Answering some lurker comments

I was amazed and gratified to the response to my post last Thursday asking for lurkers to delurk temporarily and make a comment, 81 comments thus far and counting, most complimentary. If I'm not careful, I might get a swelled head at the praise. Of course, I realize that, should that ever happen, you (and my fellow bloggers) will be there to slap me down and teach me humility again. There were too many comments for me to answer them all individually, but there were a few that caught my eye.

For example, fasta benj said:
Delurking: medical editor (f, 40) in the UK - read for pieces on critical thinking (alt med, Holocaust denial, ID, ...). So much for the 'medical' part; the 'editor' part suggests that you condense your writing somewhat, And, sorry, but cut the Hitler Zombie.

Blake's 7: first series, or second series?
The "editor" part is correct. I realize that I tend to be more verbose than I should be. Suffice it to say it's probably my biggest weakness, as far as writing goes, and I continue to work on it. As for cutting the Hitler zombie, well, let's just say that, although he has been lying low recently, he may be making an appearance in the near future, having clearly chomped the brain of an old nemesis. Sorry. As for Blakes 7, I'm really not sure which series Orac was in. I thought Orac showed up in the last episode of the first season and stayed until the end.

Next, a reader by the 'nym of Sastra says:
Since you asked: given your expertise, I suppose I'd like to see you post more on "alternative" medicine...Over time, though, I think I've slowly started to develop a bit of a crush on Eneman. This is not good. He seems like a nice, friendly, well-traveled guy with a lot of hobbies and interests, good with kids, happy disposition -- but I have an uncomfortable suspicion that he might be a bit "kinky," so to speak.
Hmmm. I'm not sure how to respond to this one. I wouldn't want to be responsible for such a development. EneMan might be happy and cheerful, but he does have a bit of a creepy edge to him, which is why I find his hanging out with children a bit disconcerting. I'd recommend staying away from EneMan. There are others who are interested in him that way...

Next, we have a comment from "anonymous":
Hi Orac - I read you almost every day. I work for Big Pharma in the NJ/NY/Conn area (where else would big pharma be?) My job responsibility is Market research for Oncology drugs and services. So, while I find all the other stuff riveting, it is your insight into cancer treatment that I find most useful.
Uh-0h. Don't tell the alties that. They already think I'm a pharma shill as it is.

Finally, Kristjan Wager, who has contributed as a guest blogger, comments on something another anonymous poster said regarding my posts on the thimerosal/autism activists:
Someone anonymous asked:

"I've never seen so much sheer anger in a blog dialogue. Does this happen when you mention any other diseases?"

I haven't seen it here at Orac's place , but I have seen quite a lot of anger when someone's favorite alternaitve cancer cure has been debunked. However, with the autism debate, it's often peoples' children we are talking about, which makes the anger more prevalent.
Indeed. I've seen this anger before extensively on It's not just autism, although Kristjan has a point that because it autism affects children it tends to provoke more intense reactions. Oddly enough, I've had tirades almost as intense directed at me for referring to dentists who remove people's fillings for exaggerated fear of mercury as quacks or for pointing out that the evidence does not support the claims of activists that breast implants cause systemic diseases like fibromyalgia or autoimmune diseases. (I can't believe nine months have gone by and I haven't blogged on this topic; I'll put it on the list of future posts.) The problem is magical thinking and desperation, and anything that goes against that thinking is viewed as a threat.

Now, for the moment, I close the mailbag. I liked this whole delurking thing. I hope that some of the lurkers who revealed themselves will comment more often in the future.


  1. I tend to read more for enlightenment than discussion, but I'll try to post more in future. I know it feels good when people comment on my own blog.

  2. I just discovered your blog about 2 weeks ago, so I am a lurker at this point, not a poster, but I really like most of what you have to say.

  3. "Finally, Kristjan Wager, who has contributed as a guest blogger"

    Which reminds me - I haven't forgotten that I've promissed you a follow-up piece. I've just been too busy with work/studies for doing the proper research on the issue.
    Any day now ...

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. a parent of a now 22 year old with ADHD I am angry. Angry at those who deny this condition exists, angry at those who claim that ADHD is caused by parental neglect (or too much television, or not enough sleep, etc.) angry at those who make spurious claims about the safety and eficacy of the medications, angry at those who claim that schools diagnose this condition to make more money, etc. ad nauseum.

