One of the most frequent talking points used by the antivaccine movement is that its members are “not anti-vaccine,” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” or “vaccine safety activists.” I first encountered that talking point over ten years ago, when I first heard Jenny McCarthy say it. Since then, I’ve heard any number of antivaccine activists use variations on the talking point over many years and in many circumstances. It’s understandable in a way. Antivaxers know that society frowns on antivaccine views—and quite rightly so, given the danger such views pose to public health; so they have to convince themselves that they aren’t really antivaccine. Also, there is a wide variation in how far down the antivaccine crazy trail various antivaxers have gone. In a way, I grudgingly respect antivaxers who say it loud and say it proud that they’re antivaccine, because at least they’re honest and not deluding themselves. Most antivaccine activists struggle mightily to convince themselves that they are not antivaccine, and, quite possibly, some of them really aren’t. However, over the years, I’ve discovered that, if you push one of these “I’m not antivaccine, I’m pro-vaccine safety” types enough, they will almost always reveal their true antivaccine proclivities. Of course, I always make the distinction between the vaccine-averse and antivaxers. Most parents who hesitate about or refuse vaccines are probably not antivaccine; they’re just afraid, thanks to misinformation and pseudoscience promoted by antivaxers.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is one of those antivaxers who claim they are “not antivaccine” but rather vaccine safety advocates. In 2015, he was risibly proclaiming himself “fiercely pro-vaccine.” Last week, he was pulling the oldest crank trick in the book, issuing a vacuous and deceptive “challenge” to provide the “One True Study” that shows thimerosal in vaccines is safe, all the while misrepresenting the science and fear mongering about vaccines to an extreme degree. Meanwhile, Robert De Niro, who himself has unfortunately fallen for the delusion promoted by the “not antivaccine” crowd, gave this interview with Sharyl Attkisson, who started out as the CBS antivaccine correspondent and ended up a full bore conspiracy theorist. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was there too. The fun clearly deserves some not-so-Respectful Insolence.
For instance, after having jumped the gun and claimed after their meeting in January that President Trump had offered him the chair of a new “vaccine safety commission,” leading the Trump administration to deny that any such offer had been made, RFK Jr. is still at it:
Sharyl: Kennedy personally met with Trump last month. But after Kennedy talked to the press about it he says the Trump administration walked back the plan.
Kennedy: I’ve been contacted three times by the administration since then. And they tell me that they’re still going forward with a commission. But all I can say is to tell you what the president told me. He specifically told me that he knew that the pharmaceutical industry was going to cause an uproar about this and was gonna try to make him back down and he said “I’m not gonna back down.” They tried during the campaign and I didn’t back down then, and I’m not gonna back down. But I can’t tell you what will happen.
As I like to say, how can you tell when RFK Jr. is lying? His lips are moving. Given how Trump has totally caved to pharmaceutical industry desires for profits and is considering only candidates for FDA commissioner who would neuter the organization, I find this assertion by RFK Jr. to be…highly questionable.
Meanwhile, RFK Jr.’s new BFF Robert De Niro chimes in. First, he reiterates that his son is “on the spectrum.” Then, we learn, reading between the lines, that it was De Niro’s wife Grace Hightower who almost certainly convinced him that vaccines cause autism. We also learn that De Niro doesn’t consider himself to be antivaccine, even though he’s been spewing antivaccine tropes in public for nearly a year:
No I’m not anti vaccine, and as Bobby Kennedy said very eloquently, that’s that’s like a witch, you know You’re a witch! It’s like the Salem witch trials, all of a sudden you’re anti-vax. That’s a lot of baloney, a lot of malarkey. That’s ridiculous. I’m not anti-vax. I take vaccines all the time and my kids have gotten vaccinated. But there’s something wrong and it’s gotta be fixed.
And there you have it: The disingenuous lament of antivaxers everywhere, namely outrage at being characterized as antivaxers. As I like to point out, the fact that an antivaxer allowed their children to be vaccinated does not mean that they are not antivaccine. Here’s the question to ask whenever you see someone like Robert De Niro make this claim: What made you think that there was a vaccine safety problem? Did you vaccinate your kids after you learned that your child was “on the spectrum”? In RFK, Jr.’s case, I’ve pointed out more than once that his youngest child was born in 2001, four years before he went antivax. As for De Niro, he didn’t become antivax until well after his child “on the spectrum” had been diagnosed as being “on the spectrum.” Lots of antivaxers vaccinated their children. That claim means nothing.
Unfortunately, the “I’m not antivaccine” gambit works. For example, Pratik Chougule eats it up in an article for The American Conservative entitled Why the Kennedy-De Niro Vaccine Challenge Matters. My first temptation was to provide a retort that this idiotic “vaccine challenge” doesn’t matter. Actually, that was my second inclination as well. My third inclination was to point to this article as yet another example of how antivaccine quackery is the pseudoscience that transcends political boundaries and how, in 2017, conservatives seem to be the most receptive to antivaccine talking points.
For example, get a load of how Chougule is entirely too credulous when it comes to antivaccine talking points:
Trump’s central point that diagnoses of autism have skyrocketed alongside an increase in childhood vaccination is not in dispute. The term “early infantile autism” was first introduced in 1943 based on clinical observations of eleven children. When Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger published a groundbreaking paper on autism a year later, it drew little attention, and, indeed, was only translated and annotated into English in 1991. Possible links between immunization and autism did not draw much comment in subsequent years because mass vaccination itself was not yet a common practice. It wasn’t until 1949 that the combined diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine was licensed in the United States for pediatric use, and it was only around this time that large-scale vaccine production for public health became feasible.
