Respectful Insolence

Here’s a brief one for you all. Former UPI editor and now editor of the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism has a talent for incredibly un-self-aware statements. This time around, in the wake of President Obama’s having released his “long form” birth certificate, ol’ Danny Boy posted a quickie statement (in amongst a bunch of other almost as amusing quickie statements) that reads:

Now that the “birther” myth has been debunked, maybe we can get rid of the ridiculous but widespread notion — pushed by people who should know better — that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Uh, no, Dan. You have it backwards. The ridiculous but widespread notion–pushed by people who should know better–is the notion that vaccines cause autism that you and your merry band of anti-vaccine activists at AoA promote. It’s an ex-hypothesis that’s been as thoroughly refuted as the now equally ridiculous but widespread notions–pushed by people who should know better–that:

  • HIV does not cause AIDS
  • Evolution is not responsible for the diversity of life on this planet
  • Neil Armstrong did not land on the moon
  • The Holocaust never happened and was actually a Jewish plot
  • An alien spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947 and the government has been engaged in a conspiracy to cover it up since then
  • 9/11 was an “inside job” with President Bush complicit in the plot
  • President Obama was not born in the U.S. and is therefore not eligible to be President

In actuality, it is anti-vaccine activists like Dan Olmsted who are very much like the birthers, twisting logic, reason, evidence, and science into pretzels in response to each new piece of evidence in order to defend their belief that vaccines cause autism.

Comments

  1. #1 René Najera
    May 2, 2011

    I had a recent run-in with someone who was convinced that, because I’m Mexican, I wasn’t here in the States legally. Presented with facts against his notion, he concluded that my parents took the “papers” from an American child that was born around the same time I was born in order for me to come to the States legally. That’s quite the leap, to say the least. I wonder why I have the same last name of my father. Or did the whole family steal the identity of another entire family?

    Unlike the President, however, I don’t need to prove my status to anyone outside of my employer and law enforcement when asked to do so.

    The same with anti-vaxers. They’ll write up a wholly convoluted story in their heads in order not to be wrong. If they’re wrong, the well would dry up. And they won’t allow that, will they? Too much money on the line.

  2. #2 Kausik Datta
    May 2, 2011

    I think that secretly even the cranks of all stripes (antivaxxers, birthers, 9/11-hoaxers, Holocaust-deniers, pseudoscience-peddlers, HIV-deniers, UFO-sighters, alien abductees, and so forth – boy, is the list long!) know that if they didn’t actively engage in

    twisting logic, reason, evidence, and science into pretzels in response to each new piece of evidence in order to defend their belief

    or beliefs, they would find their own positions so untenable and ridiculous that their brains would ass-plode. For them, cognitive dissonance and intellectual blindness are essential survival tools.

  3. #3 Prometheus
    May 2, 2011

    This is a serious twisting of reality by Mr. Olmsted. He’s comparing the unsupported claim that Pres. Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. (despite his mother’s assertion that he was and the presence of a “short-form” birth certificate from Hawaii) to the “notion” (his words) that vaccines don’t cause autism (despite the piles of data showing no connection between autism and vaccines)?

    As Orac says, Dan Olmsted is on the wrong side of the “rational”/”conspiracy theory” divide on this one. There was never any good data showing a connection between vaccines and autism, merely a weak temporal correlation between one vaccine (MMR) and the usual age of onset/diagnosis for autism. And since the uptake of the MMR vaccine has been steady or declining for over twenty years, during which time the prevalence of autism has been steadily climbing, the “vaccine-autism connection” appears to be “busted”.

    But, not content with this, several researchers have studied vaccines and autism and – shocker! – have failed to find a correlation. While a correlation does not equal causation, the lack of a correlation makes causation pretty much impossible.

    Apart from his “writer’s intuition” and the dogma-based ravings of a small but hyper-vocal group of conspiracy theorists, Mr. Olsted doesn’t appear to have anything to support his belief that autism is caused by vaccines.

    That would seem to place him on the “Birther”/”Truther”/HIV denialist side of the field, where he has always been.

