The need for anonymity when you speak out

I got an interesting message on Facebook a few days ago. It was from “Sherri Kane” a woman from Hawaii who is very involved in conspiracy theories:

“When the film ended, Sherri grabbed the microphone. Her face had turned into a grim, ugly mask, the corners of her mouth pulled downward as if by strings.

“I don’t want anybody to leave the room right now,” she said. “I have a question.” She pointed at Dina, our photographer, who was circling the room taking pictures.

“Come up here,” Sherri said. “I want you to tell everybody who you work for.”

“I’m with Popular Mechanics,” Dina said. “Everybody knows that.”

As though she were talking to a small child, Sherri continued, “And can you tell everybody what Popular Mechanics has to do with a conspiracy cruise?”

Someone in the audience interrupted, “You know she’s the photographer, not the reporter?”

“Let me ask the questions, okay!” Sherri snapped, turning back to Dina. “And can you tell everyone why Popular Mechanics would be interested in people like us?”

Dina just smiled. “What, you don’t think you are interesting?”

“You’re taking photos so that you can label us conspiracy theorists!”

Dannion Brinkley groaned. “Let’s keep it in 528, y’all,” he said.

A woman named Abbie, who taught free yoga classes every morning, also stepped in. “That’s enough, guys,” she said.

“And who are you?” Sherri said.

“She’s a plant!” someone yelled from the audience.

Eyes rolled. Heads shook. People filtered out.

Someone muttered, “She’s the yoga teacher.””

Sherri and her man also sell interesting supplements (from the same Popular Mechanics article):

“On Tuesday morning, we sat down in the front row of a presentation we had not yet been barred from: Len Horowitz’s lecture on 528 hertz. While Len fussed with the projector, Sherri set out boxes of nutritional supplements and crystal pyramids for sale. Their flagship product, OxySilver, retailed for $49.40. It contained one listed ingredient: purified water, though its nutritional table also included 5 micrograms of colloidal silver.”

In the same article, we learn that the “Horokane” has a penchant for the melodramatic:

“When we arrived at the Liberty Lab the next afternoon, Len accosted Dina in the doorway. His eyes were the size of dinner plates.

“I want you to see something!” he shouted as he tried to force a packet of papers into her hands, then mine. They were articles from Popular Mechanics debunking bad science. Apparently Len and Sherri had been up all night Googling the magazine and printing out documents in the ship’s computer center. There was also a Wikipedia entry that linked the magazine’s parent company, Hearst, to the Lagardère Group.

I tried to laugh it off and go around him, but Len wouldn’t let me pass.

“Look at this!” he shouted, his face contorting with rage. “Look at this! This is why you’re here! You’re here in bad faith!”

Larry Cook, who had also been milling around in the hallway, stepped in front of Len to keep him from lunging at me.

“Get your hands off me!” Len shouted at him. “Get your f–king hands off me!”

Armed with a camera, Sherri darted out from behind Len and chased me around the hallway, demanding that I explain myself. As I tried to block my face from the camera, I got trapped against the wall between Len and Larry, who seemed seconds away from a full-on brawl.

“If you don’t stop this, I’m calling security,” Larry said. Len then challenged Larry to a fistfight in the ship’s gym.”

From all indications, this is the same Sherri Kane.

She’s not the only one who seems to be interested in my true identity, though. Long time friend of the blog, Jacob Lawrence Crosby, has been probing different avenues to finding out who I am. (Going as far as sending an email to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, claiming that Ren and I were one and the same.) Later, someone with a British Accent called the DC Department of Health and complained that someone there was pretending to be an epidemiologist, and that this someone was me.

One of their biggest complaints about me (or us, really) is that we write anonymously. They say that if we have to write anonymously, it must be because we have something to hide. Well, yes, we have something to hide, our true identity. We hide our true identity because they (the people who want to know who we are) want to inflict some sort of harm on us. They want us fired from our jobs, kicked out of our schools, or harassed by other people.

