announcement by the New England Journal of Medicine is just the tip of the iceberg of a scientific establishment that has been pervasively corrupted by conflicts of interest and bias, throwing doubt on almost all scientific claims made in the biomedical field. “

      “Unknown to many readers is the fact that the data being discussed was often collected and analyzed by the maker of the drug involved in the test. An independent 1996 study found that 98 percent of scientific papers based on research sponsored by corporations promoted the effectiveness of a company’s drug. By comparison, 79 percent of independent studies found that a new drug was effective. This corruption reaches from the doctors prescribing a drug to government review boards to university research centers. “

      “Increasingly, the industry has converted academic research centers into subsidiaries of the companies. The billions of dollars of academic government funding essentially pays to flush out negative results, while private industry gets to profit from any successful result. “

      “And the results are expensive and sometimes tragic for the public. Experimental clinical drug trials are hazardous to participants and, more broadly, critical to those with life threatening conditions who need to know which treatments are fruitless to pursue. Yet researchers on industry payrolls end up pressured to suppress negative results. At the most basic level, researchers who defy their corporate sponsors know they may lose their funding. “

      Writer John Anthony West and geologist Robert M. Schoch have uncovered commanding geological evidence that the Egyptian Sphinx is thousands of years older than conventionally assumed, but their data has been, and is still being ignored by conventional Egyptology. When confronted with this research, Egyptologists have no explanation for it, but they insist that it cannot possibly be correct, because it contradicts their theories.

      This site contains many more examples of suppressed and ignored discoveries spanning virtually the entire spectrum of human sciences. By the standards set by the pseudoskeptics themselves, therefore, almost all of science would have to be invalid. Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer writes in “Baloney Detection” (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36)

      Watch out for a pattern of fringe thinking that consistently ignores or distorts data.

      But “Consistently ignoring and distorting data” is pervasive in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, psychology, archeology and paleoanthropology. The “file drawer effect”, while not uncontrolled per se is therefore in practice an uncontrolled criticism. Due to the broken peer review system and massive conflicts of interest in commercial science, it applies to and invalidates much of accepted science.

  • Trying to End the Race when Their Side is Ahead:

    In any scientific controversy, there will be confirming evidence from some scientists and disconfirming evidence from others. Otherwise, there would not be a controversy. Resolving such controversies takes many iterations of new and better experiments, publication and criticism. In a head-to-head race, the lead will change often. Sometimes, the confirming evidence will gain the upper hand, and then the disconfirming evidence is ahead again. Pseudoskeptics are always trying to end the race prematurely, when they’re ahead, and declare victory. As an example, consider Randi’s never-ending tirades against homeopathy. If you study his website, you will see that all he ever quotes is disconfirming medical studies, while the ones that confirm homeopathy are conveniently ignored.Try it yourself. Use Google to search Randi’s website for

    Madeleine Ennis homeopathy

    and see how many hits you get. One. And that one just mentions Ennis’ name in the context of discussing a disconfirming study, and calls her a “pharmacist from Belfast.” Relying solely on Randi’s site, a reader would never know that the woman is a professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen’s University, Belfast, and that she and others have produced a ground-breaking replication of Benveniste’s seminal work on ultradilutions.

    This kind of biased, selective reporting of evidence cannot be excused by ignorance. It is indicative of malice and constitutes intellectual fraud.

  • Theory overrides Evidence: the pseudoskeptic holds a firm belief that certain phenomena are a priori impossible, regardless of the evidence. This belief is contrary to the scientific method were theory always yields to the primacy of observation. A theory that is contradicted by evidence must be modified or discarded, no matter how aesthetically pleasing or prestigious it is. If an observation is made that cannot be accounted for by any existing theory, then the observation must be carefully checked and double-checked for errors. If no errors are found, then the observation must enter into the canon of scientific fact, regardless of whether it is explained by theory.

    Most pseudoskeptics operate on assumptions about science that are precisely contrary to this principle. Carroll makes a typical argument when he writes about homeopathy:

    The known laws of physics and chemistry would have to be completely revamped if a tonic from which every molecule of the “active” ingredient were removed could be shown to nevertheless to be effective.

    Indeed they would. This process is known as science, as opposed to the pseudoscientific dogmatizing of the fact-resistant pseudoskeptics.In his August 6, 2004 What’s New column, Robert L. Park delivers the following example of theory-over-evidence reasoning:

    If it is, you may want to take cover, or seek professional help. In the August issue of Psychology Today, parapsychologist Dean Radin is quoted as claiming random number generators (RNGs) were uncharacteristically coherent in the hours just before the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and again before Madrid. Coincidences like that don’t just happen; “events with worldwide impact focus consciousness and that influences the functioning of machines.” Radin heads the Global Consciousness Project, with 75 totally deluded researchers around the world monitoring RNGs to see if they predict terrorist attacks. Are RNGs the only machines that act up? What about elevators and missile launchers? This is scary. No, not the machines, the fact that there are that many researchers that haven’t got a clue about how things are, and people with money willing to fund them.

    The argument is simple. Theologist Park just knows “how things are”, and no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary can sway him. His argument consists solely of the application of ridicule and the ad-hominem, and is entirely devoid of scientific reasoning.

  • Misapplying Occam’s Razor: in science, the simplest explanation tends to be the best. Pseudoskeptics usually insist that this heuristic rule of thumb is an immutable law of nature! In addition, they usually confuse simplicity with familiarity, and explanation with rationalization. For example, given that for over 50 years, observers from all walks of life including university professors, airline pilots, military personnel, policemen, Senators and US presidents have witnessed unidentified flying objects with operational characteristics that far surpass current aircraft designs (such as ability to make right-angle turns at high velocities), that many of these unexplained sightings are backed up by radar observations, photographic, video or physical evidence, and given that UFO pseudoskeptics have to resort to far-fetched logical contortions, highly improbable coincidences and laughable ad-hoc hypotheses to explain away these observations (such as the idea that swamp gas can create the appearance of flying objects in the sky), one must conclude that the hypothesis that some UFOs represent real flying objects is the simplest explanation. The complicated ad-hoc “explanations” (really rationalizations) of the UFO pseudoskeptics cannot compete with the unified explanatory power of that simple hypothesis.
  • Dislike of the consequences: sometimes, pseudoskeptics will make the argument that a certain phenomenon cannot be actually occurring because the consequences would be too unsettling. For example, on CNN’s Larry King Live, UFO Skeptic Philip Klass once responded to an argument that the alien abduction phenomenon is real by stating that “if these things were true, the social consequences would be intolerable”!Park’s argument quoted above is another example. He finds the research generated by the Global Consciousness Project wholly unpalatable because it scares him. The claim that the correct functioning of sensitive equipment that we entrust our lives to is subject to subtle mental effects is indeed frightening. But that does not refute the claim.
  • Refusal to see the totality of the evidence: any single case of an anomalous phenomenon, no matter how strong, can always be disposed of by claiming that the observer involved is a fraud, or was suffering from hallucination. But when there are hundreds, or thousands of similar cases, this explanation clearly becomes inadequate. There is a low, but nonzero probability that any single UFO sighting is fraudulent, but the combined probability that thousands and thousands of UFO sightings by credible, highly educated observers over five decades are all bogus is next to zero. There is a low, but nonzero probability that a single paranormal researcher might be a fraud, and reporting the results of fictional experiments, but the probability that there is a global conspiracy of scientists who spend whole lives counterfeiting research, which has been going on for over a century, is clearly next to zero.The pseudoskeptic strictly refuses to appreciate the evidence as a whole. Every time she dismisses a case on the grounds that the evidence is not strong enough (because the probability of chance or fraud is technically nonzero), the pseudoskeptic forgets all about it and approaches the next, similar case as if there was no precedent. Or worse yet, the skeptic dismisses a new case solely on the ground that she has dismissed similar cases in the past! The pseudoskeptical case against cold fusion seems to rest almost entirely on this kind of attitude these days.

    Allen Hynek wrote about this pseudoskeptical fallacy:

    Probabilities, of course, can never prove a thing. When, however, in the course of UFO investigations one encounters many cases, each having a fairly high probability that “a genuinely new empirical observation” was involved, the probability that a new phenomenon was not observed becomes very small, and it gets smaller still as the number of cases increases. The chances, then, that something really new is involved are very great, and any gambler given such odds would not hesitate for a moment to place a large bet… Any one UFO case, if taken by itself without regard to the accumulated worldwide data [..] can almost always be dismissed by assuming that in that particular case a very unusual set of circumstances occurred, of low probability […] But when cases of this sort accumulate in noticeable numbers, it no longer is scientifically correct to apply the reasoning one applies to a single isolated case.”

    F.C.S. Schiller remarked on the same subject:

    “A mind unwilling to believe or even undesirous to be instructed, our weightiest evidence must ever fail to impress. It will insist on taking that evidence in bits and rejecting item by item. As all the facts come singly, anyone who dismisses them one by one is destroying the condition under which the conviction of a new truth could ever arise in the mind.”

  • Setting Arbitrary Standards of Proof and Moving the goalposts: changing previously agreed upon standards of evidence when those standards have been met.

    This is how pseudoskeptics have been able to say with a straight face that there is not a shred of evidence for extraterrestrial visitation for almost six decades. When there were only eyewitness reports, they wanted credible eyewitnesses, such as university professors, doctors or law enforcement officers. When they got that, they wanted photos. When they got photos, they wanted videos and physical evidence. When they got both, they reverted to the safe demand of the landing on the White House lawn.

    What is wrong with that demand? Every hypothesis must be tested on its own predictions. If a hypothesis requires a certain event to happen, and that event is not observed, then the hypothesis is falsified. But there is no logical basis for the conclusion that if extraterrestrials exist, they would want to make their presence generally known. Extrapolating from the way that human zoologists use stealth to observe wild animals, we would tend to expect extraterrestrials to behave in the same fashion towards us. The ‘White House Test’ for ETs is therefore illogical, because the ET hypothesis does not predict this event to happen. That the ET hypothesis has so far failed this arbitrary and unreasonable test means nothing.

    Park’s demand for a psychokinetic who can deflect a microbalance (in Voodoo Science) is of a similarly arbitrary nature. Even if it were met, ample historical precedent teaches us that the skeptics would dismiss this ability as a stage magician’s trick, or as anecdotal evidence that proves nothing. The pseudoskeptics would, in other words, move the goalposts.

    Former nature editor John Maddox “moved the goalposts” in an attempt to get rid of Benveniste’s paper. Even though Benveniste’s research was solid, he would not publish it until it had been replicated by three independent laboratories. But when that condition had unexpectedly been satisfied, and Maddox had been forced to publish it, he remained convinced of the invalidity of the research and abused his position of power to discredit it.

  • Debunkery by association: If paranormal phenomena are real, then we might just as well believe in werewolves, fairies and unicorns! To rhetorically imply, by means of direct suggestion or innuendo, that attempts at serious research into anomalous phenomena are no more credible than psychic hot lines, tabloid reports of miracles and newspaper horoscopes. James Randi is very fond of this rhetorical technique, as he uses it ad nauseam and beyond:

    (..) cold fusion is a dead duck, the earth is not flat, and the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

    Effectively, Randy is suggesting that there is some kind of connection between research into anomalous energy production associated with hydrogen and astrology and the belief that the earth is flat. A variation of this technique is to associate serious unconventional research with mass media outlets that report on it – Park’s grotesque discussion of parapsychological phenomena as reported by a sensationalist, unscientific ABC program in his book Voodoo Science (p. 195-200) was already mentioned above.

    Another variation on this theme is to associate an unconventional claimant with convicted frauds who are associated with the field. Of course, there is incompetence and fraud in every profession. There are surgeons who cut off a wrong leg and scientists who falsify data, but that does not lead skeptics to conclude that every surgeon is a quack and all of science is bogus. But exactly that kind of wild, slanderous generalization is commonly employed by pseudoskeptics to discredit unconventional fields of inquiry. When it comes to free energy, they discuss free energy con-man Dennis Lee. To discredit parapsychology, they devote much time and effort to Uri Geller, Miss Cleo and John Edward. To ridicule UFO research, they keep going back to Adamski and his claims of arian dream women from Venus. To discredit crop circles, they emphasize stories of crop circle researchers who were fooled by hoaxers, as if that somehow forbade the existence of the real thing. The possibility of health benefits from magnetic fields is repudiated by emphasizing obviously worthless charms and bracelets advertised in the yellow press. Acupuncture is dismissed as unsafe because it has lead to serious injury in the hands of unqualified practitioners.

    To illustrate, here comes an excerpt from Robert L. Park’s “What’s New” column of Friday, April 5, 2002. Under the title “Free Energy: Perpetual Motion Scams Are At An All-Time High”, Park attempts to discredit the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator by associating it with Dennis Lee:

    In 1999, I went to Columbus, Ohio for ABC News to witness Dennis Lee demonstrate a permanent-magnet motor that was “more than 200% efficient.” Actually, he didn’t really demonstrate it. He stuck a magnet on the side of a steel file cabinet; turning to the audience he asked, “How long do you think that magnet will stay there?” He answered his own question, “Forever. That’s infinite energy.” Don’t laugh, this week, Patent 6,362,718 was issued for a “Motionless Electromagnetic Generator” that “extracts energy from a permanent magnet with energy-replenishing from the active vacuum.”

    The truly skeptical reader might wonder why Lee’s 1999 “demonstration” is “new” on April 5, 2002. The answer, of course, is that it isn’t. It just needed to be exhumed because the MEG is too difficult to ridicule , given that (unlike Lee) its team of creators are physicists, its function is described in the peer-reviewed literature (Foundation of Physics Letters, 2001), that it has apparently been independently replicated by French inventor Jean-Louis Naudin and that no attempts are being made to solicit investments from individuals. To still effectively discredit the MEG (which Park, of course, has never examined in person), he talks about a known free-energy scam-artist in order to get the reader into a suitably dismissive mood, and then switches the target of his criticism at the last second, coupled with an appeal to emotional consensus implied in the phrase “don’t laugh”. [For clarification: I do not claim to possess any knowledge or evidence that the MEG actually works as claimed, or that the theory behind it has any merit whatsoever. My point is to illustrate the nature of Park’s merely rhetorical dismissal of the MEG.]

    Yet another outfit of scientific arrogance that practices debunkery by association to ridicule unconventional research is IG Nobel, an organization that awards its “IG Nobel Prize” annually for “achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced”. Browsing through the list of past winners, we find a long list of recipients who were more than deserving of this dubious honor. In 1991, Dan Quayle, “consumer of time and occupier of space”, is being recommended for demonstrating “the need for science education”, and Edward Teller “for his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it”. But the same year also sees Jacques Benveniste attacked and ridiculed for what future historians of science will come to recognize as one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, the experimental proof that water can carry information. The precise phrasing of the award also uses other pseudoskeptical techniques such as the ad-hominem (“prolific proseletizer”) and misinterpretation of the actual claim (Benveniste never claimed that water is “intelligent”).

  • Dismissing claims because of their philosophical pedigree

    Where debunkery by association seeks to discredit claims by linking them with similar, but unrelated, claims, this technique seeks to discredit ideas by discounting their empirical merits in favor of their philosophical origins. The Skeptic’s Dictionary gives us once again a prime example. Under the heading “alternative health practices”, we find the following definition:

    Health or medical practices are called “alternative” if they are based on untested, untraditional or unscientific principles, methods, treatments or knowledge. “Alternative” medicine is often based upon metaphysical beliefs and is frequently anti-scientific.

    But doctors of alternative medicine are frequently more scientific than their conventional colleagues. While the former employ modalities whose safety and efficacy has been demonstrated by decades (nutrition), centuries (homeopathy) or millennia (acupuncture) of clinical practice, the latter frequently derive their “scientific” knowledge from biased information and rigged drug studies communicated by pharma lobbyists. Death from alternative medicine is unheard of, but side-effects of conventional treatments are estimated to kill 100,000 people in the United States every year. It is therefore hard to dismiss alternative medicine on empirical grounds.

    Yet for the pseudoskeptics, alternative medicine remains “unscientific”, even “anti-scientific”, because much of it is inspired by ancient beliefs and metaphysical ideas, such as the notion of a vital energy that animates the body, or the idea that thoughts create physical reality, not the other way. Pseudoskeptics find the notion that ancient civilizations could have known things that are still beyond the understanding of our current civilization deeply offensive. As rationalists, they believe that our ancestors were without exception superstitious, ignorant savages, and that our current understanding of nature represents the highest level of scientific knowledge that has ever existed on this planet. They are therefore categorically unwilling to entertain the notion that there could be any truth or validity to medical practices that were not developed by mechanistic, reductionist Western medicine. Whether or not alternative medicine has any merit is not at all a scientific question for them- it’s personal.

    Truly scientific thinking, of course, accepts truth based on evidence alone, regardless of the philosophies and beliefs of the messenger. To a scientific mind, the question of why Samuel Hahnemann came up with the idea of curing people with medicines that are so highly diluted that little or no trace remains of the original substance, has no bearing on the question of whether homeopathy has therapeutic value.

    Another example of “dismissing claims because of their philosophical pedigree” is how academic paleoanthropology reacted to the challenge posed by Cremo and Thompson’s Forbidden Archeology. Critics like to point out that the authors are “Hindu creationists” as if that somehow implied that their scholarly achievement was without merit. But from a logical point of view, the value of the arguments made and evidence presented by Cremo and Thompson is completely independent of the religious beliefs that motivated the research in the first place, just like the big bang theory is not automatically false because it is compatible with the Christian religious belief that our universe was created.

  • Slurs and Ridicule: the true skeptic refrains from ad hominem attacks and name calling while the pseudoskeptic elevates them to an art form. Examples abound in pseudoskeptical books and periodicals.

