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James Lyons-Weiler and Leslie Manookian are still battling for the title of Most Antivaccine Crank

Yesterday’s crank fight continues, as James Lyons-Weiler, antivax warrior and founder of the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge, stung by Leslie Manookian’s attack painting him as insufficiently antivaccine and even a tool of the vaccine-industrial complex, strikes back. Hilarity ensues as he battles Manookian for the title of Most Antivaccine Crank in the World.

After yesterday’s post about Leslie Manookian’s attack on James Lyons-Weiler, in which I expressed great enjoyment at a crank fight between two antivaccine activists playing out on the ages of that wretched hive of scum and quackery, Age of Autism, I debated whether to do another post on the same crank fight. After all, a major reason why I wrote about it was to demonstrate what I meant when I said I know antivaccine when I see it. On the other hand, it’s just so damned fun to watch two antivaccine loons go at it. Also, repetition is the key to education, and therefore another post, if done properly (and I intend to do it properly) can reinforce the lesson of yesterday’s post. At the very least, it can be entertaining.

If you’re not a regular reader, you might want to check out yesterday’s post, because it shows how Leslie Manookian, the ex-homeopath turned filmmaker responsible for the antivaccine propaganda film The Greater Good, is about as antivaccine as they come. Indeed, so antivaccine is she that she attacked someone whom I consider to be a rabidly antivaccine quack, James Lyons-Weiler, for—gasp!—supposedly supporting school vaccine mandates, as long as there are personal belief exemptions allowed, all the while proclaiming how vaccines harm every child who receives them. Not surprisingly, James Lyons-Weiler was not pleased. Indeed, he had to fire back, and he was given a platform to do so on—where else?—on the same antivaccine crank blog where Manookian launched her first broadside, AoA.

The resulting article by Lyons-Weiler, Have I Lost It? Promoting Medical Exemptions is not “Pro-Mandate”: No Litmus Test for Vaccine Risk Awareness, is interesting for a number of reasons, not all of them my amusement at watching two antivaccine cranks go to war. Again, remember that the criticism leveled at Lyons-Weiler by Manookian is that he supposedly supported school vaccine mandates, as long as there was an “out” for parents in the form of personal belief exemptions and that he suggested that genetic testing could be used to determine which children were “at risk” for “vaccine injury.” Amusingly, Lyons-Weiler tries to turn that criticism right back on Manookian. I laughed out loud as I read:

My first defense is point to articles where Manookian herself could be seen as defending mandates with exemptions in which her line of reasoning could be equally misconstrued, such as one entitled “Suggestions on How to Claim a Medical Exemption in CA” by Leslie Manookian, hosted at the very informed and useful Weston A. Price Foundation website; an article on Revolution for Vaccine Choice in 2016 in which Manookian informs readers to:

“Conduct genetic testing prior to vaccinating to better understand your child’s risk…. Test for various disabilities, conditions, and genetic variance such as variation in MTHFR, CBS, COMT, all BHMTs, MAO-A, SOD, cytochrome p450 enzymes, and HLA type which can determine your child’s susceptibility to vaccine injury.”

Not long after, he twists the knife:

Perhaps her views have changed, and she is now against biomarkers to procure medical exemptions because in her view, that would make her an apologist for exemptions?

How delicious!

As if to bolster his antivaccine cred, he then goes on to proclaim:

After reading what must now be over five thousand studies and articles on vaccines, and devouring laws and regulations on informed choice, it is my personal and informed professional view is that:

(1) Mandates are scientifically unfounded;

(2) Mandates are unethical;

(3) Mandates violate Federal Regulations on informed consent.

I’ve even been censored (temporarily) by the CDC for saying so.

Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

One can’t help but note that, here, Lyons-Weiler feels obligated to portray himself as being more antivaccine than Manookian. He is, of course, grossly mistaken on all three counts. Mandates are not scientifically unfounded. They’ve been the basis of US vaccine policy for several decades now, and the result has been consistently high levels of vaccination. Indeed, what has caused pockets of low vaccine uptake is, not surprisingly, the easy availability of nonmedical “personal belief exemptions” to school vaccine mandates. As for being unethical, mandates are nothing of the sort. Indeed, they are very ethical, as they promote the protection of children against infectious diseases that can result in dath or severe disability. And, no, mandates do not violate federal regulations on informed consent.

Amusingly, in the link above, Lyons-Weiler declares:

Mind you, I am not anti-vaccine. Ask any hard-core anti-vaxxer who has debated the issues with me. They get frustrated at my eternal hope that vaccines might be made safer. Or that biomarkers might be found to screen for those most at risk at serious adverse events. I do have issues with denial of informed consent, and in the bias that exists both in the conduct of “science” on vaccine science, in the interpretation of the “science” on vaccine safety, and the absolute bias in the media against any reasonable discussion of whether any vaccine is responsible for any adverse event.

I’m soooo impressed. Gee, for Lyons-Weiler hope springs eternal that vaccines might be “made safer,” that “biomarkers might be found to screen those most at risk,” and that the “absolute bias” in the media will somehow be countered. That, apparently, makes him not antivaccine. Indeed, perish the thought that he might in any way be “antivaccine,” you haters! How dare you? How could he possibly be antivaccine? He just supports freedom and exemptions:

Let me state this as clearly as possible: as currently formulated, vaccines are filthy, nasty vials of toxic sludge that every American citizen and parent should be able to refuse for any reason. Doctors are not qualified to and should not be put in the position to “vet” whether any individuals’ claim to a religious exemption is “valid”; they certainly are not trained on comparative theology in medical school, and they cannot know the hearts and minds of individuals who do not want to collaborate with the past evils of abortion by injecting products made with and containing proteins and DNA from aborted fetal cells and tumor cell lines. I defend religious exemptions, and I am an evolutionary biologist!

Oh, wait. He also thinks vaccines are “filthy, nasty vials of toxic sludge.” That sounds rather…antivaccine, doesn’t it. Or is it just me?

Lyons-Weiler describes himself as having been an “evolutionary biologist.” That made me curious. So I wandered over to his LinkedIn page. There, I learned that he did apparently earn a PhD in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1997. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Molecular Biology at Penn State University from 1997-2000. So far, so normal.

Then he did have a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1999 to 2002. Oddly enough, this seems to overlap somewhat with his time as a fellow at Penn State. Be that as it may, he didn’t last long there, only three years. This suggests to me that something odd happened. Usually, new faculty in the biomedical sciences is given around five years to acquire funding, become independent, and earn tenure. On the other hand, he says that he established “a Center for Bioinformatics, taught undergraduate & graduate courses (biology, genetics, bioinformatics)” and helped “researchers w/microarray data and developed web applications for high-throughput data analysis.” This does not sound like a tenure-track position, as there is no mention of independent research or running a lab. Lyons-Weiler then moved on to the University of Pittsburgh, where he remained for twelve years and in 2007 became director of the Bioinformatics Analysis Core there until the core closed in 2014, according to him due to state budget cuts.

Lyons-Weiler touts his career as a scientist to make it seem as though his antivaccine claims are more valid, even though they were not. Was he a good scientist? It sounds as though he was a halfway decent scientist, but there are some telling parts of his biography. For instance:

He was selected to serve on numerous large grants, and managed a multi-institutional consortium focused on the optimization of laboratory and computational methods in proteomics. He participated in the NCI’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) and their caBIG (Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid) initiatives. He served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of his brainchild journal, the open access, rigorously peer-reviewed journal, Cancer Informatics. He published numerous papers on new ways of looking at cancer that have helped set the stage for research in individualized medicine. He taught two full courses a year, one on research design, and the other on the analysis of high dimensional genomic and proteomic data.

