Dr. Bob Sears in not anti-vaccine, except when he is, which is pretty much all the time

The last time I wrote about Dr. Bob Sears, pediatrician to the uninitiated, I told you about his anti-vaccine views and his anti-vaccine activism on Facebook. Let me make it clear to you that he is an administrator of an anti-vaccine Facebook page:

PAOAVThe page is titles “Parents and Others Against Vaccines.” If that is not anti-vaccine, I don’t know what is. We rational people have a mole in that group, and that’s how we learned of Dr. Bob Sears’ involvement. Yet it doesn’t take covert action to see his anti-vaccine ways. Dr. Bob Sears does the anti-vaccine thing quite well out in the open:

“IF YOU DIDN’T HATE PAUL OFFIT BEFORE . . .
I typically just ignore my critics. None of them are worth my time or emotional energy, and very few of them have anything scientifically worthwhile to say.
But I’m going to give a shout out to my colleague, Dr. Paul Offit, for his brilliant discussion on How to Handle Questions About Vaccine Safety. Every answer he gives is spot on and completely accurate in every way. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking, questioning vaccine safety. His answers are so complete, so truthful, and so without holes that any doctor who is blessed enough to read it will be thoroughly armed with irrefutable answers, and any parent who questions vaccine safety will be instantly converted to the truth.
I wonder just how many doctors believe the arguments he puts forth in his answers. Part of me hopes that most doctors out there aren’t that stupid. That it’s just a select few who are hard-core party-liners that have lied to themselves for so long that they actually believe this stuff. A few of his laughable highlights include:
“You don’t have to trust pharmaceutical companies.” Trust the side-effect reporting system.
Every year, 18,000 young children somehow, magically, caught hepatitis B every year before the vaccine came into use.
And don’t worry about all the side effects on the package insert – they didn’t really happen (ok, that was MY paraphrase)
And the real doozy: $2.8 billion in compensation to vaccine-injured people isn’t actually for those unfortunate enough to have been injured. It’s all just for lawyers to make money. No one has to prove their case in court, so these awards mean nothing.
Now we can all rest easy and completely vaccinate all of our children, on schedule, without a care in the world. Thanks Dr. Offit for helping us see the light!
Dr. Bob”

The word “hate” is quite strong to throw around lightly against Dr. Paul Offit, pediatrician and vaccine creator, especially when Dr. Offit has received threats against his life for promoting the use of vaccines to prevent horrible death and disease in children. But it’s not like Dr. Bob Sears thinks things through very well, is it?

If you’re initiated, then you recognize the common anti-vaccine techniques that Dr. Bob Sears is using:

  1. Doctors are part of a conspiracy: “That it’s just a select few who are hard-core party-liners that have lied to themselves for so long that they actually believe this stuff.”
  2. Vaccines didn’t save us and maybe vaccines cause the disease they’re intended to prevent: “Every year, 18,000 young children somehow, magically, caught hepatitis B every year before the vaccine came into use.”
  3. If it’s on the package insert, it must be true: “And don’t worry about all the side effects on the package insert – they didn’t really happen (ok, that was MY paraphrase)”
  4. Because money has been paid out with no contest through the vaccine court, then the government must be admitting to something: “$2.8 billion in compensation to vaccine-injured people isn’t actually for those unfortunate enough to have been injured.”

I’m not going to waste MY time in debunking Dr. Bob Sears’ laughable assertions. A physician who should know better, and one who lets one of his patients kick off a measles epidemic then lies (or forgets) about it is not worth anyone’s time. Even worse when they pose for a happy time picture with one of the most disgraced medical frauds in recent memory known as Andrew Jeremy Wakefield:

BFFs? (Dr. Bob Sears on the left, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield in the center)

What I see here is a clear example of professional jealousy. I’ll explain.

  • Dr. Paul Offit was part of a team who created a vaccine against Rotavirus, a virus that causes diarrhea and kills thousands of children a year around the world. Because of that vaccine, thousands of children have been saved. Thousands! Dr. Bob Sears, on the other hand, has not done such a thing and resorts to ad hominem attacks on social media to try and counter Dr. Offit’s credibility.
  • Dr. Paul Offit works at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a premier pediatric medicine institution. Dr. Bob Sears does not, and I’m willing to bet a month’s salary that Dr. Bob Sears could never get a job there, or anywhere where they take infectious disease of children seriously. What’s worse than an anti-vaccine pediatrician? Polio. Polio is worse.
  • Dr. Paul Offit could be living it up right now from the profits of the vaccine he helped create. Instead, he has given up all financial interests in that patent. He doesn’t make money from it. On the other hand, you know who makes money from vaccines? Dr. Bob Sears. Why? Because of his modified schedule, Dr. Bob Sears’ patients who want to “space out” their vaccines (a variation of the “too many too soon” anti-vaccine gambit) more than likely have to pay for each visit to his medical practice, or to the practice of their choice. Or, what, Dr. Bob Sears vaccinates for free? Besides, less (or no) vaccines mean sicker children, and those sick children go see pediatricians like Dr. Bob Sears.
  • Dr. Paul Offit has had dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles published. That’s a big deal if you want to call yourself an expert on something. You have to prove it in your research and your peers have to review and agree with you. Dr. Bob Sears? Not so much. I mean, he has sold hundred of thousands of copies of his anti-vaccine book, so…

