Just(in) the way Andrew Wakefield likes them

Pretend in your mind that you’re a grifter, a con man, a snake oil salesman. What kind of person is your target? Would you use your theatricality and deception on someone who knows better? Of course not. I am yet to hear of an oncologist with cancer who buys into alternative medicine to cure said cancer. (Though I’ve heard of oncologists who sell supplements and complementary and alternative medicine, SCAM, to their patients. There’s a special place in Hell for them, by the way.)

If you are a known fraud who likes to promote anti-vaccine nonsense, you are not going to go to infectious disease experts and try to sell them your lies. You’re also not going to go to responsible journalists who do their due diligence and study your claims thoroughly. And you are not going to go to a parent who has a meaningful and trusting relationship with their healthcare provider.

No, if you are Andrew Wakefield, you are going to target parents (preferably new ones) who don’t have the time to check your claims. Or you’ll target populations who already have a mistrust of the healthcare system because systems all around have failed them. If you want to get your story out to the world in order to attract more victims to your fraud, then you’ll get someone who is well versed in communications and doesn’t know better. If that person happens to be a new parent, even better. And if that person happens to have a following on social media, podcasts, and other media, and comes from a somewhat well known family, even better. You’ve hit the jackpot, Andrew Wakefield.

The other day, I told you about Justin Kanew and his descent into anti-vaccine thinking. Justin is the son of Jeff Kanew, a Hollywood big shot. Justin is a producer, actor, has competed in a reality show, and has a podcast. I don’t exactly how it happened, but Justin apparently woke up with the seed of doubt about vaccines one day and decided to ask some questions. To ask these questions, Justin apparently decided to invite some people to his podcast. To promote the podcast interviews, Justin somehow got a blog post up on one of the most anti-vaccine, hate-filled, anti-Semitic blogs around: Age of Autism.

His explanation seems simple:

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This shows the first characteristic of someone who Wakefield and other anti-vaccine loons will attract: Someone who doesn’t do their homework. When asked why he posted a blog post about his podcast on one of the most vile anti-vaccine sites around, Justin’s reply was that there are no other places to do it. Had he done his homework, he would have seen Matt Carey’s blog, History of Vaccines (which has some fabulous information for parents), The Scientific Parent (who actually want blog posts on issues affecting parents like Justin), and others. There are plenty of non-vile, non-anti-Semitic blogs where discussions are not moderated to death and where we welcome open discussions on some of the most controversial issues.

Further evidence that Justin didn’t do his homework is a link he used to reply to me on Twitter:

He called Paul Offit a boy, by the way. Anyway, he links to “Whale.to” which, if you’ve never heard of it, is a website that has postings to every known conspiracy theory out there. The “CBS News” piece that Justin is referring to is nothing more than anti-vaccine propaganda from one Sharyl Attkisson, a reporter who has also tried to justify the murder of an autistic child, among other really weird things she’s said from her apparent inability to work a computer.

Alright, so Justin doesn’t know how to do research. What else? Well, Justin is a new parent, so he has some fears about what is going into his child:

He has fears and he is asking questions (albeit, the wrong questions to the wrong people), so it’s not a surprise that the anti-vaccine cult would reach out to him and sound appealing. (Seriously, did he reach out to Age of Autism, or did someone there reach out to him?) After all, all anti-vaccine parents are not really anti-vaccine, don’t you know?

They’re “pro safe vaccine” because the Phase I, Phase II, Phase III and Phase IV, and post-marketing research studies are not enough to prove safety. The billions of doses of vaccines with relatively few side-effects and even fewer deaths are not enough to prove safety. The studies done by government agencies the world over (not just CDC), academics the world over (not just Hopkins), local and state health departments, drug companies, consumer safety organizations, and just standing around and seeing kids not dying from polio anymore are not enough to prove safety.

Nothing will never be enough as long as there is cash to be made from suckers unsuspecting parents with doubts and fears about their new snowflakes. And there is a lot of cash to be made. Brian S. Hooker, one of Wakefield’s partners on the recent misadventure of a documentary, has a case before the vaccine court. He stands to make cash from that. Age of Autism asks for donations and promotes supplements. Dr. Bob Sears (our douchebag “emerit-ass”) messes around with the vaccine schedule not because it’s based on any science of knowledge or understanding of immunology (as he himself clarified), but likely because each added visit to get a child vaccinated incurs and additional charge. And don’t get me started on all the books, conferences, and videos that generate revenue for something (vaccine-induced autism) that doesn’t exist.

