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The annals of “I’m not antivaccine,” part 19: Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey edition

It’s been a while since I paid attention to the movie, but the publicity among the antivaccine movement for Andrew Wakefield’s and Del Bigtree’s movie VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe continues apace. Sadly, I missed my opportunity to see Bigtree himself doing a Q&A for the movie when it rolled through Detroit a a week and a half ago, mainly (1) the evening Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey rolled through my neck of the woods happened to coincide with a day that I had to drive to Saginaw for a 7:30 AM talk (hint: it’s nearly a two hour drive from where I live) and then had to give a talk at our 5 PM cancer committee meeting and (2) I didn’t want to give Wakefield and Bigtree any of my hard-earned cash for their antivaccine propaganda film. In retrospect, perhaps I should have made a greater effort to attend, but I was just too tired at the end of the day to be willing to drive the 12 miles or so to the theater and potentially get into a sparring match with some antivaccine activists. Maybe next time. Or not.

My admission of human weakness aside, even as I maintain a pseudonym that is the name of a supercomputer from an old British science fiction television show, if there’s one thing the producers of VAXXED keep trying to convince reasonable people (you know, the people who aren’t antivaccine loons), it’s that they aren’t antivaccine themselves. Oh, no. Borrowing a page from the Jenny McCarthy playbook, Bigtree and company are frantically trying to paint themselves as vaccine safety advocates instead of the antivaccine nutters (to borrow a British word, given the involvement of Tommey and Wakefield) that they really are. The problem is, they keep doing Periscope videos that reveal that claim to be a delusion or lie. Certainly it’s not the truth. For example, the other day, they recorded a Periscope video in Atlanta. (Don’t worry, I downloaded it for when it disappears. Oddly enough, Periscope seems to be allowing videos to remain more than 24 hours right now. I don’t know how much longer, but it appears to be at least four days.)

In any case, Tommey and Bigtree are clearly sitting outside of a hotel lounge. They’re in rather poor light, with the bar televisions visible behind them, and they’re talking—what else?—vaccines. They’re also being very, very antivaccine.

For example, early on in the video Tommey describes a radio interview she did:

This one guy called in, and he says, “I have a four year old daughter who’s unvaccinated. Everything’s great. But now I have to vaccinate her.” And I couldn’t get him to say, “No you don’t have to vaccinate her.”

Here’s the thing. Parents are so worried—well, they should be worried; they’re in California. There’s no school, no job, no house, no anything worth putting a vaccine in your child, and it doesn’t seem to be sinking in, and I’m not judging, because I used to be that person. I mean, he saw VAXXED; yet he still says , “I live in California. I’m going to have to vaccinate my child.”

But, no, Tommey’s not antivaccine. Oh, no. She just thinks that nothing is worth vaccinating your child for.

Bigtree chimes in, and he’s no better. First of all, he regurgitates the misinformation that the “CDC whistleblower,” William W. Thompson had confirmed that the MMR vaccine causes autism and that the CDC was covering it up. Clearly, Bigtree is impervious to facts, because that is not what happened. The most you can say about what Thompson said was that he disagreed with not fully reporting a result that was almost certainly spurious. He never said the CDC committed fraud. He never said that vaccines cause autism. He just said that he thinks the spurious result should be followed up on. Showing his ignorance, Bigtree throws a reference to thimerosal, the mercury-containing preservative that was in some childhood vaccines until 2002 but never in the MMR. It’s still in some flu vaccines (for which thimerosal-free versions are available) but no other childhood vaccines.

This inspired Polley to double down by saying:

Say your child’s four years old, with no vaccines, and she’s doing really well and then saying, oh, well California law says you have to vaccinate him. You don’t have to do jack shit. Don’t take your child to school. I know it’s awful. They’ve got their friends, you’ve got your friends there. But it’s just not worth it.

But Polley’s not antivaccine. Oh, no. How dare you call her antivaccine?

Not to be outdone, Bigtree chimes in:

I mean, you kind of have to think about it like this. Well, we’re going to have to the right hand off of every child before they can go to school; so I guess I have to do it. It’s time for school. I mean, at a certain point, what is the safety of the child? Is their education—I mean, it’s really fascinating when you think about it. School is all about the development of their brain, the development of their mind. That’s what school is for. And you look at one of the major side effects of these vaccines is destruction of the brain, destruction of the mind. So yes, you’ve got your child in school, but they’re not thriving there because you’ve injured their brain with a vaccine.

But Bigtree’s not antivaccine. Not at all. Perish the thought! He just likens vaccination to cutting off a child’s right hand and believes that vaccines destroy children’s brains.

Polley and Bigtree are very unhappy with Senator Richard Pan. Of course, antivaccinationists hate Senator Pan with a passion, because he was one of the two California senators who spearheaded the passage of SB 277, the California law that eliminates nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. Indeed, the level of demonization Sen. Pan has endured is astonishing, so much so that what I’m putting up with now from a certain well-known Internet crank seems pretty tame in comparison. In any case, Bigtree bemoans how people on Senator Pan’s Facebook page allegedly treat parents of children with autism. No, those of us who are pro-vaccine don’t criticize parents of children with autism unnecessarily. Certainly I don’t. In particular, I try not to be too hard on antivaccine parents of children with autism who have been misled by antivaccine misinformation. I have nothing but empathy for such parents’ difficulties and have said many times I don’t know if I’d have what it takes to do what many of them do.