I conclude this little phenomenology of pseudoskepticism with an extensive quotation that reads like a compendium of invalid criticisms. It is taken from The Memory of Water, an account of the scientific witch hunt against Jacques Benveniste. Its author, French biologist Michel Schiff gives a list of phrases directed by scientists at Benveniste and his research, which I quote in its entirety:

a ‘bizarre new theory’, a ‘unicorn in a back yard’, a ‘Catch-22-situation’, ‘some form of energy hitherto unknown in physics’, ‘cloud-cuckoo-land’, ‘unbelievable research results’, ‘sticking to old paradigms’, ‘defying the rules of physics’, a ‘hypothesis as unnecessary as it is fanciful’, ‘data that did not seem to make sense’, ‘ discouraging fantasy’, ‘unbelievable circumstances’, ‘circus atmosphere’, ‘spurious science’, ‘magical properties of attenuated solutions’, ‘unbelievable results’, the ‘product of careless enthusiasm’, a ‘200-year-old brand of medicine that most Western physicians consider to be harmless quackery at best’,’dilutions of grandeur’, the ‘egotism and folly of this man who rushes into print with a claim so staggering that if true would revolutionize physics and medicine’, ‘mystical powers’, ‘magic’, ‘quackery’, ‘charlatanism’, a ‘therapy without scientific rationale’,’unicorns revisited’, an ‘explanation beloved of modern homeopaths’, a ‘circus atmosphere’, ‘spurious science’, ‘belief in the magical properties of attenuated solutions’, ‘what seems to be an aberration’, ‘results that could not be explained by current theory’, ‘respectful disbelief of Nobel prizewinner Jean-Marie Lehn’, the ‘cavalier interpretation of results made by Benveniste’, ‘interpretations out of proportion with the facts’, ‘magic results’, ‘high-dilution experiments and much of homeopathy with their notions of alchemy’, ‘revolutionary nature of this finding’, ‘generally efficient physicochemical laws being broken’, ‘ throwing away our intellectual heritage’, ‘how James Bond could distinguish Martinis that have been shaken or stirred’, a ‘delusion about the interpretation of the data’, the ‘extraordinary claims made in the interpretation’, ‘Cheshire cat phenomenon’, ‘no basis for concluding that the chemical data accumulated over two centuries are in error’, the ‘circus atmosphere engendered by the publication of the original paper’, the ‘fact that it still takes a full teaspoon of sugar to sweeten our tea’,’existing scientific paradigms’, ‘throwing away the Law of Mass Action or Avogadro’s number’, ‘original research requiring a general science background sufficient to recognize nonsense’, ‘reports of unicorns needing to be checked with particular care’, ‘not believing that no-more existent molecules can leave an imprint in water’, ‘the first issue of New Approaches to Truly Unbelievable and Ridiculous Enigmas‘, ‘speculating why water can remember something on some occasions and forget it on others’, ‘outlandish claims’, ‘not publishing papers dealing with nonsense theories’, ‘data grossly conflicting with vast amounts of earlier well-documented and easily replicated data’, ‘extraordinary claims’, ‘shattering the laws of chemistry’,’ divine intervention being probably about as likely’,’findings that contravene the physicochemical laws known to science’,’data that purport to contravene a couple of centuries of chemical data’, a ‘whole load of crap’,’1074 oceans like those of the Earth needed to contain only one molecule of the original substance’, the ‘usual rules of interactions in biology or in physical chemistry where the molecule is the basic vector of information’, the ‘failure of fundamental principles’, ‘defying all laws of physical chemistry and of biology’, ‘unbelievable results’, ‘observations without any objective basis’, one prominent scientist pointedly not reading Benveniste’s paper ‘because it would be a waste of his time’, ‘standard theory offering no explanation for such a result’ and ‘a priest stating during mass that water keeps the memory of God’.

The anger and outrage these scientists are feeling as they are trying to come to terms with the cognitive dissonance generated by the Benveniste results is palatable. Gone are sweet logic and reason, and gone is the scientific method that says that evidence can never be dismissed on theoretical grounds. The gut feeling that such results are simply ‘unbelievable’, no matter what, dominates the response. The existing physical models are confused with eternal laws of nature, and their apparent inability to account for the results is taken as a personal insult. The church fathers who refused to look through Galilei’s telescope could hardly have been any more irrational than the highly educated scientists who produced these outbursts of scientific bigotry.

Other online references that might be of interest are

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Pro-Pedophile views in the False Memory Syndrome Foundation

Most famous skeptic ever, active since 1964 James Randi sits on the board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Read more about it here FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME FOUNDATION: QUESTIONABLE BOARD MEMBERS TIED TO THE CIA’S MKULTRA PROGRAM AND CHILD ABUSE 

James Randi, the magician, is involved with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.This group claims that many adults who have memories of pedophilia are actually having false memories!
“Some of our memories are true, some are a mixture of fact and fantasy, and some are false.”

FMS Foundation Asks Underwager and Wakefield To Resign From Advisory Board, Then Changes Position

By Lana R. Lawrence


The False Memory Syndrome Foundation’s executive director Pamela Freyd told Moving Forward that widely known psychologists and expert witnesses Ralph Underwager, Ph.D., and Hollida Wakefield, M.A., were asked to resign from the foundation’s advisory board on July 1. This action was taken as a result of questions raised over a 1991 interview that Underwager and Wakefield gave to the Netherlands’ publication Paidika, The Journal of Paedophilia (Winter, 1993). But the following day, Freyd changed her position and said that the foundation had not made a formal request for Underwager and Wakefield’s resignations.


Initially, Freyd said that the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) board or directors (who are separate from the advisory board) had voted to remove Underwager and Wakefield if they did not agree to resign, and that Underwager and Wakefield had agreed to “step aside” from the board until the matter could be clarified. But in a later interview, Freyd indicated that they declined to resign, and that the matter would ultimately be decided by the more than 20-member advisory board.


In the first of two statements released by FMSF, the organization said:


We received an article in the mail today, June 28, 1993, that is profoundly disturbing. It is an interview with Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager that appeared in a Dutch journal concerned with pedophilia. The article, which does not reflect our understanding of views by Wakefield and Underwager that have been printed elsewhere (1988), requires immediate response.


The views of Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager that ‘Pedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings’ are diametrically opposite to views that animate FMS Foundation and as well [sic] the opinions of psychiatrists and psychologists who work with children and understand the nature of childhood….



. . . The FMS Foundation abhors this kind of behavior by adults and believes that the expressions of support for it if employed to encourage such behavior are reprehensible.


Wakefield and Underwager will step aside from the FMSF Board until this matter can be clarified.


Although the foundation’s statement maintained that Wakefield and Underwager would step aside temporarily, their resignation or removal from the board never transpired. In a later interview, Freyd indicated that “yes, that was our initial response.” She added, however, that she needed to review the foundation’s by-laws and consult with people involved in FMSF policy matters to determine what procedure should be followed in this case. Freyd also indicated that she would send copies of the Paidika article, along with a letter, to all of its advisory board members to elicit their responses.


But all references to Underwager and Wakefield’s status on the advisory board were missing from a second foundation statement issued the following day:


The issue of concern for the FMS Foundation is false accusation and consequently the establishment of criteria that can help avoid false accusations from occurring or to help resolve disputes if they do occur. To that end, we try to present accurate information about memory and alert people to the fact that there is a growing problem in one defined area. We were questioned recently [by Moving Forward] about an interview on this topic that was given by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager for a Dutch journal concerned with pedophilia (Paidika, 1993).


The treatment of pedophilia, while certainly important, is not the focus of FMS staff and we cannot speak to the issues in this area. The views presented in this article seemed inconsistent and contrary to our understanding of views held and published by Wakefield and Underwager.


This is important enough to take under advisement with the full Advisory Board. We need to determine if indeed these were accurate quotes and to ask Wakefield and Underwager to respond.


Underwager, who is the director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, Minnesota, and a widely known expert witness in sexual abuse cases (such as New Jersey v. Michaels or the “Wee Care Day Care Center”), and his wife Hollida Wakefield, who is a staff therapist at the Institute, began their work with FMSF during the first two months of its existence. According to Freyd, they answered the FMSF phone and developed materials to send out to callers–and were paid for those services–before the foundation set up its Philadelphia office. Since that time, Underwager and Wakefield have served as advisors to the foundation.



Moving Forward questioned Underwager about the views expressed in the article. He indicated that “we have been on record since our 1988 publication [Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1988] writing that as far as our personal view is concerned, there can be no sexual contact between an adult and a child that is positive.”


Underwager went on to say that in the article he was expressing his views that pedophiles need to be “open, because that’s the only way we can deal with them.” He added, “What they’re saying is what they said in the Netherlands–that they believe that what they do is to love people . . . They’re saying that’s good. . . .”


In another reference to the Paidika article, Underwager said that “Holly [Wakefield] indicates in the interview that we have great trouble with the reality that they say they really love these children, but when the lad gets to be 15, 16, they just throw him over and go get a younger one. So, see, if they’re not saying it, if they’re not coming out and being open about it, then we can’t deal with them on that.”


