I remember when I first heard on Twitter yesterday afternoon that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, was going to meet with longtime antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembering how Trump had met with antivaccine “hero” Andrew Wakefield before the election and how after the election antivaccine activists were practically salivating over the thought of what Trump might do with respect to the CDC and vaccines, I was reminded of just how much I fear for medical science policy under the Trump administration. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. For a moment, I actually thought that Trump might be appointing RFK, Jr. to run the CDC. It was the measure of just how bizarre Trump’s appointments have been that I even thought such a thing possible. I also marveled at the coincidence. After all, I had just written two posts about The Cleveland Clinic’s embrace of quackery and an antivaccine rant by one of its leading doctors, and here was a story that tied into that. Remember, Dr. Mark Hyman co-authored an antivaccine book of the thimerosal fear mongering variety with RFK, Jr. right around the time he was being recruited to The Cleveland Clinic to set up a new Center for Functional Medicine.

Coincidence aside, fortunately, I was wrong. Trump did not offer the position of CDC director to RFK, Jr. (It had to be because RFK, Jr. is such a dedicated environmentalist and the CDC does a lot of studies regarding environmental determinants of health.) Unfortunately, news reports soon flowed about what had really happened, specifically how Trump had tapped RFK, Jr. to chair some sort of Presidential committee on vaccination:

After meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower Tuesday, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told reporters that Trump has asked him to “chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity” and that he has accepted.

Both Trump and Kennedy have spread fringe theories linking vaccines to autism in children, an idea that medical experts overwhelmingly reject and have warned is endangering public health by discouraging parents from immunizing their kids.

Also:

I do like how NBC described RFK, Jr. as favoring “fringe theories” over established science, which is true, although the pedant in me can’t resist pointing out that “theory” is the wrong word to use to describe antivaccine beliefs. One of the things that really irritated me about seeing the flood of stories over the afternoon as I sat in my office taking advantage of a canceled case to work on a paper was how often RFK, Jr. was described as a “vaccine skeptic.” (I’m talking to you, Business Insider, but not just to you.) He is not. He is an antivaccine crank, a vaccine science denialist of the highest—or should I say lowest?—order. He is no different at his core than anthropogenic global climate change denialists, creationists (a.k.a., evolution denialists), or any number of ideology-driven science-denying cranks, and I’ll do a brief trip down memory lane at the end of this post to give you an idea of just how bad RFK, Jr. is with respect to vaccines.

Be that as it may, the social media reaction was immediate and brutal, as you might imagine. However, as you can see from the report above and the NBC News report, aired late afternoon, the Trump team issued a “clarification” saying that Trump was “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on Autism” but that “no decision has been made at this time.” Of course, if you’re going to form a “committee on autism,” why would you even be talking to someone like RFK, Jr. if you weren’t planning on making the committee’s mission about antivaccine pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism? After all, RFK, Jr. has zero, nada, zilch in the way of relevant scientific or clinical expertise in autism to run such a panel. He’s known primarily as an environmentalist and an antivaccine crank who was largely responsible for popularizing the failed hypothesis turned crank idea that mercury in vaccines causes autism nearly 12 years ago. (We’ll get to how antivaccine he is in a moment, along with his long history of antivaccine activism.) In other words, he has zero qualifications to chair a panel on autism that would be in any way valid or scientific.

You can tell exactly what RFK, Jr. plans from his answers in a Q&A with Science:

Did the President-elect request the meeting or did you?

He called me a week ago to request it.

Why?

He wants to make sure that we have the best vaccine science and the safest vaccine supply that we can have.

Did the President-elect indicate that he doesn’t believe that to be the case at the moment?

He is troubled by questions of the links between certain vaccines and the epidemic of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. And he has a number – he told me five – friends, he talked about each one of them, who has the same story of a child, a perfectly healthy child who went into a wellness visit around age 2, got a battery of vaccines, spiked a fever and then developed a suite of deficits in the 3 months following the vaccine.

He said that he understood that anecdote was not science, but said that if there’s enough anecdotal evidence… that we’d be arrogant to dismiss it. Those were his words.

I, for one, do not for a moment believe that Donald Trump understands that anecdotes are not science, that correlation does not necessarily (and frequently doesn’t) equal causation in medicine. After all, Trump has a long and sordid history of spewing antivaccine misinformation dating back at least nine years, when I first noted him believing the claims of the vaccine-autism movement with respect to blaming autistic regression on vaccines. Later, he claimed a “monster shot” causes autism. Over the years, he would take to Twitter and post things like:

Or:

Or the dumbest one of all:

I mean, seriously. How much fluid does Donald Trump think is in vaccines? If RFK, Jr. is to be believed, he also subscribes to various antivaccine tropes, such as the “toxins” gambit or “too many too soon.”

You can see from the interview that RFK, Jr. is chomping at the bit to go after the CDC:

Did the President-elect mention the CDC?

We talked a lot about CDC and ways to increase the independence from financial conflicts at CDC in the vaccine division.

You said that the commission is to delve into “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” What is that second piece about?

To make sure that we’re getting good science out of CDC.

It’s all about CDC? It’s not about “scientific integrity” in chemistry or physics or basic biology or anywhere else?

Exactly. [CDC] is the locus of most of the most serious problems with the vaccine program, the two divisions at CDC: the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Immunization Safety Office which is where the scientists are.

There you have it. Assuming RFK, Jr. isn’t lying or exaggerating (always a possibility), Donald Trump buys into a world view that matches up nearly perfectly with his and that of many antivaccine cranks. He thinks the CDC is corrupt, which it is not. He somehow thinks the ACIP is hobbled with conflicts of interest. This merely shows his ignorance. As I explained before, the ACIP has very rigorous rules to prevent conflicts of interest. We know that Andrew Wakefield gave Trump a copy of VAXXED, an antivaccine propaganda film so over-the-top that it would make Leni Reifenstahl blush. We don’t know if Trump ever watched it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did and that he believed all the lies in it, particularly the “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy. This sounds just like the sort of nonsense we’ve been hearing from the antivaccine movement for years. Clearly, RFK, Jr. believes in the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement, namely that the “truth is out there” but the CDC is covering it up.

Not surprisingly, when asked whom he wanted on the committee, RFK, Jr. got a bit more—shall we say?—vague:

How many people will be on the commission?

A dozen people — a mix between science people and prominent Americans.

Who will you ask to serve?

I couldn’t tell you. I just finished meeting with the President-elect an hour ago.

When you say “science people,” do you mean experts from the scientific establishment?

Prominent scientists.

Do you mean prominent vaccinologists who believe in the safety and efficacy of today’s vaccines?

We are going to look for people who have expertise in toxicology, epidemiology and in public health.

Notice how RFK, Jr. ducked and weaved over the question of what sort of “science people” he would appoint. The meaning is clear. If this committee ever comes to be, RFK, Jr. will appoint antivaccine crank scientists like Andrew Wakefield, Brian Hooker, Mark Geier, Christopher Shaw, and the like.

The most hilarious part of the interview was the end. First:

Do you have scientific training?

No. My background is I’m an environmental lawyer. I’m not a scientist. But I have an expertise, I would say in reading science and spotting junk science because that’s what I do with most of my time.

I laughed out loud here. I really did. This is Dunning-Kruger, the arrogance of ignorance incarnate. RFK, Jr. doesn’t have any relevant training in the sciences of immunology or vaccines, the clinical management and science of autism, or any other relevant science; yet he’s supremely confident that he can “spot junk science.” No, he can’t. He falls for junk science time and time and time again and has been falling for it ever since I first encountered him nearly 12 years ago. He cites the research of Mark and David Geier! Seriously, if you can’t recognize their research for the total crap that it is, your claim to be able to recognize junk science is risible in the extreme! RFK, Jr. has also cited Boyd Haley, a disgraced chemist who came to believe that mercury in vaccines causes autism and who believes that mercury dental amalgams are the root of nearly all disease. The guy Chair of the Advisory Committee for Toxic Teeth, for cryin’ out loud. Kennedy likes Brian Hooker’s work, and Brian Hooker is the most incompetent epidemiologist and statistician I have ever encountered, mainly because he’s a biochemical engineer who fancies himself an epidemiologist. This is a guy who actually said that in statistics simplicity is elegance.

No, it’s not, and, no, RFK, Jr. wouldn’t recognize junk science if it bit him on the proverbial posterior.

Of course, RFK, Jr. can’t resist finishing with the old “I’m not antivaccine, I’m pro-vaccine safety” gambit:

I am for vaccines. I have been tracking mercury in fish for 30 years and nobody has called me anti-fish. I am pro-vaccine. I had all my kids vaccinated. I think vaccines save lives. But we are also seeing an explosion in neurodevelopmental disorders and we ought to be able to do a cost benefit analysis and see what’s causing them. We ought to have robust, transparent science and an independent regulatory agency. Nobody is trying to get rid of vaccines here. I just want safe vaccines.

At least, RFK, Jr. is not referring to himself as “fiercely pro-vaccine” any more. That was just pathetic, as though he were trying too hard or, as I like to put it, the lady doth protest too much. Let’s just put it this way, RFK, Jr. is so “fiercely pro-vaccine” that he routinely says things like:

They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.

True, he did apologize, but his “apology” sounded as sincere as Dr. Neides’ apology for his antivaccine screed did over the weekend. Let’s recall RFK, Jr.’s “apology” for using the word “Holocaust”:

I want to apologize to all whom I offended by my use of the word to describe the autism epidemic. I employed the term during an impromptu speech as I struggled to find an expression to convey the catastrophic tragedy of autism which has now destroyed the lives of over 20 million children and shattered their families.

He was just sorry that he got a little…carried away by the horrors of autism. Even if what Trump has in mind is a committee on autism and not so much on vaccines, if you had a family member with autism, be it mild or severe, would you want someone who thinks autism is so horrible that it’s akin to a “Holocaust” or who thinks that autistic children’s brains are gone? He’d also have been more convincing if that had been the first time he’d used Holocaust analogies to describe autism. The antivaccine crank blog quoted him doing the same thing in 2013, although they took down the post and it is now only available in snippets quoted on other blogs during the brief time the AoA post was live, for example right here on this very blog:

Each of us will have our highlights from last weekend’s extraordinary Autism One gathering in Chicago, but for me it was Bobby Kennedy Jr. saying, “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.”

“This” is the imprisonment of so many of our children in the grip of autism. Talk about cutting through the neurodiverse claptrap! When Bobby Kennedy says something, it gives “cover,” in a sense, for others to use the same kind of language and frame the debate in the same kind of way. (Language that reminds me of David Kirby’s phrase, “the shuttered hell” of autism, in Evidence of Harm.)

Those who can advocate for themselves should do so. Move right along, please. Those who cannot have advocates like their parents and RFK Jr. who are sick of mincing words.

