No doubt, regular readers are probably somewhat surprised that I didn’t discuss the antivaccine rally scheduled to be held in Atlanta last weekend that I wrote about last week. As you might recall, this rally consisted of two crappy tastes that taste crappy together, namely Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the antivaccine movement together with the Nation of Islam. Given that the Nation of Islam, besides being a truly crank religion on its own, of late has gotten very cozy with the Church of Scientology, thus amplifying the crank factor by orders of magnitude (at least).

Readers not familiar with this recent and very odd alliance (given that the antivaccine movement is overwhelmingly white, educated, and affluent) might reasonably ask: How on earth did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the rest of the antivaccine movement meet and ally themselves together? Basically, it dates back this summer to antivaccinationists’ opposition to SB 277 in California, the bill (now law) that eliminated non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. It’s also related to the “#CDCwhistleblower” manufactroversy, in which CDC scientist William Thompson. The story basically goes as follows.

Between November 2013 and July 2014, a troubled CDC psychologist named William Thompson, who had been involved with some seminal studies testing whether there was a link between vaccines and autism—surprise! surprise! they found there weren’t—engaged in a number of phone calls with an biochemical engineer turned incompetent antivaccine epidemiologist named Brian Hooker. Not realizing that Hooker was recording the phone calls, Thompson took the opportunity to kvetch to Hooker about the CDC in general and his co-investigators in particular, especially Frank DeStefano and Thompson’s other co-authors on an important 2004 paper that examined whether there was any relationship between MMR vaccination and autism. As a result, Brian Hooker did an epically incompetent “reanalysis” of the paper and managed to get it published in a relatively new journal. What this reanalysis claimed to find was that DeStefano et al. had done some statistical prestidigitation to eliminate a statistically significant difference in African American males correlating with age of MMR vaccination. Of course, as I discussed at the time (as did many others), Hooker, in his love of “simplicity,” had neglected to control for important confounders and imputed way too much significance to a spurious correlation that disappeared when proper correction for confounders was made. As I’ve put it many times, simplicity in statistical analyses of epidemiological data is not a virtue. In any case, so incredibly incompetent was Hooker’s analysis that the journal actually retracted the paper.

Likely because Brian Hooker couldn’t keep his big mouth shut about his “good friend” and source within the CDC, Andrew Wakefield found out about Thompson. Hooker appears to have wanted to keep Thompson secret a while longer, the better to pump him for more information, but Wakefield couldn’t resist making a video proclaiming the “CDC whistleblower.” It wasn’t long before the identity of this “CDC whistleblower” was revealed, resulting in a Twitter storm from antivaccinationists who seemed to believe that the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement (that the CDC knew vaccines cause autism but were hiding it from the public) had just been proven. Nothing really ever came of it other than Wakefield complaining with Hooker to the CDC about “scientific fraud,” leading to the destruction of thousands of irony meters everywhere, and to Representative Bill Posey (R-FL) giving a mostly-ignored talk in front of the House accusing the CDC of malfeasance, possibly revealing that William Thompson really is antivaccine.

Fast forward to this summer. In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak, California was on the way towards passing SB 277, a bill that eliminated nonmedical exemptions to school and day care vaccine mandates. It was at this time that the antivaccine movement in California and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. cozied up with the Nation of Islam to help oppose SB 277 by using images of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and invoking the “CDC whistleblower” to convince Minister Tony Muhammad and Minister Louis Farrakhan that the CDC was covering up a link between MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys. Brian Hooker and RFK, Jr. even spoke at a Nation of Islam event held at a Church of Scientology public center.

Thus was an alliance between the oddest of odd bedfellows born. There was so much antivaccine pseudoscience presented that even Orac cannot apply much-deserved not-so-Respectful Insolence to it all. I will therefore concentrate mainly on RFK, Jr. and Minister Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. The two are not that far apart in terms of their dedication to evidence, if you know what I mean.

Right from the start, a little taste of conspiracy

Antivaccinationists are about the crankiest cranks that there are; so it’s not surprising that something happened at the Friday protest that perfectly encapsulates antivaccine thinking and the tendency of these groups to engage in conspiracy mongering. It involved a worker power washing the wall near where some of the protesters were yelling, leading a particularly “enthusiastic” antivaccine activist on Twitter to this:

Later, another protester posted this meme:

A meme that flowed through the Twittersphere on Friday morning, almost as soon as the protest had started.

A meme that flowed through the Twittersphere on Friday morning, almost as soon as the protest had started.

As Tim Farley made clear in a Twitter exchange with these two antivaccine activists and in this video, all that was happening was that there was a worker power washing a wall near where they were protesting.

My first reaction to this was, understandably I think: WTF? Fortunately, Tim Farley was out on his morning run and captured video:

As you can see, it was just some poor worker doing his job, not some nefarious security detail from the CDC-pharma cabal “hosing down” the protesters. I feel sorry for the guy. On the other hand, he probably has an amusing story to tell his friends over beers about the cranks who thought he was some sort of secret security agent.

Elsewhere, I saw Periscope videos with protestors chanting “Stop killing our babies!” and “No more vaccinations!” Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out how to save these videos before their 24 hour expiration time hit. However, to give you a flavor, there does remain one saved video showing a woman ranting about how you “cannot inject toxic chemicals and kill our babies” and explicitly comparing the vaccination program to the Holocaust (“we’re gonna have another…where you put ’em in a camp and kill ’em”):

But, no, this wasn’t an antivaccine protest. Oh, no.

In discussing the rest of the proceedings, I’m going to include a lot of video, not so much because I expect anyone to watch it all (I assure you as someone who’s watched many of these videos that they are all very tedious to watch), but so that those who are inclined to check my commentary against the video record may do so if they doubt what I write.

Tony Muhammad brings the religious antivaccine paranoia

The Nation of Islam has always been full of bizarre ideas. Perhaps that’s the reason why over the last several years it has become more and more closely associated with the Church of Scientology. It’s therefore not surprising that Minister Tony Muhammad would be susceptible to the race angle. Given the higher level of distrust of the medical profession and medical research among African Americans, not entirely unjustified given history like the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, it doesn’t take much to convince someone like Muhammad that the white-dominated CDC, government, and pharmaceutical injuries are harming black babies, even if that claim is based on evidence as bogus as Brian Hooker’s “reanalysis” of DeStefano et al. and claims of a “CDC whistleblower.” I include Minister Muhammad’s two speeches if you wish to watch them. They are strikingly similar to each other, such that I wouldn’t bother to watch both. They also show just how much the Nation of Islam, at least as represented by Tony Muhammad, has become antivaccine. Here he is on Friday night.

And here he was on Saturday afternoon (another version here):

Much of both of these talks was devoted to religion, thanking the sponsors of the event, and praising Barbara Loe Fisher and RFK, Jr. more than talking about vaccines, such that I’m only going to focus on the most telling part, this passage, included in both talks in one form or another. It’s so telling that I transcribed it extensively:

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the 1930s and 40s warned the Nation of Islam that there are wicked people in high places who are coming up with experimental chemicals that could hurt the human family of the planet. And we were always warned not to take certain vaccines. And as a result, we have not suffered from the autism, from the measles, from the many viruses and sicknesses that are happening in our community. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan also said, “This is prophecy. I need you to listen.” He said when you go into the Book of Exodus, there was a Pharaoh who saw in the Book of Exodus that the slaves was getting restless, and Pharaoh knew that it was time for a deliverer to bring them out from under his control. And Pharaoh made this statement. “Come on, let us deal wisely with them.” Then he said, “Let’s kill the males and spare the females.”

Then Minister Farrakhan went to the New Testament. Herod looked at the stars and knew that it was time for a deliverer to come and lead the people into a new kingdom. And Herod said, “Let’s kill all babies two and under.” So it is no surprise that the vaccine makers have now increased the vaccine and are trying to get it to our boys before they are three years old. It’s in prophecy. He then went to the Book of Revelation as I close. He said in Revelation there is a woman who is pregnant with a child, and then there’s a dragon standing in front of the woman. The dragon wanted to devour the child before it was born. Now big pharmaceutical companies they have become the dragon of this whole planet, and all of their products once you inject them into your body or take them into your mouth it drags your mind down and you lose control.

Here is the relevant passage from Revelation:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

OK, so Minister Muhammad wasn’t exactly correct about the dragon wanting to devour the savior before he was born; rather he was waiting until he was born. Still, Tony Muhammad told both crowds that vaccines are part of Biblical prophecy (and not a good part), that they are of a piece with the Pharaoh’s slaughter of the children of the enslaved Israelites, Herod’s slaughter of the male children under two, and the dragon of Revelation devouring the savior as soon as he is born, likening big pharma to that dragon of Revelation.

