Rhett Daniels, @EpiRen and The Streisand Effect: A Blog Round-up

Here is what Wikipedia defines the Streisand effect as:

The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

Anyways, remember the issue of Rene aka @EpiRen, popular epidemiologist and public health blogger who was asked to stop engaging in the social media as a by product of cyberbullying? Just like the other #HCSMgate scandals, this just refuses to die as well. And here I am, stoking the embers and fanning the flame once again. Following his altercation with Rene, Daniels took down his blog, twitter, youtube accounts and basically went undercover. The Anarchic Teapot (every time I write this name, I picture my aunt’s teapot chasing me with a stick, riding its cozy, weird, huh?) has requested us to not dredge up more stuff from Daniels’ blog in order to ensure that no more trouble comes the way of @EpiRen, and I concede to the demand because I see the risks in it. Initially I did not agree but indeed Daniels is dangerous and could make more problems for Rene and that is the last thing any of us would want for him. So that is not the point of this post, and I am not here to out more stuff from both Daniels’ and EpiRen’s now deceased blogs. In this post, I just want to curate the posts from the various academic blogs that I read. I agree this might be a tad unbalanced because I do not read nut jobber blogs. Biased? Hell yeah! I am all biased against bullying, stupidity and narcissistic egomaniacs laboring under a delusion of grandeur+reference+persecution!

So what set the ball rolling was @lizditz’s post on her blog about Rene’s ordeal. I suggest you also read on in the comments section and see how Rhett Daniels shows his litigious, cyberbullying side there!

Soon afterwards, I threw my name in the hat. I was so enraged that it was a bit of a knee jerk post from me, and usually when I sleep on these posts, I tend to be a little critical of the stuff, but not this time. One of my favorite bloggers is thrown out, and I believe my rage is justified.

The ever vitriolic Orac has been candid about his opinion of Daniels on his blog Respectful Insolence. Given that he has the healthy habit of ruffling a few feathers around, one would have expected that he would have been targeted by the antivax/woo community. He describes his brush with others like Daniels and goes on to describe how his employer had been on his side in these encounters. If only Rene’s employers were like that!

Skeptical Lawyer got the stimulus he needed to start a blog from this fiasco and weighed in with a well thought out post discussing whether or not public employees have right to free speech. While the laws in this field are complicated and vary from nation to nation, a stimulating discussion is fielded on his comments section too. Worth a go through.

I would be failing in my duty of making this round up if I did not mention the next-in-line Anarchic Teapot. Acerbic wit, a vitriolic title and an attitude to go with all of it. Read this post – no wonder Daniels is crying bloody murder! If I were on a Nazioid mission to clear up the interwebs of references in my name that seemed derogatory to me, well, I would be after the Teapot with a 20 pound hammer and a box of dynamite!

PZ Myers has it succinctly summarized in his blog title. As always, PZ’s legions of admirers (me included) have started a heated discussion on the comments section. Take a read. Worth the time.

On Sandwalk, which is a peaceful blog compared to PZ and Orac, even Larry Moran does not hold back his feelings for Daniels. A short but to the point post on the whole fiasco.

In his wonderfully named blog, Dr. Nescio talks about litigious bullies in general with an ample smattering of examples from his own experience. Since science journalism is one of his pet peeves, I was totally expecting a great post from him and he more than lived up to expectations!

One of the few good things that #EpiGate has brought about is that I have been introduced to a few great blogs. Dr. Judy Stone’s blog is one of them. In a post which is uncharacteristically calm, Dr. Stone talks about his Epi Night School series, which was indeed one of the best “short courses” on blogs. She seems saddened by the whole debacle, and justifiably so.

PalMD is not one to mince his words, and does not even try to do that in a virulently titled post. Oh, I am not complaining though! He states something that has been playing on all our minds but we have not quite come up to talk about it:

 If someone chooses to harass you for something you say and your employer decides to take them seriously, you’re out of luck unless you have legal recourse, but even if you do, your job, while still technically in existence, may be made impossible to perform. …

Speech, while free, is not without consequences, and sometimes it’s the good guys that get burned.  But we must also consider our own status as being either professionally or socially privileged in such a way that we may behave unethically in our discussions.

Tara Smith of Aetiology has posted her own version of the issue of Epigate and tied into it the decision by ScienceBlogs to not allow pseudonymous blogs. She says, and I agree, that in the light of Epigate, the blogging overlords could not have chosen a better time to ban pseudonymous blogging.

that's all folks

So those are all the posts I could find on the blogosphere pertaining to this matter. I may have missed some, if you locate one please feel free to add the links on the comments section, I will try to add them up on this round up or if there are many, I will make another round up!

18 thoughts on “Rhett Daniels, @EpiRen and The Streisand Effect: A Blog Round-up

  1. “has requested us to honor Daniels’ wish to go undercover”
    Correction, to respect EpiRen’s wish to go undercover, and to allow Daniels (since he outed himself) to STFU and be forgotten, if that is the real reason behind removal of his repulsive rantings. He is easily inflamed by the least slight, real or imagined. I don’t want EpiRen hurt by that.

    If Daniels relapses, that will be another matter entirely.


    1. You are quite right… the fact that I am insulated from his wrath made me a little too over-eager to take on Daniels, but I would HATE it if any of his crazy antics went to harm Rene any more…


  2. oh, i think it’s too late for Rene. Unfortunately, you all have made such a stink that I am not sure he’s going to last long.

    in fact, I think the only thing that would save him would be for someone to sue him and his employer and force his employer to defend him and retract the whole thing.

    if anyone’s got any suggestions, let me know. I’m on your side. This unjustice against Rene has got to end, and NOW!