Again, RFK, Jr. isn’t “antivaccine.” Oh, no. Perish the thought. He just likes to use an offensively over-the-top metaphor in which vaccines have produced a “Holocaust” of autism or a metaphor in which “vaccine-induced” autism imprisons children in a state that he likens to Nazi death camps How on earth could you think that’s antivaccine? How dare you? Of course, RFK, Jr. knows what he’s doing. Notice how in the 2013 incident he made his death camp analogy while speaking to the faithful at Autism One. When unexpectedly one of the AoA bloggers wrote about his remarks, they mysteriously disappeared from the blog within a day or so. One wonders if RFK, Jr. had a little chat with Dan Olmsted, who did the write-up, one does.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to close out this post. I first encountered RFK, Jr.’s antivaccine stylings in 2005 when he published Deadly Immunity, which was jointly published in both Salon.com and Rolling Stone. Salon.com ultimately retracted it, but, to its shame, Rolling Stone never did. Back then, this blog was only six months old and had much, much lower traffic than it does now. I wrote an epic and incredibly snarky deconstruction of the misinformation, conspiracy theories, and utter nonsense in RFK, Jr.’s article, and it became the the first post of mine that ever “went viral” (or whatever passed for going viral in 2005). To give you a taste of the snark and to show that I actually hav mellowed over the years, I’ll just say that Deadly Immunity was so dishonest and full of misinformation and distortions that at the time I labeled it the “biggest, steamingest, drippiest turd I’ve ever seen it [Salon.com] publish.” I wasn’t alone. Skeptico famously labeled it his “completely dishonest thimerosal article” and “lies, damned lies, and quote-mining.” Another blogger, Majikthise, concluded that the actual transcript of the Simpsonwood Conference, described in such conspiratorial detail as a conference in which the CDC decided to cover up “smoking gun” data showing that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism didn’t come close to vindicating Kennedy’s grandiose claims and that “nothing said at Simpsonwood suggests an attempt to whitewash or cover up anything.” That didn’t stop RFK, Jr. from spewing one conspiracy theory after another about how the CDC and big pharma supposedly “covered up” a link between mercury in vaccines and autism, all the while misrepresenting the science.

Out of curiosity, I searched the blog for more past mentions of RFK, Jr., and, not surprisingly, found many. For instance, there was the time when he basically characterized those who don’t buy into vaccine-autism pseudoscience as hating mothers. Then there was the time he misrepresented a letter to the CDC by Smith-Kline-Beecham as being evidence of some dark conspiracy by the CDC to “discourage” the removal of mercury from vaccines when it was nothing of the sort. Then there was the time when he defended Katie Wright for subjecting her son to the quackery of chelation therapy to remove mercury from vaccines from his body.

RFK, Jr.’s more recent activity includes, of course, hectoring legislators about vaccines and journalists who call him antivaccine (while refusing to provide a transcript or video of his infamous “vaccine Nazis” speech at Autism One in 2013) and legislators; his aforementioned book with co-author Mark Hyman, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: Mercury Toxicity in Vaccines and the Political, Regulatory, and Media Failures That Continue to Threaten Public Health; and, of course, cozying up with the Nation of Islam to have them help him convince African-American parents that the CDC is covering up data showing that vaccines increase the risk of autism in African-American boys by roughly four-fold while appearing at protests with them at the CDC. Oh, and he’s appearing in an interview in a recently released chiropractor-produced online documentary series that is clearly antivaccine.

No wonder Donald Trump thought first of RFK, Jr. when he thought about paying back all his antivaccine supporters with a “vaccine safety” committee (or autism committee, or whatever it ends up being, if anything). It’s a two-fer. He can have the crankiest of antivaccine cranks running the committee and appear bipartisan, given RFK, Jr.’s liberal politics.

Just don’t let them tell you that Trump and RFK, Jr. aren’t antivaccine. They are. And I know antivaccine when I see it, and so do real antivaccine ideologues. Even if this committee never comes to be, it is more than bad enough that Donald Trump even met with RFK, Jr. about vaccine safety. Pro-science advocates will have to be extra vigilant.

Comments

  1. #1 Dorit Reiss
    January 11, 2017

    Mr. Kennedy’s complete and vocal contempt for people with autism (“their brains are gone”) makes him even less qualified to run a committee on that than on vaccines.

    I’m not quite clear what exactly Mr. Trump was thinking when he talked about any committee or commission, and which form that would take. It actually matters, because the form will determine whether he needs Senate approval or legislation or funding – all of which go through Congress. Even if Mr. Trump is devoted enough to the vaccines-cause-autism myth to push for some form of commission, it’s going to be – tricky – to get that through Congress.

    Especially if he has other things he wants to spend political capital on.

    We will have to see what happens in the next days.

  2. #2 Chris Preston
    Australia
    January 11, 2017

    Some news outlets are now reporting that Trump didn’t offer such a position to Kennedy, but instead talked about a commission on autism. Kennedy would be equally unsuitable, actually more unsuitable, for such a post. He considers autistic people to be ‘damaged’.

    However, the fact that Trump would even consider talking to Kennedy about these topics demonstrates how damaging he could be. Not just on science.

  3. #3 Wzrd1
    January 11, 2017

    Well, I did take the shot, then developed a 103 degree fever, was sentenced to bedrest by my peer medics and our officer.
    Was right as rain the next day.
    But then, that was a mass inoculation event, with the Yellow Fever vaccine being a member common with similar events later in life.
    I also suffer from Raynauld’s phenomena, which should give a hint.

    But, for him, it’s magic! *All* vaccines are evil! Not, some really, really suck and some really so, for some people.*

    *Others experienced similar, although lesser symptoms the next day, after I recovered and was able to “sentence” them in a similar fashion and treat them in the same manner (Motrin and bedrest, with plenty of fluids).
    Most chose beer as their fluid replacement, creating a different issue the following morning.**

    **I happen to have a distilled spirits habituation. I also massively rehydrate while doing so and refrain when duty or illness intervenes.

  4. #4 Yerushalmi
    Jerusalem, Israel
    January 11, 2017

    God help the US. I am so, so glad I don’t live there anymore.

  5. #5 Thomas Spellman
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    There seem to be two ways to approach this. One is to attack Kennedy etal the other is to take their “evidence” “science” and and establish a record that addresses all of their “issues” and at the same time establishes a record for the vaccines that do work. By now it should be apparent that Barron has “issues” of some sort ie Trump being 60+ when he was conceived or as Trump thinks the vaccination did it. Hopefully we have learned from climate change how to approach. Then all we have to do is figure out that the likes of the Twin Towers DO NOT collapse because of fire and airplane damage. Then we would really be making progress. Peace

  6. #6 Chris Hickie
    January 11, 2017

    And he has a number – he told me five – friends, he talked about each one of them, who has the same story of a child, a perfectly healthy child who went into a wellness visit around age 2, got a battery of vaccines, spiked a fever and then developed a suite of deficits in the 3 months following the vaccine

    If a child is current on ACIP/CDC schedule, there is no “battery” of vaccines at age 2 yrs. At most, there’s a hepatitis A vaccine due, and most kids actually get that at 18 month. RFK Jr (and Trump if RFK Jr is quoting him accurately) make absolutely no sense on this, but then again, no one else on the AV side does anyhow when they recount the timeline of their child’s supposed vaccine injury.

    If Trump goes after the NVICP to dismantle the Vaccine Court, then we could see vaccine manufacturers sued of out business in the US. Then vaccine-preventable diseases come back. Or, If Trump goes really public proclaiming vaccines cause autism I vaccine rates would still go down and in areas teetering on the brink of VPD outbreaks (TX, AZ, OR, etc) diseases will come back. Maybe Trump/Kennedy try to use the unpublished (and I doubt ever will be) claim by anti-vax pediatrician Paul Thomas MD, FAAP in Oregon that 0 of 1176 patients in his practice not vaccinated (per his book) or vaccinated on Thomas’ delayed alternative (and untested as he has published anything peer-reviewed on this)vaccine schedule developed autism (http://integrativepediatricsonline.com/images/Forms/The%20Vaccine-Friendly%20Plan.pdf ). Again–diseases come back.

    In the end, the science will win when people–especially children–start dying from VPDs which is what will happen no matter how Trump drives down vaccination rates in the US. That would normally take a few years if vaccination rates everywhere were good, but it may happen more quickly, maybe soon enough to matter for the 2020 election. Whether Trump acts quickly on this (as a business person might) or actually considers the importance of not doing things that might get you voted out after one term as President, only time will tell.

    A final aside–Robert DeNiro got all over Trump during the election regarding the video tape of Trump/Billy Bush–to the point of saying he would “like to punch Trump in the face” on video back in October. Then in late November DeNiro starts saying we should give Trump a chance. I think now we know why DeNiro wants to give Trump a chance.

    • #7 Wzrd1
      January 11, 2017

      That would normally take a few years if vaccination rates everywhere were good, but it may happen more quickly, maybe soon enough to matter for the 2020 election.

      Actually, it might not take all that long. Consider Arkansas, with its current measles outbreak hitting 2400 infected.
      Now, here’s a thought to try to sleep with tonight, a unvaccinated person visits an endemic area, is exposed to and incubating upon return to that area of Arkansas, with a fine case of polio.
      Thankfully, there are immunization campaigns in those areas now, but there are plenty of areas now where herd immunity has been significantly weakened.

      I just hope the next outbreak is not something like pertussis or polio, unlikely but possible, thanks CIA.

      Not *quite* what I’d like to say to the CIA… :/

      Put the blame on the FBI here; the CIA has known the deal with Trump for quite some time, and a battle between Trump and the CIA is brewing.

      Actually, if the OP is thinking of what I am thinking, it’s a gripe over reduced vaccine uptake after the CIA went around taking DNA samples, pretending to be vaccinating children, during the great bin Laden hunt.
      Thanks is not part of anything that I’d have to say to them over that one, although what words I would select are unfit for polite company.

      Dismantle the Vaccine Court and you will end vaccine practice as we know it.

      Won’t happen. Trump has some significant holdings in Pharmaceutical firms, some of which manufacture vaccines. Any loss of money negatively impacts his self-esteem, so he’d not risk that kind of damage.

  7. #8 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake, (the bottom end that is)
    January 11, 2017

    If Trump manages to discredit or discrouage vaccinations in the USA it’s going to really mess up internatinal travel. We are going to have to demand proof of vaccination from everyone arriving from the USA. And, I suppose , the same for our residents returning from the USA if we can legally do this.

    I just hope the next outbreak is not something like pertussis or polio, unlikely but possible, thanks CIA.

  8. #9 Zach
    January 11, 2017

    “The babies were fine until they were vaccinated” because you can’t tell if a two month old has autism.

    Can someone correct me if I am wrong on this? I thought that the approximate age range for autism diagnoses just coincided with the vaccine schedule. Much like how antivaccidiots refer to increased rates of autism being found but ignore that change being the result of the medical community recognizing lower-tier autism spectrum disorders.

  9. #10 Eric Lund
    January 11, 2017

    a mix between science people and prominent Americans

    For “prominent Americans”, read “prominent Trump supporters”. Flattery gets you everywhere with Trump. “Science people” also does not necessarily mean anyone with expertise on the subject (cf. the “scientists” claimed to think AGW is a hoax, who are almost always engineers and almost never have any background in atmospheric science).

    thanks CIA

    Put the blame on the FBI here; the CIA has known the deal with Trump for quite some time, and a battle between Trump and the CIA is brewing. It’s a measure of how bizarre things have gotten that I’m actually rooting for the CIA in this battle.

  10. #11 J
    January 11, 2017

    Zach, that’s mostly correct, though not necessarily because doctors can’t determine if young children have autism but because people usually don’t have a reason to check for it at those ages.
    I’ve heard of cases (possibly discussed here at Respectful Insolence, actually) of parents who claim that their kids turned autistic due to vaccines, only for specialists to note autism traits or behavior when looking at things like videos etc. of the kid before vaccination.
    Because parents won’t notice the more subtle, early signs, they won’t think of their child as autistic until it becomes more noticeable when the child is a bit older. At that point, they remember the child had their vaccinations a little while ago, and things go downhill from there.

  11. #12 rork
    January 11, 2017

    Vaccination policy is important. But beware of the daily distraction strategy, in which publicly contentious issues are briefly touched upon. We wouldn’t want the American public to actually concentrate on the subjects we are trying harder to dupe them on.

  12. #13 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    January 11, 2017

    @J:

    I’ve heard of cases (possibly discussed here at Respectful Insolence, actually) of parents who claim that their kids turned autistic due to vaccines, only for specialists to note autism traits or behavior when looking at things like videos etc. of the kid before vaccination.

