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Shannon Kroner invited me to a panel discussion on vaccines. Don’t fall for a trap like this.

A clinical psychologist named Shannon Kroner invited Orac’s alter-ego to a “panel discussion” on vaccines. Let’s just say Orac knows a trap when he sees one and didn’t fall for this one. However, he thought it wise to write this post to warn other science advocates about traps for the unwary—like this one. Heed Orac’s advice!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the people who hew to crank ideas, like antivaccine pseudoscience, cancer quackery, alternative medicine believers (particularly homeopaths), “9/11 Truth,” creationism, Holocaust denial, the moon landing “hoax,” climate science denialists who reject anthropogenic global climate change, and all manner of conspiracy theories, it’s that they crave public “debate” with real experts in the fields whose conclusions they deny. I’ve seen it time and time again. The reason, of course, is that just by appearing on the same stage as an expert in a seemingly neutral venue, the crank wins. His appearance side by side with a real expert on the same stage gives his ideas the appearance of, if not outright legitimacy, at least sufficient seriousness as to warrant a debate. Worse, most real experts and scientists are not debaters in the sense that they are used to using facts, science, research, and reason to win the day, rather than rhetoric. Also, they are often unfamiliar with the fallacious attacks on their specialty’s findings made by cranks and thus ill-prepared to counter them; the “Gish gallop” plus rhetorical displays of a skilled debater can all too often leave them flummoxed and on defense, even though they are the experts. This is why I have a policy of not appearing with cranks, either for a debate or as part of a “discussion,” as such events are almost always weighted in favor of the cranks and I don’t wish to lend whatever small legitimacy I have to, for instance, antivaccine ideas. That is what I was thinking the other day when I received an email from someone I had never heard of before, Shannon Kroner. It was an invitation to be on a panel discussing vaccines.

To debate (or panel) or not to debate (or panel)?

Before I discuss Kroner’s invitation further, it’s worth revisiting my experience with such invitations and the question of whether it is ever worthwhile to debate cranks, quacks, a question whose relevance to the invitation I received will become plain in a moment. Whether or not to debate advocates of pseudoscience has long been a contentious issue in the skeptic community. I’ve even witnessed one such debate personally, when Steve Novella debated antivaccine quack Julian Whitaker about vaccine safety at FreedomFest in Las Vegas while we were at TAM six years ago. Steve mopped the floor with Dr. Whitaker so dramatically that it almost changed my mind about the value of debates with quacks. Almost. Why? Witnessing the debate, I saw that the arguments Dr. Whitaker marshaled for his position were such hackneyed antivaccine talking points that I knew I, too, could also have demolished them fairly easily. My biggest challenge would have been to maintain a cool, respectful demeanor (as Steve did) and not let my contempt show openly. Still, in the end, no minds were likely to be changed, and the question of vaccine safety was clearly being used as a tool to oppose school vaccine mandates or, as antivaccinationists like to call them deceptively, “forced vaccination.” Whether vaccines are safe and effective or not is a separate question from whether the government should mandate certain vaccines as a precondition for attending school or being in day care, but antivaccinationists like to conflate the two issues in order to allow personal belief exemptions (PBEs) to school vaccine mandates based on pseudoscience, fairy dust, and fear mongering.

Over the years, I myself have been “challenged” to similar debates. Perhaps the most bizarre example occurred when someone claiming to represent HIV/AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore contacted me claiming that she wanted to arrange a debate between us. Maggiore, unfortunately, died a mere two years later of—you guessed it—AIDS-related complications (although HIV/AIDS denialists tried to blame it on a “radical detox“). Other examples include the time that I was invited to “debate” Andrew Weil at a conference devoted to promoting “integrative medicine,” sponsored by, of all groups, the Adolph Coors Foundation, thus demonstrating that quackery isn’t just for hippy-dippy lefties any more—if it ever was; another time when Deepak Chopra invited me to an appearance in the Detroit area and then claimed that I chickened out even though I had the emails saying that I had to decline because it was my operating room day, and, then, of course, there have been antivaxers. Although occasionally the ego gratification of being asked to participate in such events vied with my longstanding belief that debating cranks doesn’t sway anyone, sharing the stage with a real scientist does unduly elevate the crank in the eyes of the public. Besides, whatever the seeming outcome of the debate, you can count on the crank to declare victory and his believers to agree. In any event, science isn’t decided by the metrics used to judge who “wins” a public debate, which rely more on rhetoric and cleverness rather than science to decide the outcome. Finally, such debates are not without risks. Although Julian Whitaker, for example, was terrible at it, and Ken Ham was similarly crushed by Bill Nye, other cranks are not so clueless.

In any event, in these cases I like to cite a principle that I like to call “all truth comes from public debate.” It’s a tendency I’ve noticed among cranks to have way too much faith in public debate as a means of determining scientific conclusions. So it was that, even though what Shannon Kroner was proposing was not, strictly speaking, a “debate,” it rather was a debate, just of the panel discussion variety, as you will see. My reaction upon reading the email was akin to Admiral Ackbar’s reaction in Return of the Jedi, namely, “It’s a trap!

Shannon just wrote me a letter

Two mornings ago, I found in my in box an email sent the night before an unfamiliar person. I won’t reproduce the email in which Shannon Kroner invited me to participate in her vaccine panel, because I’ve always viewed publishing emails without permission as uncool, except in unusual circumstances, I can still provide the flavor of our exchange through paraphrase and reference to Kroner’s website and the website for the event, One Conversation. That’s all public information. The tone of the email was, unsurprisingly, quite polite and solicitous, similar to previous emails I’ve had inviting me to various events.

As I said, I had never heard of Shannon Kroner before, but her website told me that she’s a clinical psychologist and that her dissertation was entitled Childhood Vaccinations: The Development of an Educational Manual. A brief perusal of the dissertation revealed—shall we say?—a bit too much credulity towards antivaccine views. (Actually, that’s putting it kindly.) My skeptical antennae started twitching.

Let’s take a look at the description of the event, which will take place in Atlanta on October 11:

With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, in combination with limited time allocated for individual patients during average office visits, unanswered questions are lingering regarding public health and immunity. As a result, various sources are sought at an increasing rate to satisfy one’s curiosity and concern. In an age of misinformation and half-truths, “One Conversation” seeks to break down and clear the barriers of confusion with scientific data, critical thought and engaging conversation.

“One Conversation” provides the platform for questions to be addressed among an esteemed panel of participants who specialize in a spectrum of specific focuses and expertise. Scientific data, resources and visuals will be shared in a dynamic format among the industry’s top experts. The event will be moderated by a respected Atlanta FM Radio Talk Show Host who will offer questions, manage time limits and maintain focused topics among the panel of participants.

Who are the participants? Well, Dr. Kroner obviously hopes that one will be me, but the rest were left unidentified. When I asked who was going to be on the panel, she wouldn’t say other than descriptions and instead pressed me to do a conference call with her and someone named Britney Valas. Since these descriptions are public and match what is on the website, I don’t feel any compunction about quoting the website regarding the five panelists said to be confirmed thus far:

The event organizers are finalizing the esteemed panel of experts who will be revealed upon the list completion. As a teaser… “One Conversation” will be featuring an accomplished OBGYN who specializes in oncology and HPV; a highly respected Atlanta-based Infectious Disease specialist; a well-known Chicago-based MD whose focus is nutrition and preventative medicine; a Medical Journalist who has heavily researched and studied many topics in the medical community; and a book author and founder of a highly respected non-profit charity that provides medical treatment opportunities to children.