However, we do criticize the parents of children with autism who actively promote dangerous antivaccine pseudoscience. Let’s face it. The leaders of the antivaccine movement (like Polly Tommey) often have special needs children. Even as we have empathy for the good they do raising their children, on the other hand having a child with autism is not a free pass to spew antivaccine misinformation without criticism. They do not get to hold up their children with autism—and, make no mistake, that is what some of them do—as shields against criticism when they go around promoting antivaccine misinformation. I’m sorry. They just don’t.

Hilariously, Bigtree says that the antivaccine movement (I know, I know, he doesn’t call it that) has to “take the high road.” He claims he wants his critics to meet him on the “level of science and truth.” I couldn’t help but think that, sure, that would be nice, but what planet is he living on? The only time anything in VAXXED resembles “science and truth” is by coincidence, and even then Bigtree and Wakefield did their best to twist everything to promote antivaccine pseudocience. After all, just take a look at what our friend from Austin (not Andrew Wakefield) has been saying about me.

Bigtree’s call to “take the high road” is even funnier and more hypocritical based on what happened the other day:

On Monday, Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree arrived at Pan’s office without an appointment to talk. After Pan exited without granting an audience, Bigtree pursued him down a hallway.

“He darted out,” Bigtree said in a followup interview during which he linked “defective” vaccines to rising autism rates. “You’d think people wouldn’t be wanting to put children in harm’s way, and that’s what we believe Sen. Pan has done.”

Posts recounting the incident, including a video, have circulated among vaccine skeptics who have gleefully promoted the hashtag #PanRan (they’ve also leveled more threats; one wrote on Facebook she hopes Pan gets hit by a bus).

Here’s the video Bigtree made:

PAN RUN_Vimeo from Francesca Alesse on Vimeo.

Basically, Bigtree knows that this sort of ambush puts the subject in a very difficult situation. If the subject stays to talk, he’ll be harangued by cranks on camera until he’s forced to turn his back and get to work again. (And, make no mistake, Bigtree and Wakefield are cranks.) If the subject walks briskly away, he’s accused of running away, and Bigtree gets to come up with a cutesy hashtag like #PanRan. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a role for the “ambush” in journalism, but Bigtree and Wakefield are not journalists. It is very clear from how they approached their “ambush” and what they did afterward that they had no desire to illuminate a topic, have an honest dialogue, or get answers to report. They weren’t doing anything resembling legitimate journalism. They were all about propaganda, given that VAXXED is a propaganda film.

I do have to admit that Pan’s communications director Shannan (Velayas) Martinez did about as well as she could against this sort of stalking:

Of course, one can’t resist pointing out a bit of irony here, as 12 years ago, it was Wakefield running from questions:

Again, whatever you think of the “ambush” interview (and, again, sometimes they are very effective tools in the armamentarium of a real journalist like Deer, but they can also be misused), Wakefield, as always, is a hypocrite. When he turns his back on a journalist and walks briskly away to avoid an interview, he views it as completely justified. When Pan turns his back to decline an interview, he’s a coward. Wakefield never changes.

As much as Bigtree, Tommey, and Wakefield try to deny that they are antivaccine, they can’t help but let their antivaccine freak flag fly by likening vaccines to cutting off children’s right hands and insisting that nothing is worth vaccinating your child. If that’s not antivaccine, I don’t know what is.

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]

217 replies on “The annals of “I’m not antivaccine,” part 19: Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey edition”

Of course the best example of this kind of bullshit doorstepping is the legendary clip of Bart Sibrel hounding Buzz Aldrin. I don’t advocate punching Wakefield’s lights out, but I don’t think I would be the only one to laugh out loud if it happened.

I’ll admit I got a laugh out of Ms. Velayas’s tweets. Healthy adults should be able to handle a flight of stairs without trouble. Del Bigtree apparently wasn’t. And he’s the one saying that vaccines damage people’s health.

You’re not that bright, Orac. Take Polly (as an example)… Fully trusted doctors (NOT anti-vaccine), child’s health is destroyed within a day / few days of vaccinations, becomes concerned about safety of vaccines… Rightly so! Is that being “anti-vaccine” or a intelligent human being? People (you) would put me in the category of “anti-vaccine” (no doubt) and yet, I simply tell people to research the vaccines and their ingredients, spread out vaccines as much as you can, reject the crazy ones (hep b at birth, flu, etc). When you make these kinds of posts, it is fair game to call you a pharma shill. Whether you are or aren’t, I’m not sure but the comparison between the name calling game is the same. I think if we could ever have safety tests and non-fraudulent studies done on vaccines, I would be willing to give a newborn a small few vaccines (possibly 3), until then though… Why would I trust that broken system? And hilarious that you supposedly had better things to do than go to a screening and / or Q/A for the movie? Do you expect people that? Lol. Please…

@JoeyC: About those “fully trusted doctors”. Even if they exist (and frankly that is a big if, most of them turn out to be the Bob Sears types), they are outweighed hundreds of thousands to one by equally trusted doctors who fully support immunisation.

That’s part of the problem with anti-vax bullshit: it relies on the idea that a tiny handful of people with vested interests and usually no actual expertise, are the Bringers of Truth, while a huge array of doctors, medical scientists, health policy experts and others from countries at every part of the political spectrum, are all part of a vast conspiracy to hide The Truth(TM).

Last sentence should be: “Do you expect people to believe that?”

There is a lot of fun being had about that video on twittersphere. Bigtree and Wakefield are coming off second best from the show.

Bigtree ran DOWN a flight of stairs and was winded. I expected him to be running UP. That is hilarious.

