Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dr. David "Orac" Gorski: It's only a pity party when it happens to me.

Gorsky: *sniff*


Dr. David Gorski is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the Medical Director of the Alexander J. Walt Comprehensive Breast Center Associate Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. He has blogged for many years under the alias "Orac" at his blog Respectful Insolence. He's a hard-core Darwin fan-boy: he thinks that evolution is-- umm--indispensable to his research, which is on breast cancer. He and I have tangled on a number of occasions, mostly about the role of Darwinism in medical research and education.

Gorski has for years been one of the nastiest and most vindictive Darwinists in the blogsphere. His specialty is personal and professional attack, often implying that his interlocutors-- fellow doctors and scientists-- are professional embarrassments or liars or criminals.  He has repeatedly attacked the Christian beliefs of professionals who disagree with his scientific views. His screeds are raw meat for hoards of Darwin Youth who undertake attempts at professional destruction of fellow physicians and scientists who disagree with Gorski.

All of Gorski's incitement, of course, was made under his pseudonym Orac, and never under his real name. 

But Gorski (still under his pseudonym Orac), lately, has been sad:

An anonymous critic complains to Orac's employers...
First off, it’s a lot of work grinding out these epic posts of pure awesomeness. It really is. You can tell when the constant blogging is taking a toll on me when occasionally I actually do a post under 1,000 words—or do a somewhat navel-gazing post like the one I’m writing now. Secondly, there’s a price to pay. Sure, now that I’m approaching the end of my ninth year of blogging and am amazingly considered an established skeptical and medical blogger, I actually get invited to do speaking engagements at skeptics’ meetings like TAM. I actually blog under my real name elsewhere. Reporters sometimes contact me for interviews about alternative medicine or Stanislaw Burzynski. I’m on podcasts every so often and even, when I’m lucky, invited to be on the radio from time to time. Oh, sure, it’s nowhere near as often as often as some of those bloggers at more prestigious blog collectives (ahem, Forbes—cough, cough—Scientific American and Discovery), but I suppose that’s just the price of using a pseudonym—or of being one of the more “prickly” skeptics when it comes to quackery. 
Lest my readers think it’s all sweetness, light, and wheelbarrows full of money, I do have to point out that there is a dark side.
Orac-Gorski is now taking a step from the cyber-gutter to a More Prestigious Blog Collective, having recently been appointed managing editor of Science-Based Medicine, a blog by atheist doctors who don't like people who disagree with atheist doctors. Atheist? Yea, they gush about Christian-bashing at their skeptic atheist conferences. Of course Managing Editor Gorski keeps Orac in the closet. Gorski substitutes humorless arrogance for Orac's less erudite slurs. The effect is unconvincing. It takes a lot to make me sympathetic to anti-vaxers and acupuncturists. SBM is doing it.

But for Orac-Gorski blogging is not only about speaking engagements and radio invites and hoping to get the tap for one of the Even More Prestigious Blog Collectives.

There's a dark side. 
There are problems. There are even, somtimes, hazards. For sometimes, every so often, a true believer learns The Truth. Normally that’s not such a big deal. They just try to poison my Google reputation by writing an attack post against me, as the denizens over at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism like to do from time to time. (But do they have a Wikipedia entry, I ask? No, most of them do not, with the occasional exception. I do. It’s just one of the fruits of my labors bestowed upon me by skeptical Wikipedia editors who came to view me as having enough prominence to rate a Wikpedia entry.) Such attacks started way back in 2005 and seems to happen ever several months or so now. 
However, sometimes, one particularly nasty, motivated crank will try to complain about me at work, apparently not realizing that this is my hobby...

Orac-Gorski's "hobby" is using a pseudonym to call other professionals who don't use pseudonyms ignorant creationists, disgraces to their profession, blinded, flaming stupid, and permanent embarrassments, because they disagree with him about a scientific question.
... that I put up as many firewalls between my blogging and work as I can (not to mention disclaimers that you should never, ever mistake my blather her for anything resembling the opinions of my university or cancer center), and that my bosses know about my blogging. This has happened so many times over the years, that it now barely causes my pulse to accelerate by more than a beat or two a minute when I learn of such a complaint, compared to the past where it really disturbed me. It turns out that my bosses at two different institutions have been a lot cooler than I had feared they would be. It also helps to work for academic institutions, which generally highly value academic freedom and are usually loathe to do anything that even gives the appearance of trampling on the free speech of their faculty.
Orac-Gorsky goes on to lament particular episodes of people who've contacted his workplace complaining about his pseudonymous attacks on the reputations and religious beliefs of named physicians and scientists. 
So why did remembering these incidents make me sad? After all, I and my blog survived them. Thanks to these, and several other incidents not mentioned here, I lost my fear of cranks, quacks, and antivaccinationists “outing” me, trying to poison my Google reputation, or even contacting me at work. These experiences made me stronger and better as a blogger. They did, however, also make me more cautious. I’m no longer as free-spirited in my writing as I used to be and write everything with the assumption that my cancer center director and surgery department chairman might read it.
So Orac-Gorski now writes blog posts for which he's willing to take responsibility. That's a step forward, ethics-wise. Ethical people don't write one thing while wearing a hood, and another when they show their face. I, for example, am happy to have all of my supervisors, colleagues and patients read everything I've ever written. My blog is well known at my medical center, and many colleagues of mine read it. Most who've spoken to me seem to like it. A few disagree, and we have regular and friendly discussions about the issues. I always use my real name when I blog. I stand by what I write, without any shame at all. I will never write anything that I won't stand by.

