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“Science”Blogs, As Told By A Defecting “Science”Blogger

Zombie2 By Jake Crosby

Last week, I wrote about The New York Times Magazine’s exposé of “Science”Blogs. (HERE.)

That, however, was only the beginning.

Perhaps nothing sums up “Science”Blogs, its owner Seed Media, and its CEO Adam Bly better than the words of a defecting “Science”Blogger, “GrrlScientist.” On July 20th, in the snake pit itself, she wrote:

“ScienceBlogs is now ZombieBlogs, the undead, a heartless and soulless brain-eating monster that once was a beautiful living ideal.”

An ideal that never became reality, except perhaps when it published an impressive investigative report by Dr. Sarah Bridges, entitled “The Rise Against Mercury,” before going sour and endorsing Simon Baron-Cohen’s ridiculous “Geeks Get Lucky” theory. 

GrrlScientist then goes on to say:

“A significant number of us have been planning a strike, starting now, and continuing until SMG takes significant steps to correct the numerous problems they've saddled us with and until they put the proper priority on supporting us -- the Sb cash cow.”

In her anger, she indicates that many of the “Science”Bloggers wanted a piece of that cash cow:

“Our lack of tech support, combined with our lack of paychecks and a total blackout on any and all forms of communication has demoralized the entire community.”

Then came the last straw:

“As if that wasn't bad enough, the PepsiCo blog popped up on our rss feeds out of the blue, without warning or input from any of us as to how this might be accomplished in a way to cause the least amount of harm to the credibility of the site and to everyone who contributes here.”

Perhaps my favorite line is where she likens Adam Bly to Captain Bligh, whose crew rebelled against him in the historic mutiny on the British Royal Navy’s ship, the HMS Bounty:

“And all this confusion is after Captain, er .. Adam .. Bly promised he would address our very real concerns and make an effort to improve communication with us.”
Then she describes Adam Bly to a T:

“But unlike the real Captain Bligh, Adam Bly is nothing more than a smooth-talking con artist.”

Followed by the true purpose of “Science”Blogs:

“Since Sb(“Science”Blogs) attracts far more traffic and generates far more money than the defunct SEED magazine ever did, it appears that sole function for Sb is to be the cash cow whose milk funds Adam Bly's pricey fantasy lifestyle as a hotshot magazine publisher living in lower Manhattan.”

Furthermore, it appears that, while the money “Science”Blogs owed Grrlscientist hadn’t been paid, the amount promised was fairly significant - enough to pay the rent:

“For the past couple years, I have been very unhappy at Sb; I've found myself worrying constantly over the future of SMG, stressed out by the lack of promised paychecks -- my landlord didn't give a rat's ass as to why I couldn't pay my rent, after all!”

Apparently, what “Science”Bloggers earned was a fairly hefty sum of money, from a blog collective sponsored by – among others –Schering-Plough, which merged with Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and “Missing Pieces” - a mental health front group of Eli Lilly.


Grrlscientist’s characterization of her earnings contradicts the amount claimed by David Gorski when he attempted a rebuttal of Part I of my critique of “Science”Blogs alleging “It's enough to pay for my cable (including Internet access and phone) with some beer money left over.” Either David Gorski is drinking a lot of beer, or GrrlScientist lives in a dump.

I never thought I’d provide a link to “Science”Blogs, much less to a post trashing the site, but here it is: (Click HERE.)  
 
Jake Crosby is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University who is double majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He is a contributing editor to Age of Autism.

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Documentaries

I agree with what @mary podlesak said , shes wright

Jake Crosby

GrrlScientist,

You may have had the experience of blogging at "Science"Blogs, but having had considerable experience investigating that site before, I know your claim about the blog collective exercising no editorial control is BS.

Ask Austrian journalist Bert Ehgartner if "Science"Blogs doesn't abuse its own power, he used to blog for the German-speaking "Science"Blogs two years ago until he authored two posts critical of aluminum's presence in some vaccines - the first simply being an interview with a scientist with expertise on vaccine safety, and the second a compilation of all the evidence of harm from aluminum in vaccines in defense against all the venom directed at him because of it.


The US "Science"Blogs you used to blog for erupted into a furor and an editor of the German version even showed up in the comments section of Orac's blog to say Ehgartner got fired because of the outrage his aluminum articles caused. Sure, his posts are still up just like yours calling Adam Bly a "smooth-talking con-artist."

They were not pulled, but that is not the same as not exercising editorial control. The fact is: those are the last two posts for that site he ever authored. He can no longer blog for "Science"Blogs because of them. THAT is what I call wielding editorial power to influence site content.

jen

I got my AoA t-shirt today and I am so proud to wear it! Will christen it tonight with some wine and thanks God there are still some independent thinkers out there. Zombies beware!!! My local library definitely accepted my donation of Wakefield's book. Life is good... the weather could be better...

