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The anti-vaccine movement strikes back against Amy Wallace using misogyny

The little matter of finding out that the actor who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation appears to have anti-vaccine proclivities sidetracked me from something that I had actually wanted to blog about yesterday. Specifically, it’s something that my blog bud Abel Pharmboy has been hitting hard over the last couple of days. It may also, sadly, because I’ve become a bit jaded at the nastiness that anti-vaccine groups such as Generation Rescue (i.e., “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization”–at least days) and its erstwile founder J.B. Handley can lay down. I’m referring, of course, to Amy Wallace, who wrote what to me is the best example of an article in the mainstream media about the anti-vaccine movement that “gets it.” The article was called An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All and appeared in WIRED Magazine.

It was a thing of beauty. There was no false “balance” that puts cranks pushing dangerous pseudoscience on the same plane as real scientists like Paul Offit. There was even a section calling out purveyors of vaccine misinformation. Several luminaries of the the anti-vaccine movement were there, including ones discussed frequently on this blog, like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Don Imus. But that wasn’t all! There was even a section on how to debunk anti-vaccine canards. What more could an advocate of science-based medicine ask for?

When I first read Wallace’s article, I knew she was going to be in for a rough time. The anti-vaccine movement doesn’t take kindly to criticism. Indeed, I even warned the publicist who had e-mailed a bunch of bloggers, including me, about the article that I hoped she was ready for a “shitstorm” (the exact word I used). After all, I’ve been the target of J.B. Handley’s wrath on more than one occasion. He’s particularly fond of trying to poison my Google reputation when I annoy him sufficiently, and one time either he or someone inspired by one of his attacks on me actually e-mailed my cancer center director a link to his screed. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if J.B. posts another similar smear after this post. Maybe I’ll post this under my own name under my other blog. J.B. only seems to complain about my all-out frontal assaults on the anti-vaccine movement when they come from behind the Orac ‘nym. Never mind that I’ve posted the same stuff, sometimes the almost exactly the same text, word for word, under my own name elsewhere. Indeed, when I do that, inevitably the attacks will land fast and furious on Orac and leave the Real Me alone. I guess that once outing is gone as a threat all that leaves is whining about my use of a pseudonym and how supposedly nasty I am–to which I retort that I consider endangering children to be far nastier than the worst sarcasm I’ve ever laid down here.

Be that as it may, the publicist said she and Wallace were ready. Well, as an interview on NPR with Wallace has shown, the shitstorm has arrived, and it is just as stinky as the term implies, complete with misogyny and sexism. Abel compiled a more coherent description from Wallace’s Twitter feed:

I’ve been called stupid, greedy, a whore, a prostitute, and a “fking lib.” I’ve been called the author of “heinous tripe.”

J.B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, the anti-vaccine group that actress Jenny McCarthy helps promote, sent an essay title” “Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine.” In it, he implied that Offit had slipped me a date rape drug. “The roofie cocktails at Paul Offit’s house must be damn good,” he wrote. Later, he sent a revised version that omitted rape and replaced it with the image of me drinking Offit’s Kool-aid. That one was later posted at the anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism. You can read that blog here

Stay classy, J.B. That’s exactly the behavior from you that we’ve come to know and despise, and this is the sort of behavior that we expect from the anti-vaccine movement:

I’ve been told I’ll think differently “if you live to grow up.” I’ve been warned that “this article will haunt you for a long time.” Just now, I got an email so sexually explicit that I can’t paraphrase it here. Except to say it contained the c-word and a reference to dead fish.

I’ve already discussed how Paul Offit has suffered from attempted intimidation and death threats from the anti-vaccine movement. In this, the anti-vaccine is very much like the Animal Liberation Front or other animal rights groups, wielding intimidation to keep scientists from speaking out. Their level of understanding science is about at the same level, as well. But it’s not just Paul Offit. I’m currently reading Michael Specter’s new book Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. (Why is it that books like this always require such a long and unwieldy subtitle? Hell, even Suzanne Somers’ book is called Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer–And How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place. Word to publishers: Stop it! But I digress.) In Denialism, Specter includes a solid chapter about the anti-vaccine movement, Vaccines and the Great Denial, and in that chapter he describes how Marie McCormick, who led the Institute of Medicine panel that produced a seminal report in 2004 scientifically exonerating vaccines as a cause of autism suffered from similar harassment. She now has a guard posted near her office.

It’s the M.O. of the anti-vaccine movement. Unable to win on science, they try to win through intimidation and smears. As a result, scientists are reluctant to go into autism research, because they quite understandably don’t want the hassle of dealing with the attacks. Ditto vaccine science. After all, all one has to do is to look at the examples of Paul Offit and Marie McCormick to understand why public health officials shy away from getting involved and especially from speaking out in defense of science and against fear mongering. The same is also true of journalists. Indeed, the reaction of the anti-vaccine movement to Wallace’s piece makes me wonder if part of the reason for so much of hte false balance and the apparent reluctance of journalists to call out Jenny McCarthy and put her on the spot in an interview has anything to do with the fear. It’s a possibility.

