Quackery in my back yard!

Oh, great. Orac just has to tell me that the University of Minnesota is going to host an anti-vaccine conference on 24 January.

First, let me say this, though: they get to do that. Presumably they've rented out (or possibly obtained student or faculty sponsorship) Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and just about anyone can do that. They may be fraggin' morons, but they're part of the public, and it's a public university.

Still, this is painfully stupid and a disservice to the public trust. It's a conference in which a train of pseudo-experts will lie, lie, lie in order to sell books -- in fact, I suspect it's a bit of a con to peddle their books, since the $99 admission fee includes dumping a pile of crap, the garbage these guys have written, in your lap. That $99 is also one reason I won't be attending, much as I'd like to document the dishonesty; of course, another reason I won't be going is that I doubt this gang of propagandists will be entertaining, much less informative.

I recognized some of the speakers' names, and others I looked up. It's largely a hodge-podge of shills from the Age of Autism blog -- so right there you know it's not going to be very good.

  1. Louis Conte: a policeman who wrote a novel about a conspiracy.

    Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father, finds himself drawn into the controversy over vaccines and autism when he tries to uncover the truth behind the shadowy Vaccine Court. His dangerous journey forces him to will risk his life and honor while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past. Colletti and his allies battle spies, Russian gangsters, and sexual predators preying upon disabled children. They go to war against foes who manipulate the media, fabricate scientific research, and viciously attack those who question vaccine safety.

  2. David Lewis, a retired environmental microbiologist, who has a history of defending Andrew Wakefield (incompetently), and who believes in a "conspiracy with the pharmaceutical industry and government agencies to exact what he calls “retribution” on the purportedly innocent Wakefield.".

  3. Kent Heckenlively, a former attorney and a contributor to the Age of Autism blog and notorious nut.

  4. Judy Mikovits, a scientist whose claim to fame, a paper in Science, was retracted under a cloud, and who was so untrustworthy that she was jailed for stealing lab notebooks…and she was fired.

  5. Mark Blaxill, a guy with an MBA, and another Age of Autism crank

    and professional loon. He has no scientific qualifications at all.

  6. Dan Olmsted, another AoA hack, a journalist with very little knowledge of science, who thinks of himself as a martyr for True Science.

  7. Wayne Rohde, an attorney and JAQ-off.

  8. Ann Dachel, an editor at AoA, who doesn't know any history at all.

  9. Mary Holland, another lawyer. Orac does not think highly of her.

  10. Kim Mack Rosenberg, a lawyer, and a contributor to this wonderfully titled book, "Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children". It's all a conspiracy!

So of these ten people, two have a science background, and one of them is disgraced and discredited. Four of them are lawyers or ex-lawyers. The others just seem to be lay people obsessed with finding a cause for autism.

I do love the fact that of the 9 slots in the schedule, 3 of them are going to one guy, Conte, whose credentials consist of having written a novel, filed under FICTION. That seems apt, since the rest of them are going to make shit up, too.

More like this

Sacrificing individuals in the interest of "protecting the herd" might seem like a really good idea; unless you or a loved one turns out to be one of the sacrificed.

By Irwin Isaacs (not verified) on 15 Nov 2014 #permalink

Sacrificing individuals in the interest of “protecting the herd” might seem like a really good idea; unless you or a loved one turns out to be one of the sacrificed.

Irwin, what sort of guarantees do you offer to your clients? Do you ever "lose one"? If so, whose fault is it?

"Sacrificing individuals in the interest of “protecting the herd” might seem like a really good idea; unless you or a loved one turns out to be one of the sacrificed."

Vaccinating isn't "sacrificing individuals in the interest of 'protecting the herd'". Vaccinating is done first and foremost to protect the individual vaccinated, and for each vaccine on our schedule, unless the individual has a known contraindication, the risks of vaccinating are much,much smaller than the risks of not vaccinating. In other words, for that individual vaccinating is the safer choice.

Herd immunity provides an additional benefit, additional protection, and is also important for those who cannot be vaccinated or suffer vaccine failure.
But it's not the vaccinated children who are being sacrificed. It's the unvaccinated children who are left at risk because of misinformation who are being wronged.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 15 Nov 2014 #permalink

"Hypnosis counseling"? Really - so you specialize in your own version of taking money while not helping people. How quaint - in a disgusting way.

I guess having hundreds of thousands of injured children and adults benefits society. And congratulations to those of you who are heartless enough to disregard them. Must be nice to have no feelings at all.

By William Thompson (not verified) on 16 Nov 2014 #permalink

Isnt it great, Billy-Bob, how the pro-childrens health sites allow you to post here, while actual parents of autistic children are banned from AOA and thrown out of quack cure conventions if they dare to ask uncomfortable questions? I guess that's compassion for you.

By Actual parent (not verified) on 16 Nov 2014 #permalink

"I guess having hundreds of thousands of injured children and adults benefits society."

If a modern vaccine led to hundreds, let alone thousands, of serious injuries, it would be pulled off the market. Rotashield was pulled off for a much more rare problem.
Luckily, serious problems from modern vaccines are very, very rare indeed (though they do happen): http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/06/26/peds.201….

In contrast, before the vaccines thousands died from the diseases.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 Nov 2014 #permalink