Girl kidnapped by anti-vaccine mom is rescued

A little girl who was kidnapped by her anti-vaccine mother has been found in good health in Florida, according to CNN. The story of the kidnapping was shown on “The Hunt,” a show about cold cases hosted by John Walsh. The mother left behind a note for her boyfriend when she kidnapped the child:

“Dear C, If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you, but I had to leave. I know she will be safer and happier with my family and I. Love, Meg and Lilly.”

And it wasn’t just the vaccines that she was worried about. Per the television show, she was also worried about other conspiracies and participated in gatherings of a Southern group that was all about going against the government and trying to live (or re-live) the Confederacy.

You never know who is listening or reading

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the anti-vaccine crowd is losing their collective minds over the so-called “CDC Whistleblower.” The CDC Whistleblower is a researcher by the name of William Thompson. Dr. Thompson made the mistake of confiding some of his anti-vaccine unease over some vaccine studies at CDC to BS Hooker, known anti-vaccine “researcher” who has a pending case before the vaccine court and would probably want nothing more than to have something (anything!) link vaccines to his son’s autism. If that failed theory doesn’t turn out to be true, there would probably be little else for BS Hooker to do on his spare time… Other than caring for his child, of course.

Bill Thompson had the genius idea of calling Hooker and saying, more or less, “Hey, Brian, I don’t understand vaccine studies very well, and you can probably help me muddy the waters a little more, being as how you’re not an epidemiologist and all.” To which Brian S. Hooker probably replied, “Sure thing, WT, I’ve been shitting on vaccine science for a bit. How about I give it another go?” And he did. Brian S. “BS” Hooker shat out an anti-vaccine paper of such poor quality that it was roundly criticized by several of us and then was properly retracted by the journal that published it.

Months after several phone calls from Thompson to Hooker were recorded by Hooker (legally, illegally, I don’t care), Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided that they were going to tell the world about this “whistleblower” and that his true identity was going to be revealed to the world as well. (That outing really made the kid angry, by the way. Poor kid. He can’t catch a break, and he can probably count his friends in one hand.) Once outed, Thompson had no option but to lawyer up and shut down his conversations with everyone and anyone about his anti-vaccine feelings about vaccines.

For a full discussion of this whole debacle, check out this post by Dr. David Gorski over at Science Based Medicine.

If this incident can teach us anything, it’s not that vaccines are bad, or that there are anti-vaccine-minded people working at CDC. As I told you in the last post, there can be anti-vaccine people in the darnedest of places. This incident should teach us to always be mindful of the things we say or do, even if we think we’re doing it in private, or to a small group of people we trust. We could say or do something that embarrasses us immensely, or makes us look bad in the eyes of others.

Imagine that, a life lesson from the anti-vaccine activists out there.

#SetecAstronomy

Breastfeeding advocate is anti-vaccine activist?

Of all the public health interventions the world has ever known, very few compare to breastfeeding… Wait, is breastfeeding a public health intervention? Yes and no. It isn’t because it’s something that is natural, and something that almost all women can do for their babies. Then again, it is because we have to remind women that breastfeeding is natural, and that they need to breastfeed their children.

Yes, there are women who cannot breastfeed for a variety of reasons. They either do not produce the right amount of milk, have an infection that could be passed to the child, or are taking a medication that could affect the child if it goes into the breastmilk. Sadly, there are women who are shamed away from breastfeeding, or they are somehow convinced that they shouldn’t breastfeed. In all of these situations, there are professionals out there who coach women on the right way to breastfeed and the necessity of breastmilk for the developing child.

So it should not come as a surprise that certain state and local governments issue handbooks on breastfeeding. For example, here is the one from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The history of this handbook is found within it:

“Nikki Lee, RN, BSN, Mother of 2, MS, IBCLC, CCE, CIMI, ANLC, CKC and Marjorie Scharf, RD, Mother of 3, MPH, created the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook in 1992, inspired by Holly Lucard, BA, Mother of 3, IBCLC, who organized information about breastfeeding resources in the Philadelphia area for the Nursing Mothers’ Advisory Council. Thanks go to Kay Hoover, M.Ed, Mother of 3, IBCLC, FILCA, who, for nearly 13 years as lactation consultant for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, served (and continues to serve) breastfeeding dyads and healthcare professionals with love and the highest level of professional practice.”

