Respectful Insolence

A couple of weeks ago, I sounded the alarm regarding a highly deceptive public service announcement/infomercial being run on some Delta Airlines flights, courtesy of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). That’s the organization founded by the grand dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, who features prominently in the PSA. I call this PSA deceptive because, although it tries mightily to pass itself off as a reasonable series of strategies for avoiding catching influenza, in reality this PSA is a very sneaky and clever bit of anti-vaccine propaganda. Why do I say this? First, although the PSA quite correctly urges viewers to wash their hands, cover their mouths, and do other things that help prevent the spread of the influenza virus, it also quite obviously downplays the importance of the flu vaccine. The PSA’s seemingly reasonable message to “talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the flu vaccine” is then followed by a pitch for viewers to visit the NVIC website, which, unbeknownst to most viewers, is as wretched a hive of scum and anti-vaccine quackery as there is on the Internet. Of course, if you don’t know that, you won’t realize that there’s anything wrong with the PSA, and if you’re not familiar with anti-vaccine canards it’s very likely that you won’t realize just how scientifically unsupported the fear mongering on the NVIC website is. The whole PSA is a Trojan horse, with the anti-vaccine message sneaking out after the horse has been brought into the keep.

Around the same time, Skepchick Elyse also noticed what the NVIC was doing and started a Change.org petition to Delta Airlines protesting its running of a PSA by a notorious anti-vaccine group, while the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism celebrated the PSA.

After that, I must confess, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have to what happened next. Instead of revisiting the topic and helping to keep up the pressure, I more or less let it slide, although I did note with approval that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), once it learned what Delta was doing through its content provider In-Flight Media Associates wrote a letter of protest complaining to Delta Airlines about the ads:

November 4, 2011
Richard Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
Delta Air Lines

Dear Mr. Anderson,

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) objects to the paid advertisement/public service message from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) being shown throughout the month of November on Delta’s in-flight programming. The ad urges viewers to become informed about influenza and how to stay well during the flu season without resorting to the influenza vaccine.

While hand washing and covering sneezes are parts of a larger strategy to prevent the spread of influenza, influenza vaccine continues to be the best way to protect against the disease. It is especially important in enclosed settings where disease droplets can easily spread to passengers sitting in close quarters, especially infants and children and those with special health care needs.

The AAP and many other child health organizations have worked hard to protect children and their families from unfounded and unscientific misinformation regarding vaccine safety. The influenza vaccine is safe and effective.

By providing advertising space to an organization like the NVIC, which opposes the nation’s recommended childhood immunization schedule and promotes the unscientific practice of delaying or skipping vaccines altogether, you are putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Diseases like influenza can have serious consequences. From September 2010 to August 2011, 115 children died from influenza disease, most of whom were unvaccinated.

The AAP’s 60,000 member pediatricians urge you to remove these harmful messages, which fail to inform the public about the safety and efficacy of influenza vaccine. Please do your part to help reassure parents that vaccinating their children is the best way to protect them from influenza disease, particularly during this busy travel season.

Sincerely,
Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP
President, American Academy of Pediatrics

Meanwhile, physicians, skeptics, and other concerned citizens complained to Delta, whose PR flaks seemed befuddled by the whole issue and clearly needed some serious reeducation. Indeed, Delta’s response left much to be desired:

Dear Doctor Block,

Thank you for contacting Delta. We value customer feedback and appreciate you taking the time to contact us. Please allow me to share some background with you regarding the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) video spot running on some Delta aircraft this month.

Earlier this year, NVIC purchased video advertising space on some of our overhead in-flight entertainment systems. The three-minute segment,which ends its run on Delta flights during the month of November, ispart of a show we call Lifestyle 365 and focuses on flu prevention.

Since the ad began running, we have learned of e-mails, online petitions and other social media channels pushing for the removal of the spot claiming that it is an anti-vaccine advertisement that discourages people from receiving the influenza vaccine.

Based on customer feedback, Delta felt it important to review the episode with the occupational health department to better understand perception of the video. After doing so, we acknowledge to you that the video doesn’t support vaccination as the key preventative measure for influenza.

