Antivaccinationists denying the cult of Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy

Two of the great "icons"—if you can call them "great" given that they're icons but hardly "great"—of the antivaccine movement are Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy. Over the last decade, they have arguably been the most influential people in the antivaccine movement. The reasons are simple. Let's look at Jenny McCarthy first. In 2007, when her child Evan was diagnosed with autism and she blamed MMR vaccine for it, McCarthy became virtually overnight the single most famous celebrity antivaccine advocate. With her then-boyfriend Jim Carrey, in 2008 she led an antivaccine march on Washington under the deceptive slogan "Green Our Vaccines," and around the same time she took over as president of one of the louder antivaccine organizations, Generation Rescue. Sure, she was a figurehead, but she's been an effective figurehead. In the time since then (at least until a certain schism among antivaccinationists), McCarthy showed up every year to bask in the adoration of the antivaccine faithful at the yearly antivaccine and autism quackfest known as Autism One. For several years, she was ubiquitous in the media. Any time there was a story about vaccines or autism, credulous journalists would feel seemingly obligated to interview her, as she dropped astoundingly stupid false dichotomies about vaccines like:

I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s shit. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.

Even though of late she's toned her antivaccine activities down, most likely in search of greater mainstream acceptance in light of the difficulties her history caused her when she was named to be a regular on The View, she remains an undeniable icon, a veritable hero of the antivaccine movement.

Andrew Wakefield's involvement with the antivaccine movement dates back ten years longer than Jenny McCarthy's. Wakefield, of course, is best known for his infamous 1998 Lancet case series in which he linked the MMR vaccine autism, particularly bowel problems in autistic children. At the time, as Brian Deer later showed, he had been working for a trial lawyer looking to sue vaccine manufacturers for "vaccine-induced" autism in his clients. For a time, he was a rock star. Whenever there were stories about autism or vaccines, he was the go-to "scientist" to represent the "other" side; i.e., the view that vaccines caused autism. Ultimately Wakefield was disgraced. In rapid order, he lost his UK medical license, was dismissed as medical director of the quack clinic he had founded in Texas, saw his Lancet paper retracted, and was revealed as a total scientific fraud.

Given the importance of Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy to the modern antivaccine movement, it never ceases to amuse me when I see antivaccine activists try to deny it, and I saw a doozy of an example the other day. True, it's over two weeks old, but butter late than never. It comes from everybody's favorite (and most inaptly named) blog, The Thinking Moms' Revolution, courtesy of the even more inaptly named blogger known as The Professor, in the form of a hilarious post entitled, “Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy Made Me Do It!” Is a Big Fat Lie.

The first thing the Professor is peeved about is that she perceives journalists as always painting her and her fellow Dunning-Kruger poster children as worshiping at the altar of Wakefield and McCarthy:

You see, journalists ask us vaccine-choice advocates why we do what we do, and we are not shy about telling them. We talk about what we’ve seen first-hand in our children, the mountains of scientific studies we have waded through (quoting chapter and verse all the while) clearly implicating vaccines in a whole host of conditions that involve immune system dysregulation that are all on the rise, and the Freedom of Information Act requests that have exposed corruption and collusion at the highest levels of the CDC.

We tell them everything – repeatedly. And what do they say? “Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy made them do it.”

Every. Damn. Time.

Now, I can’t blame the “man in the street” (or, in my daughter’s case, the teacher at her school) for thinking we’re stupid. If I didn’t know me (and about a thousand other vaccine-choice advocates) personally, I might think we were pretty stupid too if the only issues I ever saw mentioned in mainstream media were “that discredited doctor” and the “Playboy bunny.” But it’s bullshit, and everyone needs to know it’s bullshit, whether or not it is written in “reputable” media outlets like the New York Times. And you need to call it out every time you see it.

Now, I have no doubt that there might be some lazy journalists out there who paint the antivaccine movement as being almost entirely due to Wakefield and McCarthy. It's an easy narrative. On the other hand, I can't help but note that The Profesor doesn't cite or quote a single legitimate offending example. Indeed, the New York Times article she cites doesn't even mention Jenny McCarthy, although it quite properly mentions how Andrew Wakefield's study was shown to be fraudulent. It certainly doesn't paint antivaccinationists as being in the thrall to Wakefield and McCarthy. That The Professor perceives it that way makes me ask: "Chip on your shoulder, much?"