Pay attention to the name “Nikki Lee.” She’s going to be important in a little bit. (And I bet you know where this is going, right?)

Maryland also had a 2005 version of the breastfeeding handbook. In it, the authors thank the original handbook:

“This handbook used the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook (9th edition 1999) as a model. Many thanks to Nikki Lee, RN, MSN, IBCLC, ICCE and Marjorie Scharf, RD, MPH who created the original Philadelphia Breastfeeding Resource Handbook. Special thanks to Kay Hoover, M Ed, IBCLC for sharing the innumerable resources and her support of this project.”

Again, Nikki Lee, RN, MSN, IBCLC, ICCE is thanked. Have you guessed what I’m on about?

Nikki Lee has a website and a Facebook page. You can google her site. I’m not going to drive traffic to it. Her Facebook page, on the other hand, caught my attention because of some of the postings on it. In one posting, Nikki Lee, breastmilk expert, states this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 8.53.43 PM

Craniosacral therapy? What the heck is that? Let’s read from the Quackwatch entry on it:

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is one of many terms used to describe a various methods based on fanciful claims that:

  • The human brain makes rhythmic movements at a rate of 10 to 14 cycles per minute, a periodicity unrelated to breathing or heart rate.
  • Small cranial pulsations can be felt with the fingertips.
  • Restriction of movement of the cranial sutures (where the skull bones meet) interfere with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and cause disease.
  • Diseases can be diagnosed by detecting aberrations in this rhythm.
  • Pain (especially of the jaw joint) and many other ailments can be remedied by pressing on the skull bones.Most practitioners are osteopaths, massage therapists, chiropractors, dentists, or physical therapists. The other terms used to describe what they do include cranial osteopathy, cranial therapy, bio cranial therapy, and two chiropractic variants called craniopathy and sacro occipital technique (SOT).

In other words, it’s bullshit, but Nikki Lee promotes it on her Facebook page as something that could be helpful. It’s not. The page that she links to from Facebook says this about this quackery:

“Craniosacral therapy works on three levels. First, it stimulates the parasympathetic system, our relaxation system. This is very important, as so many of us are in a hypersympathetic state that we never allow ourselves to rest. Second, it assists the body to normalize function in any system in the body, based on the idea that the body knows best how to heal itself. Third, craniosacral therapy can tap into what can be called ‘connective tissue memory.’ Basically, any trauma that we experience in life, whether physical, mental or emotional, gets stored in our tissues. In a sense, we freeze during trauma and never shake it off.”

You could be asking yourself what the harm is in this. In the next paragraph, we are told that a “Dr. Lisa M. Chavez” showed that craniosacral therapy helped a group of Tibetan political exiles deal with their post-traumatic stress disorder. “Dr. Lisa M. Chavez” is not a naturopath. She’s as much a doctor a chiropractor.

Breastmilk cocktails all around!

Breastmilk cocktails all around!

Speaking of chiropractors…

A mommy blog had an interview with Nikki Lee, and this is what she had to say about chiropractic:

“Chiropractors are licensed health care providers who work on the spine, the vertebrae and the joints in a signature strategy called an adjustment. The purpose of adjustment is to restore joint mobility and reduce nerve compression. Adjustment is done by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become misaligned or dislocated. Restrictions and misalignments can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, an automobile accident, a difficult birth, or by prolonged repetitive movement. Such trauma affects joints, causing inflammation, pain, and diminished function. Adjustment of the affected joint and tissues moves the joint into alignment, and restores mobility, alleviates pain and muscle tightness, and allows tissues to heal. The controlled force, from light fingertip manipulation to directed high velocity touch, varies with the style of practitioner, and the situation.”

It is a very, very, very, very bad idea to practice chiropractic manipulation in children.

