I’ve written several posts about a tragic phenomenon in Minnesota. Specifically, there’s been a major measles outbreak among the Somali immigrant community in the Minneapolis area, the largest group of Somali immigrants in the country. Actually, this outbreak is not the first outbreak among this community. There was another, smaller one in 2012. Both involved primarily children in the Somali immigrant community who were not vaccinated. The last recorded case of measles in Minnesota was on July 13 in a white child who was also unvaccinated, but officials need to wait at least 42 days (two full incubation periods of measles) before they will be able to declare this year’s outbreak over. The toll thus far has been 79 measles cases, with more than 8,200 people exposed in day-care ­clinics, schools, and hospitals and 22 people hospitalized, many with high fever, breathing difficulties and dehydration.

Why have there been two major outbreaks among this specific community in five years, the latest of which produced more cases of measles in one concentrated area than there had been the year before in the entire US? The answer is simple. As I’ve described in pretty much all of my posts on the topic, the percentage of children of Somali immigrants vaccinated against measles with the MMR vaccine has fallen from around 90% in 2007, which was comparable to the rate among non-Somali children, to a dismal 42% now, far below the level needed for herd immunity. But why has this particular community become so hesitant to vaccinate their children with MMR?

Unfortunately, the answer to that one is both simple and complex. It’s simple in that, beginning nearly ten years ago, the antivaccine pseudoscience of Andrew Wakefield took hold in the Somali immigrant community. Why and how that happened, however, is not as simple. In brief, back in 2008, there were news stories about a “cluster” of autism cases in the Somali community. Ultimately, scientific studies found that Somali immigrants suffer autism at no higher a prevalence than American natives, but that was years later. In the meantime, while there was uncertainty, there was an opening for antivaxers and their misinformation.

American antivaxers (like those at Age of Autism) immediately concluded what they always conclude whenever they see an epidemiological anomaly like this involving autism, namely that it had to be the evil vaccines. Antivaccine groups, both local and national, descended upon Minneapolis to promote their misinformation. Even Andrew Wakefield himself traveled there at least twice.to speak to the Somali community. As a result of privileged antivaxers swooping in like the Great White Saviors that they envision themselves as, the the view that the MMR vaccine causes autism took root there. At first, it was only distrust of the MMR vaccine, but more recently more generalized antivaccine views appear to be taking hold as well. Worse, even as this year’s measles outbreak raged, antivaxers still showed up to tell the Somalis, in essence, to be strong and not to listen to all those public health officials trying to vaccinate their children and thus stop the outbreak. Mark Blaxill, for instance, spoke in Minneapolis just under four months ago.

And they’re still at it. The Washington Post just published an article by Lena Sun entitled Despite measles outbreak, anti-vaccine activists in Minnesota refuse to back down. It’s a scary read. Far from being chastened by the suffering they wrought on the vulnerable Somali community, who have already been unfairly demonized by racists for having “brought disease” to the US (never mind that they vaccinated their children with MMR at levels slightly higher than the native-born as recently as 2007) and even by Donald Trump when he was a candidate for supposedly being a hotbed of Islamic terrorism when they are not, antivaxers are energized:

Minnesota’s worst measles outbreak in decades has un­expectedly energized anti-vaccine forces, who have stepped up their work in recent months to challenge efforts by public health officials and clinicians to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease.

In Facebook group discussions, local activists have asked about holding “measles parties” to expose unvaccinated children to others infected with the virus so they can contract the disease and acquire immunity. Health officials say they are aware of the message posts but haven’t seen evidence that such parties are taking place.

Not content with having poisoned the minds of the Somali immigrants against the MMR vaccine and sown distrust of public health officials frantically trying to contain the outbreak, antivaxers are actually actively undermining the efforts of those officials and even trying to persuade Somalis that “measles parties” (among the worst ideas ever) are a good idea to obtain “natural immunity” for their children. Worse still, Wakefield’s associates, namely the crew riding the VAXXED bus across the country to spread antivaccine misinformation (and, if they succeed, measles outbreaks) are scheduled to arrive in Minnesota to tell the Somali community once again to be strong and not listen to the public health officials trying to prevent outbreaks:

The activists also are using social media to urge families who do not want to immunize their children or who believe their children have been harmed by vaccines to meet in Minneapolis this week with associates of Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement. The associates have been touring the United States and abroad with the former doctor’s movie, “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe,” which repeats the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism and that scientists, pediatricians and the public health system are part of an elaborate conspiracy. A recent fundraiser at the clinic of a suburban Minneapolis pediatrician who supports “alternative vaccine schedules” benefited a second film that also will feature Wakefield, whose research has been retracted for falsehoods.

Fortunately, some headway is being made to combat this misinformation. Key to that has been engaging the Somali-American imams, who have been urging families to get their children vaccinated with MMR.

