PaulOffit.com, a tempest in a teapot

28 May

A month or so back, I stepped forward to state that I, Matt Carey, have been posting as Sullivan here on Left Brain/Right Brain. Mr. J.B. Handley of the Age of Autism blog and Generation Rescue had made a commitment to transfer the domain pauloffit.com and to stop commenting on Dr. Offit should it be demonstrated that Sullivan was not Bonnie Offit, wife of Paul Offit.

The domain was not transferred until yesterday. In the time that has transpired, tempers have raised. The last comment in the string below should be taken as a sign of the frustration level and not as an opening for critique, in my opinion. I considered leaving it out for that reason.

I generally do not like to post emails. However, as Mr. Handley has already posted some of these exchanges, I feel that it is appropriate to post the full exchange at this time. Here are the emails which I have found in my inbox. If any are missing, I feel sure that will be brought to my attention and I will add them. I do not have access to the emails or other communications between Mr. Handley or his agent and the domain registration company register.com. I can’t tell if the request to email Dr. Offit was made or not. I can’t tell if register.com bungled the communication. I just don’t have that data.

At one place on the web (at least) I commented that Mr. Handley emailed me first. That he did not do. He made the offer to complete the deal on his blog.

April 29:

Matt:I’ll take care of it early next week, thanks for the guidance.

On a separate note, I wanted to ask you to submit to an interview via email for publication at AoA. I will generate the questions, you answer them, and I publish them in totality without editorializing. The topics will exclusively cover the science of autism, known and unknown, and include prevalence, vaccines, and medical issues.

My reason for asking is that you are really the first well-educated parent (although Harvey Mudd is no Stanford 🙂 I have encountered on the other side of this topic who doesn’t seem to be a nut job (Kevin Leitch, Autism Diva, etc.).

I honestly do not understand how you have looked at the same published research I have looked at and concluded that vaccines have been exonerated from causing a majority of today’s autism. I really, truly do believe that the large-scale epidemiological studies that are constantly cited as “proof” are garbage, have yet to ask the right questions, and are typically managed to produce a previously determined outcome. I believe Allison ISnger and Paul Offit consistently and knowingly misrepresent what has been studied in public statements, and it really drives me nuts.

As a Ph.D. scientist, I think your answers will be thought-provoking. I’d like to ask you pointed questions and let you answer them. Your writing has shown me you aren’t a spin doctor and will answer things like a scientist, not a partisan. Despite my delight in provoking people I consider to be idiots (Orac), I actually do enjoy debating this issue, because my only genuine interest in all this is helping my son. If it really wasn’t the antibiotics and vaccines that got him, I’m wasting a hell of a lot of time and money treating the wrong things.

My request for the interview has nothing to do with Offit’s website, so no conditions here, I just hope you’ll consider the interview for its own sake. There are a lot of extremely smart parents on our side of the table, and I’d like to see the different reactions a thorough and measured interview with an “opposition figure” brings.

Ball is in your court,

JB Handley

On Apr 29, 2011, at 2:36 PM, Matt Carey wrote:Mr. Handley,

A few people have forwarded your piece to me today. I appreciate what you have said and I have offered a public apology on LeftBrainRightBrain for questioning your integrity in honoring your commitments.

As far as the domain pauloffit.com, you can transfer that directly to the Offits. I believe you have his contact information. If not, it can be found on his website: http://www.paul-offit.com/

Matt Carey

May 2nd:

Are you going to take 5 months to respond again?JB Handley

May 5th:

Just an fyi that pauloffit.com was unlocked and an email sent to Dr. Offit making it available to him was sent Tuesday afternoon this week. Case closed. The offer stands for an interview to be posted at AoA, thanks, JBJB Handley

May 13th: I added this comment to the blog post:

He replied that he would “take care of it early next week”That was April 29th. He never contacted Dr. Offit, and the site has been merely redesigned.

The apology was premature.