Reading the rest of that interview, I became convinced that Nikki Lee believes in all of these scientifically unproven “therapies” and recommends them loudly and proudly. Just read her thing on acupuncture. Acupuncture!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.13.22 PM

What’s next? She’s anti-vaccine? Well…

This is what Nikki Lee had to say about vaccines:

“The immunization decision is a complex one to make. How can mothers trust a healthcare provider when situations occur as with the rotavirus vaccine? That vaccine was approved in July 2001 and taken off the market November 2001, as it was implicated in a number of infant deaths. As some news reports indicated, data from certain international clinical trials was not considered during the approval process for this vaccine. How can one trust when egregious errors like that occur?

I remember the major reason for development of the chickenpox vaccine was to decrease the amount of time women had to take away from work to care for sick children, not for any health benefit.

When literature from around world repeatedly concludes that artificial feeding leads to the most death and morbidity in infants and children, it makes more sense for the US government to put a significant portion of the money spent on vaccines towards breastfeeding support and protection. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, then continuing after the introduction of complementary foods for at least a year, and thereafter as long as mother and baby are content with the relationship would do more and cost less to reduce the costs of infant illness.”

The whole thing with the failed rotavirus vaccine comes up time and time again in the anti-vaccine playbook because it is one of very few examples where a vaccine was proven to cause harm. Even then, it was also proven to prevent a ton of rotavirus. (We since then have a much better and safer vaccine.) And that’s not counting the dozens of other vaccines that are very safe and very effective.

So then I went to her website and looked up the term “Vaccine,” and, oh boy!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.17.25 PM

In a post titled ““Trust me” said the doctor. “It’s perfectly safe.””, Nikki gives us a laundry list of things that were once thought to be safe but weren’t. Sure, many of them are things that were thought safe because they were never tested for safety. (And she doesn’t mention what quacks have said is safe but has been proven to be less than.) There was no rigorous science behind the stuff she complains about, but that doesn’t stop her from then saying this about vaccines:

“There are more examples than these of how medical recommendations about new devices, drugs, and practices have turned out to be not only wrong, but terribly injurious and even fatal decades later.
Now the public is asked to believe that 49 doses of vaccines given to babies before starting school is perfectly safe. And, that it is a good idea to give more vaccines to everybody, children and adults alike.
How can they know that this is safe? Where are the studies showing that giving babies 8 different types of vaccinations will be safe when those babies are in their 50s and 60s? Where are the studies looking at the impact of vaccinations on the gut microbiome? Or the developing immune system? Where are the studies showing that it is safe to inject aluminum salts into our babies, along with formaldehyde, mercury compounds (still in the flu vaccines), and human proteins from aborted fetuses? Pregnant women are now advised to be vaccinated to protect their infants, despite the package insert saying that there is no research showing this practice to be safe.”

You have to remember that this is a nurse writing this, Nurse Nikki Lee, breastfeeding consultant, someone to whom health departments go for guidance on how to keep babies safe and healthy.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.21.00 PM

In another post, this one titled “A new view of germs”, Nikki Lee has this to say about antibiotics and vaccines:

“Now the scientific journals are full of amazing new ideas.The amniotic fluid, the placenta, and the mamma’s milk are all full of germs that are good for the baby and the mamma. I still find it difficult to visualize this new idea. This is the nature of things. Humans are only now discovering this, Humans have been, since the time of Descartes, working to control and manipulate their environment. Learning about the importance of germs is a completely 180-degree turn, and a shock.
We thought, that by using antibiotics and vaccines, we would get rid of old germs like polio and rheumatic fever. Not only have we not, there are now new deadly germs like community acquired MRSA and HIV. Reports tell us that polio is re-emerging because the resources ( refrigeration) are not sustainable, so vaccines can’t be kept cold. Figuring out how to solve this problem is a new challenge. Seems as though we have yet to be successful. Humans have yet to discover that as we are colonies of germs, the planet is colonies of its living citizens. Humans are as varied as any collections of germs. As germs are to us, we are like germs to the Earth. I want to be a helpful germ, like a mold that turns leaves back into soil. I wish all humans thought this.”