This is ridiculous in that the increase in autism diagnoses has almost certainly been due to a combination of more intensive screening, diagnostic substitution, and increased awareness. Chougule is buying into the myth promoted by the antivaccine movement that there is an “epidemic” of autism and that “something”—wink, wink, vaccines, nudge, nudge—must be responsible. It’s even more ridiculous because Chougule characterizes antivaccine “luminaries” that include Andrew Wakefield, Jennifer Larson, Mark Blaxill, Andrew Wakefield, Jennifer Larson, and Gary Kompethecras as “experts.” No, I’m not joking. Chougule called them “experts.” Kompethecras is an antivaccine chiropractor, while Mark Blaxill doesn’t have any scientific expertise whatsoever and is totally antivaccine. Andrew Wakefield is, of course, Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced gastroenterologist who committed scientific fraud in order to promote the idea that the MMR vaccine increased the risk of developing autism. When you unironically characterize such people as “experts,” you’ve already proven yourself too clueless to take seriously.
So, excuse me when I laugh out loud when Chougule writes:
Why then are vaccine skeptics treated with such contempt in establishment institutions? There are, it is true, growing numbers of writers such as the science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker, who, after advancing the conventional narrative on vaccines, decided to study media reporting on the issue. She ultimately criticized her colleagues in Aeon for their failure to acknowledge that vaccine rejection can be a “rational choice.” Yet standard accounts, insofar as they even mention the genuine debate among experts on vaccine safety, often ignore the science informing these objections. Nor do they grapple with personalized approaches to vaccine decisions that, as Prof. Maya Goldenberg argues, are not ignorant per se but can produce cost-benefit analyses that depart, in individual cases, from public health orthodoxy.
Lest you think that Chougule is reasonable here, I can’t help but note that he links to über-quack Joe Mercola when referencing a “genuine debate among experts on vaccine safety.” Let’s just put it this way. If you reference Joe Mercola unironically as a legitimate source of science information, you’ve lost—and lost big time. I’ll admit that it’s not as bad as referencing, say, Mike Adams, but it’s pretty damned bad. It shows that you either (1) don’t know how to evaluate a medical source, (2) are supportive of quackery, or (3) both. Let’s just put it this way. Mercola became rich as hell selling supplements and quackery and has used some of that wealth to support Barbara Loe Fisher and the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and thinks that incentives to increase vaccination rates are a bad thing.
Ditto Brian Martin:
In a recent paper in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics, Prof. Brian Martin found evidence not of a conspiracy, but rather of a pattern of “suppression of vaccination dissent”—one that made Andrew Wakefield “subject to a degradation ceremony, a ritualistic denunciation casting him out of the company of honest researchers.” Martin argues that challenges to free inquiry, while prevalent throughout mainstream science, are particularly serious in the case of immunization. Because “vaccination is a signifier for the benefits of modern medicine,” questions about vaccination are treated as “a potential threat to the public perception that credentialed experts unanimously endorse vaccination.”
Brian Martin, you might recall, has demonstrated his antivaccine proclivities disguised as “skepticism” about medicine and vaccines. He was the thesis advisor for Judy Wilyman, whose thesis was so full of antivaccine pseudoscience and quackery that it provoked outrage from real scientists and physicians the world over. Not surprisingly, antivaccine activists misrepresented criticism of Wilyman’s thesis as “suppression of dissent.” “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” indeed.
Chougule is basically a useful idiot for the antivaccine movement. He uncritically buys the utter BS that people like RFK Jr. are selling. After all, if you can’t (or refuse to) recognize RFK, Jr.’s stunt for what it is, a rather obvious con designed to promote his fundraising, then you’re not so very smart after all. That’s always the problem, too. Hard core antivaxers like RFK Jr. and his ilk lay down this story that they are “vaccine safety activists” when everything about their history belies that claim, and seemingly well-meaning but clueless celebrities like Robert De Niro become vaccine-averse and then ultimately fall into the antivaccine orbit, often becoming antivaxers themselves. Meanwhile, useful idiots in the press still fall for the con, years after it should have become obvious that it’s a con. The two then combine to amplify the antivaccine message, leading parents who lack the scientific background to recognize the pseudoscience and nonsense for what they are and might also be predisposed to accept the fear mongering based on distrust of pharma or government, to become vaccine averse and, in the worse case scenario, antivaccine themselves. Whether RFK Jr. truly believes he is “not antivaccine” and is in fact “fiercely pro-vaccine,” I don’t know. Probably he does. But there’s nothing to test him—really test him—on that now, as his youngest child is now a teenager and we don’t know if he would vaccinate a young child. My guess is that, as is so often the case, if the rubber could hit the road again and RFK Jr. had an infant, he wouldn’t vaccinate. Why? Because he really is antivaccine.
89 replies on “How antivaxers deceptively don the mantle of “vaccine safety activists””
Somehow this semiotic incantation strikes me as both too much and not enough.
Hi, Orac. I hate to be “one of those”, but your first sentence after the quote from Chougule doesn’t make sense. Do you mean “increase in autism diagnoses has almost certainly not been due to a combination of more intensive screening, diagnostic substitution, and increased awareness.”
Outside of that – I’ve never read American Conservative, so I don’t know if this is a standard type of article for them. But if they allow such poorly researched articles in their magazine, I think I won’t bother looking into it anyway.
If De Niro, Kennedy, et al were really interested in safe vaccines, they would be promoting the research already done and looking at ways to improve the effectiveness of the vaccines already available, NOT the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ of “maybe you should (pick from one) hide in the herd, vaccinate on a delayed schedule, not vaccinate”. Incompetent fools.
