Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hysterical "Health Ranger" gratuitously attacks Dr. David Gorski -- again

In light of the endless foul stink bombs generated over the past year by the Oaf of Office, #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump, it may be tempting to dismiss the foibles of Scamworld as relatively minor matters, comparatively speaking. Even so, Scamworld is still this blog's main beat, and although, as I've noted previously, Herr Twitler has sucked a lot of oxygen from this pitiful little outpost of the blogosphere, Scamworld remains a matter of consequence both here and in the larger world, as do the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health gurus who keep that big sick machine humming. Given today's milieu they are doubly consequential in the cases where Scamworld and politix intersect, and since several of this blog's least-favorite snargets are Trump fans, that intersection is pretty busy these days.

Anyway. This isn't the newest of news, but it's less than two weeks old, so just in case you missed it....

One of Donald Trump's most histrionically vocal sycophants is pseudoscientist and conspiracy monger
Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, whom we've snargeted here numerous times before. Adams loves him some Trump and has even written that in order to save a divided America from civil war, Trump should do everything possible to "shut down" the subversive, evil left, apparently by imprisoning them and destroying all of their media. Now, as I've noted before, Adams could just be playing the role of provocateur in order to get clicks and sell his numerous frauducts to stupid right-wingers, and it's possible that he does not really believe that freedom of expression should be totally destroyed in the US. But you never know with these alt-right types.

Another thing to know about Adams is that he is irrationally and hysterically anti-vaccination -- in fact, that's another one of his pet causes, perhaps even more beloved than the cause of keeping his nose well-browned from rooting around up in Trump. On January 20 of this year, Adams
posted about a threatening email that a deranged vaccine advocate apparently sent to another vocal anti-vaxxer, Suzanne Humphries, M.D. (Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, another alt-right lunatic who's considerably stupider and more evil than Adams, but is just as enamored of Trump, copied and pasted Adams' post for his own "blog.")

The email Dr. Humphries claims to have received is a blatant, expletive-filled death threat, but instead of treating it as an aberration the anti-vaxxers, including Adams, are reacting in their usual way, conflating an isolated loony with the entire "pro-vax" movement. Since the email is crude and only marginally literate, it could hardly be expected to be the work of professional propagandists from Big Pharma, but that is exactly what some of the alarmed anti-vaxxers are suggesting (just read some of the comments
on this post on the Vactruth.com site).

Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not claiming that Dr. Humphries is wrong to be alarmed; she should take every due precaution to protect herself. But tossing the sender of this lunatic threat into the same category as the millions of health professionals, scientists, researchers, and ordinary folks who don't practice the anti-vax true religion is either (1) ignorant; (2) misinformed; (3) disingenuous; or (4) just plain stupid. Indeed, the anti-vax movement is characterized by all four of those factors -- it's a big tent, so big that it even has room for
Donald Trump -- so take your pick.

If the Health Danger had just stuck to his anti-vax message in his January 20 post, it wouldn't have grabbed my attention, but he apparently felt compelled to drag Dr. David Gorski, who writes
the excellent Respectful Insolence blog under the name "Orac," into the drama.

After quoting -- in full -- the offending email received by Dr. Humphries, Adams added, gratuitously (and out of courtesy for Dr. Gorski, I have removed Adams' embedded links):

This threatening, psychopathic language, by the way, reminds me of Dr. David Gorski, an extremely dangerous, sociopathic vaccine-pushing doctor who viciously attacks and lies about anyone trying to expose the truth about vaccines. Dr. Gorski’s colleague, Dr. Farid Fata, was indicted by the FBI for cancer treatment fraud and is now serving 20+ years in federal prison. Dr. Gorski worked alongside this cancer fraudster and evil criminal in the Detroit area, with links to the Karmanos Cancer Centers.

Natural News has previously reported Dr. Gorski to the FBI and has named him as one of the six most sickeningly evil propagandists currently operating in the realm of medicine. He currently works for the Karmanos Center Center in Michigan and spends his work hours editing Wikipedia to savage “vaccine truthers” by posting false, defamatory and slanderous information on their Wikipedia pages. Dr. Gorski is a surgical oncologist who scars black women for profit and pushes deceptive cancer propaganda on the public, much like his colleague Dr. Farid Fata also did before he was arrested and indicted for multiple felony crimes.
This is far from the first time that Adams has defamed Dr. Gorski (see this April 2016 post, f'rinstance, under "Mike Adams defames Dr. David Gorski"). On the very ill-named TruthWiki, which Adams has claimed is an "objective" alternative to that evil bastion of liberalism, Wikipedia, Dr. Gorski has even been gifted with special tags and categories (e.g., "lunatic blogger"). Now, that's real objective. On many occasions Dr Gorski has addressed these false accusations against him, but it does no good; Adams just keeps hammering away.

And make no mistake: As biased, untruthful and irrational as they are, Adams' defamatory rants against Dr. Gorski have exerted their influence on the search engines.
Actor William Shatner was even fooled by Adams' nonsense last year when doing "research" on Gorski and the vaccination issue (see "Captain Kirk goes berserk." There's also a link to the Respectful Insolence post about the matter.).

