Antivaccine nonsense Entertainment/culture Medicine Politics Popular culture Quackery Television

Antivaccination propaganda about the Poling case: A Saturday morning link roundup

Yesterday was annoying.

It started out hearing about the vaccine injury case conceded by the government in a story on NPR on during my drive into work. As I walked through the clinic waiting area on the way to my lab, the TVs in the waiting rooms were all on CNN, where–you guessed it!–there was more ignorant blather about how the government supposedly had “conceded” that “vaccines cause autism.” I’ll give the Polings and the antivaccinationists who are trying to use their case (with, apparently, them as willing accomplices) as a propaganda tool, they’re good propagandists. Try as I might, I had a hard time escaping the story.

Try as I might, I also can’t resist pointing out that bloggers, including yours truly, were way ahead of the mainstream media on this story. Indeed, we were posting on it days before the propaganda blitz hit on Thursday. Because I’ve been getting a bunch of e-mails from readers asking me if I was aware of this story, I can only conclude that they haven’t been reading in the last four days or so. No criticism; even my family doesn’t necessarily read me every day. Don’t get me wrong, either. I appreciate tips, and often my readers are way ahead of me. It’s just this time I was way ahead of them for once (well, a couple of days ahead, anyway), which is why this is just a little tweak to suggest that, whenever something like this comes up, it’s not a bad idea to peruse my posts of the last few days to check if I’ve already blogged on it before sending me e-mails. To make it easy (and to provide a handy-dandy, ready-made resource for readers, journalists, or whomever, I’ve collated links to my posts on the subject and to those of other bloggers. Enjoy!

My posts:

  1. David Kirby and the government “concession that vaccines cause autism”: The incredible shrinking causation claim
  2. The new strategy of the antivaccination movement: Autism is a “misdiagnosis” for mitochondrial disease

Posts and articles by others:

  1. Has the Government Conceded Vaccines Cause Autism? by Steve Novella
  2. Autism payout reignites vaccine controversy (New Scientist article)
  3. Vaccines, Autism and the Concession
  4. This Whole Mito Thing (My Final Vent…Hopefully!)
  5. Something is beginning to smell…
  6. Recent Vaccine-Autism Award Not the First by Arthur Allen

I don’t have time to do a detailed article this weekend, but, depending on what I read and see over the weekend, I may do another post for Monday, even at the risk of being a bit repetitive. I realize that I said I was going to give it a rest for a while on antivaccinationists and autism. Little did I know that I said that before the single largest propaganda offensive by antivaccinationists that I’ve seen since I took an interest in this issue, proving once again that I can sometimes be the master of bad timing.

One other thing. A couple of antivaccinationists have infested the comments of this post. One of them is very upset at being lumped into the same category as antivaccinationists, vehemently denying that she is “antivaccine” and castigating me and others for supposedly claiming that the parents in these cases are antivaccine.


That’s a huge straw man argument. Nowhere have I called all or even most parents who think their children may have been injured by vaccines “antivaccine.” There are lots of parents out there who wonder that but reject the idea based on the evidence. There are others who are reachable with the evidence. Unfortunately, however, there clearly is also a vocal contingent of parents who are antivaccine, their protestations otherwise notwithstanding. I base my conclusion on my observation that they keep repeating the same pseudoscientific antivaccination canards of the sort that show up on antivaccinationist websites, despite repeated corrections and demonstrations that they are incorrect on both the science and reasoning. I also base it on my observation of how, no matter how strong the science comes down against them, they seem able to pivot instantly to another pseudoscientific idea, just as they pivoted from mercury in the thimerosal preservatives in vaccines to a cornucopia of other “toxins” in a big way beginning about a year ago. This is very much like creationism, in which, no matter how many times scientists slap down its pseudoscience, they either repeat the same canards or find new ones. Indeed, it’s a major aspect of any pseudoscience.

And this is what the leaders of the antivaccination movement do: people like J. B. Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, and the newest celebrity recruit to the antivaccinationist cause, Jenny McCarthy. They are encouraged and given a pseudoscientific veneer of respectability by antivaccinationist physicians and scientists who have joined the dark side of pseudoscience I wouldn’t call them antivaccinationist if I thought there were a prayer of ever convincing them with evidence that they are incorrect. Unfortunately, they’ve demonstrated time and time again that no amount of evidence would sway them. They’ve demonstrated time and time again that to them it really and truly is all about the vaccines. Everything else, including the mercury, the claims of mitochondrial disorders, and the rants against “toxins,” is all window dressing to cover up their implacable opposition to vaccines in general and especially the concept of mandatory vaccination. Worse, some of them have deep pockets and a fair amount of media savvy, which result in what we’ve seen over the last couple of days: the carpet-bombing of the mainstream media with a message, a “framing” if you will, of a story that the government has finally “admitted” that vaccines cause autism.

Sadly, there will definitely be more of this in the days to come.

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]

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading