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!

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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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Related Articles = Lateral Navigation

18 05 2008

What I did pick up form the WordPress announcement by Matt on possibly related posts (see previous post) is the term “lateral navigation” for navigating from one post to another. Why is this such a nice term?

Well, in my classes on systematic searching I teach people to perform (1) backward searching (checking citations in the reference list of selected papers), (2) forward searching (looking for papers that cite relevant papers) and (3) to browse Related Articles in PubMed or use “Find Similar” in OVID (MEDLINE, EMBASE). This approach is called snowballing or pearl method. It serves to find papers that you might have missed, but even more so to find new terms to add to your search, so you catch these ‘missing studies’ with your final search strategy.

The term lateral searching is so perfect because you can easily vissualize what this word stands for and it fits in with backward and forward searching.

So lateral searching will now be added to my slides! (see figure)

lateral searching

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NL flag NL vlag

De post van Matt (WordPress) over “possibly related posts” (zie mijn vorige post) bracht me op een voor mij nieuw begrip. “lateral navigation”, of in mijn geval nog beter “lateral searching” (lateraal of zijwaarts zoeken). Dit vind ik nl. een heel toepasselijke term voor het zoeken naar verwante artikelen.

In mijn cursussen “systematisch zoeken” raad ik mensen aan om aan de hand van geincludeerde (geselecteerde) artikelen systematisch ontbrekende studies te vinden door (1) “backward searching” (referentielijst checken), (2) “forward searching” (citerende artikelen zoeken) en (3) Related Articles in PubMed or “Find Similar” in OVID (MEDLINE, EMBASE) door te nemen. Deze zoekmethode wordt ook wel de sneeuwbal- of parelmethode genoemd. Het dient niet alleen om de ontbrekende artikelen te vinden maar vooral om nieuwe termen te vinden waarmee je je zoekactie kunt vervolmaken, zodat je deze èn andere artikelen met je uiteindelijke zoekactie vangt.

The term “lateral searching” past zo mooi bij de termen backward and forward searching, omdat ze alle 3 een beweging uitdrukken, waarbij de zijwaartse beweging nog het minst doelgericht lijkt en dat is het ook. Als je niet uitkijkt zwalk je zo van de ene naar de andere studie, en daarmee verlies je de systematiek. Leuk als je op nieuwe ideeen wilt komen, niet goed als je systematisch wilt zoeken.

Dus vanaf nu komt “lateral searching” op mijn powerpoint-presentatie te staan! (zie figuur))

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Previous posts on related articles/posts at this blog:
https://laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/possibly-an-announcement-about-possibly-related-posts/






WordPress Upgrade

6 04 2008

WordPress heeft plots een andere lay-out ofwel een nieuwe upgrade. Ubabert-zag ik net- maakt er ook al gewag van. Eigenlijk wel vervelend als je eenmaal aan een bepaalde lay-out gewend bent. Het is nu echt even zoeken. Een meerwaarde heb ik niet kunnen ontdekken.

Gisteren lukte het zelfs niet om de editor te gebruiken. Links, symbolen of text boxes invoegen: het ging allemaal niet. Alleen de basale editing functies lukten. Ik wilde het nu middels deze post laten zien, maar nu is editen geen probleem. Dus hopelijk is het een eenmalig falen geweest. Ik ga zou mijn klad-post bewerken, wie weet had dat er iets mee te maken. We zullen zien.