  3. but on the bright side…at least i’m not as bad as…

    the below is the result of nine months of research into how evil mankind is.

    dnepropetrovsk murders (3 young guys bludgeon and then torture a man with a screwdriver):

    dagestan massacre (6 russian soldiers killed by muslims very slowly):

    mexican dr learns to cut heads off and choke victims simultaneously by using their own blood:

    burnt alive in kenya for witchcraft (nice slow roasting):

    boys torturing dog in mexico (dog kept hanging around, strange?):

    slow beheading of christian (allah akbah):

    korean christian missionary begs for his life before beheading (“I too yung, I wunt to lieve, I want to go to Korea…too yung!”):

    man ripped in half (bike cop) still alive and laying in street with no lower torso.:

    high dive off cliff goes wrong. splits face and is conscious:


  4. liz, do us all a favor and change your pic. from a PR point of view if I was Rene Najera aka epiren I wouldn’t want your face associated with me. gives me a softee everytime i see it – ugh!

    yes, all the geeks have rallied to beat their chests in support of Rene.

    funny that Rene told me he asked you and Orac to remain silent so he wouldn’t lose his job…and you know what, you basically told him to F off and continued escalating this… even at his own livelihood risk.

    with friends like that who needs enemies, right?

    it disgusts me to watch you write so many supportive posts, knowing that you are throwing your friend under the bus to serve your own end.

    perhaps you will continue this discourse on your blog where you are free to censor. remember “my house my rules”

    peace out biotch!



  5. “I haven’t maimed or killed anyone yet” is not exactly a robust moral defence.

    If you are capable of logical thought – which I am beginning to doubt – then solve this equation: my foot + your arse= ?


    1. Can I answer? It has to be the first Nordman (Viking) arriving on the British Isles commenting on the refusal of Arthur to surrender.


  6. That’s true Rhett, all you’re doing is threatening to end a man’s career because, he pointed out you’re full of shit. Generating one link per month must have been grueling.


  7. his career was not in jeopardy until you all – his friends, decided to put his career at risk in order stand up to the oppression of the bully (me).

    again, with friends like you who needs enemies like me… when or if he gets canned it is clearly YOU ALL not me… as my actions towards his employer resulted in a request to Rene to change his public persona…

    whereas your actions (collectively) might end up getting him fired.

    where do you think this is going? once one of you crosses the line, then i retaliate, and the rene gets drawn in because that dialogue started all this…

    it’s quite stupid…however, i will admit there’s a part of me that wants it to go in that direction so that i can see if the courts side with me (since i’m not a lawyer…just saying that might end all this)… and just to see if any of you have balls; but whenever I think of dragging Rene in I think about his posts and the communication with him and don’t feel like unnecessarily hurting a good man. whereas i show restraint – other than senseless wording and egging on, your community wants to use Rene as a tool to stand up for some great cause.

    If i was rene, i would be thinking…these are the assholes that I worked my ass off for all those hours and didn’t get paid a dime… and when my job is at risk, and i am clear that I want to stay here and get my PhD and ASK you not to pursue this… and THIS is how you treat me?


  8. You’re a moron, Rhett. Rene asked people not to email his employers on his behalf, since *that* would jeopardize his career… And they didn’t. Nothing was said about writing blog posts and comments in support of him, and there’s no reason to think they would jeopardize his career. On the contrary, his employers might see your comments, realize what worthless little weasel has been trying to intimidate them, and give Rene the green light once more.

    You, Rhett, on the other hand… Have you googled your own name lately? Ouch. Bet you miss your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn accounts, huh?


  9. [Comment truncated to edit email discussions which bear no significance to this context, in my opinion. – Pranab]

    Pranab –

    i’ve gone off the other boards, but when i saw the above comment, I thought if I were to leave with one last statement, this would be it, and I hope you do include this.

    Kind Regards,


    p.s. Snowflake, I was new to the online world and my life and time are much better without. I apologize to you and all your friends for egging you on, insult you, and crossing all sorts of digital etiquette boundaries. Accept this as my resignation of defeat. You are all too many and I am just one, and – like Rene, I would prefer to do what I do and not have anything to do with you all or your online world. I think I’ll pick up my tennis and working out, and doing things that don’t involve a computer. you get the hint. take care. peace out, R


    1. Thanks for the comment Rhett, It is good to see that you are walking off. The real fact is no one has won this joust. You have had a lousy day with people shouting at you all over the world, and Rene had to remove his blog so he had a lousy time, We shall not get to read his work so we have had a lousy time too… we’ve all lost this war… that is the worst part of the whole thing… take care man, and curb that volatile temper!



  10. Let us all be a bit mature and end this. There is enough hatred out there in the world as it is, but it is high time we quenched the fire of #Epigate online… let us just be the responsible adults we know we are, turn our backs to the issue and walk away…


  11. I, too, will greatly miss Rene’s “Night School” series. Is there any chance that such non-controversial content from his blog might yet be transferred to a permanent home elsewhere? Perhaps the answer is No, that even that would be considered violation of the agreement between Rene and his higher-ups, but it does seem a shame that such a valuable resource should be lost to the net purely as collateral damage from this affair.


    1. I was able to find the original “douchebag” article on google cache. With a little googlefoo, you might be able to find all the content you’re after.


  12. Rhett Daniels wrote:

    his career was not in jeopardy until you all – his friends, decided to put his career at risk in order stand up to the oppression of the bully (me).

    No, Mr. Daniels, no no no. You emailed Mr. Najera’s supervisors and colleagues.

    You keep claiming that you were “new to the online world” but that doesn’t stand up to examination, either.


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