Don’t listen to these “medical voices,” or: How did I miss this loony antivaccine site before?

Let’s face it, I’ve been at this “anti-antii-vax” thing for quite a while now. This December, this blog will have been in existence for five years. Even before that cold, gray Saturday afternoon nearly five years ago when, on a whim, I started up a blog on Blogspot that became the first incarnation of Respectful Insolence, I had been a regular presence on the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative for at least three years before that. There, besides quackery, I got my first taste of the lies of the anti-vaccine movement from the likes of denizens of the newsgroup like Jan Drew and Ilena Rosenthal, who’s best known for her silicone breast implant conspiracy theories but by the principles of crank magnetism is also an anti-vaccinationist, to name a couple.

I’m not mentioning this to show what an old fart I am, blogospherically speaking, but rather to say that I’ve been around a while. I thought I had knew about pretty much every major anti-vaccine website and blog out there, and my connections usually let me know about new ones very rapidly. So it was to my surprise to see that there’s a slick new anti-vaccine website in town, and that it’s been around at least a month now. Worse, it’s a website that’s using the authority of physicians to try to persuade the public that it’s not a load of pseudoscience. Echoing the infamous website of the granddaddy of modern anti-vaccine groups, the National Vaccine Information Center (which I’ve blogged about before, natch!), this website is known as the Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center.

If there’s one thing I can say about it, it’s run, don’t walk, away from these doctors.

But who are the doctors who are responsible for this happy haven of anti-vaccine pseudoscience and quackery? I’ll get to that in a minute, along with a discussion of just how bad this site is. But, first, let’s see what it’s all about:

About
Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center brings awareness of vaccine issues to the forefront via medical doctors. Newly under development as of July 2009, the site will quickly become a massive library of articles, videos and presentations by doctors speaking out on the dangers of vaccines. The aim is to be an educational site for doctors who are beginning to question and become aware of the problems caused by vaccines and, additionally, a go-to resource for the public at large.

Vision Statement
Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center will become the most comprehensive educational center on the Internet for physicians seeking the truth about vaccines. This will change healthcare as we know it.

Mission Statement
Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center will provide educational tools through media including articles, videos, podcasts and webinars to everyone seeking the truth about vaccines.

Ugh. It figures. They’d have to have the “vision thing” down, wouldn’t they? Too bad it’s a vision of resurgent infectious diseases, suffering, and death. I do like the the antivax-speak, though. “beginning to question and become aware of the problems caused by vaccines” is code for “turning into an anti-vaccine loon,” and this website is there to help you along that path if you’re so inclined–with the authority of doctors, yet. Of course, to such people, the “truth” about vaccines is anything but, and it’s really sad to see physicians promoting misinformation and anti-vaccine canards. Indeed, I find this far more disturbing than even seeing Dr. Michael Egnor butcher biology and evolution. While Dr. Egnor only endangers the brains of those who listen to them, these physicians endanger public health by discouraging vaccination, a profound betrayal of their Hippocratic Oath.

So who’s behind this propaganda site? Let’s take a look:

Board of Directors
Sherri Tenpenny, DO
Mayer Eisenstein, MD, JD, MPH

Board of Advisors
Harold Buttram, MD
Professor Leo Rebello, ND, MD, PhD, DSc., F.F.Hom., DHS, MBA

President
Nick Haas

In case you don’t know who these “luminaries” are, Sherri Tenpenny is an infamous anti-vaccine activist whose website, book (Saying No To Vaccines), book blog, and blog are chock full of vaccine pseudoscience. Heck, she even has her own page on Whale.to and has appeared on über-crank Alex Jones’ show (he of Prison Planet) to lay down some fine conspiracy mongering about the swine flu. Yes, if I were looking for reliable information about vaccines, Dr. Tenpenny is someone I’d go to…not.

