The other day, I took note again of a rather amusing internecine war going on between various factions of antivaccine cranks. On the one side, spearheaded by everyone’s favorite inept conspiracy theorist and bumbling epidemiologist wanna be, Jake Crosby, there are the true believers, who believe that the other side, the more “mainstream” antivaccine groups (such as SafeMinds) and elder statesmen (such as Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill) somehow shafted Jake’s hero, the even more bumbling antivaccine “scientist” Brian Hooker out of a role testifying in front of Darryl Issa’s last antivaccine hurrah provided for longtime Congressional antivaccine crank Dan Burton before he retired. I’ve been sitting back and crunching my popcorn at the sheer entertainment value of a group who fervently believes that vaccines cause autism and all manner of ills and want to let their antivaccine freak flags fly, even in front of Congress, castigating a group that fervently believes that vaccines cause autism and all manner of ills but wanted, for apparently strategic reasons, to appear at least somewhat sane in front of a Congressional committee, and that selfsame group castigating the true believers right back.
Yes, it was on.
Since earlier this week, the lulz have only gotten more, well lulz; so I thought I’d take note of the fun going on in the comment threads after Jake’s latest incursion against his foes. One thing I noted is that some of the true believers actually recognize that Jake doesn’t actually have any evidence to back up his accusation that SafeMinds’ representative Beth Clay misrepresented SafeMinds to Congressional staffers. Jake is not pleased at having this pointed out and has shown up in the comments. Presumably, this was too much:
Jake Crosby wrote: “[Safeminds] provided no proof that any of [Crosby's allegations] were false, completely ignoring some of the more serious allegations.”
Is that how it works? Safeminds has to prove that Jake’s allegations are false, rather than Jake has to prove that his allegations are true?
I laughed. It took the AoA denizens until now to understand that this is how Jake’s mind works? More appropriately, to them apparently it’s OK for Jake to use such “logic” (such as it is) as long as it’s directed against perceived enemies of the antivaccine movement, such as Paul Offit or myself, but suddenly AoA denizens clutch their pearls when Jake uses his main technique for smearing his enemies against one of the movement’s own. As I said, it’s just too hilarious. Whatever Jake accuses is true to him, and it’s up to his targets to disprove his allegations, not up to him to meet minimal standards of evidence. If you go back and look at all of Jake’s posts, all he’s demonstrated is that SafeMinds probably tried to insert less loony antivaccine conspiracy theories into the testimony to be given. He shows no evidence whatsoever that Beth Clay misrepresented SafeMinds. He only asserts it because Brian Hooker asserted it and apparently he believes Brian Hooker. That’s it. That’s the sum total of his evidence for that particular point. More than ever, I’m convinced that Jake is a mere puppet, a tool of the more cunning Brian Hooker and the even nuttier Patrick “Tim” Bolen.
Here’s where my irony meter exploded (again) though. It’s when Jake addressed one of his critics, who suggested that Brian Hooker speak for himself rather than use Jake as his mouthpiece, which is what he has been doing:
I appreciate your concerns, but please be respectful of other commenters. It’s important to maintain a dialogue without condescension or name-calling.
If you think it would be so difficult for SafeMinds to hijack the hearing, imagine how difficult it must have been for Brian Hooker to organize it in the first place – only to have the rug yanked out from under him by SafeMinds.
He’s been through enough. We should give him [Brian Hooker] some space; SafeMinds has already confirmed his grievances.
Pot. Kettle. Black. The hilarity just keeps on coming. After all, Jake has been describing SafeMinds and Mark Blaxill by adjectives that are just shy of the word “evil”; now he wants civility? It is to laugh. He also makes the baseless claim that SafeMinds has admitted wrongdoing when it hasn’t? It’s even more to laugh. As I said before, I have no dog in this fight. I find Jake and SafeMinds both to be equally objectionable, promoting an antivaccine ideology that has the potential to result in the unnecessary deaths of children from vaccine-preventable diseases. That’s why it’s so much fun to see them going at each other. It’s schadenfreude without the guilt, particularly the addendum to the introduction:
(PS: After a thorough airing of views, the comment thread is now closed. Go in peace for all mankind.)
More popcorn, please.