In the article, there were expressions of surprise that such a large measles outbreak, one that was directly traceable to “outreach” efforts by antivaccine groups dating back to 2008, has actually emboldened antivaccine groups rather than led them to lay low. I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by this, but not as surprised as many. With the rise of Donald Trump, who himself has a long, sordid history of antivaccine statements blaming vaccines (which he has called “monster shots” and portrayed as needles and syringes big enough for a horse), antivaccine activists have in general become emboldened. There has been a political shift in antivaccine groups. Contrary to the stereotype of antivaxers as hippy dippy, granola-crunching left wingers, today’s antivaxer is more likely to be a Tea Party activist, suspicious of government, who views school vaccine mandates with every bit as much suspicion as he or she would view a new tax or Obamacare.

Indeed, I’ve discussed this politicization of school vaccine mandates before, using Texas as an example where antivaccine views have fused with libertarian small government politics to produce a toxic brew that opposes any effort to tighten up school vaccine requirements. They’re even willing to betray their supposed commitment to “openness, by scuttling bills that would have required the publication of school-level vaccine exemption rates, so that parents can know if they are sending their children to a school where high exemption rates mean that outbreaks are more likely there. We’ve seen the very same thing in my state, where conservative politicians have done their best to undermine the efforts of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to bring down Michigan’s shamefully high personal exemption rate. Basically, this new breed of antivaxers appears to be doing its best to make measles great again. School vaccine mandates used to be an issue with broad bipartisan support. I fear that is changing.

In Minnesota, the “white saviors” are still at it:

Earlier this summer, health officials and advocates received word that white women were passing out fliers and talking to families in some high-rise apartment buildings in predominantly Somali neighborhoods. The women reportedly claimed that the measles outbreak had been created by the Health Department to persuade Somali parents to vaccinate, said Lynn Bahta, a longtime state Health Department nurse who works to counter vaccine hesitancy.

Health officials never determined who the women were. But the reports reflect the tendency of anti-vaccine activists to “dig in,” Bahta said. “The more pressure on them, the more they dig in.”

Naturally, Minnesota antivaccine groups, like the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota and Minnesota Vaccine Freedom Coalition deny they had anything to do with the women spreading fliers, and maybe they didn’t. They’re not the only game in town—unfortunately. Meanwhile, though, on the Facebook page of the Minnesota Vaccine Freedom Coalition, local antivaxers are very unhappy at the Washington Post’s article:

One commenter named Crystal Allen, for instance, says in response:

It’s funny how they try to make this “outbreak” look like a big deal. According to their own numbers, 8,200 people were exposed, only 79 got it, nobody died and all fully recovered and all this occurred across several counties containing several hundred thousand people! That’s nothing! It’s just not that bad. With proper nutrition and rest, the measles is a nasty cold with a rash. It’s not fun but it’s also not a crisis.

Yes, because to antivaxers, “nobody died” means the measles is harmless. Of course, the main reason that, of the estimated 8,200 people exposed, “only” 79 caught the measles is because, thankfully, most of the population is still vaccinated. It was mostly the unvaccinated and undervaccinated who got measles. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases there is; if not for high vaccination rates one would have expected close to all of those people who hadn’t had the measles before to have contracted the disease. Also notice how conveniently Ms. Allen neglects to mention the 22 who were hospitalized. That’s more than one in four cases.who had high fever, breathing difficulties, and/or dehydration serious enough to require hospitalization. That’s hardly a “harmless” disease. Yet, antivaxers always try to falsely portray the measles as not serious.

Unfortunately, given the current climate and how emboldened antivaxers have become, it is not difficult to predict more outbreaks of measles. The outbreak of measles among Somalis in Minnesota might have finally burned itself out, but there will be more, either among the Somalis, who still have low vaccine uptake, or elsewhere where antivaccine beliefs have taken hold. It’s only a matter of time. In the face of an unequivocal demonstration of the harm their efforts have caused, antivaxers don’t admit that they might be wrong. They double down.

Comments

  1. #1 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    August 23, 2017

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least. I believe they prefer people to come down with diseases. I can’t even be polite to the few anti-vaxxers I’ve come across here in meat space. I have friends who are on the cusp and I have to avoid talking about it at all because I know I’m not going to change their minds. What are they trying to do here, really? Wipe out a community? If vaccines are so horrible, why are their no campaigns to bring back smallpox? After all, that was wiped out because of vaccines and I’m pretty sure that some lab somewhere has some of the virus.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    August 23, 2017

    What are they trying to do here, really? Wipe out a community?

    There is no evidence that the anti-vaxers themselves are trying to wipe out the Somali community, but there are far too many white supremacists who would like to wipe out that community who are piggy-backing off the anti-vaxers’ efforts.

    I consider both groups to be evil, but one is being willfully ignorant while the other is being intentionally malicious.

  3. #3 Angela
    August 23, 2017

    “Also notice how conveniently Ms. Allen neglects to mention the 22 who were hospitalized.”