“Selected to serve”? That phrase leapt out of the page at me. Notice how he doesn’t say that he was ever principal investigator on any grants, but that he was “selected to serve” on them. That’s very telling. It means that he never earned NIH funding or other funding as the leader of a project, the person who conceived it and wrote it. Instead he served as co-investigator. Also note that he was the director of a bioinformatics core. Core directors don’t exist to do their own research, not usually. Cores exist to serve the faculty of a university by providing expertise and research tools to them for a discounted price in order to assist them doing their research. That means a core director is paid to support other people’s research, not to do his own. Now, don’t get me wrong. Being a core director is an incredibly hard job, as I’ve learned just observing core directors with whom I’ve worked, and the expertise of core directors can be very helpful—even essential—to a successful project, and there’s a lot of customer service involved as well. I don’t know if I could be a core director. It is not, however, usually a faculty position where you get to conceive of and do your own research. At best, if you do have your own research projects, they will always be secondary to making sure that others get their projects done.

So what made James Lyons-Weiler go woo? Who knows? He’s definitely not alone in having abandoned good science for pseudoscience, and Nobel Laureates can take a sudden dive into the depths of quackery and pseudoscience for no apparent reason. I don’t know Lyons-Weiler’ reason, but I find a hint in his own biography. One motivation seems to have been the Ebola outbreak. Another appears to be:

In the process of his career, James got more than he bargained for. Always looking to improve ways of doing science, he discovered numerous fundamental flaws in the methods for analyzing data. He always strived to provide improved solutions to these problems. Over the years, given his extensive knowledge of cutting-edge research in cancer and cancer treatments, James helped his sister, his uncle, his future father-in-law, and several close friends find optimal routes to treatment of their cancer. Close friends and family would, on a regular basis, challenge him with statements like “They already have a cure for cancer. They don’t’ want cures, they want treatments!” While conducting research for “Ebola: An Evolving Story”, it became apparent to him that important and significant improvements could be made to FDA’s approach to gold standard randomized clinical trials. To help sort out these perspectives, using the cumulative benefit of all of these experiences, he is now writing a second book “Cures vs. Profits: Success Stories in Translational Research”, due out in bookstores in May 2016.

Was it the cancer in his relatives and friends that he “helped” to treat (presumably by applying his knowledge of computational biology) to their cases? I don’t know, but I do know that his book Cures vs. Profits shows him having gone deep into the woo, where one chapter asks, “Vaccines have saved millions of lives in the last decade? But are they safe?” He formed the “Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge,” described as a “not-for-profit organization* which exists to perform scientific research in the public interest.” Unfortunately, a lot of that “science” is antivaccine. For instance, there is a project where “IPAK has invited Drs. Gatti and Montanari to submit a proposal to investigate where the microcontaminant nanoparticles found in vaccines go in the normal developing mouse.” You might remember that study. It was a truly risible use of electron microscopy to “find” nanoparticle contamination in, well, almost every vaccine. If James Lyon-Weiler thinks that Antonietta Gatti’s abuse of electron microscopy is worthwhile science, he’s lost the plot.

But, as a newly minted antivaxer, Lyons-Weiler sure does like to draw himself up and don the mantle of a scientist to respond to Leslie Manookian:

I can also not enjoin in “belief” (for me) as a guide for knowledge, because, as a scientist, my understanding is not based on belief, but is instead based on empirical results from properly designed and conducted studies (which are wanting for most current vaccines) and based on cumulative evidence. Do I doubt, as insinuated by Manookian that any parent who says their child regressed into autism after vaccination? No. When I cited in the article being critiqued that not all vaccines have been tested for association with autism, I was criticizing the generalization made by CDC, the media and Pharma when they claim Vaccines (plural) do not cause autism. I was not claiming that parents’ observations were invalid – in fact, all science begins with observation. Our society is filled with millions of “observations” – children with autism, ADHD, food allergies, etc. many of whom are now becoming adults – and I do not doubt a single reported observation.

