Will 2017 be the antivaccine year?

]As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been dealing with the antivaccine movement since at least the early 2000s. Back then, I didn’t have a blog, either this one or my not-so-super-secret other blog, and most of my online activities were restricted to Usenet. For those of you who don’t remember Usenet, which has largely become the province of trolls and spam these days, it is a massive set of online discussion boards on literally thousands of topics. Indeed, I first encountered antivaccine advocates on Usenet and started to learn the sorts of pseudoscientific arguments they make, so that when I started my not-so-super-secret other blog at the end 2004 I was ready. Twelve years later, I keep seeing that everything old is new again, as antivaccine arguments never change. They just keep getting recycled covered in different wrappers.

The relentlessness of proponents of antivaccine pseudoscience has, not infrequently, led me to wonder every so often over the years whether antivaxers were “winning,” until I came to see that in this battle everything is cyclical. Some years the antivaxers would appear to be winning the PR war, while other years they would appear to be in retreat. I don’t have any hard data on this, but one huge victory I perceive is the much decreased use of the oft-maligned (and justifiably so) journalistic trope of false balance, in which editors seemed to think that every story about vaccines required input from the “other side.” Indeed, I cut my blogging teeth, so to speak, complaining about how often people like J.B. Handley, Jenny McCarthy, “Dr. Jay” Gordon, “Dr. Bob” Sears, and even Andrew Wakefield himself would show up on television and in news stories about vaccines to give the “other side” of the vaccine-autism manufactroversy. I call it false balance, because there is no “other side” to the “debate” over whether vaccines cause autism. The science has been convincingly settled for quite some time, and, barring new and extremely compelling evidence (which is highly unlikely to be unearthed), it’s far more concise to simply say that vaccines don’t cause autism. In any case, it could be confirmation bias, but over the last five years or more, I’ve noticed far more news outlets willing to state that vaccines don’t cause autism and to forego the once obligatory “other side” in articles and news reports.

Still, I never thought we’d nominate, much less elect, an antivaccine conspiracy monger as President. Donald Trump’s long, sordid history of antivaccine proclivities dating back at least to 2007 has been well documented many times. I never thought we’d see a future President meet with antivaccine activists like Andrew Wakefield on the campaign trail or, even worse, meet with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (who never met a bad study blaming vaccines for bad outcomes that he didn’t like) after elected to discuss vaccines. Now, antivaxers expect the Trump Administration to make changes in policy and law to suit their interests, such as abolishing the vaccine court and “draining the swamp” of the CDC. There’s a reason I fear for vaccine policy under President Trump, although, because vaccine requirements are set at the state level, there are limits to what he can do.

Given the election of Donald Trump as President, there’s no doubt that antivaxers feel emboldened, and, when combined with other trends, there is reason for concern. Even now, fake news stories are circulating claiming that the FBI raided the CDC in the middle of the night using the “CDC whistleblower’s” charges as a pretext and that President Trump ordered all vaccine-related information off the CDC website by February 18 and enacted a 90-day ban on childhood vaccines. Meanwhile, health organizations are urging Trump to back vaccine science. That’s something that’s never been seen before, to my knowledge: The need to petition a sitting President to accept the science of vaccines. There’s good reason why some are now openly asking whether antivaxers are winning.

I started thinking about this topic in response to an op-ed published earlier this month in the New York Times, by a pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development entitled “How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning.” Dr. Hotez, for those of you not familiar with him, is fast becoming the new Paul Offit in the eyes of the antivaccine movement. I mean that as a compliment, of course. If antivaxers view Paul Offit as Darth Vader, Lord Voldemort, and the Dark Lord Sauron all rolled up into one, they’re starting to view Dr. Hotez as Darth Vader, at least, thanks to his staunch advocacy for vaccines as the best means to protect children from deadly diseases. That’s a good thing, as is how much antivaccine activist J.B. Handley hates Dr. Hotez. I probably only qualify to them as one of Sauron’s orcs. (Meanwhile some antivaxers seem to think that Dr. Hotez is actually Dan Rather, something that amuses me to no end.) Dr. Hotez isn’t alone, either. Last month, Ford Vox wrote an editorial, “Under Trump, the anti-vaxxers might just win“, pointing to the antivaccine article published by the director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute as an example.

In his NYT op-ed, Dr. Hotez begins with this grim appraisal:

It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America.

Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.

The myth that vaccines like the one that prevents measles are connected to autism has persisted despite rock-solid proof to the contrary. Donald Trump has given credence to such views in tweets and during a Republican debate, but as president he has said nothing to support vaccination opponents, so there is reason to hope that his views are changing.

Here’s where I’ll be more grim than Dr. Hotez. No, Donald Trump’s views are not changing. He’s been remarkably consistent in his view that vaccines cause autism at least since 2007, and, if there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, once he’s latched on to a conspiracy theory, he doesn’t change his belief in it. My guess is that vaccine policy just isn’t a priority right now. We can only hope that his advisors manage to keep him distracted enough that he doesn’t turn his attention to it. Again, fortunately, vaccine policy is mostly made at the state level, with the CDC providing the recommendations that most states follow.

Dr. Hotez also notes a litany of other issues, such as Andrew Wakefield’s propaganda-film-disguised-as-a-documentary VAXXED and how President Trump might have proposed setting up a vaccine commission with RFK Jr. as the chair as reasons to be concerned, before launching into discussion of data concerning vaccine exemption rates in Texas that he wrote about in PLoS Medicine that was reported in December . In the past, Hotez has characterized Texas as the “center of the antivaxxer movement,” and his PLoS Medicine article shows why. I discussed the article in detail before under the title When the next big outbreaks happen, they’ll probably happen in Texas, and they quite possibly will. The reason is a massive 19-fold increase in the number of personal belief exemptions since 2003, a trend that shows no sign of stopping.

