I’ve tangled with anti-vaccine activists for a while now. It all started when I had to investigate a possible death from pertussis and I found out that the parents were misinformed about the whooping cough vaccine by one of those groups that have the word “information” in them. This was right before the 2009 flu pandemic. When that happened, I was appalled by the number of people even within healthcare and public health who were dubious of the H1N1 vaccine and were also misinformed by an “information” group and others who advocated for people to “do their own research.”
When I started this blog, I decided to make myself anonymous because of the experiences of a friend who was harassed and threatened with lawsuits by a couple of anti-vaccine people. He made the mistake of putting his name out there for the world because, he reasoned, if everyone knew who he was, they would believe his statements more than if he was just another nameless person. Me? I don’t care if you believe me or not. I care if you believe the facts I am presenting you, so I try to back them up with references and links whenever possible. This has worked well for me, but I got cocky.
I posted on this blog and on Facebook a picture of a wall sign from work. It was a picture showing the floor where I worked and where the office was, more or less. That was a mistake. I was told yesterday that someone called to ask if “Reuben Gaines” or “Edward Jenner” (my pseudonym on Facebook) worked there. When the person taking the call answered in the negative, the person making the call (a man with a foreign accent) complained that someone (me) was impersonating an epidemiologist.
I have two or three ideas of who the caller was, and I can’t help but wonder the obsession with finding out who I am in real life. Do they want to hurt me? My family? Do they want me out of a job? None of those things would ever stop te world from turning and science/medicine from moving forward. Even if I die right this instant, children would still get vaccinated and they would still not get autism from their vaccines. So why try?
The answer is simple. They’re trying because it distracts me from writing about the anti-vaccine and anti-science issues of the day, from being one more dissenting voice they have to contend with. That, and I believe that they want to have a monster under the bed, or a windmill, to be fearful of and fight against. Fear and anger are together the wind under their wings.
To those who continue to pry into who I am and what I do, I issue you a challenge. Counter my evidence and my facts and leave the personal out of it. Because, I assure you, you will not like it once you get to know me if you are an irrational, mindless anti-vaxxer. I can dish it out with the best of them. So shit or get off the pot, so to speak, and come at me with science, bro.