Is that a “Max Factor” t-shirt that Polly Tommey is wearing? If so, you’d think the company would pay her $$$ not to. She’s evidently a mascara junkie, but there are limits.

Although maybe the t-shirt actually says “Antivax Freak”.

And that’ll be my NastyPost for the day.

@Eric Lund, #2: I expect Mr. Bigtree has been vaccinated as a child. That must be why he’s winded. See, vaccines are bad for your health.

Of course, I expect Dr. Pan is up to date. Hmmm.

So far, I don’t know too much about BIgtree: what’s in it for him?

I said that he met Andy at a fundraiser in LA a while ago
( most likely that event Orac wrote about- I think it had a red carpet ). Del claims that he left his work as a television producer in order to make this film. which sounds rather odd- did he mean *temporarily* or permanently – perhaps seeing this as a way to break into film making. He said he thought it was a Watergate type opportunity. Bigger, even IIRC.

We don’t know if he is motivated like many anti-vax parents: does he have a child with autism or is there one in his immediate family? I once speculated that all the anti-vaxxers I knew about either had a child or grandchild with autism or offered an altie treatment ( except for Jake, of course, who has AS).

Did he really think that this film would offer him money, exposure or career opportunities? From what I know about woo-fraught documentaries it seems that the director/ chief woo can sometimes finagle students or newbies to work for nearly nothing because it will fill their empty resumes. Del ain’t no newcomer- he’s over 40.

And seriously, hasn’t Dr Pan been threatened because of the vaccination law? I doubt he would feel comfortable with several people harassing him in his office.

@ Joey C

Your points would be better received if they had some sort of rationale behind them.

spread out vaccines as much as you can,

Why?
What is the expected benefit?
As far as any serious scientific research has shown, spacing out vaccines has no benefit (aside from making more trips to be doctor).
OTOH, if you delay a vaccine for 1 month, that’s one month more to have chance to catch the wild form of the disease the vaccine should be protecting you against.

reject the crazy ones (hep b at birth, flu, etc).

Explain why these are crazy. Be specific.

I think if we could ever have safety tests and non-fraudulent studies done on vaccines,

Define which safety tests would make you trusting vaccines. Define what characterize a non-fraudulent study. Does a study funded by the NIH will be OK? A study from another country than the US?
If you ask for a double-blind study, would you volunteer your children to be injected some random solution?

I would be willing to give a newborn a small few vaccines (possibly 3)

That’s no different, or little different from your current position (space out vaccines, reject “crazy ones”).
In other words, no matter what we show you, your opinion won’t change.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

Ha! Max Factor!

Unfortunately many OTHER companies are selling product that produces a great wad of black gum that’s supposed to look like thicker, longer lashes altho’ the trend has ameliorated somewhat recently.

Polly Tommey and Del Bigtree are not antivaccine, in my opinion, but simply coping with sensory and information overload from the VAXXED experience.

Furthermore, Mrs.Tommey and Mr. Bigtree are aggressive vaccine-safety advocates trying to affect the issue of forced vaccinations with respect to parental rights.

In simplification, Polly and Del believe vaccines can do harm and present their point-of-view with passion and purpose.

@Orac,

Good article, Thx.

I should note that I am very pleased that our peerless leader doesn’t want to pay money for woo.

I’ve managed to NOT spend any money for my activities altho’ I did spend a little in the 1990s when I attended presentations about New Agey topics including yoga and t’ai chi- a few did feature exercise classes so I felt that it wasn’t as bad.

Helianthus @11

Is there not research (someone will be along to enlighten me no doubt) which shows that spreading out vaccines or using single dose instead of multi-dose (separate measles, mumps and rubella vax instead of MMR, for example) causes a reduction in uptake?

And I join you in wanting to know why giving flu or Hep B vax to babies is “crazy”.

I don’t see Pan running – I see him walking (briskly) away. The camera is mainly shooting Del Bigotry’s back.

He said he thought it was a Watergate type opportunity. Bigger, even IIRC.

And like so many Woodward/Bernstein wannabes, Bigtree ended up looking like Geraldo when they opened Al Capone’s vault. Which Bigtree could have avoided if he had actually followed Deep Throat’s advice to “follow the money”–he would have seen that there isn’t that much in it for Big Pharma, and looked for something with a more promising angle. Preferably without looking like the Bloom County Beacon’s interactions with Senator Bedfellow in early 1980s Bloom County strips.

In addition to being an antivaxx nutter, Polly Tommey shamelessly exploits her autistic son for her own gain. Typical of these people who don’t think their children have a right to privacy nor dignity. Her daughter Bella is just as bad.

Tomney’s son is still in her custody? He ought to be removed from the home for his safety- she already murdered one autistic boy. Can anyone explain why she’s not in jail? I’m sure there’s a law against inciting and encouraging murder.

There is another video from the Vaxxed team that is interesting. This is what it is like to debate Del. He interrupts and badgers and refuses to consider any evidence contrary to his opinions. In his mind, the Thompson et al CDC study is THE definitive autism study upon which all other studies are based and it is fraudulent and nothing else matters.

https://www.facebook.com/vaxxedthemovie/videos/593332574177783/

Helianthus and Murmur: I think Joey fell for that old canard that Hep B is sexually transmitted, and is completely unaware that there are actually three strains.
For some reason, that particular trope drives me up the wall, probably because I knew there were three different strains before I graduated from high school, (I dunno where I found that out, exactly, but not the point), and these are, supposedly, educated adults who can’t be bothered to even google Hep B or refer back to their high school health notes.

child’s health is destroyed develops autism within a day / few days of vaccinations….

