Respectful Insolence

Dr. Bob Sears is the bane of science- and evidence-based pediatricians everywhere. As pediatrician Dr. John Snyder relates, whenever he hears a parent say “I was reading Dr. Sears” or sees a patient in his office holding a copy of Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Choice for Your Child, he knows what’s coming next: Resistance to vaccination. It would be one thing if this resistance were based on evidence or science-based concerns about the safety of vaccination, but it’s not. As Dr. Snyder explains, while playing the “open-minded” “tell both sides” gambit, Dr. Sears credulously regurgitates virtually every anti-vaccine canard as though it had scientific validity. At the end, he presents his very own “alternative vaccine schedule,” which delays various vaccines and, according to Dr. Bob, is safer than the currently recommended schedule. All the while, he urges parents not to tell their neighbors if they don’t vaccinate in order not to spread their fears to others, because an increasing number of unvaccinated children will result in a decline in herd immunity and a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

That spreading fear about vaccines could lead to decreases in vaccination rates, the decline of herd immunity, and the resurgence of diseases like the measles is about the only thing Dr. Bob gets right. It’s also as cynical as anything J.B. Handley or Jenny McCarthy has ever said or written.

If there’s one thing you need to know about Dr. Bob, though, it’s that he desperately craves credibility among doctors. He desperately wants to be taken seriously by the medical and public health establishment. He really, really does. Unfortunately for Dr. Bob, has a funny way of showing it. Recently, despite continued oh-so-piously indignant and wounded protestations that he absolutely, positively is not anti-vaccine, Dr. Bob’s actions have been strongly suggesting otherwise. The last time I dealt with Dr. Bob, he had actually written a post for that most rabid of anti-vaccine blogs, Age of Autism, entitled If A Vaccine/Autism Link is Proven, Will Vaccine Policy Change?, which I tore into with gusto because, well, Dr. Bob deserved it. I also pointed out at the time that, if you want to destroy any shred of scientific or medical credibility that you have left, writing for the anti-vaccine loons at Age of Autism is about as excellent a way of doing it as I can think of.

Yesterday, I learned that Dr. Bob did me one better. He thought of an even better way of destroying his scientific credibility and at the same time demolishing any claim he might have had left that he is not “anti-vaccine.” No, he didn’t sign on as a regular writer for AoA, although that certainly would have been one way to top his previous height of self-immolation. But he did come up with something probably as good.

Dr. Bob is going to be a speaker at the National Vaccine Information Center‘s very own 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination in October. The NVIC, in case you’re not familiar with it, is one of the oldest and (prior to the emergence of Generation Rescue) most vociferous anti-vaccine groups, having been formed in 1982 by that grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, who announces it thusly:

Note the clever P.R. Note how Fisher never uses the word “against” or “anti-” anything. She paints her antivaccine group NVIC as “pro-education” and “pro-informed consent” and for “defending your right to choose.” She even ends her video by saying, “Stand up for vaccine freedom of choice.” To look at Generation Rescue, note how Jenny McCarthy is always saying she’s not “anti-vaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine.” The anti-vaccine crowd knows that it’s far better PR to be seen as being for something rather than just against something.

But let’s get back to Dr. Sears. Everyone who pays any attention to vaccine issues knows that the NVIC is anti-vaccine to its very core, and Dr. Sears is giving a lecture on his “alternate” vaccine schedule and one called “To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate? Is That the Question?” at the yearly propaganda gathering for one of the oldest anti-vaccine groups in the country. Great going, Dr. Sears! That tops Generation Rescue’s Age of Autism blog any day! But let’s take a look at some of the luminaries of the anti-vaccine movement and the alternative medicine movement who will be speaking with Dr. Sears:

Or maybe not. Look who else is speaking at this anti-vaccine quackfest. That’s right, David Ayoub. Yes, David “New World Order” Ayoub. This is a guy who’s so into conspiracy theories that he thinks that vaccines are part of a population control plot by the Illuminati, along with birth control, women’s rights, and all sorts of other nefarious plots by the government, all complete with black helicopters and everything. Really. Just scope out this video:

Check out around the 44 minute mark, where Ayoub starts talking about “stealth population control” and genocide. Truly, the crazy is strong there. One wonders if he’ll restrain his NWO Illuminati Black Helicopter tendencies for this conference. (Hey, “Illuminati Black Helicopters” would be a great name for a band, don’t you think?) Speaking of Black Helicopters, Ayoub mentions them right around the 57 minute mark.

But, hey, what good are masters of woo as speakers if they don’t deliver the goods? And deliver they do! Check it out:

“Homeopathy: The Impossible Cure”
Amy Lansky, PhD
Executive Board, National Center for Homeopathy

“Pregnancy, Birth & Child Health: Why Chiropractic Works”
Jeanne Ohm, DC
Executive Board, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association

“Vaccines & Inflammation”
Andrew Wakefield, MD
Executive Director, Thoughtful House Center for Children

“Homeopathy & Vaccines: What Our Pets Teach Us”
Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD
Founder, Animal Natural Health Center

“Vaccines, Informed Consent & Public Health: A Chiropractic Perspective”
Matthew McCoy, DC,MPH
Associate Professor, Clinical Sciences, LIFE University

Wow! Not one but two talks on homeopathy. What does homeopathy have to do with vaccines, I wonder? Who knows? Yes, I realize that some homeopaths try to liken homeopathy to vaccination as “like cures like,” but that’s a specious analogy. In any case, if you peruse the list further, you’ll see lots of talks on “health freedom” (which I like to call “quack freedom” or “freedom for quacks”) and how to evade vaccination by using philosophical exemptions.