The website also notes that “several other prestigious, well-known professionals are considering this unique opportunity to share their knowledge.” Now my skeptical antennae were twitching so fast that I feared they’d act like helicopter rotors and I’d lift off soon.

But what about the moderator? It didn’t do anything to put the brakes on my skeptical antennae to learn that it was someone named Shelley Wynter:

Mr. Wynter is a prominent Radio Personality in Atlanta. His talk show, “The Shelley Wynter Show”, airs on The New Talk 106.7 FM weekday mornings from 6:00am to 9:00am and is described as “Real talk, real music, for really smart people.”

Mr. Wynter is passionate about interviewing guests and gaining knowledge through their expertise, knowledge and conversation. He is skilled at knowing which questions are best elicited to further the conversation to deeper levels while simultaneously expressing his unique talents for active listening, empathy and compassion for his guests.

We are honored and thrilled for Mr. Wynter’s enthusiastic participation as a Moderator who truly embodies the persona of a curious citizen eager to learn.

A little Googling revealed to me that Shelley Wynter is an outspoken Trump supporter and clearly at least antivaccine-sympathetic, if not outright antivaccine. I held on to the couch (a heavy sectional) to keep myself from lifting off and hitting the ceiling. The template was coming into focus. Still, I wanted to know more. Who, exactly, is Shannon Kroner? Is she antivaccine? And who is Britney Valas, who was also included on the emails?

Shannon Kroner: Antivaccine is as antivaccine does

I know I mock antivaxers for touting their University of Google knowledge, but Google is, of course, very good for some things. One of those things is finding out more information about someone with a name that’s not too common, a name like Shannon Kroner. A quick search of “Shannon Kroner” and “vaccine” quickly yielded what I wanted to know. First, it yielded this video from ZDoggMD:

I’ll discuss this video a bit more in a moment, but for now suffice to say that it let me know that I wasn’t the first doctor Dr. Kroner tried to lure. There were, however, substantial differences, as you will see.

I also learned that Dr. Kroner is as antivaccine as they come. Here she is speaking at the Children’s March for Humanity on June 17, 2017 in Washington, DC:

There are several “tells” in this video that Kroner is antivaccine. First of all, of course, is that she’s speaking at the Children’s March for Humanity. A quick perusal of the event’s Facebook page reveals a whole bunch of antivaccine misinformation and victim playing, with support for prominent antivaxers like Polly Tommey, a post featuring Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and more. Another huge tell is that the videos of the talks were recorded by Joshua Coleman and feature the VAXXED logo prominently, as well as Del Bigtree and Joshua Coleman themselves giving speeches in front of the Capitol Building. Remember, Bigtree was the producer of this “documentary,” which was in reality an antivaccine propaganda film so over-the-top that Leni Riefenstahl, were she still alive today, would have called it too much.

Here’s Del Bigtree:

And here’s Joshua Coleman:

Let’s just put it this way. You don’t speak on the same bill with Bigtree and Coleman and consent to have your speech recorded by the VAXXED crew if you aren’t down with antivaccine views. Don’t believe me? Click on the play button for Dr. Kroner’s speech.

If you do that, you will find a whole lot of the typical antivaccine misinformation, a lot of it not unlike what I had to endure in person a week ago. That’s not surprising because she was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo California Against Mandated Vaccines, the group she had formed. She began her speech by saying how parents who sought her services as a psychologist told her stories of regression after vaccines, stories that she appears not to have considered very skeptically. She noted that she wasn’t that passionate about this topic then because she was not a mother yet.

Kroner then went on to relate her story of becoming pregnant with her first child in 2009 at the height of the H1N1 pandemic and having her obstetrician recommend that she receive the usual seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine. She refused the “swine flu” (H1N1) vaccine because she viewed it as untested but agreed to the flu vaccine. At this point, she started going on about how there are “trace amounts” of mercury in preservative-free vaccines and how the flu vaccine is a “class 3 drug that’s never been tested in pregnant women.” This is an antivaccine trope that is simply not true. (For instance, this review cites several studies of the flu vaccine in pregnant women, and Skeptical Raptor discusses another study.) Flu shots are safe for pregnant women and protect them against the flu, which can have more serious consequences during pregnancy.

You can probably guess what came next. Kroner described getting the flu vaccine, but with repeated descriptions of how the decision “just didn’t feel right.” Less than two days later, she felt her water break and how it looked very much like she was going to miscarry. The amniotic fluid leak stopped, however, and the fetus survived. There was still a heartbeat, but 95% of the amniotic fluid had been lost. Kroner’s OB and and a high risk OB consulted as a second opinion suggested that the best course of action would be for her to terminate the pregnancy, but she refused. Fortunately for her, her son survived to deliver. However, Kroner blamed (and, I presume, still blames) the flu shot, claiming that influenza vaccination causes miscarriages. (It does not, by the way.)

Throughout the rest of her talk, Kroner laid down a withering barrage of antivaccine pseudoscience and misinformation, including claiming that there is “human aborted fetal tissue” in vaccines—really, she’s so ignorant that she didn’t even say “fetal cells,” the way most antivaxers pushing that claim do, even though she did acknowledge that the viruses were grown in “fetal cells”—and, horror of horrors, fetal DNA in vaccines.

Kroner’s rant about SB 277, the California law that banned PBEs to school vaccine mandates, is epically hilarious. I’ll give you an example. She stated that the law tells parents who don’t believe in animal testing, “Tough!” After that she noted that vaccines are tested on animals. Well, yes. Yes they are. So what? So is basically every drug you ever put in your body! Does she expect legislators to give parents the right not to treat their children with antibiotics or other life-saving drugs when they are seriously ill because they were tested in animals before human clinical trials? Would Kroner support such a ban? I get the feeling that she hasn’t really thought her position through.

The rest of the antivaccine misinformation she laid down is not really worth examining in detail, because it’s so typical. Examples include the “toxins gambit” and the dreaded “monkey cells” gambit. Particularly hilarious is the part where she says that there are chicken embryos in our vaccines. No, there aren’t, but some viruses are grown in fertilized eggs, which are, of course, chicken embryos. Yes, Kroner used a ludicrous term to turn “fertilized egg” into “chicken embryo,” which is so much more gross and disgusting-sounding. She even pulled out an oldie moldy trope, “I’m not antivaccine; I’m ‘anti-toxin.'” Jenny McCarthy from 2009 called. She wants her antivax trope back.

Finally, Dr. Kroner really, really hates—no, literally hates—Senator Richard Pan, the architect of SB 277. She said so multiple times in her talk.

The plot thickens

So, having established that Kroner is antivaccine and that this “panel discussion” had every appearance of being a trap, I started wondering. I watched ZDoggMD’s video, which was revealing. First, the event to which he was invited was supposed to happen in May. As far as I can tell, no such event ever happened, but it’s possible I could have missed it. My guess is that this event was postponed from May to October, probably because Kroner hasn’t been able to entice a real scientist or skeptic to be on her panel. In any event, it’s clear to me that she’s learned to keep her cards close to the chest, because her email to ZDoggMD stated that she had confirmation of participation from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (who is extremely antivaccine and has been the topic of many posts on this blog and whose World Mercury Project is not, as ZDoggMD notes, not a tribute to Queen’s front man Freddie Mercury), Del Bigtree (’nuff said, although Bigtree was represented as being part of the Informed Consent Action Network), and Dr. Toni Bark, an antivaccine MD who’s into homeopathy and naturopathy and who was also featured on the Conspira-sea Cruise. ZDoggMD’s letter also noted “interest” from well-known doctors and scientists who asked to keep their names confidential.

