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Fun with anti-vaccine petitions: The Chicago Principles on Vaccination Choice

I love it when cranks write petitions.

They’re hilarious. Usually, they’re oh-so-serious and ominous, sprinkled with unintentionally, un-self-aware bits of pure comic gold. For example, check out this “petition” being circulated by the anti-vaccine activists, called The Chicago Principles on Vaccination Choice:

We, the people who affirm our belief in personal rights, in order to promote the general health and welfare for ourselves and our children and to establish justice, advocate the following principles:

1. Vaccination choice based on complete and accurate information is a fundamental human right.

Yes and no. The problem is that what these loons propose is anything but “complete and accurate” information. The “information” they promote grossly exaggerates the risks of vaccination, attributes complications due to vaccination that science doesn’t support, and claims that vaccines aren’t effective. “Informed” consent is not “informed” if the information given is a pack of cherry picked studies, misinformation, pseudoscience, and even sometimes outright lies.

2. The right to conscientious objection from vaccination mandates, namely the right to a philosophical exemption, is a fundamental human right.

“The right”…is “a fundamental human right”? Who writes this stuff?

I could counter with the argument that the “right” to be as free from vaccine-preventable diseases as reasonably possible in public accommodations like public schools is a fundamental human right. More importantly, I’d tend to agree with this assertion by the anti-vaccine libertarian set if–and this is a huge if–in return for unfettering that “fundamental right” these anti-vaccine loons agreed that it is also their responsibility if someone else’s child suffers from the measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases because of their failure to vaccinate their children and if they supported a law that allowed the parents of such a child to sue the parents of the unvaccinated child who transmitted a vaccine-preventable disease. These guys always talk real loud and real bold about “rights,” but they seem loathe to acknowledge any of the responsibilities that go along with rights. I always thought that libertarianism basically postulates that We The People should be largely left alone as much as possible and should take responsibility for our actions rather than letting the government do it. Unfortunately, libertarianism is nothing but entitlement without consequences, if, in return for all these rights, the libertarian doesn’t accept the responsibility for his or her actions that goes along with these rights. The libertarian variety of anti-vaccine zealot never does.

3. Laws that make education, employment, daycare and public benefits contingent on vaccination status, except in the most extreme of public health emergencies, violate the fundamental human right to vaccination choice.

See #2. If the repeal of these laws also made the parents of unvaccinated children legally liable for any illnesses their children passed on because they weren’t vaccinated, with provisions for hefty civil penalties and, in extreme cases, even criminal penalties, then I might be able to go along with this.

4. When vaccination is used as a preventive medical intervention for healthy individuals, the precautionary principle must apply. If there is no public consensus about the need for or safety of certain vaccines, they should neither be recommended nor mandated for universal use.

I wonder if these people agree that the precautionary principle must apply in the case of secondhand smoke or BPA? In any case, note how the petition says public, not scientific. There is no valid science behind their case, particularly given that Andrew Wakefield seems to be the best “science” they can come up with.

5. Individuals who are in a position to evaluate, recommend and mandate vaccines must be free of all actual and perceived conflicts of interest.

You mean like Andrew Wakefield, who was in the pockets of trial lawyers when he did his “research” and now stands to make his entire income from his anti-vaccine activities?

Deconstruction of each of the “Calls for Immediate Action in the United States” that make up the rest of the petition is left for an exercise for the interested reader. And they wonder why scientists don’t take their arguments seriously. I also can’t help but wonder if Ginger Taylor wrote this petition. After all, she’s on the committee that organized the anti-vaccine American Rally for Personal Rights, and she’s the first signatory. It sure looks like her work: Self righteous, full of misinformation, and unintentionally hilarious.

Don’t forget: If you live in the Chicago area and get a chance, head on down to Grant Park this afternoon to bring a bit of science to this nonsense.

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]

197 replies on “Fun with anti-vaccine petitions: The Chicago Principles on Vaccination Choice”

and I stopped giggling long enough to sign the petition, just under MOUSE. Mickey…

what a buncha MARROOONS, as Shemp would say.