Therefore, we have changed our internal review processes and procedures to help ensure that submitted content is vetted differently going forward. We recognize that while the views represented in Lifestyle 365 do not necessarily match those of Delta, we have a responsibility to our customer to ensure all programming is relevant, accurate and does not lend itself to interpretation.

Our December public service announcement topic is “Every Child By /Two (ECBT) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v+mx5bGepinjk&feature+youtu.be which encourages vaccinations at an early age.

Again, customer feedback is very important to us and we appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns. Please let us know if you have any further questions and as always thank you for flying Delta.
Very sincerely,

Barbara Martin, RN
General Manager, Occupational Health
Delta Air Lines

True, Delta will run a much more responsible and accurate PSA from Every Child by Two in December, but in the meantime the NVIC ad is still running for the rest of the month of November. To sum up the situation thus far, the NVIC somehow got its ad featured in the content that In-Flight Media Associates provides to Delta Airlines. There were a lot of complaints about it, including a letter from the AAP, and Delta did nothing more than to promise to “change its internal review processes and procedures,” while letting the ad continue to run, no doubt because there’s probably a clause in the contract that would require the returning of the NVIC’s money for the rest of the month. All in all, it’s been a PR disaster for Delta, and I see little evidence that In-Flight Media Associates or Delta Airlines has learned anything from this whole kerfuffle. That’s probably not surprising, given the promiscuity with which In-Flight Media Associates solicited business, sending a letter to various organizations asking them to buy space for their “Lifestlye365-Cold, Flu, and Fall Allergy Season” series, with the carrot added being an offer to advertise their organization. Take a gander at the letter sent to various organizations. All at a discount, too:

We are proud to extend this opportunity to your organization and have attached additional details regarding pricing and exposure options for each airline. We are offering an exclusive 5-minute option for a rate of $49,500 (Standard is $75,000) with commitment by May 30, 2011.

The rest of the pitch includes a mention that there is wifi on many Delta flights, so that passengers can go straight to the website after viewing the advertisement, as well as a promise of assistance in producing the video to be shown.

All of the above makes the press release from the NVIC particularly hilarious, right from its very title, National Vaccine Information Center Calls Out AAP for Using Public Intimidation to Censor NVIC Flu Prevention Video Offered to Delta Travelers. It’s a press relief full of straw men, deceptive arguments, and, above all, whining. In fact, Barbara Loe Fisher’s entire response to the criticism Delta Airlines has received for airing these ads can be summed up in a single sentence: “Help, help, I’m being repressed!”

Here’s what I mean. After referring to the AAP letter as an “act ov intimidation” by a “pharma-funded trade organization,” Fisher launches into a predictable tirade:

NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher responded, “Without cause, the AAP has used their considerable financial resources and political influence to intimidate Delta for simply showing a video that offers accurate information about ways to stay healthy during the flu season, including talking with doctors about getting a flu shot. Censorship and attacks on consumer advocacy groups working to institute informed consent protections in public health policies should not be tolerated in this or any society that cherishes free speech and the right to self determination.”

She also disingenuously writes:

In the letter to Delta, the AAP alleged that NVIC “opposes the nation’s recommended childhood immunization schedule and promotes the unscientific practice of delaying or skipping vaccines altogether.” During NVIC’s three-decades of work to secure vaccine safety and informed consent protections in U.S. public health laws, NVIC has criticized one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates and advocated for more and better quality vaccine safety science but has not told individuals to use a particular vaccine schedule or told them not to get vaccinated.

“NVIC is a non-profit charity led by educated health care consumers. We are not doctors and do not tell people how or when to vaccinate or advise people not to vaccinate,” said NVIC’s Fisher. “We have a long public record of promoting well-informed, voluntary health care decision-making.”