Underwager then attempted to draw a connection between pedophiles’ concerns and the concerns of other groups such as Gays, Lesbians, and African Americans. He said, “Essentially what I’m saying is the same thing that we’ve [Underwager and Wakefield] said, or that the Gay Pride and the Lesbians and homosexuals say–that they are proud to be Gay, that they’re proud to be Lesbian–the Blacks said Black is beautiful. That’s the first step. Once you start saying that, then you can have a public discourse. As it is now, you can’t have a public discourse.”


“If the homosexuals, both male and female, claim that there is some kind of biological base, which,” according to Underwager, “they do, for their gender orientation–the pedophiles can, and some of them do, claim the same thing–that it’s an essentially genetic thing that is moving them to be attracted to children. All of the arguments that Gay Pride uses are available to the pedophile. The difficulty is that if they’re not making them, then we can’t deal with them–we can’t draw the distinction.”


He ended by saying, “If that’s what you believe, stand up for it, say it. And if you don’t believe it (laughs), go away.”


According to Underwager’s curriculum vitae, he has also served as a Lutheran pastor in California, Iowa, and Minnesota. Underwager has also conducted research projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health: the Clergy Youth Project and Project Youth. The curriculum vitae also indicates that over the last 30 years, he has been involved in a professional capacity with sexual abuse of children in over 500 cases, and that since beginning private practice as a psychologist in 1965, one-third to one-fifth of Underwager’s practice has been with children. Along with his wife, he also conducted therapy programs for a community-based sex offender treatment program from 1974 to 1977.


In addition to conducting therapy programs with her husband, Wakefield, according to her biography in Paidika, has also worked as an elementary school teacher and college psychology instructor. Among the articles, papers, and books that the couple have authored and/or co-authored are The Real World of Child Interrogations (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1990) and an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of the United States (Maryland v. Sandra Ann Craig, April, 1990). They are also the publishers of the journal Issues in Child Abuse Accusations.


Lana R. Lawrence is the editor of Moving Forward.


Related article: “What They Said: ‘Interview: Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, Paidika, Winter, 1993′”


Following is the APA-style citation for this article, which may be copied and pasted into your document.


Lawrence, Lana R. (1993). “FMS Foundation Asks Underwager and Wakefield To Resign From Advisory Board, Then Changes Position,” Moving Forward, Vol. II, No. 4, pp. 12-13. Retrieved from the World Wide Web:http://movingforward.org/v2n4-fmsf-board.html

Achieved on http://web.archive.org/web/20040221221022/http://movingforward.org/v2n4-fmsf-board.html





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Jane Hansen, Reasonable Hank, and Murdoch’s dirty vaccine war!


Murdoch Journalist Jane Hansen

Ok, so as promised here is blog 2 of our 3 blog series on the exposing of serial stalker/doxer Reasonable Hank. So less than 5 days after we posted our first blog identifying Peter Tiernan as our friendly serial online stalker where do we stand today? 

We all knew the exposing of Bad Pharma’s dirty bomb would cause WW3. He is of course the anonymous, cowardly blogger and doxer that Bad Pharma, the dirty Australian Skeptics (& their bastard offspring Friends of Science in Medicine), & the Murdoch media hide behind to do all the filthy doxing, stalking, intimidation, of all the brave nurses and midwives standing up for the safety of our children and highlighting the dangers of vaccination.

Pete has been blasting away at these brave souls for years, skulking through their Facebook posts, hiding in their closed groups with all his fake profiles and collating and filing any information he thinks he can use to have them removed from their jobs. I’ve personally heard the scum bag ringing workplaces in the hope to having these women sacked. Doxing them isn’t enough for this bottom feeder.

Knowing he has the backing of the awful Murdoch media  & some of the more expedient, stupider politicians (yes, hello Jill) of our criminally corrupted 2 Party political system, he has defamed and slandered people for years. How much money has Bad Pharma donated to both the ALP and the LNP over the years? I will tell you now, Bad Pharma has spent more ‘lobbying’ these two parties than the next top 3 ‘donors’ combined. So Hennessy, still waiting for you to respond to the question of how much money Bad Pharma has donated to your party over the years? Actually don’t tell us….will be more fun draining your swamp later. 

There is a very good reason Hank hides behind his anonymous little keyboard and that’s because, well for one he is a miserable little coward, but more importantly, his arse would be sued every second day of the week. I’ve been asking Hank for an address for service for over a year now. Can you imagine all the other nurses, chiros, midwives, naturopaths, doctors, etc that would love to see this little biatch whining at the bar table? So Hank, man up, got a solicitor’s address for service? 

 We know you are quivering with fear behind your keyboard Hank but not because you are in fear of your life, it’s a lot more pathetic than that….you are in fear of being made legally accountable for all the stalking, doxing, slander, and intimidation you are guilty of 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. C’mon Hank, all the other Skeptic low life pieces of crap like McLeod, Bowditch, Cunningham, Ieraci, Hawkes, Hansen etc have the guts to show their heads. And Jesus H Christ when Ken McLeod and Heidi Robertson are your best looking heads the other poor bastards have absolutely no excuse. They haven’t been attacked, killed, beaten, doxed, stalked, or threatened. Why do you feel you need all this special anonymity to survive. Jill Hennessy is far more responsible for injuring Australian children than yourself and she ain’t shitting her Maggie T’s like you. Stop being a little scaredy cat Pete, come out, loud and proud, embrace your putrid lot in life. 


Pete should be scared though I guess, he has doxed over 200 people in his miserable little career. 200! Names, faces, workplace addresses (including photos). That is why you are a different case Hanky, that’s why we are treating you differently from the rest of the Unmagnificent Bunch. People have had enough of you mate, now it’s your turn. Now it’s your turn to have your photo plastered all over the internet. Your workplace being identified. People ringing your workplace in the hope you are sacked. And you don’t like it one bit do you? Nor should you.

 I don’t even believe you should be interfered with in this way. You have a right to your opinion on vaccination safety. You have a right to express that any way you want. You do not have the right to stalk, dox, and defame people who disagree with you though. And your scumbag media mates certainly don’t have the right to demonise these people either. All vaccines cause injury to some degree. Some minor, some die. Until you understand the mechanism of vaccine injury all vaccination must stop. 

So, let’s focus now on the current state of play. Let’s have a closer look at what we know about the links between Jane Hansen and Hank/Peter Tiernan. 

On Tuesday 1 November, we texted the known phone numbers of Reasonable Hank and Peter Tiernan. ‘They’ were advised that I had just finished a blog exposing Peter Tiernan as Reasonable Hank. We gave them a right of reply to clarify any errors we may have made in relation to the blog. We waited 3 days and when we received no reply we posted the blog. I, in fact, texted Super Hero Hank twice to clarify any error in the blog. So much for Hank’s concern for an ‘innocent’ man. 


Text sent to Peter Tierney aka Reasonable Hank for right of reply 

We then had a little bet as to who would be the first person to contact us once the blog was posted. I won. It was, of course, the media’s number one pro Pharma/pro vaccine journalist Jane Hansen. Intriguingly, and adding to the mystery, she rang on my troll phone. I have a special little phone set up entirely to deal with trolls (yes pro vax trolls threaten our side too). The funny thing about this phone number was that only 2 trolls had the number. One was our good mate Hank, and the other was another cowardly little Brisbane Skeptic that hides behind the moniker Big Smiffy. Hmm? Wonder how Jane got that number so quick? So Jane, over to you? How did you get my troll number so quick and who gave it to you?

Another important question to be asked here is why didn’t Peter Tiernan respond to the text sent to him to clarify any errors that may have been made in identifying him?

We all know why his alter ego Hank did not. Fear of finally being exposed kept him frozen in fright like a deer in the headlights. But why not you Tiernan? You knew this blog was coming out? If an error had been made why did you not call? Even a 19 cent text back? Nope. Nothin. Silence.

Back to Jane Hansen though. What follows is a hilarious text off.


Now we learn a very interesting fact here. Jane Hansen was school buddies with Peter Tiernan! Yes, you read that right, school buddies with Peter Tiernan. Small world alright Jane. And she was also mates with Reasonable Hank? Wow! So Jane Hansen is actually mates with Peter Tiernan and Peter Tierney? This story is getting stranger by the minute. What I found most interesting is that Jane makes no mention of this in her story in the tawdry Telegraph on Sunday 6 November. Sometimes what you omit from the story is more revealing than what you leave in. 

 Here Jane has written a very scant on detail, fluff piece on how crazy, stupid anti vaxxers have, in a “monumental case” of mistaken identity, wrongly fingered an innocent man and his family WHO were now in fear of their lives.

At this point don’t you think a critical point would have been the fact that Jane actually knew both men and she could tell her readers, without any doubt, (all 12 of them) that they were two different people?

Jane did not do this. Why? I think Jane was being very crafty here. She knew if she threw me under a bus for wrongly identifying an innocent man as Hank, then went a step further and verified that fact personally she, or her shitty newspaper might be liable for any claims I may make on them later on down the track when she was proved to having lied. So over to you again Jane? Why did you leave out the fact you were actually buddies with ‘both’ guys? I mean don’t you think this is a pretty amazing ‘fact’ to leave out of a really dull story? I think legals advised you not to go the full Skeptard. Didn’t they Jane?

