Worrying: WordPress shut down a Blog of a Student Critizing the Naturopath Christopher Maloney

21 02 2010

Last Thursday PZ Myers, author of the very successful science blog Pharyngula tweeted that Christopher Maloney was a quack” (see first tweet below). Prior to that tweet I’d never heard of Christopher Maloney.

I used to be rather indifferent about homeopaths and other people practicing CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine), thinking that it might help some people in some cases.

But examples of patients harmed (even to death) by alternative forms of healing are increasing. In the Netherlands we had two examples of well-known people dying of (curable) cancer after seeking help from alternative practitioners: Sylvia Millecam and the ex-wive of the politician Roel van Duijn. In addition, babies have died as a consequence of craniosacral therapy (see one  recent case in the NTVG (the Dutch Medical Journal) and the English translation of this case at the Anaximperator Blog here).

What is particularly dangerous about the alternative medicine movement is the way it is able to influence and/or mobilize people and media. Read for instance through Roel’s own words (and shiver) how his wife came under influence of macrobiotic healers and was convinced she could conquer the cancer by getting her “yin and yang” more in balance.
And what about the anti-vaccination movement? In our country the vaccination campaign against cervical cancer for teenage girls failed, because of negative publicity propagated via the Internet (and this is just one example).

CAM-movements are also very powerful in trying to silence their blogging opponents, mostly very esteemed journalists and scientist. Simon Singh, a British science writer, is currently being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. Why? Because he wrote an article in the The Guardian “Beware the spinal trap” in which he states that The British Chiropractic Association happily promotes bogus treatments (which he substantiates). This resulted in Singh being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.

Suing for libel is one foul approach to try to silence the anti-quack scientific writers. Another is trying to shut down the blog of those critical writers. These two approaches have been used by Christopher Maloney.

Maloney, as I learned from P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula:

“… is a naturopath in the state of Maine, where quacks like him get to call themselves “doctors”. These so-called “doctors” get to make recommendations like this, in which he disparages standard flu vaccines and suggests these useless prescriptions:

Parents waiting for vaccinations can provide their children with black elderberry, which blocks the H1N1 virus. A single garlic capsule daily cuts in half the incidence and the severity of a flu episode for children.”

But Christopher Maloney is also dangerous in another respect. He tried to cut out a student*, Michael Hawkins, who criticized him, pointing out that “Naturopathic medicine is pure bull”, first by demanding the student to alter the blog post, next by asking WordPress to shut down the blog, which they did!!! (see FTSOS Fiasco)

This is the letter WordPress sent to Michael (see Pharyngula again); the picture below is from the Google cache http://tinyurl.com/ylbeshp (thanks Cryptocheilus, see comments)


And this is what you see when you search for: forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com:

That is a real spineless action and extremely unfair. I know so many sites and blogs that are spam or just contain a lot of abusive language. One such (Dutch) blog geenstijl.nl even won several blog wards.  Undeserved I think, but that is another issue.

WordPress shutting down a blog on request of a naturopath, who calls himself Dr. without having a true medical education (which seems allowed in the US State Maine). Without rigorous checking. That is creepy…..

Should I now fear the shut down of my blog criticizing WordPress?

Dear WordPress, the true power of blogging is that we, bloggers, can have a critical function in society, we can have  a voice. Blogging is almost identical to freedom of speech. When you shut down a blog of someone who is (rightly) criticizing something or someone you are endangering this process of debate, that scientists adhere to, but many CAM-proponents do not.

Shame on you WordPress. Shame on you!

———————————

Added: 2010-02-22:

* The blocking procedure was started by another quack:  Andreas Moritz. He admitted to getting WordPress to pull Michael Hawkins’ blog (source again Pharyngula).

If you want to read more on the dangerous nonsense Andreas Moritz is selling (i.e. cancer is a manifestation of “unresolved conflicts”) then you should read this article at Respectful Insolence (of “Orac”).

Below are some tweets about this WordPress/Maloney incidence in chronological order.

