Respectful Insolence

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There’s a certain category of posts that I like to call (to myself, anyway) “taking care of business” posts. Usually, it’s a post about something that I missed the first time around but has, for some reason, reappeared on my radar screen or something that I wish I had written about when it first showed up but didn’t to the point that I don’t care that the material is over a week old, which, let’s face it, might as well be a year old in blogging time. On the other hand, there’s still no time like the present, so let’s take care of some business. There is the added benefit that taking care of business in this case involves doing one of the things that Orac does best: opposing the antivaccine movement.

About a year and a half ago, I gave a shout out to a bunch of intrepid and talented teen film makers at Carlsbad High School (CHS) who were making a documentary about vaccines. The filmmakers were the Carlsbad High School broadcast class, and the student crew, with its producer Lisa Posard, was hard at work when last I mentioned this project. Quite predictably, the antivaccine movement was up in arms about this project, with its flying monkeys flinging their usual poo in the comments of a post on the school’s website about it. In any case, it wasn’t hard to note the contrast. I’ve blogged about some wretched antivaccine projects before. In particular, I’ve taken particular issue with The Greater Good, an antivaccine propaganda film masquerading as a “balanced” documentary. Its producer Leslie Manookian even managed to deceive Paul Offit and other pro-vaccine scientists into being interviewed for it without realizing that the final product was always intended to be antivaccine propaganda. It’s for that reason that I dubbed The Greater GoodExpelled! of the antivaccine movement.” (Expelled!, as you may recall, was a creationist attack on “Darwinism” in the form of a “documentary” whose producers managed to mask their intent so well that they got P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins to agree to be interviewed for the movie.)

Well, the fruits of the CHS students’ labor is finished, and if the trailer for their movie, Invisible Threat, is any indication, a bunch of teenagers got it right where a middle aged antivaccine crank got it so very, very wrong. Paul Offit approves:

The film’s student-producers came to this subject with no preconceived notions of what they would find. They interviewed experts, parents, and sometimes their own siblings, trying to get to the core of what the issue is really about and how it can reasonably be resolved.

They came to the only conclusion that one can come to when you know the science behind this issue: that the choice not to have one’s child vaccinated is a choice to put one’s child at unnecessary risk. What is interesting about this, and what distinguishes it from the other efforts to get at the same topic, is that it has a kind of “Emperor’s New Clothes” quality to it, which makes it really fresh and different.

I recommend this film. I suspect that very soon it will be available on the Internet for all to watch, but keep your eye out for Invisible Threat. Thank you very much.

There’s a famous quote by Karl Marx that says, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Well, history is repeating itself, except that it was farce the first time, and it’s even more of a farce this time. Yes, you guessed it. Now that Invisible Threat is out and being screened, antivaccination loons are doing what they, unfortunately, do best, namely to attack these high school students as pawns of the pharmaceutical company. They do it because it’s what they do and it’s all they can do, given that they don’t have the evidence on their side and that vaccines, to the best of the ability of science to detect, do not cause autism. Last week, there appeared a press release, which was, as is so often the case, rapidly regurgitated over at that wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery other than The Huffington Post, namely Age of Autism. It was from Focus Autism, a group that describes itself as “dedicated to exposing the causes of the autism epidemic, specifically the role of vaccinations,” which should tell you all you need to know about it, particularly after looking at the website it sponsors, the woefully misnamed A Shot of Truth, which is chock full of the sort of pseudoscience, misinformation, and conspiracy mongering that’s par for the course among vaccine-autism cranks. Let’s just put it this way. If Jake Crosby’s newest best friend forever and antivaccine hero Brian Hooker is a “scientific advisor” for the group, you know it’s pure antivaccine pseudoscience.

So what about the press release? It’s despicable, even by antivaccine standards, and that’s saying a lot. It starts right out referencing a report from 2008 by everyone’s favorite former CBS News reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, who was known for being as antivaccine as antivaccine can be and abusing her position at CBS News to suck up to Andrew Wakefield and compete with David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for crankiest antivaccine crank, How independent are vaccine defenders?, which is more or less a massive pharma shill gambit writ large in neon letters. Yes, when a press release starts out citing Attkisson, you know it’s going to be bad, and this one is. And who is the evil pro-vaccine force pulling the strings of these impressionable teens? Oh, take a guess. Yep, it’s Every Child By Two (ECBT). Why? Because Paul Offit was an advisor and the producer was not one of the students. Except that much of the documentary was filmed during the summer of 2012, and the producer’s daughter, Camille Posard, graduated from CHS in 2012. So at the time of filming, her daughter was a very recent graduate of CHS and no doubt had worked on the project during her senior year in high school. I don’t see a problem with that, but then I’m not an antivaccine loon. Not any of this stops Focus Autism from attacking:

ECBT claims Invisible Threat was “produced by award-winning high school student filmmakers” associated with Carlsbad High School Television (CHSTV). However, the film’s executive producer, Lisa Posard, is not a Carlsbad student, but a parent. Film teacher Douglas Green is the film’s director and cameraman. And a woman conducting interviews for the film was “clearly not a student,” according to Dr. Shawn K. Centers, who was interviewed for the film.

Adding to the film’s controversy, Mr. Green has been accused of filming autistic children and their parents “under false pretenses.” Autism expert and pediatrician Dr. Centers said he and parents of his patients were misled to believe the purpose of the film was for students to learn about autism. “Only one student attended the shoot, and he participated very little,” said Centers. “I don’t think the student realized this was a vaccine propaganda film run by adults and that he was being used to gain entry to my office, my practice, my patients and their parents.” Dr. Centers later learned that Dr. Paul Offit­ ­­­- ECBT board member and millionaire vaccine developer for Merck, – is listed as the film’s “Scientific Technical Advisor.” Offit was also featured in the film, calling critics of vaccines “evil.”