    The best known example of this is Michelle Cedillo, one of the Test Cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings before Vaccine Court. Her parents introduced video of her before her MMR to show that she had been fine before them. An expert pointed out that Michelle was already showing clear traits of autism in the video.

  13. #14 Delphine
    sunshine and coffee
    January 11, 2017

    I just hope the next outbreak is not something like pertussis or polio

    Measles and diphtheria frighten me the most. The former because it’s so contagious and SSPE, the latter because, well, it’s diphtheria.

  14. #15 Docosc
    Shenandoah Valley
    January 11, 2017

    Wow, there is a Machiavellian possibility I had not even considered! Dismantle the Vaccine Court and you will end vaccine practice as we know it. Damn, that is terrifying!

  15. #16 Frequent Lurker
    January 11, 2017

    Few things,

    1) Trump doesn’t know what “anecdote” means

    2) the Trump team issued a “clarification” saying that Trump was “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on Autism” but that “no decision has been made at this time.” this fits with his MO. Trump has been antivax for years, but more than anything he wants to be loved. Swift reaction from both sides of the aisle (which there was) resulting in a “walk-back” almost reads like they were putting out feelers.

    3) Trump doesn’t know what ACIP or anything is, so that was obviously all Kennedy talking, and Kennedy literally thinks the CDC Is the be all to end all of vaccine policy and decisions.

    4) The backlash was…heartening.

    5) This will absolutely result in more outbreaks, because even if the commission doesn’t happen–which is more than possible considering how Trump is an epic clusterfuck already–he just gave a big bullhorn. Because I have officially reached “f*ck it” with regards to our coming dystopia, I will at least take heart in the fact that outbreaks mean job security for people like me, as well an many lucrative consulting opportunities. I mean, bootstraps and Ayn Rand all that nonsense, right?

  16. #17 The Autism Peril
    January 11, 2017

    […] name was almost magical: it was Camelot, it was glamorous liberalism, it was tragedy. And now Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is doing his best to make it synonymous with crankery and quackery and incomp…. Good job, scion of a the John & Robert Kennedy political […]

  17. #18 Liz Ditz
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    Scientist, writer, and autism parent Emily Willingham on the Trump-Kennedy relationship:

    Why Donald Trump And Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Make A Perfect Pair

    These two birds absolutely belong together in the same nest, and their partnership should surprise no one, despite Kennedy’s unflattering comments about Trump only months ago. They recognize a brand synergy opportunity when they see it, although given Trump’s penchant for trolling people whom he sees as having insulted him, time will tell whether he’s pulled a Romney on Kennedy. Unfortunately, if it goes forward, their pair bonding portends an erosion of public health in ominous ways that will befoul that nest for the rest of us.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2017/01/10/why-donald-trump-and-robert-f-kennedy-jr-make-a-perfect-pair/#31f69e754f60

  18. […] anche Stat; intervista di RK Jr. su Science e soliti commenti complottisti; Orac e le sue rassegne sulla crackpottery di RK […]

  19. #20 Liz Ditz
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    New this morning from FiveThirtyeight:

    Previous surveys also showed that the vast majority of Americans (of all political stripes) agreed that children should be required to get vaccinated and should not be allowed into school until they do.

    But we live in polarized times, and there have been a few issues recently that — once ushered into the political limelight — have lost bipartisan support.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/will-vaccines-become-another-partisan-issue/

  20. #21 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    January 11, 2017

    Orac writes,

    Even if this committee never comes to be, it is more than bad enough that Donald Trump even met with RFK, Jr. about vaccine safety.

    MJD,

    I respectfully disagree…

    President-Elect Donald Trump appears to be committed to vaccine-safety-perception and may be exploring a Presidential committee on vaccinations as a means to resolve the end-less autism/vaccine debate.

    Committee members that are considered “rivals” has historically worked quite well (e.g., Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearnes Goodwin)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_of_Rivals

    In my opinion, JFK, Jr. would be a valuable member of such a Presidential committee based on his vaccine-safety passion and notoriety.

  21. #22 Lawrence
    January 11, 2017

    Mistaking “passion” for blatant ignorance…..

  22. #23 Psalmanazaar
    Massachusetts
    January 11, 2017

    I usually just lurk here, because I don’t have the medical expertise of the regular posters, who usually say whatever I would have said better than I could say it.

    I have real concerns about the impact that the Trump presidency will have on people on the autistic spectrum. First, there is the tone: he has expressed disdain for disabled people generally, and is employing a person who believes an autistic child’s mind is “gone.” In case you are wondering, it isn’t: autistic people can have cognitive abilities commensurate with those of the neurotypical population. They can respond well to therapy, and in some cases can have lives that are completely normal and fulfilling by any standard, sometimes with a great deal of success. Their individual quirks can even be advantageous in some contexts. That will, however, be very difficult for them if the face a stigma as a result of their diagnosis. Trump looks like he will be encouraging that stigma.

    And of course, there is the therapy. Who pays for it? For most people, it would be crushingly expensive to give an autistic child the intervention he or she desperately needs, particularly at a young age. The public school system is what provides the care for most families, and some schools do a fantastic job. Millions of adults in society today are probably on their way to jobs or on vacation with their families, instead of confined to institutions, right now, because of the contribution from public schools and early intervention programs. Remember that the next time you see a friend post a screed calling public schools useless centers of indoctrination.

    Of course, our incoming administration was elected on a pretty strongly libertarian mandate, where practically every Republican running for the nomination was promising to drastically cut funding to the Department of Education, if not eliminate it altogether. They can do a lot of damage to the public schools’ support for autistic children (and other special-needs children) by removing the federal agency that enforces rules intended to give them a shot at life, and yanking the funding they need out from under them.

    I have had at least one conversation with a right-leaning acquaintance in which his response was basically “so what?” If it costs so much money to rescue these children from a living hell, a certain class of voters is perfectly content to let them rot. Trump may well believe that himself, and it certainly is consistent with the Ayn Rand-inspired philosophy that appears to be ascendant.

    It may be worse, though. With RFK leading the government investigation of vaccination, who knows what anti-vaccine beliefs concerning autism will become federal policy? Will they listen to those who claim parents that vaccinated their autistic children were guilty of child abuse? Will they require hair-brained “biomedical” intervention? The fun thing about Trump is you can’t predict what he will do. He will go from promising to murder entire families of suspected terrorists to promising to reopen factories to promising to revoke citizenship if you burn the flag at the drop of a hat. I would consider the “worst case” scenario I described just now as highly implausible, but with this president, it may be merely unlikely, and might even happen.

    I am sure their trashing of the public schools will do incalculable harm, and that the average Trump voter will succeed in remaining totally unaware that the harm has occurred. How odd that their concern for these children should be so ardent with regard to vaccines, which do no harm whatsoever and protect them from serious illness, while being so callous with regard to the work, funding, and support system necessary to allow them to pursue a life worth living.

  23. #24 Delphine
    January 11, 2017

    President-Elect Donald Trump appears to be committed to vaccine-safety-perception

    You’re either stupid, or trolling really hard here. Or both.

    may be exploring a Presidential committee on vaccinations as a means to resolve the end-less autism/vaccine debate.

    I wonder why this “debate” persists. Do you have an explanation, Michael?

    In my opinion, JFK, Jr. would be a valuable member of such a Presidential committee based on his vaccine-safety passion and notoriety.

    Too bad he’s deader than a doornail.

  24. #25 Politicalguineapig
    January 11, 2017

    Chris: Then vaccine-preventable diseases come back.

    At this point, the US deserves it. The voters wanted a fact free life, and they got it. I figure this year will be the year of saving up and working to get to Colombia. I have a sibling living there, and I figure I can get a job as a tutor for a while, hopefully being able to move into environmental protection or a clean water gig. No one in the US cares about any of those things anymore, and it’s kind of wearing on me to go out knowing that most people around me are evil now.

    MJD: You’re as dumb as Trump, so of course you’re praising him. I may have mentioned this before, but I really despise your weasel words about vaccines. If you’re going to be against vaccines, own it, don’t just mince about mouthing words.

  25. #26 Narad
    January 11, 2017

    Wow, there is a Machiavellian possibility I had not even considered! Dismantle the Vaccine Court and you will end vaccine practice as we know it.

    That depends quite a bit on how extant cases would be weighted by state trial courts. I’ve noted before that in my less charitable moments, I’d just let the antivaccine brigade have what they think they want: years of real adversarial litigation, appeal, failure, and crippling expense. Moreover, consider the Volkswagen full of clowns that specializes in suckling at the teat of the trust fund.

  26. #27 Orac
    January 11, 2017

    The problem with doing that is the collateral damage. Vaccine manufacturers will not want to face the potential liability and the expense of defending all those lawsuits and could well stop manufacturing vaccines for sale in the US.

  27. #28 Mark Thorson
    January 11, 2017

    So he’s going to head a commission about vaccines. What’s wrong with that? It’s a powerless chair into which to seat an ally. Head of the CDC? That would be a disaster. Given the choice between a fake disaster and a real disaster, feel grateful you got the fake one.

  28. #29 Lawrence
    January 11, 2017

    Even the appearance is bad enough – perception is reality, unfortunately….even more so today than ever.

  29. #30 Gray Squirrel
    January 11, 2017

    Re. Mark @ 28: The problem with even a fake commission is that _anything_ that has a presidential seal on it or can even remotely be considered “by order of the President” or “a Presidential report” etc. etc.: any of those things will be used by anti-vaxers to justify not-vaccinating their kids, and/or pushing for bad changes in state laws, etc.

    Bottom line is (aha! my Return key is working again!), it could translate to reduced immunization rates in certain parts of the US and thereby into more and worse outbreaks.

    What’s this about 2400 measles cases in Arkansas? If they’re not all either over it by now or quarantined, that is a setup for nationwide spread, as in, epidemic.

    Re. Autism: I suspect there’s a bit of a culture war going on. High-functioning people with ASDs are notable for getting along well with others and not telling lies. People with personality disorders (PDs) particularly antisocial and narcissistic, are notable for manipulating others and being pathological liars. Thus there is natural cultural hostility between ASDers and PDers.

    For some time I’ve thought that some PDers in high places have been quite happy for ASDs to become a de-facto “distraction squirrel” (and not at all gray!;-) to keep attention off PDs. Whether this breaks out into an _overt_ culture war remains to be seen, but I would suggest being aware of possible back-stories in the event of “mental health crusades” about autism.

  30. #31 Renate
    January 11, 2017

    I still wonder why a commitee, that is supposed to do science should contain prominent people. Unless they are prominent scientists in the field they should explore, they are just as useless as anyone else without any expertise.

  31. #32 Reality
    January 11, 2017

    Sheesh!

    This outrage has sucked the life out of the Cleveland Clinic/Daniel Neides outrage.

    Talk about anti-vaccine whack-a- mole.

  32. #33 SocraticGadfly
    http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com
    January 11, 2017

    Sadly, the Associated Press called RFK Jr. a “skeptic” in its piece.

  33. #34 Liz Ditz
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    Daniel Summers, MD at the Washington Post:

    Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just made pediatricians’ jobs a lot harder

    But the implications of a vaccine-autism connection go beyond that. If vaccines genuinely cause autism like their opponents claim, one of two things must be true of pediatricians like me who administer them. Either we are too incompetent to discern the relationship between the two, or we are too monstrous to care. One cannot believe that autism is related to vaccination without simultaneously indicting the overwhelming majority of physicians, nurses and other medical providers in this country. Even your local Rotary Club is in on it.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/01/11/donald-trump-and-robert-f-kennedy-jr-just-made-pediatricians-jobs-a-lot-harder/?utm_term=.66fcde7e26c4

  34. #35 Panacea
    January 11, 2017

    So did Dr. Saad Omer in an op ed the Washington Post just published on its website. Actually, he called Kennedy an “environmental activist.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/11/how-donald-trumps-conspiracy-theories-about-vaccines-could-harm-public-health/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d83656e11bf8#comments

    I wish the MSM would just call a spade a spade. 🙁

  35. #36 TBruce
    January 11, 2017

    I still wonder why a commitee, that is supposed to do science should contain prominent people. Unless they are prominent scientists in the field they should explore, they are just as useless as anyone else without any expertise.

