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Gorskiorac_1By J.B. Handley


What if you wrote a blog under a pseudonym-- “ORAC” --an acronym for an online programming language and the name of a wayward computer in an old BBC sci-fi series?

What if you also blogged as “SoCalGal” and pretended to be a woman?

What if you proudly declared to the world, “My recreation of choice most evenings these days is to blog. It truly is my hobby”?

Then you would be David Gorski M.D, the Worldwide Wanker of Woo (he uses the term “woo” to refer to what he believes is pseudoscience), an annoying blogger who also happens to be a surgeon.

Mr. Gorski has become a bit of a thorn in the side of our community, if only because his blog is widely read and quoted by others. Consider a recent post from Mr. Gorski regarding the recent AutismOne conference:

“If you want to know the difference between science and pseudoscience, the AutismOne conference is a great example. In science, evidence and experimentation rule. Scientists are always looking for ways to poke holes in the prevailing hypotheses. True, we scientists don't always live up to that ideal, and some of us may be too comfortable, but nonetheless the real way to glory in science is to shoot down an accepted hypothesis and replace it with one of your own--all through evidence of course. No one ever won a Nobel Prize for incrementally supporting the existing paradigm. In pseudoscience, on the other hand, we see people safely wrapped in a cocoon of their own groupthink, blissfully oblivious to contradicting evidence and not caring that not only are the scientific consensus and multiple large, well-designed epidemiological studies against them but that no one on "their" side has been able to produce any scientifically compelling evidence to support the vaccine hypothesis. Instead we get the Geiers and their incompetent epidemiology or Dr. Laura Hewitson and her poorly designed monkey studies, along with glaring conflicts of interest.”

Mr. Gorski’s blog, Respectful Insolence, is anything but. His putdowns and demeaning language aimed at our community (and many of his colleagues) are rampant. And, so, in the spirit of Mr. Gorski’s novel use of the word “respectful”, I insolently offer up:


1. He lives in a very cheap glass house

Mr. Gorski writes proudly, “As far as I've yet been able to ascertain, I'm the only academic surgeon with R01 funding in the world with an active -- and, even more shockingly, even a somewhat popular -- blog.”

The obvious question that he never asks is, “Why don’t any of my peers spend loads of their time publicly bashing other scientists?” The answer to that question would be, “Because most research scientists are not idiots who place ego gratification through reader adulation above professional conduct.”

2. He is a nobody in the science world

I could care less about Mr. Gorski or his career. I’m sure he has worked hard to get where he is. But, relatively speaking, Mr. Gorski is a nobody. He’s an “Assistant Professor.”

When Bill Walton criticizes NBA players, he annoys some, but the man is highly accomplished in his field, so people listen and respect his point of view. Mr. Gorski’s only claim to fame is that he blogs frequently enough to be high in the search rankings.

Mr. Gorski is very proud of himself. He writes: “I got into the University of Michigan Medical School, which got around 3,000 applications every year for around 180 positions.”


3. He’s a complete wanker

Some people are just such tool jobs they should probably not do a lot of public blogging. Don’t take my word for it, just consider this gem from Mr. Gorski:

“[In College] I was then, as I am now, pretty geeky and had only a relatively small circle of friends. I rarely ‘partied.’”

This is the equivalent of John Candy mentioning in Stripes, “Some of you may not have noticed I have a bit of a weight problem.”

Geeky? Really? With that stunning visage looking like the love child of Lurch and Sam the Eagle, I figured you ruled the school.

4. He is a crazy daredevil

This one really bowled me over:

“So insane was I that one year I took 17 credits in the fall semester, all but 3 of which were hard-core science classes, including graduate level biochemistry, and then did the same thing again the next semester.”

No! NO!!  You are a MADMAN!!

5. He often speaks in the third person

Why do people speak in the third person? Mr. Gorski not only does it, but he speaks in third person pseudonym:

“You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Orac”

Oh, no, run!! Here comes Orac!!

6. He dismisses any scientists who consider the vaccine-autism connection

This is a classic knee-jerk of the mainstream health establishment when combating the growing evidence of a vaccine-autism connection: paint any scientist who entertains the notion of a connection between vaccines and autism as a crank. Consider his “respectful” comment regarding Dr. Hewitson, a member of the recent vaccine-monkey study discussed at IMFAR:

“Unfortunately, Dr. Hewitson wouldn't be the first researcher whose personal brush with autism led her down the path of questionable science; I hope she doesn't descent too far into antivaccination-related research to get out before doing permanent damage to her career.”