I do have to admit that I was quite amused by J.B.’s attack on Wallace in the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, though. It was full of whining and bits that show such a complete lack of self-awareness on J.B.’s part that it was truly hilarious to behold. Here is a sampling:

  • “Ms. Wallace appears to have gone exclusively to Google University to research her feeble attempt at describing a very complex topic.” I just about spit out my coffee all over my lovely MacBook Pro when I read this. Given that the new spokesmoron of Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy, is perhaps the best known user and abuser of the University of Google, a use and abuse that have led her to make gut-bustingly funny manglings of science like this, J.B.’s statement took my irony meter and fried that sucker into a puddle of molten metal and rubber, and even that was quivering in fear of another assault.
  • “I grow so weary of pointing out the same logical fallacies, misstatements, and outright factual errors that many journalists make when covering this debate, it’s going to be a struggle for my stamina to analyze her tripe in detail.” (This is one of the rare areas where I’m in agreement with J.B., just not in the way he thinks. In fact, I think I’ve used that very sentence, or a variation thereof, when beginning more than one post about some nonsense published on J.B.’s anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism, because I do get tired of pointing out the same logical fallacies, misstatements, and outright factual errors that each and every blogger–nay, every anti-vaccine zealot I’ve ever encountered!–routinely parrots. J.B. I is no exception; in fact, he spews more than usual, for instance “Fourteen Studies.” But I keep doing it, because, well, it’s become my duty. In fact, I’m going to have to exercise some of that patience and stamina right here because J.B once again serves up a heapin’ helpin’ of logical fallacies, misstatements, and outright factual errors. As usual.
  • “The main targets of our movement are the CDC, AAP, and vaccine makers. Offit is an annoying sideshow, nothing more. He’s annoying because of articles like yours. He didn’t cause my son’s autism, and he has nothing to do with my son’s recovery.” Wow. For someone that J.B. doesn’t consider very important, who is an “annoying sideshow,” J.B.’s blog and organization sure do waste a lot of verbiage attacking Dr. Offit. In fact, a quick Google search for “Paul Offit” in the domain ageofautism.com pulled up over 1,000 hits. In fact, Just this week, J.B. launched a hilariously off-base attack entitled Dr. Paul Offit, The Autism Expert. Doesn’t See Patients with Autism? So hilariously self-unaware was J.B. in that post that I seriously thought of doing a parody of it using Andrew Wakefield in Paul Offit’s place. After all, Wakefield doesn’t see children with autism either. He’s been a researcher, and now he lends his anti-vaccine cred to Thoughtful House, where he can’t see patients because of that pesky problem of not having a medical license. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Wakefield has ever regularly seen patients since his residency training; he’s a “researcher,” and a truly awful one. Sadly, other things got in my way. Or maybe not so sadly.
  • “Offit actually has proven to be quite helpful – he’s the poster boy for the other side, which means his faults become the other side’s faults.” Project much, J.B.? Actually, it’s J.B. and his ilk who try to make Offit the poster boy for all the imagined and exaggerated faults fo the “other side.” Besides, every conspiracy movement needs a villain. For 9/11 Truther’s it’s the U.S. government (and sometimes the Mossad). For creationists, it’s Richard Dawkins. For the anti-vaccine movement, it’s Paul Offit, for much the same reason that Richard Dawkins is made into the villain by creationists and fundamentalists. They both dare to speak out against popular pseudoscience and don’t back down.

In his post, it’s also hard not to point out that J.B. does inadvertently demonstrate why any reasonable person should consider him anti-vaccine:

Why are you boring readers with misguided psychobabble? You could have used this time to read some of the science on our side of the fence which is also peer-reviewed! Clean water, toilets, and refrigerators eradicated disease, or at least 98% of it, I’ll give vaccines credit for the final 2% — and a whole lotta’ autism, allergies, and other demylenating illnesses.

Wow. Just wow. I’d really like to see what “peer-reviewed” evidence from “his side” that J.B. has that shows that it was not vaccines but rather clean water, toilets, and refrigerators that eradicated “98%” of infectious disease or that vaccines cause a “whole lotta autism allergies, and other demyelinating diseases.” Here’s hint one for J.B.: Peer-reviewed doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good research. It’s a minimum standard, and the “research” that J.B. cites has, without an exception that I’ve ever seen, been uniformly awful. As I pointed out with the most recent assault on science by the anti-vaccine movement, namely the execrable monkey study being touted as evidence that thimerosal in the hepatitis B vaccine causes “neurological damage” (an anti-vaccine code word in its “research” for “autism”), peer reviewers are routinely mislead by various studies by anti-vaccine cranks because they don’t know the subtext for these studies.

Here’s another thing that J.B.’s comment makes me wonder about. He gets very indignant when he is called anti-vaccine. He inevitably whines that he is not “anti-vaccine” but “pro-safe vaccine” or some variant thereof. I have to wonder, though. If J.B. really thinks that vaccines are only responsible for a mere 2% of the elimination of infectious disease–I mean, really, really believes it right down to the depths of his soul–why doesn’t he just come right out and admit that he’s anti-vaccine? After all, if he believes that vaccines cause an “epidemic” of autism, demyelinating diseases, and allergies, all for the benefit of a mere 2% when it comes to infectious diseases, then why not just say he is against vaccines because they don’t do any good and do a lot of harm? That’s what he just said, and I have no reason to believe he’s lying. Let’s put it this way. If I believed as J.B. apparently does, if I believed that vaccines were responsible for at most 2% of the elimination of infectious diseases and at the same time caused an “epidemic” of autism, demyelinating diseases, and other severe consequences, you can bet that I’d come out and say I was against vaccination. It would be a reasonable stance based on unreasonable beliefs about the dangers of vaccines. But I don’t believe anything of the sort. The scientific evidence simply doesn’t support J.B.’s assertions. I also suspect that, deep down J.B. doesn’t entirely believe these things either. If he truly does believe that vaccines do so little good and cause so much harm, his self-delusion would have to exceed even his obnoxiousness. Maybe it does.

