Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Quackery

Quoth the antivaxer: “Vaccination is a religion.” Quoth Orac: “Nice projection, there.”

Levi Quackenboss is one of the more oblivious and obtuse antivaxers out there. She demonstrates this again with a clumsy post comparing vaccination to religion.

As much as I missed blogging when I was on my forced hiatus, there were certain things (and people) I didn’t miss in the least. One such person is an antivaxer who goes by the ‘nym Levi Quackenboss. She is without a doubt the epitome of the Dunning-Kruger effect and the arrogance of ignorance on steroids. Although there have been so many examples of these tendencies in Quackenboss, perhaps the lowest point I remember her hitting, the most despicable thing she ever did, was when she attacked and doxed a 12-year-old boy who posted a pro-vaccine video. Hilariously, the 12-year-old boy, named Marco Arturo, so brilliantly put her in her place in response, dropping the mic on her. Less amusingly, she was also the antivaxer who just couldn’t keep her mout shut and, a week before the election last year, bragged about how Andrew Wakefield and a couple of other antivaccine activists had met with Donald Trump in Florida in August 2016, later transmitting antivaccine demands to him. Perhaps the most hilariously embarrassing thing she did was to try to attack John Oliver after his epic and amazing segment on the antivaccine movement. Epic fail, as usual.

So I suppose it’s not too surprising that Quackenboss would manage to get my attention again. This time around, I find her aggressively ignorant and hostile blather a useful tool to illustrate various antivaccine tropes. This time around, her post is 21 alternative rituals to the baby well check. Don’t worry. I won’t go through all 21 of them. They’re not so much the point, anyway, as they are the usual mixture of the probably harmless (like using cloth diapers) to the dangerous (refusing the vitamin K birth dose). What’s more important is the leadup to them, the “rationale,” so to speak.

The key idea behind the article (if you can call the disjointed mish-mash of pseudoscience and bad arguments “thoughts”) is that vaccination is a “ritual” and the reason antivaxers “lose” because they don’t have the same sort of powerful “ritual.” She bases it on something Liam Scheff said in this video:

Liam Scheff was a fairly prominent HIV/AIDS denialist. He was noted for, among other things, having appeared in the HIV/AIDS denialist film House of Numbers. Contrary to Quackenboss’ portrayal of him, he could be a nasty piece of work, complete with making legal threats. He died earlier this year of a rather mysterious year-long illness that he attributed to complications of a dental procedure, complications whose exact nature was never made clear but involved tinnitus. He was also beloved by antivaxers, basically being one of them.

I can see why Quackenboss liked Scheff’s video so much Scheff makes arguments every bit as coherent as hers, as in incoherent. She starts out by describing her elation at the “CDC whistleblower” story three years ago, thinking that, as more “revelations” came out surely the mainstream press would pick up on the story and “blow open” the “coverup” at the heart of the CDC. Basically, this conspiracy theory is at the heart of Andrew Wakefield’s conspiracy propaganda movie masquerading as a documentary VAXXED. The reason it never “broke through” is because it is a conspiracy theory that, when examined closely, has no plausibility or evidence to support it.

I also can’t help but point out that, in the battle for accepting science, scientists are actually at a disadvantage. The human brain is hard-wired to leap to accepting correlation as causation. It’s also hard-wired to to love our babies, to be extremely protective of them. These two characteristics of human behavior conspire to make the antivaccine narrative very compelling: Stories of babies regressing into autism after vaccines easily trump the science that shows that vaccines do not produce a higher risk of autism. If anything, I find it gratifying and amazing that the antivaccine narrative hasn’t completely taken over. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have far more traction than is good for society, but thus far science has done surprisingly well against the lizard part of the human brain.

But back to Sheff. Like so many antivaxers, Scheff takes a germ of an idea that could be reasonable and then runs straight off the cliff with it. In this case, he laments that antivaxers can’t “win,” that their evidence can’t “break through,” because of the cultural narrative that vaccines are good and because vaccines are a “ritual.” Obviously, it never occurs to him that the reason that antivaccine arguments don’t “break through” is because they are utter BS, rooted in pseudoscience, confusing correlation with causation, and the willful misinterpretation of existing science. To him, it’s this:

“You don’t question huge cultural stories, and the story is always the same: ‘This is how we do it. We didn’t always do it this way, but we learned to do it this way, and now we live in the best of all possible worlds.’

Despite disease outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations. Despite diseases caused by the ingredients of vaccines. Despite autism. Despite causing polio by spraying DDT.

‘We live in the best of all possible worlds.’

Their side gets all the support they want because the entire media operation– the church, the government– believes this. No one is going to admit that we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds.

And this is the most crucial point that nobody talks about: the anti-vaccine side doesn’t know what to offer in the place of vaccination.

There is something to the power of cultural narratives. Any cultural anthropologist will tell you that. However, Scheff basically impressed Quackenboss with a gross simplification of what cultural narratives are. For one thing, his obsession of “the best of all possible worlds,” which is, of course, a religious concept. So you know it won’t be long before the “vaccination = religion” angle shows up. But first, Scheff lays down a whole lot of antivaccine pseudoscience, including the claim that vaccines cause disease, the “toxins” gambit, the claim that vaccines cause autism, and more. Hilariously, he asks, “Didn’t scarlet fever go away because of sanitation?” Actually, no. Scarlet fever is no longer a major scourge because of antibiotics that prevent strep throat from progressing to scarlet fever. To be honest, I’m not sure why he brought up scarlet fever, given that there is no vaccine against scarlet fever.

