Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine

Expelled!, anti-vaccine style, 2011 edition

It’s happened again.

Remember how I’ve said time and time again that the anti-vaccine movement is very much like a religion, a cult even? One of the key attributes of religion is an intolerance for heretics, apostates, and unbelievers. The usual approach to unbelievers is either to try to convert them and then, failing that, to shun them (fortunately in most civilized countries Inquisition-like reactions are no longer common) or to skip the attempt to convert them and jump straight to the shunning. More evidence of just how true that is was presented on a silver platter to me at the anti-vaccine quackfest Autism One that will be wrapping up today in Lombard, IL.

Yesterday afternoon, Autism One “expelled” Ken Reibel and Jamie Bernstein, the latter of whom I got to hang out with last August when I was invited to give a Skeptics in the Pub-style talk to the Chicago Skeptics and Women Thinking Free Foundation. As vice president of the WTFF, Jamie’s also involved in producing the Hug Me! I’m Vaccinated! website and a key player in skeptical activism against the anti-vaccine “protest” Autism One sponsored in Grant Park last year. In fact, she even managed to get her picture taken with Andy Wakefield himself:


She also managed to slip him this note:

Dear Andrew Wakefield,

I know that you truly believe that what you are doing is helping people and that the ends justify the means, but I just want you to know that the things you are doing — the actions you have taken in the past have hurt people — killed people. Your work has scared and manipulated parents into not vaccinating their children, putting them and their entire community at risk, all in the name of safety. Children have died because of you. I just want to make sure that you fully understand that.


Jamie live Tweeted the whole sordid affair as it was happening:

It apparently takes 3 security guards and 4 police officers to kick me out. Did I mention I did nothing wrong? #antivaxcon

The reason? Well, there was none, other than that apparently Ken Reibel, who has been “expelled” from the Autism One quackfest before was recognized:


As I’ve said time and time again. Despite the claims of the anti-vaccine movement and the sponsors of Autism One (which, as you recall, include Generation Rescue) this is not the behavior of an intellectually honest and open movement that wants to persuade based on science and reason. It is the behavior of a group that has something to hide, that prefers shunning and expelling those who aren’t afraid to criticize it to open engagement and attempts to persuade based on the evidence. It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can’t stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views.

It should also be noted that, as Sullivan has reported, Jamie and Ken weren’t doing anything. Indeed, after past instances of reporters (like Trine Tsouderos) and skeptics having been expelled from Autism One, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t being very, very careful to do nothing that could even remotely be considered disruptive or against the policy of the conference. The only reason they were kicked out is because one of them was recognized as someone who had been critical of Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy, Autism One, and Age of Autism. No doubt

The bottom line is that the anti-vaccine movement is like two things. First, it’s very much like a religious cult. Infidels and unbelievers, if they can’t be converted, are to be shunned, using force if necessary. Make no mistake about it, bringing in three security guards and four police officers to handle two people who showed no signs of doing anything against conference guidelines. Moreover, attempts by others to get the Lombard police to cough up the police report have been met with silence. Alternatively (or also), they are just paranoid, like Richard Nixon making up his “enemies” list. If you’re on the list (and, quite frankly, it appears not to take much to get on the anti-vaccine enemies list), you’re fair game. Either way, this sort of behavior is not indicative of a vibrant, free movement, but rather of an increasingly paranoid–dare I even say authoritarian–movement. Indeed, Reporter X caught the increasingly paranoid vibe of the conference well. As Ken Reibel described:

The conference organizer was at a loss to explain to the police why I was being asked to leave. I made sure to ask the officers to get a statement from her for the police report. If she is honest, she will say “We asked those two to leave because they write critical things about us.” If she says we were breaking conference rules, then she will be lying to the police.

No doubt the conference organizers will find a plausible lie to tell the police. In the meantime, let’s see if the police actually release the incident report about Ken’s and Jamie’s expulsion for, well, being Ken and Jamie.