No, the NVIC has a long public record of promoting not informed consent and informed health care decision-making, but rather misinformed consent and anti-vaccinationism. This is about as blatant an attempt to wrap anti-vaccine views in the mantle of “vaccine safety” and, of course, “health freedom.” After all, the ad argues that the vaccine is “only” 70% effective, a claim that the press release repeats. Yes, the NVIC once again indulges in that favorite of all crank techniques, the fallacy of the perfect solution. The basic logical fallacy there is to try to argue that, just because the vaccine isn’t 100% perfect, it’s useless crap. Is 70% protection optimal? Of course not. But it’s way better than nothing, and given that the flu vaccine is very, very safe, it’s more than worth it to use a preventative measure that lessens your chances of developing the flu by 70% or so. In any case, remember that this is the same organization with a board member named Claire Dwoskin who referred to vaccines as a “holocaust of poison.”

What interests me the most about this press release and Barbara Loe Fisher’s response, however, is the rank hypocrisy combined with a persecution complex. All the AAP did was to write a letter of concern to a corporation that was airing Fisher’s anti-vaccine video. It didn’t threaten to sue. It didn’t threaten to boycott. It merely pointed out that the NVIC website is not a reliable source for information about the flu and flu vaccines and that the PSA from the NVIC is promoting a distorted message with regards to the flu vaccine. To Barbara Loe Fisher, that’s “intimidation.” To me, that’s free speech.

Of course, the anti-vaccine movement, including Barbara Loe Fisher herself, has a long history of really trying to intimidate critics into silence. Indeed, it was less than two years ago that Fisher sued Paul Offit, journalist Amy Wallace, and Condé Nast, all in order to intimidate Dr. Offit. She lost, fortunately. As far as “intimidation” goes, it’s the anti-vaccine movement that has that down. I ought to know. I’ve experienced it myself first hand, as a bunch of Age of Autism readers, spurred on by Jake Crosby, tried to get me fired from my job. Paul Offit has put up with harassment and threats for many years now, all because he dares to speak out for vaccines and call out the anti-vaccine movement for its lies.

In fact, sometimes, the anti-vaccine movement goes beyond just legal threats, harassment, and attempts to get its enemies fired. Indeed, just the other day, Mark Sircus advocated killing scientists at the CDC in a post entitled String the Bastards Up. Here are a couple of choice tidbits:

So you can understand why I think these people should be lined up against a wall. Actually there is no punishment that could possibly compensate for the suffering of autism and the tragedy of vaccine deaths.

And:

For all those who are for the death penalty, my message will be clear. I am calling for the conviction and the worst possible punishment under the law for certain people in government who are in the medical field. There seems to be no limit to what our present society will accept. We are letting the bankers and the shysters on Wall Street destroy western civilization, allowing them the fattest paychecks on earth as a reward. And we are letting doctors in white coats inject poisonous heavy metals into babies and paying them well for it.

Meanwhile, one of the commenters, as was pointed out by skeweddistribution, wants to go even further:

I love the fact you are trying to hold these people who have done indescribable harm accountable. But, one of the reasons they get away with this, is people are reluctant to name names. Do name them. Put their names on the Internet, in forums, on websites for all to see. If you know who they are, name them. Let all the world see their crimes. They escape because they can remain anonymous. Their colleagues, their families, their professional connections, should all know what they do. Let them be named!!!

This sounds exactly like the rhetoric of animal rights terrorists, for whom children are not off limits and the intimidation of students is considered a legitimate tactic. I always knew Sircus was a loon, given his claim that baking soda can cure the flu and cancer, but I had no idea that he was a potentially violent loon. At the very least, he’s ramping up the violent rhetoric to the point where someone might act on it. And I haven’t even mentioned many of the other examples of intimidation, either through the legal system or through harassment of critics at their jobs that the anti-vaccine movement has engaged in. Indeed, I know of another example right now that I’d love to be able to blog about but for the moment must remain silent about. Maybe that’s what prodded me to blog about this, the confluence of events, topped off by this new incident.

The bottom line is that attempts at intimidation by cranks like anti-vaccine zealots, be the attempts through legal thuggery or harassment at a critic’s job and attempts to get him fired are a direct consequence of their inability to persuade through science and reason. They are, more than anything else, emblematic of the utter failure of vaccine pseudoscience. When Barbara Loe Fisher complains about “intimidation,” she has no idea what she’s talking about. All she has to face are letters of protest from the AAP and the scorn of the blogosphere. No one is threatening her with legal action, nor is anyone trying to shut down her organization or deprive her of her livelihood. She should remember that before whining so loudly about being “persecuted” again.