    Prometheus

  4. #4 Denice Walter
    May 2, 2011

    Olmstead- who seems right at home with the scandal-mongery that is AoA- doesn’t buy into *every* ridiculous conspiracy but is *selective* in his choice of nonsense: now I’m purely flying by the seat of my pants here, but I wouldn’t be surprised *at all* if Dan bought into some *other* cockamamie “theory” such as germ theory denialism, HIV/AIDS denialism, vitalism, “Eastern Medicine”, ad nauseum. We should remember that even the truly loony often( perhaps solely by chance) may preserve a glimpse of reality and thus remain inconsistent and essentially unpredictable: even Mike Adams is worried about AGW.

  5. #5 scott
    May 2, 2011

    Now that the “birther” myth has been debunked, maybe we can get rid of the ridiculous but widespread notion — pushed by people who should know better- that flying pink hollow unicorns don’t exist.

  6. #6 dedicated lurker
    May 2, 2011

    Am I the only one who started reading the post and expect it to be about the fact Olmsted is a birther?

  7. #7 Orac
    May 2, 2011

    Is Olmsted a birther?

  8. #8 Dangerous Bacon
    May 2, 2011

    Birthers and hard-core antivaxers like Olmsted have a great deal in common.

    No matter how detailed and convincing the evidence against their pet theories, they are never convinced, instead dreaming up new and ever-more ridiculous theories to support their pet obsessions.

  9. #9 DLC
    May 2, 2011

    Olmstead is a crank, and is rapidly descending into hardcore crankitude. Next up, he can explain how “Vaccines cause Autism” is just Pining for the Fjords.

  10. #10 Terrie
    May 2, 2011

    Rene, I’m reminded of some who once complained that he wished all Puerto Ricans would go back to the country they came from.

  11. #11 Rene Najera
    May 2, 2011

    @Terrie Puerto Ricans and the people from Guam and American (F*CKING AMERICAN!) Samoa.

  12. #12 dedicated lurker
    May 2, 2011

    Is Olmsted a birther?>

    No, as far as I know. I was expecting this post to reveal something like that, because of crank magnetism.

  13. #13 Poodle Stomper
    May 2, 2011

    René Najera,

    From your admission that you are here legally from Mexico, I can only conclude that you are Kenyan. Please board the nearest train (yes a train) to Kenya. Thanks!

  14. #14 D. C. Sessions
    May 2, 2011

    René, it might warm your heart to see a pretty routine event in this part of the country: some newcomer from the East telling an Hispanic to “go back where you came from” — and have the Hispanic point out that “where I came from” is right here, thank you, since before there even was a “United States of America.”

    Then there’s that whole bit about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and some of the little provisions in it.

  15. #15 Montana
    May 2, 2011

    Our president had already showed his US passport to;

    1. Get a Passport;
    http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2008/03/20/obamas_passport_files_hacked/

    2. Become a US Senator;

    I feel sorry for all the little Birthers, It’s not their fault; it’s your families’ fault that taught you that you were better than other people based on race, creed ethnicity, color, nationality or sex, in short they engrained in you their hate (what a legacy).

    But you know at some point you need to grow up and act like an adult and think for yourself and distinguish what is true and what is BS.

    But there is where the little Birthers find yourself because we all know it was never about a birth certificate or grades, because we all know you want to go around wearing white sheets, burn crosses and hang people who are not like you, we know that your growth is stunted in your hate, and hate is what this is all about, you will never win anymore, and I feel sorry for all of you. I can only imagine when our President is re-elected what you phonies will lie about next. Oh, and just know, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it’s a duck, the little Birthers are a bunch of racists!

  16. #16 Roger Kulp
    May 2, 2011

    The signs have been there a while,but nothing really drove home the fact that the antivax movement’s time has come and passed,like going into Dollar Tree today,and seeing a mountain of Jenny McCarthy’s books.

  17. #17 Roger Kulp
    May 2, 2011

    The signs have been there a while,but nothing really drove home the fact that the antivax movement’s time has come and passed,like going into Dollar Tree today,and seeing a mountain of Jenny McCarthy’s books.

  18. #18 David N. Brown
    May 3, 2011

    I think some nuance is in order with Roswell: There is ample reason to believe there WAS a coverup. The main question among investigators is WHAT was covered up.

    As for the “birther” idea(s), I have always regarded it as having a nucleus of plausibility. All that it is necessary to postulate is that Barak was born earlier than officially reported, and for one reason or another, convinced staff of a hospital to fill out a few forms to say otherwise. Personally, I am simply indifferent to the question. Even if I reckoned the “birther” scenario to be likely rather than merely conceivable, and even if there were a decent chance of proving it beyond reasonable doubt, I would sooner leave the matter alone. I didn’t vote for Obama, but I can’t muster any enthusiasm for the idea of removing him from office effectively for a misdeed by his parents.

