Skeptic Top Trumps

23rd February 2014

So this is how I got myself onto the Skeptic Top Trumps list on Twitter.


Sandra A. Hermann-Courtney, Certified Medical Transcriptionist®, has been conducting a Twitter campaign under the name @BrownBagPantry, attempting to get people who ask reasonable questions about homeopathy (or who disagree with homeopathy supporters) banned, and is encouraging others to do the same. I won’t dwell at length on the dubiousness of this campaign.

On February 3rd, this tweet appeared,supposedly a record of an abuse of a person on Twitter by the user @Flatsquid.


I found this tweet troubling. Firstly, Sandra Courtney appears to be trying to suggest that @Flatsquid should not have tweeted to this person in the first place, because she was under 18. Proof of age is given in an unrelated tweet at the beginning. Now, Sandra acknowledges that this is an unrelated tweet, but the only purpose in including it  here is because she wants to draw a relation.That, and the other annotations added, made me wonder how accurately this screenshot reflected the reality of the dialogue that had taken place. So I checked, and it doesn’t resemble it at all. There are some tweets, in both directions, which were not included in Sandra’s screenshot, and it made me wonder why; what purpose would you have in showing some parts of the dialogue and not others? What effect would you be trying to achieve by cutting some of them? So I decided to ask Sandra about it.

But before I tell you what happened next, I should point out there is nothing in Twitter’s rules to say you mustn’t tweet somebody who is under 18, and no reason to suppose that @Flatsquid could have been expected to know this person’s age before he posted. None of us checks a person’s complete timeline before tweeting to them , and there is no reason we should. There is also no rule against disagreeing, that I am aware of, and nothing even in the edited highlights that Sandra presented that could possible be construed as abuse, much less in the full unedited exchange that actually took place, which to my eyes looks even more polite. By the way, I’ve obscured the twitter tag of the person @Flatsquid was corresponding with, a courtesy which Courtney did not extend in her original tweet.

So here’s the sequence of Tweets, with occasional comment. I have only included tweets that relate to this subject, and usually excluded any from other respondents, except for the occasional one from @Flatsquid. If you suspect I’m holding out on you, you are welcome to check back through the relevant timelines for yourself. Here goes.





This ^ appears to me to be an accusation that I have been abusing the 17-year old myself. Sandra names me directly.


No, not good enough.


Now, I would normally have dropped it here, and not embarrass Sandra with a reminder of this,  but she then goes on to accuse me of abusing other people again, so I’m printing it all.

Meanwhile Sandra carries on with the campaign.



So I ask the question again, about the earlier tweet.


Sandra carries on.


So I ask again.


I’m ignored.








Finally, a response, but a completely inane one…


Aaaannd there we have another accusation that I’ve been abusing people I have never contacted.






And then Sandra takes up where she has left off with the smear campaign, this time picking me…


So there it is. How I got on The List. Seems a bit pathetic compared to the efforts of some of my list-mates but hey, you take your rewards where you can, don’t you?


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