It is cowardly and beneath reproach to demean fellow professionals by name and deliberately damage their internet reputation with ad-hominem screeds when you're blogging under a pseudonym.

Here is what Orac wrote about me, for my patients and coworkers and supervisors to read:
Dr. Michael Egnor posed as a parody of the most ignorant creationists there are, spouting truly inane and long-debunked canards about evolution for a month and a half, all in an effort to snooker us evil Darwinists into attacking him... I have to admit that it’s depressing to have to contemplate again the fact that Dr. Egnor actually believes all the pseudoscientific and antiscientific (not to mention downright false and ignorant) attacks that he’s been launching on evolution. I hate to have to admit that a fellow surgeon can be so blinded by his religion and ideology... After all, Dr. Egnor is still around and still laying down the flaming stupid... Dr. Michael Egnor must really want to operate on my brain because he’s sure as heck doing his best to cause it damage with his latest antievolutionbroadsides" ... the Discovery Institute’s new resident medical “expert,” creationist neurosurgeon extraordinaire Dr. Michael Egnor. There’s a reason for that, and it’s quite simple. As I’ve said before, I don’t want this blog to become “all Egnor, all the time.” There is such a thing as too much of a good thing (having a good laugh at the expense of Dr. Egnor... Second, I am somewhat sympathetic to the complaint that I’ve occasionally heard voiced that Dr. Egnor is just so ridiculously–nay, flamboyantly–wrong about evolution that he’s not worth the effort that it takes to debunk him... Dr. Egnor['s]... latest mangling of logic claiming that evolution “is of no use” to understanding cancer. It’s almost as though he’s asking for yet another dose of Respectful Insolence™... You know, I used to joke about putting a paper bag over my head in embarrassment at Dr. Egnor’s antics. I was kidding then. Maybe I shouldn’t have been. In fact, given that Dr. Egnor has seemingly settled in to become a permanent fixture and a permanent embarrassment to the profession of surgeon, maybe it’s not too late to get the more permanent solution that I hadonce mentioned, namely a Doctor Doom-style metal mask. In the meantime, while having the Doom mask forged by Tibetan monks, I could wear a hockey mask. Most amusingly of all, Dr. Egnor adds some more rockets to the stupid, enough to blast it to Mars, here, where he basically claims that all science is based on the Judeo-Christian “design inference.” ...the only surgeon who has ever tempted me to cover my face with an iron mask to hide the shame of having someone capable of spouting such nonsense about evolution in the same profession as I, Dr. Michael Egnor... Slinking away in shame over my profession yet again (another surgeon behaving badly over evolution) It’s starting to look again as if I’m going to need something more durable than a paper bag to cover my head in shame...
The abstract:
Dr. Michael Egnor posed as a parody of the most ignorant creationists... I hate to have to admit that a fellow surgeon can be so blinded by his religion and ideology... After all, Dr. Egnor is still around and still laying down the flaming stupid... Dr. Michael Egnor must really want to operate on my brain... Dr. Egnor has seemingly settled in to become a permanent fixture and a permanent embarrassment to the profession of surgeon... Slinking away in shame over my profession yet again (another surgeon behaving badly over evolution) It’s starting to look again as if I’m going to need something more durable than a paper bag to cover my head in shame...
There's a ton more, but you get the drift. 

Ironically, Orac-Gorski worries about his own google reputation. Yet his own specialty is personal and professional destruction, while wearing a hood. 

Of course, I too got a lot of calls to my workplace demanding that I be fired and goodness knows what else. Many of the calls have been quite vicious. I've gotten a few emails that border on threats. No doubt quite a few of those love-notes were inspired by Orac's venom. But unlike Orac-Gorski, that doesn't make me sad. I'm pleased to challenge these people. I often ask myself: "Am I pissing them off enough, or do I need to step it up?"

But David Gorski MD PhD is made of more fragile stuff. Orac is a tough guy, but Gorski is sad about the people who call his workplace, asking why they employ a jerk who pseudonymously spews anti-Christian hate and slimes colleagues by name. Orac-Gorski writes two kinds of things about other people on the internet: things Gorski wants his name associated with, and things Orac doesn't want his name associated with.

But there's another aspect to this. I betcha this is what makes Gorski sweat.

Imagine that you are one of Gorski's medical colleagues. Most doctors and medical researchers don't think that evolutionary biology plays any significant role in treatment or research. Evolution isn't taught in medical school, for obvious reason. Doctors are practical folk, and they know b.s. and hype when they see it. Now, as a colleague reading Orac-Gorski's blog, you know that Gorski thinks you're "blinded", "ignorant", a "creationist", and a "shame" to the medical profession, because you don't share his Darwinian fundamentalism.