The UFO and Yeti believers are really jealous.

To wrap it all up, here we have a new player in the anti-vaccine camp, a man by the name of Justin Kanew. He is a new father, and he has some goddamned questions that people better goddamn answer. But the people he is asking questions of are not, you know, scientists and researchers. No. He is asking questions of Andrew Wakefield (a known fraud), two unethical researchers who think that money given through the vaccine court is an admission of guilt (which shows how much Justin investigated the vaccine court), and a computer scientist who thinks we will ALL OF US be autistic soon enough due to vaccines.

Yep, to protect his child from the evils of Big Pharma, or whatever, Justin Kanew has set up to interview the very wrong people. If anything, Justin should be protecting his child from them. And the only person who is skeptical of the vaccine-autism claim, journalist Brian Deer, gets his interview spliced and diced by none other than Andrew Wakefield! (Mr. Deer had only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time allotted in the podcast, with Wakefield countering every point of the recording and not face-to-face.) What the hell, Justin?

Justin, you keep saying on Twitter that you’re not anti-vaccine, but how is it that you keep acting like it? How is it that you’re surrounding yourself with them and aligning yourself with their ideologies? How in the world can you expect us to believe that you’re not either fully committed to the anti-vaccine crowd or at least seriously considering it? And why did not you not serve your child’s best interest and do just a little more research into those questions you’re asking? And did you read Whale.to’s other articles (especially the ones about the Holocaust never happening) before deciding on promoting that sick and twisted website?

You don’t have to answer, Justin. They’re all rhetorical questions at this point because you’ve been extremely defensive, raising the “I’m pro safe vaccine” flag every time someone asks you to sit down and just jot down some notes from sites and publications that are not anti-vaccine. If you were to answer these questions, I’m sure it would be some form of “I’m just asking questions” (aka JAQ-ing off) or “I’m pro safe vaccine” or “I have my child’s best interests in mind, not the confirmation of my fears”, or something.

All of this is very disappointing because, as we have seen in years past with Ebola and now with Zika, health communication is very hard to do in an ocean of misinformation, fear and lies. Soon enough, blogs like Age of Autism and people like Andrew Wakefield will convince people like Justin (influential people with connections to communicators and communication machines in Hollywood) that the Zika vaccine (coming soon) is dangerous. If we, God willing, come up with an Ebola vaccine, the same anti-vaccine people will again reach out to Justin to deliver a message of “Don’t Do It! They’re Trying To Kill You!” that is hard to counter with a few public health grants. And then we’ll have Zika and Ebola and Measles and Polio to contend with.

As a public health worker, I’m happy to have job security like that. As someone who has seen dead children from vaccine-preventable diseases, it scares the shit out of me.

Read how someone becomes anti-vaccine

If you have ever wondered how the process works where someone goes from being an otherwise reasonable person to being anti-vaccine, this description by a prominent podcaster should be a good roadmap to the road to lunacy:

Let me say right up front that my wife and I have a 2-month old daughter, and that my #1 goal here is to learn as much as possible about how to care for her health, because if anything happened to her I honestly don’t know what I would do.

Until recently – like most people – I assumed vaccines were 100% safe, and I thought anyone who thought otherwise was dangerous and selfish, putting everyone else at risk. I thought this because I was told this, by many people, many times.

Okay. Then what happened, Justin?

The first chink in the armor was a conversation with a friend of mine whose grandson, he said, was developing normally, got the MMR shot at 15 months, dropped into a fever that night, regressed suddenly, and has had severe autism ever since.

Anecdotes. It’s always the anecdotes. But, to him, lots of anecdotes equal data:

His story seemed far-fetched, but my friend is no storyteller, and I soon learned he was not alone in this experience.

Now to be clear, we’re no strangers to the autism spectrum conversation- one of my best friends has Aspergers, and my wife is a BCBA who works with kids on the spectrum every single day… but digging deeper and hearing the many eerily similar stories of autism-related vaccine injuries from parent after parent was a new experience for us, and made me wonder where my self-assuredness about vaccine safety had come from– and, most importantly, why it seemed to be something nobody was allowed to talk about.