Bad cut and paste. Fixed. And I deleted your second comment because it was no longer necessary.
ugh. My strikethrough marks vanished, so my first paragraph makes no sense. So….should it state “has almost certainly been” rather than “…has almost certainly NOT been”?
I was rather impressed with the number of readers who challenged Chougule on his essay. and with informed rebuttals.
I wonder if Chougule is a true denier or just got conned? I have no idea of the standard of writing in the American Conservative as I don’t remember even having heard of it before let alone reading anything in it.
Feature, not bug. As the great political philosopher Stephen Colbert noted, facts have a well-known liberal bias.
I’m thinking Chougule is enamored of Donald Trump, and if Donald Trump is spewing antivaccine nonsense then Chougule thinks there must be something to it, even if it was the liberal RFK Jr. issuing his antivaccine “challenge.”
…if the rubber could hit the road again and RFK Jr. had an infant, he wouldn’t vaccinate.
Here’s an analogy about consumer satisfaction.
…if the rubber was put back into vaccine packaging and MJD had an infant, he wouldn’t vaccinate.
That doesn’t make me antivaccine, it just makes me an unhappy consumer who wants a better product.
Fortunately, vaccine manufacturers are providing vaccines that are “not manufactured with natural rubber latex” so they are listening and adapting.
Finally, in my opinion, the use of negative reinforcement (e.g., SB-277) to maintain herd immunity is a baaaaad way to maintain a business in a “free” market.
It’s especially jarring given the way they constantly attack people who do work on vaccine safety and devote their lives to monitoring and assuring it. DeStefano is a good example. These are the real vaccine safety – well, not exactly advocates, but promoters.
For more to think about on the complexity:
“91% vs. 47%: Why vaccination rates are so different in these neighbouring Alberta towns”
Which would make Chougule even dumber than Trump, an impressive feat. If the inference I draw about Chougule’s ethhic background from the name is anywhere close to correct, (s)he’s well into Chickens for Colonel Sanders territory.
I love this response; “Excellent article. I hold a PhD in engineering and I strongly agree that vaccines are neither safe or effective. ”
Sounds like economist or physicist. Of course a lot of climate change deniers are engineers.
@jrkrideau: Engineers have a well-deserved reputation for vulnerability to the Dunning-Kruger effect. And of course just because one has a Ph.D. doesn’t mean one is educated. Old academic joke: You know what B.S. stands for. M.S. means “More of the Same”, and Ph.D. means “Piled Higher and Deeper”.
Autism rates have increased with the number of cable channels offered in the US. I’m not anti-cable, just pro-safe cable.
Hey, it doesn’t sound any less stupid than what the anti-vaxxers claims.
@Terrie: There is a website devoted to the subject of spurious correlations. For instance, US spending on space, science, and technology correlates with deaths by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation. Correlation does not imply causation.
I have also noticed an increase in communication satellites as to the increase in autism. Maybe it’s been NASA all along
Well even you admit that “antivaxer” has no meaning, so the title is also meaningless.
I think anti-vaxer has a pretty clear meaning. When someone overstates vaccines risks, or attributes to vaccines risks the data shows they don’t have, understates their benefits, and tries to explain away conflicting data with conspiracy theories, they are anti-vaccine.
There are a number of statements that today can serve as shortcuts to identify people who hold these beliefs. For example, claiming vaccines cause autism in the face of the abundant data to the contrary, or the toxins gambits, are usually pretty good indications someone is anti-vaccine.
# 14 MarkN
I’d go for NASA as the main cause but in league with the CDC in the coverup. Alex Jones will have this knocked into shape as a full-fledged conspiracy by early tomorrow.
@ MI Dawn and jrkrideau: American Conservative is a Brietbart clone “news” website, just a bit more polished. They seem more refined and reasonable but they really aren’t if you read between the lines. Usually their anti science rants are confined to climate change, but it’s not surprising to see them go after vaccine science as well given who our President is.
“When someone overstates vaccines risks, or attributes to vaccines risks the data shows they don’t have, understates their benefits, and tries to explain away conflicting data with conspiracy theories, they are anti-vaccine.” – IOW anything negative about vaccines you disagree with. Ergo, no meaning. Thanks for proving my point though.
Did Jake get his PHD? I guess he has been ‘working’ on it for a while now.
I wonder what degree his mommy will buy him next.
Learn how to type and to proofread. You are exposing your ignorance with every comment.
And it is quite reasonable to regard them as anti-vaccine.
I can understand somebody circa 2000 having legitimate concerns about the MMR-autism link. They could point to the Wakefield et al. study, and the hypothesis was plausible based on what was known at the time. Since then, the Wakefield et al. study has been retracted and multiple studies falsifying the hypothesis have been published. At this point a reasonable person would conclude that the vaccines-autism scare was indeed overblown.
And even then, Wakefield et al. were specifically looking at the MMR vaccine, not vaccines in general. (One of the reasons the study was retracted was that Wakefield had an undisclosed conflict of interest, being paid as an expert witness for the manufacturer of an alternative to the MMR vaccine.) AFAICT, the claims that other vaccines could cause autism were never on a footing as solid as even the MMR claim.
There are individuals who for valid medical reasons cannot or should not be vaccinated. I am not aware of anybody who opposes the idea of medical exemptions to vaccination requirements. But that’s because these particular people (and/or their parents) have a rational reason to think the vaccines will specifically harm them. That’s not the same as scaremongering about risks to the population as a whole when studies investigating these alleged risks find no basis for the belief.
but I am on the fence regarding the antibody issue
You’re not sure if you believe in antibodies? You’re not convinced that vaccines stimulate antibodies?
It’s like the CDC’s version of the term conspiracy theorist.
IKR? Show the slightest interest in the Illuminati or the lizardoids and everyone calls you a “conspiracy theorist”.