None of that stops her from going on quite the uninformed antivaccine rant, promising to "finally put the lie to rest" while bragging that "the average 'anti-vaxxer' can run rings around them in terms of knowledge about not only Wakefield and McCarthy, but far more importantly, about vaccines in general as well – starting with the fact that the MMR never contained mercury." At least she doesn't deny she's an antivaccinationist, other than through the use of scare quotes. In any case, she engages in a bit of revisionist history. Yes, Wakefield's 1998 Lancet paper didn't explicitly claim that MMR caused autism. It claimed to find a novel form of bowel inflammation, later dubbed "autistic enterocolitis" (and, I note, later found not to exist), and linked it temporally to MMR vaccination. It's hard not to take pleasure in pointing out that, for someone who claims to know Wakefield's 1998 study so well, The Professor gets one thing very wrong: "What they found was a novel form of serious bowel disease in children . . . and vaccine-strain measles virus." No, Wakefield's 1998 paper didn't identify vaccine-strain measles virus. That claim came later in a paper that was marked by some truly awful PCR so incompetent that false positives were inevitable.

None of which stops The Professor from arguing:

So Wakefield and twelve colleagues said they found vaccine-strain measles in the guts of 12 sick kids, and somehow Wakefield (single-handedly, by the way, the press virtually never mentions any of the other twelve authors) gets the “blame” for the fact that more and more parents are weighing the risks and benefits of each vaccine for themselves and their children and some of them are rejecting them altogether. Even if you don’t listen to the parents actually doing said questioning and rejecting, even if you take the whole situation at face value, how is that a logical conclusion? Wakefield et al mentioned one vaccine, the MMR, in their case series – a paper that is never mentioned in mainstream media without being accompanied by the words “retracted,” “discredited,” and/or “fraudulent.” And, when asked about that one vaccine, Wakefield recommended continuing to vaccinate against those diseases with monovalent vaccines. Why on Earth would anyone use that paper as the basis of a decision to forgo any other vaccine, much less all vaccines?

Answer? They wouldn’t.

Of course, the reason Wakefield's case series is always mentioned along with the words “retracted,” “discredited,” and/or “fraudulent" is because it is all of these things. Also, the reason Wakefield "gets the blame" is because he was both the first and corresponding author, which means that he was not only the person in whose lab the research was done but also the primary author. It was his study. He owned it. He still does. The other thing that The Professor conveniently neglects to admit is that the reason Wakefield continued to recommend vaccinating against the measles is because he had filed his very own patent for a "safer measles vaccine." Basically, if Wakefield were able to discredit the MMR, he'd create a market for his newer, allegedly "safer" measles vaccine. As I've put it many times, Wakefield was a fraudster who was in it for the money from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, he's had a huge influence against vaccines, at least until he was discredited. As I hate to admit but have to, as much as I wish it were the evidence that convinced journalists and the average lay person that vaccines are safe and the MMR does not cause autism, I fear that it was just how thoroughly discredited Andrew Wakefield was that ultimately did it.

As for Jenny McCarthy, The Professor seems to want to have it both ways. Remember how she was just ranting about how she and her fellow antivaccine warriors are not in thrall to Jenny McCarthy, that Jenny McCarthy didn't "make her do it"? Compare that claim to this:

I suspect that McCarthy has, indeed, had an effect on the number of people who believe that “vaccines cause autism,” certainly more than Andrew Wakefield et al’s “discredited” 1998 case series. But that fact lies less in her beauty or celebrity than it does in the fact that she is a mother who is brave enough to tell the truth about what happened to her child, despite the extremely negative press she gets for doing so. That resonates with people, especially people who have experienced something similar. What the media never seems to report is that McCarthy is just one of many, many parents with eerily similar stories. When Jenny McCarthy spoke up on television and in her books, she gave many other parents who had similar experiences the bravery to speak up about what they too had witnessed. But like the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, the overall credibility of the claims does not derive from the fact that one person – no matter how beautiful or famous – said it. It derives from the fact that many people tell similar stories. In this case, there are literally thousands of people saying their children were developing normally until a round of vaccines blew them out of the water (possibly never to return) and even more who say that, when their children have been treated for various types of vaccine damage, they get better.

So wait. Jenny McCarthy didn't "make her do it" but she has had more influence than Andrew Wakefield in persuading parents that vaccines cause autism? Which is it?

Perhaps the biggest "WTF?" moment, however, is The Professor's invoking of the Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations. I mean, seriously: WTF? This is the most bizarre analogy I've heard in a long time. So let me get this straight:

Whose “fault” is it that the public perceives Bill Cosby as a serial sex offender? Is it Andrea Constand, who initiated a lawsuit against him back in 2004 – the lawsuit that caused a number of women to get brave enough to go on the record with their own accusations? They didn’t get the opportunity to testify in court then, as it turned out, and their accusations never picked up steam. So maybe it’s comedian Hannibal Buress, who called Cosby out as a rapist in his stand-up act in a video that went viral. Or maybe it’s Barbara Bowman’s” fault.” She’s the victim who began the recent escalating round of accusations with a piece in the Washington Post about her own history with Cosby. Or how about Lycia Naff, the journalist who tracked down Bowman and wrote a story for the U.K.’s Daily Mail? Or maybe, just maybe . . . now this is really radical here . . . perhaps it is Cosby himself who is to blame for the public’s perception of him as a serial sex offender because he actually is a serial sex offender.

