Respectful Insolence

Fellow skeptical doc PalMD informs me that apparently a new blogger, who happens to be a law student at NYU, discovered that his school had invited antivaccinationist-apologist supreme, David Kirby, to speak at NYU on June 26. In response, antivaccinationists, including David Kirby himself and antivaccinationist crank extraordinaire Clifford G. Miller himself, the man who apparently invited David Kirby to befoul the fair city of London and even the halls of Parliament with his antivaccinationist nonsense, has appeared. Much hilarity ensues as every antivaccinationist canard known to antivaccinationists is dumped on an inexperienced blogger.

However, I always want to support a skeptical blogger, especially a new one. Influxes of antivaccinationists, of which I’ve experienced many, can be very scary to a new blogger. Indeed, I was taken aback the first time it happened to me, lo these three years ago. So, please my minions–I mean readers–head on over and give a guy some tactical air support!

Meanwhile, I note that David Kirby has specifically asked this of the fine denizens of New York:

Please feel free to notify any and all interested parties in the NYC area that this event is happening. I am particularly hopeful that people from New York’s medical, scientific, legal, political and pharmaceutical fields will attend and ask some pointed questions. ALL are welcome.

Consider it done, David. Glad to help. So, my friends and readers from New York City and environs, how many of you can show up to give Mr. Kirby what he craves, since I personally cannot be there? Here is a flyer with all the details. Tell him Orac sent you.

Also, it appears that antivaccination groups are funding a speaking tour for David Kirby entitled The Vaccine-Autism Debate: Why Won’t It Go Away? Naturally, I’m tempted to answer that it’s because of scientifically ignorant, self-promoting “journalists” like David Kirby, working in cahoots with the Autism Quack Complex, who, as creationists do with the creation-evolution “debate,” keep the vaccine-autism pseudodebate alive long after it ceased to be a scientific debate, but that would not be sufficiently Respectful. Instead, I’ll show you a list of where David Kirby is going to be, along with links to the fliers for the talks where I have them:

  1. Dayton, OH, June 14
  2. SEPTA Spring Gala benefit, Pleasantville, Westchester Co., NY, June 23. (You probably want to skip this one; while all the others are free, requiring only reservation ahead of time, this one appears to require a $75 ticket for the whole benefit.)
  3. Brown University, June 19.
  4. NYU, New York City, June 26.
  5. Northeastern University, Boston, June 27.
  6. Other dates not yet finalized: Long Island, Central New Jersey and Southern California. (I will certainly consider posting them as they are announced.)

I encourage my readers who can attend these to do so and give David Kirby what he says he wants: tough questions. (In fact, feel free to post such questions in the comments, for the benefit of others.) I’m tellin’ ya, David Kirby and his antivaccinationist paymasters funding his tour should provide me with reasonable renumeration for giving him so much free publicity.

In the meantime, head on over and help a new skeptical blogger out!

Comments

  1. #1 Liz Ditz
    June 11, 2008

    One of the winning comments:

    Denialism Blog – amatures at best

  2. #2 BB
    June 11, 2008

    Oh do keep us posted- am eager to see where in central Jersey he’ll be speaking at.
    Wish I could afford June 26 off to attend the NYU rally.

  3. #3 wfjag
    June 11, 2008

    Be sure to ask him about the Poling decision — He’s almost certain to claim that the decision of the vaccine court under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is proof that vaccines can cause autism.

    The problem with that assertion is that Hannah Poling is NOT autistic. Her diagnosis was encephalopathy caused by a mitochondrial enzyme deficit. For further information, see “Vaccines and Autism Revisited — The Hannah Poling Case”, by Paul A. Offit, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 358:2089-2091 May 15, 2008 Number 20
    on-line at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/20/2089

  4. #4 peterbr
    June 11, 2008

    Hm, I’m a grad student at Northeastern, I just may have to show up for this and ask some good questions. I find it disappointing, though, that the talk is being held in Behrakis – it’s one of the science buildings, where all the undergrad labs are taught.