But don’t you dare call Tony Muhammad and the Nation of Islam “antivaccine,” even though it is clearly true.

What I’m afraid of is that the cynical coupling of antivaccine imagery with religious imagery and the distrust many African-Americans feel towards the medical establishment will promote the same sorts of pockets of low vaccine uptake that we’ve already seen among affluent white communities with large number of antivaccine parents, in the poorest African American communities, whose children are not as well fed, do not have access to the best health care, and will therefore suffer more than the children of the “Thinking Moms.” Worse, in his talk on Friday night, Muhammad promised that he was working with hip hop artists to get the message out, claiming that he had been invited to meet with Atlanta artists on Thursday night.

Oh, and to him pharmaceutical companies are gangsters, pure evil.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. lets his antivaccine freak flag fly even higher

Longtime readers might remember that the post that arguably got me the most noticed in my first year of blogging was a discussion of the errors of fact and science coupled with massive conspiracy mongering in Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s 2005 antivaccine magnum opus “Deadly Immunity“. I’d periodically discuss some bit of antivaccine misinformation or pseudoscience RFK, Jr. was promoting, but then he seemed to disappear off the face of the earth (at least as far as vaccines went) for a few years, with hardly a mention. Then, in 2014 he resurfaced in a big way, publishing a book about the evils of thimerosal in vaccines, something I thought to be very quaint, so very 2005, given that there hasn’t been more than trace amounts of thimerosal in vaccines since 2002, including making a guest appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher and The Dr. Oz Show to spew his usual antivaccine nonsense while risibly proclaiming himself “fiercely pro-vaccine,” and, of course, teaming up with the Nation of Islam to oppose SB 277 and attack the CDC.

Here he was speaking to the antivaccine activists at Grant Park on Saturday. It’s painful to listen to:

I’m going to leap to near the end of RFK, Jr.’s speech first because yesterday the antivaccine cranks over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery known as Age of Autism were all excited about a “challenge” that he issued to Frank DeStefano, the scientist whom William Thompson accused, along with his coauthors, of research fraud (click to embiggen):

The derp is strong in this one. Why does RFK, Jr. think  that a reputable scientist would sue over the wild-eyed rantings of a pseudoscientific crank?

The derp is strong in this one. Why does RFK, Jr. think that a reputable scientist would sue over the wild-eyed rantings of a pseudoscientific crank?

If you watch the video above, you’ll see that, after some silence over some of RFK, Jr.’s more—shall we say?—bizarre stylings, the couple hundred people or so watching the talk cheered lustily. For some reason, antivaccinationists seemed to think that RFK, Jr.’s challenge to DeStefano to sue him if he thinks he’s being slandered was some brilliant strategy. Basically, RFK, Jr. was full of bluster, sound and fury, signifying nothing. He’s rich; so he can afford to defend a slander suit, and if DeStefano were ever stupid enough to sue him RFK, Jr. would then be able to subject DeStefano to discovery. Basically, given that one’s reputation probably can’t be damaged much, if at all, by the bleatings of a lying crank like RFK, Jr. accusing him of a crime he didn’t commit, DeStefano would be wise to ignore this opportunistic “challenge.” No doubt RFK, Jr. knows that and knows that DeStefano won’t sue him. It was all theater designed to get the troops fired up, nothing more.

It’s not surprising that RFK, Jr. ended with theater, because he started with theater as well, theater designed seemingly to convince anyone not in the antivaccine movement watching that he is really, truly not antivaccine. As has become his routine, RFK, Jr. clutched his pearls mightily to the point of crushing them with his bare hands and loudly objected to the news coverage of the #CDCtruth event that described the protesters as “antivaccine.” He repeated what has become a risible cliché in his repertoire and woundedly proclaimed himself “fiercely pro-vaccine,” a line that never fails to get a hearty chuckle from me.

Once again, I note that RFK, Jr. repeated his oft-repeated bit of misinformation about how there have been four “studies” (or investigations) of the CDC that have found it to be a cesspit of corruption. These distortions have been discussed before, but apparently I need to mention them again, at least briefly. For instance, RFK, Jr. claimed that the “Congressional Oversight Committee” investigated the CDC for three years and found all sorts of corruption. Of course, what RFK, Jr. was clearly referring to was Rep. Dan Burton’s hearings back in the day, or to the mummer’s farce that was Rep. Darryl Issa’s “autism” hearing in 2012. Probably both. Similarly, he noted an investigation by Senator Tom Coburn, who issued this report in 2007. I can’t help but note the report discussed potential financial mismanagement, but nothing in it implicated the vaccine program. Rather, it concentrated on Congressional earmarks being funneled through the CDC to various states, such as grants to Hawaii earmarked by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and extravagance in building the Thomas R. Harkin Global Communications (and Visitor) Center. Given that Coburn was a Republican and Inouye and Harkin were Democrats, one can’t help but sense some political score settling in this report. Read it for yourself and see.

RFK, Jr. also cited an investigation by the HHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI) into CDC misconduct last year and the resignation of its director, who criticized the bureaucracy in his resignation letter. I can’t help but strongly suspect that what he was referring to was the very manufactroversy known as the “CDC Whistleblower scandal” that isn’t a scandal and didn’t show that the CDC covered up data showing an alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism in African American boys. Brian Hooker, Andrew Wakefield, and James Moody did write a letter to the HHS ORI last October. I also note that the resignation letter of the former director of the ORI, David Wright, who resigned in February 2014, is publicly available online. Tellingly, there is nothing about the CDC in his letter, which complains mainly of a hidebound and secretive bureaucracy and Dr. Wright’s frustration at how difficult it was for him to get anything done. While it’s true that Wright did characterize HHS as a “remarkably dysfunctional bureaucracy” in his resignation letter, I couldn’t find any primary sources to back up RFK, Jr.’s quotes attributed to Wright about how the agency is so corrupt as to be unfixable. I call BS on RFK, Jr.’s claim.

I also call BS on RFK, Jr.’s claim about Paul Offit, too. He was lying again (see the 16:45 mark). Calling Offit the “Lex Luthor of vaccines,” RFK, Jr. also referred to Offit as a “toady of Merck” because he holds the Maurice R. Hillman Chair in Vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Playing on the ignorance of how endowed chairs work, RFK, Jr. claimed that because Offit holds this chair he is in the pocket of Merck. Of course, Merck, like many corporations, has a charitable foundation, and the charitable foundation donated an endowment to found the Maurice Hillman Chair, which Hillman had worked to set up before his death, specifically $1.5 million, while the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provided $500,000. Most importantly, Merck has no say over who holds the chair, as described in the press release announcing the chair:

The Hilleman Chair will be awarded to a physician/scientist making significant contributions to vaccinology on the standing faculty of Penn. The Hilleman Chair holder will be selected by an interdisciplinary search committee appointed by the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Dean, School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

One notes that RFK, Jr., either through sloppiness or dishonesty, also seemed to say that Offit was awarded this chair in 1989, before he was appointed to the committee that sets the vaccine schedule, implying that he was in the pocket of Merck before he was on that committee. The Hilleman Chair, however, was not established until 2005; so Offit couldn’t have been awarded the chair in 1989.

RFK, Jr. then went on to lie some more. He stated that Paul Offit voted to add the rotavirus vaccine he had invented to the vaccine schedule and that he sold his patent after it was on the schedule. It is a lie that Offit voted on adding a vaccine for which he had an interest, a lie ably refuted by Liz Ditz and Skeptical Raptor. And, no, Offit was not reprimanded by Congress either. He did nothing wrong.

Not surprisingly, RFK, Jr. also misrepresented the science, as he has been doing for more than a decade, even invoking his ad hominem term “biostitutes,” which is his term for scientists he views as having “sold out” to big pharma. Be that as it may, RFK, Jr. laid down the howler that scientists shouldn’t be doing epidemiological science, but rather animal studies, where they can examine animal organs, and toxicological studies in Petrie dishes. His rationale? Because epidemiological studies look at groups and can be manipulated. He even trots out one of the dumbest examples I’ve ever heard, claiming that you can design a study that shows that sex doesn’t make you pregnant by excluding people who are pregnant from the study. I mean, seriously, listen to it for yourself beginning around the 19:00 mark. RFK, Jr. owes me a new keyboard, because I made the mistake of having a mouthful of coffee when that passage played on my laptop! (I really should know better now.) He then claimed that this is the same thing as excluding autistic children and children with neurological disorders before doing the epidemiological study. Never mind that this is done to make it easier to see any observed effects and to avoid confounding. Let’s just put it this way. You can indeed design an epidemiological study to show that sex is not associated with pregnancy, but it would be an epidemiological study of the type that antivaccinationists do: Incompetent.