Jeff C.

GrrlScientist,

Thanks for your response and I should have known better than to trust an NYT quote. Next time I’ll go right to the source.

That being said, I think the context is accurate regarding Science Blogs. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over there. Not only am I an “anti-vaccine nut” that wants kids to die, I’m also an anthropogenic global warming (AGW) “denier” that hopes to achieve planetary life extinction. These are two hot button issues at Science Blogs; not only am I considered ignorant, I’m also evil.

The fact that I have an advanced engineering degree and my wife has a chemistry degree means nothing since we question the orthodoxy. Prior to our son’s diagnosis with ASD, I spent a great deal of time reviewing AGW studies, the statistical methodology and conclusions. I found many of them were poorly documented, lacked rigor, and made extreme extrapolations from flimsy data. When trying to discuss these issues on Science Blogs, I was quickly shouted down by commenters far less informed than me. I disagreed with what they had been told by “experts” so I must be wrong.

After our son’s diagnosis, my wife and I made it our mission in life to figure out what went wrong, and how we can help him. For nearly two years, we both spent hours every night using the benefit of our scientific backgrounds to review the studies and see if the claims made were supported by the evidence. Unsurprisingly, we found many of the dogmatic statements (e.g. “many studies have shown it is completely safe to administer multiple vaccines simultaneously to a newborn”) had no basis in fact. They were wild extrapolations from studies that had a much narrower focus and conclusion. When attempting to discuss this at Science Blogs, the same sanctimonious condemnations arose for daring to breach the subject. It seems, the science is settled. It is so much easier to cite an expert than to do the hard work of research oneself.

The arrogance and elitism at Science Blogs is overwhelming. If I had to guess, I would peg the profile of the typical author/commenter as young, overly-educated (i.e. has spent far more time in school than actually working) and childless. They are perpetual adolescents, comparable to the know-it-all teenager who thinks they have nothing to learn from their parents. Just as with a teenager, it usually takes a few hard knocks in life to wise up. Unfortunately, some never do.

mary podlesak

Grrlscientist: scienceblogs does not indulge in editorial control. True, and thus a motivation for compensating the commenters who achieve some measure of editorial control through their evidence and rants against those who innocently write in asking honest questions.

Autistic Debris

"based on her own assertions, it is obvious that heffernan lacks all integrity and journalistic ethics, and that she merely engaged in a rather clumsy hatchet job. but of course, if you are not interested to know the real situation and the context from where heffernan's mined quotes came, then you can just go ahead and continue to say whatever you like, and you'll just look stupid (just like heffernan does) to those of us who know and can show the real context by reading the publicly available content."

The blah machine - here we go again.

WILLIE

VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM

You know Jake I would like to call you David but the problem is you did not beat Goliath. However please do not misunderstand I do not mean to say that you have not done a thorough job exposing the "science blog"(what a misnomer) because you have done a yeoman’s job inserting your foot(no matter what size shoe you wear) into their anuses and kicking their CHARLATAN ASSES.

My problem lies with which metaphor best describes the situation.

Goliath was a serious character in the Valley of Élan and had the entire Israeli army with the exception of David in serious fear.

The current situation therefore most reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. Jake you of course would be Toto the most unlikely hero, accompanying the motley crew on their dangerous journey in search of truth and you Jake pull back the curtain on Gorski in drag, much to his chagrin, and his cadre flying monkeys complete with tails on the "Science Blog (Hoot and Howl) in what must be the "Greatest Peanut Gallery on Earth" complete with a ice cold PEPSI!!!(fortunately I drink diet Coke)


Jake you however were clearly not fearful but neither were we. We all face them down in our own way without qualm or trepidation standing up for our beliefs even though a bit unsteady at times about the total science, which has yet to be fully elucidated least of all by these pimped out prepaid fools at the "science blog"(echoing laughter and mockery), Jake you just had so much fun taking the Gorski gang apart and we enjoyed every moment of it.

The situation is rich in irony as well "college kid with Asperger's takes down science blog and exposes them as science clowns"

The question is what happens now. Do they keep the site open? I am almost certain I saw a guy on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that said”Will lie on science blog for food” I felt sorry for him and gave him a dollar because that is all the “Science Blog”(nausea and vomiting) is worth he smiled(no teeth) and said ICFRE. When I asked him what ICFRE meant he said ICFRE stands for “ I Can’t F------ Read”, that is why I am on the science blog.