It’s interesting to contrast Mr. Gorski’s comments with those of Dr. Bernadine Healy, a graduate of Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, former CEO of the Red Cross, and former President of the National Institutes of Health:

"There is a completely expressed concern that they [mainstream scientists] don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people. First of all, I think the public’s smarter than that. The public values vaccines. But more importantly, I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show."

It’s worth pointing out that Dr. Healy does not blog under a pseudonym nor has she actively called out any specific researchers to accuse them of being “cranks.”

7. He knows Hannah Poling better than her Dad (a doctor) does

When the Hannah Poling case hit the news, Mr. Gorski was quick to support many of the talking points the other side used to try to minimize the impact of the court’s decision. It’s interesting to compare Mr. Gorski’s comments with those of Jon Poling, Hannah’s father- a practicing neurologist.

Mr. Gorski writes:

“Mitochondrial disorders of the sort suffered by Hannah are genetic in nature and rare, an estimated 5.7 individuals per 100,000 worldwide…the subset of these disorders that cause autism-like symptoms is even more rare.”

But, Dr. Poling, a neurologist, says:

“No one knows if Hannah’s mitochondrial dysfunction existed before receiving vaccines.”

Mr. Gorski writes:

“…what was really diagnosed was a regressive encephalopathy that had some features of ASD…The bottom line is that it is fever from any source, be it a vaccine reaction or, more commonly, an infection that can exacerbate mitochondrial disorders and provoke encephalopathy. Moreover, because of the confounding factor of multiple ear infections, it's not 100% clear that her vaccinations even caused her regression”

But, Dr. Poling says:

“Our daughter, Hannah, developed normally until receiving nine vaccines at once. She immediately developed a fever and encephalopathy, deteriorating into what was diagnosed, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M. IV, as autism.”

Mr. Gorski writes:

“…mutations in the same gene that Hannah had a mutation in are incredibly rare…it is very likely that the reason the Poling case was dropped as a test case from the Autism Omnibus is because it is so unusual and atypical.”

But, Dr. Poling says:

“How many Hannah Polings are out there?  The short answer is that nobody knows.  However, there is emerging data to suggest that she is not alone. Dr. Shoffner will be presenting his experience with 37 patients with combined autism and mitochondrial dysfunction at the AAN meeting in Chicago this April. 65% of his referrals are positive for mitochondrial dysfunction.  Of course, his yield is subject to referral bias as a mito expert, so the prevalence of mitochondrial dysfunction in Autism is surely less than 65%. The best estimate to date of the prevalence of mitochondrial dysfunction in autistic patients comes from Oliviera et al. in a population of 120, 5 of 69 (or 7.2%) showed mitochondrial dysfunction.  If this is generalized to the US estimate of 1 million patients with ASDs, then the number of kids like Hannah could be 72,000!  Isn’t this worth further study?”

Mr. Gorski Says:

“It is also known that children with mitochondrial disorders are prone to develop an encephalopathy in response to stress or fever that can cause them to regress. The source of this stress is often an infection, such as a cold or normal childhood illness, that results in a fever. The reason is that the mitochondria are the "batteries" or energy sources of the cell, and mitochondrial diseases can lead a child to be "energy challenged," so to speak.

But, government attorneys and scientists conceded in the Hannah Poling case that the cause of her encephalopathy was:
“…underlying mitochondrial dysfunction, exacerbated by vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation that exceeded metabolic reserves.”

8. He thinks our kids spontaneously recover

“Spontaneous Recovery” has been a semantic trick used by the mainstream to explain why some of our kids recover, despite the fact that it means absolutely nothing. “Spontaneous” does not describe what happened, biologically, to allow a child to go from severely impaired to normal. It shows an extreme lack of medical curiosity.

Mr. Gorski subscribes to the “Spontaneous Recovery” theory to explain our recovered kids. I pressed him on this issue in private emails, asking him how, as a physician, he can ignore the stories of formerly diagnosed children now living normally? His response was that it is, “very easy to be fooled, particularly in the cases of mild ASD.”  Mr. Gorski’s science that supports the position of spontaneous recovery is a sole study titled Diagnostic stability in very young children with autism spectrum disorders. The study, featuring all of 77 children, looks at diagnosis of all ASD labels over time. Take a read for yourself.

Mr. Gorski’s response to what he contends is “pseudoscience” is…pseudoscience.

9. Solely citing epidemiology, he says the vaccine-autism debate is over

Mr. Gorski often writes of the “…science failing to find a link between vaccines and autism.”