After all, the evidence that vaccines played a major role in the elimination of diseases is incontrovertible. Smallpox was not eliminated by better sanitation and refrigeration. It was eliminated by a vaccine. The incidence of measles didn’t plunge dramatically primarily because of better sanitation or refrigeration; it plunged because of the introduction of an effective vaccine. (Unfortunately, this progress is being endangered by the misinformation being spread by the likes of J.B. Handley and the pseudoscience of quacks like Andrew Wakefield.) The incidence of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) disease didn’t plunge in the early 1990s because of better sanitation or refrigeration. Sanitation and refrigeration were just fine in the late 1980s. The incidence of severe Hib plunged because of a vaccine–indeed, to the point where younger pediatricians have never even seen a case of HiB. This is a good thing, although I’m not so sure J.B. would agree. Either that, or he’d try to claim that it wasn’t the vaccine, which is nonsense.

J.B. also can’t stand strong, principled disagreement with him. Like all people, he doesn’t like to be told he is wrong. The difference is that he reacts to criticism by attacking the person doing the criticism, not by refuting him with evidence. That’s because he can’t use evidence; his position is unsupportable by science. J.B. also has a huge amount of what appears to me to be a mixture of envy and contempt for the scientists who tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Indeed, this is what he’s written:

I’m not intellectually intimidated by any of these jokers. Their degrees mean zippo to me, because I knew plenty of knuckleheads in college who went on to be doctors, and they’re still knuckleheads (I also knew plenty of great, smart guys who went on to be doctors and they’re still great, smart guys).

I chose a different path and went into the business world. In the business world, having a degree from a great college or business school gets you your first job, and not much else. There are plenty of Harvard Business School grads who have bankrupted companies and gone to jail, and plenty of high school drop-outs who are multi-millionaires. Brains and street-smarts win, not degrees, arrogance, or entitlement.

In other words, to J.B., it’s all about “elitism.” He honestly seems to believe that the reason the scientific community doesn’t accept his wild beliefs that vaccines cause autism is because of elitism and groupthink, not because the scientific evidence doesn’t support that belief. Unlike the case for scientists, it never occurs to him that maybe–just maybe–he might be wrong. It never occurs to him that the reason he is viewed with such disdain among scientists is because, well, he is wrong. But not just wrong, spectacularly, dangerously, and arrogantly wrong about the science. Truly, he is full of the arrogance of ignorance, and thinks that his success in the business world (or, as he puts it, his “brains and street smarts”) means that he can figure vaccines out. He can’t. Brains and street smarts count for little in science without a background understanding of science and acceptance of the scientific method, neither of which J.B. has.

One thing Amy Wallace gets completely right is described in her interview with NPR :

Wallace calls part of the discourse that has followed her article “a bullying tactic.” She points to JB Handley, founder of Generation Rescue — which contends that too many vaccines are given too soon and blames autism on vaccines — for many attacks against her in the blogosphere. She says such tactics dissuade many scientists from taking a stand in the debate. It is important to speak out against those tactics, she says, adding that she has been commenting regularly about the issue on Twitter.

Indeed it is important to stand up to bullies, and Wallace has done just that.

At this stage, I have to wonder if the anti-vaccine movement is becoming its own worst enemy. As the science keeps marching in that shows no connection between vaccines and autism and lends no support to the concept that vaccines are ineffective and dangerous promoted by the anti-vaccine movement, groups like Generation Rescue are becoming more shrill and even more quacktastic than ever. In doing so, they further marginalize themselves. Quite correctly, their behavior leads reasonable and scientific people to dismiss them more and more. Unfortunately, when that happens, all that leaves is abuse and bullying as tactics to intimidate those who speak out against them.

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]

540 replies on “The anti-vaccine movement strikes back against Amy Wallace using misogyny”

“It may also, sadly, because I’ve become a bit jaded at the nastiness that anti-vaccine groups such as Generation Rescue (i.e., “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization”–at least days) and its erstwile founder J.B. Handley can lay down”

My hypocrisy meter is going critical! You, calling them nasty? Really? Oh, dear….things could go thermo-nuclear.

“Unable to win on science, they try to win through intimidation and smears.”

And there it goes…it just exploded! The hypocrisy burns so bright that it blankets all light in the universe!

“Truly, he is full of the arrogance of ignorance…”

And there goes another one.

You ever consider, asshole, that the reason why Handley and so many other people are so opposed to idiots like you is because of your attitude, intimidation, and bullying. You know, the very intimidation and scare tactics that you whine and snivel about in this farce you call a blog.

Yes, the hypocrisy does burn. It burns so bright!

yes, because ORac has often made death threats against the anti-vax idiots…oh wait…he hasn’t. damn, sucks to be you.

You know what, fuck this anti-vax shit. It’s a way of dancing around what you really are: anti-science. You all deny reams upon reams of evidence because its inconvenient, and will promulgate the most idiotic bullshit, because it meets your sole criteria for “correct”: it agrees with what the voices in your head tell you is the truth.

