A Quack Miranda Warning Will Not Save Heather Dexter From The Consequences of Allowing Her Children To Suffer Through Pertussis

Ren wrote a blog post the other day that had my blood boiling. He told us the tale of a naturopath named Heather Dexter. Heather Dexter is a naturopath in Michigan, and she allowed her children to live through Whooping Cough (Pertussis) for more than six months. Any child with pertussis needs to immediately see a physician and be put on antibiotics. Why? Because pertussis coughing is so bad that it leaves the child blue in the face from anoxia.

In fact, Heather Dexter, the naturopath, described how her child was blue in the face, vomiting, and just plainly suffering from the whooping cough. Then she described how her second child caught it and suffered just as bad. In between telling us how she allowed her children to suffer, she also tells us how her husband and her had fights over what was going on. But, like a coward, the dad acquiesced to the mother’s stupidity and allowed her to continue to torture the children.

Instead of taking them to a licensed physician, Heather Dexter consulted her echo chamber naturopath friends. At the end of the post, Heather Dexter tells us how vaccines are bad, antibiotics are not to be trusted, and what she used to treat her children’s pertussis. As a result of Ren’s post and others online, the site went down for a few days. They even deleted their Facebook page.

Today, the site is back up, and an interesting “disclaimer” has been added:

“This blog is a personal blog written and edited by the three of us mamas. We, along with our guest contributors, write for our own purposes and the views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the writer’s. However, we may be influenced by our background, occupation, religion, political affiliation or experience.

The information provided by representatives of Like-Minded Mamas should be considered as only suggestions, not prescriptions. We are not medical doctors and the information is not intended in any way to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness or injured condition of the body. Our suggestions are purely to help you nurture your health so you can enjoy wellness.

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for us to support our blogging activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. We promise to support only products and services that we have personally tried or truly believe in.”

In the SCAM business, this is known as the Quack Miranda Warning. They think that just by posting this disclaimer, the things that Heather Dexter has done to her children will somehow be justified. Or, that a reasonable person will say to themselves, “Heather Dexter didn’t treat her children’s pertussis. Should I? Oh, yes, of course I should take them to the doctor, because their disclaimer says that they’re not giving medical advice.”

Thing is, they are giving medical advice. Just read Heather Dexter’s blog post. She’s clearly telling us that it is possible to get through pertussis without seeing a medical doctor. So what if it is highly contagious? She took her children out into the public. (This, when antivaxxers like Heather Dexter think that vaccinated people are “shedding” the bacteria from an acellular vaccine.) Heather Dexter also writes that she is a doula, so did she help deliver babies while being covered in her children’s pertussis bacteria?

Heather Dexter uses her certification as a naturopath to establish authority in doing what she did. If a medical doctor were to have written about their experience with an infectious disease, a reasonable person would follow their lead. After all, they know what they’re talking about. That’s how Heather Dexter comes off, as someone who should know better. But, to us, the initiated, we know she’s too far gone down the rabbit hole of quackery.

Heather Dexter’s actions border on the criminal, and no Quack Miranda Warning will protect Heather Dexter from the consequences. Because there will be consequences, as several people I’ve spoken to about this have mentioned that they got in contact with Michigan Child Protective Services and an investigation is underway. (The toll-free number is 855-444-3911 and staffed 24/7.)

The Delusional Mr. Lord

If you’ve been fighting anti-vaccine nonsense as long as I have, there are really few things that will impress you. (And I don’t mean “impress” in a good way.) There’s not a lie or conspiracy theory that anti-vaccine activists won’t adhere to. Their own delusions of grandeur come through when they call themselves “vaccine experts” and then display a woeful ignorance about basic biology. This is the case with one Mr. Joel Lord from Vancouver, Canada. He is the founder of the “Vaccine Resistance Movement,” a “grass roots” movement to try and bring down vaccine programs everywhere.

Mr. Joel Lord has seemingly zero background in the biological sciences. I looked everywhere to see if and when he studied biology (or any science, really), and I came up with nothing. In his own page on his own site, he doesn’t mention any formal training in any kind of science. At least Andrew Jeremy Wakefield took the time to go through medical school. What has Mr. Joel Lord done? Seemingly, nothing.