    I’m sure they’ll be Top Men.

  36. #37 Eric Lund
    January 11, 2017

    I’ve noted before that in my less charitable moments, I’d just let the antivaccine brigade have what they think they want: years of real adversarial litigation, appeal, failure, and crippling expense.

    The problem with that approach is that, under US law, the plaintiff does not typically have to deal with the “crippling expense” part of that in this kind of case. There are plenty of lawyers in this country who would be willing to take such a case on a contingency basis. And unless the defense is successfully able to argue that the lawsuit is frivolous (as defined by law, not by the ridiculousness of the plaintiff’s evidence), there is no mechanism for the defense to recoup their expenses from the plaintiff. A sufficient but not necessary condition for a lawsuit to be deemed non-frivolous is if it survives a defense motion for summary judgment, which one of these lawsuits will, sooner or later. There are, unfortunately, judges who will buy anti-vax arguments.

    It is quite common for defendants in US civil suits to settle a case, even one they think they could win in court, if they think the cost of defending the lawsuit would exceed the amount they would have to pay in a settlement.

    Multiply this by the thousands of cases that would likely be filed annually and you can see why many vaccine manufacturers would reasonably conclude that the US market is not worth serving.

    • #38 Wzrd1
      January 11, 2017

      This is especially true, as vaccines aren’t exactly a high profit item. It’s one of the reasons that we have so few vaccine manufacturers now in the US.

      I say, if the antivaxers want us to join the developing world’s childhood death rate from vaccine communicable diseases, let’s also reintroduce smallpox and send them into blissful nirvana.
      After all, nothing speaks of a loving God like a 30 – 35% mortality rate.

  37. #39 shay simmons
    January 11, 2017

    “The best known example of this is Michelle Cedillo,”

    Second-best known is Hooker fils.

  38. #40 Idran
    January 11, 2017

    @25/Politicalguineapig: At this point, the US deserves it. The voters wanted a fact free life, and they got it….No one in the US cares about any of those things anymore, and it’s kind of wearing on me to go out knowing that most people around me are evil now.

    I don’t know if it would help any, but you know that Hillary won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, right? Trump only won because of the ridiculous arcana that is the Electoral College. By any reasonable metric you can’t say that most people support Trump (assuming that’s what you mean by “most people around me are evil”), unless you’re talking about literally the people in your area. But by that count I’d say that it’s also not that accurate to say that the voters wanted him in office. He just is because of the system we have here.

    • #41 Wzrd1
      January 11, 2017

      Idran @ 40, the bear of it is, the electoral college was created just to prevent something like a Trump presidency from happening.
      Alas, they refused to perform their duty to their nation, preferring to perform their duty to the extremists within their party.

      I toy with the notion of a tax revolt by those who did not vote for Trump…
      Too many to lock up, too many dollars gone from the budget to risk being withheld for long…

  39. #42 Eric Lund
    January 11, 2017

    I say, if the antivaxers want us to join the developing world’s childhood death rate from vaccine communicable diseases, let’s also reintroduce smallpox and send them into blissful nirvana.

    I sympathize with the notion of going Old Testament on these people’s posteriors, but the collateral damage to innocents would be too high in this case. I got a smallpox vaccination, but smallpox was taken out of the vaccine schedule by the time I was 10, so anybody younger than 40–and even people into their early 40s–will not have had that vaccine, even if they or their parents were not opposed. Not to mention the damage to children too young to choose vaccination for themselves, or too young to get a vaccination even if their parents adhere to the recommended schedule.

    If you could construct a plague that would affect these adult nitwits, and only these adult nitwits, then I would waive my objection.

  40. #43 JustaTech
    January 11, 2017

    PGP @25: Dude, again with the absolutism!
    As w have discussed extensively before, VPD don’t care who you (or your parents) voted for. On what planet is it a “fair punishment” for the baby of my friend (who voted for Hilary) to get measles from some anti-vaxxer’s kid while he’s too young to be vaccinated?

    Talk about sins of the father. Adults (the people who can vote) will not suffer the consequences of an anti-vax administration. Children (who can’t vote) are the ones who will suffer.

    As tempting as it is to say “let them suffer the effects of their bad choices”, it’s not only the people who made the bad choices who will suffer, it’s everyone else too.

  41. #44 Liz Ditz
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    Paul Offit MD at The Daily Beast: Paul Offit: Trump Needs Vaccine Experts, Not Conspiracy Theorists

    Imagine you’re the president-elect of the United States and you wanted to know more about vaccine safety. Who would you turn to?

    You could turn to Nancy Messonier, who heads a team of researchers at the country’s leading center for the study of vaccines: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Or you could turn to any one of a number of academic researchers who are involved with the Vaccine Safety DataLink, a computer-linked system of medical records that can determine vaccine-safety issues in real time as new vaccines are first used by American children. Or you could turn to a variety of leading experts, like Stanley Plotkin, who is the country’s (and the world’s) foremost authority on vaccines and has written the definitive textbook on the subject. Or you could turn to Walter Orenstein, former director of the National Immunization Program who is now at Emory University, and another worldwide leader. Or you could turn to Kathryn Edwards, a Vanderbilt vaccine researcher who has devoted her life to vaccine-safety issues and to the health and well-being of children.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/11/paul-offit-trump-needs-vaccine-experts-not-conspiracy-theorists.html?via=desktop&source=facebook

  42. #45 sadasd
    January 11, 2017

    Don’t take the bait: http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2017/1/11/donald-trump-science-communication-environment-polluter-in-c.html

    If there’s ever a Trump autism panel, with RFK Jr, Carrot Top, or anyone else chairing it, I’ll eat my hat. Same for Melania’s cyber bulling campaign. This trolling-in-real-life exists only to inflame and distract.

  43. #46 JustaTech
    January 11, 2017

    Eric @42: Oh, and me! I’ve been vaccinated against smallpox (I did research with vaccinia and it was considered a sensible precaution.)
    Actually a lot of younger people got vaccinated against smallpox post-9/11 because of fears of bio-terrorism. But given that none of my friends or age-peers have had it, no, that demon can stay in the freezer.

    • #47 Wzrd1
      January 12, 2017

      I was vaccinated against smallpox as an infant and twice during my military career.

      As far as I’m concerned, as we have the full genetic code of that virus, burn what is in those freezers.

  44. #48 Denice Walter
    January 11, 2017

    I absolutely shrieked when I saw RFK jr at Trump Tower yesterday!
    Oh boy! Orac and the minions will be having fun with this!

    I just checked AoA and Jake for ( vicariously) orgasmic posts about their two heroes.

    Meanwhile, television news ( at least) mentions RFK’s position about vaccines decently.

    Hey, they could have called him a “vaccine safety advocate” or “expert”

  45. #49 doug
    January 11, 2017

    I’m not sure why health should be singled out as a public thing that the orange idiot is going to destroy. He’s going to destroy public everything.

  46. #50 Scott
    NY
    January 11, 2017

    @MjD

    “In my opinion, JFK, Jr. would be a valuable member of such a Presidential committee based on his vaccine-safety passion and notoriety.”

    I think that plane has left the building.

  47. #51 Panacea
    January 11, 2017

    That’s true, doug. But this isn’t a political blog. It’s a SBM blog. So it makes sense to focus on health related things here as opposed to say, Russian blackmail of the President-elect.

  48. #52 doug
    January 11, 2017

    Unless they are prominent scientists in the field they should explore, they are just as useless as anyone else without any expertise.

    Don’t forget that some significant portion of the those who support Trumpelthinskin (I stole that) don’t like real experts. Having noted that, I’m not convinced that Don (in the Corleone sense) Trump has the mental wherewithal to connect the dots. He may be thinking in those terms. He may be thinking that he can blame and fire pseudoexperts if he gets heat for the output of the committee. He may be thinking – but I doubt it.

  49. #53 JustaTech
    January 11, 2017

    Tangentially: are there any scientific disciplines that aren’t under threat from the new administration?

    Rocket scientists, maybe?

  50. #54 THEO
    January 11, 2017

    Trump is the best. Shaking everything up. Exactly why we voted for him. RFK is but the tip of the spear. There are 1000s more behind him and ready to support him. The fact that Trump knows the right people to talk to is BRILLIANT.

    • #55 Wzrd1
      January 12, 2017

      Trump knows the right people to talk to, they’re his masters in the Kremlin.

  51. #56 THEO
    January 11, 2017

    Trump is the best. Shaking everything up. Exactly why we voted for him. RFK is but the tip of the spear. There are 1000s more behind him and ready to support him. The fact that Trump knows the right people to talk to about this subject is BRILLIANT.

  52. #57 Panacea
    January 11, 2017

    You know, Theo, I can get people wanting to see the system shaken up. I’m convinced that’s why Trump won.

    But what you want and what you need aren’t the same thing.

    As a nation we want to see our government reflect our personal values.

    But what we need is is a government that puts the general welfare first, not one that panders to wealthy special interests, cranks, and bigots of all stripes.

  53. #58 Gilbert
    January 11, 2017

    So it makes sense to focus on health related things here as opposed to say, Russian blackmail of the President-elect.

    That’s my Donald — Always peeing on people. Is that somehow ‘health related?’

  54. #59 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 11, 2017

    I have not forgotten RFK Jr’s flirtation with Louis Farrakhan, a racist of the rankest kind.
    Farrakhan is a man whose every word withers everything he speaks on, like the poisonous breath of a mythological monster.
    He holds racist views of white people, and is an anti-Semite unparalleled by anyone not under a swastika flag.
    But RFK Jr., no, he’s no more anti-Semitic than he is antivaccine.

  55. #60 Mark Thorson
    January 11, 2017

    Alex Jones will be taking the chair formerly occupied by CNN in presidential press conferences.

  56. #61 Eric Lund
    January 11, 2017

    Rocket scientists, maybe?

    Speaking as one: yes, even rocket scientists. There is talk of shutting down the part of NASA that deals with Earth observations–Trump is on record as saying that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, and scientists who use those data are routinely proven wrong. If the incoming administration goes further and implements their plan to focus NASA on planetary exploration, then heliophysics people (of which I am one) and possibly even astrophysics people would be frozen out as well. So some rocket scientists will be alright, but many others will be in a position like 1990s Russian scientists of facing the choice to sell sensitive technological information to other countries in order to be able to eat.

    That’s aside from the damage they can do to the National Science Foundation, which might otherwise be able to take up some (but by no means all) of the slack. Astrophysicists may not have to worry as much about this, but everybody else who might be frozen out by Trump’s NASA gets their NSF funding from a single directorate.

  57. #62 Mark Thorson
    January 11, 2017

    NASA deserves it! At least, until the come clean on the moon landing hoax and that flying saucer they’ve been keeping at Area 51. Trump will reveal all!

  58. #63 vinu arumugham
    United States
    January 11, 2017

    Orac should have said “dismantling of CORRUPT public health begins”
    It does not take a PhD in immunology to stop corruption at the CDC. Just common sense. And a law degree that RFK has, can’t hurt.

  59. #64 TBruce
    January 11, 2017

    After meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower Tuesday, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told reporters that Trump has asked him to “chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity” and that he has accepted.