    I saw a comment from an anti-vaxxer that addressed this. According to this person, those hospitalizations weren’t really necessary.

    Guess they have an answer to everything.

  4. #4 Chris Hickie
    August 23, 2017

    Why wouldn’t this article disclose the name of the anti-vax pediatrician who is supporting Wakefield and opposing public health efforts in Minnesota? Nothing undercuts public health and vaccination rates like an anti-vaccine physician (like Gordon and Sears causing the measles outbreaks in Orange County). In Minnesota, close to these outbreaks, there exists the large anti-vaccine pediatric clinic “New Kingdom Healthcare” run by another quack AV pediatrician just like Gordon and Sears. His name is “Dr. Bob” Zajac and he was hosting clinics telling parents they still didn’t have to vaccinate during the peak of the Minnesota measles outbreak (now scrubbed from his clinic facebook page). It wouldn’t surprise me if Zajac is the unnamed pediatrician mentioned in the WaPo article

  5. #5 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end, that is)
    August 23, 2017

    The women reportedly claimed that the measles outbreak had been created by the Health Department to persuade Somali parents to vaccinate

    Why is the Health Department not suing for slander and libel?

  6. #6 Dorit Reiss
    August 23, 2017

    The fact that only 79 people got sick is also partly due to the hard work by the health department to warn and protect contacts. There is a lot of effort and cost going into preventing spread.

    The shameless continuing efforts to mislead their victims into continuing to leave their victims at risk did surprise me, if only for the reason that it’s bad strategy, because continuing the outbreak might lead MN’s legislators to decide steps to limit it are necessary,

  7. #7 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    August 23, 2017

    Orac writes,

    …trying to persuade Somalis that “measles parties” (among the worst ideas ever) are a good idea to obtain “natural immunity” for their children.

    MJD says,

    They’ll probably further disrespect the MMR vaccine with shirts that say, Science-based medicine is a party pooper.

  8. #8 Dorit Reiss
    August 23, 2017

    And if the white anti vaccine activists that came to mislead these people didn’t consider that they’re setting up a vulnerable immigrant community as a target for racists and anti immigrant activists, they should have.

    They bear some of the responsibility there, too.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    August 23, 2017

    Why is the Health Department not suing for slander and libel?

    Presumably because they would be considered a public figure, and it is almost impossible in the US for a public figure to win a libel case.

    I certainly don’t want to live under English libel laws, but IMHO the US takes things too far in the other direction.

  10. #10 Christine Rose
    August 23, 2017

    “With proper nutrition and rest…”

    No matter how many crap supplements you take, these people she’ll tell you that you missed the proper ones.

    Unless you’re fine; in that case you took the right pill.

  11. #11 Dorit Reiss
    August 23, 2017

    @Eric Lund, #9: they’re also probably a tad busy doing real work like controlling outbreaks on top of their routine work, and have better things to spend scarce resources and time on.

    Yes, it would be an extremely hard case, but even if that were not the case, it’s likely not where they would focus.

  12. #12 Angela
    August 23, 2017

    I collect a variety of old books, including old home economics books, cookbooks, and child care books. Anti-vaxxers are always saying that “back in the day” no one feared measles, it was seen as no big deal, just an illness that everyone got.

    I decided to look it up in some old child care books from the forties and fifties. Nope…they talk about the complications and risk of death. It sounds pretty serious in those old child care guides. They also recommend to call the doctor right away (since anti-vaxxers also try to say that no one went to the doctor for measles in normal cases.)

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    August 23, 2017

    No no no!
    There isn’t bigotry against the Somali community because they’re black people but
    because they’re against vaccines
    ( AoA, today) Kim Rossi claims she and her crew are indeed victims of hate-
    You see, healthy unvaccinated children are a threat to the powers-that-be

  14. #14 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    August 23, 2017

    As someone who had the measles in the fifties; no it wasn’t a mild and easy Brady Bunch disease. I was sick for a long time (at least for a young kid it seemed like a long time) and was not pleasant. I have had rubella but not the mumps that I know of but I’ve been exposed at least 15 times.

    I think with the Somali population; one big issue is there distrust of government. If you look at the government conditions they fled, you can understand their distrust of any government official.

  15. #15 sadmar
    August 23, 2017

    @ Chris Hickie

    Just for the record: Jay Gordon practices in Santa Monica, which is in Los Angeles County and quite a distance from Orange County. LA County is also home to some of the problem schools with very poor uptake and bogus medical exemptions. AVs there are probably a mixture of the older-stereotype ‘granola’ set – including minor Hollywood celebrities like Mayim Bialik – and OC-esque conservatives. There are other AV pediatricians on that chiro’s list besides Bob Sears who are either in the OC or close by in San Diego County. All three of those SoCal counties – Orange, LA, and SD – were cited in the article on problem areas. While a few on the chiro’s list weren’t in the worst areas (Sonoma County in NoCal is awful) the correlation was high in general, and there weren’t any problem areas without local providers of dubious medical exemptions.