I like it. Dr. Offit, pulling no punches. Of course, I don’t think most antivaccinationists are evil, but some of them are, and they most definitely are doing evil, most inadvertently, but evil nonetheless, which is why Barry Segal and his merry band of antivaccinationists find it necessary to attack teens and paint them as being pharma shills:

Although promoted as “unbiased” and “balanced,” Invisible Threat is “scripted with industry talking points,” according to Teri Arranga, executive director of AutismOne. Based on her viewing of the trailer, “the film appears to downplay the side effects of vaccines, which range from neurodevelopmental disorders to seizures to death.” Arranga continued, “There is no controversy that vaccines can cause injury, a fact incorporated into U.S. law and policy by the enactment of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.”

Barry Segal, philanthropist and founder of Focus Autism, said, “All of the deceptions involved in the making of this film are a good reminder of how the vaccine industry operates.” The film’s “national premier” in January was hosted by The Immunization Project, whose activities include pro-vaccination lobbying efforts. The film is sponsored by a local Rotary grant; Rotary International receives large grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major investor in vaccines. The film is being promoted for student viewing and is approved by Common Core.

I love that last little flourish about how student viewing of the film is “approved by Common Core.” In fact, I chuckled out loud when I read that part. I don’t want to get into the whole issue of Common Core educational standards, as it’s complicated, and I’m not entirely sure where I stand. For my readers in other countries, though, I do feel obligated to point out that it’s an effort begun several years ago to develop, well, “common core” educational standards to be adopted by the states and somehow has become the topic of one of the biggest conspiracy theories out there about President Obama apparently wanting to “take over” education, the better to indoctrinate the next generation of leftists. Or something. I don’t want to dwell on it, but adding that little mention is, I must admit, pure genius. It’ll attract the anti-Common Core wingnuts. Of course, Segal accuses the students of being sponsored by the Gates Foundation as though that were a bad thing. It’s not.

So far, so bad, but it’s just standard antivaccine boilerplate and conspiracy mongering, and, other than the Common Core bon mot, not even particularly original or interesting antivaccine boilerplate or conspiracy mongering. What elevates what Segal has done to the level of pure despicability is this:

Focus Autism, which sponsors A Shot of Truth, is encouraging citizens to contact their legislators to counter ECBT’s public relations effort targeting legislators. An Action Alert was created by Focus Autism for this effort. Autism One joins Focus Autism in enlightening the public about Invisible Threat.

That “Action Alert” will send this text to the legislator of whoever clicks on it and then fills out some information:

You may have been asked to view Invisible Threat, a pro-vaccine film touted as having been “produced by award-winning high school student filmmakers.”

According to the film’s credits, it was directed and produced not by high school students, but by adults. Every Child By Two (ECBT), who’s hosting the screening and is aggressively promoting the film, has received millions in funding from pharmaceutical companies. The film’s ‘Scientific Technical Advisor,’ Dr. Paul Offit, is a millionaire vaccine developer and the leading spokesman for the vaccine industry. ECBT’s former treasurer was a Wyeth executive.

The film is not “unbiased” and “balanced,” as advertised. It’s sponsored by a local Rotary grant; Rotary International receives large grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major investor in vaccines. The grant, Offit’s involvement and ECBT’s relentless promotion of the film are evidence that Invisible Threat is simply pharma’s latest PR effort.

PhD biochemist Brian Hooker said ‘Invisible Threat’ attempts to refute the vaccine-autism link and the existence of over one hundred published, peer-reviewed studies that give evidence for an association between serious vaccine complications and the development of autism in some children.”

Instead of viewing vaccine industry propaganda, I invite you to listen to an interview of a U.S. Congressman comparing corruption in the CDC’s vaccine safety studies to SEC’s handling of the Bernie Madoff scandal at the link below:

http://www.ashotoftruth.org/in-the-news/multimedia/congressman-bill-posey-speaks-need-openness-and-transparency-within-cdc

One notes that the Rotary grant used to make the film was unrestricted.

See what I mean. Focus Autism is asking antivaccine activists to complain to their legislators about the students’ efforts. These kids faced major challenges when making their film and are to be commended, while the antivaccine loons trying to harass them are nothing more than, yes, bullies trying to beat up on a bunch of high school students to promote their agenda to endanger public health.

Comments

  1. #1 Dangerous Bacon
    May 9, 2014

    Rotary international also sponsors literacy projects.

    This obviously is a plot to ensure that people read pro-vaccine propaganda.

    Is there no end to their perfidy?

  2. #2 Dorit Reiss
    May 9, 2014

    The film is excellent. And attacking the students and the film club director and producer beneath contempt.

  3. #3 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    May 9, 2014

    The trailer looks really well-done. The anti-vaxxers are their own worst enemy; whether or not they agree with the doco’s content, attacking high school students rather than the content of the doco is going to backfire. But then again, attacking the messenger is a forte of theirs because they can’t intelligently refute the content. I wonder if the critics’ “high school contributor” Natalie Palumbo is taking note of this and will speak against this campaign of harassment.

  4. #4 Michael Finfer, MD
    May 9, 2014

    I love Bill & Melinda Gates and what they are doing with their money. I only wish I had enough to do the same thing.

    Attacking them is also beyond contempt. Fortunately, I doubt that they care what anybody thinks of them.

  5. #5 JC, PH.D
    May 9, 2014

    Bravo for these students! Aside from just usual anti-vaccine bullying, perhaps the bigger concern for those groups is that this film might get exposure in lots of high school science classes around the country. More exposure for the film means educating people earlier in their academic journey, hopefully convincing them to believe in science instead of conspiracy.

    Am I being technologically challenged or is there a place to watch the full movie?

  6. #6 Ashley
    May 9, 2014

    They’ve lost touch with reality–or they’ve moved even farther from reality than they were before. If anyone at Focus or AoA had two brain cells, they would understand how poor this strategy is for their “cause.” Bullying children? I fervently hope that more media outlets pick up on this story and see that the story in that press release is not some Big Pharma conspiracy but is, instead, their repellant and frankly desperate smear campaign against a bunch of high school kids.

