A particularly odious antivaccine "warrior" doubles down on her attacks on a 12-year-old boy who made a pro-vaccine video

A couple of days ago, I told the tale of a really bright and justifiably snarky 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo, who posted a video of himself on Facebook with the caption “Vaccines DO cause autism”:

I know I posted that video just two days ago, but it’s so epic that I can’t resist posting it again, particularly given how it went viral and how its going viral drove antivaccinationists out of their minds. They posted online attacks that included comments like:

  1. “I want to punt Marco in the jugular though honestly. ?“ (As if the laughing emoticon makes up for expressing the desire to kick a 12-year-old boy in the neck.)
  2. “I want to throat punch this kid.” (This is basically the same as saying he wants to kill Marco, given that a throat punch could easily collapse the trachea. What is it with antivaccine nutjobs and hitting people in the neck, anyway?)
  3. “Poor child is brainwashed.”
  4. “The child is a moron, as are the rest of you.”
  5. “This kid is an arrogant dick.”

Stay classy, antivaccine warriors. Stay classy.

The biggest, baddest conspiracy mongering antivaccine warrior of all was a pseudonymous blogger going by the ‘nym Levi Quackenboss, a woman who in attacking Marco Arturo engaged in racism (Arturo is Mexican and Quackenboss can’t believe a Mexican child could be so articulate), attacking Marco for not using his “real name” (a particularly hilariously hypocritical line of attack given Quackenboss’ refusal to write under her real name), and pure, unabashed conspiracy mongering at which antivaccine warriors excel.

Quackenboss latched on to a seeming anomaly in the date on the article by A+ Media featuring Arturo’s video that fueled its ascent into viral awesomeness. That article is dated May 27, three days after Arturo’s video was posted on Facebook. The Google search dated that A+ article to May 24, although more recent Google searches date the article as having been last updated on May 27, agreeing with the publication date. Quackenboss’ conspiracy theory? That A+ Media had already written a post about Marco Arturo on May 24 that was ready to go live as soon as Arturo posted his video. Of course, that leaves out the fact that the video was posted on a popular science Facebook page, A Science Enthusiast, and that the A+ post credited A Science Enthusiast with bringing the video to Lisa Winter’s attention. Basically, Quackenboss labeled this as evidence that Marco Arturo is a tool of…someone. His parents? A+ Media? Who knows? Someone, however. Quackenboss just knows it. So does Forest Moready, who produced this video:

It’s nothing but the same tripe that Quackenboss is pushing, inspired by her “investigation.” Funny, though, that in the face of criticism and some followup, Moready backed off from his claims yesterday on his Facebook page in a post entitled 12-Year-Old Vaccine Boy Update/Partial Retraction:

Here are his retractions:

Here are my partial retractions:

  1. I don’t believe the Vaccine video was shot on a professional camera anymore. I believe it was shot on an iPad. I did some eye-alignment tests using the front-facing camera on my iPad Air (shot in Landscape mode with front-facing camera on my left), and looking at the right of the screen to align a paper I was holding produced similar eyelines as the kid. I also noticed the exposure changing whenever he brought in and out the paper- something that a professional camera would likely not do (pro camera operators don’t use auto-exposure very often).
  2. I don’t believe the APlus media writer knew about the video before it went up. I spoke at length with her, twice over the past two days and she has convinced me she found the post organically through a Facebook group she follows (not a member of) called A Science Enthusiast. She is an avowed Believer, I realize. She could be lying to protect an elaborate PR set up, but I think she is telling me the truth.

The second point is the most important. Unless Lisa Winters was lying to Moready and to various others who have contacted her, both pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine, then there is no conspiracy. By her own account, she wrote her post after having seen it on the Facebook page of A Science Enthusiast. Even given that there is no evidence of a conspiracy or a marketing campaign behind Arturo’s video going viral, Moready still can’t believe there isn’t something going on:

I still believe that there is money behind this kid, that someone is dropping some dosh or working very hard to make him an Instastar. Perhaps vaccines just happened to come up on the radar. Perhaps he will never talk about them again. We’ll see. I’m more than happy to have him on my show. We can play Ping-Pong if he doesn’t want to debate vaccines. Loser admits the winner is correct in their belief.

The funniest thing about all the conspiracy mongering about Arturo by antivaccine warriors is a misconception on their part. They seem to think it’s easy to make a video go viral, that all it takes is a savvy media company and some money and you can have a viral video. Many are the companies that have tried to produce content that goes viral and failed.

So Moready has backtracked (somewhat) from his conspiracy theory that Marco Arturo’s video was an astroturf marketing campaign in which wily pro-vaccine advocates (funded, no doubt, by big pharma). But what about Levi Quackenboss? Not one to admit a mistake or to fail to dive deeper into the crazy in the name of counterattacking any perceived threat to her deeply held belief that vaccines are dangerous, Levi Quackenboss decided yesterday to double down. She apparently thinks that she’s dropping the mic but not realizing that dropping the mic only makes you look really, really pathetic if you haven’t made your point in a way to shut down your opponent. Let’s just put it this way. Quackenboss’ post, The last word on Marco Arturo, is really pathetic. Quackenboss tries to frame her last word on Marco Arturo, even though it’s the sixth post she’s written about Marco Arturo. She’s averaged almost as much verbiage per post on Marco Arturo as an Orac post. Almost. Does anyone believe that this is Quackenboss’ last post on the subject? I certainly don’t. But let’s pretend that it is, and, pretending that it is, make fun of it in the way that it deserves.