Wow. I wish I could scrub my retinas and brain of the image of those words. Here's a hint why. Start by asking yourself a question: Is there difference between allegations of sexual assault and answering a scientific question, such as whether vaccines cause autism? Of course there is, and it all boils down in the way such questions are answered. The question of whether vaccines cause autism can be approached scientifically, without the need for anecdotes. The question of Cosby's guilt or innocence, in contrast, requires evaluating anecdotes because there is no real scientific way using objective evidence to determine whether he did or did not sexually assault all those women. That's why, in the case of the Cosby case, as the number of stories by women allegedly assaulted by him increases in number and consistency, it's harder and harder to ignore them. In the case of medical questions, anecdotes can be profoundly misleading, as I've explained so many times before, and we don't have to rely on them anyway because we have epidemiology, science, and clinical trials.

In the end, The Professor is so anxious to prove that she and her fellow antivaccinationists are not mindless zombies following Andrew Wakefield and/or Jenny McCarthy that, ironically, she's willing to throw them both under the bus by denying their importance. Unfortunately, they were (and are) both very important and have influenced untold parents not to vaccinate.

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[T]he mountains of scientific studies we have waded through (quoting chapter and verse all the while) clearly implicating vaccines in a whole host of conditions that involve immune system dysregulation

Which she completely fails to list.

that are all on the rise

Citation needed that immune dysregulation conditions are on the rise.

and the Freedom of Information Act requests that have exposed corruption and collusion at the highest levels of the CDC.

I assume she means Hooker.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

As I nearly trach another rug rat suffering severe respiratory distress, the thinking mom's revolution offers nothing but the impotence of arrogance. Influenza-b is hitting my area. Get your shot.

Every parent of a vaccine-injured child was once pro-vaccines. The ex-pro-vaccine make up the majority of the vaccine critics. If the vaccine pushers could successfully convince parents who see vaccine injury that it is "normal" or "coincidental" the "problem" would go away. They sure are trying.

By Putin Reloaded (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Notice, however, how this "professor" doesn't deny that "Dr. Bob" made her do it--and he wrote the foreword to their horribly anti-vaccine book (http://tinyurl.com/nd2z7rf).

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

If antivaxers don't want Wakefield continuing to be the public face of their "movement"*, then there's a simple fix: stop defending and lionizing him. And if credibility is your goal, don't latch on to a bogus "whistleblower"* case which he has been deeply involved in fomenting.

*hey, I can do "scare quotes" with the best of 'em.
**I love how the cover of Wakefield's "Callous Disregard" book shows Andy with a banner in the background reading "Medical Corruption".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

@Putin Reloaded: and for every child honestly injured by a vaccine, there is compensation through the vaccine court. However, more parents blame the vaccines than honestly have vaccine-injured children. Autism is NOT caused by vaccines. Neither are most of the "injuries" claimed by TMR.

The title of the "Professor"'s screed is accurate. Wakefield and McCarthy did not make the "Professor" and her fellow "Thinking Moms" go into anti-vax nuttery. The "Professor" et al. did that to themselves. And yes, that she is defending herself (and Wakefield and McCarthy) against an accusation nobody has actually made sounds like a Suspiciously Specific Denial.

Speaking of denial, when it comes to the Wakefield et al. (1998) paper, the "Professor" seems to be in the vicinity of Khartoum. An investigation found that Wakefield et al. did not actually perform the research described in the Lancet paper. That's research fraud, and retraction is the journal's minimum duty in a case like that. Most English speakers would consider a paper that has been both shown to be fraudulent and retracted to be discredited. But the "Professor" is not like most English speakers.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Don't bother with Putin Reloaded. He's denied germ theory, even after people have been pulled off their deathbeds by penicillin.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

"Start by asking yourself a question: Is there difference between allegations of sexual assault and answering a scientific question, such as whether vaccines cause autism?"
In the the antivax mindset there is no such thing.

Two words "forced penetration".

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Gray Falcon tells us to ignore Putin Reloaded who has denied germ theory. Can we assume that Putin Reloaded is a "doctor" of chiropractic? D.C.s are noted for such denialism.