Ri-ight.

Curious, I wondered if any or all of these speakers listed as “lined up” in Kroner’s email to ZDoggMD were still on the bill. Let’s go back and look at Kroner’s descriptions. First, there was “a well-known Chicago-based MD whose focus is nutrition and preventative medicine.” Hmmm. That sure sounds like Toni Bark, whose practice is called The Center for Disease Prevention & Reversal and who sports an 847 area code, which encompasses Chicago’s northern suburbs. I’d say that’s a match. What about Del Bigtree? Well, another of the panelists listed is described as a “Medical Journalist who has heavily researched and studied many topics in the medical community.” Yes, I think that’s probably a match, too, given Bigtree’s history as a producer of segments for the TV show The Doctors. What about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.? That one I’m not sure about. The closest I can come is “book author and founder of a highly respected non-profit charity that provides medical treatment opportunities to children.” That could be him. After all, his World Mercury Project claims to have a campaign to “restore child health.” I’d say that’s a 50-50 chance of a match. So I’m batting two and a half out of three, and they’re all antivaxers. No, they’re not just antivaxers, they’re leaders among the antivaccine movement.

But that’s not all.

I thought about the date: October 11, 2018. Then I thought about the location, namely Atlanta. The location really stood out, as Atlanta is where the CDC Headquarters is located. The date also rang a bell. Regular readers might remember that there were antivaccine protests against the CDC in 2015 and 2016. When were they held? You guessed it! In October! I did some more Googling, and, boy, did I come up with something. Yes, it’s a rally scheduled for October 10, 2018:

The Vaccine Justice or Else Movement is an organization created to protect our children against harmful vaccinations. The CDC has done enough damage that has resulted in thousands of children having autism and other mental defects. The pharmaceutical companies are full of greed and deceit. We as parents cant allow the CDC to lie to us about the safety of our children. Join us on October 10, 2018 at 1600 Clifton Rd. Atl, ga. 30329 for CDC SHUT DOWN RALLY – VACCINE PROTEST 2018.

Interestingly, the Vaccine Justice or Else Movement appears to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nation of Islam, who prominently participated in the 2015 antivaccine rally with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and a whole bunch of other “luminaries” of the antivaccine movement, as evidenced by its Facebook page and website. Here are the posters:

CDC Shutdown Protest
CDC Shutdown Protest, happening the day before the vaccine panel to which I was invited. Coincidence? Orac thinks not.

Finally, what about Britney Valas? I had never heard of her, either? Well, she created a GoFundMe page for the Children’s March for Humanity, which wasn’t very successful. She’s also appeared with Del Bigtree on a podcast. I’d say she’s antivaccine too.

It’s all coming together now: the date of the panel, the attendees, the location, and the host (who, as I mentioned before, appears to be tight with the Nation of Islam). It’s possible that I’m mistaken, but I don’t think I am. Shannon Kroner is almost certainly trying to lure me to be the token skeptic on an antivaccine panel to be held the day after an antivaccine protest at the CDC organized by the Nation of Islam. The moderator appears to be antivaccine (or at least far more sympathetic to the antivaccine view than the pro-science view), and no doubt the audience will be almost completely antivaccine, probably many of the same people who will have participated in the protest the day before. Add to that the fact that, as I emailed a few people about this asking their advice, I heard that there’s at least one other person on “our side” who received an invitation like this. I’d say that, with only two months to go before the panel, Shannon Kroner is getting a bit desperate.

So let me conclude with a message to my fellow skeptics, pro-vaccine activists, and pro-science advocates. If you get an email like this from someone like Shannon Kroner, be very, very skeptical. Don’t do it. Play with her a bit if you like to see if you can tease out more information. See if she’s willing to pay your airfare and lodging. Ask for a big honorarium, just for fun, before turning her down. Ask her questions like these questions I asked in my last email:

Since you’re the organizer, it matters to me what your views on vaccines are when it comes to my willingness to participate. So I’ll stop asking who’s going to be on the panel (although from your description I suspect that I have a fairly good guess as to who one of them could be) and instead ask you: What are your views about vaccines through three simple questions:

  1. Do you believe that vaccines cause autism?
  2. Do you believe vaccines are safe?
  3. Do you believe vaccines are effective?

I sent the email with these questions last night. Thus far, I have not received a response. If the person asking you to be on such a panel is as squirrelly as Shannon Kroner was with me know that this is almost certainly an antivaccine event and you are the sacrificial skeptic. Better yet, adopt my policy of never appearing on the same stage with cranks. It’s a lot safer, and you’ll be a lot happier.

Finally, know a trap when you see one, and try to recognize it earlier than Admiral Ackbar did. After fourteen years at this, I can spot an invitation that’s a trap a mile away. Learn from my experience, so that you don’t learn the hard way from your own.

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]

116 replies on “Shannon Kroner invited me to a panel discussion on vaccines. Don’t fall for a trap like this.”

A. Given the participation of people that a moment googling would show you’ve harshly criticized – I’m thinking especially Mrs. Bigtree and Kennedy – asking you to participate strikes me as especially bad form.

B. Israel is now struggling with the fall out from a TV interview with an antivaccine MD that’s also into homeopathy. The false legitimacy of such people can give even blatantly untrue things them say too much weight. I’m glad you’re not adding your legitimacy to this.

Actually, there has been another invitation for Orac ( and other SBM contributors), courtesy of Null and Gale:

the chief loon remarked that ( paraphrase)
they can come on his show to debate any time they like and will be treated with the utmost respect. They can discuss ALL the material posted at prn.fm that criticises them and SBM.

Now, because I’ve heard the few occasions when he’s had reality-based individuals to “debate” I can imagine what his crap fest would be like: Gish galloping at high speed, mis-information spewed willy nilly and self-aggrandisement non stop.
.After one such episode ( with Brian Deer) he later tacked on additional comments to support his woo, in another ( with Lee Phillips, a physicist), he didn’t let the guy speak hardly at all. Then, he sued him.

He usually says that because he is such a master debater**, no one will step up.
Truly, most people who understand SBM will be too smart to walk into such a stinking miasma of woo and intellectual malfunctioning.

HOWEVER I would truly enjoy hearing someone putting him in his place- that will never happen. The recording will be scrubbed or never put on-air in the first place.

** in the 1970s, he debated top doctors from the CDC, AMA publicly and always won.

My answer to Gary Null is the same answer I gave to Andrew Weil, assorted antivaxers, the HIV/AIDS denialist. In fact, even more so, given his history of deceptive editing and going back to do responses after the fact.

BUT ORAC!!!

Wouldn’t it be fun to cause his head to explode? I KNOW you can do it! **

** FIGURATIVELY, of course, not literally. I’d better say that before someone says I’m calling for someone’s execution because they don’t comprehend metaphors.
I can see it now: Natural News- Sceptics plot natural healer’s death

I’m thankful you’re not distracted, and continue to maintain the quality of Respectful Insolence.

I would actually agree that trying to get anyone to participate in a forum discussion (or debate) under false pretenses is bad form.