    Anyway, I doubt Jay bears any direct responsibility for the Disneyland outbreak, at least in the sense of his patients being involved. But as a celebrity doc, his channeling of vaccine fears spreads beyond his office neighborhood, and of course his patients could be involved in the next outbreak…

  16. #16 madder
    August 23, 2017

    I never quite understood the idea of measles parties to acquire “natural immunity”… in other words, making sure that your kids get the disease, so that they don’t get the disease. Isn’t that like cutting off your own foot, so that it’ll never need to be amputated?

  17. #17 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end, that is)
    August 23, 2017

    @

    Presumably because they would be considered a public figure
    I never thought of that. I guess I had thought that a “public figure” needed to be human (or at least Lassie?).

    I am not sure if US or English libel law is worse. A plague on both the Statutes.

  18. #18 Chris Hickie
    August 23, 2017

    @ Sadmar #15: If Gordon had been a quietly anti-vaccine pediatrician, I might agree with you. But Gordon has shown a repeated desire to thwart public health during measles outbreaks, going on TV news during a 2011 outbreak to tell parents not to vaccinate with the MMR vaccine ( http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/07/19/1-confirmed-case-of-measles-in-ventura-county/ ) and then going on CBS News during the 2015 Disneyland outbreak ( https://www.cbsnews.com/news/doctor-explains-why-he-lets-kids-avoid-the-measles-vaccine/ ). Gordon chose to do these things to oppose public health. Noboy forced him to do this. Compare that to the anti-vax pediatrician in Minnesota who is trying to lay low and scrubbing his Facebook page, and Gordon stands out like gooey duck on sildenafil. Plus: (1) Gordon made a DVD on vaccines in the mid 2000’s that is very anti-vaccine; (2)he publicly appeared at anti-vaccine rallies in the 2000’s, and (3) he maintained his anti-vaccine stance in his non-peer-reviewed book on how to prevent autism. The March 2014 measles outbreak in SoCal was in Orange County, so I guess you could say he didn’t fuel that one, but the 2015 Disneyland outbreak had a lot of cases in LA County up where he lives and there were reports of cases in the schools around him, so no way he gets a pass on that one.

  19. #19 Denice Walter
    August 23, 2017

    AS a side effect…

    it seems our friend, Jake, in reaction to the outbreak and Dr Peter Hotez**, has seen his VERY OWN meme featured on television news.
    He’s coming up in the world but not in a good way

    see Autism Investigated, @ Jake L. Crosby, @ Dr Peter Hotez

    ** Hotez says Jake’s work has an ” alt right” ring to it

  20. #20 Old Rockin' Dave
    August 23, 2017

    Meanwhile back in Somalia the herdsmen are probably not holding rinderpest roundups.

  21. #21 Chris Hickie
    August 23, 2017

    In Australia, anti-vax doctors have to fly under the radar, and when they stick up their heads for publicity, they get exposed and investigated: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/secret-melbourne-cell-of-antivaxxer-doctors-under-investigation/news-story/dbd0d3ba7f5464dcbaa8cc44bcb52576 .

    Compare and contrast to the US, where anti-vax doctors have no fear of any professional repercussions while raking in the $$$ selling exemptions, books, supplements, etc.

    Not good.

  22. #22 Ethel
    August 23, 2017

    They might be being investigated in Australia but given the first reports to the regulatory authority are a year ago no one can say they’re moving quickly. Now it’s hit the media I suspect it will speed up – I await the Centrelink (who manage the Family Tax benefits which are covered by the ‘no jab, no pay’ legislation) investigation with interest. They tend to look unkindly on fraud.

  23. #23 Tom B
    August 23, 2017

    Orac,
    My brother is an influential member of my state legislature. He has commented to me about the persist nature of the antivaccination crowd. As a peds ICU doc I have related to him some tragic stories of children dieing from vaccine preventable diseases. He is in our corner but needs some ammunition for his fellow congressmen.
    Other than your blog, do you have suggestions for resources to recommend and how I should proceed?

  24. #24 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 24, 2017

    it seems our friend, Jake, in reaction to the outbreak and Dr Peter Hotez**, has seen his VERY OWN meme featured on television news.
    He’s coming up in the world but not in a good way

    Looks like poor poopsie Jake doesn’t like his newfound “fame” very much. As usual the little tosser doesn’t reflect on his own behaviour, instead blames others.

  25. #25 DrBollocks
    August 24, 2017

    @ Chris Hickie #21; @ Ethel #22

    Good news. The anti-vax doctor faces suspension by the regulator:
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/antivax-melbourne-gp-john-piesse-faces-suspension-by-medical-regulator-20170824-gy30qt.html

    Obviously just a coincidence that after a year of investigation, this is announced on the very day the case is highlighted by the media (sarcasm).