Personally, i think the first time one of you addle-pated nincompoops gets polio, (or worse, your kids who will suffer for your stupidity), or something similar, you’re going to be crying like the little babies you are about “WHY CAN’T WE PREVENT THIS”.

Y’all remind me of those numbskulls who whine about the cops being jack-booted fascists, until your house gets robbed. Hypocrisy indeed.

Oh fuck, my irony meter just exploded. THIB just spewed so much hypocrisy it’s gone past burning to create a giant miasma of toxic gas.

Hey, THIB, has it ever occurred to you that you’re making one of the mistakes found in the article above: you’re not using science to refute claims, just your feeble attempts at intimidation?

“…and other demylenating illnesses.”

Wait, what?

Since when is that even an anti-vac claim? And how does it even make sense? No vaccine components have anything to do with demyelination. Gyah.

I know, I shouldn’t expect even the most surface plausibility from anti-vaxxers, but it’s still disconcerting to see.

“I’m not intellectually intimidated by any of these jokers. Their degrees mean zippo to me, because I knew plenty of knuckleheads in college who went on to be doctors, and they’re still knuckleheads (I also knew plenty of great, smart guys who went on to be doctors and they’re still great, smart guys). ”
So he uses the peer review canard and then debunks the peer review canard himself. Huh?

I’m not intellectually intimidated by any of these jokers. Their degrees mean zippo to me … I chose a different path and went into the business world. In the business world, having a degree from a great college or business school gets you your first job, and not much else. … Brains and street-smarts win, not degrees, arrogance, or entitlement.

Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.

The first thing I did after reading Amy Wallace’s piece was to send off a supportive email to her from the perspective of a parent of a child with autism – the least I could do as I, like you, assumed the shitstorm that must inevitably follow from the anti-vax nutters after such terrific science writing.

Just posted a piece this morning on the same concept of standing up to the anti-vaccine bullies. And David Brown takes on Handley directly regarding his lawsuit with Offit; this article is linked through mine.

Thank you for taking a stand repeatedly on this issue. It is appreciated.

Again, Sue M shows us her angry ignorance being firstie on this thread like she is on any thread involving antivax nonsense from Handley, Jenny and all the lemmings at Age of Autism.

Does Sue’s Dark Mark swell up whenever Orac posts on AoA lunacy? Or does Handley lay in wait and light up the Quack2000onominator that transmits the cry for help?

THIB, have you ever had a short moment of introspection and thought, just for a second, “Wait, what if I *am* wrong about vaccinations, and the overwhelming scientific consensus of huge scores of medical researchers are actually correct? Maybe, just maybe, businessman J.B. Handley, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are incorrect, despite their huge amounts of research and peer-reviewed publications in the field of vaccination reactions”?

If you ever do, I guess you just mutter “Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma” to yourself like a mantra until the uncomfortable feeling goes away, because huge conspiracy theories solve everything.

You ever consider, asshole, that the reason why Handley and so many other people are so opposed to idiots like you is because of your attitude, intimidation, and bullying.

No, I’m quite sure that’s not the reason. Handley et al. are opposed to anyone who doesn’t agree with their unfounded beliefs and imaginings, regardless of attitude.

Plus I don’t believe you understand the meaning of the terms “intimidation” and “bullying.” Look them up.

“In this, the anti-vaccine is very much like the Animal Liberation Front or other animal rights groups, wielding intimidation to keep scientists from speaking out.”

Given the tendency of the anti-vaccination cause to attract the worst elements of both the anti-science/anti-healthcare right and the anti-pharmaceutical industry/anti-vivisection left is it really that surprising that the tactics of the anti-vaccine movement should imitate those of animal-rights and anti-abortion extremists.

You ever consider, asshole, that the reason why Handley and so many other people are so opposed to idiots like you is because of your attitude, intimidation, and bullying.

“A statement of fact cannot be insolant.”

I’ve read that somewhere.

The incidence of measles didn’t plunge dramatically primarily because of better sanitation or refrigeration; it plunged because of the introduction of an effective vaccine.

That’s correct. I was reading Egelhardt et al. (1980) because of a discussion in a separate thread. Measles incidence in the US was essentially stable between 1912 and the early 60s. It was anywhere between 200 and 600 cases per 100,000 population per year, with fairly big fluctuations throughout. (For comparison, the incidence of autism is probably around 15 in 100,000 per year, assuming awareness is stable.)

The death rate from measles did drop considerably from about 8 in 100,000 per year to about 0.2 in 100,000 per year in 1964.

That’s a 40-fold drop, which is amazing. The initial drop in the death rate due to the vaccine was about 10- to 15-fold, which is very good too.

Since the incidence of measles was stable for a long time, clearly sanitation didn’t have anything to do with the drop in the death rate. Advances in general medical care would necessarily have to account for it. You know, science and stuff.

Silly Sue is still at it. Number 1 in stupid too. Marvelous. I expect Sid will be along shortly. He must sleep later :)) Maybe Jake will stop by. All the big guns…

Wallace’s article was well done and deserves kudos from here and elsewhere. The baloney from AoA and GenR should be considered badges of honor. They push death and dishonor themselves. Wakefield’s day of judgment will be soon, next month I believe, and we will see if there’s an honest reaction by the anti-vax crowd condemning his lies and their devastating effects. Yeah, right.

The cruel stupidity of the anti-vax crowd is they steal resources from the effort to find causes of autism when they attack science and promote woo and drivel. The waste is appalling when added to the intimidation that Orac alludes to that keeps researchers out of the field. Fools.