It should be met with skepticism and often even scorn @Crosby because there is zero scientific evidence to justify an antivaccine view. Just because an individual believes the MMR vaccine causes autism doesn’t mean we should stay quiet in order to respect that opinion. The opinion is wrong, and acting on that opinion is dangerous due to the risk of unvaccinated but otherwise healthy children getting diseases that, sure, they can fight off with other advancements in medical science, but get passed to people who can’t get vaccinated due to actual medical diagnoses.
He’s got an honorary doctorate in awesomeness.
OK, time to check the sock drawer.
I do like “anti-va✗✗er” with the double crosses. That was quite stylish.
Not ‘anything negative about vaccines you disagree with”, Jake, but negative claims that are either demonstrably false or unsupported by a credible body of evidence.
For example, if someone claimed that the ingredients in vaccine formulations such as formaldehyde, aluminum salts, etc., are known to be toxic or otherwise harmful at exposure levels achievable by routine childhood vaccination they’d be making a statement unsupported by actualevidence, and it they claimed the NVICP has ever awarded compensation for as the result of a child developing an autism spectrum disorder caused by a vaccine they received they’d be making a false statement.
Anyone offering either of these claims may reasonably be described as anti-vax.
@ KS, anti-vax researchers demonstrate incompetence, we just notice it that’s all.
Hence the need for multiple doses and/or booster shots for certain vaccines. In those cases the immunity is less likely to fade, or can be renewed. Admittedly, that doesn’t reduce the failure rate to zero, but it does reduce it substantially.
KS are you mumbling through a sock?
I just read a brief article (no link to the actual study but U of WA was one member of the study group) that found that in certain cases a prediction could be made about autism onset prior to six months of age. The study was over a ten year period and still needs much more work before it can become a standard diagnostic tool.
I believe 6 months is before almost all vaccines are given.
We have anti-vaccination movements to thank for defeating polio and eradicating smallpox.
From Politico Don’t Let Vaccines Go The Way of Climate Change
” Wow you people are terrible.”
We work at it.
He reminds me a bit of a pre-doctoral student in one of my classes who held rather- for lack of a better word- *baroque* ideas about serious mental illness/ cognition that did not resemble the SB views promoted at that institution at all: they perhaps reflected a simpler time.
She didn’t last long or get past comprehensive testing.
I cannot fathom how a person can attempt to get a degree in epi without recognising the role of vaccines in modern times.
I listen to an accomplished woo-meister constantly defend the anti-vax view and he needs to twist logic and data into pretzels in order to salvage his view. Obviously he never had to pass exams, write papers or defend his own work because he holds no reality-based degree in SBM or a related area.
AFAIK, the University of Texas is somewhat tied to the real world.
@Jake: yes, you are right. We managed to eliminate smallpox and almost eliminate polio by VACCINATING and thus, removing the need to vaccinate in the future for those diseases. What a success of public health care. Too bad you don’t recognize it, and your degree is a disgrace to your university.
@K. Suresh: Seriously, dude? You are aware that you get more aluminium in almost any meal you eat than are obtained in vaccines? It’s not like aluminium is one of the most common elements on earth….oh, wait….. Besides, why do you prefer those over aluminium? What are the benefits over the risks, compared to aluminium? (Don’t go to Alzheimer’s disease – it’s not proven that aluminium contributes to the risk unless you believe Mercola or some other quack.)
IIRC, she adhered to something ( of her own device) that resembled the theory of the four humours and mangled physiology to explain changes in cognition in people with schizophrenia.
Merck could take the wind out of ⅞ of the anti-va✗✗er’s bitching simply by supplanting aluminum adjuvants with ones consisting of Fe₂O₃ or Ca₃(PO₄)₂.
Come on, Travis, you’re tipping your hand too soon. You need to find some new material if you want to stretch the game out longer.
Yep. Fendlesworth it was. Taken care of.
I see that The Gnat has made an appearance. The things I miss when I’m at work and not paying attention to the blog comments…
From Politico Don’t Let Vaccines Go The Way of Climate Change
Increased politicization of the vaccination issue would be deadly
If right-wing scammers and ideologues decide to appropriate the antivax cause and turn it into another right-wing shibboleth like climate-change denial — shifting antivax beliefs from the fringes of both parties into a central platform of Alt-Facts Trumpery — I can’t see how sane people are supposed to stop them.
Oh, I think Young Mr. Crosby is just upset because his Grad School Crush is in full meltdown….
@ herr doktor bimler:
I’ve observed that alt med scammers and ideologues are simultaneously appropriating rightwing rhetoric – perhaps in hopes of snagging righties as customers for their web stores:
see Mikey’s articles and I note that Null often spends half or more of his ( free) airtime castigating the Clintons and ‘corporate liberals’ et al.
I’ve observed that alt med scammers and ideologues are simultaneously appropriating rightwing rhetoric – perhaps in hopes of snagging righties as customers for their web stores:
It’s a natural enough convergence. The Alt-Med scammers and the Alt Right are after the same constituency of low-information magical-thinking suckers. In the context of right-wing politics and televangelism (but I repeat myself), Perlstein called it “The long con” — keep the rubes scared, encourage them to shelter in an epistemic bubble and avoid sources of dissonant information, and you can keep milking them for their retirement funds until they finally die.
The trouble with targetting a demographic of retirement homes and trailer parks is that the suckers are not individually wealthy. When Mikey and Null and Mercola decide to align themselves with Trumpery, they also end up competing with professional con-men for the same money. They may not have thought this through.
Concern about automobile safety does not make one “anti-car.”