Got that? Back off, I’m a scientist, ma-an! “Do not doubt a single reported observation”? That’s rather…naive. I’m not saying I doubt many parents’ observation of regression after vaccination (although I do doubt a few), but I do doubt the interpretation of those observations by many parents. A real scientist knows that observations like this are hugely influenced by confirmation bias, the all too human tendency to remember what fits with our preconceived notions and to forget that which does not. He also seems unaware of the all too human capacity for confusing correlation with causation. That’s not very scientific, Mr. Scientist.

Nor is this:

If I am not for mandates, even with vaccine risk biomarkers, what am I. I am for science, for informed choice, for titers checking, against re-vaccination when titers fail to show immunization, for considering familial risk, and for formalizing methods to measure risk of injury from vaccination. A thorough review of the literature indicating the plausibility of vaccine risk biomarkers is underway, and it includes Th1/Th2 skew as worthy of testing for its ability, along with many other measures, to accurately predict adverse outcomes from vaccination. I am against fraud, against pseudoscience, against contaminants in vaccines, against mercury, against aluminum, against vaccination in the NICU, against vaccine risk denialism and against vaccine injury denialism. I am pro-buffering against vaccine injury with alternative schedules. I would love to see studies that demonstrate that supplement can protect the human brain against vaccine injury. Do I recommend or not recommend vaccines? I cannot answer that question, because I do not practice medicine. The best that I can do is to try to reform medicine from within, and inform legislators considering specific bills.

Translation: I’m not “antivaccine,” but I think vaccines are filthy, contaminated toxic messes that cause autism and that anyone who denies that vaccines cause autism and all sorts of horrible other conditions are denialists. But I’m not “antivaccine.” I’m, well, let Lyons-Weiler tell it:

I do not wish to control anyone’s narrative. I’m no wolf in sheep’s clothing. I don’t follow any play book other than science, and I employ rational skepticism. And I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor own any of the initiatives. Everyone in our community needs to push in the same general direction to increase vaccine risk awareness.

Of course, in antivaccine parlance, “vaccine risk awareness” means vastly exaggerating the risks of vaccines (or making up risks altogether) and vastly downplaying their effectiveness in preventing disease. Strange that that’s exactly what James Lyons-Weiler does at every turn. He’s antivaccine, and has just spent a whole lot of verbiage to assert that he’s more antivaccine than Manookian. Hilariously, he probably loses, as she showed up in the comments to applaud him for describing vaccines as “filthy” but to berate him for this;

When you write that you don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to know their specific risk, I believe you are missing the point. It’s not that people might not want to know the risk, it’s that a test will NEVER be able to ascertain the entirety of one’s specific risk and even if it could, it doesn’t matter because people should still be free to decide for themselves. We must never cede that ground to the state – sadly I believe your language often does. Imagine I take a test and am told that I have no genetic polymorphisms that make me susceptible to metal toxicity so I don’t qualify for a medical exemption. In a world of mandates with exemptions, would I still have to receive the vaccine? In California I would. What if I don’t want to inject those poisons into me, no matter what the test says?


The other issue I take with biomarkers is it’s putting the cart before the horse because vaccines have not been proven safe. Until vaccines are proven safe, they should not be administered.

Sorry, James. Leslie doesn’t think that vaccines have been shown to be safe and therefore won’t accept (as you will, albeit very grudgingly) that biomarkers could be used to identify those at high risk for “vaccine injury.” (Never mind that what you mean by “biomarkers” for “high risk” for “vaccine injury” and what real vaccine experts and infectious disease doctors mean by “biomarkers” for “high risk” for adverse events are related only by coincidence.) She views them as every much a tool of the state as mandates. I fear that you lose the antivaccine pissing contest. Leslie Manookian remains more antivaccine than you. But don’t be too sad. You are still very, very antivaccine. Just because Manookian is loonier than you doesn’t mean you aren’t a loon.

