Respectful Insolence

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and, despite the crappy economy, there are still things to be thankful for. For instance, skeptical activism can still be effective. Remember how on Sunday Skepchick Elyse put out the call to Skepchic readers to complain to movie theaters that were reportedly going to be airing a public service announcement from the anti-vaccine group SafeMinds? (Actually, “public service announcement” is a misnomer; it should be called a public disservice announcement.) This was a truly disgusting and deceptive bit of misinformation that I discussed as part of the anti-vaccine movement’s propaganda efforts earlier in November. In response, Elyse urged Skepchic readers to flood the relevant theaters with complaints about showing an anti-vaccine advertisement prior to its movies.

Now here’s what we can be thankful for: It worked. At least with AMC Theaters. Last night the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, which had been teaming up with SafeMinds to raise money to show these ads during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, just cried “¡No mas!

At least for now:

SafeMinds was notified late yesterday afternoon that AMC Theaters has decided to block the SafeMinds Public Service Announcement (PSA) on influenza vaccines with mercury. The PSA alerts parents and pregnant women of the presence of mercury in most influenza vaccines and the ample availability of mercury-free alternatives. The CDC has declined to give a preference for the mercury-free versions, so it is important that the public is aware of its options. AMC’s advertising representative had reviewed and approved the PSA to run in AMC cinemas over the Thanksgiving weekend. A small group of vocal vaccine proponents dismissive of mercury concerns learned of the PSA and bombarded the AMC website, leading to the company’s decision to prevent its release. SafeMinds thanks its supporters who viewed the PSA and contributed to its efforts to educate the public to avoid unnecessary mercury exposure. Mercury in all forms is dangerous, especially to the developing fetus and infants, as referenced on the PSA website www.safemindsflu.org. SafeMinds will continue its mission to educate the public on this important healthcare topic.

Let me fix that for ya:

A respectable-sized group of advocates of science-based vaccine policy exercised their First Amendment right to speak out to a business that was about to make a huge mistake and show ads with an anti-vaccine message that potentially endangers public health. SafeMinds will continue its mission to miseducate and misinform the public on this important healthcare topic, and advocates of science-based medicine will be there to counter it.

Not surprisingly, the anti-vaccine movement is not happy. It’s trying to flood the AMC Theaters website with complaints. If you have time after your Turkey today, please, go to the following threads and thank AMC Theaters for doing the responsible thing:

As you can easily tell, the first link was a thread started by those of us pushing for AMC to reject the ads; the second from anti-vaxers.

So, as I leave the computer to help prepare for the Thanksgiving feast, I do so with a smile on my face that is wider than even the usual smile of anticipation of the food and comaraderie to come. I also do so with the knowledge that this is merely a skirmish in which the forces of science have been (mostly) victorious. The war goes on. Indeed, we will need to be even more vigilant. As commenter Benedetta put it on AoA:

These advertisments will have to be more sublte, sneaky, under the radar – like that advertisment on Television that I have seen a few times.

The one that says 1 out of 88 children of miltary familes have autism.

(Spelling left intact.)

And I have no doubt that future attempts by the anti-vaccine movement will be more subtle, sneaky, and under the radar. I also have no doubt that, now that Elyse has scored serious points against SafeMinds and Age of Autism, the anti-vax loons will be targeting her. It’s how they work.

Finally, I haven’t seen the new Harry Potter movie yet. I was out of town last weekend, and life’s been way too busy over the last few days. My wife and I were thinking of going tomorrow sometime. I think we very well might be going to the nearest AMC Theater to see it. One way to show your appreciation to AMC would be to choose AMC the next time you go to see a movie.

Comments

  1. #1 isles
    November 25, 2010

    Elyse gets the crown for Skeptic Queen of the Year!

    We’ll definitely be seeing something at our local AMC theater this weekend. Many businesses don’t take it well when they’re told they’ve been played by the antivacciners. AMC did the grownup thing and fixed their misstep. Yay, them!

  2. #2 David
    November 25, 2010

    “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

    happy thanksgiving.

  3. #3 locka99
    November 25, 2010

    These advertisments will have to be more sublte, sneaky, under the radar – like that advertisment on Television that I have seen a few times.

    The same tactic used by creationists (and other conspiracy whack-a-loons). Don’t admit your agenda, pretend to be impartial / advisory, pretend to be scientific, concoct some “controversy” and then demand the right to “teach” it.