  1. PZ Myers
    pzmyers Christopher Maloney is a quack. http://bit.ly/aFJFNZ Spread the word.
  2. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas #Wordpress shut down a blog critiquing “Dr” Maloney (Quack) on his request. Shame on U WordPress! http://bit.ly/aFJFNZ (previous tweet also)
  3. Laika (Jacqueline)
  4. gimpy
    gimpyblog This is shocking and worrying for antiquack bloggers pls RT RT @laikas: #Wordpress shut down a blog tackling quack http://bit.ly/c3gsRF
  5. Elmar Breitbach
    ElmarBreitbach RT @gimpyblog: This is shocking and worrying for antiquack bloggers pls RT RT @laikas: #Wordpress shut down a blog tackling quack http:/ …
  6. trancegemini
    trancegemini RT @pzmyers: Christopher Maloney is a quack and WordPress censors Free Speech. #quack
  7. Liz Ditz
    lizditz Repeating @pzmyers http://bit.ly/bZBKLn Naturopath Christopher Maloney is a quack. http://bit.ly/bXsjT9 And WordPress lacks spine.
  8. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas RT @wordpressdotcom: WordPress.com is down, we’re working on restoring service now. @pzmyers what did you do? Witchcraft?
  9. Pamela
    timorousme So this infamous quack doctor had WordPress shut down the blog of a kid I know, and is threatening to sue: http://bit.ly/cDMC1E
  10. Chris Patil
    DoNotGoGently WordPress made a student who criticized a naturopath edit his blog – and then shut him down anyway. http://bit.ly/aFJFNZ

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Maloney is a naturopath in the state of Maine, where quacks like him get to call themselves “doctors”. These so-called “doctors” get to make recommendations like this, in which he disparages standard flu vaccines and suggests these useless prescriptions:

Parents waiting for vaccinations can provide their children with black elderberry, which blocks the H1N1 virus. A single garlic capsule daily cuts in half the incidence and the severity of a flu episode for children.

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14 responses

22 02 2010
cryptocheilus

Appalling.

I’m a little worried now. You know why. (time to back some stuff up)

Here’s some more from Google cache (got pics).

http://tinyurl.com/ylbeshp

22 02 2010
22 02 2010
22 02 2010
Alternative Cancer Quack Andreas Moritz Gets Wordpress.com Blog Shuttered | The Zero Boss

[...] down. WordPress.com complied, though it’s unclear whether it did so in reaction to Hawkins or from the complaint of Christopher Maloney, who demanded that WordPress.com give Hawkins a warning after Hawkins said that naturopath Mahoney [...]

22 02 2010
Andreas Moritz kankerkwakzalver « Cryptocheilus Weblog

[...] die hem aan de schandpaal nagelde. WordPress besloot hierop het blog van die student te sluiten. Lees u even in bij LaikaSpoetnik die hier, zoals gewoonlijk, weer een uitstekend artikel over [...]

22 02 2010
Dear Wordpress.com: You HAVE to be shitting me. « Ars GeriatriCare

[...] get me wrong: I really like WordPress. But THIS is a (nice) description of pure BULLSHIT. That’s because you need a bull to produce the [...]

23 02 2010
Cancer Quack v. WordPress #1 « Spirituality is No Excuse

[...] Worrying: WordPress shut down a Blog of a Student Critizing the Naturopath Christopher Maloney from Laika’s MedLibLog [...]

23 02 2010
cryptocheilus

Thank you.

For the Sake of Science is back up and running. It only took a half dozen emails from me, directly contacting the big honcho, and the Internet going nutso, but I’m back in business.

25 02 2010
InteractMD

I’ll host your blog, for free, with podcasting, and I won’t shut you down for making statements critical of naturopathy!

Check us out at:
InteractMD.com

Regards, and keep blogging!

11 03 2010
Health Highlights – March 11th, 2010 | Highlight HEALTH

[...] Worrying: WordPress shut down a Blog of a Student Critizing the Naturopath Christopher Maloney | Lai… [...]

