Respectful Insolence

I haven’t really taken much note of Andrew Wakefield in a while, and in general that’s a very good thing indeed. However, I found out recently that somehow I missed this gem from around the time of Autism One:

That’s right. I thought it was pretty bad that Andy Wakefield had appeared on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, that all night conspiracy/UFO/paranormal radio show that’s been so popular here in the U.S. for many years. It turns out that I missed an even worse one: Wakefield showing up on Alex Jones’ even more looney conspiracy show, PrisonPlanet.tv. This is the same guy who promotes books like How to Survive the Coming Martial Law in America, articles comparing fluoridation of water to what Nazis did, and articles claiming that the “globalists” are trying to control you–yes, you!–with food made from genetically modified crops in order to achieve “full spectrum” domination.

Truly, Wakefield’s fall is complete. He’s now trodding the same territory as New World Order conspiracy theorists, Bigfoot hunters, people who claim to have been abducted by aliens, 9/11 Truthers, and believers in David Icke’s reptilians. It’s right where he belongs, of course. It is a shame, though, that it wasn’t recognized that that’s where he belongs back in 1998. A lot of damage might have been prevented.

ADDENDUM: If you happen to live in the area, apparently Wakefield is going to be giving a talk and doing a book signing at a Borders in Folsom, CA.

ADDENDUM #2: D’oh! I originally wrote this a few days ago, and when I finally got around to posting it, I failed to notice that Wakefield’s Folsom book signing took place July 31.

Comments

  1. #1 Rogue Medic
    August 4, 2010

    In the fantasy fiction section?

  2. #2 Rene Najera
    August 4, 2010

    I recently complained to the editors of examiner.com because too many of their “examiners” are promoting woo and woo-like stuff… Well, one examiner took the cake. She’s the “human rights examiner”, and she is just as loony as Prison Planet. None, not one, of their predictions and warnings have come true, but they continue to sell their poison! (Just like Andy up there.)

    Anyway, I’d like to go to one of his book signings, have him sign a book and then not buy the book… Or do some similar, “insolent” thing.

  3. #3 Kareth
    August 4, 2010

    @2
    If I were to go to one of Wakefield’s signings I’d print out one of Orac’s particularly insolent takedowns of Wakefield for him to sign.

  4. #4 Todd W.
    August 4, 2010

    Perhaps you could bring along a “Fiction” sticker to put on his book.

  5. #5 Joe
    August 4, 2010

    Does anyone know if Wakefield still lives/hangs around in Austin? His “Thoughtful House” is still here, and I would like to know if I should be on the lookout for him begging for change or wearing a sandwich board or something.

  6. #6 Sunday Afternoon
    August 4, 2010

    Looks like the book signing was Saturday past, July 31.

  7. #7 FreeSpeaker
    August 4, 2010

    @2..Rene, I read her regularly! She is absolutely looney toons! I told her once that having only one opening on a brown paper bag was part of a conspiracy to sell more paper for the paper industry. Her response was that she never realized that. I think Examiner keeps her because they want to cover their butts under the ADA.

  8. #8 Matthew Cline
    August 4, 2010

    Does anyone know which “tainted vaccine” he was talking about? I don’t feel like watching 10 minutes of Andy to find out.

    Also, did he actually get interviewed on Prison Planet, or did Alex Jones merely use clips from other shows?

  9. #9 Scott_SGG
    August 4, 2010

    Er… speaking of Prison Planet, have you seen this?
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/the-brain-eating-vaccine-conspiracy/
    Makes me both mad and sad.

  10. #10 Todd W.
    August 4, 2010

    @Sunday Afternoon

    Good catch.

  11. #11 Travis
    August 4, 2010

    #8 I have not watched this video yet and probably will not but I have to wonder if it might be something about some Australian vaccine. I think I remember one of the lamebrains talking about tainted vaccines there (I forget which one, Phil or Auggie perhaps). But maybe it is referring to something else.

  12. #12 Roger
    August 4, 2010

    May I suggest you add a “Where’s Wakefield’s Book?” widget to your blog?

  13. #13 Chris
    August 4, 2010

    Alex Jones made it onto this Journey Parody by the Ottawa Skeptics:
    http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/08/dont-start-believing/

  14. #14 Matthew Cline
    August 4, 2010

    This is pretty much completely off topic, but:

    In the comment section of a previous post there was an argument about whether or not the claim “a person in optimal health will never catch an infectious disease” is germ theory denial or not. As far as I can tell it isn’t germ theory denial, since the germ theory is basically “infectious pathogens exist, and at least some of those pathogens are germs”, which the “optimal health” claim doesn’t contradict. So, is there more to the germ theory than my paraphrasing up above?