Then there’s Mayer Eisenstein. We’ve encountered Dr. Eisenstein multiple times before, first making data-free claims about how there is virtually no autism among the unvaccinated children in his crunchy Homefirst practice, a story that later morphed into a claim for actual data. Despite that, he never published. Most recently, Dr. Eisenstein has fallen for the quackery of Mark and David Geier, in which the powerful anti-sex hormone drug Lupron is being touted as a treatment for autism and been written up in the Chicago Tribune for the incompetence of physicians in his practice.

Harold Buttram is a particularly despicable anti-vaccine loon. A member of the wingnut organization Association of American Physicians and Scientists (which publishes JPANDS), Dr. Buttram is known for claiming that the shaken baby syndrome is in reality due to vaccine injury and not physical trauma. He has published articles in JPANDS and elswhere arguing just that. Indeed, what makes him most contemptible to me is that he lent his idea to the effort to get baby killer Alan Yurko off for his crime. Not surprisingly, Dr. Buttram also has his own page on Whale.to.

As for Professor Leo Rebello, ND, MD, PhD, DSc., F.F.Hom., DHS, MBA, I really don’t know much about him other than that he really, really needs to realize that putting that many initials after his name does not impress, particularly given that a doctor of Naturopathy and what looks like a degree in homeopathy are not exactly the best way to build credibility as a science-based source. Indeed, his website is full of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, complete with this picture:

i-2a54cd4740cae4ecb3b7c84feee1efa7-vaccineinjection.jpg

And this rant:

The lethal brew called the vaccinations made from disease cells and so many obnoxious ingredients do not build up immunity. Rather these vaccines are introduced to create more diseases. As I have said in my new doctor’s oath, vaccinations are worse than rape. It is heinous and those who have made vaccination mandatory, like in USA and in the EU countries, are the mass murderers. Hitler pales into insignificance when it comes to genocide of small children due to vaccinations.

Vaccines are “worse than rape”? Vaccines are “genocide” that makes Hitler’s crimes “pale into significance”? Nice to see the MVVIC has two such voices of reason as Drs. Buttram and Rebello, isn’t it?

Not surprisingly, the cadre of physicians the antivaccine zealots behind the MVVIC have gotten to contribute articles and other material to the website are just as bad. For example, there’s Joe Mercola dutifully repeating the now utterly discredited claim that mercury in vaccines causes autism and the same old misinformation about the HPV vaccine that I’ve blogged about before. Then there’s surgeon and antivaccinationist Russel Blaylock, who is known for articles claiming that vaccines don’t stop disease and that they cause autism, Gulf War Syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, chimes in with a piece from his usual oeuvre, this time engaging in a little fear mongering about the swine flu vaccine. Finally, our old friend, Dr. Rashid Buttar, the man who’s been sanctioned by the North Carolina State Medical Board (which he called a “rabid dog“) for treating cancer patients with ineffective remedies and children with autism with a wide variety of woo. including urine injections, makes an appearance with a number of videos.

Wow. That’s some lineup, don’t you think? It’s a veritable “all-star” team of anti-vaccine pseudoscience.

If any of the creators of the MVVIC were to see this, no doubt they’d accuse me of doing nothing more than flinging ad hominems. They might have a point if it weren’t for the fact that everything I’ve written goes right to the credibility of the source, specifically the NVIC. Besides, there doesn’t appear to be anything on the MVVIC about which I haven’t written science- and evidence-based analyses before, sometimes in nauseating detail. It’s all pretty much the same sort of anti-vaccine propaganda that I’ve dealt with time and time again over the last four years. Even so, the MVVIC is such a–shall we say?–target-rich environment that I think I’ll bookmark the page and keep an eye on the new material that will be showing up there in case I’m ever short of blogging material. I’ll probably end up thinking of the MVVIC as a new NaturalNews.com, only about vaccines. In other words, it looks as though it will evolve into an endless supply of antivaccine pseudoscience and paranoia, a place where I can always go whenever I need blogging material and be assured of finding some bit of pseudoscience to skewer gleefully with science.

Heck, I may even register for the private “physician area.” I’m guessing that’s where the real craziness resides.