  26. #26 herr doktor bimler
    August 24, 2017

    ** Hotez says Jake’s work has an ” alt right” ring to it

    I just skimmed that thread in the Twitterbox.
    https://twitter.com/PeterHotez/status/898159584065531904

    Master Crosby responded that despite the anti-immigrant dogwhistles and his neo-Nazi friends, he can’t possibly be a nazi himself because “I’ve probably got more Jewish in me than you.”

  27. #27 Chris Preston
    August 24, 2017

    Hotez says Jake’s work has an ” alt right” ring to it

    Hotez is correct. One only needs to peruse Jake’s blog to see his undying passion for Donald Trump, etc.

    Obviously just a coincidence that after a year of investigation, this is announced on the very day the case is highlighted by the media (sarcasm).

    APHRA is far from a toothless tiger, but spends almost all of its time pretending to be one. However, what has happened in Australia (mainly through the efforts of Stop the AVN and a few vocal parents of babies that died from VPDs) is that the political will to tolerate anti-vaccine idiocy has largely gone at both Federal and State levels.

    This is where the US is different to Australia. The US still has congressmen (and I think they are all men) and a President who are OK with supporting anti-vaccine idiots.

    • #28 Orac
      August 24, 2017

      Hotez says Jake’s work has an ” alt right” ring to it

      That is, of course, a massive understatement. The Gnat worships Trump, is totally on board with shutting immigrants out, and is misogynistic as hell.

  28. #29 MI Dawn
    August 24, 2017

    I see that Jake is putting Brian’s name on posts from Rebecca again, the coward.

  29. #30 Chris Preston
    August 24, 2017

    Anti-vaxxers are always saying that “back in the day” no one feared measles, it was seen as no big deal, just an illness that everyone got.

    I can tell you directly from my great aunt, who lost 2 children to measles, that she was shït scared of us children getting measles. Back in her day there was nothing you could do about measles.

  30. #31 Chris Preston
    August 24, 2017

    I see that Jake is putting Brian’s name on posts from Rebecca again, the coward.

    That cannot be true. Jake has turned up here emphatically denying he has ever modified a post on his blog.

    The tosser.

  31. #32 Rebecca Fisher
    August 24, 2017

    I see that Jake is putting Brian’s name on posts from Rebecca again, the coward.

    It pleases me no end – shows I’ve got to him, the mysoginistic, racist piece of ****. 🙂

  32. #33 MI Dawn
    August 24, 2017

    That’s what makes me laugh. You have a lovely picture as your gravitar. I guess it’s Jake’s version of calling Brian Deer a woman (or version thereof) and puffing out his chest to show he’s a REAL Man (TM)

  33. #34 Lawrence
    August 24, 2017

    As much as I would love to go back and comment, he’s already shown just how low he’s prepared to go.

    He can rot in hell, as far as I’m concerned.

  34. #35 Brian Deer
    August 24, 2017

    As I was saying recently, it he continues doing this I’m going to write to his mother. Since he’s been thrown out of university, there’s no point in seeking their help.

    Trouble is, I’ve forgotten his mother’s name. Does anyone recall who she is?

    She may take the view that what he’s doing is a manifestation of his developmental disorder. But I think he’s better diagnosed as an abusive little shithead.

    In any event, he’s been told the likely consequences of what he’s doing, and unless someone persuades me otherwise, he ought to live with it.

  35. #36 Brian Deer
    August 24, 2017

    # 31 Chris

    Do you recall where he denies modifying posts? Small point, I know.

  36. #37 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 24, 2017

    @ Brian Deer, Jake’s mum is Nicole Cranberg Crosby but good luck getting her to do anything about Jake. She set him on this path.

  37. #38 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    August 24, 2017

    Brian Deer (#35) writes,

    …unless someone persuades me otherwise, he ought to live with it.

    MJD say,

    Something needs to be done in that such shenanigans are long-term hurtful and damaging.

  38. #39 Jonas
    August 24, 2017

    “She set him on this path.”
    Indeed. Had he not been told by his parents that his autism was caused by vaccination, he’d probably be better off today, as he wouldn’t erroneously think that his disability was someone else’s fault.

  39. #40 Jonas
    August 24, 2017

    @Chris Hickie-Yes, and the Australian government also recently barred Polly Tommey and Suzanne Humphries from entering Australia for 3 years.

  40. #41 Lawrence
    August 24, 2017

    Well, the folks at AoA certainly did him no favors. They loved the fact that they could groom him to be their “attack dog.”

  41. #42 Julian Frost
    August 24, 2017

    Master Crosby responded that despite the anti-immigrant dogwhistles and his neo-Nazi friends, he can’t possibly be a nazi himself because “I’ve probably got more Jewish in me than you.”