    What it all adds up to is that a parent of a special needs kid works incredibly harder than the average parent.

    This past weekend my younger son, who has cerebral palsy, went with a group of his friends (4 total) to a bowling alley for an afternoon. Naturally, one parent of each had to accompany them. When we got to the bowling alley we were assigned to a lane which was down two steps, and then up a short one. We spent the entire day helping the kids move around. Two games took 4 hours.

    During our fleeting moments of "break" we dads began to discuss how we do things with our kids. One of the dads is a multi-millionaire and his family is the ultimate definition of "old money." He commented that even with his money, and the assistance that it buys his daughter, he has found that it is impossible to do anything in a typical manner as other families do.

    Bottom line, yes, I am those who make life harder for the parents of kids like ours.

  6. Ok, now I get it! After reading Orac's comments, and the comments of "t.h.e probe," parents are angry about having children that aren't normal. That's sad, because our society wants so desperately to MAKE EVERYTHING NORMAL: have the healthy child, the normal family, the normal household. What does that mean anyway???? And who really cares if my life is harder than yours or vice versa? Maybe it's better to celebrate the gift of a challenge. Did you enjoy your time with the kids at the bowling alley? Perhaps it was more special than taking a bratty kid who doesn't appreciate the little things....
    I guess I'll end with displaced anger. Medicine turns into an emotional beast, rather than based on facts. Isn't that what we're talking about? Isn't it easier for parents emotionally, to hope that chelation therapy cures autism, rather than accept a bleak reality that maybe it doesn't work? Isn't that what Orac is talking about, not letting emotions, testimonials, anecdotes get in the way of scientific fact? Hence, we are only human......I wish I could consult with Data from Star Trek Next Generation. He would give me an unbiased answer! At any rate, having a special child is a blessing, no matter how you want to slice it or dice it--and letting anger cloud your vision is a real shame for the kids.

  7. When I was pregnant with my first child it was one time in my life when I did NOT want to be interesting. I wanted everything to go the best way possible. I exercized, avoided alcohol and ate so much yogurt I practically gag every time I see it now.

    But I did not get what I wanted. My child was much too interesting. So I have spent countless hours in doctors' offices (family doc, neurologists, cardiologist and psychologist), speech therapy observation rooms, and education planning meetings... Not as much as T.H.E. Probe, but enough to realize this is not something I would do voluntarily again.

    BUT... it has taught me one thing: humility... Oh, wait... make that a couple of things: Enjoy your kids for who they really are!

    The final note is that I am a much more relaxed parent. I am not going to force my two younger kids into things they are not. I never subjected then to tests to see if they qualify for the school district's "talented and gifted" programs, I don't see the need to rush them. I try to follow what THEY want... even though I am a bit disappointed that Child #3 has announced that she does not want to be in soccer OR orchestra next year (but the private violin lessons are still okay, erg).

    Of course, much of the explanation of why I don't stress much on the younger two is that I still spend an inordinate amount of time with the oldest... the same child who gets to go to school tomorrow wearing an EKG holter. sigh

  8. De-lurking - more an apropos term for newsgroups, you oldster you.

    Newsgroups implicitly have full participation by the "active" readers. Blogs, as I've experienced them, often have aggregating readers. Someone can have read everything I've ever blogged (unlikely) if they added my RSS feed as soon as I started (again, unlikely), without having ever once visited my blog's URL.

    As for me, my 'nym's Eh Nonymous, and I'm a lawyer in Philadelphia.

    I've been reading Orac Knows, on and off, for a handful of years. I had seen it while I was still in law school, then let my attention lapse. The Carnival of the Skeptics included you so prominently that it was hard not to follow up a bit, and the legal doings lately are of course right up your alley.

    I got into blawging not that long ago, beginning of the summer, and although it's law not science that's my focus (well, and linguistics) there's still crossover issues. Plus I still like DB's Medrants and certain other non-law blogs. Meaning, blogs that aren't blawgs.

    What I'd like to see more of: I dunno about Hitler Zombie, but I think you're at your best not when you're dealing with straw men arguments or stupidheads who address you in your personality as Orac, but rather when you comment authoritatively on something else, out in the real world.

    Who cares what the stupidheads write? If I wanted to read them, I'd read _their_ blog.

    I wanna know what Orac Knows.


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