Respectful Insolence

Damn! I knew I made my promise to myself not to write about vaccines again for at least a few days too soon! Whenever I do that, it seems, one of two things happens. Either something important happens that, having become, however it happened, the go-to blogger for commenting on the anti-vaccine movement, I can’t ignore.

This is not what happened.

The second thing that happens whenever I make that promise to myself is that someone from the anti-vaccine movement writes something that’s unintentional pure comic gold.

This is what happened.

Someone named Curt Linderman, Sr. characterized the pathetically attended and totally pwned anti-vaccine American Rally for Personal Rights a “huge success,” even though his own inflated estimate of the attendance there was only 300. My rule of thumb from having observed events of this type for a while is that the actual attendance of a political rally is usually, at most, half of what the organizers trumpet the attendance to have been after the event. That would be about 150 or less, well within the range of estimates of the skeptics there. Add to that the picture of the volunteers and speakers, which number around 45, subtract the volunteers and speakers, and you’re talking pathetic.

Here’s the single most giggle-worthy passage from the account, though:

While some websites run by unscrupulous individuals decided to misinform the public with the low estimates of those attending the mid week rally, numbers were essentially where we had expected them to be and this is apparent when you consider that the Chicago officials would have been riled had we underestimated the number and significantly more had shown up for the event. With more than 300 logins for the web based rally, the number of those viewing via the web should be placed at over 1500 considering that I know of a number of rally parties springing up….worthy numbers for a first time event.

Gee, you don’t think he means li’l ol’ Orac (among others), do you? Skeptical Teacher, Autism News Beat, Jeremy Witteveen and Jamie Bernstein, take a bow too, you “unscrupulous” skeptics, you!

Of course, even if true, this passage unintentionally reveals something. If this passage is true (which I sincerely doubt), then it means that the organizers themselves didn’t think they could draw very many people into a park in the heart of Chicago on a spring afternoon despite a “large number of volunteers that spent months on conference calls and logistics.”

All right, I’ll stop again for now and try to move on to other topics next week. I have a rare three-day weekend that doesn’t demand huge amounts of work to enjoy, the last one for a while.

But wait. Orac’s typing hand is twitching over his keyboard. Julie Obradovic at Age of Autism is laying down nine Burning Man-sized straw men about supporters of science-based medicine and vaccines and then setting them on fire with napalm-grade burning stupid.

Must…resist…urge…to…go…all…Orac…on…her…

Comments

  1. #1 MikeMa
    May 29, 2010

    Aw, it is a holiday, do what you want, give her the insolence.

  2. #2 Ken
    May 29, 2010

    After emailing a link of the previous post to a friend of mine who used to live in Chicago, he reminisced that “you could easily get 500 people together just by saying we want 500 people to show-up for no reason except we want 500 people to show-up.”

    Sometimes I go the the outdoor showings of old movies at Grant Park. More than 30,000 people used show up for those:

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=9470

  3. #3 Janice in Toronto
    May 29, 2010

    Wow, Julie Obradovics rant is highly entertaining, particularly if you like military-grade stupid.

    Really, if she could be harnessed and unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy, they’d be completely wiped off the globe.

    It would probably be against the Geneva conventions though…

    Go get her, Orac. I look forward to this nutcake getting a firm smack on the blog.

  4. #4 Kristen
    May 29, 2010

    Dear lord, Orac! You should go enjoy your weekend. The bat-shit crazy will still be here on Tuesday.

    Of course, if you feel you need to lay the insolent smack down, I suppose I will support your decision and read (if I must).

  5. #5 W. Kevin Vicklund
    May 29, 2010

    numbers were essentially where we had expected them to be and this is apparent when you consider that the Chicago officials would have been riled had we underestimated the number and significantly more had shown up for the event.

    Logic FAIL!

  6. #6 Julie
    May 29, 2010

    I hope you end up responding Julie’s post. I read it and I think even if it’s misguided, it gets to the heart of the mistrust a lot of parents feel.

    And here’s the thing, when you see that oil industry regulators actually WERE in the pocket of the oil industry, with recent disastrous results, I think it does make this kind of conspiracy mongering about vaccines sadly more believable.

    So if you can stand to do it, answering this one would be a great post. But you know, try to have fun over the holiday weekend and do it on Tuesday.

    –Not that Julie

  7. #7 Adam_Y
    May 29, 2010

    Hmmmm…. That article that you linked to is sure on whoopper of idiocy. Basically, she is claiming that the entire system of science is flawed.

  8. #8 tsig
    May 29, 2010

    From the article:

    “As good citizens we should be outraged, not to mention ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease and the pharmaceutical companies that promise to protect us from it that we are willing to so easily give up our rights and be at their mercy. To parrot Benjamin Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty to gain safety have neither.”

    Who’s afraid of a little measles, chicken pox, mumps ect.

    Bring ‘em on!!

    Ben also said “Those who ignore facts are stupid”*

    *Well maybe not in those exact words

  9. #9 T. Bruce McNeely
    May 29, 2010

    numbers were essentially where we had expected them to be

    So what about the bananas?

  10. #10 MikeMa
    May 29, 2010

    It is a marvel that Julie Obradovic can tie her shoes let alone use a computer to post crap. For someone with such a pronounced distrust of science, I probably shouldn’t tell her that Big Pharma has posted listening devices in her house and is skimming every byte on her cable.

    All this in an effort to collect incriminating evidence of intelligent life. No luck so far…

  11. #11 presuming ed
    May 29, 2010

    Slightly off topic, but I just came across this allegation on an anti-vax site
    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fvaccineresistancemovement.org%2F%3Fp%3D1749&h=5c6ae
    Is this new to anyone??

  12. #12 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 29, 2010

    @T. Bruce McNeely

    numbers were essentially where we had expected them to be

    So what about the bananas?

    Six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH!

    How much is a bunch again? Maybe it was a decimal point error. Math is hard.

  13. #13 Sid Offit
    May 29, 2010

    No time to read the Obradovic piece. I just can’t put down Harriet Hall’s book, Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly. The part about her admitting a spider to the hospital had me breaking out in paroxysms of laughter. Think I just cracked a few ribs.

  14. #14 David N. Brown
    May 29, 2010

    @11:
    All I needed to see was references to dentist/ vaccine “expert” Len Horowitz.

  15. #15 MartinM
    May 29, 2010

    Damn! I knew I made my promise to myself not to write about vaccines again for at least a few days too soon!

    Technically, you promised to take a break from the subject next week. So you’re in the clear :D

  16. #16 Emil Karlsson
    May 29, 2010

    Go Orac on her. I know you want to.

  17. #17 Matthew Cline
    May 29, 2010

    not to mention ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease

    Yeah, who are those infectious diseases to tell us what to do? I’ll take on that measly smallpox virus any day of the week.

  18. #18 jo
    May 29, 2010

    Thank you Matt,
    I too, am intimidated by infectious disease. Currently it’s a case of viral meningitis lurking in my Emergency Room. It can mix it’s own damn antibiotics if keeps it up.

  19. #19 Nescio
    May 29, 2010

    I’m trying very hard to see the world from Obradovic’s reality tunnel. If Big Pharma really does have the power to fake research findings all over the world, why do they put any nasty “toxins” in vaccines at all? Why don’t they just use fake remedies made out of something inoccuous, like sugar water, and fake the evidence to make it look like they work? Then no one would be making any fuss and Big Pharma would be making lots of money. Any child who really did get an infectious disease could invite all her friends to a nice MMR party, where they could exchange viruses and be given some lovely herbs and magic potions. Andrew Wakefield would turn up dressed as a clown, entertain the children by taking blood and doing spinal taps, and sing some anti-vaccine songs. All the children would then have lifelong immunity, and live happily ever after. The End.

  20. #20 SC (Salty Current)
    May 29, 2010

    Julie Obradovic:

    First of all, trust is earned. So is respect. I don’t care what letters you have after your name. You’re smart? Great. So am I.

    No, you’re really not. Really, you’re not.

    From the comments:

    on the piece where you are all supposed to get vaccinated and get your children vaccinated because if you don’t…the diseases will come back…

    how about if we all pause a moment and consider Haiti.

    In Haiti, there wasn’t a drop in vaccination. There was an earthquake. Then many people without housing and without adequate food and water. And then…an outbreak of diphtheria. So is this disease caused by a vaccine deficiency or by lousy living conditions?

    I… I can’t believe someone actually typed this. I’m feeling very Lewis Black…

  21. #21 ChrisKid
    May 29, 2010

    “Her medical history speaks volumes about their trustworthiness and concern for her safety.”

    Aaand we’re right back to ‘my child is my science’.

    “Science is based on observation.” Every time I let fruit sit out it grows these little bugs. I don’t know how bugs grow from fruit, but it happens. Don’t try to tell me different, I know what I see. And it happens to my mom and my best friend, too.