Unfortunately, as we all know, she won’t.

Comments

  1. #1 Narad
    November 16, 2011

    We are offering an exclusive 5-minute option for a rate of $49,500

    Wow, I was actually not too far off by means of counting on my toes.

  2. #2 MikeMa
    November 16, 2011

    BLF pulled a fast one. She got caught. She didn’t get her crap pulled, just a warning for the next time and some well-deserved bad press. She ought to be used to that.

    It would be interesting to know if the cost of the deceptive ad actually drove any extra traffic to her site.

  3. #3 anarchic teapot
    November 16, 2011

    NVIC are nasty pieces of work; Sircus is an extermely nasty piece of work; Meryl Dorey is no better.

    It makes me angry to see all these callous, self-serving b*st*rds trying to suck money out of the gullible and naïve while pointing them in the direction that will cause them and their families the most harm.

    Sadly, some of us weren’t aware of Sir Cuss’s existence. I’m wondering if there’s a site where you can see a list of sites worldwide that have registered on the quackdar, and where you can suggest new sites.

  4. Eh… I wouldn’t put too much heart into the whole “airline health” stuff – seeing as they’ve got that SkyMall catalog in their planes all the time. If that isn’t the biggest collection of woo and pseudo-science that can fit in a seat-back pocket, I don’t know what is.

  5. #5 MikeMa
    November 16, 2011

    Bill Engval does a bit on that skymall catalog laughing at house slippers with headlights. A huge collection of useless crap. Like NVIC.

  6. #6 Cynical Pediatrician
    November 16, 2011

    Where to start, Ms Fisher? Unsurprisingly, even her little “intimidation” outcry is full of half-truths, if not outright lies. (Q: How do you know when Barbara Loe Fisher is lying? A: When her lips are moving–or, in this case, when she puts pen to paper.)
    For starters, the AAP is not a financial behemoth; in fact, it has less financial clout than most other specialty societies. And, also unlike other specialty groups, it is not a “trade organization.” Its primary mission–and I’ll quote–is “to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” Which is all the more tragic for Fisher. A long, long time ago she could have theoretically have done some good by being a true advocate for patient safety, helping to advance a scientific agenda, working with the AAP in a common goal. But the dark side of the force is strong, it is, and she found it easier (and more sensational) to go completely nutters into hate-spewing, fear-mongering lunacy. (“Fear leads to anger; angers leads to hate;” etc etc etc.)
    In the meantime, I also get a kick out of the NVIC’s dismissing the flu vaccine since it is only 60-some % effective. Following this same thinking, the NVIC should be protesting seat belts and air bags since they, too, are not 100% effective in preventing injury. In fact, they probably want them banned outright until “safer” measures can be developed–after all, I’m sure I can find 1 or 2 people who may have been injured from airbags. Heavens to Betsy, in Fisher’s mind that outweighs the thousands of lives that have been saved!

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    November 16, 2011

    Katherine @4: There is a key difference between the SkyMall catalog and this PSA. Nobody is forced to look at the SkyMall catalog, but it is pretty difficult to avoid seeing the in-flight “entertainment” on most domestic flights and many international flights which have it. Also, you’re not paying for the SkyMall catalog (which I have always considered to be a source of free entertainment, as most of the items featured therein are laughably useless toys), but on domestic flights you usually have to pay a headset rental fee to hear the soundtrack to the in-flight entertainment. That means that many Delta passengers (possibly even Orac himself, if he had a west coast trip this month) unwittingly paid to hear this message.

  8. #8 Th1Th2
    November 16, 2011

    In the meantime, I also get a kick out of the NVIC’s dismissing the flu vaccine since it is only 60-some % effective. Following this same thinking, the NVIC should be protesting seat belts and air bags since they, too, are not 100% effective in preventing injury.

    Ah I see. Straw man. Next.

  9. #9 Tartu85
    November 16, 2011

    You know what else, in addition to vaccines, has absolutely nothing to do with autism? Chairs. We must hold carpenters responsible for the “epidemic” of autism. Let’s put the carpenters against the wall and name names

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    November 16, 2011

    Really! Wouldn’t pharma make even more money by developing antivirals/ other products for the illnesses prevented by vaccines? Not great forethought there, business wonks!