May 13th:

Matt:The site was offered to Paul Offit. It was also unlocked. After 3 days, apparently no one had claimed it, at which point anyone could. I can’t make Offit take it, maybe he didn’t so you guys could say I re-traded. Whatever, I did my part. Offit could confirm he received an email offering it to him. Don’t bother writing back, I have conceded I was wrong, and honored my end of the deal, JB

My email to owner of domain:

On Mon, May 2, 2011 at 10:23 PM, JB Handley <[redacted]> wrote:

Hey

– Give the site back to Paul Offit, or at least give him the right to register the domain name. Can you do that?Please email the right to the domain to: offit@email.chop.edu

It’s a long story, but basically I lost a bet. JB

From: [redacted]
To: JB Handley <[redacted]>
Subject: Re: Do you have anytime in the next few days?
Date: May 3, 2011 9:32:08 AM PDT
Hi JB -Step 1 of 3 is done:

The http://www.pauloffit.com site has been updated.

The domain is unlocked and anyone can request a transfer. Once that request is submitted, you’ll get an email at “[redacted]” to confirm that transfer. Additionally, I used Register.com’s transfer process, using the “chop.edu” email address below that you gave me.

– [redacted]

JB Handley

May 14th (comment posted on a few blogs, including here)

Todd:Dr. Offit is lying, as usual. On may 3rd, Dr. Offit received an email from register.com offering the transfer of the site to him. After 72 hours, Dr. Offit had not claimed it and the site was available to anyone to register. The email where the register.com transfer was sent was provided to me by Matt Carey, who directed me here to find it:

I even sent Mr. Carey a note on May 6th advising him of that and offering to interview him for AoA, in the spirit of closing the gap between us, to which he has never responded, here’s the contents of that email:

Just an fyi that pauloffit.com was unlocked and an email sent to Dr. Offit making it available to him was sent Tuesday afternoon this week. Case closed. The offer stands for an interview to be posted at AoA, thanks, JB

Someone is lying to you, JB Handley

May 15th:

Matt:Below is completed transfer. I sent Offit first notice on May 3rd, 12 days ago – FUCK YOU for publicly saying I didn’t!!

“After Mr. Handley emailed me I replied that he could transfer the domain directly to the Offits. He never contacted them.”

When I say I am going to do something, I do it.

And, you don’t even have the courtesy to respond to my emails or interview request. Man up,

JB Handley

Begin forwarded message:From: “J.B. Handley” <[redacted]>
Date: May 15, 2011 6:02:29 PM PDT
To: “’[redacted]’” <[redacted]>
Subject: FW: Register.com – Transfer of Registrant is completed

J.B. Handley
——-Original Message——-
From: support@register.com [mailto:support@register.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2011 1:01 PM
To: J.B. Handley
Subject: Register.com – Transfer of Registrant is completed

Dear Valued Customer,

This email serves as a notification that the Transfer of Registrant for pauloffit.com from JB Handley to Paul Offit has been confirmed and processed successfully. Please note that the services associated with the domain are not transferable when a Transfer of Registrant takes place, any service previously in place for the domain must be repurchased if you wish for it to be reinstated.

If you have any further questions about this process and wish to consult with a Customer Service Representative you can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by submitting a request online at http://help.register.com/cgi-bin/register_help.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php or by contacting one of the numbers below.

Thank you for choosing Register.com.

Note that this last email was sent just yesterday. The previous one was sent Friday. I was at IMFAR then, and have been either at the conference, traveling, or getting caught up at work since.

I can be pedantic and stand by my statement on May 13th: Did Mr. Handley contact Dr. Offit in early May? No. Are there other inconsistencies in the above set of exchanges? Yes. Is there value in stressing that point? No.

Mr. Handley chose a third person, who chose register.com to contact Dr. Offit. Is it possible that Mr. Handley and whoever was running pauloffit.com are not aware of that “unlocked” doesn’t have to mean “available for anyone to register”? There should be a key to effect the transfer. There’s a lot of chance there for the ball to be dropped. Neither Mr. Handley nor myself has access to Paul Offit’s email to confirm what did or did not get through. We can say that Dr. Offit has commented that he was not contacted. Given his interest in obtaining this domain, I don’t see the need to question that he would have acted on an email if it came.