But here is the difference between you, a self-proclaimed vaccine “expert”, and someone like Del Bigtree, or Robert F. Kennedy Jr, or Barbara Loe Fisher. Hypothetically speaking, if Dr. Paul Offit had invited any one of these folks to participate in a public forum discussion along with Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Dr. Pan from CA, and Dr. Robert Chen, I guarantee that every one of them would agree to participate. Would they expect a friendly environment and an unbiased discussion? Absolutely not. But they would attend because this would provide them with an opportunity to put their viewpoint, and the body of science which they claim supports it, up for debate against supposed “experts” who know all the scientific talking points but are unfamiliar with the actual science. They would attend because they have confidence in their ability to make their case even as the minority opinion.

What I would really like to see…and would pay good money to see actually…is a one on one straight up debate (lets dispense with the “discussion” nonsense) between you and any one of the people I mentioned, or about 10 more people I can think of. But I am confident that you would decline such a debate, and would then require 5,000 words to tell us all why.

But we all already know why, and it can be summed up with just one word.

LOL. Debating anti-Vaxxers would be all about having a picture of an apple and them yelling at you that it’s a banana. Then, when you point out it’s an apple, they accuse you of working for Mott’s Apple Sauce.

Wakefield and friends and their friends are really that disengaged from the realities of science. Science doesn’t need to be debated or defended. It is not a belief system. Science is based on facts. Period.

This comment was brought to you by the Chiquita Banana Corporation of New York.

Experts debating a charlatan always gives the charlatan undeserved legitimacy. That is the only reason the people you mentioned would debate and also the only reason the experts would not.

Yep, and when Kroner fails to find anyone on the pro-science side willing to join her panel, the narrative will flip to, “They’re too scared to debate us,” and she’ll have her panel discussion anyway, just with all antivaxers. Same as it ever was.

Um, why do you characterize The Orac as an “expert” on vaccines or vaccine safety issues? He is a surgical oncologist.

He’s more of an expert that Shannon Kroner ever will be. And you’ll note, he doesn’t claim to know more than immunologists or vaccine scientists.

But he is well trained on the subject, as he is a trained and licensed physician. Moreover, he follows the current medical literature, which consistently upholds his positions. Thus, he is perfectly qualified to discuss the issue of vaccination.

In formal debate contests, the debaters are given a topic and told if they are to be pro or con. Neither the truth nor the contestant’s opinion matter.

in other words, winning a debate has nothing to do with substance.

In formal debate contests, the debaters are given a topic and told if they are to be pro or con. Neither the truth nor the contestant’s opinion matter.

Perhaps in Lincoln-Douglas, but that’s not how it works in high-school two-on-two debates: The topic is picked the summer before the season, and then teams pick a side. It’s actually kind of nightmarish; the kids from the usual wealthy championship schools go to debate camp, get the Jaybook or whatever it’s called, cut out the quotes, glue them to notecards, put them in stacks of rolling cases as though they were ersatz lawyers, and then speed-read. My partner and I, being total neophytes and just kind of winging it with our own research and narrative structure, actually made it to the state finals, possibly to the second round.

Hypothetically speaking, if Dr. Paul Offit had invited any one of these folks to participate in a public forum discussion along with Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Dr. Pan from CA, and Dr. Robert Chen, I guarantee that every one of them would agree to participate.

You can’t say that because a.) legitimate scientists don’t need to debate alternative facts and b.) Your list includes those who are out of their league and don’t allow themselves to be put in a position that would emphasise that. If your list of luminaries were really interested in advancing their “body of science that supports their viewpoint” then they would actually fund studies by legitimate investigators but they never do. If you think they have scientific evidence for their “viewpoints”, then what is it?

But I am confident that you would decline such a debate, and would then require 5,000 words to tell us all why.

As well he should. Facts don’t need to be debated and that is the warped cycle anti-vaxxers can’t find their way out of. There is no need to lend any legitimacy to hacks and pseudo-scientists by giving them oxygen. Facts aren’t determined by debate, they’re established by rigorous testing.

@ Foster

How would you decide which side of the debate was valid? Do you have any understanding of the basics of immunology? If not, how can you judge how vaccines work? Do you understand epidemiological methodology? I’ll just throw out a few terms: Sampling bias, Odds Ratio, Relative Risk, Case-Control Study, Lead Time Bias, Confidence Intervals. Not only does a public debate not allow the participants to give thorough answers due to time constraints; but most members of the audience would NOT have the minimal skills/understanding to evaluate the topic. Instead, they would base their evaluation on the speaker’s relative charisma, delivery, choosing of key words that elicit emotional responses, and, of course, pre-existing bias/ideologies, etc. Yep, Orac would answer with 5,000 words, more than someone like you would be willing to spend the time to read and probably not near enough to actually cover the subject. Knowledge is not 30-second soundbites, not based on public speaking skills, it takes real effort and time. Though I highly doubt you would even consider it, I would suggest you start with a delightful short book by Lauren Somparyrac. “How the Immune System Works (5th Edition). You might learn something; but I doubt it.

I am an old man still devouring new information. Every few years I purchase and read editions of Immunology and Microbiology texts just to keep up with new developments and, of course, read lots of journal articles.

Thanks for the reference, Joel!

I admit, how the immune system works blows my mind. I’m always looking for ways to break it down and make it easier to understand, both for me and my students.

I find this sort of knee-jerk resorting to condescension amusing. This from a member of the medical establishment which hadn’t even bothered to do the (very simple) math to determine just how much mercury infants were receiving in their recommended shots until 1999, after the neurotoxin has been in use for over 70 years. And since that time this same establishment still maintains that injecting infants with one of the most toxic substances known to man is perfectly safe. Plus you can even combine it with aluminum, even though anyone who knows anything about toxicology knows that the toxicity of these two substances is highly synergistic.

Your hubris and your arrogance reminds me of a time when I was in college, and one of our housemates wanted to get rid of the ants on his roses. He asked us whether RAID would hurt his roses, I told him in no uncertain terms it would since it contains petrolium-based ingredients. But our resident “expert” was a biochemistry major and he proceeded to lecture us all about the biological mechanism used by insecticides like RAID to kill, and since this mechanism could not hurt plants, his roses would be perfectly safe. He proceeded to spray his roses.

Guess what his roses looked like the next morning? Sometimes the “experts” are the ones least likely to use common sense and recognize an obvious problem.

We see this exact same type of myopic, short-sighted and to be honest, stupid reasoning in relation to glyphosate…it only impacts biological pathways which impact bacteria so it is harmless to humans. Except that our digestive tracts contain more bacteria than the number of cells in our bodies. Oops.

Shifting the goal posts again I see.

You, answering a post days after its posted hoping to have the last word doesn’t mean you “win”.

Dear David,

Pursuant to your request, if you would please state your proposition and explain in your best King George’s English why you consider it to be worthy of consideration, I will speedily convey it to our noble patroness, Lady Catherine Draconis. I am confident she will condescend to invite you to dinner to discuss it with her. As you know, her condescension is widely regarded as most magnificent!

As for myself, I occasionally deign to comment here because I have found perhaps 8 or 10 commenters whose knowledge and reasoning are of the highest order and whose discussions I find to be both educational and enjoyable. Regrettably, you have not achieved that high estate. However, if you diligently pursue your investigation of the natural sciences and the discipline of logic as well, I am hopeful that you may yet achieve such a status. As you know, my good opinion once lost is practically never regained. But I retain the hope that someday I may find the exception to that rule.