  7. #7 Karen Ernst
    Shillville
    May 9, 2014

    These students need our support. People reading this who are enraged by the actions of the anti-vaxxers should consider sending a note of support to the students.

    More information about where to send your emails: http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=e17a65409cd8f13ba7e58cc97&id=b6d254feed&e=

  8. #8 Sulivanthepoop
    May 9, 2014

    They really are vile and disgusting. They hate wonderful honest people and love those who lie and perpetrate fraud.

  9. #9 ruthq
    May 9, 2014

    Poor AoA — outgunned and outclassed by the after-school journalism club. Don’t forget to shake them down for their lunch money! It couldn’t possibly make you look more ridiculous.

  10. #10 Sian Williams
    May 9, 2014

    Is anyone else’s irony meter good and truly fried now? After TMR’s stand against supposed provaccine hate speech and bullying I thought they would think twice about using that kind tactic themselves. I guess it’s just a case of “do what I say, not what I do”.

  11. #11 Jeff1971
    May 9, 2014

    And the lousy hypocrisy of people who have paid for an anti-vaccine film called ‘Bought’ to be made now bullying people who take a different tack.

    Sickening.

  12. #12 Dorit
    May 9, 2014

    J.C. Ph.D.: the movie is not publicly available yet. They are working on that. They have given copies to many educational institutions and others to screen and use. I saw it in the California Immunization Coalition Summit last week, and will organize a screening in my area, though it might not be before August. So depending where you are, there may well be a screening.

  13. #13 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2014

    Let’s see: we have crank magnetism (bringing up the Common Core effort), the pharma shill gambit, the six degrees of separation gambit, the unnamed “peer-reviewed” studies, and the tu quoque of comparing CDC vaccine studies to the SEC’s handling of Madoff.

    Bingo!

    Sian @10: I have learned to turn off my irony meters when the anti-vax crowd is around. I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

  14. #14 SteveJ
    May 9, 2014

    @Karen Ernst
    Thanks for the link for sending support emails. I just sent mine.

  15. #15 Renate
    May 9, 2014

    Those anti-vaccinationists have some weird viewpoints:
    Critisising anti-vaccinationists – bullying.
    Bullying people who tell the truth about vaccines – asking for a balanced view.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2014

    AoA/ FA/ TMR/ AI apparently don’t like it if SB people make their own films which, unlike those preferred by the aformentioned groups, are based upon something other than personal feelings, vanity press hypothesising and fiction writing, i.e science.

    If anyone hasn’t seen it yet, Manookian’s film is available on the net for free ( my policy is that I don’t pay for woo EVER) . There are also AoA’s recent brief effort ( “How Mercury Caused The Destruction of a Generation of Perfect Children”… I’m joking: it’s not really called that.- made with assistance from now college student Natalie Palumbo), Schneider’s even briefer work ( both @ AoA sidebar) and various efforts by Gary Null ( @ you-tube).

    Most of these films speak *ex cathedra* presenting the usual woo-memes as if they were proven facts and supported by most experts. Of course, all is accompanied by ominous music as parents and victims (of Gardisil) recite their tales of woe. The film makers trot out many ‘big names’ with which we are all nauseatingly familiar: AJW, BLF, LKH, Eisenstein, Pavlefsky, Blaylock, Lucija T. and many others whose names are instantly recognisable if you read Orac. One film ( “Vaccine Nation”) even features and supports someone who probably killed his child and then blamed vaccines.

    I think it wise if sceptics learn to control their gag reflexes and view this progaganda for themselves. Hey, I survived, you will too. We are made of strong stuff.

  17. #17 Orac
    May 9, 2014

    I mean, hey. I watched The Greater Good, The Beautiful Truth, both Burzynski movies, and a whole bunch of other quackery propaganda. I’ve done my share… :-)

  18. #18 Rich Woods
    A little too far from the monitor
    May 9, 2014

    I really do need to get some glasses. When I saw the URL quoted in that action alert, I misread it as http://www.assholeoftruth.org.

    That’d be a site NSFW.

  19. #19 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    May 9, 2014

    @Orac

    It’s a wonder you’re still sane.

  20. #20 Dorit
    May 9, 2014

    It might be of interest to know that the anti-vaccine activists also wrote the school board asking for the director of the film club – a teacher – to be fired.

    That said, Ms. Posard, the producer, asked that if you write letters of support to do it via the link above that Karen provided, to make sure everything is channeled together.

  21. #21 Narad
    May 9, 2014

    The film is sponsored by a local Rotary grant; Rotary International receives large grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major investor in vaccines.

    They need this to “connect the dots”? Rotary has been involved in fighting polio since Bill Gates was 24.

    The film is being promoted for student viewing and is approved by Common Core.

    Speaking of shadowy backing….

  22. #22 Lawrence
    May 9, 2014

    Letter sent to those kids – they deserve all the support they can get!!!!

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2014

    @ Orac:

    I didn’t mean *you*, oh great fearless- and peerless- leader-

    BUT the youngsters and lurkers who are just starting out and are often quite demolished when they learn how abysmally horrendous and nightmarish the world of woo truly is.

    We are intrepid
    we will not be scared off by stupidity
    we can tolerate long meaningless articles by Conrick, Gamondes or Crosby without flinching..
    we can listen to Andy for 40 minutes..
    in other words, WE bad. In a good way.

  24. #24 Michelle
    Australia
    May 9, 2014

    Rotary also sponsors internatuonal youth exchange programs so clearly all students who participate must be covert agents being used to spread the pro vaccine agenda globally. *geez*

  25. #25 Shay
    May 9, 2014

    I gave a presentation to the Rotary last week on business continuity planning. Part of my emergency response job involves organizing mass vaccinations (pandemic) clinics.

    Seriously, you don’t see the connection? We pharma shills’ tentacles are everywhere!

  26. #26 Narad
    May 9, 2014

    I gave a presentation to the Rotary last week on business continuity planning.

    Did they do the trivia game with the basket on a pole? (I’ve only been to one Rotary meeting.)

