The Streisand Effect

By Michael Hawkins

“The Streisand Effect” is a phenomenon named after the actions of Barbara Streisand. In 2003, she sued a website for hosting an aerial picture of her mansion, citing privacy concerns. She lost not only the suit, but even more of her privacy. The website found itself with 400,000+ hits over the next month. In short, attempts at censorship on the Internet are often met with higher publicity for the censored person, video, or picture. It is important to keep that in mind while reading the rest of this article.

Andreas Moritz is a quack from South Carolina who despises all good medical advice, acts against the well being of the sick, and preys on the vulnerable.

On his website,, Moritz claims “Cancer does not kill a person afflicted with it! What kills a cancer patient is not the tumor, but the numerous reasons behind cell mutation and tumor growth. These root causes should be the focus of every cancer treatment, yet most oncologists typically ignore them. Constant conflicts, guilt and shame, for example, can easily paralyze the body’s most basic functions, and lead to the growth of a cancerous tumor.”

This is pure crackpot talk. The man has no education in oncology or basic biology and is outright dangerous. That’s why he tried to get my website,, shut down.

It began May 24, 2009. I made a post titled “Andreas Moritz is a stupid, dangerous man”. In it I quote from an article written by Moritz in which he repeats much of the above anti-scientific, stupid, dangerous garbage above. He blames the victim, advocates against standard treatments, and is, well, stupid and dangerous.

Moritz soon responded, repeating his crackpot claims and demanding respect. As someone who actually likes science, I demanded evidence first. He had none.

Eventually, Moritz posted a nearly 10,000 word spam article of his (which, for some strange reason, ended with an anti-vaccine rant) and scuttled off. I presumed this was the last of my direct contact with this crackpot.

Soon my post started to show up as the number 2 result in Google for “Andreas Moritz”. The pleasure I took in this, however, was cut short February 17.

On that day, my hosting site, WordPress, suspended and blocked my website. The reason has to do with local naturopathic quack, Christopher Maloney.

Two weeks earlier I got a notice which suspended my posting rights for several days. After WordPress made me contact them (because telling me directly obviously doesn’t make sense, right?), I was informed they had received a notice which said Christopher Maloney was an actual doctor. This ran counter to a post I had where I stated precisely the opposite. They told me to edit or delete the post.

Since Maloney is a naturopathic doctor under Maine law, I corrected my post to state that he is only a doctor by a low set of standards and that the medical community rejects his status as legitimate. This apparently wasn’t good enough, hence the eventual block.

I quickly contacted PZ Myers of the blog Pharyngula, one of the largest science blogs on the Internet. He publicized my case, titling a post “Christopher Maloney is a quack”.

But it was soon discovered that Maloney was claiming to not be the one who contacted WordPress, counter to my assumption. As it turned out, Moritz would later send me an email where he bragged of his accomplishment – while also threatening “an expensive lawsuit”.

That was a mistake.

Myers soon had a post titled “Andreas Moritz is a cancer quack”. The story spread across the Internet, finding its way on to Richard Dawkins’ site,, and making the rounds through the rest of the blogosphere and Twitter. I was famous on the Internet.

It soon became apparent that Maloney and Moritz had been in contact prior to all this. That means Maloney’s claim of not being responsible for getting my site shut down is disingenuous at the very least. He shoulders the anti-science burden as much as the cancer quack.

After 6 days of the Internet tearing the two quacks apart, WordPress found its spine and returned my site. My post is again number two – but now there are far more sites which tell their readers of the quackery of Andreas Moritz. Oh, and do search “Christopher Maloney Maine”, sans the quotation marks, on both Google and YouTube.

Whatever pettiness may seemingly be apparent in all this is really a genuine, deep disdain for anti-scientific quacks. Maloney offers treatments which are ineffective, poorly evidenced, and not supported by the scientific community. His danger is passive in that what he offers does no direct harm, but it does do harm when it delays real treatments for real health issues. A person with stage 1 stomach cancer may see Maloney for an undiagnosed pain, only to be ‘treated’ with some useless herbal remedy. The cancer will continue on its path, ignoring the ineffective naturopathic ‘treatments’. By the time a real medical doctor makes a correct diagnosis, it may be too late. Why so many states, including Maine, allow people to this to other people is a mystery.

Moritz, on the other hand, is the lowest of the low. He preys upon the sick for monetary gain, offering actively dangerous advice. He blames the victim, incoherently babbles malarkey about real medical science, and tells people to forego real treatments. The disdain for this man should be high among all people, whether he got their blogs shutdown or not.

Extra! Extra! Without Apology hits newsstands worldwide!

Okay, so maybe my publication is actually still sitting in my car. And maybe it’s only going to mostly get around my university’s campus. But it is on the world wide webernets.

For those not familiar, I have a physical publication printed in news style (but it is not a newspaper) which I distribute to friends and neighbors and around my university. For this edition I have a couple new contributors for whom I am greatly thankful. Make sure to check out some of the photography contributed by Michael Amalfitano.