  4. #4 Denice Walter
    November 25, 2010

    I’m so glad to hear that- now I won’t have to stop attending my favorite AMC ( its parking lot has a lovely, river-level view of the NYC skyline ). Congratulations, fellow / sister conspirators! Superlative work!

    Happy Thanksgiving to Orac, Ms. O, co-conspirators, and ( because I’m feeling especially charitable today ) those with whom we disagree.

  5. #5 Composer99
    November 25, 2010

    AMC duly thanked.

    Have a great Thanksgiving, all you Americans (even the ones at AoA/SafeMinds/etc.)!

  6. #6 novalox
    November 25, 2010

    That’s good news to hear.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  7. #7 iamnothouse.com
    November 25, 2010

    Woo! Happy Thanksgiving America! Try and care about it more than we do!

  8. #8 Lawrence
    November 25, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone – keep up the good fight for sanity!

  9. #9 Chris
    November 25, 2010

    Benedetta is quoted saying “he one that says 1 out of 88 children of miltary familes have autism.”

    That would have to be documented. But what is true is that military families do get medical care, and DoD schools are very good. Perhaps more service personnel stay in the military to retain certain medical benefits (unfortunately last I heard the insurance did not cover speech therapy for kids, that may have changed).

  10. #10 Jordan
    November 25, 2010

    And just like that! AMC reveals it’s Big-Pharma-Shill-ic roots! Their reach truly knows no bounds.

  11. #11 novalox
    November 25, 2010

    @10

    Not another conspiracy theorist nutter….

  12. #12 Composer99
    November 25, 2010

    Unless Jordan comes along and indicates he was being earnest, novalox, I think you just got snookered by a Poe. :)

  13. #13 novalox
    November 25, 2010

    @12

    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

  14. #14 Alex
    November 25, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  15. #15 DLC
    November 25, 2010

    David @2: We shall fight them, with growing confidence in the air. We shall fight them in the theaters. . . well perhaps not quite, but We’ll keep them on their toes, not letting them get in a shot unanswered.
    Congrats to Skepchick Elyse for starting the ball rolling.

    and to our American Cousin(s) happy thanksgiving.

  16. #16 DLC
    November 25, 2010

    PS: who or what is “Autism Speaks.org” ?
    I keep seeing “Ad Council” tv spots saying parents should look there for information. Ok, I confess. I’m too lazy.

  17. #17 Broken Link
    November 25, 2010

    Unfortunately, the thread at AMC thanking them for not running the ads has been locked/archived, because there were too many trolls. The fact that there were dozens of polite, thankful people doesn’t matter. I’d suggest that you go and visit the anti-vax postings and argue, and thus get them removed as well.

    Just visit the site and search for Safeminds, and get those tell those idiots the truth. Get started at the link on my name.

  18. #18 augustine
    November 25, 2010

    Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for? Skeptical atheism? I mean isn’t everything self deserved?

    For people who worship the human mind, I guess you could be thankful for how smart and clever you really are above the rest of the world.

  19. #19 Barry
    November 26, 2010

    There are a lot of ‘trolls’ out there..

  20. #20 Agashem
    November 26, 2010

    I for one am very thankful to be above the rest of the world. It means I can look down from my roost and crow.
    I don’t know what that has to do with anything either, just trying to keep my cool while reading the trolls.
    My autistic daughter is always thrilled when the anti-vaxxers get shot down.
    On to the next fight.

  21. #21 Giliell
    November 26, 2010

    Happy Thanksgivimg to you from the other side of the pond
    Just as an idea: Don’t only go to the AMC theatre, let them also know why you chose them.

    @augustine
    I think you can be just thankful for without the who, as a sysnonym to “happy about”

  22. #22 MikeMa
    November 26, 2010

    Sent praise to AMC. Lots of loons pounding them. Glad I added to the sane side.

    @augie,
    What has superior logic and intelligence have to do with being thankful? For instance, I am thankful you have no authority over my health choices.

  23. #23 augustine
    November 26, 2010

    [Mike Ma:For instance, I am thankful you have no authority over my health choices.]

    Same here. Let’s keep it that way.

  24. #24 Mojo
    November 26, 2010

    @augustine:

    For people who worship the human mind…

    The human mind created God – what more do you want?

