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After “Vaxxed,” here comes another antivaccine “documentary”

Now that I’ve dispensed with Mike Adams’ attacks (for now), It’s time to get back to business as usual. No way am I going to let Adams interfere with the business of this blog for more than one day to take note of it, even though he’s now gone basically batshit crazy.

Unfortunately, no sooner has Andrew Wakefield’s quackfest of a propaganda “documentary” (VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe) been dealt with than another antivaccine propaganda film rears its ugly head. Readers have made me aware of a new Facebook page, website, Twitter feed, Instagram page, and YouTube channel for a movie called Man Made Epidemic: A Journey to the Truth About the Autism Epidemic. You can tell right away by the title that it’s going to be yet another antivaccine propaganda film in the mold of VAXXED and The Greater Good, but if the title alone isn’t enough to tip you off, check out this description:

Filmmaker Natalie Beer sets off on a journey around the world speaking to leading doctors, scientists and families to find out the truth about the autism epidemic and whether or not vaccines have a role to play.

The film explores the common misconception that autism is solely genetic and looks into scientists concerns over recent years about environmental factors such as medication and pesticides which continue to leave our children with physical and neurological damage.

If that isn’t a tipoff that this movie will be a load of antivaccine propaganda, there’s a link to the TODAY SHOW interview with Robert De Niro about VAXXED and there’s this trailer:

Tellingly (and almost de rigueur for antivaccine propaganda films), the trailer starts out with an image of a presumably autistic boy hitting himself followed by the image of another boy stimming. The voiceover is a quote from President Obama about the “skyrocketing” autism rate. Following these images is a scary graphic:


Followed by another scary graphic:


And who’s doing the narration of this segment claiming that autism prevalence has skyrocketed from 1:5000 to 1:25 in the course of a mere 40 years? It’s a British voice, a man’s voice, it’s—oh, hell, it’s Andrew Wakefield’s voice! I’d know that voice anywhere, unfortunately! Well, so much for any claims on the part of the filmmakers that the documentary isn’t antivaccine! On the other hand, next up is an old man whom I don’t recognizing opining about how autism can’t just be genetic, how there must be an environmental cause. I do hate to tell the filmmakers that there is one well known environmental contributor to autism, mainly because it’s rubella infection while the mother is pregnant; i.e., congenital rubella syndrome. And guess what prevents that? The MMR vaccine! Of course, for those who are into “autism biomed” quackery to “treat” autism, it’s vaccines, but it’s also other “environmental factors” that must be the cause, hence this graphic:


To drive the message home, we see a woman saying that it must be glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used in combination with genetically modified organisms rendered resistant to it. At first I thought was Stephanie Seneff, the foremost promoter of the idea that glyphosate causes autism, but it doesn’t look like her

Whoever she is, the next bit consists of narration asking, in essence, “Where are the autistic adults?” This is a common antivaccine gambit, its implication being meant as a rebuttal to the explanation for the increase in autism prevalence over the last couple of decades that it’s due to diagnostic substitution, increased awareness, and screening, in much the same way that the increase in incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ is primarily due to mammographic screening programs. It turns out that the prevalence of autism in adults is roughly the same as the estimated prevalence of autism in children—as one would expect for a condition that is primarily genetic in origin. Moreover, the rate is very consistent across nationalities.

Of course, after this, it doesn’t take too long for the claim that vaccines cause autism to rear its ugly head, too. There’s a mother with two sons diagnosed with autism, but to her it has to be the vaccines, of course. It couldn’t possibly be genetic even though both of her sons developed autism. This quickly segues into the “too many too soon” gambit and the question that “all these vaccines together” have never been tested. They have, of course. Every time a new vaccine is added to the schedule, before it is added it is tested against the background of the existing vaccine schedule. Not that that stops the film from quoting someone saying that the vaccine companies are only in it for the money and therefore won’t fund research into potential adverse effects of vaccines.

The derp in this trailer reached its apogee with this image:


Then, hilariously, the trailer shows an excerpt from Ben Swann’s report about the so-called “CDC whistleblower.” At this point, I actually laughed. I laughed hard. Only one of two things could be going on here. Either the filmmakers are so ignorant that they believe this overripe and long debunked conspiracy theory or they have such contempt for their viewers that they don’t care and present it anyway. (I suppose both could be true to differing extents.) As regular readers know, William W. Thompson, a.k.a the “CDC whistleblower,” claimed that his co-authors on a seminal CDC study tried to hide evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in African American boys, but an analysis of the actual documents he provided to Rep. Bill Posey show no such thing. It’s so bad that Thompson himself doesn’t appear to believe that his document dump shows evidence of wrongdoing. The filmmakers even include the risibly deceptive claim that the authors got together to destroy all the primary documents containing data for the study.

The final shot in the trailer before the film’s logo shows up is—you guessed it!—Andrew Wakefield. Again, you’d think that by now filmmakers would realize that Wakefield is toxic, that any film in which Andrew Wakefield appears and is allowed to pontificate about the “CDC whistleblower,” vaccines and autism, or the CDC without rebuttal from a real scientist will rightly be viewed as antivaccine. Of course, if your purpose is to make an antivaccine propaganda film, you can’t do better than getting Andrew Wakefield on board. After all, to antivaccine loons, he is “Nelson Mandela and Jesus all rolled up into one.”

