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.

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Working in the quote mine

If you’ve ever watched a politician speak, you might have noticed that they tend to be very, very careful with what they say. Most of them, anyway. They’re very careful with what they say because their opponents are quick to jump on the first little thing that doesn’t quite make sense. Remember John Kerry, our current Secretary of State and former Democratic candidate for President? He said that he voted for something before he voted against it. In the abstract, that sounds like a ludicrous statement. He sounded like a “flip-flopper” and the Republicans let him have it. When you look at what he did, you see that it was a procedural move to kill a bill. He voted for the bill in committee to then vote against it in the full Senate and kill it.

It makes sense to me, but it didn’t make sense to the masses of Republicans who brought flip-flops with them to Kerry’s rallies. They didn’t want to listen to reason, either. When people tried to explain to them why he did that, they basically covered their ears and ran away while screaming.

Anti-vaccine advocates are the same way. They’ll take something out of context and run with it, feeding it to the unsuspecting minds. The unsuspecting minds will then parrot what they’ve been fed without going to the source to make sure they’re not being fooled.

Take as a prime example the public statement by Dr. William Thompson from yesterday. Here is the full text:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—AUGUST 27, 2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph. D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where I have worked since 1998.

I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub-group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with the receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive emails that I have received over the last several days. I will not be answering questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data of development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists outside of the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted out of the building as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan, Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio.”

And here’s what the anti-vaccine people are saying about it:

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Note how none of them mention this from Dr. Thompson:

“I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.”

Of course they don’t disseminate that because it goes against everything they believe. They also don’t mention this:

“I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.”

That is, no mention of the betrayal of trust (and possible criminal action in recording someone without their knowledge) of Wakefield and BS Hooker.

The Drinking Thinking Moms also don’t mention that the findings were only statistically significant for African American boys. Most, if not all, of the children they claim were “lost” or “dead” or “stolen” by autism are white boys and white girls.

Of course, the moms are not the only ones lying by omission about this whole thing. Plenty of anti-vaccine people online have been flooding comments sections of blogs with falsehoods. They say that data were omitted when they weren’t. Others said that Dr. Thompson was escorted off the CDC campus when was not. And, of course, the loonier of the loons are blaming everything from the Illuminati to the Reptilians for this.

The worst of the worst, however, keep using racially-charged language over this, and they keep stoking something that I’m sure not even they want to see catch on fire.

 

How to end a scientist’s career with some fancy editing

I’ve been taking extra strength exedrin today, all day. I have this nagging headache. See, I get these headaches when I hear people lying. It’s like a superpower, except that it hurts worse as I hear more stupidity. The “Thinking Moms” decided that they were going to have a “Twitter Party.” Well, they don’t know how twitter works. They thought that creating an echo chamber of anti-vaccine people repeating the same hashtag (#CDCwhistleblower) would make said hashtag trend and attract regular Twitter users to their message of anti-vaccine madness. That’s not how it works. For something to trend and be featured on Twitter, you need to have a lot of individual people using that hashtag in their conversation. A dozen people writing it a thousand times has an impact factor of 12, whereas twelve-thousand people tweeting it just once has an impact factor of 12,000.

My headache only got stronger when I was directed to this video from who else but the “Autism Media Channel”:

(I wonder how many autistics work at the Autism Media Channel?)

Anyway, the video is more fancy editing from Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and his team. This time, we get to hear more snips and soundbites attributed to one Dr. William Thompson. As much as the anti-vaccine activists have been demanding that Dr. Thompson come out into the open and make some sort of a statement, no one seems to demand that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and his team publish the entire recorded conversation between Brian Hooker and Dr. Thompson. All we get are lies and innuendo. We have operatives like Ginger Taylor writing on Twitter that CDC deliberately didn’t look at birth certificates for African-American babies in the DeStefano study. Others keep repeating that the DeStefano study is like the Tuskegee study, where African-American men were deliberately denied penicillin when they had syphilis. It’s not.

Still others are saying that this is yet another form of abuse of African-Americans by the government, then they compare it to the unrest happening in Missouri. The even use imagery from the riots and of the teenager killed in Ferguson by a police officer. Again, autism to the anti-vaccine crowd is just like murder, just like death.

Yet none of them demand that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield release all the tapes. If I were running his public relations machine, I would probably do the same. Release little bits, edited ones, ones taken out of context, all to feed the masses who clamor for evidence where there is none, all to keep them worshipping their god. And it wouldn’t matter to me if I destroyed a scientist’s career, as long as the donations kept coming in and the sheeple kept up their deification and sanctification of Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, the godhead, and Brian S. Hooker, the priest.