    The rhetoric sounds so much like what I read/ hear courtesy of Mssrs Adams and Null who also enjoy riding on Occupy Wall Street’s coat tails shouting “Truth to Power” at the corporatists ( while they simultaneously shill for their own corporations and seek flatter tax rates).

    And speaking of the unholy incestuous relations between anti-vaxxers, articles by the Geiers’ CoMeD rep or Mercola , as well as BLF, have shown up very quickly at the aforementioned idiots’ or even at the Holy of Holies ( AoA).

    Hmmm..I wonder if they already have little voo doo dollies of Orac *et minions* @ AoA or if they will go for the life-sized effigies?

  11. #11 Dangerous Bacon
    November 16, 2011

    One would have hoped Delta Airlines would see the hazards (including public relations risk) of running an ad designed to sway fliers against getting vaccinated against an unpleasant and sometimes fatal infectious disease, seeing that many people already worry about getting sick via contagiously ill airline passengers. The Delta p.r. dept. appears not to have made the connection. It’s yet another reason (beyond past poor experiences) for me to avoid Delta.

    For the poster who does not understand what a straw man fallacy is, here’s a good working definition:

    “The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of “reasoning” has the following pattern:

    Person A has position X.
    Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
    Person B attacks position Y.
    Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.”

    ht_p://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html

    Using seatbelts as another example of a mandated preventative health measure that is not 100% effective but is extremely useful in preventing injury and death is not a strawman fallacy. No one claims that BL Fisher attacked seat belt use. The most one could argue is that seat belts are not sufficiently analogous to vaccines as a public health tool, but that’s not a straw man fallacy.

    it’s not surprising that posters who cannot comprehend basic debate fallacies are so prone to committing them.

  12. #12 Th1Th2
    November 16, 2011

    Using seatbelts as another example of a mandated preventative health measure that is not 100% effective but is extremely useful in preventing injury and death is not a strawman fallacy[...] The most one could argue is that seat belts are not sufficiently analogous to vaccines as a public health tool, but that’s not a straw man fallacy.

    The argument is whether vaccine protects as akin to the seatbelt analogy (provax are addicted to this). Although the latter is inherently protective regardless of effectiveness, the former on the other hand is inherently infective and therefore does not protect. You ignored this fact and have misrepresented it with the seatbelt analogy thus the straw man fallacy.

  13. #13 Gray Falcon
    November 16, 2011

    Don’t bother with Th1Th2, she thinks diseases don’t cause harm unless doctors get involved: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/06/the_cost_of_the_anti-vaccine_movement.php#comment-4125264

  14. #14 Karl Withakay
    November 16, 2011

    Re “Only 70% effective”

    One of the ironies is that if the flu vaccine were 100% effective, fewer people would need to get it to provide heard immunity. As it is less than 100% effective, that makes it all the more important to vaccinate as many people as possible. A proper flu PSA would stress this point.

    -Karl Withakay

  15. #15 Tartu85
    November 16, 2011

    The person understands The Stra Man Fallacy, this, however, does not stop the person from attempting a cheap joke at it’s expense.

  16. #16 Beamup
    November 16, 2011

    The correct description, of course, would be reductio ad absurdum. Which is not fallacious.

  17. #17 Th1Th2
    November 16, 2011

    The person understands The Stra[sic] Man Fallacy, this, however, does not stop the person from attempting a cheap joke at it’s expense.

    FYI, iatrogenic death is not a joke.

  18. #18 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    In the email I sent to the CEO, I reminded him of the incidence of exposure to serious diseases (tuberculosis, bacterial meningitis and recently, measles), aboard airlines…which every major airline has experienced.

    Most of these exposures are not publicized, as long as every passenger is notified about the exposure, and the need to make their personal physician aware of the disease they were exposed to.

    I was part of the investigations that took place after these exposures being that the health department where I worked is located near to, major international and regional airports.