But, hey, why stop there? He goes on to invoke the “vaccine = religion” narrative:

Vaccination is nothing if not a ritual. It is a religious, ritualized act. A ceremony. You go to someone with a white coat, who you trust implicitly, who is smarter than you, who has had more training than you.

They gain your trust by telling you it’s going to hurt a little bit, and then the hurt is going to be over. Of course, they’re talking about a simple prick of the skin, not vaccine injury. They’re just priests. They’re not students of what the ingredients are doing to your body, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

They are hallowed for enacting this ritual. It is very significant to go to a place where you have no control, to give yourself up to authority, to let them do a ritual in which you are a participant.

It makes you feel like you are part of something. You will become a member of a society that accepts a tribal ritual.

The anti-vaccine movement doesn’t have a ritual to offer. They have nothing that says, ‘You can bring your child to this non-vaccine center and we’ll bless your child with the holy oil of oregano. We’re going to do all of this as a ritual. An anti-glyphosate, anti-vaccine, anti-sugar, anti-poison ritual.’

We don’t have anything like that. We can’t compete. People who are asking for logic in medicine are missing the fundamental aspect of medicine: it is a religious ritualistic practice.

We are a far more tribal species– a far more mythology-driven, psychologically-driven species– than we are a logical species.

Well, I’ll have to admit that Scheff’s last statement is correct. We are a mythology-driven, tribal species. Logic, skepticism, and science are not the basis of how we make most of our decisions and come to most of our conclusions. If they were, there wouldn’t be much for skeptics to do. Of course, the same would be true if people like Liam Scheff and Levi Quackenboss weren’t around to try to denigrate the validity of the conclusions of science by likening scientists and physicians to priests in white coats performing rituals without which children cannot become part of society.

Unfortunately, none of this is a new phenomenon. Nine years ago, I was noting how Ginger Taylor and Kim Stagliano liked to define the term “Vaccinianity” thusly:

The worship of Vaccination. The belief that Vaccine is inherently Good and therefore cannot cause damage. If damage does occur, it is not because Vaccine was bad, but because the injured party was a poor receptacle for the inherently Good Vaccine. (ie. hanna poling was hurt when she came into contact with Vaccine, not because the Vaccine was harmful, but because her DNA was not to par or because her mitochondrial disorder was to blame.) Vaccine is presumed to have rights that supersede the rights of the individual, while the human person’s rights must defer to Vaccine.

I cautioned them both that the term they had coined sounds an awful lot like a term coined by a group of truly despicable people, even giving them a friendly word of advice about it. Surprisingly, they didn’t take me up on this advice. Oddly enough, both Scheff and Quackenboss don’t sink that low, but Quackenboss does “build” on Scheff’s “ideas” (if you can call them that) in a way that echoes Stagliano and Taylor:

Seen through this lens, how is the ritual of vaccination in western medicine different from the ritual of baptism as a requirement for eternal salvation in Christianity? Or the Hindu black pottu dot on a baby’s cheek keeping them from getting sick because people admire them too much? Or, at the extreme end of infant rituals, female genital mutilation as a mark of marriageability in Burkina Faso?

People who participate in those rituals don’t question them because they are huge cultural stories. Even if they don’t wholeheartedly believe, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How can scientific research ever make progress when it has to adhere to the (government, big ag, chemical and pharmaceutical industries) religious tenets of ritualistic medicine?

Likening vaccination to female genital mutilation? Stay classy, there Levi. Stay classy. I suppose I should at least be relieved she isn’t comparing vaccination to rape, as some antivaxers do, or to the Holocaust, as others do. She does, however, sound a lot like the über-crank to rule all cranks, Mike Adams, who likened vaccination to a religion as well, but took it one step beyond, so to speak, likening it to the “ritualistic sacrifice of children to the ‘vaccine gods’ as a way to appease their globalist controllers, just “as the Maya high priests carried out their sacrifices in the name of ‘cosmic powers.'”

Actually, the more I look, the more I find the same sorts of comparisons as Quackenboss among antivaccinationists. For instance, one antivaccine group posted what they thought were the Vaccine Ten Commandments, such as the Second Commandment, “It is NEVER the Sacred and Holy Vaccine. Any injuries associated with the Sacred and Holy Vaccine must be coincidence, or a lie.” Then there’s Jon Rappoport, who lays it on even thicker:

Today, as a revival of ancient symbology, vaccination is a conferred seal, a sign of moral righteousness. It’s a mark on the arm, signifying tribal inclusion. No tribe member is left out. Inclusion by vaccination protects against invisible spirits (viruses).

The notion of the tribe is enforced by dire predictions of pandemics: the spirits of other tribes (from previously unknown hot zones in jungles) are attacking the good tribe, our tribe.

Mothers, the keepers of the children, are given a way to celebrate their esteemed, symbolic, animal role as “lionesses”: confer the seal on their offspring through vaccination. Protect the future of the tribe. Speak out and defame and curse the mothers who don’t vaccinate their children. Excommunicate them from the tribe.