The saddest thing to me is that JB has created a caricature of Offit that the readers of his blog think is true. They really think that Offit is evil and has blood on his hands.

I went to see my doctor today. She is just out of residency and starting her practice. She is also five months pregnant. The clinic got some H1N1 vaccine a few days earlier for the staff, but she declined because THEY DIDN’T HAVE ANY WITHOUT THIMERISOL AND SHE’S “NOT TAKING ANY CHANCES, JUST IN CASE IT DOES CAUSE AUTISM’.

Needless to say, my jaw dropped. She is so sweet (and seems to be a good doctor) I tried not to explode. I reassured her and told her to remember she’s a scientist. She blushed and said she knew better, and that she will talk to her own doc about it soon. I think there’s just something IN people that makes them superstitious in spite of any other training or knowledge. I really like this woman, but my respect for her is now unalterably diminished.

Amy Wallace is my new hero. She had the balls to put herself in the position of target, letting the anti-vaxxers (oh, I’m sorry — “questioners”) discredit themselves by attacking her.

Way to take one for the team, Ms. Wallace.

You’re right, I’m very envious of your position as Assistant Professor, I have always aspired to be an “Assistant” anything. Is that North of piss boy?

Orac, both sides fight mean. When our scientists and doctors speak up, they typically just get fired, or, like Andy, have to leave their home country, so quit your pathetic whining.

Soon enough, this debate will be settled. And, one of us will look like a complete jackass, and I’m confident the other one will never let the world forget. I look forward to it.

JB

Holy shit. It never ceases to amaze me how many people there are out there who’ve graduated, maybe gone to college, reproduced, have jobs and homes, possibly pay taxes, vote, even run for office, and their brains are still stuck in a plastic chair facing the corner of the kindergarten classroom pouting about how UNFAIR it is.

@JB

When our scientists and doctors speak up, they typically just get fired, or, like Andy, have to leave their home country, so quit your pathetic whining.

Umm…Andy did not have to leave the U.K. He could have stayed. There was no mandate that he be exiled. He chose to leave and avoid the bad publicity and reputation he created for himself over there. What happened in the U.K. wasn’t because he raised questions.

Any other examples?

Soon enough, this debate will be settled. And, one of us will look like a complete jackass, and I’m confident the other one will never let the world forget. I look forward to it.

How prescient of you.

JBH @ 23: Soon enough, this debate will be settled.

How will it be sttled, JB? What, in you mind, will settle this “debate”?

Soon enough, this debate will be settled. And, one of us will look like a complete jackass, and I’m confident the other one will never let the world forget. I look forward to it.

@JB: Are you sure this hasn’t already happened? Did you read the post by chance?

BTW, didn’t you say the same thing like 3 years ago? I seem to remember it. I certainly remember Dr. Deth making a bet that the thimerosal-autism link would be “near certain” in 18-24 months. That was in March 2006.

I love anti-vax predictions. Remember when David Kirby said that if the 3-5 CalDDS caseload didn’t drop by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the thimerosal hypothesis?

You said pretty much the same thing, didn’t you?

Soon enough, this debate will be settled. And, one of us will look like a complete jackass, and I’m confident the other one will never let the world forget. I look forward to it.

You look forward to looking like a complete jackass? Ok, I guess if it floats your boat.

Of course, you look like one now, you just don’t recognize it. Nor do I believe you will ever allow yourself to be proven wrong. Move those goalposts!

I don’t about you folks, but I can just see JB standing up and shaking his fist, “You’ll all see! We’ll be shown right, and then you all will be sorry!” Like every other crank.

I love anti-vax predictions. Remember when David Kirby said that if the 3-5 CalDDS caseload didn’t drop by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the thimerosal hypothesis?

Oh, don’t think he knows this. He knows full well that the thimerasol hypothesis is dead in the water. That doesn’t matter though. They just move on to the next boogeyman (squalene, anyone?), and forget all about that time. Shoot, they will even deny that thimerasol was an issue. It wasn’t REALLY the big problem (kind of like how the invasion of Iraq REALLY wasn’t about stockpiles of WMD)

These guys are getting scary. Seriously.

Also, I can’t believe he’s mocking assistant professors. The assistant professors in my dept make nearly six figures, and are a few years away from an excellent shot at guaranteed lifetime employment (tenure). Piss boys, indeed.

You chumps would be funny if you weren’t so dangerous. You’re like the flat-earthers … if their ideas somehow convinced people and put them in danger.

Bob –

When you say ‘six figures’, you’re not meant to include the cents/pennies.

Nice post there J.B., but methinks the antivaxxer doth protest too much.

When we were growing up, I could always tell who my sister had a crush on. The signs would be subtle, but irrefutable. She would start to talk like the boy in question. At first it would show up as incorporating favorite phrases he used, and then expletives. If it lasted more than a few weeks, syntax would start to creep in.

So it appears to be with J.B. Handley and the object of his passion, Orac. I’ve been noticing his clumsy attempts at snark and insolence changing over the years apparently attempting to mimic our boxy host’s turn of phrase.

Unfortunately, he’s really lousy at it, because he gets so frakkin’ mad that he ceases to make any sense at all. His diatribes always seems to end up sounding something like the classic “I know you are but what am I” . . . times infinity.