    This has been another (Times Square Jumbotron ad) public relations disaster for Babs and her NVIC, yet she finds it “irresistible” to not comment on it.

    (hint to Babs) Try to resist your “publicity hound” urges…you look like a fool.

  19. #19 Anton P. Nym
    November 16, 2011

    @ Jim (#18, at the moment) Fantastic post I hope to see more, keep at it.

    Hmm… generic comment plus a user link to a URL mentioning an unrelated medical product*. I smell splogging.

    — Steve

    *product not named to avoid granting the spammer even that smidgen of page rank.

  20. #20 Th1Th2bot
    November 16, 2011

    You ignored this fact and have misrepresented it with the seatbelt analogy thus the straw man fallacy.

    Sorry. Myth. As a sidewalk, and comparing this it wouldn’t mind? Ahhh, straw man unless the only be your response is different tune. If not; getting humiliated.

    I don’t eat foods. Think twice before posting therefore.

  21. #21 Lynxreign
    November 16, 2011

    I flew on Delta this past weekend (I’d booked the flight before I found out about their running of these ads) and I didn’t notice them at all. If you don’t get the headphones you won’t notice it either. Video was only available on 2 of the 4 legs of my round-trip flight and I didn’t notice many people watching the tvs when they were available.

    Not that this excuses it, but it is nice to know that it is easily avoidable.

  22. #22 LindaRosaRN
    November 16, 2011

    Kudos to Orac for an exceptionally well written essay on the Delta debacle.

    Delta fails to understand that there is no ethical middle ground it can stake out. Delta also fails to grasp the PR coup it could (cheaply) reap by taking a public stand for sound health policy.

  23. #23 Roadstergal
    November 16, 2011

    after all, I’m sure I can find 1 or 2 people who may have been injured from airbags.

    *waves* Short gal with short arms. I got an airbag deployed from a tap of a guardrail that just messed up the fender*; the airbag knocked me unconscious, gave me two black eyes, and burnt and lacerated my face. I was a bit shocked when it all healed without scars.

    Considering all of the vaccinations I have had – for childhood illnesses, boosters, HepB, seasonal flu – my rate of AEs for those is still nil, unlike airbags. ;) I still recognize the lifesaving potential of both…

    (*From when I first started driving. My only street accident – it pushed me to learn to drive properly. Take a Skip Barber course or the like; Driver’s Ed in the US teaches diddly squat. *steps off soapbox*)

  24. #24 Tartu85
    November 16, 2011

    Th1Th2, thank you for pointing out my typo, I will continue to strive to improve my keyboard use on the iPhone. Lack if humor is also unfunny.

  25. #25 CS
    November 16, 2011

    I love you Th1Th2bot. Marry me :)

  26. #26 Ken
    November 16, 2011

    Aaron Rodgers is only 70% effective when he throws the football.

  27. #27 Lynxreign
    November 16, 2011

    Aaron Rodgers is 72.9% effective, thankyouverymuch!
    Rather, that’s his completion percentage. Effectiveness is harder to judge.

  28. #28 Liz Ditz
    November 16, 2011

    Check out the parody at Harpocrates Speaks (formerly known as Silenced by Age of Autism) quoting Barbie Moe Flusher, the head of National Vaccine Misinformation Center:

    http://silencedbyageofautism.blogspot.com/2011/11/national-vaccine-misinformation-center.html

    In a press release, Flusher states, “Just because we bend the truth, the AAP has used their free speech rights to politely reprimand Delta for simply showing a video that offers a polished, glossy cover to entice people to visit our site during flu season, including what any rational physician would recommend, like talking with doctors about getting a flu shot, which I think is totally crap, but that’s beside the point. Exercising free speech and consumer activism to silence dangerous misinformation like ours should not be tolerated in this or any society that cherishes deluded individuals and ne’erdowells preying on the uninformed.”

    Read the whole thing.

  29. #29 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    @ Liz Ditz: Todd W. has outdone himself with the Babs’ parody.

    I’m recalling my “visit” to Babs’/NVIC website years ago. It was rather amateurish with a hodgepodge of crudely pasted-up articles and Babs’ swaggering commentary about her “advocacy” activities. Nothing has changed with her “ego” problems.