  19. #19 Julian Frost
    May 3, 2011

    David, given that Area 51 is used to test extremely advanced and top secret aircraft (the prototypes of the F-117 Nighthawk were tested there), I believe that the most likely explanation is that in 1947, a then top secret aircraft crashed.

  20. #20 Julian Frost
    May 3, 2011

    David, given that Area 51 is used to test extremely advanced and top secret aircraft (the prototypes of the F-117 Nighthawk were tested there), I believe that the most likely explanation is that in 1947, a then top secret aircraft crashed.

  21. #21 Visitor
    May 3, 2011

    Now that the “birther” myth has been debunked, maybe we can get rid of the ridiculous but widespread notion that Oreo cookies make you fat.

  22. #22 Matthew
    May 3, 2011

    “I think some nuance is in order with Roswell: There is ample reason to believe there WAS a coverup. The main question among investigators is WHAT was covered up.”

    This. Conspiracy theories, vax-causes-autism and other nonsense divert effort away from finding the true causes of or solutions to things.

    With a baby due, I’ve been introduced to the Wacky World Of Homebirth. If people weren’t so mad about it, to the tune of creating a fake ‘nurse’ credential so they can kill their unborn babies in the comfort of their own home, perhaps they could work on a way of improving the experience of a safe (ie. in a hospital) birth.

    There is no better explanation for the diversity of life on the planet than evolution. If people weren’t so busy with their nonsense (and getting amusingly heated about it), they might be able to work on important issues like not being little shits to each other. (Despite being Christian, evolution happened, the earth is not 7000 years old and intelligent design is basically bollocks).

    And if the 9/11 conspiracists would shut the hell up, maybe they can work instead on fixing the systemic problems which allowed the incompetent monkey into the white house in the first place. Twice! (Let’s not even get started on Tony Blair).

    All of which winds me up. There are many problems in the world. Let’s work on the ones which are real, please?

  23. #23 Dangerous Bacon
    May 3, 2011

    “An alien spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947 and the government has been engaged in a conspiracy to cover it up since then”

    And it’s only since 1947 that autism diagnoses have been increasing! Why has no one made this connection before? Why aren’t Olmsted et al demanding the release of the Secret Government Papers that would prove the extraplanetary autism link?

    The answer’s been staring us in the face all along – it’s part of the Big Pharma-F.D.A.-N.W.O.-extraterrestrial depopulation conspiracy.

    Thankfully we have Orac and other investigators who’ve led us to the truth.

  24. #24 gdave
    May 3, 2011

    @David N. Brown:

    There was definitely a cover-up at Roswell – but “investigators” know exactly what was being covered up. Google or Wikipedia “Project Mogul” (in brief, top secret high altitude balloon used to monitor Soviet nuclear tests).

    @Julian Frost:

    See above. Also, the Groom Dry Lake facility at “Area 51″ didn’t exist in 1947 – and it’s in Nevada, while Roswell is in New Mexico. It was a “then top secret aircraft” of a sort, though.

  25. #25 Jen in TX
    May 3, 2011

    Wonder if the AofA editors will have anything to say about their Johnson & Johnson pals putting their name on St. Andy’s former place of employment, Thoughtful House?

  26. #26 Vicki
    May 3, 2011

    David N. Brown,

    On precisely that same line of “reasoning,” you could assert that nobody has ever been born in the United States, by arguing that, in each specific case, the hospital staff produced false papers, with an inaccurate date of birth, for that infant.

    There is exactly as much “evidence” for that in George W. Bush’s case, or Donald Trump’s, or mine, as there is in Obama’s. But the “birthers” aren’t interested in claiming that white Christians like Bush and Trump aren’t “real” Americans. Me, I’m a natural-born citizen, and both my parents were citizens when I was born, but my family is Jewish and all my grandparents were born in Europe. That plus my being born in New York City instead of Kansas probably makes me suspicious in some people’s eyes.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    May 3, 2011

    @ Visitor: Yeah, that “Oreos-make-you-fat” nonsense is part and parcel with the claptrap that maintains that:

    Gin makes you drunk
    Real estate near the water is costlier
    Age is a function of time

  28. #28 Terrie
    May 3, 2011

    @Denice, it’s important to clarify that EATING oreos makes you fat. I tried applying them topically, and merely ended up slightly sticky.

