Dr. Bob Sears: Stealth anti-vaccinationist? (revisited)

Vacation or no vacation, something’s bubbled up in the comments that I consider worth commenting about. If you remember (or even if you don’t), about a week and a half ago I wrote about how Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Choice for Your Child, has let the mask drop. I entitled the post Dr. Bob Sears: Stealth anti-vaccinationist? This time around, I was half-tempted to remove the question mark, based on the comment of a commenter by the ‘nym of Science Mom, who turned me on to this post by Dr. Bob in the forums of his website entitled Weekly Disclaimer about SM and Catherina by Dr. Bob – posted on 8/17/2009. It’s a hoot. Because the link is somewhat unreliable, I’ll post it in its entirety below the fold:

Those of you who are regulars here know them well, but I want to make sure those of you are new know about Science Mom and Catherina.

Although it would seem that with the frequency with which their names appear on these posts that they work for this site, they actually have no official affiliation with myself or this site. Although much of their scientific information seems to be accurate, I do not trust their opinions, their conclusions, or their advice. So, follow their advice are you own, and your children’s, risk.

Many of us don’t appreciate the way they redicule and demean anyone who is anti-vaccine. Most of us who are pro-vaccine, such as myself, are happy to offer advice or opinions to those who are not pro-vaccine, but we manage to do so in a respectful way. Because SM and Catherina don’t seem able to do this, I suggest you simply ignore their posts and pretend they aren’t there.

If you don’t agree with them, don’t bother trying to tell them so, no matter how solid you think your science is. Their science is better, or so they would think. I wouldn’t waste your time arguing with them anymore, unless you enjoy that sort of thing – then, by all means, go for it.

There are rumors that SM and Cath are “secret agents” for vaccine manufacturers, planted here to combat my “anti-vaccine” advice. Although I wouldn’t put it past any company to do just that (makes perfect sense – have a couple of “scientific” parents work the blogs and posts instead of doctors or professionals – some parents would listen more to another parent), I have no evidence that such is the case. SM and Catherina claim they spend hours on this site each week for almost two years now out of the goodness of their hearts. I would love to believe that, but I would also expect such good-hearted people to come across good-heartedly in their posts toward people who question vaccines. That clearly is NOT the case, so that makes me question what type of people they really are.

Anyway, just wanted to post this warning to any newcomers. I’m just going to pretend they aren’t there and answer everyone’s questions as usual. I’m sure ignoring them isn’t going to make them go away, but they are SO NOT WORTH MY TIME anymore.

Good going, Science Mom and Catherina! You so annoyed Dr. Sears that he’s using the dreaded Internet sign of being really, really pissed off, namely the infamous all caps. In fact, you’ve annoyed him so much that he’s started to reveal his conspiratorial bent even more, employing the most obvious of crank tools, namely the Pharma Shill gambit. Congratulations, SM and Catherina! When a proponent of pseudoscience or dubious science starts tossing about dark insinuations that you are in the employ of big pharma and are on the boards for the sole purpose of obfuscating Teh Evil, Suppressed Truth about vaccines (or about how alt-med really cures cancer or whatever), you know you’ve scored some points against him. You know you’ve really started to get under his skin, and, because he can’t attack you for mistakes or misrepresentations of science, he instead starts using the implied ad hominem. He says he has no evidence, but then goes on about how it would “make sense” for a vaccine manufacturer to use parents like SM and Catherina as “plants.” Can Dr. Bob get any more disingenuous? Especially when he’s spewing nonsense like this in response to questions about the Hib vaccine:

REalise that HIB is so rare – yes, it does happen, but the chances are so low. You’ll have to decide which risk to take.

Yes, Hib is uncommon now, thanks to the Hib vaccine. A mere 20 years ago, it was the scourge of children. Then, in the early the late 1980s, a vaccine against Hib was introduced. By the early 1990s, the vaccine was under widespread use. The incidence of Hib infection, as well as rates of death and serious neurological sequelae, plummeted. In fact, it plummeted by 99%. These days, many pediatricians who have trained since the early 1990s have never seen a case of Hib. Unfortunately, Hib can easily return, as happened in Minnesota recently. When vaccination rates fall, these diseases come back, first as localized outbreaks in areas with the lowest vaccine uptake, then in a more widespread fashion, as the measles has done in the U.K., thanks to the MMR fear mongering by Andrew Wakefield, aided and abetted by the British press.

In any case, note how Dr. Bob admits that their scientific information is accurate but that he nonetheless doesn’t trust their “opinions, their conclusions, or their advice.” He even goes on to imply that following their advice is “at you own, and your children’s, risk.” Then, after trying to slime them with the pharma shill gambit, he then launches into some classic woo doggerel about how mean SM and Catherina supposedly are for harshing the happy buzz on Dr. Bob’s forums with cold, hard science. It’s not surprising, because forums like those run by Dr. Bob are not there for debate. Rather, they are there to reinforce communal values, which in this case are strongly anti-vaccine, and, above all, to promote Dr. Bob as a wise, “reasonable” voice about vaccines. Pointing out that he is neither and that his advice can be dangerous (and that at the very least has no evidence that it is safer than the current vaccine schedule) especially undermines the latter purpose of the forums, leading to hissy fits by Dr. Bob. The only good thing I’ll say is that Dr. Bob didn’t ban SM and Catherina outright, although it wouldn’t surprise me if that is coming sooner or later.

It’s the usual M.O. of administrators of forums like Dr. Bob’s.