  25. #25 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 26, 2010

    @Augustine,

    I’m thankful to you for bringing this up, even though I didn’t deserve it. If you really meant “Who are skeptic atheist even thankful to” instead of “Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for“, you’ve combined wordplay with a couple of straw men to show off one of the current, rather silly memes in arguing for religion.

    In this case the argument appears to go, “if you celebrate Thanksgiving, you must be thanking someone. There are things you are ‘thankful’ for that cannot be attributed to individual people (good weather, a suitable harvest, your health, the safety of your family, your relative prosperity, and that sort of thing). So if you’re thankful for those things, you must be thanking someone who is not people – and who could that be if not God?” Naturally, in this view anyone who celebrates Thanksgiving but does not credit God is clearly a hypocrite.

    This is not dissimilar to someone saying, “you say ‘living creature’, but you don’t credit the Creator” when discussing evolution.

    There are things in both our language and our society that reflect a historical bias towards belief in a god or gods. Non-believers use the same language as believers by necessity, so sometimes will use terms that will be subject to this rather twisted pedantry. Likewise, non-believers may well participate in cultural festivals and rituals without a religious motive.

    I suppose we could change the name of the day to “recognizing the good things that have happened to us, crediting those who deserve credit, and feeling fortunate – even appreciative – for those things with no obvious causative factor” day, but that’s ungainly.

    But Happy belated Thanksgiving. And in advance, let me wish you a very merry solstice-coincident holiday of your choice including none if you so desire.

  26. #26 Science Mom
    November 26, 2010

    Here is a comment on AoA from our own precious Jen:

    “Michael framson, you got that right about their Aggressive determination in the pursuit of stupidity. Honestly, I wonder what percentage of Orac’s blogs are about vaccines- it seems to be around 50%ish. I ‘m so glad Jake dug up some info on his role with Sanofi-Aventis, the world’s largest vaccine maker.. He seems way too interested in quashing any troubling aspects to vaccines.”
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/11/why-was-this-psa-rated-x.html#comments

  27. #27 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 26, 2010

    @Augustine – For further examples, can you write January on your checks without believing in Janus, Roman god of gates, beginnings, endings, and time. You can say “TGIF” without believing in Frigg, Germanic love goddess. You can even enjoy the music of Queen without believing they were ever royalty nor acknowledging their monarchy.

  28. #28 LW
    November 26, 2010

    Actually, even a “skeptic atheist” has someone to be thankful to. I am thankful to the billions of unsung heroes who built the modern world and continue to maintain it so that we can enjoy all the benefits that we enjoy, like clean water and healthful food; safe travel; warm, weatherproof, largely vermin-free houses; long distance communication undreamt of by our ancestors; modern medicine and dentistry; abundant books …

    Mephistopheles mentions being thankful for good weather and a suitable harvest, but I’m also thankful to my predecessors for having built a society so wealthy that my continued day-to-day survival does not depend on good weather and a suitable harvest.

  29. #29 novalox
    November 26, 2010

    @25

    Goodness, the antivaxxers will try to find any link, no matter how tenuous or ridiculous, to try to smear someone…

  30. #30 Chris
    November 26, 2010

    I went to the first complaint at the AMC board. “Remove the Unfounded Anti-Vaccine Message from your Ads” and it said “2597 people have this problem.”

    Then to the one posted by Ms. Conrick, “AMC flip flops on Mercury-Free Vaccines?”, which said “9 people have this question.”

    Do you think AoA and SafeMinds have noticed the disparity in numbers?

  31. #31 Joseph
    November 26, 2010

    Then to the one posted by Ms. Conrick, “AMC flip flops on Mercury-Free Vaccines?”, which said “9 people have this question.”

    I know. And the comments are telling. It’s quite amazing.

    It’s like the only people left in the anti-vax movement are the heads of anti-vax organizations and websites (e.g. Handley) and their employees (e.g. Stagliano.)

  32. #32 Chris
    November 26, 2010

    Joseph:

    It’s like the only people left in the anti-vax movement are the heads of anti-vax organizations and websites (e.g. Handley) and their employees (e.g. Stagliano.)

    And the die hard adherents to the failed “vaccines cause autism” hypothesis. I see that “ccdaddy” has posted at least six comments on the last thread, and invoking the very boring Pharma Shill Gambit. At least that is fewer than Allegra’s comment count.