Because I've been following TMR since its inception, I've learned a little bit more about the Professor:

- first of all, she's not a professor OBVIOUSLY
- she is Zoey O'Toole- although that is not her original given name- I forgot what that was; there's another last name floating around also IIRC
- she self-describes as ( "Getting Personal", TMR) " a quirky actor/ geek with a degree in physics and a lifelong interest in autism**
- her child doesn't have autism but apraxia; the other has ADHD- because she *listened* to Mommy Sci and prevented autism
- she had a child who died soon after a home birth ( see her article "When Intuition Fails" for details- I won't get into it here)
- she didn't vaccinate her children ( Autism One presentation) but they did get antibiotics ((shudder))

From her video presentations ( @ TMR, Autism One), she appears to be TMR's editor and mouthpiece at these events since MacNeil begged off although they have others with titles. I find her rather self-aggrandizing and awful.

** now Eric Lund, palindrom and Narad, no need to get out the proverbial paperbags *a la* Orac- it's probably a BS from the days of yore.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Jesus - not PR again...how long before he just spouting off on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories too?

Heh.
I just learned that anti-vaxxers are preparing to rally outside of the CDC in Atlanta on Saturday ( AoA, NVIC) concerning the so-called whistleblower. Somehow they've managed to get some Black people involved.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Ah. I remember the story of Zane. Ye olde "Home birth didn't kill my baby!" narrative. Second only to the "Home birth saved my baby's life!" which usually involves a frantic transfer and many days of intensive medical care.

Home birth didn't kill her baby because it was predestined.

"I was strep B positive when I went into labor with Zane, but Miriam said that antibiotics are overused..."

Midwife:
"He was so sick by the time he was born that death was inevitable."

Back to the mother again:
"there are some things where the outcome is already determined and, no matter what you do to try to change them, they will still happen."

Someone who thinks that autism is preventable also thinks her son's death from a preventable and treatable infection wasn't preventable. That's cognitive dissonance for you.

Quotes from "When Intuition Fails"

@ Anj,

You know that may be why she carried on so about anti-biotics at Autism One. IIRC MacNell also blames antibiotics fro her son's problems.
" Intuition Fails" says it all, doesn't it?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

More like 'Cognition fails', but carry on.

** now Eric Lund, palindrom and Narad, no need to get out the proverbial paperbags *a la* Orac- it’s probably a BS from the days of yore.

A degree in physics doesn't involve acquiring expert knowledge in biomedical topics, unless you are doing biophysics as a specialty So this isn't as bad as a physicist who claims that global warming is a hoax--physicists are supposed to have some knowledge of thermodynamics (as are most but not all engineers).

Physicists have to have some degree of mathematical smarts. Indeed, theoretical physics vs. applied mathematics is often a toMAYto vs. toMAHto debate. But while it helps to be smart in other ways, it's not a strict requirement, unfortunately. What I know of the "Professor" is consistent with her being mathematically smart but gullible. (Actually, I don't have any direct knowledge of how mathematically smart she is, but her prominence among the "Thinking Moms" argues for her gullibility.) And sometimes physicists, too, go emeritus. I've known a few examples of that myself.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

"scientific studies we have waded through (quoting chapter and verse all the while"

You usually don't quote scientific studies by "chapter and verse". More proof that antivaccinationism is more religion than science

By Discosoma1232 (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

" I don't have any direct knowledge of how mathematically smart she is.."

Neither have I but the TMs all seem to love homeopathy.
So much for chemistry and physics.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Orac: "Is he a sock puppet, I wonder?"

Not bright enough. He is quite different from Cia Parker who often sock puppets at SoP.

Why on Earth would anyone use that paper as the basis of a decision to forgo any other vaccine, much less all vaccines?

It's not us the Professor should be asking this, but people on her own side.
I call to testify all the anti-vax commenters who have harped on thimerosal in MMR vaccines*...

(*yes, I know there never was any - it was my point)

By Helianthus (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

FFS!

I just read what was at Chris' link in post 20...I need to go and lie down...That is just beyond words.

@Murmur - having dealt with him in the past, he's pro-fascist (literally), germ-denying, and basically an all-around homophobic, anti-Semite.

He's also Spanish....(lives in Spain)

You usually don’t quote scientific studies by “chapter and verse”.

Several (legitimate) journals in my field used to include paragraph numbers in their articles, which gave those journals a bit of a Biblical feel. (I'm not the only person I know who thought this.) I can envision their description of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake: And it came to pass that there was a mighty shaking of the earth throughout the eastern part of Honshu, and verily, the seas did part, and a wall of water up to 30 cubits high was pushed onto the shore over the region from Fukushima in the south to Aomori in the north, as shewn in Figure 2.