You get the idea. Quackenboss even says the same thing:

I’ve been chatting with an LQ commenter who messaged me the other day to say that vaccination is a ritual of cleansing. Those who partake are clean, and those who do not are unclean. Heck, you’re unclean for even questioning it, even if you did partake.

They see themselves as clean and pure and see us as vile and germ ridden.

Of course, Quackenboss doesn’t see it this way because, well, she doesn’t really believe in germ theory:

There is a faction of the population who believe that “germs” seek diseased tissue as their natural habitat— the germs aren’t the cause of the diseased tissue. The “terrain theory” holds that sick people have a temporary or permanent disposition to infection caused by their environmental toxic load, inadequate nutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and stress levels. These stagnant pools within our tissues become the breeding ground for existing benign microbes to morph into pathogenic microbes.

Yes, she’s referring to Antoine Béchamp, a rival of Louis Pasteur, whose idea was that bacteria don’t cause disease, that they are harmless; that is, if you have a healthy body. Basically, Béchamp’s hypothesis was known as the pleomorphic theory of disease and stated that bacteria change form (i.e., demonstrate pleomorphism) in response to disease, not as a cause of disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states; they do not invade from the external world. Béchamp further proposed that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated that microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Ultimately, Pasteur’s theory won out over that of Béchamp, based on evidence, but Béchamp was influential at the time. To be fair, given the science and available technology of the time, Béchamp’s hypothesis was not entirely unreasonable. It was, however, superseded by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Koch’s later work that resulted in Koch’s postulates. What needs to be remembered is that not only did Béchamp’s hypothesis fail to be confirmed by scientific evidence, but his idea lacked the explanatory and predictive power of Pasteur’s theory. Fassa is sort of correct about one thing, though. Béchamp’s idea was basically something like this:

The inner terrain includes our immune system, organ tissues, and blood cells. Those who stepped out of line from Pasteur`s dogma asserted that the inner terrain was more vital for remaining disease free than searching for new antibiotics and vaccines to kill bacteria and viruses.

As an analogy, flies don`t create garbage. But garbage attracts flies that breed maggots to create even more flies. Removing garbage is more effective than spraying toxic chemicals, which endanger human and animal life, around the house. Similarly, adding toxins to humans is not as effective as cleaning out the inner terrain.

Guess what antivaxers consider to be “toxins”? Vaccines, of course, which brings us back to the sorts of things that Levi Quackenboss recommends as rituals for antivaxers. These include the relatively uncontroversial, such as breastfeeding your baby for six months (although she can’t resist advocating continuing breastfeeding to a full year as the baby begins eating solid food) and using cloth diapers; the harmless but useless, such as waiting five minutes after birth to cut the umbilical cord, letting the child drink only filtered water or natural spring water; and the potentially harmful, such as not using pitocin, epidural anesthesia, or antibiotics to bring your baby into the world; and the dangerous, such as refusing the neonatal vitamin K shot.

It’s also not surprising that HIV/AIDS denialists and antivaxers have such an affinity for each other. They have a shared world view with respect to disease-causing microbes: Denial that they cause disease in healthy people.

Cluelessly, Quackenboss asks why her 21 points haven’t replaced vaccination for the majority of the population? Her answer is telling: They cost money. They take work. It never occurs to her that they not only can’t prevent disease the way vaccination does, but some of them are potentially dangerous or harmful. Instead, she arrogantly touts her privilege and her contempt for those who aren’t as good as she perceives herself to be, saying, “You wanted to have kids, so guess what? You need to take care of them, even if that means spending money on higher quality food, because just keeping them alive day after day isn’t cutting it.”

Then she concludes:

So the next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone who sees your child as a disease-carrying baby bat because you didn’t partake in the vaccine ritual, confidentially reassure them that you did the delayed cord clamping ritual, the vernix rubbing ritual, the probiotic ritual, the daily sunshine vitamin D ritual, and the breastmilk 12 times a day ritual, so your baby is also protected and cleansed, and they don’t need to worry themselves about it.

Except that such a baby is not protected, and parents would be right to worry about their child being exposed to such an unprotected child. Also, Quackenboss is an idiot. She doesn’t realize that alternative medicine and antivaccination beliefs are in reality all about contamination requiring ritual purification. Quackenboss was just projecting. She just doesn’t like that her ideas about ritual purification isn’t the dominant belief.

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]

88 replies on “Quoth the antivaxer: “Vaccination is a religion.” Quoth Orac: “Nice projection, there.””

I find it mind-boggling that anyone in this day and age would question germ theory. OK, maybe our president, but nobody else.

Our education system is failing us. I am afraid that I don’t see anyone with the courage to try to fix it taking command anytime soon.

It is known that Donald Trump’s father suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

It has been suggested that Donald Trump may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Q. When will medical science become a check-and-balance for the US Government (i.e., fifth branch).

She’s also right that part of their problem is that people like her really don’t have a good alternative to offer that would protect children from diseases that can kill and harm them, even if, as you humorously pointed out, her analysis of why is totally off.

That’s likely why they have to cling to the claim that diseases like measles, hib and polio are harmless, evidence notwithstanding, and that vaccines don’t work.

