Antivaxers are collecting stories of "vaccine injury" to send to Donald Trump to change federal vaccine policy

I've written quite a bit about how our soon-to-be President Donald Trump has consistently expressed antivaccine views over the years, such as his oft-stated (on Twitter and elsewhere) beliefs that it's a "monster" shot that causes autism and infants get "too many" vaccines "too soon." I've heard Trump supporters who are pro-vaccine pooh-pooh these statements and claim that Trump won't be doing anything about vaccine policy because it's not a priority, an observation I counter by pointing out that Trump met with two of the biggest antivaccine "icons" there are: Andrew Wakefield and, just last week, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. RFK Jr. even claimed that Trump asked him to chair a vaccine safety commission, although the Trump team later said that no decision had been made and that the commission would be about autism. Not surprisingly, I didn't find that reassuring, given that RFK Jr. has no qualifications to chair an autism commission other than his antivaccine views.

Not surprisingly, antivaccine ideologues are ecstatic, with the cranks at Age of Autism practically beside themselves with glee and our old friend Lawrence Solomon (whom we've met before) celebrating the meeting with RFK Jr.:

In the September debate and on numerous earlier occasions, Trump has referred to his personal experiences with those he’s known. “I’ve seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy,” he told Fox News in 2012. “It happened to somebody that worked for me recently. I mean, they had this beautiful child, not a problem in the world. And all of a sudden, they go in, they get this monster (sized) shot. You ever see the size of it? It’s like they’re pumping in — you know, it’s terrible, the amount. And they pump this into this little body. And then all of the sudden, the child is different a month later.”

Others very important to Trump — his voters — also help explain Trump’s enthusiasm for a commission into vaccine safety. According to an Economist/YouGov poll taken in December, 31 per cent of Trump voters believe that vaccines can cause autism and only 21 per cent reject that view outright. Other voters doubtless worried about vaccines for reasons other than autism. Many of those vaccine-issue voters would have been highly motivated, since the health of their children was at stake.

Trump believes his presidency places him at the head of an historic movement, “a beautiful movement. We are going to make America safe and great again.” Making America safe doesn’t just involve building a wall to keep out criminals and terrorists, he believes. To Trump, it also includes making sure that there’s safety in America’s vaccines.

I noted how, shortly after the election, antivaccinationists were practically salivating at the prospect of what Donald Trump might do with respect to federal vaccine policy. I now note that they are now doing their best to get their message to what they see as a sympathetic President-Elect. I first learned of this the other day while seeing responses to the not-so-Thinking Moms' Revolution (TMR) on Twitter. (TMR, of course, has blocked me.) For example:

And a reminder just yesterday:

And who is behind this effort? Whom do you think? That's right, it's the team behind the antivaccine propaganda film VAXXED, which was produced by Del Bigtree and directed by—who else?—Andrew Wakefield:

There's a link to the VAXXED story submission form, which looks like this:

VAXXED submission form

The video is basically Polly Tommey telling VAXXED viewers and believers that vaccines cause autism exactly how to tell Donald Trump their child's story, using her own child's anecdote as a basis, stating that her son was "injured by the MMR vaccine at 13 months" and how she "trusted that vaccines are safe." She's also asking for stories from around the world. Basically she tells the audience to tell about their "beautiful child" before vaccines and what vaccines did to him or her. In other words, she's trying to make the stories as similar as possible, and, make no mistake, many of these stories do sound a lot a like because, at their source, they involve confusing correlation with causation and using the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I also note that this video is form yesterday, and Tommey is claiming that "something" will happen with these stories in 48 hours. She also says that there are other organizations working together to gather these stories and send them to President-Elect Trump. As Polly Tommey puts it at one point, "I want to hear about babies who died" and everything.

One odd thing I noted about this whole thing is how coy, how seemingly mysterious about what, exactly, is going to be done with these letters. AT some points, they

So basically, antivaccine activists, led by Polly Tommey, who also co-produced VAXXED, are collecting stories of "vaccine injury." One could say that the movie VAXXED consists, to a large degree, of stories of "vaccine-induced" autism, and the VAXXED team has been busy collecting such stories and posting videos to its website, grouped by state. For instance, here is Michigan, which as of last night included six videos. Not surprisingly, California has many more. So far, the VAXXED team claims it's received over 650 e-mails from people who have submitted their stories.

This could be a very effective technique with this particular President for the simple reason that he does not understand science, shows little interest in science, and clearly values anecdotes over data. He is very easily influenced by flattery. He has a long and sordid history of antivaccine views. He's been very consistent in this, dating back to at least 2007. He became antivaccine because of stories told to him by parents just like this, according to RFK Jr. In 2007, he was tight with the founders of Autism Speaks, Bob and Suzanne Wright, even fundraising for it. The Wrights started out believing that vaccines cause autism, leading to a schism with their daughter Katie when they later came to the conclusion that vaccines didn't cause autism later. The problem was never quite resolved, and there has been tension between vaccine-autism believers and those who support science in Autism Speaks ever since, sometimes leading Autism Speaks to appear to be wanting to have it both ways with respect to vaccines.

Given the coyness of the appeal, it's not clear to me what Tommey and company are planning to do with all these stories, other than send them to President-Elect Trump. If that's all they were planning on doing, why all the mystery? I rather suspect we're about to see some sort of publicity stunt. Advocates of science need to be on guard this week and throughout the next four years. I get the feeling that stunts like this and antivaccine activities like the meeting with RFK Jr. will be a regular occurrence.