Here’s an article from the anti-vax rag “Infectious Diseases in Children” with notes from that anti-vax loon, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH and a quote from known anti-vaxxer Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota
“This is a vaccine that desperately needs to be redone,”
RFK Jr has repeated voiced his support of childhood vaccinations and stated repeatedly that his children have received all their vaccines in the past and continue to receive needed vaccines.
Orac, you’re playing to your base and they love this red meat. You are not candid about the group of parents, doctors and others who continue to get and give vaccines but also support further research to make vaccines better.
Jay, the quote you mined about the flu vaccine has nothing to do with safety, but reflects an opinion I (and I’m sure the rest of us here) have – that influenza vaccine, while very useful in preventing or lessening symptoms of flu, should be more effective. And we support research toward that “universal” flu vaccine.
Your link goes to a list of articles in that journal, one of which describes RFK Jr., Trump and the proposed “vaccine commission”. From that article:
“Kennedy’s widely debunked claims about vaccine safety focus on the use of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal in certain vaccines and the link to neurological disorders in children, including autism.”
“He edited a book on the subject, “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury — a Known Neurotoxin — from Vaccines,” and wrote a magazine story in 2005 alleging that the government conspired to hide the link. The magazine story was co-published by Rolling Stone and Salon, but was later amended by both outlets with numerous corrections. Years after it was published, Salon removed the article from its website with an apology.”
“His past statements have demonstrated a lack of understanding of mainstream science,” Dean A. Blumberg, MD, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “In addition, I think it’s unfortunate that he has used language that I consider quite inflammatory. I don’t think it’s constructive to have somebody with those beliefs involved in looking at anything that has scientific basis to it.”
As you should (and probably do) know, Jay, RFK Jr.’s tactic is to claim he is pro-vaccine, while doing his best to convince parents that vaccine research is grievously faulty, that harms have been covered up and that those involved in developing and promoting vaccines are horribly corrupt.
So in effect he’s saying “vaccines have been important for health, but they’re horrible and you shouldn’t trust them!”
It’s a deeply deceptive message, from the guy who wants us to believe the vaccine schedule is loaded with thimerosal.
And you’re endorsing it. What a surprise.
Denice Walker @41 This recent video from Mikey Is pure gold.According to Adams,there is a “vast left wing” “fake news conspiracy” to destroy not only Trump,and all Trump supporters in the media.Note how at 2:05 Mikey ties vaccines,abortions/”organ harvesting”,guns,and the alt-right media together in one crazed package.Then it gets better.Adams describes an alleged thumb drive he was given in 2013 with files of undescribed content,that if Adams did not publish,then the person who gave him the”files” would destroy his reputation.Adams says he was offered $50,000 to destroy Alex Jones.The degree of paranoia in this rant is a wonder to behold.
When Mummy and Daddy buy you degrees you can believe anything you want.
He has also stated that one of his children suffered a severe vaccine reaction (the dreaded thiomersal) and his children are well past the age of paediatric vaccines which makes his claims rather vapid.
Name names Dr. Jay. What groups are these and what are their goals exactly?
Dangerous Bacon, safety and efficacy. Not just safety. Your derisive term about “quote mining” can be simplified to one word: “reading.”
DB, “As you should (and probably do) know, Jay, RFK Jr.’s tactic is to claim he is pro-vaccine, while doing his best to convince parents that vaccine research is grievously faulty, that harms have been covered up and that those involved in developing and promoting vaccines are horribly corrupt.”
This statement is pure hyperbole and has very little to do with the way I practice or the way I speak to parents. And is a gross misunderstanding (intentional) of RFK Jr’s ideas.
Science Mom, always good to see you. AAP official policy, age 28 years. Probably a little too long, but official nonetheless. Name names?? A large group of parents I’ve cared for over the decades. And very small group of doctors.
After all these years, that one remains one of the silliest antivaccine talking points I’ve ever seen, one that makes me laugh every time I see it used. I expected better. Let’s just put it this way. Implying that cars cause all sorts of bad things they don’t cause based on either faulty or no evidence (as antivaxers do with vaccines) would make you anti-car. Remember the formaldehyde gambit, Dr. Jay? I do:
I’d also say that if you compared existing auto safety research to tobacco company science, that would make you anti-car, you know, the way you compared vaccine science to tobacco science:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s youngest child was born in 2001, and his other children are all adults, having been born in the 1990s and 1980s. RFK Jr. didn’t start doing antivaccine articles until 2005. His adult children were well past the age of receiving childhood vaccines by then, and his youngest was four years old, past the most intense part of the vaccine schedule.
Also, I don’t recall RFK Jr. saying his children received all of their vaccines. Rather, he said he and his wife had them vaccinated. That’s not the same thing.
No, RFK Jr. is antivaccine. And you are, using the most generous interpretation possible and giving you every benefit of the doubt, at the very least antivaccine-sympathetic and antivaccine-enabling. Under a less generous interpretation that doesn’t give you all the benefits of the doubt, you are antivaccine yourself.
Sorry, Dr. Jay, but DB did demonstrate fairly effectively that you were cherry picking a quote.
I, too, am curious. Come on, Dr. Jay! Inquiring minds want to know, just like they want to know:
Finally, here’s one for you:
A couple brings a new patient to your practice, their newborn baby girl (or boy), who is only a week old. They are willing to follow whatever recommendations for vaccines that you wish to make. Do you recommend vaccinating the infant according to the CDC schedule? If not, why not? Remember, these parents were told how great you are and will go along with anything you tell them.
Good to see you as well. However you don’t specify what these groups’ goals are specifically nor what they are actually doing about it. We are all for safer and more effective vaccines and we pour through the literature and even critique overstatements. How is that objective at odds with your “group of parents and doctors”?