Unlike my adolescent sister’s ardor, however, J.B.’s almost Khan-like intensity seems constant and enduring. I think he really believes that Orac’s cool insolence is somehow equivalent to his nearly apoplectic, rage- and threat-filled missives. When this is pointed out, he goes even more nuts.

It’d all be kinda sweet if he weren’t spreading possibly life-threatening misinformation.

7 Great Occupations for Horribly Stupid People

http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-great-occupations-for-horribly-stupid-people

#3: Health Care Professionals
“To avoid any subjectiveness on this author’s part, I wanted one of these to be fully scientific. So I went on FutureProofYourCareer.com and took an extensive online quiz that tested my aptitude and personality traits to decide the perfect career for me. This was a quiz I was determined to fail.

I gave myself the lowest possible scores in all aspects of human ability. Then I answered all the personality questions like a schizophrenic. If I was able to contradict myself at any time, I did. As far as this quiz knows, I can’t do math or stack objects, I’ve killed several drifters and I did great in math class while working as an object stacker. I’d like to think that by the time I finished, a computer somewhere was screaming and shooting itself in the mouth. Unrelated to this article, that image is also what I was thinking about every time I slept with you, ex-girlfriends.

So now that this computer brain knows I can’t do anything right, and the property damage from me trying would be unacceptable, it suggested my primary field of study: healthcare practitioner. This seemed strange. Maybe because giving myself the lowest possible scores in everything proved I was honest enough to tell someone they have cancer without fucking with them, yet incompetent enough to have that turn out to be wrong. That’s win/win for everybody.

Why They’re So Stupid:
Don’t ask me. It’s simple science.”

I think the article says it all.

So, if you made a bomb, and you encased misogyny in a … a … y’know, a bomb, and threw it at your neighbor’s house because his dog pooped in your yard, literally, it would explode and release energy.

I just sent her an email in support. I forwarded this article to my daughter, maybe this will get through when nothing else has. She won’t vaccinate her kids, because she’s afraid they’ll get the disease from the vaccination. She insisted to me that when she was in the Marines, four people in her unit got smallpox from the vaccine.

*headdesk*

“You’re right, I’m very envious of your position as Assistant Professor, I have always aspired to be an “Assistant” anything. Is that North of piss boy?”

Everything’s north of the piss boys. That’s just gravity.

Of course in terms of financial worth, piss boys are frequently very rich business men…

I’ll give vaccines credit for the final 2% — and a whole lotta’ autism, allergies, and other demylenating illnesses.

LOL.

Wait, wut? Autism is a “demylenating” illness now?

People take this guy JB Handley seriously?

JB makes an interesting assertion. Somehow he seems to think that if he is proven correct, he won’t be a jackass anymore.

Too bad that isn’t true–either that he may be correct or that he wouldn’t be considered a jackass.

But, this is telling about his actions. He seems to think he can act as he pleases and be a jackass and it will all be erased when (in his mind) he is vindicated.

Most people after being publicly humiliated for making a jackass out of themselves as Mr. Handley just did with Amy Wallace would realize that they need to reign in their jackass side.

Not so Mr. JB Handley.

He is a clown. A buffoon. If he weren’t dangerous at the same time it wouldn’t be so sad.

It has occurred to me that as time goes on, it’s getting easier and easier to see right through their, er, arguments. Or is this just me?

As soon as I read Amy Wallace’s article, I wrote her an email, thanking her and encouraging her good work.

“JB makes an interesting assertion. Somehow he seems to think that if he is proven correct, he won’t be a jackass anymore.”

FTW!!!!1111111111111!!!!

Between the JB and Sue M nexus of angry ignorance, it’s a wonder they can even stand each other.

These loons are the anti-vaxx equivalent of Harun Yahya. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when they sink to that level of thuggery.

And getting misogynistic is a pretty silly thing for the anti-vaxxers to do, given the number of sanctimommies who drive that movement.

Soon enough, this debate will be settled. And, one of us will look like a complete jackass, and I’m confident the other one will never let the world forget. I look forward to it.

JB

And how will we know when the debate has been settled, JB? Please tell us what it will take for either side to accept that vaccines do or do not cause autism? I know you always seem to have inside information about some pending top secret monkey study but you have never answered one simple question — “What will it take to convince you that vaccines don’t cause autism?”

JB is equating Andy ‘schmucko’ Wakefield with actual, functioning scientists? Really? Wow, that just sucks as Andy gave up any pretense when he, you know, faked the data and, whoops, took money to make his research come out a certain way.

Nailed good and solid by Brian Deer and about to be nailed again when his case comes up in the UK.

In case Ms. Wallace is looking for any examples that the disparagement flows in both directions, please read up from here!! Thanks to all of you wildly anonymous folks, it’s always a sincere pleasure! Oh, and please get in line – the Pig flu shot are running out!

JB Handley

JB Handley,

do you know how to spell “associate”? As in “associate” professor?

Much more, do you know what it means?

As long as we are on the subject, do you understand what “assistant” professor means? It appears that you do not.

I chose a different path and went into the business world. In the business world, having a degree from a great college or business school gets you your first job, and not much else. There are plenty of Harvard Business School grads who have bankrupted companies and gone to jail, and plenty of high school drop-outs who are multi-millionaires. Brains and street-smarts win, not degrees, arrogance, or entitlement.

Do does this mean Big Pharma is okay now?

Good grief. Have you see those comments at Wired? I thought the people who read Wired were marginally more intelligent than the average denizen of the internet, but clearly not.

