As brief as it will be, this is my first post for my self-declared Vaccine Awareness Week, proposed to counter Barbara Loe Fisher’s National Vaccine Information Center’s and Joe Mercola’s proposal that November 1-6 be designated “Vaccine Awareness Week” for the purpose of promoting all sorts of pseudoscience, quackery, and misinformation about “vaccine injury” and how dangerous vaccines supposedly are. As you may recall, I decided to try to coopt the concept for the purpose of countering the pseudoscience promoted by the anti-vaccine movement and urging medical, science, and skeptical bloggers to do the same. To kick things off, I thought a brief post might be in order to revisit some old territory before moving on to new territory on Monday morning. Basically, I couldn’t wait until Monday to get started; so I jumped the gun tonight.
Remember Raymond Obomsawin, PhD?
About seven months ago, I encountered a profoundly intellectually dishonest set of graphs done by Obomsawin that were designed to demonstrate that “vaccines didn’t save us.” Of course, as I pointed out in my own takedown of this misinformation, Obomsawin cherry picked graphs, used an old ant-vaccine standard of confusing mortality with incidence, and in general used arguments about as intellectually lazy or dishonest (or both) as can be.
Worse, he also chose his graphs in a way that parts of the data were left out. Indeed, less than a month ago, the Australian anti-vaccine activist Meryl Dorey approvingly cited Obomsawin’s graphs. When it was pointed out how Obomsawin had cherry picked his graphs to deceptive purpose, his response was beyond pathetic:
The software that I was using to create the graph did not allow for the creation of either a blank space or a dotted line between 1959 and 1968. There was no intent to be dishonest about this, and thanks to your blog, I will make it a point to specifically note on the graph that there is an absence of incidence data in this period.
I note that, not only have the graphs not been changed as far as I can tell, but Dr. Obomsawin is scheduled to give a webinar tomorrow evening (exactly 24 hours from now, actually) entitled Graphic Reality: The Charting of Truth in which he is apparently going to argue the same old nonsense that “vaccines didn’t save us.” His content is described thusly:
Dr. Obomsawin uses a series of graphic tables to dramatically challenge the widely held assumption that vaccines have historically benefitted humanity throughout the world.
Yep, that sounds like the same level of burning antivax stupid as before.
It’s also claimed:
Dr. Obomsawin was born in the United States in 1950. He and wife Marie-Louise have three adult children who have never received the prescribed regimen of childhood vaccines, and have exhibited lifelong immunity to the common childhood infectious diseases.
Or they got lucky. That, and they took advantage of herd immunity.
You know, I’m half tempted to sign up and see what Obomsawin says. It’d make for more blogging material, and an update to the Obomsawin Technique of vaccine denialism (yes, I named it after him) is probably overdue anyway. After all, I never took on several other of the graphs he included in his collection. My guess is that Obomsawin won’t change his graphs. Anyone want to make any bets? In fact, if any of you have the time to check out his webinar (in case I can’t, which is, alas, a distinct possibility), I’d be grateful to hear reports.
Obomsawin’s webinar announcement also reminds me that I have intended for a while to go back and revisit Obomsawin’s remaining nonsense. Somehow I just never got around to it. As you may recall, in my original post I didn’t deconstruct all of his graphs and how deceptively he used them. Vaccine Awareness Week might be the perfect opportunity to rectify that oversight.