It’s a common misconception that antivaccine views and vaccine-hesitancy are primarily the provenance of crunchy coastal liberals. They’re not. As I point out frequently, antivaccine views are the pseudoscience that transcends political views. Unfortunately, we very well might be seeing evidence of that in Texas when the next measles outbreaks happen there. Donald Trump’s antivaccine views could well resonate in a bipartisan fashion, should he choose to indulge them.

Just as antivaccine views cross political boundaries, so, too, does support for vaccine mandates. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t reason for concern, though, as the strength of support is weaker than I’d like to see, as Steve Novella pointed out. What most concerns me is that, with the election of Donald Trump, support for vaccine mandates, once a nonpartisan issue, is becoming increasingly politicized, with the right wing becoming the antivaccine political wing and representing school vaccine mandates as assaults on “freedom.” Worse, there’s a lot that Donald Trump can do to undermine support for vaccines.

Will 2017 be the year of the antivaxer?

Normally, when I see the antivaccine movement apparently in ascendancy, as I double down my efforts to defend science, I can also reassure myself that the antivaccine movement is a fringe group and that, contrary to the case a decade ago, the press has for the most part learned not to fall into the false equivalency trap and instead to state consensus science correctly when doing stories about autism or vaccines. With the discrediting of Andrew Wakefield as a fraud my perception has been that, overall, science is slowly winning the battle over vaccine hesitancy. Sure, there have been bumps along the way, but my perception has been that the overall trend has been in the right direction, particularly given laws like SB 277 in California, which bans nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates and how others states have been considering similar legislation. Now we have a President who says the same sorts of things that antivaccine activists do and has met with their heroes. We’re in uncharted territory, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t know what will happen next.

Here’s one other example I like to give of the change since my early days as a blogger. Several years ago, I used to dread April, which is Autism Awareness Month, because I could, usually beginning on March 30 or 31, count on seeing Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, and the other usual antivaccine suspects in the media touting the pseudoscience blaming autism on vaccines, largely because media outlets would do stories on autism for the month and inevitably feel the need to cover that angle. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that these sorts of Autism Awareness Month stories have become rare to nonexistent. I often no longer notice when March 31 or April 1 rolls around. Not this year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that antivaccine activists have planned a March on Washington called Revolution for Truth on March 31, 2017.

Here’s its “call to action.” Predictably, the webpage invokes our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence. (Antivaxers do love doing that.) On their Facebook page, the organizers declare:

On Friday, March 31, 2017, concerned individuals from across America will join with health care professionals in Washington D.C. to defend parental rights and civil liberties, including freedom of thought, speech and conscience. We are uniting to call out the corporatized mainstream media for manufacturing “fake news” that distorts the truth about environmental toxins, unsafe food and vaccine risks, which endangers our right to know and freedom to choose how we protect our health.

We are Taking a Stand for Truth and Freedom in Washington D.C.

To protest the corporatized mainstream media’s biased coverage and demonization of anyone who advocates for safer vaccines or defends the legal right to make informed, voluntary vaccine choices.

To protest the exploitation of the people by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries that have poisoned our environment and compromised our health for profit.

To protest the liability shield that Congress has given to drug companies to protect them from accountability in a court of law when government mandated vaccines injure or kill us or our children.

We are calling on our elected representatives in state legislatures and in Congress to protect our parental rights and civil liberties and to restore Truth, Integrity, and Transparency in Government agencies responsible for ensuring the public health and safety in America.

Join us IF you believe that you – not Big Pharma or the government – should decide what is best for you and your children’s health.

Join us IF you recognize that the corporatized mainstream media is ignoring and withholding the truth when it comes to the evidence that our environment and our food and vaccine supplies have been seriously compromised.

The speakers there will include a veritable rogues’ gallery of antivaccine pseudoscience supporters, including Trump’s new BFF RFK Jr. giving the keynote address. Joining him will be Barbara Loe Fisher, Minister Tony Muhammad, Del Bigtree, Brian Hooker, Paul Thomas, Judy Mikovits, Toni Bark, Marcella Piper-Terry, Kent Heckenlively, Diane Hennacy Powell, Sheila Lewis Ealey, Ty Bollinger, Diane Hennacy Powell, Jennifer Margulis, and Robert Moxley.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Antivaccine activists did the same thing nearly nine years ago, then led by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, with a march called Green Our Vaccines. Nothing came of it, even though Jim Carrey was a big star then and Jenny McCarthy was a C- to B-list celebrity. This year the biggest celebrity at the march will apparently be RFK Jr. On the other hand, back in 2008 antivaccine activists didn’t have someone sympathetic to their views, someone who speaks their language, in the White House. Vaccine mandates hadn’t become a partisan issue, with libertarian-leaning Republicans like Rand Paul insisting on “health freedom” and “parental choice”. Congress was a lot less likely to be receptive. It could well be that this demonstration fizzles too, just like its predecessor in 2008, but the wild card remains the occupant of the White House, coupled with the sea change in our politics during the intervening nine years.

To be honest, I don’t know whether antivaxers are “winning” or not. That might be a cop-out, but in my defense I can only point out that, even taking the long view as I have before, circumstances have never been as they are now. There are certainly reasons to be pessimistic, not the least of which is our President. However, not all the news is bad, and I know that vaccine science will be one of the top issues that scientists and science advocates will defend. I also know that Trump can’t wave a magic wand and impose his will on 50 diverse states.

