Something to be thankful for: No anti-vaccine propaganda with my Harry Potter

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and, despite the crappy economy, there are still things to be thankful for. For instance, skeptical activism can still be effective. Remember how on Sunday Skepchick Elyse put out the call to Skepchic readers to complain to movie theaters that were reportedly going to be airing a public service announcement from the anti-vaccine group SafeMinds? (Actually, "public service announcement" is a misnomer; it should be called a public disservice announcement.) This was a truly disgusting and deceptive bit of misinformation that I discussed as part of the anti-vaccine movement's propaganda efforts earlier in November. In response, Elyse urged Skepchic readers to flood the relevant theaters with complaints about showing an anti-vaccine advertisement prior to its movies.

Now here's what we can be thankful for: It worked. At least with AMC Theaters. Last night the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, which had been teaming up with SafeMinds to raise money to show these ads during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, just cried "¡No mas!"

At least for now:

SafeMinds was notified late yesterday afternoon that AMC Theaters has decided to block the SafeMinds Public Service Announcement (PSA) on influenza vaccines with mercury. The PSA alerts parents and pregnant women of the presence of mercury in most influenza vaccines and the ample availability of mercury-free alternatives. The CDC has declined to give a preference for the mercury-free versions, so it is important that the public is aware of its options. AMC's advertising representative had reviewed and approved the PSA to run in AMC cinemas over the Thanksgiving weekend. A small group of vocal vaccine proponents dismissive of mercury concerns learned of the PSA and bombarded the AMC website, leading to the company's decision to prevent its release. SafeMinds thanks its supporters who viewed the PSA and contributed to its efforts to educate the public to avoid unnecessary mercury exposure. Mercury in all forms is dangerous, especially to the developing fetus and infants, as referenced on the PSA website www.safemindsflu.org. SafeMinds will continue its mission to educate the public on this important healthcare topic.

Let me fix that for ya:

A respectable-sized group of advocates of science-based vaccine policy exercised their First Amendment right to speak out to a business that was about to make a huge mistake and show ads with an anti-vaccine message that potentially endangers public health. SafeMinds will continue its mission to miseducate and misinform the public on this important healthcare topic, and advocates of science-based medicine will be there to counter it.

Not surprisingly, the anti-vaccine movement is not happy. It's trying to flood the AMC Theaters website with complaints. If you have time after your Turkey today, please, go to the following threads and thank AMC Theaters for doing the responsible thing:

As you can easily tell, the first link was a thread started by those of us pushing for AMC to reject the ads; the second from anti-vaxers.

So, as I leave the computer to help prepare for the Thanksgiving feast, I do so with a smile on my face that is wider than even the usual smile of anticipation of the food and comaraderie to come. I also do so with the knowledge that this is merely a skirmish in which the forces of science have been (mostly) victorious. The war goes on. Indeed, we will need to be even more vigilant. As commenter Benedetta put it on AoA:

These advertisments will have to be more sublte, sneaky, under the radar - like that advertisment on Television that I have seen a few times.

The one that says 1 out of 88 children of miltary familes have autism.

(Spelling left intact.)

And I have no doubt that future attempts by the anti-vaccine movement will be more subtle, sneaky, and under the radar. I also have no doubt that, now that Elyse has scored serious points against SafeMinds and Age of Autism, the anti-vax loons will be targeting her. It's how they work.

Finally, I haven't seen the new Harry Potter movie yet. I was out of town last weekend, and life's been way too busy over the last few days. My wife and I were thinking of going tomorrow sometime. I think we very well might be going to the nearest AMC Theater to see it. One way to show your appreciation to AMC would be to choose AMC the next time you go to see a movie.

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Elyse gets the crown for Skeptic Queen of the Year!

We'll definitely be seeing something at our local AMC theater this weekend. Many businesses don't take it well when they're told they've been played by the antivacciners. AMC did the grownup thing and fixed their misstep. Yay, them!

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

happy thanksgiving.

These advertisments will have to be more sublte, sneaky, under the radar - like that advertisment on Television that I have seen a few times.

The same tactic used by creationists (and other conspiracy whack-a-loons). Don't admit your agenda, pretend to be impartial / advisory, pretend to be scientific, concoct some "controversy" and then demand the right to "teach" it.

I'm so glad to hear that- now I won't have to stop attending my favorite AMC ( its parking lot has a lovely, river-level view of the NYC skyline ). Congratulations, fellow / sister conspirators! Superlative work!