  15. #15 David
    August 4, 2010

    I posted a complaint online to Borders Customer Care. We’ll see if I get a response…

  16. #16 Rogue Medic
    August 4, 2010

    @ 14 Matthew Cline,

    In the comment section of a previous post there was an argument about whether or not the claim “a person in optimal health will never catch an infectious disease” is germ theory denial or not.

    I didn’t see the comment, or it just blended in with the rest of the conspiracy posting that is in some comments.

    This depends on the definition of optimal health.

    For me, that would include a whole bunch of vaccinations that the person commenting would probably not include.

    A person in optimal health is fully vaccinated.

    Not being vaccinated means less than optimal health.

    Even being fully vaccinated, I can still be infected with anything that I am exposed to, unless I have immunity to that illness, or if that exposure is not enough to cause an infection.

    Someone unvaccinated can also still be infected with anything that he is exposed to, unless he has immunity to that illness.

    The unvaccinated person is at risk for more illnesses than I am.

    The illnesses the unvaccinated person is at risk for are serious illnesses.

    As far as I can tell it isn’t germ theory denial, since the germ theory is basically “infectious pathogens exist, and at least some of those pathogens are germs”, which the “optimal health” claim doesn’t contradict. So, is there more to the germ theory than my paraphrasing up above?

    I think that this is germ theory denial, if he is claiming that his optimal health, which he most likely completely misunderstands, is a barrier to germs.

    Germs can’t get me, because I’m optimal!

    It is more likely that there are parasites wandering around in his brain. Or he lives in a plastic bubble.
    .

  17. #17 Art
    August 4, 2010

    If you like the Alex Jones stuff you will love Out There TV:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_There_TV

  18. #18 D. C. Sessions
    August 4, 2010

    Orac, you’re a despicable tease.

    There’s only one place where Wankfield exactly belongs, but if we stop short of lethal ill-wishing the next best thing is prison.

    But then you dashed my hopes.

  19. #19 timgueguen
    August 4, 2010

    The responses to the Wired article are sad. Jones no doubt makes a good living fleecing these suckers.

  20. #20 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 4, 2010

    If you happen to live in the area, apparently Wakefield is going to be giving a talk and doing a book signing at a Borders in Folsom, CA.

    I hear Wakefield’s a-comin’
    He’s right around the bend.
    And I ain’t heard such nonsense,
    since I don’t know when

    Cause I’m stuck in Folsom Borders,
    And he’ll be signin’ books.
    And Jenny and her fanboys,
    Keep givin’ me dirty looks…

  21. #21 D. C. Sessions
    August 4, 2010

    Mr. McNeely, why mess with the lyrics when the original is so nearly perfect:

    Are you with me Doctor Wu
    Are you really just a shadow
    Of the man that I once knew
    Are you crazy are you high
    Or just an ordinary guy
    Have you done all you can do
    Are you with me Doctor

  22. #22 Scottynuke
    August 4, 2010

    Couldn’t even make it through all the comments on the Wired piece…

    Ai chihuahua, there are some seriously reading-comprehension-deficient loons out there.

  23. #23 JohnW
    August 4, 2010

    Slightly off topic, but I saw this at MedlinePlus Health News:

    Signs of Autism May Show in Early Infancy. Abnormal arm muscle tone, visual processing evident in month-old babies, study says

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_101788.html

  24. #24 Johnny Vector
    August 4, 2010

    T. Bruce, you went just where I was going! Only I was thinking more of verse 2:

    When I was just a baby,
    My Mama told me, “Son,
    Always be a good boy,
    Get your immunizations.”
    But I gave a boy pertussis,
    Just to watch him die.
    When I hear that cash a-flowin’,
    I write my books and lie.

  25. #25 Orange Lantern
    August 5, 2010

    This ditty has been bulding in my head since Orac’s “Struck Off” post. With apologies to MJ.

    Andy are you okay? Would you tell us that you’re okay?
    There’s a post on the HuffPo,
    You were struck off, disregarded, Andy.
    You went right into the party,
    Took the blood draws, not too smarty.
    Never checked the ethics boardroom,
    Now you’re struck off, and it’s your doom.

    Andy, are you okay? Say, Andy, are you okay? Are you okay Andy?
    We’ve been ripped off,
    You’ve been struck off,
    You smooth criminal.