    That’s very amusing, not least because a fair number of high ranking Nazis actually had Jewish ancestry.

    [AoA] loved the fact that they could groom him to be their “attack dog.”

    Indeed. And one day, that “attack dog” turned on his handlers.

  42. #43 Lawrence
    August 24, 2017

    Which we actually warned him about – it was only a matter of time when a situation would arise that Crosby’s “absolutism” was going to cause a rift…..and unfortunately, he’s been going down the rabbit hole ever since.

  43. #44 Narad
    August 24, 2017

    Indeed. Had he not been told by his parents that his autism was caused by vaccination, he’d probably be better off today, as he wouldn’t erroneously think that his disability was someone else’s fault.

    As far as I can tell, Jake thinks that everything that doesn’t go his way is somebody else’s fault.

  44. #45 sadmar
    August 24, 2017

    @ Chris Hickie

    No, I was totally agreeing with you on Jay’s rhetorical influence in outbreaks. It just struck me that “like Gordon and Sears causing the measles outbreaks in Orange County” wasn’t quite right since Sears’ patients were part of that cluster, and Gordon’s probably weren’t. I guess I also think “causing” is too strong, even for Dr. Bob. I mean these guys are causal factors, but not THE cause. Before SB277 anyway, parents didn’t need pandering pediatricians to keep their kids away from their shots. Me, I’d go with “like Gordon and Sears making key contributions to the measles outbreaks in Southern California.” Maybe it’s my academic background, but I prefer to avoid overstatement in argumentation (unless I think it’s clearly marked as figurative) lest it seem over-zealous to the point of possibly damaging credibility. Or, to put it another way, as your comment explicates very nicely, Jay has plenty to answer for even if none of his patients were directly involved in the outbreaks.

    As I’ve suggested in previous threads, I’d be willing to cut some slack to docs who do delayed schedule vaxing if that effectively cut down the number of kids who aren’t immunized at all. Jay makes some noises to that effect, but I don’t necessarily take his word on the matter. Even with a delayed schedule, the kids should have had their shots by the time they enter kindergarten, yes? I see no excuse whatsoever for any doc issuing bogus medical exemptions, and if you and I were on a review board, we’d both be voting for these clowns to have their licenses suspended or revoked permanently.

  45. #46 Denice Walter
    August 24, 2017

    About that alt-right bent…

    Anti-vaxxers and woo worshippers used to be somewhat more left-leaning, back-to-nature partisans- on average- but recently rightists seem to have become quite vocal-

    Natural News** and prn.fm especially have become much more focused on harnessing the ire of the angry white mob –
    anti-Big Government, anti-intellectualism, anti-professionalism, anti- east and west coast elitism, anti-diversity and libertarian..

    I don’t know whether this reflects their founders’ true inner beliefs or an attempt to ride on political coattails post-tea party/ Trump revolution in the wake of the financial crisis-
    i.e. to get people to believe that they’re on their side so customers will buy to reward them and thus insure SALES.

    HOWEVER Bolen and Jake are quite in that camp although they have nothing to sell that I can discern so it might possibly be their true position.

    They found an icon to emulate in the Donald-
    a big mouthed, know-it-all, self-serving, entitled half -wit totally without a social conscience or an ounce of empathy.

    ** take a look

  46. #48 Chris Preston
    August 24, 2017

    Brian Deer, a p.s.

    In my opinion, Jake Crosby is such small fry that he really is not worth your effort. He has burnt pretty much all of his supporters in the anti-vaccination world, so they will no longer give him the time of day and he has no influence. You going after him could change that and get some people back on his side. Jake clearly has no scruples.

    Better to point and laugh.

  47. #49 Ren
    August 24, 2017

    I’ve often wondered why Jake has such a seemingly angry response when I engage him in the comments section of this blog. I’m more convinced that it’s because of who I am and where I come from than anything I’ve ever written about him.
    Think about it… Jake fancies himself an epidemiologist, yet, all that I see he has to prove that he is an epidemiologist is a degree from GW in epidemiology. I also have an MPH in Epi from that school, but I went on to work at a state health department as an epidemiologist and be deeply involved in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic work. Then I went to Colombia to chase Chikungunya. Last November and December, I was in Puerto Rico to chase Zika.
    What has he done? A paper with the Geiers on how to dumpster-dive the VAERS database? Old news. (Fake news, amirite?)
    Add to my professional accomplishments that I’m Mexican-born, and his head must be exploding that this inferior person has done so much more than he seemingly can. Plus, I’m almost done with my doctoral dissertation. (I can almost taste it.) To top it off, I became a father last weekend, so now I have an anchor baby as well and go to school in a sanctuary city. 😉
    All without the sweet, sweet ancestral cash that people (smart people) say he has access to.
    In essence, the only apparent way that I could represent everything Jake is angry at with the world is if I were a female, or transgender female… And Black, let’s not forget his recent rants against Black Lives Matter, calling them a cancer.