After having reviewed the trailer, which was only marginally less obviously antivaccine than the trailer for VAXXED, I wondered just who the filmmakers are. Natalie Beer, who both produced and directed this movie, is listed has having worked on several major Hollywood productions as an assistant director. IMDb shows her as having worked on movies such as The Bourne Supremacy, Æon Flux, and a TV movie Rommel, Nothing in her history leads me to believe that she can critically evaluate medical or scientific topics. The executive producer, Lothar Moll, who similarly shows no discernable evidence of having the ability to critically evaluate medical evidence.

So what we’re left with is yet another in a line of “documentaries” that promote antivaccine pseudoscience that is growing longer by the year.


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]

115 replies on “After “Vaxxed,” here comes another antivaccine “documentary””

The more I keep getting involved (and I use that term very loosely – I just read up on the stuff, I’m no activist or scientists or doctor) with the topic, the more I am feeling awfully sorry for people on the spectrum.

The message that keeps being hammered in is:

You are a damaged human being.
You are a burden to everyone you know.
Your parents wanted a “normal” kid but they got stuck with you instead.

There was recently an article on “Cracked” about people who wound up in films which they didn’t want to. Two of the entries involved “documentaries” where the people appearing had their words sliced and diced. I wonder if that’s going to happen here.

“Where are the autistic adults?”

Ugh. This question is one of my criteria to detect that someone is not seriously informed and militant about autism.
In my country, we have quite a few family associations engaged in improving diagnosis of autism, especially adults. It is unfortunately not rare that autistic adults have received an inacurate diagnosis (MR, schizophrenia, psychosis…) and inappropriate care / therapies, in closed psychiatric wards (a completely inappropriate environnement) for YEARS.
Each time someone ask this question, I want to tell them to go ask it at an Autisme France / Arapi / Sesame Autisme conference, and count the seconds before an angry parent punch them in the face.

@ LouV

It is unfortunately not rare that autistic adults have received an inacurate diagnosis (MR, schizophrenia, psychosis…) and inappropriate care

I’m indeed afraid that, as little as a decade ago, our collective awareness of autism was close to zero.

Fortunately, it’s a topic which is gaining some traction in our country.
In the recently released French movie “Médecin de campagne”, one of the sub-plot is about the younger doctor’s proper diagnosis and interaction with an autistic teenager.

Adults with autism? My previous doctor went over my “symptoms” with me:

Didn’t talk until three years old. When the doctor had me read an entire newspaper article out loud at that same age, he told my parents to stop worrying.
Exceptional math/science skills. Never had to study, even diff eq. Just made sense when explained once.
Socialization issues/making friends. Was always “different” as a child. “Lives in his own world.” I still have trouble maintaining eye contact (which I have to constantly explain to my wife is NOT a sign of disinterest).
Can become overly focused or obsessed with specific interests.
Very clumsy. (My golf handicap was single digits at one point, so I’m not completely physically inept.)
Still can’t sleep. Still can’t freaking sleep.

My doc said I probably had a form of Aspergers or something similar and just moved along from there. She didn’t make any issue out of it – at all.

I’m nearing 50 and I have never officially been diagnosed, but would I fall on the spectrum today? Was there even a diagnosis other than ” a little odd” 40+ years ago?

@ScienceMonkey #6: Well, there was “the weird kid” (who was doing calculus from his father’s college math books at age 6 and didn’t really play with us, or talk to us much) or “the scary kid” (who threw major tantrums in school over what we saw as minor issues – changing activity, putting on coats to play, etc – and required the principal’s help to carry him out of the room).

Or, you were just put in the “ret*rd room” and languished for 6 hours.

[email protected]

The more I keep getting involved (and I use that term very loosely – I just read up on the stuff, I’m no activist or scientists or doctor) with the topic, the more I am feeling awfully sorry for people on the spectrum.

Both the rhetoric and the beliefs that underlie it is quite awful, no? You also get the the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) implication that autism is as bad or worse than death (the Holocaust comparisons play on this). One particularly insidious one is “vaccines stole my child”. What message does that give the child they still have?

Make no mistake, AVers are not autism advocates. AV parents aren’t even advocates for their own children. The leaders are in it for the money and everyone wants a slice of the superiority pie (sources tell me humble pie tastes better).

[email protected]: Ever seen Pushiest Parents or Dance Moms? Same thing, with a ton of additional resentment and loathing on top for being unable to live vicariously through such useless offspring. Because no other parent in the world ever had to raise a delayed or disabled child, never mind ever find any kind of happiness amongst the additional hardships.

Honestly, I suspect most of these poor kids would be better off in institutions, where they’re merely undersupported or ignored, than in such circularly self-hating and abusive households. It’s clear their parents have already rejected them; I can only assume the sole reason they’ve not abandoned them to the state is that would be – even worse – a public admission of their own failure.