Early information I had once been sent on Hank (over a year ago) was that Hank originated from the Byron Bay/Ballina area, he had been to school with Jane Hansen, was either a cousin or best mates with the McCaffery family and that was the reason behind his pathological hatred of Dorey and the AVN. He and his family then moved to Narrawallee. I won’t go into the rest of the information connecting Tiernan to Hank right now because it involves children and siblings of Peter Tiernan and Hank and their incredible links. Let’s just say the amazing coincidences between Tiernan and Hank are so vast they beggar belief these two are not the same person. If Hank and Hansen continue with their bullshit charade I will include this information in blog number 3.

Your call Hank? How many more ‘innocent’ people are going to get fingered so you can keep up your cowardly charade?

So other little clues Hank skid marked our way….

Yes, Hank spruiking a physiotherapy app. Strange? Who’d think Hank was interested in physiotherapy enough to post this. 


Oh and how about this…….


Once again, I don’t want to go into too much detail about this post as it does involve a family member of Peter Tiernan. Up to Hank how much detail I need to cover this with later but much easier for him to just man up and let all the innocent family, friends, and associates of his stay out of the focus. 

The reason for the delay in this blog is all the media Peter Tiernan has done denying any association with the Reasonable Hank blog. On ABC radio he claims to have never heard of the Reasonable Hank name until now, he then somehow stumbles onto the “McCaffery name”, “people from around here are pretty aware of who they are”. Pete really going out of his way here to mention the dreaded V word.Yep, that be vaccination. Now I was never going to bring the McCaffery name into this saga as they have already suffered more than any family should but, of course Hank has already done it now so on with the show we go. 

Tiernan is then asked, “When did things start to get threatening?” Tiernan clearly starts backtracking here, no threats were made to him, in fact after waffling about a bit he said it was more people sending his profile picture to Reasonable Hank’s Facebook page saying, “We know who you are.” “More sort of veiled threats aimed at him (Reasonable Hank)”. So no threats to Tiernan.

It gets more interesting from here on in because Tiernan admits that ‘Tierney’ is now in contact with him, providing him with information. It was then  he decided to get “proactive” here and not be a “victim” so he contacts an old school friend, “he knew she was a journo”, “she was pretty much across this, you know, who these people are”, “to me it was all new”,  he “got her to do a story about it.” This is a straight up lie Pete. Hansen was on my troll phone within the hour of the blog being posted. You did not get her to write the story at all. I have the texts and call log to prove it. Why the lie Pete?

We will go back to his comments here in a minute but poor Shoebridge interviewing him was clearly needing more juice, 

“What was the nature of the threats that Reasonable Hank was receiving?” Silly Tiernan falls straight into this as much as the Shoebridge tried to disclaim his way out of it for him. Without a pause Pete Tiernan informs us, “We know who you are”, then the classic, “last Monday they sent him a message, not at work today, they obviously had known that I wasn’t at work cause I don’t work Mondays”, then even better, “the most recent one being that um, if he doesn’t take his blog down they were going to expose um, my, him and my family pretty much.” Tierney seems pretty up to speed on all ‘threats’ being made to Hank.

 Go and listen to this audio carefully a few times. Tiernan answers for Hank. Without a pause. Silly bastard doesn’t even know he is doing it. So up to speed on Hank’s ‘threats’ he even knew “the most recent one”. You and ‘Hank’ must be pretty close Pete? Revealing here also is that, once again, the ‘threats’ are all Miller Lite. Nothing. Non event. Keep digging Tiernan.

“So the threats didn’t come directly to me” he goes on, “but they believe I am him.” At this point the worst threat made to Hank has been we know who you are.

The poor interviewer knows now she is onto a storm in a Jane Hansen teacup and is really struggling to find a story here. Hard to make a silk purse out of a pig’s arse but she bravely soldiers on. 

“So how have those messages been communicated, um, um”

“To me?” Tiernan helpfully finishes her sentence for her

“What are some of the things they have been saying to make you concerned?”

Poor Tiernan,

“See I’m not right across social media”, he was planning to “take down his Facebook page anyway”, “so I don’t read a lot of this stuff”, he was aware of the “vaccine wars” but was an “innocent victim hehe” “it just churns away at you” “he contacted Doc McCaffrey a mate of mine, he spoke to his brother Dave” and they gave him Reasonable Hank’s number. 

If you had no idea about any of this issue at all why did you contact McCaffrey to find Reasonable Hank? Just a lucky guess? Why not ask Hansen?

She was buddies with you both? Funny Hansen hadn’t told you she was Hank’s mate. Strange days? I’m just gonna come out here and call you a liar Pete. Seriously mate, why would you think your mate McCaffrey would have Hank’s number? Why didn’t Jane Hansen tell you she was good buddies with Hank and give you the number? You are lying friendo and the lies are starting to stack up. Why is that?

“Were there any death threats made?” Clearly poor Shoebridge is gonna have to squeeze the lemon out of the juice herself.

“No, no but”, “Peter Tierney told me” people had made previous death threats against him. Ha! Hank told ya, shit I was worried about you there for awhile Tiernan. So let’s make this cold hard clear for all the Twitter Skeptards. No one made a single threat to Peter Tiernan. Not one soul. Back in your hole trolls.

Here Hank can’t help himself, you can’t keep a good troll down….he goes off on a famous rant. Very Hank like. Hilariously he tells us Hank has to remain anonymous because of the threats he receives but then goes onto a classic-hank-can’t-see-the-irony rant on keyboard warriors.

“These people, I’ve heard the term bandied around, keyboard warriors, I mean that’s the biggest misnomer i’ve ever heard, I refer to them as keyboard cowards, because they hide behind the anonymity of withheld phone numbers and user names.” Classic Hank gold here but Tiernan we didn’t hide. We contacted you direct. You were sent a text with a real phone number. Not even the troll phone. A text with my real phone number in it. No keyboard warrior or even a keyboard coward Pete. I’m calling your bullshit out. 

Next comes some classic Hank/pro vax troll bullshit.

“I mean if this is an example of their research”, “then how do they expect normal people to believe anything they say?” Normal people? Like Hank the serial online stalker/doxer of brave hard working nurses. 

Joanne still searching for some juice in this story

“Are you and your family concerned now that this could escalate?” How many times can Joanne ask the same question? C’mon Tiernan! Lift, we want blood, murder, mayhem!! Nup, Pete waffles on about the injustice of it all and it ends not with a bang but a whimper.

So Jane and Hank. Plenty of questions need answering here. Plenty. Blog number 3 will be posted next week with all the other personal links between all the parties involved in this subterfuge.Unless of course Hank just wants to man up? Hank could also consent to audio that exists in relation to a few phone calls that also would assist in clearing up this manufactured mystery. So what you say Hank? How many more ‘innocent’ people you gonna take down with you? Through your total and utter cowardice. And Skeptards thank you for the work you do too. What a miserable mob.

Anyway Jane, Hank, balls in your court. 


Posted in Jane Hansen, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reasonable Hank Exposed

By Brett Smith


Internet-Troll.jpgSo, how many of you out there have ever been defamed and slandered by that serial online stalker and pest, Peter Tierney, aka Reasonable Hank? Jeez, that many? I knew there’d be a lot but I really didn’t know there was that many. it should not come as a surprise though because dirty Pete has been at it for years now. At least seven that I know of.

See in the early days, back in the 2000’s the vaccine debate was reasonably civil, people were entitled to their own opinions on vaccination and it was generally respected. I mean if you vaccinated your kids they were totally safe right? Safe from those filthy, unvaccinated little monsters? Vaccines work right? It’s amazing more of these dirty little unvaccinated virus bags aren’t dying? Strange.
Alas, those days are long gone. Since those golden years, the monster that is Bad Pharma has gone totally rogue. Their new business models revolve around not only vaccinating every man, woman, and child on the planet, but making sure every one of these sad souls has to get a yearly booster shot for every known virus known to man. And a few synthetic ones they have whipped up in the Merck labs.
Sadly, thanks to the able assistance of a few psychotic media barons around the world, yes you are one of them Murdoch, poor old General Public fell for this hook, line, and sinker. These poor fools would pirouette through the Gates of Hell if the Daily Terrorgraph told em it was good.
It was then the Australian Skeptics and their low life, bastard offspring, the Friends of Science in Medicine signed up to the lead the charge. Back in the early days their go-to-guys were a couple of silly old buggers, Ken McLeod and Peter Bowditch. These two clowns were basically just a bit of comic relief in a debate no one really cared about. In their crazed desires to draw attention to their cause they soon disgraced themselves with plenty of deranged YouTube videos, and more sinisterly, the stalking and harassment of a pioneer vaccine safety activist Meryl Dorey. Soon even other Skeptic trolls crossed the street when they saw these cretins approaching.
Then along came a Bad Pharma wet dream. I mean where do you find a semi-coherent bloke, semi-articulate, can spell, amusing at times and willing to spend 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Xmas and New Years Eve, online, stalking, abusing, slandering, defaming, woman, vaccine damaged families, naturopaths, homeopaths, chiros, nurses, widwives, doctors, you name it, if Bad Pharma didn’t approve this killer attack poodle was skitched on them. Where could you possibly find an ever ready bunny like this?
Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 12.08.42 am.png