Happy Thanksgiving to Orac, Ms. O, co-conspirators, and ( because I'm feeling especially charitable today ) those with whom we disagree.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Nov 2010 #permalink

That's good news to hear.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - keep up the good fight for sanity!

Benedetta is quoted saying "he one that says 1 out of 88 children of miltary familes have autism."

That would have to be documented. But what is true is that military families do get medical care, and DoD schools are very good. Perhaps more service personnel stay in the military to retain certain medical benefits (unfortunately last I heard the insurance did not cover speech therapy for kids, that may have changed).

And just like that! AMC reveals it's Big-Pharma-Shill-ic roots! Their reach truly knows no bounds.

@10

Not another conspiracy theorist nutter....

@12

I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

David @2: We shall fight them, with growing confidence in the air. We shall fight them in the theaters. . . well perhaps not quite, but We'll keep them on their toes, not letting them get in a shot unanswered.
Congrats to Skepchick Elyse for starting the ball rolling.

and to our American Cousin(s) happy thanksgiving.

PS: who or what is "Autism Speaks.org" ?
I keep seeing "Ad Council" tv spots saying parents should look there for information. Ok, I confess. I'm too lazy.

Unfortunately, the thread at AMC thanking them for not running the ads has been locked/archived, because there were too many trolls. The fact that there were dozens of polite, thankful people doesn't matter. I'd suggest that you go and visit the anti-vax postings and argue, and thus get them removed as well.

Just visit the site and search for Safeminds, and get those tell those idiots the truth. Get started at the link on my name.

Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for? Skeptical atheism? I mean isn't everything self deserved?

For people who worship the human mind, I guess you could be thankful for how smart and clever you really are above the rest of the world.

By augustine (not verified) on 25 Nov 2010 #permalink

I for one am very thankful to be above the rest of the world. It means I can look down from my roost and crow.
I don't know what that has to do with anything either, just trying to keep my cool while reading the trolls.
My autistic daughter is always thrilled when the anti-vaxxers get shot down.
On to the next fight.

Happy Thanksgivimg to you from the other side of the pond
Just as an idea: Don't only go to the AMC theatre, let them also know why you chose them.

@augustine
I think you can be just thankful for without the who, as a sysnonym to "happy about"

Sent praise to AMC. Lots of loons pounding them. Glad I added to the sane side.

@augie,
What has superior logic and intelligence have to do with being thankful? For instance, I am thankful you have no authority over my health choices.

[Mike Ma:For instance, I am thankful you have no authority over my health choices.]

Same here. Let's keep it that way.

By augustine (not verified) on 26 Nov 2010 #permalink

@augustine:

For people who worship the human mind...

The human mind created God - what more do you want?

@Augustine,

I'm thankful to you for bringing this up, even though I didn't deserve it. If you really meant "Who are skeptic atheist even thankful to" instead of "Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for", you've combined wordplay with a couple of straw men to show off one of the current, rather silly memes in arguing for religion.

In this case the argument appears to go, "if you celebrate Thanksgiving, you must be thanking someone. There are things you are 'thankful' for that cannot be attributed to individual people (good weather, a suitable harvest, your health, the safety of your family, your relative prosperity, and that sort of thing). So if you're thankful for those things, you must be thanking someone who is not people - and who could that be if not God?" Naturally, in this view anyone who celebrates Thanksgiving but does not credit God is clearly a hypocrite.

This is not dissimilar to someone saying, "you say 'living creature', but you don't credit the Creator" when discussing evolution.

There are things in both our language and our society that reflect a historical bias towards belief in a god or gods. Non-believers use the same language as believers by necessity, so sometimes will use terms that will be subject to this rather twisted pedantry. Likewise, non-believers may well participate in cultural festivals and rituals without a religious motive.

I suppose we could change the name of the day to "recognizing the good things that have happened to us, crediting those who deserve credit, and feeling fortunate - even appreciative - for those things with no obvious causative factor" day, but that's ungainly.