It’s a shame nobody does a documentary about such tragically, horribly twisted “autism families”, because it could be of great service to everyone. We might discover how many of these parents were once regular people went off the rails in response to the stress of raising a seriously disabled child, falling into a seemingly supportive but poisonous quasi-religious cult due to inadequate governmental and charitable support. Versus how many of them were always pathological personality disorders, endlessly raging against a universe that insults and cheats them of what’s rightfully theirs at every turn, who now find great strength and lust for revenge at the head of the aforementioned cult. And, of course, of all the torture and suffering inflicted on autistic kids in the service of this dangerously delusional and contagious mindset. I reckon its all hidden horrors laid bare would make the Salem witch trials look like a cutesy new-baby episode of the Today show.

LouV @3

Around 5 years ago I had a conversation with my 2 colleagues I shared an office with (this is 3 senior MH nurses working in child and adolescent MH who spent a lot of time working with autistic bairns): we had all trained in different large MH hospitals between the mid-80s and mid-90s, i.e. BEFORE most of the currently used diagnostic tools for autism had been developed and just after Lorna Wing first coined the term “Asperger’s Syndrome”…

All 3 of us could distinctly remember people we had known on back wards of those hospitals who would fit the criteria for the autistic spectrum but who had diagnoses of one form of psychosis or another (anyone else remember such things as hebephrenia?).

I also recall in the mid-90s when I was a CAMHS in-patient unit ward manager having a 16 year old referred by a community psychiatrist as being schizophrenic. The lad wasn’t: it didn’t take us long to spot that he was classic Kanner autistic…

A consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist of my acquaintance went to see the film “A Beautiful Mind” and all she could talk about the next day was how John Nash had been mis-diagnosed: she was convinced he had Asperger’s.

Then there were a couple of mates at university in the mid-70s, both studying maths, who I now look back on and think “Asperger’s!”.

@ Murmur:
” anyone else remember…”

I also know two men – via one of my gentlemen- age 50-70s who are most likely Asperger’s. There may be additional issues as well because they are ‘difficult people’.

Similarly, a person I know dx’ed Paranoid Schizophrenia- age 40- has a few characteristics that present like ASD.
I can imagine that he might fit in as well. In primary school, he was diagnosed as “emotionally disturbed and learning disabled”.

or they have such contempt for their viewers that they don’t care

No — they know their target audience isn’t going to notice. They’re preaching to the choir.

I have already viewed 3 entire anti-vax epics and seen parts of many others.
I had a horrible thought- but after all, that is often my province and occasionally, my cup of tea.

Suppose evil government operatives needed to torture their charges into submission and wanted to skirt international regulations and suchlike:

they could subject the poor unfortunates to a schedule- a long, long lineup- of anti-vax films.

Think of the possibilities!

VAXXED! Trace Amounts! The Greater Good! Vaccine Nation! The Silent Epidemic! Autism: Made in the USA!
This New One!

And that’s just the start: if we average 90 minutes each-
That’s 630 minutes!
More than a whole season of binge-watching Game of Thrones ( sans rape and castration, of course)**

Let’s do it! Fellow and sister minions of Orac’s evil cult.

Oh crap! Our opponents might actually like this bilgewasser.

** unless if you count that some anti-vaxxers call vaccination ‘rape’ and the Geiers chemically castrated boys.

Oh I’d better:

My comment above is meant purely in jest.
I do not advocate torture in any form including the metaphorical

We minions are not members of any cult-
Oracian or otherwise..

@ Science Monkey #6 – My situation is similar: both the psychiatrist and the psychologist treating me for anxiety/depression told me I fit the criteria for Aspergers/high functioning autism, but since I’m 33 years old and, stereotypicaly enough, have found a relatively accepting niche in academia, neither of them saw any point in getting me “officially” diagnosed.

I don’t have time to look up the paper right now, but when the Autism Spectrum Quotient test was developed, they tested it by having a group of random, non-diagnosed adults take the test, and about 2% of them had scores indicating that they would probably meet the criteria for an ASD diagnosis. That’s 1 in 50 – about the same as the CDCs current estimate. But, of course, antivaxxers don’t consider it “real” autism if you can function relatively independently in society. They deceptively cite the CDC’s prevalence stats, which include high-functioning autistics, as evidence that there’s been a massive increase in severely disabled children that’s being covered up – as if it would even be possible to cover up something that, if true, would have such far-reaching effects on society.

It’s been a while since I have seen such highly concentrated thermonuclear stupid, and I didn’t even watch the trailer.

The “environmental factors” graphic includes a drawing of what is clearly meant to be a cell phone tower. That by itself would be a red flag.

They’re playing the “tobacco shill” gambit. The link between smoking and cancer was established by the 1950s, and sufficiently proven by 1963 for the US Surgeon General to mandate warnings on cigarette packs. It’s true that tobacco companies tried to discredit the science for about three decades after that (the current “global warming is a hoax” campaign is largely modeled on what the tobacco companies did), but it was obvious to anybody in the mainstream of medical science that cigarettes were dangerous.

And of course you generally find a lot more of something when you know what to look for. I have seen examples of this in my field. Autism diagnosis is another of those things. I have long suspected that I am on the spectrum, but have never been diagnosed as such because they didn’t know what to look for 40 years ago–I had heard of autism as a kid, but in those days only the more extreme forms were likely to be diagnosed.