    A short time later…

    the Trump team issued a “clarification” saying that Trump was “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on Autism” but that “no decision has been made at this time.”

    Either RFK Jr is hallucinating (not a stretch, IMHO) or TRump is operating with his usual level of integrity.

    Could it be that TRump changed his mind because of the bad press? One can hope.

  60. #65 sadmar
    January 11, 2017

    Mark Thorson got it right. The committee, if there ever is one, with be no more than a dog and pony show that gets a below the fold mention on the day it’s announced and is never heard from again. This is standard organizational SOP for policy issues you have appear to care about, but don’t want to touch in actual action with a ten foot pole.

    And at least Orac noted the possibility probability that habitual lying POS RFKJ is lying about whatever passed between him and The Donald, just like Andy Wakefield is lying about his ‘meeting’ with Trump. What actually happened was a small group of moneyed anti-vaxers scored 45 minutes with Trump at a big fundraiser (which he no doubt used to hit them up for campaign funds), and dragged Andy along for a photo op.

    Touch the Vaccine Court? Please. The largest sector of Trump’s personal portfolio was (is?) pharma stocks, and Tom Price is a pharma shill extraordinaire. Like Trump’s going to do anything that could cost his actual whale backers money.

    The only way the AVs get any pub outside their own social media bubble these days is tossing out BS as bait for chicken-little panic articles by ‘science’ scribes. And Trump? Well he’s a master at belching back-projection phantom fireballs as part of big-screen fantasy dramatics to keep everyone from looking at the men pulling the levers behind the curtain. He feeds off anyone he can cast as an enemy, and this response is Exactly What He Wants.

  61. #66 herr doktor bimler
    January 12, 2017

    And at least Orac noted the possibility probability that habitual lying POS RFKJ is lying about whatever passed between him and The Donald,

    I can imagine a whole spectrum of possibilities, all the way from “RFK Jr fantasising the entire deal”, to “Trump taking advantage of the lack of witnesses and written record to make a firm verbal promise to RFK Jr that he had no intention of keeping” . The effect is the same… Kennedy becomes another courtier dancing attendance on Trump, offering more and more concessions and more and more political support in the hope of receiving some watered-down fraction of whatever deal he thought he’d been promised.

  62. #67 herr doktor bimler
    January 12, 2017

    RFK is but the tip of the spear.
    Is Theo several links down in the human centipede of right-wing conspiracy-theory sloganeering? What say you, Google?
    https://www.google.co.nz/search?client=firefox-b&biw=875&bih=581&q=%22Robert+F+Kennedy%2C+Jr%22+%22tip+of+the+spear%22+%22taking+on+congress%22

    • #68 Wzrd1
      January 12, 2017

      More likely one of the paid Russian trolls.

  63. #69 Gray Squirrel
    January 12, 2017

    Alternate hypothesis:

    Trump wants to show that he has “some Democrats” on his team, so he picks ones who are allied with some of his own positions (easy/obvious) “controversial” among Democrats themselves.

    Then if RFK actually makes headway, and there are not major outbreaks, Trump gets to claim he was right about one more thing that “liberals” criticized.

    And if RFK actually makes headway and there _are_ major outbreaks, Trump gets to blame them on “the Democrats.”

    Welcome to the Dezinformatsiya Dystopia.

  64. #70 TBruce
    January 12, 2017

    RFK is but the tip of the spear.

    More like the tip of something else.

  65. #71 Politicalguineapig
    January 12, 2017

    Idran: I am aware of the electoral college, thanks. Doesn’t change the fact that most Americans decided to be evil and stupid or sat on their hands this time around.

    Justatech: Everyone’s going to suffer, it’s what America wanted.

  66. #72 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 12, 2017

    @PGP:

    Justatech: Everyone’s going to suffer, it’s what America wanted.

    Fewer than half of the votes cast were for Trump, for crying out loud. How could this possibly be “what America wanted”?

  67. #73 Lawrence
    January 12, 2017

    I didn’t realize that less than 50% of the popular vote constituted “most.”

    Is that some kind of “new math?”

  68. #74 Gilbert
    January 12, 2017

    Alex Jones will be taking the chair formerly occupied by CNN

    That is just silly, Mark Thorson. It will either be Joe Biggs, Jackari Jackson, or (hopefully) the very capable and easy-on-the-eyes infobabe, Lee Ann Macadoo. Trump would sit up and take notice of her in the pool as she’s got Yugge, um, journalistic integrity.

  69. #75 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2017

    re Panacea and PGP:

    It’s true – a group of voters did want to ‘shake things up’:
    some of those liked the Donald and some liked Sanders
    HOWEVER many voters STAYED home.

    Therefore, DJT got elected by a small proportion of voters
    ( IIRC 27%), smaller than most ‘wins”; HRC got more votes.

    At ant rate, right now his ‘rating’ ( pre-presidential) is about 37%; Obama’s rating is 57%.
    More people support individual Obamaian poliicies/ ideas than they do Trumpian notions.

    And never forget that his themesong on the campaighn trail was-
    ” You can’t always get what you want….. you get what you need” Jagger/ Richards
    That may have been prophetic because he could never fulfill all of the ridiculous promises he made that often contradict each other.

    HILARIOUSLY, Adams writes about Trumpo and RFK jr.

  70. #76 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2017

    -btw- I MUST SAY IT!

    re the top photo above:

    What a pack of FRIGGING whiteys!

    I mean, SERIOUSLY!

    I’m white but at least I’m *interesting* looking.

    These are the blandest, plainest most mundane, pedestrian … MOR boardroom bullies, big-car -driving, etc.

    Any other insults? Anyone?

  71. #77 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2017

    More insults:

    Rex Tillerson: what a SUIT!

    ( I won’t call anyone an android because that is insulting to AI and I am probably one myself- -btw- we’re all attractiver because who would build an awful looking one? ”
    Robot is derived from ‘robotnik’ – a worker. Not an insult’)

    Texas Big Man, Putin pal? Oily Rex?

  72. #79 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2017

    -btw-
    “tip of the spear’ sounds as if it describes a sexual act.

  73. #80 JP
    January 12, 2017

    Any other insults? Anyone?

    Pussy grabbers? Well, I guess that’s only one of them.

    I’d be having more fun with this if I wasn’t freaked out about losing my health insurance.

  74. #81 Eric Lund
    January 12, 2017

    Any other insults? Anyone?

    A classic from Texas: All hat, no cattle. Literally true of George W. Bush (his “ranch” was nothing more than a set which he sold off shortly after leaving office), and figuratively true of Donald Trump, who isn’t anywhere near as good a businessman as he wants people to think.

    I’ve heard some people refer to VP-Elect Pence as “Mike Dense”. He was formerly known as the dumbest man in Congress (he relinquished that title when he became Governor of Indiana). Counsel for the Fencepost Anti-Defamation League have advised me that comparing Mr. Pence’s intellect to that of their clients would constitute slander against said clients.

    • #82 Wzrd1
      January 12, 2017

      Don’t get me started on Pence, who singlehandedly massively spiked the HIV infection rate while governor.

  75. #83 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    January 12, 2017

    Denice Walter writes,

    Any other insults?

    MJD says,

    Please try and adhere to the theme of this popular Science Blog (aka, Respectful Insolence).

    A personal insult based on the color of one’s shirt (see post #72) is way out of line and should be grounds for auto-moderation.

    In protest, I will avoid reading Denice Walter’s next 4 posts.

  76. #84 Eric Lund
    January 12, 2017

    Sort-of back on topic: The House of Representatives has passed a bill that could, among other things, affect the FDA’s ability to go after phony medical devices:

    The Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the courts could only overturn rulings that were “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion.” In other words, the courts would have to defer to the regulatory agencies in finding whether a ruling was justified. But the Republicans in the House passed a law that would allow the courts to rule without giving deference to the regulatory agencies. A Republican court could, for instance, overrule decisions of the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency on concocted Constitutional grounds – say, by arguing that it violated the “takings” clause of the Constitution. That could cripple the regulatory agencies.

    The bill is known as the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5), and amends the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 to remove the requirement that courts defer to the regulatory agencies.

  77. #85 JP
    January 12, 2017

    @Wzrd1:

    THEO is actually Serbian American, if memory serves. He showed up here a year or two ago babbling about vitamins and the supposed vaccine-autism link. He also turned out to be an MLM fool. Best ignored, probably.

    • #86 Wzrd1
      January 12, 2017

      There’s a really nice 35 page document that’s been recently released that mentions Russian interests operating within the continental United States.
      Beyond that document, I can’t comment further, as it would violate a rather restrictive NDA.

  78. #87 sadmar
    January 12, 2017

    @ Gray Squirrel

    Three problems with your alternate hypothesis:

    1. Trump seeks to appease no one. He goes for the jugular.

    2. He’s not going to appoint an ‘environmentalist lawyer’ to head anything.

    3. The biggee. It’s not just that he isn’t going to do anything that could hit his friends in the pocketbook. It’s that he’s not going to do anything that doesn’t fatten their pocketbooks. Rex Tillerson at State? 67% of ExxonMobil untapped oil rights are in Russia, blocked from drilling by the US sanctions imposed on the Putin regime in 2011. If those sanctions are lifted Exxonmobil and Putin personally each stand to make between hundreds of million and hundreds of billions of dollars. Trump’s kickback? Who knows. if there was any way Trump could bank from anti-vax beyond what amounts to chump change from the likes of Blaxill and Larson, I would be really, really worried about the RFKJ meeting. I’m not worried about the RFKJ meeting.

    Which is not at all to say vaccine uptake could be negatively affected by policy that is intended to make the fat even fatter. That would be the consequences of Tom Price’s health-freedom, ‘never question a doctor’, de-regulation policy, or budget reversions affecting enforcement in the states, or whatever Betsy DeVos cooks up to transfer funding and students from public schools that would enforce the immunization requirements to home schooling and private charters that will turn a blind eye, diddle the records or whatever to get the tuition money from the AV parents.

  79. #88 sadmar
    January 12, 2017

    “Any other insults? Anyone?’

    Trump’s look of glee is because Corey Lewandowski is about to dump a shower of Putin pee on Pence’s pate.

  80. #89 shay simmons
    January 12, 2017

    Fewer than half of the votes cast were for Trump, for crying out loud. How could this possibly be “what America wanted”?

    PGP math.

  81. #90 shay simmons
    January 12, 2017

    Orac should have said “dismantling of CORRUPT public health begins”

    Public health is way more than the CDC, $hit for brains. And “disagrees with your crackpot notions” =/= “corrupt.”

  82. #91 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 12, 2017

    Trump wants to show that he has “some Democrats” on his team, so he picks ones who are allied with some of his own positions (easy/obvious) “controversial” among Democrats themselves.

    I think Herr Doktor was close to right on when he said “Trump taking advantage of the lack of witnesses and written record to make a firm verbal promise to RFK Jr that he had no intention of keeping” . But why would Trump do such a thing?

    Remember what happened with Mitt Romney. Romney was critical of Trump in the campain. After the election, word gets out that Trump is ‘considering’ Romney as SecState. Romney goes to see Trump, they talk, have a very nice dinner, and pictures are taken. Romney gets his hopes up, says nice things about Trump, then Trump, well, pissed all over him.

    As noted above, RFK Jr didn’t say nice things about Trump back in the day. See http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/robert-fkennedy-jr-donald-trump-republicans/2016/08/11/id/743236/
    (for some reason the Vanity Fair article referenced on this page wouldn’t load for me) but here are a couple quotes –

    “I think Donald Trump is dangerous, and he’s deceptive, and he’s a demagogue,”

    “I don’t think it should surprise anybody to see how well he’s doing, because that kind of demagoguery is formulaic, and it’s easy. There are buttons that you can push, of bigotry and xenophobia and prejudice and anger and self-interest and nationalism — false patriotism.”