  27. #27 sknyjohn
    May 9, 2014

    Smear. The truth: http://prn.fm/?s=vaccines

  28. #28 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 9, 2014

    As a minion for Lord D…, er, never mind who I’m a minion for, I object to the insinuation that we have tentacles. That’s a completely different galactic overlord.

  29. #29 ruthq
    May 9, 2014

    I like how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is tainted by being “a major investor in vaccines,” as though it were somehow reaping profits from its investment instead of giving away hundreds of millions of dollars. How does that make any sense?

  30. #30 JC, PH.D
    May 9, 2014

    @Dorit- Thanks for the info. Hopefully we get to see it soon. I’d love to sneak it into my Intro Bio. course someday.

  31. #31 novalox
    May 9, 2014

    @sknyjohn

    Oh, you silly little troll. Why should any rational person beleive anything from prn, especailly since they cannot support their views with actual evidence.

    But thanks for the laugh anyways.

  32. #32 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 9, 2014

    @sknyjohn: the truth? are you freaking $h!tting us?!?!
    Progressive Radio Network is Null’s network. I saw a whole bunch of the usual suspects there and a whole load of quackery on just the article headers I saw. To use our esteemed host’s phrase, it is a “target rich environment”.

  33. #33 Dangerous Bacon
    May 9, 2014

    “And the lousy hypocrisy of people who have paid for an anti-vaccine film called ‘Bought’ to be made now bullying people who take a different tack.”

    I think it’s the perception that their own tactics are being used against them, that has antivaxers stamping their little feet (similar to when parents’ anecdotes and testimonials in _favor_ of vaccines are publicized).

  34. #34 Michelle
    St. Louis
    May 9, 2014

    @Michelle/Australia

    Funny you should mention Rotary International’s student exchange program. I was the lucky recipient of one of their graduate school grants, and I spent two lovely years down under at ANU in Canberra. I spoke at Rotary clubs in Oz and then back home and wrote a couple of papers in exchange. I believe those programs are ongoing, and I encourage anyone with college students to look into them. Glad Rotary is helping with vaccine campaigns.

  35. #35 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2014

    How does that make any sense?

    It doesn’t have to. The alleged point is that somebody is making lots of money from vaccines, and because the Gates Foundation is subsidizing vaccines, that somebody is making more than they otherwise would. That’s enough for the conspiracy mongers, and if it doesn’t convince you, then they consider you to be part of the conspiracy.

    You can prove anything logically, if you start from the right faulty premise and never question whether said premise might not actually be true. “If the moon is made of green cheese, then I am the President of the United States” is a logically true statement, and I can continue to pretend that they are playing “Hail to the Chief” for me as long as I don’t stop to consider what the moon is actually made of.

  36. #36 Edith Prickly
    May 9, 2014

    ruthq – you’re expecting antivaxxers to make sense? they wouldn’t be antivaxxers if they could think things through clearly.

    Oh yeah, hi everybody. Long time no see.

  37. #37 Vaughn
    May 9, 2014

    It’s instructive that pro-health blogs like this one allow their opponents to post freely, secure in the knowledge that the truth will out, while anti-vaxxers (maddened by the fearful notion that the truth will come out) bend their every effort to silencing their terrifyingly effective teenaged opponents.

  38. #38 AnObservingParty
    May 9, 2014

    I like how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is tainted by being “a major investor in vaccines,” as though it were somehow reaping profits from its investment instead of giving away hundreds of millions of dollars. How does that make any sense?

    @ruthq, I’m pretty sure immunization programs were one of the original missions of the Gates Foundation, and Rotary Club, for that matter. That’s what makes the argument so ridiculous to me, acting like they’re uncovering some secret, nebulous illuminati connection, when it’s pretty much on the letterhead.

    This is shameful. My support letter sent. Although it does reek of desperation as well, which in it’s own right is rather sweet.

  39. #39 Chris Hickie
    May 9, 2014

    I’m in a particularly angry mood at anti-vaccine idiots, especially after reading a 6 month old died of pertussis in Placer County, CA (http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sierra/placer-county-infant-dies-of-whooping-cough/25843316) as well as seeing how Placer County has horrible vaccination rates (http://roseville-ca.patch.com/groups/back-to-school/p/parents-reject-vaccines). so I made a donation to the wonderful young adults who made this film (via paypal–and you can send them an encouraging message along with the donation).

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2014

    PRN, a reeking. miasmic swamp of decaying intellectual detritus, is indeed an extremely compromised source of reference because:

    it is owned and operated by a … person who earns a great deal of money** by-
    - selling supplements, food substitutes and INFORMATION ( books, films, lectures) which are directly in competition with SB medicine, most professionals expert in psychology, education and economics as well as most of the news media in the so-called western world.

    It is entirely in PRN’s interest to deny the validity of whatever is said by mainstream scientists, peer reviewed journals and news media because they are presenting alternatives to all of these services.

    In addition, the founder has an interest in shifting US politics in the direction of :
    -less taxes for rich people
    - less governmental control// oversight concerning health care, supplements, foods and who may get to play doctor with real live people.
    - it provides health/ psychological/ financial ‘counselling’ via the internet, “radio”, phone and in-person by people who are not much of anything ( nutritionists, holistic nurses and trend casters, to name a few) but who are possessed by a strong sense of superiority over mere mortals like us who went to Elitist U.

    If you search for PRN, its new heading will present the owner’s name before the ‘station’s’ name.

    AND there are tons more but I have work at home now.

    ** sales of 12 million+ USD ( manta.com)

  41. #41 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2014

    like THOSE OF us who went to…

  42. #42 Jeff1971
    May 9, 2014

    Has Andrew Wakefield, Barbara Fisher or Clifford Shoemaker threatened to sue them yet?

  43. #43 lilady
    May 9, 2014

    I sent a long email in support of the high school students and their teacher-mentors who made this movie.

    It is wonderful that these young people are interested in public health and are pro-vaccine.