And then there’s Wakefield, lending credibility to the film when his own credibility account has long since been overdrawn. These folks must not want to know about Wakefield’s past. I can’t think of any other plausible reason why they not only voluntarily associate with him, but in many cases actively seek him out.

@Eric Lund #19 – I always viewed the vaccine/tobacco trope the OPPOSITE way the ant-vaxxers do.

The doctors/scientists claiming tobacco caused diseases had the science on their side while the doctors claiming cigarettes were safe had a financial incentive to do so.

The doctors/scientists claiming vaccines are extremely safe have the science on their side while the Mercolas/Adams/Wakefields of the world have financial incentives based on ignoring or discrediting the science.

The key study that solidified my anti-Wakefield position was authored by Wakefield himself. His response to Taylor et al in The Lancet included data that strongly implied that the increase in autism diagnoses had nothing to do with the timing of the introduction of the MMR in the US and UK. His own graph showed the opposite of what his text said. His graphs showed something else had to be the cause of the increases (which we now attribute to the changes at the time of the criteria of what constituted autism).

Eric [email protected]

These folks must not want to know about Wakefield’s past. I can’t think of any other plausible reason why they not only voluntarily associate with him, but in many cases actively seek him out.

Wakefield was set up by noted dog of Big Pharma, Brian Deer.

Wakefield was set up by noted dog of Big Pharma, Brian Deer.

You’ve left out the Rupert Murdoch step.

Was there even a diagnosis other than ” a little odd” 40+ years ago?

“FLK” was popular.

This crap infuriates me to no end. I had a cousin who suffered from Congenital Rubella syndrome. If the vaccine had been around in the early sixties, May would not have been blind in one eye, almost deaf, and had a intellectual impairment. She would not have spent her adult life bouncing between hostels that she continually ran away from. She almost certainly would not have been raped by a carer.

Which probably where she acquired HPV, that result in the cervical cancer that killed her. Oh yeah, had she had been given Gardasil when she was a teenager she’d probably still be alive. Unfortunately for May, she was born at the wrong time.

Unlike these idjits.

This is just a little off topic, but I’d like to suggest a different approach to discussing AW. The term “struck off” makes sense to the British, but in the U.S., we would point out that “he had his medical license revoked by the authorities.” I think we should also make a distinction regarding the reason he had his license revoked. It presumably was not because he did bad research or even skewed the data. Falsification is an offense against science, but is it also considered an offense against acceptable medical practice? If I understand correctly, the license revocation had to do with doing invasive procedures without the proper permissions, and for medically unnecessary reasons. Is this what happened? I’m a little confused because there was another doctor whose name keeps coming up due to an appeals board deciding not to continue against somebody who was already retired.

If Brian Deer reads these comments and is willing to weigh in, perhaps you could clarify things. Thanks.

GiJoel — What an awful story!

It goes to show once again how vaccines are a victim of their success — these people have no idea how devastating some of these “mild” diseases can be.

As the mainline Protestants say, “Peace be with you.”

The executive producer, Lothar Moll, who similarly shows no discernable evidence of having the ability to critically evaluate medical evidence.

I wonder if this new-age goof is the main driver of the movie. Apart from his day job in designing better-ventilated buildings, he is enthusiastic about bringing the art of “active intuition” — which apparently is Chakra-based intelligence to complement one’s rationality — into business management. He has a website full of Motivational Quotations and brainwave neurobollocks

Also, he believes in the evils of cellphone radiation and Electrosmog:

You should avoid the burden of mobile communication, DECT, WLAN, etc. before the seminar (you should avoid this in general), because these electromagnetic fields generate oxidative stress within cells – and apparently even much more.

Let us say that his philosophy does not place excessive weight upon “evidence” or “reasoning”.

I remember my mother rushing us all in when the local high school offered the first rubella vaccines! We didn’t know what the big deal was, but she sure did.

And I remember telling my (ex) psychiatrist that I thought I had Asperger’s, and he chuckled and said “no, if you had that you’d be in an institution!”

I seem to recall them calling it “freak” and “retard” and “weirdo”, and not letting me sit by them on the school bus until the driver made them (and then pinching me all the way home).

When I saw the title of this piece ‘man made epidemic’ I thought it was going to be about a documentary on the recent pertussis out break being due to a reduction in vaccinations.

What I find interesting is how the War on GMOs that evolved inexorably into the Demonization of Herbicides has cross fertilized with both the quacks and the antivaxx crackpots to form a rather generalized matrix from which no conspiracy theory is excluded and against which no topic (no matter how benign) is safe from infiltration and invasion. None of us are safe.

Especially since the larger American institutions political groupings appear to be under stress, if not outright dissolving. Where will the pieces fall? What new monsters are being born?

I remember my mother rushing us all in when the local high school offered the first rubella vaccines! We didn’t know what the big deal was, but she sure did.

As I recall, even John Stone (and perhaps Jenny Allan) has endorsed rubella vaccination at AoA for the nubiles who have not been fortunate enough to benefit from endemic infection. But they aren’t available separately, etc.

