Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Antivaccination propaganda in Oklahoma City

Any Oklahoma City skeptics out there reading this?

I just found an event that could use the presence of some actual science-minded individuals to refute the nonsense that’s going to be there. It’s an event called Educate Before You Vaccinate, and it’s happening on January 19.

Looking at the pamphlet advertising the event, I see the standard antivaccination lies about vaccines causing autism and some really dumb pseudoscientific blather about how a “genetic epidemic” of autism is impossible. The keynote speaker will be April Renée, keynote speaker for Vaccine Injured Children (VIC) and former President of The Autism Autoimmunity Project (TAAP). She’s the kind of antivaccinationist who approvingly links to Jenny McCarthy’s mind-bogglingly ignorant rant about “toxins” in vaccines and then says things like:

She realized [her daughter] Casi was vaccine injured, before she received the “label” of autism. Autism is 1 in 150 children today and it’s impossible to have a genetic epidemic. ADD, ADHD, diabetes, cancer (and rising number of other dis-ease “labels”) are more prevalent than ever-the evidence points to vaccinations as the cause. She has dedicated the rest of her life to doing WHATEVER is necessary to help these innocent victims and the children-yet-to-be from the autism epidemic!

And this is the sort of nonsense that the citizens of Oklahoma City can look forward to:

Note the whole “correlation equals causation” fallacy, because obviously if the number of vaccines has increased it must be the cause of the increasing numbers of autism diagnoses, you know, just the same way that the decrease in pirates correlates with global warming, meaning that obviously the decrease in the number of pirates is what’s causing global warming. Also note her bit about believing that God created us “perfect” and that vaccines are man usurping God’s role, not to mention the bit about the dreaded “toxins.” She even trots out the incredibly dangerous concept that getting the disease is the best way to produce immunity to a disease. Never mind that immunity to the disease can be produced by vaccination without the risk of actually getting the disease.

Of course, her talk was largely science- and evidence-free. Moreover the real evidence that it out there does not point to vaccinations as the cause, nor does there even appear to be an “epidemic,” as the evidence is most consistent with broadening of the diagnostic criteria for autism and autism-spectrum disorders since 1994. Of course, the real reason for this talk by Renée is not just to push an antivaccination agenda. The real reason for this talk is to sell quackery in the form of dubious “biomedical” interventions for autism by a naturpath named Gary Tunsky, who bills himself as a “cellular disease specialist,” whatever that means. (Actually, I’ll probably have more to say about what that means in a future post.) This is the sort of stuff that he claims:

He [Tunsky] applies strategies for full body detoxificiation, herbology, heavy metal chelation, oxygen/ozone therapy, homeopathy, vibrational medicine, immune modulation therapy, pH modulation, metabolic typing, and biological response modifiers. His non-toxic, non-invasive cellular treatment strategies are directed to a wide spectrum of degenerative, metabolic, and autoimmune disorders that are so prevalent in the 21st century.

Holy woo, Batman! It’s a veritable department store of methods ranging from the merely dubious (herbology) to outright quackery (pH modulation). But that’s not all. Supposedly, he’s “in the process of formulating the world’s first 24-hour comprehensive, full body detox and cellular cleanse system.”

Just what you and I need. I wonder if his system includes colon and liver flushes.

In any case, it’d be great if the usual collection of true believers and antivaccinationists that will be at this event encountered a skeptic. Of course, it’s the sort of thing that would take a fair amount of intestinal fortitude; so this task isn’t for everyone. I wonder if ERV would like a change of pace from making creationists acutely uncomfortable. After all, she has made a New Years resolution to eat more woos.

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]

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