  22. #22 Sauceress
    May 30, 2010

    Every time I let fruit sit out it grows these little bugs….
    And it happens to my mom and my best friend, too.

    Oh dear! That doesn’t sound good at all. Perhaps some sort of storage receptacle could be arranged for the mom and best friend?

  23. #23 Sauceress
    May 30, 2010

    Is there a “Fundies say the damndest things” style site for these hilarious anti-vax droppings? If not, I think the creation of one is way overdue.

  24. #24 Zetetic
    May 30, 2010

    Sauceress said @ #23:

    Is there a “Fundies say the damndest things” style site for these hilarious anti-vax droppings? If not, I think the creation of one is way overdue.

    I thought it was called “Age of Autism”….

    ;-)

  25. #25 Harold L Doherty
    May 30, 2010

    “go .. all … Orac … on … her”

    Geez I hope that is just your usual school yard name calling and nothing deviant or worse?

  26. #26 Rrr
    May 30, 2010

    Sauceress said @ #23:

    Is there a “Fundies say the damndest things” style site for these hilarious anti-vax droppings? If not, I think the creation of one is way overdue.

    PZ Myers on Pharyngula uses Comic Sans for stupid-quotes, and for the more serious cases against a background of “Gumby” figures. Not sure how he does that, though, but it is quite distinctive.

  27. #27 Orac
    May 30, 2010

    Geez I hope that is just your usual school yard name calling and nothing deviant or worse?

    Interesting, isn’t it, how Harold’s mind is so in the gutter that this is the first thing he thinks of…

    No one else thought of that, much less voiced it.

  28. #28 Prometheus
    May 30, 2010

    “Interesting, isn’t it, how Harold’s mind is so in the gutter that this is the first thing he thinks of…”

    I believe the psychologists call that “projection”.

    Harold is simply assuming that everybody thinks the same way he does – ergo, he assumes that you had some sexual or scatalogical meaning in mind, since he would, in a similar situation.

    Viewed in that light, Harold’s comment (and all of his previous comments) give a revealing, if disturbing, insight into his thought processes.

    Prometheus

  29. #29 Tacroy
    May 30, 2010

    I have to admit I don’t really know what he means, but his number of 300 attendees is from “the web based rally”. Is that just some place online where people could go and say that they went to the rally? Because if so, that’s a completely useless measure of attendance, and is even more pathetic – you can’t even get more than 300 people to go online and say they were there?

  30. #30 lizditz
    May 30, 2010

    I hate to disturb your Sunday, Orac, but Katie Wright has just posted An Autism Mom Goes to Imfar.

    For years, possibly decades,

    Katie’s research skills are showing some gaps. IMFAR was convened for the first time in 2001.

    parents have complained that IMFAR was an esoteric brain and gene conference peripherally associated autism…400 presentations on eye gazing, 200 social gazing, 100 on an infant’s grasp of eye gazing, genes, brain and genes, brain, genes and brain. Despite IMFAR’s proclamations of “exciting breakthroughs” few families felt any excitement and fewer children saw any benefit.

    Translation: Katie is vexed because, in her view, there is insufficient translational research. In other words, again in her view, autism researchers are doing it wrong.

    When a lecture ends at a DAN! Conference

    For the uninitiated, DAN! stands for Defeat Autism Now!. Presenters such conferences are promoting chelation or HBOT or chemical castration or… every other flavor of “unethical voodoo medicine”. Some sample titles at DAN! conferences: The Truth About Candida Elimination, Enzyme Therapy and Autism, The Houston Homeopathy Method of Sequential Homeopathy: A Drug-Free Alternative to Biomedical Treatment for Children with Autism…the abstracts promise “recovery” or “healing”. Of course, DAN! presenters don’t have the burden of evidence…

    it is a free for all to the microphone. One hears the sounds of chairs being overturned, feet getting accidentally stepped on, bustling pads of papers filled with questions being extricated from folders and so on. After a sometimes exhaustive Q & A period the lecturer is inevitably followed out of the room by a dozen people wanting more information. I always thought that is how it should be! People are incredibly engaged and have many questions to ask. There is no sparing of feelings and that is OK, believe me these parents and presenters are tough, they can dish it out and take it as well.

    When a lecture ended at IMFAR only a couple of people walked to the microphone. The questions were gentle and complimentary. So try to imagine what happened when Lyn Redwood and I took to the mic after the Susan Hyman presentation to ask some not so gentle and not complimentary questions….