Since November 2009 Reasonable Hank has written 45, 258 Tweets

Along comes our steaming pile of poo, Reasonable Hank. Now like most effective Pharma trolls and cowards, of course, he had to remain anonymous. You can’t spend your entire waking life slandering all of these poor vaccine damaged families and also have the courage to do it under your own name. So no, Hank, in a crafty bit of wordsmanship altered his name from Peter Tiernan to Peter Tierney. Nice one Shank. nudge nudge wink wink.
To add to the delight of Bad Pharma, Pete was a true believer. Poor misguided Hank actually believed he had the moral high ground, a crusader. A saviour even? Belief is everything, as you know, and our good friend Tierney was the fully monty.
See, and this is where the story becomes sad, Pete was very closely linked to a family that tragically lost their child to whooping cough. No family should have to endure grieving like this. Ever. This is not an event that either ‘side’ should highjack for their own message. Of course that is exactly what happens. These poor families then become the centre of a debate they did not ask to be involved with. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that the whooping cough vaccine is not only totally ineffective it actually spreads transmission of the disease. The sooner some Bad Pharma executives do some jail time for this the better.
So Hank was born. Hank was frickn tireless and in 7 years his output has been nothing short of impressive. The mountains of victims in his path would make Stalin proud. Even George Bush. Years down the track Hank is still hard at, day in day out. Big problem for Pete though is Hank became part of his psyche. It’s the only thing Pete has ever been good at. It’s the only thing that ever made him feel important, powerful, or special. Good Lord, he even won the 2014 Skeptic of the Year Award! Do you have any idea what type of shunt you have to be to win that? A big one.
Take a look at Hank’s blog. Here’s a free plug reasonablehank.com. This is years of online abuse, documenting and filing 1000’s of people’s online lives, everything they say, do, post, like or comment on. Hank will screenshot it, pull it out of context, distort, lie, cheat, and steal to demonise anyone who has a different narrative to Bad Pharma’s.You see, Hank is a special type of turd. Relentless and irrepressible. Like all turds though he ultimately left too many skid marks. Those skid marks have led all the way back to the real and dirty Reasonable Hank.
I thought long and hard about exposing this creep to the world. I’m a sucker at heart, very forgiving and every now and again I have been thoroughly entertained by Hank. His blogs on me have been wonderful reading and some are truly funny. I especially liked his Hulk video of me  (though I have lately been informed it was one of the originals, disgraced Skeptic clown’s work). Anyways, I felt pity for the poor, misguided fool on his Bad Pharma mission. I mean the poor bugger actually believes the Pharma lies. I expressed this sentiment to a few of our fellow foot soldiers who, as one, cried exactly the same thing. Go take another look at his blog.
So I did, and they were right, Pete has spent so many deranged years posting defamatory blogs, orchestrating and making group complaints about the brave nurses and midwives willing to take a stand against Bad Pharma, posting their workplace details ( including pictures), attacking anyone or anything to do with natural medicine, working in cahoots with one of the shittiest media barons in history (the psychotic Rupert Murdoch and his pack of F Grade media dogs). The most appalling part of this man is the fact that he works alongside nurses at Ballina Hospital (can you believe Hank is a physiotherapist) where, no doubts, he documents any poor nurse willing to express even the slightest doubts about Bad Pharma’s maniacal vaccine schedule. So without further ado,
Here’s Hank…..

Peter Tiernan courtesy of his public facebook page which has now been deleted.


Seriously Hank, who wears shitty half jeans, half denim shorts like this?


A special shout out to the great detective work of Breana Elizabeth and Belgin Colak who have worked tirelessly over the last few months with me tracking this slime ball’s every move. It’s time for us all to focus on the real enemy here, Bad Pharma, and unite a movement that will need cohesion and unity to defeat the multi billion dollar Pharma machine and their toxic media and political buddies.

Posted in Reasonable Hank, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

An Experience with Vaccination Gatekeepers, Brian Martin

Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective

Author Information: Brian Martin, University of Wollongong, bmartin@uow.edu.au

Martin, Brian. “An Experience with Vaccination Gatekeepers.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 10 (2016): 27-33.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-3fZ

Please refer to:


Image credit: Jennifer Moo, via flickr

For those promoting vaccination, one option is censoring critics, but this could be counterproductive. The response of editors of two journals suggests that even raising this possibility is unwelcome.


For several years, I have been writing about the Australian vaccination…

View original post 2,738 more words

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Jill Hennessy Lies Exposed


by a Vaccine Injured Mum

On Thursday 20 th October at 8:32pm, The Herald Sun broke what would become front-page news: a story so important that it was covered by all the major TV networks and leading online news sites across the country. The article, titled: “Jill Hennessey gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners”, discusses vaccine injury denialist Jill Hennessey and the online bullying she has been subjected to. The article contains a video of Jill, the Victorian Health Minister, who holds an Arts Law degree and has no qualification in health, reading out 14 abusive tweets she allegedly received. You’ll soon discover that it was however, all just one big exaggerated lie.

The morning of these allegations, many Australians woke to the incredible news that at least a dozen senior scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) emerged as whistleblowers. They allege that the CDC is cooking data to ensure that results of studies represent the most favourable outcome for corporations and that of political interests rather than the citizens it is supposed to protect. These allegations also confirm what Dr. William Thompson, a whistleblower and senior scientist at the CDC, stated in 2015 about scientific fraud in a study which found a causal link between vaccines and autism. You can read his public statement here.

Given that many regulatory bodies around the world, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Department of Health rely on some of the studies conducted by the CDC to determine the safety of products sold in this country, one would expect that if the CDCs credibility was called into question, it would spark the interest of the Australian media.

Rather than report on this astonishing news, the media went into overdrive to cover the story of Jill and the relentless cyber bullying she endured from the “well organised” anti-vaxxers. Her plight to gain public sympathy however, appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to try and discredit those in the pro-choice movement who were once pro-vaccine like Jill, but stopped vaccinating due to the suffering their children endured for the sake of the “greater good”. This story, profiling Jill as the victim, can only be seen as a move that is straight out of the Manipulating Public Opinion playbook.

Following suspicion of the authenticity of this story, an investigator commenced a search to see how much truth lay behind these claims. Their findings were shocking, but were we really surprised by their revelations? Let’s take a look at the evidence.


  1. Herald Sun alleges “Jill Hennessey gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners” [emphasis added]. They provide a video of a smug looking Jill reading out the alleged tweets she received. You will note in the video and from the screen shot below, that the Twitter logo appears beside each message read. Of the 14 tweets Jill reads, only two usernames are provided, the remaining contain only a first name.
  1. The first username provided, wawasonquo, belongs to Irene Beune. Her profile contains 0 tweets, 0 images, 0 likes, is following no one and has only two followers, one of which is Damian Woods who, from his tweets, appears to be an obvious supporter of vaccination.

To find out more about Irene, a Facebook search was conducted. This revealed just one active profile belonging to an Irene Beune, who lives in the Netherlands. A subsequent Google search returns results indicating that Irene is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OBGYN). No other person by the name of Irene Beune can be found.


Below is a screen shot of Irene’s alleged tweet. You’ll note that it is exceptionally long, 220 characters to be exact. Twitters character count is 140.


Most importantly, here is a message received from Irene Beune, which confirms, as we suspected, that she is an OBGYN who lives in the Netherlands and is a supporter of vaccination. She has also never heard of Jill, nor has she ever sent a tweet before and is a supporter of vaccination.



There is no doubt the skeptics will proclaim that the screen shot is doctored, so here is further proof that Irene has never sent a tweet. If you refer to the image below, you will note that there is no cache for Irene’s Twitter profile. A cache is a snapshot taken of a page by Google as a backup. It does this periodically depending on the level of activity on the page in question but typically varies from weeks to months. Given Irene created her profile on Friday 11th March, 2011 at 9:08am, it would be implausible to believe that no cache was ever stored by Google if there had been any activity on the account. This once again confirms that no tweet had ever sent by Irene from this profile.


  1. 4


  1. The second username provided belongs to ausfreedom21. A quick search of this profile will show that it doesn’t exist. An attempt to register this username was successful at 7:39pm on Saturday 22nd October 2016 – 2 days after the allegations from Jill and The Herald Sun surfaced. This indicates that the username was never registered or, was deactivated at least 30 days prior. However had this tweet ever existed, Google would likely have indexed it; yet, there is no evidence of this tweet ever being recorded by Google. More on this later.5


  1. To locate the remaining tweets, the investigator used the Twitter advanced search option. This allows one to search for any combination of keywords used in tweets that were sent to a specific individual. You’ll note from this link that none of the tweets Jill allegedly received could be found. As mentioned above, if the tweets had all been deleted after Jill’s story went live, they would still be found on a Google search.

