What was that about not being "antivaccine" again?

I've written time and time again about how antivaccinationists go out of their way to try to reassure us that they really, truly are not "antivaccine" or even that they support vaccination. Of course, such disclaimers are often nothing more than a prelude to a tirade of blatantly antivaccination rhetoric and misinformation about "toxins" in vaccines and the like, and if you try to pin an antivaccinationist down and ask her if there was any evidence that would ever change her mind or persuade her that it's safe to vaccinate, you'll either get a lot of hemming and hawing of the "Green Our Vaccines" variety or, if the antivaccinationist is Jenny McCarthy, you'll get a response along the line that if she had another child she "wouldn't vaccinate at all, never, ever."

The same is true, of course, of the merry band of ignorant antivaccinationists making up the know-nothing crew at Age of Autism. However, occasionally the mask slips and the lie that they aren't antivaccine is made obvious. Here's one such occasion, in which Dan Olmsted attacks Bill Gates for the work his foundation is doing in promoting vaccination.

The stupid, it burns as agonizingly as the flames in the illustration of the Gates of Hell that graces his post would if they were real. Fortunately, the flames are not real, but unfortunately the rampant stupidity is all too painfully real. Get a load of this:

One of those efforts is to create and promulgate vaccinations. This post is not about whether vaccinations are a good idea, the best way to fight diseases like malaria, the practicality of continuing to pour millions into the search for an AIDS vaccine - it's not about any of that. The issue is: Given that the foundation sees mass vaccination as a direct route to better health outcomes for the world's poor, the foundation (which now means Bill Gates himself) has an affirmative duty - a moral imperative - to make sure those vaccines are as safe as humanly possible.

Note the misdirection. He's not asking whether vaccinations are a good idea or whether we should be trying to produce an AIDS vaccine. Oh, no. He's just "questioning." He's just askin', ya know? 'Cause, ya see, it's a moral imperative.

Of course, mass vaccination is major part of the route to better health outcomes for millions of the world's poor. Mr. Olmsted and the pseudoscience boosters at AoA, in their comfortable middle class existence in the comfortable and rich United States, their children sheltered from the consequences of their antivaccinationist views by their taking advantage of the herd immunity due to the vast majority who do vaccinate, have no clue whatsoever the toll due to vaccine-preventable diseases is in underdeveloped parts of the world. Remember, in poor parts of the world, 1.5 million children a year die of diarrheal diseases, because interventions such as oral rehydration using something like Pedialyte are difficult to come by there. A quarter of a million children a year still die of the measles, the vast majority in regions where the yearly per capita income is less than $1,000. The number would be much higher, but mass vaccination programs reduced the death toll by 68% between 2000 and 2006, with the greatest benefit being in Africa, where measles deaths fell by 91%

Mass vaccination has saved millions of lives, just from death by measles, in a mere six years. Not that that sways Mr. Olmsted from making an argument from ignorance:

I don't need to know what kinds of vaccines they're talking about - and how many will come in multi-dose vials preserved with thimerosal -- to know where the moral imperative is here: There are now so many questions about the safety of some vaccine and vaccine ingredients - particularly thimerosal, the fancy name for a big dollop of poisonous ethyl mercury - that a group with the power and reach of the Gates Foundation needs to make sure it's doing no harm in its laudable effort to do good.

This is, of course, disingenuous in the extreme. Mr. Olmsted fails to note that these "questions about the safety of some vaccine and vaccine ingredients" do not come from scientists, but rather from passionate antivaccine activists, are not supported by science, and sometimes descend to the level of incredibly rank stupidity about science, as best exemplified by the complaints that "oh my God, there's sucrose and hydrochloric acid in vaccines!" (Formaldehyde and aluminum and fetuses, oh my!)

Olmsted goes on:

As recently as three or four months ago, the foundation might have gotten away with simply reciting the mantra that all available studies show no connection between vaccines and autism, vaccines and asthma, vaccines and ... whatever. But along came Hannah Poling and the government's concession that vaccines triggered autistic regression; then came Bernadine Healy, the former head of the NIH, to state that the science simply hasn't been done to exonerate vaccines; and just last week, David Kirby wrote about the CDC's Julie Gerberding and her multiple concurrences with the complaint that the CDC's central vaccine safety study is, well, worthless.