PNAS paper, Jake. Stay focused.
“Public health orthodoxy”, what would that look like? 40 day quarantines of all ships coming into port? Indefinite imprisonment on an island for being a typhoid carrier? Leper colonies?
These people complain that being asked to vaccinate their children is intrusive, how would they feel about the older methods?
(Remember The Velveteen Rabbit? Little stuffed bunny saves a child from a terrible illness and then all the toys are burned to keep the illness from spreading? Yay, you survived scarlet fever, let’s burn all your stuff!)
The article about autism inheritance I mentioned earlier is in the February 15 edition of Nature.
When Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger published a groundbreaking paper on autism a year later, it drew little attention, and, indeed, was only translated and annotated into English in 1991.
This again. Uta Frith’s 1991 translation was the first widely-available version, but John Wing translated the paper into English in 1978 thereabouts, and Lorna Wing quoted from it in her seminal 1981 paper on “Asperger Syndrome”.
These “American Conservative” contributors really shouldn’t believe everything they copy from the Whackyweedia.
Orac, stop laughing and start thinking. And stop resembling our new president in your disdain and scorn for all who don’t sign on to your narrow, narrow point of view. Your insolence is often far from respectful. You are better than that.
Yes, if you dig back 8-10 years you can find incredibly stupid things I have said. I don’t have the time, but I’m sure you might want to disown or correct an ancient quote or two that sprang from your mouth or keyboard. Hang your hat on something else, please. It’s not hard to elicit a mea culpa from me about the “formaldehyde gambit.” Well done.
You took the simple statement about cars, twisted it, ignored it’s meaning and your logic falls apart. Concern for vaccine safety and improvement is similar to seeking safety and improvement for any tool, medications, or surgery.
DB did no such thing. The quote is in context and part of a journal which every single pediatrician receives and should read. The experts who are part of the article are in agreement. There was no cherry picking. Calling this out does not make it the truth.
Perhaps most bothersome to me, you know the truth but persist in mangling facts just to get applause and approbation from the crowd here. RFK Jr is an expert and a man of honor gaining absolutely nothing from his campaign for vaccine safety. By the way, it’s obvious to you that I also have nothing to gain from not sliding farther to the middle. I cannot recall seeing a
Regarding your last questions, I can no more cite sufficient definitive research showing lack of safety than you can prove your negatives.
And regarding that couple, I don’t have any of those. The families I care for are very well-informed before they set foot into my office.
Science Mom, somewhere deep inside, you recognize an ally who is too easily labeled an adversary just to promote a polarization of the subject. I don’t recall ever seeing a critique of an overstatement about vaccine safety or efficacy on this site. Time to start.
Cherry picking . . . The article’s title in large bold letters is:
“Influenza vaccine ‘desperately’ needs improvement”
Yes Jay, it should be a “universal vaccine” and not yearly….which is currently in development.
And RFK Jr. an expert? In what? Drug addiction?
RFK Jr is an expert and a man of honor
Sounds better in the original Italian.
gaining absolutely nothing from his campaign for vaccine safety.
Come now. He’s a publicity whore and he has nothing else.
Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP @57: Come now. “Men of honor” do not demand that other people’s children get sick and possibly die of vaccine-preventable diseases in the name of a disproven theory. “Men of honor” are capable of admitting when they are wrong.
RFK Jr could have advocated for a new, universal influenza vaccine. But instead he spread lies about existing vaccines. Where is the honor in that?
Yawn. The “compare Orac to Donald Trump” gambit. I bet that’ll get him mad.
Yep. It’s been done before. Twice. Rather obvious shtick, actually. I’m now more amused by it than annoyed. You’re months late.
You’d never find anything I said that was that bad, Dr. Jay. There’s actually very little I would take back in the archives of this blog or my not-so-super-secret other one. Ironically, the one thing I can think of that I might take back was actually an example of my being a bit too open-minded about a scientific study I probably should have been more skeptical about.
No, I didn’t twist it at all. I made a very apt analogy to what antivaxers do and applied it to the “anti-car” talking point.
This one’s been explained to you more than adequately by other denizens here; so I’ll move on.
RFK, Jr.? A vaccine expert? Bwahahahahaha! Seriously? After his entry into the antivaccine scene with his conspiracy theory-filled piece for Salon.com and Rolling Stone 12 years ago? With his near constant misrepresentation of science and fact (much of it documented right here) ever since?
A vaccine expert? He is nothing of the sort.
This is profoundly disappointing Seriously, if you can’t cite the research, then you really should stop embarrassing yourself. Knowing the scientific literature is the minimum I expect from a fellow physician or scientist (as opposed to a lay person) questioning the safety of the vaccine schedule. The minimum. I’m familiar with the literature, and I’m not even a pediatrician. I could easily rattle off lots of studies that failed to find a link between vaccines and autism and tell you the enormous flaws in the ones that claim they do. And I don’t routinely give vaccines, other than flu vaccines to my breast cancer patients! You’re a pediatrician. Familiarity with the scientific literature on childhood vaccines should be second nature to you. You’re an adjunct faculty at UCLA, right? Then get thee to PubMed and download some recent articles!
Translation: You cater to parents who are at the very least vaccine-averse, if not outright antivaccine, and you don’t try to persuade them to follow the best medical recommendations from the CDC and AAP on the schedule by which their children should be vaccinated.
Do tell. Give me an example of such an “overstatement about vaccine safety or efficacy.” Note that I’ve written on several occasions about the lack of efficacy of the flu vaccine a couple of years back, when the match between the antigens used and the circulating strains that year was not good. I’m serious, though. Examples. Inquiring minds want to know the specifics of what you’re talking about here. Who knows? You might even convince me to go all Insolent on someone. You’ll never know if you don’t produce the examples.