Sincerely yours,

S

one of the most toxic substances known to man

I will happily ingest a teaspoon of metallic mercury, procured on your dime, if the price is right. Put up or shut up.

I find this sort of knee-jerk resorting to condescension amusing.

Dude, Have you ever thought that this “condescension” (not really IMO) was just the right ticket needed to try to teach you something? Can you at least do us the honor of telling us the right method of teaching that will put aside your bias at consider our answer & evidence with all the consideration these answer deserve? Nothing that has been said have ever worked for you to consider backing up from the position that vaccines cause all evils…Nothing, so “condescension” it is.

Alain

Mr. Foster, the real “debate” will be in paper. Have Kennedy, Bigtree and Fisher just post their list of PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases. I promise you that list will be positively homeopathic, since no one has done that with any success.

What I get are random studies on mice, monkeys, and petri dishes about some perceived danger without any real comparison to the effects of the diseases.

What I would really like to see…and would pay good money to see actually…is a one on one straight up debate (lets dispense with the “discussion” nonsense) between you and any one of the people I mentioned, or about 10 more people I can think of.

I’m going to go ahead and guess that none of them is yourself.

Foster may very well consider himself qualified to “discuss” the “science” with us. He keeps trying to tell us about this “science”, but does not realize that we can see it is nonsense and that he simply does not understand actual science.

He likes to pretend to be smart, especially when he simply does not understand the question. I am still waiting for him to come up with the studies that answer this:

Do tell us all about that research. We would all like to about the magic “research” paper that tells the cytokines from a vaccine was worse than the disease. Seriously tell us the reaction to an MMR vaccine was worse than the one in a thousand chance of encephalitis from actually getting measles!

We do know why legitimate scientists do not often agree to debate people promoting pseudoscience. It gives the pseudoscientists legitimacy they do not deserve, and potentially publicity.

We also know why the pseudoscientists crave the debate. It gives them legitimacy and publicity they don’t have and shouldn’t have. They can’t win on the fact, so they can hope that a debate would at least lead some people to think they have something – and in some cases, they are practiced performers, which few real scientists are, and count on their performance skill to substitute for the data they lack.

I recommend reading the post. It explains this and more.

Right, Dorit.

The aforementioned woo-meister brags about how he absolutely wiped the floor with his SB opponents whilst the audience approved. When I witnessed a presentation by this charlatan ( not a debate) , he first jokingly played with the audience, then presented his facts ( loads of studies either of his own making or bizarre interpretation)** and finished up with a scathing indictment of all authorities in medicine, science, industry and government promising to stand up for the People because NO ONE else does.
The audience of over 100 people went wild. And this is in a sophisticated suburb right outside of NYC.

So it is basically a performance: I am reminded of old-timey movies wherein the folksy, down-to-earth hero delivers a gradually escalating speech to an increasingly enraptured audience, jury or congress, culminating in a volcanic eruption of support from his listeners who then perhaps begin marching alongside him to defeat the infamy immediately.
This is old hat, 1950s material which I suppose is appropriate for these performers.

** similar style is exhibited in his so-called documentaries against vaccines, SBM, etc.

From the sound of it, it’s likely the event you witnessed was videotaped? Care to tell us what the event was, and possibly even share a link to it? You can just share the event name and location and I’ll find it. It’s obvious who you are talking about, and he is very careful not to misrepresent the science.

I read the post Dorit.

It’s amusing how you immediately jump to framing this as “legitimate scientists” vs. “pseudoscientists”.

You all have a fundamental misunderstanding that I would like to correct. People who have concerns about vaccine safety and vaccine safety testing do not “crave the debate” in order to try to achieve “legitimacy”, especially amongst folks as biased and closed-minded as yourselves. Their one overarching goal is to present information to as many people as possible, and leave it up to them to decide.

It’s too bad y’all are afraid of the performers but at least you are willing to admit it. But it is not the performance you should be afraid of. For anyone who’s watched Barbara Loe Fisher being interviewed, or watched her videos, it’s safe to say that she is definitely not a performer. All she has is information.

She would wipe the floor with Mr. Gorski.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I have laughed.

Anti-vaxxers don’t want to present information. They want to lie to the public then complain about being mistreated when called out for telling lies.

BLF knows her stuff? 😂🤣😂

Dude, I’ve refuted more pseudoscience and misinformation from BLF over the years than from almost any other antivaxers. She does NOT know her stuff. But thanks for the laugh!

BLF is not a scientist. Nor is Del Bigtree, or Robert F. Kennedy. So they’re certainly not legitimate scientists, and yes, they do speak for pseudoscience. And yes, they’re all performers. BLF is good at projecting.

And suggesting that legitimate outlets seek their input on scientific matters to any serious extent is simply incorrect. To remind you, each of them has more than once claimed a conspiracy of silence or attack against their views.

They could engage on this blog. Just reading the comments I see lots of people citing studies to support a position.

ORAC might be a feisty little box of lights, but he doesn’t delete serious comments.

“Their one overarching goal is to present information to as many people as possible, and leave it up to them to decide.”

Clearly, you meant “misinformation.” Because I’m yet to hear anything other than misinformation from anti-vaxxers.

Their one overarching goal is to present information to as many people as possible, and leave it up to them to decide.

Presenting misinformation to a gullible or indoctrinated audience and “leave it up to them to decide” is the hallmark of a charlatan or snake-oil salesman. Facts shouldn’t be consumed by those who are swayed by the most impressive performance, they should be given weight by who is an actual expert on the subject matter. BLF is a performer; I’ve seen her give speeches. She is not qualified to disseminate the scientific literature. Having a child, being convinced he’s vaccine-injured and reading a bunch of stuff does not an expert make. She tells people what they want to hear, not what they should hear and that’s the difference between performance and science.

You can send your comments to this blog.
What if debater just lies ? How would you react ? Chicken embryos is just ridiculous, but a what about a lie ?

You all have a fundamental misunderstanding that I would like to correct.

Mirrors are your friends, jackass.

Didn’t know you could heft that big a shovel for the pile of crap you just dumped here, Foster.

People like BLF and her NVIC who claim to have concerns about vaccine safety while publicly working to terrify parents into not vaccinating are nothing better than disease anti-vaccine pro-disease spreaders. Vaccines are safe and effective to prevent diseases that maim and kill. If you don’t get that, you have a serious defect in your cerebral cortex. The level at which anti-vaccinationists fail to understand the science/medicine behind vaccines is akin to believing 2 + 2 = 5. That’s how uninformed you AVers are.

All BLF has is misinformation and lies. BLF can’t read a science paper. She couldn’t science her way out of a paper bag. She and her NVIC are despicable in their current efforts to further drive down school vaccination rates to bring back deadly vaccine-preventable diseases–and when they return she and her cronies get the blame . BLF couldn’t wipe the floor with a grade schooler in any sort of science debate.