Do you expect people to believe that?

FTFY.

“Three strains”, PgP #21? HBc, HBe, and HBs are not ‘strains’ but gene proteins. Variants and mutations of the virus are a continuum differing from person to person. Perhaps you were thinking of HepA, HepB, HepC, and HepD?? No, wait. That’s four… Never mind.

You know what’s worse than forced vaccination? Forced education!!!

” (Ontario) Health Minister Eric Hoskins tabled a bill Thursday that would, if passed, require any parent filing religious or moral objections (to vaccination) to complete a course intended to inform them of the importance of immunization, the dangers of foregoing it and the purpose of “herd immunity.”

“The bill lands the same week as nearly 600 students were suspended from school in Waterloo Region, according to CTV Kitchener, for outdated or incomplete vaccination records and amid a chicken pox outbreak in Michigan and a whooping cough outbreak in Alberta.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/ontario-parents-who-object-to-vaccines-could-be-forced-to-take-a-class-in-science-of-immunization

As to learning about herd immunity, I’m reminded of a classic antivaxer post I once encountered, in which the person complained the using the term was insulting, as it compared humans to cattle.

Wake up, sheeple!

Dangerous Bacon “Wake up, sheeple!”

To what????

BTW the Health Minister has a very good grounding in these matters:
D.Phil. and Rhodes Scholar, University of Oxford, 1994
Graduate Degree, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 1988
Graduate Degree, University of Aberdeen, 1988
MD, McMaster University , 1985
B.Sc, McMaster University, 1981

@ Denice #10

I’ve figured Bigtree got into this mainly as a career move, hoping it would make his name as some sort of film/video auteur. Thus, yes, I think he thought Vaxxed would bring him exposure , opportunities and money – though not cash in his pocket but funding for other projects. Delusional, maybe, but hardy uncommon in the film world.

However, there does seem to be something else behind his passion for this particular project. You’d think if someone in hiss life had suffered from ‘autism blight’ he’d say so. Maybe he’s an anti-government CT nutter who hates the CDC, FDA etc. etc. Just guessing at what his angst might be, but I’m pretty confident there must be one. Even within the sensationalist genre, his behavior is a bit over the top for a film producer trying to make the big time.

One thing we can say is that he probably didn’t learn about anti-vax from a recent meeting with Andy. He worked with Jim Sears for years on ‘The Doctors’, and Jim is featured in the trailer for Vaxxed. I assume Jim Sears introduced him to Bob Sears, and Bob then got Del and Andy hooked up. The Sears connection likely accounts for Vaxxed putting the ‘delay the schedule’ line over the ‘don’t vaccinate at all’ line. This makes the ‘vaccine safety’ claim more credible, but it seems obvious that’s just a strategic move, and one the hardcore AVs like Tommey only went along with grumbling and biting their lip – thus leading to stuff like the hotel video Orac discussed where they let their guard down and the full anti-vax flag waves high.

Say your child’s four years old, with no vaccines, and she’s doing really well and then saying, oh, well California law says you have to vaccinate him. You don’t have to do jack shit. Don’t take your child to school.

To be fair, at least Bigtree and Polly seem to have a more accurate understanding of SB277 than most of the people whining about “compulsory” vaccination.

Take Polly (as an example)… Fully trusted doctors (NOT anti-vaccine), child’s health is destroyed within a day / few days of vaccinations, becomes concerned about safety of vaccines… Rightly so!

It’s funny – I hear this tidy, edited little story again and again, but in the relatively few instances where I’m able to verify any of the info, it’s never true. Literally not one time. The real story always turns out to be some variation on “kid gets shots -> kid has perfectly normal and fairly common reaction (fussiness, fever, etc.) -> kid recovers fully -> at some later point (often months to years) kid is diagnosed with autism (or any of the rapidly-growing grab bag of illnesses people are attributing to vaccines these days) -> parent encounters antivaccine info and starts “thinking back” (i.e., reconstructing memories to incorporate this new info) -> parent decides kid was “never the same” after vaccines -> parent edits out all those messy middle parts and starts telling the “I took a normal kid to the doctor’s office for his/her shots and took a broken kid home” version of the story.

@DB #23

I actually dislike that move. Too easy to liken it to the US-based moves to impose “information sessions” to women wishing to have an abortion. I also think it would not change that many minds.

I’m all for more information to parents. My move would be to completely ban religious and moral exemptions, then provide the course to all that wants it, including on-the-fence parents and those who want an exemption and want to know why it’s not a good idea. There should also be a course on how to spread the word.

The forced course would add a barrier, so would probably increase uptake, but would not prevent parents with already established ideas to go for moral and religious exemptions.

For the record: I am against mandatory re-education camps in which recalcitrant Canadians would be held until they developed a sense of humor.

@DB: need the /sarcasm or /humor tag? I’ve got a few here from recent encounters!

@ Helianthus #11

Oh my… Spread them out so you limit possible side effects. Are we so far apart in our beliefs that even that simple point is confusing to you? It’s as if I go to my doctor and they want to know what meds I am on before prescribing another one. Or, in the case of a child… Say my child comes home from school feeling unwell but unable to put into words what specifically is wrong. Do I simply give her a dose of Advil, a dose of Tylenol, a dose of cough syrup and a dose of antibiotics all at once just to be sure and send her off to play while hoping for the best? Of course not. We, in my opinion, need to stop looking at these vaccines as these wonder drugs with side effects. They are medical interventions, pharma drugs, whatever you wish to call them… They come with dangers and side effects.