  33. #33 Science Mom
    November 26, 2010

    @ Todd and Chris, judging from the comments, which are truly painful to read from the anti-vax loons, they aren’t in touch with reality. They are so insular (by choice), they can’t even comprehend they aren’t representative of the real world, or really, that one even exists.

  34. #34 augustine
    November 26, 2010

    [@Augustine – For further examples, can you write January on your checks without believing in Janus, Roman god of gates, beginnings, endings, and time.]

    That’s not atheism. That’s paganism. You can be thankful for Constantine the emperor for that.

    I don’t have a problem with atheist or paganism. I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs.

  35. #35 rw23
    November 27, 2010

    @Augustine:

    I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs.

    Logic isn’t your strong point, is it?

  36. #36 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 27, 2010

    @Augustine,

    I’m glad you have no problems with paganism. Have you noticed that many people who believe in a spirit hate those beliefs, and quite possibly the people who hold them? This is easy to find in the collective writings of various church leaders. Are you concerned about spreading that word?

    Do you have a source for saying that the majority of science bloggers hate Americans who believe in a spirit for their beliefs? I know many science bloggers do not believe in a spirit, but had not discerned a hatred of those who do.

  37. #37 LW
    November 27, 2010

    @augustine, have you read this comment, wherein David N. Brown describes himself as a Christian? Have you read all of the subsequent comments, wherein no one attacked or even mildly criticized him for his beliefs? If you have not done so, you should.

    Next time you decide to defame an entire group, you might try to come up with some evidence first. At least one example of religious hatred from each of a majority of science bloggers (not commenters) will do.

  38. #38 Mary
    November 27, 2010

    Thanking AMC screwed up the rest of my day. Once I registered on that site to post the thanks, I was locked in to an account that sent me e-mails every hour or so — and COULD NOT be deleted. (Their “help” section had a sort of forum with people’s questions, and there were quite a few other people trying desperately to get their accounts closed.) I sure hope that the thanks to AMC did some good, after all that trouble.

  39. #39 Chris
    November 27, 2010

    Yikes! That is terrible. I got one email that sent me to a website. I remember there were two boxes to click, I made sure I unchecked any that involved sending me updates and what not.

  40. #40 augustine
    November 27, 2010

    [LW: @augustine, have you read this comment, wherein David N. Brown describes himself as a Christian? ]

    Obviously he’s irrational and illogical!

    [Memphis: Do you have a source for saying that the majority of science bloggers hate Americans who believe in a spirit for their beliefs? ]

    That’s pretty funny!

    [Memphis: I know many science bloggers do not believe in a spirit, but had not discerned a hatred of those who do.]

    Ever heard of pharyngoola? He’s very well documented.

    Do you think Orac believes in a spirit?

  41. #41 Broken Link
    November 28, 2010

    I think at the bottom of the messages it sends you is an option to stop following this topic. Also, if you modify your account, there is a list of which topics you are following and you can delete the “follow” there.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    November 28, 2010

    Augustine (#34) claims:

    “I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs.”

    I doubt that even the atheist science ‘bloggers “hate” people who “believe in a spirit”. I think it is more likely that they pity them because of their archaic obsession with mythical beings. And I suppose there are even a few who feel superior to the “spiritual” types. Hate? I haven’t seen hate.

    Perhaps Augustine is projecting his hatred of people who reject his beliefs?

    Prometheus

  43. #43 augustine
    November 29, 2010

    [Promotheus Vaccinius: Perhaps Augustine is projecting his hatred of people who reject his beliefs?]

    http://www.tutorgig.com/ed/Tu_quoque

  44. #44 Investigator
    November 29, 2010

    Is it true Orac wants to cause autism because it’s easier for him to bumblast kids who can’t speak?

  45. #45 Chris
    November 29, 2010

    Investigator, exactly how does Orac want to cause autism? Do provide some real evidence and documentation.

  46. #46 Investigator
    November 29, 2010

    Chris, You must be a new reader here. Orac has been spreading propaganda to encourage people to poison their babies with thimerosal for years. Get your head out of your ass.

  47. #47 Investigator
    November 30, 2010

    Chris, You must be a new reader here. Orac has been spreading propaganda to encourage people to poison their babies with thimerosal for years. Get your head out of your ass.

  48. #48 SC (Salty Current)
    November 30, 2010

    Do you think Orac believes in a spirit?

