Antivaccine nonsense Autism Entertainment/culture Medicine Music Quackery

Say it ain’t so, Jill! Jill Sobule agrees to perform at a fundraiser for Andrew Wakefield’s “medical research organization”? [UPDATED]

Orac note: Please be sure to read the addendum.

Say it ain’t so, Jill! Check out this e-mail notice from the latest Generation Rescue mailing list sent to me by a reader. It’s apparently legitimate, because I found a copy of it on the Generation Rescue website itself. Look at who’s being featured at a fundraiser for anti-vaccine guru, discredited and delicensed U.K. physician and “researcher” Andrew Wakefield:

A Private Evening with Dr. Andy Wakefield
To benefit Dr. Wakefield’s research:
“Strategic Autism Initiative”

WHEN: Sunday, July 25th
WHERE: Private house in Woodland Hills, California
Time: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Live Entertainment by Musician Jill Sobule and Comedian Mike Marino.

There will be a book signing by Dr. Wakefield of “Callous Disregard: autism and vaccines-the truth behind a tragedy.”

For more information or to RSVP for this event (by July 22nd), please contact: [email protected].

There is a requested $100 donation per person – all profits will be applied to SAI*.

Generation Rescue is looking for a wine donor for this event. If you know of a company that would be willing to donate to the event, please contact Emily Herman at Generation Rescue.

– – – – –
*The Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI) is a medical research organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of the worldwide autism pandemic. SAI represents national and international autism organizations as their research arm. It exists to design, commission, fund, and publish first-class science that leads to the prevention of autism and related disorders.

I have no idea who Mike Marino is, but I kind of liked Jill Sobule. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that she apparently buys at least somewhat into the anti-vaccine line. I suppose I can hope that it’s ignorance, but that would have to be some powerful ignorance not to know all about how Wakefield lost his U.K. medical license over his unethical behavior doing the “research” that, or so Wakefield claimed in the press, linked the MMR vaccine to autism and sparked a decade long scare over the MMR vaccine from which MMR uptake rates still haven’t recovered.

If you’re a fan of Jill Sobule, please consider sending her an e-mail or contacting her on Facebook (and I know some of my Facebook friends have also friended her) expressing your disappointment with her for associating herself with this sort of pseudoscience and trying to educate her. Ditto Mike Marino and his Facebook page.

If anyone gets a response, please leave it in the comments here.

ADDENDUM: I have an as yet unconfirmed report from a reader that he had e-mailed Jill Sobule already and gotten a response that she was planning on canceling. Assuming Sobule has indeed done so, then please be sure to send her an e-mail praising her decision. I’ll post a confirmation when I know for sure that she’s canceled her appearance. Unfortunately, this means I can’t chalk up a victory for the power of Orac in Sobule’s case, mainly because I received the e-mail from my reader informing that she’s canceling right after this post went live, meaning that my intrepid reader’s activities had borne fruit before this was posted. Well done!

Oh, well, at least there’s still Mike Marino needing a gentle education regarding what he’s gotten himself into.

ADDENDUM #2: Jill Sobule’s e-mail reply is included in the comments below. Surprise, surprise! The “friend” who asked her to do the benefit performance never told her that Andrew Wakefield was involved, which tells me the anti-vaccine zealots know how toxic his reputation has become. One wonders if Jill’s “friend” is Jenny McCarthy herself, one does. In any case, whoever the friend is, if I were a performer I’d consider it an extreme abuse of my friendship to ask me to do a benefit concert while willfully hiding from me who the true beneficiary of the proceeds of that concert is to be. That’s deceptive and not a nice thing to do to a friend at all!

In any case, in your e-mails, besides congratulating her for her knowledge of who Wakefield is and her unwillingness to support pseudoscience, you might also want to warn Jill that she can expect to have some rather nasty e-mails coming at her from the AoA crew; no doubt a hit piece is forthcoming, either against her or me. Sadly, Orac can’t take any credit for making Sobule aware of what she had agreed to. He wishes he could. He really does. But he can’t.

Unfortunately, there’s still Mike Marino.

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]

56 replies on “Say it ain’t so, Jill! Jill Sobule agrees to perform at a fundraiser for Andrew Wakefield’s “medical research organization”? [UPDATED]”

Here’s her response. Call off the dogs. The event was misrepresented to her. She deserves praise for pulling out.