More like this

I have noticed before that for this group of people, vaccine injury is a synonym for autism. There's no room for uncertainty or debate. Autism is vaccine injury, vaccine injury is autism (and anything else they can think of). I have no idea how to even begin challenging this: it's a religious conviction and by questioning it you are denying their suffering.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 16 Jan 2017 #permalink

AVers have been ramping up their publicity stunts this last week already, between the "Vaccines Revealed docu-series" (where apparently the editors think everyone has two hours a night x 9 nights in a row to watch the usual crop of AVers drone on and on) to those AVers "The Drs. Wolfson" with their "Wide Awake" fakeumentary, which is rife with errors, lies and stupidity.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

OT and almost off-topic: Frankly a straight advertisement.

We need family physicians in various parts of Canada especially in rural and semi-rural areas. Oh, we have a single-payer insurance system. Co-pay is not a word here.

The problem in many instances is not establishing a practice as it is beating off off the patients as they storm the doors.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

How about stories like mine? Three kids, all fully vaccinated. Nothing happened.

So...what could actually happen with this kind of thing? Can the president really influence the vaccine schedule? Don't there have to be actual scientists in charge of this stuff, or am I being naive?

According to an Economist/YouGov poll taken in December, 31 per cent of Trump voters believe that vaccines can cause autism and only 21 per cent reject that view outright.

Oh, look, somebody's playing mix and match with the "probably" and "definitely" categories while omitting the actual survey item.

Autism is vaccine injury, vaccine injury is autism

Can you say cherry picking, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Sadly, there are instances (however rare) of vaccine injury. These injuries are most definitely NOT autism.

And remember that the whole thing goes back to a paper that was actually found to be fraudulent. There never was a link between vaccines and autism.

it’s a religious conviction

And here's where it gets worse: there is established legal precedent in the US (Hobby Lobby v. Burwell) that "sincerely held" religious beliefs must be taken into account, no matter if they are not based in reality. The precedent case involved a privately held company that did not wish to provide coverage for contraceptives in the policies offered to its employees because of the company's owners' "religious beliefs". IANAL, but I don't see how TMR's position is any more legally ridiculous than Hobby Lobby's was. TMR can point to an actual (albeit retracted) refereed journal article in support of their position.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Narad@5: It's even worse than that. They are attempting an argumentum ad populam, and are botching it. They don't tell us anything about the opinions of Clinton's voters (let alone Johnson's or Stein's), and Clinton got more votes than Trump. Even among Trump voters, 31 + 21 = 52. Where are the other 48%?

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

jrkrideau: how does Canada feel about nurse practitioners?

Because I swear . . . . I'm really feeling tempted. I lived in North Dakota for two years, and visited Saskatchewan Province many times . . . in winter. So I have an idea what it's like there. And I swear, it's sounding better and better.

Orac writes,

Advocates of science need to be on guard this week and throughout the next four years.

MJD says,

I'm in a conundrum, several years ago I wrote a book titled, "Allergies and Autism" for Nova Science Publishers.…

In the book, I wrote a science based mechanism-of-action on how a potential contaminant in vaccines may have caused my beautiful son's regressive autism.

Here's my dilemma, if I submit the books vaccine-injury story to Polly Tommey, et al., will I need to get permission from the publisher to avoid copy right infringement?

Please advise...

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Just wanted to congratulate Orac on making the Health Deranger's top ten list of feared health and science advocates (at #4). He's in mostly good company along with promoters of sanity on the biotech front (Kevin Folta and Jon Entine).

Nothing really new in the anti-Orac drool, except maybe for the speculation that his patients don't really have cancer at all. Rest assured droogies, real live breast cancer patients do get referred to his cancer center (don't ask me how I know).

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

It is rather humbling to have been included with luminaries such as Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kevin Folta, and Bill Gates. It is, however, rather telling how Adams thinks we're all equivalent to the evil Dr. Farid Fata, who bilked Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars by administering chemotherapy to cancer patients who didn't need it and, in some cases, to patients who didn't have cancer at all.


Vancouver, BC is much milder and very beautiful as well--not to detract from the beauty of The Prairies! I know of a number of nurses and NP’s who have quite easily been accepted to Canada. Alas, I have no such skills and am old to boot, so I’m going to have to settle for a border town.

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Aw, these people are always collecting stories of vaccine injury. VAERS, various altie films ( Null has several), TMR books ( at last count, at least 3 and a cookbook), Skyhorse books by AoA authors, articles in Tommey's Autism File magazine. You'd think that they'd be tired by now,

Stories allow hyperbole and histrionics hidden in research.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I am - and will always be - your 'droogie"

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Assuming this is accurate (, and I generally trust the BBC. It seems to me that if someone with in-depth knowledge about vaccine safety and side-effects were to write something that explained the reality of the situation in simple understandable terms, around a grade 6-8 level would be appropriate, with links and synopsis of the backing studies, there is a real chance to change Trump's mind. I realize that climate-change and vaccine safety are different beasts, but seems to me that you or you and your compatriots at the super-secret other site would be perfect for the job. There is also a number of regular posters on here who would be good collaborators.

Then again, it is much easier to complain about the problem, vice attempting to fix it. I refuse to believe that he is too stupid to be educated. He is definitely has a motivated view-point, but any business man who refused to change his mind would be dirt poor, ex-business man.