Indeed, RFK, Jr.’s ignorance of epidemiology is truly even more epic than even Brian Hooker’s. What he says doesn’t even make a tiny amount of sense. Indeed, I bet that even Brian Hooker, if he saw this talk, would cringe.

But don’t you dare call RFK, Jr. “antivaccine,” even though it is true. After all, he claims he is “fiercely pro-vaccine.”

Antivaccine, not pro-safe vaccine

I could have gone through several of the other talks if I wanted this post to balloon to an even more unmanageable than usual size; so I refrained. Much of it was just the same old antivaccine pseudoscience that I’ve been writing about for years. Indeed, I was tempted not to discuss RFK, Jr.’s talk at all, given that it was basically an expanded version of his interview with Bill Maher from a few months ago, complete with the same lies about Paul Offit, the same distortions about the CDC, but with extra added bonus ignorance about science. However, his “challenge” to Frank DeStefano changed my mind. In any case, the only real new wrinkle in this antivaccine rally, the only thing new under the antivaccine sun, are the collaboration of the Nation of Islam and the attempt by antivaccinationists to use them as an “in” to the African-American community. This alliance has the potential to cause real mischief among people who are already disadvantaged with respect to health care.

In the end, though, I find this “rally” (or these “rallies”) to be evidence of just how marginalized the antivaccine movement is. I would like to think they are a sad, last gasp of a dying movement, but, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the antivaccine movement, no matter how beaten down it is, never dies. It’s Halloween week; so I’ll use a slasher flick analogy. Like Michael Myers or Jason, no matter how many times it seems to be dead or dying, the antivaccine movement always returns to endanger our children and kill again. I fear this time it will be no different.

Comments

  1. #1 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 28, 2015

    This event was so “paradigm-generating” that the complete and utter absence of the media was explained away with pouty and conspiratorial charges that they had been bought off by Big Pharma. And the small crowd was due to three, no TWELVE buses from Alabama held up on the interstate says Michelle Ford.

  2. #2 Helianthus
    October 28, 2015

    Sorry, my mind froze when I read the caption on the wall washer guy’s picture.

    CDC security, cleverly disguised as opportunistic wall washer guy

    Silly antivaxers (sorry, I mean pro-safe vacc… – oh, WTF, couldn’t we drop the pretense, please, it’s embarrassing), this guy was genuinely washing the wall.

    That neither him nor the antivaxs knew, is that the wall was not there the day before. This wall is made of disguised CDC security ninja.
    They got a little damp in the process, but that’s all in a day’s job for a CDC security ninja.

    Less professional ninja would have tried to pass themselves as the hedge, as seen here, but CDC ninja are much more craftier.

  3. #3 MI Dawn
    October 28, 2015

    @Helianthus (#2): I’m SO glad I had swallowed my coffee before reading your comment or my new keyboard would have been baptized! Thanks for the morning laugh. 🙂

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    October 28, 2015

    Regarding that Biblical prophecy bit, there is much that does not make sense. Start with the warnings in the 1930s and 1940s, well before any of the vaccines on today’s vaccination schedule were developed. (Smallpox vaccines existed, but have been discontinued because smallpox has been eradicated; the Salk polio vaccine did not come until the mid-1950s.) Then we have Farrakhan’s rather strained interpretation of a couple of Bible passages: the slaughter of all male children under two (why spare the females in this prophecy, when the allegedly toxic vaccines would be just as toxic to girls as boys?) and a symbolic dragon waiting to devour a symbolic child (pardon the redundancy; we are talking about Revelation). But let’s step back and ask: Why is a supposedly Islamic preacher quoting from the Bible rather than the Quran? Granted that the latter borrowed heavily from the former, but they are not identical, and in particular I don’t think Revelation was included in the original Mohammed’s teachings. I don’t know enough about Islamic theology to be sure, but isn’t this a bit close to heresy and/or apostasy? Some Muslims take those things a bit too seriously, and I wouldn’t wish a fatwa even on somebody as odious as Farrakhan.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    October 28, 2015

    One of Dachel’s commenters ( AoA) links to Orac’s videos of the events in Atlanta/

    so I suppose at least some of them are reading Orac regularly.

  6. #6 Denice Walter
    October 28, 2015

    @ Eric:

    The story, like the anti-vax myth, selectively affects males because ( in their cult/ure) it’s the worse sin- harming the more “valuable”. I’m sure that that attitude persists today in certain places.

  7. #7 TBruce
    October 28, 2015

    I like the late Dominick Dunne’s reply to RFK Jr:

    “I don’t give a f_ck about what that little sh_t has to say,” Dunne spits back. “That f_cking asshole. This pompous, pompous, POMPOUS man. I don’t care what he has to say. He’s not a person that I have any feeling or respect for.”

  8. #8 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 28, 2015

    But let’s step back and ask: Why is a supposedly Islamic preacher quoting from the Bible rather than the Quran?

    Know your audience which was predominantly white/Xtian. Muhammed also stated:

    there was a Pharaoh who saw in the Book of Exodus that the slaves was getting restless…

    If I read that correctly, how could Pharaoh read a book that hadn’t been written yet?

  9. #9 TheOz91
    October 28, 2015

    @Eric Lund

    Yeah, that’s weird. Being somebody who’s actually Muslim, I would say that the Nation of Islam is only Islam by name. This is why Malcolm X left and went to preach real Islamic teachings.

    And to correct you, the Quran does not “borrow” Anything from the Bible, rather is it an updated edition, which is why many things are similar, at least according to Islamic teachings.

    Anyways, a crank religion preaching crank teachings for crank beliefs, that’s what it is.

  10. #10 Helianthus
    October 28, 2015

    @ Eric Lund

    I don’t know enough about Islamic theology to be sure, but isn’t this a bit close to heresy and/or apostasy?

    Not sure myself either, but from what has been told here about the Nation of Islam movement and the closeness of their dogma to Scientology mythos, NoI is a syncretic religious movement .
    In layman terms, they borrow heavily from various sources and added their own founding stories to the soup.
    It’s difficult to be more heretic than that.

    @ MI Dawn

    Glad you liked it!
    I tried to come with something serious, but I simply couldn’t..
    But now I had time to consider this farce more seriously, I can only agree wholeheartedly with Orac:

    something happened at the Friday protest that perfectly encapsulates antivaccine thinking and the tendency of these groups to engage in conspiracy mongering.

    It’s actually beautiful, as vicious circles go: here are people convinced that they are important and very smart and threatening and all that. So of course the CDC had to send someone to keep tabs on them. It simply couldn’t be otherwise.
    But these antivaxers are so smart, they spotted the spy right away, despite his clever disguise. So they are immediately vindicated in their feeling of being important and smart and so on.

    Frankly, if this poor guy hasn’t been here, the spy would have been a stray dog or the old tomcat from the granny living at the street’s corner.
    Actually, maybe it was the cat. There was this CIA project called Acoustic Kitty
    (no, seriously, go read it, this was real spycraft)

    I think wall washer guy can add M.D.* on his business card from now on. He deserves certainly it more than the various “doctors” in the antivax crowd.

    * M.D. for Master of Disguise

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    October 28, 2015

    Anyone who doubts the entrenched lunacy amongst anti-vax activists should take a tour about the twitterverse as I did-
    starting – where else?- @ tannersdad tim and proceeding through the various cdc tags ) truth, whistleblower).

    Breathtakingly stupid and obsessive.

  12. #12 Orac
    October 28, 2015

    Yeah. I didn’t include much because for some reason on this blog the embedding code for the Tweets produces hit-or-miss results.

  13. #13 Dangerous Bacon
    October 28, 2015

    Why does RFK, Jr. think that a reputable scientist would sue over the wild-eyed rantings of a pseudoscientific crank?”

    I expect Hillary Clinton to sue the National Enquirer over its story headlined “Feds Probe Nails Clinton On Two Crimes/Hillary Going To Jail!”

    This is probably not a good analogy, since the Enquirer has considerably more credibility than RFK Jr.

  14. #14 JP
    October 28, 2015

    As you can see, it was just some poor worker doing his job, not some nefarious security detail from the CDC-pharma cabal “hosing down” the protesters.