I think many people, myself included, thought that a third person had grabbed the domain and that it was lost. At one point I did try to check on the registration status of the site, and I found that it was not available. If it did stay in Mr. Handley’s (or his agent’s) possession this whole time, it strikes me odd (to say the least) that the site was redesigned given the commitment that Mr. Handley made to stop commenting about Dr. Offit.

Earlier today I participated in a chat session with someone at register.com. I was still a bit confused about everything, so I would ask better questions if I had another opportunity. For one thing, I was under the impression that the site had been transferred to someone other than Mr. Handley (or his agent) and Dr. Offit. Here is that exchange:

Rob A.: Hi, my name is Rob A.. How may I help you?
Matt Carey: I’m looking for information about how register.com transfers domains
Matt Carey: I was involved in a recent transfer. The original owner of the domain set up the transfer by email with your team, who contacted the person to receive the domain. When no response was received by register, the domain was unlocked and someone else took the domain.
Matt Carey: Is this standard practice with Domain? It seems odd that the domain would be just unlocked
Rob A.: Could I get the dom,ain name in question pelase?
Matt Carey: Here is what I was told: the recipient “…received an email from register.com offering the transfer of the site to him. After 72 hours, [the recipient] had not claimed it and the site was available to anyone to register. ”
Matt Carey: pauloffit.com
Rob A.: Thank you
Matt Carey: The domain is now, finally, been transferred to the correct person. But originally, we were told that the domain had been unlocked and transferred to a third party.
Rob A.: I see that the transfer was successful from one account to the other
Rob A.: That may have been send in error as I do not see that in our system
Rob A.: Sorry
Matt Carey: Is it the policy of Register.com to simply unlock a domain after 72 hours?
Rob A.: no.
Matt Carey: Is it possible to tell me if a third party did posses the domain for a short period? Someone other than Mr. Handley (the original owner) and Dr. Offit, the current owner?
Rob A.: Not according to our system
Rob A.: It went from one account to the other
Matt Carey: Thank you very much for your time.
Rob A.: Thank you for visiting Register.com – Don’t just make a website – Make an Impact!
Rob A. has disconnected.

Are Mr. Handley’s statements accurate? No. For one thing, the site was not left open for anyone to register. Is that a lie? Not in my book. Let’s just say that Mr. Handley and his agent didn’t understand how domain registration transfers work. I certainly didn’t a few days ago.

Mr Handley stated on his blog: “I kept a screen shot of the confirmation of emails sent from register.com.” He has not shared those with me.

Mr. Handley is correct that I should have responded to his request for an interview. For that, I do apologize. I could brush it off as being due to Mr. Handley’s demeanor which, frankly, I do not care for. However, that would be blameshifting. Crafting a response was not straightforward as it may seem. I try to keep the exchanges respectful, if sometimes critical. Given that this is overdue, let me post my response here:

Mr. Handley,I appreciate your offer of an interview with your blog. I believe that in my many posts I have made my positions quite clear. It is very difficult to craft a response that would not come across as a slam. Suffice it to say, I would not willingly add my name to the Age of Autism blog. If at some point in the future, the focus of the Age of Autism were to shift to one which actually advances the needs of children like mine, and the adults whom I see as allies, I would be happy to consent to an interview. Until that time, I consider this matter closed.

Matt Carey

To respond to the obvious criticism: I have still not responded to Mr. Handley by email. I leave it up to you, the reader, to tell me if you would respond to the emails of the tone above. I feel quite comfortable with my decision.

This response by Mr. Handley puts a major damper on the optimism I felt coming from IMFAR. I spent a lot of time with people, a few of whom are on “the other side of the fence”. It was very refreshing to sit down with people, disagree and still feel kinship for those people. There was at least one person whom I wish I had approached and spoken to, if only to express the fact that I hold that person in high regard, even though we have disagreed. But, on the whole, I came away with something I didn’t expect: a sense of hope. It isn’t about people agreeing. It’s about people of differing opinions working as allies. It is also about accepting the science. Accepting the facts as they come in. It’s also about not causing harm to the autism communities and to public health.