It is, however, very entertaining to watch you two go at it to claim the title of Most Antivaccine Crank of All, and it’s even funnier to read the comments of the AoA minions, a coule of whom appear to view your both as too “accommodationist.”

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.

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65 replies on “James Lyons-Weiler and Leslie Manookian are still battling for the title of Most Antivaccine Crank”

Wait one moment. Does mr. Lyons-Weiler claim he is more anti-vaccine than ms. Manookian, while he also states he is not anti-vaccine, but just pro safe vaccine?
Mostly people who are anti-vaccine just claim they are just pro safe vaccine. Or considers mr. Lyons-Weiler himself being more pro safe vaccine than ms. Manookian?
He does some weird twisting.

I’m also troubled by his reference to vaccines as “artificial immunization,” which he learned from antivaccine activist Bernadette Pajer, from Washington state. It at least implies hostility to vaccines.

Thank you for explaining the biography for the benefit of us non-scientists.

Dr. Lyons-Weiler does have a list of scientific publications, and a friend who is a scientist suggested they’re reasonable, some even impressive – I can’t assess them. Pity he moved away from science.

I’m also troubled by his reference to vaccines as “artificial immunization,”

Yes, because everyone knows that natural immunity to polio and smallpox is way better than getting a shot.

The worst thing is that his extensive bio is that it will attract all those parents who are so very proud of “doing my own research” who will be very impressed by his credentials. Thanks for, once again, getting into the detail of all that. You’ve made me such a better skeptic.

Then he did have a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1999 to 2002. Oddly enough, this seems to overlap somewhat with his time as a fellow at Penn State. Be that as it may, he didn’t last long there, only three years. This suggests to me that something odd happened. Usually, new faculty in the biomedical sciences is given around five years to acquire funding, become independent, and earn tenure.

My experience is based on physics departments, not biomedical sciences, but often there will be a review during the third year, and the tenure decision is usually made in the sixth year. Sometimes, if an assistant professor is doing particularly well, tenure will be granted as a result of the third-year review. Most of the time, the outcome is to keep the professor for another three years, with feedback as to what areas (s)he needs to improve in order to get tenure.

I bring this up because I know of a former physics professor who was asked to leave after his third-year review (the department in question is at a state university which is not UMass-Lowell). Yes, the guy in question is a kook. He was able to hang around in the field for a few more years with soft money support and a visiting professorship or two, but eventually that dried up, and he subsequently let his freak flag fly freely.

So your interpretation of something unusual happening with JLW at UMass-Lowell is probably correct. I suspect it was made clear to him in light of his third-year review that he had no chance of getting tenure there; we will never know whether that was from displaying signs of kookiness or other issues. He was able to take some soft money support to Pittsburgh and get by for a while there, but was forced out once the soft money dried up (I suspect it was that rather than a state budget crisis as the timing seems off for it to have been the latter).

You might be on to something. My experience is mainly in medical schools and departments within medical schools. Basic science departments around the rest of the university might well be different. The time frame sounds right, because in the medical school departments I’ve been in, usually it’s around 5 or 6 years (7 max) to get tenure or you’re out. It would make sense that there would be in some schools a review around three years to see what sort of progress is being made and whether it looks likely that the faculty member will get tenure. In clinical departments, tenure isn’t a big deal for clinicians. Most clinicians these days, even with the title of professor, don’t have tenure. One reason is that it’s very, very hard to obtain and keep grant funding as a clinician, as departments can’t afford to subsidize your time out of the clinic to nearly the degree they could in the past. (Some can’t afford to do it at all.) Another reason related to the previous one is because most of us make two salaries: Our clinical and our university salary. Our clinical salaries are almost always more than 50% of our income. Add to that the fact that many clinical departments will only guarantee 50% of your university salary as tenure, and in reality tenure is generally only a guarantee of a quarter or less of our salary. It just doesn’t matter that much in our day to day life, the way it does for our colleagues in non-clinical departments. On the other hand, it can be a big deal for clinical departments, because representation in the faculty senate and major medical school committees generally require tenure. In any case, though, I bet you’re right. He probably failed his three year evaluation and was told that he should look for another position.

