Corrected by Dr. Paul Offit

About a month ago I wrote about how the grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, is using the legal system to try to silence and intimidate Dr. Paul Offit. In it, I described an earlier lawsuit in which Dear Leader J.B. Handley sued Dr. Offit, and Dr. Offit ended up settling. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking Dear Leader's word for what the settlement was, and Dr. Offit has corrected me:

Thanks to Respectful Insolence for the support in the upcoming lawsuit filed against me by Ms. Fisher. I would point out only that the details of the "settlement" with Mr. Handley are incorrect. Both Mr. Handley and I each agreed to contribute $5,000 to an autism charity of which I approved. (This was my idea). The charity was the Center for Autism Research at UCLA, which, as far as I know, is not Ms. McCarthy's favorite charity. I assume that Generation Rescue is her favorite charity. Further, Mr. Handley argued with the context, not the accuracy, of his quote in my book. I put the quote in context and wrote a letter simply acknowledging that I had done so. I did not accede to Mr. Handley's demands of a mea culpa. His case was going no where and he knew it. So he settled for nothing.

Correction noted, and I won't make the same mistake again.

More like this

In general, one of the biggest differences between those defending science-based medicine and those defending pseudoscience, quackery, and anti-science is that science inculcates in its adherents a culture of free and open debate. In marked contrast, those advocating pseudoscience tend to cultivate…
Thanks to the always vigilant eyes of Liz Ditz, is reporting that pediatric immunologist and vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit, writer Amy Wallace, and Condé Nast (publisher of Wired magazine) are being sued for libel in US District Court by Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and acting…
I've discussed why Barbara Loe Fisher is a hypocritical coward for trying to silence her opponents using the courts. Now Rebecca Watson, a.k.a., The Skepchick, schools Barbara Loe Fisher for in essence pissing on the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: For some reason, my irony meter didn't…
I'm pretty hard on anti-vaccine activists. I know that. One in particular provokes my ire because of his particular brand of loutishness, intimidation, and stupidity. I'm talking about, of course, J.B. Handley, founder of Generation Rescue and blogger at its propaganda arm Age of Autism. As much as…

Imagine that! Mr. Handley being inaccurate about something! What is the world coming to? I suppose that next we'll hear that autism isn't just a misdiagnosis of mercury poisoning...

Where are the "memory holes"* when you need them?


* See: Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-four

<blockquote mode="J.B. Handley">As always, Paul Offit is lying about the terms of his abject legal capitulation.</blockquote>

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

Sounds to me like Handley has conflated "winning" with "the court made me call it off."
Much in the way the Loons at AoA conflate "wakefield paper retracted" with "wakefield being jobbed by Big Pharma

One has to wonder how much Mr. Handley paid his lawyers.

My guess is that the charity would have been much happier getting the amount the lawyer paid.

On the flip side, the publisher and Dr. Offit were most likely was covered by insurance.

In other words, Handley may have spent a ton of cash to laywers, plus $5,000 to charity and what he got in return was the ability to write a blog post and get Dr. Offit to make a $5,000 donation to an autism charity.

I wish I had money to waste like that.

It's really great to be wrong once in awhile, isn't it?

Wait a minute. Five Grand? According to the anti-vax crowd isn't Dr. Offit getting something like Five billion gajillion zillion dollars.....A DAY......from big pharma? :)

By nitramnaed (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

I really like Dr. Offit.

I just finished reading Autism's False Prophets and Vaccinated two books that Dr. Offit has written.

I only wish more people would read these two books - and am considering actually giving Vaccinated away as gifts to people. Weird gift I know.

Both books are excellent - and while Vaccinated had an element of this - as I was reading Autism's False Prophets I almost had a tough time putting it down - it was kind of like reading a thriller - but what is really interesting is Dr Offit's writing is sensible, even keeled and easily read (especially for a guy like me who never really was interested in science per se). But wow...what an education!

I was frustrated reading both books only because of the apparent misinformation that is perpetuated in the main stream. And I'm an outsider! I can only imagine what Dr Offit has had to endure from the all of the nutbars - just for writing these two books alone.