I suppose if Gorski were a biblical figure he would have to be Judas selling his profession, his patients and his reputation away for thirty pieces of silver and half of those would probably turn out to be wooden nickels painted silver, and how appropriate for him. Dr. Gorski is just another in the long line of disgraceful figures from the Motor City, right up there with Kwami Kilpatrick another blowhard hypocritical figure of seemingly infinite malfeasance. Gorski will probably end up and jail as well or maybe he will hang himself in a moment of clarity.

In any case great job Jake or should I call you Toto

VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM

GrrlScientist

jeff: if you read my actual blog entry that heffernan quotes, you will find that heffernan shamelessly quote-mined my piece and twisted my words to support her own unsupportable position about scienceblogs. she even admits (later, to david dobbs, also a "scienceblogger" who left) that she doesn't read scienceblogs, nor does she know anything about science.

based on her own assertions, it is obvious that heffernan lacks all integrity and journalistic ethics, and that she merely engaged in a rather clumsy hatchet job. but of course, if you are not interested to know the real situation and the context from where heffernan's mined quotes came, then you can just go ahead and continue to say whatever you like, and you'll just look stupid (just like heffernan does) to those of us who know and can show the real context by reading the publicly available content.

jake: my blog entry was not removed from the site because, like it or not, scienceblogs does not indulge in editorial control. period. this means that i can say what i think, and can do so without fear of having my words removed by scienceblogs, even when i attack the CEO of the parent organization, seed media group.

[of course, considering what a flaming idiot heffernan is, i and my colleagues are not given the same sort of consideration by the NYTimesMag.]

further, i sincerely doubt that income from scienceblogs is a deciding factor for orac staying whilst i relocated. i rather suspect that the agony of moving all of one's blog material -- reader comments, essays, images and videos -- is the reason he stayed. relocating a blog is a rather daunting task, one that i am still working through (and i probably will be "fixing" the formatting, links, images and videos that were destroyed for many months to come -- probably for the next year).

mary podlesak

To repeat, I believe the commenters were also paid by Seed Media. Specifically, I am convinced they are paid more than the bloggers and those payments may be the reason the bloggers are not getting paid. The bloggers are initial foils for the commenters who do the real work on those blogs - they have to provide supporting evidence and refute cogent arguments. The bloggers merely do research in science based publications (and on AoA) to start provocative conversations.


This evening I heard the news that an oil industry critic of BP, Matt Simmons, was found "drowned" in his hot tub. He said many things, including, that BP killed the Gulf of Mexico, the people of the Gulf are in danger from methane and must be evacuated, particularly during hurricanes, BP executives are criminals who should be in jail and not least that a nuclear device should be used on the true leak which is an open gash on the Gulf floor. I realize this has nothng to do with autism, however, with SEED media, the pharmaceutical firms and our beloved government, we are dealing with essentially the same corporate outlaws. I will quote from a report on Matt Simmons, "A standard operating procedure that corporate hired thugs use is the discrediting of truth-espousing leaders providing information in the best interest of the public. The media is a common tool for achieving this. For weeks, Simmons has faced dozens if not hundreds of media reports naming him, "Dr. Doom."
While this man had impecable qualifications to be outspoken on the Gulf oil spill, he was continually attacked and slandered in attempts to discredit him. Is SEED media and it's corporate sponsors any different? Is the "science" behind vaccination of such overiding importance to the medical-governmental-pharmaceutical elite because it advances some "agenda" that can't be compromised? If that is the case then we critics of vaccination may be in more danger than simply from ad hominom attacks.

MAKE AUTISM STOP

"I earned between $200 and $800 per month for my traffic. my monthly average paycheck (when i was paid at all, and yes, they still owe me 3 months income) was $350." ~ GrrlScientist

That's more than just cable and beer money. That's a LOT of Beer. And he says he doesn't understand how gluten affects the brain...
Beer?

MAKE AUTISM STOP

Jake Crosby

@Kristina

I think it is because a lot of people in the comments section were upset to see GrrlScientist go - bidding her farewell - and pulling her post would probably anger the commenters, causing more people to abandon the site.

treegirl

Yes, I agree with Jeff... the words I use to describe it is arrogance and exceptionalism. If it doesn't happen to them... then it doesn't happen. If they didn't discover it, it didn't happen. If something shows they are not the brightest and the best, then it didn't happen. These are really ignorant and immature people who are afraid that they will be found out. So they blast out their truths and call themselves science based. If it weren't so sick it would be funny. They care more about themselves than the world around them, and in the end we can only guess what God would say to them. They make me sad in so many ways.

Jeff C.

Good post on Science Blogs. My favorite quote from the NYT article:

“Clearly I’ve been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the “skeptical community” go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers? And can anyone who still enjoys this class-inflected bloodsport tell me why it has to happen under the banner of science?”