    “And I think those are the dark angels that Donald Trump appeals to, and I very much hope that his campaign of hatred dies on the vine.”

    Nobody has ever accused Trump of letting such a thing being forgiven. I have no trouble believing RFK Jr called Trump, ask for some face time, Trump told him of all the great things they would do together, and after RFK Jr made it public, Trump says, very publicly, “no”.

    I dunno if there is going to be a Presidential committee on vaccinations or not. But I seriously doubt that RFK Jr will play any roll.

    Of course, I have previously noted that this political season, I had been given the gift of anti-prophesy, so there’s that.

  83. #92 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 12, 2017

    If it weren’t for the real human suffering it would cause, I would welcome an immediate repeal of the ACA. The Republicans would probably be kicked to the curb fr a generation.
    They so don’t get it. I heard the very scary Steve King (No, not the horror story writer. He’s a pussycat.) defend dropping pre-existing condition coverage because people who didn’t get insurance until they got sick were careless. As if people only have to get health insurance after losing a job, or aging out of their parents’ insurance.
    I would wish that the Republicans show a little compassion, but they already do.

  84. #93 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 12, 2017

    Fewer than half of the votes cast were for Trump, for crying out loud. How could this possibly be “what America wanted”?

    Not even that many votes were cast for Trump.

    Remember that both parties ran the most unpopular possible candidates they could have possibly chosen. Both candidates had unfavorable ratings well over 50%, and often near 60%.

    A good number of Trump voters were not votes for Trump, but were votes against Clinton. I think that if the polls at the time had shown the race being closer, the ‘I hate them both’ camp would have broken for Clinton.

    But it won’t matter to PGP. Her world is black and white. No grey, no subtlety, no nuance.

  85. #94 Politicalguineapig
    January 12, 2017

    Fewer than half of the votes cast were for Trump, for crying out loud. How could this possibly be “what America wanted”?

    Because millions of Americans didn’t want clean water, health insurance, a non-nuclear future, etc. enough to get off the couch and vote. And that’s aside from the Green
    Party twerps who knew d*mn well they were giving the election to Trump.

    ORD: I would wish that the Republicans show a little compassion, but they already do.

    They show as much compassion as God does, which is to say, none for fully autonomous living people. It’s kind of amazing, but while I could name you easily a thousand things that God hates, including stars, trees and clean air, I’d have a really hard time naming more than two things He likes. Satanism is beginning to make a lot of sense to me.

    Johnny: You know what they say about the middle of the road? That’s where all the dead armadillos are. Shades of grey are just a distraction.

  86. #95 Chemmomo
    Intolerance is not a good way of life
    January 13, 2017

    PGP #93

    They show as much compassion as God does

    Which is more compassion than you express in your comments, as you think it’s OK to let everyone else suffer as well, regardless of own their beliefs.

    Shades of grey are just a distraction.

    Congratulations! That’s the attitude that got Trump elected, Politicalguineapig.

    Think about it.

  87. #96 Renate
    The Netherlands
    January 13, 2017

    PGP’s point of view reminds me of our Ukraine referendum, where most voters voted against an Europian treaty with Ukraine. Well, not even half of the voters took part in the referendum, so actually a small part of the Dutch were probably agianst the treaty. Still those who wanted the referendum, which was just advisory, and who were against the treaty and against the Europian Union, wanted our government not to sign that treaty, because of the majority. Probably part of the voters were just against the current government, against the Europian Union, or something else and most voters just stayed at home.

  88. #97 THEO
    January 13, 2017

    Tip of the spear like on the front lines piercing the opposition. You know what I’m realizing about you people you’re all liberals in the medical field of the worst kind. Smug as fuck. There is like 10 of you and your gatekeepers of this blog. Your being led down the wrong path and you cannot even see it. Now your beloved Obama is being followed by Drumpf what a horrifying nightmare this must be for you. Then Trump chooses of all people RFK to lead the charge on vaccine safety which we all know cause damage in some kids. Your losing power politically and your foolish misplaced faith in pharmaceutical mysticism is cracking like an egg. You are wrong on all the issues. Its crumbling right before your eyes but you still cannot see it.
    GLORIOUS. Best of luck maybe instead of praying to your God science you might want to have some humility and go right to the source. This wont end well for you.

  89. […] why this trope irritates me so much. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not a “vaccine skeptic.” He is antivaccine. He is a vaccine science denialist. He is a crank. And so is Donald Trump, as I have documented so […]

  90. #99 Delphine
    January 13, 2017

    Then Trump chooses of all people RFK to lead the charge on vaccine safety

    Why is it that you mouthbreathers seem fundamentally incapable of getting your Kennedys straight?

  91. #100 JGC
    January 13, 2017

    If I were a vengeful person, I’d recommend Kennedy’s forehead be forcibly tattooed with the following:

    “After” is not synonymous with “Because Of”

  92. #101 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 13, 2017

    “you’re all liberals in the medical field of the worst kind”
    Yes, we’re terrible for wanting patients to be treated according to the best information and resources available. Yes, I am a liberal, proud of it too. I must really scare you and all the know-nothings like you if you have this much hatred of us.
    “Now your beloved Obama is being followed by Drumpf what a horrifying nightmare this must be for you.”
    Damn right it is. Obama is a man. Trump is an 8 year -old in the body of an adult.
    “Trump chooses of all people RFK to lead the charge on vaccine safety which we all know cause damage in some kids.”
    I’m pretty sure you mean RFK Jr. and I’m guessing you don’t mean vaccine safety harms children. RFK Jr. is a scientific ignoramus. Vaccine safety has been proven over and over again; he might as well head a commission to test if gravity is real. He could spend millions of taxpayer dollars dropping things over and over because he’s sure there must be a loophole somewhere.
    “foolish misplaced faith in pharmaceutical mysticism is cracking like an egg.”
    I believe in science since it works. There is no mysticism. Anyone who wants to make the effort can learn enough science to understand how we know the things we know. I guess it’s easier for you to disdain actual knowledge than to make the painful effort to make your brain work to gain some yourself.
    “instead of praying to your God science you might want to have some humility and go right to the source”
    Science is not my god. Science is a way to approach the world and gain understanding of how it works. You can keep on praying to whatever you believe is out there or up there. I’m too old to have imaginary friends.

  93. #102 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 13, 2017

    Theo, or is it THEO, I forgot to mention that RFK Jr. has teamed up over antivaccine ignorance with Louis Farrakhan. But then you’ll probably find some way to rationalize it. After all, Farrakhan believes in a god too, and he doesn’t really like liberals very much either.

  94. #103 Denice Walter
    January 13, 2017

    @ JP. Eric Lund, sadmar:

    Fine insults, all.
    And yes, Wrzd1, I know about that.

    Because there is but a week ( ONE WEEK!) until Trumpageddon/ Trumpocalypse, I think we should prepare ourselves for either a protracted war on reason or having field day for fledgling comics.

    I tend to go with the latter as well as a great day for reporters/ political analysts.

    But we will survive this. I wonder if Trump will?

  95. #104 Denice Walter
    January 13, 2017

    MJD:

    I doubt that Orac will place me on automatic moderation UNLESS I start peppering each comment with unfiltered curse words instead of f@ck, sh!t, b!tch
    BUT I wouldn’t ever do that.

    And I was not discussing the ( so-called) gentlemen’s shirts but their ethnicity.

    -btw- all the hipsters on television are wearing pale lavender or rose.
    Believe me, I know about things like that.

    You should be very happy that the minions are not rougher with you and that Orac doesn’t moderate you more harshly.

    And go ahead, protest my next posts:
    less work for me responding.

  96. #105 JP
    January 13, 2017

    But we will survive this.

    I might not.

  97. #106 Chris
    January 13, 2017

    Shorter THEO: Buy my stuff!

  98. #107 Narad
    January 13, 2017

    THEO is actually Serbian American, if memory serves.

    Yah Iliya or Ilaya, but I have to rush (store, Shabbat, walking pneumonia).

    Anyway, I think Washington State is in much better shape in terms of preserving the Medicaid expansion than Illinois is, even with the block-grant notion floating around. I looked briefly at Pence’s embrace – with waivers – last night, and I’m not freaking out just yet.

  99. #108 Denice Walter
    January 13, 2017

    @ JP:

    I venture that you are more resilient than you think presently.
    After all, you’ve come this far.

    And you can always move to Canada and get free coverage or marry a nice girl/ guy with excellent coverage.

    Plus you live in a semi-enlightened area which might provide assistance.

    Let’s try to look on the lighter side until all h3ll breaks loose or dogs and cats start living together in sin.

  100. #109 Denice Walter
    January 13, 2017

    @ Narad:
    Walking pneumonia? Oh no!
    Do you have soup?

    -btw- whenever I get really sick with respiratory and/ or GI distress, I find that canned pineapple ( don’t laugh) achieves wonders.

  101. #110 JP
    January 13, 2017

    (store, Shabbat,

    Git shabbos! I’ve been meaning to ask my friend Howard for his mom’s challah recipe.

    If you’re not freaking out yet, I guess I’ll try not to. And you might be right about WA.

  102. #111 sadmar
    January 13, 2017

    The reason people wind up in the middle of the road is that they’re repulsed by both poles of Manichean oppositions. Observing the shades of gray – Johnny’s observation, for example – is, first of all, just a more accurate mapping of reality. But it’s also how you get out of getting run over in the middle of the road, since the wider the gray scale, the more interpretations there are on either side of the median.

    PGP is conflating how we assess reality with how we judge it. For example, I’m very into distinguishing the differences all along all sorts of spectra. But having done so, there are still times and places where I will have to draw some lines, and stand on one side or the other.
    https://youtu.be/Nzudto-FA5Y?t=27s

  103. #112 Politicalguineapig
    January 13, 2017

    Chemmomo: Which is more compassion than you express in your comments, as you think it’s OK to let everyone else suffer as well, regardless of own their beliefs.

    Here’s the thing: no matter how often vaccines/ science/health insurance gets explained, people still don’t want those things. The noise just gets louder, they still don’t learn anything, so maybe it’s time to just let things go, let the country go, and come back to the issues and the country in another generation. Or not.

    I usually am pretty compassionate, but I’ve had it up to here with the whining, the do-nothing baby boomers and the sellouts.

    • #113 Wzrd1
      January 14, 2017

      Here’s the thing: no matter how often vaccines/ science/health insurance gets explained, people still don’t want those things.

      Odd, I rather like vaccines, science and I love my health insurance, it’s a platinum plan. I wasn’t aware that either I’m not a person or I didn’t want them.
      Thanks for letting me know that, although I’m quite uncertain if I’m not a person or that I don’t want that which I quite like.

      I usually am pretty compassionate, but I’ve had it up to here with the whining, the do-nothing baby boomers and the sellouts.

      As a trailing edge baby boomer, may I invite you to kiss my arse in Macy’s window during the New Years Day parade?
      Compassionate, you aren’t. Abrasive as a scouring pad, you are.
      That’s OK though, scouring pad, meet aged corundum.
      See you on New Year’s day!
      Until then, I’ll be doing things.

  104. #114 vinu arumugham
    United States
    January 13, 2017

    Ralph Nader was not a mechanical engineer.
    That did not stop him from improving auto safety.
    You don’t need a PhD in immunology to improve vaccine safety.

  105. #115 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 14, 2017

    “You don’t need a PhD in immunology to improve vaccine safety.”
    True, but you have to understand the science and the statistics to have a hope in hell of doing anything meaningful.

