Alt Med guy whacked with Shorty end of the stick

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Jan. 23 2010 10:46 AM

Alt Med guy whacked with Shorty end of the stick

shortyawardThis story is too funny, but it takes a little background.

Mike Adams is an alt-med pusher; he writes at Natural News, a website chock-full-o' nonsense about vaccines, homeopathy, and so on. Regular readers may remember Mr. Adams from his particularly vile and horrific diatribe about real medicine after Patrick Swayze died. Adams claims to want to help people, but instead peddles all manners of treatments that are known not to work at all.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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So that ought to give you a picture of how Adams operates.

The Shorty Awards are a popular new internet award for people who use Twitter. It allows tweeters to vote for someone in various categories like science, humor, celebrity, and, oh, say, health.

Adams, who tweets under the name HealthRanger, was doing well with votes in the Shorties last week, well ahead of everyone else. In second place was another alt-med antivax promoter named Joe Mercola. I've written about him before as well.

But then skeptic Tim Farley noticed something-- a lot of votes going to Mercola and Adams were coming from brand new Twitter accounts with only one actual tweet: a vote for Mercola or Adams for the Shorties.

Hmmm.

Now, someone who may be a bit conspiracy-minded might assume that either Mercola or Adams, or their followers, might be working a campaign to stuff the ballot box by setting up fake Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of making sure these alt-med public health threats would win the Shorty award in health.

So Tim tweeted about it, and a bunch of us started to promote our friend Australian Rachael Dunlop, who has been tirelessly fighting alternative medicine quackery for years. Within a few days Rachael had moved into first place. Yay!

But there's more! Tim (as well as several others, including me) reported Mercola's and Adams' voter fraud to the people at the Shorty Awards. Today it was announced that Adams was being removed from the contest due to this fraudulent ballot stuffing.

Adams, of course, took this all in stride and has been gracious and self-deprecating about it all.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my. Of course he hasn't. Instead, he posted what can only be called a frothing rant about this, accusing the Shorty Awards and many of us reality-based people with all kinds of evil doing. You have to read his diatribe to believe anyone could post something so filled with rage, righteous indignation, logical fallacies, made-up transgressions, self-contradictions, and paranoid conspiracy mongering. It's really a masterpiece of woo-based garment-rendering nonsense. He's even threatened to sue!

Maybe he should win a Shorty Award for fiction.

To be fair, I actually don't think Adams should have been disqualified; we don't know who set up the fake votes for him. It might have been just one overzealous altmed fan. What should have happened was all the fake votes should have been struck from the count -- a large fraction -- and then let the most popular person win. It hardly matters anyway, since Rachael is so far out front that she'll win anyway. But it would be the fair thing to do.

Not that this would assuage Adams anyway. Since he doesn't deal with anything using facts and logic in the first place, he'll just continue to post his nonsense as he pleases.

Orac posted a lovely satirical takedown of all this, which is worth reading. It's always a good idea to keep yourself abreast of what these people are like. The alt-med movement talks a good game about the evil of Big Pharma and Western Medicine, and also claim they want to help people out of the goodness of their hearts... but when you actually get a glimpse of what's in their hearts, well, it's not exactly rainbows and unicorns.

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