The annals of “I’m not antivaccine,” part 21: Oh, wait, maybe I am antivaccine after all

This is yet another in the continuing saga of “I’m not antivaccine,” a continuing series of posts demonstrating how the oh-so-loud and vigorous denials of antivaccine activists that they are antivaccine are in reality either a lie or self-delusion. There have been so many previous installments, twenty, to be precise. There could easily have been ten times that number. These days, I tend to take note of only particularly egregious examples. This installment, however, will be a bit different than previous installments because the actual speaker is antivaccine. She even says so. Why, then, am I featuring her, given that she openly states that she is antivaccine? Read on.

I’m referring to Laura Hayes, who gave an introductory talk before a recent screening of Andrew Wakefield’s and Del Bigtree’s antivaccine propaganda “documentary” VAXXED in Roseville, CA. The filmmakers behind VAXXED have been featured before in this particular series, because they do so frequently deny that they are antivaccine, while their movie lays down scene after scene of antivaccine propaganda and they themselves spew antivaccine tropes hither, thither, and yon wherever they go, even meeting with legislators to try to get them to “investigate” the CDC and excusing the murder of an autistic child.

Now, the filmmakers have Ms. Hayes introducing their film with a 12 minute speech:

She begins:

Thank you all for coming tonight! Please be warned that I am not going to mince words tonight as I welcome you. Perhaps if more people had not minced words in years past, my children would not have been injured by vaccines, one to the point of severe and permanent disability. I thank you all for coming tonight because it is going to have to be people like us…informed, principled, ethical, concerned American citizens…who are going to have to expose the horrendous truth about the always life-altering, often life-decimating, and sometimes life-ending vaccinations that are harming and prematurely killing our children every single day, not to mention, people of all ages. It is WE who are going to have to work non-stop to put an end to this ever-increasing medical tyranny, this abominable Vaccine Holocaust, this present evil.

There’s that word, “Holocaust,” again. Antivaccine activists do so love that word to describe the effect of vaccines. How many times have I heard that word slip from antivaccinationists who claim they aren’t antivaccine. Ms. Hayes, of course, makes no such claim. Indeed, she has argued in the past that you can’t be pro-vaccine and pro-science and stated that personally she has “no problem being called anti-vaccine” because she is, in fact, antivaccine and described vaccination as “barbaric practice that is not founded on any sound science.”

So it’s not surprising that she goes on to justify her use of the term “Holocaust” thusly:

For those who think “holocaust” is too strong a word, I assure you it is not. “Holocaust” is defined as “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale”, and that is indeed what vaccinations are doing to those who receive them, which can often be observed in the short term, always in the long term, and for generations to come as you will learn as you study these issues more. There is an ominous agenda underway, named Healthy People 2020, with the goal being to vaccinate all people, from fetus to grave, worldwide, with scores of vaccines and a recommended list that is ever-increasing…and that goal is in serious danger of being achieved. We must not let that happen!

Because preventing children from suffering and dying of infectious disease is just like what Hitler did to the Jews. Because autism is just like being marched into a fake shower in order to be gassed. Because health authorities are doing all this on purpose, just as the Nazis intentionally murdered millions of Jews and other “undesirables” and “subhumans.” I get so sick of this particular antivaccine trope. At least Ms. Hayes admits she’s antivaccine. Most of the people who use it deny they are antivaccine. (I’m talking to you Dr. Bob Sears.) The hypocrisy is astounding.

So let’s see what else Ms. Hayes says at the screening of this movie that is, if you believe those who made it, not antivaccine? Here’s a selection:

Many of us were duped and fell prey to the biggest lie of all times…that vaccines are safe, effective, necessary, and have saved millions of lives.

All of which is, of course, actually true (other than anyone being “duped.”) Vaccines are safe and effective, and they have saved more lives than any other medical intervention ever devised by the human brain. Truly, prevention is the best way to save lives, and vaccines are preventative medicine at its finest.

In case you don’t believe her, Hayes goes on:

When we began to put the puzzle pieces together, which wasn’t hard as so many of us had nearly-identical stories, we realized the horrible truth that no parent wants to learn…that we actually unknowingly allowed our precious children to be harmed, and in some cases, killed…by vaccine after vaccine…and in some cases, by just one vaccine…beginning on the day of birth (which is now actually beginning in utero), and continuing at regular and frighteningly-frequent intervals throughout infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood…and which are now being recommended to be continued during every single year of a person’s life…with the annual influenza vaccine, booster shot after booster shot, and new vaccine after new vaccine.

Wow. That’s a run-on sentence to surpass all my run-on sentences, and I should know. Be that as it may, notice how at a screening of a film whose makers take pains to describe as not being antivaccine there is a woman introducing it who openly describes herself as “antivaccine” and basically blames vaccines for a Holocaust caused by doctors and the health officials who encourage vaccination. The language is apocalyptic. Vaccines are characterized as evil and frightening. Worse, to Hayes, they are thieves who have stolen her “real” child away and replaced that child with an autistic one, or, as she puts it elsewhere they are “transformed into someone who will be dependent on others for the entirety of their lifetime, never reaching what would have been their full potential, never living independently…perhaps never even using the toilet throughout their entire lifetime, but forever being in diapers…often living with great pain and suffering…”

To her, of course, it has to be the vaccines. It’s always about the vaccines, no matter what science says:

When we told our doctors what we had witnessed, and what we suspected was the cause of our children’s many health, development, behavioral, speaking, and learning issues…we were told, “Nope, it wasn’t the vaccines.” According to medical “experts”, it is NEVER the vaccines. They tell us the temporal association between the vaccinations and the onset of numerous problems was merely coincidental.

You know what I say to that ignorance, arrogance, utter nonsense, and blatant stupidity: Vaccines…the leading cause of coincidences in the world!

This is, of course, a common cognitive issue we humans have. We don’t realize that coincidences really are much, much more common than we realize. Think of it this way. Millions of children every year receive multiple vaccinations at intervals throughout the ages when autism is most commonly diagnosed. By random chance alone, there will be a fraction of them who exhibit the first symptoms of autism in relatively close temporal proximity to being vaccinated. So when a child develops the first symptoms of autism sometime after recent vaccination, the vaccine might or might not have caused it. We frequently say that correlation does not equal causation, but the better way to phrase this concept is that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, because sometimes correlation does equal causation.

So how do we tell the difference between coincidence and actual causation? We do science! We try to correlate autism with vaccination. There are a number of techniques by which scientists can do that. They could do a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine if vaccinated children have a higher prevalence of autism, but that would be unethical because it would leave the control group unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Fortunately, there are epidemiological techniques that can ask and answer the same question. This has been done in the form of numerous studies trying to draw a correlation between vaccines and autism; no well-designed, well-executed epidemiological study done by reputable scientists has found a link between vaccination and autism. It’s not for lack of trying, either. Indeed, because of the pseudoscience zombie that will not die, the myth that vaccines cause autism, scientists are still doing variations of the same studies over and over again.

But you know that. At least, my regular readers know that. I could list the papers. I could delve into the studies. Here is not the place, however, as that is not my purpose here. My purpose is simply to illustrate one thing. Antivaccinationists who claim they are not antivaccine can easily be shown to be either lying or deluded. After all, if you’re “not antivaccine,” as Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree, and Polly Tommey claim to be, you don’t allow someone like Laura Hayes to give a 12 minute speech introducing your movie and refer to vaccination as “evil” and a “Holocaust.”

There’s a lot of that sort of thing going around among those who claim to be “not antivaccine.”