Where are the autistic adults?
We can start with the one I see in the shaving mirror every morning, diagnosed at age 50.
There’s my nephew, now in his early 20’s.
There are the other young adults in his sheltered workshop.
There are the people recently shown in the film “Autism in Love”.
There is John Elder Robison, author of several books about autism.
There is Temple Grandin.
There is the couple in the book “Mozart and the Whale”.
There are the soldiers in support and maintenance roles in the Israel Defense Forces.
There’s the guy in New York who keeps sneaking in to joyride buses and trains.
There’s Dan Ackroyd.
To name but a few.

Oh, yeah, here once again is the ever-popular “scientists said tobacco was safe” gambit.
So who proved it wasn’t? Reiki masters? Jenny McCarthy?
If recall serves, statisticians started to make a case for the smoking-lung cancer link as far back as the 1920s (I think this was in Germany.).
The milestone moment was the Surgeon-General’s Report, not the Naturopath-General’s Report. And it came from – wait for it – wait for it – you guessed it – scientists!

In my catalogue above, I left out all those people who were once called “idiot-savants” now known by the shorter, but not much kinder, “savants”.

Oh, yeah, here once again is the ever-popular “scientists said tobacco was safe” gambit.

I’d actually like to question this. Is it even true? From what I know, it was scientists who found out about smoking’s link to cancer. Also, I understand that in the 1960s the tobacco companies funded their own research into whether smoking causes cancer in the hopes that said research would prove it didn’t, only to confirm it did. So…
Which scientists said that smoking was safe? (Apologies for the alliteration.)

@ Ol’Dave #35
… and then there’s Maude!

@ has #9
I don’t really watch that kind of stuff (other than the odd episode of Honey Boo Boo just to see if everything I’ve heard about it was true – it was…) but simply looking up either on the ol’ Google Machine filled me with dread. How do these people still have custody of their children?!

Bob G @26

Here is the relevant detail, lifted from W*k*p*d**, which is pretty accurate on these things:

“Was being paid to conduct the study by solicitors representing parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR”.[87]
Ordered investigations “without the requisite paediatric qualifications” including colonoscopies, colon biopsies and lumbar punctures (“spinal taps”) on his research subjects without the approval of his department’s ethics board and contrary to the children’s clinical interests,[87] when these diagnostic tests were not indicated by the children’s symptoms or medical history.
“Act[ed] ‘dishonestly and irresponsibly’ in failing to disclose … how patients were recruited for the study”.[87]
“Conduct[ed] the study on a basis not approved by the hospital’s ethics committee.”[87]
Purchased blood samples—for £5 each—from children present at his son’s birthday party, which Wakefield joked about in a later presentation.[87]
“[S]howed callous disregard for any distress or pain the children might suffer”[18]
Wakefield denied the charges;[89] on 28 January 2010, the GMC ruled against Wakefield on all issues, stating that he had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”,[13] acted against the interests of his patients,[13] and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his controversial research.[14]

For those unacquainted with the use of language of British medical organisations, that is very damning indeed and things which are not said lightly.

He has also had his fellowship of at least one of the medical Royal Colleges revoked, although that has not been made very public – I only know because I know another fellow of that particular Royal College.

As I have said before you really have to go some to get that amount of sh*t thrown at you and have it all stick.

I should also note that those investigations ordered and/or carried out by Wakefield breach most, if not all, our rules on informed consent and are near as dammit assault, if not actual bodily harm.

Orac’s comment that Wakefield was anti-vaccine made me think. He isn’t totally anti, remember he had a patent application on an alternative Measles single vaccination when he did his “research”. He is for safe vaccines, e.g. ones he will make money out of.

STEVE DOOCY (HOST): It is a film that is so controversial it’s getting booted from some film festivals. Vaxxed: From Cover Up To Catastrophe claims that the CDC, America’s Centers for Disease Control, manipulated and hid data that proves that there is a link between vaccines and autism.

I suppose a ‘documentary’ about the flat earth, would not be shown on film festivals as well, not because it is controversal, but because it is not a documentary.

What’s needed here is to make a counter-documentary. Do it in stealth mode in order to get interviews with Wakefield, Adams, and others of their ilk. Try to get them to hang themselves on camera (figuratively speaking). And include interviews with parents whose kids have had measles or whooping cough.

Done right, something like that could get traction, and could begin to undo the damage that these anti-vax propaganda flicks are doing.

Wait a second. 1 in 25 kids in 2015 have autism? Where does that stat come from? I seem to recall the latest estimate to be 1 in 68, which is the same as the last estimate that came out.

@Todd W. (#46): That stat came from the same place the antivaxxers get many of their stats, of course. But more kids HAVE to be diagnosed with autism if we’re ever going to get to tehe1 in 2 kids by 2030 or whatever it is.

Orac really only has time to call stuff like ‘Man Made Epidemic” to our attention, and note the usual pseudo-science cliches that pop up in the trailer. To push back against AV propaganda most effectively we need to take a deeper look at how it works in at least two senses:

The first is how the text works as persuasion – not noting the ‘stupid’ points skeptics expect the public to catch, but the devices used to present the case in a way that might appeal to ‘fence sitters’. This includes things like cinematography, editing, casting, writing style… Either 1) we might conclude that it’s a sucky film that won’t appeal to anyone not already cemented into the bubble – in which case, there’s not much to be gained by talking about it, or 2) we get a better means to undermine the message by deconstructing and revealing its method.