Mr. Gorski uses many of the tricks of the mainstream in trying to make it seem like the vaccine-autism debate is over. In order to do this successfully, you have to ignore some ugly truths:

- All studies conducted have been done by conflicted parties
- Most studies have only considered thimerosal levels in vaccines, and then only compared kids who received more thimerosal versus those who received less
- No studies have ever considered children who received the entire vaccine load versus those who received none

Consider a comment from British Epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose, which would support the folly of solely analyzing vaccinated children:

“Imagine, Rose suggested, if everyone smoked a pack of cigarettes every day. Any study trying to link cigarette smoking to lung cancer ‘would lead us to conclude that lung cancer was a genetic disease…since if everyone is exposed to the necessary agent, then the distribution of cases is wholly determined by individual susceptibility.’”

Or, this commentary on epidemiology from the New England Journal of Medicine:

“A common feature of epidemiological data is that they are almost certain to be biased, of doubtful quality, or incomplete…Problems do not disappear even if one has flawless data, since the statistical associations in almost any nontrivial set of observations are subject to many interpretations. This ambiguity exists because of the difficulty of sorting out causes, effects, concomitant variables, and random fluctuations when the causes are multiple or diffuse….Even when the data are generally accepted as accurate, there is much room for individual judgment, and the considered conclusions of the investigators in these matters determine what they will label cause.”

So despite holding other scientist to the highest standards, Mr. Gorski will gorge on narrowly-constructed, ratshit epidemiology funded by the CDC to close the case on vaccines and autism?

10. He thinks we should be more careful when we vaccinate monkeys

Mr. Gorski was quick out of the blocks to criticize the emerging results from a study that vaccinated monkeys on the US vaccine schedule and compared them to unvaccinated monkeys. In fact, he seems to be developing an entirely new theory about why the vaccinated monkeys appear to be so sick. He writes:

“How long is the life expectancy and time to maturity of these monkeys? In other words, were the investigators scaling down the time between injections proportionally to the difference in time to maturity between humans and these monkeys? That could end up being a lot of shots in a short period of time. So I looked it up. Rhesus Macaque monkeys live around 25 years and males reach sexual maturity by around four years of age, approximately 1/4 of the time it takes humans males to reach sexual maturity. That means, if I interpret correctly the methodology claiming to "adjust for age" that these monkeys could have received a lot of shots in a really short period of time.”

Did he just say that “a lot of shots in a really short period of time” could cause a problem?

Boy, that sounds familiar.

Thanks for looking out for the monkeys, Dr. Gorski, don’t mind the several million kids over here who got “a lot of shots in a really short period of time” and are now completely fucked up. The CDC’s epidemiologist, who now works for Glaxo Smith Kline in the vaccine division, says they there is no link based on his “well designed” study comparing kids who got a lot of mercury with those who got quite a bit. You should feel like you have this all figured out.

11. He’s not a parent

While hard to believe based on Mr. Gorski’s stunning looks, confessions of being “geeky” in college and blogging as his only hobby (what’d he do before blogs?) – Mr. Gorski has yet to procreate.

This means Mr. Gorski’s exposure to autistic children, schools bursting with special needs kids, and parents in every community lamenting developmental challenges in their kids is non-existent. I highly doubt he has any friends who went to the doctor for a “well baby” visit and returned with a child descending into autism.

12. He’s got it backwards

Mr. Gorski writes:

”The one good thing is that the point of graduate school in sciences is more to teach you how to think and how to apply the scientific method. Science changes so rapidly that the information we had to learn was not as important as learning how to teach ourselves, read the scientific literature, and apply it to our research.”

Mr. Gorski does not live up to the lofty standards he has set for himself or his colleagues, many of whom he publicly berates and humiliates. As an individual, he is a nobody, which is why he blogs under a pseudonym.

The reason Mr. Gorski drives us nuts is because he selectively applies his scientific standards to anything that supports his position—a common behavior of the mainstream health establishment. He reminds us of our pediatricians who told us we were crazy.

In Mr. Gorski’s world, highly flawed epidemiology gets a hall pass but anybody or anything that supports a connection between vaccines and autism is quackery written by cranks. Ask him to apply his high standards to the CDC’s “science” and he won’t do it.

Claude Bernard, in An Introduction to Experimental Medicine, wrote:

“It is better to know nothing, than to keep in mind fixed ideas based on theories whose confirmation we constantly seek, neglecting meanwhile everything that fails to agree with it.”

Dr Bernandine Healy has been imploring her colleagues to open their minds to the possibilities of what our community is saying. The Worldwide Wanker of Woo, David Gorski, would be well served to listen.

JB Handley is Editor at Large for Age of Autism and co-founder of Generation Rescue.


