The (not so) Thinking Moms’ (D)evolution continues apace

About a week ago, I took note of what appears to be a new offshoot of the antivaccine movement known as the Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR). At the time, I pointed out the toxic combination of hubris mixed with ignorance that resulted in a risible “declaration of independence” from “medical tyranny.” In reality, it was one long antivaccine rant full of long refuted myths and pseudoscience combined with a demand for an unethical study of the current vaccine schedule verus placebo. In brief, to anyone with half a brain, it would have been embarrassing. Apparently the woman who wrote it lacks even that intellectual capacity, belying the name “thinking moms.”

One thing that the “declaration of independence” was about more than anything else was hostility towards scientific medicine. Indeed, the “independence” demanded was, more than anything else, “independence” from science-based medicine, about “freedom” to refuse vaccination based on misinformed consent that paints vaccines as dangerous–deadly, even–and denies their proven efficacy in preventing morbidity and mortality from infectious disease. More of this hostility was on display over the last week or so in the form of two posts. The one I noticed first appeared yesterday and demonstrates the pure hostility towards medical science of these ‘thinking moms” directed at an individual physician as a surrogate for the vaccines they hate and the science that shows the worthlessness of “biomedical” autism quackery. It’s in the form of an open letter entitled The Letter I Wish I Could Send To My Old Pediatrician. And so it begins:

You probably haven’t even noticed that I pulled my child out of your practice but I wanted to take a minute to explain why I did. You SUCK! Your lack of curiosity about my son’s medical decompensation and subsequent Autism after his over-vaccination under your care is offensive. Apparently “do no harm” really means “do not care”.

Do you know that my husband hates you so much that I can’t mention your name in his presence? Yes, we blame YOU. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had the forethought to indemnify all pediatricians with zero legal liability before implementing the harshest vaccine schedule in the world, my only recourse is this letter. “Oh, but…” you whine, “we don’t know that vaccines cause Autism.” Actually, if you read the vaccine package inserts we do know and they do.

Stay classy, “thinking mom.” Stay classy. I especially like the “Dear Dr. Asshat” introduction.

But what about this package insert? Does it really say that vaccines cause autism? Not really. What it says is this:

Adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship to components of Tripedia vaccine.

In other words, these are the things that have been reported. These are not conditions, diseases, or events that have been shown to be caused by the DTaP vaccine. There’s a huge difference. As I’ve pointed out so many times before, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. This particular “thinking mom,” known as Mama Mac, simply assumes that the fact that these adverse reactions have been reported means that the government is “admitting” that vaccines cause autism. As has been pointed out before, large epidemiological studies have failed to find even a whisper of a hint of a correlation between vaccines and autism. To the best of the ability of science to detect it, vaccines do not cause autism.

But Mama Mac believes that vaccines cause autism; so to her they do, and that justifies her “open letter” to her child’s former pediatrician in which she blames him for her child’s autism, concluding:

You broke my child. You took a healthy baby boy and by 18 months you left me with a yard sale of medical problems and neurological damage. Your response was one lousy referral to Early Intervention. Quite simply, you stole my son’s future. Pediatricians should be looking harder at Autism than anyone else. They should be the most worried. You are, as a group, guiltiest of refusing to acknowledge the enormity of the Autism crisis. The silence from the pediatric community on Autism is deafening. Your colleagues are ignoring their role in the decimation of a generation of children. You are practicing a form of medicine you cannot defend. There have been no studies on the full vaccination schedule’s subsequent effects on a baby. You have no research to fall back on. The studies don’t exist. Pediatric medicine has left common sense behind.

Yes, it’s all there, the fallacy of the “autism epidemic,” the belief that vaccines cause autism, and, of course, the ultimate belief that vaccines will be proven to be the cause of autism. Mama Mac fantasizes that when that realization comes pediatricians everywhere, including the pediatrician she hates now, will devastate them. Then, right on cue, “thinking moms” commenters start piling on. One calls pediatricians “egocentric harbingers of neurological toxins,” which I’ll give credit for an amusing turn of phrase even if the phrase has no bearing on reality. One of them even cites Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, whom we’ve met before for his role in an antivaccine propaganda film and has made a name for himself in the antivaccine underground as a pediatrician who has become antivaccine. Supposedly Dr. Palevsky, upon being awarded the “Visionary Award” by Barbara Loe Fisher’s antivacine group the National Vaccine Information Center, broke down in just the way that Mama Mac fantasizes about her pediatrician breaking down. I do, however, want to know just what medical school Dr. Palevsky went to, as he says, “”When I went through medical school, I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective, and I had no reason to believe otherwise.” If his medical school really taught him that vaccines were completely effective and completely safe, he needs to get his money back. He was robbed.