BLF is the champion of cherry picking. Oh, yeah, she wrote a “book.” Everyone thinks the co-author Harris Coulter was a “doctor.” Wrong, wrong, wrongety wrong. Here is his obit from the Washington Post with the relevant part in bold:

COULTER HARRIS LIVERMORE COULTER, Ph.D. Died on October 28, 2009, at the age of 77, after a long struggle with stroke damage. Born in Baltimore, MD on October 8, 1932, Coulter attended Milton Academy and Yale University (1954). He earned a master”s degree (1961) and doctorate (1969) from Columbia University, NY in Russian studies and political science. Coulter worked for the State Department and the United Nations as an English/Russian interpreter. He authored nine books on medical history. He is survived by his sons, Andrew and Alex; and daughters, Elizabeth and Marian. No services will be held.

Published in The Washington Post on Oct. 31, 2009

BLF was in public relations, Kennedy is a lawyer and Bigtree dabbles in television. They are not experts. If you want to talk science, then bring some on. Like these causes of autism: http://spark-sf.s3.amazonaws.com/SPARK_gene_list.pdf

@ David Foster

Yep, Barbara Loe Fisher “would wipe the floor with ‘Dr’ Gorski, just one example:

In a keynote presentation at the Health Freedom Congress, Fisher said:
“Vaccination is a medical procedure that has been elevated to a sacrosanct status by those in control of the medical-model based health care system for the past two centuries. Vaccination is now being proclaimed as the most important scientific discovery and public health intervention in the history of medicine. Using religious symbols and crusading language, medical scientists describe vaccination as the Holy Grail. Vaccines, they say, are going to eradicate all causes of sickness and death from the earth and anyone who doubts that is an ignorant fool.

Really? Scientists are saying vaccines will wipe out “all causes of sickness and death”? Does this even sound rational?

As I wrote, you don’t have the basic knowledge to evaluate what people say and, thus, I guess you agree with Fisher that we scientists are claiming vaccines will “wipe out all causes of sickness and death.”

“book author and founder of a highly respected non-profit charity that provides medical treatment opportunities to children.”

JB Handley?

First, there was “a well-known Chicago-based MD whose focus is nutrition and preventative medicine.” Hmmm. That sure sounds like Toni Bark

Yah, I don’t think Mercola would bother.

Interestingly enough, I found new interviews with both these gent…uh… DUDES, today:

AoA has a recorded radio interview with Handley who has a new book on the way and
Kent Heckenlively ( Bolen Report) has a print one with RFK jr about glyphosate litigation ( not vaccines)
I’m not sure which one is worse.

I’m not sure if David Foster was addressing me about the event I saw – but if so:

the event was a book signing at a Barnes and Noble over ten years ago. No, it wasn’t video-taped
Null was there to sell books- if you bought one, he’d sign it.
He first loosened up the crowd by making risqué asides about his virility then asked attendees for health questions.
After their many responses about serious illnesses , he boiled all ills down to INFLAMMATION which is easy to fix
( veganism, supplements, meditation) and then ranted on about how the powers-that-be ( medicine, universities, corporations, governments) lie to the People but he will tell the Truth!
People applauded wildly and brought up the books they purchased for signing, thanking him heartily.

His message is readily available in his many films and internet radio shows. The details may vary but the bulk remains the same.

There’s the old saw about “Debating an X is like playing chess with a pigeon. They’ll knock over the pieces, shit on the board and then strut around as if they won.”

Oh, that was a wonderful way to start the morning. My sides hurt from laughing.

I also will commit to memory. That’s too good not to use.

“So, ‘Doctor’ Orac: Please tell us why the medical profession is POISONING our CHILDREN with HEAVY METALS and ABORTED BABY PARTS!”

Yeah, probably best to give this opportunity a miss.

Removing thiomersal did not have any health effect. And vaccines certainly do not contain baby parts (do you a leg or something).

Funny, autism did not go down after removing “heavy metals”, but logic is lost on your lot.

Of course you are discounting the fact that at the same time they “removed” thimerosal from childhood vaccines, ACIP started recommending flu shots for infants, children, and even pregnant women. These were annual shots and at that time the majority of them contained mercury, and even today about 40% still contain mercury.

You are also discounting the data from Denmark which, when analyzed correctly (meaning not massaged and manipulated by the CDC), clearly shows that autism rates did decline somewhat following the removal of thimerosal in that country.

There are so many confounders that it is difficult to try to track autism rates with removal of mercury from vaccines. But it is always amusing to watch how all of you “scientists” have no problem with discounting any link between mercury in vaccines and autism because, as you claim, autism rates did not go down after mercury was removed from childhood shots. But yet at the same time when studies show a clear and significant correlation between exposure to mercury in vaccines and rates of autism (ie. original 1999 Verstraeten study), then all we hear is “correlation is not causation”. You cannot have it both ways.

The most important confounders here are the addition of so many new shots and boosters to the infant and childhood schedules which include adjuvants, especially aluminum salts. There is a lot of recent research suggesting concerns with use of aluminum, though I’m sure everyone here is convinced this is harmless.

One other confounder is external changes to exposures via the schedule, either through direct ACIP changes or by modifications made by the manufacturers. One example is when Merck increased the amount of mumps virus in its MMR vaccine by 400% in 1990 from 5,000 to 20,000 units. Then in 2007 it reduced this to 12,500 units (still more than double the pre-1990 levels).

Still, Mr. Foster you have no real evidence vaccine cause more harm than the diseases, nor that they cause autism. Yet, you keep repeating the same old dreck that has been disproved over and over and over again.

Oh, yeah, thimerosal … this is still one of my favorite messages from Sallie Bernard that was posted over fifteen years ago:

Subject: Thimerosal DTaP Needed
From: Sally Bernard
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:01:50 -0400
Yahoo! Message Number: 27456
Onibasu Link: http://onibasu.com/archives/am/27456.html

Hi all:

A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

Thank you.

Sallie Bernard
Executive Director
Safe Minds

Oh, and it is the same bunch who paid for this study, but apparently the researchers did real science so it gave Safe Minds a big ol’ sad:
Examination of the Safety of Pediatric Vaccine Schedules in a Non-Human Primate Model: Assessments of Neurodevelopment, Learning, and Social Behavior

One example is when Merck increased the amount of attenuated mumps virus in its MMR vaccine by 400% in 1990 from 5,000 to 20,000 units. Then in 2007 it reduced this to 12,500 units (still more than double the pre-1990 levels).

FTFY. How much fucking virus do you think is produced by a real mumps infection?

I love how David Foster just assumes that 1) every child actually gets their flu shot every year (although maybe the uptake is better in kids than it is in adults) and 2) all children and pregnant women are getting their flu shot from one of the few places that does the multi-dose vials (which do need preservative) rather than at their doctor’s office, where it is single vial, no preservative needed.

Last I checked Denmark is not the US and has both a different vaccine schedule (and probably different manufacturers) and different population demographics.

Mr Foster, do you have something new? Or just the same old same old?

California has one of those laws requiring that pregnant women and children under two be given thimerosal-free influenza vaccines. To anticipate a counter, the requirement has been waived for some years – but not others. How are autism rates in California?

A constant upwards trend. And this has been true throughout the years that exemptions from school immunization requirements increased dramatically, even undermining to some degree (not a great degree) his other links.

The correlation doesn’t hold.

You are also discounting the data from Denmark which, when analyzed correctly (meaning not massaged and manipulated by the CDC)

1) Give evidence that the Danish data was not correctly analysed. Was the wrong analytical technique used? Were the analysts sloppy? And the fact that it didn’t return your desired conclusions does not automatically mean it was “massaged and manipulated”.
2) What is the correct way to analyse the data? Once again, supporting evidence for your argument is required.