No one was allowed to talk about it, except all the people talking about it, all the scientists who have spent years looking into the autism-vaccine connection, and all the healthcare providers having to explain to their patients that autism is not related to vaccines. Yeah, that’s a bunch of nobodies. Justin continues:

Right after my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, we heard about the documentary “Vaxxed”, and how it had been yanked from the Tribeca Film Festival. We didn’t pay it much attention until we saw the Today Show interview with the usually quiet Robert Deniro who said he regretted pulling it, and seemed sure there was more to the story than people wanted to believe.

So we went and saw the movie for ourselves.

We learned about the CDC whistleblower no national media were covering.

We learned about CDC head Julie Gerberding going to work for Merck as head of immunizations after helping to cover up the MMR-autism link, and cashing out for millions.

We learned about the existence of the United States Vaccine Court, which has paid out over $3.5 Billion to vaccine-injured children.

Say what you will about the documentary, which we found to be eye-opening, these things in it were verifiably true, disturbing things- none of which guaranteed a link between vaccines and autism, but all of which called the “Vaccines are safe” and “Science is in” mantras into question.

Yes, Justin, the science is in. All of those things you listed, they’re all pseudoscientific claims. They’re things outside of science that want to discredit science. Just like global climate change is a “con job” according to Trump and others, the science of vaccines (and their alleged link to autism) is being discredited with a set of misdirection plays and misinformation campaigns.

For example, the whole CDC whistleblower has been thoroughly discredited. There was no destruction of evidence. The data all still exist. What was “destroyed” was trash and extraneous documentation of the studies. If the data were destroyed, then how is it that BS Hooker had it in hand to try and reproduce the study? (And an awful job he did at that.) Why is it that people like Matt Carey have all of the whistleblower documents? And, if the mainstream media isn’t covering this at all, then why are there articles all over in newspapers and online?

Face it, Justin, you have an idea of what mainstream media are, and it doesn’t fit the narrative. But that’s not the only lie you swallowed. You really think that Julie Gerberding went to work for Merck as a reward for “covering up” what wasn’t covered up? Seriously, go read the Di Stefano et al paper. There’s no cover up. There is a table right there in the paper that shows what the “whistleblower” stated about the MMR and African American boys.

As for the “whistleblower,” Dr. Thompson stated that he would not stop vaccinating, and that vaccines work and are a great public health contribution to society. He tried to coach BS Hooker into saying that thimerosal causes tics, but the MMR vaccine never had thimerosal. It was all a PR ploy to get attention, and it backfired phenomenally for Dr. Thompson, just like it’s backfiring now to Wakefield et al.

If you were just a tiny more responsible, Justin, you would have looked deeper into the claims about the vaccine court. See, the vaccine court is set up to hear claims from people who claim vaccine injuries. In the past (1990s, you were probably too young then), people wanted to sue vaccine manufacturers into oblivion over small things like a rash or a fever after a vaccine. They wanted millions and millions of dollars for a sore arm. When vaccine manufacturers decided that they were going to close up shop and move on to their more profitable products (like heart medication), the government stepped in and created the “vaccine court.” A prominent anti-vaccine zealot by the name of Barbara Loe Fischer helped in this process, by the way. She and other activists helped lobby for the “vaccine court”.

The court heard the evidence of causation between vaccines and conditions, and they set up a table of conditions for which a set amount of money was going to be paid, no questions asked. If you had X or Y happen to you after a vaccine, you got compensated, period. If you had bothered to look at the vaccine injury table from the courts, Justin, you would have seen that there is no mention there of autism. It’s called “due diligence,” Justin, and you should probably practice it.

And the people that Justin is interviewing? A hodge-podge of anti-vaccine lunatics (with the exception of Brian Deer):

In this first one, I talk to “VAXXED” producer Del Bigtree about the CDC whistleblower, and why Doctor Andrew Wakefield, the director of the movie, may not be “The Father of the Anti-Vaccine Movement” as most seem to think.

In the 2nd (coming soon), I talk to investigative journalist Brian Deer, the man responsible for discrediting Wakefield all those years ago.

In the 3rd (coming a little less soon, but still soon), I talk to Louis Conte and Mary Holland, each of whom has done a lot of scientific and common sense research, and the only viable conclusion they could reach is their children are vaccine-injured. They conducted a study with Pace University that learned the U.S. government has actually been paying out vaccine-injured children who *happen* to also have autism… for years… at least 80 cases that they know of.