    She closes with a threat:

    More importantly IMFAR scientists need to hear from the community of families. So fair warning, I would advise academics to toughen up as families bring their special brand of challenging, informed and probing commentary to IMFAR next year.

    Translation: autism=vaccine true believers (AVTB), if present at future IMFAR conferences, will heckle and revile s presenters whose science doesn’t fit into the AVTB world-view.

  31. #31 Dedj
    May 30, 2010

    I understood ‘web-based rally’ to mean ‘people that logged on to look at live feed of the rally’.

    Unfortunetly the 300 number could simply be the number of people that registered, which would include the media, skeptics, people that registered then decided to go anyway, people that registered with no intent to log on, people that didn’t log on, and people that logged on and decided it wasn’t worth looking at anymore.

    300 ‘log ins’ could include the number of times the log in server served a client, which would include people that logged in multiple times, people that logged in for a very short time, as well as skeptics and the media.

    A quick check for web rally attendances show that web rallies are especially popular in Classic and Modern car clubs as well as the online Jewish community. Even so, 200+ log ins for highly specific events seems to be a fairly low number.

  32. #32 Rrr
    May 30, 2010

    Unless I am totally mistaken (always a distinct possibility), ERV has a link to this “live” feed: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2010/05/autismone_livestream.php and at the point in time of this writing it reports exactly 154 viewers. Pretty much proves the halves point, to my mind. Also, the bananas! Gotta love that data point!

  33. #33 ChrisKid
    May 30, 2010

    “Oh dear! That doesn’t sound good at all. Perhaps some sort of storage receptacle could be arranged for the mom and best friend?”

    Dang it! I knew I should have left those possessives in there.

  34. #34 Shay
    May 30, 2010

    not to mention ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease

    Perhaps she’d like to visit Aurora, Illinois where the county health department is battling thirteen cases of TB.

  35. #35 lizditz
    May 31, 2010

    Obradovic wrote

    ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease

    I’d like her to meet
    four families in California

    our newborns have died from whooping cough – two in Los Angeles County and two in the Central Valley.

  36. #36 Roger Kulp
    May 31, 2010

    lizditz wrote

    “I’d like her to meet four families in California”

    You ought to know the standard antivaxer line by now.

    All together now

    “What’s 58 or 346 cases of whooping cough,or measles, or…when we are preventing THOUSANDS of kids frm getting autism.”

  37. #37 augustine
    May 31, 2010

    “lizditz wrote

    “I’d like her to meet four families in California”

    You ought to know the standard antivaxer line by now.

    All together now”

    ——————————————————

    Take it from the scienceblog group: “That’s called an anecdote”

  38. #38 Calli Arcale
    May 31, 2010

    “As good citizens we should be outraged, not to mention ashamed of ourselves for being so intimidated by infectious disease and the pharmaceutical companies that promise to protect us from it that we are willing to so easily give up our rights and be at their mercy. To parrot Benjamin Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty to gain safety have neither.”

    That rumbling sound is Benjamin Franklin rolling over in his grave….

    On this day of all days, Memorial Day, I find this particular bit of anti-vax wingnuttery particularly offensive. It’s always offensive, but even more so today. Today we in America are remembering the sacrifices of those who really did give up their liberty — not for their own safety but for ours. And many of them went further, giving their health, their limbs, their sensory apparatus . . . or even their lives.

    Even the tax protesters have more justification for pissing on the sacrifices of those who really did give up rights to secure our freedom. The anti-vaxxers are weasels who will even steal patriotism in order to sell their lies. They are too self-absorbed to realize the cost, or to realize what real sacrifices are.

    Quoting Franklin in this instance is as bad as the Galileo Gambit, because it completely misunderstands what the man was talking about, and grossly overinflates the importance of the speaker.

    Give up your rights? What rights have you surrendered? Be specific, anti-vaxxers. Last I checked, there were no mandatory universal vaccination programs in effect. Now, most schools (including most private ones) will require proof of vaccination. This is not because of you. This is because of all their other students. They require proof of vaccination just as they require your child wear appropriate footwear, remain home when ill, and adhere to school codes of conduct. You can choose other schooling options. This is not easy, but really, why should it be? The schools are not just there for you, personally. If you want a school that is there just for you, personally, hire a private tutor.

