We created this blog ten years ago to vent our frustrations anonymously because we were being relentlessly attacked and bullied over standing up to quacks, antivaxxers, and people who just simply wanted to watch the world burn. At first, it was one author. Then another, and then another. In a short time, a few of us shared the login and would post our thoughts on here, a sort of group therapy we shared with the world.
The first few posts were all about epidemiology, and you can tell who wrote all of those. The greatest epidemiologist since John Snow. (That’s John, with an H.) Then we got a little serious, and a little silly. The serious among us wrote about the suffering and injustice of inequitable application of the law, of public health, and of the impacts of infectious disease. The silly among us created the “Douchebag of the Year” award, something we hope to bring back at the end of this year with an even bigger prize for the winner.
Our life partners (Pedro and others) warned us about being found out. The Kid constantly fretted that one of us was Ren. At one point, we were in the running for being either Paul Offit or Bonnie Offit. Those of you in the know will chuckle at that last one. We are not Bonnie Offit.
Or are we? And whatever happened to The Kid?
But what would be the consequences of being found out as one of The Poxes? Would we lose our jobs? That would be laughable as we’ve held several jobs in the past ten years, from working at CDC, to NIH, to consulting for large companies and health departments, and we would have just found another job. And we would never lose our work. Jobs are what you do so you can do your work, you see, and our work is to fight for truth, justice, and reason. (Did you think we were going to write “The American Way”? We’ll leave that up to Superman. We’re like Batman more.)
At one point, we decided that we would out ourselves in 2018, when one of us finished a big project and threats hanging over our heads via email about being “turned over” to our supervisors would be meaningless. Seriously, people think that public health officers in large health departments will side with anti-science people over their hand-picked colleagues. They would rather quit along with us than do that, and the current pandemic has proven that. There is a lot of loyalty in the world of public health, a small world where we are all sticking together to save the world in the face of a very tiny and loudmouthed minority who threaten us with death for telling people to wear a goddamned mask.
It’s almost as if anti-vaccine activists, quacks and their supporters sit in front of the computer, reading about our adventures and our thoughts, and just throw an enormous temper tantrum because… Because why? We’re that big of a threat? A simple blog on some obscure website with an accompanying Facebook page? If that is how weak your argument for the truth is, that’s on you.
Some of us think they’re just suffering from some major F.O.M.O.
Maybe it was the original short story The Poxes that got some of them all riled up. In it, one of the authors writes a what if? scenario where the United States does away with childhood vaccinations after a series of tragic events around a national vaccination day. Then a young epidemiologist and his new team at a small health department have to figure out what a bioterrorist is doing and what the terrorist’s endgame is, all while trying to contain a number of outbreaks of childhood diseases that are killing far more children than those who died in the vaccination accident. Maybe that is why they hate us?
We don’t know. And we don’t care.
We plan to be around for ten more years, with our productivity on this blog waxing and waning as the demands of our real lives demand. But we will be here. Because, just like Batman, we are a symbol, devoted to an ideal, and they can’t stop us… We’ve become something else entirely.