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Antivaccinationists: Pot. Kettle. Black. And scary, too.

Wow.

I just saw something that utterly stunned me over at that house organ of the mercury militia and antivaccinationists everywhere Age of Autism. It’s an example of hypocrisy so blatant that it stuns even me, someone who’s been following the whole pseudoscientific “vaccines cause autism” movement for over three years now. It started with this headline:

DR. OFFIT’S CONFLICT OF INTEREST SHOULD DISALLOW HIM FROM COMMENTING

Then, when The Probe quite reasonably points out in the comments:

Kim, since you are so concerned about conflicts of interest that you are willing to deny Dr. Offitt his right of free speech and press, I assume that you support the idea that any parent who is a claimant in the Omnibus Class Action should hold their comments, as they, too, have a conflict of interest.

Kim replies:

The reporter should at least mention Dr. Offit’s financial interest in vaccines along with his title at CHOP. If a parent involved in a legal case chooses to discuss it in a forum like this that’s their right too.

Dr. Offit is certainly allowed to have freedom of speech. He can write books, articles, get his quotes plastered in every paper in America. We plan to add the information that tends to be missing, however.

But wait a minute. What was the title of Kim’s post again? Oh, yeah, it was this:

DR. OFFIT’S CONFLICT OF INTEREST SHOULD DISALLOW HIM FROM COMMENTING

Nice to catch Kim lying so blatantly about what she clearly meant from the title.

In any case, I do so love the quote from Dr. Offit that so irritated the not-so-merry band of antivaccinationists over at AoA:

I think that what’s so endearing to me about the anti-vaccine people is they’re perfectly willing to go from one hypothesis to the next without a backward glance.

This is so true. Antivaccinationists are, if nothing else, very–shall we say?–flexible about what hypotheses of autism causation they will accept. The only absolute requirement they have for such hypotheses, of course, is that the hypothesis must somehow blame vaccines for autism, no matter how tangentially. Anything else is negotiable, as the Hannah Poling case taught us. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous or scientifically implausible (remember the Geiers’ “testosterone sheets” and mercury, for example) or how many high quality studies refute it (the concept that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in most childhood vaccines, for example), as long as the hypothesis somehow blames vaccines for autism, antivaccinationists will credulously gobble it up. It doesn’t even matter if the hypotheses they champion are mutually contradictory. To them, as long as a hypothesis somehow allows them to blame vaccines for autism, it’s all good.

What’s really scary, though, are some of the comments. For example, a commenter named Craig Willoughby issued what is in essence a call for violence against Dr. Offit:

This man makes me sick. I cannot describe to you how angry I am right now. My autistic child is very ill right now because of this man and his willingness to do anything for his blood money. And the rest of America (except for those of us who know the truth) go on blithely as if nothing was ever wrong or give this demon praises (PRAISES!) for the “contribution to the safety of our children.”

Prison will be too good for him. I think that if and when this all finally comes crashing down, I think that the government should give this sick and twisted individual to the parents of the children he so willingly destroyed.

Whatever you may think of Dr. Offit, even if you believe that vaccines somehow cause autism, can we all agree that calls for violence against him are beyond the pale in civilized debate and that Mr. Willoughby has descended into truly vile, frightening rhetoric?

I fear for Dr. Offit and his family, given this degree of hatred directed against him by antivaccinationists.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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