Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

The Bad Astronomer apparently gets a more famous class of crank in his comments

I’m soooo envious.

Why and of whom am I envious? I’ll tell you. Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, attracts a more famous class of antivaccine loon. He’s managed to attract Dr. Joe Mercola himself in the comments of a post about anti-vaccine zealots:

If you TRULY are interested in finding out the truth about this topic you are encouraged to attend the Fourth International Public Conference on Vaccines in Washington DC in October.

The top experts in the world on this topic will be presenting and you can really understand the science rather than criticize individuals out of your ignorance.

No thanks, Dr. Joe. I have better things to do with my time and money. I will, however, refer you to my analysis of your impending little quackfest. Really, I’m surprised the NVIC didn’t invite John Scudamore. I’ll also refer Dr. Mercola here for some of the science about vaccines and here for a combination of snark and science.

I also invite my readers to have a little fun with Dr. Mercola by visiting Phil’s blog if you are so inclined.

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]

11 replies on “The Bad Astronomer apparently gets a more famous class of crank in his comments”

That’s John (not James) “whaleto” Scudamore.

Anyway, I really think that this “conference” could do some real good. That is, it will if it persuades the “biomedical remediation for vaccine damage” set to adopt homeopathy for that.

I’ve missed reading BA for a few days. Guess I need to go see what is going on with Phil. Thanks for the head’s up, Orac. And I hope your arm is better (do boxes of blinking plexiglass HAVE arms?)

Or… someone who can type “Dr. Mercola” in the little “Name:” box and his URL in the little “URL:” box posted there.

Sorry, but skepticism FAIL.

And you debunked Orac, the WHO, PubMed, and the CDC how, Dr. Mercola?

Did you not get the point, PW? I am not really Dr. Mercola, but anyone can claim to be on the Internet.

The top experts in the world on this topic will be presenting

The Blind Watchmaker noted this as well.

I’d really like to hear a justification of what makes these people “experts.” At one point, I could have bought Wakefield, but given his resistence to critical reevaluation, he’s lost credibility. Is he suggesting all those homeopathy loons are experts in vaccine science? That Fisher dingbat?

Being visible propagandists does not make them experts. Expertise is obtained through study.

Continuing on my expertise theme, here, for example, are some of the members of the CDC’s Advisery Committee on Immunization Practices (you know, the ones who set up vaccine schedules and all that). Compare these to the “experts” who are presenting at the NVIC. I’ll leave it up to the reader to do the PubMed searches…

BAKER, Carol, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Molecular Virology and Microbiology
Baylor College of Medicine

CHILTON, Lance, M.D.
General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Young Children’s Health Center
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of New Mexico School of Medicine

ENGLUND, Janet, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington
Clinical Associate, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Division of Inf. Disease, Immunology and Rheumatology
Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center

Professor of Pediatrics
Tufts Medical Center

SAWYER, Mark H., M.D.
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease
UCSD School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego
Medical Director, San Diego Immunization Partnership


BOCCHINI, Joseph A., Jr., M.D.
LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport
Children’s Hospital of LSU
(Chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases)

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Birmingham, Alabama

GROGG, Stanley, E., D.O.
Professor of Pediatrics Oklahoma State University
Medical Director of Clinical Research
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases)
Canadian Center for Vaccinology
IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University Infectious Diseases
Halifax, NS Canada

ELWARD, Alexis Marie
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Washington School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri

Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Pedaitric Infectious Diseases
UMDNJ-/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School New
Brunswick, New Jersey

MIDDLEMAN, Amy B., M.D., M.P.H., M.S.Ed.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology and Immunology
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

@ Pablo: “I’d really like to hear a justification of what makes these people ‘experts.’ ”

The qualifications for being an “expert” are: (1) being from out of town; (2) wearing a suit or other clothing that typifies being a “professional” of the relevant profession (e.g., wearing a stethoscope and wearing scrubs); (3) carrying a briefcase, Blackberry or similar symbol of authority; & (4) getting someone to pay you for giving a speech that includes frequent use of words that at least half of the audience does not understand.

If you want to have fun (and understand how completely off the mark this “conference” is), read the US Federal Court of Claims decision by Judge Weise affirming Special Master Patricia C. Smith’s decision in Hazlehurst v. HHS,

You may also want to review the quick, but excellent summary of it at

Obviously Kathleen isn’t an expert, since she uses words people can understand.

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