Furthermore, there are some of us who have jobs which require background checks and security clearances. Not very high levels of these, mind you, but high enough that someone having raging lunatics for fans (like Sherri Kane) would probably not get cleared to work someplace. After all, who wants to employ someone whose fans (like Sherri Kane) want to bring them harm? Why stir that particular hive of bees?

Because of these things, we write anonymously, and we probably will for the foreseeable future. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Kudos to all of you who speak out without anonymity.

How anti-vaccine zealots act

Besides being enormous threats to public health, anti-vaccine zealots are also threats to people’s security. A couple of days ago, Ren published a blog post describing how a takeover and takedown of a Facebook anti-vaccine page happened. So many anti-vaccine activists were caught up in that takedown that they decided to lash out against anyone who mentioned the takedown. Because Ren had written about it, one anti-vaccine activist took exception and posted Ren’s home address and home telephone number in another anti-vaccine Facebook page named “Vaccine Resistance Movement”:

antivax_doxxing

Later, this same idiot posted Ren’s cellular phone number.

It was all fun and games until the anti-vaccine idiot decided to call Ren. Here’s how Ren described it to me via email:

“I had just finished talking to my wife when the phone rings. It’s him. He asked if I was looking for him. If you see the post he’s now deleted, he claims that someone from my area code called him, so he called me. Frankly, I don’t know how he got my cellphone number, but I’ve put it out there a couple of times. (LinkedIn?) Anyway, he tells me that he’s not afraid of me, blah, blah, blah. He then says that he’s from Texas, as if that’s supposed to scare me. I told him, “Good. I’m from El Paso.” He was quiet for a few seconds and then raised his voice, yelling at me that he was in Dallas and that I’d be — in his words — “spitting out buckshot” if I went looking for him. (Why would I do that? Who willingly goes to Dallas for anything?) He then cursed at me a few times. I tried to be calm and reason with him, but he wasn’t having any of it. He then hung up the phone. I promptly blocked his number. I hope he has a nice life.”

Ren is a saint, in my opinion. The guy that doxed him has a very public (voted #1 by some group) band in the Dallas, Texas, area. I doubt that the people who try to employ him see what kind of hatred and vitriol he spews against people. And the whole thing about posting private information? What the hell?

That wasn’t the only threat Ren got, and the anti-vax band member from Dallas wasn’t the only one who posted the information. A couple of other anti-vaccine activists posted it too. I don’t know what Ren will do, but I think he shouldn’t worry too much. The overwhelming majority of these jerks run scared the other way and hide behind empty threats.

I offered Ren to bombard the jerk’s band Facebook page with screen captures of the jerk’s actions, but Ren has asked that neither I nor a couple of his friends who offered to do similarly stoop to that level. Yet that’s how nasty and vicious the anti-vaccine crowd can be. They really do think that it’s them against the world, and so, just like a cornered animal, they lash out without weighing the consequences of their actions. What if someone decides to do harm to Ren? How would the jerk who posted his information feel? (He probably wouldn’t think he did anything wrong, even as doxing is illegal.)

Patrick McGean threatens violence against vaccine supporters

UPDATE: I’ve emailed Mr. McGean for a comment on all this. His response is at the end of this blog post. (Yes, he needs help.)

Patrick McGean is someone who needs help. Let me tell you why, then I’ll show you why.

Mr. McGean is a self-described “researcher” who has been conducting a “study” on whether or not “organic sulfur” is a miracle drug:

“While researching this cancer, it became obvious that the sulfur cycle plays an important role in the regeneration of our cells. The Study also found that the use of chemical fertilizers had effectively broken the sulfur cycle in countries that use these fertilizers.

Diseases we hadn’t even heard of have become typical, cancer has grown at an unprecedented rate, and the quality of our food has been greatly diminished. Is there a correlation here?

Since 1954, rates of disease in the U.S. have gone up approximately 4,000 percent. And in 1954, chemical fertilizers were mandated by our government. Fertilizers such as ammonium nitrates and sulfates, which lack bioavailability, appear to have broken the sulfur cycle. This appears to have contributed to the decline of our health, wealth, mental acuity, and quality of life. We believe that when the Study is completed, it will clearly demonstrate a connection between the lack of sulfur and the inability of cells to regenerate in a healthy manner.”