Whatever happens with the police report, though, above all, the behavior of the conference organizers is indicative of fear, fear of being seen doing what they do, saying what they say, and selling what they sell. Scientific meetings are not like this. Skeptical meetings are not like this either; indeed, at last year’s TAM, a moon hoax believer managed to get to the front of the line to challenge Adam Savage about the Mythbusters episode on moon hoaxers. He was not expelled; in fact, Savage respectfully answered him and he was later seen at various other events at TAM. At the Lorne Trottier Symposium last year, a believer in Royal Rife quackery asked about it. The panel only started to ask him to leave after the man wore out his welcome by dominating and monopolizing the question and answer session to the point where people waiting in line behind him were denied an opportunity to ask their questions due to time constraints. In other words, he got his say and was not asked to leave until he had reached the point of showing an extreme lack of consideration for his fellow audience members waiting to ask questions of the panel.

Given this behavior, all I can ask is: What is Autism One afraid of, that two people who were not the least bit frightening resulted in the nuclear response of bringing in seven armed officers to escort them out of the conference?

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]

50 replies on “Expelled!, anti-vaccine style, 2011 edition”

Clearly they were disturbing the Feng Shui of the echo chamber. Plus, their opposition to McCarthy et al was simply diluted to 30c, and thus was potent is a homeopathic sense. Clearly they had to go.

Scientific meetings are not like this. Skeptical meetings are not like this either;

That’s my impression as an astronomer. While it does cost more to attend a scientific conference if you are not a dues-playing member*, I can’t imagine someone being removed from the meeting merely for being critical of all or part of modern astronomy. Heck, even starting a debate in the Q&A of a given presenter would probably only get the ‘you two should take it off-line’ from the session chair and a signal that the volunteer with the mic should move on, mostly because there’s never enough time for questions at a conference.

I guess we figure if you’re not giving anyone a hard time, you might learn something by hanging around, and your admission helped pay for the facilities.

* Though most of the conferences I’ve been to usually have someone give a free public lecture pitched to a general audience.

Do you think that they’ll use the free live streaming video as evidence that they had nothing to hide? The whole wide world could sit in their recliners and watch for free from home. You couldn’t see audience size and reaction, though.

Any figures on how many actually attended?

Ah, but the live stream doesn’t allow access to the exhibit hall and all the vendors, does it? Also, if you’re on the video stream you can’t possibly interrupt and ask—shall we say?—inconvenient questions. You also can’t see what people are saying or find out what the attendees think.

Atheist meetings aren’t like that either. It’s not uncommon for religious proselytizers with pamphlets to come to conventions of secular humanists. They’re not thrown out or accused of trying to destroy the harmony of the event. On the contrary, they’re usually quickly swamped by happy freethinkers eager to ask them questions and tear apart their answers on a point by point basis. The pamphlets are sought as souvenirs (especially nice if later autographed by one of the speakers.) None of that “let’s just agree to disagree” rot: trot out your arguments and let’s debate.

The Autism One convention sounds like it works on the assumption that the people there need to be “protected” from dissent — sort of like a therapy group dealing with bullies. People should be left alone and allowed their viewpoint to remain unchallenged. They can’t fight a fair fight, so they fall into victim mode.

Remember how I’ve said time and time again that the anti-vaccine movement is very much like a religion, a cult even?

Sort of like this blog?


“Sort of like this blog?”

You ought to try reading some of the comments. Trolls are not expelled from here.

The Analyst #8 wrote:

Sort of like this blog?


And if you look at Orac’s specific complaint, you’d realize that Respectful Insolence would resemble the cult-like Autism One event if YOU were summarily escorted-from-the-premises with a ban just for lurking. Which didn’t happen, did it? You’ve even been asked questions, and have asked them yourself. So don’t be silly.

I was just thinking the other day, when Seth Mnookin had to post an item about how he lets everyone have the floor, that if you stand on data and facts, you don’t have to fear infiltrators or challengers.

It’s such a secure place.