The second is how it works in socio-economic terms. Where does the money to make it come from? Whose agendas are behind it? What chances, if any, does it have of reaching a vulnerable audience? How will it be distributed and promoted? How (quite separate from it’s content) are these things given meanings that articulate to social debates, and how do these meanings function on that contested terrain?

So here’s yet another anti-vax film. What might be usefull to know about it beyond the outline Orac has provided.

All we have is the trailer. It suggests Man Made Epidemic (MME) covers a lot of the same ground as Vaxxed, but there appear to be some important stylistic differences. None of the documentary faux pax of Vaxxed appear: no lies about Thompson, nothing way out of context, no BS with the filmmakers appearing as interviewees. The presentation of the autistic kids is more restrained. The cinematography, editing, use of b-roll are all more polished and professional. So we might guess this will be more persuasive to ‘fence sitters’ who may see it, and that by sticking close to accepted documentary convention, it will be more more acceptable to programmers.

However, the ‘downside’ of this is that it probably lacks the ‘sizzle’ factor of Vaxxed. Both in content and form, it’s looks to be pretty ‘been there, done that’, and at this point, after Greater Good, Bought, Trace Amounts, Vaxxed, it may be naught but a yawn. The fact the interviewees all appear to be European doesn’t add any attraction for American audiences, either. So it’s probably not worth worry about unless it gets some distribution and promotion here. It might get a lot more festival screenings than Vaxxed, but that’s no sweat: the audiences will be tiny, the ‘validation’ trivial, the news value negligible. But since it seems it will be more presentable than Vaxxed, ot could wind up on some minor cable network or something, which would not be good. So, my ‘text’ summary is ‘could be trouble, but only if it gets fairly wide distribution, which isn’t very likely.’

Where did this come from? (Follow the money…) In film, that starts with the ‘executive producer’, in this case Lothar Moll. He’s German, and there isn’t much on the web about him in English. He’s the CEO of Pro Clima, a manufacturer of ‘eco-friendly’ sealing membranes used in building construction – “and the insulation is perfect” – with distribution in 35 countries around the world. He also runs something called Gradiavita, which does consulting and seminars on ‘intuitive management’. The site has some pseudo-sciencey looking stuff about brain waves, and a bio of Moll (;

His personal development led him to Indian wisdoms having the objective of enhancing his sense of perception… Among other things, Lothar Moll developed active intuition and used this knowledge actively within the scope of his life, especially in everyday business life. In addition, he deals with the free flow of life energy, the laws of energy, reflexions and effects on the subconscious as well as the unconscious with a focus on leading a successful life – in the hear and now. [it probably reads better auf Deutsch]

So he’s got money, and he’s wooey. But there’s no sign he’s ever backed a film before, and Googling his name with ‘autism’ or ‘vaccines’ yields no hits on Google. Thus, sans more info, we can’t know whether he himself is a veteran AVer tossing off some excess wealth in a pet project, or is merely open to this sort of thing and has been drawn in by some associate/friend/family – nor whether whatever his connection, he’s trying to make money and/or break into film producing with this, or it’s just a passion project. Unlike AJW, there’s no obvious sign of a grift.

Natalie Beer is listed as ‘producer/director’. The ‘producer’ tag means she probably came up with the idea, and isn’t just a hired gun. She’s a film professional, but not in a creative role. ‘Assistant director’ on features is a somewhat misleading term. ADs are somewhat analogous to stage managers in theater. They run the set, their main function being to keep everything on schedule per the daily rundown sheet – the time-nazis who enforce discipline, and shout ‘Moving On’ denying the creative players options to do the shot one more time. It’s a job you can do without having any of the skills needed to direct a documentary. Beer has made one previous doc, ‘Waiting Area’ (2012) in German, about the difficulties pregnant women in Ethopia have in getting proper medical care. It appears to have screened at some film festivals in Europe, including Amsterdam, which has a very good rep – but not received any distribution and basically disappeared. Again, Googling her name with ‘autism’ or ‘vaccines’ yields no hits. So, again, sans more info we can’t say whether the film comes out of anti-vax passion, or just seemed like a good topic to someone trying to make their mark in the documentary world.

Nothing in the background of the two principals suggests this thing is heading for any kind of distribution. It’s probably just one of the thousands of ultra-long-shot grabs for the brass ring of cinematic success that get generated every year. There’s a skeletal website with the trailer and not much else, a Facebook page with less (comments in the single digits). I’d guess they don’t even have a rough cut yet, and just put the web stuff up now to try to get some attention on Vaxxed’s coattails. The OP probably increased the awareness of the thing in the US at least tenfold.

In sum, exactly what’s going on here is kind of an intriguing mystery, but I doubt we’ll ever find out…

He also runs something called Gradiavita, which does consulting and seminars on ‘intuitive management’. The site has some pseudo-sciencey looking stuff about brain waves

You will notice also that Luther Moll in his intuition-trumps-evidence wisdom also believes in the evils of electro-smog, fitting in with Eric Lund’s observation (@19) that the “environmental causes” evidently include cell towers.