  26. #26 A. Nuran
    August 5, 2010

    Let’s hope his next books signing will be from inside the Folsom Penitentiary.

  27. #27 a-non
    August 5, 2010

    C’mon Andy. I’m counting on you to appear on the Jeff Rense program and hit the holy trinity of wackjob conspiracy theorists. Don’t let me down, mate.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/06/andrew_wakefield_exactly_where_he_belong.php

  28. #28 Azkyroth
    August 5, 2010

    Damnit, I saw “Prison” and got my hopes up.

    No he ISN’T where he belongs…..

  29. #29 Azkyroth
    August 5, 2010

    Damnit, I saw “Prison” and got my hopes up.

    No he ISN’T where he belongs…..

    If you happen to live in the area, apparently Wakefield is going to be giving a talk and doing a book signing at a Borders in Folsom, CA.

    I DO live in the area. Details, please. A few of us might want to go down there, especially if someone’s got a question sheet ready (I’m unfortunately going to be too busy restraining myself from paper-cutting him to death with my daughter’s latest ABA progress reports to present my case very well on my own).

  30. #30 speedwell
    August 5, 2010

    It strikes me that saying “a person in optimal health will never catch an infectious disease” is much like saying “a house built according to best-practice building standards in hurricane-prone areas will never suffer damage from a storm.”

  31. #31 Rob
    August 5, 2010

    Why does Alex say “weaponise!” at 0:30 while swapping between news stories?

  32. #32 DLC
    August 5, 2010

    hmm.. I can’t help but think of an older classic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuA8ZR0AbSc
    (Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Witch Doctor)
    It’s a classic. . .

  33. #33 Brian Deer
    August 5, 2010

    Anybody got his book?

    I know his book has failed, with no reviews at all, but I wonder if anybody has one. The reason I ask is that somehere in the four Alex Jones videos he tells his preposterous lie that the vaccine claimants in the UK were suing the government, not the drug companies. It’s such a whopper, and one which all of the families involved in the MMR litigation in the UK would recognise as a lie from their hero, it kind of assumes iconic significance.

    I assume he repeats this in his book, since it is the essence of the conspiracy which he says destroyed him. If so, it would be vastly cool if someone might PDF me the segment where it comes up.

    For reference, he tells the same extraordinary porker in the video which was out a few months back:

    http://briandeer.com/solved/tall-story.htm

  34. #34 Sam C
    August 5, 2010

    Brian Deer, #33, love the phrasing: “such a whopper”, “extraordinary porker”, etc!

    Anybody would think that you didn’t have much respect for the ex-doctor and his actions. Thanks for your work exposing him in the past.

    I’m not sure about your assertion that:

    It’s such a whopper, and one which all of the families involved in the MMR litigation in the UK would recognise as a lie from their hero, it kind of assumes iconic significance.

    Denialists and conspiracy theorists have no difficulty in understanding six impossible (and inconsistent) things before breakfast. They may be lost beyond recovery, reinforcing their opinions by listening only to other believers and taking all contradictory assertions as evidence of the evil-doers’ attempts to suppress The Troof.

    It will be interesting to learn if many (or any) of Wakefield’s gullible fan club have been calm and rational enough to listen and leave The Dark Side for the sunlit lands of rationality (where people understand that “shit happens” sometimes).

  35. #35 dt
    August 5, 2010

    I’m waiting to find a castoff in an Oxfam shop or similar that I can buy, or maybe the library.
    I’d love to read it, but refuse to give any money to the cause.

  36. #36 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    August 5, 2010

    This guy in the vid – he must have a bloody degree in appeal to emotion… and the people who fall for this crap must be pretty adept at bypassing sense and using their affect heuristics. I want to vomit.

  37. #37 Matthew Cline
    August 5, 2010

    @Brian Deer:

    It’s such a whopper, and one which all of the families involved in the MMR litigation in the UK would recognise as a lie from their hero, it kind of assumes iconic significance.

    Well, the Conspiracy has obviously modified the memory of those people to back up the lies told against Wakefield.

  38. #38 Matthew Cline
    August 5, 2010

    Oh, on page of the comments on the above linked Wired article (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/the-brain-eating-vaccine-conspiracy/comment-page-8/#comments), someone says that eating/drinking colloidal silver doesn’t turn you blue, and claims to the contrary are lies by the conspiracy.

    Fun!