As to your point about safety studies… You do have a point there in terms of my ability to trust any safety studies… It is very true that I would have a difficult time at this point trusting any safety studies (knowing what I know now).

And come on… Hep B vaccine… You really need specifics on why that is a crazy one to give to newborns? I really can’t be bothered…

Did he really think that this film would offer him money, exposure or career opportunities? From what I know about woo-fraught documentaries it seems that the director/ chief woo can sometimes finagle students or newbies to work for nearly nothing because it will fill their empty resumes. Del ain’t no newcomer- he’s over 40.

I strongly suspect that Bigass didn’t leave The Doctors on his own and hooking up with Andy was his only real career path. That and probably an ignorant noggin full of conspiracy theories and his own self importance.

In simplification, Polly and Del believe vaccines can do harm and present their point-of-view with passion and purpose.

“point of view” is the oddest spelling of lies and misinformation I’ve ever seen. But then you don’t really care about facts or truth do you mjd?

He ought to be removed from the home for his safety- she already murdered one autistic boy.

Huh?

I think Joey fell for that old canard that Hep B is sexually transmitted, and is completely unaware that there are actually three strains.

Huh?

@ Science Mom:

I wondered about that as well: why leave an at least semi-lucrative regular job in television to do a one-time docu by a non-well known film maker. Maybe his contract wasn’t renewed or suchlike.

Maybe you should meet with them or see the movie before you write your 1 sided article. There is corruption at the CDC and instead of bringing attention to the corruption you mock parents with Vaccine injured children. How humane of you. Now unless you were the one that conducted the study, why wouldn’t you want to dig deeper into things?

What’s most disturbing to me is that in our free-thinking country, questioning and investigating the truth about something is welcomed and expected – questioning religious beliefs, questioning the pros/cons of organic, genetically modified or processed food, questioning our government and the politicians that run it, etc. But as soon as it comes to questioning and investigating vaccines, there’s an automatic stonewall and immediate social shutdown without any room for flexibility in opinions. This is very disturbing and extremely telling that something isn’t right here. I just hope that the day will come where the cover gets blown and those responsible will be held accountable for all the harm that’s being caused and covered up. Remember vaccines are a product for powerful businesses to which injured or killed people are only a statistic and collateral damage. Not nearly as many as you think have you or your children’s best interests in mind.

A. If you had followed our host’s blog you would see that he had carefully examined the claims of the cdcwhistleblower manufactroversy multiple times. And explained why Wakefield’s version doesn’t hold water.

B. If you read this post, you would see this is not about mocking parents of any type of children.
But you can’t promote anti vaccine misinformation and claim immunity from criticism or countering by claiming your child is vaccine injured.if you are going to promote misinformation designed to scare parents from protecting their kids from disease the responsible thing to do is counter it. Because you’re putting others at risk.

C. I saw Vaxxed. It added nothing new to previous claims and tactics. And had a lot of misinformation, like the claim that vaccines are not tested, like misrepresenting the study in question and the Thompson documents and calls, as Dr. Matt Carey also detailed, and like ignoring the many studies from all over showing MMR doesn’t cause autism.

The only misrepresentations and problematic treatment of information I see so far is on the part of Hooker, Wakefield, and potentially the other makers of Vaxxed.

The movie did take the misuse of children to new levels. Like the many videos of children with autism at their most vulnerable, or the child made to tell his parents not to vaccinate his 18 months old sister against measles, mumps or rubella.

Science Mom: Don’t tell me you forgot the Alex Spourdalakis case. Tommey was all over the mother, and so was Lisa Goes and Wakefield. While they didn’t actually murder Alex, and all three were out of town when the deed was down, I hold them as responsible for Alex’s murder as the mother and godmother.
They convinced Mrs. Spourdalakis that Alex’s life was worthless, and left her and the godmother high and dry, knowing what would happen. And logically, if Tommey thought Alex was worthless, what does that say about what she thinks of her son?

As for the Hepatitis thing, people continually mix up Hep B and Hep C, and believe that Hep B is only a disease of the unclean- not that hep c should indicate anything other than being unlucky.But because hep c can be sexually transmitted, most of the hard-of-thinking assume that is true of the other sorts of hepatitis.

@DW and Science Mom: of course, there’s absolutely no possible way to get Hep B besides sex and needle sharing, doncha know? And toddlers never bite each other or get cut and bleed. I have to say, it’s obvious “joey” doesn’t know anything about Hep B and ways of transmission besides teh seks.

Joey C really has some good points, which can be applied to other “wonder drugs”.

For instance, I wonder why physicians don’t spread out antibiotic doses in smaller amounts to limit side effects.

@Joey C #33 – The problem is that you’re trying to apply your idea of “common sense” to vaccination without appearing to have the slightest idea of what vaccines are or how they work. Vaccines aren’t like common drugs that stimulate or block receptors, mimic hormones, etc., so they operate under entirely different principles of dosing, pharmaceutical kinetics, etc. No matter how many vaccines you give someone, you can only have one systemic immune response at a time. Multivalent vaccines have to be carefully formulated, not because they could “overwhelm” the immune system, but because the immune system’s usual response to being presented with multiple antigens at once (which is what happens every time you’re exposed to a foreign organism) is to ignore most of them and concentrate and the most immunogenic epitopes, which may or may not be the most effective for generating neutralizing antibodies (which is the mechanism of protection for nearly all of the vaccines currently in common use.) Ditto the practice of giving multiple vaccines at once – you have to give them in different locations so the antigens go to different draining lymph nodes and are “seen” by different pools of naive T cells. And, again, they have to test different combinations to make sure the immune response to one doesn’t actually inhibit the immune response to the others, not because giving 4 vaccines is somehow going to result in 4 times as much fever, malaise, etc. – the immune response simply isn’t additive like that.