“I am so glad you wrote. I had no idea that the benefit was for…that doctor! Horrors! Of course i know the controversy. A friend asked me if I would play at a benefit for Autism. I was free that night, so thought I should do a good thing. Never inquired more. What an idiot! Well, I will not be there! Please, tell your friends in the community. Best, Jill”

Kudos to Ms. Sobule; I had a distinct feeling that the event was misrepresented and Wakefield’s involvement kept mum. I suppose it doesn’t occur to the event organisers for Wakefield that if you have to lie, even by omission, that you might not be involved with a noble and justifiable cause.

Jill Sobule deserves a ton of credit for recognizing what she’d stumbled into and having the principle to get out of it. Thank you, Jill – going to check out your music now.

All these Wakefield benefits are essentially unemployment checks underwritten by GR, TACA and their ilk. That seems really desperate.

Ok, I emailed a thank-you note to Sobule and her manager, and a “please reconsider in light of these facts” to Marino and his personal-appearances manager.

Go thou and do the same.

I think I may go listen to her album now and if i like it I’ll buy it!

Jill deserves credit for withdrawing and even more for knowing about the controversy and Wakefield’s part in it! I have never heard of her but will spend some time on iTunes this evening finding out about her music.

Underdog Victorious is one of my very favorite albums. She’s a whip smart songwriter.

Oh my! I am horrified. Of course I had heard about the doctor – having always been a sceptic myself on the question of autism and vaccines. A good friend had asked if I would play a benefit “for autism”. I am always a sucker for non paying, good non-profit causes. As I have been so busy (on the road) ,I did not read up on the event, and just took it for granted -part laziness. I have learned a big lesson. Next time, it could be an benefit for stem cell research by the nice doctor played by Gregory Peck in Boys from Brazil.

cheers, jill

Wow, we are graced by a visit from Jill herself!!! We should be honored (apparently – no offense, Jill, but I am not familiar with the modern music scene).

Nonetheless, it is a great development. I think the one thing that pops into my head is, what of this “good friend”? Will this turn of events have any impact on the relationship? If I were someone in this position, I would be concerned about how such a snafu could occur, and wherefore had come the deception?


thank you very much for considering an autism benefit. We really need people like you.

Unfortunately, Generation Rescue and groups like them are not really autism organizations. They are anti-vaccine groups. They may claim that Wakefield is a hero to us in the autism community but believe me, he isn’t.

My guess is that you have a few angry emails coming your way. Please, keep in mind that we in the autism community appreciate your offer of support, and even more we appreciate your action to pull out of this event.

“no offense, Jill, but I am not familiar with the modern music scene”

I would be really surprised if most people here don’t recall the 1995 hit by Jill “I kissed a girl”!

Way to go, Jill, btw for recognizing the need to withdraw your support of this event!

Good to know people are taking exception to Wakefield’s behavior. He has done things which no rational, ethical medical doctor should ever even consider doing, and he should be made to pay for it.

“The Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI) is a medical research organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of the worldwide autism pandemic.”

Woah woah woah.. WAIT! I thought they had evidence that it was definitely vaccines? Isn’t that his entire spiel?

Kudos to Jill (whom I’ve never heard of until now). Oh, and let’s not be too quick to jump on her friend — he/she may also not have been informed of AoA’s true nature.

Pandemic? Really? There is a higher-than-expected number of cases of autism in two or more WHO regions of the world? Whaaaa?

I’d try to correct them on their misuse of the word pandemic, but Dr. Henry Miller from the Hoover Institution told me I’m not a doctor, and so, have no authority on such matters… I’m just a lowly epidemiologist.

This whole thing is getting pretty pervy. In case anyone has forgotten, this man is a child abuser who lured parents into handing over their autistic children, then had tubes and needles struck into their bowels, throats and spines, had them run through scanners, had them drink radioactive drinks, and for what? So he could make a big pile of dough out of some crackpot theory, that went nowhere.

And all that’s even before he got to faking his research, defrauding a public body of money, and lying to an IRB and to doctors trying to find out what he was up to.