  39. #39 Zetetic
    June 1, 2010

    @ Calli:
    Over in the “Fun with anti-vaccine petitions” thread augustine has made it clear that he/she thinks that herd immunity is only of concern to the “minority”. Apparently the “minority” has no rights, and therefore all of us bad pro-vaxers are infringing on the so-called majority’s right to be vulnerable to getting infected and spreading disease.

    It’s really very simple one you think that you’re invulnerable and stop giving a damn about anyone else.

  40. #40 David N. Brown
    June 1, 2010

    “Last I checked, there were no mandatory universal vaccination programs in effect.”

    I know talk like this will agitate antivaxxers, but… WHY NOT forcibly vaccinate their children?
    I have a little brain storm on this vein: Set a quota for vaccination, based on herd immunity levels. If numbers in a given area drop below the quota, then the children of vaccine refusers will be rounded up and vaccinated until the quota is met. All the “anti-vaxxers” have to do to avoid this is DON’T TRY TO SPREAD THEIR “BELIEFS”.

    Another possible way to shut them down: Only allow non-medical exemptions if there is a signed statement from their priest or comparable religious adviser saying their religion, denomination or sect opposes vaccination.

  41. #41 Zetetic
    June 1, 2010

    @ David N. Brown:
    Now you know that if you grant such a non-medical exemption they’ll either just get sympathetic priests to sign such exemptions (probably for a “donation”) or start their own church. They’ve already got St. Wakefield, Patron Saint of Measles.

  42. #42 Zetetic
    June 1, 2010

    @ David again:
    Seriously though, your quota idea probably won’t work since it’s the nature of the psychology of any form of denialism to spread the belief. It necessary since only by creating and maintaining an echo chamber can they maintain adherence to dogma in the face of contrary evidence.

    While I don’t like the idea of forcibly requiring vaccination, I do think that those who practice such socially irresponsible behavior should be restricted in their access to those social benefits/services were they might endanger (or infringe upon) others.

    Personally I think a better approach would be to spend more on researching the true causes of autism, and education campaigns. That will serve to undercut their dogma from the start.

    I also wonder if it might be possible to develop a test that will help to detect the small percentage of the population that can be adversely effected by vaccines. If such a test(s) was possible then those that were found that they would have a bad reaction can either get a legitimate medical exemption, or use vaccine variants that would be safe for them. This would have the dual benefit of not only saving the lives of those prone to adverse reactions, but would help to put aside some of the scare stories that anti-vaxers rely upon and thereby benefit the public health in general.

    Does anyone out there with the expertise know if such a test(s) would be possible or practical?

    Obviously the anti-vaxers would still be around, but if we can point definitively to the causes of autism then I think you’ll find the anti-vaxers plummet in numbers. Until they become like the geo-centrists and flat earthers, another harmless group of fringe kooks.

  43. #43 Calli Arcale
    June 1, 2010

    No, a simple test that could be applied to every person about to receive a vaccine is not practical. A tiny percentage of people will experience adverse effects, and among them, the reasons for the adverse effects are extremely varied. The most common is an allergy to egg albumin, but allergy tests are not particularly pleasant and are imperfect; it is actually often better to simply ask if there are known allergies. The less common things are often not detectable by simple tests, and are so rare that a patient can go years before the doctors figure it out; there simply are no tests for many of the conditions.

    So no, it is not practical, except for allergies, and in that case the best instrument of detection is the medical history (i.e. they ask you).

    As far as research and education, that is definitely already being done. It is only the antivax contingent which believes otherwise, because they will only recognize research which supports their preconceived notions.

  44. #44 David N. Brown
    June 1, 2010

    Zetetic,
    It’s my understanding that there already is a reasonably effective system in place for identifying potential complications. The current system readily provides exemptions where there is medical reason.

    As far as education, I don’t think there’s much more that can be done. The next logical step (if we are willing to contemplate it) is direct legal action against anti-vaccine activists. In my view, their “speech” is not protected by the constitution, because it is false and endangers the public, so they could be flat-out arrested. Of course, that would have the immediate drawback of feeding into their paranoia and martyrs’ complex.

  45. #45 Science Mom
    June 1, 2010

    David @44, I’ll be honest here and I don’t think that kind of rhetoric is remotely constructive, nor practicable and feeds into their paranoia of (non-existent) government mandates of vaccines. Sure their propaganda and actions are repugnant, but there is no reason to stoop to their level.

  46. #46 Scott
    June 1, 2010

    @ Science Mom:

    Who says it’s rhetoric? I can’t speak for David, but purely for myself, I can very honestly say that I firmly believe that the relevant authorities should look carefully at whether the conduct of Wakefield in particular is in violation of any law (reckless endangerment, for instance). And even if the law doesn’t cover it, he is ethically a murderer as far as I’m concerned.