Of course, EpiWonk demonstrated conclusively that David Kirby was utterly clueless in his claim that Julie Gerberding ever said that the CDC's central vaccine study was worthless, while Bernardine Healy has increasingly demonstrated that she, too, is pretty clueless about a great many things, including vaccines. As for poor Hannah Poling, has any child ever been used so blatantly to advance an agenda, in this case the rebranding of autism as a mitochondrial disorder exacerbated by vaccines?

None of the above, of course, stops the intrepidly obtuse Mr. Olmsted:

At the moment there is NO good science, in other words, to reassure the Gates Foundation that its quest to save the world via vaccination is as safe as it might have thought. Now comes Bill Gates, at an opportune moment indeed, to devote full time to the foundation that bears his name and (along with the PC) will be his legacy. He ought to order a comprehensive look at the risks as well as the benefits of vaccines, and it ought to be his first order of business.

No, Mr. Gates' first order of business should be to ignore ignorant, fear-mongering twits like Mr. Olmsted and to listen to his medical advisors. They have the information he needs to demonstrate that the risk-benefit ratio of a mass vaccination program in poor countries falls so far on the side of vaccines that only a brain-dead antivaccinationist like Mr. Olmsted would question the balance. Whatever his faults when he ran Microsoft, Mr. Gates has now seized the opportunity to use his vast wealth to become a powerful force for good, and he is using that power to prevent disease, death, and suffering among the poorest children in the world. Any part of any rational plan to improve health outcomes among such children must included mass vaccination. Once again, Mr. Olmsted, comfortably ensconced in his American, middle class bubble, isolated from the suffering and death vaccine-preventable illness causes in the world, is telling Mr. Gates that he ought to listen to ideologues who base their fears of vaccines on pseudoscience and fantasy rather than act based on known science.

If you really want to understand how unhinged, how divorced from reality, Mr. Olmsted and his readers are, check out this comment by Diane:

While I agree with Dan's point in writing this piece, I (sadly) doubt it will happen. And it has nothing to do with Bill Gates's money, intentions or rumored spectrum disorder.

It has to do with something much, much bigger.

It has to do with people in the US, and probably most of the world, knowing little to nothing about vaccines and their relationship to neurodevelopmental issues. If it is not their child, or the child of someone VERY close to them - I'm talking sister, brother, best friend since 2nd grade kinda thing - then its just another blurb here and there on the news or in a magazine or paper.

To which I would respond: Antivaccinationism on the pseudoscientific level shown by Mr. Olmsted and Diane has to do with their knowing little to nothing about (or intentionally denying) the magnitude of suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases in Third World countries and how much mass vaccination can greatly alleviate the problem. No one who actually looks at the issue would think that dubious "risks" based on fairy dust outweigh the potential good that a mass vaccination program on the level of what Mr. Gates is funding could achieve.

If you want any further evidence of the true beliefs of the AoA crowd, check out this disturbing yet hilarious comment by flipper008:

Sorry, but these guys don't give a damn about poor people's health. They want them vaccinated with as poisonous a vaccine they can get to make them sick and quick so that they die soon, because in these people's head, we are just too many on earth. Head management is not going to resolve the issues we are facing globally. Heart and spirit will.

So it is completely repulsive to see the wealthiest ones declare the vaccine war against the world by perpetuating the lies of Big Pharma.
There is nothing like a safe vaccine. Vaccination is a fraud, like private banks. Until both business contunue to ''run'' this planet, we are at great risk. Talk about risk management...

Yes, it's "vaccines as population control" conspiracy craziness in about as naked a form as can be imagined.