But Happy belated Thanksgiving. And in advance, let me wish you a very merry solstice-coincident holiday of your choice including none if you so desire.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Nov 2010 #permalink

Here is a comment on AoA from our own precious Jen:

"Michael framson, you got that right about their Aggressive determination in the pursuit of stupidity. Honestly, I wonder what percentage of Orac's blogs are about vaccines- it seems to be around 50%ish. I 'm so glad Jake dug up some info on his role with Sanofi-Aventis, the world's largest vaccine maker.. He seems way too interested in quashing any troubling aspects to vaccines."
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/11/why-was-this-psa-rated-x.html#commen…

@Augustine - For further examples, can you write January on your checks without believing in Janus, Roman god of gates, beginnings, endings, and time. You can say "TGIF" without believing in Frigg, Germanic love goddess. You can even enjoy the music of Queen without believing they were ever royalty nor acknowledging their monarchy.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Nov 2010 #permalink

Actually, even a "skeptic atheist" has someone to be thankful to. I am thankful to the billions of unsung heroes who built the modern world and continue to maintain it so that we can enjoy all the benefits that we enjoy, like clean water and healthful food; safe travel; warm, weatherproof, largely vermin-free houses; long distance communication undreamt of by our ancestors; modern medicine and dentistry; abundant books ...

Mephistopheles mentions being thankful for good weather and a suitable harvest, but I'm also thankful to my predecessors for having built a society so wealthy that my continued day-to-day survival does not depend on good weather and a suitable harvest.

@25

Goodness, the antivaxxers will try to find any link, no matter how tenuous or ridiculous, to try to smear someone...

I went to the first complaint at the AMC board. "Remove the Unfounded Anti-Vaccine Message from your Ads" and it said "2597 people have this problem."

Then to the one posted by Ms. Conrick, "AMC flip flops on Mercury-Free Vaccines?", which said "9 people have this question."

Do you think AoA and SafeMinds have noticed the disparity in numbers?

Then to the one posted by Ms. Conrick, "AMC flip flops on Mercury-Free Vaccines?", which said "9 people have this question."

I know. And the comments are telling. It's quite amazing.

It's like the only people left in the anti-vax movement are the heads of anti-vax organizations and websites (e.g. Handley) and their employees (e.g. Stagliano.)

Joseph:

It's like the only people left in the anti-vax movement are the heads of anti-vax organizations and websites (e.g. Handley) and their employees (e.g. Stagliano.)

And the die hard adherents to the failed "vaccines cause autism" hypothesis. I see that "ccdaddy" has posted at least six comments on the last thread, and invoking the very boring Pharma Shill Gambit. At least that is fewer than Allegra's comment count.

@ Todd and Chris, judging from the comments, which are truly painful to read from the anti-vax loons, they aren't in touch with reality. They are so insular (by choice), they can't even comprehend they aren't representative of the real world, or really, that one even exists.

[@Augustine - For further examples, can you write January on your checks without believing in Janus, Roman god of gates, beginnings, endings, and time.]

That's not atheism. That's paganism. You can be thankful for Constantine the emperor for that.

I don't have a problem with atheist or paganism. I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs.

By augustine (not verified) on 26 Nov 2010 #permalink

@Augustine:

I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs.

Logic isn't your strong point, is it?

@Augustine,

I'm glad you have no problems with paganism. Have you noticed that many people who believe in a spirit hate those beliefs, and quite possibly the people who hold them? This is easy to find in the collective writings of various church leaders. Are you concerned about spreading that word?

Do you have a source for saying that the majority of science bloggers hate Americans who believe in a spirit for their beliefs? I know many science bloggers do not believe in a spirit, but had not discerned a hatred of those who do.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 27 Nov 2010 #permalink

@augustine, have you read this comment, wherein David N. Brown describes himself as a Christian? Have you read all of the subsequent comments, wherein no one attacked or even mildly criticized him for his beliefs? If you have not done so, you should.

Next time you decide to defame an entire group, you might try to come up with some evidence first. At least one example of religious hatred from each of a majority of science bloggers (not commenters) will do.

Thanking AMC screwed up the rest of my day. Once I registered on that site to post the thanks, I was locked in to an account that sent me e-mails every hour or so --- and COULD NOT be deleted. (Their "help" section had a sort of forum with people's questions, and there were quite a few other people trying desperately to get their accounts closed.) I sure hope that the thanks to AMC did some good, after all that trouble.

Yikes! That is terrible. I got one email that sent me to a website. I remember there were two boxes to click, I made sure I unchecked any that involved sending me updates and what not.

[LW: @augustine, have you read this comment, wherein David N. Brown describes himself as a Christian? ]

Obviously he's irrational and illogical!

[Memphis: Do you have a source for saying that the majority of science bloggers hate Americans who believe in a spirit for their beliefs? ]

That's pretty funny!

[Memphis: I know many science bloggers do not believe in a spirit, but had not discerned a hatred of those who do.]

Ever heard of pharyngoola? He's very well documented.

Do you think Orac believes in a spirit?