In the 4th and final episode (coming a little after the 3rd), since I hadn’t spoken with an actual doctor, I talk to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, an MIT biologist who has been looking into this subject, and who feels the real culprit behind the skyrocketing autism numbers are the chemicals we use very cavalierly in our society… not just, but including, vaccines.

Four episodes and only one with a skeptic who is not a scientist.

Fail.

Justin tries to have it both ways in the end:

“This series of conversations taught me a lot about just how unsettled the debate on vaccine safety and the causal link between vaccines and autism really is. I hope you get as much out of them as I did.”

It’s unsettled in anti-vaccine circles. All of us scientist and public health workers and healthcare providers? We’ve settled. Vaccines do not cause autism, and to continue this foolish quest to link them (as you are doing now, Justin) is to waste the time and resources that could be better allocated toward helping autistics.

Finally, Justin claims that he is not anti-vaccine, that he is pro-safe-vaccine. That right there rounded out the anti-vaccine bingo for me. Although, to be honest, the fact that he posted this on an anti-vaccine blog should have been a bigger warning of what was to come in his post.

Too bad none of us skeptics can comment on that blog post. Age of Autism has made it a point to not allow any critical comments through. Maybe one or two do get through, but then the commenter gets banned. So much for bringing things out into the sun, huh, Justin?

Good luck with the loonies. Enjoy riding that wave of popularity.

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield wants rabies back

Known fraud and former physician, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, recently had a picture taken of himself with a dog and a sign. Here it is:

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Tip of the hat to Ren, who found the picture on Facebook.

Andrew Wakefield seems to be the kind of person who has gone so far off the deep end in his anti-vaccine crusade that he is willing to do almost anything to continue the conspiracy. The man has used race baiting in the past. He’s spliced audio for his latest faux documentary. So why not pose with a “vaccine injured” dog to get a couple more bucks?

As if making children sick wasn’t bad enough, anti-vaccine zealots have been on a campaign of spreading their nonsense to pet owners. They claim all sorts of things about vaccines for pets like they do with vaccines for children. No, seriously, they claim dogs can be “brain damaged” and become aggressive if they are vaccinated. And now, Andrew Wakefield, the one quack to rule them all, is buying into the con.

Seriously, the man doesn’t know a con he doesn’t like, I bet.

But what if rabies came back? How bad could it be, really? After all, water sanitation and proper hygiene should hold it back, right?

Not quite. Rabies is transmitted through the bite of warm-blooded mammals. In North America, raccoons and bats make up most of the transmissions in animals. Because we do a bang-up job of vaccinating dogs and cats, and identifying exposures in the wild, human rabies is unheard of in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In places in the world where the resources are not there for veterinary public health, rabies still kills a lot of people.

When you hear these anti-vaccine loons clamor for no more vaccines for pets, please remind them what rabies looks like on a dog:

(Caution. Graphic content.)

And that’s just the first stages before the dog completely loses it and becomes violent. Here’s a violent cat with rabies:

(Again, graphic.)

But this next video is why I applaud vaccine manufacturers and veterinary public health workers. Because of their efforts, you can take your pet outdoors and not have to worry about them coming back and biting you, infecting you, with rabies. And, if they do catch rabies and they do bite you, there’s a vaccine that stops the infection in its tracks and keeps you from dying. Because death is certain without vaccines.

(Graphic, of course.)

Look, maybe some vaccine-preventable diseases are not as deadly as others. Maybe. They still cause disability and physical sequelae. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that we as a society are okay with children being out of school and miserable with measles or chickenpox, and that we don’t care if children are born with deformities due to things like German measles.

But do you really want to gamble rabies? Do you really want your dog or cat to die from it like that? And do you want a person to die from it like that?

It looks like Andrew Wakefield does, and it doesn’t surprise me. He’ll do anything for glory and adulation from his followers.

Need a laugh? Read this anti-vax lawsuit.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m not a lawyer. My expertise comes from investigating infectious diseases, how they spread, who spreads them, that kind of stuff. So take the following criticism of an anti-vaccine cult’s lawsuit against California over vaccine requirements and just that, random criticism intended to bring out the sheer delusional stupidity of the people filing the suit and, sadly, their lawyer.

The plaintiff is a group calling itself “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” which is attempting to overturn Senate Bill 277, which passed recently and eliminated personal belief exemptions from vaccine requirements in California. In essence, the only way a parent can skip their child’s immunization requirements for school is if the child has a medical exemption. No more skipping shots because the parent has bought into anti-vaccine propaganda. No more skipping shots because the parent has some weirdo religious belief against vaccines.

