In a previous essay I discussed the use of tone policing by contrarian doctors. I said that by
By focusing on the ways of their critics, they are trying to divert the spotlight from their repeated underestimation of the virus and their successful campaign to ensure that tens of millions of children and young adults contracted it before being vaccinated.
I was reminded of redirected spotlights when I saw an article by Drs. Vinay Prasad and John Ioannidis entitled “Constructive and Obsessive Criticism in Science”. It complained of harassment and scientific bullying involving “ad hominem aspects” saying:
Typical behaviors are: repetitive and persistent comments (including sealioning), long comments/tweetorials/reactions that are often longer than the original work, strong moralization, distortion of the underlying work, argumentum ad populum, calls to suspend/censor the work /withdrawal from the author, guilt by association, reputational damage, large gains in followers, specifically through attacks, finding and posting sensitive personal information, anonymity or pseudonymity, social media campaigning, and an unusual relationship between criticism and pursuing one’s research agenda.
They wrote that “ignoring obsessive critics is perhaps the most effective way to break their bloodline.”
The article was widely discussed on social media, and while no one disagreed with his opposition to personal attacks, many found his message insufferably ironic coming from these particular authors. dr. David Gorski wrote a detailed explanation of why this was so.
However, I want Drs. Prasad and Ioannidis, that’s us SBM have written criticism that is harsh, but free from personal insults and calls to “suspend/censor/revoke” any work. We don’t call vaccine advocates “off their rocker,” and we don’t humiliate and humiliate our critics in medical journals by calculating their Kardashian Index.
I am certainly guilty of writing lengthy counter-arguments to baseless claims that primary care physicians killed a large number of patients via premature intubation or filled out inappropriate death certificates. Did I do something wrong? drs. Prasad and Ioannidis think so. They object to “comments that are often longer than the original work.” They want critics to be concise.
Regardless of their height, I hope and believe our criticisms SBM are all about content and science. After all, that’s what it’s all about. Here’s an example of some of our disagreements with these two doctors.
- Have large numbers of people died? of COVID not from COVID? No.
- Has the death toll risen too high because doctors intubated people too quickly at the start of the pandemic? No.
- Is the death toll high because doctors filled out death certificates incorrectly, even fraudulently? No.
- Did over 100% of NYC residents get COVID during the first wave? No.
- Are there evidence masks that hinder children’s language development? No.
- Is the risk of death “completely negligible” for healthy people under the age of 65? No.
- Is the flu as bad as COVID for children? No.
- Has the pandemic ended in 2020? No. Has this pandemic ended this spring? no.
- Will masks and vaccines lead to the next Hitler? No.
- Is debunking dangerous medical myths a waste of time? No.
- Did most hospitals keep largely empty wards? No.
- Should doctors have made fun of people who wanted a booster before Omicron ripped through the population? No.
- Did the Pandemic Kill Only 10,000 Americans? No. Has the Pandemic Killed Only 40,000 Americans? No.
- Will Vaccinating Children Kill Older People? No.
- Shouldn’t children stay vaccinated because COVID is killing more elderly people or because more children are dying by suicide? No.
- Should We Let Babies Get COVID? No.
- Should every public health measure be studied in a massive, randomized, controlled trial in the midst of a raging pandemic? No.
- Were claims that 20%-60% of adults are infected “significantly exaggerated”? no
- Is it appropriate for a senior scientist to discuss the physical appearance of a junior scientist who disagrees with him? No.
- Are the side effects of the vaccine worse than death for children? no
- Are we overestimating COVID infections 50-80 times at the start of the pandemic? No.
- Is it acceptable to truncate charts and omit important information to mislead readers? No and no.
There is no shortage of thoughtful criticism of Drs. Prasad and Ioannidis. However, as far as I know, they’ve mostly pretended that this material doesn’t exist. In their last article, they did not point out mistakes they thought they had made. This article was all about the form and style of their critics, not facts and science. Perhaps their next collaboration could be a response to one of dozens of substantive critiques of their work. There is a first time for everything.
Obviously, no one owes us anything. drs. Prasad and Ioannidis have every right to be the “obsessive critics” at . to ignore SBM. But this neglect seems to be their policy against all constructive criticism. They rarely, if ever, interact with anyone who is willing to challenge them on their past statements. Despite their claimed love of discussion and debate, they seem only willing to be questioned by interviewers – often each other – who shower them with praise, ask softball questions and leave questionable claims unchallenged. When Dr. For example, Ioannidis said his “original intuition” about our pandemic response “might have been correct”, I would have asked a few follow-up questions about the passage below. dr. Prasad did not.
But notice how the spotlight has been diverted. drs. Prasad and Ioannidis want their critics to go on the defensive, a technique known as DARVO. Suddenly everyone is arguing how to debate, instead of actually arguing. And every moment spent debating who can say what to whom and how and where to say it is time. not spent talking about doctors who repeatedly underestimated the virus and campaigned successfully to make sure tens of millions of children and young adults got it before being vaccinated.
I wonder why Drs. Prasad and Ioannidis don’t want to argue with their critics on these topics?