Well, OK, that was parody. But I'll grant that not all of the TMR types would see it that way.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Not odd - he was getting banned left and right due to his outrageous statements...of course he has multiple sock puppets.

PR is a very angry Spaniard. He and I have gone tete a tete in Spanish (the language) on several Spanish (the country) skeptical sites. He is anti-Semitic as they come, and will believe any conspiracy theory you throw at him.

Also, what is up with people randomly calling themselves "Professor"?

Lawrence: "…of course he has multiple sock puppets."

I stand corrected, thanks.

Reuben, I dunno. What's up with them calling themselves warriors? There's not a DD-4 in the bunch.

In 2007, when her child Evan was diagnosed with autism and she blamed MMR vaccine for it

Was McCarthy's son ever diagnosed as autistic by a neurologist (or even a pediatrician, and Dr Jay doesn't count)? I seem to remember reading an article that claimed she made the diagnosis herself.

After her "Indigo Child" phase.....

shay, what's a DD-4?

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

I just learned that anti-vaxxers are preparing to rally outside of the CDC in Atlanta on Saturday ( AoA, NVIC) concerning the so-called whistleblower. Somehow they’ve managed to get some Black people involved.

Yah, and Gerg's going to fly in from Canada.

I heard an interesting idea this weekend that made me think about anti-vaxers in a new way. (The comment was actually made in the context of discussing religion, but it applies just as surely to conspiracy theorists.)

It isn't just that they believe things that don't make sense; it is that the beliefs central to their (for the lack of a better word) philosophy actually can't make sense. If the beliefs were logical and straightforward, then everyone would hold them, meaning there would be no sacrifice required to hold them; and thus their faith in those beliefs would have no value. You can see it directly in the TMR quote above, about how McCarthy is admired because

she is a mother who is brave enough to tell the truth about what happened to her child, despite the extremely negative press she gets for doing so.

I always knew about the anti-vax martyr complex, but it never occurred to me that such a thing would actually make people gravitate to ideas which are demonstrably wrong because they are demonstrably wrong.

Of course, they don't think they are wrong; they think they have access to the "secret knowledge" that makes it right. That sense of belonging to a select group that knows the "real" truth is what they are seeking.

By Dan Welch (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Also, what is up with people randomly calling themselves “Professor”?

In the US, generally speaking, you can call yourself whatever you want. The only exceptions are (1) certain jobs and professions for which there are specific laws regulating who is allowed to claim those positions or titles and (2) if your purpose is to commit fraud or deception. The first of these does not apply to academic positions generally. The second does not apply in this case either, because what the "Professor" in question is doing does not rise to the level of fraud or deception--her readers are fooling themselves, she isn't fooling them herself. So she's allowed to flatter herself in that way. I don't expect anybody who gets their information from more reliable sources than Google University to be fooled.

Same thing with "warriors". They are fighting for something: what they think is in the best interests of their children. I personally find the war analogy to be inappropriate, but that horse has long since left the barn ("war on poverty", "war on cancer", "war on drugs").

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

I just learned that anti-vaxxers are preparing to rally outside of the CDC in Atlanta on Saturday ( AoA, NVIC) concerning the so-called whistleblower. Somehow they’ve managed to get some Black people involved.

Specifically, Nation of Islam. Our host wrote about the NOI involvement with anti-vaccine activism here

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/06/18/cranks-of-a-feather-the-na…

and carried on here:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/06/22/cranks-of-a-feather-part-2…

ADDENDUM: Just this morning, Kent Heckenlively, too, is ecstatic about this new alliance with the Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology, writing a post that wasn’t published when I wrote this last night, The Battle for California, Part 4 – The Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology Join the Fight Against SB 277. He reveals its roots, which were in Autism One in Chicago, where, apparently, Brian Hooker, Barry Segal, Eric Gladen, Shiloh Levine, and Robert Kennedy, Jr. had met with Minister Louis Farrakhan, whom Heckenlively portrayed as “deeply disturbed by the information” about the “CDC whistleblower” and the made up claim that the CDC had “covered up” a correlation between vaccines and autism in African-American boys. The first part of Farrakhan’s reaction:

Orac writes,

Antivaccinationists deny the cult of Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy.

MJD says,

Vaccine-related injury compensation denials, by the VICP, contribute to the vaccine-happy party of Orac and Respectful Insolence.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

In the US, generally speaking, you can call yourself whatever you want.

I am OUTRAGED.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

MJD: Compensation denials indicate a VERY poor case indeed as the bar to receive compensation is very low.

On the other hand, we are not so much vaccine-happy as vaccine-proud. Proud to be a positive force for what may be the greatest advance in healthcare in the history of the world.