What I do know is that 2017 will be a time of peril, given how energized the antivaccine movement has been by the election of President Trump. I also know that science advocates have to do everything in our power to defend and strengthen vaccination programs. After all, if antivaxers are winning, our children are losing.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Preston
    Australia
    February 20, 2017

    Well Trump has certainly energised the anti-vaccine lunatic fringe. They are doing their best to fawn over him: something Trump really wants to happen.

    The first month of the administration gives me some hope that Trump will never get around to doing anything effective. AN administration that lurches from one disaster to the next all the while denying they have a problem is going to find it hard to focus their attention on the matter of vaccine policy.

    If things go on as they have, it will all be bluster and empty promises, just like Kennedy’s great mercury challenge. On that topic, has anyone noticed that De Niro has seeming distanced himself from this challenge? Perhaps the worst the Trump administration might do is not react appropriately to a disease risk and allow it to be easier for people to get exemptions to vaccination for their children. One can hope anyway.

    The biggest risk will be if the Trump administration starts working as a cohesive government.

    Despite my somewhat rosy comments above, vigilance is required. The anti-vaxxers have Trump’s ear through the chiropractor Gary Kompothecras. I almost wrote “anti-vaccine chiropractor”, but that would be a tautology.

  2. #2 herr doktor bimler
    February 20, 2017

    They certainly seemed to be inspired by the whole “Invent your own alternative facts” paradigm shared among the Stormtrumpers, with the advice to potential followers and donors that they should close their eyes and ears to any source of information that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

    We are Taking a Stand for Truth and Freedom in Washington D.C.

    Goodness me. What is with the Capitals? Is it supposed to be all Archaick and Founding-Fatherish?

    Joining him will be Barbara Loe Fisher, Minister Tony Muhammad, Del Bigtree, Brian Hooker, Paul Thomas, Judy Mikovits, Toni Bark, Marcella Piper-Terry, Kent Heckenlively, Diane Hennacy Powell, Sheila Lewis Ealey, Ty Bollinger, Diane Hennacy Powell, Jennifer Margulis, and Robert Moxley.

    It is entertaining to see an unabashed opportunist like Mikovits battening onto Health Freedom as the new income stream after she lost her standing in mainstream virology for too many faked results (she was somewhat of a scapegoat for the other people in the whole XMRV debacle who were also faking results). Normally it would be a source of embarrassment to have Mikovits on one’s side, but by the standards of True Believers, I suppose her switch makes her a Brave Whistleblower and Martyr for Truth rather than a grifting turncoat.

    Buggrit, now I’m doing the Random Capitals as well.

  3. #3 DrBollocks
    February 20, 2017

    Hopefully, Betteridge’s Law will apply to the headline of this article.

  4. #4 Chris Hickie
    February 20, 2017

    A new group called “Physicians for Informed Consent” (PIC) has crawled out of the slimy shadows of anti-vaccinationism and into the light these last two weeks, apparently in conjunction with Bob Sears breaking a nearly 2-month period of silence on social media (with Sears being one of the co-founding physicians–I was hoping his attorney for his medical board complaint had told him to stfu but apparently not). PIC has a nice web page (feel free to google, I’m not giving them a link booster here) with their first meeting coming up soon in–where else?–but Orange County, home to two measles outbreaks in 2014-15 as well as Sears. Of course it costs about $200 a year to join, but you can get a discount if you are a medical resident or medical student; and joining PIC gets you a complimentary one-year membership in the anti-vaccine group The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons as well. Although there are many of the usual anti-vax physicians we are used to seeing (although I don’t see Jay Gordon listed), there are a lot of physicians I don’t recognize and this deepy bothers me because it likely signifies that physicians who were quietly anti-vaccine are now coming out of this “shadow network” of anti-vax doctors having realized that they have little to lose (thanks to the failure of state medical boards to discipline anti-vaccine doctors) and a lot to gain financially jumping on this Trump-inspired gravy train ( please see https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/01/when-the-doctor-is-a-vaccine-skeptic/513383/ to read about this “shadow network” ).

    I do think 2017 will be a year vaccination rates drop considerably. What I believe we will see are drops in vaccination rates and more VPD outbreaks in the lowest vaccination areas (not just Texas as many have written, but also Oregon and Arizona in the next 1-3 years). The resultant morbidity and mortality from these VPD outbreaks will cause vaccination rates to increase (similar to California after the “Disnyeland” measels outbreak), but I fear the US is headed towards being just like many countries in Europe where vaccination rates are low enough that many vaccine-preventable diseases become unnecssarily endemic. It is shameful that medical groups like the AMA, AAFP and AAP don’t actively and publicly denounce these anti-vaccine doctors as well as publicly petition state medical boards to suspend and revoke the licenses of AV quacks like Sears, Jay Gordon, Paul Thomas, Mercola, Tenpenney, Humphries, Bark, Wolfson, etc, etc. AV physicians are a menace to society. These are the quacks that are now truly going to work together like never before to scare well-meaning parents into not vaccinating their children. If we don’t know and name the enemies of pediatric (and public) health, we can’t expect to defeat them.

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    February 20, 2017

    “Physicians for Informed Consent”

    I’ll stop calling these people Orwellian when they stop using 1984 as an operations manual.

    Same thing with invoking the Founding Fathers. These people speak of their freedom, while ignoring that other people are equally entitled to such freedoms as not fearing that they or their loved ones will be infected with some vaccine-preventable disease. As Ben Franklin noted: “If we don’t hang together we will all most certainly hang separately.”

  6. #6 Rob
    February 20, 2017

    With DeVos now leading Education, with a goal of dismantling education, a strong force for getting all students vaccinated could also be weakened.