    Given how cranky anti-vaxxers are, I imagine there’s a fair bit of overlap with the, uh, chemtrail community. What with the “no matter what you spray” thing on the meme, I wonder if the idea wasn’t that he was supposed to be hosing them down, but rather that he was spraying some sort of nefarious chemicals that were supposed to subdue the protesters or something.

  15. #15 Chan Kobun, the Ghost-Who-Waddles
    On the Twitters @Chankobun
    October 28, 2015

    I’m sure you’ve seen this by now, probably in some more scientific outfit, but for the benefit of those who haven’t: hXXp://consumerist.com/2015/10/28/man-who-sold-industrial-chemical-as-miracle-mineral-solution-sentenced-to-51-months-in-jail/

    MMS seller going up the river for 51 months. The Consumerist article doesn’t cover the “recommendations” we’ve seen for it from the anti-vaxers, nor the frankly stomach-churning way it’s used to abuse children.

    Still, good news, and hopefully this might wake a few of these people up to how wrong they PFFFFHAHAHAHAHA nope couldn’t say it with a straight face, I know they’ll just ignore this and say it’s all the BIG FARMERS SILENCING TEH TWOOFS!!1. Ah well, a man can dream, he can.

  16. #16 sadasd
    October 28, 2015

    Embrace the whack-a-mole nature of RFK Jr’s anti-vaccine activism and recent dalliances with Nation of Islam; savor it.

    Ask *anyone* who witnessed any of his legislative testimony before numerous states this year – where he wasn’t ignored, he was a liability to his cause. Let us cheer him from the sidelines. Go forth and do good deeds, agents of Big Power Washer!

  17. #17 Mike
    October 28, 2015

    The antivaccine freak flag of Bob Sears is also flying high, since he was happy to invite everyone to the CDC rally and to reinforce the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory.

    He also posted an incredibly misleading infographic by his orwellian named “immunity Education Group”

  18. #18 AdamG
    October 28, 2015

    Sort of related: Do any other minions watch American Horror Story? The current season has a storyline about a nurse dealing with an unvaccinated child who contracts measles and the child’s mother. The showrunners are clearly trying to make a point with this…the child is shown suffering from the measles, and the mother, portrayed as selfish and flighty, is surprised to learn there’s no treatment. It’s almost a vaccination PSA!

  19. #19 DGR
    October 28, 2015

    Would anyone be surprised if in a couple of months anti-vaxers who were near the power washer guy and got a bit of spray on them start complaining about coming down with an “affliction of unknown origin”?

    God forbid any of them die as a result of a flu the chemical spray used by the CDC power washer hit squad.

  20. #20 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015

    This is the first time I have ever really seen anything about the Nation of Islam. Why would Minister Mohammed be quoting the Christian Bible? In my ignorance, I thought that the Koran might have been more appropriate.

    I think I now understand my Muslim friend’s annoyance when some Nation of Islam recruiter tried to pick him up in an airport. Years later he is still muttering that, “the guy didn’t even speak Arabic”.

    I am amazed at an alliance between a soi-disant Islamic group and a religious organization like Scientology which are not people of the Book.

    I missed the pregnancy epi study. I was listening while puttering around and thought I had just missed a sentence. He really did say that!

    It sounded like Crankfest ’15 was interesting. What will they do for next year?

  21. #21 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 28, 2015

    Ask *anyone* who witnessed any of his legislative testimony before numerous states this year – where he wasn’t ignored, he was a liability to his cause.

    I wondered why he had gone so deep into the anti-vaxx rabbit hole and if it was because he had somehow become a liability and unwelcome mouthpiece for environmental groups. His talk in Atlanta was pure BS insane.

  22. #22 Chris
    October 28, 2015

    AdamG: “Sort of related: Do any other minions watch American Horror Story? The current season has a storyline about a nurse dealing with an unvaccinated child who contracts measles and the child’s mother”

    Yes, I have been watching it. Also, last week Alex had a whole narrative exposition, and she is a pediatrician who does house calls, not a nurse.

  23. #23 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 28, 2015

    It sounded like Crankfest ’15 was interesting. What will they do for next year?

    Dunno, maybe team up with Hare Krishnas and have Cukoopolooza ’16?

  24. #24 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015

    # 9 TheOz91

    I would say that the Nation of Islam is only Islam by name

    According to the Nation of Islam wiki “The NOI teaches that W. Fard Muhammad was both the “Messiah” of Judaism and the Mahdi of Islam”.

    Sound like perfectly orthodox Islam to me (pound head against wall). I did not seen any claim to being the Buddha so it’s probably kosher, err,orthodox I mean

    BTW, what’s with the bow-ties?

  25. #25 herr doktor bimler
    October 28, 2015

    Those are not bow-ties. Those are very small Slake-moths.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    October 28, 2015

    Since we’re on the issue of throwback fashion..

    It seems that AoA ( at any rate, Kim) believes that Rapid Prompting ( RPM) is the way to go.

  27. #27 sadasd
    October 28, 2015

    #21 Science Mom: in RFK Jr’s background, there are all kinds of examples of cognitive impairment, risky behavior, and highly questionable judgment. Vaccines are safe, but do you know what *is* a powerful neurotoxin? I’ll give you two hints: she don’t lie; and she don’t lie.

  28. #28 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015

    #25 herr doktor bimler

    Those are not bow-ties. Those are very small Slake-moths.

    Google furiously—Oh.

    Kudzu, Lyme Disease, and now Slake-moths, blast it, climate change has a lot to answer for.

  29. #29 Eric Lund
    October 28, 2015

    Years later he is still muttering that, “the guy didn’t even speak Arabic”.

    Islam avoids the sort of “lost in translation” issues that arise in Christianity by insisting that the true Quran must be read or recited in Arabic. Any translations of the Quran are considered commentary.

    The closest counterpart in the West would be Jews learning Hebrew in order to read the Torah. Christianity does not insist that its adherents learn the (multiple) languages in which the Bible was written. That’s why one occasionally hears of nincompoops in the US who insist that everyone should learn English because if it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for anybody. Some go so far as to insist that the King James version is the definitive English translation of the Bible–recall that this was the English of Shakespeare, and you can imagine the difficulties that causes. You also get theological debates over the precise translation of this or that word in the original ancient Greek.

    Given what else we know about NoI, their failure to insist that their members learn Arabic is not exactly surprising.

  30. #30 See Noevo
    October 28, 2015

    The World Health Organization says TB now rivals AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious diseases.

  31. #31 Chris
    October 28, 2015

    SM: “His talk in Atlanta was pure BS insane.”

    I have been checking the google news for him, and there is nothing about Kennedy’s performance in Atlanta.

  32. #32 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015

    # 28 Eric Lund
    Ah yes, the translation problem, not to mention the typesetting problem. There was that English edition of the bible with the commandment, “Thou shalt commit adultery”.

    And did you hear that the Baptists were the first Christians? Proof : John the Baptist was before Christ.

    I cannot find the link for this but it is from a professor who teaches evolution in a fairly fundamentalist state university in the US South.

  33. #33 Liz Ditz
    Great State of California
    October 28, 2015

    Chris, the #cdctruth gang are furious there was no media coverage of the Friday, Saturday or Sunday events.

  34. #34 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015
  35. #35 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 28, 2015

    The World Health Organization says TB now rivals AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious diseases.

    True.

  36. #36 megsaint
    October 28, 2015

    “And as a result, we have not suffered from the autism, from the measles, from the many viruses and sicknesses that are happening in our community. ”

    Apparently, being a member of NoI has highly protective qualities. Who knew?

  37. #37 Chris Hickie
    October 28, 2015

    @ Mike #17 — from what I’ve heard from the annual AAP convention, the AAP continues to refuse addressing “Dr. Bob” out of some vague fear of a lawsuity (you know, as opposed to the real fear, injuries and deaths of continued vaccine-preventable disease outbreak due to Sears continuing to gain popularity and followers). The AAP was so utterly spineless at their annual convention that they couldn’t even pass formal policy advocating for the legislative end of all non-medical vaccine exemptions–whereas the AMA and AAFP had no problems passing such policy this year at their conventions. I’d say shame on the AAP, but I don’t think they have any shame.

  38. #38 Dangerous Bacon
    October 28, 2015

    JP: “Given how cranky anti-vaxxers are, I imagine there’s a fair bit of overlap with the, uh, chemtrail community.”