One of the things I used to do in high school to impress “Pedro” (not her real name) was to act like I knew more than I did and did more than I did. Whenever some other suitor came around, I’d tell Pedro all about how the suitor was this or that. In essence, I talked smack. Then I turned 17 and realized that the true way to win a competition is to actually compete. With all the jealousy and “hate” that Dr. Bob Sears has against Dr. Paul Offit, one has to wonder about Dr. Bob Sears’ mental age. Is he trying to impress a girl or just the legion of anti-vaccine followers he has?

But, hey, I could be wrong. This could all be a misunderstanding and Dr. Bob Sears is not really anti-vaccine and doesn’t really administrate the Facebook group whose admin page links directly to his Facebook profile (something he would have had to approve of). If it is, I’d like to hear his side of the story.

What do you say, “Bob”?

When anger is disguised as activism

FYI: This is the fourth blog post that is not related to vaccines… Or is it?

It’s a tricky balance to listen to testimonies and be skeptical about them. On the one hand, you want to believe everything you’re hearing. You want to give the person the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word. On the other hand, if you are a reasonable person in a position of authority and you need to recommend or take action based on the information you’re being given, then you have do use your best judgment and separate the wheat from the chaff.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee recently held a meeting and public speakers were invited. The oral public comments are really something interesting to read. Yet something we need to keep in mind is that these are not the comments of unbiased people. Rather, they are the public comments of people who feel that they have been wronged or that they are currently being wronged by life, the government, members of the committee, etc. Keep that in mind should you want to read them.

My issue with this type of activism is that it is very negative, very angry. Consider this statement:

“Now the numbers continue to rise with little being done to find the cause or cure. My children acquired autism via toxins. We know based on medical tests the toxins were vaccines. Something needs to be done to prevent other children from such injuries. My children have no future. They are extremely affected. It was brought to my attention that some of the studies that this committee uses to base certain opinions were falsified and corruption was taking place. People need to be held accountable because children continue to be harmed.”

Indeed, children continue to be harmed because autistic children continue to be described as having “no future”.

But, if there is no passion, can there be activism and advocacy? Absolutely. Also, anger does not equal passion. Passion is motivation and desire to get something done, to pursue a goal. Anger? Anger just clouds judgment and gets nothing done. Anger only gets you in trouble and makes you sound like a loon (with all due respect).

So how do we take the testimony of an angry mom who sees no future in their living, breathing child who, by her testimony, plays hockey and travels? We take it with an enormous grain of salt.

So we did this trolling thing

Circumcision, like vaccination, is kind of a controversial issue, it appears. Unlike vaccination, circumcision is not one of those things that you’re required to do to send your child to school or to keep a population safe from communicable disease. (Yes, there is good evidence that HIV infection can be curbed by circumcision, but that’s for another post.) I became aware of “intactivists,” people who are activists about leaving boys intact (uncircumcised), during the vaccine wars. As it turns out, a lot of anti-vaccine people are also intactivists, sharing the fear and anger at the government and pharmaceutical/medical systems. Intactivists can be quite nasty, just like anti-vaccine activists. Continue reading

There are monsters under your bed, in your closet, and just about everywhere else

There’s this kid who is studying epidemiology. He means well by trying to learn a discipline where you get to learn how event B coming after event A doesn’t mean that A caused B. But that’s not how his brain seems to work. In his mind, there are monsters everywhere. There is nothing that happens by chance in his world. Everyone is connected, and everyone is against him.

When he wasn’t allowed in to harass his target of choice, he claimed that it was because Big Pharma considers an enormous threat. Here’s his explanation of why he was not allowed in (CFI is the “Center for Inquiry”, a skeptic group based in Washington, DC, where the kid goes to school:

“CFI’s pharmaceutical ties run deep. Dr. Jonathan Tobert – retired Merck scientist who developed the first statin drug – sits on CFI’s board of directors. Prior to his appointment to the board, he had already supported the organization for 30 years according to CFI’s website. For 24 of those 30 years, he was employed by Merck until retiring from the company in 2004 to join an FDA panel through that ever-revolving door between government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry. CFI president, bio“ethicist” Ronald Lindsay, headlined a recent conference with bio“ethicist” Arthur Caplan, director of the Penn Center for Bio“ethics.” Caplan chaired GlaxoSmithKline’s bio“ethics” advisory panel for three years and is vehemently opposed to vaccine choice.”