Another thing: Being a core director is a very difficult and often thankless task, but in general it’s more like running a store or business than anything else. Faculty use grant money or startup funds to pay for your expertise and the services that your core provides. For instance, we have an imaging core, and faculty can pay for use of the various fluorescent microscopes, as well as the technical support of the personnel there. The director will help you design experiments to maximize the chances of a publishable result. However much a core director might innovate in designing techniques, the overall ideas he’s working on are someone else’s. He’s basically a hired gun, offering a service for cash, and the university, although it often subsidizes core services to some extent, expects cores at least to break even, if not make a small profit. My guess with Lyons-Weiler is that sometime before 2014 his core probably started losing more money than the university was willing to see it lose. That’s the usual reason research cores are shut down by universities. Whether it was his fault or not is hard to say. Around that time, research dollars had become very, very tight, and it’s possible that the number of faculty at the university with grant money to pay for the core’s services had plummeted. Who knows? I can only speculate that his core probably failed to break even for two or three years, and that was the trigger that caused the university to close it.

In fairness, it’s not always true that a core director functions like a business owner in all things. Often core directors have side projects representing their own original ideas going on and collaborations, but keeping those going is very difficult because billable hours and purchased services are what determine the success of a core in the eyes of the university.

The role of a core director may also depend on the size of the institution. I work at a very small university. The director of our imaging core applies for his own grants probably at close to the rate of his departmental colleagues. But, everyone has to wear two or more hats here. I would think that at some place like Pitt, that’s not the case.

After reading what must now be over five thousand studies and articles on vaccines…

This jumped out at me. It is typical of us humans to overestimate the amount of studying we have done. I’ve been guilty of it myself. Having said that, if you worked 250 days a year and read 2 studies a day, it would take you 10 years to read 5000 studies. And I mean properly reading them so as to grok them, not to skim. So it’s possible, but I still doubt his claim.

Jullian, the head woo-meister of prn describes vaccine experts ( himself included) like Humphries, Banks or Bark as each having studied vaccines ” over 14,00o hours” ( although sometimes the figure expands to 15,000).
So 20 hours a week would take14-15 years in addition to working full time as doctors ( or woo-meisters)….

I doubt it too. It takes a long time to really glean details from a paper. And especially if you start going back through paper supplementals and really begin to try to pull the grist out. To me, it seems like he’s making an argument by authority using numerical weight to bolster that authority, “I’ve read more than you, therefore I know more you.” Anybody can misinterpret a couple figures in 5,000 studies.


To answer your question, really groking studies, I would be able to do 4 or 5 a day but when working on that meta-analysis (, I used to dissect & pattern match them at the rate of 50 per day but at the end of the project, I would have read a total of around 2000 article no less than 5 times for each articles (some more than others).

Alain (currently on medical leave from school for a month).


Thanks. If I have to resume, I’ll make a comparison:

20 years old: Quebec social safety net for subsistance. No possessions of any values.

current state (41 years old): Quebec social safety net for subsistance. No possessions of any values. A metric ton of knowledge but the only diplomas I can get very easily get are psychiatric ones (yeah, sarcasm, better laught than cry).

As they say, the devil’s in the detail and I’m trying to figure out where to start to figure out the mistakes of my life.

😐 ~> 🙂 (or trying to).



I feel you. I’m 30 and pretty much in the same place.

But I don’t measure success or worth by material possessions or anything like that. I mean, hey: I’m staying out of the psych ward, I’m working enough to earn myself some spending and saving money (I do get some gov. support as well), I pay rent at least, I cook awesome food, I’m good with my nephews, I can do artistic stuff…

I’m not so bad, and neither are you. Hugs hugs hugs. ❤️

Not that I wish it on them, but I wonder whether they would decline “toxic sludge” injections if they or their children were bitten by a rabid dog.
“Oh, but that’s a different kind of vaccine. That’s one that’s safe and effective. See, I’m not antivaccine.”