Did Nurse Nikki Lee tell us that HIV came about because we couldn’t control Polio? I’m sure I’m just reading her wrong. Maybe HIV came about because we use antibiotics? No, that can’t possibly be it. That’s too stupid a thought to even run it by my head. Yeah, I must be reading wrong.

But here’s the coup d’ grace:

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.23.59 PM

In it, Nikki Lee falls for the anti-vaccine tropes of “too many too soon,” “sick children everywhere!” and “the immune system can’t take it!”:

“When I was little, I hated going to the doctor for a “shot”; my parents took me anyway. By the time I was 6, I had received 7 vaccines. Today’s child, if following the recommended schedule, would receive at least 36 vaccines by age 6. So, are today’s children healthier? Is giving more vaccinations better than giving less?
In 1972, when I was in college studying nursing, a child with maturity-onset diabetes was an extremely rare occurrence. Today, according to the CDC, “Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older.”
When I was growing up in the 1950s, none of my peers was overweight or obese. Today, according to the CDC, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.””

We’re fat because vaccines, people! Open your eyes! It’s not that we’ve gotten better at diagnosing children with diabetes so that they don’t up and die of unknown causes. It’s not that we have more sedentary lifestyles and high-calorie foods. No, it’s the vaccines. It’s always the vaccines.

The rest of that post goes on to talk about this journal article as evidence that the immune system gets “overloaded” by vaccines. In that paper, the authors shot up mice with a variety of different antigens at very close time intervals. And I’m talking a lot of antigens from different sources:

“Mice (8 weeks-old) were immunized with 25 µg SEB (Toxin Technologies, Sarasota, FL), 500 µg OVA (grade V; Sigma, St. Louis, MO), 100 µg KLH (Sigma) or PBS by means of i.p. injection every 5 d…

For adoptive cell transfer, B, T, CD4+ T and CD8+ T cells were isolated from spleens to >90% purity using MACS beads (Miltenyi Biotec, Germany). The cells were transferred into naïve BALB/c or β2m-deficient mice via i.p. (5×106/mouse) or i.v. (2.5×107/mouse) injection. The recipients received a single i.p. injection of 25 µg SEB or 500 µg OVA 24 h after cell transfer, and sera, urine and organ of recipients were studied 2 weeks afterwards.

BALB/c mice were injected i.p. with 200 µg anti-CD4 antibody (GK1.5; BioLegend) to deplete CD4+ T cell 24 h after immunization 8× with OVA. Four days later, CD4+ T cells from mice immunized 12× with KLH were transferred to the CD4+ T-depleted mice. The recipient mice received a single i.p. injection of 100 µg KLH 24 h after the cell transfer.”

So, because genetically modified mice reacted in a certain way to an overloading of injected antigens, we humans must react the same way to vaccines. Makes sense since humans are so much like humans. I mean, I have an enormous craving for cheese right now.

All joking aside, mice models are a good starting point for biomedical studies, but you are a fool if you draw conclusions on human physiology from what you see in mice models. Primate models are a whole other thing. Phase I or II clinical trials, yeah, okay, you can draw a ton from that. But mice models? Hardly. It’s only a place to start and move forward, not a place to draw conclusions.

But, if you want to talk about antigen overload, just look at any child who scrapes their knee on the ground. Have you ever seen soil under the microscope? There are bacteria, viruses, and insects. The child who scrapes their knee on the ground and gets dirt in it need only reasonably wash it with soap and water. What about babies?

What about them? Babies have a remarkable immune system of their own. They go from a sterile environment in the womb to our dirty world in a matter of minutes, and they fight it all off very well. They do so because they get antibodies from mom in the womb, and they also get antibodies from breastmilk. But Nikki Lee should know that, right?

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.38.59 PM

Of course, Nikki Lee also seems to subscribe to the idea that a vaccine that works only some of the time must not work any of the time. She even makes fun of gambling addicts when talking about the flu vaccine. Yeah, the flu vaccine is not the best thing we have, but it still is the best thing we have. I wonder if Nikki Lee would say that no women should breastfeed if not all women can breastfeed?