I thought justice was established by the Constitution, when a government was organized to prevent anarchy/a complete lack of a justice system, but whatevs.

I couldn’t take it seriously after the first line—“Signatories.” Seriously? Signatories? Who brainstormed that term. Hmm….signatures, no. Supporters, no. I’ve got it–Signatories!

Now I have to find out what part of the Great state of NY this congresswoman Maloney (D.- N.Y.) is from, and send her a “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE reconsider.. and dont waste time, energy, and federal funds on this sort of stuff.”

OYE!

“If there is no public consensus…”

If

Does a gaggle of loons form a consensus? How much is a gaggle? More than three? Maybe a herd of consense’s, called a nonsense…

Cripes. I feel like I’m channeling Lewis Carroll…

So science promotes totalitarianism? Very interesting. I didn’t know science promoted political views.

3. Laws that make education, employment, daycare and public benefits contingent on vaccination status, except in the most extreme of public health emergencies, violate the fundamental human right to vaccination choice.

Wait, is that bolded bit admitting that vaccines can be effective, and even necessary? Which of the anti-vaxxers is responsible for that bit of heresy?

I agree on the liability issue.
If you don’t want to be vaccinated, you can skip it, providing you understand that if anyone becomes ill or dies as a result of your failure to follow a simple health protocol, you can and will be held criminally and civilly liable. Just like the guy who downs a 12 pack and gets behind the wheel. Actions have consequences.
About Ginger Taylor’s little e-petition:
Completely informed ? How can anyone ever be completely informed on any issue, let alone on vaccines ?
Free of all possible and actual conflicts of interest ?
First : nobody is ever free of ALL POTENTIAL CoIs.
You may as well ask for virgins.
(a scientist who’s never had sex is probably easier to find than one who has no potential CoIs )
Second: Why? you Pots are calling the kettle black.
As if JB Handley wasn’t in it to sell books?
Wakefield isn’t in it to sell stuff ?
You remember… the Wakefield you all rely on, who wanted the triple-shot MMR vaccine ended because HE had a measles vaccine that would have made him a billionaire?
The Wakefield who got paid some 400,000 pounds by trial lawyers ? Oh right, but that’s not a conflict of interest!

And I note that Giaus Baltar signed your poll too.

What I find funny is that many of these demands (1,2 and 4) are already being met. When my kids go in for a vaccination, I am handed a form to sign that gives me a choice and provides complete and accurate information. I am free to choose not to vaccinate – of course there are consequences. The need for every vaccine on the schedule is carefully considered and unnecessary vaccines are not added. This really seems like an underhanded attempt at getting in a few unreasonable demands by hiding them in a list of fairly reasonable sounding ones.

Maloney is from New York City. *sigh* Not my district, at least. (Then again, I’m not sure Rangel is much to boast about these days.)

And now we’re getting closer to the truth. Scientists playing politics. It’s really not about science at all. It’s about ideology. This what I meant about hiding behind the banner of science.

All of you guys should go to all of these rally’s. You’ll find out just how elitist and small you really are.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

no really.. you guys should come to the rally.
you will see, we are lots smarter than you all are.
we have celebrities, and a website, and lots of alternative medicine vendors, and speakers and large angry mobs.

all you have is science, tons of research and silly factual data.

All of you guys should go to all of these rally’s. You’ll find out just how elitist and small you really are.

Neither of which makes us wrong. I don’t have trouble being an elitist, just as long as I’m actually being elite. Of course the elite will always comprise the minority of the population, that’s a necessity by definition. I’d prefer that the elite be educated, wise and judicious rather than simply slaves to fashion; catering to every whim the masses are obsessed about that particular day.

“The unbearable lightness of health science reporting
Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D, April 16, 2010

Comparisons between Italian and American health science reporting show it’s la dolce media on both sides of the Atlantic.