    There’s a _lot_ of overlap, and it’s not just crank magnetism.The usual “mainstream loon” sites like rense, whale and Natural News are plugging the vaccine-by-chemtrail delivery meme (The Health Deranger earlier this year announced that 600 strains of a thought control vaccine had been deployed by aerosolized atmospheric release (and of course in our food and water). And assorted other garbanzos are obsessing about this too:

    http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/2014/11/27/chemtrails-not-just-for-weather-modification-anymore-vaccines-on-the-wind/

    Now power washers – trust the “CDC Whistleblower” crowd to discover a new and even more sinister attempt to expose antivaxers – to VACCINES!!! Whether it’s thought-control-by-vaccine, or just dulling their reasoning ability with toxins like mercury, aluminum and aborted fetus juice, what better way to silence those who are just asking questions?

    It’s just not safe to picket the CDC, unless you’re wearing hazmat suits. 🙁

  39. #39 doug
    October 28, 2015

    #cdctruth gang are furious there was no media coverage of the Friday, Saturday or Sunday events

    If they’re willing to pay my expenses, I’ll be happy to to south and wrap them in old newspapers – or paint ’em up with some cheap acrylics or encase them in clay, or all three.

  40. #40 herr doktor bimler
    October 28, 2015

    Call it “Tribute to Christo”, and perhaps you can obtain an arts grant.

  41. #41 Eric Lund
    October 28, 2015

    There was that English edition of the bible with the commandment, “Thou shalt commit adultery”.

    And another one with the exhortation to “sin on more.”

    Arabic has an alphabet, so they have similar typesetting issues. In addition, vowels are not always specified in written Arabic, creating another source of ambiguity. On top of that, Arabic script is read right-to-left, creating difficulties for computers expecting left-to-right, as in most other languages.

    Hebrew shares all three of those peculiarities. So there are theological debates that hinge on which vowel should be used in the Hebrew text. It doesn’t help that Hebrew as a spoken language was dead for a couple of millenia or so.

  42. #42 rs
    October 28, 2015

    “rense, whale and Natural News are plugging the vaccine-by-chemtrail delivery meme”

    This is stale news. We’re now using drones and working on a collaboration with Amazon Prime.

  43. #43 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    October 28, 2015

    The term biostitute (for a biologist who takes a position that the uneducated don’t like) was used by a particularly irritating group of environmental activists here in L.A. back in the early 1990s. I haven’t heard it much of late, possibly because I don’t hang around with that group. The fact that RFK Jr has dusted it off is equally irritating, since it implies that one’s professional position determines one’s conclusions, rather than data and logic.

    As for a television plot line about an unvaccinated child who comes down with a vaccine preventable disease and dies, the show ER did it at least 10 years ago, maybe more. It’s interesting to hear that the topic has made it back into the writing rooms.

    • #44 Orac
      October 28, 2015

      I seem to remember. “Law and Order” episode like this.

  44. #45 Chris
    October 28, 2015

    Bob G.: “As for a television plot line about an unvaccinated child who comes down with a vaccine preventable disease and dies, the show ER did it at least 10 years ago, maybe more. It’s interesting to hear that the topic has made it back into the writing rooms.”

    The kid is not dead yet, just hospitalized. It has popped up in a couple of places, like a measles outbreak after kids in a private high school have a sexually fueled party on a cop show (Law and Order, SVU last spring) and another where a kid is diagnosed with SSPE on some medical drama.

    I sometimes watch them just to see how they depict the parents of the sick kids. The LaOSVU was very amusing, because at least one scene were the moms of the unvaxed kids sitting around a table talking about “ebil toxins” while drinking lots of wine. It was as if the writers lurk here and read about the Drinking Moms Revolution. 🙂 Also, one of the sick teenagers gave her mother a very irritated look, a kind like “Because of your stupidity I am suffering!” look.

  45. #46 Krebiozen
    October 28, 2015

    jrkrideau,

    I think I now understand my Muslim friend’s annoyance when some Nation of Islam recruiter tried to pick him up in an airport. Years later he is still muttering that, “the guy didn’t even speak Arabic”.

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure most Muslims don’t speak Arabic (think how many live in Asia, Indonesia and West Africa). Though many Muslims can recite the Quran, or at least parts of it, by rote (I remember hearing schoolchildren in Egypt chanting it), few understand the Classical Arabic it is written in, even those who speak modern Egyptian Arabic* other than a limited selection of phrases and terms. That’s why Imams are required to interpret the text.

    The Quran is also problematic as it was revealed to Mohammed piecemeal, responding to events as they unfolded, and later verses override earlier ones. I recently read a biography of Mohammed, and was surprised that Early Islam under Mohammed was similar to early Christianity, with followers turning the other cheek to persecution, loving their neighbor etc., but later in his life, er, not so much.

    * The lingua franca of the Arab world because all Arab movies are made in it, like Urdu because of Bollywood.

  46. #47 Krebiozen
    October 28, 2015

    I do know Indonesia is in Asia, by the way. I should have written “South Asia”.

  47. #48 shay
    October 28, 2015

    Would anyone be surprised if in a couple of months anti-vaxers who were near the power washer guy and got a bit of spray on them start complaining about coming down with an “affliction of unknown origin”?

    It won’t take them that long.

  48. #49 herr doktor bimler
    October 28, 2015

    Early Islam under Mohammed was similar to early Christianity, with followers turning the other cheek to persecution, loving their neighbor etc., but later in his life, er, not so much.

    Religions are big on tolerance of minorities until they become the majority.

  49. #50 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    October 28, 2015

    # 46 Krebiozen
    I should have mentioned my friend is a native Arabic speaker and presumably speaks/reads modern (international ?) Arabic (I have never thought to ask) so he probably was even more annoyed.

    Re Indonesia, I had no problem there. It is not physically attached to mainland Asia so Asia and Indonesia sound fine to me.

    # 49 @herr doktor bimler

    Getting driven out of Mecca, his home, may have made him a bit testy.

  50. #51 JP
    October 28, 2015

    I do know Indonesia is in Asia, by the way. I should have written “South Asia”.

    Central Asia, too. 😉

  51. #53 ebohlman
    http://turnipsandpotatoes.wordpress.com
    October 28, 2015

    Has a miracle happened?
    http://www.idahostatesman.com/living/health-fitness/article41752782.html

    Note who the first author is (it’s a short news article talking about complacency regarding vaccination).

  52. #54 Narad
    October 29, 2015

    I should have mentioned my friend is a native Arabic speaker and presumably speaks/reads modern (international ?) Arabic

    Written Arabic, like Hebrew, doesn’t come with a full complement of phonetic marking, so pronunciations vary. I had مجدرة for dinner tonight; my Palestinian acquaintance down the block says “m’judra” but noted that I should say “mujaddara” to be universally understood.

  53. #55 MI Dawn
    October 29, 2015

    @ebohlman: holy smokes! I wonder if there’s something popping up again in NYC and Dr Oz’s special snowflakes have been exposed (or he’s afraid they will be exposed)? I can’t imagine he’d be promoting them for the masses otherwise. And note that he carefully DOESN’T say he, his wife, and his children are fully vaccinated.

  54. #56 Frequent Lurker
    October 29, 2015

    Chris

    The LaOSVU was very amusing, because at least one scene were the moms of the unvaxed kids sitting around a table talking about “ebil toxins” while drinking lots of wine. It was as if the writers lurk here and read about the Drinking Moms Revolution.

    It’s interesting in AHS, the mom specifically mentions autism, which for years even Autism Speaks screamed “steals children” to a doctor whose child actually was stolen (by pseudo-vampires, but it is AHS).

    Also poignant was when the mother admitted she didn’t call the doctor when her kids fever hit 103 because she didn’t like feeling ashamed. It’s really hitting on the selfish, oblivious attitudes of anti-vax parents, and almost makes me want to forgive Ryan Murphy for the abysmal writing this season.

  55. #57 Sarah A
    October 29, 2015

    @HDB #49 – Hah! I’m definitely stealing that – and I can think of a number of equally relevant variations.

    @Narad #54 – I love mujaddara – even though I smell like onions for days afterwards ? Its probably not authentic, but I like to make it with red lentils which turn to mush when you cook them so I can scoop it up with pitas and eat it like a dip.

  56. #58 Helianthus
    October 29, 2015

    OT, through still about antivaxers and autism:

    A little rant over at This week in Tomorrow by Richard Ford Burley.

