Respectful Insolence

I’ve written a few posts now pointing out how, its claims that it is not “antivaccine” notwithstanding, for the mercury militia and those who think mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves cause autism, it really is all about the vaccines, not any single ingredient, even mercury. I first noticed this nearly three years ago, and, if anything, recent events have made my observation even more obviously true. As multiple studies have exonerated the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal that was formerly found in most childhood vaccines and now only remains in trace amounts in flu vaccines, predictably, the mercury militia, now joined by bubbleheaded celebrity mothers like Jenny McCarthy, has started blathering about “toxins” in vaccines.

As I beheld the power of the mercury militia as it, “despite single-digit temperatures,” produced a “double-digit crowd” to protest in front of the headquarters of the American Academy of Pediatrics in suburban Chicago for having the temerity to write a letter of protest about an ABC drama that propagated the scientifically discredited claim that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism and trying to fight fire with fire as far as compelling anecdotes go, I saw yet again one more bit of evidence that it is indeed all about the vaccines. As I fail utterly upon viewing the photographs of the protest to resist the not-so-nice temptation to point out that the entire barely “double digit” crowd looks as though it could have fit nicely in a VW microbus, I couldn’t help but notice the signs carried by members of the crowd. A new slogan based on the fallacious idiocy about all the “toxins” in vaccines appears to be the new propaganda tool of the antivaccination movement: “Green our vaccines!” Great job, especially coupled with that other sign that shows a skull and crossbones with the crossbones replaced by syringes and the slogan “Stop poisoning our children!” emblazoned across the top!

The stupid, it burns, although apparently not enough to melt the snow near the AAP headquarters.

But if you want still more evidence that it’s all about the vaccines, not any single ingredient in them, just listen to the speakers. For example, there was Dr. Mayer Eisenstein. We’ve met Dr. Eisenstein before as the Director of Homefirst Medical Services and a person who, despite boasting a degree in public health and law, made claims that unvaccinated children were healthier and had no autism without a single shred of scientific or epidemiological evidence, even from his practice, to back it up, just vague “impressions.”

Let’s see what he had to say:

Another speaker at the rally was Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, who leads Homefirst Medical Services in Chicago. That practice, as Age of Autism has reported, has thousands of never-vaccinated kids and virtually no cases of autism or asthma.

“I was raised by not only a wonderful mother but a wonderful grandmother,” Eisenstein told the crowd, “and I look around here and I see mothers and grandmothers here telling everyone there is a problem. Being raised by a mother and a grandmother, when mothers and grandmothers talk, Mayer listens.

“I woke up this morning and looked around and I said, you know, there’s no mercury in the thermometers, there’s no mercury in the contact solution, the saline solution, and we’re told not to eat fish with mercury. Does it make any sense that we should inject mercury into our children?

“But mercury isn’t the only issue,” said Eisenstein, who also has a law degree and a master’s of public health. “As an attorney, I learned in law school you never limit yourself. I look at some of the signs here, we’ve got mercury, aluminum, antifreeze, aborted tissue and monkey kidney — ‘a recipe for disaster.’ I defy anyone in that building to come out here and drink a cocktail that contains all these types of ingredients.”

The crowd cheered.

Yep, there he goes mindlessly parroting the exceedingly idiotic “toxinscanard and repeating his evidence-free claim that the unvaccinated do not get autism. He also seems to think that thimerosal is still in vaccines, even though it’s been gone since early 2002, and even the flu vaccine is available in thimerosal-free versions. Indeed, children’s exposure to mercury from vaccines is lower now than it’s been in at least 25 years. Don’t even get me started on the even more brain dead “tissue from aborted fetuses” gambit. This guy is a doctor and he doesn’t know the difference between using a cell line that was derived from an aborted fetus back in the 1960s to culture the virus necessary to make certain vaccines and using “tissue from aborted fetuses”? Even the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t instruct Catholics not to vaccinate because of the use of this cell line! Actually, my sneaking suspicion is that Dr. Eisenstein actually does know the difference but has chosen to lie because he knows saying “tissue from aborted fetuses” is far more horrifying than saying “growing up viruses in a cultured cell line derived from an aborted fetus 45 years ago,” particularly to religious fundamentalists.

I can only conclude that Dr. Eisenstein is either ignorant (doesn’t know the difference between cultured cells and tissue) or dishonest (he knows but uses the inflammatory version anyway). Take your pick.

Completing the picture is antivaccinationist and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, David Ayoub, who suitably whipped up the crowd:

Also speaking at the rally was Dr. David Ayoub, a radiologist from Springfield. Asked why he was attending, Ayoub said: “I have had some close interactions with AAP people and I lobbied quite a bit in Illinois at several hearings and testified in Massachusetts and interacted early on with the Illinois State Chapter president. This is when I first found out what was going on and I thought they were legitimately uninformed, and so we had several conversations and e-mails back and forth and it didn’t take me too long to figure out they pretty much know what’s going on.”

“They know what?” Age of Autism asked.

“They know vaccines cause autism, I don’t think there’s any question.