So head over to Without Apology and read all the new posts. There are 9 articles in total, and a couple repeat themes I’ve expressed here, but there’s more original work than not.

One of my particular favorites is the one by Matt titled Poker Legends and the Game of Life.

November edition of Without Apology

I have just received the newest edition of Without Apology. All the articles are up now and I will be distributing it pretty soon.

One of my personal favorites is by Ryan D’Alessandro, Levels of Faith. It’s nice to have someone else contribute. Speaking of which, anyone with good ideas is welcome to write for my paper. You won’t get paid, but I am willing to mail copies of the physical publication out.

Infuriatingly silly

Jerry Coyne has a post about why Francis Collins pollutes science with religion. It’s a succinct piece that basically nails Collins for all his silly, childish, superstitious, frankly stupid beliefs.

The most inane and disingenuous part of Collins’s argument is his claim that without religion, the concepts of good and evil are meaningless. (Collins’s slide 5 in Harris’s piece: “If the moral law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?”) That’s palpable nonsense. Good and evil are defined with respect to their effects and the intents of their perpetrators, not by adherence to some religious code. It is beyond my ken how a smart guy like Collins can make a claim like this, even going so far as to argue that “strong atheists” like Richard Dawkins have to accept and live their lives within a world in which good and evil are meaningless ideas

It’s inconvenient for Collins or any other religiously-driven person to admit that morality is a purely human affair. And really, it’s getting to be a tiresome argument. Explanations abound for how morality could have naturally evolved. That should be good enough to force any reasonable person to admit that, no, morality need not have a god, it need not adhere to the whims of one individual entity, and it definitely is not universal. Our ideas of morality change with the times, with cultures, with known facts, with context. The only real constant is that every human society has developed a moral system. The details within each system may vary wildly – in bin Laden’s, the death of most of America is just – but they are always put within some sort of construct. That does not mean that bin Laden’s version of morality is equal to any other version which may exist. One key component in any moral system is basing premises on facts. That’s the main reason that god-based moral systems tend to fail or be wacky (see inane hatred of homosexuality among, well, almost all the religions). It’s one of the reasons bin Laden’s system doesn’t work and is not equal to mine or yours or most Americans’ or other Westerners’ (or even most Muslims’).

Collins, like most Christians who think they somehow own the moral high horse, despite all the contrary evidence, does not understand that morality is not universal. It is only moral systems. His is broken and can only work because he’s made it malleable to the progression of secular values and understanding. Indeed, if religions weren’t so agreeable to such change, Christianity would be as much a relic as slavery. Of course, that isn’t to suggest that religion so easily moves along with reason. It doesn’t. It usually comes kicking and screaming, forced by the hand of rationality.

There are, of course, also statements made without evidence, including this one: “God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the Moral Law), with free will, and with an immortal soul” And this (slide 4): “We humans used our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God.” How does he know? What’s the evidence? Isn’t the distinction between the science slides and the faith slides being blurred here?

One thing I’ve been forcing myself to ask myself a lot lately is “Where’s my evidence?” I recently went on a big hike through the 100-Mile Wilderness, the most remote and difficult section of the Appalachian Trail. I recall passing a tree root that had made a sort of rainbow shape. Each end was in the ground, but the middle was up in the air (as opposed to laying against the ground). It was unusual, but I quickly thought “It must have been buried at some point before being exposed, thus causing it to pop up”. I had to stop myself right there. How did I know that? I didn’t. It was a plausible guess, but other explanations were also plausible. It could have grown that way. Another tree could have been there before being removed, long ago, by the Maine Appalachian Trail Committee (MATC). It could just be a brief, weird angle I had making me think it was a root when in reality it was just a fallen branch that appeared buried in the ground. All I had was a hypothesis, and one I wasn’t about to test. I had to settle with “I don’t know” as an answer. Sometimes that isn’t just a temporary answer. Every single claim/question about the after-life that Collins makes deserves a permanent “I don’t know”. He doesn’t have the evidence. As a scientist, he should value that above all else in his work.

But then again, he is a Christian. Religions do not value evidence.

Catching Conservapedia in a lie again

From their lying front page:

Another new paper was just published in Journal of Climate. Added proof Al Gore & Company are simply lying hucksters, out for a buck. Written by eminent climatologists, called Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007 which discusses data from Greenland since 1840. No unprecedented recent warming is found. For example, they find that the 1919-1932 warming was 1.33 times greater than the 1994-2007 “warming”. [19] The new report mirrors one from the United States Senate back in 2007. [20]

Just like the last time, they make the mistake of linking to the abstract they reference.

Thus, it is expected that the ice sheet melt rates and mass deficit will continue to grow in the early twenty-first century as Greenland’s climate catches up with the Northern Hemisphere warming trend and the Arctic climate warms according to global climate model predictions.

These people are kooks.