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:

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Followed by another scary graphic:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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