Quackenboss begins by scoffing that Marco’s parents let him run a 55,000 follower Facebook page “where so many people are hostile to him,” opining:

I hope not. I truly hope his parents are running it or his doctor friend who speaks for him all the time. I thought it was age-inappropriate for Marco to reference sex in a guest post about vaccines that he has since deleted, but yesterday I saw another age-inappropriate comment he made about sex and pedophilia, so maybe he just says some age-inappropriate sexual things sometimes.

Wait a minute. A guest post means that the page owner didn’t write it. Be that as it may, even if every word of the disgusting paragraph above is true, so what? None of it implies that Marco Arturo is incorrect about vaccines, and the only purpose of Quackenboss posting those observations is to tell her readers: Don’t listen to Marco Arturo. He’s just a kid who does kid things. That’s it.

Next up, cast doubt:

Do I think that Marco made his vaccine video on his phone? No, I don’t, but he said yesterday in a comment on his page that he used his iPad, which I think he now said might be broken, I’m not really sure, but it was his excuse for not hopping on Periscope and answering questions live. Hey bud, you can do Periscope with your phone.

Anyway, on the topic of where the heck he was looking each time he held up his magic folder, it’s possible with an iPad that he would appear to look way off camera to see the edge of the folder he’s holding, as brought up in the video I shared yesterday.

Do I think Marco knows how to edit video in iMovie? Yes, I do.

I’m sure Marco Arturo knows how to use Periscope. Why should he answer questions live from the likes of someone like Quackenboss, who is too cowardly to ask him under her real name and so hypocritical that she just spent five posts trying to dox Marco and his parents? Arturo doesn’t answer to her. If he’s smart (and we all know he is), he will ignore her.

If attacking Marco Arturo doesn’t work, leave it to Quackenboss to try to cast doubt on whether Arturo’s video was all that popular. The contortions she makes to try to accomplish this are deliciously stupid and desperate, for example:

Do I think Marco’s video has been watched 7,500,000 times? Don’t be ridiculous. Facebook’s default setting is to autoplay and they count a play as 3 seconds. So, make of that what you will but when it was claimed that it already had a half million views by May 27th when A Plus picked it up, there is no way on God’s green Earth that half a million people watched the video– and a media site like Babble should know better than to make that claim.

Maybe half a million people said, “What the hell?” and moved on after 3 seconds but Facebook counted it as a play. If the video appeared in your feed 15 times in a day, Facebook will count you as having watched it 15 times if you didn’t move on in two seconds. Facebook’s embedded video feature is a business tool and Marco (or his admin/s) knows exactly how many people watched the video to 95% completion, so maybe he’ll screeenshot that and share it with us.

Even if all that is true, over 7.5 million views (going on 8 million) is damned impressive. It’s far more impressive a reach than anything I’ve ever written, and I’d bet serious money that Quackenboss has never come close to that for anything she’s written. One can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a hint of envy that a 12-year-old nerdy kid can have more influence than she can. It is difficult for me to describe just how pathetic this woman is, how despicable, how worthy of contempt and mockery.

Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Quackenboss. I realize that my regular readers probably don’t think that, but perhaps a newbie, someone who’s never encountered the Insolence this blog regularly features, might think that I’m being too hard on Quackenboss, attributing motives to her that she doesn’t have. If you fall into that category, consider this. Quackenboss tried her best to “out” Marco Arturo and his family, to dox them. She published information about where Arturo’s stepfather works. Apparently, though, she’s feeling the heat, because she finishes with a classic “notpology”:

So Marco, I’m sorry if I made you or your parents feel unsafe by posting their names that you do not use and sharing information they made public on their own. However, I have to qualify that with the fact that you gave an interview to Mexican media that broadcasted your full name and the name of your relatively small town, so it does seem that you and your parents are eager for you to become famous and not concerned about your own safety in the least.

And I hope that you do become famous, Marco, but for far better things than insulting vaccine injured children.

Screw you, Levi Quackenboss.

So Quackenboss is sorry that she might have made Arturo or her parents “feel unsafe” by doing a bunch of searches and digging to find public information. Her intention couldn’t be any more clear. She dug and dug and dug to find what she could about Arturo and his parents in order to publicize that information and intimidate Marco into silence, all the while hiding behind her own pseudonym. Tell you what, Ms. Levi Quackenboss. Start posting under your own name, and maybe I’ll view your notpology as something somewhat more sincere. (And, once again, my pseudonym is the worst kept secret on the skeptical blogosphere; you can even find my real name right here on this real blog through a very simple maneuver. So don’t try to throw my pseudonym back at me.) No, the very purpose of her “digging” was to make Arturo’s family “feel unsafe” to the point of shutting him down. Fortunately, she’s failed.

Of course, Levi Quackenboss won’t do anything like that. She’s a hypocrite content to try to dox and thereby intimidate 12-year-old boys.