[email protected] 16

Thank you for posting this link.Institutions like the one at Rainer,described in Part 1 of this series,is one reason there are so few autistics over the age of 40 who are not high functioning.Institutions like this were a death sentence.

Those who did not end up in institutions,often took their own lives.Something science is just coming around to admitting..

As I have said here and elsewhere,my mother was one of the few who fought schools,doctors,etc to keep me out of institutions in the late 60s and 70s.I had an autism diagnosis that was low functioning enough to be diagnosed under the DSM-II.I lived with my mother up until a few days before she died.Because of this,I was was able to live long enough to get health care,based on advances in science to help me learn my autism was due to an inherited and treatable medical condition.,but I was one of the lucky ones.

@walkingmap #49: LOL! Thank you so much for posting that! I was expecting a load of bilge I could easily deconstruct, not the snark filled mockery of antivaxxers I got. Thanks once again.

What’s needed is a counter-documentary. Do it in stealth mode, get them to hang themselves on camera. That could begin to undo the damage that these anti-vax propaganda flicks are doing.

My guess is they’re not doing any significant damage, just preaching to an ever-decreasing choir, and they’re basically the death throes of anti-vax as anything beyond the sort of fringe cult that will never go away but doesn’t really matter much in the big picture.

I can imagine several concepts for good documentaries on anti-vax, but I doubt they’d attract funding, or have much better chance at distribution than the AV docs. A super-dedicated maker could still get it done, but I’m not sure it’s worth three years of labor-in-poverty.

No need for stealth. These folks love to film themselves, and they put the noose around their own necks every time they open their mouths. Re purposing their footage would all be Fair Use.

I’ve thought of making something that would just deconstruct the BS in this corpus – less the ‘science does prove vax safe’, more ‘these are lies and batpoop theories’ (‘1 in 2 by 2032’) – which I could just do by myself using the ‘found footage’ and put up on YT. But given my health issues and all the life-stuff-balls I’m already dropping, I’ll probably never get around to it…

Watch the the movie. It truly isn’t anti-vaccine. They believe a simple solution is separating out the MMR into three doses. That was the only advice Wakefield gave back before he was called a “fraud”. And he isn’t even anti-vaccie—he says the first step is to separate the MMR into three shots. What’s the hassle behind that? Most of the people in the documentary support the administration of vaccines but have concerns about the safety of them. Knee jerk reactions to anything that goes against what the pharmaceutical companies and the CDC report is not helpful in ensuring that our children are receiving safe vaccines. I was very very very pro-vaccine before my daughter received her first dose of (d layer) vaccines at 18 months. Her reaction was so severe that her doctor recommended that she start receiving them one at a time in a very spaced out schedule. It was an extremely terrifying experience to go through as a mother.

@ Joan
Funny, you forgot to mention Wakefield had a solid financial interest in those seperatly given vaccines.


[T]he first step is to separate the MMR into three shots. What’s the hassle behind that?

1) It costs more to make 3 vaccines than one triple shot.
2) It requires 3 visits to the doctor, so the consultation fees are higher.
3) There is a greater chance that a vaccination will be missed.

Knee jerk reactions to anything that goes against what the pharmaceutical companies…

Pharma Shill Gambit noted.

…and the CDC report is not helpful in ensuring that our children are receiving safe vaccines.

What evidence do you have that vaccines are unsafe? What evidence do you have that they are more dangerous than the diseases they protect against?

Most of the people in the documentary support the administration of vaccines but have concerns about the safety of them.

Bwhahaha. Those in the movies are active participants in anti-vaxx activities. They make “pro-safe vaccine” noises so as not to come off as the nutter anti-vaxxers they really are. Ask them what vaccines they would give their children and you’ll get crickets.

Joan: “They believe a simple solution is separating out the MMR into three doses. That was the only advice Wakefield gave back before he was called a “fraud”.”

What evidence is there to get three separate shots? It certainly was not in the 1998 Lancet paper when Wakefield gave that “advice” during the press conference about that paper. When he said those words, just about everyone realized he was coming to a conclusion with evidence.

It was the first indication of his fraud.

By the way, the MMR vaccine has been around since 1971 in the USA. Where is the evidence it caused the issues that Wakefield claims?

Also, here is one very good reason why you should not make up your own schedule: your child has a greater of getting a disease, and if they get measles at a very young age this can happen:

@Joan :

Knee jerk reactions to anything that goes against what the pharmaceutical companies and the CDC report is not helpful in ensuring that our children are receiving safe vaccines.

I can understand being wary of vaccines after your experience ; and if you don’t know a lot about Wakefield and co, he sounds like he has a point.

However, Wakefield proved by his actions through the years that he is not a competent / honest advocate of safer vaccines. His actions have been amply documented in this blog, and others like Left Brain Right Brain.
“Anti-vaccine” doesn’t necessarily mean “against all vaccines” ; it can also be someone who advocates extremely unrealistic ways of making safer vaccines, based on no or unconvincing evidence.

The “CDC whistleblower” pseudo-scandal has also been detailed in these blogs. Here is an introduction :

And as for the movie, the trailer already had quite a few lies and deformations in it, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the movie. (For example, insinuating that the DeStefano study would have proven that vaccines can cause autism in ALL children, when the only controversial result is among black boys vaccinated in a certain timeframe.)
So at this point, there is no “knee-jerk reaction” ; we only recognize lies long debunked.