  5. #5 badger3k
    June 11, 2008

    I skimmed and saw Kirby himself showed up (or at least it seemed to be him, since anybody can post as anybody, and I saw an MD (I think) who (it seems to me) is a bit confused about the types of mercury involved, but the kicker was the divergence about “Leviathan” in the bible being a dinosaur. What that had to do with Kirby is beyond me – I didn’t bother to read that tripe nor did I go back to try to figure it out. A lot of woo there.

  6. #6 Ames
    June 11, 2008

    Dear Orac,

    Thanks for your support :-)

    Keep up the great work here!

  7. #7 DLC
    June 12, 2008

    I guess we can’t just have Kirby consigned to the Outer Darkness, where he can practice his crankery on Cthulhlu ?

    Well, since he asked so nicely:
    Why hasn’t the rate of diagnosed autism cases decreased since the thimeresol was removed from the vaccines issued to young children ?
    Why do you continue to support treatments (and I use the term loosely) like Rashid Buttar’s nonsense ?
    I’d think up some others, but it’s late and I’m tired.
    Oh, and Support strike complete.

  8. #8 Liesl
    June 12, 2008

    Those people puzzle me to no end. You should see the comments on the youtube video I made about the green our vaccines rally. Truly sickening. Thank Aristotle (or whomever you worship) for thick skin!

    Thanks for linking the new blog, Orac.

  9. #9 Tired of mercury crazies
    June 12, 2008

    For true connoisseurs of anti-vaccine fundamentalist madness, John Best has now turned up there to denounce David Kirby for having said Shoemaker’s subpoena against Kathleen Seidel was an attempted abuse of free speech.

    Of course, JB doesn’t put it quite like that:

    “[ Mr Kirby]….Will you explain why you support Kathleen Seidel abusing autistic children by lying about the scientists who are curing autism? It seems to me that this child abuse is not withiin the scope of the first amendment.”

    There are crazies… and then are crazies’ crazies…. and then there’s John Best.

    *Dreams pleasantly of anti-vaccine maniacs being left on “Survivor” or “Lost” style island to fight it out with one another*

  10. #10 RJ
    June 12, 2008

    I just read the comments at the link you provided: head on over and give a guy some tactical air support!

    Holy cow! The logic absolutely escapes me! It is easy to see that suspicion and bias are clearly drivers in this “debate” and not science (as it is with creationism and moon landing conspiracies).

    First, it was MMR as the cause. Then it was thimerosal. Now, it’s vaccine overload. There are no definitive studies that build a theory in any case, but a lot of accusations, thoughts, and circumstantial and anecdotal “evidence”.

    One of the key concepts that keeps getting swept under the rug here are the basic, fundamental mechanism involved in immunology. How is it that a normal biological process involving our acquired immunity results in specific social behavioral traits characterized as autism spectrum disorder? It is NEVER linked. In the case of thimerosal, the reasoning is that mercury toxicity causes specific side-effects that manifest as social deficiencies, as well as other physiological issues in some kids. The problem is that thimerosal is NOT mercury. Nor is it mehtylmercury. In fact, one metabolite of thimerosal is ethylmercury, and it is this metabolite that is the crux of their argument. The point is that no toxicity from mercury compounds, organic or inorganic, manifests itself as the symptoms associated in ASD. They’re nothing alike!

    The next two, MMR and overload, purport that our own immune systems are causing these same specific changes in brain function that manifest as social impairments (and as some claim, a whole range of autoimmune disorders). If this is the case, why wouldn’t normal encounters with pathogens in our everyday lives would be drivers as well. And certainly these same diseases that we vaccinate against would be drivers too. There is a fundamental disconnect in their “theory”. What is the difference between the adverse immune reactions causing autism caused by the vaccine(s) antigens vs. those encountered in the environment? I have never seen this explained. It would suggest that something specific to vaccine formulation was the cause, but, again, there is no link.

