Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Television

I love the smell of the pharma shill gambit in the morning. It smells like…crankery.

I promised myself that I was done writing about Jenny McCarthy this week. Two posts, a lengthy one and a brief one, lamenting her being hired for a national daytime talk show was, in my view, enough. Unfortunately, something’s happened that makes me want to make like Arnold Schwarzenegger in that famous scene from the 1980s action flick Commando, in which he had promised one villain that he would kill him last. Later in the film while holding this same villain over a cliff, Arnold says, “Remember when I promised I would kill you last? I lied.”

Except that I wasn’t lying at the time. I really didn’t want to write any more about McCarthy for a good long while.

But then I saw who’s come out to play again, after a very long absence! After seeing that, I knew I had to take one more dip from the well. Obviously, I’m not referring to Jake Crosby. He’s been out to play for months now with his amusing stoking of internecine warfare among antivaccine cranks as the puppet of über-crank Patrick “Timmy” Bolen and now his brand new personal blog, created after he was finally booted from his previous gig at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA). This time around I’m talking about the former big macher of the “mercury in vaccines cause autism” wing of the antivaccine movement, the man who just a few short years ago popped up regularly on television as founder and president of the antivaccine crank group Generation Rescue before Jenny McCarthy glommed on to the organization and was made President, the better to take advantage of her Hollywood glitz in the service of forwarding its aims. This is a man whose titanic ego, combined with his truly rabid anti-intellectualism and pugnacious manner that led him to lash out at people who had the temerity to suggest that GR in general (and Handley in particular) didn’t know what they were talking about and were promoting pseudoscience and quackery, led him to some monumental tirades.

Handley’s been gone for a while now, keeping a much lower profile. The last time I can remember writing anything about him was two years ago, when, after a hilariously bit of inept detective work in which he had embarrassed himself by concluding that one of our favorite pro-vaccine science bloggers, Sullivan, was in fact Bonnie Offit, wife of the Dark Lord of Vaccination (in Handley’s eyes) Paul Offit. Even more hilariously, Handley promised that, if he were wrong, he would give up ownership of the domain, which he had been using to attack Paul Offit, and never mention Paul Offit again. As a result, a brief but amusing little meme circulated in which many of us declared, Spartacus-like, that “I am Bonnie Offit.” A few months later, it was revealed that Sullivan—surprise! surprise!—was not Bonnie Offit, leading to a demand to J.B. Handley to put up or shut up about Paul Offit. Surprisingly, he actually did give up ownership of the domain and, even more shockingly, stopped mentioning (sort of) Paul Offit for a while anyway.

Not anymore, apparently. It appears that the near-universal dismay and anger expressed by nearly everyone interested in the topic who is not an antivaccine activist over the hiring of Jenny McCarthy to be a regular panelist on the daytime talk show The View has prodded J.B. to make like the proverbial old gunslinger in a western who had hung up his guns for good to reluctantly put on his holster again, saddle up, and ride off to do battle with the ne’er-do-wells who dare to attack his Jenny as antivaccine. The truth hurts, apparently, enough for him to come out swinging again in a post on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism entitled Pharma’s McCarthy-ism in Full View. Yes, it’s unoriginal, as usual. I particularly hate the play on McCarthy’s name to evoke the specter of Joe McCarthy, but I have to admit that both sides do it, although it seems to me that the antivaccine movement likes this particular ploy much more because it lets it paint itself as being a victim of a witch hunt whenever reasonable people point out that Jenny McCarthy has been an antivaccine loon. To nail home that connection, Handley even starts with a a quote of a definition of “McCarthyism.” Well, J.B. never was particularly subtle—the understatement of the decade!—so why should he start now? He also apparently has decided to break his pledge not to mention Paul Offit again. (Surprise! Surprise!) Because, you know, in the mind of an antivaccinationist, any time there is any sort of media campaign critical of the antivaccine movement, it must be because of Paul Offit. He’s just that powerful, which is why we, his pharma minions, worship him so.

Handley starts off by trying to make it seem as though McCarthy isn’t a crank by invoking—you guessed it!—other celebrities who have “expressed concerns” about vaccines and autism, apparently because no one has more scientific knowledge than celebrities:

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Of course, we all know the answer: they have publicly expressed concerns about the relationship between vaccines and autism.

If you just started reading newspapers this week, you may not realize all the company Jenny has in a controversy that’s far from over. Wasn’t it just a few short months ago that a congressional panel was hammering CDC employees in a hearing about this very same link? Where are all the articles calling for all these powerful elected officials to step down?

OK, Bernardine Healy was a real scientist and director of the NIH, but for some reason she turned antivaccine crank later in life to the point where she was even named Age of Autism’s “Person of the Year” for 2008. If that’s not the mark of an antivaccine crank, I don’t know what is! As for the rest? Don Imus? Seriously? That tired old washed up shock jock’s basically been “thimerosal causes autism” conspiracy loon since long before I even took an interest in the topic. Donald Trump is so stupid when it comes to vaccines that he can’t even get the tropes right. I know, I know, as I pointed out at the time, I realize that criticizing Donald Trump for being an antiscience idiot is rather akin to criticizing water for being wet or Donald Trump’s hair for having a life of its own, but sometimes a blogger’s just gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do, particularly when he’s preoccupied with real science. The same goes for the rest of the celebrity cranks who spew antivaccine talking points. Basically Handley’s gambit boils down to one big appeal to authority, except that the authorities to whom he’s chosen to appeal aren’t exactly authorities on autism or vaccines.