By Anonymous Psudonym (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

@8 Panacea:
In Ontario Nurse Practitioners can be your primary health-care provider. I don't know what other provinces have accredited them in this manner however. Since they are less expensive then doctors, I imagine that most provinces have or will accredit them as primary care providers.

By Anonymous Psudonym (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

One thing people can do in response, if they're looking for a positive action, is submit their story of why they support vaccines through the form created by Voices for Vaccines and Every Child by Two, who can then share that information with state and national legislators. Here is the link to do that:

Here is the Facebook prompt:

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

@Panacea: I'd be wary of moving to Alberta, which is basically the Canadian equivalent of Texas (Stephen Harper's riding is/was in the Calgary area). But I can confirm that coastal BC is much milder than other places in Canada, and even southeastern BC isn't too bad--there is a small wine industry in the Okanagan Valley. Parts of Atlantic Canada are also relatively mild, although they can have stormy winters. Lots of beautiful countryside in Quebec, although you would need to have some knowledge of French to work there or in parts of New Brunswick.

I have made several extended visits to Fairbanks in winter, so I could probably handle the winters in most of Canada--maybe not parts of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, or the Hudson Bay watershed, but most of the rest would be within my experience.

Alas, I also don't have any such skills, but my current abode is about a five hour drive from Montreal, and my mother is about three hours from Vancouver.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Perfect - remember that this is the guy who repeats fake news stories on live TV and when it's pointed out that they've already been debunked just shrugs and says, "Am I going to check out every story?" I can't even wrap my head around that degree of indifference to veracity. Trump and anti-vaxxers are a match made in heaven the other place.

@jrkrideau - I'm interested in your inside opinion of the Canadian health care system, since there's a lot of debate in the U.S. over whether we should adopt something like it. For example, I can already hear the anti-gov't healthcare people taking your comment about needing more doctors as evidence that a single-payer system will drive people out of medicine because they won't get paid enough. Is that what's happening?

@Sarah: I can't speak to the Canadian situation, but the shortage of qualified medical practitioners in rural and semi-rural areas is also a thing in the US. If anything, it's probably worse here, because in addition to the reduced cultural opportunities of living in the boonies, there is the not-so-small problem that these days, it's difficult to repay US student loans on the salary of a simple country doctor. The Supreme Court made it worse when they ruled that the Medicaid expansion part of PPACA was merely optional--in states that chose not to expand Medicaid, many rural hospitals that needed those subsidies (which were intended to replace subsidies that were repealed in passing PPACA) were forced to close.

I have heard anecdotally of underserved towns in the US offering to pay the student loans of any doctor who agreed to settle there for a minimum amount of time (even before PPACA). I have no idea how widespread such programs are, or even if there are any currently in existence.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

I have heard anecdotally of underserved towns in the US offering to pay the student loans of any doctor who agreed to settle there for a minimum amount of time (even before PPACA).

Indeed, this is the premise of Northern Exposure, pretty much my favorite TV show of all time.

They don’t tell us anything about the opinions of Clinton’s voters (let alone Johnson’s or Stein’s), and Clinton got more votes than Trump. Even among Trump voters, 31 + 21 = 52. Where are the other 48%?

Now that I'm actually out of bed, the whole 144-page PDF is linked at the bottom of this page.

The relevant result is here. They're still behind the birfers, IIRC, but I'm still swilling coffee.

I had poliomyelitis as an infant, before there was even a vaccine to be against. I have an autism spectrum condition.
Correlation? Causation?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Denice, you are a horrorshow sharp. :)

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

One year, I got the flu vaccine and lost my job 2 months later. Should I send those wombats my "vaccine injury" story?

I just submitted the following. My expectation is that it will be deleted, but it was fun:

"I had a flu shot yesterday. OMG! I have had nary a symptom. No nausea, no fatigue, no nothing. I am feeling utterly and absolutly fine, and plan to come back for a pneumonia shot and >>trigger warning, Anti-Vaxxers!<< an MMR shot!!! Well, gosh darn. I'm so disappointed. Maybe I should make up b.s. stories and say, "My doctor made me autistic, BOO HOO HOO," and get gullible fools to believe me and fork out money for their supplements and alternative "medicine." "Here you go honey, have some Reiki for your colon cancer." "Ah, type 1 diabetes? Surely you know you can cure that with a little curcumin my dear." Anyone who reads this (although undoubtedly it will get censored, because nobody disagrees with Friends of Trump without getting silenced) and feels the steam coming out of their ears... well, please try my new patented treatment called Anger Cupping. It only costs 200 per session and will cool you right down!

Oh, Canada! Thanks for the updates and suggestions, guys. :) My sister wants to move to Australia, but I'm a bit worried that the drought conditions there will get too hairy due to climate change; I think Canada will actually continue to be a decent place to live, if a bit too close to the BSC United States.

Of course, I say that after just telling PGP she shouldn't give up on our democracy. ;)

MJD: Regressive autism is a feature of how the disorder presents itself, not the effect of a cause. It's still genetic. Your son was born that way, as I was. I'm sorry he has to deal with that, but sorrier still that you waste so much time and energy on chasing your tail . . . for him, not you. If you want to make yourself suffer that way, I guess that's your privilege. But I do feel for you.

Consult an attorney skilled in copyright law for the answer to your question.

Sarah: Many of my friends when I was a student at Minot State were Canadian. They told me they liked their health care system. They did have frustrations with waiting lists for elective procedures (who likes to wait?) but wouldn't change it for our dysfunctional system for love nor money.