    Their logic totally escapes me. But, as it is clearly obvious, they are committed to finding something wrong with vaccines, regardless of the current theory-du-jour. Sounds like bias to me.

  11. #11 John Best
    June 12, 2008

    TOMC,
    Do you think I’m crazy for trying to obtain medical treatment for my son that I can’t afford?

    Do you think I’m an asshole for trying to educate stupid bastards like Kirby and Olmsted who support Seidel in trying to prevent my son from obtaining that treatment?

  12. #12 RJ
    June 12, 2008

    Do you think I’m crazy for trying to obtain medical treatment for my son that I can’t afford?

    Your asking an opinion. Here is my answer.

    You intentions are sincere. Your love is unequivable. Your motives are genuine.

    However, the solution to the problem is not supported by a rational thought process. Simply having a benevolent intention does not justify any particular belief or action. Therefore, your actions are questionable (and can be as simple as adding insult to injury or drastic as jumping from the frying pan into a fire).

    Crazy. Maybe. Foolish. Yes.

  13. #13 John Best
    June 12, 2008

    RJ,
    So, it would follow that anyone who supports your opinion, which would be the same as Seidel’s would consider us all foolish for trying to help our kids?
    Then, Kirby and Olmsted must agree that we are all fools for trying to help our kids. Thanks, that must be the explanation as to why they support Kathleen against decent parents.

  14. #14 RJ
    June 12, 2008

    “So, it would follow that anyone who supports your opinion, which would be the same as Seidel’s would consider us all foolish for trying to help our kids?”
    Foolish for trying to help your kids? Absolutely not! Would it be foolish to run around them in circles everyday, naked, throwing holy water on them? Yes? Is it foolish to feed them only bread and water to purge the disease? Yes. Exorcism? Yes.

    How does one come to a conclusion that a particular course of action has merit or not? That’s the point. To ascertain whether any course of action has merits, one must evaluate the situation based on facts and arrive to a logical conclusion. I believe you think you are doing this, based on your claims that it is ‘mercury’ in your child that has caused his/her brain to function in a way that certain aspects of social interactions are not present (for a more complete description, look at how ASD’s are diagnosed and described). The scientific discrepancies here are numerous. If a causal relationship between autism and vaccines, whether it be from a component, the antigens, or multiple antigen exposures, it would be apparent to the medical and scientific community. It is not. You have chosen to break from the scientific assessments and embraced an illogical one. That is foolish.

    Kirby and Olmsted have jobs and notoriety thanks to this hype. Just as creationists do. Just as Bigfoot researchers do. They may be sincere, but they continue to avoid logic and the scientific method. That’s foolish.

    This isn’t a political issue. This isn’t a “I believe” issue. This isn’t an opinion issue. And claiming that it’s a personal issue is not justifiable either. It is one based on a rational process that requires empirical evidence, the scientific method, and logic.

  15. #15 John Best
    June 12, 2008

    RJ,
    There is no point in trying to argue the science here.

    My only point is that Kirby and Olmsted sold out the children whose cause they are allegedly championing. While they pretend to be on the childrens’ side, they joined forces against those children by supporting Seidel, who is clearly an enemy of autistic children.

  16. #16 Antiquated Tory
    June 18, 2008

    From the Dayton Daily Snooze‘s announcement of his meeting:

    Kirby won the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Best Book award for “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy.”

    The federal government conceded in a February lawsuit settlement that vaccinating one girl against nine diseases in a single day contributed to her autism. All three presidential candidates support research into the link.

    You reckon they just copied and pasted his publicity material? I sure do.
    My parents live in Miamisburg but are too old and insufficiently concerned to do aught about this. But I’ve sent an email to the Snooze complaining about this announcement and suggesting that they might call someone at the excellent University of Dayton Nursing School. And I’ve asked a couple old childhood friends to try and raise a stink.

  17. #17 wackyvorlon
    June 21, 2008

    Now this is just getting really weird. John Best arguing that Kirby and Olmstead are on Kathleen Seidel’s side? It’s like watching identical twins fight each other….

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