For the past several years there have been a few fake social media accounts spreading misinformation while laying down astroturf in a decrepit attempt to sway public opinion of Chronic Lyme Disease. First and most importantly, Chronic Lyme Disease is very real and has an established case definition. So what’s the purpose of these misinformation operations and who would be in charge of such a dishonorable enterprise? A simple whois query of lymescience.org reveals very little as privacy is enabled. Outside of this, however, we can see the domain was only first registered around the same time @LymeScience joined Twitter in December of 2017, and was most recently renewed one year later. Year to year registration indicates a novice approach to web development and lack of understanding regarding search engine optimization basics, it often suggests an uncertainty for how long an operation is expected to last. But what else can we determine?
Lyme Disease Legislation
Interestingly there is a “Legislative Guide” on their website that is tracking proposed initiatives which would assist Chronic Lyme Disease patients. There are several astroturf articles featured on this page with lead-ins ranging from deceptive “According to the CDC, Bartonella is not a tick-borne disease and usually goes away on its own.” to the inflammatory “Letters from doctors explaining the danger to children and adults of chronic Lyme quackery“. A potential indicator of who @LymeScience may be is presented at the top of the list of “resources” (propaganda) with two links, positioned front and center:
- Infectious Diseases Society of America Policy Primer for State Legislators
- Infectious Diseases Society of America Opposition letters to Lyme legislation
Interesting that the top two links on the page of legislative resources would lead directly to the IDSA.
Further down the page, it is sad to see there is one state proposing legislation that would make treating Chronic Lyme Disease much, much more difficult. IL HB0225 “Amends the Medical Practice Act of 1987. Removes provisions prohibiting the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation from disciplining a physician for experimental treatments for Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases.” @LymeScience recommends voting for this bill, as if anyone would trust an anonymous entity who chooses a television meth dealer as their profile avatar… But the rabbit hole runs deep.
Vilifying Chronic Lyme
There is a particular page about “Medical Child Abuse” where @LymeScience seems to be targeting ILADS physicians as if they aren’t accredited professionals themselves. On this page alone, including sidebar entries, ILADS is presented ten times. Hmm… Pro-IDSA and anti-ILADS, but what kind of person really cares or is even aware of either organization? Who would make the time for this and concentrate such a diverse collection of resources that are outdated and right-out misleading?
Heading over to the “Stories” page on @LymeScience‘s particularly bland, sterile, doctors office-like website we get a little insight, but about what is uncertain. The entry “I was misdiagnosed with “chronic Lyme” by a quack doctor… but I am chronically ill” is a “story” for certain. The protagonist is Sam who feels that three years after her tick bite she was misdiagnosed by a “quack” LLMD that overlooked her hEDS. Interestingly, Sam’s Infectious Disease doctor tells her that she never had Lyme Disease at all in light of her test results that only revealed Epstein Barr infection. We know the standard test for Lyme disease relies on antibody response which the infection itself is demonstrated to inhibit. We also know the standard test for Lyme does not rule out relapsing fever Borrelia, which has been demonstrated to be associated with late-stage Lyme like illness. So the Infectious Disease doctor Sam saw may have just put her at risk if in fact she still harbors the infection. But then the author does something fascinating, they literally try to redefine an already utilized acronym inside their article and pass it off as a neologism. OTT has been known as “Over The Top” for the past five years at least and is utilized to describe streaming video entertainment acquired over the internet without a subscription to traditional services like cable or satellite. Yet right here, AS IF THEY WERE DESPERATE TO EXHIBIT THEIR PRESUMED AUTHORITY, @LymeScience attempts to redefine this acronym to describe people who are coo-coo for their favorite obsessions. The story presents this acronym almost as if it should be a diagnosis, which should tell us something about who is writing it.
A quick look at a second story from “Sarah” reveals potential evidence that we’re dealing with some kind of a medical professional as the author claims the zealot LLMD prescribed her a sack of herbals before reviewing the results of her CBC even. Sarah was a Lyme Warrior who utilized the motto “screw the CDC, fight the Man”. She finds out later on without elicitation of whether by a professionals guidance or through her own research that she has food allergies to herbs! Oh no – not HERBS, shit that must suck. By avoiding herbs the author describes, Sarah cures her Chronic Lyme Disease overnight. What a miracle!
Agenda Based Science
It’s not an easy job trudging through the desperately thick and plainly presented pages of @LymeScience‘s website. There is a section on doctors they describe as “Rogues Gallery” which highlights practicing ILADS LLMD’s. Another section entitled “Scientific Consensus” proudly displays, not surprisingly, the IDSA’s review of Lyme infection from 2010 which has since been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. “Coinfection Confusion” perpetuates the misinformation that Bartonella cannot be acquired by ticks, the science demonstrates otherwise. Unfortunately, on this page the author is critical of Yolanda Hadid‘s efforts to battle Chronic Lyme Disease, describing her chart of co-infections and treatments as “disturbing”. This page is also utilized to highlight other diagnoses the author disagrees with – including Morgellons. Of course, the latest resource they have about Morgellons Disease is the thoroughly debunked 2012 CDC Unexplained Dermopathy study. @LymeScience certainly has an agenda and an obsession, fixation – unhealthy relationship with misinformation, propaganda, and astroturf.
Who is @LymeScience? If we had to speculate our assumption would be a PR agency hired to produce astroturf. The IDSA is losing power over the Lyme issue and this @LymeScience may be a desperate attempt at influencing public opinion. Appearing as a nonaffiliated concerned grassroots organization is, of course, the definition of astroturf itself. Astroturf is effective for people who really don’t know any different, and in this case – those who might also be Breaking Bad fanatics.