  7. #7 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    February 20, 2017

    I think your President is anti-vaccine for one simple reason. His ego won’t let him admit that it was probably his advanced age and genes that led to his son being autistic. For someone with an ego as large as his, it would be a hard pill to swallow that it was your fault your new son isn’t as normal as your other children. I’d lay money that Melania has taken a lot of grief over the years because of this. To be clear, I do not think that this in any way excuses his idiocy about vaccines, but it does make it a bit easier to understand. The same as the fraud Wakefield went anti-vaccine to fill his bank account. It’s undertsandable, but not acceptable. I’m still working on why RFK Jr became such an ass-clown however.

    As for the writ large USA. I think there will be a lot of smoke, but less fire. The political appointees will make a lot of decrees that will not be actioned in the way they intended by the non-partisan workers. Sure, some of the people will do their bit to try and enforce idiocy, but the majority will act as a buffer against the stupidity. It worked for Ronnie Raygun, it will work for Rumpled Trumskin. At least until Trump fires all the scientists and lab technicians.

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    February 20, 2017

    it would be a hard pill to swallow that it was your fault your new son isn’t as normal as your other children

    Assumes facts not in evidence: that Trump’s other children are normal.

    Well OK, Tiffany might be. She’s been keeping a low profile. But Ivana’s children (Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric) are apples that didn’t fall far from the tree. There are various adjectives I’d use to describe those three. “Normal” isn’t among them.

    For that matter, although I have seen speculation to the effect that Barron Trump is autistic, I haven’t seen confirmation from anybody in a position to know. And I haven’t seen enough about him to form my own opinion on the subject. Let’s not blame him for the sins of his father.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    February 20, 2017

    Blockquote fail in the above: the first paragraph was meant to be quoting AP.

  10. #10 DrBollocks
    February 20, 2017

    Meanwhile, there has been a backlash against the antivaxers in the UK. A bunch of homeopaths organised for the Vaxxed team to show their fraudumentary, after a central London cinema cancelled the booking when it became aware of the content, but retribution was swift

    See here for a less than complimentary article about Andrew Wakefield, who was in London to address the Vaxxed audience.

  11. #11 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    February 20, 2017

    @8 Eric Lund
    True. I am going on media reports that young Barron has autism, and not a proper doctors diagnosis. However, I think you are being unfair to say that the other children are not normal children of wealthy parents. They may be assholes extraordinaire, with a wealth of unappetizing habits, but they are as normal as any of their peers, or any other people you happen to meet on the street who do not have ASD. Normal doesn’t mean decent or even nice. Just means they have the same mental view on reality as you and I.

  12. #12 DrBollocks
    February 20, 2017

    I should add, the author of the second article I linked to also called out his fellow journalists for their mendacious reporting of the MMR-autism manufactroversy. Basically, he agreed with Orac’s point about false balance.

  13. #13 Steven St. John
    Winter Park, FL
    February 20, 2017

    I was heartened by a video I saw today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXu44FFGOpw. Bill Gates discussing his conversation about innovation with Trump. I don’t have any rose-colored glasses on about it, but it is good to know that Gates plans to use his voice to encourage wise policy. And Gates is smart enough to formulate his pitch in a language that will appeal to Trump.

  14. #14 Eric Lund
    February 20, 2017

    However, I think you are being unfair to say that the other children are not normal children of wealthy parents. They may be assholes extraordinaire, with a wealth of unappetizing habits, but they are as normal as any of their peers, or any other people you happen to meet on the street who do not have ASD.

    I think we have differing definitions of “normal”. It’s true that there is no reason to believe that Ivanka, Donald Jr., or Eric have ASD. That is necessary but not sufficient to declare them normal.

    I don’t have any background in psychiatry, so I will refrain from armchair diagnosis, but it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to see that Donald Trump is not normal. As I realized during the campaign, he’s so vain that he probably thinks the old Carly Simon song is about him (Ms. Simon reached a similar conclusion; she allowed the song to be used in an anti-Trump campaign ad). These traits are above and beyond what you see in ordinary rich people. I see many of the same traits in the three eldest children. On top of that, if you don’t find the relationship between Ivanka and her father creepy, you haven’t been paying attention. He’s on record as saying, in so many words, that if she weren’t his daughter he’d date her. And there is a photograph, taken in the 1990s, which shows Donald and the then-teenaged Ivanka in an inappropriately sexual pose.

    Normal people can certainly be jerks. Most of us are at least some of the time. The three eldest Trump children go well beyond that. As I said, those apples did not fall far from the tree.

  15. #15 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    February 20, 2017

    Orac writes,

    The science has been convincingly settled for quite some time, and, barring new and extremely compelling evidence (which is highly unlikely to be unearthed), it’s far more concise to simply say that vaccines don’t cause autism.

    MJD say,

    The uncertainty in the words “barring new and extremely compelling evidence” indicates that Orac remains an open-minded vaccine safety advocate.

    It continues to be an unfortunate burden on children to show medical science that vaccines don’t cause autism.

    Of course parents are scared, as the Father of two autistic sons I continue to hold medical science partly-responsible for their autism spectrum disorder.

    Is 2017 the year of antivaccine?……….No

  16. #16 Idran
    February 20, 2017

    @AP & Eric Lund: Do you have to keep framing the opposite of “autistic” as “normal”? It’s that sort of framing that helps to fuel backlash and disgust against people on the spectrum, by presenting autism as an abnormality to be eradicated, and there’s a perfectly good word available in “neurotypical”.

  17. #17 Politicalguineapig
    February 20, 2017

    AP: I’m still working on why RFK Jr became such an ass-clown however.

    He’s dim, that’s all there is to it, and desperate to achieve the prestige of his father and uncle.