Anti-Vaccine Bingo!

Anti-Vaccine Bingo!

As far as I can tell, Nikki Lee works for a Department of Public Health. You can use Google to find her email and phone number at the office. I’m not going to publish it here. I’m also not going to call for her to lose her job. That’s not my style and it is something that I detest.

Instead, I wrote this post to show to you that people like Nikki Lee are out there. They have all the right credentials and do all sorts of “good” work. They get recognized by others in public health. However, some of these people have a darker side to them, from a public health point of view. In Nikki Lee’s case, she is anti-vaccine. (If she is not, she has fooled me.) She believes RFK Jr. that vaccines with thimerosal cause autism. She believes that Dr. Paul Offit is still getting money from his rotavirus vaccine. (He isn’t. He’s donated the patent.) She posts on her Facebook page, website, and on Twitter all sorts of anti-vaccine articles, and other articles promoting “alternative medicine” (which isn’t medicine at all), and she does so with the authority of someone who should know better.

Be careful when you encounter these people. Don’t be afraid to counter their bullshit, even if they throw their CV and/or resumé at you. Having all those letters after your name doesn’t save you from being taken in by the dark side of the healing arts.

How sad that the Department of Public Health where she is listed as working hasn’t caught on to the likely damage she’s doing in promoting anti-vaccine views.

Anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right, maybe

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but mostly in the context of a good novel of movie. In real life, multi-national conspiracies that reach down all the way to the everyday person are pretty much non-existent. Sure, big companies can and do get together from time to time to map out their next moves, but such meetings are hardly private. One of the biggest and most powerful cartels in the world, OPEC, gets together and sets the price of oil. That right there is something that affects us all deeply. If they wanted to, they could jack up the price of a gallon of gasoline to a point so expensive that it would bring our economy to a screeching halt. It wouldn’t be in their best interest since the dollar is tied to their revenues, but they could do it if they lost the goddamned minds.

The same is true with “Big Pharma.” If Big Pharma wanted to kill all of us, fast or slow, their plans would become unraveled so fast that hardly anyone would get hurt. Now, I know that some of you reading this want to believe that pharmaceutical representatives get together and plot on how to hide evidence of drugs causing harm or drugs that cure cancer, but that’s just not the case. The biggest weakness in such plots would be the individuals involved in those plots.

Think about it. How much would you have to get paid to hide a complex plot to hurt people?

And the US Government? Come on! Have you seen the blunders by the over-blown bureaucracy we have going on? There are leaks about the government’s activities left and right. There are hardly any secrets any more because even the most powerful among us rely on less powerful people to get their evil deeds done, and those less powerful (in seeking more power) ask for fame and/or fortune to keep a plot going, making it all fall down. Seriously, for the US Government to have some big, convoluted project going on to deceive all of us is incredibly unlikely.

That’s were we are with vaccines. Even with the claims of a “whistleblower,” and “conflicts of interest” between pharmaceutical companies and the regulatory agencies that oversee them, the evidence of an autism-vaccine connection continues to be flimsy at best. With all of us walking around with smartphones, no one has video evidence of their child becoming autistic after being vaccinated? No one has before and after video of this, even with all the claims to the contrary?

Better yet, with all the money that hapless souls pour into sham treatments, none of that money has been used to coordinate the long-desired “vaccinated vs. unvaccinated” study that so many anti-vaccine advocates want? With the academic affiliations of all those anti-vaccine zealots with MD and PhD after their name, they can’t come up with a feasible study and conclusive results? If there’s a conspiracy somewhere, my money would be on the anti-vaccine machine trying to keep going their illusion of vaccines being bad. They’ve had all the chances to prove it, yet their papers keep being retracted for being so awfully incompetent.