One other point: I’ll call Handley’s bluff. Darrell Issa, the Congressional Representative who called that antiscience “autism hearing” in November, should not be reelected. He’s an antiscience crank on many levels, not just vaccines and autism. As I learned at TAM from Michael Mann’s excellent talk, he’s also a climate science denialist. There are many reasons for him not to be re-elected. Ditto any elected representative who works to endanger public health by working with the antivaccine movement.

So who’s orchestrating this “vicious” campaign against Jenny McCarthy, in which dozens of articles have been published in the mainstream media over the last few days, ever since the announcement was made on Monday that she would be joining the cast of The View? I think the title makes it obvious. To Handley, it must be big pharma, of course, and it must be doing it because it’s terrified of the platform that McCarthy will have to expose its evil machinations in her new gig. What’s really hilarious is just how thin the evidence is that Handley can dig up to “prove” his point. Who’s responsible for this barrage? Obviously, it must be Every Child By Two, Paul Offit (of course!), and affiliated pharma drones. Don’t believe me? Just listen to J.B.:

Every Child By Two, a Pharma front group, leads the charge. ECBT’s funding comes from 2 sources: Wyeth and Sanofi (any reporter could easily confirm this by reading their 990, but they don’t.) They appear to be a responsible advocate for vaccinating because they were founded by Rosalyn Carter thirty years ago, so the group is a great way for Pharma to hide behind something credible-sounding. ECBT takes charge of press briefings, etc.

It would be quite amazing and gratifying if ECBT and Paul Offit had that sort of influence. The world would be a better place, and antivaccine activists like Jenny McCarthy wouldn’t have such sway. In fact, it would be awesome. Sadly, it’s just a fantasy in Handley’s conspiracy-addled mind. This backlash against the hiring of Jenny McCarthy was her own doing. If you promote dangerous pseudoscience for so many years, quackery that can and has endangered public health, then you shouldn’t be surprised when people react with revulsion when a major network (in this case, ABC) gives you a high profile position where you’ll be seen every day by millions. My first reaction was to shrug my shoulders and go, “Meh!” However, after thinking a bit about it I changed my mind. Also, even though I sometimes wonder whether Jenny McCarthy on The View might be a good thing because it might force her to resign as president of GR and stop showing up at the yearly antivaccine quackfest known as Autism One to give a keynote address because ABC might have demanded it in her contract, it remains to be seen whether any of these good things might come about. In the meantime, I do know that she has potentially been given a high profile platform from which she might be able to spew her antivaccine drivel, and that’s a bad thing, as is ABC’s apparent lack of concern about its appearance of endorsing (or at least not condemning) her previous assaults on public health.

Next up, Handley appears to believe we’re all pharma shills:

– The writers and quote-makers are called in on all fronts:

1. Pharma-whore writers who are literally on Pharma’s payroll

2. Pharma-benefitting writers (think Seth Mnookin) who have benefitted greatly from Pharma’s largesse (speaking fees, etc)

3. Orac-types who work in medical facilities that rely on Pharma’s funding

4. And, finally, publications that receive a majority of their ad dollars from Pharma

– Then, Pharma’s army of paid trolls start dominating the comment boards to make it appear like the public is equally outraged.

Handley is so full of number two, that the feculent discharge can be detected from his enclave in the Pacific Northwest all the way to the East Coast. It’s the pharma shill gambit in such an obvious, silly form that it’s hard for me not to laugh a little, particularly at his mention of me. (OK, I laughed a lot.) To conspiracy theorists like Handley, apparently the power of pharma lucre is so powerful that one only has to work at an institution that has received pharma funding to be tainted. It’s just that magic, and you don’t even have to be aware that your institution is receiving that filthy pharma lucre, much less how much or for what. No doubt Lord Draconis Zeneca is pleased. I also can’t help but express a little pedantic, style Nazi amusement at one of Handley’s sentences: “Pharma-benefitting writers (think Seth Mnookin) who have benefitted greatly from Pharma’s largesse (speaking fees, etc).” There’s a word “redundant” that J.B. apparently doesn’t know. Learn it. Use it. Love it, J.B.

Of course, two can play that game. Who, one wonders, is funding Generation Rescue? Who, one wonders, is funding Age of Autism? Inquiring minds want to know!

To counter what he sees as “misinformation,” Handley makes the following assertions:

We should all be pleased with the violent reaction from Pharma. It shows how deeply the concerns about the vaccine-autism link have spread. Parents are doing their own research! I sincerely hope ABC has done their own independent research to discover what’s actually true:

  • The majority (certainly not all) of parents of children with autism believe vaccines played a role in their child developing autism
  • Nearly half of new parents are concerned about giving their babies vaccines
  • Millions of moms trust Jenny to be honest, courageous, and fearless about her feelings and beliefs, no matter how much pressure there may be to hide or change

To which I can’t help but respond:

  • Citation please
  • Citation please
  • Citation please

OK, it’s probably true that half of new parents express concerns about vaccines, but in general by “concerns” we’re not talking about the kind of demonization and fear of vaccines that Handley expresses. He also forgets to mention that this is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy. It is due to the efforts of people like Handley spreading antivaccine pseudoscience, quackery, and lies, aided and abetted by a credulous press that values false balance over scientific accuracy, that so many parents have concerns, to the point where Handley gloats over it.

