Anti-Vax in OK, AGAIN

I dont know about you all, but if you ask me to picture an anti-vaxer, I picture a white, middle-to-upper-class woman who lives on one of the Coasts.

Its ‘liberal’ anti-science, along with anti-food-technology and animal liberation, a counterpart to ‘conservative’ anti-science like Creationism and global warming denial.

So living in OK, Im totally used to ‘conservative’ anti-science… but when a ‘liberal’ anti-science situation pops up, Im like ‘WTF??’

One that keeps getting me is anti-vaxers/anti-vax sympathizers. In Oklahoma?? Wat??

Yes, we have them here too. Some are still the middle-to-upper-class Google Mommies, but some of them are of the Crazy Christian/anti-government variety. So there is still an audience for bizarre, information-free reporting like this:

Many dentists and researchers say the mercury is safe. But some scientists blame the mercury on skyrocketing Alzheimer’s disease and similar health issues.

“There is something increasing the rate of Alzheimer’s disease. And I think it’s exposure to mercury,” Haley said. Other than from some dental fillings, the mercury also likely came from some vaccinations and coal-powered energy plants, he said.

…But Mark Fried, Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma and Arkansas chief executive officer, said there is a lack of data supporting the idea that mercury plays a role.

“Mercury has not been shown to increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

Tulsa attorney James Love is expected to attend the meeting, along with Haley, who plans to present testimony on mercury in fillings and vaccine. Though Haley doesn’t oppose immunizations, he said only mercury can explain the cellular and biochemical abnormalities seen in autistic people. He also said it appears vaccinations accompanied the spike in autism rates.

…OU Medical Center Dr. Steven Crawford said the evidence is obvious: no correlation between vaccines and neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s or autism.

“Absolutely not. Zero. Zilch. None,” he said.


Here is one quote from an actual working scientist who says that is stupid.


One more quote from a scientist saying why that claim is stupid.

I dont even understand the point of this article. The audience learned nothing except there is a lawyer from Tulsa who is ambulance-chasing the unfounded vaccine–>autism ‘controversy’. Okay. I mean, this is information Oklahomans ‘need to know’? Wat? Who the hell cares? If you were going to write an article on this topic, you could at least get some actual information and actual science from the actual scientists working right here in Oklahoma.

In the blogging world, I would call “Is a mouthful of mercury safe?” a ‘content free shit post’. Some journalists have the heart of a blogger. Some have the brains and ambition of a cow. *shrug*

And just because I cant resist:

“There is something increasing the rate of Alzheimer’s disease. And I think it’s exposure to mercury,” Haley said.

Or maybe, just maybe, Alzheimers rates are ‘increasing’ because people are living longer. One of my Grandmothers had Alzheimers. SHE WAS 90 WHEN SHE DIED. 90. Life expectancy in the US when she was born was ~50 for men and ~55 for women. If you live ~40 years longer, some shit is gonna happen.

Age is the top risk for developing Alzheimer’s, with it affecting one in eight Americans older than age 65, Fried [Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma and Arkansas] said.

Well there ya go. Ugh.

EDIT: The ‘scientist expert’ quoted, who thinks ‘mercury’ is the root of all evil? Boyd Haley.


  1. #1 JohnV
    December 13, 2010

    You’ll note the article quotes Boyd Haley, who sells an industrial chelator to people to facilitate abuse of their children with autism.

  2. #2 ERV
    December 13, 2010

    … I didnt note. It is now noted. Ugh.

  3. #3 jaranath
    December 13, 2010

    Our very own anti-gay hate group here in Illinois, the Illinos Family Institute, is anti-vax. Basically they’re a robust chapter of the AFA, spending most of their time panicking over anything that looks remotely gay (they’ve been having delightful little meltdowns over our new civil unions bill), and defending religious speech by whining when their nativity scene in the state Capitol is accompanied by other religious and anti-religious displays.

    I don’t get it either. I would think it’s tapping into the insane, Glenn-Beck-Tea-Party demographic that sees conspiracies and Illuminati everywhere. But the focus of their argument has been on mercury, autism, “filth,” etc., and not on shadowy conspiracies. Maybe that’s just strategic; but if right-wing religious antivaxxers really are more worried about the vaccine than mind control chips, then I really don’t get it. Maybe they think it’s somehow un-Biblical?

  4. #4 Paul
    December 13, 2010

    As Orac has pointed out quite a few times anti-vax is one of those ideas that unites the crazies on both left and right. It really is the equal opportunities crankery.

  5. #5 madder
    December 13, 2010


    Maybe they think it’s somehow un-Biblical?

    They may well think that. After all, there was once opposition to the use of lightning rods on buildings– if God wanted to kill you, you were supposed to let him.

    And yeah, as soon as I saw the name Haley, I wondered if this particular nut was Boyd. Well put, JohnV.

  6. #6 qbsmd
    December 13, 2010

    I couldn’t cite a source, but I had the impression anti-vaccination started as a conservative thing by way of opposition to the government influencing parents’ decisions for their children, and doing anything that isn’t a power explicitly specified by the constitution. It’s less clear to me how it became a favorite liberal anti-science.

    Anti-GMO technology doesn’t make sense to me from either perspective: conservatives should be against any regulation because the market should make everything safe and effective, and liberals should support anything that could help reduce starvation.

    The other examples follow the pattern I would have expected.

  7. #7 Grendels Dad
    December 13, 2010

    Do the Rocky Mts. qualify as West Coast Lite? The front range of Colorado has more than it’s share of food-crazy propaganda masquerading as science. And don’t get me started on the annual metaphysical fair, I might do damage to my chakras, or some such crap.

