If you’ve been fighting anti-vaccine nonsense as long as I have, there are really few things that will impress you. (And I don’t mean “impress” in a good way.) There’s not a lie or conspiracy theory that anti-vaccine activists won’t adhere to. Their own delusions of grandeur come through when they call themselves “vaccine experts” and then display a woeful ignorance about basic biology. This is the case with one Mr. Joel Lord from Vancouver, Canada. He is the founder of the “Vaccine Resistance Movement,” a “grass roots” movement to try and bring down vaccine programs everywhere.
Mr. Joel Lord has seemingly zero background in the biological sciences. I looked everywhere to see if and when he studied biology (or any science, really), and I came up with nothing. In his own page on his own site, he doesn’t mention any formal training in any kind of science. At least Andrew Jeremy Wakefield took the time to go through medical school. What has Mr. Joel Lord done? Seemingly, nothing.
If Mr. Joel Lord is reading this, he might tell us that, indeed, he is a PhD in immunology or something. But I doubt that he is. I doubt mostly because of his style of writing, which is sloppy and confuses different scientific terms. He thinks that ethyl and methyl mean the same thing. They don’t, and I learned that in high school. (So I’m left wondering if he even went to high school.)
What Mr. Joel Lord does have is a complete lack of self-awareness. Or, rather, maybe he is aware of who he is and what he is, and he just goes with it. When he was interviewed by Canadian media, he said this:
“It’s such a deep rabbit hole,” he told CTV News. “There are so many layers to this.”
Lord is a prolific writer, having published scores of articles on the VRM’s website. His organization held an anti-vaccine summit in Vancouver last year. He promotes what he calls a vaccine-free natural approach, because he believes the chemicals in vaccines are behind severe damage to children’s developing brains.
“Look into the eyes of a child who has been seriously damaged by these early childhood shots and you have to go no further,” he said.
That really tells us nothing, Mr. Joel Lord. There is zero evidence of anything in your words. You even confuse causation with association all over the place. Most people in an outbreak of pertussis are vaccinated? Well, yes, because most people are vaccinated, period. More people are vaccinated against chickenpox, but we’re seeing more shingles than ever. Well, yes, because the demographics in North America are shifting toward an older generation who had chickenpox as children and have not been exposed in a while because of the vaccine. Luckily, we have a good shingles vaccine for that. In other words, Mr. Joel Lord just doesn’t understand the big, scary world around him.
But I bet that Mr. Joel Lord knows a sucker when he sees one. Check this out from his Facebook page:
He wants to speak in our community! How cute. We have to make it happen, though. How? By paying for him to fly in, stay a couple of nights, pay him a “reasonable honorarium” and then get him back to Canada. Not only that, but the “reasonable” honorarium is “well below average for doctors in the field”. Fantastic! Could it because Mr. Joel Lord is not a doctor? Could it be cheaper for him to talk about vaccines because he is ignorant about basic science?
Sorry, Mr. Joel Lord, but I would probably get better information on science in general and vaccines in particular if I asked a high school student taking biology to come talk to my community. Seriously, Mr. Joel Lord, you’re embarrassing yourself. And that “study” you hope to conduct? I would be shocked in the most extreme if you could mention and discuss just ONE potential source of bias and how you plan to address it in your analysis. Just one.
Mr. Joel Lord, do you think your followers are idiots? No, don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question.