Orac! You win. I have no more time or energy for this.
It’s not about “winning” or “losing.” It’s really not. It’s about protecting the children.
Also, you know you’re going to get into it with the regulars (and possible me) when you show up in the comments here. Why do you do it if you’re not interested in convincing me or someone else that you have valid points? I find it very puzzling why, from time to time, you show up here if you know you’re going to be facing off with several of the regulars.
Let’s start simple. No trips to PubMed. List one exaggeration about vaccine safety or efficacy and who said it. Just one. Surely you can do that.
Jay is caught – but continues to wriggle.
He posts (in boldface) “Concern about automobile safety does not make one “anti-car”” and then cites an article in “Infectious Diseases in Children” about influenza vaccine, suggesting that the experts quoted therein agree with him.
Show me where in that article any of the authorities you cite expressed concern about influenza vaccine safety. Nope, it was all about developing a more effective/longer-lasting vaccine.
You were being deceptive.
As for RFK Jr., I have read his book “Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak”, and it employs the tactic I described. He and his other contributors all make a token statement about how pro-vaccine/pro-vaccine science they are – but the book is loaded with bogus accusations of vaccine harms plus lack of integrity and coverup by The Powers That Be, so that any reader who believed such horrific allegations could not possibly want his/her children vaccinated.
This is 2017, Jay. It’s not about dumb things you said years ago, but the stupid and deceptive things you’re saying now.
*One mystery about the book remains – who was the actual author? RFK Jr. is listed as the editor; Mark Hyman and Martha Herbert respectively wrote the preface and introduction. The material was supposedly obtained from a team of experts. But who is the author? No one is listed. Apparently the text just sprang into being and arranged itself.
# 36 Denice Walter
IIRC, she adhered to something ( of her own device) that resembled the theory of the four humours and mangled physiology to explain changes in cognition in people with schizophrenia.
Oh is that all? I was worried that she might have been a Freudian or a Jungian.
Orac: “Also, you know you’re going to get into it with the regulars (and possible me) when you show up in the comments here. Why do you do it if you’re not interested in convincing me or someone else that you have valid points?”
Jay preens on being an alternative to perceived extremists on both sides of the vaccine debate. Part of his shtick is to appear to listen to antivax loons and Vaccine Apologists, then gently wag a finger of reproval at both. He’s doing it for the patients, you see.
Jay must also get weary of dealing with Warrior Moms all day, as financially remunerative as that can be. He would like to be accepted by what he sees as the Cool Science crowd, so he casts out feelers in that direction, hoping no one will examine his words too closely.
But mostly, I think he shares a key motivation with Fendlesworth. He’s a troll.
Pointing out that the flu vaccine could be better does not make you anti-vaccine. You are anti-vaccine because you coddle the vaccine wary, offer a safe home to the vaccine fearful, and most of all because you fail to counter the anti-vaccine BS that is rampant in your patient base.
I am a physician and I routinely have patients refuse the flu vaccine. When I ask them to explain their decision, most of the time they dont even have an answer. I am fully aware of the deficiencies of the current vaccine, but until a better one comes along, then we owe it to our patients to protect them with the best vaccine currently available. Standing on the sidelines screaming “the flu vaccine sucks” (which is what you did in your post above) does nothing toward improving the vaccine and only serves to boost vaccine hesitancy.
There is so much misinformation, falsehood, and negative crap about vaccines in social media and on the internet, that patients views on vaccines have been formed largly with a highly distorted information set. As a pediatrician you should be vocally countering this with a positive message on vaccines. I do not see this from you. I see you pointing out deficiencies (some true (flu vaccin efficacy) and some false (too many too soon: http://drjaygordon.com/vaccinations/schedule.html).
Every time you say the flu shot needs improvement, you need to pointing out that the flu kills many healthy children every year and the best way we have to prevent that is to vaccinate. And the positive message needs to be LOUDER than the negative message, not just a disclaimer at the end.
When you do that , then you can shed your anti-vaccine scarlet letter. Hell, we will bury it and have a ceremony right here.
There are times when I truly like Dr. Jay.
And then there are days like today – when he refuses to actually answer any of the real, pertinent questions posed to him.
Like, for example, why he feels the way that he does.
You’d think that would be an easy one for him.
And yes, the current crop of Flu vaccines do need to be improved.
The Influenza Virus is a tricky one & we’ve been lucky to have avoided a pandemic-strain with the lethality of the Spanish Flu (to current times). We’ve also been lucky to have vaccines which are pretty darn effective, but of course, not perfect.
From a safety profile perspective, even Cochrane went out of their way to say, despite its shortcomings, that the Influenza Vaccine was perhaps the safest vaccine available.
When a Universal Flu vaccine comes about – probably in the next decade or so, we’ll finally be in the ballpark of where we need to be.
So please, stop with the scaremongering & rely on some real science for once.
Jay Gordon MD, FAAPYes, if you dig back 8-10 years you can find incredibly stupid things I have said.
Or more like in 2015 when you told parents on CBS TV not to give their children the MMR during the “Disneyland” measles outbreak.
Not just a stupid thing, Jay, but a life-endangering one. And you’re to f***ng stupid to get it.
Hey Dr Gordon: Tetanus shot: yes or no? (Assumes child >= 2 months of age.)
Yep. I agree.
RFK Jr is an expert and a man of honor
Isn’t RFK Jr the one who insisted the MMR contained thimerosal until someone finally clued him in around 2005 or so?
Why would he not be candid about the group of parents, doctors and others who continue to get and give vaccines but support further research to make them better? That group is his base.