When you get to interact with them and really talk to them about the science of causality … you realize that what they’re doing with you is they’re pandering.

[...]

“And when they post on their Web site, thimerosal doesn’t go to the brain, you realize that they’ve really crossed the line. It’s a matter of scientific integrity. No organization of this caliber could ignore some of that science. So they’re really spinning to the public, but when you push it and talk to them scientifically, they falter. They fall on their face. They show their true color.”

Some things never change, I guess, and Ayoub’s paranoia is one of them. According to him, the AAP, CDC, FDA, big pharma, and the Illuminati all know that vaccines cause autism but are hiding it from parents. Of course, get a load of how Dan Olmsted argument about why we should take the claims of a radiologist untrained in pediatrics or autism seriously when he blames vaccines for autism (I wonder if he knows about Ayoub’s apparent belief that vaccines are a population control plot by the Illuminati):

Ayoub is not a pediatrician and does not have an affected child, but another of the several doctors attending the rally told me that radiologists and pathologists are the smartest and best-informed members of the medical profession. “They look at pictures,” he said, “and the rest of the time they sit around and read.” By contrast, he said, pediatricians are overworked and rely on multiple brief visits for their income; if their trade association (the AAP) reassures them they are causing no harm, most have neither the time nor the wherewithal – nor the financial freedom – to challenge that.

I nearly spit my drink onto my laptop when I read this! I would still be laughing now were it not for my realization of the utter contempt this view shows for pediatricians and family practice docs causing my laughter to die rather quickly.

As for the alleged brilliance of radiologists, radiology residencies may indeed be very competitive to get into, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean that the smarts of a radiologist translate to areas in which they have no training or especially to conditions that do not have much in the way of radiological findings–conditions such as autism. Moreover, that very disconnect, in which radiologists who don’t do invasive therapeutic procedures read films but do not treat patients could just as easily be argued as a reason why radiologists tend to be out of touch with clinical medicine. Also, if Ayoub is so smart, why is it that he is such a conspiracy theorist?

I suppose we’re going to have to get ready for more of the same here. Jenny McCarthy is now trying to organize a protest in warmer weather (June 27) at the CDC in Atlanta. Maybe if she and her boyfriend Jim Carrey put up the money to transport and house all the protesters, given the location (Atlanta in the summer) Dan Olmsted will be able to breathlessly report, “Despite triple digit temperatures, a near triple digit crowd showed up.”

Comments

  1. #1 ERV
    February 21, 2008

    Um, Im sure it wouldnt be delicious, but Id lick a plate of COS-1 cells if anti-vaxers paid me. Cant be any worse than steak tartare…

  2. #2 Skeptico
    February 21, 2008

    The “double digit crowd” remark was a reference to their combined IQ.

  3. #3 PalMD
    February 21, 2008

    I’m sure the AAP is barring the gates, lowering the portcullis, and heating the oil. That is, if they even noticed.

    My transitional residents who are radiologist wannabes are very, very bright…they’d never fall for this bullshit.

  4. #4 Scotty B
    February 21, 2008

    In case you didn’t see this:

    from here: http://tinyurl.com/23kobv

    Wyeth Wins Thimerosal-Autism Case in Maryland Court

    from the press release:

    Judge Berger found that “it is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause or contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism,” also noting that “it is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community that autism is genetic in origin except in rare instances of prenatal exposures to certain substances at defined periods during pregnancy.”

    “This is a significant victory for good science generally,” says Daniel J. Thomasch, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

  5. #5 Estellea
    February 21, 2008

    “Mayer listens” huh? Elmo refers to himself in the third person as well. So why doesn’t Eisenstein offer up his patients for an epidemiological study?

  6. #6 Estellea
    February 21, 2008

    “Mayer listens” huh? Elmo refers to himself in the third person as well. So why doesn’t Eisenstein offer up his patients for an epidemiological study?

  7. #7 Electric Landlady
    February 21, 2008

    The conspiracy theories are especially tasty when you reflect that it was the AAP and the FDA that recommended removing thimerosal from vaccines in the first place, as a precaution. I guess that was all part of their deep dark plan.

  8. #8 Dr Aust
    February 21, 2008

    In the Conspiracy-verse, recommending the removal of thimerosal was admitting that it was GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY.

    In other words: whatever had been done, it would have fed their paranoia. Leave it in: poisoning the children! Take it out : poisoning the children!

    The mindset is completely reality-proof.

    As Orac and many others have observed, you can’t win with these people. Their conspiracy mania has its roots in their psychology, and their anxieties about the world, and a need to apportion blame.

  9. #9 isles
    February 21, 2008

    It’s really a wonder they don’t get bored with this. I guess switching from “mercury causes autism” to “vaccines cause everything” is their way of keeping it interesting.

    I just don’t see how this preoccupation can be doing their special-needs kids much good.

  10. #10 Orac
    February 21, 2008

    Um, Im sure it wouldnt be delicious, but Id lick a plate of COS-1 cells if anti-vaxers paid me.

    My guess is that they’d be salty-sweet, mainly from the sugar-loaded culture medium.