Never mind that deaths from cancer overall, and cases of some cancers in particular are going down. When it comes to snake oil salesmen, they don’t care about no truth.

So what kind of study is this? Check this out:

“The main hypothesis of our Study is that we all may be sulfur deficient. What we are trying to demonstrate is that by adding sulfur back into our diet we can allow healthy cellular regeneration to occur through the enabling of oxygen by sulfur. Sulfur is necessary for our bodies to make many of our amino acids and proteins. The function of the cell membrane is dependent upon the proteins and peptides in these membranes that allow the transport of nutrients and gases across the membrane. When these proteins and peptides are diminished the cell membrane become aplastic and leathery forcing the cell to undergo anaerobic metabolism, acidosis or fermentation are examples of unhealthy cellular metabolism and result in cellular degeneration. When cells are allowed to regenerate after years of being scarred or damaged we believe this is an example of how cellular regeneration can be reactivated and some of the examples of neurological regeneration may be the most impressive.

We follow our Study members with digital photographs of their face to support what they report from taking Organic Sulfur.”

Yep. He just takes photographs of faces. If old scars clear up (as scars do), then he claims it’s the “organic sulfur” the suckers participants are taking. Is there an institutional review board overlooking this “study”? Nope. Is there a control group? Not that I could find. Have the findings been peer-reviewed? Negative.

But that’s not what makes Mr. McGean someone who needs help.

Mr. McGean has taken to Facebook to post some very threatening statements against anyone involved in doing away with philosophical or religious vaccine exclusions. Exhibit A is this message he sent via Facebook to Dr. Paul Offit:

threat_to_offit

Not only do I think he needs help because of the threats in his message. I think he also needs help because the message is so nonsensical. It’s stream of consciousness stuff that I’ve only seen with people who are, well, in some sort of mental trouble. And it’s not the only thing he’s written. Here he subtly threatens anyone with a needle:

needle_threat

And then he just gets really weird, threatening California State Senator Richard Pan and others with castration for their efforts to get children vaccinated:

castration_threats

Then there is this very disjointed rant about people he believes are “pedophiles”:

pedophile_accusations

And here are the rest of his rants:

pmcgean_1

bull_run_rant

And people egg him on:

violence_threats

Also, if you know someone who has stock in Big Pharma, kill them, according to Mr. McGean:

kill_stockholders

And here, a very specific threat, with a date pinned on it:

fourth_of_july

I’d like to say that Mr. McGean is just kidding, just carrying on, or just venting. But I worry that he is not, especially in light of recent credible threats to California lawmakers who passed Senate Bill 277. I really hope Mr. McGean gets the help he seemingly needs to desperately.

UPDATE: Here is what Mr. McGean had to say about this blog post. It’s a threat of violence if I’ve ever read one.

Reuben
You speak to the mothers of “vaccine damaged” children and dr. Paul A. Offits arrogance
will get him harmed but not by my hands.  Parents understand the lies of the good doctor and
they also understand his conflict of interest.  Defend him if you must, in the land of free you
can do anything you wish even damage children for 30 pieces of silver.
Merck is so afraid we may say no they are bribing senators and congressmen to pass
laws so they can have access to our biology for rather insidious intentions.
Pedophlies are castrated and hung in Utah.  Harming a child for any reason is still
pedophilia and our children are OUR Children, not yours.
You threat has nothing to do with autistic children while my comments are those
from fathers and mothers who are told it was not the vaccination, but they were
there and all describe similar neurological issues Dr. Paul describes it as mimicry.
No they can not communicate thanks to the safe heavy metals used as preservatives
by the kind killers at Merck.
By the way we don’t play, is today a good day to die?
By the way why would defend the new rich, or are you just defending science
because they for the most part could not defend themselves for the damage they
do to children and their mothers.  There is no proof vaccines are safe nor
effective yet you may believe they are a modern medical medical, Rumor has
it, and the rumor is a deadly lie.  4 million children unable to communicate in
any language, being they are lost in their own mind, which Dr. Offit says it is
impossible.  Do the math somebody is lying and I speak to the mothers.
I hope the response has fed your testosterone effectively now consider
someone else other than Dr. Offit, Dr. Pan or even Gov. Jerry Brown.
Freedom still exists?  Or will the mandating vaccines remove all of those
who would violate the Constitution to make a buck and remove such
freedoms?
Got sulfur?