  30. #30 Chris
    November 16, 2011

    lilady:

    It was rather amateurish with a hodgepodge of crudely pasted-up articles

    The cherry picked references at the end of the articles I’ve seen are spotty, poorly formatted and if one of my kids had done them for a fifth grade paper, they would have been covered in red ink.

  31. #31 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    Chris: Let me clarify my comment. Babs’ website fifteen years ago, seemed to me, to be worse than the tabloid magazines that I “amuse” myself with, waiting on line at the local supermarket…I mean uber, ultra, rabid to the extreme, beyond the pale…of typical anti-vax websites.

  32. #32 Chris
    November 16, 2011

    Ah, I see. I guess it has not really improved.

  33. #33 LW
    November 16, 2011

    “I love you Th1Th2bot. Marry me :)”

    No, Th1Th2bot! Marry me! I have a brand new laptop for you to live in! What can CS offer that I can’t? Well, other than being earlier in the alphabet.

  34. #34 Th1Th2bot Service Center
    November 16, 2011

    We regret to advise that the Th1Th2bot is kind of needy. It knows nothing but grandiose codependence.

  35. #35 Todd W.
    November 16, 2011

    @Liz Ditz

    Heh. Thanks for the shout out.

  36. #36 Denice Walter
    November 16, 2011

    @ lilady:
    @ Chris:

    I have read your comments on BLF’s “brilliant career” and have just had a horrifying thought: do you think that it is remotely possible that RI may have inadvertently unknowingly contributed to the rise of yet another star in the anti-vax firmament? You know of whom I speak: Sid.

    By sparring with my brilliant fellow ladies ( and others), he has gained an incredible amount of street cred : his articles get featured @ AoA and he gets interviewed! Woo hoo.

    Think about it: our opponents appear to get a lot of mileage out of inspiring followers to despise us and now this guy can claim, ” I have done comment-to-comment battle with Evil itself!”

    Now I may be wrong but don’t you imagine that others who have been…uh, “tested” here can add that brag to their CV. They owe us *big time*.

  37. #37 Science Mom
    November 16, 2011

    By sparring with my brilliant fellow ladies ( and others), he has gained an incredible amount of street cred : his articles get featured @ AoA and he gets interviewed! Woo hoo.

    Interesting thought DW and I wouldn’t rule it out but I think that AoA is so desperate for support and so short on scientific literacy, particularly in light of their continued marginalisation, that Sid probably appears to be a veritable font of brilliance.

  38. #38 herr doktor bimler
    November 16, 2011

    Sid probably appears to be a veritable font of brilliance.

    By AoA standards, even Comic Sans would appear to be a veritable font of brilliance.

  39. #39 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    The ladies and gentlemen who tangle with Offal…I think, are doing it for pure sport.

    He is definitely looking to having a career in “journalism”…but if he thinks he is going to be “the go-to-guy” about vaccines, he is sadly mistaken.

    He commented about the pox lollipops and then had a “guest shot” on BBC Live Radio 5 on November 11th. The other “guest” who was interviewed was Dr. Schaffner, Professor/Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University. Needless to say, our resident “fire science” expert took the opportunity to discuss his “Randian” libertarian view of the right to opt out of vaccines and his “hypothesis about allergies”.

    Dr. Schaffner, displaying considerable restraint, demolished Offal…so much for Offal’s radio debut.

  40. #40 TBruce
    November 17, 2011

    Dr. Schaffner, displaying considerable restraint, demolished Offal…so much for Offal’s radio debut.

    No doubt the “fire science” expert was shot down in flames.

    Sorry, I had to.

  41. #41 lilady
    November 17, 2011

    “He was shot down in flames”, but not in a “blaze of glory”…more like a dud firecracker.

  42. #42 g724
    November 17, 2011

    Delta probably has a contract with the antivaxers that runs to the end of the month, and if they pulled the ads sooner, they would face a breach of contract lawsuit (more publicity for the nuts). Frankly it was clever as hell of the nuts to run their ad when they did, so they can get lots of people on their bandwagon just in time to spread the damn flu all over the airplanes. (When are we going to have buttons handed out by pharmacies, saying “I got my flu shot and you should too!”…?)