Of course, Mr. Olmsted's rant is nothing more than the ever popular "perfect solution" or "Nirvana" fallacy. It is an excuse for not doing something to fix or prevent a problem based on the assertion that the solution isn't perfect. By any measure, vaccines are incredibly safe interventions, with a very low risk of complications. The risk, however, is not and never will be zero. Nothing is absolutely, positively 100% safe, including vaccines. However, they are certainly far safer than allowing children to be vulnerable to the diseases they prevent. This is true even here in the United States, where vaccine-preventable diseases have been largely conquered through the use of mass vaccination programs. It's orders of magnitude more true in impoverished Third World countries, where vaccine-preventable diseases leave mothers crying over the corpses of their babies each and every day. Yet Mr. Olmsted, who is arguing for doing in essence nothing until he's satisfied that his fantastical "concerns" about vaccines have been 100% addressed (in other words, never), has the utter gall to lecture Mr. Gates about his "moral obligations."

What was that that Olmsted and crew over at AoA say about not being "antivaccine" again? I didn't hear it.

More like this

Of course, such disclaimers are often nothing more than a prelude to a tirade of blatantly antivaccination rhetoric and misinformation...

See also: "I'm not a racist, but..."

So Age of Autism and Generation Rescue are antivax psychos...

What other medical "organizations" are antivax as well? TACA? AS? ARI? Others?

Have the autism organizations become the nexus of antivax movement?

By Antivax Psycho… (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

The sad thing is, Olmsted is right that anyone offering something like vaccines has an ethical obligation to make sure they are medically sound and as safe as anything like that can be. The problem remains, though, that the ethical obligation has been met and Olmsted is using a valid argument to muddy the already clean waters. There will be those who do not recognize that the truth of an argument doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the issue has already been resolved. It's enough to make a lowly philo prof despair.

So let's see if I understand the "logic" here... it is better to let 250,000 children die needlessly than have any of them experience a side effect from a vaccine. I am just too baffled to understand this "moral imperative" argument.

Orac, I think you may owe me some serious Botox for the scowl lines developing in my forhead. Oh wait -- that's a toxin!

"flipper08" doesn't know the half of it.

How about the juicy rumor (nobody's disproved it yet!) that we are being vaccinated against our will by means of.....chemtrails!


If we could vaccinate this way against mass stupidity, I'd be all for it.

No doubt Olmsted and his fellow antivax delusionals would argue that we could save all those lives in Africa and other Third World countries currently lost to preventable infectious diseases, simply by means of better sanitation (known to be wildly effective against measles), plus a little colloidal silver.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

If there ever was a perfect manifestation of the philosophy "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", it is the antivax movement. A diverse, disparate group of people who would probably turn on each other faster than rabid starving jackals if they didn't have the common goal of eliminating vaccines.

You've got to wonder if the ones that are simply ill-informed, stubborn, and don't understand science aren't constantly embarrassed by the delusional conspiracy minded ones who, for instance, think that Bill Gates is trying to perform some kind of final solution on the poor people of the world.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

One of the great unintentional ironies of the anti-vaxxer crowd is that the vast majority of them - in fact, probably every single damm one of them - received the full range of childhood vaccines. Not only that, but when they were kids, many vaccines routinely contained high levels of thimerosol.
So why aren't they all dead or sick or autistic?

Of all the misdirection, smoke and mirrors that Olmsted uses in his diatribe, my personal favorite is:

"There are now so many questions about the safety of some vaccine and vaccine ingredients - particularly thimerosal..."

Since Dan Olmsted is one of the primary promoters of the "questions about the safety of some vaccine and vaccine ingredients...", it is curiously self-referential (self-stimulatory?) for him to justify his "moral concerns" about vaccination.

It is the same as starting a rumor about someone's honesty and then writing a story saying that you're concerned about their honesty because you've heard rumors that they are dishonest.


Great essay, I hadn't heard this specific bit of crazy but I've been following the general movement on sciencebasedmedicine.org.

I am constantly blown away by how paranoid, incompetent and misguided some of these activists can be. Seriously people, the government isn't capable of reading your mind. They can't even read their own memos well enough to stay out of trouble most of the time.