One of my friends, in her mid 20's at the time, had knee issues serious enough to require surgery, that was elective (I forget what exactly, it's been almost 20 years). They didn't work with her on scheduling; they called her and told her when her procedure was. Everything else was up to her. I actually drove up to Regina from Minot with her because she needed a ride home after the procedure (keeping to a speed limit based in KPH rather than MPH was interesting to say the least). She got great care, and didn't pay a cent.

Me, on the other hand, had a stack of bills from a kidney stone I suffered around the same time that I didn't get paid off for a full two years because I was a student and wasn't making any money, and didn't have any health insurance. :(

Panacea, Alberta would be Texas North except for the fact that it isn't. Much of what goes on in Alberta would be regarded as downright commie pinko socialism in Texas. I live in Calgary, the seat of the oil idiotstry in Canada and the most populous city in Alberta. Our mayor is a Muslim of color, planning to run for a third term. We don't have a safe injection site yet, but we have needle exchanges and safe disposal containers in public places. Calgary firefighters carry naloxone. Homeless people who die on the street make the news. The food bank is heavily used and well supported. In Canada you can't get a permit to carry a handgun unless you are likely to be eaten on the job. We have way too many pickup trucks on the roads.

If you want to get a reasonable picture of Canada, I recommend reading the news at the Canadian Broadcorsting Castration website, for a few weeks. The CBC is regarded as horrible liberal media by the red of neck, but I knew a dim redneck who had no other TV channels to watch for a few months and had to admit that CBC news was more fair and neutral than others.

Environment Canada has a website with current and historical weather for the whole country (no link, so as not to overrun my limit - search on environment canada weather).

I don't know about other provinces, but nurse practitioners are very much a thing in Alberta. I have no idea what sort of demand there is right now, nor do I know about typical salaries. This site is a good place to start for Alberta jobs. There are probably similar sites for each province and territory.

I just looked up the Top Evil 10 on Mikey's site. Wow. I usually avoid NN: this guy really needs to take his meds. I can practically see him frothing on the mouth.

Then I found a link to a Medscape article in my news feed; Medscape attracts more than it's fair share of woo but this article was interesting: Be Aware of Seven Questionable Clinics. Orac is cited.

I was glad to see it. Nothing frustrates me more than dealing with colleagues who buy into BS. Nursing working hard to get into the Top 10 Most Trusted Professions; we have a responsibility to be worthy of it by be knowledgeable and giving patients true and accurate information. You can't do that if you buy into woo.

I’ve heard Trump supporters who are pro-vaccine pooh-pooh these statements and claim that Trump won’t be doing anything about vaccine policy because it’s not a priority,

But there are also people totally opposed to Trump who posit he won’t be doing anything about vaccine policy, partly because he has too many other fish to fry, but mostly because there's no way he or his posse can make any significant profit from it. (sadmar raises his hand, 'that's me!')

Now, that does not mean we are not headed into dark times. One fundamental policy shift that would make a lot of rich people richer, and has long been on the conservative agenda, is the privatization of education. Up today in the confirmation hearings for The Cabinet of Deplorables is Betsy DeVos, nominee to head the Department to Destroy Education. A health angle may seem only indirect in that, but on the news today the head of the NEA noted something I hadn't heard or thought of before. Where privatization has been instituted, specifically where DeVos has had influence in Michigan, among the first things to go out the window are Special Education and services for special needs kids. While there are certainly more troubling consequences to worry about if that goes national, the added stress on ASD kids and their parents could lead to a rise in anti-vax sentiments...

this guy really needs to take his meds. I can practically see him frothing on the mouth.

Hey, so do I. I've never been known to froth at the mouth, though. I don't think.

Denice, you are a horrorshow sharp.
The thought of Denice and Dangerous Bacon hopped up on Moloko Plus and out for a night of the old ultraviolence, it is rather alarming.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Nothing really new in the anti-Orac drool, except maybe for the speculation that his patients don’t really have cancer at all.

I can see how someone who hangs out with "cancer-cure" scammers would succumb to the temptations of projection.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

# 8 Panacea

I lived in North Dakota for two years, and visited Saskatchewan Province many times

Argh, even in “A day in the life of Ivan Denisivich” you only got sent to Siberia. On the other hand, Regina is a nice town :)

Re nurse practitioners, really not a clue, I'd suspect the prospects would be good. I only know about the current doctor shortage from a CBC interview about a doctor being forced to cut her patient list due to overwork and burn-out.

Ah a quick google for my province, Ontario, suggests jobs are available Presumably the other provinces are similar.

Ignore Doug. Totally a flack for Alberta. Not like me who would only present a balanced view of my province.:) And come to think of it, would probably prefer to live in Québec

Well Doug is right about the CBC website. And a Canadian joke for Doug (Harper > Calgary (Nenshi) > Alberta (Notley) > Canada (Trudeau) oh dear.

In Canada you can’t get a permit to carry a handgun unless you are likely to be eaten on the job.

Which does not happen all that often if you live south of '60 or don't live in The Paw. We have not had a businessman eaten here in living memory. Pity.

I also do not know anyone who carries a gun (police excepted) though I do know a few hobby shooters including a couple of IPSIC shooters.

@jrkrideau – I’m interested in your inside opinion of the Canadian health care system, since there’s a lot of debate in the U.S. over whether we should adopt something like it.