    I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate to observe that the antivax movement has, quite predictably, led to deaths which would not have otherwise occurred, and that they continue to work diligently to bring about MORE deaths. If that’s NOT illegal, it most emphatically should be.

    Call a spade a spade.

  47. #47 Poogles
    June 1, 2010

    “As far as education, I don’t think there’s much more that can be done.”

    I would have to disagree. It may seem to those who are used to frequenting science-based circles (either on the internet, IRL, or both) that all the education that can be done has been done, but it hasn’t really trickled down the way you might think (or hope) it has. The public at large is still pretty ignorant to all the science and psuedoscience regarding vaccines. Just this weekend I was discussing vaccines with someone who demanded I show “the study which proves vaccines don’t cause autism” – he was completely unaware that 1) there are multiple studies looking at that and showing no connection 2)the autism-vaccine link started with Wakefield and that paper was retracted (which many have theorized should’ve been an obvious blow to the myth as far as the public is concerned)and 3) there is no way to prove vaccines don’t cause autism. That’s just the first 3 glaring problems I noticed, I’m sure there are more.

    My point is only that the general public are still sorely, sorely lacking in an “education” on vaccine safety/concerns and, in a more general sense, science in general.

  48. #48 Poogles
    June 1, 2010

    In reading David’s comment rather quickly, I think I came away with a slightly different meaning than what he had intended. I think he may have been saying that there doesn’t seem to be much more (but possibly some) educating that can be done with the activists – I took it as a more general statement that all the educating (with everyone, general public included) that could be done, had been done. Sorry about that…

  49. #49 David N. Brown
    June 1, 2010

    Poogles,
    I think you have a point about “trickle down”. I would say, on a somewhat critical note, that I don’t think medical information alone can ever resolve the issue. I concluded almost as soon as I started researching the issue that what we are dealing with is ancient phobias, superstitions and anxieties, which have been rationalized as concerns about vaccine injuries. In these terms, I think it is more useful to show the “urban legend” nature of vaccine scares than to rebut them with science.

  50. #50 Science Mom
    June 1, 2010

    Who says it’s rhetoric? I can’t speak for David, but purely for myself, I can very honestly say that I firmly believe that the relevant authorities should look carefully at whether the conduct of Wakefield in particular is in violation of any law (reckless endangerment, for instance). And even if the law doesn’t cover it, he is ethically a murderer as far as I’m concerned.

    Scott @44, Wakefield may be ethically a murderer as far as you are concerned but it’s very dodgy legal territory. Parents have chosen to believe him and have chosen to withhold vaccinations for their children. What about them?

    I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate to observe that the antivax movement has, quite predictably, led to deaths which would not have otherwise occurred, and that they continue to work diligently to bring about MORE deaths. If that’s NOT illegal, it most emphatically should be.

    Call a spade a spade.

    Sure, calling a spade a spade is one thing but trying to legislate that type of choice is another (and yes, I know it is done to a certain degree by states). It is a very slippery slope and frankly, one I couldn’t defend even though I know that these parents are making very misinformed choices, endangering their own children and even endangering others. I don’t know exactly what the solution is but feeding into their paranoia and their persecution delusions isn’t one of them.

  51. #51 David N. Brown
    June 1, 2010

    Science Mom,
    I do not intend to be “rhetorical”. What I have tried to do is present an extreme approach (something I always have fun with) for discussion. What I would hope this could accomplish with the “anti-vax” movement is to demolish the pretension that their paranoid scenarios are anywhere close to reality, and also to remind them that their own “success” is the one thing that could actually make forced vaccination a reality.

    I think that something useful could also be achieved if (BIG if) those seeking vaccine exemptions could be required to ground their petitions either purely in orthodox medicine, or purely in religion and philosophy. As things stand (see comment above), the anti-vaccine movement is encouraging refusal on grounds that are neither legitimate science nor a coherent religious philosophy, but a combination of pseudoscience and folk superstition.

  52. #52 Scott
    June 1, 2010

    Scott @44, Wakefield may be ethically a murderer as far as you are concerned but it’s very dodgy legal territory. Parents have chosen to believe him and have chosen to withhold vaccinations for their children. What about them?

    The parents were deceived. No negligence on their part; they trusted in a particular expert or a few experts. So I don’t see the problem.