On the other hand if you build your foundation on myths, fiction, and conspiracy theory, you are on quicksand. The other problem with people who use myths is that they aren’t reliable allies. If they are gullible, and willing to fudge, there’s no way you’d want to be in a coalition to do anything with them. They aren’t trustworthy.

Speaking of untrustworthy allies, I can’t wait until we see more from the Canary Party….And the Oracian Insolence it deserves.

“don’t be silly.” That’s the perfect answer to a lot of trollish comments.

Thanks for the link to The Babbler.

I know Jamie, and I highly doubt that she did anything to warrant her removal. This is a major mistake on AutismOne’s part.

See also

I commented:

I hope that a copy of the police report will be obtained. And that they’ll be in trouble if they were not acting legally.

Unless the conference organizers were paying the police, I hope they’ll be charged with wasting police time.

I hope that all of Jamie’s out of pocket expenses were refunded, and that she was adequately compensated for her wasted time and the humiliating and intimidatory way in which she was ejected (without first asking her nicely); and that if she wasn’t, she’ll sue

Mr. English, if you read her tweets you will see it was a 45 minute drive for her. She is also being asked to post her experience on three blogs. I doubt she will sue anyone.

This is hardly surprising.

Anti-vax blogs like AoA delete contrary posts. Autism One removes people with contrary opinions, even if they do not speak. Their ant-vax beliefs survive by blockig out contrary evidence in their minds, after all. This is just part of life in denial.

Marc wrote:

Clearly they were disturbing the Feng Shui of the echo chamber.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I don’t dispute for a moment that these Autism groups are cultish and intolerant. But….if someone slipped me a note that said “you kill people”, I think I might wonder if it was some kind of veiled threat.

What was the point of slipping Wakefield a note? It seems pointless and I can see that he might react to it. To be clear, I have no time for this creep and have followed the saga of his descent into this cult, but I can see that getting that not might alarm anyone.

I expect to be attacked for saying this–an apostate, perhaps, but not a “concern troll” as someone once called me here for not singing with the choir. I love the choir and sing with it 99% of the time, but I think this is an overreaction to a peculiar action on the part of Ms. Bernstein.

Irrelevant to this year.

Note that Jamie slipped Wakefield the note a year ago, not this year. Also note that no one recognized her. They recognized the person she attended with, Ken Reibel, and kicked her out because she was with him. No one came up to her and said she were kicking her out because a year ago she gave Wakefield a note pointing out that his activities have resulted in lower vaccination rates and the suffering of children. Rather, they couldn’t give a reason; they simply kicked her out because she was with someone who was a critic of Autism One, Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, and the anti-vaccine movement.

So, yes, on this issue I do believe that you’re concern trolling—and not doing a particularly good job of it, either.

“they fall into victim mode.”
Sastra | May 29, 2011 12:37 PM

Of course. That’s exactly what the whole anti-vax stance is about. How other people/corporations are ‘bullying’ them into being vaccinated. Obviously (to sensible people) this makes no more sense than me saying that my mum ‘bullied’ me into wearing winter coats to avoid catching a chill… but then making sense isn’t really their thing either.

Then just today I see this in the local paper. More evidence that the large, far-reaching Autism Society of America is funneling parents into the anti-vaccine/biomed movement:

Could do with a blogger taking a look at “Hope for the Autism Spectrum: A Mother and Son Journey of Insight and Biomedical Intervention” by Sally Kirk. It gets a lot of attention in this part of the country and influences quite a few autism parents. Sally Kirk is the east coast Jenny McCarthy, albeit with a thinner resume.

I apologize for misunderstanding when the note was passed and appreciate you pointing that out, but I have looked up “concern troll” and I think that is a completely unfair characterization. Obviously if I got the note timing wrong, then the rest is kinda moot. I am happy to take it back. I was at that Chicago Skeptics Meeting as wel,l and it feels really weird to have you calling me these names. I think “concern troll” (however it is defined here I do not really know) is name-calling when I made every effort to say I was not defending Wakefield or his cult of followers in any way. I am guilty of reading through the article too quickly, that is all.