@ Liz Ditz:

From one of the sites ( twitter?#cdcrally or suchlike) I found out that there with be a co-demonstration in Oakland on Saturday.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Big Giant Head @ #40, his ego sated, returns to the under-bridge from whence he came.

By Chan Kobun, th… (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Here's the line up for the event Denice just noticed.

Friday October 23, 7 am to 2 pm, Some kind of rally / demonstration outside of CDC headquarters.

Evening: Dinner with the stars. They've raised $339 of a projected $4,000

Saturday October 24
noon- 4pm speakers:

Barbara Loe Fisher
Brian Hooker
Alison Folmar (anti-vaccine attorney)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr
Tony Muhammad (Nation of Islam minister)
Toni Bark MD
Eric Gladen (the Trace Amounts filmmaker)
Marcella Piper-Terry
Stacey Francis (anti-vaccine, singer and actress, interviewed Wakefield)
Lyn Redwood
Ron Cummmins (Organic Consumers Association)
The Refusers
All Star Blues Messenger

Brought to by:
Vaccine Injury Awareness League (VIAL)
Minister Tony Muhammad
Curtis Duncan (a "holistic health & weight loss expert)

Sponsored by:

Focus for health (Barry Segal's anti-vaccine outfit)
Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights
educateadvocateca dot com (California autism group)
Richie Onori's Blues Messenger
The Mom Street Journal
The Weston A. Price Foundation
The Refusers
Our Kids Our Choice (California anti-vaccine group)
The Refusers
National Vaccine Information Center
Million Mamas Movement (Wendy Silver's outfit)
Mandate the Truth -- Voters Call the Shots
SafeMinds
Moms in Charge
VaxTruth
Rawesome Juicery
The Greater Good Movie
The Thinking Moms' Revolution
A Voice for Choice

all at
http://www.cdctruth.org/

Thank you Denice I saw that this morning:

The People of California STAND UNITED with our fellow Americans gathering in Atlanta at the #cdcTRUTH Rally

Join us from Coast-to-Coast as we generate a new paradigm of TRUTH, TRANSPARENCY, FREEDOM within our regulatory agencies starting with the CDC crimes!

"The fraud in the Vaccine Research Division at The CDC has prevented physicians, law-makers, and parents from being able to make informed decisions about vaccinations for children. This rally will help to inform more people of the harm that has been caused by CDC fraud. Join us as we call for a complete investigation of The CDC, and send a message to our government that we will no longer sit quietly as our children and families are harmed." ~ Marcella Piper Terry

Some of my fellow SB277 advocates have a betting pool going on how many people will show up. I'm thinking less than 50.

I've got to hand it to whomever designed the logo of Michelle Ford's* "Vaccine-Injury Awareness League" so that it looks like it says "VEAL."

* She's the contact number.

The opposition to SB277 will also be keeping their children home from school on October 23 "in solidarity" and to show those districts how much money they will lose from enforcing SB277. Not. It's being publicized on twitter and Facebook. Sample tweet.

https://twitter.com/IamMonicaRae/status/655819574282072064

@ Liz:

Have you noticed how many hashtags they have going? #cdcwhistkblower, #cdctruth, #garbagecan, #thiscrap, #thatcrap etc etc etc.

So let's see, 50 advocacy groups, 50 hashtags, 50 supporters?
Coincidence?
( I'm joking, I know their numbers are in the thousands- maybe even 10 thousands)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Narad:

Sure! It is an unconscious- but apt analogy- because "veal" results from a baby animal force fed, unnaturally shot with pharma products and then slaughtered mercilessly whilst a human baby is forcibly vaccinated with ungodly chemicals, fed GMOs and then.....

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

also VIAL/ VILE

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Maybe previous comment lost in the web.
As about Professor's professorship: may be she is a professor, but surely not of Latin.
In the first line just under happy Wakefield's family picture of her post one can read "as nauseum", while true Latin would be "ad nauseam".
I don't think English keyboards host "u" and "a" keys so near as to let anyone exchange them easily.
Professor of ignoramus?

By perodatrent (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

FWIW Jenny McCarthy wasn't a Playboy bunny - she was a Playmate. There's a difference.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Julian -- my bad. DD-4s are the US military's enlistment papers.

Physicists have to have some degree of mathematical smarts. Indeed, theoretical physics vs. applied mathematics is often a toMAYto vs. toMAHto debate. But while it helps to be smart in other ways, it’s not a strict requirement, unfortunately. What I know of the “Professor” is consistent with her being mathematically smart but gullible. (Actually, I don’t have any direct knowledge of how mathematically smart she is, but her prominence among the “Thinking Moms” argues for her gullibility.) And sometimes physicists, too, go emeritus. I’ve known a few examples of that myself.