I am disgusted that you would stoop to implying that we here are NOT interested in making vaccines better. That is an abhorrent lie, and yes, I say lie, because you’ve certainly been here long enough to know that EVERYONE here supports better, safer, and more effective vaccines.
But ah, you don’t consider us in that group, do you? Clearly, therefore, you, like RFK, Jr, Mercola, Wakefield and others use EXACTLY the concern gambit that Orac is describing in this post. That becomes more evident every time you try to defend RFK, Jr as being someone who supports vaccination.
You seem to have a very strange definition of supporting vaccination. I also notice you still have made no effort whatsoever to answer any part of Orac’s challenge above. Don’t like being tied down to a specific answer, eh? Prefer to keep it nice and vague so you can pretend to be on everybody’s side? How convenient. Unfortunately for you, we can see through it.
I’m not normally this angry with you, but that statement really stuck in my craw. How *dare* you claim Orac doesn’t acknowledge the existence of people who support vaccination *and* research to improve vaccines when he speaks to *exactly those people*!!!
(I say “almost” because there are a few who are not supportive of administering vaccines, as well as a few who seem more concerned with finding reasons to back their desires. They are a distinct minority. I’ll let you decide which group you’re in, whether you’re with us or one of those other groups; maybe someday you’ll be brave enough to actually tell us straight by answering Orac’s challenge above.)
Dr Jay: you said The families I care for are very well-informed before they set foot into my office.
In other words, you put your years of experience and medical school aside and let patient care be dictated by what the parents want, rather than by what research and guidelines state. I’m very glad I live across the country from you, and that my children were vaccinated on schedule, and that any future grandchildren I have will also be vaccinated on schedule. I will also make sure that they don’t travel anywhere near your client base until they are fully vaccinated.
You mean “mis-informed”. That’s the word you’re looking for. Not “well-informed”.
Fixed that for you.
As a counter to the argument that Jay Gordon’s dumb statements are a thing of the past, check out his recent (1/25) posting on Paul Offit. Excerpts:
“One of my patients recently asked me what I thought about an opinion piece by Dr. Paul Offit. Here is my answer:
He is a mostly honest person. His profit from his vaccine patent is estimated at $29 million. But he really is a true believer…
That particular group of doctors and experts are sincere in their belief that any doubts voiced or published about vaccines are dangerous. ANY doubts. They disdain and reject discussions about side effects and any possibility that there are other possible schedules or ways of manufacturing better than we use now. They are, obviously, the vast majority.
Offit feels there are no limits to the number of vaccines that could be given at one time, or over the first six months of life.”
That’s a lot of malarkey packed into a small space – complete with a reference to the “10,000 vaccines” canard.
And this is the guy who snidely refers to Offit as a “mostly honest person”.
Hmmm, so RFK Jr is a “man of honour” and an “expert”?
That will be the way I am an accountant and an expert on tennis: I think I once stood next to an accountant and I know sod all about tennis.
The only reason anyone listens to his babblings is because he belongs to one of your pseudo-royal clans (see Chucky Windsor over here, who would be the village idiot in Tetbury if he was called Charles Slough).
Oh please name a single “ally” who has been labelled an adversary? I have been critical of the influenza vaccine. James Cherry has been critical of the pertussis vaccine. Michael Osterholm has been critical of the influenza vaccine and policy as has Thomas Jefferson although he has engaged in some dubious activities and made some ridiculous statements. And vaccine safety studies continue to be performed. Again I ask, what are the goals of your “pro safe vaccine” parents and doctors and how are they antithetical to what has already been done?
Actually, we had very, very few Freudians or Jungians. A gay fellow I hung around with, went to an institute/ bastiuan of neo-Freudianism although he did not believe ( he had to associate with a place outside the uni in order to amp his career.
Consider the situation-
an out gay man in a Neo-Freudian place!
Hilarious I know.
@ Dangerous Bacon:
“That’s a lot of malarkey packed into a small space”
There’s a new meme about-
anti-vax experts spend “15000 hours ” each studying vaccines and conclude that “they BAD!”
I heard this via Null about himself, Humphries, Banks, Bark and other anti-vax femme docs.
Wouldn’t a person who so studied vaccines have time for little else?
40 hours a week times 50 weeks in a year…
That’s FULL time job ! For 7 1/2 years!
** perhaps he read that meme that 10 000 hours makes an expert in anything so he wanted to be sure by even more.
It’s not about “winning” or “losing.” It’s really not. It’s about protecting the children.”
“It’s not about “winning” or “losing.” It’s really not. It’s about protecting the children.”
Nope. It’s about th misguided parents who bring their children to your practice. You care nothing about the little disease vectors you produce running around infecting others and possibly starting an epidemic.
Nor do you appear to care one iota about the elderly population in close proximity to your practice. You’ll never notice if they die because they were infected by one of your patients, so who cares about your responsibility to the larger community in which you practice? Certainly not you.
Dr. Gordon, your inability to provide any relevant evidence for your frequent claims is defeasible but very strong evidence you don’t actually have a case. You don’t have to be a doctor to recognize fallacious arguments.
Dr G., the specimen: what are the likable things he’s contributed? Orac and one commentator says their were times they like him. Why? Not complaining, asking.
Dr. G., the specimen: he gets economic gain and prestige by appealing to a certain privileged segments of U.S.A. society. As such, because he probably is not a sociopath, he has convinced himself that he’s just asking reasonable questions.
But who can respect a person who honestly thinks that Kennedy is an honorable man who knows what he is talking about? So weird, so weird. Intellectual midgetry; inferior, undeserving of respect.
“He’s a politician”
What office has he been elected to?
State or Federal? And which state? Provide some evidence, even his Wiki page should be sufficient.
Do try better, Travis.