The internet has been a boon in connecting people and information. It gives people a platform to spout off about all kinds of things. Fun, informative, crazy, and conspiratorial.
A few days ago I blogged about the abysmal state of UK libel laws where it’s easy to silence critics with the threat of lawsuits – because there you have to prove a negative, which is incredibly hard. For example, if someone says they are selling unicorn piss to treat cancer, and that the treatment works – calling those individuals quacks or liars means you have to prove that unicorn piss doesn’t cure cancer – as opposed to said quacks having to prove that unicorn piss does cure cancer.
In the U.S., it’s a bit easier to call a snake-oil salesmen out for their actions. After all, if they sue you to shut you up, they risk exposure. However, it appears we have a few especially crazy quacks going for the gold this week.
Christopher Maloney and Andreas Moritz are two such snake-oil salesmen. They were called out for their shenanigans by a biology student (thanks for the correction, Mike). This student had a blog hosted by WordPress. Moritz threatened WordPress and subsequently got Michael Hawkins’ blog pulled from the internets. In my neck of the woods, a good response is, “that’s some bullshit right there.”
First, WordPress needs a nice square kick in the ass for folding under pressure from a quack. Mortiz peddles a concoction that cleans out your liver. You drink it, and shit out lumps that supposedly come from your liver. If you understand an iota of how the body works you’ll understand how ludicrous this is. He’s a cancer quack with all sorts of delusions about how it should be treated.
Steve Novella has a nice take down of Maloney on the NESS blog. I encourage you to read it to understand the level of nutjobbyness we’re dealing with here.
The point to all this is criticism has been raised about these two individuals’ practices and motives. Instead of backing-up their claims, they threaten lawsuits. They fear their reputations are hurt.
What they really fear is some people might see through their foolish claims, so they are forced to shut down and obliterate criticism rather than debunk it.
See, that’s the nice thing about science. You got a claim, put it to the test. Is your hypothesis falsifiable? Can other’s reproduce your results? Will your claim stand up to the rigors of a peer reviewed paper and double-blind study? If so, you may just be onto something good.
If, however, your only response is to threaten with a lawsuit, you got nothing.