Dissenting opinion is prohibited only by those with something to hide, or who have a weak case and know it.

Cult, yes. Overkill in their repsonse to Ken and Jamie, yes.
I agree with all your points Orac. But.. I cant help wonder if Ken and Jamie were not more than a little bit relieved to be escorted out, thereby relieving them from any more exposure to such bollocks.
(also note Jenny made no reference to vaccines during her keynote address)

Oh man! I missed quackfest again!

In all seriousness, I live in the area- a LOT of parents attending do not understand what the conference is pedaling. They are confused, their kids have often just received a diagnosis. it’s really just sad. Their kids are at risk because we allow nonsense, dangerous nonsense, to spread unchallenged.


OK, I see your point, and perhaps I went too far. On the other hand, you were the one who brought up the issue of concern trolling. In any event, it surprised me to see the sort of stuff I get from real concern trolls coming from you, whether intentional or not, and perhaps I overreacted. Mea culpa.

Both the cult-like avoidance of unpleasant realities by the antivaxxers and alt med’s focus upon the “ubiquity” of iatrogenic death reveal how psychological insulation is created. Like the religionist’s attention to the after-life, facing the inevitabilities of time, incapacity, and ultimately, death, are forestalled, at least for a while.

Pushing salient issues to the back-burner often results in their coming roaring back at you, since they aren’t ever really going away. Blaming vaccines doesn’t get the (ASD) child’s education/ training advanced one iota and crowing about how doctors “kill” hundreds of thousands yearly will give neither you nor people you care about one additional heartbeat. Many of the pseudo-scientists I survey create protocols for avoidance as well as ways by which to waste time, money, and personal effort. They aren’t task-oriented, they don’t fix anything. They merely sow the seeds for later regrets.

A religious friend once asked how I could “live” as an athiest. I said that I don’t have much of a choice now, now do I? She said, with grudging admiration, that I must be very strong- which I doubt. However, I do venture that it keeps me focused on fixing what I can *now*, doing my best, and trying to catch fleeting glimpses of reality by understanding what causes what.


Saying “I agree with you, but…” is the hallmark of concern trolling. I’m not saying YOU were concern trolling – you had a valid question. I just wanted to clear up that one point that you raised in your last comment.

Whatever happens with the police report, though, above all, the behavior of the conference organizers is indicative of fear, fear of being seen doing what they do, saying what they say, and selling what they sell.

I don’t think it’s that, but an Us vs Them mentality. They are the Enemy, and We don’t let the Enemy on Our home-ground.

The conference organizer was at a loss to explain to the police why I was being asked to leave.

Playing devil’s advocate: did the sign-up form for attending the event have any clause resembling “people who don’t believe in the vaccine causation theory of autism aren’t allowed”? If so, then the event organizers were within their rights to throw out Ken Reibel and Jamie Bernstein. Heck, maybe the sign-up form even said “we reserve the right to throw out anyone for any reason”.

It appears to me that this crank crowd of anti-vaxers are beginning to circle the wagons…really a good sign. They can no longer handle any media attention. Only a small select, thoroughly vetted group of reporters will be allowed into the meetings. They also have a crowd paranoia as evidenced by the hiring of “mall cops” and enlisting the local police to boot out any infidels.

Of Course, the “threat” posed by two reporters, is all in their deranged group-think minds…and nothing compared to the actual threats made by them and their ilk toward Dr.Paul Offit.

Spot on Orac, they are involving into a cult…with all the aspects of cultish behavior including shunning if one leaves the enclave, suspicion of “strangers” and bunker mentality.

Another possible reason for kicking them out besides “something to hide”: the conference organizers are trying to cater to the expectations of the attendees, and the attendees expect it to be a “safe place” without any doubters or naysayers present. If they didn’t kick out the doubters then future attendance might drop because it would no longer be seen as a safe place.