  18. #18 Les Lane
    February 20, 2017

    […]and there’s a perfectly good word available in “neurotypical”.

    How about not autistic?
    A-autistic?
    Aautistic? (has the benefit of being the second word in many dictionaries, right behind aardvark. )
    Contra-autistic
    Contratistic?
    Anti-autistic
    Antitistic?

    Neurotypical sounds like there is something wrong with the neurons of autistic people. I don’t think this is the case.

  19. #19 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    February 20, 2017

    @15 Idran
    Please do not mistake me indicating that people on the ASD spectrum not being normal indicates in any way what so ever that I think they are lesser beings. They see the world differently is all. It causes issues for them understanding “normal” people and with “normal” people understanding them. Eradication is what you do with pests and vermin. Autistic folk need extra consideration and assistance in navigating a civilization that has been developed by and for “normal” people. My sister has spent the last 20+ years helping her son navigate a society that he doesn’t really understand and live by rules that make very little sense to him. Hell, I’m more or less “normal” and it confuses me to no end. I just wish that I had his skills with pattern recognition and ability to concentrate. Would he trade that for my ability to function in the “normal” world? I don’t know. I think he doesn’t think that that kind of question is relevant, or I’m not skilled enough to interpret what he is saying.

    @14 Eric Lund
    Egotistical and narcissistic are still broadly speaking normal. They go to extremes. Him talking about his daughter. I haven’t bothered ti read up on the quotes, nor do I care enough to. I’ll take your word for it that he has incestuous thoughts towards a rather attractive young lady who is also his daughter.

    @16 Politicalguineapig
    That makes as much sense as anything else. I guess he just couldn’t convince enough people to vote for him and enter the family business that way.

  20. #20 Idran
    February 20, 2017

    @17/AP: Oh, I wasn’t trying to ascribe _intention_. I know you both mean well. I’m just saying, the word “neurotypical” works just as well as “normal” without presenting a dichotomy of “how things should be” vs. “how things shouldn’t be”.

  21. #21 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    February 20, 2017

    @18 Idran
    Understood. Neurotypical however opens a whole can of philosophical beans that I am ill equipped to deal with. I can claim to be somewhat “normal”. I cannot claim to be neurotypical as I fall outside of the emotional portion of those parameters to an extent. I will however try to use neurotypical instead of normal here, in the spirit that you are suggesting.

  22. #22 Politicalguineapig
    February 20, 2017

    Les Lane: “Allistic” is a term I’ve seen bandied about on the internet. I think it’s a bit clunky.

  23. #23 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    February 20, 2017

    Oh, man, a fake Johnny. I had one of those a couple years ago.

    Proper Johnny
    Accept no substitutes

  24. #24 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 20, 2017

    “Dr” Hickie states: [i]Surgeons as well. Although there are many of the usual anti-vax physicians we are used to seeing (although I don’t see Jay Gordon listed)[/i]

    I’m not allowed to join because I am not anti-vaccine.

  25. #25 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 20, 2017

    OOPS
    Sent before it was ready.

    “Dr” Hickie, have you reinstated you AAP Fellowship yet?

    “Dr” Hickie states: Although there are many of the usual anti-vax physicians we are used to seeing (although I don’t see Jay Gordon listed)

    I’m not allowed to join because I am not anti-vaccine.

  26. #26 Dangerous Bacon
    February 20, 2017

    But of course, Jay Gordon is not anti-vaccine in the same manner as fellow pediatricians Bob Sears and Paul Thomas.

    And like them, he has been vehemently opposed to California’s SB277.

    So Jay is a natural for the “informed consent” movement, i.e. eliminate mandatory vaccination requirements and let those outbreaks fly.

    The only thing keeping Jay from being a card-carrying Physicians for Informed Consent member is the $200 entry fee (he could crowdfund it if need be) and he can join Bob, Paul, Tetyana Obukhanych and the rest of the PICs* on their Wall of Shame.

    *Not sure how Tetyana the Iconoclastic Immunologist qualifies as a physician, but it’s probably the thought that counts.

  27. #27 Cypher
    February 20, 2017

    New flashes for all of you non-critical thinkers out there that find it much easier to do Ad hominem attacks against people that speak out against mandatory chemical injections such as RFK, Jr., Robert De Niro, and Del Bigtree…..

    #1 All three of them just called you out. Unless you can show peer reviewed proof that injected thimerosal is safe (and claim your 100K), you should just got back your corners and STFU.

    #2 Chemical injections did not save mankind. Cleaner living and nutrition did. Don’t take my word for it. Its right here in the Journal of Pediatrics:

    “The largest historical decrease in morbidity and mortality caused by infectious disease was experienced not with the modern antibiotic and vaccine era, but after the introduction of clean water and effective sewer systems.”

    http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(99)70080-6/pdf

    #3 The anti vaccine movement is not a new fad. It started 200 years ago after the first smallpox vaccine was shown to kill and maim people with no positive benefit vs risk. An example of the uprising more recently around the turn of the century:
    http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=b04c757ae6b31410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

    Wake the hell up ppl! Medieval chemical injections do very little to protect us, but do very much harm.

    Come with your personal attacks against me if you want. I really don’t care. It just further shows that you ppl have 0 evidence to back up your tobacco science. Simply regurgitating the same tired “the science is settled” pizzle holds no water anymore.

    Now excuse me while I polish my tin foil hat.

  28. #28 madder
    February 20, 2017

    It bothers me that Dr. Gordon will come in here and question Dr. Hickie’s credentials by putting his earned Dr. title in quote marks. If previous experience is any guide, Dr. Gordon will eventually offer a half-apology for that pointless insult only after someone calls him on it. But when someone responds in kind, he’ll storm off in a huff, reassuring himself that we’re all just too rude to deal with.

