Friday, July 13, 2012

FoSiM: Damned by their own words??

In February I commented on problems I had with "Friends of Science in Medicine's" Claims, Credibility and Transparency.

Part of my concerns about FoSiM's Credibility was a piece in the SMH 5 days earlier, recounting an amazing tale of illegal hacking of an SMH opinion poll ('gaming', or massive manipulation).

In following up a piece in "I2P" (Information to Pharmacists, edited by Neil Johnson) by Peter Sayers, "FSM Strategy has no Middle Ground" where I was mentioned, I saw that the FoSiM CEO, Loretta Marron/Mutton, had penned a piece mentioning the same SMH article where she accuses Blackmore's of being "Blaggards". I find such emotional and judgement-laden words hardly fitting or worthy of a group espousing an "Evidence Based approach" only to all Healthcare.

This was published two weeks after the SMH article and well after mine.

My comment, on that article, submitted today:
Marron is considerably less than honest in her reporting of the gaming of the Poll.
The SMH felt moved to write an article on this: it was highly unusual and, for them, highly disturbing behaviour. But Marron makes no mention of this.
She withheld the two most important facts, for me, from the SMH artilce: 
1. "The end result was 70 per cent no, 30 per cent yes."
[ie. the crude attempt from Blackmores et al was unsuccessful]
2. "The number of votes in the poll was about eight times more than the number of online readers of the story, a clear indicator that the poll had been gamed.
Fairfax technical staff said the poll logs all but confirmed that the voting had been manipulated."
==> After she saw a successful but unsophisticated attack on the "NO" vote, 'magically" the situation was reversed with poll gaming that was sophisticated enough that the SMH techs couldn't identify the source in their logs, unlike the simplistic "YES" votes from Blackmore's et al.
Marron is a self-confessed technical wiz as are a number of her fellows from Australian Skeptics Inc. We've no way of knowing if any of them took part in this sophisticated "poll gaming", but we absolutely know that the poll was gamed for both "Yes" and "No" votes and Blackmore's et al "Yes" vote was relatively crude and traceable.
I find it more than disingenuous that Marron doesn't comment on the final outcome of the poll or that supporters of the FoSiM position were far more "evil" in their approach, probably illegal hacking if done programatically.
Again Marron doesn't mention that FoSiM's Founder, John Dwyer, was approached by the SMH to comment on the poll and it being gamed...
Dwyer was appalled and surprised.
But not Ms Marron, despite her obvious technical knowledge and proficiency. 
Does this mean she:
  • didn't read the full SMH article,
  • didn't notice they'd won,
  • didn't understand the import of the article as a whole and its various questions,
  • didn't think it was very strange "her team" suddenly and untraceably surged ahead,
  • simply ignored inconvenient statements and questions or
  • did she know much, much more about this illegal hacking?
All we know if that she ignored what I regard as the most important, pertinent facts of the story that carry very serious implications of amorality and illegal action.
If I'd been on the "NO" side and noticed the opposition were gaming the poll - and had the interest, tools and lack of morals to do some sophisticated hacking - I'd have manipulated the result to be "just a win", NOT the better than 2:1 landslide it finished at... Why would you bring attention to yourself with such an obvious result?
An even more convincing outcome would've been to NOT game the poll with illegal hacking, just bring the crude attempts from Blackmore's to the attention of the SMH, suggest they write their article on poll gaming, identify the culprits (as was done) AND to remove all the suspect votes and republish the poll with a credible win for "NO'.
==> that approach would've been wholly legal and produced two wins, one on the corrected poll plus a moral victory against Blackmore's et al.
I can't believe that anyone without a very strong interest in the topic, which is FoSiM vs Everyone Else, could be bothered or motivated to game a poll in this way.
How could the large-scale, untracable "NO" vote be anything other than the work of FoSiM 'Friends'?? I can't see why anyone else would undertake such alarming illegal hacking, but then, I don't claim omniscience and would love to understand this.
It would also explain why Marron ONLY mentioned one this side of the affair, but so would many other things like bigotry, bias and "spin doctoring".
None of which bring Marron or her little "Friends" any credit.
I find what she's purposefully omitted from this article to be damning. Or was that just incompetence?

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