    • #50 Orac
      August 25, 2017

      I don’t seem to recall The Gnat always being as racist and misogynistic as he is now. Sure, he was always prone to conspiracy theories, as well as antivaccine and other pseudoscientific views, but I don’t remember the alt right stuff popping up until around the time Trump announced his candidacy. True, it could always have been there before, and he just never publicly proclaimed it before Trump’s candidacy. As for so many others, it could well be that he viewed Trump as an opening to speak his true beliefs on race and gender relations in public. Or it could also have been that he drifted towards the alt right because, after having burned all his bridges to his previous social support system among the antivaxers at AoA who had previously supported him as a wunderkind and the future of their movement before he turned on them, the alt right was a new support system to replace the old. Who knows?

  48. #51 MI Dawn
    August 25, 2017

    @Ren: congrats on the baby! And also on the fact that your dissertation is almost done. Many kudos to you for showing the eternal brat what can be done if you actually use your brains.

  49. #52 Panacea
    August 25, 2017

    Awesome news Ren! Many kudos your way. Tough row to hoe, but cool to hear about the amazing things you’re getting to study.

  50. #53 Denice Walter
    August 25, 2017

    @ Ren:

    A baby and a doctorate- what’s next a NYT bestseller?**
    Congratulations!

    Jake hates you ( and Orac, Dr Hotez, Brian Deer and probably many of RI’s minions) because we’re doing what he wants to do-
    science, investigation, writing, succeeding socially, being a professional, being called clever, making sense on the internet, fitting in diverse settings

    He can have the consolation that he’ll never run out of money

    ** and why not? OK, next year.

    • #54 Orac
      August 25, 2017

      Yeah. Mommy and Daddy will make sure The Gnat never wants for anything, and I’m sure his inheritance will make sure he never has to find a real job for the rest of his life.

  51. #55 Denice Walter
    August 25, 2017

    What worries me though is that that amount of money can fuel a lot of despicable projects ( e.g.fake studies, web nonense to scare the woo-entranced) and political actions that ultimately harm people * a la* the Kochs, De Vos *et famille* the Mercers et al,

  52. #56 Ren
    August 25, 2017

    @ Denice Walter:

    NYT Bestseller on how to raise a science-oriented child? Has that been done?

    Back to the subject at hand… I mentored a couple of kids from Eritrea about three years ago. They were here with their mother. The mother didn’t know much English, so she relied a lot on them to translate. Well, that had to change because I started catching on that maybe not everything was being told to the mom. I wonder how much the antivaxxers are using the language barrier to murky the waters even more. I mean, as it is, we have to say that vaccines are not 100% safe, which they could easily translate to “not safe” and leave the 100% part out.

    I hope the public health authorities in Minnesota are using community outreach and Somali translators who are trained to do so.

  53. #57 shay simmons
    August 25, 2017

    Ren – as you know, this is why public health departments prefer not to have family members or friends act as translators. Sometimes it’s worth that expensive phone call to the medical interpreters.

  54. #58 herr doktor bimler
    August 25, 2017

    Or it could also have been that he drifted towards the alt right

    I wasn’t following Jakes’ Adventures Down the Rabbit-Hole closely, and didn’t keep track of the different stages of his devolution… but I wonder if misogyny was his Gateway Drug. For some people it starts with red-pill anti-feminism and blaming the ladies for not putting out, and the rest of the belief-system follows. The ideologues of the Alt-Right are adept at stoking and exploiting any kind of resentment and frustration.

  55. #59 JP
    August 26, 2017

    For some people it starts with red-pill anti-feminism and blaming the ladies for not putting out, and the rest of the belief-system follows.

    Indeed, David Futrelle has an article about it here. Futrelle’s blog was actually my introduction to the seed underbelly of the Internet, right around the time that the “incel” guy (who cares what his name was) went on his killing spree in Isla Vista.

    I was just interacting with Crosby on Twitter – big surprise, he is a big “Sheriff Joe” fan, rushing to his defense – and hilariously, he seemed to think that the implication that I’m queer is supposed to be some kind of big insult. To be fair,I kind of started it by taunting him about not being able to get laid (“Those posts were EXAGGERATED, that’s how humor WORKS”.)

    You can see a screenshot of his side of the thread here. (I wasn’t able to capture the thread proper because Twitter says there are “too many replies” to show them.)

  56. #60 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    August 26, 2017

    Ren (#56) writes,

    I wonder how much the antivaxxers are using the language barrier to murky the waters even more.

    MJD says,

    Q. How can learned helplessness, based on the reality that vaccines are not 100% safe, ease the pain?

    A. Continuous improvement

    To reach perfection, it is said that 95% of the effort is spent overcoming the last 5% of the problem.

    Fortunately, “Vaccine Safety Advocates” are often fixated on the last 5% of the problem.