    I’d encourage any newcomers to search for his name in the convenient searchbox above, and read a few of the comment threads in which he’s participated to see just how common that pattern is.

    My favorite is the one from a while back in which he professed to have developed a hierarchy of medical knowledge that prioritizes anecdotes over established science.

  29. #29 TBruce
    February 20, 2017

    @Cypher:
    So what happened to smallpox and polio?

  30. #30 Chris
    February 20, 2017

    Cypher: “Chemical injections did not save mankind. Cleaner living and nutrition did.”

    Oh, really? You really need to provide better citations than an eighteen year old editorial and a newspaper article.

    The following is US Census Data on measles incidence (morbidity) during the 20th century. Please tell us why the number of reported cases dropped 90% in the USA between 1960 and 1970. Do provide the PubMed indexed studies that show the great nutrition and sanitary interventions that prevented measles.

    Some rules:

    Do not mention deaths/mortality. That would be changing the subject, since the data is only on incidence/morbidity.

    Do not mention any other country. Again, that would be changing the subject because this is specifically data from Census Bureau of the United State of America. Neither England nor Wales are American states.

    Do not mention any other disease, because would also be changing the subject. The data presented are only about measles incidence.

    Do not mention any other decade unless the drop was at least 50% and the rate of measles never went up again.

    From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
    Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
    1912 . . . 310.0
    1920 . . . 480.5
    1925 . . . 194.3
    1930 . . . 340.8
    1935 . . . 584.6
    1940 . . . 220.7
    1945 . . . 110.2
    1950 . . . 210.1
    1955 . . . 337.9
    1960 . . . 245.4
    1965 . . . 135.1
    1970 . . . . 23.2
    1975 . . . . 11.3
    1980 . . . . . 5.9
    1985 . . . . . 1.2
    1990 . . . . .11.2
    1991 . . . . . .3.8
    1992 . . . . . .0.9
    1993 . . . . . .0.1
    1994 . . . . . .0.4
    1995 . . . . . .0.1
    1996 . . . . . .0.2
    1997 . . . . . . 0.1

  31. #31 Dangerous Bacon
    February 20, 2017

    “It bothers me that Dr. Gordon will come in here and question Dr. Hickie’s credentials by putting his earned Dr. title in quote marks.”

    His remarks should bother Dr. Sears and Dr. Thomas.

    Jay says he can’t join PIC because he’s not antivaccine. But Sears and Thomas are members, so Jay is suggesting _they’re_ antivaccine.

    Maybe he’s jealous because those two are starting to monopolize Brave Maverick Pediatrician coverage.

  32. #32 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 20, 2017

    Madder says: “It bothers me that Dr. Gordon will come in here and question Dr. Hickie’s credentials by putting his earned Dr. title in quote marks. If previous experience is any guide, Dr. Gordon will eventually offer a half-apology for that pointless insult only after someone calls him on it. But when someone responds in kind, he’ll storm off in a huff, reassuring himself that we’re all just too rude to deal with.”

    Guess again. No apology. He is a miserable, sad person who trolls me all over the internet. He calls himself a pediatrician but I don’t believe the AAP recognizes him as such. I assume he’s one of those docs who are constantly talking about how awful it is to practice medicine these days. It’s not! I love my job, my patients and am really sick of Dr. Hickie. (I left off the quotes, just for you, Madder.) I wish him greater success in his practice so that he can stop focusing so hard on mine.

  33. #33 brian
    February 20, 2017
  34. #34 Roger Kulp
    February 20, 2017

    MJD,I believe this is the first time you have mentioned,on this blog,that you have two children on the spectrum.This should be a big red flag there is something genetic going on.Genetic disorders are nothing to be afraid of.I would suggest you look into whole exome sequencing.

  35. #35 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    February 20, 2017

    Roger Kulp writes (#34),

    Genetic disorders are nothing to be afraid of.I would suggest you look into whole exome sequencing.

    MJD says,

    We were part of gene study based on 2 or more ASD children in a family. The University of Iowa investigation (~year 1995) informed us there were no observed genetic anomalies.

    Good to see your back posting here at RI, Roger!

  36. #36 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 20, 2017

    Dangerous Bacon opines, “His remarks should bother Dr. Sears and Dr. Thomas.

    Jay says he can’t join PIC because he’s not antivaccine. But Sears and Thomas are members, so Jay is suggesting _they’re_ anti vaccine.”

    In addition to a sarcasm font, there should be a “facetious comment” font. Dangerous Bacon, we have not had many conversations the past year, but, from years past, I remember your having a pretty decent sense of humor and irony. Doctors Sears and Thomas are no more anti-vaccine than you and I are.

  37. #37 Jake Crosby
    February 20, 2017
  38. #39 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    February 20, 2017

    Today’s oddity: comments #37 and 38 say the same thing, although one is longer than the other. Wonder how that happened??

  39. #40 Militant Agnostic
    February 20, 2017

    Jay Gordon Faaped

    He calls himself a pediatrician but I don’t believe the AAP recognizes him as such.

    He chose not to remain a member because threats to public health like you are allowed to remain members, you disingenuous cocksplat,.

  40. #41 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 20, 2017

    Militant Agnostic comments, “He chose not to remain a member because threats to public health like you are allowed to remain members, you disingenuous cocksplat”

    You must be new to this site: Orac is pretty clear about our treating one another with respect and civility.

    By the way, that’s not Dr. Hickie’s real reason. He’d have to recertify. Expensive and iffy.

  41. #42 madder
    February 20, 2017

    I’d humbly suggest that some folks might have missed Cypher’s closing sentence.