When McCarthy was first announced as a new permanent of the cast of The View on Monday, I was rather surprised that the usual suspects in the antivaccine movement were so silent. There were, at least initially, no congratulations to her and no gloating. It made me wonder whether antivaccinationists knew that she might very well be on the verge of abandoning them, now that her strategy of downplaying the antivaccine quackery over the last couple of years has finally payed off in resurrecting her career. It may well still be that that’s true. However, the overwhelmingly negative reaction from pretty much everyone not part of the antivaccine movement to her hiring stung them. It was enough to cause them to circle the wagons, and it was even enough to prod J.B. Handley out of semiretirement to break his promise from two years ago not to mention Paul Offit anymore. Unfortunately, we’ll have plenty of opportunity to see how this plays out over the next several months.

There. Now I hope I can abandon this topic for a while and move on to other science, medicine, pseudoscience, and pseudomedicine topics.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

190 replies on “I love the smell of the pharma shill gambit in the morning. It smells like…crankery.”

To counter what he sees as “misinformation,” Handley makes the following assertions:

<voice=”Mr. Rogers”>Can you say “argumentum ad populam”, boys and girls? I knew you could.</voice>

All three of those statements might be technically true. None of them has any bearing on whether the claim that vaccines cause autism is true.

Remember, Mr. Handley, even if they did laugh at Galileo and Einstein, they also laughed at Bozo the clown.

Worth mentioning: Big Pharma would profit far more if people stopped vaccinating, given how much more expensive treatment is than prevention.

“When McCarthy was first announced as a new permanent of the cast of The View on Monday, I was rather surprised that the usual suspects in the antivaccine movement were so silent. There were, at least initially, no congratulations to her and no gloating.”

Dan Olmsted was the only person on “AoA” who did any gloating. Anne Dachel reflexively feared that Jenny was being “set up.”

Oh, JB:

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Of course, we all know the answer: they have publicly expressed concerns about the relationship between vaccines and autism.

Why should we care what any of these people have said about vaccines and autism?

Have any of them compiled a case with extensive, unimpeachable support in the research literature?

If yes, then we can give them a fair hearing.

If not, what they have to say means diddly squat.


Shills, Minions and “Orac Types” . . .

Imagine my excitement upon discovering that my deliciously evil work is causing the rebels to spew venom and tremble with terror. And speaking of terror, fear not, the much feared Ah’k ah’k mavoon v’mrekk (the leathery egg-mother of the daytime) Barbara Walters, is most certainly on the Corpus payroll. Yes shills and minions, she’s one of us, she’s on the take and she has a plan, an evil one, of course.

Her evil plan is to muzzle the pulchritudinous, potty-mouthed, princess with steady fame and piles and piles of filthy PharmaLucre™, thus bringing an end to her “activism.” Another screechy, troublesome monkey lured into compliance with a ripe banana and a shiny object or two. It’s almost too easy.

And so, the rebels scurry and swarm in disarray, their bleatings more pathetic than ever. I mean really, have you read the recent, disingenuously chipper posts of Dr. Jay (Did you miss me? Did you miss me?) Gordon, or the oddly circular cluelessness laid down by the insufferably prim, self-satisfied Greg? Utterly pitiable.

Meanwhile, in dim, subterranean vaults, armies of shadowy technicians tend to vast rows of bubbling, fuming vaccine vats, churning out ever more toxic and soporific concoctions with which to weaken and enslave humanity. Be sure of it my marvelous Minions, our scaly, cold grip on your miserable little rock grows ever tighter. The plan unfolds, the PharmaLucre™ flows.

Good times Shills and Minions, good times.

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Author of The Purpose Driven Knife

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital

———————————————————MESSAGE ENDS

The majority (certainly not all) of parents of children with autism believe vaccines played a role in their child developing autism

It was only 2.1% of the parents in the UK study I cited on another thread earlier (Lingam 2003), and 2/3 of them blamed MMR. It may be more now, of course, but that begs the question as to whether parental observations of their children are as infallible as antivaxxers often claim. If they are that in-tune with their children, why didn’t they notice the effects of vaccines until it was pointed out to them?

However, the overwhelmingly negative reaction from pretty much everyone not part of the antivaccine movement to her hiring stung them.

Oh, I bet it did. The antivaxxers sealed themselves off so completely in their echo chamber after St. Andy’s downfall that it hasn’t registered until now that the rest of the world doesn’t take them seriously anymore. It’s a far cry from the glory days of a decade ago when they routinely got media play in the name of “balance.” They persist in thinking their only opposition is we Dracono-skeptuals and that the magical evidence that will vindicate their views is just on the verge of breaking through.

I’d almost feel sorry for them if their cluelessness wasn’t so f*cking dangerous to other people, especially their own children.

One of the things that’s gratifying to me about the whole McCarthy dustup is how many previously-silent folk have protested Jenny’s appointment.

I noticed that he left Rob Schneider off his list of celebrity vaccine loonies. I guess Schneider is so transparently dopey that he’s not considered an asset. And yes, even though Roger Ebert has passed on to that big movie house in the sky, Schneider’s movie still sucks.

Glaxxon @6 — “pulchritudinous, potty-mouthed, princess” — you win the day!

OT: but is a gathering of well-known anti-vaccine activists assembling together to form a consortium ever TRULY OT @RI?

Via TMR today, I learned of a new website/ blog/ dis-information purveyor called “”.

During AutismOne I suspected that something awful was afoot when 3 women shared the stage talking about their books- and- I was correct ( as I usually am):
the new site is the project of Alison MacNeil, Jennifer Margolis and Louise Kuo Habakus ( and another writer) and lists amongst its “experts” Drs Kelly Brogan and Lawrence Palevsky.
Oh boy! ( oh, girl?)
They list “events”** they sponsor.