These were annual shots and at that time the majority of them contained mercury, and even today about 40% still contain mercury

Just like RFK, Jr. and his absurd insistence that the mere existence of something is enough to cause the dreaded autism. A.) uptake is low and B.) Try to find anyone who actually received a TCV because there are plenty of non-TCV influenza vaccines. Then you have the obligation to conduct a study which examines this bogey-man of yours.

You are also discounting the data from Denmark which, when analyzed correctly (meaning not massaged and manipulated by the CDC), clearly shows that autism rates did decline somewhat following the removal of thimerosal in that country.

Analysed by whom?

There are so many confounders that it is difficult to try to track autism rates with removal of mercury from vaccines.

If it’s so difficult then why do you people keep doing it?

But yet at the same time when studies show a clear and significant correlation between exposure to mercury in vaccines and rates of autism (ie. original 1999 Verstraeten study), then all we hear is “correlation is not causation”. You cannot have it both ways.

But it doesn’t show that, only in whacky anti-vaxx land could it. You also said “studies”, that’s just one (which doesn’t say what you want it to say) so where are the others that keep you so entertained about us?

The most important confounders here are the addition of so many new shots and boosters to the infant and childhood schedules which include adjuvants, especially aluminum salts. There is a lot of recent research suggesting concerns with use of aluminum, though I’m sure everyone here is convinced this is harmless.

What is this “lot of research”?

One other confounder is external changes to exposures via the schedule, either through direct ACIP changes or by modifications made by the manufacturers. One example is when Merck increased the amount of mumps virus in its MMR vaccine by 400% in 1990 from 5,000 to 20,000 units. Then in 2007 it reduced this to 12,500 units (still more than double the pre-1990 levels).

Something tells me you don’t know what a confounder is and even more importantly, why the amount of mumps units is even a cause of autism.

Along with basic vocabulary, Mr. Foster does not understand lots of things. He told me I was brain impaired because I did not understand that in order to work vaccines cause “cytokines.” Uh, huh. He has yet to come up with any research showing the “cytokines” are worse in vaccines than they are by getting the actual disease… recently mentioned above:
https://respectfulinsolence.com/2018/08/10/shannon-kroner-invited-me-vaccine-panel/#comment-398788

I wonder if Mr. Foster understands that his comments here about “science” are treated as comic relief.

Mr. Foster, here is a question you really need to answer:

How many kids under fourteen months who had either rotavirus or chicken pox have you personally taken care of?

Be honest and answer the question. I had to ride in a ambulance to the hospital with an unconscious toddler who had a grand mal seizure due to dehydration from a rotavirus infection. Plus I have taken care of a six month old baby with chicken pox a year before the vaccine was available.

These experiences are just two reasons why I do not respect those who think kids should get vaccine preventable diseases. Your cherry picking is a third reason, and those are just the highlights of a very long list. A list where you keep showing up on… please stop being an idiot, it is getting monotonous.

I wonder if Mr. Foster understands that his comments here about “science” are treated as comic relief.

You must have a very different sense of relief from mine.

Excuse me if I laugh at abject stupidity.

I just got a “high expense” notice about our VISA card at the credit union. Apparently now anything over $100 is being tagged as “high expense.” It was $220 for vehicle license tabs for an eight year old car we bought using a loan from that credit union. Something we need to drive that car legally.

Oddly they did not flag the four digit bill we had from a local animal hospital for a dying cat, nor the other four digit amount we paid to get youngest settled in new city for graduate school (includes hotel, airline expenses and car rental).

I just left a message about “silly notifications” with the credit union. It does include the phrases “Begin sarcasm” and “end sarcasm”, plus the words “remember our cat just died” just for fun. I even asked if we needed to get approval before we went out to dinner (heaven forbid we actually order wine!).

Mr. Foster’s idiocy is worse than our credit union’s ridiculous AI program.

By the way, the animal hospital is refunding over half the the care estimate we authorized while driving on I-90 between Syracuse and Albany. The poor kitty did not survive the estimate which was for four days of hospital care. The very quick cat cancer was very rapid and he did not survive for more than six hours. It was very sad.

What I failed to mention the young man taking care of our house and cat while we were away was our oldest son who has autism level 2 (look it up Mr. Foster, it is part of DSM V). He called us up, made appointments with the local vet, found the cat carrier in the basement, walked the cat to the local vet, called his younger brother, got transportation from sister-in-law (he does not drive) to the animal hospital which was a few miles north, a ride on Lyft (courtesy of his brother), followed the veterinarian’s instructions (which included heating fishy based cat food in a microwave to get the cat to eat, discovering that was bad, and then cleaning up the microwave!), and being extremely sad.

We have had to explain that even if we caught the nasal cancer early the only solution was to put the cat to sleep, and it was awful that we did not know and that the tumor started to impinge on the cat’s brain while the parents were three time zones away.

My oldest son is an excellent house sitter. He proved this over and beyond expectations last week. Of course, it is only our house. Though that will not last, he has shown he can live on his own and we hope that happens soon.

Um, Aarno and Christopher Hickie, it looks like you misunderstood. Heidi_storage was quoting antivaccine views. If you read the rest of her comment, it’s clear she’s on our side.

My sincere apologies to Aarno and Heidi_storage and thanks for pointing out my mistake, Julian.

I think it would be painful to debate Toni Bark. I have seen her talk and give testimony and she gets angry and irrational very easily. If Del is also there, he tends to rant like an evangelical minister, so that would also be very annoying. These are not rational thinkers, like you, Orac.

I’ve had confirmation from Kroner that Del Bigtree and Toni Bark are on the panel. She said, however, that RFK, Jr. is not. That makes me really wonder if the “book author and founder of a highly respected non-profit charity that provides medical treatment opportunities to children” is J.B. Handley. Now that would be painful. Handley’s a much bigger asshole than Bigtree.

I’d sooner try and reason with a truculent two-year old than “debate” a hardcore anti-vaxxer. At least the two-year old might change their behavior and learn something.

Here’s a an interview that you might enjoy, Dr Chris:

AoA links to Dr Paul Thomas’ interview with Pat Miller on an Indiana ( rightie) radio station, WOWO: This paediatrician tells parents how to deal with doctors who want to vaccinate their kids on schedule and how hard it is to be a vaccine skeptical doctor
( both: last 4 minutes so you don’t have to hear the 16 minute whole load of woo)
He claims ( early in the tape) that he was 15 000 patients and more who are waiting.

@ Orac

A trip down memory lane when you mentioned Christine Maggiori. A number of years ago, not far from my home, a nice little bookstore opened. They hosted events where speakers came to present their books. Maggiori was one. i actually got a free copy of her book. Though I knew she was doomed, still felt bad, nice, misguided lady with kids. In the audience were several HIV positive individuals who afterwards bragged that their CD4 counts were low. One was 200, others 300, and, of course, they were fine. I thought then and still today of a not great analogy, a soldier in combat bragging about not wearing a Kevlar vest and doing fine. Yep, until a bullet comes his way. Any even weak microbe and their CD4 count would doom them. I doubt they were around much later. Sorry to go off topic; but it was the first time I saw Maggiori’s name in a long time. On the other hand, not so off topic. One is fine without vaccines until exposed to some virulent contagious microbe, then OOPS! Unfortunately, in most cases it won’t be the misguided parents who suffer, except maybe flu; but the innocent children, theirs as well as others.

