Comment on the commenting policy at ‘Junk Science’

7 January 2014 by Lee Turnpenny, posted in Uncategorized

Now that the silly season of collective mass delusion has passed, it is time to re-confront those perpetual other irrationalities which persist on account of the quackery-beguiled’s receptiveness to pretty much anything that serves to kid us we can feel better, no matter our blight or plight.

There has of late been quite a lot of spat between sceptics and (acolytes of) Chris Woollams, leading to (as one example) the generation of a defensive, paranoid Junk Science post positing a Big Pharma-pocketed sceptic-led gang conspiracy against CAM and its apologists/practitioners. But then Junk Science (formerly Junk Science?; an apparently comment-free blog that) seemingly exists for the primary purpose of blowing wind up Woollams’s arrogant chuff. Why arrogant? Well, his Disclaimer-plastered site unashamedly bigs him up as ‘the UK’s number 1 cancer researcher’. Which is some statement… one which begs the trite question… Where is his research published? (Oh, ‘on his website’ is not a valid response.) Or does he actually mean, ‘the UK’s number 1 cancer research researcher’? Which might be more accurate. And more commendable. If that’s what it means. But it isn’t clear.

I was also caught by the first sentence of another fatuous post, which informs us that Woollams is a ‘health expert’. Again, I am not quite sure what this means. That he’s a ‘nutritionist’? Well, aren’t we all?! Just how many ways of telling people to eat a balanced diet including five-a-day are necessary?

Further down in the same post comes the statement:

‘It would seem that the research often quoted by Mercola and Woollams on the dangers of trans fats has at last been heeded.’

This gloating sentence, which couples Woollams with another of quackery’s gurus, reads ‘research often quoted by’; note not ‘research carried out by’. Assuming it to be true, how is this to Woollams’s credit? Because he reads a lot? One might be impressed by Woollams’s amassing of information, were it not wrapped up with such blatant promotion of pseudoscience and CAM. Scrolling down through the posts at Junk Science, there is stuff making for some interesting reading. But it is polluted by (for example) association with a certain notable and notorious QuackRag, to which he has contributed as recently as last month’s edition. That he ‘read Biochemistry, including a time in cancer research’ is irrelevant, if it means merely that he spent a few months in a laboratory during the final year of his Honours degree – lots can make that kind of claim.

Junk Science‘s editor, Sam Wilson, would also have us believe that her own brilliant scientific background – ‘two Doctorates in Biological and Chemical Sciences’ (Why two?) – somehow validates her ‘comeback’ anti-science activities. But if, relative to Woollam’s meagre practical science experience, she is so scientifically savvy, surely she appreciates that the philosophical fault line she traversed during her career break is even more unfathomable and frown-inducing to those scientists and medics and sceptics who advocate evidence-based medicine. But we’re given no insight into whatever traumatic experience involving ‘scientists and people working in the Health arena’ brought on this lost odyssey. Which is unusual, when you consider how those in whose circles she now moves are often so readily disposed to share their anecdotes. And, in true unscientific fashion, we’re not allowed to inquire… because she (presumably; she being ‘Editor’) does not permit comments at Junk Science. We’re hysterically led to believe, at the foot of one of Woollams’s own posts, that this is for reasons that simple moderation could not cope with:

‘Sadly, you can no longer leave comments – you have a hacker who flooded the site with replies to thank for that. Absurd. It doesn’t affect us – just you. Ask yourself who would want to put this site down!

But my own browsing through Junk Science‘s posts finds no comments – anywhere! This despite the fact that we are invited to ‘Leave a Reply’ at the foot of each post, provided we log in. Well, I’ve repeatedly tried to log in; yet, despite sharing the WordPress platform, both of my WordPress Usernames are ‘Invalid’ here. Hmmm.

So, Sam Wilson the scientist, who still ‘waves’ her two science Doctorates at us, yet, for whatever Big Pharma-swiping reason, has turned on science, to the point where, though she ‘… openly detests the misleading or downright incorrect conclusions scientists and people working in the Health arena can make, especially when they have hidden agendas and/or vested interests’ (emphasis added), she no longer engages them.

Come on, Sam, open up. I don’t understand where you’re coming from.

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