    • #116 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 14, 2017

      Again, Ralph Nader is not an automotive engineer.
      To clean up corruption, and let the real experts do their job without interference, you don’t need to know science or statistics.

  106. #117 Chemmomo
    Intolerance is still not a good way of life
    January 14, 2017

    PGP 111

    I usually am pretty compassionate

    Yet, immediately before you claim this within the same comment you posted:

    so maybe it’s time to just let things go, let the country go, and come back to the issues and the country in another generation. Or not.

    Where’s the compassion in that?

  107. #118 Denice Walter
    January 14, 2017

    @ Chemmomo:

    In PGP, I hear someone who is very frustrated with the current situation ( involving anti-vaxxers and science deniers) so much that she is willing to give up entirely.

    When someone starts therapy/ counselling in order to improve his or her life, often they confront a feeling of helplessness and envison seemingly insurmountable obstecles strewn across their path so they want to give up. It just seems too difficult a task, too large to even contemplate.

    That’s where the therapist ( or a cooncerned mentor, friend, relative etc) steps in and says-

    ” Maybe it’s not as bad as you think’.

    giving possible scenarios which might work out more easily, offering assistance in some manner, inviting the hopeless one to break down the task into smaller parts or get additional help.

    Another tactic includes giving data that contradicts the hopelessness
    :
    e.g. most parents support vaccination and vaccinate their children

    the anti-vaxxers seem numerous because they are LOUDER and post their swill everywhere. Some loons like DJT even give them a platform which winds up on television and in the news. SBM supporters read websites and blogs that showcase the loonies ( AoA, TMR, Jake et al) in order to debunk them and ridicule them

    Look instead at vaccination rates across several areas. Not all of them are abysmal.

    I’m sure that automotive mechanics get sick and tired of looking over malfunctioning cars but hey, it’s his ( or her) job.

    Your attention determines your world view. Our perspective is highly focused on the badness of woo.

  108. #119 Denice Walter
    January 14, 2017

    And speaking of THAT devil..
    Jake ( Autism Investigated) has a new post up about RFK jr’s infamous article and two of Orac’s people challenge him.

    As sceptic and a psychologist I ask:
    Does anyone think that jake is representative of graduate stui=dents or that his views would be anything other than reprehensible to most adults?
    I think not.

  109. #120 Denice Walter
    January 14, 2017

    -btw- pardonnez les typos s.v.p.

  110. #121 squirrelelite
    January 14, 2017

    And no car was ever safe enough for Ralph Nader, which is a variation of the Nirvana Fallacy.

    Ralph Nader made people aware of important safety issues.

    But cars today are much safer than they were 50 years ago because of a combination of legal requirements, government and private testing, improvements in technology, and customer demand.

    Ralph Nader made very little contribution to any of that.

    And people still die in business and train wrecks.

    But most of those factors have helped make vaccines safer than they were 50 years ago.

    And none of them point to a need to scratch your itch.

    • #122 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 14, 2017

      “But cars today are much safer than they were 50 years ago because of a combination of legal requirements, government and private testing, improvements in technology, and customer demand.”

      You hit the nail on the head, several times. The legal requirements were a result of Nader’s work.
      Private testing, we don’t have that vaccines. That is hugely important.
      We don’t even have government testing.
      Customer demand. Yep, you can compare safety features and pick the safer car. The FDA lies to you that all vaccines are equally safe. So consumers don’t choose vaccine brands. So vaccine makers have zero incentive to make vaccines safer.

      “improvements in technology”
      does not help in vaccines because of above socialist vaccine “market”.
      Example:

      ” O’Brien et al. [13] measured 7.4 mcg/ml of ovalbumin in
      influenza vaccines in 1967. Goldis et al. [14] measured as much as 38.3 mcg/ml in influenza vaccines as recently as 2008. ”
      https://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/evidence-that-food-proteins-in-vaccines-cause-the-development-of-foodallergies-and-its-implications-for-vaccine-policy-2329-6631-1000137.pdf

    • #123 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 14, 2017

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader#Unsafe_at_Any_Speed
      “A year following the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed, Congress unanimously enacted the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John William McCormack said the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was due to the “crusading spirit of one individual who believed he could do something: Ralph Nader”.[13]”

  111. #124 squirrelelite
    January 14, 2017

    Make that bus wrecks.

  112. #125 Lawrence
    January 14, 2017

    Jake’s latest is a hoot…..

    It does appear that he learned “investigative journalism” from the back of a cereal box….

  113. #126 Narad
    January 14, 2017

    @JP:

    Git shabbos! I’ve been meaning to ask my friend Howard for his mom’s challah recipe.

    It’s really been straining my preparation abilities, as living alone allowed me to be happily yet preternaturally slow. Planning, shopping, and cooking before sundown is just a mad freaking dash. Being sick, I barely got in making peanut–sesame noodles yesterday, and that’s dead simple.

    @Denice:

    Walking pneumonia? Oh no!

    It was the pain from the (it turned out) ear infection that finally drove me in. We skipped the chest film, since I was getting antibiotics one way or the other, but let’s just say that the entrails sputum was, ah, rather suggestive by then.

    Do you have soup?

    Coffee and diet ginger ale. There aren’t many vegetarian soups that are striking me as particularly appealing at the moment, not to mention peering at cans for hechshers.

    In PGP, I hear someone who is very frustrated with the current situation ( involving anti-vaxxers and science deniers) so much that she is willing to give up entirely.

    Or blame-shifting misanthropy, whatever.

  114. #127 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 14, 2017

    “To clean up corruption, and let the real experts do their job without interference, you don’t need to know science or statistics.”
    To clean up corruption, you have to know something beyond lies, pseudoscience, and self-promotion.

    • #128 vinu arumugham
      January 14, 2017

      Corrupted science is pseudoscience and lies for vaccine promotion.

  115. #129 Lawrence
    January 14, 2017

    So, explain where all of the money comes from to bribe millions & maintain this global cover-up (including nations whose relations aren’t the best with each other) for decades….because $30 Billion dollars a year in revenue (not profit, revenue), certainly wouldn’t cover it.

    • #130 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 14, 2017

      why do you think corruption is so difficult to clean up?
      The ROI is insane.

  116. #131 Politicalguineapig
    January 14, 2017

    Chemmomo: Where’s the compassion in that?

    It’s acknowledging that we can’t make people want things and looking at how we can use resources better. If people in say, Orange County don’t want vaccines, than the vaccines get rerouted to a place where people do want them. If people in Louisiana or Texas don’t want libraries, the books get moved to places where they are appreciated. People in the US don’t want clean water? Fine, then maybe somebody in Europe or Asia does.

  117. #132 Gilbert
    January 14, 2017

    People in the US don’t want clean water? Fine, then maybe somebody in Europe or Asia does.

    Sure, people in the US do want clean water though they don’t necessarily want to purchase a Big Berkey water filter. People should have access to clean water but, did you know, there are local water laws in states such as California, Nevada, and Florida that forbid collecting and storing rain water?

    All the while, the ‘pristene’ spring and deep aquafer water is, in fact, being exported.

    The bottled water industry exports water in containers usually no larger than twenty litres.[4] But even that can be controversial – the multinational food giant Nestle was accused of attempting to “drain” the town of Hillsburgh, Ontario, of its water in 2012 and 2013, during a drought.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_export

    And yes, Belgians and Chiners are lapping up our ‘good’ water while we get the stuff aldulterated with fluoride.

  118. #133 Lawrence
    January 14, 2017

    Are you one of those Fluoride nuts too?

    You do realize that many areas have naturally occurring, and sometimes extremely high levels of fluoride – and it has been that way for a very, very long time.

  119. #134 Gilbert
    January 14, 2017

    Fine and good, Lawrence. But our water is fluoridated with hydrofluorosilicic acid; An industrial waste mainly imported from China.

  120. #135 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 14, 2017

    Jake ( Autism Investigated) has a new post up about RFK jr’s infamous article and two of Orac’s people challenge him.

    I think it’s cute the way Jake and both of his minions refer to friend Lawrence as ‘Larry’, as if they are trying to troll him.

    Of course, we know it’s all they got.

    Are you one of those Fluoride nuts too?

    Of course he is. Gilly is nuttier than squirrel $hit.

  121. #136 Lawrence
    January 14, 2017

    I find their childish insults merely amusing…..

  122. #137 Politicalguineapig
    January 14, 2017

    Lawrence: Are you one of those Fluoride nuts too?

    I’m not, but of course Gil-boy is. He believes any conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.

    I just think that most of the US doesn’t care if their water is drinkable or not. I know of only two places, Flint and Standing Rock that have actually taken concrete measures. Heck, Corpus Cristi can’t be bothered- chemical spill in the water? I’ve never seen such a resounding collective shrug in my life.
    What I actually meant was that people in other countries often do care about their local waterways.

  123. #138 Chemmomo
    Frustrated, but also invested in our next generation
    January 14, 2017

    PGP #130

    Still not seeing any compassion expressed in what you posted.

  124. #139 Chemmomo
    I thought it was the Land of Opportunity
    January 14, 2017

    Denice #117

    Look instead at vaccination rates across several areas. Not all of them are abysmal.

    Locally, last time I checked we had 1 PBE across two middle schools (about 600 students total) who will all eventually attend high school with my own.

    But less a little less locally, I’m at the epicenter of two measles outbreaks and H1N1 within my children’s lifetimes.

    PGP blathers on about withholding vaccines or education from portions of the US population without ever imagining the collateral damage inflicted on children whose parents’ beliefs support science. And, yes, that pushes my buttons.

    I found out the hard way that one of my kid’s chickenpox vaccine works – another kid at the school had vaccine failure about a year ago. I supported both AB2109 and SB277 (sending emails to legislators and encouraging others to do the same) because I don’t want to put the rest of the vaccines to the same test (for clarification: SB277 passed before the chickenpox exposure).

    I wish PGP would pay attention, and acknowledge that the real world is more complex than the boxes she thinks she needs to use to cope with it.

  125. #140 Politicalguineapig
    January 14, 2017

    Chemmomo: How is giving people what they want not compassionate?

  126. #141 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 14, 2017

    PGP blathers on about withholding vaccines or education from portions of the US population without ever imagining the collateral damage inflicted on children whose parents’ beliefs support science. And, yes, that pushes my buttons.

    Hey, she only wants to take vaccines from you. She wants kicked out of the country.

  127. #142 Chemmomo
    It's still supposed to be the Land of Opportunity
    January 14, 2017

    PGP #139

    How is giving people what they want not compassionate?

    Read my reply to Denice (#138 as currently numbered).

    You are OK with collateral damage, because you are not invested in future generations of children. I am. But even if I wasn’t, I still would not withhold vaccines and education from anyone.

    Accepting collateral damage may be pragmatic, but it is not compassionate.

  128. #143 Politicalguineapig
    January 14, 2017

    Johnny: Heck yeah I want to be kicked out of the country. I was already PLANNING to go to Columbia or Mexico anyway, so the INS will save me a plane ticket.

    Chemmomo: What do you mean ‘invested in future generations?’ I don’t want kids to die anymore than you do, but let’s face it, progress is over in the US.

  129. #144 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 14, 2017

    D’oh! Stupid typo.

    PGP wants me kicked out of the country. I fit at least half a dozen pigeon holes that she hates.

  130. #145 Chemmomo
    Land of Opportunity
    January 15, 2017

    Politicalguineapig #142

    I don’t want kids to die anymore than you do

    Then why do you post nonsense like

    If people in say, Orange County don’t want vaccines, than the vaccines get rerouted to a place where people do want them.

    (post #130)

    You are advocating withholding vaccines from specific populations of children. What do you think is going to happen if you do that?

    let’s face it, progress is over in the US.