Personally, I suspect he’s distorted his memory to fit his current antivaccine preconceptions.

One thing I wondered. Why on earth did Mama Mac post this as an open letter, instead of sending it at the object of her hatred, her former pediatrician? It strikes me as rather cowardly. She could easily have let this pediatrician know how she felt, but she didn’t. Instead, she wrote a screed and posted it on an antivaccine website. My guess is that she did that because it’s really all about her, not her child.

About a week before this, another of the “thinking moms,” Mamacita, posted an article that shows just what pediatricians have to put up with these days. In a post given the wonderfully Orwellian title, Freedom to Think, Mamacita brags about, in essence, a mother burying her poor pediatrician in antivaccine misinformation to justify her refusal to vaccinate. To her, “thinking” apparently means this:

For the next scheduled appointment the young mother decided it was her turn to call the shots. She started to read. She started to ask questions. She started to analyze what was considered routine and why. She looked up the names of the diseases routine vaccines were supposed to ward against. Then she looked up what was in those vaccines. She looked up their efficacy and what studies had been done, and those studies that hadn’t been done either.

Then she decided it was too many, too soon for her child.

Actually, what Mamcita is describing is, very much like Mama Mac’s story, a fantasy, what she wishes or envisions a “thinking mom” to do. What usually happens in this sort of a situation is that the mother, prodded by either antivaccine parents or having come across antivaccine propaganda on the Internet, begins a Google search and “educates” herself on Google University. The antivaccine misinformation flows like the proverbial rain shower. She learns “what’s really in vaccines” from antivaccine websites promoting the “toxins gambit.” She finds dubious lists of studies that supposedly prove that vaccines cause autism and other sites attacking existing studies that demonstrate the safety of vaccines.

Another mind has been poisoned by antivaccine misinformation. That is what Mamacita is celebrating. The result of that antivaccine misinformation is that this young mother refuses vaccines, refuses to sign a form stating that she is refusing vaccination for her child, and hectors the harried pediatrician and his nurse, spewing every antivaccine trope in the book, including “too many too soon,” the “toxins gambit,” and all the misinformation she had imbibed from the Internet. The pediatrician and his nurse are portrayed as rolling their eyes and sighing, and perhaps they do. After all, even the most patient among us can have trouble at times hiding our reactions to misinformation and pseudoscience that can endanger our patients. That’s about the only thing in Mamacita’s story that rings even remotely true. Well, that, and the colossal arrogance of ignorance that leads Mamacita to portray misinformed refusal of vaccines as “thinking”:

Thrusting the form at her the nurse said, “We aren’t signing this. It’s not legit and has nothing to do with what the officials tell us to say.” The young mother gently took the form, folded it and slid it into the outside pocket of her diaper bag. Feeling as if she could easily burst into tears she picked up her son, turned to face the nurse and said, “I understand you’re running a business here, and that all those vaccines help make you money. I realize that some good might have come from the vaccine program at one time, but to ask me to inject those vaccines into my baby is ridiculous. You have no idea how they interact with each other or how he’ll handle them. His little body… it’s so little, still developing. I can walk away knowing that I had found enough information to support my decision to say no thank you today. It’s a shame you and the doctor couldn’t do the same — to take time to listen to me or attempt to educate me. Please don’t call us for any follow-up appointments. We’ll be going elsewhere.”

Ah, yes. Now we have the a variant of the “pharma shill gambit” in which pediatricians are so dependent on vaccines to make money that they can’t be objective. We also have an argument from ignorance in which, just because this young mom can’t imagine how it could be safe to administer that many vaccines at one time then it must not be safe.

That’s apparently what Mamacita means by “thinking.”

Of course, if this mother “thinks” the way Mamacita thinks she should, the pediatrician could spend hours with no one but this mother and it is highly unlikely that he would convince her of the errors in her understanding of vaccines and infectious disease. That’s because what TMR promotes is not thinking. It’s emotion-based revulsion and fear of vaccines and, above all, science and the science-based medicine that does not tell them what they want to hear.

Too bad that’s not thinking at all.