    I haven’t heard much locally from the anti-vaxers. Whether that is due to a real absence, or my more woo oriented friends learned a lesson after dragging me to one of those goofy fairs, I don’t know.

  8. #8 harold
    December 13, 2010

    I can’t speak for Colorado, but I lived in NM for two years, and the West Coast qualifies as Santa Fe Lite.

    However, I did NOT see much or anti-vax crap (this was a while ago).

    I do see a big difference between a person who is basically harmless, and doesn’t really deny much fundamental science, but also believes in some silly stuff like crystals or aliens or whatever, versus fraudulent quacks and science-denying religious fanatics. No Santa Fe crystal gazer ever tried to violate my rights, destroy the education of future generations, or kill me with fraudulent medical treatment, as far as I remember. (Of course, technically I lived in Albuquerque.)

    Anti-vaccine is as bad as it gets, but I don’t see what the hell is supposed to be “liberal” about it. Public health programs – now there’s something that’s liberal.

  9. #9 jason
    December 13, 2010

    increase in frequency of Alzheimer’s : could it be that people are living longer and thus more people are getting/dying of it than other things that would have killed them a half-century earlier? Nope! Must be the mercury!

    increase in frequency of diagnosis of autism : could it be a more rigorous definition of the disorder coupled with better surveillance in public schools? Nope! Must be that the increase in frequency in diagnosis is because the frequency of the disease is also on the rise… MERCURY!

  10. #10 TylerD
    December 13, 2010

    “Some have the brains and ambition of a cow.”

    This is rather insulting to cows.

  11. #11 davidp
    December 13, 2010

    Good dentistry extends life. Good dentistry certainly involved silver-mercury amalgam fillings at least until the last few years. There was even a study that found dental treatment before heart surgery reduced the incidence of bacterial heart infections after the surgery!

    As ERV shows, almost anything that extends life is going to be correlated with Alzheimer’s.

  12. #12 JLT
    December 13, 2010

    I’m impressed. Now mercury in vaccines is responsible for Alzheimer’s? Is that in response to the absence of any decrease in the incidence of autism after “mercury” (Thimerosal) was removed from almost all vaccines by 2001? Very clever! They can make Thimerosal-containing vaccines responsible for Alzheimer’s at least till 2065, because of its late onset. I’m sure till then they’ll have come up with something else that they don’t like about vaccines.

  13. #13 CJ
    December 13, 2010

    I’ve been fighting the good fight for two days in the article’s comment section.

    Personally, I can’t believe the Oklahoman would even let this be published, much less on the front page of its metro section.

  14. #14 Drivebyposter
    December 14, 2010

    I think the trick to helping winning against anti-vax kooks is to split them.

    You need to get the conservative and liberal factions (and maybe even subdivisions of each) to fight each other.

    How to do that…is the hard part.

  15. #15 jaranath
    December 14, 2010

    Harold asked: “Anti-vaccine is as bad as it gets, but I don’t see what the hell is supposed to be “liberal” about it.”

    Really? I don’t mean this snarkily, but it seems obvious to me. It fits with the stereotypical, woo-woo, uncritical-thinking subset of liberals that you might see targeted by Penn & Teller. Big Corporate bad, “chemicals” (really “synthetic” or “processed”) bad, “natural” good, etc. Those kinds of liberals can be quite conspiracy minded, too…Glenn Beck doesn’t have a lock on that. So it’s easy for them to see vaccines more as an environmental health issue; a big corporate product that may or may not work but is too harsh and “unnatural” in any case and not worth the risk.

    Anyway, that’s how I (a definite non-libertarian liberal) see it. It’s harder for me to understand the religious conservative antivaxxers, as discussed above. I could see Glenn Beck or Ron Paul followers buying it from the conspiracy-lunatic angle, but I think the religious angle also matters in many cases, and I can’t get that one to click.

  16. #16 jre
    December 22, 2010

    I’m late to the party, as usual, but let me make a few observations I hope may add value:

    Boyd Haley did indeed sell an industrial chelator to treat autism, but was slammed with a major warning letter from FDA and (last I knew) had retreated to lick his wounds. He’ll be back; it didn’t stop Mercola either.

    Anti-vax conspiratorializing has been a theme of the ultra-right for many years. See Andrew Schlafly and JPANDS.

    The educated Rocky Mountain Front Range is (unsurprisingly) a hotbed of this stuff. Andrew Wakefield had an adoration rally in Boulder just a month or so ago.

  17. #17 Jennifer
    June 30, 2011

    When I picture someone who takes their time to socially damn a difference in scientific/medical opinion, I see a manic caveman who has an obvious mental deficiency. It is so sad that a person choosing to be being anti-vax is being compared to someone who is choosing to be anti-gay or saying that the decision to be either is equivalent. One is a Religious matter (rules set by man for man, not the love (word) of Jesus) and one isn’t. Of course people in Oklahoma and for that matter the world are talking about anti-vax. Give me a break. I studied Bio/micro-bio, and in college. I am not Anti-gay, I am Christian, I believe in power of science, I am an Oklahoman, and I am Anti-vax. I also think it is really arrogant that people lacking in situational, life experiences (such as a Medical education, or growing up with and living with someone who was diagnosed with Autism.) opinion lacks importance. To call anti-vax a conspiracy is a conspiracy in itself.
    While I might be anti-vax for children due to my concerns about autism, I am not against vaccinations for adults who have a fully developed immune system.
    Prove me wrong, but according to my research no child without vaccinations has ever been diagnosed with autism.

  18. #18 Jack
    July 1, 2011

    Hi Jennifer,

    ‘Prove me wrong, but according to my research no child without vaccinations has ever been diagnosed with autism.’

    I would be interested to review that research you mention.

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