This is not an “agree to disagree” issue, and this isn’t even a “let them darwinize themselves and their kids” issue. Antivaxers and the militantly unvaxed reduce herd immunity and thus are a public health threat to the entire society. The way to deal with them is to shut them down: for example go into psychological warfare mode and help make their cult implode.

Consider something like this: the Annoy-A-Tron.

Conceal a few of these around their conference, and the random beeping noises will cause much distraction, annoyance, and waste of time hunting for them. When these things are discovered, the cultists will think they’re electronic bugging devices or mind-control devices. That story will propagate like a viral meme through the cult and make its true believers seem all the more whackadoodle.

The effect could be enhanced somewhat by having someone show up dressed like an undercover agent, with an earphone in one ear only, dark sun glasses on, and talking into their wristwatch which should have a wire running up their sleeve. Just show up briefly, be seen by a bunch of people, and leave. This will add yet another layer to the conspiracy theory memes and help them spread even faster.

Pick up some LaRouche propaganda from your local LaRouchies and leave it on a couple of seats at the antivax conferences. This will either a) get some of them interested in LaRouche, thereby cross-pollinating between two nut trees, or b) cause those who are aware of LaRouche and creeped out by him, to feel highly uncomfortable with “LaRouchies showing up at our conference.”

You could also have someone go in undercover and recruit for the local LaRouchie organization. Do it overtly for example by “asking questions” that link vaccination to the various conspiracies the LaRouchies are always blabbering about. Alternately you can go in there spreading 9/11 truther stuff, or “we never landed on the Moon” stuff, or any other conspiracy theory you choose. Just be sure to read up on the one you’re going to spread, so you can do an expert job with it, and come off as a True Believer in both that stuff and the anti-vax stuff.

In general: degrade the anti-vaxers’ signal to noise ratio and increase their level of positively-reinforcing feedback for paranoia. With enough of this, their cult can be helped along the fast track to implosion.

In contrast, I heard Brian Deer speak to the faculty at Johns Hopkins University last month. When one of the ant-vaxxers stood up and read a rambling speech which had nothing to do with the presentation, Mr Deer listened to her for a lot longer than any of us wanted.

This was despite the anti-vaxxers demands that Mr Deer be prevented from speaking at all. Both Jon and Terry Polling telephoned the university to complain (I hear they were very concerned that he might mention their case at vaccine court, and demanded that he not be allowed to). And Katie Wright wrote the most disgusting, nasty letter of complaint that Johns Hopkins should even allow Mr Deer to speak.

What these people are scared about is that the slightest intrusion of light can shatter the carefully stage-managed image they are creating. A tricky question here, a new fact there, and they fear people will see through them. As with Wakefield: once you catch him on something, you realize that the whole thing is a concoction.


Using psychological warfare like that against anti-vaxxers would be immoral.


What these people are scared about is that the slightest intrusion of light can shatter the carefully stage-managed image they are creating.

Trying to dissuade private organizations from giving a platform to spread ideas which you think are wrong isn’t an indication you have no faith in your own ideas. I mean, we pro-vaxxers successfully dissuaded a movie theater chain from showing anti-vax announcements.


Consider something like this: the Annoy-A-Tron.

That’s so wrong. Yet so tempting. Seems unnecessary though, they seem to be imploding of their own paranoia.

But I’m the sort of person who wants to wear black FEMA t-shirts to Tea Party rallies, and carry a clipboard to take notes….

@ Tina: You’ll notice that Orac welcomes commenters who “disagree” with him ( to put it mildly): rarely do they “cramp our style”. Indeed, couldn’t the history of science itself be described as a series of controversies and arguments, many quite vorciferous? I’m sure that my “Old School” attitude can be directly attributed to reading too much William James during the late 1970’s.

g724: What you are suggesting would be exactly the opposite of what you claim. You would not degrade the signal-to-noise ratio; you would increase it.