That’s likely why they have to cling to the claim that diseases like measles, hib and polio are harmless

Nonono. They’re beneficial. Cia Parker is perhaps the prime mover and shaker in the pro-measles camp, with weak anticancer correlations.

Worth pointing out again: the name Levi is derived from the Hebrew word for priest. IOW, Quackenboss has taken on a pseudonym with explicitly religious overtones (whether she is aware of this or not). I seem to recall some comments about the wisdom of projectile tossing by the inhabitants of vitreous dwellings.

The continuous improvement of vaccines fulfill a moral obligation of “do no harm” while changing a religious ritual is often considered morally unhealthy and a desecration.

In simplification, the vaccination method (nonstatic) is the antithesis of religious rituals (static).

Therefore, vaccination is not a religion.


We agree, I think, now will you release me from auto-moderation?

I’m not Orac, of course. But you’ll have to prove that you have other things to say besides your idee fixe, MJD.


Even if MJD agrees with you for once, please don’t let this assclown out of auto-moderation. Thx.

If anything can be likened to a fundamentalist religion or cult, it is the antivaccination movement: they dogmatically believe that vaccines are the very essence of evil, ignoring the overwhelming amount of evidence that they’re wrong. I think that their tenets can be represented as follows, with (alas) only mild exaggeration:

The Cult of AntiVax – sacred tenets of belief
1. Trust & Truth
1 verse 1: All vaccines are Evil. Period.
1 verse 2: Never trust anyone who is positive about vaccines.
1 verse 3: Pharmaceutical companies lie about efficacy and side effects of vaccines.
1 verse 4: Doctors lie about efficacy and side effects of vaccines.
1 verse 5: Governments lie about efficacy and side effects of vaccines.
1 verse 6: Scientists lie about efficacy and side effects of vaccines.
1 verse 7: All the above parties are only interested in our money, not in our health.
2. Knowledge
2 verse 1: The Cult of Antivax by definition has Supreme Knowledge about vaccines.
2 verse 2: One day with Google and YouTube provides more Knowledge than ten years of study.
2 verse 3: Verifiable facts are subordinate to anecdotes.
2 verse 4: Verifiable facts are subordinate to what we think is likely.
2 verse 5: Verifiable facts are subordinate to what we make up (a.k.a. “think for ourselves”)
3. The Nature of Vaccines
3 verse 1: All vaccines contain Toxins
3 verse 2: All vaccines are untested.
3 verse 3: Vaccines are a diabolical instrument to keep the sheeple weak and sick.
4. The cause of Disease
4 verse 1: Vaccines cause autism.
4 verse 2: Vaccines cause immune disorders.
4 verse 3: Vaccines cause diabetes.
4 verse 4: Vaccines cause chronic fatigue syndrome.
… (omitted for reasons of brevity)
4 verse 187: Vaccines cause infertility.

And of this we witness as our immutable Truth, under the guidance of our enlightened prophet Wakefield.

Hilariously, he asks, “Didn’t scarlet fever go away because of sanitation?” Actually, no.

In the UK, cases have risen to their highest level in decades (over 19,000 notifications in 2016).
I guess they all forgot to wash their hands or something.

I looked it up to be sure:, according to Celia Farber ( blog: Truth Barrier- more like Barrier to Truth) Scheff died last year. He was an hiv/aids denialist .

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that several aids denialists ( I’m too lazy to list them all now but a few have had events at Autism One- including Montagnier who travelled the entire routed from aids realist to woo fraught aids theorist to anti-vaxxer and Ruggiero ) have jumped aboard the anti-vax wagon, which makes sense, being that both belief systems are nonsense.

RE Taylor and Stagliano ( now Rossi) who compare vaccination to religion – oddly enough, both of these women cite religious beliefs of their own on their twitter accounts: Rossi famously believes in ‘angel numbers’ ( double elevens) and Taylor uses more traditional Christian ideas. They rely on supernatural beliefs and then condemn – wrongly- vaccine science for being like a religion. Make up your minds, ladies.

I have to agree with Richard: sounds like a cult to me too.

I can’t help but think, knowing as much as I do about alties, if their child had scarlet fever. would they avoid ‘toxic’ antibiotics altogether, skimp on them ( not complete the full course), take vitamin D instead or go to a naturopath? I can see it happening.

Antibiotics are despised nearly as much as psychiatric meds.

We already know these nuts will do that for meningitis: that Canadian kid, Ezekiel Stephan.

Seems like a dangerous decision to me: a guy in the department where I work lost his arm to Strep (I think, maybe Staph). The amputation had to chase the infection up his arm and he almost didn’t live. Screwing around with whether or not to treat could be very costly.

MDfinfer:Our education system is failing us. I am afraid that I don’t see anyone with the courage to try to fix it taking command anytime soon.

It’s not so much a lack of courage, but more like “what would be the point?” People want to be dim. People don’t want to read books, they want to whine and piss and moan about what’s in them. It’s like the proverbial horse and water. Maybe the best thing to do is just shut off the tap for a while until they understand the importance, or move all the funding to regions that will appreciate education. (Also, there’s the issue of funding; people like guns better than books and that will never change.)

MJD: And you have cared about science when? It’s people like you that are the friggin’ problem here. Heck, you probably voted for Trump, so you don’t get to whine about him now.