The latest conspiracy is that “they” are killing anti-vaccine-friendly quacks. By “they” I mean “the government,” “Big Pharma,” or whatever conspiracy theory fits the order of the day. For example, Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreed died of a self-inflicted gunshot would to the chest days after his offices were raided by federal agents. The raid came as part of an investigation into the illegal and unethical use of a drug to “treat” autism. The drug was being manufactured in less-than-desirable conditions in Europe and shipped to Bradstreet. He would then use it on autistic children, with poor results and charging the parents a ton of cash. When the jig was up, he drove out into the boonies and offed himself.

Of course, it is not possible that Bradstreet would commit suicide. Other quacks, like Andrew Wakefield, say that Bradstreet had no reason to do this. Never mind the fact that his world was crumbling down, and that federal charges were sure to come along with civil suits for malpractice. Anti-vaccine activists are raising money to investigate the suicide further, because, true to form, they can’t live with the evidence that experts come up with. They have to stubbornly question everything that doesn’t fit into their narrative of the world.

Before and after Bradstreet, other “alt-med” practitioners have died under different circumstances. In the death of Dr. Amanda Crews, a man was arrested for her murder and those of others. Although her murder has been cleared, it doesn’t mean anything to the “true believers.” They’re eating up any mention of a death of someone associated with “holistic medicine” and chalk it up to a big conspiracy because, in a nation of over 320 million people, people dying from suicide after their world crumbles, or from frailty at old age, or from any number of other reasons means only one thing: The Government is killing them in collusion with other big groups.

Well, I’d like to start my own conspiracy for you, if I may. I’d like to start a conspiracy where anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right by using their own language:

Isn’t it eerie that so many physicians are dying so close in time to each other? Doesn’t it strike you as odd? In the last month, this trauma physician, this emergency physician, this other emergency physician, this pulmonologist, and this pediatric cancer specialist have all died. Pay no attention to the official causes of death, ladies and gentlemen, because the truth is out there. These physicians all died in a matter of the last month alone. That’s too much of a coincidence. And the fact that they died in different parts of the country points to a very powerful force behind their deaths.

My money’s on death as being that powerful force that touches (or will touch) every one of us, but you’re free to think for yourself and not be a sheeple. Open your eyes!

Just a quick update

Ah, the life of an epidemiologist. If I’m not responding to one thing, I’m responding to another. We always compare ourselves to firefighters because we sometimes sit around for hours or days and then spring into action when something goes down. Some of us are lucky enough to be thrown on a plane and flown to the other side of the world only to be thrown on another plane and flown to another part of the world. That cycle repeats over and over again, and it’s been repeating a lot lately for all the contributors to this blog.

So I just wanted to let you know that we’re still keeping an eye on all the non-believers and the mess that they have made. (By “non-believers,” I mean the anti-science zealots.) It’s just that time has been hard to come by lately, especially on long flights from one continent to another, and then catching up with personal lives once we get back home and before we’re sent elsewhere again.

I hope you understand.

Understanding your enemy to the point that you love them

I watched the movie “Ender’s Game” the other night along with some friends. In it, a child named Ender is chosen to take on the task of confronting an alien threat. He is chosen because of his intelligence and his ability to confront a threat immediately and disable it (e.g. killing) so prevent future attacks. This is shown in two scenes. In one, a bully confronts Ender and picks a fight. Ender wins the fight but continues to beat the bully, killing him. (Ender is never told that the bully dies.) In another scene, another bully picks a fight with Ender in a shower room. Ender offers a diplomatic solution, telling the bully that Ender will lie and say that the bully won the fight. The bully wants none of that, so Ender defends himself and nearly kills the bully.

After the second incident, Ender goes to Earth to talk to his sister. He tells his sister that the military is training him to kill the alien threat, but, in doing so, the military is also allowing Ender to understand his enemy. He and his sister agree that understanding his enemy allows Ender to love his enemy. In essence, when you think like your enemy, you love your enemy because you also come to know how your enemy loves themselves. This is the position I find myself tonight, as I look out the window to a city that refuses to go to sleep.