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JB did not out Orac. Orac was outed years ago. Even the photo is the same.


It's all part of controlling both sides of the argument. If one successfully controls one side already he can always gain control of the other side by influence.

Bob Wright has been involved in the exoneration of Thimersoal for a lot longer than Autism Speaks.

Think about it.

I'm all for outing Dr. Gorski. In fact, since that friendly "Probe" mentioned that Dr. Gorski's specialty is breast cancer, I think it might be fun to find out where exactly his research funding comes from. And why it is he feels compelled to blog about autism, which clearly is not his specialty. I suspect maybe the two are related. As for the somewhat personal tone of the bashing in this piece, he seems kind of Aspie to me, in which case maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt on his poor social skills, rather than bashing him for them. He probably needs a little more ABA.
ORAC hid behind his nom-de-blog, and "bully" is the perfect word to describe him.

Particularly bothersome is his propensity to insult parents who are trying to help their children, without ever offering anything more than name-calling and condescension. His blog attracts a special brand of nasty.

For those defending our dear ORAC, are you afraid that he can dish it out but he can't take it? It's about time he got a tiny taste of his own medicine. Thanks, JB, for dispensing the bitter pill by calling him out.


Please don't take what I said as negative criticism; I agree with you for the most part. I just thought that posting this might provoke him.

On the other hand, he may run like the coward that he is, who knows?

I once engaged in a short back and forth discussion with orac regarding the Burbacher findings and their implications. He rather quickly removed the links to the entire discussion from his front page, then eventually from his entire site (apparently because I brought up a perspective and some points he couldn't refute). That told me all I needed to know about his integrity. I have never since bothered to read anything he has to say. And when I find other sites that refer or link to his site, I have a useful framework within which to evaluate whatever information those sites are putting forth. There are many folks in the world who are paid to deceive, and many others who are so brainwashed and incapable of critical thought that they are unable to consider any information which conflicts with their previously acquired knowledge. Your guess is as good as mine as to which of these categories Mr. Gorski is in. Either way, the best policy is probably to just ignore him. To better understand Mr. Gorski and his ilk, and a lot of controversies beyond this one, I suggest reading the new book: "Doubt Is Their Product," by David Michaels, Oxford University Press, 2008. Quite enlightening. I also agree with other posters who suggest that this opinion piece is not suited to the journalistic standards that Age of Autism should be aiming for, and sometimes, has achieved.
It appears that Dr Gorski is to be congratulated. Surely the highest compliment to one's activities is a 100% ad hominem invective because there is nothing else one could say. Way to go Orac!
"Why do people speak in the third person? Mr. Gorski not only does it, but he speaks in third person pseudonym:"

Does this man have Aspergers' syndrome? Some kids on the spectrum speak in third person. Usually around the time they are diagnosed. It might be pertinent to point out that this third person reference usually goes away with *treatment*. Maybe some *treatment* might be of help here.

Speaking of spontaneous recovery:

When pharma got wind of the fact that a congressional committee was looking into our issue they sent three of their finest (lobbyists) to try and convince the lead investigator that children were spontaneously recovering.

Their response: Where's the science to support your claim?

It's good to know there are still a few individuals in positions of power who aren't afraid to question the validity of broad based, pie in the sky assertions made by the likes of Orac and his cronies.

I fully support JB's right to express himself and AOA's right to post it.

Last I looked we lived in America. Gorski can surely take what he dishes out - as for the rest of those who are reluctant to go to the place that JB went - attack mode - at least he is not sitting at home bitching about it. Sharing his passion with us may be his way of letting loose his pent up anger. Too many parents of children with autism keep it inside - all the injustices we all feel no matter what side you are on. It ends up being illness both mental and physical in the long run.

Long live JB Handley!

JB, if you have a mentally impaired child, blame simple Mendelian genetics, not autism. Anyone who would invest as much time poring over a blog just to churn out something as ridiculous as this swing-and-a-miss slap at David Gorski (and I'm not a fan of his) is obviously not a prime candidate for having normal spawn.
JB, this was a great article. #8 was great. Spontaneous recovery indeed. Are you kidding me? Nobody could spontaneously recover from the crap that is put into our kids and the damage it does to them!

I think it's important to realize the post is written by me, not Age of autism collectively. And, it's not above me to fight now and again.

Every once in a while, it's worth punching a bully in the face.

Some may disagree, and they should fight or not in their own way. The post is how I deal with conflict, not the community per se.