And Dr. Sears is right in the thick of it with a talk about his “alternative vaccine schedule.” What many also don’t know is that he’s an “expert” for Mothering.com, that haven of “mommy instinct” anti-vaccine nuttiness, and an advisor for Andrew Wakefield’s home in exile for anti-vaccinationists, Thoughtful House.

In many ways, Dr. Sears is a lot like Dr. Jay Gordon. Both have deluded themselves into believing that they are not anti-vaccine, even as they give speeches to anti-vaccine groups and pal around with leaders of the anti-vaccine movement. Both have forged a role for themselves as the go-to pediatrician “vaccine skeptic” that any media can call when they need to present a false sense of “balance,” as though the anti-vaccine movement’s views are anywhere near on par with the science that has found no association between vaccines and autism–or any of the other horrible things anti-vaccinationists blame on vaccines. In fact, these days, I find Dr. Sears to be far more of a problem than Dr. Jay. The reason is obvious. Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book has sold a lot of copies and resulted in the spreading of unfounded fears about vaccines to far more parents than Dr. Jay could ever do in his dreams. All the while, he has a seemingly “respectable” face to the rest of the world.

But his appearances at events like the NVIC tell another tale. He is two-faced, seemingly reasonable in front of mainstream audiences (and oh-so-craving of acceptance by reputable physicians and scientists) but willing to spread the Gospel of Anti-vaccinationism far and wide among true believers. In a way, I’m glad that Dr. Sears has agreed to speak in front of the NVIC, as I was when he did a guest blog for AoA. If you want the fastest and most efficient method of utterly destroying any scientific and medical credibility regarding vaccines, associating with AoA and the NVIC is definitely the way to go, and that’s just what Dr. Sears is doing. I don’t know if he realizes it, but it’s a very dangerous game that he’s playing. On the one hand, Dr. Bob needs to try to stay “respectable” so that he can continue the Sears empire of popular pediatrics advice books started by his father Dr. Bill. On the other hand, there’s so much adulation from the anti-vaccine movement to be had, not to mention money. There’s also the attraction of being the “brave maverick doctor” who bucks the status quo (even though there’s no good evidence to support what he’s doing). Anti-vaccine woo is drawing Dr. Bob like the gravity well of a black hole, and his giving speeches on the same bill as nutcases like Gary Null and anti-vaccine pseudoscientists like Andrew Wakefield may mark his passage across the event horizon.

Yes, I suspect that mask has finally really slipped, revealing the inner anti-vaccinationist within Dr. Bob.

Comments

  1. #1 k
    August 7, 2009

    Note how Fisher never uses the word “against” or “anti-” anything. She paints her antivaccine group NVIC as “pro-education” and “pro-informed consent” and for “defending your right to choose.”

    Using the same reasoning, the tactics of this group and its ilk can be described as “pro-disease”, “defending your personal rights against the common good”, “pro-anecdotal evidence”, “in favor of efficacy-free treatment”, and so on.

    Let’s borrow a page from the anti-vaccine crowd and turn their doubleplus-ungood doublespeak against them!

    Example:
    • Andrew Wakefield. He’s the guy who started the MMR scare in the U.K. through a combination of seemingly scientific research, ethics-free behavior, and manipulating data to show desired outcomes.
    • Joe Mercola, DO. Fervent b eliever in and promoter of efficicacy-free treatments, pro-diseasist, spreader of untruthful information.

    It’s not as easy as it sounds, but you, Orac, and the many readers of this blog who are more clever and intelligent than I am could certainly pull it off.

  2. #2 Jojo
    August 7, 2009

    As a mother, I think the thing that insults me the most about Dr. Bob is that he is so clearly trying to pander to the widest audience. He’s trying to get money out of parents on both sides of the issue by trying to seem both pro and anti vaccine at the same time. For now, I suppose he’s making some decent money off of it, but I don’t think he understands the damage it’s doing to the entire Sear’s empire. It has reveled just how wishy-washy all of their books are, and as vaccine preventable diseases start to increase, this one book has the ability to discredit their entire library.

    When I am asked for advice from other mom’s, I no longer recommend any the Sear’s books or their website.

  3. #3 FreeSpeaker
    August 7, 2009

    K, I like to call them Pro-Infectious Disease Merchants of Disability and Death. It really sums them up.

  4. #4 John P
    August 7, 2009

    “Homeopathy & Vaccines: What Our Pets Teach Us” is a truly cringe-inducing topic for a presentation. It sets my BS alarm to alert level red without a doubt.

    If only there was a vaccine to prevent stupidity.

    Pro-disease is a great meme. Let’s hope it infects the online culture and replicates.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    August 7, 2009

    Null has had so much “success” in the medical/psychological fields(AIDS denialism,anti-vax,anti-EBM,mental illness denialism,etc.)that he has been expanding his oeuvre to include economic prognostication,political action,life coaching,organic farming/homesteading, and “documentary” film making.I listen to his noon-time woo-fest as I check out financial prices a few times a week:of course I laugh but I think he’s spreading some extremely dangerous ideas- oppose all vaccines (including H1N1),refuse EBM cancer/AIDS/pharmaceutical therapy,take your money out of the banks(even at the depth of the current recession), calling for a general strike to protest economic conditions,dire forecasts of “hyperinflation”,”panic in the streets”.While my background is in psychology,I studied some economics and I manage money for about 9 years- his level of sophistication and comprehension in the social sciences is probably as abysmal as his “expertise’ in the life sciences. However, he is a gold-mine(the “mother lode”,or is it “load”?)for parody.