Bravo Amy. I might buy a subscription to Wired on the basis of this article. And JB? Go away, preferably somewhere where you’d need lots of shots. I hear yellow fever is delightful.

A friend of mine from my college days will no longer speak to me because I persisted in calling her out on her facebook page every time she posted something anti-vax. The only reason I kept it up is that I feel a responsibility to combat that nonsense. I knew I wouldn’t change her mind (she actually said she would pray about it, but if God didn’t tell her to vaccinate then she wouldn’t–what do you even do with that?), but I was hopeful that fence-sitters would at least follow the links.

It’s a never-ending job. Thank you for your efforts, Orac. I may not have a wide sphere of influence, but in my small corner of the world, I’m doing what I can.

JB Handley, if you don’t know what an Assistant Professor is, your IQ is just barely high enough to be a piss boy.

No wonder I hate business people; you’re a typical example.

(she actually said she would pray about it, but if God didn’t tell her to vaccinate then she wouldn’t–what do you even do with that?),

THIS IS GOD. VACCINATE YOUR CHILDREN, FOR MY SAKE.

Some classic JB Handley predictions and views…

There is no such thing as autism. Autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.

(Feb 2005, NBC interview)

It takes 1 to 2 years [to cure autism with chelation.]

(Same interview)

If you line up 100 symptoms of mercury poisoning and 100 symptoms of autism they are exactly the same

(Same interview and elsewhere)

Late 2006 should be the first time that rates go down. If they don’t, our hypothesis will need to be reexamined.

(Timesunion interview)

Where are all the adults with autism? They don’t exist.

(Larry King, April this year)

Because [Finland’s, Sweden’s and Norway’s autism] rates are one tenth of ours.

(Same interview)

Since we both can’t possibly be right, one of us has to be crazy.

(Email to Dr. Minshew)

Do we really have to wait to consider JB Handley a jackass?

I think JB Handley deserves the simple moniker ‘worldwide wanker’.

Because shit, if he doesn’t seem to get off about ‘oh poor me, my baby has autism and I can’t accept that it was probably a simple genetic or epigenetic problem that’s complex in nature so I’m going to go wank wank wank and attack people who actually try to use evidence to make their points and if they make me feel bad I’m going to say they’re all mental rapers or dweebs because I’m a dumbass and they make me feel bad that I’m an anencephalic cretin’.

I mean, fuck, do daddy hormones intoxicate you that badly?

Plus it’s ‘Associate Professor’, pimpledick. ‘Associate’. One step below full professor.

And if you think autism or allergies are demyelinating illnesses (demyelinating? I’ve had allergies ever since I can remember and I don’t have fucking multiple sclerosis, you mentally bereft money-obsessed troglodyte!), you need to read some fucking neuroscience, dipwad.

Really, I’ve just about had it with you snake-oil-pushers. Fuck you, Handley.

Seriously, if you’re going to try to bilk people out of their money and kill them, at least look like you’ve got an impenetrable argument, Handley. Because your bunch of idiots is pathetic.

It amazes me when people still trot out Andrew Wakefield. Whatever the rest of science says about measles, autism and the whole kit-and-kaboodle, Wakefield’s study was so shoddily done, any resemblance to the actual state of the field would be by blind chance. When I’m grading undergrad lab reports, students who just write down the answer they think is correct when their data doesn’t support it (or worse, make up data and/or fudge the error bars to make it look significant) get low grades and many comment, because that’s not how science works. Without good evidence, a conclusion is just a guess.

Dan Weber, I’ll be sure to send this to her if she lifts her communications block on me. I did ask her to point out in the Bible where vaccines were even discussed. Of course, I think I shot myself in the foot with that one…

Smallpox was not eliminated by better sanitation and refrigeration. It was eliminated by a vaccine.

—————————–

By the time vaccines did get around to wiping out smallpox the disease was, due to “better sanitation and refrigeration”, a largely harmless shell of it’s former self

JB, some of Andy’s work has been discredited on the grounds of its poor quality and his suspected conflicts of interest (e.g. working for attorneys suing for vaccine damages, and having his own vaccine to compete with others already on the market), not simply because of the content of his claims.

To say he merely “spoke up” and then was attacked completely ignores some points that many people regard as very important and relevant to their reaction to him; specifically, his work’s dubious quality.

Dan Weber, I’ll be sure to send this to her if she lifts her communications block on me. I did ask her to point out in the Bible where vaccines were even discussed. Of course, I think I shot myself in the foot with that one…

Each night I lie awake in bed weeping over the threats Dr. Paul Offit must endure. Now you say Amy Wallcae is being targeted as well. This is to much to bear.

Sid @ 58: By the time vaccines did get around to wiping out smallpox the disease was, due to “better sanitation and refrigeration”, a largely harmless shell of it’s former self

That “shell” of a disease? Responsible for an estimated 50 million yearly cases of smallpox worldwide in the early 1950s, of which smallpox “killed every fourth victim [and] scarred or blinded most survivors.” (source) Wild cases were eliminated by 1978.

That, my friends, is not an example of a weakling virus that faded into history as a minor annoyance, but a remarkable medical triumph over a common disease with significant morbidity and mortality, a triumph dependent upon global vaccination efforts.

@62:

Can’t say I’m surprised, Sid, given how repeatedly you’ve proven yourself to be a callous sociopathic bastard who doesn’t care in the least about the suffering or even death of anybody else.

