Skeptic News: Marc Attacks?

By Keir Liddle

Sometimes the 21st Floor is linked to by some very interesting sites, Mumsnet, RichardDawkins.com and wikipedia have all linked here in the past.

Normally unless a site is well known I don’t notice it in our referral list however early this morning a strange URL caught my eye: Jamesrandiusa.org so I clicked through and so began what may be the latest salvo in Marc Stephens libellous attacks on critics of Burzynski.

Jamesrandiusa.org has since been taken down, I assume due to the legitimate complaints of those featured on the site, but essentially it was a plethora of the conspiratorial libel that we all saw before in the infamous red arrow email. Specifically it featured a number of skeptics: Ben Goldacre, PZ Myers, Steve Novella, Simon Singh, Bob Blaskiewicz, Stephen Fry, Rhys Morgan, Popehat, Ratbags, Fiona Godlee, Jen McCreight, Paul Kurtz, Brian Deer, Andy Lewis, Kylie Sturgess, Richard Dawkins, Dave Gorski, Stephen Barrett, Saul Green, James Randi and… er… me… and a number of other prominent US and UK skeptics. The website was centered around an imaginary conspiracy concocted and conducted by “members and affiliates” of the Skeptics society (an organisation that appears to be the figment of the authors imagination) which claimed skeptics knowingly supported and support paedophiles.

The centrepiece of this libellous conspiracy is a forty year old attempt to blackmail James Randi with claims that he was sexually involved with under-age boys a libellous claim which Randi debunks stridently here. Page after page of the site presents the incoherent rambling case linking together #twitterjoketrial, identity fraud, Stephen Frys youthful credit card fraud and PZ Myers “desecration” of a communion wafer. The qualifications of all skeptics featured in the site were all prefaced with “allegedly” or qualified with “x claims y” and every page returns to the central libellous theme that all the skeptics are knowingly support a known pederast.

The conspiracy would be entirely laughable if it were not so vicious.

But why do we have reason to believe the perpetrator may have been former Burzynski clinic employee Marc Stephens?

Given the majority of those who were mentioned in the site have prominently and critically blogged about Dr Burzynski and his Antineoplasteon treatment (Rhys Morgan was specifically referred to as “the teen menace to society”) many were quick to note the similarity in writing style and target selection. Although this is obviously not enough to draw any firm conclusions.

What is far more suggestive is the information that tallies with digging previously down by Edward McGuire (which can be found on G+) who identified Marcs connection to MAS Web Design & Hosting. As McGuire reports:

maswebdesignhosting.com has links to burzynskipatientgroup.org on its homepage. These links are labeled “Burzinski Patient Group We Are Living Proof” and “Donate Please Support The #1 Cure For Cancer”.maswebdesignhosting.com and burzynskipatientgroup.org both host with Hostmonster at the same IP address (74.220.215.59). Both were designed with Joomla. Both feature the “MAS” initialism in their design. Both feature the “hm” Hostmaster icon as their bookmark icon (favicon).

This information has allowed industrious skeptics to investigate the IP address of the jamesrandiusa.org site (despite it’s owner being listed anonymously on Who.is)  and it matched with Marcs previous sites even using the same content management software. Though it is worth noting the server also hosts 2,000 other blogs it is interesting that it hosts all of Marc Stephens websites that we are currently aware of. McGuire also has further revelations on the activities of Marc Stephens:

Mr. Stephens is also associated with Independent Credit Repair,independentcreditrepair.com, mailbox proof@independentcreditrepair.com.

Independent Credit Repair sells a self-help credit repair manual and a database of templates for writing nasty letters to creditors and collection agencies. Thumbnails on the site indicate these letters have titles such as “FIRST NOTICE” and “INTENT TO SUE”. The thumbnails are too small for me to identify and count misspelled words and grammatical errors. Like maswebdesignhosting.comindependentcreditrepair.com links toburzynskipatientgroup.org. It, too, labels the links “Burzynski Patient Group We Are Living Proof” and “Donate Please Support The #1 Cure For Cancer”. It, too, hosts with Hostmonster at the same IP address (74.220.215.59). It, too, was designed with Joomla. It, too, features the “MAS” initialism in its design, with a link back to maswebdesignhosting.com. It, too, has the Hostmonster logo as its favicon.

While we cannot say with absolute certainty that Marc Stephens is responsible for the libellous Jamesrandiusa.org site the evidence gathered thus far doesn’t seem to strongly suggest otherwise.  We welcome any evidence to the contrary or a rebuttal from Marc himself.

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0 Responses to Skeptic News: Marc Attacks?

  1. Ken says:

    Someone was kind enough to send me screencaps. I see that I am labeled as a skeptic (despite actually being a churchgoer), apparently on the strength of giving pro bono help to skeptics and criticizing bogus legal threats by nutjobs. Also, they accuse me of being a pedophile. That’s the fun of writing on the internet, kids.