  6. #6 Skeptico
    August 7, 2009

    “Homeopathy: The Impossible Cure”

    Well, they got that right.

  7. #7 IBY
    August 7, 2009

    Hhhmmm…
    In David Ayoub’s video, he ironically comments that he doesn’t have evidence. A momentary Freudian slip? To be fair, he was talking about the motivation of people who are supposedly “developing diseases.” Truly, the crazy is strong in him.

  8. #8 Dangerous Bacon
    August 7, 2009

    Doc Sears may not realize the risks he’s taking by speaking to the NVIC folks. Compared to other wackaloons on the speaking bill (and taking into account the virulent antivax philosophy of NVIC), he’s going to look like an accomodationist. Give “some” vaccines to our kids, Dr. Bob? Those vaccines that are jammed full of formaldehyde, antifreeze, monkey pus and other horrors? What could you possibly be thinking?

    Wonder whether there’ll be transcripts of the speakers’ remarks or video available. It’d be interesting to see if Dr. Bob goes further than his published statements to cater to NVIC’s philosophy.

    And can it be long before Jay Gordon starts showing up at some of these events? If you want to sell your videos and books, Dr. Jay, you can’t afford to miss out on proselytizing to people who are bound to be receptive to your line of pseudoscience.

  9. #9 Catherina
    August 7, 2009

    I am a bit disheartened to see Dr Tom Jefferson amongst the speakers at that conference. I know that he has been critical of the flu vaccine recommendations both in his Cochrane Reviews and in the BMJ (not posting links so this does not get caught in spam filter), but that was well supported by the literature. Why would he associate with such a panel of speakers?

  10. #10 Luna_the_cat
    August 7, 2009

    On a side note, a question about Wakefield. When I check the General Medical Council’s schedule for “fitness to practice hearings”, Wakefield is listed for continuing investigation over the 10th-28th of this month. I can’t see anything listing him for September, and it doesn’t look like they’ve scheduled much of anything in October, yet. But does this mean that there is a possibility that the GMC could be ruling on him soon?

    Does anyone have any more info on that?

  11. #11 James Sweet
    August 7, 2009

    Look who else is speaking at this anti-vaccine quackfest. That’s right, David Ayoub. Yes, David “New World Order” Ayoub.

    My wife is fond of pointing out that one way you know the anti-vaxers must be wrong is that they are never critical of each other’s ideas, even when they are obviously contradictory, or, in this case, blatantly insane. As long as you think vaccines are bad, mmm’kay, then it doesn’t matter what else you believe, you can join the club! On the other hand, people on the pro-vax side call each other out when they disagree.

  12. #12 Jen
    August 7, 2009

    “As long as you think vaccines are bad, mmm’kay, then it doesn’t matter what else you believe, you can join the club!”

    Ordinarily, I don’t read too much of the AoA blog, because I don’t care much for discussions in which opposing opinions are censored.

    A few days ago, though, Ms. Stagliano outed an apparent troll from the J&J server in NJ for making a belittling remark about the parents who post there. (Apparently J&J is not held in high regard there.) However, when I pointed out that the director of DAN! is in fact married to Woody Johnson’s younger brother, Chris, that comment was censored.

    Indeed, that “club” does not want to hear any opposing opinions, even ones that don’t entirely disagree with them. All they want to hear are confirmations of what they already believe…that vaccines are the cause of autism. End of discussion.

    That kind of thinking does more harm than they realize, in more ways than one.

  13. #13 JustaTech
    August 7, 2009

    Is there anything that the public can do about these books? I was picking up a book on hold at the library and noticed a vaccine book (not this one, but another one that had the word “Alternatives” on the cover, so of the same ilk) and I was deeply upset and conflicted.

    As a former librarian, I know that it is the duty of the library to carry all books regardless of personal opinion. The exception is books that will directly result in harm (usually “The Anarchist Cookbook” is not carried but “The Communist Manifesto” is OK). These books clearly are intended to result in children not getting their vaccines, which could likely result in harm.

    Essentially, am I being a bad, censoring, anti-First Amendment person if I ask the library not to carry these books? Would *they* be wrong for not carrying these books? Would it be more clear-cut if it were some other topic, like HIV denialism?

  14. #14 Todd W.
    August 7, 2009

    @JustaTech

    Perhaps ask that they file those books under “Fiction”?

  15. #15 Fannin
    August 7, 2009

    “Finally”?

    You are much more charitable than I am.

  16. #16 desiree
    August 7, 2009

    @JustaTech
    i donated my copy of autism’s false prophets to my library. it made me feel better anyway.

  17. #17 mikka
    August 7, 2009

    Quackapalooza!

  18. #18 John Snyder
    August 7, 2009

    Unfortunately, Dr. Bob’s presentation for the NVIC will have no impact on the public’s false impression of him as a well-respected voice of reason – America’s pediatrician. But it is long past time for that impression to be changed…..

  19. #19 Todd W.
    August 7, 2009

    Speaking of Dr. Mercola, guess who just popped up in a comment at Bad Astronomy, advertising the conference?

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/08/07/the-avn-is-reaping-what-they-sowed/#comment-204596

  20. #20 Prometheus
    August 7, 2009

    Bob Sears is a stealth antivaccinationist?

    Stealth?

    Apparently, stealth has picked up a new meaning since I last looked. I always thought of stealth (used as an adjective) as meaning “difficult to detect” or “nearly invisible”. Bob Sears antivaccinationist leanings are as “stealthy” as a cow in a sheep pen.