Well, Canada delivers an equivalent level of care “to everyone” at about half the cost of the US health “system” so yes you should consider adopting something like it. As mentioned earlier, co-pay is not really a word here.

We, certainly, don't have a perfect system and a mix-and-match approach from many other countries is likely to give you a better system than we currently have but almost anything is better than the existing “whatever you would call it” in the USA.

If I need to see my doctor, I call or drop in to schedule an appointment. The last time I did this for some non-urgent thing, they apologized because I could not get in the next day (Friday) and would have to wait til Monday. I didn't pay anything for the visit, my taxes have already paid.

In fact when I showed up for my “free” flu vacination, they noted my age and offered to throw in a free shingles vacination as well. Come to think of it, my health card had expired so, officially, I had no health coverage at all. The recepionist said she would make a note of it on my file.

There can be fairly long wait times. I needed a cataract operation and the wait time was about six months. Still a cataract is not exactly life-threatening.

On the other hand, a friend's father with a very serious, but not immediately deadly, heart problem was in the hospital for an operation in a week.

a single-payer system will drive people out of medicine because they won’t get paid enough. Is that what’s happening?

Well if you are a family doctor you are not going to be rich. Roughly you will make somewhere in the 120,000 to 240,000/ yr range. I imagine specialists make considerably more since they spend much more time in training and so have a reduced earring period. (In Canada a family doctor typically spends two years in a post-grad residency whereas a specialist may spent 6-8 years)

I have never heard of a doctor abandoning medicine because he/she was underpaid. Thirty years ago, I think some doctors went to the USA for more money but they had no intention of abandoning medicine,

Now I occasionally hear of an American doctor moving to Canada to escape HMO's and Insurance Companies.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

It seems counter-intuitive, I know, to imagine that Mike Adams list of science shills would ever include an actual science shill, but then broken clocks show the right time twice a day, or something like that... If that intro doesn't seem to fit what follows, the connection is revealed at the end.

A couple days ago, I came across an op-ed by WaPo science writer Robert Gebelhoff that struck me as begging for some Insolence. [] Titled "Let’s stop pretending like science is perfect" it's a minor masterpiece of subtle propagandistic sophistry. It's a critique framed as a 'skeptical' counter to a pro-science statement President Obama made in his farewell address.

“In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.”
If only it were that simple. The president wanted to take a subtle shot at political opponents who refuse to accept the reality of climate change. But this rhetorical device — invoking the power of “science” — is something we hear all too often in politics (and on both sides of the aisle). It might be fair to criticize people for denying compounding evidence on a given issue, but holding up “science” as some depository of knowledge that needs to be broadly respected goes directly against the spirit of research. It’s also naive. [edited]

Seems fair enough, yes? Except that "both sides of the aisle" remark is pretty sketchy. He goes on to cite the sorts of problems scientists themselves have identified in published research. Then he argues:

We too often bastardize science to fit our own tribalistic tendencies. How many times in a political debate have you heard someone argue, “Well, the science is on my side”? without having ever read a peer-reviewed article on the topic? “Science” used as a political tool is often just a substitute for blind elitism: ...

Again, seems fair enough, but the dubious payoff is after the colon:

We disdain those who challenge points of broad consensus even though we rarely can explain the science ourselves.

That just kind of slides in neatly following the prose stream, but, whoah there! So a non-scientist citizen like me has to be able to understand the science at a science journal peer reviewer level level in order to disdain the rejection of scientific consensus? Where's he going?

Well he's not going to vaccines or GMOs, these issues being "obvious" where it's " fair to criticize people for denying compounding evidence." Nope, the conclusion is an appeal for tolerance of climate-change denialists:

Accepting major claims like global warming should require a lot of time and mental work to sift through the evidence. And in the event that we don’t have a clear answer to a question, we should be more open to the idea of refusing to have an opinion.

OK, here's the admittedly somewhat loose connection to Mikey's Ass Hat list. Since I thought it odd indeed that Gabelhoff put GMO critics in the 'obviously fair to criticize' category, but not climate change deniers, I asked my 'who is this guy', and Googled his name. On the first page of hits: "Robert Gebelhoff Archives | Genetic Literacy Project".

So he's 'buddies' with Jon Entine. Not remembering that much about Entine, I Googled again. My main discoveries:

1. A 2012 article in Mother Jones on Entine's role in Sygenta's efforts to fend off EPA regulation of atrazine was based on a report about agribusiness PR from The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which is my go to source for sober, high credibility, fact-based, solidly researched information on who might or not be a corporate shill. They focus on COIs between public figures and corporate interests on public interest policy questions, without asserting the corporate position is necessarily 'bad' but just open to question. For example, i satisfied myself that the pharmas are NOT employing 'vaccine shills' by checking the reports on the pharmas at CMD. They know where the pharma money goes, and basically it's directed at loosening regulation. If they don't cite it, I don't worry about it. Another example, seearching 'Kevin Folta' on their sites yields only a reply by Folta himself in the comment thread under an article about a particularly dubious Eneman-esque PR campaign by the GMO advocacy group Biology Fortified, Inc. Entine wouldn't be on CMD's radar if there was no there there. Fwiw, that article (and this would be typical of CMD) voiced no concerns about the safety of GMO crops themselves, but only the environmental consequences of the Sygenta and Monsanto herbicides that farmers were using before their were any GMOs...