By sandswipe (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

Sophia8 said: "One of the great unintentional ironies of the anti-vaxxer crowd is that the vast majority of them - in fact, probably every single damm one of them - received the full range of childhood vaccines. Not only that, but when they were kids, many vaccines routinely contained high levels of thimerosol. So why aren't they all dead or sick or autistic?"

What do you think caused this mass stupidity if it were not the thimerosal? :)

Well, I for one would like to see the peer reviewed data that show that all of the biomeddling therapies supported by Dano and his woodwinklers are covered by their "affirmative duty - a moral imperative - to make sure those vaccines are as safe as humanly possible."

But wait, is that FAIR?

Seems to me that Tariq's case is a big Steeriike one right into the hypocrites column for them.

Bill Gates is a pragmatist. He's not going to be swayed by assertions like Jenny McCarthy's misguided retarded bleatings, like the following nonsense on CNN's Larry King Live:

I believe that parents' anecdotal information is science-based information. And when the entire world is screaming the same thing -- doctor, I came home. He had a fever. He stopped speaking and then he became autistic. I can't -- I can see if it was just one parent saying this. But when so many -- and I speak to thousands of moms every weekend and they're all standing up and saying the same thing. It's time to start listening to that. That is science-based information. Parents' anecdotal is science-based information.

I'd never heard of the antivaccinationists until I started reading science blogs a couple years ago. Not having a kid or a TV I miss learning important things like who Jenny Mccarthy is - but...

WHY are these people antivaccinationists?

I'm serious. I totally do not get it. It's like being "anti soap" or "anti bandaid" or something. Do these people actually have some kind of rationale behind this whole thing or is it just random nerve firings caused by the decaying alien wreckage in Area 51?

What's the real cause of the increased rate of autism? Overdiagosis! All it takes is a couple of overly activistist teachers who don't understand how to deal with normal childhood difficulties and who will be rewarded by the system for supposed keen skills of observation. A couple of referrals to the wrong docs and some underly skeptcal parents, and you've got a case of Aspergers or mild autism.

Maybe I should go for a degree in public health and see if I cantt trace these increases in autism diagnoses to a relative handful of individuals.

Shorter entire "Green our Vaccines" movement: Better dead than autistic.

Because even if you accept all of their batshit claims, it is still a fact that "imperfect" vaccines that we actually have right now can save millions of lives, while imaginary "perfect" vaccines that we do not have can not even save one. What are you going to do, tell everyone to stop dying while we figure out how to make vaccines without sucrose? Whatever you think of the historical development of vaccines that brought us to this point, and wherever you think we need to go with vaccines in the future, anti-vaccinationists cannot escape one simple truth: we are here, it is now, and there are only two options open to them. Either they can give people shots they believe will give them autism, or they can let those people die. There is no third option.

By Sophist FCD (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

The usual bit of stupid that comes out of AoA.
I'm not really surprised.

Maybe JB Handley can take his unvaccinated baby and the rest of his family on a tour of Africa and explain to them that all they need is enough Goji Berry Juice and IV glutathione and they can overcome all vaccine preventable diseases. He could start holistic clinics over there and introduce them to DAN! witch doctors. I think Dr. Jeff Bradstreet is looking to start over, away from all his ex-wives.

Actually, I don't know why Olmsted-in-the-Pocket-of-J-B-Handley would be afraid of all those poor people getting vaccines, so long as they don't give them little dark-skinned kids Tylenol around the time of the shots the kids pro'ly won't turn out autistic. Seriously, just ask the anti-vaccine loons over at AoA. Cuz they got it alll figurrd out.

Just wait until the anti-vax conspiracy whackaloons discover that Bill Gates is an atheist as is his partner in philanthropy Warren Buffet.

Slightly OT, but I wish to launch a new word into the skptical blogosphere - "quackaloon" to describe individuals such as the Giers etc.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

Oh yeah the sucrose in vaccines. Wasn't there some loopy broad (might have been a commenter) that figured that sucrose was going to make the kids fat / rot their teeth? You know, unlike sweet and fat breast / bottle milk.