    Define “spirit,” please, in terms of composition and means of action, specifically.

  49. #49 Chris
    November 30, 2010

    Okay, maybe being here for over a year is “new”… you still did not answer the question. How has Orac encouraged people to poison their children with thimerosal? For one thing thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines almost ten years ago.

    With Sallie Bernard unable to find DTaP with thimersal in 2001, only a person trapped in a time warp would be banging on about “mercury in vaccines.” So explain again how Orac is trying to poison babies, with documentation (you seemed to have forgotten about that bit).

  50. #50 Chris
    November 30, 2010

    Please, “Investigator” answer my question on wtf you are going on about!

  51. #51 SC (Salty Current)
    November 30, 2010

    Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for? Skeptical atheism?

    Amongst other things.

    I mean isn’t everything self deserved?

    What could this possibly mean (I hesitate to ask)?

    For people who worship the human mind,

    What?

  52. #52 Chris
    November 30, 2010

    SC, ignore Little Augie. His level of inanity is not worth even a glance.

  53. #53 SC (Salty Current)
    November 30, 2010

    Ah. Thanks.* Haven’t been following comments closely enough.

    *(and for the second link on the other thread :))

  54. #54 Investigator
    November 30, 2010

    Chris, Thanks for telling me you’re a lying cunt like all the rest of the assholes here. Thimerosal has never been removed from vaccines and all of you psychopaths know that.
    This blog provides all the documentation you need.

  55. #55 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 30, 2010

    Some “Investigator”!

    No evidence, just vile insults and evidence-free assertions of a falsehood.

    FOAD.

  56. #56 Todd W.
    November 30, 2010

    Investigator sounds a lot like JB Handley, to me. Full of insults and crude language, rather light on the science and evidence.

  57. #57 Orac
    November 30, 2010

    Actually, tracing the IP address leads me to believe that “Investigator” is on old “friend” of the blog who appears to have gotten a new ISP and thereby evaded my IP address and e-mail address blocks.

    Yes, we’re talking about John Best.

    John Best, meet killfile. Killfile, meet John Best.

  58. #58 Todd W.
    November 30, 2010

    @Orac

    That was going to be my second guess. They are both crass, clueless boors, though Best is, by far, more unhinged and violently tempered.

  59. #59 Thomas
    November 30, 2010

    John gave away his identity with his first post as “investigator” – he can’t help himself from posting about his deep interest in sodomy and children. Pity he can’t stick around the blog, though. He could talk about his belief that “big pharma” is hiding the fact that the cure for autism involves years of treatment with expensive pharmaceuticals. Comedy gold.

  60. #60 brian
    November 30, 2010

    Deprived of his access to this site, Best will be able to devote more of his time to his efforts to combat the Illuminati who are responsible for the soaring US national debt through their manipulation of the US Federal Reserve, which, according to Best, is actually a private bank owned by the Rothschilds. Yep.

  61. #61 Todd W.
    November 30, 2010

    Orac, looks like Mr. Best is poking his head up again.

  62. #62 Lawrence
    November 30, 2010

    I believe his blog even went to “members” only – since he couldn’t stand to have anyone comment that wasn’t in line with his own twisted version of reality.

    He gave himself away with the obscenity-laced tirade, only he can put those particularly colorful words together in such a rant (and very specific too).

  63. #63 Orac
    November 30, 2010

    I’ve upped the level of blocking. True, Best can always morph and get around it, but for now he should be gone again.

  64. #64 augustine
    November 30, 2010

    [Chis: SC, ignore Little Augie. His level of inanity is not worth even a glance.]

    I guess you didn’t like it that you were caught in a politically correct conundrum that challenged your logic. I would ignore me too.

    Maybe you do believe in a spirit. Maybe you believe peoples spirits are switched at conception and that is how a woman can be trapped in man’s body. If the rest of the SBMers agree then I guess it must be legit.

  65. #65 Paholaisen asianajaja
    December 5, 2010

    Age of Autism’s facebook group copied Elyse’s profile picture comments it thus:

    This is the woman who fought to pull the SafeMinds PSA’s from the theatres. It’s her FB profile page photo. She is anti-choice and wants to tell you that mercury is safe and that Thimeosal [sic] is good – according to her blog. She trolls AofA regularly. As do all the pro-vaccine-injury bloggers.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.