Tag Archives: Cyber-bullying

Cyber bullying of science

cyberbullyingI am always amazed at how easily public discussion about scientific issues can degenerate into childish and nasty attacks on science, and scientists. This is especially true for internet discussion – this medium really does seem to bring out the worst in some people.

Over the last few years we have seen climate science, and climate scientists treated this way. I have always tried to support that science, and those scientists, from afar and never thought I would become a victim of such nastiness myself.

Then I got involved in the fluoridation issue.

I am not critical of everyone who opposes fluoridation – some of my best friends oppose it. I can understand why some people will advocate personal freedom over social good. I can even understand the chemophobia and other misunderstanding which can make the less scientifically literate person a bit wary of fluoridation.

Anti-fluoridationists – a strange social mixture

But the anti-fluoridationists are a strange social mixture. Amongst the well-meaning environmentalists and health advocates there are some really irrational people. Conspiracy theorists are common. Some are concerned about chemtrails, others about Agenda 21 and attempts by the UN to control birth rates! Then there are the right-wing extremists, supporters of the US Tea Party Republicans, absolutely opposed to any community measure for social good.

The anti-fluoridation movement is a strange mixture of left and right, concerned greenies and outright libertarians. One wonders what would happen to these groups if the fluoride issue disappeared and internal strife broke out.

Unfortunately, it seems that quite often in the current controversy the more extreme conspiracy theorists and anti-science elements seem to be making the running. Speaking and acting for the more genuine members of the anti-fluoridation groups.

Internet bullying

I thought this only happened with teenage schoolgirls, or young female celebrities, but now find that even someone my age can become a victim. This video demonstrates the sort of attacks people who speak out about the science underpinning fluoridation can be exposed to. It really does put into context the decisions by local Health Boards not to participate in political meetings on fluoridation because of threats to, and attacks on, their staff.


In a way, this sort of bullying is a bit of a compliment. Perhaps I have done something right to have upset these anti-science extremists. But it is not about me. This sort of thing illustrates the sort of nasty hysterical anti-science propoganda out there on the internet. The worrying thing is that this guy actually does have a following (about 9500 subscribers to his YouTube channel). When I expressed ignorance of who he is one commenter told me that “everyone” in Australia and New Zealand has heard of him!

Yeah, right. But he is obviously popular with a certian group of people.

Image credit: uknowkids 

See also:

Similar articles on fluoridation
Making sense of fluoride Facebook page
Fluoridate our water Facebook page
New Zealanders for fluoridation Facebook page

Cyber-bullying – what’s with sunscreen?

Credit: xkcd

I know cyber bullying is a problem with teenagers but even oldies seem to fall victim. They don’t have to particpate in on-line discussion very long before they find cyber bullying is everywhere. Even gets used against innocent people like me attmepting to discuss scientific issues.

Not that it has ever tempoted me to think of suicide – age and maturity is usually accompanied by thick skin.

Mind you, my age does put me at a disdavantage – I actually don’t understand some of the abuse I get. The words are often unfamiliar, or they have different meaning to what I am used to.


A new one I found recently is “sheeple” – it seems to be used a lot by anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination activists when they talk about people like me. I had to look it up. Here’s what I found out:

It is a term of derision for:

people who tend to follow the majority in matters of opinion, taste, etc.

OK but it must be more if used derisively. This is more like it :

Term used by the newly enlightened to describe people who “don’t get it” according to the user. A way to put down other people based upon totally subjective criteria.”

Wikipedia says:

“The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research.”

Yes, that might be the charge the abuser is trying to convey – but I usually find it is the abusers who has avoided “critical analysis or research.”

Rational Wiki seems to hit the nail on the head. They say of sheeple:

“It is most commonly used by cornered cranks who are running out of false facts or have had all their ‘evidence’ debunked, or, sometimes in place of conspiracy theory evidence in a last ditch attempt to substitute actual evidence. The irony in this is that that most conspiracy nuts that whip this word out are commonly, blindly following a stupid theory without having even a smidge of evidence supporting it.”

But what is it with “sunscreen?”

Then there is the guy who declared I am a pedophile! Isnt that libel?

He also claims my “heroes are Harold Hodge, Robert Kehoe, Edward Bernays, and Josef Mengele”. Now that last name rings a bell but I have never heard of the others, I really can’t be bothered looking them up.

But this one really has me stumped. Recently he claimed:

“Ken Parrot is so stupid he drinks sunscreen.”

Yes, I know, the misspelling of my name is juvenile. But what is it with sunscreen? I just don’t get it. How the hell has “sunscreen,” or the drinking of it, become a term used by cyber bullies?