Sybil Ballew and the Anti-Vaccine Crowd

I’ve asked time and time again for evidence from the anti-vaccine crowd that a pro-vaccine person or a public health worker has ever bullied, threatened, or spread lies about them in any medium. They are yet to respond. The closest they have come to saying that they’re being “abused” online is to say that the public health requirement that their children be vaccinated for school is “discrimination” or “persecution” for their personal beliefs. They also say that “forced” vaccination is just as bad as sexual assault or rape, and that the people who support mandatory vaccination of children in order for those children to participate in publicly funded programs is just like human trafficking.

Instead, what I have been seeing from many anti-vaccine types is some pretty harsh words and “wishes” aimed at public health officials, physicians, and anyone else who supports vaccines, including myself. They wish that I were dead or threaten me on their online radio podcasts. Others are not as open about their identities and hide behind pseudonyms online. Then they laugh when I remind them that there really is no such thing as online anonymity.

There is no such thing as online anonymity. If you go to a judge right now and show them that I have violated the law in any way, or that I am a danger to myself, the judge will issue an order for WordPress to reveal my internet protocol (IP) address from where I have been logging onto WordPress to post. From there, it’s all a matter of using some simple IP lookup tools to figure out where I live. Then you take that information to local law enforcement and you can pretty much uncover my identity.

All of it depends on me doing something bad enough to warrant the intervention of law enforcement. Short of that, you could take all that I have written and run it against some algorithm somewhere to see if there are any similarities between my style and content and that of other writers, bloggers, etc. Of you could bribe someone at WordPress and have them give you my IP address, but, in doing so, you’d be making me a millionaire since I could sue WordPress for violating my privacy.

I feel the need to remind you that I can see your IP address when you comment on this blog. I have a strict policy of not revealing your identity to third parties unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, or you have agreed for me to do it. I’ll do it if the greater good is at stake. But I will never do it to “out” you because the anti-vaccine types want to know who you are. This brings me to the next theme of this blog post.

I was contacted through Facebook by a person who claimed to be a friend of one of the readers/commenters of this blog. That person wanted to know how the reader was doing, claiming that they had not heard from the reader but recognized their pseudonym from previous conversations. When I asked the person to tell me the true name of the reader, they devolved into hurling insults and claiming that they were “very close” to figuring out who I was and to suing me. When I asked what the lawsuit would be for, they blocked their Facebook account. It’s been three weeks, and I have not heard from them since.

As I am sure that the person who contacted me through Facebook has read this blog, and might even be reading this right now, I’d like to remind them (and anyone else who thinks that online activity can be anonymous), of the sad case of Sybil Ballew. Ms. Ballew is a woman in Georgia who thought her libelous rants against a person would be anonymous. She thought no one would find out who she was and that she could say whatever she wanted to say:

“Cooley’s saga began with the murder of his fiancee, Paulette Harper, at the hands of her ex-husband in September of 2008. A few days later, the postings on the Blairsville page of Topix.com started showing up.

The poster wrote Cooley was a “pervert” and drug addict with a lengthy criminal record, a man who had been in prison and rehab. Harper’s daughter, who was 9 at the time, must be protected from Cooley, the poster wrote.

“I didn’t really even know the woman. I knew her in passing,” Cooley, 44, told the AJC. “She worked at two places [where] I was a customer.”

Cooley had a criminal background check run on himself showing that he had no such past, but people didn’t seem to care. Eventually he had to leave Blairsville, where his mother, sister and two sons lived, to find another job. He now lives in Augusta and works as a hairdresser.