Beads of sweat are forming on Gorski's upper lip.

It gets worse. Now imagine that you are one of Dr. Gorski's patients-- a woman with breast cancer. You're probably a Christian, and quite likely a creationist. Most Americans are creationists, of one sort or another. You are going through the most difficult time of your life, and your faith in God is very important to you.

You google your doctor (most patients do), and you find out that your oncologic surgeon uses your faith in God as an insult-- "ignorant creationist", "blinded", "flaming stupid", "permanent embarrassment", "shame".

Beads of sweat are dripping off Gorski's upper lip, trickling in a rivulet down the front of his sheet. 

Most internet Darwinists are arrogant anti-Christian bigots. Gorski hews to type. With Gorski's doppelganger disclosed, ordinary people-- colleagues and patients-- now can see what he thinks of them and of their religious faith. His patients-- who are struggling with cancer-- only have to google him on the internet, and they can read in Dr. Gorski's own words what he thinks of "ignorant creationist[s]" like them.

This makes Gorski sad. 

*Sniff*. 

What you generally find, when you scratch a Darwinist, is a coward. 

13 comments:

  1. Egnor: I often ask myself: "Am I pissing them off enough, or do I need to step it up?"

    That about sums you up. "Them" can be anyone from atheists to Democrats or even Protestants: people who do not share your worldview. There is no positive message your blog delivers.

    Hoo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 11, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      "Not showing up to riot is a failed conservative policy."

      A joke, of course, but one with a message. Because it's always a trope of the left to demand tolerance and civility. That demand is particularly evident shortly after leftist mobs destroy small urban center businesses, get caught with bags of feces and urine outside legislative chambers, destroy public property, and shout down, or even assault, speakers "who do not share their worldview".

      You're doing a great job, Egnor. Keep up the good work. You know they're paying attention when they're squealing.

      Delete
    2. The tea party was the conservative effort at rioting. No positive message, just lots of complaints from aging boomers.

      How's the tea party doing these days? Not all that well. Sarah Palin has move on to talk shows. Allen West has just lost his seat. Michele Bachmann will not be running for hers next year.

      There is a writing on the wall.

      Hoo

      Delete
    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      I don't recall any actual riots. Perhaps you'd like to share an example of what you considered a "riot" Should be amusing.

      But to tell the truth, I don't follow Tea Party doings. Personally, I found Occupy far, far more amusing...

      Occupy Wall Street, a global movement
      --- headline, Mother Jones (10/2011)

      And yes, I saw the writing on the wall. it turned out to be an

      unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.
      --- John Kerry, Occupy Cambodia

      Delete
    4. @Hoo:

      [There is no positive message your blog delivers.]

      I'm positive you're wrong.

      Delete
    5. Exactly, Michael. The irony of your own message may be lost on you, but that's OK.

      Hoo

      Delete
    6. That's not true, Hoo. I'm a Protestant and I felt slightly more positive after reading this post, and slightly more positive still after seeing your expression of butthurt.

      Delete
    7. LOL, Deuce. You seem to have no self-awareness. Carry on!

      Hoo

      Delete
  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 11, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    My aunt, a retired RN and former hospital Director of Nursing, died of lung cancer last spring, after a long fight with breast cancer.

    She had one simple question for each surgeon before she would permit him to operate: "Will you pray with me?"

    None of the three refused. In fact, according to her telling of the story, none of the three were surprised when she asked.

    After a lifetime of devotion to the nursing profession, she knew how to winnow the physicians from the primate veterinarians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In fact, according to her telling of the story, none of the three were surprised when she asked.

      Duh. Superstitious patients in the US? What a surprise.

      After a lifetime of devotion to the nursing profession, she knew how to winnow the physicians from the primate veterinarians.

      Let me guess. The former tend to be found in hospitals, the latter in zoos. Or did you mean that atheist physicians are primate veterinarians? Because if you don't believe in Jeebus the Santa Claus then humans are 'just' primates or even - oh, the horror - 'meat robots'.

      Delete
    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 11, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Leftists and their pet materialist M.D.s are the primary proponents of spay/neuter, litter size control, and euthanasia programs for homo sapiens.

      For example, the Chinese have been quite interested in litter size control for both humans and pigs: e.g.,

      Novel insight into the control of litter size in pigs, using placental efficiency as a selection tool, J Anim Sci. 1999 Jul;77(7):1654-8.

      and

      A 13-month-old baby has been crushed to death beneath the wheels of a car belonging to family planning officials, state media have reported.

      Eleven officials from Rui'an birth control office near Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province had driven to his home to fine his parents for breaching China's strict rules on births, according to a briefing from the local propaganda officials.

      --- The Guardian

      Delete
    3. *Duh. Superstitious patients in the US? What a surprise.*

      This duchebag has a hate on for Americans.

      Delete
  3. I'm not a Creationist, or even a Christian, but I must say that I find your position logical, sensible, and sensitive to others, while Gorski...well, if I believed in the devil, I think Gorski is so full of evil, he must have some close relationship with the devil.

    Hmmm, I may have to rethink my religious and spiritual beliefs. Not happy about that.

    ReplyDelete