If a daily dose of journalism is essential for a healthy democracy, it may have a less-than-salutary effect on actual public health. This is the conclusion raised by two projects which set out to determine the quality of information in health science reporting.

In “The Unbearable Lightness of Health Science Reporting: A Week Examining Italian Print Media,” published in the online journal PLoS One, Three independent doctors examined 146 printed health science articles, each one aiming to improve reader’s knowledge of health. They evaluated the articles according to an assortment of parameters, including benefits and costs, associated risks, sources of information, disclosure of conflicts of interest and balance. Balance included whether there were exaggerated or incorrect claims.

Their conclusion? “These findings raise again the fundamental issue whether popular media is detrimental rather than useful to public health.” The researchers found undisclosed costs and risks, undisclosed conflicts of interest, and exaggerated claims. Benefits were exaggerated and risks underplayed. Reports on new medical approaches were considered unbalanced almost nine times as often as other kinds of health-sciences articles.”

[see the rest of the article at the link http://www.stats.org/stories/2010/health_reporting_apr16_10.html ]

The rest of the article, and the study, which the article links, provide a fairly good foundation for the conclusion that a lot of the hype, hysteria and ignorance on medical and other science issues stems from the horrible reporting of our “news” media. Till “science reporting” actually reports science, don’t expect events like the one in Grant Park, “petitions” and other advocacy events like the one mentioned in this blog, or claims like those made by Wakefield, to end.

Remember — Sex sells. So does hype and hysteria. In Grant Park, you’ll get all 3.

Folks, don’t bother responding to augustine. He/she/it is only interested in getting a rise out of people, rather than engaging in rational discourse.

Oh, and I’d rather be elite and of diminutive stature than a giant cretin.

elitist is such a funny insult. It simultaneously conveys “I know you’re better than me” and “why do you have to act like you’re better than me?”

You anti-vax folks may not be elitist, but you’re something way worse: wrong.

@Todd W.

Indeed, I was simply responding to the idea that being ‘elite’ is somehow a bad thing. There will always be an elite group, and quite frankly I’d prefer that they rise to that level because of their education and intrinsic skills/talents rather than their celebrity or pandering to the largest group of supporters.

I also don’t like how the American populace has turned the word liberal into a pejorative term, but y’all get to define your own terms, I suppose.

Ian @ #18 hadn’t posted when I read the comments and posted. Weird.

@24

to you or I it may be, but you hardly see liberal politicians and pundits here(I guess I could probably end the sentence there) use the term as a blatant insult. That can’t be said of the other side. ‘Liberal’ is always presented with imaginary scare quotes and rarely uncoupled from the term ‘socialism’. It would only be equivalent if we were constantly accusing the GOP of fascism. Again, that’s common in some circles, but not particularly mainstream.

@Scott #24

As is “Libertarian” and just about any political ideology. Correct me if I’m wrong (please), but “Liberal” has been a bad word for a lot longer than the tables were turned, no?

I saw this really interesting thing called The Political Compass that shows that the left/right dichotomy is largely illusory. I’m an economic centrist and a social liberal. I found it pretty fun.

BlueMaxx, FTR, Carolyn Maloney has been suckered by pseudoscience before. She wrote a letter in support of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project (aka Scientology’s Purification Rundown) post-9/11.

(Ref)

ian: “I also don’t like how the American populace has turned the word liberal into a pejorative term, but y’all get to define your own terms, I suppose.”

Since you’re promoting statist views then you don’t have to take it too serious if someone calls you a liberal. “

All of you guys should go to all of these rally’s

For god’s sake moron: it’s rallies, wrong spelling, worse grammar. And yeah, I am an elitist – especially in that I try to use proper English.

It’s just as well that your poor grasp of (I presume) your own language doesn’t compromise the validity of your arguments.

Rather, it provides a striking indicator of quite how dull your mind really is.

While responding directly to the troll is probably not a good idea, we should at least identify the troll’s errors of logic & fact for the benefit of lurkers.