Ballew is the woman who wrote the posts under the pseudonyms Mouth, Calvin, Bugs, Yuck, Rebel and Slim. She admitted in court that she also had conversations with herself, posting her concerns on the site under one name and then agreeing with the posts under another persona.

When asked in court why she wrote those things about Cooley, Ballew answered, “I watched him and I can tell a pervert. Every time a pretty girl walked by, he would look at them. I get a feeling.””

That “feeling” of Ms. Ballews cost her an award of $404,000 by a court who found her libelous postings under different pseudonyms to be just that, libelous. In much the same way, what the anti-vaccine crowd says about any of us defending science and reason need to pay attention to that story and know that if any of us get an itch to go find a lawyer, we can bankrupt them in a heartbeat. There comes a point when their libelous statements and accusations cross a line from Free Speech into libel/slander, and there are plenty of legal remedies for any of us to follow.

We are not killing any children by advocating for vaccination. We are not discriminating against you by pointing out the stupidity in your anti-vaccine rants. And we are most certainly not being paid by “Big Pharma” to do all this. That last one is one that can be used against the anti-vaccine zealots because some of us have contracts which prohibit us from receiving money from pharmaceuticals. To accuse us of such a thing, and to do it publicly and in a way that can catch the attention of our employers, can very well be argued to be interference with our contracts.

Yes, you may have deep pockets and lots of lawyer friends, but that only allows for us to be richer at the end, and for us to give all of your wealth to vaccination programs the next day, just after we gloat about it on our blogs.

Another day, another threat

What is it with people wanting to “out” the author(s) of this blog? Here’s a message I received on my personal Facebook account:

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 6.05.48 PMThe author seems to be “Jackie Murphy”, who we encountered in the post about the autism blood test that has some of us seriously wondering what the company is thinking in marketing such a thing. She “seems to be” Jackie because once this message was launched she quickly blocked me from contacting her back on Facebook. I have no clue what she means by a July 5th post about censorship, and I don’t have the time to read her mind. There’s a measles outbreak going on.

So go ahead, Jackie, waste all the time and money you want to waste in creating your own blog and outing us. There’s four of us, so make sure to call us something like “The Four Horsemen” in order to really rile up the troops. Anti-vaccine, autism-is-curable people really seem to love themselves some Biblical rhetoric. (Or is it five of us? Or just one? Or none and we’re a robot?)

Or you could use all that time, effort, and money to take care of your autistic child. Your choice.

 

Then we’ll just have to fight, won’t we?

There’s a scene in “The Dark Knight Rises” where Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, tells Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, that “there’s a storm coming.” The scene starts off innocently enough with the aged Bruce Wayne showing up at a high-society party. There, he ends up seeing Ms. Kyle and asking her to dance. He deduces that she is there to swindle some rich guy out of money, but she is part of a bigger plot, a more sinister plot.

I was stupid enough to email an anti-vaxxer a snarky message asking her when they were going to give up, when evidence would be enough that vaccines are perfectly safe and effective, especially when compared to what the natural diseases that they prevent can cause. She told me that I didn’t even know what was coming and that a storm would take us scientists all out to sea, signing her email with X’s and O’s, internet speak for “hugs and kisses.” It seemed odd. Realizing my stupidity and that most everything I write or say to them can be used against me, I left it alone.

Last night, a friend emailed me a link to a video where Andrew Jeremy Wakefield compares the alleged MMR-autism link to the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where African-American men were purposefully held back from receiving penicillin in order to study the natural history of syphilis. To Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, autism is like syphilis, I gather; a disease that is curable and whose cure is being held back by the government.

I’m not going to share the video with you because it’s ten minutes of your life you’ll never get back. I don’t want to do that to you. Suffice it to say that the accusations him and others make in that video would mean the downfall of a lot of epidemiologists if it were true. I have the sneaking suspicion, based on Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s “elaborate fraud” from 1998 that not everything in his video is true.

However, I do know this… A storm is coming, and we better batten down the hatches.