So despite
Adams' longstanding whines about Google suppressing and oppressing him, the world's favorite search engine has in fact been one of his greatest enablers.

What you probably won't be hearing from Mike Adams -- or Dr. Suzanne Humphries, for that matter -- is that Dr. Gorski is just as alarmed and disgusted about this email as any anti-vaxxer. And he stated this in no uncertain terms on a January 24 blog post on Respectful Insolence. Wrote Gorski/Orac:
OK, full stop right here. If you’re a pro-vaxer and want to make death threats against anyone, even antivax loons like Suzanne Humphries, you are not on my side. I don’t care what your reasons are. I don’t care if you weren’t serious. I don’t care if it was your idea of a sick joke. I don’t care if you were just trying to rattle her (which you clearly succeeded in doing in a spectacular fashion in this case). I disavow you. I condemn you. I spit on you. I hope the authorities find you, even though I know the chances for a successful prosecution in these cases are low.

Now here’s the thing. I know of no pro-vaccine advocate who feels otherwise. I know of no one on our side who approves of behavior like this directed against antivaxers—or anyone else. We don’t want this sort of stuff being associated with our side, because it’s wrong. We don’t need it, because we have science on our side, and anything like this hurts our cause, not helps us...
Following that, Gorski reproduced the email in its entirety, as Adams and the anti-vax web sites had done. He then added:
Yes, this is utterly vile and despicable, and it just goes to show that there are assholes and disturbed people everywhere, and not all pro-vaxers are pure in motivation and behavior. Regardless of where they came from, such threats deserve only our contempt. Even if this idiot was not serious and was just trying to frighten or rattle Humphries, he (and it’s almost certainly a he) deserves nothing but contempt.

On the other hand…

Am I alone in thinking it…odd…just how eager antivaxers are to publicize this? I’ve gotten the occasional death threat before, albeit, admittedly, none quite so long and extravagant. I’ve never publicized them. I rarely mention them. I know a number of skeptical bloggers who’ve had the same experience. I’ve known skeptics who’ve had stalkers. They rarely mention the issue.

Yet, here we have Suzanne Humphries proclaiming the issue to the world. We also have the Health Danger
weaponizing this e-mail against me...

And "weaponizing" is exactly the right word for what Mike Adams is doing to David Gorski. (I will say, though, that it's not really surprising that antivaxers, and indeed many of the most vocal alt-health advocates, are eager to publicize threats against themselves, both real and imagined. In the shrill video he made about the threat against Dr. Humphries, Mike Adams also brings up the fallacious "dead holistic doctors" conspiracy narrative -- which I initially wrote about in this August 2015 post, and then again in July 2016 (under "Dead holistic docs conspiracy rages on"). The alt-health hysterics never miss an opportunity to push that contrived story, which is part of a larger false narrative: that of the Brave Maverick Doctor.)
 
Gorski reiterates that all of the claims Adams made about him in his latest post are lies, as is the insinuation that Gorski would ever write anything resembling that email. He adds that he despises whoever made those threats against Suzanne Humphries, and then wonders if Dr. Humphries would do him a solid and "do the same thing regarding Mike Adams' campaign of lies and defamation" against Gorski.

"I won't be holding my breath," he writes. And given that Humphries seems to be allied with Adams (
judging from at least one of her Facebook posts from April 2016), I think Dr. Gorski is wise to hold his breath:
It looks like Natural News is filing a legal complaint that names "Orac", the self-proclaimed sci-blogger whose real name is David Gorsky [sic]. I'm sure his backers will get him the most aggressive attorneys and spare no cost on cutting him loose from the charges. Most of us vaccine critical doctors have been on the other end of his pen...
Much more recently -- on January 19, to be exact -- Dr. Humphries posted on Facebook about the death-threat email, saying that "the opposition is losing its mind."

I still think that Dr. Gorski may have the grounds for a seriously good defamation case against Mike Adams, but then again, I don't blame him for not wanting to waste time, money, and energy on the lunatic fringe of the anti-vax movement. Keep on blogging, Orac.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

#NOprah2020



A belated Happy New Year, y'all! Now let's get right down to business.

The world is gabbing about Oprah Winfrey's
instantly famous Golden Globes speech, an admittedly moving but at times histrionic bit of oratory that had much of the black-clad audience of narcissistic, self-important celebs in tears, and resulted in far more buzz than a sane country should be comfortable with about a Big O presidential run in 2020. And I have just one question: Has the elevation of an outrageously unqualified billionaire reality-show host to the most powerful position in the world really lowered the bar that much?

Now, in the plus column, Oprah has been pretty consistently liberal/progressive on social issues, and she's literate (and actually loves reading and encourages others to do it), and she has truly done some good in the world. So... totally not like Trump. But Oprah is also a billionaire celebrity and serial hawker (often of questionable people and concepts), and she has no political experience and no "qualifications" other than the ability to work a crowd. So... totally like Trump, though granted, Oprah probably is wealthier than Trump and actually earned her wealth. No silver spoon story for her, in other words.