    I may have helped a coworker resist the BS, a young guy who’s the son of another coworker. A little while ago he was expressing reluctance to get a flu shot and I asked further and found out two things. One, he’d been exposed to antivax propaganda. Two, he had serious immune problems as a child, resulting in lengthy hospitalization. So I talked to him about herd immunity, said that in his case he should check with his doctor before getting any shots, and told him that if he can’t get vaccinated, herd immunity protects him and that’s why it’s the duty of the rest of us to get our shots (I did in September). He’s a smart guy, he understood, and I think he got a bit of a meme-vaccine against the antis.

    So never give up, especially when talking with younger people or anyone who’s undecided but has been exposed to the antivax propaganda. Don’t get exasperated, don’t come on strong, just explain patiently, as an expression of friendship, and the message will get through. A positive emotional tone, conveyed nonverbally through tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures, often makes all the difference in whether a message is or isn’t listened to, so be sure you’re in the right mood when you bring up the subject.

  43. #43 Th1Th2
    November 17, 2011

    So I talked to him about herd immunity, said that in his case he should check with his doctor before getting any shots, and told him that if he can’t get vaccinated, herd immunity protects him and that’s why it’s the duty of the rest of us to get our shots (I did in September).

    OK let’s put your fantasy into reality. If he gets the flu regardless, does he now become part of the immune herd?

  44. #44 Rainbow Dash, Best Pony
    November 17, 2011

    @40, TBruce

    If you have a “fire science” degree, maybe you should stick to putting wet stuff on the red stuff, and not embarassing yourself by trying to give an opinion on a matter that you have no qualifications to discuss as an “expert”.

    Just saying.

    – Chance

  45. #45 DLC
    November 17, 2011

    No, Babs, you’re not being repressed. You’re the one who put the message out, and you’re being criticized for it, not because your message is true or harmless, but because it is the opposite.

  46. #46 Narad
    November 17, 2011

    Delta probably has a contract with the antivaxers that runs to the end of the month, and if they pulled the ads sooner, they would face a breach of contract lawsuit (more publicity for the nuts).

    The balance could simply be refunded. I got into this a bit at Laden’s blog, but I don’t think it’s as simple as just “pulling the ad.” However, for anyone who’s encountered this thing, I’m quite curious whether it runs as a standalone on the overhead in-flight entertainment or if it’s always part of the Lifestyle 365 package (as I believe it is on the video-on-demand platform).

  47. #47 aed939
    December 6, 2011

    Well, the benefits have to outweigh the costs, including the taxpayer cost per dose. I heard the swine flu shot of 2009 was $600 per dose, but don’t know what this year’s multi-strain flu shot costs. Many Americans don’t care to enable that transfer of wealth from their health insurance company or taxpayer funds to the drug companies on their behalf for each of their family members. Vitamin D3 works just fine–whether received from a capsule, from cod liver oil, or from the sun.

  48. #48 Antaeus Feldspar
    December 13, 2011

    Vitamin D3 works just fine [to protect from flu viruses including H1N1] –whether received from a capsule, from cod liver oil, or from the sun.

    Please cite the scientific evidence for this claim, showing the effectiveness of Vitamin D3. Oh, you don’t have any? You’re just repeating what some other guy on the Internet claims? I see. Perhaps you shouldn’t speak, then, since you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  49. #49 lilady
    December 13, 2011

    “Well, the benefits have to outweigh the costs, including the taxpayer cost per dose. I heard the swine flu shot of 2009 was $600 per dose, but don’t know what this year’s multi-strain flu shot costs.”

    Where did you hear about the cost of the swine flu vaccine costing $ 600 per dose? A simple “Google” search to find reliable websites, such as the WHO, shows the cost of that vaccine running U.S.D $ 2.50 – $ 20.00/per dose…depending on the area of the world where the vaccine was to be administered.

    Why not check the CDC’s website for the cost of all vaccines sold to the government and to private providers for accurate information:

    CDC Vaccine Price List (updated November 2, 2011)

    You really need to use your internet skills “aed939″…before you come posting here.

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