I actually would argue that being smart tends to make Dunning-Kruger worse. The problem is that a person who is very smart often has a lot of confidence in being able to make correct conclusions on a variety of topics, often topics where they have less expertise. Smart people are much much harder to dissuade from their stances and often much less flexible or less conciliatory about information put forward by others. It isn't at all a question of gullibility; it's a question of *wanting* to believe. Somebody who is smart and *wants* to believe something is absolutely impossible to argue down.

The thing that always pisses me off around physicists is that the field attracts a lot of people who are not only smart, but are absolutely convinced that they are the smartest person in the room, hands down, all the time. Among physicists, I've met a germ-theory denialist, I've met an anti-vaxxer and I've met a natural health/alt-med practioner. It isn't a question of gullibility at all: these people had tremendous minds and were often quite gifted, and quite discerning. They just lack a capacity to listen to people they don't agree with, or admit the possibility that they *could* be wrong about something. A person who has gotten an undergraduate physics degree is a dangerous individual because they know enough to be confident, but haven't gone far enough to realize how easily the rug can get pulled out when they are out of their depth. In a situation where they have established a community, like 'Thinking Moms Revolution,' they are surrounded by individuals who are feeding back to them how 'correct' they are and they never really have to deal with where they screwed up.

I think it's probably counter productive to characterize the other side has either stupid or gullible. They are usually plenty smart. Trying to split hairs by saying 'they're smart in some ways, but not others,' is utterly stupid because it avoids facing the fact that a lot of these people are just flat-out, all-around smart and have simply decided that they *believe* something. The instant it becomes about Belief, you can pretty much toss all arguments about 'smarts' out the window.

If you're dealing with a trained scientist, regardless of intelligence or background, that person should understand that making a hypothesis and designing an experiment is about testing the influence of belief. Even a physicist knows that if the observational data doesn't follow the theoretical curve, that it's time to think twice about the theory... the question is usually whether or not the person in question has accepted this principle across the breadth of their life, or if they have protected some spots from evaluation. Most often, very experienced scientists will defer their knowledge on a subject because they are aware that they *might* be wrong, and that's contingent on having experienced being wrong. At no point is any of this about 'smarts.'

Speaking of strong beliefs, I have to wonder if the anti-vaxxer movement has greater strength in the U.S. than elsewhere and whether that has something to do with negative expectations as a result of drug ads, replete with lengthy descriptions of potential and known adverse and side effects. Outside of New Zealand, drug ads are not permitted in other countries. If it is true that Americans are more susceptible to placebo, would it also be true that they are more susceptible to nocebo?

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34572482

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Every parent of a vaccine-injured child was once pro-vaccines. The ex-pro-vaccine make up the majority of the vaccine critics. If the vaccine pushers could successfully convince parents who see vaccine injury that it is “normal” or “coincidental” the “problem” would go away. They sure are trying.

Seems to be a meme

You don’t say.

Oh for an edit button.

Oh look, they finally got a press release out.

The Vax Truth: Rally Demanding Vaccine Truth in Oakland in Solidarity with Rally at the CDC in Atlanta

The timing = starts at 12 noon at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland

LINEUP – The speaker lineup at the rally will include:

* Minister Keith Muhammad – Resident minister at the Nation of Islam mosque in Oakland. He is an educator and activist and has served Bay Area communities for decades.

* Sister Tesha Muhammad – Tesha is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley, a mother of four including two vaccine damaged sons. The experience of dealing with the challenges associated with autism has motivated her to become an activist against unsafe vaccines.

* Dr. Tina Kimmel, former research scientist for the California Department of Public Health's Immunization Branch.

* Samsarah Morgan, mother and grandmother, and founder of Nia Healing Center for Birth and Family Life.

* Brandy Vaughan, former Merck employee, and founder of Council for Vaccine Safety.

* Christina Hildebrand, founder of A Voice for Choice.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Brandy Vaughan: bv@safevax DOT org or 415-987-9412

Christina Hildebrand: Christina@avoiceforchoic DOT .org or 408-835-9353

MORE INFORMATION:
Council for Vaccine Truth – http://councilforvaccinesafety DOT org/.

A Voice for Choice – http://avoiceforchoice DOT org/.

Smart people are much much harder to dissuade from their stances and often much less flexible or less conciliatory about information put forward by others. It isn’t at all a question of gullibility; it’s a question of *wanting* to believe. Somebody who is smart and *wants* to believe something is absolutely impossible to argue down.