    Orac’s minions (excluding: Politicalguineapig; Science Mom; Johnny, Narad; Denise Walters; Old Rockin’ Dave; Panacea; Julian Frost; and Lawrence.) bring a refreshing perspective and often encourage the adversarial process regarding vaccine perfection.

  57. #61 Denice Walter
    August 26, 2017

    @ JP:

    Your tweets must have got to him I can imagine.

    Interestingly ( for students of styles of thought) Jake tweets that Dr Hotez Is “wishing anti-vaxxers drown” –
    if you read what Hotez actually wrote, you’ll see that he wishes for something a bit more abstract ( paraphrase- that the storms will wash away “#antivax” and another bad idea- see @ Dr Peter Hotez)

    Jake makes that statement into something threatening.

    Right, I’m sure that doctors of tropical medical who spend their lives trying to help people they never met survive will just go ahead and PUBLICLY wish misguided parents dead in a hurricane.
    SRSLY

  58. #62 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    August 26, 2017

    Hey, I’m #3 on MJD’s enemies list. A year or two ago, I didn’t even make the cut.

  59. #63 Mrs Grimble
    August 27, 2017

    Madder @16: In my 50s childhood, it was German measles parties, for young girls. It was thought then that a single dose of German measles (Rubella) gave you lifelong immunity, and parents wanted to make sure their daughters were immune before they were old enough to get pregnant. Rubella in pregnancy can be devastating to the fetus and there was of course no vaccine then. I don’t think there were “parties” for any other kind of disease, especially measles – children were still dying in measles outbreaks then.
    My mother actually hosted one of those parties when I came down with rubella; lying in bed, sick and miserable, it wasn’t exactly fun for me having other girls climbing all over me trying to get infected.

  60. #64 Panacea
    August 27, 2017

    Johnny: meh. MJD isn’t important enough to claim an enemies list. He’s a legend in his own mind.

  61. #65 Lawrence
    August 27, 2017

    I’m just happy to have contributed to his entry in the Encyclopedia of American Loons….

  62. #66 Se Habla Espol
    August 27, 2017

    The Number One entry on MJD’s enemies list should be MJD himself, judging from his commentary here.

  63. #67 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    August 27, 2017

    That’s some mighty sour grapes there, Panacea, considering that you come in at #7.

    Of course, we’re both behind PGP, and, well, I don’t think there’s any shame in that.

    Johnny
    The Bad One

  64. #68 Narad
    August 28, 2017

    Hey, I’m #3 on MJD’s enemies list.

    Am I 3.5? He used a comma, and the semicolons would be just plain stupid if there were no hierarchy.

  65. #69 Se Habla Espol
    August 28, 2017

    the semicolons would be just plain stupid

    This discussion is still about MJD, isn’t it?

  66. #70 Chris Preston
    August 28, 2017

    Am I 3.5?

    Equal third with Johnny. MJD obviously couldn’t separate you at the finish.

    I clearly need to up my game…instead of scrolling past MJD’s posts I suppose.

  67. #71 JustaTech
    August 28, 2017

    Mrs Grimble @63: I met an alumni of my college who told us about coming down with rubella in college and being sent off to the infirmary (off campus but close by).

    He said that once they were sure he had rubella (and wasn’t going to die) every girl in the senior class of the local high school was paraded through his sickroom so he could infect them all before they went off to get married and have kids.

    That was some time after 1962, I think.

  68. #72 EmJay
    in the stacks -- for now
    August 30, 2017

    Tom B @ #23

    I’m quite a fan of the Skeptical Raptor blog https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/, but I’m sure Orac and the (much more knowledgeable) regulars can give you some good sites. Just be REAL careful of the comments on the posts — there’s a lot of anti-vaxx filth there.

  69. #73 Politicalguineapig
    August 30, 2017

    Johnny: I’m surprised I made a list- or that there is one, given that MJD is pretty scatterbrained- since I’m not in the medical field, and I haven’t actually been on the blog much lately. I’ve spent a lot of this summer in transit.

    MJD: It’s funny that you’re trying to pretend innocence now, since you were one of the people muddying the waters. How does it feel to know that you put kids in hospital and staked a vulnerable population out for the crows? Pretty good, right?

  70. #74 Rebecca Fisher
    August 31, 2017

    I’m losing it. I may have my own whale.to page, but these days I don’t even make MJD’s top ten. 🙁

  71. #75 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 31, 2017

    I clearly need to up my game…instead of scrolling past MJD’s posts I suppose.

    Keep doing what you’re doing; I made number 2 scrolling past his comments and rarely communicating directly with him.

    • #76 Orac
      August 31, 2017

      You are wise.

  72. #77 Dangerous Bacon
    August 31, 2017

    “I made number 2 scrolling past his comments”

    He has that effect on a lot of people.

  73. #78 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 31, 2017

    Bwhahaha DB, nice one!