  39. #39 John Fryer Chemist
    August 6, 2010

    Dr Wakefield was one of 12 authors for the retracted paper. The study was of infants with damaged guts. Something abnormal and deserving of explanation. Dr Wakefield NEVEr suggested avoiding measles vaccines but suggested using the old and known to be safe single vaccine one time ONLY. The multiple vaccines need more of the ingredients as they interact and have to be given up to 5 times thus leading to hugely increased risks of anaphylaxis a problem hundreds of vaccine researchers found out about more than a 100 years ago. Can we not demand SAFE vaccines without a WITCH HUNT. My idea is that youngsters in the USA are reacting to Bt GMO food found for example in most soya foodstuffs and this Bt toxin just happens to destroy the guts of insects. Something found out a decade after the use of such FRANKENSTEIN foods. France with a 100 per cent ban on GMO growing for food HAS to buy millions of tons of this gut destroying food as 100 per cent proof of anything is impossible. USA and GMO growers responsible for world wide ILL health.

  40. #40 John Fryer Chemist
    August 6, 2010

    Today we are having serious problems with families unable to proceate without medical intervention. It is surely pertinent to ask if the high number of tainted vaccines have any responsibility for this infertility?

    For those that think they are protected – remember that there are something like 3 500 000 illnesses known of which those for which we have vaccines is less than a needle prick.

    TB vaccines one of the oldest vaccines has been abandoned for the moment as uneffective in a world where TB is at peak levels.

    Flu vaccine first used just the same month as 1918 flu killed in never seen before numbers. Coincidence? So bad was the experience that no ordinary history of vaccines wants to remind the world of this first use of the flu vaccine.

    Nearly a hundred years on flu is still with us and even here we protect for less than 1 per cent of the known viruses. and in several years the worlwide costly exercise is reckoned by vaccine promoters to have had zero effect.

    With H1N1 recently France had the unenviable opportunity to inject themselves with brain destroying mercury, ten years after a wishy washy promise to phase out mercury. Particularly bad as France has very little in the way of mercury vaccines ever. In addition the vaccine contained other components ILLEGAL in USA the great vaccinating nation.

    Why has USA fallen in first world from first to last place in health with such a policy?

    An honest discussion without witch hunts, without suppression of views and without attacking people credibility is OVERDUE.

    Truth has the habit of coming out but it has the habit of taking a long time. Banning books, eliminating research and destroying careers can only mean there is something to hide. Often what is being hidden is not evident. Is this discussion of harm really vaccines? I think not. New technologies are coming in and new illnesses like AIDS without an explanation.

    Blaming autism and AIDS on vaccines deflects us from examining properly new technology et al today.

    We live in a world where dangerous technologies get passed without scrutiny for scrutiny demands putting knowledge into the public forum and for our Big p’Harmers this does not suit them.

  41. #41 Chris
    August 6, 2010

    Mr. Fryer, you just make up as you go along. What do you know about the USA, you have never been there. You do not have a clue. And you need to get back on your meds.

    Just answer one question: Which MMR vaccine was Wakefield’s study on, the one approved in the UK before or after 1992?

  42. #42 Julian Frost
    August 6, 2010

    @ John Liar Chemist

    Dr Wakefield was one of 12 authors for the retracted paper. The study was of infants with damaged guts

    Except that Wakefield fiddled the medical data. Many of the results were in fact normal. Also, there were 13 coauthors in all.

    Dr Wakefield NEVEr suggested avoiding measles vaccines but suggested using the old and known to be safe single vaccine one time ONLY

    He patented a transfer factor that could be used as a measles vaccine.

    Can we not demand SAFE vaccines without a WITCH HUNT

    Vaccines are far safer than you or your ilk would have us believe. As to witch hunts, Wakefield was found guilty of numerous ethics violations and cooked his data. He hasn’t appealed. Some witch hunt.

  43. #43 Matthew Cline
    August 6, 2010

    @John Fryer:

    The multiple vaccines need more of the ingredients as they interact and have to be given up to 5 times

    [citation needed]

    For those that think they are protected – remember that there are something like 3 500 000 illnesses known of which those for which we have vaccines is less than a needle prick.

    Has anyone claimed that vaccines protect against all illnesses?

    TB vaccines one of the oldest vaccines has been abandoned for the moment as uneffective in a world where TB is at peak levels.

    Yes, TB vaccines are ineffective. Your point?

    Flu vaccine first used just the same month as 1918 flu killed in never seen before numbers.

    There wasn’t any flu vaccine back in 1918.