If someone claims that black helicopters are hovering over his house, sending black helicopters to hover over his house just proves him right. If someone believes mysterious strangers are trying to use mind-control devices on him, putting unidentified disruptive devices at his meetings proves him right. If someone believes he will be persecuted for his antivax beliefs, sending apparent undercover agents to spy and report on him proves him right. It may be ever so funny to see antivaxxers running around thinking that your psy-ops are the work of the One World Government, but the fact remains that they would be absolutely right to believe that they were the subjects of psy-ops by enemies.

What these people are scared about is that the slightest intrusion of light can shatter the carefully stage-managed image they are creating. A tricky question here, a new fact there, and they fear people will see through them. As with Wakefield: once you catch him on something, you realize that the whole thing is a concoction.

Tina is correct here. One only has to look at the conformity experiments conducted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. Asch asked his subjects to judge the relative lengths of lines in each other’s presence. All but one subject was instructed, prior to the task, to say that the shorter line was really the longer one. Most of the uninstructed subjects went along with that (false) judgment. In the next phase, all but two of the subjects were instructed to misjudge and one was instructed to judge it correctly. This time, the uninstructed subjects all judged correctly.

Just one dissenter can dissolve a false consensus, and two will almost certainly do so. Harvey Milk knew what he was talking about when he famously said “come out, come out, wherever you are!”; the increased social acceptance of gay men and lesbians (the trans and bi communities still have a ways to go) is largely due to the practical application of the Asch effect.

Re. Matthew and Mary: “(using Annoy-A-Trons and other psyop techniques on antivaxers)…is immoral….”

More or less immoral than spreading lies that in turn spread measles and whooping cough?

More or less immoral than using a radio scanner to eavesdrop on the wireless system used by a fraudulent faith healer, thereby exposing that he was getting coached from behind the scenes?

“Oh but that’s different!” No it’s not, it’s electronic snooping!

Re. signal to noise ratio: Rumors spread at the speed of electrons, explanations follow at a snail’s pace. From inside the person’s mind, X is true and they might even have evidence. From the perspective of someone who hears it third-hand, the person is off their rocker.

Politics is war by nonviolent means.

I believe any group / organization that ejects participants based on their viewpoint is egregious. It happens too often and diminishes us all. The recent ejection of a retired CIA office in the presence of Hillary Clinton was also distasteful and insulting to free speech.

I would ask however that we refrain from name calling and castigating those of us who firmly believe that the vaccine industry is not looking out for anyone but themselves. Call me what ever you choose, but the thousands of heartbroken parents whose children’s life long quality of life was stolen forever is an issue.

No amount of name calling, or ‘conpiracy-thorists’ tags will change that. Please, go ahead, and innoculate your kids to your hearts content. For those of us who have been affected (sometimes tragically) from what we feel are misinformed medical professionals, then allow us to pursue our truth and our need to protect our kids.

Neither ‘side’ on this issue has the right to categorize the other as ‘cults’, ‘whackos’, or other such inflamatory names to further their argument.

Sincerely and respectfully,

John D.

(Not affiliated with any group / organization)

@43 John Dobbs

For those of us who have been affected (sometimes tragically) from what we feel are misinformed medical professionals, then allow us to pursue our truth and our need to protect our kids.

“we feel” and “our truth” are where you go wrong here. You don’t get to have your own truth and your feelings aren’t a reliable guide. These ideas have been shown repeatedly to be wrong, the vaccines aren’t to blame.

Neither ‘side’ on this issue has the right to categorize the other as ‘cults’, ‘whackos’, or other such inflamatory names to further their argument.

Anti-vaxers aren’t being called “cults” or “whackos” or “other such inflamatory names” to further an argument. They’re being called this because that is how they are behaving. They’re clinging to wrong ideas in the face of evidence, shunning those who dare to point this out and are creating insular groups based on proven nonsense. What would you call such a group?

John Dobbs–

The problem isn’t that you want to keep your kids safe. The problem is that the methods you have chosen are not only useless but counter-productive.

