The Wakefield verdict: A one trick pony does his one trick again

Ah, vacation. It’s time to relax and unwind. Of course, blogging is one way that I relax and unwind; so my being on vacation this week doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll stop my usual blogging, but it does mean I’ll wind down. One way that I’ll slow down is that I’ll try to keep my logorrheic tendencies in check. I’ll also probably miss a day (or two, or three) of new material, although in its place I’ll probably post a couple “greatest hits.” (At least, I hope they’re “greatest hits” and hope they’re as interesting now as they were then—or at least not so uninteresting that no one bothers to read them.) Who knows? Maybe shorter posts will be better posts—for some things, anyway.

Fortunately the judge decided Andy Wakefield’s case last Friday on simple jurisdictional grounds; so I could write up a quick post about it and not worry about it this week. However, it is rather amusing, by way of followup to note briefly that already the conspiracy theories are flying thick and furious. For instance, our ace cub reporter and one trick pony Jake Crosby has already done his one trick and woven a conspiracy theory, which showed up on the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, like clockwork, yesterday. The only thing that surprised me is that it actually took him nearly two days to do it. He’s slipping, that Jake, even more so given how very unimpressive this “conflict of interest” he’s patting himself on the back for identifying really is:

Amy Clark Meachum, the judge who threw Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case out of district court by essentially saying that BMJ, Fiona Godlee and Brian Deer can libel him all they want since they are from the UK, is married to a lobbyist named Kurt Meachum of Philips & Meachum Public Affairs.

According to Texas Tribune Lobbyist’s directory, Kurt Meachum’s client, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, earned him $10,000-$25,000 in 2011 alone. What is the significance of this? Family physicians give many vaccinations as a considerable part of their practice. But that’s hardly the beginning of the story.

So let’s see. The judge’s husband is a lobbyist one of whose clients is the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Family physicians are on the frontline of administering vaccines. So, by Jake’s logic, that must mean that either Kurt Meacham put the husbandly pressure on his wife to rule against Wakefield on jurisdictional grounds, all in order to protect his evil vaccinating clients or that Amy Clark Meacham didn’t want to risk hurting her husband’s lobbying interests and “threw” the case (while throwing Andrew Wakefield under the bus). Such is the way of the world in Young Master Crosby’s fevered imagination. Never mind that family practice doctors do a heck of a lot more than administer vaccinations. After all, family practice often means taking care of patients of all ages, meaning a lot of adults. In adult care, vaccinations are important, but adults don’t need nearly the number of vaccines that children do, nor do they need them nearly as frequently. My guess is that while, yes, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians does promote science-based vaccination policies, vaccination policies are probably a relatively small part of what it does.

In Jake’s world, however, because, first and foremost, it is always all about the vaccines, the TAFP is so focused on vaccines that its lobbyist would actually influence his wife to rule against Andrew Wakefield. But in Jake’s fever-brain world, that’s not all it’s about. Apparently in 2010 the TAFP co-sponsored with St. David’s Foundation, the World Health and Golf Association, the Tarrant County Public Health Department, the Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Medical Association, and the Immunization Collaborative of Tarrant County a confab called the Texas Immunization Summit. Those bastards! Will they stop at nothing to vaccinate children and turn them autistic?

Look at the agenda! They even had the audacity to invite Allison Singer and Dr. Ari Brown! That alone must be reason enough conclude that there must be a massive conflict of interest because clearly, the pure evil of the dark lords of vaccination must have tainted the TAFP beyond all hope of decontamination. The only way this could be worse is if the organizers of this conference had invited Paul Offit himself. Oh wait! It did that already in 2008! And this year, Seth Mnookin will be there to “share his fascinating research into the antivaccine movement” and do a book signing! There’s also going to be a “surprise guest.” Maybe it will be Paul Offit again. Who knows?

Yes, Jake is definitely slipping. I’m doing a better job of “connecting the dots” than he did. He’s also regurgitating the same nonsense

There’s one last rather interesting aspect of Jake’s whole conspiracy theory. I noticed that Jake originally posted this “link” between Judge Meacham and the TAFP in the comments of the original AoA post lamenting the ruling against Wakefield. Mysteriously, the comment disappeared. At the time, I wondered if someone at AoA told Jake to lay off and that attacking a judge in this way after she rendered a decision he didn’t like was unlikely to help things and very well might hurt Wakefield if he actually did decide to pursue. Then, Sunday morning, this post appeared, which is basically a longer version of Jake’s original comment. My guess is that someone checked with Andrew Wakefield and cleared it before letting Jake post his comment as a full blog post.

If that’s true, it almost certainly means that Wakefield is not going to appeal. If he were going to appeal, he wouldn’t let his proxies attack the judge in this manner. Indeed, this post by Jake supports my original suspicion that Wakefield’s lawsuit had nothing to do with winning and everything to do with punishing Brian Deer and rallying the troops. Now they have a new enemy to rally to attack.