    Money quote (All Caps as in the original, but I feel they are justified, here):

    VACCINES DO NOT IN ANY SENSE OF THE TERM OR IN ANY IMAGINABLE OR CONCEIVABLE WAY CAUSE AUTISM.

    (deep breath)

    AND EVEN IF THEY DID your disgust at Sesame Street trying to convince society to treat people with autism with dignity and respect (how dare they!) ranks you among THE VERY WORST PEOPLE I’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED, ONLINE OR OFF.

  57. #59 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 29, 2015

    That was an awesome all around blog post Helianthus. Thanks for providing the link.

  58. #60 Liz Ditz
    Great State of California
    October 29, 2015

    Aaaand there’s a new Geier paper. Science Mom is on the job.

    The Geiers, Hooker and Company have a new “Review” out which is hilariously titled,

    “Systematic Assessment of Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mercury Reveals Conflicts of Interest and the Need for Transparency in Autism Research”

    She goes on to detail exactly the COIs.

    To say that the authors’ declared conflicts of interest is lacking is an understatement. Every single one has a financial and personal stake in perpetuating the myth that thiomersal causes autism and/or mercury is responsible for mythical diseases. And not one of these authors declared their actual conflicts of interest while writing about others’ conflicts of interest.

    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2015/10/conflicts-of-interest-are-bad-just-not.html

  59. #61 Narad
    October 29, 2015

    I see that Hooker once again failed to disclose that he is currently involved in vaccine litigation.

  60. #62 Narad
    October 29, 2015

    ^ Ah, I see that SM covered that; I had only skimmed the paper itself.

  61. #63 capnkrunch
    October 29, 2015

    Thanks for the detailed write up Science Mom (and Liz Ditz for the link).

    Do they live in a fantasy where these can’t be COI’s because their motives are always pure or do they really just think everyone is that stupid? Science and Engineering Ethics should be ashamed for letting this through.

  62. #64 Brian Deer
    October 29, 2015

    I noticed that Kennedy was fulsome in his praise of Tony Muhammad, who a couple of days before told a rally that Kennedy had told him that the chief scientist at CDC had admitted a conspiracy to kill black children with the MMR vaccine.

    It makes me wonder whether, when these people meet up, before speaking, or in various conspiracy call conversations, they’ve yet reached the point where everybody involved thinks that everybody else involved is a crank.

    I suppose that, if you were in a group and assumed that everyone else was a crank but you, and that they all thought the same about themselves and the group, you’d need to keep your mouth shut or all those parents won’t cough up for your air fare.

    Maybe I’m over-analyzing.

  63. #65 ChrisP
    Australia
    October 29, 2015

    Maybe I’m over-analyzing.

    I suspect you are. If Kennedy, Muhammad, Bark, Fisher, Hooker et al. could recognise the others as cranks, they would recognise themselves as cranks. This is more a case of crank magnetism at work. Kennedy, for example, seems unable to comprehend that Thompson’s ‘revelations’ would completely undermine his theory of mercury poisoning.

    It is a bit like the alternative medicine enthusiasts, who never criticise any other alternative medicine despite the fact that if other modalities were true, it would completely invalidate their preferred modality.

  64. #66 ebohlman
    http://turnipsandpotatoes.wordpress.com
    October 29, 2015

    If Kennedy, Muhammad, Bark, Fisher, Hooker et al. could recognise the others as cranks, they would recognise themselves as cranks.

    I think you’ve just described the Dunning-Kranker Effect.

  65. #67 Denice Walter
    October 29, 2015

    @ ChrisP:

    I wonder about that though:
    people may be able to recognise others’ errors but be blind to their own- it inflates self-esteem.

    Attribution theory predicts that we may attribute how others’ behave to their personality or ability whereas we would see our own as being based upon situational constraints.

    So I imagine it would be easy for an accomplished crank to see the others as sorely deficient while their own work would of course be beyond reproach.

    as an aside-
    isn’t that list of authors Science Mom displays quite a collection of cranks, charlatans and poseurs?
    I half expected Jake to be included though.

  66. #68 herr doktor bimler
    October 29, 2015

    If Kennedy, Muhammad, Bark, Fisher, Hooker et al. could recognise the others as cranks, they would recognise themselves as cranks.

    It may be a case of looking around the poker table and thinking that everyone else is the sucker.

  67. #69 Denice Walter
    October 29, 2015

    Actually, I think that I might really enjoy observing a convention of woo-meisters superficially espousing camaraderie and mutual support despite their underlying jealousy, deep-seated anger and aggressive competiveness.

    If you have a room full of narcissists hell-bent on proving their brilliance to the world, do you really expect to have friendly acceptance and mutual respect?

    At any rate, I can’t go unless the event is free because I don’t spend any money on woo. Not yet.

  68. #70 has
    October 30, 2015

    herr doktor bimler@68:

    It may be a case of looking around the poker table and thinking that everyone else is the sucker.

    Wakefield, probably – reckon that man’s got psychopathic traits up the wazoo. Most of the rest though, I’m got to agree with ChrisP and Denice: they just ain’t that sophisticated. They’ve dedicated their whole lives to lying to themselves, so what’s a few more self-deceptions as long as they strengthen the cause? In face of their common number one enemy, it’s the glue that binds strongest.

    Though yeah, it’ll be funny as hell to watch if that lid ever does come completely unstuck. Any one of this bunch could easily put the Boy Blunder to shame and keep the popcorn industry maxxed-out for years.

  69. #71 ChrisP
    Australia
    October 30, 2015

    Wakefield, probably – reckon that man’s got psychopathic traits up the wazoo.

    Wakefield is playing all the rest for suckers. You only have to look at how he has played his supporters over the latest failed lawsuit against Brian Deer and the BMJ. Keep it going long enough to have the funds roll in, but allow it to fall apart with no effort on his behalf as soon as it looks like it might require some real effort.

    Also the way he played Hooker and Thompson over the CDC Whistleblower affair. I am willing to bet London to a brick that Thompson didn’t want his name splashed all over the internet. It looks much more like he was hoping to play a game of Chinese whispers behind the scenes and getting his own back on his colleagues, who he thought had grabbed all the glory that was truly his.

  70. #72 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 30, 2015

    My personal hunch is that they may spot the obvious and glaring contradictions between their assertions and those of others, but it doesn’t bother them: they ‘know’ they are right; they ‘know’ that the others, who agree with their ultimate conclusions, must therefore be right as well; any niggling details will be figured out in time.

    I always remember the report of an SRA conference where one of the speakers, detailing uncritically the claims of how the Satanic Illuminati maintained so-and-so as a mind-controlled sex slave from her earliest years, through the 1980s and 1990s, got a comment from the audience about how surprising it was that she never contracted an STD. On the spot, the speaker ‘reasoned’ that a strengthened immune system is a side-effect of Satanic mind control, at which point the audience applauded his feat of ‘deduction’. If you can come up with something like that on the spur of the moment and believe it for yourself, then having the confidence that you’ll figure out somehow how the mercury-causes-it and the MMR-causes-it crowd are BOTH right would seem to be natural.

  71. #73 Helianthus
    October 30, 2015

    @ Antaeus Feldspar

    having the confidence that you’ll figure out somehow how the mercury-causes-it and the MMR-causes-it crowd are BOTH right would seem to be natural.

    In all these “theories”, it’s teh vaccines anyway, so to some extend the mechanism of action isn’t that important, as long as they can all agree on a common enemy.

    And to echo Denice question about how “a room full of narcissists hell-bent on proving their brilliance” could stand one another’s presence, it’s also because, notwithstanding their “philosophical” differences, they are all back-feeding one another their own sense of importance.
    As long as everybody has a chance to get a word edgewise and present their own pet theory…

    tl;dr: they are too busy basking in the acknowledgement of their fellow freedom fighters and admiration of their rank-and-file followers to have time to worry about the fine details of their position.

  72. #74 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    I agree, Helianthus, they promote an ” us against the world” mentality so they need to tolerate the others – of course, knowing deep down that their OWN woo is superlative – the *ne plus ultra de* woo as it were.

    As you may know, I listen to the Grand Poobah of altie crap, who often interviews other loons ( both alt med and other faux experts) as though he is chief amongst them- approving or questioning their folly with a condescending air.

    If you recall, a few of these idiots have tried to amalgamate other believers into a union of sorts. Adams is newly embarked upon his own internet radio endeavor which will bring together fellow travellers.

  73. #75 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    Oddly enough, TMR today features a post ( by Ms Zorro) about war amongst the woos- anti-vax curebie parents that is- concerning altie treatments.
    All is not calm in woo-ville.