    Even though “Dr. Bob” has learned to “baaaa” like a sheep, he looks, moves, acts and smells like an antivaccinationist.

    Prometheus

  21. #21 D. C. Sessions
    August 7, 2009

    I’m still not seeing much “stealth” in Dr. Sears’ anti-vaccination stance. It’s about as “stealthy” as flying in with your radar transponder and all of your running lights on.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    August 7, 2009

    @ Prometheus- just speculating, but I thinks the Orac is making a snarky,obscure reference to some of the most *outre* of the (already “out-there”) anti-vaxers who believe that Big Pharma unwittingly contaminated many vaccines with “stealth* viruses and then, because they are cheap,soulless money-grubbers,sold the said vaccines anyway,causing autism *stealthily*, as opposed to the more straight-forward, thimerisol way.

  23. #23 Orac's Mom
    August 7, 2009

    Forget all this stuff for one day Orac. It’s your birthday.
    Happy Birthday Orac!!!!

  24. #24 John Snyder
    August 7, 2009

    I just had to post this excerpt from Dr. Bob’s recent discussion of the H1N1 vaccine (http://www.askdrsears.com/thevaccinebook/2009/07/h1n1-flu-vaccine-is-on-its-way-what.asp). He just can’t help himself. His passive-aggressive, anti-vaccine “I’m not anti-vaccine” posturing is so pathetic it’s painful:

    So why is the government so worried? It’s because the evil drug companies are paying them to act worried and create hype over the H1N1 flu so that the drug companies can make billions of dollars selling a vaccine that everyone will be scrambling for. The companies can then hand some of that money back to the government officials who helped them out.

    I jest, but that is the worry many people have. Is this all just about money and not health? I have to believe that our government isn’t crooked enough to go that far. Am I just being naive? Some would say so. I don’t know.

    What I hear from medical policy makers is that they are not so worried about what the H1N1 flu is like now, but about what it could become if it mutates and starts creating more severe disease. That’s why they are acting preemptively to try to stop it. Is that a good idea? I guess.

    So, stay tuned for my November report. In the meantime, worry, or don’t worry. It’s up to you.

    Dr. Bob

  25. #25 Mom in NJ
    August 7, 2009

    It’s a good thing that we have you, Orac, to point all this out. IF only we could get rid of these crazies who are telling us to stop letting the fox guard the henhouse. IF only we could just let government and industry do their job the way we know they can do it, we’d be much better off. Well let me tell you, I live in NJ, a state in which government and industry pretty much run rampant. So come on over, pay the highest property taxes around, suck down some toxic air and water, git yourselves some of our mandated flu shots, and laugh your heads off at the next posse of corrupt politicians stupid enough to get caught. We’re having so much fun, you just might want to move here. But be careful if you do… if you try to leave, they’ll tax ya.

  26. #26 Matthew Cline
    August 7, 2009

    What does homeopathy have to do with vaccines, I wonder?

    Its seems that Hahnemann (the originator of homeopathy) wrote in his book on the theory of homeopathy (The Organon) that the smallpox vaccine was effective.

    Who knows? Yes, I realize that some homeopaths try to liken homeopathy to vaccination as “like cures like,” but that’s a specious analogy.

    From the same link:

    Most of his [Hahnemann's] references [to the smallpox vaccine] relate to the validity in nature of the law of similars, namely that two similar diseases cannot naturally co-exist in the same person.

    So, if I’m understanding things correctly, according to homeopathic theory vaccinating against smallpox with cowpox worked because once you had cowpox the cowpox would crowd out the smallpox, but modern day vaccinations don’t work because they use the same disease rather than a similar disease.

  27. #27 Matthew Cline
    August 7, 2009

    @Mom in NJ:

    IF only we could get rid of these crazies who are telling us to stop letting the fox guard the henhouse. IF only we could just let government and industry do their job the way we know they can do it, we’d be much better off.

    So, what would it take for you to trust that vaccines are safe? For the studies on vaccine safety to be funded by neither the government nor pharmaceutical companies? For the vaccines to be manufactured by a non-profit organization?

  28. #28 Michael Ralston
    August 8, 2009

    So, “Mom in NJ” is anti-vax … okay … and thinks government can do no right (so … a modern-day Republican, eh?) and thinks corporations do wrong when running rampant (and who is to stop them, if it’s not the government?) … yep, craziness begets craziness.

  29. #29 wheatdogg
    August 8, 2009

    I can’t see the Ayoub video, and not because I am in China. The message “This video is currently not available. Please try again later.” pops up. Has Orac overwhelmed the mighty servers of Google?

  30. #30 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    August 8, 2009

    @Dr. Snyder(24)
    Once again I must thank you for reading “The Vaccine Book” so that I don’t have to. That excerpt is quite the contorted mess of contradictions. Dr. Bob must have drunk his Kool-aid through a Krazy Straw.

  31. #31 Catherina
    August 8, 2009

    @ Jennifer

    yeah that, Dr Bob does not think he needs to bother to read Dr Snyder’s take down, though:

    http://www.askdrsears.com/forum/message.asp?id=95138

    Should I bother? by Dr. Bob – posted on 8/3/2009

    I can almost guess what it says.

    He did not read “Autism’s False Prophets” either, although he has just finished writing his own autism book….

    I read The Vaccine Book – someone had warned me that it would be like driving nails into my forehead – it was not quite as bad as that. The idea to explain vaccines and vaccine schedule is laudable, the execution is just poor.

