An anti-vaccine activist destroys my irony meter…

While I’m having a bit of fun with the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, I notice that its Boy Wonder Jake Crosby, the one-trick pony whose trick is playing “six degrees of separation” in order to try to link anyone who supports the science of vaccines with big pharma, the CDC, the FDA, or any other company or regulatory agency he doesn’t like, has a new post up at AoA. In it he complains about being kicked out of a conference, the Research Ethics Book Group Lunch and Book Signing at the annual Advancing Ethical Research Conference held by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIMR). The book being discussed was The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin. From previous times when Jake has tried to ask what he calls “challenging questions,” the impression that I keep getting is that he tends to ramble a lot and monopolize the microphone, rather like the the Royal Rife guy did at the Trottier Symposium where I was a speaker in 2010.

Whatever happened (and I’d love to hear Seth’s version or an account from someone who was at the lunch of what really happened, given Jake’s propensity to see things only in a way that makes him appear to his fellow cranks to be a persecuted iconoclast and hero), Jake was apparently asked to leave. None of this is particularly remarkable, given that he was parroting the same nonsense about David Lewis having “exonerated” Andrew Wakefield that AoA has been pushing. In fact, I wasn’t even going to mention Jake’s post, given that getting himself kicked out of such conferences has apparently become an essential part of his anti-vaccine schtick.

But then I read the comments.

What caught my eye was a comment after Jake’s post by everybody’s favorite example of someone who thinks far more of her knowledge of science than any objective measure could justify, Ginger Taylor, who opined:

When people are right about something, or want to be sure that they are right about something, they beg for debates (heated or not). They want every aspect of an issues turned over again and again so that they can get at the truth. That way if they are wrong about something, they can lean so quickly, adjust their position/approach, and be as right as they can be as fast as they can be.

When they are wrong about something, and know it, they throw challengers out of the room. When they hate correction and learning, they shut down debate. When it is about them, their ambition, ego and goals, they may even lie to keep control of the conversation to prevent truth from coming to light.

Lovers of truth love discussion and debate. They are the last people in the room and have to be reminded to leave because the cleaning crew needs to come in. They leave a discussion with an opponent with some form of the question, “what is your email address… can I send you a piece on this from…. have you heard the lecture by…”

And anyone who truly wants to do the right thing, for matters of science and medicine and public policy to be accurate and effective and compassionate, can see the difference between lovers of truth and lovers of themselves as plain as day. I am guessing there were not that many people in the room that were fooled by his accusation of you being disruptive.

It took all my self-control not to collapse on the floor in a gibbering, hysterically laughing mass upon reading Ginger’s comment. I was, however, unable to keep at least a little giggle from escaping.

Let’s see. If what Ginger says is the case, then one of her favorite anti-vaccine conferences Autism One must not love truth. In fact, the it must hate truth. After all, its organizers have kicked out people who disagree with its anti-vaccine message each of the last four years. Let’s see. It was Ken Reibel in 2008, Chicago Tribune reporter Trine Tsouderos in 2009, a department of health employee from a western state and an independent filmmaker in 2010, and Ken Reibel (again) and Jamie Berstein in 2011. During the last of these, the organizer of Autism One brought in the Lombard, IL police to expel Ken and Jamie. It was a case of massive overkill in the name of trying to prevent discussion and debate with someone who disagrees with them and knows how to dismantle their arguments.

Truly, my irony meter has been fried, fricasseed, and melted to the point of vaporizing. To hear Jake whine about being asked to leave a conference and then to see Ginger opining in her usual nauseatingly self-congratulatory smug fashion about how “lovers of truth” like her and her buddies in the anti-vaccine movement don’t do this sort of thing were just too much for it. I wonder if there’s some sort of titanium protective case I can buy for the next one.

ADDENDUM: More irony meter destruction, courtesy of someone who goes under the ‘gym Mnookin pushed the panic button:

Why is Seth Mnookin talking instead of Dr. Lewis? Same reason Brian Deer is instead of the MDs in the UK. The Medical community is hiding behind these guys who they have cherry picked because they are gullible and willing to earn a big handsome buck by being deceptive to support “the greater good.”

“Wink-wink, hush-hush, it pays good and benefits society. Now run along and say what we tell you to say, write what we tell you to write and the money will keep coming. And if someone in the crowd stumps you with a question, here’s a button that will immediately produce a technical difficulty. We’ll be there to coach you thru how to handle it. We’ve got your back…..”

But really now, isn’t it obvious that in the end, Mnookin and Deer will be the first guys to fall and lots of finger pointing will ensue and all those who are paying them today will trash them in a heartbeat to save themselves.

Fortunately Mnookin won’t be alone in the fire pit of public disdain and flogging for long. The pharma and public health execs who were and are in a position to do something to curtail vaccine-induced brain injuries will soon join them for many long days of reckoning perhaps for the rest of their lives behind bars.

Yes, indeed. This is very much like Cathy Jameson’s fantasy about there being a grand conspiracy by scientists to hide The Truth About Autism and Vaccines. Only this time, it’s the typical crank fantasy of vindication, the prototypical rant by mad scientists in movies, “I’ll show them! I’ll show them all! And then they’ll suffer!” In other words, it’s a rather nasty fantasy about taking one’s enemies and either throwing them in jail or up against the wall.