And as for the Hep B vaccine – it’s given to newborns because the earlier you contract the virus the more likely it is to become a potentially deadly chronic illness – and most people with chronic Hep B didn’t have any known risk factors, so it’s not as simple as testing the mother and not letting the baby have unprotected sex or use IV drugs.

TL;DR: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ross: DB was being ironic.

The thing is, ‘herd immunity’ IS insulting, as it reflects that from an immunological perspective, human beings are functionally the same as sheep. The connotations of that may be ‘unintentional’, but they’re there. That this term came into standard use, betrays, at the minimum, cluelessness (if not callousness) in the ‘scientific community’. Anti-vax aside, if you want to encourage immunization, you have to think of how any parent is likely to react to the notion their child is part of a ‘herd’.

Now, add in the ‘freedumb’ ideology behind the pejorative ‘sheeple’, and ‘herd immunity’ just confirms the libertarian bias that Big Guvment is out to destroy all individuality and reduce everyone into some malleable passive gray mass. Anyone still using that language is simply being irresponsible. Anything else — ‘community immunity’, ‘group immunity’, whatever, is not just an improvement, but a necessary due diligence to the political realities of promoting public health.

Don’t tell me you forgot the Alex Spourdalakis case.

Of course not but such hyperbole doesn’t help and is stooping to the same level that Wakefield et al. engage in regarding the murder of Alex.

As for the Hepatitis thing, people continually mix up Hep B and Hep C, and believe that Hep B is only a disease of the unclean- not that hep c should indicate anything other than being unlucky.But because hep c can be sexually transmitted, most of the hard-of-thinking assume that is true of the other sorts of hepatitis.

Hep C, A and others are not strains of Hep B. They are distinct viruses and named so because of what they cause, not their genetic relatedness. Currently only Hep B and Hep A have vaccines to prevent them.

@ MI Dawn:

That wasn’t me discussing Hep B but I agree.
That’s why an early vaccine makes sense.

That this term [herd immunity] came into standard use, betrays, at the minimum, cluelessness (if not callousness) in the ‘scientific community’. Anti-vax aside, if you want to encourage immunization, you have to think of how any parent is likely to react to the notion their child is part of a ‘herd’.

I know antivaxxers talk as if the entire concept of “herd immunity” was made up just to guilt people into vaccinating, but (as usual) they’re wrong: the term was actually coined in the 1930s to explain the observation that measles cases declined in the years immediately following an outbreak (this was before the measles vaccine was developed, so obviously encouraging vaccine uptake wasn’t an issue.) Someone, I forget who, has proposed using the term “community immunity” in order to avoid the negative connotations of “herd,” but of course once a term is established it’s difficult to change (especially in science. As someone (don’t know this one’s name either) once observed, “scientists would sooner use each other’s toothbrushes than each other’s nomenclature.”)

Robert Heinlein stated that ignorance is its own death penalty. Unfortunately, many that have this death penalty inflicted on them are children that had no choice in the matter.

Sarah, if the minions start using community or group immunity instead of herd; we may slowly change which term is used,

I know antivaxxers talk as if the entire concept of “herd immunity” was made up just to guilt people into vaccinating….

Don’t forget the rank hypocrisy of invoking not just “cyclic diseases,” but also the complaint that the varicella vaccine will result in more shingles cases as a result of the lack of “natural boosting.”

As I’ve said before, the notion of depending of the sickness of others to maintain one’s own health, rather than getting a freaking booster, strikes me as utterly rancid.

Sadmar, see

Topley WWC, Wilson GS. The spread of bacterial infection: the problem of herd immunity. J Hyg 1923;21:243-9.

The experiments were designed to investigate “immunity as an attribute of a herd . . as a separate problem, closely related to, but in many ways distinct from, the problem of immunity of an individual host.

I could find no evidence that the mice in the studied colony were offended by the reference to a “herd.”

Hep C, A and others are not strains of Hep B. They are distinct viruses and named so because of what they cause, not their genetic relatedness.

Indeed. The hepatitis A and C viruses aren’t even in the same family (or Baltimore class).

Thanks for hipping me to his.

SM and Denice:

I have no inside info, but given that Jim Sears is in Vaxxed I’d guess he and Bigtree are buds, and thus Del’s departure from The Doctors might have something to do with Dr. Jim getting eased out from the show after the tabloids picked up the story he was being investigated by the police for threatening his girlfriend’s ex. Whether Bigtree was pushed or jumped, it was probably a ‘personal’ thing with the executive producers, and wouldn’t have affected his chances of landing a similar gig at another daytime talk-show.

Just producing Vaxxed wouldn’t have hurt future employment opportunities in his old line of work, either. He’s probably burning some bridges by being so visible and contentious a spokesman for the film. He may be trying to move from a behind-the-camera role to one in-front-of-the-camera. I’d guess the odds of success for that would be low, but stranger things have happened.

For instance, I wonder why physicians don’t spread out antibiotic doses in smaller amounts to limit side effects.

Surgery would similarly benefit if the operation and the administration of anaesthetics were spread out over a much longer period.

@ Dorit

You seem to think you know it all. You are all over the place in every article with your comments and Pans page. What is your obsession? You are a professor of law and nothing more. I would love to see YOUR study on Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated.