@ PGP:

I can understand your frustration with these people, They make me upset too. HOWEVER it is not ALL people even in very conservative regions, it is SOME people.
In fact, I recently quoted a poll that showed the great political divide concerning beliefs about the value of a university education
Lots of people value education as you do. And it isn’t strictly red vs blue although the majority of each side believe exactly as you would expect. it’s not 100% vs 0 %..

WE couldn’t just shut down SBM or education for MANY reasons ( most of which others here can present much better than I can) including:
– the kids would suffer. They would be punished because their parents had bad ideas. They would be deprived of health or a decent education.
– even in the reddest states, there are islands of blue. If you look at red state blue state on wikip—, ( and the converse, rural patches of red in blue states) you’ll observes maps, that as they reduce down to the more granular counties, cities and districts illustrate the island motif. Because ALL kinds of people live in cities. Where do you draw the line?

Oh for crying out loud PGP.

Maybe the best thing to do is just shut off the tap for a while until they understand the importance, or move all the funding to regions that will appreciate education.

How many times do we have to tell you? Collective punishment doesn’t work. And as DW points out, even in the most hostile anti science, anti learning areas, there are people who support those things.
Stop. Just stop.

I sometimes like to say that the only religious tenet I adhere to is that the speed of light is the same in all reference frames. That’s a poetic and geeky way of saying that the laws of reality exist and that you can’t change them around. And that you can test them, and actually learn something. So I guess following the evidence means that vaccination really is my religion,

@ jrkrideau:

The US used to follow the UKian convention where red equaled Labour, blue, Conservative; then, it was switched to the present setup where the more liberal Democrats are blue…
Take a look at the wikip—- article, red state blue state, which shows the maps and trends.

It’s just that I have to twist my mind around to reverse the colours when thinking of US parties.

Still, it makes the old saying Le ciel est bleu ,l’enfer est rouge from the 19 century Québec clergy true in the US.

Quick Translation
The sky/heaven is blue, hell is red.

Narad: Dude, I know the public school system. Trust me, most of my fellow students were not interested in reading, writing or ‘rithmatic. Even in private school, most of them are disengaged; we had a Shakespeare course that one student entirely shut down because he was a rich whiny brat who didn’t want to learn. The adults only want the kids to learn so they can get an MBA; critical thinking and the humanities are a bad thing. And then there’s the Southern schools; book bans almost daily, most of them over words the adults use at home on a daily basis. I like to learn, and I like reading, but I realize that the majority of the world doesn’t.
And of course, there’s the president. If Americans didn’t like being dim, why would they vote for a guy who’s persistently stupid?

DW: I’m not proposing that SBM be shut down EVERYWHERE. In certain states, there would be special academies that would teach science and nothing else, but in the rest of the state, no science in classrooms after fourth grade. Universities would gradually be shut down in some states. After a while, the intransigent would gradually come around when they notice all the jobs are going to the educated.

Dude, I know the public school system.

Doubling down on your tedious, dumb, dystopian fantasy life doesn’t cut the mustard.

If Americans didn’t like being dim

It’s never as simple as “smart” versus “dim.” A lot of antivaxxers are stolid in their opinions not because they’re stupid, but because they have a lot of confidence in their own ability to appraise the truth about a subject about which they don’t realize they are poorly equipped to handle. With many of them, my bet is that you could look at their lives and find that they’re successful in some other avenue. It’s not always as simple as “intelligence.”

I like to learn, and I like reading, but I realize that the majority of the world doesn’t

Well and good, but if you know nothing about a subject, how do you know whether or not the book you just picked up is dog poop? Most of the people you’re casting aspersions at are reading and making judgments just like you; why is what you’re reading so much better than what they’re reading?

Sorry, PGP. No they wouldn’t. The intransigent would just become that much more resentful and angry. It’s human nature.

What you’re suggesting is called, “Cutting off your own nose to spite your face.” It’s counter productive.

A better approach would be to better fund schools in these states, reduce classroom sizes, get rid of the stupid focus on standardized testing, and actually make learning fun.

Honestly, I don’t know why kids have to be restricted to classes strictly by age group. Learning should be an issue of exploration, and some kids will get some subjects faster than others. Don’t hold them back, let them go! Others will fall behind; let them catch their breath and then catch up.

But importantly, parents have to value education If the parents don’t, the kids won’t.


why would they vote for a guy who’s persistently stupid

54% of us did not vote for him.

The anti-vaccine movement doesn’t have a ritual to offer. They have nothing that says, ‘You can bring your child to this non-vaccine center and we’ll bless your child with the holy oil of oregano.

The inadvertent comedy in that sentence…

JF: I hate to do this, but you really don’t understand Americans. It’s not collective punishment at all, because it’s simply eliminating a service people don’t want and aren’t interested in.

Show me the county that voted 100% for Trump. If you can’t find one, then what you are proposing is collective punishment. And even if you can, it would only not be collective punishment in that county.

A big chunk of education funding comes at the state and local level, FWIW. Federal funding only affects the margins, and in most cases, the people it benefits are the people with the greatest need for such benefits. So what you have in mind is likely to be counterproductive.

Even if PGP could find such a county, it would be collective punishment: every county has residents who are too young to be allowed to vote, and most if not all have residents who cannot vote for other reasons.