Here is the video where the investigator caught the media out

The day after the story broke, an administrator of a secret vaccination choice group posted on Facebook that he had doubts about the authenticity of the tweets. A serial cyber stalker and professional bully, Reasonable Hank whose real name is Peter Tierney and who is a single father who resides on the NSW South Coast, spending most of his day tweeting and blogging with the goal of defaming natural health practitioners, medical professionals and those who object to vaccination, took a screen shot of the comment which you’ll see below. He tweeted it to his followers, which preceded him providing evidence to prove Jill’s bullying.

  1. 6

However this merely revealed Jill never received any such abusive tweets. They were in fact comments made about Jill in secret or closed Facebook groups dedicated to supporting vaccine choice. They were never made directly to Jill. While name-calling is never acceptable, a group of frustrated people making heated comments amongst a group of peers is hardly harassing or bullying an individual.

Peter provided evidence that 10 of the 14 comments Jill read out in her video were made (though they were made in the above-mentioned closed groups and never sent to Jill) which leaves the missing 4 comments.

We now know Irene’s and ausfreedom21s comments were fake, and we can’t find evidence of the remaining two so we will just assume those were also fabricated. Not surprisingly, the 4 messages we couldn’t find any evidence of were also the ones that were the most controversial. They were the ones that wished cancer on Jill, called her a traitor, a pedophile and called for her execution.

So what does this tell us? We don’t doubt Jill has received nasty comments sent directly to her. In fact, every politician who has ever served in parliament would at some stage receive angry emails or negative social media comments. Why aren’t they naming and shaming individuals? Is it because they have better things to do? We can only assume the only real “abuse” Jill received directly was so tame that it wouldn’t have made headlines so her staff exaggerated her story by making up lies to yet again undermine the credibility of those in the pro-choice movement. In the process, Jill and her team have defamed the good name of a medical doctor who supports vaccination.


It’s also important to ask, how did Jill even know about these comments made about her in secret and closed Facebook groups? Was she trolling about trying to gather evidence to further her vaccine agenda on the tax-payers’ dollar? Or did Peter, who had saved these screen shots months earlier, give her these comments and if so, for what purpose? Peter has demonstrated despicable behaviour and issued death threats against those who want choice in vaccination. He writes “Every time you utter your dangerous bullshit you make me more determined to see the end of you” This is the sort of person Jill associates with.


  1. 7

News.com.au, who along with the Herald Sun, is owned by Rupert Murdoch who has strong financial links to a pharmaceutical company that manufactures vaccines states in their article that the Minister also received support from medical researcher and Australian Skeptics vice-president, Rachael Dunlop in this article. Dr Dunlop states “I’m frequently abused,” however the following screen shot shows the pot calling the kettle black. This is a comment she made on twitter to Meryl Dorey, former president of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN); “I give up. You people are just too stupid and do not deserve science or medicine. Please go away and die. That is all”.

  1. 8

If Jill’s cries of abuse were really about online bullying, why didn’t she call upon everyone, including those in the pro-vax camp to be respectful? Her allegations of abuse would not have been confined to one minority group when there is ample evidence to show many have ill feeling towards her on other matters including but not limited to those who don’t support abortion. Here are some more screen shots of the side of the debate Jill and the media forgot to mention – the unrelenting abuse those who are pro-choice receive from Jill’s friend Hank, members of Stop the AVN and others Jill has frequently tagged in her tweets. You can also watch this video here of Tasha David, current AVN President and Meryl Dorey, AVN past President, reading out just a small sample of the death threats they have received.



  1. As if by coincidence, following Peters attempts to prove the “tweets” were real, the Herald Sun promptly removed its original article, which was published on 20th October with the title “Jill Hennessey gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners”. Whilst the title still appears in Google search, when you click on the link it leads to a new article with the headline “Social media applauds Vic Health Minister for taking on anti-vaxxers”. It is obvious the original article was amended not only because the old link led to the new article but because the new article had the original articles date. If you refer to the screen shot below, you’ll note the date at the top as the 20th, however further down you’ll see tweets from the 21st October. Was this an attempt to cover their tracks as they knew those in the pro-choice movement had started to question the existence of these tweets? It’s also interesting that the Herald Sun published the screen shots of people applauding Jill in this article but never attempted to show proof of any of the tweets Jill alleges to have received. Perhaps that is because there was no proof to show.


When a page edits its content, the effects on that page are immediate. However, Google needs to revisit that site to confirm that changes have been made in order to update its search history. This can take weeks or months, depending on the amount of activity on the link. This is why, even though the Herald Sun edited the content of the original article five days earlier, the old article title still appears. This is how it can be confirmed that none of the tweets were ever deleted, otherwise, they would show up on a Google search. You can view this video for further clarification.

While it is never acceptable to ridicule or threaten anyone, it is also important to understand the context in which those comments were made. Many people in the pro-choice camp have had the health of their child and/or their financial livelihood sacrificed thanks in part to the human rights breaches of No Jab, No Play legislation that Jill introduced and fast tracked through parliament. This legislation bans unvaccinated children from attending childcare and kinder (pre-school) in Victoria. Obtaining a medical exemption is next to impossible unless your child has had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine, and even in that case, your child would only be exempt from that vaccine in the future – not others, despite other vaccines containing similar ingredients including but not limited to, formaldehyde, aluminum, polysorbate 80, MSG, antibiotics, the tissue of aborted fetuses, calf bovine serum, anti-freeze, animal organ tissue and blood and many other DNA alternating, carcinogenic and neurotoxic substances.

The 10 comments we found thanks to Peter, which we have posted for you below, were made in relation to two major events that occurred this year involving Jill. The first is an irresponsible comment Jill made stating “There are no risks to vaccinating…” Imagine for a moment that your child died, or regressed into autism, stopped breathing, suffered brain swelling or seizures following vaccination and you heard Jill make such an absurd comment, one that’s even in conflict with the vaccine manufacturer. The slap in the face couldn’t be any bigger than that. Wouldn’t you be angry enough to scream profanities to people who understand you?


The second incident in which these heated comments were made, again, in a closed or secret group Facebook group and never directed at Jill, involved the censoring of the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. The first screening in Australia was due to air at the Castlemaine Film Festival. Some people believe that Jill may have been responsible for leading a coordinated attack, which included threats of personal violence against the organisers if they did not pull the screening. This included the harassment and intimidation of board members via their Facebook pages and phone calls to their employers to advise that their employees were supporting an ‘irresponsible’ anti-vax movie. The screening was promptly pulled due to personal safety concerns.

Jill also intentionally misrepresented the film as an anti-vaccination movie however, it is far from that. The documentary uncovers the story of the CDC Whistleblower, Dr William Thompson who we mentioned earlier, and his involvement in a cover-up to hide a vaccine-autism link. In her media spin following the allegations of abuse, Jill stated that she was “…absolutely up for a full-and-frank debate” yet here she was, stopping people from finding out not just that the CDC committed scientific fraud, but also that vaccines can cause autism.

If Jill really was interested in protecting the health of children as she so passionately claims, why would she stop parents from finding out that there is a possible problem with the MMR vaccine?

Whilst the following may be a petty point to make, it shows just how callous Jill is as she attempts to ridicule Linda for her spelling mistake. In her video she says “Just a tip Linda, dumb is spelt with a b at the end”. If you observe the screen shot below, you’ll note however that Linda spelt dumb correctly three times and it was in fact Jill’s screen shot that was incorrect. You’ll also note from the yellow circle that the original comment by Linda was never edited either. Did Jill’s staff make the error or was it a deliberate way to make pro-choice people look stupid?



This now leaves us with a multitude of questions. Why did Jill cry foul about being relentlessly harassed by a group of people she had never met, nor had direct contact with? If even one of the tweets were real, why are there no screen shots and why can’t they be found? And if she lied about receiving abusive tweets, what else has she lied to us about?

The likelihood is, Jill was looking for a way to once again belittle pro-choice advocates to distract people from what is really going on. The fact is that vaccine science is questionable, not only because of the allegations made by the CDC Whistleblowers, but because of the ample published scientific evidence that proves vaccines can and do cause harm, including death.

Jill needed a quick story and she got one thanks to her friend Hank. He has trolls in every one of these groups who take screen shots so that he can harass, intimidate and blog about these individuals. This is then followed by complaints lodged with their employers and/or the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA), the Teachers Union or another such authority so he can get them sacked or silenced.

Jill, if you are genuinely sincere in your quest to protect children, we invite you to watch a free screening of Vaxxed. We invite you to read the ample scientific evidence that proves vaccines are not a one-size-fits-all preventative. And finally, we invite you to use your taxpayer salary more wisely. Trolling Facebook groups for negative comments about yourself is not one of them.


Posted in Articles, Blog, Jill Hennessy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The vitamin lie Dr. Brad McKay wants you to swallow

By Charlie Eclaire

Dr BradMckay
This is Dr Brad Mckay

According to Wikipedia, “The pot calling the kettle black” is an idiom used to claim that a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another. Never has this saying been more true thanks to Dr. Brad McKays article titled “Are vitamins doing you more harm than good?”.