I highly doubt you saw Vaxxed. But keep sticking your kids with these poisons. Don’t forget if you have not had all the 70 doses you yourself cannot claim to be fully vaccinated. Go troll elsewhere. YOU are part of the problem.

The thing is, ‘herd immunity’ IS insulting, as it reflects that from an immunological perspective, human beings are functionally the same as sheep.

Sadmar, you are incorrect. Sheep occur in flocks (or in some places in the world mobs), not herds.

The correct term that is used in professional settings is community immunity. Of course in the press and colloquial use the older term that referred, as others have stated, to the reduction of cases after an epidemic.

I strongly suspect that Bigass didn’t leave The Doctors on his own and hooking up with Andy was his only real career path. That and probably an ignorant noggin full of conspiracy theories and his own self importance.

This exactly. Particularly the last part. Aided and abetted by the blandishments of that very minor celebrity Andrew Wakefield.

What strikes me as odd is that if Bigtree really wanted to do an ambush interview of Pan, what on earth was he doing letting Andrew Wakefield tag along.

@ Dorit

You seem to think you know it all.

This is what a proper education and proper research gets you. Proper knowledge. As opposed to your Google education and Google research.

Of course, Dorit does not think she knows it all. She will quite comfortably tell you which areas she has no expertise in. Unlike the anti-vax commentariat , who don’t recognise their lack of expertise.

Lastly, it is unnecessary to sit through the pile of bilge that is Vaxxed to know that it is a pile of bilge. One merely needs to view the various snippets that are online and understand the incorrect arguments the film is making.

Don’t forget if you have not had all the 70 doses you yourself cannot claim to be fully vaccinated.

I’ve had all my childhood vaccines at least 3x. Have also had vaccines not on my country’s current schedule, to include TB, yellow fever (3x), typhoid, and one or two more I’m probably forgetting. Does my opinion now old weight to you?

“You seem to think you know it all. You are all over the place in every article with your comments and Pans page. What is your obsession? You are a professor of law and nothing more. I would love to see YOUR study on Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated.”

I am not sure why it’s so surprising that a parent would be concerned about anti-vaccine misinformation. I wish more parents would speak up. This is dangerous to our kids.

As to Dr. Pan, he earned my respect in his work to pass SB277, and in the way he stood up – and still does – to anti-vaccine harassment. It is disturbing to see the vicious attacks on him on his page, so naturally, like other pro-vaccine advocates, I do my best to respond to these attacks.

As you point out, I’m a professor of law – with neither the training nor the ability to do any type of scientific study. But when it comes to vaccine safety, luckily we have many, many studies from all around the world, stretching back decades. When experts say that vaccines are safe and effective, they base it on that large body of studies from all over. If you want to challenge that literature, you should have some reasonable basis. Vaxxed doesn’t provide one.

I’ve seen Vaxxed, thank you. In New York, with one other person in the theater. I’ve referred to some of the content above, but really, whether you believe me or not doesn’t matter. As Chris pointed out, and as Matt Carey pointed out, since the content of Vaxxed is no secret, you can point out its problems without seeing it.

If you think Vaxxed adds anything to the claims made in the alternative media about the CDCwhistleblower manufactroversy since 2014, please point what exactly is new in the movie. Because really, my best assessment is that it has no new claim. The same old – and debunked – claims in a slicker package.

I certainly intend to keep protecting my children from disease. I owe them no less.

As to being up to date, to remind you, the schedule is not similar between adults and children. For a reason. Some vaccines are more important in certain age groups than others. I am up to date. I suggest examining the different schedules, and making sure that you, too, are fully protected from disease.

all the 70 doses
Suspicious minds cannot help wondering whether this figure is another example of AntiVax New Maths.

When he was asked about how vaccines are tested for safety, Wakefield spewed this nonsense during the Q&A following the New York Premier of Vaxxed at the Angelica Theater:

Let’s just take measles vaccine, the live-virus vaccine, the World Health Organization recommendations to the phamaceutical industry for testing these vaccines before they are put into trial in children. They recommend that you take primates, non-human primates, monkeys, and that you take no fewer than ten animals. You inject these animals with the virus for the vaccine, not the vaccine itself but the virus of the vaccine. You don’t inject them subcutaneously, you put the injection directly into the thalamus of the brain. You then observe these animals for neurological signs over the next 17 to 21 days, and then you terminate the animals, and then you look at their brains under the microscope. If an animal dies in the first 48 hours,
you can replace it in the study. It’s not the vaccines fault, it’s the animal’s fault for dying. If more than 20% of the animals during that study, then you can quit the study and start all over again. It’s the animals’ fault, not the vaccines fault.

Now, there are no controls. There are no animals that have saline injected into their thalamus in place of the virus. That is the basis, after that has been done, then it is safe to go into children.

Anyone who still wonders if Wakefield is anti-vaccine should listen to him lie, beginning at about the 20:35 mark:

httphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2AAvwbERCYs://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2AAvwbERCY

I’m not even a state legislator, but if anyone dared to show up at my office without an appointment, they would get kicked right down the hall. I don’t care if you’re bringing the Ten Commandments down from the mount, have enough respect for my schedule to get a damn appointment.

I am really, really tempted to see if we can screen the movie at the school of public health, with Wakefield et al there. Except that we would pause it after each lie or misrepresentation to correct the record and ask Wakefield et al to explain themselves. I’m sure hilarity would ensue.
Maybe something to look forward to next fall?

They don’t deserve to be able to say they spoke at John Hopkins.

No matter how badly it goes it will give them undeserved legitimacy.

