How not to achieve respectability

Sometimes I can’t figure anti-vaccine loons out. No, I’m not talking about the pure pseudoscience they lay down on a daily basis. I can sort of get how some of them might cling against all scientific evidence to the idea that somehow vaccines “damaged” their child, along with the blandishments of the army of quacks known as DAN! doctors promising them that, if you just use this diet, this new supplement, this new nostrum, this hyperbaric oxygen, you can have a normal child again. What I can’t get is how individuals who, however misguided they are about science, even to the point of laying down swaths of burning stupid that would melt diamonds, are otherwise pretty savvy in many areas still pull some seriously idiotic moves in areas that they should know about.

Take, for instance, Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted, whose latest anti-vaccine book isn’t exactly burning up the charts are obviously desperate for scientific respectability. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about them, it’s that they crave the validation of science; they want to be taken seriously by scientists, especially Mark “not a doctor, not a scientist” Blaxill. Failing that, at the very least they want the media and government to take them seriously, the former of which will presumably lead to the public taking them seriously. So what do you do if you are a couple of cranks who really, really want to be taken seriously by the media and have a book full of pseudoscience that you’re trying to sell?

I know one thing you don’t do if you want to be taken seriously. You don’t appear on Gary Null’s radio show. Don Imus’s show, I can understand. Imus may be an aging shock jock long past his prime (if he ever had a prime) and anti-vaccine crank, but he does have a mainstream show that covers politics and has a relatively wide listenership. Gary Null, on the other hand, is pure crank, pure quack. If you want to be taken seriously, you stay as far away from Gary Null as you possibly can. He’s right up there, crank-wise, with Mike Adams, Joe Mercola, and John Scudamore.

I have a hard time not concluding that Generation Rescue, at least, no longer cares if it can gain any mainstream respect. And it shouldn’t, because the anti-vaccine movement has been riding the crazy train for so long that even the mainstream media is starting to figure it out. No, I suspect that the anti-vaccine movement is now pandering to its base.

As Blaxill and Olmsted launch their book tour, I do, however, see opportunities for a bit of skeptical activism against the anti-vaccine movement. For instance:

October 23rd
Chicago, IL
Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) Chapter
Time & Location: TBA
Jacey Capurso

Paging the Chicago Skeptics!

Then there’s:

October 31st
North Atlanta, GA
Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) Chapter
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Calling the Atlanta Skeptics!

You get the idea. It’s a perfect opportunity to show up, see what Blaxill and Olmsted have to say, and then challenge them firmly but politely. It may not be as hilarious as watching The Refusers, but, then, what is?