** are events anything like raves?
If so, we should go.

OT: but is Stupid expanding at a rate orders of magnitude higher than that of the known universe soon to ungulf it in its entirety if we don’t do something quickly EVER truly OT @ RI?

Over the past few days, Mikey ( Natural News) has pontificated upon “The fall of reason: How to protect your sanity in an insane world ( and achieve spiritual victory in the process)” wherein he compares most people to mindless zombies whilst his audience of course towers above the hulking masses of mandkind’s lowly average.

Then he announces that his site will undergo a metamorphosis, both in content and technically. He hints that it will allow greater audience participation or suchlike-

@Edith – Reality is a cold mistress. She’s well and truly shoved the collective heads of the anti-vax “activists” down the toilet of truth. Apparently the fact-swirly has freaked them out a bit.

Like you said, their party’s well and truly over. Mid-July and their Christmas decorations are still up, but they’re so caught up in the games and festivities that they haven’t noticed the clear skies and sunshine. Muppets.

@Lord Draconis – That last payment came just in time for that sale at The Bilderberg Tool Kit will increase my productivity by a third, so I consider it a real investment.

DW @#12 – Wow. Whatever he’s smoking? He should probably stop. He sounds uncannily like the guy I mentioned yesterday, seeing “signs” and issuing warnings about humanity being enslaved.

At least he had the excuse of being an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic. One who was so out of touch with reality that he thought I was his daughter, and that the government were manufacturing “fake” tin foil that lacked the shielding/protective qualities of the real deal.

Let’s just hope none of Mikey’s disciples read anything into his “hints” that isn’t there, and do something regrettable as a result.

I was not surprised to see that Handley asked that those as foolish as he is to “call every reporter on the planet to arrange a well-coordinated barrage of negative articles” [regarding Paul Offit] despite that the articles that he suggests are so rife with errors and repeatedly-refuted misinformation that Handley is urging the distribution of lies.

“Big Pharma is Everywhere
(with apologies to Mojo Nixon)

When I look out into your eyes out there,
When I look out into your faces,
You know what I see?
I see a little bit of Big Pharma
In each and every one of you out there.

Lemme tell ya…

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P’s
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma is everywhere, man!
It’s in everything.
It’s in everybody…

Big Pharma is in your jeans.
It’s in your cheesburgers
Big Pharma is in Nutty Buddies!
Big Pharma is in your mom!

It’s in everybody.
It’s in the young, the old,
the fat, the skinny,
the white, the black
the brown and the blue
people got Big Pharma in ’em too

Big Pharma is in everybody out there.
Everybody’s got Big Pharma in them!
Everybody except one person that is…
Yeah, one person!
The evil opposite of Big Pharma.
The Anti-Big Pharma

Anti-Big Pharma got no Big Pharma in ’em,
lemme tell ya.

J.B. Handley has no Big Pharma in him.

And Big Pharma is in Joan Rivers
but It’s trying to get out, man!
It’s trying to get out!
Listen up Joanie Baby!

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P’s
Inside of you and me

Man, there’s a lot of unexplained phenomenon
out there in the world.
Lot of things people say
What the heck’s going on?

Let me tell ya!

Who built the pyramids?
Who built Stonehenge?

Yeah, man you see guys
walking down the street
pushing shopping carts
and you think they’re talking to allah,
they’re talking to themself.
Man, no they’re talking to BIG PHARMA!

You know whats going on in that Bermuda Triangle?
Down in the Bermuda Traingle
Big Pharma needs boats.
Big Pharma needs boats.
Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma
Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma
Big Pharma needs boats.

Aahh! The Sailing Big Pharma!
Captain Big Pharma!
Commodore Big Pharma it is.

Yeah man, you know people from outer space [DRACONIS],
people from outer space they come up to me.
They don’t look like like Doctor Spock.
They don’t look like Klingons,
all that Star Trek jive.

They look like Big Pharma.
Everybody in outer space looks like Big Pharma.
Cause Big Pharma is a perfect being.
We are all moving in perfect peace and harmony towards Big Pharmaness

Soon all will become Big Pharma.
Everything everywhere will be Big Pharma.
Why do you think they call it evolution anyway?
It’s really Big Pharmalution!
Big Pharmalution!

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big E’s
Inside of you and me

That’s right ladies and gentlemen,
The time has come!
Time has come to talk
To that little bit of Big Pharma inside of you.

Talk to it!
Call it up!
Say “Big Pharma, heal me!”
“Save me, Big Pharma!”
“Make me be born again
in the perfect Big Pharma light”

That’s right!
You’ve got that Big Pharma inside of ya
and It’s talkin to ya
He says he wants you to sing!
Everybody’s got to sing like the king!

Like the king
Get that leg going now
Get your lip too.
Not no fool Andrew Wakefileldl lip either
Yeah, we’re rockin now!

Big Pharma is with us.
It’s with us and It’s speaking to us.
He says “Peoples!”
“Everybody got to sing!”

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P’s
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P’s
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma!

@Chris Hickie – you win the Internet today. Long live Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.

One has to wonder what Richard Besser, MD, the Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News, and former acting director of the CDC, has to say about this.

Speaking as a paid troll, I just want to know where my check is. And don’t keep telling me “in the mail.”

