Time to rally the troops against the antivaccine movement again

Here we go again.

A week ago, I tried to exercise my blogging powers (such as they are) for some good by rallying my readers to appear at rallies organized by the antivaccine movement against California Bill AB 2109. Fortunately, ultimately Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, although he did try to insert weasel words in his signing statement to create a religious exemption from the requirement for informed consent from a health care professional before being allowed a philosophical exemption. All in all, it was a transparent and cowardly attempt to placate opponents and privilege religion over non-religion. Starring at that last ditch antivaccine rally designed to persuade Governor Brown to veto AB 2109 was someone who is auditioning to be Jenny McCarthy’s replacement in the antivaccine movement, comedian (if you can call him that anymore) Rob Schneider.

Well, Skepchick Elyse Anders warns us that Rob Schneider, whom she calls appropriately enough Deuce Bigalow Antivaccine Gigolo, is going to be on the air on a radio station in Salt Lake City and provides skeptics with an action plan to call in this morning with some—shall we say?—pertinent questions. Todd W. joins in the call. Schneider will be on KXRK 96.3 in Salt Lake City at 7 AM local time, which is MDT (which is 8 AM CDT for the Chicago contingent and 9 AM for us EDT types). No doubt he’s there to promote his standup act at Wiseguys Comedy Club. As Elyse reminds us:

Call in during the show to talk to Mr. Schneider* and confront him with weird ass facts that he’s discussing. 877-602-9696.

For your reference pleasure, in addition to Elyse’s handy-dandy guide to boning up on common antivaccine arguments that need to be demolished, take a gander at the sort of idiocy Rob Schneider has been spouting. This idiocy includes but is not limited to claims that school vaccine mandates are simultaneously both Nazi persecution and violations of the Nuremberg Code. Peppered in there is the usual idiocy, such as claims that “doctors won’t tell you both sides” because they’re paid off by the pharmaceutical companies, exaggerations of the number of shots, and—I kid you not—that vaccines are not tested for safety or efficacy.

If you want a taste of the sort of brain dead statements that Rob Schneider has made about vaccines, Elyse helpfully provides us an audio clip from the last time that Schneider was on this particular radio show. Here are some “highlights”:

  • “Don’t vaccinate. Vaccines don’t work. There’s no science behind them.”
  • “There’s no medical science behind vaccines.”
  • “They don’t research this stuff.” (At this point, one of the hosts—and remember, this is a morning show, which means that the host is probably not particularly scientifically inclined—challenges Schneider with retorts like “this is crazy.” And it is.)
  • Vaccines apparently, according to Schneider, had nothing to do with the eradication of smallpox from the world. Instead, according to him “diseases run cycles.” This argument is ignorant even by Schneider’s usual standards, particularly given that smallpox’s “cycle” seemed unending until concerted vaccination efforts in the 19th and 20th century. The same is apparently true of polio, of which Schneider says, “When it runs its course, it’s done.” Again, funny how polio’s “running its course” didn’t happen until there was a safe and effective vaccine against it.
  • Under Reagan, they signed a thing that says, ‘Hey, if anything goes wrong, pharmaceutical companies don’t have to pay; the government does.'”

As you can see, even by antivaccine standards, Schneider isn’t exactly an intellectual heavyweight, if you know what I mean. Appropriately enough, the particular morning show that Rob Schneider will be appearing on is called Radio from Hell. From the clips I listened to, it sounds very much like the stereotypical “morning zoo“-style show. Interestingly enough, even the hosts of the KXRK morning show weren’t buying what Schneider was selling about vaccines and appeared to be making fun of Schneider in the background, in essence, calling B.S. on what he was lying down. (Let’s just put it this way. If the local morning zoo show doesn’t believe your pseudoscience, you’re not doing very well.) Assuming there’s a call-in segment, which is often the case for guests on a radio show, they might well be receptive to letting a skeptic or two duke it out with Schneider, although one wonders whether Schneider would allow it. Still, it’s worth a try and a worthy cause for skeptical activism. Even if you don’t live in the Salt Lack City area (and I would be very curious to know how many people from Salt Lake City actually read this blog), there is streaming audio from the radio station website.

Unfortunately, when Schneider will be on conflicts with work obligations for me; so let me know what happens and, if I feel so motivated, I might listen to the podcast later.