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Watch David Gorski Squirm!

Old tv staticBy Jake Crosby


Just go to the 1:14:57 mark to watch David Gorski struggle to respond to a question I posed to him at a talk he gave at a “skeptics” event in March.

One Sunday in Virginia, I met the most prolific defamer the vaccine lobby has ever dumped on the blogosphere: David Gorski, MD, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Science”Blogs' “Orac.” For years, I had known Gorski through his inarticulate, verbose online rants hurling insults and innuendo at anyone who dared suggest any vaccines could cause a particular side-effect while dismissing such concerns out-of-hand, especially safety concerns about the mercury-based,  neurotoxic vaccine preservative thimerosal. In Chicago in 2010, he called me out by name and said I was a “young punk” for revealing his connections to Sanofi-Aventis through his university.  I certainly never met him before.

Then on March 9th, 2013, the National Capital Area Skeptics hosted a lecture at the National Science Foundation in Arlington County, Virginia titled “Quackademic Medicine.” The speaker was none other than Dr. David Gorski and the subject of his talk was how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM for short) was “infiltrating” academic medicine, a merger he referred to as “quackademic medicine” – the title of his talk, or rant for lack of a better word. He targeted many practitioners and promoters of CAM including Jenny McCarthy, Suzanne Somers, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, Dr. Stanlislaw Burzynski and Dr. Andrew Weil. His talk was  peppered with innuendo throughout. Gorski also claimed that a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study would be unethical – never mind the fact that the vaccine schedule as a whole has never been studied for long-term health outcomes.

Interestingly,  I was not the only person in attendance who disagreed with Gorski. During Q/A, someone asked why Gorski defends food derived from Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs), noting the lack of safety data in humans. Gorski’s answer was:

“All foods are genetically modified.”

Perhaps Gorski’s simplistically dismissive answer can best be explained by the 30,000-euro grant he received directly from Bayer – a pharmaceutical company that  not only used thimerosal in its Rh-immunoglobulins,  but also produces GMO seeds.

I was asking an entirely different question, one that pertained to a post I had written in November about David Gorski's failed 2005 promise to acknowledge thimerosal might cause autism if a decline in autism prevalence occurred before 2015.


Remarkably, Gorski later claimed he “completely missed” this post about him. Yet, at the time it ran, he and I had a back-and-fourth exchange on Twitter where he accused me of “quote-mining,” but wouldn't elaborate further.

Eventually, I got to ask my question:

“Going off vaccine denial that was mentioned earlier, you said back in 2005 that if the autism rates went down before the year 2015 that you would admit that there at least would be some pretty good epidemiological evidence that there might be a connection between thimerosal and autism. Now that that’s happened in one of the reported states – states reported by CDC – in 2012, do you believe thimerosal might cause autism or will you admit that you broke your promise.”

As I was saying “ you believe...,” Gorski started cutting me off:

“Did it happen in the rest of the country? Did it happen in the rest of the country?”

I responded to the first of nine questions that he would ask me in response to my one question to him. “CDC does not track the rest of the country,” I responded. Rather than “handwave” or “Gish gallup” as Gorski claimed I did, I directly answered every serious question he asked. In contrast, he was nervously pacing back-and-fourth and cut me off several times while desperately searching for a question to ask that would stump me. He never found that question.

I stopped answering his questions when he finally asked, in an obvious attempt to belittle me, “What's three years after 2001?”

Someone else answered, “2004,” which elicited laughter.

“What's six years after 2007?”

Another person replied, “We're skeptical about the math,” to which the audience responded with yet more laughter. According to Gorski's later account of this incident:

“Amusingly, Jake Crosby makes an appearance in Q/A. Hilarity ensues as he is totally pwned by speaker.”

In reality,  the audience – totally lost at this point but, amused by Gorski's invocation of first-grade math – cracked up.

As with his previous questions, Gorski was unable to connect  this back to any coherent point and instead simply repeated what he tried to claim at the beginning of our exchange:

“So, what was had...”

“The answer, the epidemiology does not had one state, it's not clear what happened,  everywhere else, the rates are still going up or stable.”

“CDC does not track 'everywhere else.'”

Then someone cut me off to ask, “Can we move on? We have a question waiting!”

Ignoring me, Gorski moved on to the next questioner.

After Gorski's talk, I was approached by the questioner who asked him the GMO question. He complemented me on my question, noting how impressed he was with the ease with which I answered Gorski's string of questions. As we were talking, the Skeptics' event organizer came up to us and shook our hands, introducing himself and saying that as a skeptic, he welcomes dissenting questions like ours. He also invited us to come back for future skeptic events and further invited us to partake in the social event after Gorski's talk.