  29. #29 Sir Eccles
    May 3, 2011

    “Also, the Groom Dry Lake facility at “Area 51″ didn’t exist in 1947″

    Pfft, that’s what you think! You see why else would they need such a secret facility? Think about it. UFO crashes, all the crew die except for a baby alien. They need somewhere isolated to raise it, boom Area 51. They raised the alien until it was old enough to insert into society, they did the old “Day of the Jackal” trick and there you have it. Why call it Area 51, there are 5 letters in Obama, 1 refers to the president!

    It makes so much sense!

    (can’t believe I just wrote that)

  30. #30 Yojimbo
    May 3, 2011

    @ Sir Eccles

    So, you’re saying Obama is the Arcturian Candidate? Yes, of course! Why did I not see that before?

  31. #31 Visitor
    May 3, 2011

    Donald Trump’s hair was made in China. I’m not sure of the political implications.

  32. #32 herr doktor bimler
    May 3, 2011

    Gin makes you drunk

    A series of experiments with gin-&-soda, whisky-&-soda and vodka-&-soda has demonstrated to my satisfaction that soda causes hangovers.
    Science-based medicine!

  33. #33 Michelle
    May 3, 2011

    News flash: Mark Geier’s medical license has been suspended by the state of Maryland. Kathleen covers it at neurodiversity.

    I just hope the suspension turns into a revokation and he’s forced to close his “clinics,” including the one near me in suburban St. Louis.

  34. #34 stripey_cat
    May 3, 2011

    “Gin makes you drunk”

    No, no, no: you’ve got it arse-backwards! Gin cures sobriety.

  35. #35 Chris
    May 3, 2011
  36. #36 Denice Walter
    May 3, 2011

    @ herr doktor bimler
    @ stripey_cat:
    Actually, gin is *medicinal*: *supposedly* years ago, it was drunk by the (( shudder)) colonialists to disguise the horribly bitter taste of quinine wherever malaria was endemic. The amount of quinine in tonic these days is minuscule in comparison but then so is the liklihood of contracting malaria in most of the places where gin and tonic reign supreme. Works for me!

  37. #37 Roadstergal
    May 3, 2011

    A series of experiments with gin-&-soda, whisky-&-soda and vodka-&-soda has demonstrated to my satisfaction that soda causes hangovers.

    I’d be suspicious of ampersands, myself.

  38. #38 David N. Brown
    May 3, 2011

    @25:
    “There is exactly as much “evidence” for that in George W. Bush’s case, or Donald Trump’s, or mine, as there is in Obama’s. But the `birthers’ aren’t interested in claiming that white Christians like Bush and Trump aren’t `real’ Americans.”
    Not really comparable, as Bush’s and Trump’s parenta weren’t recent immigrants, an issue which I think is far more significant than race per se in public perception of the Obama family. But I think we are getting to much the same point: The evidence of Obama’s birth on American soil is too great for further “skepticism” to accomplish anything constructive.

  39. #39 Narad
    May 3, 2011

    What Michelle said

    THIS.

  40. #40 John Marley
    May 3, 2011

    President Truman: Whistling Dixie! I want this sent to Area 51 for study.

    General: But sir, that’s where we’re building the fake moon landing set.

    President Truman: Then we’ll have to really land on the moon. Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies.

  41. #41 David N. Brown
    May 4, 2011

    @24:
    “There was definitely a cover-up at Roswell – but `investigators’ know exactly what was being covered up. Google or Wikipedia “Project Mogul” (in brief, top secret high altitude balloon used to monitor Soviet nuclear tests).”
    I’ve seen this disputed in “ufological” circles. The arguments have struck me as sound enough to warrant further consideration. Of course, Mogul was not the only classified project going on in the ’60s.

    As both a “conservative” and a reader in Forteana, I see a significant parallel between the “birthers” and the Roswell/ “aliens in the freezer” story. As late as the 1970s, claims that the US government actually possessed alien remains or artifacts were widely treated with skepticism or incredulity even by leading Forteans (John Keel, Jerome Clarke, etc.). Very notable Republicans, including McCain, have taken much the same position with “birthers”. The question is whether mature voices among political conservatives will be any more effectual than the “serious” Forteans.

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