Actually, given my experience among people with "credentials," anyone who begins a sentence lauding theirs and has more honorific acronyms than actual words in the clause has to go out of their way to prove to me they're not a total egotistical blowhard. I grew up in and around academia and a string of letters and periods following someone's name doesn't impress me. It just shows a dedication to long hours of advanced education, memorization, ass-kissing, turning off critical thinking as you learn to mindlessly accept everything your professor or textbook says, and going into tens if not a hundred thousand dollars of debt. Also, especially in the medical school spectrum, ambition and a strong, healthy God-complex are more desirable traits than intellect and a system of basic ethics.

60s comedian Mort Saul, commenting after meeting General Westmoreland, the head troop commander during most of the Vietnam era, said something along the lines of "He had row after row of glittering metals. It was dazzling, amazing even. Very impressive... if you're 12."

Speaking of jokes, and bad ones, theprobe (you dropped the word coward but were obviously too cowardly to post with your real name), please keep commenting. You make me laugh.

And Kim, thanks for those sexy images earlier! ;)

"You forgot to grow up. Your article is supremely childish and demonstrative of the paucity of your arguments."
TheProbe? You might want to give that advice to the jerk who tells you what to think...you know, he signs into multiple accounts and is too afraid of us to give us his real name. Oh well, go back and let him tell you what to say next. We'll wait.
Probe, you more of a girl on the Harley guy? ;) Orac and others have built a blogging career beating the crap out of anyone and everyone who is trying to help kids with autism. Surely this piece by JB can't sting a person of Orac's credentials all that much. You know the rule, as long as they spell your name right, the publicity is a good thing.

I've been called a "sex addict" and many other names by your ilk. Including "dingbat" which wounded me deeply. BTW, I am not a sex addict. With three kids with autism, I practically have to look up sex in the dictionary.

See you soon, I'm sure.


Please don't take this as disrespect or anything, because you guys know I have the utmost respect for all that you do here. Isn't this, though, bringing yourselves down to his level? I know, it is difficult to sit there, day in and day out, reading his incompetent and arrogant ramblings, and then have to roll your eyes at all of the people who stupidly read his drivel and say, "Orac say it. Must be true!" (in my best zombie drone). But responding to him in kind, I've learned, is lowering yourself to his level, and you guys are way too nice to do that. Besides, it's what he wants. He just wants an excuse to bash us even more.

Besides, the more he drips stupidity from his mouth, the more people will begin to realise what a quack he is. And of course, we all know how dishonest he and his vaccine drones are; I mean, look at what they do, signing on with multiple names on various blogsites so that they have little "buddies" to back up their hatred and ignorance.

I, on the other hand, have no qualms with insulting him and telling him what a jerk he is to his face. Then again, I feel that you guys are much better people than I am :D

Wow, I think this post is almost completely inappropriate. I'd strongly urge you guys to take this one down. It will certainly do us more harm than good, I'm afraid . . . .

Considering all the ugly things that are said about us on neurodiversity (and similar) sites, this post is particularly unfortunate.

Hey, J.B. you forgot something on the way to your computer. You forgot to grow up. Your article is supremely childish and demonstrative of the paucity of your arguments.

As for Stagmom, YOU were speaking of porn. No one else. That shows where your mind is.

Age of Autism is a joke. A very bad joke. Now, do not be a coward and post this comment.

Note to doodle: Dr. Gorski is a breast cancer researcher and surgeon. He has both an MD and PhD.

Mr. Handley, what are YOUR credentials?

"You know, girls lying naked on the old Eniac computer and scantily dressed as characters from Dungeons and Dragons."

If he indeed has such a collection, I hope he'll provide a link to the site where he got it!

I don't kow, but this seems a little personal and below the belt. Is Orac in the category of Offit or he is pretty much irrelevant to the big picture? If he is just a commentor, then going after his looks and antisocial aspect seems a little much and probably will just stroke his ego.

It may be cathartic to tear into him, but what would a newcomer to the site think? It's your blog, but it has become a good source for news bits and maybe a personal fight like this could turn some folks off. Just an observation.

JB - what I find pathetic is that many of the whackospherians rely solely on derivative material. They troll the autism lists, they sniff around the garbage can at blogs and they lurk on the autism lists just waiting to scavenge some info, digest it and regurgitate it out to their readers.

These folks are like the people who used to call Howard Stern all the time telling him how offensive he was - and the proceed to give so many examples of his trangressions that you knew they were his most loyal fans. Or like the preacher caught with a barn full of porn - "I was check checking to make sure it's really porn!" Speaking of porn, I'll bet old Orac has himself a healthy collection of it. You know, girls lying naked on the old Eniac computer and scantily dressed as characters from Dungeons and Dragons. LOL!