2. Entine is a fellow of the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank. AEI advocates for laissez faire economics, deregulation of everything, "lower taxes, fewer protections for consumers and the environment..." The anti-environment taek comes especially from (did you guess) it's attacks on climate-change science. In 2007, The Guardian reported AEI had offered scientists $10,00 each "to undermine a major climate change report" from the UN. That report noted that AEI had received over $1.6 million in funding from ExxonMobil (Tillerson!), and a former ExxomMobil CEO vice-chairman of its board of trustees.

I also note that while DB said Orac was in good company with Folta and Entine, Orac's reply only mentioned being honored by appearing on a list with Nye, Tyson, Folta, and Gates.

Anyway, it seems Entine has some actual shill cred, and gets some significant financial support from Big Oil. Whether that fully explains Gabelhoff singling out climate change denials for admittance into the circle of commendable scepticism or not, it's an interesting coincidence if nothing else.

It seems counter-intuitive, I know, to imagine that Mike Adams list of science shills would ever include an actual science shill, but then broken clocks show the right time twice a day, or something like that

In Mike Adams' case, the metaphoric broken clock has been smashed into tiny pieces by a sledgehammer.

In 2007, The Guardian reported AEI had offered scientists $10,00 each “to undermine a major climate change report” from the UN.

I know scientists are underpaid for their education and achievements, but that really is a chintzy offer.
(Typo, I know, but I couldn't resist)

Folta, Entine and Tyson make the Deranger's list because they are notable figures in the science-based defense of genetic modification technology and its application to food crops and medicine. Entine directs the independent Genetic Literacy Project, which hosts or links to articles by scientists and credible journalists. The default attack on GLP is to ignore what's contained in those articles and try to label Entine a shill. Folta is a distinguished molecular biologist whose mistake was to accept money for travel expenses from a university fund contributed to by Monsanto, when doing talks on GMOs. Folta's work from what I've seen is impeccable; the default attack on him is to label him a shill.
Tyson is a highly respected figure, but enemies figure the way to cut him down to size is to denounce him as a shill.

Orac - well, we've seen the same tactic used against him numerous times.

It would be helpful if the shill-sniffers could cite actual science, but since they can't, character assassination and connect-the-dots fantasies are the order of the day. Too bad sadmar appears to have joined their ranks.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

sadmar: Robert Gebelhoff has no business writing about science for a major newspaper. He's less thant TWO years out of college. He's a kid, with no education in science that I can see from his resume.…

I usually enjoy his op-eds. But I just don't think he has the background to write them on scientific matters.

Like Creationists they learnt to stay out of the science and get into the political arena where fact don' matter as much.

Anonymous Psuedonym: around a grade 6-8 level.

You're aiming too high. Trumpie stopped learning in the third grade.
AP: I refuse to believe that he is too stupid to be educated.

I'll have whatever you're smoking.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 17 Jan 2017 #permalink

Can I submit my own story? I have Asperger syndrome, something that became apparent at age 1 or thereabouts. Yet I didn't receive any MMR shots, as that was introduced three years after I was born. Vaccine injury? My *ss!

And how about stories of "antivaccine injury", such as this one or this one or this one or <a href="… one or ... no, let's stop here, this is too depressing...
And these are merely the rare cases where children actually die because their parents bought into antivaccine nonsense. There must be many, many more children suffering from brain damage and handicaps such as deafness as a result of not being vaccinated -- only their stories usually don't make the headlines.

It would be good (and, at the same time, sad) if we could flood these Vaxxed people with stories like the above...

# 38 TBruce

In 2007, The Guardian reported AEI had offered scientists $10,00 each “to undermine a major climate change report” from the UN.

I know scientists are underpaid for their education and achievements, but that really is a chintzy offer.

Clearly doctors are overpaid and expect too much.

One seems able to buy a politician for that with no problem. What was that line from the early 1900's. Something about a mule being more expensive than a senator?

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Yet we’ve learned how even the most despicable scientific fraud – I’m referring to the disgraced paper by Andrew Wakefield that gave birth to the autism-measles vaccine canard – sows seeds of long-lived doubt. Kennedy feeds that doubt with his conspiracy rhetoric. We can’t trust the CDC, the FDA and, by the way, the other nations that have conducted their own studies. This is the hallmark of the anti-science movement, readily seen among climate skeptics. When the evidence is that strong against you, just call it a conspiracy."

We disdain those who challenge points of broad consensus even though we rarely can explain the science ourselves.

Well, yeah. I don't know beans about auto repair, but if I take my car to 100 mechanics and 99 of them tell me the same thing, am I obligated to either give equal weight to the opinion of the lone dissenter or go to vocational school and learn auto repair for myself? Is it "elitism" to trust the opinion of the 99 mechanics over that of the dog groomer down the street who says there's nothing wrong with my car? There's just no way for any one person to master all of the subjects that affect our daily lives; ultimately you have to trust someone. It's just a matter of whether you're going to trust a large number of people with expertise in the relevant subject, or some person or group who clearly has a specific axe to grind.

What was that line from the early 1900’s. Something about a mule being more expensive than a senator?

You may be thinking of a statement often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, after a Union general was captured along with a supply train during what my mother's side of the family still refers to as the War of Northern Aggression.

"I can always make another general, but mules cost $200 apiece."

By shay simmons (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

herr doktor,
alas! these days the ultraviolence is all rhetorical.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

@ JP:
I venture that one of the reasons both he and Null oppose psychiatric meds so much is because they probably need them. Anosogniosia
And no, I'm not joking.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

@ PGP: #42

Now that's the spirit!