  32. #32 Matthew Cline
    August 8, 2009

    in 1982 by that grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher,

    Doing a Google search on “Barbara Loe Fisher” gets whale.to as the 8th hit. Just a few samples about the polio vaccination program in India:

    It is painful to watch doctors and public health officials squirt unlimited amounts of live oral polio vaccine down the throats of babies in India rather than address the poor nutrition and sanitation that comes with poverty, the true cause of most disease. With a religious zeal not seen since the Crusades, …

    Have the malnourished, poor children repeatedly exposed to live polio viruses become immune compromised and more vulnerable to other diseases?

    The people, like lambs led to slaughter, do not know how to stand up to the officials in white coats.

    Yikes!

  33. #33 Kay
    August 9, 2009

    I’m glad you told me about this two-faced Sears guy- I’ve only had fleeting contact with the anti-vaccine crowd via Facebook groups- fancy him having the gall to say “Don’t vaccinate and don’t tell the neighbours you didn’t” so that the silly neighbours who didn;t listen to him can preserve herd immunity for you!!!!- While all their kids get autism- heyy!! Beauty- he wants lots of autistic children around, just not yours!?? Has he ever been to high school, let alone med school??
    PS. I am still bubbling and blaspheming about an acquaintance of mine who saw a sign in a naturopath’s window that said “De toxify your autistic child with foot pads” and promptly encouraged another friend with an autistic 19-year-old to try it!! HellPPP!!!!

  34. #34 Matthew Cline
    August 9, 2009

    I am still bubbling and blaspheming…

    Azathoth, is that you? </obscure-lovecraft-joke>

  35. #35 MI Dawn
    August 9, 2009

    @Mom in NJ…just fyi…I live in NJ and so did Orac, for several years until his most recent move. Since you obviously haven’t read enough in his previous posts to learn that, I have grave doubts that you will read anything that will prove many other things you have to say wrong.

    I doubt Orac would disagree about much of the corruption in NJ government that has hit the papers lately. However, vaccines don’t fit in that category unless you are a conspiracy nut.

  36. #36 FreeSpeaker
    August 9, 2009

    This should upset Sears:

    http://immunizetexas.org/

    They’ll send you an email reminder so you can stay on schedule.

  37. #37 Pablo
    August 10, 2009

    Rats, I’m late to the party. I’ve made comments about Sears before, regarding the sentiment in this statement

    At the end, he presents his very own “alternative vaccine schedule,” which delays various vaccines and, according to Dr. Bob, is safer than the currently recommended schedule

    Not having read the book (and not going to), I’m wondering, is this really true? Does he actually claim it is safer?

    Because from the excerpts I’ve read, he is very dicey about it. The closest he comes to claiming it is safer is to say that it “makes sense” or “is reasonable to think” that separating vaccines is safer than giving them all at once, for example. With no basis, of course. But overall, I was always under the impression that he makes no bones about the fact that he is only doing the “alternate schedule” to appease worried parents. The problem is that in doing so, he actually feeds and legitimizes their worries. But that’s good for him, because then he can be the calming voice, the one who cares and can appease their concerns, unlike the evil doctors who don’t. And he can sell them his book.

    Second, speaking of Fisher, I caught her the other night on the 700 Club or something like that (whatever religious show is on ABC Family). It was the old canard, “We are putting too many toxins into our children’s bodies. That can’t be good, can it?” As with Sears, the old “it seems resonable” approach, as opposed to any facts (such as the number of antigens given in vaccines nowadays is much lower than it used to be in the 70s and 80s due to … wait for it… improvement in vaccination approaches!!! Of course, admitting that would mean they would have to acknowledge that vaccines are constantly being tested, evaluated, and improved)

  38. #38 Heraclides
    August 10, 2009

    Perhaps equally telling is who are not speakers at this meeting: anyone with a view contrary to an anti-vaccine agenda.

    I would suspect an investigation of the expertise of the speakers would reveal that few, if anyone, have actual expertise on vaccines. A quick skim of those with PhDs suggests only two have a PhD in immunology or the like. I’d have to say this “historic” meeting is characterised by it’s speakers not having expertise in the topic at hand. Unless it’s “expertise” in “anti-vaccine”… If that’s the common thread of “expertise”, there’s not much point in Barbara trying to hide it in her presentation.

    Not that an appropriate formal qualification some time in the past is a good yardstick, people can stray off from sensible science after all. (Their current stance is more relevant.)

    I’m a bit curious about Steven M. Rubin being there: apparently he set up VAERS. Was this database set up under sincere intentions? I know it’s a frequently topic in anti-vaccine discussions, but I’ve always had the impression is was set up with good intentions, but is easily subject to abuse. That he is speaking at this “conference” leaves me questioning that.

    Another question: should Vicky Debold be holding the job she has? Should her institution knows that she supports/promotes an anti-vaccine stance? (Or are “affiliate” staff allowed to be odd-balls?!)

    My guess is that Bob’s problem is a lack of rigour in his thinking. It’s one thing to be “open” to other ideas, but another to not apply (rigourous) due diligence to new ideas/concepts. Without that you’d fall for ever scam in the book, so to speak.

    @9: Sounds as if he hasn’t looked before he leapt? Let’s hope he squirms with embarrassment at the other speakers and leaves early and learns his mistake.

    @10: Not meaning to get ahead of the outcome, but they’d be likely hosting a convicted felon. Hmm…

    @13: Perhaps you could paste on the cover a warning saying that the contents are not supported by medical science?