  2. There isn’t necessarily a disconnect between being a skeptic and a churchgoer (at least in the UK). Sure there is a large cross section of skeptics who are both atheist and skeptic but there are plenty of skeptics of faith also.

  3. Tim Farley says:

    I think your inference that MAS is involved somehow is correct, the probability of this site being on the same server as three of MAS’s other sites at random is infinitesimally low.

    However, just as Burzynski hired MAS as an SEO consultant (and later fired him) someone else might have hired him to build this site for them. The focus on Randi and the weird pedophilia allegations would seem to point beyond Burzynski.

    There have been some rumblings on some of the alt-med sites of alliances being formed between formerly diverse groups. For instance, alt-medders and autism advocates are crossing paths now. There are some events around this happening in Chicago later this week, perhaps this site was being launched in conjunction with that?

  4. Oh good grief. That’s guy’s got a proper bee in his bonnet. Sounds like someone advised him to take it offline ASAP.

  5. Bob says:

    To be fair, I did molest a communion wafer with a stolen credit card. I was young.

    RJB

  6. Steve says:

    Accusing people of being pedophiles appears to be a current trend at the moment, as it’s happened to us as well.

    Let me qualify, in fact it was said of somebody else, in order to discredit my partner and I, because this person had been prepared to work with us, therefore there must be something seriously wrong with him, i.e. he must at least be a pedophile. The perpetrators of this nonsense, and those who spread it, refusing to own the error even when shown the evidence, might surprise you.

    We documented it here: http://is.gd/how2spot

    People who do this sort of thing obviously have no argument, they just spread lies to diffuse the evidence of others. I agree with Keir that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so vicious.

  7. Apologies if you’ve already read my almost identical comment on the Popehat post.

    http://www.popehat.com/2012/06/12/in-which-i-am-accused-of-being-a-skeptic-conspirator-and-a-child-molester-by-an-anti-skeptic/

    I would be amazed if Marc Stephens was not behind the site. He’s almost certainly involved in some way.

    We have established that it uses Joomla and shares an IP address with other MAS sites. There are other pointers. The Red Arrows email also placed the Skeptics Society at the centre of some kind of shadowy global ‘skeptical’ network, which included the 21st Floor, Rhys Morgan and Andy Lewis.

    As well as Popehat and Keir Liddle, the list of people named and pictured on the site includes Andy Lewis, Rhys Morgan, Peter Bowditch and David Allen Green. All these have received threatening emails from Stephens. It also includes Stephen Barrett – who the Red Arrows email attempted to smear. It includes David Gorski – who has written plenty on the Burzynski Clinic and was a recipient of the Red Arrows email. Jen McCreight was also on the list. She has written about the Burzysnki clinic too.

    Yes, there were lots of others listed, some of whom have no obvious connection with Burzynski but famous names you may expect on an ‘anti-skeptic’ site – such as Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Stephen Fry (actually, would you expect Stephen Fry?) I agree with Popehat that it looks like someone is deliberately not mentioning Burzynski. Throwing in a few big names that have no obvious connection would tie in. Yet Simon Singh did have some Burzynski involvement – in connection with the Stephens libel threats to Rhys Morgan. And Ben Goldacre and Stephen Fry drew rather a lot of attention to the Marc Stephens threats simply by tweeting links to Quackometer posts on the topic. But I think the big giveaway is the inclusion of less obvious ‘skeptics’ such as Popehat and David Allen Green (who just happen to have had correspondence with Stephens).

    If Stephens is behind this site, then he’s probably also behind the similarly named and similarly short lived ‘SKEPTICS Exposed’ YouTube channel which attempted to smear Rhys Morgan (discussed here http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=3251). Again, it mentioned James Randi, then Randi’s partner’s identity fraud and clumsily linked these to Rhys Morgan and ‘skeptics’ in general. Again, the perpetrator sought out an unlikely reference to alcohol in an attempt to discredit a ‘skeptic’ (in this case, a photograph of Rhys in the Guardian had some bottles in the background).

    I only wish I had taken full screenshots in time (and would appreciate an email from anyone who’s got them!) I think I’d read most of it but some of it I only scanned through quickly. Not only was it vicious, making personal, defamatory attacks, it also showed the author to be bigoted and narrow minded. This person seems to believe that atheism, homosexuality, drinking alcohol, even adoption are things to be ashamed of.

    Personally, I was surprised never to receive correspondence from Stephens and never to be mentioned in any of his outbursts. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never called myself a ‘skeptic’. But neither has Popehat. On the one hand, I feel a bit left out. This is so over the top I can’t imagine many sensible people taking it seriously. But had I been mentioned, I know I would have felt intimidated. I’ve had this kind of thing on a much smaller scale and that – coupled with Stephens’ threats (particularly seeking out Rhys Morgan’s address) have held be back from putting personal information online. Maybe if I used my real name and had a photograph of myself and a detailed biography online, I’d have merited a mention, who knows?

  8. Pingback: Burzynski Filmmaker Contacts My EMPLOYER?!?! « Skeptical Humanities

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