I plan to greet news about DJT's appointments, actions, ideas, tweets etc
with derision and joking whenever appropriate ( i.e. most of the time except when someone dies because of him or is bombed or economically devastated beyond all hope).

He is an opportunity for comics and astute reporters/ political analysts to strut their stuff.

e.g. what do you call the group Trump's appointing- 6 Goldman Sachs people? ( e.g. like gaggle of geese)
A hedge of G-S or you just call it *G-S* ( courtesy MSNBC)
Or Trump's spending plan? like 'a drunken sailor' ( courtesy of Bloomberg)

Opportunities will be endless
I work part time for a writer/ distant relative who is currently beside himself alternately between laughing and crying.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Today AoA reprints a HuffPo article about

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Beside themselves with glee??? Seriously??
How about hopeful? Relieved? Happy that SOMEONE is finally listening?
You have no freaking idea what it's like to have a vaccine injured child. We're not some idiotic Hollywood blonde bimbo that vacillates between vaccinating and not vaccinating to get attention! We are parents of kids that are irreversibly damaged by these so called "life saving" drugs. Try having a child that screams for NINE hours day after day after day and mislabeled colic only to find out in her twenties that she has a brain injury; most certainly from the Dpt that caused high fevers, diarrhea and vomiting for weeks. Try having your daughter be diagnosed at 3 that she has severe asthma and allergies. Try putting up with mood swings, weight drop and learning disabilities; Adhd, and eventually suicide attempt. Try doing respirations on your girl twice as you prayed silently to the EMT's to get there soon enough; watching her fly flight for life FOUR TIMES IN FIVE YEARS. Try getting the call that the ambulance didn't get to her in time and she's now in an another state in a coma from lack of oxygen. Try holding your daughter as she takes her last breath as she lets go of this earth Try that you freaking idiot. Because I had to do all that. And I'm not alone.

By Kimberly Weninger (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Kimberly Weninger-
"I'm a happily married Mom of two beautiful grown kids; a certified Master Herbalist/Iridologist living and loving my work helping others ..."

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Iridologist?! Is that what you do when you're rejected from phrenology college?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Kimberly Weninger: "You have no freaking idea what it’s like to have a vaccine injured child."

Actually an actual disease caused my child to have seizures and a trip to the hospital.

So did you call emergency services for your kid after the DTP vaccine? Why did you wait twenty whole years? One explanation is that you fed your kid some herbal concoction that had actual toxins in it.

Your child sounds like someone who has something even more common that autism: mental health issues, which have happened way before vaccines and does affect many teenagers.

By the way, some kids get colic for days. My mother-in-law suffered because my husband was one of those that screamed for hours with colic for a few weeks. He grew out of it. Then became fully functioning grown up.

Chris. My daughter had 10 months of colic followed by night terrors and was sick an average of every three weeks the first 2 years of her life. I wasn't an herbalist/iridologist until 9 years ago. Long after my daughter was injured. I didn't take her to the doctor for the first few hours after she started screaming because the damn doctor told me it was normal. He then suggested a "safer" version of this "life saving" drug that I paid for out of pocket. It made no difference. And colic does NOT go for nine hours; it's usually at the same time each day. My daughter never reached a hundred pounds till the day she died. None of western medicine helped or saved her. She refused most of the herbal help that I offered. She was a grown up and could make up her own mind. And for the record; she was considered brilliant by the tests she undertook to get into college. But with learning disabilities she struggled. You have no idea what it's like to have a child die BECAUSE you did what you thought best. I'm sorry your kid got sick but you still have yours. I don't. And no amount of "for the greater good" bullshit or "there's no evidence" crap will make me know any less what actually happened. As a matter of fact the brain damage my daughter got was diagnosed by a neurosurgeon who looked at her medical records; her EEG and told me it was the Dpt ....specifically the Pertussis part of the vaccine. Which (I'm sure since you're so "learned") has been suspect in the rising amount of asthma and lung issues. Look up WHY VAERS was invented. It was BECAUSE of this goddamned vaccine. So many people were suing and winning in court against pharmaceutical companies that no one wanted to make the damn shot. So the government in their "wisdom" made the pharma companies exempt and set up this kangaroo court to protect the drug companies asses. Go ahead and spout off about how many people are saved. I don't give a flying fuck who all is saved. MY daughter is dead and its because of these people. Take that little bit of information and chew it over.

By Kimberly Weninger (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

It was BECAUSE of this goddamned vaccine [DTP]. So many people were suing and winning in court against pharmaceutical companies that no one wanted to make the damn shot.

You don't say. How many is "so many"?

As a matter of fact the brain damage my daughter got was diagnosed by a neurosurgeon who looked at her medical records; her EEG and told me it was the Dpt.

It's not surprising that a neurosurgeon might have told you that--some years before it became clear that such cases are due to pre-existing mutations rather than to vaccination; he or she could not have known then that that was wrong. But now we know, even if it's hard for nonspecialists to keep up. This will get you started:

Ms. Weninger, I have no reason to believe you. The first reason is that you cannot even get the name of the vaccine right. It is straight out of an antivaccine book.

The second reason is that you claim you did not realize until more than twenty years later. Obviously it was too late to file on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program when your child was showing signs of being a teenager, and some other mental health issues.

And seriously, after three months of "colic" you should have found another doctor. But right now, we just have your anecdote. That does not count for much at all.