I've just joined a Yahoo group on childhood apraxia of speech and the same antivax/ mercury poisoning BS is drifting in. These are people whose children have verbal apraxia, not autism, but they are recommending DAN doctors to each other, and talking about chelation and hbaric treatments,etc. It isn't universal throughout the group, and there has been some real debate, but some people are very serious about pursuing thus crap and they write post that are incredibly long but miraculously say almost nothing. I want to respond in a way that is not absolutely flaming-these are parents who worried about their young children, after all and I think a lot of this mythology has spread because anybody with any sense was too disgusted by the stupidity of it all to bother joining in, but all this nonsense makes me so tired. If anyone feels like joining in the rebuttals please join childrensapraxianet .

By Very aggraVATED (not verified) on 03 Jul 2008 #permalink

Been there, done that.

I used to belong to a listserv dedicated to Apraxia for almost ten years, but I quit when the mercury militia, chelationist crazies, DANites, and others took over. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I found out one of the "members" pushing the pseudo cures was actually employed by a DAN! "doctor". She was drumming up business for the quack!

There is a point when those "support" groups are used as fodder for the quacks. That is when you have to get up, look around and hope to find a real lifeline. Fortunately I had already had good luck with finding good therapists and educational supports in my community (this started before the Internet, my kid is almost 20). I also found mine in Quackwatch and ratbags.com/rsoles... oh, and Usenet (where I "met" Orac).

There are lots of those "support" groups. All you end up doing is whacking a bunch of moles. Some of us have whacked enough moles, and are tired of if. All we can hope to do is to somehow get enough mainstream journalists to take notice of the damage caused by the quacks. But sometimes it is so hard to find a mainstream journalist who cannot be bamboozled by some sob story by someone who claims an injury... but the condition actually existed before the "evil" vaccine. Example here:

First off, I swear I'm not the Diane Orac quoted above.

Now to the point: Even supposing that the mercury that's not in vaccines any more or some other unspecified "toxin" increased the risk of autism by some small fraction...so what? That's still better than dying of malaria or HIV or diarrhea which we already have vaccines against, ferFSM'ssake. Even assuming that the most paranoid fantasies of anti-vax fanatics were true, who wouldn't take a 1 in 10,000 risk of acquiring autism to prevent a 1 in 10 risk of dying of malaria?

Shorter entire "Green our Vaccines" movement: Better dead than autistic.

That, and all of the other risk/benefit no-brainers, are why the antivax crowd spends so much time denying that vaccines have any benefits.

You would think that there would be an upper limit to the "harm" side of any antivax claim, based on the rates of claimed adverse effects in a vaccinated population. However, that's not enough; even if you grant their "one per 150" claims of autism, you don't get enough to outweigh the sequelae of measles alone.

As a result, you see two consistent themes in their propaganda: one is the claim that the evil outcomes of vaccination are underreported (they usually use 10:1, but sometimes use it twice.) Thus, supposedly, crib death is supposed to be ten times as common as reported, asthma is supposed to be ten times as common as reported, etc. Unfortunately, that line only stretches so far because before it gets to really useful numbers people start noticing that autistic kids don't account for one in fifteen children -- people know enough kids to keep them from getting to the same order of magnitude as the disease tolls.

So the other half is the kind of thing you see where they claim that polio was somehow vanishing on its own in Europe and North America before the vaccine was introduced and if we'd just waited it would have vanished altogether. You get Scudamore's claim that measles had declined by "99.4%" (being a Brit, he obviously never heard of Ivory soap) before the vaccine and therefore its order-of-magnitude drop in less then five years since the vaccine was just noise -- if we'd let well alone it would be gone by now anyway without the vaccine.

Et freaking cetera.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 04 Jul 2008 #permalink

"Remember, in poor parts of the world, 1.5 million children a year die of diarrheal diseases, because interventions such as oral rehydration using something like Pedialyte are difficult to come by there."

Send them Pedialyte then, not a rotavirus vaccine. Knob

By Ane C Dote (not verified) on 04 Jul 2008 #permalink

Will you pay for it Ane C Dote?