In all this time that I’ve been confronting and refuting anti-science people in general, and anti-vaccine people in particular, I’ve come to learn more and more about them. Little by little, I’m starting to understand them, and, in doing so, I’m starting to care about them. I’m starting to “love” them, for lack of a better term.

Consider, for example, the anti-vaccine mom whose children are autistic. She has been told by people with medical and scientific credentials that her children’s autism is because of vaccines and nothing but vaccines. Sure, there are other explanations for the autism running in her family, but things like genetics and prenatal exposures put the blame on her. That, or they do not allow her to do anything about it. For that mother, treating or “curing” the genetic autism in her children would be like trying to change skin color. It’s doable, but ultimately futile.

Instead, if the autism is caused by vaccines, then maybe there is some “treatment” to detoxify her children. Or, if nothing more can be done, she can be an activist and spare other parents the “hardship” of having an autistic child. Because that’s another thing that you need to understand about our not-so-theoretical mother… She suffers in her heart and mind from having to deal with autistic children. In her world, mothering should have been a thing of joy and fulfillment, not a daily chore of adjustments and schedules.

Then I got to thinking about Andrew Jeremy Wakefield. Imagine living in that nightmare of a world. You go to school, work hard to make the grade and be a physician, get to be one, and then it all comes crumbling down. At that point, you would have a few choices to make. One choice would be to accept that you’re no longer a physician and move on to something else. Or you could do as Andrew Jeremy has done and continue to live the posh life, being adored by many fans who would come out in small-but-strong numbers to support you. You’d get compared to Jesus and to Nelson Mandela. You’d live in a mansion and travel the country to be adored even more, held in the highest regard (regardless of who the adoring fans are).

Or put yourself in the shoes of The Kid. From a very young age, your own mother tells you that vaccines made you the way that you are, and the way that you are doesn’t quite fit with the world around you. You’re bright, passionate, and can focus on things like a laser beam. Will you work to stop epidemics of disease around the world? No, you’d focus on vaccines and write things about them and the people who support their use, whether or not you had all the evidence you need to back up your assertions. You’d write even more when you realized that a lot of people agree with you and have nothing but praise for your writings. And you would attack anyone and everyone who dared question the way you think. Because, hey, you’ve been this way all your life due to those goddamned vaccines.

The list of people go on and on, and I find myself shaking my head at the things that say or write and the lies that they so wholeheartedly defend. Sure, it makes me angry when I see the damage to public health that they can do. Yeah, I get angry when they attack my friends and colleagues. And, of course, I get defensive when they accuse me of doing unethical and illegal things, even if they don’t have a shred of evidence against me. But for a few minutes after I do my research in order to counter them, I end up understanding them, and I feel the sadness/anger/despair that they feel. I can almost feel the horror that they feel in realizing that what they have said or done is a lie, and that they need to keep on doing it because acknowledging the truth means losing a lot of friends, a lot of admirers, and in some cases a lot of money.

If you’re an anti-vaccine activist reading this, know that I love you like you love yourself, because I’ve come to understand you. I’ve come to see how horrible it is to devote so much time and effort to a lost cause. Vaccines have been around for almost 300 years, and they will be here for 300 more. You and I will long be dead and buried and forgotten, and humanity will continue to vaccinate. Medical science will continue to move forward. And all those memes, and all that Twitter activity, and those blogs, and stealing pictures of people will not have made a single dent in the work that we in public health have been doing for decades.

God, it must be horrible to want to end vaccination and knowing that it’s only expanding and saving more lives. Big hugs to you, and I wish you peace.

joe_gooding_smear

Joe Gooding wants to smear you at all costs if you even hint at liking the idea of vaccination

UPDATED AT THE END, FOR THE LULZ

Don’t say I didn’t warn all of y’all. When you told me you wanted to defend science and look after the herd, I told you that people would come along and attack you personally, especially when they can’t put 2 brain cells together to come up with a coherent argument against vaccination. I also told you that they would come after your family, friends, and anyone else connected to you.