When that happens, we’ll just have to fight, won’t we? Like we always do. Like we’re have to do.

What kinds of threats are these?

Remember a while back when an anti-vaccine activist called and harassed a pro-vaccine person, even going as far as cynically stating, “You do know hows these things work, these threats work, right?” Well, they’re at it again.

Well, it has happened again. It’s a different person making the threats this time, but it’s the same kind of call. The caller calls the pro-vaccine advocate and threatens to disclose home addresses and phone numbers if the vaccine advocate doesn’t just up and quit their work.

What follows are the transcripts of the calls, and then I’ll post the links to the audio so you can hear for yourself the level of vitriol in the messages. It’s really rather creepy to listen to, but these are the things I do for all 12 of you readers. Anyway, the vicim in this case is Dorit Reiss, professor of law and someone who has been very vocal in her refutations of anti-vaccine tropes.

Call #1 has only the transcript to it. I don’t want to disclose the information that this person leaves. So you’ll have to take my word for it that this is how it went. Don’t worry, there are other calls for you to listen to that have the same tone. The words in brackets “[ ]” are my comments or edits:

“Hi, [Dorit’s Husband], I’m the parent of a vaccine injured child. I am tired of your wife harassing people about their vaccine status. It is none of her business. If I hear or see of anything written by your wife after today, I will release your phone number, your work phone number… [She goes into the details of phone and address. She even mentions the cross-street of where the house is.] You live with your mother and your father. [Names of the mother and father.] Tell her to stop. Or else I will release all of your private information. This took me one minute to find. You are a researcher. I know how to do research, as do most of us parents. We are not stupid. We are not uneducated. And if she does not stop, I will release all of your information, and we will see where it goes from there. Thank you. Have a good day.”

Again, I won’t link to the audio file because it has all that information. One of the most worrying things about this call is that the woman caller seems very, very angry and there are children in the background. This woman is exhibiting this behavior in front of children. Keep that in mind as you read on.

Call #2:

“Like I said to your husband, I have all of your information. Stop it now. I mean it, or else it becomes public information. Got it? Good.”

Here is the link to call #2: LINK (You may need specific software to play back the audio.) SEE BELOW FOR AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT AUDIO FILES

Calls #1 and #2 happened on the same day. Call #3 below happened five days later, after Dorit wrote something that didn’t please the caller.

Call #3:

“You and your wife are evil. Just evil. How dare she go after parents of vaccine injured children. Read a fucking package insert. It says right there all the freaking side… [She sighs, then a noise.]”

The call then ends with her making some sort of a mouth noise. It’s as if she was reading a script and went off of it, or she got very frustrated.

Here is the link to call #3: LINK SEE BELOW FOR AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT AUDIO FILES

So how did I get these messages? I got them after a long conversation with Prof. Reiss. She is hesitant to do anything about it since most of these types of calls are just from frustrated people who see monsters under their beds. But I explained to her that these kinds of threats need to be brought to light to show anyone even remotely listening to these people the kinds of people we’re dealing with. This is not normal behavior. This woman on these calls needs help, and, if she is reading this, I encourage her to get that help immediately. There are plenty of mental health therapies that can help with her persecution complex, and there are plenty of organizations who can take care of her children before she hurts them.

The biggest piece of evidence of this person needing help is that she genuinely thinks that releasing information that is easily attainable is some sort of threat. It’s as if I told you right now that I was going to release your IP address from where you are reading this blog post. What kind of a threat is that?

Well, it’s all in the context. Some whacky “animal rights” activists and anti-abortion activists have released private home addresses and information to their followers in the hopes (and sometimes the direction) that their followers do something with the information. The results have been anything from vandalism to murder. Once this woman comes through on her promise, because Dorit will not stop (and neither will any of us), we will know who she is and what kind of direction she’ll give anyone who listens.

So let this be a public record of these threats, and, yes, let’s see where it goes from here.

UPDATE: The links to the audio files have been downloaded too much and google is throttling back. If you upload them to your own shareable space (dropbox or google drive), paste the link in the comments so others can hear.