This was a stark contrast to how I was treated by the other “skeptics” group – the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Center for Inquiry (CFI-DC) – which barred my entry to a book talk that millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit gave for CFI-DC.

I partook in the social event following Gorski's talk, only to see him surrounded by audience members. I decided to give him his space for a while and wait until other event-goers were done talking to him.

Eventually, however, I confronted him again:

“I didn’t know ‘everywhere else’ was a geographic location.”

He just scowled back at me.

I told him that the autism prevalence was not just going down in Alabama, but also Denmark since the authors admitted thimerosal was removed before the paper was published with the opposite conclusion. When I brought up that Poul Thorsen was principal investigator who was indicted on fraud, Gorski denied he was principal investigator.

“It’s on the NANEA website; look it up for yourself,” I told him. NANEA, or the North Atlantic Neuro Epidemiology Alliances, was the research organization Poul Thorsen ran before he disappeared with millions of dollars he allegedly stole.

Gorski disregarded this, responding: “Where is his name listed in the byline? The middle! He’s not the first or last author!”

“But it says so on his own NANEA website!”

“He’s not first or last author on the study! So he was not principle investigator on that study!”

“But when you cited that paper coauthored by Andrew Weil, you said it was clearly him that wrote it, even though he was neither the first nor last author listed.”

“Yes, but I never said he was principal investigator.”

“Poul Thorsen said so himself that he was principal investigator in email.”

Then Gorski changed his argument:

“But that doesn't mean that he played a leading role on the study, which he didn't.”

Then what does “principal investigator” mean but just that, someone leading the research? Gorski had gone from denying Thorsen was principal investigator because of where his name was listed to tacitly admitting that he was and instead said he simply didn't play a leading role because of where his name was listed. Yet, Gorski insisted Dr. Andrew Weil was the brains behind a paper Gorski criticized in his talk, even though Dr. Weil was neither listed as the first or last author.

In retrospect, Gorski said that was a good argument  I made, albeit in his usual condescending way. On his blog, he wrote in a comment about me:

“He tried to make hay about an article from Andrew Weil’s group in which Weil was the second of three authors and I pointed out how I saw this as Weil’s paper. I’ll give him that; he was fairly clever there.”

Of course - leading role or not - Thorsen was party to the fact that the latest data in his study implicated thimerosal by showing that autism incidence and prevalence decreased after the poison's removal from vaccines. Furthermore,  he was involved in the decision as to not include it in the final, published version.

Since Gorski was clearly losing when it came to dealing with actual facts, he tried to find a quick excuse to dismiss everything I said:

“You don't know what you're talking about. Have you published before?”

“No, but...”

“Then you clearly don't know what you're talking about!”

I reminded him of my academic background, affiliation and concentration in epidemiology.

“You know who I am,” I told him. It was not a question, as Gorski claimed.

He replied angrily, “Of course I know who you are! That’s how I know you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

I was quite taken aback by his hostility towards me, although it paled in comparison to the profane and bigoted abuse from millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit after a talk he gave at Penn.

According to Gorski’s account about my response to this insult:

“His only response to that was to tell me I was lying, after which I was done with him.”

In fact, that was not my response, much less my “only response.” Instead, I revisited the relationship between thimerosal and autism, asking him:

“You know, how can you dismiss decrease in Alabama – a state actually monitored by CDC – yet in early 2008 break your promise about waiting until 2015 for any drop in autism prevalence to say mercury in vaccines as a cause of ASDs was a “failed hypothesis” because the autism prevalence did not yet go down in very young children in California's administrative database?”

California's administrative database maintained by the California Department of Developmental Services, it should be noted, is not a real surveillance system for monitoring autism prevalence, unlike the CDC's.

Gorski had nothing left to say. Knowing that he was getting backed into a corner, he responded: “I'm not going to argue this with you!”

Some “skeptic” he is. So I called him out:

“You can't argue this with me because you've got nothing to say. The government has covered up...”

That was when he cut me off and took a giant step away from me, proclaiming:

“We're done!”

It was the words “covered up” that got to him, not his fictitious account of me calling him a “liar.” As I previously told him, there was a cover-up of autism incidence and prevalence declining in Denmark after the removal of thimerosal there.

In the meantime, the event organizer who shook my hand earlier witnessed this exchange with a rather embarrassed facial expression.

I told him:

“Well, that didn't last long!”