By Lucas McCarty (not verified) on 04 Jul 2008 #permalink

Better yet, send Ane L. Dote there in person to see how she gets by with just Pedialyte.

By notmercury (not verified) on 04 Jul 2008 #permalink

Very Aggravated: I agree with HCN, there comes a time when you just have to shake your head and hope people have enough sense to discard the crazy ideas in favor of actual treatment. I was stunned when I realized how much woo there is in the disability community, but it does make a great deal of sense when you realize that people who are disabled are not going to get better through medical science, most of the time. Why wouldn't they turn to someone who promises them some relief or even a cure? I can't blame them but I do blame the people who knowingly take advantage of these people. Those people I want to hit in the shins with my crutch. Of course, I would then fall, making the whole thing an exercise in comedy rather than justice. :-> Anyway, I know where you're coming from and I know how frustrating it is, but sometimes you just have to let it go. I'll let you know when I learn that lesson well enough to do it.

Send them Pedialyte then, not a rotavirus vaccine. Knob

Oy, gevalt.

Look, unlike you, most of the people we're talking about can't just hop in the minivan and head on down the store and pick up a bottle. There is an appalling lack of infrastructure in poorest parts of the world, so delivering medicines where and when they are needed is gigantic challenge. Lots of people die because the time between the onset of the disease and death is shorter than the time it takes to get medicine (if it is available at all). With vaccines, however, you don't have to know when someone is sick, or where they are.

So if you can come up with a system for distributing Pedialyte that is anywhere close to being as effective as vaccination programs, good on you. Tell Bill Gates about it, and he'll probably put 100 million behind the project.

But I'm not holding my breath.

By Sophist FCD (not verified) on 04 Jul 2008 #permalink

Hey, the incidence of polio has gone way up in poor countries where people are refusing vaccines for their kids. (They just believe Americans are trying to kill them in general, so there's no "science" involved in their antivax stance.) I wonder how their autism rates are, out there.

Alison, Dr. Haruna Kaita and his friends did some gas chromatography, radio-immuno assay and other such voodoo on mentioned vaccine samples. They found some interesting stuff inside; just do a quick search.

Karel said "just do a quick search"... if there is really something interesting, why don't you just point out the relevant documentation?

Oh, wait I found a reference:
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/328/7435/306-d ... it seems that there is some controversy of the validity of his tests. Oh, well... funny how it is only one state in one country that seems to have those kinds of issues. And then, of course, polio came back and crippled more children there.

From the second link:
"Despite the clerics' denunciations, however, millions of Nigerian Muslims have come to believe that the boycott was an egregious error of judgment -- and eradication campaigns have recently begun recording some encouraging numbers. Health officials say vaccine coverage has doubled countrywide from 35% in 2005 to a high of about 76% in recent months. Rates of new infections have plummeted. "For the first time since 2002, Nigeria does not have the highest number of polio cases globally," says Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF spokeswoman in Nigeria. "There was an overall 80% decline in the number of children infected with wild polio virus between January and August 2007 compared with the same period in 2006" (when Nigeria accounted for 1,125 of the 2,000 polio cases reported worldwide), going from 945 cases during that period in 2006 to only 198 cases so far this year."

Good, it looks like polio vaccination is working, and Nigeria is finally dragging itself into the 21st century.

Oh, wait... I bet you just read the first paragraph!

I wanted to show to Alison that people are worried about real substances they found in vaccines by scientific methods. You probably understand that by calling their chromatograph 'terrorist bushman voodoo' it won't go away completely.

It is thousands of such dismissals, cover-ups and lies, that makes your professional life harder. Plus the attitude that we're just animals not wanting to submit their bodies to the holly scientific process.

Yet, it only happens in one state of one country. That makes the validity suspicious.

From http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5izLXo6VA6l2z-OZFsh_uVTGLqNfw ...

"Kano has been the epicentre of the transmission of the crippling polio virus to other parts of the world since 2003 when the authorities suspended polio immunization for 13 months.

Although the state resumed its polio campaign after clinical trials in and outside Nigeria proved the vaccine safe, Kano had already infected other countries in the region that were considered polio-free and the crippling disease spread to other parts of the world.