By augustine (not verified) on 27 Nov 2010 #permalink

I think at the bottom of the messages it sends you is an option to stop following this topic. Also, if you modify your account, there is a list of which topics you are following and you can delete the "follow" there.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 28 Nov 2010 #permalink

Augustine (#34) claims:

"I just think that the the majority of americans who believe in a spirit should consciously know that the majority of science bloggers hate them for their beliefs."

I doubt that even the atheist science 'bloggers "hate" people who "believe in a spirit". I think it is more likely that they pity them because of their archaic obsession with mythical beings. And I suppose there are even a few who feel superior to the "spiritual" types. Hate? I haven't seen hate.

Perhaps Augustine is projecting his hatred of people who reject his beliefs?

Prometheus

Is it true Orac wants to cause autism because it's easier for him to bumblast kids who can't speak?

By Investigator (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

Investigator, exactly how does Orac want to cause autism? Do provide some real evidence and documentation.

Chris, You must be a new reader here. Orac has been spreading propaganda to encourage people to poison their babies with thimerosal for years. Get your head out of your ass.

By Investigator (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

Chris, You must be a new reader here. Orac has been spreading propaganda to encourage people to poison their babies with thimerosal for years. Get your head out of your ass.

By Investigator (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

Okay, maybe being here for over a year is "new"... you still did not answer the question. How has Orac encouraged people to poison their children with thimerosal? For one thing thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines almost ten years ago.

With Sallie Bernard unable to find DTaP with thimersal in 2001, only a person trapped in a time warp would be banging on about "mercury in vaccines." So explain again how Orac is trying to poison babies, with documentation (you seemed to have forgotten about that bit).

Please, "Investigator" answer my question on wtf you are going on about!

Who are skeptic atheist even thankful for? Skeptical atheism?

Amongst other things.

I mean isn't everything self deserved?

What could this possibly mean (I hesitate to ask)?

For people who worship the human mind,

What?

SC, ignore Little Augie. His level of inanity is not worth even a glance.

Chris, Thanks for telling me you're a lying cunt like all the rest of the assholes here. Thimerosal has never been removed from vaccines and all of you psychopaths know that.
This blog provides all the documentation you need.

By Investigator (not verified) on 30 Nov 2010 #permalink

Some "Investigator"!

No evidence, just vile insults and evidence-free assertions of a falsehood.

FOAD.

By T. Bruce McNeely (not verified) on 30 Nov 2010 #permalink

Investigator sounds a lot like JB Handley, to me. Full of insults and crude language, rather light on the science and evidence.

Actually, tracing the IP address leads me to believe that "Investigator" is on old "friend" of the blog who appears to have gotten a new ISP and thereby evaded my IP address and e-mail address blocks.

Yes, we're talking about John Best.

John Best, meet killfile. Killfile, meet John Best.

@Orac

That was going to be my second guess. They are both crass, clueless boors, though Best is, by far, more unhinged and violently tempered.

John gave away his identity with his first post as "investigator" - he can't help himself from posting about his deep interest in sodomy and children. Pity he can't stick around the blog, though. He could talk about his belief that "big pharma" is hiding the fact that the cure for autism involves years of treatment with expensive pharmaceuticals. Comedy gold.

Deprived of his access to this site, Best will be able to devote more of his time to his efforts to combat the Illuminati who are responsible for the soaring US national debt through their manipulation of the US Federal Reserve, which, according to Best, is actually a private bank owned by the Rothschilds. Yep.

I believe his blog even went to "members" only - since he couldn't stand to have anyone comment that wasn't in line with his own twisted version of reality.

He gave himself away with the obscenity-laced tirade, only he can put those particularly colorful words together in such a rant (and very specific too).

I've upped the level of blocking. True, Best can always morph and get around it, but for now he should be gone again.

[Chis: SC, ignore Little Augie. His level of inanity is not worth even a glance.]

I guess you didn't like it that you were caught in a politically correct conundrum that challenged your logic. I would ignore me too.

Maybe you do believe in a spirit. Maybe you believe peoples spirits are switched at conception and that is how a woman can be trapped in man's body. If the rest of the SBMers agree then I guess it must be legit.

By augustine (not verified) on 30 Nov 2010 #permalink

Age of Autism's facebook group copied Elyse's profile picture comments it thus:

This is the woman who fought to pull the SafeMinds PSA's from the theatres. It's her FB profile page photo. She is anti-choice and wants to tell you that mercury is safe and that Thimeosal [sic] is good - according to her blog. She trolls AofA regularly. As do all the pro-vaccine-injury bloggers.