Later on his blog, Gorski tried to excuse himself from fulfilling his 2005 promise to consider thimerosal’s role in causing autism by citing an extraneous detail of the CDC’s latest report that was pointed out to him in the comments by someone in his fan base:


“In retrospect, I think I was way too generous, but there it is. Now, Jake seems to think that I am a liar because he found numbers showing a 40% decline in ASDs among African-American children in Alabama that is almost certainly due to problems in case ascertainment rather than a true decrease. Based on that, he thought I should retract what I said nearly eight years ago. I, of course, do not.”

Ironically, in the previous CDC report of autism prevalence in Alabama, the prevalence was higher in African-American children compared to Caucasian children. So it certainly does not seem like African-American children were being undercounted by comparison as Gorski suggests. It is quite likely the decline happened in regions of the state that just so happened to be predominantly African-American and may have had nothing to do with the racial make-up of those areas at all.

Regardless, in making his promise, Gorski never specified that autism prevalence must go down in the entire United States, a specific region of the country or across all racial/ethnic groups – just so long as there was a decline in the US. He simply said that if autism rates go down in the country by 2015, he would admit thimerosal might be implicated in causing autism. Not only did he never make good on that promise, but in 2008 he did silently retract that promise without ever acknowledging so when he wrote a blog post for “Science”-Based Medicine titled:

“Mercury in vaccines as a cause of autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): A failed hypothesis”

The basis for this blog post was a study from California which showed that autism continued to increase in very young children as of early-2007. In spite of the fact that the database used was not a real surveillance system as Gorski himself noted at that time or the fact that the results were premature and unconfirmed as the study authors themselves admitted,  he still proclaimed of the report that:

“It is yet another nail in the coffin of the medical myth that mercury in vaccines causes autism.”

No wonder he refused to “argue” about it with me when I brought up this uncomfortable fact to him after his talk. He can’t logically use what’s happening “everywhere else” as an excuse to dismiss CDC’s surveillance statistics from one US state when he previously proclaimed mercury in vaccines causing autism was a “failed hypothesis” because of premature statistics from the non-surveillance database of just one other US state. He especially can’t say this when the decline in Alabama is the first statistically significant decline in autism prevalence ever reported in any state monitored by the CDC, which occurred in children born during the first year after the government and pediatric academy’s joint statement to remove thimerosal from childhood vaccines as quickly as possible.

Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.


James Peters

@Donna L. April 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM. Riluzole (Rilutek) is a drug used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis marketed by Sanofi-Aventis


Bayer has an interesting corporate history:

And apparently Bayer also hates bees:

Jake Crosby

Appreciate the support everybody; I'm glad you're all as amused as I am!

@"Reuben": I know who you really are; as you're probably aware, the presentations are only open to Department faculty and other students. You have not been a student at my school for seven years. Off-campus attendance is by invitation-only. Needless to say, you are not invited. Heed your own advice:

"As for crashing Jake’s presentation, I also would recommend against it."


nhokkanen, thanks for the laugh! That Nathan Thurm skit was hilarious and apt!

Cherry Sperlin Misra

David Gorski- You are so cool ; You are the one and only MAN,;you are the true skeptic. You are the diehard believer in science. Not so many decades back you would have had it out with those dopes. You would have kicked that lousy microscope into the ditch, stating, " What a bunch of crap- something so small the human eye cant see it, causing disease! I believe in evidence based medicine !!!"

Mark Struthers

This Gorski guy is seriously unimpressive! Articulate? Whoever said Gorski was articulate hadn't watched the video - a truly pathetic performance.


Nathan Thurm.

If you added Spanx and a voice coach.

Nathan Thurm Interviewed By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


If you ask me; he squirmed through everything.
He puts down alternative medicine as a whole - which a cancer pointed out was diet and supplements too.

He squirmed at that one.

He squirmed at the internalist that gave him the definition of placebo and does a medicine - in other words the internalist knew medicine is more of an art than a hard science.

Which is at the heart of his whole speech. Medicine in this country has been in the hands of ??? Quacks for a long time.

Quacks are everywhere including the ones that get all graduated out of acredited schools with no training in diet.

John Stone


No, the term "quack" is derived from "quicksilver", because even centuries ago bogus physicians tried to pass off mercury as a therapeutic substance.


Anybody else notice something amusing in Gorski's little speech about "quackery?"

David Gorski: "Quackery was the preferred term used to refer to ineffective and potentially harmful medical practices that were not supported by evidence. "

Um, like the flu shot? Gardasil? The pertussis component of the DTaP? The MMR? Vioxx? Lipitor? Antidepressants? Cold "medicines?"

Looks like Gorski just effectively defined the most profitable section of the pharmaceutical industry as quackery.