The smug arrogance really will be their downfall. They must know the elitism is unappealing and hurts their cause, but it sure feels good. It’s almost like they can’t help themselves. For “scientists”, they sure are driven by emotion.

treegirl

Is Phil Plait related to these folks?

mary podlesak

No one has mentioned this yet, but I believe that the commenters were paid also, given the visous unrelenting ad hominum attacks and ready answers to any objections to vaccination or the mercury, aluminum or other additives in vaccines. They never saw a vaccine they didn't whole heartedly approve of nor did they ever question the science behind it. Valid safety and efficacy studies be damned.

Zed

@Gattagora: "Pharmed Phorces"...I love it. Is it just me, or did anyone else catch CNN's Sanjay Gupta's "Toxic Childhood"? They (as always) avoided the elephant in the toxic living room--the most widely used toxic assault on today's kids? (Yes, WILLIE, I agree. Vaccines (Can&Do) Cause Autism.)

They did discuss DDT, lead, and BPA's, but the glaring ommission became obvious on review. Despite the clear, hot, near-universal rhetoric related to potential vaccine damage, not a peep about any correlation...because as you know, "the question's been asked and answered."

What I watched were the advertising breaks. There were four (4) drug ads:

Nexium (Astra Zeneca: H1N1 flu vaccine, Flumist)

Cortisone 10 (Chattem Labs {Pfizer?}:
NicVax, Prevnar, HIV vaccine)

Advair (Glaxo Smith Kline:HPV, H1N1 vaccine, Meningiococcal, Hep A, Tetanus, Hep B, Flu, Hib, DTaP, MMR, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal, Typhoid, Varicella)

Aleve (Bayer: Multiple fungicides, herbicides, seed coating substances)

Probably a coincidence. After all, it's only information I got from the "internet."

Mark Blaxill

Our contributing editors, Jake included, are all volunteers.

Evvy Dense

To help us understand how much the pay (estimated at $350 per month) may have swayed the "king of shills" ORAC's blogging can Jake tell us how much he makes from AOA?

Kristina

I guess I don't know how the website works. Why did they allow GrrlScientist to post anything bad about them on their website?

Wade Rankin

If Orac's claims of traffic are to be believed, he would likely be making more than GS. That would certainly explain why he didn't follow the lead of many of his pals by leaving Sb after the PepsiCo blog came in (oddly enough, none of them had any problem with Pharma sponsorship, but let a non-Pharma commercial blog come in, and all Hell breaks loose).

Orac clearly ain't drinking domestic.

Gatogorra

Good sleuthing, Jake.

Science Blogs, (pseudo)Skeptics (silent "k"), NAMI, Missing Pieces, Quackwatch, Evan Harris, Michael Specter, Gorski, Novella, ACSH, etc... the pharmed phorces. It was a matter of time before people started going AWOL. This sprawling collective tends to try to draft the very young into a corporate pseudo ideology, but the young sometimes have a way of getting wise.

Theresa O

Jake, I love reading your articles (on ScienceBlogs and on everything else). They are always an eye-opener for me.

Completely off-topic, but something that I was thinking of this weekend because of a friend of our family: do you think you might consider writing a post on applying to college, and what works and what doesn't, when you're on the spectrum? Your post last year about writing essays and dealing with college grading rubrics was very interesting, and must have been helpful to other kids on the spectrum who attend mainstream colleges or high schools. There are probably a lot of kids out there who could benefit from your experience. Just a request from a loyal fan...

Autistic Debris

I could well imagine Gorski got paid more. Also, he was quite prolific, and it wasn't very hard: mostly didn't involve much thinking. Just being appallingly rude and self-assertive.

That seems to be how science is done these days.

Lewis Carroll for Grrlscientist

"I like the Walrus best," said Alice: "because he was a little sorry for the poor oysters."

"He ate more than the Carpenter, though," said Tweedledee.

Jenny Allan

More Lewis Carrol:-

Curiouser and curiouser! cried Alice.

`I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess; `and the moral of that is--Be what you would seem to be--or if you'd like it put more simply--Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'

Yes we are all living in Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter land!!

John Stone

'The Walrus and the Carpenter': perfect metaphor for our time!

GrrlScientist

actually, i earned between $200 and $800 per month for my traffic. my monthly average paycheck (when i was paid at all, and yes, they still owe me 3 months income) was $350. i can't speak for orac's drinking habits, but i lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in manhattan, and this sum from Sb paid a portion of my rent, but not all of it. i also worked a variety of other jobs to pay the rent. (but my landlord didn't allow us to pay part of the rent; we either paid all of it on the first of the month or .. eviction proceedings!)

Lewis Carroll for Grrlscientist

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

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