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.
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.