Angus Files

Makes you wonder whether Gorski et-al are just Pharma conscripts,SHILLS (to glam it up).. certainly looks the case from here....none ever do any other types of Journo paid jobs ..In fact it is hard to find out who indeed pays them…..I think they are just owned ..Pharma Cerf’s


Jake, I would disagree with you on only one point. David Gorski is not inarticulate. Don't confuse his being wrong with a lack of articulate-ness. He is extremely articulate. He is also wrong, and digging himself deeper and deeper. Eventually, the fact that he is articulate will not hide his errors.


Well done, Jake. I couldn't bear watching the whole thing; basically, watching Gorski here is watching a psychopath with an audience. But you were not only calm in the face of his attempts to belittle you; you also CLEARLY knew your facts.

I think you did more damage to Gorski and the vaccine defenders here than they will admit even to themselves. You had FACTS. He was frantic to correct you--and to appear to belittle you--on the year thimerosal was "taken out" of vaccines, but it wasn't enough to cover up your point that thimerosal was slowly phased out, and was considered out by 2004. Thinking people will also be aware that thimerosal has been in heavy use in pediatric flu shots since...whaddya know, 2004.

Even if I didn't already know the truth, if I were watching this exchange, I'd be saying to myself, 'Well, now, wait a minute...that kid is bringing up something important here, but the big knowledgeable doctor is dodging the issue, and dissing the kid..."

I'm so glad this was caught on video.

Angus Files

Jake well done keep up the great work your second to none...we all do it for nothing ..yet the Pharma trolls as you have revealed are only available if the money covers them through whever..shills I think the word is in America and so right SHILLS


Dana Ullman

I'm curious if Gorski acknowledged any and all grants from Big Pharma prior to or during his talk (it sounds like he didn't), and as such, he is simply a shill for Big Pharma.

I hope that people realize the various economic drivers at play here, and these big money issues override the science.

It is fun to watch how these shills use science when it supports their point of view and ignore it (and even attack it) when it doesn't.

Good work, Jake.

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for attending to ask the epidemiology question. "Can we move on?" So many in "mainstream" medicine just want to skip over even a brief discussion of what may be the biggest current healthcare disaster.

I confess I watched from the beginning. After fifteen minutes it became pretty clear I was going to get a lot of opinion and little evidence as to why it was so tragic that "Evidence-Based Medicine" EBM is being infiltrated by CAM elements, but as a result, overall the presentation gave me some hope for the direction of medicine in the U.S.

It was also interesting to observe Gorski appealing to the Helsinki Declaration around the 52 minute mark:

"Medical research involving human subjects must conform to generally accepted scientific principles, be based on a thorough knowledge of the scientific literature, and on adequate laboratory and, where appropriate, animal experimentation."

He goes on to point out that there is no body of basic science or animal experimentation that supports the claims of ...

Then a few seconds later, he completely skips over the obvious ability to test vaccine safety claims in animal models, or even to evaluate retrogressively the health of those who choose not to vaccinate, but perhaps if he continues to call for such evidence to support CAM, he'll have to get more consistent on EBM safety.

But then his GMO argument essentially boiled down to I don't worry that we haven't researched for GMO harm in humans, because we don't have any evidence of harm. I probably better not hold my breath waiting for that consistency.


I can see why he wouldn't be up for debating Wakefield.

 Michelle B.

Jeez, he's so lame as a speaker.

But you, Jake, so much to admire. I am truly in awe of your courage!

Thank you for fighting our fight.

Victor Pavlovic

Donna L, I couldn't stop laughing at the first part of your comment "real funny", I bet he offered free doughnuts and other refreshments so as to keep his so called science based foodies paying attention, kind of a reward for siting there and listening to his senseless rant.

train wreck

Orac is insufferably smug. Aren't his lapdogs put off by his arrogance? Thanks for letting him know he can't blather on without some occasional critical scrutiny, Jake.


“You don't know what you're talking about. Have you published before?”

JAKE, you are published at AoA all the time... that is a few steps above most medical publications.

Arthur James

I didn't think it possible, but Gorski is an even worse speaker than he is a writer. Inane, ineloquent, insipid and dumb - combined with a Christ complex. Positively pathetic.

And some people take this clown seriously because....? His good looks and irrepressible charm???


Testing 1,000 children for vaccine exposure links to autism is like testing a random 1,000 people for bad reactions to gluten. Not everyone has celiac. And not all kids bodies have the ability to absorb vaccinations.

To Karin

"It's funny that Skeptics claim they are against dogmatism and pseudosciences, and yet they are the most dogmatic, close-minded and fanatic group I know."