Diseases are a lot more dangerous than the vaccines that protect against them. Trying to stop people from vaccinating can cause injury or even death. If you are refusing to vaccinate your children against serious disease, you are risking their health and even lives. I know you don’t want to do that: you want them to be healthy and safe. Unfortunately, one of the methods you have chosen is counter-productive. (I am guessing that you are also doing other things for your children’s health, like making sure they get a balanced diet, enough sleep, and a chance to run around outside. All of those are in fact helpful.)

You are also risking the health and lives of other people, who aren’t getting a choice in the matter. If an adult with high blood pressure says s/he will not take the drugs that can be used for that, and will not change her/his diet, the greater risk is not infectious: I am not at greater risk of a stroke because of the blood pressure of the person next to me on the train. What they’re doing may be unwise, but it’s not antisocial. So they get to do that. That doesn’t give them the right to risk giving a three-month-old infant measles or whooping cough.

At what point do you look at someone and say, “yes, we understand that your intentions are good, but you are working against your stated goals”? When they are merely wasting time? When they are actually harming the thing they are trying to support? Never?

What these people are scared about is that the slightest intrusion of light can shatter the carefully stage-managed image they are creating.

What’s sad is that for so many desperate parents drawn in by anti-vax propaganda, the opposition to contrary evidence is just a defense mechanism to allow them to cling a bit longer to a comforting lie.

These parents (most of them, anyway) don’t have a selfish agenda; they’ve merely been led to believe that there’s a “bad guy” (Big Pharma) to blame and hope of a cure (quackery) on the horizon. And they don’t want that false hope taken away. That there is no “cure” and no one to blame for their children’s disorder is too cold and harsh a reality for them to face.

Unfortunately for their children, parents’ refusal to accept reality may be a barrier to progress. Autistic children often need specialized assistance and therapy that they may not be getting when time and resources are being squandered on quackery.

Congratulations, g724, you’ve become an example of a rare phenomenon: the pro-vax troll. You’ve convinced yourself that malicious actions that do not benefit a single person in the entire world are in fact awesome things to do because they’re being done to ‘the bad people’, as if this was not the same theory on which antivax fanatics justify making death threats and Photoshopping people into cannibal feasts.

The Amazing Randi proved that Peter Popoff was using fraudulent magician’s tricks to create the illusion that he was a faith healer. You know what it would prove if Randi had instead planted Annoy-o-trons to disrupt Popoff’s faith healing service? Absolutely nothing – no more than it would prove something if antivaxxers interrupted a lecture on vaccines that way.

Every time you show up, you throw around this inflated rhetoric about how we have to be ready to stoop to anything, cause it’s a war, blah blah blah. I have to wonder what it means that you keep urging us to abandon the weapon we have that they cannot match – that of having facts and science on our side – and to make it instead a fight dominated by the enemy’s preferred weapon of brainless intimidation and disruption.

Sound bite from Orac #6:

… and all the vendors.

Ah, I think we may have stumbled across the actual reason for the Autism One conference and why Jamie & Ken had to be removed.

Well, I can’s say I am for or against the vaccines. I am definitely against the increased number of kids born with autism, but I doubt that is something anyone can change. We may be the highest developed creatures on this planet, but we are part of the nature – crap happens and some kids are born with autism, other kids have other diseases – that’s how nature works. I still believe no one should be expelled from any organization for saying what they believe in, unless it is something extremely and obviously cruel, of course. Being about to become a mother soon, I am also terrified that my kid can have autism, but that does not mean I will skip the vaccines.

I am definitely against the increased number of kids born with autism, but I doubt that is something anyone can change.

There is no evidence of any actually increased number of kids born with autism. The evidence indicates that the increase in kids DIAGNOSED with autism is largely due to broadening the diagnostic criteria, improved awareness, substituting an autism diagnosis for what would previously have been labelled just as “mental retardation,” and similar effects.

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