Anthro:

I had the same conversation two nights ago with my best friend. She is pregnant and told me she would not get the H1N1 shot “unless it’s the version without mercury.” She added that thimerosal was shown to cause autism and that they removed it from pediatric vaccines for that reason.

I was shocked into silence for a few minutes, then I tried to give her as much information as I could, in as mild a manner I could muster. But it shocked me. She is a zoology major, a former science teacher and had always been a skeptic. Her mother is an OB nurse and her brother is an MD.

I suspect her new husband’s family is feeding her these lines. Her sudden change of attitude under what may be family pressures makes me fear that she will not have her child vaccinated. I feel strongly enough about this that we may no longer be friends if that happens. I will not be able to see her the same way, even after knowing her for over 20 years.

@Joseph

Since the incidence of measles was stable for a long time, clearly sanitation didn’t have anything to do with the drop in the death rate.

You’re confusing incidence and mortality. Living conditions make diseases milder. They don’t necessarily eliminate them
And mortality declined steadily from 1918.
———————-

Advances in general medical care would necessarily have to account for it. You know, science and stuff.

What be those advances?

———————-
@Orac

I have to agree with you that the rape/misogyny angle is entirely out of line and to be condemned

I’m so glad you are lying in bed weeping over the threats to Dr Offit, Sid. It shows that maybe, just MAYBE you have an empathetic bone somewhere in your body. And gee. You feel bad about what is happening to Amy Wallace? Somehow, I don’t believe that.

Now if you’d only get a clue about diseases. Smallpox killed 2 people out of 12 who were diagnosed with the disease in 1947 in NYC. So much for “By the time vaccines did get around to wiping out smallpox the disease was, due to “better sanitation and refrigeration”, a largely harmless shell of it’s former self”. Seems to me that a 1 in 6 death rate is not a “harmless shell” and those who died all benefitted from NYC’s known good sanitation and refrigeration.

I know, right? Who gives a crap if people: (1) actively promote the spread of disease, and (2) threaten those who dare to disagree with them? No big deal. Live (die) and let (not) live, right?

Can someone clue me in as to why THIB and “Sid Offit” are allowed to post here? The cranks scream “CONSPIRACY” and “CENSORSHIP” even when they aren’t banned (and even when they actually do suppress dissenting opinions on their sites), so why not improve the quality of discourse here?

@Mike

I expect Sid will be along shortly. He must sleep later
———————————

Sid’s on California time but he does enjoy a good nights sleep – and I’ve been spending way to much time on the Commander Data posts

You’re confusing incidence and mortality. Living conditions make diseases milder. They don’t necessarily eliminate them

@Sid: So you’re saying there were great improvements in sanitation and refrigeration between 1912 and 1965, but for some reason they didn’t cause the incidence of measles to drop at all? How come? And yet, they were able to reduce mortality from measles. I suppose that’s possible, but it’s an extraordinary claim. I still think it’s more likely that people who got hospitalized for measles just didn’t die as much, because medical care had advanced.

What be those advances?

How should I know? Maybe someone else here can elaborate on that.

Responsible for an estimated 50 million yearly cases of smallpox worldwide in the early 1950s, of which smallpox “killed every fourth victim

———————-
1st we know how unreliable WHO “estimates” are. And 2nd the Africa/India/third world experience doesn’t reflect improved living conditions in the west.
———————-
MI Dawn

Interesting to note that the smallpox vaccine administered during the 1947 outbreak killed 3 times as many people than did the virus itself. And you don’t mention those were the 1st deaths in NY in over 35 years

Sid,
Although I am heartily glad at the message and even the tenor of your posts as they relate negatively to JB and positively to Dr Offit and Ms Wallace. I cannot help waiting for another shoe to drop.

Ok, Sid, you’ve stumbled into my actual field of expertise. Smallpox is one of the virulent and debilitating diseases man has ever faced, and we are all extremely lucky to live in a time where it is no longer a threat.

The idea that you could claim that “improved sanitation and refrigeration” destroyed smallpox is laughable. The reason that we in the West managed to largely rid ourselves of smallpox is because of a concerted and thorough vaccination campaign. And yes, the vaccine for smallpox will kill roughly 1 in a million people who take it; an outbreak of smallpox, on the other hand, could easily kill 35-60% of the population it infected.

Why do you think that the WHO worked so tirelessly to find and eliminate it everywhere it cropped up? It’s so that we don’t need the vaccine anymore.

Vaccines have reduced the death rate from viruses in this country, and many others, to levels that are historically astounding. So astounding that now people with no medical training and no grasp of the scientific method can come in to bitch about the very thing that has, I guarantee you, saved their lives.

Sid, your hypothesis should be easy to prove. There must be at least one country in the world with poor hygiene, and hence should still have large numbers of small pox. If you could just point to one of these countries, I’d say you might have a point. Or is it your premise that sanitation and hygiene are at a peak worldwide with no country out there with sanitation poor enough for the virus to gain hold? And this sanitation and hygiene world wide was present in the 60’s and 70’s, or, again, can you point out a country at that point that had immunizations, but poor hygiene and hence large numbers of smallpox?

I’m sure you’ve dodged this one before as well, but how do you explain the success of HIB, Varicella, and Pneumococcus vaccines in kids? Did hygiene in the US improve that much from 1990 to 2009? If so, what hygiene and sanitation measures caused such a dramatic decrease in these diseases?

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