Alright, if I didn’t tell you then, I’m telling you now. People like Joe Gooding will come after you and post your personal picture (albeit altered) all over the net to raise anger against you. Who is Joe Gooding? Aside from probably the biggest douche this side of the Mississippi, Joe Gooding has a blog that is chock-full of anti-vaccine lies and misinformation. If you can dream up something (whatever it is) against vaccines, he’s probably covered it on his blog.

Correction. He hasn’t covered it on his blog. Others have. He just takes others’ work and puts it up on his blog.

Speaking of others’ work. Joe Gooding has taken a picture of Dorit Reiss and spread it far and wide on Twitter, because… Because he’s creepy, that’s why.

joe_gooding_dorit

He and his friends are hilariously trying to start up a hashtag to smear Dorit and others over their support of vaccines. Because, you see, if you own stock in GSK (a pharmaceutical company), then you have a conflict of interest for defending the science of all vaccines. In Joe Gooding’s world, all of “Big Pharma” is in cahoots, so it doesn’t matter if you support one vaccine or another. What matters is that you become a target, and Joe Gooding and his friends think that it’s okay.

joe_gooding_smear

Not only do they think it’s okay to post people’s pictures online and accuse them of all sorts of crazy things, they also think that they themselves are untouchable. I find this to be hilarious because just a few keystrokes can help anyone figure out who, or what, Joe Gooding is. And I can tell you that he is a nobody. Just another angry anti-vaccine cult member who likes to wax misogynistic online but would probably run and hide in person if, say, I were sitting here in Harrisburg, close enough to smell his stench… For example. I have better things to do in Harrisburg, though.

Joe Gooding is the kind of online bully who suffers, horribly, from the Dunning-Krueger effect. In essence, he thinks he knows better than actual experts, and he smears anyone he finds intellectually superior to him:

“As you may know, there is an ongoing intense public debate around the issue of Mandatory Vaccination. This debate has spilled over into social media forums, such as Twitter and Facebook, with passionate debate on both sides. However, the Pro-Forced Vaccine element has attempted to marginalize the Vaccine Choice supporters with the completely made up term “Anti-Vax”. They frequently link users to a site where this definition is articulated.”

Yet another deluded idiot who thinks his anti-vaccine views are not anti-vaccine. Big surprise.

“In an attempt to be balanced, I have created the term “Vax Shill” (#vaxshill) and will articulate it here. These are the characteristics and behaviors of those who would force vaccination upon you, which include, but are not limited to:”

I don’t think Joe Gooding knows what balanced is, because the list he spews off includes such unbalanced things as:

“Thinks Paul Offit is not a pile of shit liar, pays zero attention to any conflicts of interest, but doesn’t hold the same for those with opposing views.”

And,

“Uses ad hominem attacks when given any data, referring to individual as “Dunning Kruger”. Claims you must be a doctor or scientist to opine on vaccines or their safety.”

I don’t think Dunning-Kruger is an ad hominem. It’s calling a deluded idiot a deluded idiot, Joe Gooding. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Finally, this gem:

“Rejects religious freedom, gun ownership rights, and medical choice. Claims moral conscience is not a right to decline vaccination. Denies aborted fetal cells are in vaccines, until shown they are. Then admits to it.”

Because, you know, religious freedom and gun ownership are directly tied in to whether vaccines work or don’t. That’s the level of genius Joe Gooding puts on display. And his post above? His announcement of it on Twitter comes with this doctored picture, also of Dorit Reiss:

shill_picture

So don’t say I didn’t warn you when you decide to take on the anti-vaccine cult and their idiotic statements. They will go to your Facebook profile, pull out pictures of you and your family, read too much into comments and innuendo that others make about you, and they will smear you… They’ll smear the heart out of you.

burn_the_heart_out_of_you

Anti-vaccine cult members make the best villains.

UPDATE, Joe Gooding responds:

butthurt_joe_gooding

He blocked me on twitter and, from what I hear, is rubbing butt paste on his butthurt.

So now we know that Joe Gooding doesn’t know what “fascist” and “apocryphal” mean. For a libertarian, Tea Party, truther, birther, he doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of the English language.