  44. #44 Harrison Bolter
    May 9, 2014

    In reading about these latest anti-vaccine tactics, I am reminded of comments made by US Army Counsel Joseph Welch to McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings in the 1950s:

    “…Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

  45. #45 lilady
    May 10, 2014

    Reminds me of the last Congressional Autism Hearing, when Congressmen Issa and other Congressmen, who were wined and dined by ex-doctors Wakefield and Geier, were downright abusive to CDC staff:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/12/brian-hookers-testimony-autism.html

    “….Brian explained how he became involved in the hearing.

    My initial thanks go to Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier, who strategically linked me up with a friend of theirs, who in turn has become my good friend as well. Through the work of this individual, Dr. Andrew Wakefield and I were invited to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Vern Buchanan and their wives in early May, 2012 to discuss malfeasance in the CDC regarding autism and vaccines. Andy discussed the MMR vaccine and the vaccine schedule. I talked specifically about thimerosal and the cover-up of CDC data that affirm a causal relationship between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. Rep. Issa was concerned regarding the CDC information and stated that this was the type of government misconduct that his committee (Oversight and Government Reform) specifically addressed.

    I was in DC for a National Science Foundation function later the same month and had the opportunity to meet with Reps. Issa and Buchanan again, this time with Rep. Dan Burton. Rep. Issa affirmed his commitment to hold a hearing at that time. Rep. Burton detailed his valiant efforts to get the CDC and large pharma to remove mercury from vaccines and indicated that they wouldn’t listen to him….”

    The dialogue between Joe McCarthy and Joseph Welch is preserved on YouTube. Those hearings were televised in real time on network TV, during 1954:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAur_I077NA

  46. #46 Shay
    May 10, 2014

    Did they do the trivia game with the basket on a pole?

    Must’ve been before I got there.

  47. #47 Jeff1971
    May 10, 2014

    Talking of bullies, did anybody notice that Mr Wakefield did not sue Bill Gates, who said on TV that Wakefield’s work was fraudulent and his paper “fake”?

    Do you think that was because Mr Wakefield never noticed, or because Mr Gates has so much money he would see Wakefield selling newspapers at stop lights.

  48. #48 ruthq
    May 10, 2014

    My guess would be that he didn’t sue Bill Gates because Bill Gates would not respond to him publicly in a forum that would allow his loyalists to attack a comment thread and get themselves all riled up. My theory is that he didn’t really believe he could intimidate or silence Emily Willingham with his, “my lawyers will file this frivolous suit against you just as soon as they’re done losing my current, ill-advised, legal battle,” threat. I think he knows his threat is hollow. I think EW knows his threat is hollow. I think AW knows that EW knows his threat is hollow. The only people he has to scare are his loyal troops, who need the appearance of some activity on his part to keep contributing to the Fuel Andy’s Really Colossal Ego fund. Bill Gates would have ignored him. He’s not a stupid man, and I think he has already accomplished exactly what he set out to do.

  49. #49 Lurker
    May 10, 2014

    This, yesterday on the Beeb, about anti-vaxxism in Pakistan, by the Taliban, enforced via the murder of health workers:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27337231

    The anti-vaxx bullies in the USA are basically cut from the same ideological cloth. As we’ve seen from the bombings of abortion clinics and assassinations of gynecologists in the USA, when your local extremists get their panties in a bunch, they are capable of being just as brutal as their Taliban counterparts.

    Re. suing Bill Gates: He’s one of the biggest public heroes of our time. The probability of a lawsuit succeeding is zero, regardless of the financial factors. None the less, someone should go undercover and get cosy with Wakefield, and encourage him to try. That would be the ignominious end of Wakefield for once and for all, and, one must admit, a merry circus along the way.

  50. #50 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    May 10, 2014

    Wakefield suing Bill Gates would likely be about as successful as SCO’s lawsuit against IBM for a spurious copyright violation claim. Short version: not only did IBM win a countersuit for SCO’s violations of IBM’s copyrights, but they dragged the original suit out long enough to bankrupt SCO. Which is about how well a Wakefield vs Bill Gates lawsuit would go.

    I’d love to see it. ;-)

  51. #51 herr doktor bimler
    May 11, 2014

    the Fuel Andy’s Really Colossal Ego fund.

    I see what you do there.

  52. #52 Dangerous Bacon
    May 11, 2014

    This editorial cartoon greeted me in the Sunday paper today:

    http://www.gocomics.com/drewsheneman/#.U2-G1V470lI

  53. #53 cakesphere
    May 12, 2014

    For people clutching their pearls and going “Will someone think of the children?!?!”, they seem to have a really easy time attacking, well, children. :|

  54. […] hat das nicht Gruppen gestoppt, die Impfopposition vom Unternehmen äußern, welche Mengen zu einer Grundkampagne gegen diese Studenten. Diese Gruppen, hauptsächlich verbunden durch ihr Beharren auf einer […]

  55. […] that hasn’t stopped groups who voice vaccine opposition from waging what amounts to a ground campaign against these students. These groups, primarily associated by their insistence on a vaccine-autism […]

  56. […] about it at Invisible Threat Filmmaker Discusses Journalistic Integrity and Respectful Insolence as Antivaccine activists bully high school filmmakers over a student documentary about vaccines (plus […]

  57. #57 LIz Ditz
    May 12, 2014

    New from LBRB Sullivan (autism parent):

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/05/12/faux-advocates-embarrass-the-autism-communities-by-attacking-high-school-students-and-their-film-project/

    Let me put it simply. I stand apart from you. As a citizen, I stand apart from you. As someone interested in public health, I stand apart from you. As a parent, I stand apart from you. As the parent of an autistic child, I stand apart from you.

    And I am far from alone. You think you are the leading edge fringe: those with vision. But your just a garden variety fringe. Causing harm and making it hard for those of us who want a better future to accomplish our goals.

  58. #58 Roguer
    May 12, 2014

    Hey Orac, you made Fark.com. :)

    In other news, nothing to see here: typical absolutely bat-guano crazy anti-vaxxer rhetoric. But remember: they’re not insane conspiracy theorists. They’re out there for the CHILDREN.