How about finding someone who have nothing more than security guard training (550 hours of training here) who display such absolute certainty in his thinking skill be an example of about personality disorder?

He's one of the people I mentioned some days ago as being seriously fucked up.

Al

* Dr. Tina Kimmel, former research scientist for the California Department of Public Health’s Immunization Branch.

"Doctor"? I don't have the fortitude just at the moment to go further into the purple-haired FB profile.

viggen #55:

I actually would argue that being smart tends to make Dunning-Kruger worse. The problem is that a person who is very smart often has a lot of confidence in being able to make correct conclusions on a variety of topics, often topics where they have less expertise. Smart people are much much harder to dissuade from their stances and often much less flexible or less conciliatory about information put forward by others. It isn’t at all a question of gullibility; it’s a question of *wanting* to believe. Somebody who is smart and *wants* to believe something is absolutely impossible to argue down.

Tell me about it. Thabo Mbeki, South African President from 1999 to 2008 when he was forced to resign, was a key example of this. His denialism on AIDS cost 365,000 lives, by one estimate. Less well known is his African chauvinism. He spoke at length about an "African Renaissance, but refused to condemn fellow African leaders, particularly Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He also consistently responded to valid criticisms with ad hominem attacks.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 19 Oct 2015 #permalink

Maybe so, but a "research scientist" seems a large stretch

Reuben@30:

PR is a very angry Spaniard. He and I have gone tete a tete in Spanish (the language) on several Spanish (the country) skeptical sites. He is anti-Semitic as they come, and will believe any conspiracy theory you throw at him.

Would this be a bad time to mention that Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead?

I remember encountering PR's oeuvre a few years ago and marvelling that there could be such another angry dim person, and one who was *not* an Essex chiropractor.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

viggen@55: Alas, the only thing greater intelligence absolutely guarantees is the ability to invent even more ingeniously brilliant ways in which to completely fcuk up.

Ph.D. from the School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley. So allowed to use the title.

Hey, so is Bill Cosby.

@ has:

Agreed.

And some people are capable of producing extremely exquisite methods of convincing others of their brilliance but that's not entirely intelligence.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

Denice@71: A soupçon of sociopathy, and an audience so craving of absolute certainty they will discard every red flag to the contrary, certainly helps a lot.

I suppose then the question becomes: Where do you place the blame? On the apex predator—which is only acting exactly as its nature decrees? Or on the willing meat; which has the choice—and chooses not only to sell out herself but her children too?

And what about those who ostensibly act as gamekeepers? Wakefield may have been stripped of his licence and practice "in rapid order", but that was after a decade of the Lancet and the British press not only opening the gate but then twiddling their thumbs while the monster ran rampant.

Shame all round, in many respects; the only significant remaining distinction being those who will (albeit belatedly) admit their own error, those who never will, and those will go to their graves utterly convinced by their own self-told lies that it is everyone else that's at fault.

@ has:

I'm in agreement - "victims" are sometimes not blameless especially when they ride another's coattails in what they mistakenly believe is a pathway to their own benefit- of course, I'm speaking about those who make a business of selling products, therapies, (mis) information or themselves as followers of the Great White Fraud, Andy. Those with websites or books are especially despicable when they are themselves parents of kids with ASDs and mislead other parents as well as using their own children as selling points or blog fodder.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

MikeMa says (#42),

On the other hand, we are not so much vaccine-happy as vaccine-proud

MJD says,

The VICP will provide up to $250,000 if your child or loved one dies from a vaccine-related injury.

In my opinion, $250,000,000 is compassionate compensation.

Will the VICP run out of money at $250,000,000 per vaccine-related death?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

In my opinion, $250,000,000 is compassionate compensation.

You have a rather fanciful notion of award amounts in wrongful death cases (which these aren't in the first place).

$250,000,000? You know the usual OSHA fine for a worker's death is less than $10,000?

By JustaTech (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

Boring Tedious Loudmouth Troll asks:

Will the VICP run out of money at $250,000,000 per vaccine-related death?

But fails to state just how many deaths have been confirmed as being caused by vaccines.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

Do you think these sponsoring organizations will be renting a car at Hartsfield-Jackson?

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 20 Oct 2015 #permalink

At least MJD isn't just constantly repeating his usual rant....

But seriously, how deluded do you think he is at this point?

I'll take "in totality" for 500, Alex.

About intelligence and Dunning-Kruger: any time someone starts to talk about how STEM majors are much better critical thinkers I tell the story of myself, the lone English student in the bio department (my minor). I had some interesting conversations with the other bio students, especially the one who was doing her senior project on subluxations.

By dedicated lurker (not verified) on 21 Oct 2015 #permalink