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First Place - The Anus Maximus Award
Could you imagine using your own children as weapons in the lunatic denial of the connection between HIV and AIDS? Could you imagine being HIV positive and publicly breastfeeding your baby as a statement that the possibility of causing harm to the child was non existent? How you would feel if your three-year-old daughter died of an AIDS-related illness, something which you denied could happen?
Sane people like you or me would do nothing to harm our children, and we would be horrified at the death of one of them. If we didn't believe in the disease before the child died, we would certainly believe in its existence afterwards. But we are not AIDS-denier Christine Maggiore, whose web site was still talking about her two healthy children months after one of them had been killed by the mother's stupidity and arrogance.
The usual collection of clowns pretending to be doctors has been brought out to say why Eliza Jane died of things that she did not die of and the usual lies have been told about what was in the autopsy report. To nobody's surprise, familiar names from the anti-vaccination crusade have appeared here as well, such as Harold Buttram and Mohammed Al-Bayati who were both waist-deep in defending murderer Alan Yurko. To these whores working for expert witness fees it is almost irrelevant that a child has died as long as they can use the death to further their agendas and line their pockets.
AIDS is a serious illness, and anyone denying a link between AIDS and HIV is complicit in the deaths of those who don't get effective treatment or who believe the lies. To allow your ignorance to kill your own child and to continue the denial after the child's death indicates the kind of psychopathology that should never be seen outside a very secure mental institution or a cell on death row.
Quote of the Year
Abubakar Tariq Nadama was a 5-year-old boy who died on August 23, 2005, because his parents went to a quack who claimed that chelation could cure autism. There was a three-way tie for Quote of the Year by quackery supporters commenting on his death.
During the year I received an email from a professional anti-vaccination liar named Mary Tocco. (I called her a professional because she makes a living charging people to hear her tell lies about vaccines.) Someone named Curtis Tocco (whom I later found was the egregious Mary's son) wrote me a rather aggressive email using words that, even at my age, I wouldn't use in front of my mother. We had a short exchange of emails and I ended one with the following words:
Have a nice day. Abubakar Tariq Nadama won't be able to do that, because his mother believed anti-vaccination liars like Mary Tocco and now he's dead.
Curtis Tocco's reply to me appears below. The expression "lol" means "laughing out loud". He thought that a child's death was a laughing matter.
lol,Well he probably would have died sooner if he had gotten vaccines.
The second winner was something too cowardly to use its real name and calling itself "Majusmaximum", who posted the following message to the Usenet group misc.kids.health:
The boy who died from EDTA chelation treatment would be just as dead if it had been done to him for lead poisoning.
Someone signing themself "JB" but using what appeared to be a real and identifiable email address sent a message to the Evidence of Harm mailing list at Yahoo! in which they admitted that they were exposing their own child to the same risk from the same form of quackery. They had this to say about Abubakar:
He is a true soldier in the struggle we are all facing
You might think that something named "The Discovery Institute" might be somehow involved in the process of discovery. In this case you would be wrong, because this "discovery" institute is committed to the propagation of received wisdom and dogma. The purpose of this organisation is to get biblical creationism taught in schools in place of science. To get around the inevitable problems created by constitutions and courts which forbid (or at least inhibit) the blurring of the lines between religion and reality, the link with Genesis and creationism is denied and something called "Intelligent Design" is offered in its place as some sort of scientific theory. The fact that this supposed theory makes no testable predictions and can therefore never be tested is (deliberately) overlooked on the quite reasonable assumption that most people are unaware of what it means to talk about the methods and principles of scientific knowledge. The fact that the only possible "Intelligent Designer" is the God of First Cause is denied on the quite reasonable assumption that most people are unaware of the writings of St Thomas Aquinas. Like the more common and familiar version of creationism peddled by outfits like Answers in Genesis, this version relies on an ignorance of both science and religion. At least AiG is honest about what they are doing.
It is almost an article of religious faith among proponents of alternative medicine that there is no such thing as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These are considered to be inventions of the pharmaceutical industry to sell the drug Ritalin, which is always described as "untested" despite having been in use for decades. (Strangely, using something for a long time is proof of its effectiveness if it is quackery.)
Rather inconsistently, the quacks like to tell us that even though these conditions don't exist, they can be treated by the application of the appropriate nostrums and techniques. In this case, the treatment consists of sticking a hose into the child's rectum and pumping in some fluids with magical qualities. Of course, no "cure" is claimed (because that might invite examination by regulatory authorities) and therefore the enema-giver has no responsibility beyond the timely deposit of the child's parents' money into the bank.
I haven't heard much lately about David Oates and his theory that everything we say has a hidden meaning encoded in the sounds if we were to hear them in reverse. I have always been a bit suspicious of this because I often have difficulty in figuring out how to say things forward without having to add a different meaning and work out what it will all sound like backwards before I say it forwards. I wonder if Latin died out because the verbs are at the ends of the sentences and it was just too difficult for the speakers of the language to work out the backwards part while rearranging the thought order for forward talk. In fact, now that I think about it further this is obviously what happened. Res ipsa loquitor.
My apple-cheeked old grandmother always told me to not be backwards in coming forward, so I have given Mr Oates an Encouragement Award to show him that the world needs to hear more about his findings, after all, as it says on the site: "David has been compared to Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Nicola Tesla and his work described as being of Nobel calibre with far reaching ramifications is such fields as law and psychology", and we wouldn't want those ramifications to go to waste.
You might wonder why I would have a problem with Diabetes Australia. In fact, it is a very good organisation which does excellent work, and I am quite happy to pay my annual membership fee. Its web site is not listed among the charlatans in the Health Fraud category, and (I would hope) never will be, so this is a first, where someone wins an award without a listing in The Millenium Project.
The award is being given because the September 2005 edition of the magazine Conquest which is sent to all DA members contained an article about reflexology. If this had merely been a short piece about how foot massage can be of comfort to diabetics then there would be no problem, but the article seemed to suggest that there might be other benefits to this quackery. Words like "energy flow" and "toxins" were mentioned. For those unfamiliar with the madness of reflexology, it is based on the idea that all the organs of the body are mapped onto the soles of the feet and the state of different organs can be influenced by prodding or massaging the appropriate spot on the map. If there was any sense in reflexology at all it most certainly could be of benefit to people with diabetes - type 1 diabetics might be cured by pushing on the pancreas spot and type 2s would appreciate their livers being adjusted. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes could be fixed by pressing the uterus point (but this would have to be done with care to avoid miscarriages). What a load of rubbish!
Groups like Diabetes Australia should certainly offer members a wide range of information and treatment and lifestyle options, but this doesn't mean that anything that sounds like it might be useful really is. As someone once said, it is all very well to have an open mind but it shouldn't be so open that your brain falls out. For someone with the peripheral neuropathy that can come from diabetes, going to a reflexologist instead of a real doctor could eventually lead to the loss of toes (or even whole legs). I hope that I never see an article in Conquest suggesting that the Bates method of eye exercises might help with diabetic retinopathy, but then I suppose the government could always add white canes and guide dogs to the syringes and test strips already provided under the national subsidy scheme. (See the article here).