  74. #76 Sarah A
    October 30, 2015

    I believe J. B. Handley et al. have reconciled the MMR and mercury hypotheses by pulling a SWAG out of his ass hypothesizing that the MMR causes immune dysregulation that makes kids more susceptible to mercury toxicity. Or possibly vice-versa. Or maybe both, in different subsets of children. Come to think of it, maybe that’s how this “subset of vulnerable children” we keep hearing about can be big enough to cause the “autism epidemic” but too small to detect in high-powered epidemiological studies – there’s actually several hundred different etiologies for vaccine-induced autism. Heck, maybe there’s a different etiology for each individual kid…yeah, and that’s why there’s also hundreds of different “treatments” that seem to work for some kids but not others…

    Its amazing how everything starts to make perfect sense once you stop letting silly things like reality constrain your thinking.
    I begin to see the appeal of the

  75. #77 Sarah A
    October 30, 2015

    Arg – disregard that last sentence fragment.

  76. #78 Sarah A
    October 30, 2015

    Argh. ARGH!

  77. #79 Dangerous Bacon
    October 30, 2015

    Sarah, you should know that Arghh! is spelled with two h’s and at least one exclamation point.

  78. #80 Lawrence
    October 30, 2015

    I believe the rule is at least !!! (3) exclamation points, otherwise, you’re not truly serious.

  79. #81 MI Dawn
    October 30, 2015

    No, no, no. You are both wrong. You forgot that it correctly has the following: Arghh!!111!!!!! (How COULD you forget the eleventy?)

  80. #82 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    Sarah A is correct about differing aetiologies :
    TMR often assert that antibiotics “damage” the brain and other mothers add GMO foods. Kim Stagliano believes that her unvaccinated child’s ASD was caused by her own vaccines.
    Then there’s the whole anti- gluten/ caseine phenomenon.

    Beside attributing ASDs to vaccines, they believe that vaccines cause other problems like apraxia (TMR’s Professor) and ADHD.

    In addition, the Canary Party ( really Blaxill, Larson, Taylor *et compagnie*) attribute a set of ills ( ASD. ADHD, asthma, allergies etc) to a set of culprits ( vaccines plus you-name-it).

  81. #83 sadmar
    "follow the money"
    October 30, 2015

    I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this when the NOI-anti-vaxer alliance first popped up: This is likely a sign of true desperation in AV land. It’s not just that the NOI is taken as an uncool fringe group among the AVers target general audience (which it is). It’s that the NVIC gets a huge chunk of its budget from The Dwoskin Foundation, and I can’t imagine Al Dwoskin is happy about anyone receiving his money ‘palling around’ with a group known for its anti-semitism. The Dwoskins are tight with HRC, and Al could be angling for an ambassadorship or other position in a new Clinton administration, thus they were already under political pressure to chill their anti-vax activities once Hillary made her clear pro-vax position, the vote on SB277 broke down on clear party lines, and other stuff left anti-vax politics pretty much exclusively ‘conservative’ territory. If the Dwoskins aren’t feeling more heat from having Barbara Loe Fisher share a stage with Minister Tony, it might be only that various liberal Jewish advocacy organizations aren’t aware of the connection (hint, hint…).

  82. #84 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    Sadmar reminds me that much of anti-vax activity is supported by a FEW backers who have LOADS of money to throw around
    the Dwoskins, Handley, Barry Segal ( Focus on Autism), Blaxill and Larson.

  83. #85 Alain
    October 30, 2015

    Dr. Hickie at #37,

    How about suing (sp?) the AAP for their lack of spine in policing their members on, at least, EBM if not SBM.

    Alain

  84. #86 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 30, 2015

    @ Sadmar, I don’t think that anyone is pressuring the Dwoskins to curb their activities. The Dwoskins are in the catbird seat, not the other way around. I also think that the Dwoskins’ anti-vaxx proclivities override any objection they may have over the NOI/NVIC alliance.

  85. #87 Brian Deer
    October 30, 2015

    It was the Dwoskins, I think, who funded that crook David Lewis, who is probably the biggest liar who has ever got within a country mile of the whole autism/vaccines thing. Just an outright liar for hire who fabricated all kinds of allegations against me. I mean really shocking stuff, that you wouldn’t even see from Wakefield (and that’s saying something)

    He’s now gone on to be funded by Segal.

    If one of those people got an ambassadorship, there would have to be something seriously wrong going down. These wouldn’t be stupid people. If they’re paying for the likes of Lewis, something smells pretty bad.

  86. #88 Brian Deer
    October 30, 2015

    @ Sarah A

    It is the mercury that’s supposed to prime with the dysregulation. But even in the vaccine court omnibus hearings in 2007, the petitioner lawyers effectively just gave up on the whole thimerosal thing.

    Pretty astonishing that, after their own lawyers couldn’t even make the semblance of a case, anybody even bothers to talk about it any more.

    I shouldn’t think that Kennedy has even bothered to read the courts’ decisions, what with him being a lawyer and everything.

  87. #89 Sarah A
    October 30, 2015

    It is the mercury that’s supposed to prime with the dysregulation

    Of course, how could I have forgotten – the impetus for the whole idea was Jenny MCarthy’s moronic and offensive claim that her son lost his soul after the MMR, but recovered it after chelation, followed by rational adults big, child-hating meanie heads pointing out that the MMR never contained mercury. You’ve got to hand it to J.B. – he knows how to to think on his feet (for a given definition of “think,” anyways.) I’ve always wondered if Jenny got a talking to about letting her handlers do the thinking after that fiasco.

  88. #90 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    I should note that Segal’s latest venture is called ‘Focus on Health’ ( Focus on Autism may be defunct) which has a website which details its activities and cherished beliefs . Orac’s minions might enjoy taking a peek there.
    It mentions both Hooker’s and Lewis’s work. Up to date, as it mentions the Atlanta fol de rol.

    Interestingly, beside funding faux science, Barry is also throwing 250 K USD ( over 3 years) at the USTA to bring tennis to children who don’t have any.

  89. #91 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    Anti-vax world certainly has its share of odd personalities, charlatans, hucksters, suck-ups and ne’er-do-wells-
    wouldn’t a precise cataloguing of its internecine politics and disgusting alliances ( with pseudonyms of course) make an intriguingly wild ( but sick) movie/ novel?

    -btw- I just saw the Steve Jobs movie which screams “look up that constellation of symptoms!” to me.

  90. #92 shay
    a B&B on the Ballneary Road -Retirement's wonderful
    October 30, 2015

    Did Kennedy claim to have a ‘vaccine-damaged’ child or did I read that incorrectly?

  91. #93 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 30, 2015

    Did Kennedy claim to have a ‘vaccine-damaged’ child or did I read that incorrectly?

    I do believe he did which is the first time. His exact quote was, “And by the way my child was destroyed by them, by this mercury.”

    Frankly it’s bollocks and he’s just a pandering fool.

  92. #94 Lawrence
    October 30, 2015

    Has anyone bothered to ask his kids how they feel about being called “damaged?”

  93. #95 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    Kennedy has frequently stated that he had his 6 children vaccinated ( 6!) according to the older schedule, not what they use now. He offers this as evidence that he is not anti-vaccine. The above was the first time I ever heard about his “damaged” child. It could explain his obsessional concern BUT he has also said that he was approached by mothers when he opposed mercury as an environmental pollutant.
    So who knows?

  94. #96 Denice Walter
    October 30, 2015

    According to wikip—-. he has two children form his first marriage born in 1984 and 1989 and four from his second marriage born between 1994 and 2001. The second group fits in with Andy’s influences and Momism.

  95. #97 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 30, 2015

    Has anyone bothered to ask his kids how they feel about being called “damaged?”

    And since when would they give a toss about the children they are describing? It’s all about the parents’ pain.*

    *I trust the dripping-in-disdain sarcasm is obvious.

  96. #98 Lowell
    USA
    October 31, 2015

    What a twisted article this is. Orac, you are one in denial, sick, twisted, and extremely pathetic piece of humanity.