Here is an idea, do provide us the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualifed

I venture that one of the reasons both he and Null oppose psychiatric meds so much is because they probably need them. Anosogniosia
And no, I’m not joking.

I dunno, they strike me as conmen more than diagnosably mentally ill. If we were talking about L. Ron Hubbard, though...

You have no freaking idea what it’s like to have a vaccine injured child.

No doubt, you heard this countless times before: there is no such thing as "vaccine injury" (apart from the known side effects, that is), also see below.
There are quite a few conditions -- in particularly disorders caused by small genetic defects -- which may produce symptoms like the ones you describe, affecting both the brain and other organs in an otherwise seemingly normal child. Many of these conditions only become apparent several months or even years after birth, which may lead to a perceived link with vaccination(*).
Unless medical geneticists know what to look for, these genetic defects often go unnoticed as a cause, especially in less severe cases. That being said, the past decade has seen tremendous progress in diagnosing such conditions. This of course doesn't mean that your child actually had such a genetic defect, but you should not rule it out as a possibility.
Yes, it is fully understandable and thoroughly human that you want to find a cause for the suffering of your child and your family, and it is just as understandable to point at vaccines, because vaccination is an intervention that instinctively "doesn't feel right" -- you're sticking needles in a (apparently) healthy child, after all.
Yet for more than two hundred years now, science has proven time and again that vaccines are both very safe and very effective against serious disease, without being the cause of any serious ailments themselves.

Look up WHY VAERS was invented.

VAERS was set up as a catch-all for anything that happened after vaccination, and please note the italics. It is imperative that you realize that an entry in VAERS does not establish proof of causality; it merely documents that something happened to a child after having received a vaccination. Lots of things (in fact, most a person's life events) happen after vaccination, unfortunately including less pleasant things. This does not mean that vaccination had anything to do with it, even if one of those events followed shortly upon vaccination.
Only proper scientific research can confirm whether or not a specific vaccine is the cause of specific ailments. So far, no relationship was ever found between vaccination and any specific conditions, with one notable exception -- the link between narcolepsy and the H1N1 vaccine. This last bit is important: if scientists managed to quickly link a particular swine flu vaccine to only a few hundred extra cases of narcolepsy, with literally millions of these vaccines administered, how could those same scientists miss all those "vaccine injuries", decade after decade? The answer is simple: "vaccine injury" only exists in the perception of people who desperately want to find a cause for their children's mishap. And, as said, this is very understandable: it must be very, very frustrating to see your child suffering, with doctors only saying that they don't know what is wrong or what is causing it. But unjustly blaming vaccines is wrong for several reasons.

*: A business acquaintance of mine had a child with a late onset form of Krabbe disease, with significant symptoms only emerging at age two. And yes, before the actual cause was confirmed by tests, these people also wondered if vaccines had anything to do with it.

As a matter of fact the brain damage my daughter got was diagnosed by a neurosurgeon who looked at her medical records; her EEG and told me it was the Dpt.

Let me guess. The neurosurgeon in question was Ben Carson?
I would dearly like to know what this imaginary post-vaccination EEG is supposed to look like.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 #permalink

Anti-vaxers have no clue as to how VAERS is used by legitimate researchers & how effective it can be to spot even small fact, it was VAERS reports which led to the discontinuation of the first Rotavirus vaccine.

It was sensitive enough to detect one additional serious reaction per 100,000 doses, again, which was enough to get the recommendation for the vaccine rescinded.

Of course, anti-vaxers ignore all the times where vaccine research showed issues with a particular vaccine - and those issues get addressed (or the vaccine is removed), or the fact that only about 7% of potential vaccines ever get approved by the FDA for use.

Hey dum dum who wrote this article, explain how someone can be "antivax" and submit a vaccine injury story?? Wouldn't you have to have vaccinated your child for them to have gotten a vaccine injury, therefore making them not "antivax"?!

In much the same way a believer in UFOs entirely fails at being abducted by aliens and who then goes on to claim that they were indeed abducted by aliens. They will often actually believe it and so are not (technically speaking) lying.

abducted by aliens

Those dang aliens have been abducting and butt-probing humanity for the last 250,000 years; So far, the only thing they have discovered is that one in ten don't seem to mind.

Hey dum dum who wrote this article, explain how someone can be “antivax” and submit a vaccine injury story??

I suppose that you must believe that Barbara Loe Fisher, a co-founder of the egregiously misnamed National Vaccine Information Center and a woman who has wasted her considerable talents and much of her adult life railing against vaccines, cannot be “antivax” because she chose to have her child vaccinated. The evidence has clearly suggested—for almost three decades—that Fisher’s child was affected by a pre-existing mutation and was not, in fact, injured by a vaccine, but Fisher continues to spew anti-science nonsense even today. Yes, she had her child vaccinated, but if Fisher isn’t “antivax,” then who is?

Hey dum dum who wrote this article, explain how someone can be “antivax” and submit a vaccine injury story??

Simple : by using long debunked arguments and refusing to admit that a personal story / interpretation, no matter how tragic, is not evidence of anything.
It is understood here that the majority of antivax people weren't always antivax and that a lot of them adopted this opinion following a personal tragedy they attributed to a vaccine.
It is quite possible to criticize vaccines, like any drug ; and a pity that antivax people choose stupid arguments, and then pretend there is a ban on vaccine criticism when these arguments are shot down.

You people are fucking terrible. OMG.

Fucking psychopaths.

By Geir Bjørklund (not verified) on 25 Jan 2017 #permalink