One last example of crank magnetism for 2011

OK, I know I said that this morning’s post would likely be the last post of 2011, but then–wouldn’t you know it?–the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism had to go and post a post entitled AAPS on Vaccine Exemptions. I think it deserves a brief mention today for the simple reason that it’s a perfect example of crank magnetism. It makes a lot of sense that Anne Dachel of AoA would be very impressed by the sorts of things that Dr. Jane Orient, the current president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) because, well, the AAPS is a crank organization every bit as cranky as Generation Rescue, Safeminds, and other antivaccine groups.

Don’t believe me? It’s not as though I haven’t written about the AAPS and its journal the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS) before. Basically, the AAPS is known for being against vaccine mandates, against Medicare (calling it “unconstitutional”), and against any form of regulation of health care by government. It’s called public health programs “tyranny.” Showing that it, too, demonstrates crank magnetism every bit as strong as that of AoA, the AAPS has published bad papers claiming to find that abortion causes breast cancer, has promoted the vile idea that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for “vaccine injury,” supported HIV/AIDS denialism, and (of course!) done what all crank medical organizations like to do, attack evidence- and science-based medicine as placing unacceptable limits on physician autonomy. Perhaps my favorite example of AAPS crankery is when it published a blog post (now removed, no doubt in embarrassment) claiming that then-candidate Barack Obama was possibly “deliberately using the techniques of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a covert form of hypnosis.” The AAPS doesn’t even limit itself to medicine in that it’s also published papers attacking anthropogenic global warming, as though physicians had the necessary expertise to judge the science in that field. Truly, the crank magnetism and arrogance of the AAPS know no bounds.


Consistent with its previous stands, the interview that Dachel is so impressed with pulls out all the old “health freedom” tropes and cherry picks the literature to try to argue that flu vaccine mandates for health care workers are affronts to freedom and in general just to attack the flu vaccine. Dr. Orient trots out–of course–“brave maverick” doctor Tom Jefferson, who’s well known for saying one thing about flu vaccines in his Cochrane reviews and saying other things in public interviews. Mark Crislip, as usual, did a great job deconstructing Dr. Jefferson’s biased views a couple of years ago.

Of course, maybe Dachel knows that the AAPS is a crank organization. Here’s how she cites part of the press release:

Many repeated doses of similar vaccines likely increase the risk of allergic reactions, and no data exist on the safety of a large number of doses, states Dr. Orient, citing a 2006 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dachel left something out, though. What did she leave out? The actual article that Dr. Orient cited, that’s what, which is right there in the press release. That article is Influenza Vaccine: Review of Effectiveness of the U.S. Immunization Program, and Policy Considerations. And who are the authors?

Mark and David Geier, plus Paul King, antivaccine “scientists” all. The Geiers, in particular, are known for using chemical castration to treat autistic children and whose papers full of bad science, bad analysis, and pseudoscience I have deconstructed many, many times on this blog over the last seven years. One wonders why Dachel left that out of the passage she cited. I don’t have a lot of time to do an in-depth analysis of the paper, but it can best be characterized as being of similar quality to other papers published by the Geiers, except that it wasn’t even good enough to be published anywhere except JPANDS.

Dachel didn’t mention the specific JPANDS paper cited by Dr. Orient (in marked contrast to her including the link to a paper by Tom Jefferson’s group in the text she cited), but she did very much like how Dr. Orient, consistent with past statements by the AAPS, referred to evidence-based medicine as “authority-based medicine.”

No wonder Dachel is so impressed the AAPS. Crank magnetism lives on.