The World Health Organisation has recently listed Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan as the only polio-endemic countries in the world."

Respectful insolence? I get it now. See you in next life guys.

What? Because I don't bow to your claims? Because I can bring up references that differ from yours?

Look... the disease only happens in certain areas of a few countries.

I've had the oral polio vaccine. All of my kids have had the oral polio vaccine. Since I actually gave birth to those three kids, I don't see how the OPV is supposed to cause sterility. Most of the world has been given the oral polio vaccine. It is only until recently that the IPV has been used in certain countries (and that is after a certain level of freedom from the actual disease of polio is achieved).

Yet... there seems to be a problem in one state of one country (Kano in Nigeria)... which then extends to one state in another country (Uttar Pradesh in India), and then polio extends to other countries where it had previously been eliminated from.

Who do you blame?

The folks trying to administer the vaccines, or the people who told their religious flock to avoid the vaccines?

What are you going to do about it? Talk about bizarre and silly conspiracies and let children continue to get crippled or die from polio? Or are you going to figure out how to prevent polio, measles, and other diseases from your country using real science?

More indication of the progress being made in India, but the back sliding in Nigeria:

Now if it was a case of someone trying to poison people of a certain religion... why is polio now not so much a problem in countries like Egypt, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia?

Check this out:
http://www.polioeradication.org/content/general/LatestNews200806.asp ... a photo which under says "Certificate of vaccination for a pilgrim applying to travel to Mecca for the annual Hajj. In past years, Saudi Arabia instituted polio vaccination requirements for travellers from polio-infected countries in order to protect the average 2 million pilgrims who arrive for the occasion."

Dear Orac:

You may enjoy reviewing the Volokh Conspiracy comment on the sanctions against Shoemaker as to the Seidel subpoena, and the comments -- including the comment by your favorite commentator here, John Best. See http://volokh.com/posts/1215039265.shtml

Here's what I found when I looked at the sources Karel directed us to:

"According to Dr Haruna Kaita, the head of the medical team that conducted the test in India, the vaccines contain "undeclared contaminants that can cause malfunctioning of the testes and cause infertility in women." The team also found "some toxic substances."

From "TaxTyranny":

Dr. Kaita's explanation of what he found in vaccines:

"Some of the things we discovered in the vaccines are harmful, toxic; some have direct effect on human reproductive system. But I was surprised when one of the federal government doctors was telling me something contrary to what I have learnt, studied, taught and is the common knowledge of all pharmaceutical scientist, that estrogen cannot induce anti-fertility response on human. That is the most absurd thing I ever heard from a learned person who said he is a professor. I am a professional in my chosen field, I am a professional pharmacist, I am an authority when it comes to drug, and here is somebody telling me that I don't know the biological or pharmacological effect of a drug substance in human body. I found that argument very disturbing and ridiculous.

[Note: apparently Dr. Kaita is not aware of the dose of estrogen needed to "induce anti-fertility response" or the length of time that "response" would last. Even if the entire vaccine contained estrogen, the "response" would be minimal and transient. Dr. Kaita also fails to mention either identities or the concentrations of the "toxic" and "harmful" substances in the vaccine. "Antifreeze", anyone?]

From the TaxTyranny "source" again, Dr. Kaita explains why vaccine manufacturers are putting these un-named "harmful" and "toxic" substances in the vaccines:

"Number one, these manufacturers or promoters of these harmful things have a secret agenda which only further research can reveal. Secondly they have always taken us in the third world for granted, thinking we don't have the capacity, knowledge and equipments to conduct test that would reveal such contaminants. And very unfortunately they also have people to defend their atrocities within our mist, and worst still some of these are suppose to be our own professionals who we stomach rely on to protect our interest."

Frankly, Dr. Kaita comes off as a bit of a loon. A loon with an agenda, at that. Do I detect a bit of the anti-Hindu animosity in his explanations? Or is he just a general-purpose loon? Either way, I don't find his explanations very convincing. Too bad the folks in Nigeria weren't as lucky.