    Just, you know, not YOUR children, or MY children.

  59. #59 Robert Schulz
    United States
    May 12, 2014

    I don’t vaccinate my children according to the US schedule, which is to me overly ambitious. You would not put a baby in a sewer, but somehow we have decided that putting all kinds of nasty bugs into a immature immune system. I am not against immunization as a whole, but I think we have taken something that may work, and turned it into an industry. The flu vaccine doesn’t work and has been proven ineffective. But some vaccines may help, and the risk to benefit ratio is pretty good. The fanatics saying immunize for everything, are crazier that the ones that say never vaccinate. The truth is hard to find, both sides have valid points and both have a particular reason to fight for their cause.

  60. #60 Julian Frost
    May 13, 2014

    @Robert Schulz:

    [S]omehow we have decided that putting all kinds of nasty bugs into a immature immune system.

    That “immature immune system” gets hit by more antigens in a minute than exist in the entire vaccine schedule. Also, vaccines are either attenuated, killed, or even acellular, so I don’t understand your comment about “nasty bugs”.

    he flu vaccine doesn’t work and has been proven ineffective.

    Citation needed. My health insurer not only pays for my flu jab, it awards me points for doing so. Given that they have these very smart people called actuaries who look at it, do you really think they would do that if vaccines are ineffective?

    The fanatics saying immunize for everything, are crazier that the ones that say never vaccinate.

    Everything we vaccinate against can kill or disable. As for antivaxxers, they blame vaccines for SIDS, autism, allergies and all sorts of other things, despite not having evidence, and despite the fact that available data refutes their claims. So who are the crazy ones?

    The truth is hard to find, both sides have valid points and both have a particular reason to fight for their cause.

    False. The antivaxxers do not have valid points. They make claims that are contradicted by the facts, exaggerating the risks of vaccination and downplaying the dangers of getting the diseases, attack their opponents as “shills”, push quackery on their children and, in one memorable case, tried to access the health records of a baby who dies of pertussis.

  61. #61 Julian Frost
    Begging the overlords to bring back preview
    May 13, 2014

    Apologies for the misspellings.

  62. #62 lilady
    May 13, 2014

    “I don’t vaccinate my children according to the US schedule, which is to me overly ambitious.”

    And, your opinion that the U.S. Schedule is “overly ambitious” is based specifically on what?

    “You would not put a baby in a sewer, but somehow we have decided that putting all kinds of nasty bugs into a immature
    immune system.”

    What “nasty bugs”? You do realize don’t you, that killed vaccines, pieces of bacteria and pieces of viruses and live attenuated vaccines are not “nasty bugs”? Would you prefer the real bacteria and the real viruses infecting your child?

    “I am not against immunization as a whole, but I think we have taken something that may work, and turned it into an industry.”

    You could have fooled me. And, your opinion which shows a lack of knowledge about basic science, doesn’t count.

    “The flu vaccine doesn’t work and has been proven ineffective.”

    (citations, please) and Nirvana Fallacy.

    “But some vaccines may help, and the risk to benefit ratio is pretty good.”

    Which vaccines “may help” and which vaccines do you reject? Be specific and provide us with the decrease in terms of morbidity and mortality for contracting the actual disease-vs-morbidity and mortality of a population which is highly immunized.

    “The fanatics saying immunize for everything, are crazier that the ones that say never vaccinate.”

    Why are doctors who follow the Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule “fanatics” who you have labeled as crazy?

    “The truth is hard to find, both sides have valid points and both have a particular reason to fight for their cause.”

    I suggest that you don’t know “the truth” and your advanced degree is from Google U. Your last statement is an example of false balance. There are not “both sides” to this issue, just like their are not “both sides” when it comes to Holocaust deniers, HIV/AIDS deniers, birthers and other assorted cranks.

  63. #63 lilady
    May 13, 2014

    Back on topic. Emily Willingham’s blog is up which discusses the bullying, threatening tactics employed by anti-vaccine groups and individuals, to prevent the production and release of this documentary film:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2014/05/12/high-school-students-under-attack-for-vaccine-documentary/

  64. #64 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    May 13, 2014

    Who seriously says “vaccinate for everything”, anyway? I have never once met someone who recommends getting every single vaccination there is. When’s the last time anyone recommended that all kids get anthrax, rabies, smallpox, and yellow fever vaccines, for instance?

    Here are all the vaccines approved by the FDA for administration in the US:
    http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/vaccines/approvedproducts/ucm093833.htm

    Note that this is much longer than the list the CDC recommends.

  65. #65 Dangerous Bacon
    May 13, 2014

    “You would not put a baby in a sewer”

    Hey, speak for yourself. :)

    But isn’t that what the All-Natural Disease crowd recommends? Expose the little tyke to all those vaccine-preventable diseases “naturally”, let them crawl around in unsanitary conditions and they’ll develop super-duper immune systems, assuming they survive without permanent damage.

    Germs are so much nicer than those nasty toxin thingies that the Industry wants injected into our precious wee babies.

  66. #66 Shay
    May 13, 2014

    “Who seriously says “vaccinate for everything”, anyway?”

    Based on painful memories, the United States Marine Corps.

  67. #67 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    May 13, 2014

    Well, other than the military, Shay. ;-) They’ve always had a “if a little is good, a lot is better” mentality anyway.

  68. […] that hasn’t stopped groups who voice vaccine opposition from waging what amounts to a ground campaign against these students. These groups, primarily associated by their insistence on a vaccine-autism […]

  69. #69 Dorit
    May 13, 2014

    Did the U.S. military require the rabies vaccine too? (real question).