    I can’t accept that. Even if I did not have children of my own, I cannot accept that.

    If I do, it is.

    You know what? Maybe I should thank you. The horrible attitude expressed in the comments you have posted here may be the thing that get that allows me to deal better with this mess in which we have found ourselves.

  131. #146 Narad
    January 15, 2017

    I just checked AoA and Jake for ( vicariously) orgasmic posts about their two heroes.

    I really have to hand it* to D’Ohlmsted for this bit of Agnewesque wordsmithery:

    “While it is too early to get either elated or dejected by current events, the trend-line is clear: Something’s happening here.”

    * I’m undecided about the antecedent.

  132. #147 TBruce
    January 15, 2017

    the trend-line is clear: Something’s happening here.

    …and you can be sure the future’s ahead.

  133. #148 Politicalguineapig
    January 15, 2017

    Johnny: I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. You seem like a good person. However, please understand that I have to assume that most people I now encounter are not good people.

    Chemmomo: Possibly that the parents would learn the errors of their ways and head off an epidemic? See, if an item isn’t available, the perception of it’s value automatically rises.Engineering artificial scarcities among the rich and non-vaccinating would increase the perceived value.

    As would sitting in the waiting room for hours while all the parents and kids who vaccinate get to go ahead of the anti-vaxxers.

  134. #149 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 15, 2017

    ‘You hit the nail on the head, several times. The legal requirements were a result of Nader’s work.’
    What happened between the publication of “Unsafe at Any Speed” and the passage of the act you mentioned in your quote from Wikipedia? I would take a guess that the changes voted into law came from a review by actual automotive and safety engineers, and probably from the medical community as well. The mandatory seatbelt law was passed the year before Nader’s book was published, the result principally of the efforts of Col. John Paul Stapp, MD, a USAF flight surgeon and a researcher expert in deceleration injury. He could advocate successfully because he knew intimately what he was talking about.
    Ralph Nader has done some great things, but what he did was to raise questions, not to answer them. That required professionals with the requisite expertise.
    As an example, New York City’s 1970s examination of police corruption was headed by Whitman Knapp, a former Federal judge with years of law enforcement experience as a prosecutor.
    A man with no real knowledge of science or medicine, no experience with administration of a large enterprise, no noteworthy experience as an investigator, and a declared bias is not a good choice. RFK Jr. has shown a clear bias that will cause him to slice and dice the facts to fit a conclusion he has already made, and if he’s appointed, it will be by a president who shares the same bias.
    No way in hell is he qualified.

    • #150 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 15, 2017

      “I would take a guess that the changes voted into law came from a review by actual automotive and safety engineers, and probably from the medical community as well. ”

      Once you ADMIT the problem, the fix is a little easier.
      Why did it take Nader’s book for a review by actual automotive engineers? The system was broken. Same for vaccines.

      No one is expecting RFK Jr to DESIGN safe vaccines.
      RFK Jr job would be get the vaccine establishment to admit we have a problem. Then the relevant experts can work on the fix.

  135. #151 Narad
    January 15, 2017

    Holy Mother of G-d, I nearly missed another AoA gem to ennui. John Stone thinks that he has personally been targeted by G—le.

    Age of Autism is a sufficiently visited and prominent website to qualify for coverage by Google News but over the years I have come to view this stoically since my articles have a remarkable tendency to disappear, or to have been given a misleading caption of some kind. . . .
    . . .
    I sometimes wonder which agency or public relations outfit is liaising with Google about my articles, all of which are thoroughly researched.

    Yes, he’s upset that some weeks-old item of his isn’t showing up in a news search for ‘Scotland’ + ‘autism’. I understand that he must be very proud to have actually cobbled together something new for a change, but the man is simply delusional.

  136. #152 Denice Walter
    January 15, 2017

    At any rate, I truly hope that my fellow and sister minions understand what I am trying to accomplish here-

    RI has many, many ‘bad cops’ ( i.e. very vocal, hard@ss science advocates) and it needs at least one ‘good cop’

    I am a kinder, gentler anti-woo advocate

    who is also trying to apply ideas that accompanied my education and training in psychology to increasing the peace amongst the minions

    Someone has to do it- it might as well be me..

    In other news…
    Jake continues riding his hobbyhorse apace
    Wait.. that’s not news.

    also not news
    Mike Adams ( Natural News) continues his swill contra anti-Trumpsters.
    Will be go after an elderly civil rights hero? Trump did.
    Will Jake?

  137. #153 sadmar
    January 15, 2017

    RFKJ is hardly analogous to Ralph Nader. Nader didn’t just have a lot to do with auto safety improvements, but is basically the Godfather of consumer protection activism in general. In none of his efforts was he bucking scientific concensus, and Naderite groups like the PIRGs worked with legitimate researchers to make their cases for policy. Vinu is just being vinu in claiming Nader as some exemplar, which is to say, just spewing wanton BS.

    American automotive engineers wouldn’t have been doing squat to seek answers to safety problems if Nader hadn’t rallied the public to very germane questions. Unsafe At Any Speed was focused on the Chevy Corvair, which was, in fact, a deathtrap. I had one for awhile, long after the controversy, and I knew I had to be careful driving it, and get the right kind of tires, The design flaw was much simpler than anything related to vaccines. Being rear engine, it had independent rear suspension. But the were only pivot-joints where the axles met the transmission – at the other end the wheels were fixed, and stayed perpendicular to the axles at all times. So, when the axles swung up or down from the center, the toe on the tires changed, and all hell broke loose. After Nader, Chevy changed the design to a proper pantagraph type, so the rear wheels stayed more vertical, but by that time, demand had dropped and the Corvair soon died. IT wasn’t like that proper suspension was anything new that required ‘science’ to answer. GM had just told the engineers to keep down production costs, and that was one of the corners they had cut.

    • #154 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 15, 2017

      “scientific concensus”

      Flat earth was a scientific consensus at some point.
      The laws of science do not depend on how many people agree on something.

      What happened to the “scientific consensus” behind flossing or stomach ulcers and stress?
      For vaccine safety, even claiming scientific consensus is wrong. It is unscientific coercion at work. Researchers are afraid to speak about vaccine safety.

      • #155 Wzrd1
        January 16, 2017

        Flat earth was a scientific consensus at some point.

        The earth is indeed flat! It’s gravity that twists things around and make it appear spherical!*

        TBruce, later screw-ups erase all successes? Why wasn’t Einstein’s Nobel Prize recalled when he divorced his wife, leaving her with an insane son, tons of bills, just to marry his first cousin? I could add more, but it’d be long and annoying.
        Otherwise, we have zero heroes or champions, only “he/she was great, until X, decades later, which nullified those successes and we really should repeal those laws, be they law of nation or law of nature”.
        That said, Gore vs Bush POTUS, Bush was only slightly loathed, after, slightly more at the time than Gore.
        Loved his internet task force thingie, it might actually pan out someday. 😉
        Loathed a few major gaffes that anyone with an operational brain wouldn’t make in his position. Some pie in the sky crap, totally off putting, then and now.
        But, I do miss my Bushisms calendar. It got lost in the move back home. When it was still current, that calendar was phenomenally popular with both enlisted and commissioned officer alike.**

        **At that point, I was a former enlisted military retiree, alas, sitting in a Major’s billet.
        Things got interesting when Bush the Lesser tried to make contractors subject to the UCMJ.
        Blocking that cost me a small favor and a small contribution to a legal fund, it cost Bush a SOFA agreement that, alas, in 20/20 hindsight, might’ve been something highly negotiable.
        But, the group consensus said that it was worth trading, lest the legal battle continue for a decade.
        Peers network and work together.
        The problem is, when incompetency is accepted, rather than evidence based competency is present. Once, we ignored our intelligence types that we relied upon under fire, we got a second term of an idiot as penance.
        Do we really want a massive death toll from influenza, measles or polio within the US?
        I’d rather have a nuclear war between Pakistan and India and I and my wife have close personal friends in both nations.
        I’d not want either.

        *Do the math on that one to get the physics joke.

    • #156 Wzrd1
      January 15, 2017

      Sadmar, I remember Nader’s efforts quite well. Loads of noise, little success, gathered followers and branching efforts to achieve his many goals to protect consumers.
      I also remember another rather unsafe car, my wife’s first care, a 1977 Ford Pinto, the infamous flame mobile.
      One problem with Nader was noise to signal, another, time on target.
      Fortunately, as his popularity grew, people branched off onto the various targets and forced the addressing of them.
      I fully expect to see most consumer protections rolled back under the incoming administration and current Congress.

      Well, back to watching the tail end of Lucy. A preposterous premise, good acting and extrapolation upon the idiotic premise.
      Want to see someone using 100% of their brain? See a grand mal seizure. Note when they run out of sugar to operate the brain halts the seizure. Save, in status epilepticus, which I’m thankful to never have witnessed.

  138. #157 TBruce
    January 15, 2017

    So Nader killed the Corvair. Big whoop. He also screwed up Al Gore’s chance to become president in 2000. Instead, you got GW Bush, who invaded Iraq on the basis of a falsehood, resulting in far more deaths than the Corvair was ever responsible for. Not to mention the delays in dealing with global climate change, which could potentially kill millions more.
    Thanks a bunch, Ralph.

  139. #158 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    January 16, 2017

    Flat earth was a scientific consensus at some point.

    No it wasn’t. In fact, thanks to Eratosthenes we knew millennia ago that the world was round.

    • #159 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 16, 2017

      He must have been a “pseudoscience anti-vaxxer” of his day. How dare he go against the scientific consensus?

  140. […] might imagine, particularly after his having met with antivaccinationists like Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., I am concerned, and I think I have good reason to be, about Donald Trump’s plans for the […]

  141. #161 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    January 16, 2017

    He must have been a “pseudoscience anti-vaxxer” of his day.

    He wasn’t. He is still known as “the father of Geography”.

    How dare he go against the scientific consensus?

    As I said, flat earth was never the scientific consensus.

    • #162 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 16, 2017

      “As I said, flat earth was never the scientific consensus.”
      Then what was the scientific consensus before Eratosthenes?

  142. #163 TBruce
    January 16, 2017

    Then what was the scientific consensus before Eratosthenes?

    That the Earth was shaped like a chicken?
    http://imgur.com/9YJGArC

  143. #164 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 16, 2017

    Then what was the scientific consensus before Eratosthenes?

    The idea of “Scientific Consensus” did not exist. Eratosthenes died in 194 B.C. Nice try, though.

    • #165 vinu arumugham
      United States
      January 16, 2017

      How did you come know about Eratosthenes’ idea?
      Because someone documented it. If people were documenting/reading then there can be scientific consensus. It may have been called something else.

  144. #166 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 16, 2017

    “Flat earth was a scientific consensus at some point.”
    It was never a scientific consensus in the days of Eratosthenes because populations had little contact with each other and anything that could be considered scientific inquiry was rare and limited in distribution. There was only popular opinion for most of the world, and most of the world was not in a position to make the observation that most provoked curiosity about Earth’s shape – that as a receding ship sailed to the horizon, it disappeared from the bottom up, just as if it were going downhill.
    The development of modern science had to wait for the innovations of the Renaissance – the telescope, the microscope, calculus, the clock, high-quality glassmaking, and more. The word “scientist” itself was only coined some time around 1840 to replace the increasingly antiquated “natural philosopher”.

  145. […] right around the time that the Cleveland Clinic hired him? Yes, that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the one with whom Donald Trump met last week to discuss “vaccine safety,” thereby alarming physicians, medical professionals, and […]

  146. #168 Chris Preston
    Australia
    January 21, 2017

    Trump panel on vaccines more unlikely

    In his response, the Republican chairman of the committee, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, put it plainly: “Sound science is this: Vaccines save lives.”