It’s not collective punishment at all, because it’s simply eliminating a service people don’t want and aren’t interested in.

It most certainly is collective punishment. A simple glance at the CDC figures ( shows that the great majority of children are vaccinated in every State because the great majority of people in every State are not antivaxxers. Politicalguineapig wants people in red States to have to watch their children suffer and be maimed or die because she hates us. It has nothing to do with vaccines.

Jeez, PGP. If you’re reduced to telling someone they don’t understand Americans, you have lost this argument. You just used the appeal to authority fallacy; the authority in this case your being an American.

What it means to be an American varies widely, as our current political divide amply shows.

The US used to follow the UKian convention where red equaled Labour, blue, Conservative; then, it was switched to the present setup where the more liberal Democrats are blue…

Yes, the colors are confusing in an international sense. Personally I’m doing my best to make red Socialist again. (Not that the exact colors matter, but it’s my favorite color after all. And I’m only blue in the emotional sense, I’m not a liberal (which is correctly understood everywhere else as a conservative ideology, economically speaking.)


Look, I have all kinds of fantasies about “after the revolution,” but they’re fun fantasies, not sadistic. (OK, maybe mildly and half jokingly sadistic when it comes to billionaires and fascists and so on.)

Just stop. I live in a rural county which is somewhat “purple,” but leans red. Yes, there are a lot of numpties and Trumpists out here, but there are also a lot of lovely people with all kinds of different leanings, some of whom love learning and even (gasp) learning about other cultures through different means, maybe travel if they can afford it (generally not, except to Mexico.)

And beyond that, the Trumpettes and numpties are also human, as are their offspring. Cutting off these services would harm them too for no particular gain, plus it would diminish the amount of compassionate behavior in the state ultimately harming us all.

I just tried wading though the horsesh*t that is Quackensloth. Especially since she called me a priest. I just can’t. It like a million monkeys on meth banging on keyboards for a million years couldn’t spew something this stupid. Good grief.

The comments are pretty entertaining, with several vaccine theory deniers and some creative biology. See: “Scarlet fever, like strep throat, is a toxin-mediated bacterial disease (Streptococcus pyogenes). It appears that antibiotics are contra-indicated since they can increase the production of the toxin.” for an example.

As ironic as Quackenboss calling vaccine support a religion…

I just listened to a tape of Gary Null’s show ( today/ 35 minutes in) wherein he had his ‘scholar in residence’, Richard Gale, instruct listeners on how to differentiate fake news sites from real.

Oh yeah. They discuss how the powers-that-be set up people, start misinformation campaigns, lies etc. Gale cites a few ‘good sources’ but Null corrects him on Snopes as it is wrong on vaccines.

This is so topsy turvy that I almost can’t keep track.. it’s hard to write..
a pseudoscientist telling audiences to be vigilant for fake science / fake news sites who make money off of the unwary while he himself… oh I can’t go on.

Panacea: Honestly, I don’t know why kids have to be restricted to classes strictly by age group.

Mostly because the older kids will bully the younger students whenever the teacher turns their back. Better idea is to sort classes by age but make small groups determined by ability that can have different age groups. And don’t turn the different age groups loose together. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to make Americans value learning or expertise, except by limiting those things. Limited things always go up in value.

FP: Most of the people you’re casting aspersions at are reading and making judgments just like you; why is what you’re reading so much better than what they’re reading?

Because most of those people have been hardened and congealed in corporate life and business speak for all their adult lives, and then go home to the vast cultural desert that is suburbia and the small town. Also, since most anti-vaxxers went into a business track, they never learned to cite sources, read journals and, probably, never got familiar with the hell that is microfiche. I’m not saying that you need to do all that to understand the science, but it does help to know how to do research and how to determine whose results might be good, and who simply rectally sourced their results. (One thing about looking at old ads, it’s startling how much they resemble the stuff being sold as today’s ‘miracle cures.’) And I’m sure they don’t have any loved ones who work in the health fields; its amazing how much I could learn from my mother and grandfather by just listening.

JP: Why would they go to Mexico? Spending a vacation cringing at everything doesn’t sound like a good time.

Mostly because the older kids will bully the younger students whenever the teacher turns their back.

Naive, PGP. Very naive. The most vicious bullies I ever had were all in my year.

I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to make Americans value learning or expertise, except by limiting those things.

Interesting then that Millennials are the most educated generation yet.

[M]ost of those people have been hardened and congealed in corporate life and business speak for all their adult lives, and then go home to the vast cultural desert that is suburbia and the small town.

I live in the suburbs. There are several libraries within driving distance of my flat, I know quite a few avid readers, and there are four theatres nearby. This is what you dismiss as a “cultural desert”.
Just stop.

You beat me to it, Julian. The worst bully I had to deal with growing up lived across the street from me and was my age. We were in the same class from first grade through high school: the 12 most miserable years of my life. It didn’t get better until 11th and 12th grade when I moved into advanced science classes, while he majored in gym.

Funny . . . he’s now a PE teacher.

Whoa there pal, you wanna chill with the sweeping generalizations? ‘S not too nice when you insult people on your side.

Whoa there pal, you wanna chill with the sweeping generalizations?