  11. #11 DLC
    February 22, 2008

    What, they managed to get up a dozen people ?
    oooh. I’m totally underwhelmed.
    If the anti-vaxers get their way, 20 years from now Orac can blog about how they caused the next epidemic.
    I will not send cards to the funerals of those who die from a disease that could have been prevented by a simple injection.

  12. #12 Sergeant Zim
    February 22, 2008

    While I won’t send cards either, I will despair for the children of the wilfully ignorant who could/should have been saved by simple injections. I will feel tempted to send cards to their parents, but I won’t because deep down I am a true-blue softie (just ask my wife).

    The ones I revile the most are the childless adults who dissuade parents from getting their children vaccinated, and ignore the rising numbers of childhood deaths from easily preventable diseases. If there is a hell, I would hope there is a special place for scum like those.

  13. #13 Ayoubz'aboub
    February 22, 2008

    Thanks for this, Orac. Considering that the rally organizers and invited speakers comprised most of the 15 or so attendees, it’s pretty sad at how small the turnout was. Surely there are more than 10 antivaxers in the greater Chicago area. Maybe there are only 10 who didn’t fear being sprayed with anthrax spores from black helicopters or fear wicked pediatricians with blowguns and darts tipped with a super secret drug that paralyze a person and is totally undetectable.

    I hear Ayoub was carrying his magic fairy-powder in a pouch protecting him from all but Angela Medlin’s evil eye. Does anyone wonder why JB Handley and Mark Blaxill weren’t at this rally? Were they afraid of the poison darts or do they not want to be associated with Ayoub the obviously unwell paranoid conspiracy theorist.

    Apparently, there are about 5 antivaxers in the Atlanta area who will drop whatever they are doing and rush to the CDC to picket. I’m sure Jenny can count on them. I would be surprised if she could get more than 20 to show up, her 15 minutes of bimbo-fame is up and her boyfriend is rumored to be unable to land any further leading parts in movies. Likely both will be free to show up and make themselves look pathetic for the “Center of Disease Control” as Jenny calls it. Jenny will ward of the CDC’s dart gun poison with a moonstone necklace and magic inflatable bra.

  14. #14 egrrl
    February 22, 2008

    I’ve been reading the mothering forums, on and off, for a couple of years now. Believe me, for most of the regulars who post in the vaccine section, it stopped being about additives and started being about vaccines in general a long time ago. There are people there who seriously argue that vaccines don’t work; that they don’t actually prevent disease.

    It’s truly mind numbing.

  15. #15 Lenora
    February 22, 2008

    There were more adults than that at my kid’s special recreation soccer practice in Oak Park (a suburb bordering Chicago). Eight were teenage volunteers. Friday nights the same organization (WSSRA) gives the kids swimming lessons. On Saturday they provide a Saturday fun club. I’m sure the WSSRA could use some of the time, money and media attention devoted to beating the dead horse of vaccines and autism.

  16. #16 Laser Potato
    February 22, 2008

    “I will not send cards to the funerals of those who die from a disease that could have been prevented by a simple injection.”
    You missed the thread where some anonytroll brazenly claimed that vaccinations are worse than any preventable disease. When asked for evidence of this, he basically did nothing but point fingers and ad hominem for like 20 posts. Then, finally, he said this: “The burden of proof is on you to prove safety.
    Good luck.”

    ….

  17. #17 bill
    February 22, 2008

    Anybody who thinks it isn’t all about the vaccines hasn’t visited ” Jabs” the anti-vax pressure group in the UK.

    “The polio vaccines were contaminated with 40 simian [monkey ]viruses hence the name SV40.
    These simian viruses have recombined with human genes & therefore have created 1,000 endogenous retroviruses which as I said before contribute to & cause disease.

    Your Comment

    Is this all cover up & conspiracy??I don’t think there’s much debate that early batches of vaccine were contaminated with SV40, shall we move on, I accept its still up for debate & there is conflicting data.

    As I said I’m not interested in your data , to put it nicely your data is a load of ****, my son has vaccine induced polio & as a result has SV40 & other monkey virus contamination, & he was vaccinated in the late 80s…………….

    So what does yor data mean to me ??????//// nothing, absolutely nothing……..just lies & cover ups
    has polio been eradicated by vaccination ?????? No it hasn’t it has been substituted by cancer, neuro-degenerative conditions, auto-immune conditions etc.”

  18. #18 PalMD
    February 22, 2008

    These folks have nothing against plain lies to advance their cause. One site actually says that polio was eradicated in Europe without the vaccine, and that the vaccine was never used in Europe. Of course, this is crap.

  19. #19 Abel Pharmboy
    February 23, 2008

    Thanks for the link to the story on the MRC-5 and WI-38 cells. I can’t believe the militia is still carrying on about cell lines carried longer than most of them have been alive.

  20. #20 Prometheus
    February 26, 2008

    Bill,

    Thanks for dredging out that steaming heap of “logic” from the “Jabs” site. I can’t stand to visit sites like that – they give me a headache.

    I hope you washed your hands after you left.

    Prometheus