  70. #71 KNS Magmahombre
    Lakewood, Colorado
    May 13, 2014

    I find the virulence of the pro-vaccine crowd in comment here as disgusting as that some of the nonsense from the anti-vaccine crowd. Vaccines do have side effects and they are often of an inflammatory nature and can produce neurotoxic effects on susceptible individuals but susceptibility is never determined before vaccination. How would you do it anyway. Anyway, a little anecdote here. My niece, believing the provaccine hype and medical recommendations about Merck’s HPV vaccine, got the first of the series of shots. The next day she couldn’t walk. She recovered fully, yes and at least the PA had the sense to say that she shouldn’t get any of the follow-on shots. Was the problem caused by the virus particles or the adjuvants. No one knows. If she had been injured permanently by the vaccine, she couldn’t sue Merck. Vaccine manufacturers have blanket protection. She would have to apply to the ‘Vaccine Compensation Board which is famous for ruling against injury claims even when the temporal evidence for causality is strong and for compensation awards that fail to cover the real economic damage and medical costs of future care. My problems with vaccines are the following: 1) blanket protection for vaccine makers encourages the rush of poorly tested vaccines to market
    2) vaccination risks are never discussed and adverse reactions are often discounted, ignored, and poorly reported even by medical professions
    3) there is little research on the long term effects of vaccines on the patient, the microbiom or possibility forced evolution of the disease organism into new niches
    4) many of the adjuvants and preservatives used in vaccines are toxins in the own right (thimerisol is 50% Hg and aluminum is a known neurotoxin that crosses the blood-brain barrier and concentration in nueronal tissue immune system cells (as does Hg) – astrocytes and microglialcells, 5) how the immunity induced by vaccines is different than that produced when the disease is acquired naturally.
    In my own case, I would rather get the flu than get the flu vaccine for these reasons and rather reduce my exposure to vaccine adjuvants and preservatives by only vaccinating myself for those illness that truly are likely to be life-threatening and the flu is not one of those if you focus on optimizing your immune system. For those who don’t, have sugar as a significant part of their calorie intake (overfed and undernourished on SAD), I recommend you take your chances with vaccinations. But there are many approaches to optimizing one’s immune system which the allopathic medicine in the USA never discusses.

  71. #72 Shay
    May 13, 2014

    As a preventative? Not when I was in (1979-2000), and I’d be surprised if it was offered now except to a few designated personnel who might fill jobs that put them at higher risk of rabies contact.

  72. #73 Chris,
    May 13, 2014

    KNS Magmahombre: “Vaccines do have side effects and they are often of an inflammatory nature and can produce neurotoxic effects on susceptible individuals but susceptibility is never determined before vaccination.”

    Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers showing the risk of any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the vaccine.

    “2) vaccination risks are never discussed and adverse reactions are often discounted, ignored, and poorly reported even by medical professions”

    Except they are, and this a huge indicator that you have not read much of this blog.

    “thimerisol is 50%”

    Please tell us which vaccine on the American pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal.

    “the flu is not one of those if you focus on optimizing your immune system.”

    So what about the almost hundred kids who died of influenza this year, and the 171 last year? Was there something wrong with their immune system? And is it okay dokay they died because their immune system was imperfect?

    “But there are many approaches to optimizing one’s immune system which the allopathic medicine in the USA never discusses.”

    Please provide the PubMed indexed studies for those. And do tell us how well it works for those whose immune systems occasionally try to kill them, like mine has been known to do due to exposures to certain allergens.

  73. #74 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    My problems with vaccines are the following: 1) blanket protection for vaccine makers encourages the rush of poorly tested vaccines to market

    Thank goodness you made sure to not have the slightest idea how this works before selecting it as your lead point.

  74. #75 Calli Arcale
    May 13, 2014

    KNS:

    My niece, believing the provaccine hype and medical recommendations about Merck’s HPV vaccine, got the first of the series of shots. The next day she couldn’t walk. She recovered fully, yes and at least the PA had the sense to say that she shouldn’t get any of the follow-on shots. Was the problem caused by the virus particles or the adjuvants. No one knows.

    No one knows? Then how do you know the vaccine caused her problem? Why aren’t her parents investigating? The rush to blame the vaccine could leave her in serious peril if it means the real cause is neglected. Assuming, of course, that you didn’t simply invent her.

    If she had been injured permanently by the vaccine, she couldn’t sue Merck. Vaccine manufacturers have blanket protection.

    Untrue. You cannot sue them for design defects, but if the vaccine was contaminated, you absolutely can. Of course, from your story it sounds as if no one has bothered to work out whether that is the case. In which case, *that* would be the real impediment to suing. It’s awfully difficult to persuade a court of your case if you don’t take the time to collect any evidence.

    She would have to apply to the ‘Vaccine Compensation Board which is famous for ruling against injury claims even when the temporal evidence for causality is strong and for compensation awards that fail to cover the real economic damage and medical costs of future care.

    Actually, VICP is far more likely to award compensation than civil court is. However, you do have to first prove your case. “Close temporal association” is not adequate, no matter how much you might think it should be, since things happen to people at all times. The first person to die after getting the HPV was killed in a car accident. Obviously that’s coincidence; car accidents happen all the time, and even fatal accidents are distressingly common. But that’s easy to discount because you know the vaccine didn’t cause it. Yet if you don’t know something can’t be related, why do you assume it is? A court can’t go on “it happened right after” — if they did that, you’d see people convicted of murder just because they happened to walk down the street right before the victim was found dead. Civil court has a lower standard than criminal court, and VICP even more so — VICP actually *will* accept happenstance as evidence if it’s for a table injury (that is, an injury known to the court to be conceivably caused by a vaccine). without real proof. Civil court would require more, so be glad there’s VICP if you want damages awarded with the flimsy sort of claim you’ve made.

  75. #76 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    5) how the immunity induced by vaccines is different than that produced when the disease is acquired naturally.
    In my own case, I would rather get the flu than get the flu vaccine for these reasons

    Poor choice, for this reason, since vaccine immunity is superior.

    and rather reduce my exposure to vaccine adjuvants and preservatives

    And you’re citing an unadjuvanted vaccine widely available single-dose units why, then?

  76. #77 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    No one knows? Then how do you know the vaccine caused her problem?