Question for our more medically-minded commenters, as Joan’s claim of a serious vaccine reaction followed by spacing out of subsequent vaccinations has a cargo cult whiff about it:

If her child really suffered a serious reaction to an initial vaccination, what difference would spacing out subsequent vaccinations make? If a child is allergic to a specific component – e.g. virus protein, substrate, adjuvant, or preservative – wouldn’t it be logical not to vaccinate her with any other vaccines that contain that component while giving her the rest of her vaccinations on schedule? Or just biting the bullet and not take the risk of any additional vaccinations, and relying on herd immunity to keep her protected? I mean, if the child seriously reacts once, why would waiting a few extra months make her less likely to react again? What’s the actual guidelines here for responsible pediatricians?

Of course, Joan doesn’t say what “serious” actually means: blotchy and miserable with a temperature for several days, or a mad rush to the ICU. If the former, I’m guessing her child’s pediatrician was just humoring a wildly over-reacting parent for the good of the patient, since an extra year’s risk of contracting serious diseases is still preferable to an extra lifetime’s worth. If the latter, then whaaaa… all round.

Though I’m guessing it was more likely the former, as anti-vaxxers are hardly famous for their ability to reliably assess or report genuine risk vs harm. I wonder if Joan also feeds her daughter, or drives her around town, or keeps her at home, as there is extensive hard evidence of children suffering serious adverse reactions to food, cars, and houses too; up to and including death; honestly it’d be a much safer world if everyone just got their tubes tied at birth.

@ Joan
Funny, you forgot to mention Wakefield’s study was both unethical and scientifically worthless.

@ Joan
Funny, you forgot to mention Wakefield’ co-authors all had their names removed from the article and subsequently it was disavowed by The Lancet, where it had been published.

Does any find this statement of Joan to be very odd: ” I was very very very pro-vaccine before my daughter received her first dose of (d layer) vaccines at 18 months.”

If she was very pro-vaccine why did she wait a year and a half before giving her the first dose? What is a “d layer”? And isn’t the dreaded MMR usually done closer to fifteen months?

@ Joan
Funny, you forgot to mention Wakefield’s bogus research was paid for by a lawyers looking for a new frontier in dubious malpractice suits from a legal aid fund meant for patients’ claims.

@Chris (68) she noted in a later comment she meant “delayed” not d layer.
However…the question remains: why was her daughter getting her FIRST vaccines at 18 months? Which one(s) did she get?

Nothing about Joan’s post makes sense and is one of those “I’m not an anti-vaxer but I really am an anti-vaxer” stories that I’ve seen way too often.

Dear Joan, the W*k*p*d** entry ( ) on Mr Lying Trousers Fraudy Pants tells you all you need to know about what a dishonest, venal and corrupt individual he is.

Just to be clear that page is very heavily monitored and the editors are scrupulous about references and documentation: I tried to add a paragraph about him having his fellowship of a Royal College revoked, but I don’t have documentation, as the only people who have access to that are members of that Royal College, one of whom is a friend.

I read almost all of your comments in here and I’m really appalled on some of you that say this kids should be taken from their families because they don’t deserve them, first of all do any of you scientist in here have a autistic child? For me that I do, I just want to find answers possibly cure my son to be the happy child that I knew, am I just to let him be…… Scream, hit is head, don’t acknowledge you, not able to show any emotions, not speaking one word, I’m not disputing the science I’m just trying to find out why a perfectly healthy baby that once said words, hugged me and saaud goodbye when I would go to work suddenly stopped and it got worse as time went on, now my 10 year old is totally nonverbal, bites everything that he sees to a point that he has chipped his teeth, he hurts inside and I know in his eyes and some of you have the nerve to tell me just let it be, don’t look for answers. The reason I’m looking at vaccines is simply because when you look up autism and how was or when was detected is like hearing your sons story through another parent, it all started after the 18 month vaccination, I’m not a doctor nor a scientist but I would do anything to make him better, like many autistic kids he has seizures I don’t know and never would say it’s the vaccinations, I simply don’t know but I sure want to find out if I can what happened, why after 18 months, why after vaccines, am I allowed to ask questions? You guys in here are making people feel bad for just asking questions, I don’t know nothing about the film nor the director, I don’t know what’s the motive behind it, I just try to make sense and hopefully find some relieve and if some of you think that I don’t deserve my son because I just have to let him be ….. Than come and live with us for couple of days, he has the most loving and caring parents you’ll find but I don’t know how to explain to you I see pain in his eyes and I can’t help him.

“… first of all do any of you scientist in here have a autistic child?”

I do, I do! Now do I get a prize? My kid even had seizures before he had his first vaccines. Do I get another prize?

By the way, many of the people who commented on this thread are actually autistic. Instead of tone trolling, I suggest you watch the program I linked to in Comment #16. Then go down and read Roger Kulp’s comment.

@Ilir Saipi – I only read one comment that suggested that some children might be better off taken from their parents because their parents – in that person’s eyes – clearly hate their children. I don’t happen to agree with that comment. Some people have strong opinions.

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