If Mr. Joel Lord is reading this, he might tell us that, indeed, he is a PhD in immunology or something. But I doubt that he is. I doubt mostly because of his style of writing, which is sloppy and confuses different scientific terms. He thinks that ethyl and methyl mean the same thing. They don’t, and I learned that in high school. (So I’m left wondering if he even went to high school.)

What Mr. Joel Lord does have is a complete lack of self-awareness. Or, rather, maybe he is aware of who he is and what he is, and he just goes with it. When he was interviewed by Canadian media, he said this:

“It’s such a deep rabbit hole,” he told CTV News. “There are so many layers to this.”

Lord is a prolific writer, having published scores of articles on the VRM’s website. His organization held an anti-vaccine summit in Vancouver last year. He promotes what he calls a vaccine-free natural approach, because he believes the chemicals in vaccines are behind severe damage to children’s developing brains.

“Look into the eyes of a child who has been seriously damaged by these early childhood shots and you have to go no further,” he said.

That really tells us nothing, Mr. Joel Lord. There is zero evidence of anything in your words. You even confuse causation with association all over the place. Most people in an outbreak of pertussis are vaccinated? Well, yes, because most people are vaccinated, period. More people are vaccinated against chickenpox, but we’re seeing more shingles than ever. Well, yes, because the demographics in North America are shifting toward an older generation who had chickenpox as children and have not been exposed in a while because of the vaccine. Luckily, we have a good shingles vaccine for that. In other words, Mr. Joel Lord just doesn’t understand the big, scary world around him.

But I bet that Mr. Joel Lord knows a sucker when he sees one. Check this out from his Facebook page:


“Pay for my vacay, and I’ll tell you some lies,” I think he said.

He wants to speak in our community! How cute. We have to make it happen, though. How? By paying for him to fly in, stay a couple of nights, pay him a “reasonable honorarium” and then get him back to Canada. Not only that, but the “reasonable” honorarium is “well below average for doctors in the field”. Fantastic! Could it because Mr. Joel Lord is not a doctor? Could it be cheaper for him to talk about vaccines because he is ignorant about basic science?

Sorry, Mr. Joel Lord, but I would probably get better information on science in general and vaccines in particular if I asked a high school student taking biology to come talk to my community. Seriously, Mr. Joel Lord, you’re embarrassing yourself. And that “study” you hope to conduct? I would be shocked in the most extreme if you could mention and discuss just ONE potential source of bias and how you plan to address it in your analysis. Just one.

Mr. Joel Lord, do you think your followers are idiots? No, don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question.

Silly Bobby Junior wants to get sued

Over the weekend, a group of anti-vaccine activists gathered outside CDC headquarters to protest the manufactured controversy of the “CDC Whistleblower.” They had all of the usual anti-vaccine tropes. “Vaccines cause autism.” “There are too many vaccines given too soon to too many babies in too many places.” “Andrew Wakefield was right.” And so on.

Some of the conspiracy nuts there went as far as to say that a maintenance man who was cleaning a nearby wall was “literally” spraying them with water. No, seriously:


Lucky for us, a skeptic was nearby with his handy iPhone and recorded the whole thing. Get ready for a yawn:

Remember that anti-vaccine activists don’t let reality get in the way.

Speaking of delusional, one of the speakers at the rally of about 100 people (because most people were stuck on buses on the way there, apparently), was one Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Mr. Kennedy has gone deep, deep down the well of conspiracy theories. He is so far gone that he believes that he was vaccine injured. He believes that several people in his family were vaccine injured. If you can stomach it, listen to his speech at the rally:

He sounds a little disjointed to me. What do you think?

Anyway, aside from all the misinformation he imparts, the anecdotes and the outright lies, part of his spiel is that he wants to be sued by CDC scientists. He wants to be sued so that “the truth” comes out at trial. His followers are spreading this “dare” on social media:


When he said that, people in the audience lost their collective minds.


Sorta like this.

The rest of the speakers gave out all of the usual anti-vaccine lies, and some even engaged in race-baiting (as did RFK Jr.) by saying that CDC knowingly “killed” (yes, they said “kill”) African American children.

But, no, Bobby Junior, no one is going to sue you. You’re going to be allowed to say these lies over and over again because of one simple reason: SCIENCE IS NOT SETTLED IN THE COURTS. From evolution to climate change, no amount of jury opinions or judgments will change the science. You can speak lawyer-speak until you’re blue in the face, and you will will not change the science of vaccines. You can continue to lie as much as you want because lies don’t change reality.