As you can imagine, some people went nuts over the new law. Some even went as far as to threaten violence against those who supported the bill. The people who run “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” decided to do something less dangerous and hilarious. They filed the worst lawsuit I have ever read. Here is their site, and here is the lawsuit. Follow along.

As all good lawsuits should begin, this one starts off with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., then goes downhill from there:

“Prologue: “They can put anything they want in that vaccine and they have no accountability for it.” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

SB 277 removes the “personal beliefs” exemption as a basis for parents to opt-out of state mandated “immunization” requirements for schoolchildren. Plaintiffs oppose this tyrannical bill because it wrongfully places the interests of the national vaccine market above the interests of California children; and sadly, this is a symptom of a larger sickness that debilitates the nation. America stands alone; we are the only nation on Earth in which healthcare is dispensed first and foremost to create shareholder value, and only secondarily for health-related reasons, and even then, with little or no regard for patients’ rights as individuals.”

Again, I’m no expert, but I do believe that you must stick to the facts of the matter is you want to convince a judge or a jury that you’re serious about what you’re arguing and that you haven’t completely lost your goddamned mind. Notice that the bill is “tyrannical”, the Big Pharma shill gambit, and the “what about our rights?!” connotations.

It doesn’t stop there, however. We get hints of race-baiting a few sentences later:

“If SB 277 takes effect, California will be left with a decidedly “segregated” school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — where many children will suffer invidious discrimination based on “medical status” (a protected class under California law). Under a Brown vs. Board of Education analysis, such a bifurcated school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — reeks of “separate-but-equal,” and thus, cannot be allowed to stand. Under California law, segregation based on “medical status” is every bit as odious as segregation based on “race,” “creed” or “color.” “

Don’t you see that unvaccinated children will be bussed all-unvaccinated schools and treated like second-class citizens by the society around them? Of course, they won’t. The bill is basically telling parents that they have every right not to vaccinate, but they don’t have the right to place all children at risk by allowing their children to be vectors of disease. Their children can be homeschooled, or go to an private institution that allows such shenanigans (probably in some other state). However, public tax money will not be spent on children whose parents are irresponsible in protecting the health of all children.

Ah, but notice that the plaintiffs are being oppressed:

“Plaintiffs steadfastly refuse to surrender their constitutional right to exercise “personal beliefs” — i.e., their sincerely held philosophic, conscientious, and religious objections to State-mandated immunization; furthermore, Plaintiffs refuse to surrender their children’s constitutional right to go to school.”

Like any good lawyer, but in a bad way, the argument then turns to semantics:

“It is worth noting that SB 277 is conspicuously silent as to the words “vaccine” or “vaccination.” Remarkable as it sounds, neither the words “vaccine” nor “vaccination” ever appear at SB 277; and Plaintiffs were surprised when they learned this! Most notably, SB 277 uses only the term “immunization,” (but never
the term “vaccination”). And this is quite significant because, of course, there is a world of difference between “vaccination” and “immunization.”

The term “immunization” is a conclusion that a disease-fighting shield is in effect; whereas, by contrast, the term “vaccination” refers to a one-time medical event that (ostensibly) leads to “immunization.” The language of Sacramento lawmakers is clear and unambiguous — no vaccines required! SB 277 requires only “immunization,” and Plaintiffs’ children are already naturally “immunized.” “

Right. The whole “immunization” versus “vaccination” argument is one of the favorites by anti-vaccine zealots. They claim that not all vaccines lead to immunity, so vaccines are not immunizations. This is ignorance of science at its worst. Of course vaccines don’t always lead to immunity. Nothing in this world is 100% perfect. But the terms are interchangeable in the medical community and amongst laypeople. They’re just grasping at straws.

This part made me chuckle and shake my head:

“Science cannot explain “why” vaccines kill, nor can science predict “who” will next suffer vaccine injuries or “when.” Under a simple cost-benefit analysis, the “costs” associated with vaccines clearly outweigh any “benefit” — because vaccines come with no immunization guarantee and instead carry the very palpable risk of death.”