Should we be surprised that he has lost his license to practise medicine, been fired from his job in Austin, had three bogus scientific papers retracted, was dumped from the editorial board of a fake journal he made up himself, and is now a freelance charlatan trying to set up yet another scam by which he can live a life of luxury on the backs of the vulnerable?

Very concise representation of Wakefield’s crankery. You left out his competing vaccine and conflict of interest it represented. Oh, and the lawyer funding. But not bad for three paragraphs to cover 12 years of debauchery.

All these Wakefield benefits are essentially unemployment checks underwritten by GR, TACA and their ilk. That seems really desperate.

I agree and used that in my email to Mike Marino’s personal appearance manager. Especially in light of the fact that Strategic Autism Initiative looks like an office suite situated amongst fast food restaurants and strip malls.

I think we can be pretty confident that the “friend” was not secular humanist Julia Sweeney. She and Ms. Sobule did a song/skit together at the Atheist Alliance International convention in Long Beach a few years ago, to great acclaim.

Wouldn’t be surprised if she had alerted her friend Jill re Wakefield herself. Sharp cookie, that Julia.

Sharp cookie, is Jill as well.

Brava! Well done for retracting without embarrassment when you realised you’d been tricked into the benefit.

It’s sad how these people misrepresent themselves as legitimate research and care-support organisations to con the well-meaning.

This just reminded me of her music. I grew up in Colorado, and remember her music from high school.

Looks like I will be taking a trip to itunes this evening.

Good music. And apparently, a class act.

Check the top video on Ms Sobule’s YouTube – great. How would you pronounce the surname? Sobull or Sobulee or what? Got to pass the link to friends.

Science Mom,

The Strategic Autism Initiative’s address is a Pak and Mail shop. I.e. it is basically a PO Box.

Oh geez, even better. Thanks Sullivan. Kind of hard to perform ‘world class research’ from a ‘Pak and Mail’. Oh my hell, I’m laughing.

For those who wish to support Jill Sobule, she’s got tunes on iTunes as well as the web. I just bought a song in support of her stance.


Hmm, I wonder when they are going to correct that event listing to properly reflect the entertainment for the evening? I almost expect to see a post on AoA about how we are harrassing people.

Hmm, I wonder when they are going to correct that event listing to properly reflect the entertainment for the evening? I almost expect to see a post on AoA about how we are harrassing people.

Well if they did that then people would know that, at the very least, Ms. Sobule won’t be performing and down goes the ticket price and sales. Maybe Wakers can perform some venipuncture, that crowd seems to dig on that sort of thing.

Journal checker @ 31: I’ve always heard Jill’s name pronounced as So-bool.

When I first read the story I was thinking “great another uninformed celebrity thinking they know science is wrong”, then you added an addendum. It please me to know that there are people outside the world of science that see Wakefield as a crackpot as well.

Thank you Jill Sobule.

Hmm, anyone else remember Objective Productions? The same thing happened. A studio was booked under false pretences. Rebecca Fisher sent them a heads up and they cancelled. Kudos to Jill Sobule, but it’s very interesting that they now have to lie to get people to support Fakefield.

I note that GenRescue hasn’t yet updated their events page to show that Jill has withdrawn from the event. I realize it’s only been a day, but it will be interesting to see if GR is sleazy enough to keep her on the celebrity appearance list in order to attract more donors…

One question? Who the F*ck cares? Seriously, get a life people. Don’t you have anything better to do?

Yeah something better like trolling blogs about topics we don’t care about.

Wait what?

“Who the F*ck cares?”

This is self evident from the context and content of the e-mail notice that is being discussed.

The arguementative fallacies contained in the rest of your post will not be dealt with as they are of equivilant poor quality.

Kindly add to the discussion or piss off.

Yay! Jill Sobule has the GOOD I Kissed a Girl song.
Or at least the one I like.

I believe her last name is pronounced “So-byul”. “So” as in the word so, and “byul” like Yul Brenner with a “b” in front of it.

Of course, you could just tell your friends it’s spelled “Sobule”, but it’s pronounced “awesome chick”. Because that would work just as well.

Jill Sobule deserves respect for her prompt and dignified withdrawal from this event.

On her Facebook page she lists Ariana Huffington as one of her ‘likes’. The friend?

Jill Sobule is still up as live entertainment on the Generation Rescue page. When will GR get the message?

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