Krebiozen (#7)

studies by one group in the U.S. have claimed that 33% or 42% (42% more recent and 33% older) believe that toxins in vaccines are a possible cause. This is different from saying that they believe that vaccines caused autism in their own child. It is one thing to say, “it’s possible” and “it’s the cause for my kid”. Obviously “it’s possible” is going to be a larger number.

For reference, other causes queried included “Will of God” got 46.4%, Genetics 75.8%

Another recent study claimed 22% of parents believed that vaccines were a possible cause

Again, this is a different question from asking if they believed that vaccines caused autism in their own child.

Even taking the most “optimistic” number (42%) and assuming that all of them thought the question was about causation for their own child, “majority” is wrong.

But that’s standard fare. Exaggerate your numbers. NAA did it once, claiming some vast amount of “dues paying members” when their own tax forms showed the number was about 10 times lower.

In other news:

Jake ( Autism finds fault with the Times..
oh no, not THAT Times, the other Times.


Poor Jake. He has trouble understanding simple concepts. They asked him what gave him the impression that he was right, and he said that he was right because they never said to him he was wrong in the previous exchanges. If I tell you that the sky is pink, and you don’t tell me that it’s blue, am I justified in stating that it’s pink? I mean, look at this:

“The specific place where Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock gave me that impression was when I cited the ethical guidelines showing Gardiner Harris held an undisclosed conflict of interest in my last response to them, they did not take issue with any part of my interpretation. If they had, I think they would have said so to clarify the journalistic code of ethics for reporters at The Times. The fact that Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock did not appear to take any such issue, however, implied tacit confirmation of my points. “

I added the bold. Seriously, what kind of pathology are we dealing with here? Because they didn’t take issue (i.e. ignored him) it “implied tacit confirmation of [Jake’s] points”? Holy crap, everyone! We’re going to have to refute every single one of Jake’s arguments or it will mean that we confirm his points if we don’t.

He sounds like Greg. Remember when Greg asked some idiotic question and outright wrote that not answering his idiotic question was some sort of admission on our part?

Any mental health experts? What’s the major malfunction there?

Jake needs to learn simple diplomatic speech.

“It is open to interpretation” means “you are welcome to your interpretation even though it is clearly incorrect.”

It also means a phrase I know Jake has heard before: “we are done here”

Jake was trolling for juicy quotes and the Times didn’t deliver. They can read his blog posts. Unlike Jake, they can make logical conclusions.


Jake left out an important phrase:

“They did not take issue with any part of my interpretation, in an email reply

I suspect they took issue with his interpretation. I bet they took issue with it as the punch line of many jokes. They just didn’t include Jake in the conversation.


You are the Sith Lord of vaccines. If you do not take issue with my interpretation, I will know I am correct.

MESSAGE BEGINS————————————————–

Miss Flinders has grown quite aggitated and wishes to add the following “If you ain’t got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin’.” Not sure what that means, but as she would say, “whatevs.”

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Master of Milkmen

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital

—————————————————–MESSAGE ENDS

(with apologies to Mojo Nixon)

As I’m packing, I just discovered that I still have that on vinyl.

(One could probably also riff off of “Mushroom Maniac,” but it would take some time.)

Matt Carey #21,

Even taking the most “optimistic” number (42%) and assuming that all of them thought the question was about causation for their own child, “majority” is wrong.

Blatantly lying and hoping no one checks does appear to be the number one strategy for antivaxxers.

Poll results always remind me of this skit in UK TV show ‘Yes Minister’ where Sir Humphrey demonstrates how to get the opinion poll responses you want by using leading questions. Not that I’m suggesting these reputable pollsters did any such thing, of course…

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Argumentum ad celebritium? My apologies to our resident Latin scholars. Seriously? This is an argument for the ‘vaccine induced autism’ nonsense? Then again it’s J.B. Handley; incoherent, nonsensical groupings of words just flop out.

@ Ren:

My dearest Ren, as you know we REALLY shouldn’t diagnose someone over the net… and I won’t. but
I think it’s alright to look at how he behaves in ways that depart from the average in comparison to others of his age, education and social status, based on his writing and public displays.

I would agree that he has difficulty in interpretting others’ comments and motivations IN GENERAL- we see this all over his writings: he attributes all sorts of things to people he doesn’t know; he imagines baroque plots amongst groups of individuals he has never met based on the flimsiest possibities of associations imaginable.

The writer, Stephen King, once remarked (paraphrase): ” If we both drove past an ancient, decrepit farm house, you might ask about who lived there, what its history was, how old it was- but I would automatically start imagining a tale of grisly murders, corpses buried under shrubbery, secrets hidden by elderly family members reluctant to speak…”

So King has a wildly macabre imagination, a gift creating indelible images and he knows his audience well. He also understands that his creations are fantasies that sell books because they engage OTHER people’s imaginations.

Jake is entirely different- he might have trouble with the line of demarcation- thinking doesn’t make it so. I could mention other qualities of his writing but I think I’ll hold off for the time being. He is speaking to a highly specialised group of people- not just those who believe that vaccines cause autism but those who believe vaccines cause autism VIA MERCURY AND WHO ARE ANGRY WITH AoA.: a much smaller group.

When I “conversed” with Jake, I asked him whether his views might damage his career prospects- he said so be it ( paraphrase).
Now would the average grad student feel this way? Usually, everything they do is bent towards that end.

When questioning SBM speakers ( Orac, Drs Offit, Godlee etc), he took on the role of an inquisator – perhaps a brash young reporter questioning a high level malfeasant- which seems, to my eye at least, more founded in cinema-lore than in reality.