    None of the 127 VAERS reports appear to match.

  77. #78 herr doktor bimler
    May 13, 2014

    I find the virulence of the pro-vaccine crowd in comment here as disgusting as that some of the nonsense from the anti-vaccine crowd.

    Oh noes, KNS Magmahombre is disgusted! That changes everything!

  78. #79 ann
    May 13, 2014

    My niece, believing the provaccine hype and medical recommendations about Merck’s HPV vaccine, got the first of the series of shots. The next day she couldn’t walk.

    Could she make any voluntary movements? Because I’m glad she’s all right, but….

    No one knows.

    ^^…that’s not as comforting to hear as it might have been if the known potential causes had been ruled out.

    What were her symptoms? How long did they last? How did they resolve?

  79. #80 Dorit
    May 14, 2014

    Thanks, Lilady and Shay.

  80. #81 Jennifer
    May 17, 2014

    If Orca is so sincere in his beliefs why doesn’t he use his real name?

  81. #82 novalox
    May 17, 2014

    @jennifer

    How do we know that you are using your real name?

    And besides, Orac’s name is hardly a secret. If you really are trying to pull off that gambit, your search skills are pretty poor.

  82. #83 Shay
    May 17, 2014

    Jennifer — Orac’s real name is the worst-kept secret on the internet. If you truly can’t find it, novalox is correct.

  83. #84 squirrelelite
    May 17, 2014

    @Jennifer,
    For starters, you could do a search on “anonymity”.

    That gives several blogs where the subject is discussed including this one:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/01/23/on-orac-isis-pseudonymity-and-anonymity/

    And second, I always taught my children that nothing was true because I said it was so. It was true because of the logical argument I made to support it and the evidence that supported the key points of that argument.

    So, thirdly, what difference does it make?

    If you disagree with any factual points he makes, we’d certainly like you to explain what you disagree with and why. If you don’t think he’s telling the truth about his opinion, then I suggest you read the opinion of someone you’re willing to believe.

  84. #85 Chris,
    May 17, 2014

    Jennifer: “If Orca is so sincere in his beliefs why doesn’t he use his real name?”

    It’s a test. He real name is the worst kept secret on the internet, and is even revealed if you click on a certain right on this page.

    It looks like you failed the test.

  85. #86 Chris,
    May 17, 2014

    Left out a word: “click on a certain link right on this page”

  86. #87 Denice Walter
    May 17, 2014

    @ Jennifer:

    First of all, you’re at the wrong site: Orca writes on whale.to.

  87. #88 Chris,
    May 17, 2014

    Rats! I missed the cetacean spin!

  88. #89 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    May 17, 2014

    *hoots* So is Orca basically Orac’s Bizarro-world counterpart?

  89. #90 Dangerous Bacon
    May 17, 2014

    “If Orca is so sincere in his beliefs why doesn’t he use his real name?”

    He likes to sneak up on his prey before ripping their arguments to shreds.

    “Farewell and adieu to you antivax Ladies
    Farewell and adieu, though you did entertain
    For we’ve received orders for to sail for Big Pharma
    But we hope in a short time to see you again.”

  90. #91 Jennifer
    May 20, 2014

    I found it interesting that automatically you assumed I was anti-vaccine for asking that question. If you found out I was “on your side” would you have still been so snotty about a typo? Probably not.

  91. #92 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    May 20, 2014

    No Jennifer, as you can see your typo was the subject of some double-entendres after your really dumb remark about the blog author’s identity was deservedly mocked. And FYI if you’re going to make issue of another’s identity, doing so while remaining anonymous kind of falls flat.

  92. #93 squirrelelite
    May 20, 2014

    Actually, Jennifer, a quick read-through of comments 82-89 shows no assumptions that I can see about whether you are pro- or anti-vaccination.

    Dangerous Bacon made that guess at #90.

    But, for curiosity’s sake, did you follow any of the suggestions for figuring out his real name?

    And, did you have anything to say or ask about the substance of the blog?

    Also, just for your information, commenters drop in from time to time and start by Just Asking Questions without asserting anything one way or the other. However, the point of the questions (asking for further support or explanation of some point of the main argument or asking why we don’t know the contrary) generally leads to the conclusion that they really disagree with the author (or in this instance are anti-vaccination).

    So, unfortunately, if just ask a question and don’t say anything else substantive, many readers will assume by default that you also disagree with the author’s point.

  93. #94 herr doktor bimler
    May 20, 2014

    If Orca is so sincere in his beliefs why doesn’t he use his real name?

    Now that you know that he does use his real name, are you more inclined to agree with his conclusions?

  94. #95 Dangerous Bacon
    May 21, 2014

    Well, it certainly is possible someone would get upset about a post mocking antivaxers and attack the author without being antivax herself. Maybe Jennifer is still carrying a grudge about one of the old Hitler Zombie posts.

    Anyway, I wasn’t thinking so much about casting Antivax Aspersions as needing a word to fit into my revision of “Ladies of Spain”, which had to be invoked because of the “Orca” reference.*

    *having seen too many “Jaws” reruns.

  95. #96 LW
    May 21, 2014

    Actually, I’m not so sure that Dangerous Bacon @90 was implying that Jennifer was antivax. I read it as more riffing on the “Orca” theme. Jennifer took “antivax Ladies” as referring to herself, which I do not see as a necessary inference. Of course, only Dangerous Bacon can say what was really meant.

  96. #97 LW
    May 21, 2014

    Ah, Dangerous Bacon, we were typing at the same time.

  97. #98 squirrelelite
    May 21, 2014

    OK, I’ll grant you poetic license on that one!

    It took me a bit of thinking to come up with where I remembered the song from. Jaws eventually came to mind. A little research showed it has been used in quite a few shows, from Sharpe’s Rifles and Master and Commander to Jimmy Neutron!

  98. […] Antivaccine activists attack and bully high school filmmakers. Just in case you didn’t realize vaccinutters were dangerous, evil zealots. […]