I hope the judge drags this lawyer into the courtroom and demands evidence that “science cannot explain ‘why’ vaccines kill.” Science can very much explain this. Some people, very few and very, very rarely, have bad reactions to vaccines. And an even smaller subset of those people do end up dying, unfortunately. But that very small number is not an excuse to endanger the rest of society by stopping immunizations… sorry, vaccinations… altogether. Furthermore, from effectivity and efficiency studies, science can very much guarantee what percentage of those receiving the vaccine… sorry, immunization… will become immune. Heck, we can even tell you with near certainty how long that immunity will last in the average person in an average community.

In an “epilogue” (EPILOGUE?), the lawyer writes: “Freedom means nothing if you can’t keep the government out of your body.” Except that this is not the government in your body. Not even close. This is the government telling people with weird anti-vaccine beliefs that they are not allowed to make others stick. They are not allowed to endanger public health for their own benefits.

After the weirdo epilogue, we get a description of the plaintiffs, and they’re rather interesting:

“Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, believes that vaccinations are extremely risky for everyone, especially infants and children. Her philosophy on immunity is that natural immunity is the safest and best kind of immunity we can acquire. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, breastfed her daughter for 30 months in order to pass on immunity, and to help her daughter fight disease while her immune system matured. Her daughter has been extremely healthy since the day she was born, with no immune issues whatsoever. Philosophically, TAMARA BUCK, believes it is important to continue on her child’s current vaccine-free path. Because her daughter will enter seventh grade this coming fall, it constitutes a new “grade span” under SB 277, which requires mandatory immunization; and unless she compromises her “personal beliefs,” her daughter will be denied the rest of her free public education based on SB 277. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, will be required to homeschool her daughter – and remain out of the work force, or relocate out of state.”

Poor, oppressed Tamara. Then there’s this doozy:

“Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, a Riverside County resident, is a 42-year old wife of a law enforcement officer, mother of two children, one of whom had severe vaccine reactions. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN’S two children are upstanding, honor roll students in the public school system, of which SHARON BROWN is an active financial contributor and weekly volunteer. SHARON BROWN is a degreed, working professional with 15 years’ experience in the engineering recruiting industry. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, is a Christian fiercely opposed to the practice of harvesting fetal cells from live babies for use in vaccines. SHARON BROWN, believes in a holistic lifestyle, rejecting genetically modified foods (GMOs), pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and other chemicals, as much as possible. In addition, SHARON BROWN believes that SB 277 violates her right to privacy by “outing” her family as non-vaccinators.”

Jesus Christ!

And then there’s this one:

“Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, a Butte County resident, is a 33-year-old single, low-income, Christian, mother of three children who have had most recommended vaccinations. All three of SARAH LUCAS’ children experienced vaccine failure or adverse physical reactions resulting in urgent care and ER visits. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, believes that, if her children aren’t immune by now, then that is a failure of the vaccines and failure to further vaccinate should not impact public school access. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, refuses to again put her healthy children in danger simply to exercise their fundamental right to a public education.”

This one convinces me that the lawyer has no clue of how to lawyer. If he did, he would have told Sarah that the children could get a medical exemption if the reaction to the vaccines occurred as is claimed. That would get them in the clear to go to school, and, if anything, puts them in the group of kids that need to be protected through herd immunity.

Seriously, who is this lawyer? Where did they go to school?

I have a suspicion that this lawsuit is going nowhere and that the plaintiffs are going to claim that the judge is somehow biased or bought, or whatever… Just like all the other anti-vaccine lawsuits that have gone nowhere and the plaintiffs shriek that there’s been foul play instead of acknowledging how ridiculous their claims are.

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The fantasies of the anti-vaccine crowd

I really feel bad for people who are deep into the anti-vaccine cult. It has got to be a horrible existence to have to explain away reality day after day. Vaccines do not cause autism, but they have to go to enormous lengths to try and convince themselves (and others) that vaccines do cause autism. They make really weird movies with really bad reviews. Then they show up in the comments section of the reviews to ask the reviewer how much they got paid by Big Bad Pharma to write the review. Because a mockumentary directed by a disgraced former physician who uses spliced audio as evidence of ultimate evil could not possibly get bad reviews.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they try to convince themselves that Robert De Niro is still a supporter of the mockumentary. For example, “Tanner’s Dad” (aka “Tim”) sent out a tweet stating that Robert De Niro and his wife went to the premiere of the mockumentary:

If you can’t tell it’s a photoshopped picture, here’s a picture from the original event:

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The original event was a gala for Autism Speaks. After it was explained to Tim that the photograph was photoshopped, he claimed it was a “cruel” April Fool’s joke… One sent on April 2. Again, you have someone trying to explain away reality.