  39. #39 Katherine
    August 11, 2009

    Ugh. I thought my country had less nutters, but I’ve been unfortunately forced to see the light. Currently New Zealand is having a bit of a measles epidemic and one newspaper riled up all the antivaccinationists by asking a silly question. Feel free to jump into the comments, we need a bit more sense in the discussion.

    http://blogs.nzherald.co.nz/blog/your-views/2009/8/6/vaccination-answer-preventing-measles-epidemic/

  40. #40 Chris
    August 11, 2009

    I may be mistaken, but isn’t the uber-anti-vaccine Hilary Butler from New Zealand? Doesn’t she live in Tuakau?

  41. #41 Heraclides
    August 11, 2009

    @40: She is from NZ, not sure exactly where, though. She is such a defender of Ron Law that I joking think she is infatuated with him! (Ron Law is, if anything, worse than her. Horrible thought.)

    @39: Thanks for the head’s up. Sounds as if some people—the journo included—need to learn the science before commenting.

  42. #42 Heraclides
    August 11, 2009

    @39: For some “balance”, there is this: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/blogs/pg-parental-guidance-advised/2734491/This-could-hurt-you-more-than-it-hurts-me

    (Excuse the flurry of comments.)

  43. #43 tracy
    August 17, 2009

    iM SURE MOST OF YOU BRAINWASHED LITTLE CREATURES WILL BE LINING UP FOR THE SWINE FLU VACCINE THAT THE DRUG COMPANIES WILL MAKE MILLIONS AND JUST LIKE HEALTHCARE REFORM WILL HAVE TAKEN JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO COME UP WITH!!!! Just like the gardisil vaccine that has even caused some deaths if you are smart and look that up you will see that and other damages people are inflicting on thier daughters because drug companies scare for money this vaccine will also nost likely have many side effects that the lovely government and drug companies will cover up. But go ahead and believe them they are so overwelmingly known for truthfulness honesty let the man control you once more.BECAUSE THE GOVERMENT IS SO CONCERNED ABOUUT OUR HEALTH MORE THEN MONEY RIGHT? MY NIECE WAS INJURED PERMENENTLY FROM OUR WONDERFUL GARDISIL VACCINE AND THE GOVERMENT AND DOCTORS COULD GIVE TWO %$#*

  44. #44 Dedj
    August 17, 2009

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can scream:

    “The government is trying to cover it up!”

    and, at the same time:

    “I’m right! You can look it up!”

    and never seem to realise that if the government was trying to cover it up, the very last person likely to get their hands on any real reliable data would be an obviously untrained, unqualified person with barely passable literacy skills.

  45. #45 ababa
    August 17, 2009

    Run on sentences with a broken CAPs lock sure is convincing.

    Tracy, are you making fun of anti-vaxers? The problem with posts like yours is that it is hard to distinguish from satire and true believers. The only thing anyone can come away from that is that you are either trying to be funny or are a raving lunatic that should be completely disregarded. I hope it is the former.

  46. #46 Dangerous Bacon
    August 17, 2009

    “iM SURE MOST OF YOU BRAINWASHED LITTLE CREATURES WILL BE LINING UP FOR THE SWINE FLU VACCINE”

    Yes, I will.

    “THAT THE DRUG COMPANIES WILL MAKE MILLIONS AND JUST LIKE HEALTHCARE REFORM WILL HAVE TAKEN JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO COME UP WITH!!!!”

    A vaccine has been in the works for months and won’t be ready until fall. But don’t let a few inconvenient facts stop your ranting.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_87051.html

  47. #47 Science Mom
    August 17, 2009

    It looks like Dr. Bob is coming rather unhinged. This from his own forum,
    The Vaccine Book Home
    (click on the Vaccine Discussion Forum on the right in the Resources box) and the
    direct link to the post
    (I am SM, by the way):

    Weekly Disclaimer about SM and Catherina by Dr. Bob – posted on 8/17/2009

    Those of you who are regulars here know them well, but I want to make sure those of you are new know about Science Mom and Catherina.

    Although it would seem that with the frequency with which their names appear on these posts that they work for this site, they actually have no official affiliation with myself or this site. Although much of their scientific information seems to be accurate, I do not trust their opinions, their conclusions, or their advice. So, follow their advice are you[sic] own, and your children’s, risk.

    Many of us don’t appreciate the way they redicule[sic] and demean anyone who is anti-vaccine. Most of us who are pro-vaccine, such as myself, are happy to offer advice or opinions to those who are not pro-vaccine, but we manage to do so in a respectful way. Because SM and Catherina don’t seem able to do this, I suggest you simply ignore their posts and pretend they aren’t there.

    If you don’t agree with them, don’t bother trying to tell them so, no matter how solid you think your science is. Their science is better, or so they would think. I wouldn’t waste your time arguing with them anymore, unless you enjoy that sort of thing – then, by all means, go for it.

    There are rumors that SM and Cath are “secret agents” for vaccine manufacturers, planted here to combat my “anti-vaccine” advice. Although I wouldn’t put it past any company to do just that (makes perfect sense – have a couple of “scientific” parents work the blogs and posts instead of doctors or professionals – some parents would listen more to another parent), I have no evidence that such is the case. SM and Catherina claim they spend hours on this site each week for almost two years now out of the goodness of their hearts. I would love to believe that, but I would also expect such good-hearted people to come across good-heartedly in their posts toward people who question vaccines. That clearly is NOT the case, so that makes me question what type of people they really are.