    So bad was the experience that no ordinary history of vaccines wants to remind the world of this first use of the flu vaccine.

    Oh-ho! So, you’re saying that there was a widely deployed flu vaccine back in 1918, but it’s been covered up? Got some citations? Or is this knowledge that passed down by word-of-mouth from one generation of anti-vaxxers to the next?

    Nearly a hundred years on flu is still with us and even here we protect for less than 1 per cent of the known viruses.

    Well, yes, given how incredibly quickly the flu viruses mutate, and the fact that there’s vast animal reservoirs for the viruses, vaccines alone aren’t going to wipe out the flu. No big surprise there. You might as well say that the rabies vaccines are worthless since they’ve existed for 125 years but rabies is still around.

    Truth has the habit of coming out but it has the habit of taking a long time. Banning books,

    Which books which are relevant to vaccination have been banned, and in which countries?

    Blaming autism and AIDS on vaccines deflects us from examining properly new technology et al today.

    Which new technologies are you talking about?

    @Julian Frost:

    As to witch hunts, Wakefield was found guilty of numerous ethics violations and cooked his data. He hasn’t appealed.

    It’s worse than that: he didn’t call on any witnesses.

  44. #44 Matthew Cline
    August 6, 2010

    @Fryer:

    You forgot a few anti-vax talking points:

    1) Paralytic polio was caused by pesticides, not a virus.

    2) Smallpox death rates were positively correlated with smallpox vaccination.

    3) Pasteur recanted of the germ theory on his death bed.

  45. #45 Scott
    August 6, 2010

    Because there’s no such thing as too many takedowns:

    Dr Wakefield was one of 12 authors for the retracted paper. The study was of infants with damaged guts. Something abnormal and deserving of explanation.

    Actually, the study was of children with generally normal guts, but Wakefield decided to commit scientific fraud by changing the data.

    Dr Wakefield NEVEr suggested avoiding measles vaccines but suggested using the old and known to be safe single vaccine one time ONLY.

    Actually, he recommended that his new transfer factor be used instead.

    The multiple vaccines need more of the ingredients as they interact and have to be given up to 5 times thus leading to hugely increased risks of anaphylaxis a problem hundreds of vaccine researchers found out about more than a 100 years ago.

    Incorrect. The combined MMR vaccine needs less of the various non-antigen ingredients because it’s one dose instead of three. And a single measles vaccine needs to be taken as many times as the MMR in order to provide protection.

    Can we not demand SAFE vaccines without a WITCH HUNT.

    Well, we already have safe vaccines, and are always trying to make them even safer. But going beyond the facts can be very fairly characterized as a witch hunt – so why are you doing it?

    My idea is that…

    Ideas are uninteresting unless substantiated by evidence. Got any?

  46. #46 a-non
    August 6, 2010

    Dr Wakefield NEVEr suggested avoiding measles vaccines but suggested using the old and known to be safe single vaccine one time ONLY.

    Whatever. Wakefield has associated himself with people who oppose vaccination on principle. Even if he’s never directly uttered the words “don’t vaccinate your kids” he’s given credence to those who espouse that message at every opportunity. At this point, Mr. Fryer, you’re begging.

  47. #47 Vicki
    August 6, 2010

    John Fryer is right about at least one thing–blaming autism on vaccines is a distraction from actually helping people with autism, and from identifying causes. So why is he defending Wakefield, who falsified data in order to blame autism on vacccines?

    Also, the TB vaccine has not been abandoned: it is still being manufactured and used. WHO says it’s most effective in children. The BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is far from perfect, but it is useful, especially in populations where treatment may be hard to provide (active TB can require a year of treatment with multiple drugs).

  48. #48 Chris
    August 6, 2010

    The BCG vaccine was not really used in the USA (relied more of the tine test for surveillance, and the BCG kind of screws that up). Which is notable in that Fryer keeps claiming lots of things about the USA, a country he has never been too, nor knows anything about.

  49. #49 Bruce Gorton
    August 8, 2010

    Where Andrew Wakefield belongs is in prison. His “research” amounted to child abuse.

  50. #50 Journal Checker
    August 8, 2010

    Good point Bruce Gorton. Someone should report him and colleagues for that.

  51. #51 RobertL
    August 10, 2010

    Oh my poor eyes. I read that Wired.com article, and the comments.

    I am afraid for our species…

  52. #52 Chris
    August 10, 2010

    Where is Wakefield? Where will he go next to flog his book? The Walmart in Leavenworth, KS?