1 04 2010
Christopher Maloney

Interestingly, this blog seems unable to update itself. If you look at the original Myers’ site, Pharyngula, he has since altered his original “facts” about me. If you go to Novella’s reposting of the same “facts,” another poster takes him to task for reprinting information that has since been shown to be false. The reporting of lies online and then failing to correct them undermines any sort of reasoned discourse.

4 04 2010
laikaspoetnik

IMHO, all that had to be said is said above. I see no major alterations of facts, findings or interpretations both at Myers’ site Pharyngula and at Steve Novella’s Neurologica blog. The only thing that changed from day one is that the person asking WordPress to shut down Hawkins’ blog wasn’t you, but your confrère Mr. Moritz. That was immediately updated on my blog, albeit not in a new blogpost. For I had learned from your site, that you were getting tired of PZ’s endless threads….
Furthermore Hawkins’ blog is up again (mentioned in the comments). And so it should, because what he says makes sense, although I would prefer other ways of putting it
Perhaps you could update your blog too, where it suggests that closure of the blog was due to technical failure.


from: http://www.maloneymedical.com/id67.html

With regard to the content of your blog, I think others did a great job and there is no need to repeat it.

If anything is missing in the above text it is the referral to the excellent post of Steven Novella on this subject. As always, Steven has a very objective and scientific approach. In this post he focusses on addressing Maloney’s actual claims. Highly recommended!
http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1618

17 04 2010
Christopher Maloney

If you check with WordPress, MH’s site was down along with 10.5 million other sites. His took slightly longer to come back up. PZ Myers has publicly said he was wrong about accusing me, as has Novella. Unfortunately, you are perpetrating a lie.

I’m sorry that you have local anecdotal reports of damage from alternative practitioners. In large scale studies alternative medicine is extraordinarily safe.

If you read Novella’s blog on me now, you’ll see several of his readers take him to task about the shoddy journalism that both he and you display by trumpeting lies and then being incredibly slow to correct them. If you follow the discussion to the Homeopaths on the Run thread, you get to see Dr. Novella show his true colors. He accepts my challenge to provide him with useful information on ALS, doesn’t do basic follow up, and stops responding when I provide him with a possible protocol. Alas, not the victory you seek.

At this point I’ve failed to find any science on Pharyngula’s endless thread, having been moderated off by Myers for evidently providing too many RCTs supporting my points. He hasn’t had the guts to put me in his dungeon either, but I’ve devastated any and all attackers on his open forum.

Ultimately, I have found the skeptic community to be remarkably unscientific, with relatively few intellectuals. I’ve discussed this at length at Pharyngula attacks and on various Pharyngula blog posts. It’s a shame, really, as you could use a few.

18 04 2010
laikaspoetnik

If you check with WordPress, MH’s site was down along with 10.5 million other sites.
That is irrelevant. 10,499,999 other sites didn’t receive the letter from WordPress saying that they were intentionally shut down. None of these blogs said that “Dr. Maloney is no doctor and he earns no qualifications earning that title”, a statement apparently leading to Andreas Moritz’s request to close the blog.

I’m sorry that you have local anecdotal reports.
I gave local examples, which are not limited to the Netherlands, unfortunately.
In large scale studies alternative medicine is extraordinarily safe.
True, and so are placebos, but are they effective? Or in other words, there are two things: efficacy and safety. Most alternative treatments are safe (in itself), and some might work. It all depends on the type of alternative treatment (chiropractics is not so safe) and on the disease being treated. The more serious a disease (cancer for instance), the more serious the effects of withholding effective (regular) medical treatment. For withholding effective treatment may be a side-effect of some alternative treatments as well (as shown in one example I gave).

you display by trumpeting lies
Please be specific. You haven’t done so until now. Unless you have something useful to add, I won’t respond to your accusations any longer.
All changes were immediately updated, in the posts or in the comments. There have been no changes in insights since (also not after you previous reply).

If there is anything you don’t like about Novella’s or Myer’s posts, please complain there, not here.

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