To me, problems with executive functioning might be suspected- he can’t evaluate his own work or its relation to the real world well,; he can’t seem to assess situations ( or persons) in a GLOBAL way; he doesn’t understand how other people might vary from his own views based on their own educations ( e.g. those esteemed doctors above).

He also uses a declaratory style that reminds me of someone ( a writer I didn’t like) but can’t recall now… speaking *ex cathedra* as it were.

I could go on but I must prepare for my short excursion…
I think others can find characteristics they find er..*outstanding*..
Question: now with two websites to occupy him, where’s room for the degree?,

“You are the Sith Lord of vaccines. If you do not take issue with my interpretation, I will know I am correct.”

No, I am not! Only the Sith deal in absolutes, like, “Vaccines are absolute evil and God hates you for them.”

On the other hand, anti-vaccine cranks and Sith lords are my specialty.

Question: now with two websites to occupy him, where’s room for the degree?

Well, I believe his biggest problem, having just one website, where his brain droppings are unfiltered, is that he’s going to say something that will land him in civil court. I guess with two sites, it will double the chances.

As you note, he does seem to have trouble knowing where the line is, and without moderation, I’d suspect inside of a year or two he’ll find himself facing a valid lawsuit. Good thing mommy and daddy have deep pockets, because he’s going to need them.

@Matt –

“Will of God” got 46.4%

Wow. That’s profoundly depressing.

Good feature article in the Wall St. Journal today reviewing the resurgence of disease in the UK after the Wakefield-inspired MMR scare (warning – there’s a photo of Wakefield, for those with sensitive stomachs).

Nothing terribly new – but it’s a good example of the change in perspective of major media covering vaccine issues. That an outlet like the WSJ with its underlying suspicions about government-promoted activities and “alternative” views about mainstream scientific consensus should strongly affirm the importance of immunization, says a lot about how far and fast the influence of antivaxers has fallen.

Noteworthy are the WSJ’s “jabs” at the South Wales Evening Post, whose sensationlist articles helped spur MMR rejection in the region, leading to measles resurgence.

DB @44, unfortunately that matches with the anti-pharma rhetoric. Of course the WSJ is going to take the side of the big corporations, they’ll say.

OMG. I haven’t bothered to read anything our Valiant Young Reporter has written previously, but I was curious about the NYT piece. So someone is a Pharma Shill because his brother works for a company that may supply equipment to a company makes vaccines??? That doesn’t even make any sense in a normal world (or as normal a world as we live in).

@Jake (not that you ever read or comment what I post): You may want to look up the definition of “financial interest”. Just being paid by a company for your job you are hired for does not mean you have a financial interest in the company.

For my employer, all staff MUST complete a financial interest statement annually. Every year I honestly informed them of a potential conflict (my ex worked for a hospital). Every year I was contacted by our Compliance area to verify that I had no contact with any area where that conflict might be an issue (i.e. hospital contracts, purchasing, etc). Every year I was cleared as I had NO TRUE CONFLICT. Simply having him work there and Ime work here was not a conflict. As long as MY work would have no effect on HIS work or HIS employer, there was no conflict.

Now, Jake. Grow up, learn to use words properly, and develop some real knowledge about the world.

MI Dawn: you don’t understand. The Pharma Shill gambit works by the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon system. Conversely, just because a brave maverick doctor hawks supplements and/or unproven treatments just means they are Fighting the System, and is nowhere near a COI.

By Jake’s logic, I am the POTUS’s Right-Hand Man.

Although I’m Canadian, my daughters went to camp last summer with a boy who goes to the same school as Barack Obama’s daughters. There ya go!

Actually TBruce, I did the full 6 degree thing a while ago, and by Jake’s logic I currently control 22 countries world-wide (the full G20 and a few stragglers).

It might be more, but those are the ones I looked at.

TBruce: “Although I’m Canadian, my daughters went to camp last summer with a boy who goes to the same school as Barack Obama’s daughters. There ya go!”

The uncle of one of my daughter’s friends went to school with Barack Obama himself. Her mother went to the same school, but a few years before.

Also, one of my neighbors, whose kids were classmates of my two younger kids, is a brother of an actress who worked with Kevin Bacon, so I am only a couple of degrees of separation there!

Then my matron of honor (the woman who prompted me to go a date with my hubby because did not want to go out with him), is a cousin of a former governor of this state, and now an ambassador to a large country. Never mind that they are both from a large family and it is hard to not run into a family member (I also worked in the same office as another cousin!).

We could go on and on and on and on… which shows how silly the “Six Degrees of Separation” bit is.

@LurkeyLoo #51:

That is shameful what Gordon just did. I hope he gets sanctioned by the State of California Medical Board.

This is the problem when one lives in an echo chamber and only their own ideals and beliefs are ever tossed around and between the other inhabitants of the chamber: you begin to believe that your voices in that echo chamber are so loud because you are the majority voice. I don’t know all autism parents by any stretch, but of those that I do know, personally and technically (social media, etc.) in my experience, the vast majority are pro-vaccine, many actively so, like I am, and don’t believe at all that vaccines had in any way contributed to their child’s autism. Typically, when I run across those autism parents who are anti-vaccine and believe vaccines destroyed their children, they are the same people on every blog, every site, every article. But I can’t say that I see the same nyms from pro-vaccine autism parents spread out over the blogosphere like that, only anti-vaccine ones. That furthers in my experience that the vast majority of autism parents do not blame vaccines, and the vast majority of parents are also very much into the neurodiversity movement. Acceptance, advocacy, encouragement, etc, rather then treating their child like a broken doll who doesn’t understand anything. If AoA stopped moderating and censoring all comments that went against their beliefs, they might realize how small their numbers really are.