Note: this article originally ran on May 17th. In our transition to a new hosting service, the post was lost. I’ve copied it over from the Google Cache version.

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4 Responses to “PaulOffit.com, a tempest in a teapot”

  1. Sullivan May 28, 2011 at 22:01 #

    Again: this is a repeat post. It was lost during our migration to the new host.

  2. Sullivan May 28, 2011 at 22:02 #

    A comment I made on this post when it was first up, May 17th:

    ere is what seems to be the case from my perspective. If I’ve got anything wrong, I appreciate correction with substantiation:

    1) It appears likely that Mr. Handley did try to affect the transfer of the site in early May through the person who actually held the site (whom I call his agent)
    2) it appears likely that no email reached Dr. Offit
    3) it appears likely that the domain was being held by another person (Not Mr. Handley) all along—before these events and during these events.
    4) it appears likely that the domain was not open for anyone to take.
    5) it appears likely that it was Mr. Handley and/or his agent who performed the redesign of the pauloffit.com domain in the past few weeks.
    6) Whatever the reason that the domain wasn’t initially transfered, it appears likely that Mr. Handley had the ability to try again to transfer the domain, as it appears to have been in his agent’s control the whole time.

  3. Sullivan May 28, 2011 at 22:03 #

    Another comment I made May 17th:

    his was posted on AoA by Mr. Handley:

    72 hours after the email to said profiteer, the pauloffit.com site was unlocked, meaning it can now be claimed by anyone. At that point, it could be claimed by anyone. As an additional courtesy, on May 15th, 12 days after offering profiteer the site for the first time, I asked the person controlling the site to send a SECOND email, offering the site again. At the time of this writing, the site remains unclaimed. (I kept a screen shot of the confirmation of emails sent from register.com.)

    Based on the chat session I had with register.com, this is not accurate. The domain was not open to anyone after 72 hours.

    A comment made on Harpocrates Speaks blog states:

    Todd W:
    It’s funny, I really can’t win with you idiots. The only reason I posted on AoA is because of this post attacking my integrity, written by YOU.
    The register.com email that Dr. Offit responded to was sent to him on May 4th. If he was remotely honest, he would acknowledge that’s when the site was offered to him.
    I’m sure its disappointing for you that I did exactly what I told Matt Carey and others I would do, but you’ll find some reason to make me seem dishonest, because, well, I guess your just an asshole.
    JB Handley

    Here is another chat session I had with Register.com on this topic:

    Jon H.: Hi, my name is Jon H.. How may I help you?
    Matthew Carey: Hello—a question about transferring a domain out of register.com
    Jon H.: Hello Matthew
    Matthew Carey: If I initiate a transfer, an email is sent. According to the tutorial, this email is valid for 24 hours. Is this correct?
    Jon H.: The email for confirmation on a domain transfer lasts up to 8 days. After that, the transfer automatically cancels due to lack of confirmation.
    Matthew Carey: OK, so if the person who is receiving the domain waits over 8 days, the transfer is canceled and I have to start over. Right?
    Jon H.: That is correct Matthew.
    Matthew Carey: Thanks, that solves my question. I appreciate your time.
    Jon H.: No problem at all. Was there anything else I could assist you with?
    Matthew Carey: No. You have been very helpful and I think we are done.
    Jon H.: You’re welcome. Have a good evening and thank you for contacting Register.com
    Jon H. has disconnected.

    Dr. Offit could not have used a 12 day old email to make the change occur. Those emails expire after 8 days.

  4. Sullivan May 28, 2011 at 22:26 #

    Just to clarify: it’s a tempest in a teapot. It’s just a domain name and not exactly accurate statements. I’m not really surprised this didn’t happen like promised.

    (edited to add “just” in the above statement)

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