    Sure, calling a spade a spade is one thing but trying to legislate that type of choice is another (and yes, I know it is done to a certain degree by states). It is a very slippery slope and frankly, one I couldn’t defend even though I know that these parents are making very misinformed choices, endangering their own children and even endangering others. I don’t know exactly what the solution is but feeding into their paranoia and their persecution delusions isn’t one of them.

    Who’s talking about trying to legislate that? I’m very expressly talking about Wakefield specifically.

    An analogy may help illustrate. Suppose a father is driving his family along a road and approaches a bridge. A sign says that the road is closed due to damage to the bridge, but there is a road worker there in the process of removing the sign. The father asks the road worker what the situation is, and he responds that the repairs to the bridge have just been completed so he’s removing the sign, and they’re free to proceed. Reassured, the father drives on, the bridge collapses, and the kids and wife are killed. As it turns out, the road worker was *supposed* to do the repairs, but opted not to bother. (Let’s also be careful to specify that the bridge was not *visibly* damaged to the casual eye.)

    I think that it would be generally accepted that the road worker has committed a crime, but the father has not. As I see it, the situations are very closely comparable, with the principal distinction being the directness of the link between the malfeasance and the deaths.

    Now, if that reduced directness is a concern, that’s reasonable. But don’t go claiming that it’s a slippery slope which necessarily leads to charging parents when the distinction between their actions and Wakefield’s fraud are both obvious and profound.

  53. #53 Zetetic
    June 1, 2010

    @ Calli:
    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, that was about what I expected, not my field though, so I didn’t want to make any assumptions. It would be nice if there was such a test(s), but I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I assumed it probably wasn’t, but at least now I know such.

    Yes education is ongoing, but I think that more can be done. It’s part of the reason I’m heartened by the media finally looking more critically of the anti-vax movement.

    @ David:
    Yes I know that there are reasonable exemptions in place for cases of a medical reason for not taking vaccines. My concern was mainly if there was a batter way to catch people that would be likely to have a negative reaction before they got the shots. I didn’t think that it was too likely, but I wanted confirmation of it. Thanks for the reply though.

  54. #54 Science Mom
    June 1, 2010

    The parents were deceived. No negligence on their part; they trusted in a particular expert or a few experts. So I don’t see the problem.

    Yes the parents were deceived, however, they still chose to believe him and mine information that supports their beliefs. They chose to ignore all of the evidence and the entire scientific and medical communities provided to the contrary. Their decisions were not made in a vacuum.

    Who’s talking about trying to legislate that? I’m very expressly talking about Wakefield specifically.

    Then my apologies. I assumed that you were supporting David’s suggestion for using legal means to force anti-vaccinationists from disseminating disinformation.

    An analogy may help illustrate. Suppose a father is driving his family along a road and approaches a bridge. A sign says that the road is closed due to damage to the bridge, but there is a road worker there in the process of removing the sign. The father asks the road worker what the situation is, and he responds that the repairs to the bridge have just been completed so he’s removing the sign, and they’re free to proceed. Reassured, the father drives on, and sees dozens of engineers, supervisors and workmen yelling that the bridge has not been repaired and to please turn back as it is unsafe. The father ignores them and proceeds on, the bridge collapses, and the kids and wife are killed. As it turns out, the road worker was *supposed* to do the repairs, but opted not to bother. (Let’s also be careful to specify that the bridge was not *visibly* damaged to the casual eye.)

    I think that it would be generally accepted that the road worker has committed a crime, but the father has not. As I see it, the situations are very closely comparable, with the principal distinction being the directness of the link between the malfeasance and the deaths.

    Now, if that reduced directness is a concern, that’s reasonable. But don’t go claiming that it’s a slippery slope which necessarily leads to charging parents when the distinction between their actions and Wakefield’s fraud are both obvious and profound.

    Scott, I edited to add (in italics), what I think, is a more accurate description of the parental involvement of their demise. It muddies the waters a bit doesn’t it? And thus, I still maintain that we, as parents are ultimately responsible for our decisions. These parents are dismissing the vast consensus of an enormous body of experts, in favour of a few, well-exposed charlatans.

  55. #55 Graphictruth
    June 1, 2010

    Before you bother to fisk this flaming puddle of dumb, as if you were dealing with an actual, sincere argument – let’s think about how much this sort of thing deserves thinking.

    I know… it’s hard.