    Anyway, just wanted to post this warning to any newcomers. I’m just going to pretend they aren’t there and answer everyone’s questions as usual. I’m sure ignoring them isn’t going to make them go away, but they are SO NOT WORTH MY TIME anymore.

  48. #48 Orac
    August 17, 2009

    Your direct link doesn’t work for me, I’m afraid. I’d love to see the full comment thread.

  49. #49 Chris
    August 17, 2009

    It looks like it does not work in Firefox, but works for Internet Explorer.

  50. #50 Science Mom
    August 17, 2009

    http://www.askdrsears.com/thevaccinebook/index.asp

    This is the link to The Vaccine Book Home; click on the Vaccine Discussion Forum link at the right under ‘Resources’ and his post is entitled, “Weekly Disclaimer about SM and Catherina by Dr. Bob – posted on 8/17/2009″

    That’s it, he is just on his weekly screed about us and what shill meanies we are.

    This was last week’s warning about us:

    Notice Regarding Catherina And Science Mom by Dr. Bob – posted on 8/10/2009

    Those who are new to this site, and those who aren’t, should be aware that SM and Cath have no relationship or connection to this site, and the advice they provide is purely their own.

    In general, it has been my experience that Catherina gives accurate medical information regarding diseases and by-the-book vaccine advice. Science Mom seems to generally give accurate information regarding mainstream scientific studies.

    BUT, their advice regarding vaccine controversies and decisions usually does not agree with my own. So I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that any advice they give is NOT a reflection of my advice, and you should take it at your own, and your child’s, risk.

    http://www.askdrsears.com/forum/message.asp?id=95738

    So he is escalating.

  51. #51 Chris
    August 18, 2009

    Wow, you two merit a weekly notice! You must really be getting under his skin, that is just awesome. Good job!

  52. #52 ababa
    August 18, 2009

    Sounds like Science Mom and Catherina need a little support on correcting the noise of Dr. “Be afraid of Vaccines, but I’m not Anti-vax!” Sears.

    The Anti-vaxers sure don’t like competing opinions or valid facts. They love echo chambers and do everything they can to cast out anyone that disagrees. That’s why Sears posted that, he can’t outright ban them without giving up his appearance of not being Anti-vax. He can’t argue the science without completely throwing in the towel on getting the scientific acceptance he covets. So he had to discredit them indirectly.

    The Anti-vaxers on my local forums are the same. Just recently they posted a poll about who actually knew someone that was “vaccine damaged”. Unfortunately for them, the poll is going against what they believe, despite them posting “personal” horror stories to rile up the others. Over half the people don’t even have a friend of a friend that have even what they believe to be “vaccine damage”. And that is in a private sub-forum of “natural and attachment” parents, so you know it is instantly going to be biased against vaccines from the beginning.

    The best part was the anti-vax ringleader complaining that she couldn’t post everything she wanted because some registered nurse in the forum might debate it and the moderators would lock it to prevent arguing. Some threads ended up getting locked recently after the anti-vaxers got nasty and tried to run off anyone who didn’t think the government was coming in black helicopters with guns to force them to get the swine flu vaccine. If they can’t win then they will try to run you off to silence you.

  53. #53 Catherina
    August 18, 2009

    Thanks Chris,

    I must say that I mainly stayed on the Sears board because so many questions went unanswered (or essentially unanswered), but see, this is how the “goodness of my heart” gets rewarded.

  54. #54 Matthew Cline
    August 18, 2009

    From Dr. Sears:

    Although much of their scientific information seems to be accurate, I do not trust their opinions, their conclusions, or their advice.

    Dr. Sears’ truthiness is much more important than mere science.

  55. #55 Catherina
    August 18, 2009

    @ 54 Matthew, that is really the recurring theme – Bob sees the science, he sort of grudgingly accepts that yes, really, it does seem that the MMR has no systematic relationship to autism, BUT then he turns around and states that he is still not comfortable with the MMR and makes up a new MMR recommendation that is even more dangerous to public health than the one in his book:

    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2009/08/seroconversion-after-measles-or-mmr.html

    In the gut vs science “fight”, Bob’s gut wins every time.

  56. #56 Science Mom
    August 18, 2009

    Although it would seem that with the frequency with which their names appear on these posts that they work for this site, they actually have no official affiliation with myself or this site.

    I’m happy to have any impression of affiliation to him cleared up. And being a ‘secret agent’? How can I sign up? I can get paid to do this? Celebrimedicine at it’s finest right here.

  57. #57 Anon
    October 9, 2009

    Hi

    I have receaved this from some one who wants to remain anonymous.

    They are changing the mental health act so that people who are under it will be forced vaccinated.

    Please flood Debbie Nixons e-mail the Director of Commissioning partly responcerble for this mass vaccine planning.

    http://www.manchester.nhs.uk/document_uploads/board%202%20sept%202009/August1.doc

    It was noted that a mass vaccination was required later in the year which would create pressure for GPs and community services.

    Minutes of Board meeting held on

    held on 5 August 2009

    The Cornerstone Centre

    debbie.nixon@manchester.nhs.uk

    http://www.northwest.nhs.uk/…/Social%20Care%20-%20Mental%20Health%20Joint%20Commissioning%20Team.pdf

    These poeple need to know when enough is enough I have not receaved 1 responce from her and this is not accepterble.

    Please raise the alarm urgently

    http://www.bolton.nhs.uk/Library/your_health/Mass%20Vaccination%20Generic%20Framework.pdf

    Just for you to be warned-i think they maybe planning forced vaccinations of untrialed flu vaccines (can send you loads of info), i as looking at some sites as this is very worrying-and found this-being as you were a local…(thought you would be interested).