Vaccines save lives, Bobby Junior. Stop being silly.

The dangerous game played by Hooker and Wakefield

When Brian S. Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided that they were going to play the “CDC Whistleblower” game, they and their minions decided to lie and misinform African Americans with the idea that the MMR vaccine was causing more autism in African American children than in other groups. They have gone so far so as to line themselves up with the Nation of Islam, and so we have these statements from NoI leaders saying that CDC “poisoned” Black and Hispanic children.

This is a very dangerous game that the anti-vaccine high priests are playing. The United States is very charged with racial tensions right now. From the “Black Lives Matter” movement to police unions circling the wagons around cops involved in unjustified homicides, there is a lot of mistrust from minority groups toward the authorities and back. To add more oxygen to that fire by using the outright lie that MMR causes autism is Machiavellian in the most extreme. I have no doubt that Hooker and Wakefield will play the “vaccines cause autism” violin while Rome burns, so to speak.

Those two jerks can’t possibly admit that they’re wrong. If they were to do so, you see, they would miss out on the adoration of all those people who have been fooled into believing that vaccines are the Devil’s piss. Brian would not be able to move his claim in the Vaccine Court any further. Andrew Jeremy would have no place left to go since he’s already pretty much hated in Great Britain. But continuing to play this game is going to have consequences, and I’m worried about what those consequences will be.

The whackos that are against abortion have done some pretty bad things. There have been plenty of death threats against legislators in California who helped make SB277 a reality. What can they possibly expect will happen in riling up people who have been victims of institutionalized racism with vile lies about vaccines?

Ten dollars says that Hooker and Wakefield, and possibly the Weirdo John Stone, all have prepared statements washing their hands of anything that happens because of their lies. They won’t be happy until they have their way. Since their way requires a complete rejection of the laws of known reality, they’re not going to be happy… Well, they might dance a jig if a pro-vaccine person gets hurt. That I can see them doing. I can see them toasting to the death of one of their enemies, laughing all the way to the bank to deposit the money given to them by their devout followers.

If this is Thursday, this must be somewhere

Okay, I have a serious question for you:

Did you? Did you miss me?

Life has gotten so complicated in the last few weeks that I really have had little time to write. When I do, I usually do it as a collaboration with someone and for publication in some journal. If you look hard enough, you’ll find my name on a couple of new articles. That kind of writing, however, is completely boring.

There is no chance of a tete-a-tete with weirdo antivaxxers like John Stone of Age of Autism. There are no accusations that I’m someone else entirely from doctoral student antivaxxers like Jake Crosby. No one tries and post my personal information online like they did with Ren a few weeks back.

I’m going to try and write a little more in the next few weeks, starting with the ridiculous (and, in my opinion, dangerous) rhetoric of Nation of Islam leaders as Brian S. Hooker and Andrew Wakefield have decided to race-bait people into their vaccine lies. Or maybe I’ll take on new evidence that the Tdap vaccine is perfectly safe in pregnancy. Or maybe I’ll write about one of my papers.

We’ll see what I feel like after this much-deserved long weekend I have coming up, once I figure out where the heck I am.

If you can’t sell your journalism, sell controversy

I’m in the nation’s capital, as I am from time to time when the rigorous requirements of my job demand it, and I picked up a copy of the Baltimore Sun. (I like to see what’s up in the city where my alma matter is located.) It was the usual bit of this and that, with the mayor resigning, a ton of people coming out of the woodwork to try and replace her, and more violence in the streets. Then I saw that someone had tweeted an article from the Baltimore Sun to a friend of mine… And then my blood boiled.

To call it an “article” is too much. It was an opinion piece by William Reichel and Emily Tarsell from Timonium, Maryland. It has a ton of misinformation about the HPV vaccine. The usual tropes about how the vaccine is not safe, is not effective, causes too many deaths and disabilities. If they had the space to write it, these two would have probably blamed the Kennedy assassination on it.

Dr. Jen Gunter (an awesome, brilliant medical writer and physician) wrote a lengthy rebuttal of Reichel and Tarsell’s nonsense. In it, she goes point-by-motherf*cking-point over the whole thing and demolishes it. The opinion piece is so full of inconsistencies that I’m beginning to wonder if William Reichel really is a doctor. Because, he’s a doctor.