This is par for the course for the anti-vax crowd. Reality: De Niro took back his support for the quackumentary. Anti-vax Fantasy: De Niro showed up at the quackumentary’s premiere. Reality: The picture is fake. Anti-vax Fantasy: It was a cruel joke. (The equivalent to “my account’s been hacked!”)

Reality: Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and was struck off the register. Anti-vax Fantasy: Big Pharma did it. Reality: Wakefield was trying to patent his own vaccine and discredit the existing one. AV Fantasy: Nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you!

Seriously, pay close attention to everything the anti-vaccine cult members write or do or say. They’re constantly trying to explain away reality any way they can. I can’t imagine it’s an easy thing to do. They must be exhausted, and it must be a very scary world. At every turn, reality pops up and slaps them across the face, and they find themselves having to explain it away all over again.

Andrew Wakefield’s biggest mistake (this month)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably missed all the commotion over ex-Doctor Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s anti-vaccine film being utterly rejected from the Tribeca Film Festival. Seriously, his 1998 case study of a handful of children which concluded that vaccines do not cause autism should have been rejected just as quickly. But beggars can’t be choosers.

 

So much for Anti-Vax Jesus.

jesus_trick

“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one.” – JB Handley

While Wakefield and his followers are almost literally crying over this hell of a setback, and crying about violations of their First Amendment right to freely express themselves as if YouTube wasn’t a thing, Andrew Jeremy has no one to blame but himself. Had he been a little more humble about the film being accepted into the Tribeca Film Festival, had he just put his ego aside and let the film be screened first before he went yelling from the mountaintop that it was accepted… Had he just kept his goddamned trap shut, he would have avoided this embarrassment of monumental proportions.

Seriously, Andy, if you’re reading this, I hope this is a lesson to you. Had you just stayed quiet, you could have been boasting today that your student AV club of a movie (with all of its lies and inconsistencies) was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. You could have had the movie seen by thousands (maybe) and then raise interest in distribution companies. You could have made a lot of cash, and it looks like you need it.

Instead, as is the case with everything that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield touches, his documentary film is now toxic. Only a fringe distribution company would pick it up at this point. (You know the kind, a distribution company that hires $1 theaters to show films to true believers.) Not only is Andrew Jeremy Wakefield not a doctor and not a film director, but he seems to be a horrible businessman as well.

Anyway, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield went and told the loonies to go and support the film. When Robert De Niro posted on Facebook that he supported the movie because, get this, he wanted a dialogue or something, the anti-vaccine weirdos showed up in force to counter the reasonable comments of scientists, skeptics, and bloggers. And, boy, did the antivaxxers make a spectacle of themselves.

There was everything in those comments. From claiming that everyone who supports vaccines and opposes Wakefield’s movie is in league with Big Bad Voodoo Pharma, to claiming that someone or some group threatened De Niro in order to get the film withdrawn. And the anti-vax bingo you can play with their comments. Jesus!

So it’s no wonder that even after talking to a US Representative for an hour (or so they claim), and after desperately trying to save his AV club film, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield failed to have the film screened. Seriously, how many more things does former doctor Wakefield need retracted for him to throw in the towel and go sell perfume at a mall in Egypt or something?

Poor Lord and Saviour Andy. He should have kept his mouth shut.

Let me tell you a story…

Spoiler alert: This story does not have a happy ending.

Back in 1932, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) decided that it would be a good idea to understand the natural history of syphilis infections. They wanted to know what happened to a human body when the infection took place, from beginning to tragic end. To that end, they “enrolled” 600 African-American men from Tuskegee, Alabama, into a study where the men would be given free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance.

Over the course of the next 40 years or so, this would become one of the most shameful episodes in the history of my profession. It was shameful for several reasons. First, the men in the study were not fully told what the study was about. They were not told that scientists would observe their bodies succumb to a disease. Second, when penicillin became widely available in the 1940’s (especially after World War II), the very effective antibiotic treatment that penicillin offered against syphilis was withheld from the study participants. Third, by the time the “study” was concluded in 1972, an untold number of men had died or been hurt by syphilis unnecessarily. Their wives were infected as well.