That’s right. Merck and GSK tremble at the thought of this kid. It doesn’t stop there, however. The conspiracy goes all the way to the White House.

When a PhD who is the father of a child with autism and has done research on autism was named to a federal committee on autism, the kid went off on a rant about it. Aside from all the ad hominem attacks, his rant included a conspiracy theory that the White House named the person on some twisted logic of ties and associations.

Perhaps not everyone is a monster in the mind of this kid. He absolutely worships the man whose fraudulent study brought about the fear of the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine. He worships this fraudulent man so much that the kid now sees an elaborate conspiracy behind a recent legal finding against his deity:

“Amy Clark Meachum, the judge who threw Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case out of district court by essentially saying that BMJ, Fiona Godlee and Brian Deer can libel him all they want since they are from the UK, is married to a lobbyist named Kurt Meachum of Philips & Meachum Public Affairs.

According to Texas Tribune Lobbyist’s directory, Kurt Meachum’s client, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, earned him $10,000-$25,000 in 2011 alone. What is the significance of this? Family physicians give many vaccinations as a considerable part of their practice. But that’s hardly the beginning of the story.

In 2010, the Texas Academy of Physicians sponsored a talk given by none other than Pharma Front Group President and Founder Alison Singer at a vaccine industry conference no less. Her group, “Autism Science Foundation,” was founded for the expressed purpose of discouraging vaccine-autism research. Despite telling parents to vaccinate recklessly at the 2010 Texas Immunization Summit, Singer split the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine in three separate shots for her second daughter, who does not have autism, unlike her first who received the combined shot.”

See that? The judge’s husband works for a PR firm that had the Texas Academy of Family Physicians as his client. The Texas Academy of Family Physicians had Alison Singer of the Autism Science Foundation as a speaker in 2010. And, because the Autism Science Foundation is a “Pharma Front Group” in this kid’s mind, then the judge ruled against the deity because…

Because…

Well, I really don’t know. How do that many degrees of separation represent a conflict of interest? Did Big Pharma pay money to Alison Singer in 2010 to speak to the Academy to influence their PR person to tell his wife to rule against the deity, when the [expletive deleted] deity didn’t file the suit until 2012?

Is that how it works?

It must be tough to live in that fearful little mind.

But that is the modus operandi of this silly little boy. He sees conspiracies and conflicts of interest and associations everywhere. They’re probably under his bed and in his closet.

When the disgraced son of a former politician wrote an anti-vaccine article and then the article was retracted (as it was full of misinformation), the kid saw a conspiracy.

When a reported at TIME magazine rightfully called his deity a fraud, the conspiracy behind that article went all the way to the United Kingdom.

And when CBS and the Huffington Post began publishing stories about the irresponsibility of anti-vaccine writers, the conspiracy there was that Big Pharma is making editorial decisions at those outfits.

And the motivation behind THIS blog post? I’m sure he’ll find out that Big Pharma paid the daughter of the wife of an immigration lawyer who represented my groundskeeper who did a hell of a job with my lawn… And that’s why I’m writing this. 😉

The More Things Change…

One of the issues that “The Poxes” will attempt to analyze (once the story starts on Oct 23) is the fact that the populace will complaint against authority in times of trouble, no matter what. Take a look at the following two pictures…

In both pictures, people are rallying and calling out the President of the United States based on what they perceive is wrong. In the case of George W. Bush, it was the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that really got people all riled up, not to mention his domestic policies. In the case of current President Obama, it’s the perception that he is too Liberal and that the US Government is out of control.

To be honest, the government was “out of control” in the Bush era. Heck, we had a whole new Department (of Homeland Security) created, not to mention the Patriot Act and the Director of National Intelligence. Just look at the budget and ensuing deficit. The Republicans have expanded the Government as much as the Democrats. But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is that there seems to be a threshold based on the economy or popular sentiment or the general state of things at which the people get all riled up about the government. If most of us are employed, have good credit, are buying houses, and are healthy, the sky’s the limit. The Government can do no wrong. On the other hand, if unemployment takes hold, the economy is bad, or there is some crisis that makes a lot of us sick or a lot of us not well-off, then the Government is our worst enemy.

And it’s not just in the United States, either.

On October 23, I will introduce to you a story out of my own mind but based very much on things that could happen. The first chapter is all about a crisis and how our protagonists and antagonists initially react to it. No, it’s not something as spectacular as September 11, 2011. However, the event in the first chapter is quite deadly and quite scary to the characters.

I really hope you like it, but I hold greater hopes that you can see that we really are one big crisis away from devolving into a pack of wild apes… Ready to take each other out for nothing.