Another public venue where science takes a beating is Congressional hearings. Scientists allowed only limited time and then Senators or Members of Congress can say whatever they like and the scientists aren’t allowed to challenge. In addition, the “other” side is allowed equal time. Once-in-a-while such a hearing actually does allow for a real evaluation of evidence; but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

David Foster: “People who have concerns about vaccine safety and vaccine safety testing do not “crave the debate” in order to try to achieve “legitimacy””

Antivaxers crave debate for much the same reasons as politicians who are way behind in the polls – they badly need the attention, and are hoping for some sort of “gaffe” which will give their failing campaigns life. Loading a panel with antivaxers to stupidity-bomb a respected pro-immunization advocate might succeed in at least goading the science/medical professional into an angry response which can be downloaded as a selective video (as when Paul Offit was stalked once upon a time).

The only more bankrupt antivaxer tactic is the “challenge”, where pro-vaccine advocates are offered a big cash prize if they can “prove” vaccine safety (of course, the rules set by the antivaxers running the “challenge” are so restrictive and/or invasive of privacy (hello, Jock Doubleday) that few are tempted to participate, and with the antivaxers interpreting the results, there’s little risk of they having to pay up, though I seem to recall a case in Germany where it backfired on them).

Instead of a panel debate in person, Orac could offer to have the “moderator” pose written questions to which each “side” would have the opportunity to respond (answers would be forwarded to a nonpartisan arbiter to be published on a neutral site, to avoid selective editing).

Somehow I doubt Kroner et al would agree.

@ DB:

Of course you’re correct: they need for the “debate” to be live in a venue where their partisans will be present in numbers so they can applaud and whoop it up for their side. Audience reaction may make the SB person less able to respond ( because of the noise level) or to just become disheartened.

AS an observer of woo-fraught presentations, I didn’t even venture a question or critique because of the appearance of overwhelming support for the woo/ new age nonsense. I didn’t feel like being drowned out by the groupies/ faithful. Perhaps a significant portion of the audience felt as I did but no one responded.

ALSO supporters can video everything and edit how they choose.
Actually, I saw the Paul Offit tape you mentioned and I think that it was obvious that he was aggravated by someone who indeed was acting inappropriately ( but then I don’t think of Paul Offit as an ogre/ monster as many anti-vaxxers do)

.

An excellent example of the possible pitfalls of debating an anti-vaxxer was when Dr. Jacobson (a pediatrician) went against Dr. Wolfson (an anti-vax quack) in 2015 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pw8ri_eIiI . Wolfson got the opening statement and I think Jacobson was so stunned at the utter stupid that spewed from Wolfson that he didn’t know where to even start refuting.

A much better example of such a debate also came in 2015 when it was ER physician Amand Dorian against Wolfson when Dorian took the offensive, refuting Wolfson’s ridiculous points and expressing his utter disgust that Wolfson is a physician and somehow is allowed to care for patients–https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/01/30/erin-panel-anti-vaccination-debate.cnn .

Wolfson got the opening statement and I think Jacobson was so stunned at the utter stupid that spewed from Wolfson that he didn’t know where to even start refuting.

I think a key lesson if you are going to do this is to research what you are up against. I was once invited to be on a television program abput GM crop safety with Jeffrey Smith and Judy Carman. Fairly early on in the piece I decided I wouldn’t bother refuting their nonsense, because it was going to be whack-a-mole. Instead I just laid out the evidence.

After the filming, I thought there was high chance my comments would be cut, but almost everything I said went to air, perhaps because it was more interesting.

The point is not to try and win over the welded on believers, but those who are unsure. Some time after this program went to air, I was accosted in the street by a stranger who had watched it. Their comment was “I don’t agree with anything you said, but you sounded like you know what you are talking about”. At that point I knew I had won the debate.

I got hold of a copy of Shannon Kroner’s dissertation and skimmed it. She bases it on the Health Belief Model. I actually published a meta-analysis of the Health Belief Model which showed it had very little validity. You can find the ABSTRACT for my paper, “A Meta-Analysis of the Health Belief Model with Adults,” at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10148735

I assume, perhaps, wrong, that since she practices psychology in Los Angeles, that she attended the Chicago Professional School of Psychology campus in Los Angeles, graduated 2013. According to a newspaper article in the Chicago Tribune from July 23, 2014, the Los Angeles branch was NOT accredited by the American Psychology Association. The article: Chicago School of Professional Psychology sued over its LA campus” at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10148735

In her References she includes such stellar sources (echo chambers for antivaccinationists with NO peer-review) as:

Natural News
R.I. Blaylock/Medical Viratas (a short-lived journal with Andrew Wakefield was one of the editors, though he is not currently listed)
Vactruth
http://www.lifehealthchoices.com/the-center/healthoptions/
homeoprophylaxis
National Vaccine Information Center

And nowhere does she show even minimal knowledge of immunology or epidemiology! However, she does write:

“One current workshop in existence is called “Vaccine Safety” and is given by Dr. Feder of Los
Angeles, California. Dr. Feder is a prominent doctor in the Los Angeles area that
specializes in homeopathy.”

“Another popular vaccine seminar is offered by chiropractor, Tim O’Shea, the
author of Vaccination Is Not Immunization. His seminar, scheduled across the U.S.,
specifically focuses on the science of immunology and vaccination.”

Wow, she got her “knowledge” of immunology from a chiropractor and recommends learning about vaccine safety from a homeopath. What more could one???

The 5th edition of O’Shea’s “Vaccination Is Not Immunization” was released in 2015, which is sort of confusing, seeing that the 9th edition of his “The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination Is Not Immunization” came out in 2005.

I figure he dropped the “sanctity of human blood” angle to sound a bit more sane and less like Col. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.

It’s still one of the loopier antivax books on the market, even compared to volumes penned by Suzanne Humphries, Neil I-communicate-with-extraterrestrials Miller, Brian Shilhavy and the AoA crowd.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I never heard of the book “Vaccination is Not Immunization” but checked it out at Amazon. The description included “It is not an anti-vaccine textbook. It is in favor of any vaccines that have proven to be 100% safe, effective.” Yep, any medicine that isn’t 100% effective and 100% safe is unacceptable. I wonder if that includes food as well? I love people who want the world to be black and white, all or none. If it wasn’t for their advice potentially hurting people, would be great for comic relief. Unfortunately, the book has highly positive reviews on Amazon.

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says,

Unfortunately, the book has highly positive reviews on Amazon.

MJD says,

The persuasive aspect of “highly positive reviews on Amazon” is another example of how candy-coated statements can affect one’s perception. Respectful insolence is entertaining in the complete absence of candy-coated statements. Orac’s post deserves five (5) stars for teaching us that non-experts want to be entertained, not taught.

@ Orac,

If Shannon Kroner wrote a guest post for Respectful Insolence, she’d fail miserably.

If the vaccine literature is true and backed by factual science why not debate? Either step up to the plate with your platform and science or let me buy you some huggies. Which one is it going to be? Why are you scared of some vaccine questioners anyway? You have the answers. Dissension is natural face it like a man and not a small boy with no direction.

The reasons are clearly explained in the full article. Please read it.

In short, the reason is that the anti-vaccine contingent uses a technique not allowed in scientific discussion: blatant lies.

You can show an example of actual scientific thinking by providing the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule cause more harm than the vaccines.

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