Dr Brad Mckay as a GP is guilty of the very thing he accuses Vitamins of doing.


 Who is Dr Brad Mckay?

For those that don’t know Dr. Brad McKay is a GP & host of the show Embarrassing Bodies Down Under. His show has been so successful that a spin off version was recently created deservingly titled Embarrassing Articles in which, Dr. McKay once again takes a starring role. For his first assignment Dr. McKay suggests that taking high doses of vitamins and supplements could increase your chances of heart disease and cancer.

Given his recent involvement with the Skeptics and their continuous calls for pseudo-science enthusiasts to back up their claims with gold standard evidence based medicine, I expected nothing less from Dr. McKay’s article. Using my very expensive nit microscope that came free with the nit kit I used to treat my children’s hair, I scanned furiously through the article looking for the “recent” study he mentions. It seems however that Dr. McKay didn’t get the memo from his new pals at the Skeptics inc, instead opting for unbacked, misinterpreted false claims of a paper he dared not cite.


Rather than provide you with evidence to substantiate his claims, Dr. McKay offers many examples seemingly written for those with a third grade comprehension level. Six of these have been quoted below in bold. Case in point, the pot calling the kettle black;

Welcome to third grade.jpg
Dr Brad McKay has written a third grade level article
  1. “In a world full of modern conveniences it’s easy to think that we can solve our problems with a pill or a powder… Are we just fooling ourselves?” It seems Dr. McKay has forgotten the foundations of the profession he prides himself on are based on this exact theory.
Pharmaceutical companies are known for encouraging Doctors to over prescribe their products in the name of profit

Pill or powder




  1. “Australians spend billions of dollars every year on vitamins and dietary supplements based on clever marketing”. Whilst I don’t doubt the validity of this claim, the only vitamin and supplement manufacturers who I could find that were guilty of deceptive marketing were ones made by pharmaceutical companies. Contained within the study (spoiler alert, I did eventually find the study, more on that later) in question is mention of a One-A-Day Men’s Health supplement in which its manufacturer Bayer, claimed it could prevent prostate cancer. Despite null findings from SELECT, Bayer refused to stop its fraudulent marketing until after it was threatened with a lawsuit. Bayer is a pharmaceutical giant whose net profit for the period ended March 31 was estimated at AU$2.35 billion. A similar incident occurred in Australia less than a month ago where the makers of Neurofen were fined $1.7m for misleading customers on ‘specific pain’ relief range. Water off a ducks back for a company that has an annual turnover estimated at AU$13.8 billion. It seems Dr. McKay suffers from selective “Hear no, Speak no” syndrome. Rest assured, there’s likely a falsely marketed pill that can help you with this Dr. McKay and if not, I’m sure your colleagues will happily prescribe you something off label.
  1. “Scientific evidence hasn’t shown a significant health benefit from taking extra vitamins if your levels are normal”. Do you remember the study they did on non diabetics taking extra diabetic medication showing increased health benefits? Yeah, me neither.
  1. “Medicine prescribed by your doctor has gone through a rigorous process of scientific testing to examine safety and effectiveness”. This is true for most but not all medications and especially not true for vaccines, which are not required to undergo the same gold standard of medical research as other pharmaceutical drugs. Instead of using real placebos like saline, controlled placebos are used to determine safety which can only yield a positive result. There has also been NO study EVER done to determine the safety of the current (or perhaps any) schedule offered in Australia yet doctors are injecting thousands of children with up to 8 antigens in a single consult daily…. and up to 41 antigens by age 4.


  1. “Companies wanting to sell their products in Australia only need to fill out an online form, supply information about their product and pay a fee to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), but the product itself is not tested. The TGA relies on companies to tell the truth and monitor their own products. Apart from this trust system, there’s no way of knowing if you’re getting what you pay for, or even if it is safe to swallow” – Well, that just cemented my trust in pharmaceutical companies! Truth, ha! – The difference between any product including pharmaceuticals but NOT vaccines is that any products making false claims, or causing any adverse reaction, could be sued. Vaccine manufacturers are shielded from liability including the government and the doctor/nurse administering it which means NO ONE can be sued in the event of an adverse reaction to a vaccine even if the vaccine is tainted. This gives bad pharma all the reason in the world to ensure safety of their product right?
  1. “Products sold over the counter….may contain more, little or none of the listed ingredients. Some companies are doing the right thing, but others are taking advantage of the TGA’s self-monitoring system”. Without any evidence, one can’t take the legitimacy of this claim seriously unless Dr. McKay is referring to pharmaceutical products which are notorious for making false claims. Take for example a case currently before the U.S courts which alleges Merck, the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine “”failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment described herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.” In case you’re thinking that this is an isolated incident, see here, here, here and lots more here for further examples of the many and regular cases of bad pharma fraud.

If you’re a free-thinking individual accustomed to the natural medicine bashing pharma supporting propaganda drilled into the population ad nauseum, then you’ll know that to make a lie truth, the media will repeat it over and over using varying sources. Having realised I would not find anything concrete within Dr. McKay’s article which proved his claims, I started checking for other publications in pursuit of this elusive study.

The first piece I came across was from The Conversation which has been described by Quadrant Magazine as a “one-sided,” “lavishly-funded,” and “staffed by left-leaning refugees from commercial news organisations’ withered operations.” In all fairness to the Conversation, I dare say all media outlets would be in the running to win the same or similar award if such an award existed. Alas, I digress.

Instead of trying to substantiate its claims with real evidence, The Conversations piece titled “Supplements are an expensive and potentially toxic lucky dip” elects to use anecdotal proof, the gold standard of medical certainty it seems. That proof comes from linking to another article which claims “Data obtained from national organ donation registries shows, since 2011, three liver transplants and three kidney transplants have been given to people who got sick after taking some kind of herbal supplement”. It later goes on to say that one man required surgery after just a few months of taking a supplement with green tea extract. You’ve likely heard the phrase “correlation doesn’t equal causation” however we can now see, thanks to The Conversation, that it does but only when it supports bad pharma agenda. If your child stops breathing within minutes of being vaccinated, it’s a coincidence but if you take green tea extract and need a liver transplant within months, then the cause is of no doubt. I sure hope those 6 people who had transplants didn’t eat chocolate, or drink alcohol otherwise there would surely be a call to boycott them too?

The Conversations tag line ‘Academic rigour, journalistic flair’ seems to believe that the pinnacle of academic rigour is based on using evidence from another media source without any obvious fact checking. With writing flair no better than that of a lemming on steroids, I moved onto the next link provided, an article published by The Guardian in April 2015. Here we find another link and mention that the study in question was from 2012 conducted by the University of Colorado. In case you missed the obvious, 2012 was 4 years ago, hardly recent. This now lends the question, why release these findings now? Could it have something to do with this study released by John Hopkins University last week which found that medical negligence was the third biggest killer of Americans, right behind heart disease & cancer? Hmmmmm.

The link provided by The Guardian direct to the University of Colorado Cancer Centre is where things become more interesting. With a similar eye catching headline as the other pieces, the page concludes with “Many recent news reports stemming from this news release present incomplete data” followed by a link to the full study. After much searching, there it was, the final piece of the puzzle. The actual study they used to make these outlandish claims.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by Byers et al, the study reviewed several trials involving thousands of patients. The conclusion states;

“We have argued that dietary supplements should not be directly or indirectly marketed for cancer prevention”

And this;

“In the absence of convincing evidence…we probably do not need more trials in nutrient-replete populations”…. Ummmm what? Nutrient-replete populations??? “The value of conducting trials in populations with poor nutrient status has been shown….we will require studies that evaluate the impact of many years, rather than a few years, of nutritional supplementation”.

It also concludes by stating that scientists and government officials should encourage the public to make prudent decisions based on sound scientific evidence. And that’s it. The undeniable link between vitamins, supplements and cancer and/or heart disease and organ transplants was so glaringly obvious that they forgot to mention it in their concluding remarks.

So how could they make such a claim of link to cancer when the study’s conclusion doesn’t even support that hypothesis? Within the body of the analysis, it mentions; “Several antioxidant trials have actually reported increased risks with supplementation. The most prominent example, β-carotene and lung cancer…” However buried deep within that study is the admission that they used a synthetic dl-alpha-tocopherly acetate (50% powder) and synthetic beta caratone (10% water-soluble beadlets); all formulations were coloured with quinolone yellow”. This study also concludes by saying “…this trial raises the possibility that these supplements may actually have harmful as well as beneficial effect”. There is no doubt this synthetically produced nutrient void product was also manufactured by bad pharma. It does not take a genius to see that a synthetic product will not yield the same outcome of its natural counterpart.

So what can be drawn from this unrelenting witch-hunt against natural medicine? Don’t trust what you hear in the media and don’t quote anything you read as fact unless you’ve taken the time to check the facts yourself. Also, if you choose to use vitamins and supplements, see a Naturopath to determine what you actually need, if anything, and avoid purchasing any brands manufactured by bad pharma because you’ll likely end up with a falsely labeled, synthetic, watered down version of its natural source. I bid you farewell until the next installment of embarrassing articles by Dr. McKay.


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