For example, the troll’s comment on science somehow promoting ‘totalitarianism’ (comment #7) demonstrates a rather appalling ignorance (or equally appalling misrepresentation) about what, exactly, totalitarianism is all about. In that regard it is an obvious misrepresentation of Orac’s post and a disgraceful strawman argument.

The status quo vaccination policy in the US, which already allows plenty of exemptions, can not in any sense be described as totalitarian.

Harry Seaward has signed and supports this campaign for truthiness.

How come there is never a principle 6:

If a conscientious objector can be shown to be the source of another acquiring the contagion, because they willfully accepted the possibility of putting others at risk, shall be held accountable for their crime of negligence, up to and including charges of manslaughter.

compost: “The status quo vaccination policy in the US, which already allows plenty of exemptions, can not in any sense be described as totalitarian.”

The error in your logic is that you do not condone the exemption freedoms in said existing policies. A totalitarian approach is the only logical way to deal with such personal freedoms.

On que a lesser minion on here will give the seatbelt analogy or version thereof.

Boser: “because they willfully accepted the possibility of putting others at risk, shall be held accountable for their crime of negligence, up to and including charges of manslaughter.”

Only if the drug company and medical doctor who sold the person a faulty product can also be sued. If they’re vaccinated they should be protected by the product. If not then they should take 10,000. You know, as a booster. Safety is guaranteed because no medical doctor who wants to keep his license would ever admit vaccine damage.

“Nah, we’ll just ignore your comments.”

The ego must be constrained. Good luck with that. Your intellectual arrogance will not allow it.

So I signed.

Dr. William Dyer
Esoteric Order of Dagon
Building 443
Miskatonic University
Arkham, Massachusetts
01924

If you are going to invite the Apocalypse with your insane, anti-vax ramblings, you might as well invoke the best Apocalypse possible…

@Jody

Should we really be playing around with immanentizing the eschaton? Cthulhu doesn’t like going back into his box.

@Fuzzone

I’m just mad Craig Venter put the James Joyce quote in the synthetic cell he made. Me? I’d have put Ai Ai Cthulhu Ph’Tagen. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu Rl’yeh wgah’nagl fhtagn in the DNA.

Yes, it’s probably best I’m not a scientist.

It’s also best that my designs for an apocalypse are less likely to come true than the one the anti-vaxers are bringing forth.

Elite used to be such a good thing. I still like being it and hope I will continue to qualify.

@augustine:

And now we’re getting closer to the truth. Scientists playing politics. It’s really not about science at all. It’s about ideology.

Which ideology is that?

Grinning Reaper just became a “signatory”. Occupation: Collections. Organization: Death becomes You in Truth or Consequences, NM.

@31 Composer99:

While responding directly to the troll is probably not a good idea, we should at least identify the troll’s errors of logic & fact for the benefit of lurkers.

Agreed. There are quite a few things I’m very good at, and I can tell bullshit when I come across it, but deconstruction (at least on the level we see on this blog) is not really one of them. Kudos to those who post here and are pointing these things out. You may be surprised how many people are behind you (or at least how many people I hope are behind you).

I wish a word other than “lurkers” had become common usage for the activity. It really sounds seedy. Perhaps like something involving only a fedora, black raincoat, galoshes, and Nixon mask in public.

What I want to know is what a cherry-picker painted with the slogan “Autism Awareness” was doing at 54th and Kimbark this evening.

So who signed as ‘Andrew “Kidkiller” Wakefield’ #844?

I was happy to sign “Bob” #930

After all, “Bob” makes money on the vaccine *and* the dis-ease… that’s just how he rolls.

You do realise they’ll probably still count you in the tally, even if you sign under a ridiculously obvious fake name? “We had 980 signatures to our petition!” Never mind that 500 or so of them are fake. “This matters to people!” Do you really want to give them numbers to add to their fake tally?

@maydijo

On the flip side, though, if they try to claim those numbers, then they will be laughing stocks when it is pointed out and their credibility will be even worse than it currently is.

