Data weeps: Does Brent Spiner have anti-vaccine proclivities?


Unfortunately, Brent Spiner is not living up to Commander Data’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Say it ain’t so, Data! Say it ain’t so!

Last night, I decided for the heck of it to check my Twitter account, something I only tend to do sporadically, although I do keep a constant stream of links to the latest Insolence flowing, to the gratitude and awe of my followers, when I saw this Tweet directed at me from someone with the ‘nym Zombie President:

@BrentSpiner I prefer @oracknows over Dr jay gordon any day.

Huh? I wondered what was going on. One thing you should know before I continue is that Brent Spiner is an active Twitterer (although after this incident I may have to refer to him as an active twit if his response to criticism shows that he is not educable). In fact, he’s pretty darned funny at times. I recall a few months ago that he did a rather extended story in Twitter, complete with an attack on his house, his forced retreat to a safe room, and all sorts of other twists and turns, all over the course of several days. Given that I’ve been a long time Trek fan ever since I was a little kid and that I used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation almost religiously over the course of its seven year run, with Data being one of my favorite characters, I had more than ample reason to follow Spiner’s Tweets.

Seeing the Tweet above, I looked some more. I didn’t have far to look to find this Tweet directed at me from Bandon Decker, who Tweeted:

@BrentSpiner Have you considered following @oracknows ? I find he makes much more sense than @JayGordonMDFAAP.

Uh-oh. What was this about? I had to investigate. So I went to Spiner’s Twitter feed and found this Tweet:

Check out my new follow. Dr. Jay Gordon. He makes a lot of sense.

Oh, no, this didn’t look good at all, especially when it was followed by this Tweet:

RT @MaggieL : That’d be easier if we knew his Twitter name. You mean this guy:…

Bummer. There was no mistake. Brent Spiner appeared on the surface to have drunk deeply of the anti-vaccine Kool Aid. But was it just on the surface, or is Spiner really an anti-vaccinationist? Let’s see if we can figure it out. I waded into the Twitter exchange that followed–and was appalled.

What I next noticed was a Tweet by SusietheGeek:

@BrentSpiner Are you an antivaxxer, or just against the flu vaccine? It’s a big deal to folks, so I would like to know where you stand.

An excellent question, exactly the one I was wondering. What was Brent Spiner’s answer? This:

RT @SusietheGeek @BrentSpiner Are you an antivaxxer–Not completely. But it’s worth investigating before letting drug cos. bamboozle us.

Oh, no! “Not completely”? That implies that Brent Spiner is at least partially anti-vaccine! Worse, he’s spewing the usual conspiracy mongering paranoia about drug companies, all the while thinking that Dr. Jay Gordon is a reliable source of information about vaccines. He’s anything but, and, in case Mr. Spiner ever actually reads this, I think it’s worth showing why with a “greatest hits,” so to speak, of my previous encounters with Dr. Jay, in more or less chronologic order since 2005:

And, in case that isn’t enough, here’s a bit more from others:

I realize that I’m killing the proverbial ant with a Howitzer, but, should Mr. Spiner ever actually read this post, I want him to know that Dr. Jay Gordon, although he fervently denies that he is anti-vaccine, routinely repeats many tropes and canards spread by the anti-vaccine movement, even going so far as to speak at Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine “Green Our Vaccines” march on Washington in 2008. Not that I have a lot of hope. A little later on, Spiner Tweeted:

Have not advised anyone what to do other than to investigate all available info. If you’d rather just go with the status quo, be my guest.

Ah, yes, the famous old anti-vaccine “I’m just asking questions” or “I’m just telling you to investigate.” But where did Spiner just suggest that his 1,186,804 followers go to “investigate”? To Dr. Jay Gordon’s website! in other words, Brent Spiner apparently considers Dr. Jay Gordon to be a reliable source of information about vaccines in general and the H1N1 vaccine in particular. Yet, as has been shown time and time again on this blog and in numerous other places, Dr. Jay Gordon, whether he considers himself “anti-vaccine” or not, routinely spews the most embarrassing bits of nonsense, for instance, his most recent dropping on that repository of quackery and anti-vaccine madness, The Huffington Post, A “National Emergency?” No, a National Anxiety Attack. Similarly, he was Tweeting his usual nonsense about Gardasil, swine flu, and vaccines right before Spiner discovered him. Such, apparently, are the ideas that “make sense.” At the very least, Spiner fell for this doozy:

@unifex Anti-vaccination is an uneducated point of view. Similar to unequivocally recommending ALL vaccines.

How massive a straw man is that? Who “unequivocally recommends ALL vaccines”? I, for instance, have expressed reservations about Gardasil, not because I think the vaccine is unsafe but because I question whether its benefits are worth the high price of the vaccine and worry that it might detract from other childhood vaccines, particularly if it is mandated. I do like the typical fallacy of moderation that Dr. Jay is using. Basically, he’s trying to paint himself as being “moderate” and between what he claims to be two “extreme” positions, but that is a false impression. The only “extreme’ position is the anti-vaccine position he so frequently defends, all the while whining when he is called anti-vaccine. But here’s the problem. Science is far more on the side of the current vaccine schedule than it is on Dr. Jay’s. That’s because Dr. Jay has no evidence that vaccines cause autism or are anywhere as close to risky as going without is, and he has admitted as such. Indeed, he keeps telling us that his personal clinical experience trumps epidemiology and science. Well, he doesn’t quite tell us that, but he sure appears to believe it, because he keeps saying that vaccines cause autism but, when pressed, admits that there is no good scientific evidence to support that view and that he bases the view on his own anecdotal experience.

Such is the physician that Spiner considers to be “making sense.” He then Tweeted this:

RT @unifex Considering unfollowing @BrentSpiner due to #antivax position. –Over my position to educate yourself? Better unfollow.

And this:

They have a vaccination for Swine flu. Is there one for pig-headedness?

Good question. It sounds as though Mr. Spiner could use one.

I realize Data is a fictional character, but, even so, I wish that the spirit of Data would infuse the actor who played him and drive out the Malibu-inspired woo that has apparently lodged itself into his brain. I also encourage anyone with a Twitter account to gently try to educate Spiner regarding the error of his ways. In the meantime, I can’t help but think that Data weeps (after his emotion chip was turned on, of course) at the nonsense that Spiner has been laying down. In fact, I suggest a new hash tag for Twitter discussions of Spiner: #dataweeps.

That and #antivax.