So, thanks to someone on this list, I got a link to John Forester's web site. I would like to debunk what he says but I find it difficult to do without launching into the kind of dry dull lecturing he tends to do. My apologies up front.
I'd like to debunk his cyclist inferiority phobia page, especially since he touts the power of science over emotion wherever he can. That's this page: http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Social/cycinf.htm
JF wants people to believe he doesn't engage in the kind of fake science based on emotion that other people do but this article is all about that. What else could it be but an appeal to emotion to equate participation in bicycle advocacy organizations with an anxiety response, a clear misunderstanding and misuse of the term.
His first fault is to believe that all people who wish to see better conditions for cyclists have a fear of being hit from behind. Then he decides to call these people with a fear of being hit behind "victims", setting up his whole silly exercise.
He claims these so-called "victims" suffer from all the criteria to qualify for a psychological diagnosis of a phobia except for one, but he clearly doesn't understand the psychologicial definitions he uses. By twisting definitions to suit his argument he engages in the very kind of fake science he likes to disparage. Because he doesn't use the words' true meaning he really has no basis to claim that cyclists meet any of the criteria.
But more than twisting the diagnositc criteria to suit his claims, and clearly misunderstanding what anxiety is (which must be disproportionate and interfere with normal daily functioning), the meta problem is that using a loaded and perjorative term like "phobia" and misusing the DSM to suggest people who disagree with your position are sick is a perfect example of resorting to an emotional appeal and emotional tactics to make your claim.
That one can break that emotional appeal into neat little blocks of "logical" reasoning is immaterial when he doesn't adhere to the true meaning of the words. That he can boil down the entire cycling population into victims of a phobia of being hit from behind (as if people weaving and waving their arms in the center of the lane wouldn't qualify just as well) is as phony as any classic infomercial spiel.
I hope that my post doesn't get deleted. I think that it is important to discuss John Forester because his words carry a lot of weight in the cycling community. If we don't take an honest look at his words and actions, we as bicycle advocates do ourselves a disservice. At the same time, his words clearly bear the all the marks of a crackpot so I'm not even sure it's worth our tiime.