Denise Walter @#39
I was under the impression that Jake Crosby had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and that is why he was so readily embraced by AoA, he became their poster child until he ‘went off the deep end’ so to speak. Based on things he seems to believe, is it possible that he may also have schizotypal personality disorder? The traits, as I understand them, seem to mirror what he displays.

Lara @54: Yes, Jake Crosby does have Asperger’s. As have I and a number of other regulars on this blog; I think we’d all appreciate it if you didn’t throw around terms like “schizotypal personality disorder” in connection with ASD.
Also, everybody – PLEASE stop diagnosing people over the internet!

Didn’t Dr. Gordon recently assert in comments on this blog that if he were practicing in Wales, where there is a current measles outbreak, he would vaccinate for it?

Why, yes, yes he did:

If I were practicing in Wales right now, I would recommend the MMR vaccine.

But he doesn’t recommend it when the outbreak is in Ventura County.

I have long suspected that Dr. Gordon is rabidly antivaccine, but tries to cover it up by agreeing that vaccines are okay for all those other people, the farther away the better.

I’d hate to have to watch “The View” to find out, but maybe Jenny will shut the hell up about vaccines, and instead tell the viewers her thoughts on the need for anus bleaching, and the best ways to do that. Just google it, and Jenny’s name will pop right up.

Re Jake: I’m sure we’ll be reading about>/b> him in the newspapers someday soon. (Probably be on trial for something.)

@ Lara Lohne:

I agree that Jake DOES has characteristics that might be seen as ‘problematic’ but we shouldn’t try to diagnose him or anyone else over the internet. We don’t know them or how they act in RL. Internet communication is highly specific and a biased source of information.
It’s different to observe how people
behave or write that set them apart from other people there:
e.g. Alice is very throrough; Bill writes well; Carl provokes others then runs away; Diane links to etc.

Jake is something of a special case because his diagnosis is part of his tale ( as posted @ AoA). Yes, it is possible that people with ASDs or LDs can have co-morbid mental illness ( or not)- just like people without ASDs or LDs can have them ( or not) as well.

A sceptic/ psychologist writes about his encounters with hiv/aids denialists and believes one of them ( at least) to have NPD: what’s different in that situation is that he actually hung around with these people and observed them closely, as well as reading their material and knowing about their actions in the real world- still, he cautiously suggest that condition as a possibility.

Looking at Jake from our vantage point we know about his tracking of scientists and journalists, his spats with his friends at AoA, how he “investigates” people- so we can surmise things about him wherein he varies from the average person his age, level of education and social status through his own reportage.

I knew/ know many grad students but none like Jake.

Thanks for jumping in on the LA CBS web site, lilady.

Of note, I can’t find Gordo mugging on any other media outlets (NBC, ABC, Fox, LA Times or OC Register), which is good news. Of note, ABC and Fox haven’t put the measles outbreak on their websites yet, but the NBC web site ( ) notes:

A European tourist is confirmed to have the disease, the Ventura County Public Health Care Agency said Friday. Another tourist, also from Europe, is suspected of having the disease.

I do wish we had a feasible rapid test for measles for folks clearing customs.

Of course Jay knows he’s treading on thin ice by recommending obviously harmful things, hence the big bucket of weasel words in all of these statements: “I think”, “I think”, “not 100% certain”, “I think”.

Disgusting. And somewhat ironic from the muppet who is so big about standing behind opinions.

The CBS-LA story is weirdly done, and symptomatic of rolodex journalism. There are more than a thousand pediatricians in the Los Angeles area serving a population of around ten million people. There are 2 major medical schools in the city, plus 2 more down the coast a bit. Every one of those medical schools features in a TV news item at some point during the average year. So why, when the subject marginally involved the idea of vaccination, did the producer of this TV segment dig up Jay Gordon? It’s worth a call to CBS, although I don’t know how effective this might be. Perhaps a rational caller can inspire the local station to review and revise its approach to communicable disease prevention.

That having been said, I don’t think the back and forth between the anti-vaccine people and the RI people on that CBS site was all that useful, since it reads as a lot of infighting over technical issues and, worse yet, personal attacks. Writing a comment and signing your name is not spamming in the usual sense of the term, and the naive reader will find the comment about spamming the site baffling. Better to address comments to the general public, pointing out that the anti-vaccine commenters represent a small group of people with extremist ideas, who would have banned polio and smallbox vaccination given the chance, and who even have problems with the idea of giving tetanus shots. Directing comments to them directly does not, I think, communicate the weakness of their positions to the general public. Quoting some of their unwise positions directly would be a much more effective rhetorical approach.

By the way, it was good to see the retort to the racist remarks that showed up in one of the comments. Perhaps the active commenters here will also jump in when one of their own makes another slighting remark about the African origins of a National Health doctor that she didn’t happen to like. Just sayin’.

I added my English tuppence to the LA CBS comments. I find it too depressing to add any more.

Gee Bob G. Have you in fact, read all the comments? I was offline for a few hours and now have posted some additional comments.

Do You think it is beneath you to reply to the racist who claimed that “[email protected] border jumpers” are responsible for measles outbreaks? I don’t.

Why do you think we should permit the Dachel bot and her cronies should drive the debate?