No, she doesn’t. They’re her sine qua non.

Ah. That’s a shame.

I haven’t been to Mexico but I have been to Big Bend National Park and it’s a very pretty place. I’d assume the Mexican landmarks are just as eye-catching.

Why would they go to Mexico? Spending a vacation cringing at everything doesn’t sound like a good time.

Did you read the part about how there are people around here who are interested in other cultures and don’t fit you stereotypes, politically or otherwise? I guess not.

Thanks for insulting a bunch of my family and friends, though. Well done.

Don’t feel bad, JP. PGP insults friends, family, neighbors and myself 2 or 3 times a month.

Back in the day I cared a little. Now I remember that she faces murder, or worse, every day in the h3ll hole she lives in, and chalk it up to PTSD.

As usual, Politicalguineapig spews her vile genocidal hatred against anyone who differs from her.

Just FYI for decent people, I live in one of the reddest States. I do not know anyone who is antivax and I only knew one who was vaccine-hesitant. She saw the light when her baby girl got the flu, so now I don’t know anyone who is even vaccine-hesitant.

Out of curiosity after reading Politicalguineapig’s usual dreck about people from red States being subhumans who should be deprived of all vaccines and left to die because we’re too ignorant to make use of vaccines, I checked out our school vaccination rates relative to the U.S. median. In the 2015 school year we were above the median in all cases except the MMR where we are low by 0.2%, which is probably well within the margin of error.

We had our first case of measles in eighteen years thanks to Disneyland. The victim was an international student.

So Politicalguineapig lusts for our deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, not because we don’t understand or use vaccines, but just because she hates us and wants us dead. Vaccines are just an excuse.

Oh, and she asserts “And I’m sure they don’t have any loved ones who work in the health fields”. My father is a now-retired physican who is internationally known in his field. He was born here in flyover country and has lived almost his entire life here. It is merely a measure of her astonishing ignorance that she thinks we don’t have physicians here.

i live in an agricultural county (91% farmland) that is so red, in every (I was about to type “most”) local election the ballot has two-thirds of the candidates running as Republicans, unopposed. Our school vaccine compliance is 97%, and for years we’ve made the top ten best places to live in America if you are gay.

PGP’s brain is as welded shut as those of the people she fears.

My impression is that Politicalguineapig lives in Minnesota so I compared our rates with theirs. Ours are higher in every case, except the second dose of varicella which we don’t require and they do. This is also true relative to the U.S. median and I omitted that above.

I also checked out Texas. Politicalguineapig really wants to see Texans (such as all of my mother’s relatives and most of my father’s relatives) exterminated. The kindergarten vaccination rates for Texas are in the 97% range or higher on every vaccine.

@ William Hyde, great clip!

As for the whole “white coat” nonsense Quackenboss goes on about, my children have never had a paed who wore a white coat. Furthermore, they’ve never been vaccinated by a doctor; it’s always been the nurses and they wear scrubs.

I was going to point out something similar: here in UK-ia most vaccinating will be done by practice nurses (non-white coat uniform), health visitors (may not even wear a uniform, but certainly not a white coat) and school nurses (most likely not wearing a uniform and definitely never a white coat).

Outside certain acute hospital settings seeing a medic give any form of injection is unusual – it’s generally us minion nursey types…

The Quacker is falling back on standard woo tropes – “your science is just religion har har har”, and blaming infectious disease victims for falling ill (our ‘terrain’ is superior to yours because of better living and/or genetic superiority).

As for the “religion” angle, I recall it was AoA that justified banning pro-vaccination comments from their site on the grounds that allowing them was comparable to permitting atheists to harangue the devout.

AoA’s Rossi is now comparing mothers who reported ‘vaccine injury’ resulting in autism and were disregarded to women who made complaints of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

I don’t think it’s exactly the same thing: probably most people know that the former is not very likely and that the latter is all too common but was just a fact of life .It wasn’t a big surprise to the general public. The tide turned and now men who behave that way are not tolerated by their employers.
Also, claims of vaccine injury were not on deaf ears: they were investigated, broadcast and then dismissed because of facts.

Actual news outlets do vet stories that come to them: just the other day, a faux report about a senate candidate’s unseemly actions was found to be a set up by a political group trying to claim the media was unreliable.

They are also reporting a new autism rate of 1 in 36. It keeps growing they say.

If you don’t have arguments, to convince your opponents, you just tell them they are a religion.
Global Warming – religion
Science – religion
Vaccination – religion

Over the past week I have received several emails announcing new posts, all of which are years old. I don’t want to unsubscribe, but it’s annoying when four year old posts are shoved at me as if they were new.

Oh, please. No one is “shoving” old posts at you as though they were new. Some old posts didn’t make it over to the new blog and started showing up as dead links on Google. Some were very important (to me) posts. The review of the second Burzynski movie, for instance, and another discussion of Burzynski on Panorama. You might even say that at least three of them were cornerstone content.

So I reconstructed the missing posts (there were around 8 or 9 of them, if I recall correctly) from the versions archived on the Wayback Machine at and reposted them. I’ve taken care of all the ones I know about. I cannot guarantee that there won’t be more of them discovered the next time Googlebot crawls the new site, however. There are over 5,500 posts on this site, and the transfer of content to this new site was done in a rush to beat the deadline when Scienceblogs was going to go offline. I’d be amazed if it were only around 10 posts that didn’t make it over. I’ve already discovered one more, but it was just an announcement; so I didn’t bother to reconstruct it.