See, the opinion piece omits the titles of the people who wrote it, but they submitted it to an anti-vaccine website a month ago and clearly show the titles of the two people. Furthermore, in the antivaccine site, they post links and “references” to articles about cervical cancer and vaccines from three years ago (or longer). Just their first claim, that the vaccine has “never” been shown to prevent cervical cancer is an enormous lie. (Or it’s a lack of researching more recent findings about the vaccine’s ability to reduce the rate of cervical cancer precursors in women who were vaccinated compared to women who were not, which they’ll probably chalk up to better vaginal sanitation or something.)

First, who is Emily Tarsell? She’s a board member of an anti-vaccine organization and has stated that her child died from an HPV vaccine reaction. She also published “research” in the form of data analysis of a questionnaire and outright dumpster-diving of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. She was even interviewed by Katie Couric because, you know, ratings. Something happened to her child, sadly, and she has swallowed the anti-vaccine hook, line and sinker.

And William Reichel? He’s thanked in the “paper” published by Emily that I mentioned previously. (Seriously, they interviewed about 40 people who were not selected at random for any kind of adverse event after the vaccine and, surprise, found that the vaccine is made from Satan’s sperm is dangerous.) Anyway, he’s been a darling of the anti-vaccine legions for a while. Back in 2011, he apparently sent Senator Barbara Mikulski a letter about his concerns with the HPV vaccine. In it, he states that he is personally concerned about the vaccine. He signs the letter by identifying himself as an affiliated scholar of a center for bioethics. I guess ethics don’t apply if you’re anti-vaccine.

Oh, have no doubt in your head that these two are anti-vaccine. They’re collaborating with anti-vaccine activists. They ignore some very good, very solid research on the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. And they play the anti-vaccine card of finding causation between vaccine administration and severe effects (like death) when, at worst, there is an association and, at best, there is nothing there. (See what I did there with the whole worst/best thing?)

What really grinds my gears is the Baltimore Sun’s willingness to publish this nonsense. I’m sure that they’ll say that it’s an opinion piece, and that it wasn’t written by a journalist. (It wasn’t written by an objective person, that’s for damned sure.) But why publish dangerous misinformation? If I were the parent of a teen, and I didn’t know anything about the vaccine, I’d be thinking twice about whether or not to give my teen the vaccine. I’d be wondering if there is any truth to what these two have written. I’d probably Google them and then go down a dark path that would end in my teen getting, at best, genital warts one day or, at worst, cervical/penile/anorectal/throat cancer.

It’s not the first time that the Baltimore Sun has published an anti-vaccine piece. I guess that, if you can’t sell your journalism, you gotta sell controversy.

This is why we will never get rid of tuberculosis and other diseases

After Ren had his information illegally (in my non-lawyer opinion) posted on the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” Facebook page, I decided to dive into that cesspool and see what other kinds of stupidity were there. One of the first posts I read in that sea of stupidity was this post from a woman’ we’ll call “HS” (though you can see her name if you choose to click on the link):


If the stupidity of her comment doesn’t come through right away, let me explain. Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease of the lungs that is very infectious. All you need is to share some sort of space with a person with TB to get infected. You might feel fine for a while, but TB eventually evades your immune system and you get active TB. With active TB, you are free to infect others and keep alive this disease that has been around for thousands of years and killing millions of people. Soon after it goes active, TB will destroy your lungs and continue to propagate throughout your body. If you’re lucky and live in a place where you can have access to care, you get antibiotics and eventually get better, though not without losing a lot of lung function. If you’re really unlucky, you get disseminated TB that eats up your bones, brain, etc. And, if you’re lucky after that, you die.

In developed nations, TB can be detected and treated quickly and effectively. You get a skin test or a blood test for screening, and then you get antibiotics for a few months if you’re positive. The antibiotics need to be given for a few months because tuberculosis is a slow-growing organism, and just a few bacteria cells evading your immune system or the antibiotics can really do a number on you. In developing nations, TB can be more complicated. There is difficulty accessing screening and treatment, and housing conditions can be such that TB spreads easily.

So why should HS worry if her immune system is doing a heck of a job keeping the TB in check, as she says? Because the immune system can only do so much. It’s not as if the bacteria have stopped multiplying. The bacteria are just encased in a tubercle created by the immune reaction. Should the immune system be recruited to do something else, or be toned down because of something like pregnancy, allergy medication, or administration of steroids, then the tubercle is no longer held up and the bacteria run free, kicking off the active infection I described above.