Great post Orac! I made sure to get this one out to all my new agey family members (who incidentally all seem watch The View.)

Also this is one of your funniest posts ever. If being a surgeon doesn’t work out you can always write jokes 🙂

Have a nice evening, everyone.

There was news reports a few days ago of two confirmed cases of measles in the Seattle area, and along with it a detailed listing of the places and times the infected individuals had been for the period of time they were thought to be contagious. I made sure to share that with my Facebook friends because I have many friends and family in the Seattle area.

@ lilady, I think you may have misread Bob G.’s comment. He is merely opining that the comments look more like a poo-flinging competition and suggesting that it would be more helpful to point out the flaws and inaccuracies in the anti-vaxxers claims. He also stated that he was glad to see racist remarks addressed but that that also applies to pro-vaxxers.

ok, 4 points:
1 – Charlie Sheen? Seriously? He’s an authority?
2 – Out of curiosity, where does AoA get their money? And if it’s donations, are their expenses etc made public?
3 – I’m with Shay – where’s my money?
4 – Charlie Sheen?

There are two confirmed cases of measles in Illinois this week, brought back from Poland If I remember correctly.

And one of the carriers (if that’s the appropriate term) attended a Chicago Fire game after his/her return.

Yeah, new information says the two measles cases in Seattle were brought from elsewhere. They were two siblings, an adult and a child, that were visiting the state and brought measles with them from wherever they were from.

Abusive racist trolling on public internet sites seems to be endemic. I have noticed that the Yahoo site attracts an enormous number of really vicious ethnic attacks. A lot of them are aimed at Obama, and a lot are aimed at different minority groups. To me, the only surprising thing about the CBS troll attack was that it was a one-off. You are certainly entitled to point out that the post was racist, but I hardly think that the person who posted it needed to be told this by any of us. Shocking and angering people was, of course, the point of doing it. I don’t have a magical answer to dealing with racist troll attacks. I think that ignoring them is sometimes the best strategy, but I would never criticize anyone for taking the time to offer up a reply. My ever-so-subtle remark pointed out ever-so-subtly that I’ve seen some really nasty stuff coming from regular commenters here, and at least one item was clearly racist but did not seem to provoke any responses from the other regulars.

Re: The back and forth in the CBS news comment section:

Let’s imagine for a moment that there were a few people who don’t read RI or the anti-vaccine sites, but who somehow got to the bottom of the web page and decided to read some of the comments. Allow me to suggest that your standard variety naive reader would be unlikely to follow most any of the comments, particularly after the flame war had really gotten going. It was, to use a term a friend of mine taught me, all “inside baseball.” In other words, it was a lot of insider jargon about specialist topics. Once the two sides got to calling each other by their names, it became obvious that this was something akin to a long running feud. The only thing that was missing was the moonshine still and the county sheriff in pursuit.

I would suggest that there is a better way to engage in public forums like the CBS page. Here’s a hint that I learned a long time ago that is useful when you want to introduce the general public to a technical discussion — give an introduction that is complete enough to introduce the subject, but as short as you can make it. Something like this — There is a highly vocal, small group of people who have made it their life’s work to attack the safety and effectiveness of vaccination. They are wrong in their facts and wrong in their logic. There are thousands of doctors and scientists who have studied the safety of vaccines very carefully, and who are convinced that they work and are safe. The anti-vaccine people are truly cranks, and you can often recognize them for what they are because they accuse real scientists of being in the pay of drug companies. They often use the term “pharma” as their special code word to signify this argument. What they are saying, however ludicrous you may find it, is that the whole world is full of nothing but people who will say anything and falsify anything in order to be paid by some big corporation. We certainly recognize that such people do exist, but we would also like to point out that there are lots of other people who do good science, act honorably, and have concluded that vaccines are safe and effective.

Bob G. I am constrained by the program used for the comments section; two of my comments disappeared into cyberspace because I provided links.

Instead of making suggestions for posting, which are, IMO, good suggestions, why don’t you post some comments?

The “standard variety naive reader” will (as described by Bob G.) will never read postings/comments having to do with any controversial issue if a hint of discord is enough to drive them away.

Reasonably intelligent people with a degree of tolerance for spicy discussion are capable of disregarding “tone” and responding to factual arguments.

Regardless of the efforts of antivax tone trolls (I am not suggesting Bob is one), it should be quickly obvious that no “side” in the debate over immunization has a monopoly on civil discourse, which naturally should lead one to consider who is basing their opinions on evidence and who is not.

Part II of Ken Stoller, M.D.’s “guest editorial” column is now posted on Bolen’s blog:

Stoller discusses the *”Varacella Virus” (sic)…which he identifies as **”HHV-6″ and its implication, according to Stoller, in the onset of multiple sclerosis.

“Once again I will illustrate this by taking about an illness I am familiar with, I will use the case of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – a disease caused by (in the vast majority of cases) the Epstein Barr Virus , Varacella Virus or HHV-6[2], and they cause “multiple scars” in the brain if you are so unfortunate to have them get into your brain, because that is what MS actually means…. multiple scars in the brain. Yet that tells us nothing about how the scars got there or how to treat them. MS is actually chronic viral encephalitis, and the medical literature is replete with evidence showing that to be the case, but your physician[3] doesn’t know that even though there is more than enough evidence to make the case for these viruses to be implicated as the cause of MS…”

Memo to Stoller:

*Do you mean Varicella virus?

**Varicella virus is HHV-3, not HHV-6

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