Some good did come from this, however. Because of this embarrassment, this abomination to science that was eclipsed only by the Nazi human experiments during the Holocaust, protections of human subjects in research studies (private and public) was finally codified into law. Today, you cannot have someone participate in a research study without their complete and fully informed consent, without the study benefiting the subject in some way, and without doing all that is possible to keep the subject from any harm. If you do something that violates these principles, the consequences can be very grave.

The story did not end with the class-action lawsuit that the Tuskegee participants launched against the US Government. It didn’t end when President Clinton apologized on behalf of the nation for that horrible crime. Oh, no. Thanks to the wild imaginations of people like Brian Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, the story continues today. Although, today, the perpetrators of the lies and deceit of the African-American community are not in the employ of the US Government. Today, it’s the anti-vaccine groups that are lying through their teeth so that Hooker wins his court case (and the sweet, sweet cash that comes with it), and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield gets some sweet cash donations for his next film.

After all, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield is now a filmmaker, don’t you know?

Yes, these two sorry excuses for human beings are telling the African-American community that the so-called “CDC Whistleblower” has “revealed” that a study by staff from the Immunization Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly shows that there is an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, and that this association is more pronounced in African-American male children than in any other group.

This is a bunch of baloney, as several people have explained here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and here.

In their long-winded speeches about what the “whistleblower” may or may not have said, neither BS Hooker nor Andrew Jeremy Wakefield mention how much money they stand to make from the whole thing. They don’t mention the mountains of evidence against them, either. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield never mentions how he is no longer a licensed physician anywhere in the world because of his elaborate fraud to try and link the MMR vaccine to autism when he was getting paid by lawyers to find that link (by any means necessary?) and how he was planning to patent a vaccine of his own to compete with the vaccine he was trying to destroy.

BS Hooker doesn’t tell people about his current case in the Vaccine Court and how he stands to get money if he wins it. It even seems that he goes one step further and not tell even the people he’s suckered into working with him about this, citing no conflicts of interests in his papers and being an “independent” researcher according to hack reporters he’s using to spread the “whistleblower” mythos. But, somehow, a study of children in Georgia done with full institutional review, adhering to the Belmont Principles, and whose results are clear and verifiable, somehow that study is the big lie being told to the African-American community?

Brian S. Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (and RFK Jr. and company) must think that African-Americans are stupid in general. There’s no other explanation for why they are proudly and openly lying about the “whistleblower.” If you look at the documents that the “whistleblower” passed on to Congress at the behest of Hooker and Wakefield (in the expectation that Congressional hearings would be called and someone would have a Perry Mason moment on the stand) there is nothing of substance in any of those documents. Even Ben Swann, the orange-colored not-so-super reporter who was fooled into making a YouTube video about this, kind of put out his video and then walked away.

But you know what is really the worst part of this? Hooker and Wakefield and friends do not tell African-Americans the very real consequences of not getting vaccinated. They are two fat, happy White men who have the resources available to get care if they get sick who are going around to communities of people whose access to care is less-than-appropriate telling people in those communities to forgo one of the most important ways of staying healthy. And, should it come to pass that any of those unvaccinated children are harmed by a vaccine-preventable disease, I bet you good money that both of these very privileged men will wash their hands of the whole thing.

Heck, I’ll even go one step further and predict that they will distance themselves from the Nation of Islam and other African-American-centric groups the minute they feel that they are not getting their money’s worth. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield already did it with the Somali community in Minnesota. He went up there and scared them away from the MMR vaccine, triggering a measles outbreak, and has not been back since. He might as well have mooned them when he heard there was a measles outbreak.

Yes, I’m blaming you, Andrew Jeremy, for the measles outbreak that hurt African-American children in Minnesota. And I’m not the only one. And now, I’m blaming you and your friend, BS Hooker, of scaring away an even wider audience of African-Americans from the one public health intervention that has not failed them, of trying to break the trust that we in public health have been trying to rebuild since Tuskegee, and of me, personally, being physically threatened over something that happened before my time and that you two despicable jerks are bringing up as if it is happening again.

Remember how I wrote up there that this story doesn’t have a happy ending? It really doesn’t. We all lose when lies and greed seed so much doubt and fear that people, even one person, gets hurt. Last time there was this much mistrust toward my profession was for a very good reason. This time, it’s because BS Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield seem to can’t do without that sweet, sweet, motherf*cking cash.

I hope they’re happy.