But HS shouldn’t worry, right? “TJM” and others have given her all sorts of assurances that she will be fine. None of the people who have done so are licensed healthcare providers as far as their Facebook profiles are concerned. And I’m willing to bet that they’re not licensed healthcare providers because any provider worth their salt would not give her idiotic advice such as:

“Think about seeing a naturopath or homeopath for remedy.”

Neither homeopathy nor naturopathy have been proven effective against TB.

“Almost everyone who goes through medical school (or a lot of the students who complete medical school, incl. probably your own doctor) test positive on the tyne/skin scratch test for TB by the time of graduation … I know of none of these doctors who ever either developed TB or even worried about it.”

They don’t worry about it because they take the antibiotics and are clear of it. Should they test positive again, they take the antibiotics again. They know better.

“Dont know where you live but the big hospitals…cleveland and mayo…clinics now mix traditional and holistic meds…drs…you might try one of the two hospitals.”

If Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic treat TB with anything other than antibiotics, they will probably have a lot of explaining to do to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and to their respective medical boards.

“antibiotics harm your immune system”

Two people like that stupid statement, sadly.

“Look into herbs. I’m sure an herbalist could help you fight this!!”

That’s probably why there is such a huge incidence of TB in cultures that rely mostly on herbal and traditional medicine.

HS is not the only one being taken for a ride in that echo chamber.

Here’s someone we’ll call “AA” whose son appears to be having some lung problems:


What do the healthcare experts in the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” recommend for her to do?

“Do a search on holistic remedies!! If you only do a search for help with pneumonia, you only get the same kind of results from Dr’s you may consult. But, if you search with the words holistic remedies or approach, you get a lot of new and in my opinion much more valuable and effective information!!”

In her opinion? Yeah, you should always follow the opinion of anti-vaccine, 9/11 truther strangers on the internet.

“Get a doctor to give him IV vit C and also give him Liposomal vit C. I’ve heard wonderful things about vit c lately, particularly in regard of respiratory problems”

Liposomal vitamin C? Don’t Google for it. You’ll want to poke your eyes out.

“If it was me I’d be nebulizing colloidal silver for a bacterial lung infection. I haven’t touched antibiotics in over fifteen years… a thought though, could he have whooping cough? (nebulizing CS is exactly what I’d do for whooping cough).”

I guess this person wants the baby to turn blue. I also went through a stretch of about 20 years where I didn’t need antibiotics. It was because I was young and fought off infections well. Now that I’m older, I need them mostly as prophylaxis because I’m going into some very “biologically active” areas around the world (and a couple here at home, but usually inside research facilities) where antibiotics keep me from getting some serious things.

“Cranberry tincture, franks toothache tincture, probiotics and mega doses of vit c!! I’m in the exact same boat! And at first they said phnemonia now it’s RSV, we were in hospital 2 days there drugs didn’t work! So they sent me home and I started my own schedule of meds! Day 4 she’s almost completely better!”

Imagine that! A child got better after four days, two of which were under the care of people who know what they’re doing. Amazing! It must have been the cranberry tincture. Ah, but when her son is sick, she rushes him to a children’s hospital.

And so on and so forth…

The Vaccine Resistance Movement Facebook page is chock-full of postings about how vaccines are evil, how vaccines are made to make us all sick, how reptilians rule the world, how 9/11 was an inside job, how the members of the VRM are the only ones in the whole wide world to be “awake,” etc. Their leader, a Canadian by the name of Joel Lord, is a guy who hasn’t heard a conspiracy that he didn’t like. For example, Ebola started with a malaria vaccine, because he says so.

The unfortunate thing for all of us is that these groups continue to propagate on Facebook and other social media. Echo chambers, secret (which aren’t really secret) and public, are disseminating some very dangerous information. In the case of HS above, she might develop active TB and infect dozens of people by the time it’s all said and done. In the case of AA, her child might die from a serious lung condition. But all that doesn’t seem to matter to people in those groups as long as others are “awakened” to the dangers of vaccines or some stupid idea like that.

Fortunately for me, these idiots will keep me employed and making good money for the rest of my life as I go from outbreak to outbreak, and teach from one public health program to the next. So I guess it’s a conflict of interest for me to try and stop them, but what the hell… I’ve made enough money already.