Reading Respectful Insolence like reading a fundamentalist religious tract. I find the site dismayingly snide, appallingly smug, regularly punctuated by sarcasm, self-congratulation, and nastiness, all parading as reverence for true science.

The beauty of it is that Dorkski's sycophants lap it up. Ever notice how it's the same, small group of lickspittles that always comment on his site? The same small group that does letter writing campaigns to fire nurses who are reluctant to take the flu vaccine, or write letters to a school district trying to get schoolboard members fired for suggesting that a movie about vaccine safety should be reviewed. These are the same people who relentlessly stalk and harass people they don't like. They even openly admit doing so...


It's funny that Skeptics claim they are against dogmatism and pseudosciences, and yet they are the most dogmatic, close-minded and fanatic group I know.

They forgot that science is constantly evolving and ready to revise itself based on data challenging existing models. Science is not some set-in-stone dogma that has to ignore and attack any evidence that contradicts the current paradigm. 'Science Has Spoken' is not scientific.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad that the Skeptics crowd fell into the exact trap they were trying to avoid.


I only watched the video starting at the 1:14 mark. Gorski is the type of person who feigns listening whilst thinking about what he is going to say next. No mystery as to why the Gorski types will not debate Wakefield; he can't rebut even one question let alone last a whole debate.

Jake, props to you for managing to stay awake long enough through what has to be one of the worst public speaking engagements (judging by the few minutes I saw) to ask your question!


The "White Goodman" character from Dodgeball is coming to mind, especially when he says, " nobody makes me bleed my own blood." Too funny. Orac must hate that you have one of those amazing audio memories to truly detail what really happened. It's pretty obvious he could not answer your questions. Scienceblogs, with all their bias (as you demonstrated with the asker's GMO question) and hate tactics will eventually alienate too many people. I heard a nutrition expert mention concern on RI about a lack of attention to that discipline (nutrition) in their agenda. Good work, Jake!

Donna L.

Wow, didn't exactly need an overflow room for that presentation, did he? Of the forty people who showed up, nearly half were asleep and the other half looked like heart attacks waiting to happen. Kinda reminded me of the 'Dance of the Living Dead' scene from Caddyshack. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for fear-based - oops, I mean evidence-based - medicine. And it doesn't look like your questions were the only ones Gorski couldn't satisfactorily answer either, Jake. An awful lot of stumbling off topic, pacing, and changing the subject. Perhaps he should stick with, "If it doesn't come through a pharmacy window, it's bad. Very very bad. And I'm very very scared."

So this is our opposition? Gosh, I feel so threatened!


I wonder how his riluzole/breast cancer clinical trial is going. Has he published anything yet?


That these people who call themselves skeptics want the public to swallow whole anything that government hands down, without questioning, is a complete farce. That's skepticism? Very funny.


Best part of the video was someone whispering "he's crazy" as soon as Jake takes the mic. They can see you coming a mile away, Jake. Give Dr. Castel my best. We're looking forward to your culminating experience presentation. ;-)


I think this is my favorite part:

"Since Gorski was clearly losing when it came to dealing with actual facts, he tried to find a quick excuse to dismiss everything I said:

“You don't know what you're talking about. Have you published before?”

“No, but...”

“Then you clearly don't know what you're talking about!”"

So, where are Gorski's peer reviewed research on Autism spectrums and vaccines? Has he published before?


Then, by his own admission, he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about!.

Ah, hypocrites....



I just dont know how you kept your cool, fair play to you !
He was just stumped and trying desperately to get you on the run. But for the fact that he had an audience who clearly were in support of his general views he would have fallen and not gotten backup again. Thanks for all you do.

Jim Thompson


Well done. David Gorski could have graciously said something along the lines that “That is a good point. More data may be needed. I was wrong to make a blanket statement like that in the past. It is worth looking into.” But no, he seemed unprepared and did not like the facts you presented. He would benefit from studying Socrates: “He was the wisest man … because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not. See

Instead he feigned to know--and you exposed him.

As we all know, flu vaccines still contain mercury, even though there was an agreement 14 years ago to remove Thimerosal from all vaccines as soon as possible.

"The US Public Health Service (USPHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agree that thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible."


But based on estimates for 2012-2013, approximately 83 million doses of Thimerosal preserved flu vaccine will be distributed in the United States. .

Each Thimerosal preserved flu shot has the same mercury by weight as one half cup of D009 mercury hazardous waste. And 83 million doses have the same mercury by weight as 2.5 million gallons of mercury hazardous waste. These are the 2012-2013 doses available for injection into children and pregnant women.

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