Orac’s latest post (one line in particular) has inspired an alternate version of a famous song by Queen. It’s rumored that The Refusers are planning to record it in time for next year’s Autism One conference.

She keeps Lupron and MMS
In her pretty cabinet
‘Let them get sick,’ she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
Sells a quacky remedy
Like junior Robert Kennedy
A pseudoscientific invitation
You can’t decline

Enemas and chelation
Well versed in intimidation
But extraordinarily nice
She’s an Antivax Queen
OSR and secretin
An unfocused laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Recommended at a marked-up price
For non-gluten appetites
Wanna try?
Perfume came naturally from Roger Maris
For facts she couldn’t care less
Oblivious and obtuse

She’s an Antivax Queen
OSR and secretin
An unfocused laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

*Lyrics do not apply to any particular individual, living or dead, and are not intended to cure, prevent or treat any disease. The Secretary has disavowed any knowledge of my actions.

“Despite causing polio by spraying DDT.” – now, where has this one come from? It popped up a couple of times on NZ-based Facebook pages for one of our media outlets (along with the scarlet fever/sanitation one), so I’m guessing the commenters are fans of Quackenboss or Scheff. But what’s the actual origins story?

I did point out – on the FB pages & in my blog – that polio was formally described in 1789 but DDT wasn’t in widespread use until the 1940s, so there’s a big fat gaping hole in their narrative. But the only reply I got was “well, who cares how it’s caused, the issue is that vaccines are baaaad”.


I’m sorry I asked; I will never get those neurons back.

Yes, the same threads also saw the “Amish don’t get teh autismz” claim, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Factual research? Ha!

Ah! Who needs neurons, when you can have unverified stuff from teh internets? [note this was full sarcasm]

Not sure where to put this…

I read an article last night on VOX by Julia Belluz about why public health educators may be using the wrong messaging to get through to vaccine resistant parents. Interesting: most messages appeal to values of fairness but anti-vaxxers speak to “liberty* and purity..

Purity certainly addresses the religious angle. They also consider the political aspect- conservative or liberal values.

I’m not really familiar with the measures they discuss. But I think it might be worth a look..

I do not want to see people exterminated. I just want resources to go to the people who appreciate them. Also see: things increase in value with limited access. Ration medical care in San Diego or Orange County and watch the rates go up! Alternatively, we could just straight up bribe them.

Shay: What bizarre parallel universe do you live in? I’m asking, because it would be nice to move there. I like rural areas, but the politics and the lack of theater and music-not so much.

Also, Texas is really pretty, and most of the people I met (I was down in Big Bend on a birding tour) are surprisingly nice. Their politics aren’t, and I suspect if I wasn’t white, I’d have a different impression of them, but oh well.
JF: I have a feeling our experiences of suburbia are vastly different. Most of the suburbs around here are colonized by chains and don’t have sidewalks.

I do not want to see people exterminated. I just want resources to go to the people who appreciate them.

How can we learn to appreciate resources if we don’t get to learn them?

To be more specific, I endured 2+ years of citywide public harassment ~10 years ago because in peoples’ percetion, autism == mental retardation and I shouldn’t be able by this very criteria to have an university education paid off by taxpayers (among other vastly more insulting harassment).

Today, I don’t get harassed and my latest marks (yes, I’m at school) has been: 92%, 81%, 94% and 100% (last one last Monday) in History, French, Math and History. The difference: I don’t get harassed.

That said, in your case, denying an education mean no one is gonna get any marks. Period.

More important, they will learn what they can learn but that might not be the learning you are vouching at the moment. Think about it.

Al (Today & Tomorrow, English exam, math exam next week).


Yes, the 81% was in French (and yes, that’s my native tongue) but, however, I get better marks in English today (ESL or native, doesn’t matter).

Politically, I’m still a separatist (Quebec as a country as opposed to a province) but it is definitely not for language purpose although I try to speak better French.


I just want resources to go to the people who appreciate them.

Given the amount of time that people have wasted here trying to merely extract something resembling rationality from you, I can only sit back and marvel at this utterance.

What’s amusing about PGP’s “I just want resources to go to the people who appreciate them” is that it sounds exactly like a teacher I had in high school who lasted only one year for reasons that will become apparent. He stated, in class, that women go to college only in order to get their MRS degree (i.e., marrying some male college student) and thus college educational resources shouldn’t be wasted on them. Likewise, in the 50s, I understand, plenty of men argued that women just want to stay home and raise babies, so they should not be permitted to work outside the home.

Obviously PGP entirely agrees with that teacher and all those men in the 50s that if many members of some group don’t appreciate some resource, that resource should be taken away from the whole group. She merely disagrees with their opinions of what many women want. So I’m sure that if someone presented a poll indicating that a noticeable minority of women really do just want to stay home and raise babies, PGP will agree that college resources should not be wasted on women.

Notice that I say only “a noticeable minority” and not a majority, since it is quite obvious that the great majority of parents in Texas do vaccinate their children and PGP would rob the whole State of vaccination anyway.

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