    The Health Liberty Revolution to Save Our Children from Vaccines

    Those tiny miracles. God’s most precious gift to us. We hold them in wonder just moments after they are born. We love them in a way we never loved anyone, and they love us in a way that no one else ever will. We will not be silent while our children are being harmed by those who have no liability or accountability for their actions. We will not bow down before our oppressors and witness the biological integrity of another generation of children be destroyed in this bitter harvest that can only continue if we allow it to continue. This is a Health Liberty Revolution and we are declaring our independence from the profit-driven, fear-based toxic paradigm embraced by government and fed by industries that are bankrupting America’s health care system and taking away our freedom to choose how we and our children heal and stay well. The pharmaceutical industry and negligent doctors must be held fully accountable and liable for vaccine injuries and deaths in civil court. And every public health law in America must include informed consent protections in the form of flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions. The mountain you must climb is high, but you will climb it and bring about a new age of enlightenment in this Health Liberty Revolution led by people for the people. And you will not give up, just like we have not given up, because we are doing this work to save our children and the country we love. We are the daughters and sons of liberty, and our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.

    Read more…
    http://vaccineimpact.com/2015/the-health-liberty-revolution-to-save-our-children-from-vaccines/

    The Health Liberty Revolution to Save our Children, by Barbara Loe Fisher

    Published on Oct 28, 2015
    NVIC’s President Barbara Loe Fisher spoke at the CDC Truth and Transparency Rally on October 24, 2015. In her speech she spoke of the history of vaccine injury, the creation of the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) and its failure to provide vaccine injured Americans with a no-fault non-adversarial mechanism for vaccine injury compensation and the betrayal by the U.S. Supreme Court of making the VICP the sole remedy for vaccine injury compensation. Learn more at NVIC.org.

  97. #99 Julian Frost
    South Africa
    November 1, 2015

    **reads through Lowell’s comment**
    ANTIVACCINE BINGO!!

  98. #100 MI Dawn
    November 1, 2015

    Awwwww….Julian Frost, that’s not fair!!!! You have several time zones ahead of me to read those comments and get Bingo. And I had to deal with that darn Daylight Savings Times stuff last night, too. 🙁

  99. #101 has
    November 1, 2015

    Lowell@98:

    What a twisted article this is. Orac, you are one in denial, sick, twisted, and extremely pathetic piece of humanity.

    My, that’s some extremely convincing evidence. You’ve certainly got this Science thing down pat, haven’t you?

  100. #102 Gray Squirrel
    November 1, 2015

    JP @14, DGR @19, Dangerous Bacon @38, RS @42, and possibly others:

    Sssh! If you keep talking about that, you’ll lose your contracts as well as your clearances. If those people found out what we sprayed them with, not only would there be riots in the streets, but the experiment would be ruined.

    As Orac said, some of them read this blog. Let’s not clue them in. Don’t even say “isotope.”

  101. #103 Dangerous Bacon
    November 1, 2015

    “What a twisted article this is. Orac, you are one in denial, sick, twisted”

    I’m calling in sick
    I’m calling in twisted
    I was drinking two-fisted
    I’m sick
    I’m calling in twisted

    – Reverend Horton Heat

    “The mountain you must climb is high, but you will climb it and bring about a new age of enlightenment in this Health Liberty Revolution”

    I thought antivaxers were warning of a Tsunami of Truth that was going to descend on their opponents.

    Can’t you guys settle on a single metaphor?

  102. #104 Denice Walter
    November 1, 2015

    I always liked the ‘cleansing tsunami that is paradigm shift’

  103. #105 rs
    November 1, 2015

    “Let’s not clue them in. Don’t even say “isotope.” ”

    Can we talk about ‘isodope’? These are lines connecting people with equal cluelessness.

  104. #106 Krebiozen
    November 1, 2015

    Lowell,

    Those tiny miracles. God’s most precious gift to us. We hold them in wonder just moments after they are born. We love them in a way we never loved anyone, and they love us in a way that no one else ever will.

    We agree that children are wonderful, but why do you choose to attack vaccination, which has prevented more children’s death and suffering than any other medical intervention?

    Modeling estimated that, among children born during 1994– 2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs. With support from the VFC program, immunization has been a highly effective tool for improving the health of U.S. children.

    The same is true in other countries too, of course.

    I would have expected anyone who cares about children’s well-being to passionately support vaccination. Someone is sick and twisted here, but I don’t think it’s Orac.

  105. #107 herr doktor bimler
    November 1, 2015

    Orac, you are one in denial, sick, twisted, and extremely pathetic piece of humanity.

    Surely there are better ways to insult a sentient super-computer.

    **reads through Lowell’s comment**
    ANTIVACCINE BINGO!!

    I don’t know if the Bingo should be awarded when Lowell was simply copy-pasting spam from antivax websh1tes. That makes it too easy.

  106. #108 Narad
    November 1, 2015

    Surely there are better ways to insult a sentient super-computer.

    Mr. Sudds’s repertoire with his Mother Tongue is extremely limited. Sadly, he didn’t write enough to descend into his normal bizarre pseudo-legalese.

  107. […] it’s a news report about the “#CDCtruth” rally protesting the “#CDCwhistleblower” allegations of scientific fraud in a major […]

  108. #110 Helianthus
    November 2, 2015

    *reading Lowell’s comment*

    Funny, the rhetoric reminds me of French far-leftists. Same disconnect with reality, really.
    Also, there is more to the world than the USA, guys.

    its failure to provide vaccine injured Americans with a no-fault non-adversarial mechanism for vaccine injury compensation

    “no-fault non-adversarial”?
    Wait, these bozos basically want a system in which anyone can walk in and say “I was injured by something, give me cash?”
    For people so big on responsibilities and low government interference, they seem awfully quick to regard the taxpayers’ money as rightfully theirs.
    Well, it’s in-line with their approach to vaccination. The rest of the society can take risks with vaccines if they want, they will just hide in the crowd and ripe the benefits of herd immunity.

    tl;dr: it’s all about them. Narcissist navel-gazing !diots.

  109. #111 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    November 2, 2015

    Wait, these bozos basically want a system in which anyone can walk in and say “I was injured by something, give me cash”?

    Exactly. In fact, Barbara Loe Fisher, who did more than anyone else to get the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was livid when she realised it wouldn’t be like that.

  110. #112 Lawrence
    November 2, 2015

    That’s exactly what Barbara Loe Fisher wanted – just look at her rantings over the last couple of decades…..she expected it would be a cash cow (well, in a way it has been – for the lawyers).

    It wasn’t until the Omnibus Hearings that she became completely and utterly unhjnged (and that’s saying something, given how she was before)…..and they realized that the autism money wasn’t coming their way.

  111. #113 palindrom
    November 2, 2015

    Denice @69 —

    If you have a room full of narcissists hell-bent on proving their brilliance to the world, do you really expect to have friendly acceptance and mutual respect?

    I think the sense of camaraderie engendered by their “out” status may tend to trump their divisions.

    I spend most of my online time on the climate wars, and over there, the denialists have almost infinite tolerance for mutually exclusive explanations, provided only that they purport to show that global warming isn’t happening, or isn’t caused by humans, or is a huge conspiracy by governments to exert social control and RAISE MY TAXES, or make money for ALGORE, or whatever. A Heartland conference can pretty much leave one’s head spinning, apparently.

  112. […] antivaccine rally held in Atlanta a week ago. It’s full of the same talking points I’ve extensively rebutted over the course of a year, ever since RFK, Jr., risibly declaring himself “fiercely […]

  113. […] as you might recall, is one of the oldest existing antivaccine groups and was the sponsor of the recent antivaccine protest at the CDC. The post is entitled Internet Trolls Attack Anyone Resisting Vaccine Party Line, but it might as […]

  114. […] did a highly credulous story about the the “#CDCtruth” rally in October. As you recall, that rally involved the Nation of Islam, Barbara Loe Fisher of the antivaccine group the National Vaccine Information […]

  115. […] in childhood vaccines caused an “epidemic” of autism. It’s a lie he’s still flogging in 2015, partying, as I put it, like it’s 1999. In other words, before I delve into my current topic, […]

  116. […] (and inaccurate) “Reality Check” on the antivaccine protest at the CDC over the so-called #CDCWhistleblower manufactroversy. Then, a mere three weeks ago, Swann followed up his piece de resistance of antivaccine reporting […]

  117. […] over to this year, namely the “CDC whistleblower” pseudo-scandal. There was even a rather pathetic joint protest in Atlanta at the CDC attended by representatives of the Nation of Islam in concert with Barbara Loe Fisher […]

  118. […] to school vaccine mandates. Who could have predicted that the antivaccine movement, in particular Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., would get all chummy with the Nation of Islam? Knowing that predictions are a fool’s errand, […]

  119. […] Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. out from whatever rock he had been hiding under and dusting him off, and holding a protest at the CDC in October. Meanwhile Kevin Barry published a book of transcripts of four of Thompson’s […]

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