    “I would say that …and I put this as dryly and neutrally as I can… the advertisers at AoA feel that the audience it attracts are likely to reject any idea or assertion that has any dangerous science cooties on it…

    Oh damn. Let me try again…

    It will appeal to those who value a firm, authoritative assertion of Truth over “evidence-based approaches” that Liberal Atheists are trying to Force on our Chil…. damn, that’s not working out well, either.”

    But the thrust of my point is that Age of Autism exists to market to the stupid, and therefore, whether they are trying to be stupid on purpose, or if the stupidity is simply a resource to the snake-oil marketers matters little.

    Look at who supports them. That tells you where their loyalties lie. The reason they aren’t promoting vaccines is simple – they don’t get a cut of the profits.

  56. #56 SC (Salty Current)
    June 2, 2010

    Science Mom,
    I do not intend to be “rhetorical”. What I have tried to do is present an extreme approach (something I always have fun with) for discussion. What I would hope this could accomplish with the “anti-vax” movement is to demolish the pretension that…

    Gah. I can’t stand this sort of thing. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t reply to the rubbish you were spouting on a thread a while back about [something related to birth control - can't remember precisely]. There is no reason for anyone to engage you if they don’t know whether you’re expressing your real views or just trying to provoke in some way. Present what you honestly think. Anything else is dishonest and frankly rather creepy (the more so the more fun you find it).

  57. #57 SC (Salty Current)
    June 2, 2010

    By the way,

    religious philosophy

    =

    folk superstition

    (There is no such thing as a “coherent religious philosophy.”)

  58. #58 Calli Arcale
    June 2, 2010

    Of course there can be a coherent religious philosophy. “Coherent” can mean it is internally consistent (and there is nothing precluding a religious philosophy from this, though many seem to revel in inconsistency instead), or it can simply mean it is aesthetically ordered.

    That latter definition applies to most religious philosophies, and indeed, probably indicates largely how they came to be. New precepts are tested not so much against the tenets of the faith but against how they look when placed next to the existing precepts. Thought not always considered formally a religion, I would argue that the ultimate expression of this is feng shui, which is pretty much entirely about aesthetic order and balance, and of course those sorts of ideas permeate most Asian religions.

    So yes, there is such a thing as a coherent religious philosophy. (And also such a thing as coherent folk superstition.) Just don’t assume that coherence implies anything more than that somebody’s put a bit of thought into it.

  59. #59 Todd W.
    June 2, 2010

    @Graphictruth

    But the thrust of my point is that Age of Autism exists to market to the stupid

    Well, one of the founders of GR/AoA, JB Handley, is a businessman.

  60. #60 David N. Brown
    June 2, 2010

    SC,
    There is a definite distinction between “religion” and “folk” beliefs, though specific cases may be arguable either way. As a rule, “religion” (or at any rate ORGANIZED religion) comes with written “scriptures”, definable doctrines and a certain amount of heierarchy. “Folk” beliefs can be entirely independent of written documents (or writing of any kind), may be unstable or poorly defined, and are more reflective of popular consensus and perception than the teachings of individuals of authority.

  61. #61 David N. Brown
    June 2, 2010

    An additional comment on religion and medical care: Objections by an organized religion to a medical procedure are likely to involve complex and peculiar ideas within the religion. For example, Catholic opposition to birth control is rooted in a distinctively Catholic view of sexuality. These are not as conducive to general resistance to medicine as less defined, possibly more widely spread “folk” beliefs

  62. #62 Graphictruth
    June 2, 2010

    @Todd: I suspect that JB Handley would prefer the term, “Entrepreneur.”

    That is to say, a person who fore-sightedly sees a gap in the market and exploits it, until the eeevil government steps in to erase his livelihood by unjustly warning the marks… I mean, imposing an unjust burdening of regulation.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, the term entrepreneur has become closely allied with the idea of “unscrupulous” and on the loony-toon fringe where oil-wells gush and children are chelated and given “therapeutic” enemas every day.

    Ethical people understand the need for ethical behaviour, and while often neglected and even derided, there is such a thing as business ethics.

  63. #63 Broken Link
    June 4, 2010

    You may be interested to know that Curt Linderman Sr. has this on his Facebook page. But, I’m not sure it is worthwhile to give him any attention ;)

    Today on Linderman LIVE! We’re going to continue the discussion from yesterday about the “infiltrator” to the Rally. I am encouraging call-ins to either reenforce what I have been saying or tell me I’m being too mean to these people. The show will be devoted to these morons today! We’re live at 11am EST 309 343 LIVE (5483) They are listening so lets show them how we feel about their tactics!

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