You guys have taken all the good names. The person who signed as Buddy Holly is my favorite though.

I was forced to sign as Aimee Semple McPherson.

My favorite signatory so far is BSG’s own crazy doctor, Giaus Baltar. 🙂

@Todd – Somehow I don’t think they care so much about their credibility . . .

The thing is, if this movement really is like a religious fundamentalism (and I think it is), any fake names will automatically be ‘persecution’ – and just as there are those religious fundies who think that any dissent is of the devil and they will be blessed for going about God’s work, regardless, so, too, will these anti-vax fundies think that this ‘persecution’ is evidence they are getting closer to The Truth about The Global Vaccination Conspiracy.

I find it extraordinary just how specific and detailed all these “fundamental rights” are. Next, having peanut butter on toast on Tuesdays will be a fundamental right.

Personally, I think the idea of a “right” is deeply flawed. It’s a spin-off from the notion of the landowners who wrote the US constitution that everything is all about *property*. Since all they understood was ownership, they attempted to justify our deepest intuitions about right and wrong by turning right and wrong into a thing that you somehow have, or own.

We need a new framework. The notion of a “right” has run its course.

“Mike Rotch” also made me laugh, but I’m really a twelve year old inside.

The whole religion/fundamentalism angle is why I signed as McPherson.

Signed as Lucrezia Mongfish Heterodyne, Mad Scientist, Castle Heterodyne, Mechanicsburg.

matt kline: “Which ideology is that?”

If you have to ask then ask Orac your leader.He’ll tell you which ideology he believes in.

In case anyone’s interested Andrew Wakefield will apparently be on the Nicole Sandler Show tomorrow at 3pm Pacific 6pm Eastern, http://www.radioornot.com . I believe the number is (305) 653-1159 last time i checked.

What I want to know is what a cherry-picker painted with the slogan “Autism Awareness” was doing at 54th and Kimbark this evening.

Otto @ 50

I dunno, but piss on him for me willya? I used to live in the “Suzanne”.

CORRECTION:

Someone just gave me an updated phone number for nicole Sandler show:

(954) 889-6410.

That’s almost certainly correct.

Knurl makes a good point:

“I wish a word other than “lurkers” had become common usage for the activity.”

I like the term “reader” – it describes their activity and doesn’t sound creepy or pejorative.

“Augustine”, on the other hand, fails to make any point at all in his response to “The status quo vaccination policy in the US, which already allows plenty of exemptions, can not in any sense be described as totalitarian.”:

“The error in your logic is that you do not condone the exemption freedoms in said existing policies. A totalitarian approach is the only logical way to deal with such personal freedoms.”

I fail to see how the fact that some (or even all) people disagree with a law or policy changes it in any way. If that were so, I imagine that the US tax code would be very different.

The current vaccination policies (which, by the way, are not “laws”, “mandates” or “compulsory”) allow for religious exemption without any requirement to document or certify that the person actually belongs to a religion that forbids vaccination. Adding to that the fact that many jurisdictions allow for philosophical exemptions, the current vaccination policies can hardly be described as “totalitarian” (or even “strict”).

“Augustine” seems to be rather “black or white” in his view of policies; if they exist, they are “totalitarian”. I suspect that in the real world, policies, laws, etc. can be in all shades of grey. There can be vaccination policies that protect the public health while allowing individuals the freedom to follow their own “conscience” – like those in effect in the US today.

And the fact that some people don’t “condone” those policies doesn’t change them.

Prometheus

Prometheus: “And the fact that some people don’t “condone” those policies doesn’t change them. ”

Prometheus,

If you had any say so at all would you take these rights away?

@ 37 Ian,

Logic… you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I hate to be picky, especially with a Princess Bride quote, but I think you are being much too specific. What leads you to believe that any of the other words it uses mean what it thinks they mean? I don’t rule out the articles as not meaning what it thinks they mean. No, I am not just being mean. 😉

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