Dr. Offit - please keep up the great work.

Ron, I also enjoy the way Dr. Offit writes. He makes it clear, understandable and entertaining. I am presently reading a more scholarly biography of a man who was important in our city's history written by a historian... it is remarkably dull.

Whew. I remember Orac's post decrying Dr. Offit's supposed settlement. I am quite happy to have the real circumstances explained and even happier with the details.

Cheers to Dr. O and if Orac must make errors, this is the way to go.

ron, i donated my copy of autism's false prophets to my local library when i finished it (it's a small-town library and they didn't have it). a couple months later i looked for it on the shelf it had already been checked out 4 times.

I'm glad to know the true circumstances of the settlement and in a way I'm glad this happened because it exemplifies the difference between the scientific world and the world of woo. A science-based blogger like Orac makes an error, gets called on it, and he faces up to it and makes the correction. Does a woo-based blowhard ever admit when he makes an error, like "the Amish don't vaccinate and they don't have autism"? Let me know when that happens.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

Hey Offit, you're an arsehole that poisons untold numbers of children with your useless, recently added rotateq vaccine. Thank God the New England Medical journal recently noted that children with SCID should not receive rotacrap as it cause them to develop rota virus!! LMFAO!! Oh, but it couldn't be possible that these SCID children couldn't also be affected by other live virus vaccines, right?

It's my understanding that people with SCID aren't supposed to get any vaccines at all... which makes the healthy people forgoing vaccines even bigger assholes, because now if they get sick they could kill a SCID sufferer. Nice.

It's my understanding that people with SCID aren't supposed to get any vaccines at all.

Yeah, but don't let any facts get in the way of strawman.

To crunch the numbers, that's less than 10 American babies (out of 4+ million) born per year with SCID. In contrast, the US mortality rate per year from rotavirus was 37 before the vaccine was approved. Also note that the infection rate of rotavirus is nearly 100% - it's almost a guarantee that children with SCID will get it, unless they die first.

And as others have said, people with SCID are not supposed to get any live vaccines.

And as others have said, people with SCID are not supposed to get any live vaccines.

Which means they are a small subset of people (along with others, like cancer patients with compromised immune systems while under treatment) that depend on herd immunity. Clearly, jen and her like minded friends are not doing kids with SCID and others any favors by calling Dr. Offit names and throwing out spurious accusations.

Clearly, the "poisons" in vaccines are no worse than the toxins created by the actual tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria bacteria. If jen has actual scientific evidence that the "poisons" in vaccines are worse than the diseases themselves, she is encouraged to produce the PubMed links.

Chris - SCID is extremely rare and until the advent of bone marrow transplants was invariably fatal. There are several other more common immune deficiency conditions, however, that are just in need of the herd as they are.

By dedicated lurker (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink

@ dedicated lurker -

I think the point remains that for Jen to hurl vulgar insults at Dr. Offit and call the rotavirus vaccine he developed "useless ... rotacrap" because children with SCID should not receive it, is as symptomatic of fanaticism-produced idiocy as if she had declared that the sun is "useless photocrap" because people with porphyria need to stay out of direct sunlight.

I wonder if jen has been drinking? It would explain a lot.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink


Yeah, Offit is a real a-hole. His "worthless rotacrap" vaccine could potentially "poison" the 10 American babies born with SCID every year (had, ya know... pesky scientific research not resulted in the NEJM recommendations. Stupid fucking scientists who don't care about baybees.)

Oh, and the estimated >500,000 kids who die from Rotavirus-related illness every year? I guess they don't count 'cause they're just poor, 3rd-worlders.

@Antaeus Feldspar--I can only hope jen has been drinking. Imagine what a stupid, unethical, racist, a-hole she is if she says stuff like than sober.

Imagine what a stupid, unethical, racist, a-hole she is if she says stuff like than sober.

You know, it never occurred to me before the potential latent racism inherent in the statement, "Who cares about the measles! With our modern medical care, it's not such a big deal..." I suppose it's more classist than racist, but in the US there can be a fine line...