But still. My initial objection to Oprah-as-president -- and central to this blog's normal beat -- concerns the way she has enabled Scamworld luminaries over the years, particularly those associated with the loathsome New-Wage moviemercial,
The Secret. One such luminary/Secret star was convicted killer James Arthur Ray. To my knowledge, Oprah never apologized for her part in elevating him to far, far greater heights of fame than he deserved.

I've mentioned the Oprah/Scamworld connection before on this Whirled, such as in
this May 2014 post. In that 2014 post I linked to a powerful blog post from Jean Brown Allison, the sister of Death Ray victim Kirby Brown. Jean has indicated that she will have a lot to say about an Oprah presidential run, and I will happily provide links when she does.

My blogging colleague Salty Droid,
now a practicing lawyer fighting Scamworld, has also written about the cozy relationship between Oprah and Scamworld. (Here's a link to more Oprah-tagged posts on Salty's blog. And by the way, Salty just announced that he intends to continue blogging, but in a more serious manner.)

And I can't overlook the contributions of the author and journalist who inspired me to begin blogging in the first place, Steve Salerno at SHAMblog. Over the years, particularly since the initial release of The Secret in 2006, Steve has written plenty about the Oprah effect.
 
In a comment to my Facebook post about an Oprah candidacy, my friend Kathryn wrote that she would not support Oprah as a presidential candidate even though that Golden Globes speech was inspiring. Kathryn added:

For too long she has promoted a new age, positive-wishful thinking prosperity paradigm, rather than naming the structural injustices that are undermining the working and middle classes. Her O magazine, unless it has changed in the last several years, peddled that paradigm with gauzy "live your best life" self help articles that promote products and experts that will presumably help one reach this best life. Personally, I can't forgive her for promoting the likes of Rhonda Byrne and Elizabeth Gilbert as gurus. Also, I don't think people should be elected based on celebrity. I want to support people who have experience and passion for public service and public policy.

Well said, Kathryn.

Of course Death Ray and The Secret are far from Oprah's only promotional sins,
as noted in this Slate piece (which does also mention The Secret, but not Death Ray specifically).

Then there is what could be viewed as a bit of hypocrisy, on Oprah's part, regarding the whole #MeToo/Time's Up thing. For there's no doubt that Oprah was pals with one of the villains at the center of #MeToo: film director Harvey Weinstein. The right-wing media have been on fire with this. Here's
The Daily Caller.

Now, don't get me wrong here. Contrary to what some of the wingnut memes are insinuating, I don't for a moment believe that Oprah was overtly conspiring to lure young women, such as Brit actress and La Toya Jackson lookalike
Kadian Noble, into Harvey's lair. But Oprah did hobnob with Weinstein, and even though she initially expressed shock and dismay at the allegations against her buddy, I think she still has a lot of 'splainin' to do. Her soaring rhetoric at the Golden Globes does not exonerate her.

(At this point I should probably interject that as a woman and a nearly-lifelong feminist I generally support the #MeToo/Time's Up movement, despite my snark at the beginning of this post. The conversations resulting from this movement are long overdue, even if they don't result in any measurable change over time (obviously it's too early to call). However, I do have several concerns. I'm concerned that in their eagerness to honor the stories of countless named and un-named victims of sexual harassment and assault, nuance is lost. Promoters of the movement sometimes verge on vilification of all things male. And apparently men who were at worst guilty of social awkwardness or poor judgment are being caught up in the net with true predators and victimizers. All of this does nothing but give strength to the inevitable backlash, providing ammo to the most loathsome misogynists and men's rights activists. But that's probably worth its own blog post.)

The Oprah/Harvey connection is potentially damning enough, but let's not forget
Oprah's history of friendship with Donald John Trump, who, in 1999, suggested that he'd pick her as his running mate if he were ever to run for president. As recently as 2015, he defended that choice. Following O's famous Golden Globes oratory, The Hill posted some past Trumptweets praising Oprah to the moon and back. And after the 2016 election Oprah made some statements that could charitably be described as desperately over-optimistic, but that in retrospect, one year into the reign of the Mad King, are idiotic. (To many of us, of course, these statements sounded idiotic when she first made them.) Notwithstanding her very public support of Hillary Clinton, O said she was "encouraged" by Trump's "willingness" to work with the transition team. She also said that she could sense by his body language during his acceptance speech that perhaps he'd been "humbled" by the experience of having been elected. (In fairness, she did say in passing that she could be wrong. Ya think?)

As I noted in a recent Facebook conversation regarding Oprah and Weinstein, she is either a lousy judge of character, or she just doesn't give a damn.

The Big O and The Big Oaf may or may not still be buds, but I do believe that Oprah Winfrey's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate would, as many have suggested, be a gift to Trump and his supporters and enablers. So come on, America. I know Trump is unpresidentedly and unprecedentedly awful, and homophobic theocrat Pence is just as awful, and so are most of the likely-at-this-point Republican contenders.

But Oprah? Let's just not, okay?

Related on this Whirled -- March 2016: The Devil at the crossroads of politix and Scamworld (in particular, the part about Neil Postman and his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death)

Not to overstate the case, but... here's more about the Oprah effect:

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,