You seem to think you know it all. You are all over the place in every article with your comments and Pans page. What is your obsession?

One would ask you the same given how many anti-vaxx comments are on Dr. Pan’s page and every article on vaccines, you showing up here and your ‘nym. Why is is good for your “side” but no others?

They don’t deserve to be able to say they spoke at John Hopkins. No matter how badly it goes it will give them undeserved legitimacy.

Not really. They can say they spoke someplace if they just walk on campus. (Some AV folks rented a room at the University of Minnesota and tried to pass it off as an school-approved event…) All kinds of wighats get to speak at approved events in various university departments anyway. Anyone who knows academia understands that the context of the invite matters. Anyway, Andy would never accept an invitation to any possibly unfavorable venue. If he did take Hopkins up on a talk, he wouldn’t be able to brag about it on the web afterwards, since he wouldn’t want anyone to Google what happened at the event and find a detailed discussion of the films misrepresentations.

@Sarah A #45

You just gave a great description of some of the X’s and O’s of vaccines… Let me simply say, my stomach is turning… Your entire description sounds exactly what I know it to be… A mass experiment on babies. They have never tested all these vaccines together in the schedule they give them. Never. It’s so very sad and tragic. I feel so helpless for all the poor families whose babies have been killed and maimed by these vaccines.

“They have never tested all these vaccines together in the schedule they give them. Never. ”

That’s just incorrect. Before a vaccine is added to the schedule, as part of the stage III trials, the vaccine’s safety is examined on the background of the existing schedule, in what are called concomitant studies. In other words, to be licensed, you need to show that the vaccine is safe as part of the schedule. We have a lot of these studies now.

To remind you, extensive evidence shows that harms from vaccines -single or in combination – are very very rare. It’s certainly sad for the few families whose babies are those harmed. It’s also sad when a baby or child (or adult) is harmed and vaccines are blamed wrongly – but that shouldn’t be used to attack vaccine, though it is.

We should sympathize with anyone whose family suffered a tragedy. And we should vaccinate on schedule unless there’s a contraindications because that’s the best way to prevent and minimize tragedies. Vaccinating is a lot safer than not vaccinating. And vaccinating on schedule is safer than not doing it.

#67
Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship to components of Tripedia vaccine.

To set this matter in context, the same reporting mechanism includes a claim that vaccines grant super powers aka turning children into The Incredible Hulk.

# 70: Ren

“I am really, really tempted to see if we can screen the movie at the school of public health, with Wakefield et al there. Except that we would pause it after each lie or misrepresentation to correct the record and ask Wakefield et al to explain themselves. I’m sure hilarity would ensue.”

A lot of people have thought such things over the years. He would run rings round you, lie in terms that you would be unable to field his responses, video it, and do you significant damage.

When we first encountered him, in 2004, he refused to be interviewed by The Sunday Times unless the journalist investigating him – myself – wasn’t present.

So three other journalists interviewed him. They simply didn’t know what they didn’t know, and were quite incapable of fielding his answers. I listened to the tapes recently, and even I was astonished by the way he will mislead.

I’ll just give you a couple of examples from that time.

(a) He claimed that children for his Lancet paper were recruited in1995 – long before his legal contract, and hence couldn’t have been recruited persuant to that contract.

The truth was, ONE child was seen – at a different hospital, on his recommendation – in 1995, and sent away as showing no signs of bowel disease.

In 1996, after he got his legal deal, he then solicited that child, had him brought to the Royal Free and scoped for the research.

(b) He claimed that there was nothing wrong with the legal sponsorship of his research, and cited another research project it had funded.

That other project, producing a paper in the BMJ, had written all over it how it was funded by legal aid and that subjects were litigants.

So, you think, as others have, that you can corner him, and you simply will not be able to.

The only people who got him were the General Medical Council lawyers, who boxed him in over weeks and weeks of testimony.

I could give you dozens and dozens of examples – some much more egregious.

@Brian Deer #77

Why are you still trying to insert yourself into this? You are old news and quite irrelevant. For a long time I listened to what others were saying about this and I wondered about Dr. Wakefield’s integrity. Then, I actually READ the paper in the Lancet and my eyes were opened to the absurdity of it all and how Dr. Wakefield was harassed for no good reason. The paper tells the story. The paper NEVER concluded that vaccines (mmr) causes autism. It asked for more studies to be done. You apparently had a problem with that… What is wrong with you? Aren’t there any other issues going on in the UK that you can fixate on?

Well, Joey, if you think you can evaluate Wakefield, or anything else by “actually” reading his paper and having your eyes opened, then you are a pretty naive individual.

Did you check the children’s falsified diagnoses? Their concocted symptoms and signs. Did you learn how they were recruited? Did you check their involvement in anti-vaccine groups, and law firms before their selection? Did you discover Wakefield’s contract with a firm of lawyers to create evidence against MMR? His patent application for a single measles vaccine, eight months before the paper was published?

Have you sat with parents of children in the study, directly accusing Wakefield of fraud: of fabricating information about their children? Do you hold hundreds of documents proving, beyond question, that his research findings were falsified and fabricated?

Huh? Any of that?

If not, you can read much of it here. I don’t suppose you will, because you’re one of those smart guys who can read words on a page and know if they’re true or not.

http://briandeer.com/solved/slapp-amended-declaration.pdf

I don’t “insert” myself. Wakefield keeps me inserted, with four lawsuits – all of which he has lost – and his relentless campaign of lying to mothers, and to those such as yourself, as his last refuge against ruin.

Don’t you worry. I’m not going away.

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