    And I dearly love the juxtaposition of Dr. Gordon’s plea for civility with his insinuation that passing the boards would be “iffy” for Dr. Hickie. I hadn’t known that Dr. Gordon had branched out into performance art.

  42. #43 Chris Hickie
    February 20, 2017

    The only reason I care about you, Gordon, is because of the damage you have caused with your anti-vaccine lies, including your inexcusable gall to go public on TV during measles outbreaks in SoCal and tell parents not to vaccinate. For that alone you deserve expulsion from all medicine. You are truly a disgrace to real physicians and the fact that you are too dumb to test a child with failure to thrive for HIV despite the child’s mom having HIV (with the child dying shortly thereafter) completely shows how glaringly little you actually learned in medical school and residency. I wouldn’t let you care for sea monkeys, let alone children. If there’s a reason I’m down on medicine right now, it is grossly incompetent physicians like you, Sears and Thomas.

  43. #44 Chris
    February 20, 2017

    It does not take much effort to find several of Dr. Hickie’s profiles. He has both an MD and a PhD, just like our host Orac.

    Actually it was less difficult than getting off a stopped escalator.

  44. #45 Chris Hickie
    February 20, 2017

    For clarification regarding board certification, Jay Gordon is old enough that he is grandfathered into a perpetual board certification by the American Board of Pediatrics, which IMHO is unfair to younger pediatricians. Jay merely needs a pulse to remain a board-certified pediatrician, and searching him on the abp.org web site shows he’s done only that. Maybe Jay thinks it’s hard to re-certify, but then again Jay Gordon has admitted in a magazine article that he almost failed out of medical school as well.

  45. #46 Militant Agnostic
    February 20, 2017

    After complaining abut my lack of civility, Jay Gordon Faaped

    By the way, that’s not Dr. Hickie’s real reason. He’d have to recertify. Expensive and iffy.

    That is a Trumpigulan lack of self awareness from a gormless heap of fermented walrus excrement.

    Dr. Dr. Hickie

    Jay thinks it’s hard to re-certify, but then again Jay Gordon has admitted in a magazine article that he almost failed out of medical school as well.

    Damn – so close.

  46. #47 Dorit Reiss
    February 20, 2017

    Given President Trump’s string of, well, interesting actions and statements in the past month – including the recent concern about the Swedish night of Horror last week – in the long term, the anti-vaccine movement may regret its support of him. If he keeps it up, the association might not reflect well on them, rather than just the other way around.

  47. #48 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 21, 2017

    Dr Hickie, I did not “tell parents not to vaccinate.” I certainly do believe that they can decide whether or not to give the MMR to their children.

    Dorit, no one in their right mind can be supportive of Trump. In spite of what happened in Iceland last night.

  48. #49 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 21, 2017

    A closing question for all of my friends here: Do you really not understand that one can question the current vaccine schedule and manufacturing methods and still support vaccination?

  49. #50 Narad
    February 21, 2017

    If he keeps it up, the association might not reflect well on them, rather than just the other way around.

    There’s also the whole part where they don’t get what they fantasized about and pretend it never happened.

  50. #51 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    February 21, 2017

    Do you really not understand that one can question the current vaccine schedule and manufacturing methods and still support vaccination?

    A leading and loaded question, Doctor Jay. Far too many “questioners” rely on arguments that have been addressed already. “Too many Too soon” is one of them. The schedule was carefully thought out to maximize effectiveness and minimize risk and exposure to diseases. “Let’s be reasonable” is very often a fallacy.

  51. #52 Lawrence
    February 21, 2017

    Dr. Jay – yes, it is most certainly acceptable, if you are able to clearly articulate the how, the when and the why.

    What, exactly, do you take issue with regarding the current vaccine schedule?

    What evidence do you have to back up your questions?

    What issues do you have with the vaccine manufacturing process and why?

    What evidence do you have that the current process is less than ideal?

    What recommendations might you have to improve both the schedule and the process by which vaccines are manufactured?

    Are these recommendations based on actual research and evidence?

    Have you brought your concerns to the appropriate regulatory bodies, including the IOM?

    JAQ’ing off is one thing…but if you really wanted to contribute to the legitimate discussion you need to be involved in the process.

    This is what we take issue with – anti-vaxers who “question” without evidence or presenting real alternative solutions.

  52. #53 Chris Hickie
    February 21, 2017

    Dr Hickie, I did not “tell parents not to vaccinate.” I certainly do believe that they can decide whether or not to give the MMR to their children.

    Sorry, Jay, *yes*, you do tell parents not to vaccinate, both where there was measles in SoCal in 2013 and during the “Disneyland” outbreak in 2015. In fact, you went out of your way to be a media whore to do so , you incredibly incompetent spineless excuse for a pediatrician.

    1. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/07/19/1-confirmed-case-of-measles-in-ventura-county/ : “Ventura County Has 1 Confirmed Case Of Measles”

    But not all parents are following the doctor’s advice.

    Joel Shapiro, who has a four-month-old daughter, says he’s decided not to give his daughter the MMR vaccination until she turns four.

    His pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, agrees with his decision.

    “I’m not just a proponent of letting parents choose. I’m a proponent of revising the current vaccine schedule. I think that we give too many vaccines to children too early in life. I think that we group vaccines together without being 100 percent certain of the safety of those groups, those combinations,” the doctor said.

    2. https://www.google.com/amp/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/pediatrician-delaying-measles-vaccine-outbreak-have-anecdotal-data/: “​Pediatrician: Dangers of measles outbreak being “over promoted”

    Even so, Dr. Gordon doesn’t believe the CDC’s guidelines are appropriate for all patients. The CDC recommends that children get their first dose of the MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 to 15 months. Dr. Gordon believes the first shot shouldn’t be given until the child is at least three years old, but admits he has no scientific evidence to support his belief.