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    The second freshly discovered document is a sample vaccination order (PDF) originating from the NHS health authority in Bolton, Lancashire.

    The order states that people in the UK will be summoned for a vaccination at an allocated date and time at pre-planned mass vaccination centres, and that refusal to attend is not an option.

    It is important that you attend this session. If you are unable to attend, you will need to go to one of the later sessions listed overleaf, says the letter in Appendix F page 29 of the contingency document.

    The letter lists Bolton Arena as the mass vaccination site, which is a large indoor sports arena.

    This is a new vaccine, which protects against the pandemic strain of influenza, which circulated last year. the letter, which was drawn up in September 2006, states.

    The document also highlights the need for crowd control and says that contract security should be considered in addition to the local police forces.

    Anon

  58. #58 Ramel
    October 9, 2009

    @anon #57: That pdf that you like to is part of emergency planning for serious epidemics and biological attack, and those dark and evil meeting minuites were talking about increased demand for vaccination caused by the spread of H1N1. You’re just another insane conspiracy monger.

    And -1000 points for posting as anon.

  59. #59 Chris Hickie, MD,PhD
    October 12, 2009

    As a current pediatrician and former research scientist, I want to know just who in the heck Dr. Bob Sears thinks he is to put his book out there as though he is somehow smarter and intuitively knows more than all the physician-scientists at the FDA, CDC and ACIP?

    Answer: He is not smarter. If he was, he would have tested his “alternative” (read: DANGEROUS) schedule to show it was safer, but he hasn’t at all, even though writes like he’s used it for years in his book.

    Just how dangerous is Dr. Bob and his “Vaccine Book”? Well, the simple fact that his medical clinic was where the Southern California measles outbreak began last year should tell you all you need to know*. He is truly anti-vaccine and is probably the worst thing (along with Dr. Jay Gordon) that could have happened to pediatrics–having traitors in our midst.

    I am sorely disappointed in the likes of Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon. They are appeasers where no appeasement should have ever occurred. They are putting infants and children at risk by their dangerous practices of selective/delayed vaccination. There is no scientific basis for this. But I am even more angry with the American Academy of Pediatrics for not having the guts as a group (Dr. Offit’s article–”The Problem with Dr. Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule”–while great, is not a policy statement) to come out as a unified whole against Drs. Sears and Gordon. I go so far as to suggest these two doctors be stripped of their FAAP status for what they have done to vaccine rates in America.

    Dr. Bob’s dangerous “Vaccine Book” has sat out there largely unchallenged for over 2 years now. I grow weary debating parents who bring this book in like some sort of vaccine bible. I can usually show them Dr. Bob knows nothing of any value about the true benefits versus risks of vaccines (and I do it without browbeating for all of you who have been scolded by your own pediatrician about this), but it can take 30 minutes or more of busy clinic time to do this. If the AAP and ACIP/CDC were to publicly condemn this book (with a handout for practitioners to use highlighting key points), it would be a big step in undoing the damage done by these dangerous pediatricians.

    *http://healthyliving.freedomblogging.com/2008/12/29/ocs-dr-bob-sears-discusses-measle-outbreak-on-npr/1974/

  60. #60 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 12, 2009

    I believe that Dr. Hickie’s position requesting that Dr. Sears and I lose our FAAP status violates the guidelines of our organization.

    I do not recommend nor request that he lose his FAAP. It’s a bigger tent than he thinks.

    Best,

    Jay

  61. #61 Chris Hickie
    February 21, 2010

    I stand by and remain firm in my belief that Dr. Gordon’s and Dr. Sear’s views about vaccines are so ABSOLUTELY UNSCIENTIFICALLY CONTRARY TO ALL PUBLISHED RESEARCH and that their acceptance and promotion of NOT VACCINATING are so dangerous to children and go so against their duties as a pediatrician to care for children that they do not deserve FAAP status.

    Wakefield’s paper in Lancet is DEAD (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3716). IT IS BUNK-has always been and now officially is. You have no legs to stand on Drs. Sears and Gordon. I am and will continue to write the AAP demanding they publicly rebuke you and strip you of FAAP status for what you are doing and have done. And if you have any conscience or care, you will retract your views and admit your errors. And Dr. Sears, please stop making $$$ and poisoning the minds of parents with your insane book!! What does your father, the REAL Dr. Sears think of you, Dr. Bob, since he’s actually old enough have seen the diseases can now so successfully vaccinate against and now sees you contributing to children once again contracting them?

    Chris Hickie, MD, PhD.

  62. #62 Amy Murphy
    March 4, 2010

    The only “parody” here, it seems to me, is that of Hippocrates, and his oath. You folks are a far more hysterical, amorphous mass than any of the antivacs could ever hope to be. Rant on, but oh-how-confident am I that history will find you and your platform laughable. Shills for pseudoscience at its worst, and obvious opponents of the open-minded platform which is scientific inquiry.

  63. #63 Vicki
    March 4, 2010

    Amy–

    I assume you’re thinking of “first, do no harm.” Convincing parents to expose their children to dangerous diseases is harm.

  64. #64 Emily
    March 7, 2011

    I just stumbled across this post. I am really wondering if the author of the blog has even read The Vaccine Book. I was on the fence about vaccines and after reading Dr. Sear’s book, I felt more confident about vaccinating my daughter. If Dr. Sears is truly an “stealth anti-vaccinationist”, he isn’t doing a very good job of it…or I missed the subliminal messages in his book.

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