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Getting yourself hated

This is a version of a talk I gave to SkeptiCamp Sydney in October 2013. As it was essentially a PowerPoint show with me chatting about the slides I'm reproducing it here with the slides.

You can see this page broken into smaller parts by starting here.

I'm going to talk today about some of the email I've received over the years. Sometimes people disagree with me, which is their right, and I have always allowed and encouraged everyone to contact me with their comments.

But first …

I would like to start out by quoting someone expressing my position on threats and abuse. As it came from Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network and she spent more than a year trying to get the courts to stop me talking about her, I have offered a response to her hypocrisy. If you place your cursor over the picture you can see my response.

I've divided the mail collection into several categories (and I should point out that this is just a sample of what I've received over the years). Some messages fall into more than one category, of course.

So, off we go …

And where better to start than with our very own Meryl Dorey? This was one of the first examples of the Pharma Shill Gambit I had ever come across, and was posted to a mailing list from which I was banned . Of course. If you place your cursor over it you can see my opinion of anti-vaccination liars in general.

There have been many more of these over the years, but my favourite came from a man named Raymond Gallup who was the head at the time of an anti-vaccination group called The Autism Autoimmunity Project. Unfortunately I haven't been able to track it down (it was made in a Usenet newsgroup), but he declared that he had solid evidence that I received my payments in the form of accommodation at luxury holiday resorts. I replied that he didn't have the full story and I was about to contact Pfizer to get my Ferrari replaced because it had a scratch on one of the doors. The melt-down of group members' brains at this "confession" was a joy to watch.

So, let's move on …

The following words have appeared on the front page of The Millenium Project for as long as I can remember. (Maybe I could remember more if I took my naturopath's advice and consumed some gingko biloba, but I digress …). It confuses people.

We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal – we are offering them a stool.

I replied to the following complaint by asking if it meant that the word should be spelled "millennnnium" but I got no answer.

And on we go …

One of my favourites. You will note that it reveals that I am married to the Secretary of a tennis club and this is advising the club of my awfulness. Put your cursor over the picture to see the email address it was sent to.

Here is someone emailing my employer to report on my dastardliness. Again, place your cursor over the picture to see the addressee's email address. Then think about who in the company might have such an address and therefore might have been first to see the complaint..

Sometimes it isn't just complaining. Legal action is threatened.

I think this might have been the first Vacuous Legal Threat I ever received. Put the cursor over it to see the proposed jurisdiction in which the legal action was to have been pursued. As The Netherlands is quite close to Sweden I was hoping that I could arrange matters so that I would only have to make one long trip for both this case and to collect my Nobel Prize.

Mr O'Neill was a little impatient when I didn't immediately respond to his demand. He died in 2013, but I haven't heard whether his estate is still seeking exemplary and punitive damages.

This one has a particular piquancy. The complainer came to my attention because she totally rejected all laws as they applied to her. She had been stopped by the police and charged with driving without a licence. She argued that, firstly, no law could force her to have any form of licence to do anything at all and secondly that as she was stopped when the copper spoke to her she wasn't actually driving so there was no charge to answer. Apparently, though, she thinks that copyright law has validity. And did I send her money and remove the mention of her idiocy? And did the ISP (that's the Jason at terminate my access? Of course not, although we did have a good laugh over a beer.

My "little hiney" never actually managed to get sued, but I did consider getting "mr. satan evil back stabbing bitch" printed on a t-shirt. The child abuse referred to was real – someone proudly showing pictures of children with chicken pox. Benny Hinn (not "Hind") is a disgusting faith healer.

I suggested to George that the words "best medical journal article" should not be used in the same sentence as a reference to something published in Medical Hypotheses. He didn't actually sue me.

Every now and then I remind Patrick Timothy Bolen of this threat and ask when Doctor's Data are going to get around to the fart in an elevator part of it. I've been waiting several years. My web site is still here and Doctor's Data are still a pack of crooks.

Truehope is a pack of crooks who package grass clippings and claim that the product is a treatment for mental illness. They were taken to court by the health authorities. To avoid defaming the judge by suggesting he was paid, I have to assume he was suffering from mental illness himself when he ruled for Truehope on the basis that it is acceptable to break laws if you don't like them. If you put your cursor over the picture you will see a warning about possible consequences of accusing other people of making errors. You might also notice that in an email accusing someone of defamation it is probably not wise to uses expressions like "Liar/Charlatan/Molester", "Liar/Not-A-Doctor" and "Liar/Unemployed/Convict" to describe the alleged defamers.

Not really a threat, but I am accused of slandering the now thankfully dead cancer quack Hulda Clark. When Hulda died (of cancer) her cremated remains were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. I asked a supporter if they got EPA approval to dump toxic waste in the ocean but I didn't get a reply. I was, however, accused of forging her death certificate.

Again, not a real threat, just some anonymous anti-vaccination liar offering polite commentary.

Sometimes it is my immortal soul that gets threatened.

And my favourite threat of all time. I imagine the writer going into a bank, approaching a teller and holding up a piece of cardboard with the crayoned words "armed robbery".

Moving right along …

I write to myself …

I replied to Frank to clarify if the word "Idiot" was a comment or his email signature. He didn't reply.

No, I don't know either …

This person appears to have a problem with the way English sounds out "ph" and "f" in the same way. They aren't really interchangeable, though.

I had a simple reply to this psychiatrist: "No, I were not abused". I hope that satisfied the questioner.

And now I am Jewish. And apparently I wander.

And if that isn't crazy enough …

Say what?

Nothing like ALL CAPS to get a point across. The Toddy Gastaldo mentioned was a chiropractor living in Portland, Oregon. He was absolutely barking mad and used to alternate between abusing me and singing my praises. We had a standing arrangement to go out for pancakes if I ever got back to Portland, but I don't think that was the table the two of were going to grovel at. He was actually an ex-chiropractor because he had handed in his chiropractising ticket when the other bone pushers wouldn't agree with him about the correct posture for women during childbirth.

I have no idea who the FDA killed. The ouralexander site is an advertisement for uberquack Stanislaw Burzynski.

Why would I want to pick on a gay bishop? And which bishop in particular?

Why would I want to fight the Masons? Some of my best friends … Oops. I think I've said enough.

More ALL CAPS. I am worrid, however, at the nature of the dark and gloomy thing that will be knawing at me.

I think this person rejects evolution. His brain certainly has.

Long-time Usenet users will remember the famous David Mabus. He was a relatively harmless kook who used to infest science newsgroups and mailing lists. He used to email me regularly with his whines about James Randi and anyone else who dared to challenge nonsense. He went quiet for a while and then discovered Twitter and a whole lot of newcomers to the Internet who decided he was some sort of a threat. We old-timers just yawned and said "Oh, he's back", but others took him really seriously and kept reporting him to various supposed authorities. He has spent some time under the care of psychiatrists and a panic breaks out if he ever dares to post anything anywhere. I received this from him recently and I know it is impossible to read, but the intent is to give a gestalt view of the sort of stuff he posts. He was the source of one of the great Internet memes when he shouted "GOATS ON FIRE!" for no apparent reason in a conversation one day. There are t-shirts.

There's nothing really remarkable about this email (if you ignore the fact that it came from my late grandmother, Kathleen Turner). If you put you cursor over it, however, what is revealed is the use of the world's most ridiculed font. In bold. And mauve.

And saving the best for last – an email from a supporter of psychic fraud Sylvia Browne.

That's all, folks.


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