    3. https://www.google.com/amp/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/doctor-explains-why-he-lets-kids-avoid-the-measles-vaccine/: “Doctor explains why he lets kids avoid the measles vaccine”. The headline says it all, Jay, but just to illustrate how medically incompetent you are, you go on to say: “This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child,” said Dr. Gordon. “And quite frankly I don’t think it poses any risk to a healthy child.” . I guess, Jay, you think it’s just dandy that one of the most contagious diseases we have–measles– which puts 1 in 5 who get it into the hospital and kills 1-2 per 1000 who get it even in the US is not “a great risk”. Just how stupid are you????

    As Orac note, Jay, anti-vaxxers who are openly anti-vax and admit it at least are being honest, unlike you. I can respect that, if not their beliefs. You, however, Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP are a a supercilious, unctuous, two-faced incompetent boob who doesn’t deserve the privilege/right/honor to care for children. FYI, I don’t go out of my way to “troll” you–I go out of my way to make sure people know how medically incompetent and dangerous you truly are. Big difference.

  53. #54 Dangerous Bacon
    February 21, 2017

    Jay Gordon: “Do you really not understand that one can question the current vaccine schedule and manufacturing methods and still support vaccination?”

    What is not comprehensible is that pediatricians like Gordon, Sears and Thomas denigrate most or all current vaccines and the experts who developed and recommend them, and encourage parents to avoid or delay vaccines on the current schedule – but then whine about how they’re _really_ pro-vaccine.

    Hint: docs who foster massive distrust of all vaccines using deception and falsehoods are antivaccine, no matter how much they protest otherwise.

    “But I’m fiercely in favor of a fantasy vaccine that’s 100% effective, prevents disease without stimulating the immune system, has zero side effects and contains no chemicals other than fairy dust!”

    Yeah, right.

  54. #55 Roger Kulp
    February 21, 2017

    The meme @38 is hilarious,better than many of the “Communist Pepe” memes I’ve seen on Facebook..I would be surprised if it’s really Jake tho… But Pepe is sooo 2015.

    Dorit Reiss @47
    The Angry Creamsicle is exactly the leader the antis need.Not only is he just as unhinged as they are,but if Trump implodes,he’ll either take the antis with him.or be received to standing O’s at AutismOne 2021.Anything that further damages the antivax brand is fine with me.

  55. #56 madder
    February 21, 2017

    Thanks to Militant Agnostic for the adjective “Trumpigulan.” C’est le mot juste.

  56. #57 Denice Walter
    February 21, 2017

    I sincerely hope that I am not the only minion who gets Militant Agnostic’s use of *Fapped.*

  57. #58 madder
    February 21, 2017

    @Denice Walter: For years now, that’s how I’ve been mentally pronouncing the FAAP he so often (or maybe even always) includes in his ‘nym.

  58. #59 JP
    February 21, 2017

    Me too…

  59. #60 Denice Walter
    February 21, 2017

    @ madder:

    As you probably know, the usage with which I am familiar is of course, onomatopoeic.

  60. #61 Ben
    February 21, 2017

    @#49

    Sure. But then the question that reflexively enters my mind is, “why do you question the current vaccination schedule and manufacturing methods?” What evidence do you have that suggests there is a problem with either that merits investigation?

    Maybe calling someone who is asking these sorts of questions “antivaccine” is hyperbolic labelling, maybe not. But ultimately, the questions you are asking have been answered and there does not appear to be a problem with the current vaccination schedule or the manufacturing methods. If you continue to ask these questions as if they’re unanswered, you’re essentially ignoring reality, no? That’s not really any different from self-pronounced anti-vaxxers ignoring reality except maybe in terms of degree. You’re lumped in with them because you are still part of the problem: you ignore the reality of vaccine science.

  61. #62 Militant Agnostic
    February 22, 2017

    Ben@49

    It it waddles like an anti-vaxxer and quacks like an anti-vaxxer …

  62. […] five weeks ago, I took notice of an event that seems to be getting the antivaccine crankosphere a bit riled up and excited. I’m […]

  63. #64 mplo
    April 2, 2017

    The anti-vaccine movement got its start over a decade ago, when British-born Dr. Andrew Wakefield created a so-called “link” between vaccines and autism, but lost his accreditation and his license to practice medicine, because it was found that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had deliberately and knowingly used flawed and falsified data to create his so-called autism/vaccine “link”. Studies by scientists, and other experts, however, have revealed something different: There is NO link between vaccines and autism. That so-called “link” was disproved and tossed out by the wayside…years ago.

    Also, things such as pertussis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and polio are absolutely nothing to take chances on. These diseases are deadly, because they really do kill or permanently incapacitate people. No matter what anybody says or thinks, I’m for vaccines, because they can and do save lives. The anti-vaccine movement is based on the fear of autism, a poorly-understood and badly catered-to biologically based neurological developmental disorder.

    I’ll also add that I got mumps (on both sides at once), a mild case of measles due to having had a gamma-globulin shot before I got the measles, and a mild enough case of chicken pox so that nobody even knew that I had it. This was all before the vaccines for MMR and Chicken pox came out, but the strains of these particular illnesses that have surfaced are now much more potent than they were back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, when I was a pre-teen, came down with the above-mentioned ailments, and developed a life-long immunity to them.

    Polio is a whole different matter. It’s not like the common cold or the flu. My siblings and I were vaccinated against polio, both by injection and by drinking it, and am glad of it. I still remember people who had polio and were permanently crippled by it, or who died from it. The fact that polio hasn’t resurfaced is precisely due to the vaccines