Leslie Manookian, before her adventures in woo, was a “Wall St executive” employed by Goldman Sachs in both NY and London**. ( bio on The Greater Good site).. I wonder why she changed careers? Was it possibly the Crash?

As I noted yesterday, JLW’s bio looked dodgy and Orac illustrated exactly that above.

This tells us something about why woo attracts people who should know better:
Dr Barrett ( Quackwatch) discusses how medical workers ( not necessarily doctors) may feel powerless whilst observing just how difficult some illnesses are to treat and seek out more “certain” ( though unrealistic) systems.

Woo-meisters I’ve observed relate how family members died of serious illnesses despite medical care- some even blame doctors directly. Mike Adams says he’s seen cancer close up as relatives suffered and died despite SBM. Gary Null blames his mother’s death ( myocardial infarction) on the HRT she received for menopause. When he counsels people for serious illness ( yes, I know, that’s frightening) he lists what they’ve done ‘wrong’ that caused their cancer, heart disease, MS, AD or other conditions, then advises them about fixing the problem through diet, supplements and exercise. Adams’ advice is similar: avoid SBM, get proper nutrition and be spiritual.

Both anti-vaxxers turned to woo when dissatisfied with their careers or perhaps after losing their positions. They decide to’ go it alone’ and f@ck the system like the woo-meisters who abandon consulting SBM when someone they care about dies. Both of these individuals have serious educations to have achieved the positions they reached prior to their respective conversions ( although JLW’s in more apropro than Manookian’s***) perhaps their earlier achievements insulated them from self criticism. They see themselves as adept problem solvers: so why not solve the problem of ASDs?..

You’ll notice that JLW’s preliminary forays into woo may have started RIGHT here at RI: arguing with Julian and others, rejecting SBM and reality.

Another factor is their ability to believe that somehow all the research and data SBM relies upon is FIXED.
And they’re the One to reveal it and save the day.
Not so different from Heckenlively’s fantasy life as Aragorn.

*** I sincerely hope not at the same time
**** several prominent anti-vaxxers have business/ finance degrees.

There is substantial evidence that Dunning-Kruger syndrome is rampant among Wall Street and City of London Masters of the Universe. The feedback loop is broken there, as MotUs are paid significant sums for the risks they take with Other People’s Money. They never question the basis of their financial models until those models turn out to be spectacularly wrong: for instance, that house prices never go down (anybody who lived in New England or California in the early 1990s should have known that house prices do sometimes go down). The difference is that for most people, only themselves and their families/close associates are hurt when their assumptions about how the world works fail. Wall Street/City types tend to crash the world economy when their assumptions fail.

Case in point: in 2007 David Viniar, then CFO of Goldman-Sachs, claimed, “We were seeing things that were 25-standard deviation moves, several days in a row.” If he’d had any concept of what 25 standard deviations means, he would have concluded that his model was wrong after the first time it happened, let alone several consecutive days of such moves.

It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that Manookian was involved in anything that egregious. But if she managed to lose her job in the financial industry at that point, there is a good chance that she made a major mistake around that time, considering how few Wall Streeters (at least those with any significant seniority) lost their jobs over the crash.


blockquote>“Conduct genetic testing prior to vaccinating to better understand your child’s risk…. Test for various disabilities, conditions, and genetic variance such as variation in MTHFR, CBS, COMT, all BHMTs, MAO-A, SOD, cytochrome p450 enzymes, and HLA type which can determine your child’s susceptibility to vaccine injury.

Is this a real thing? I’m not aware that “vaccine injury” correlates with any of these obscure (to put it mildly) genetic tests. I know that this was something that Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon was all hot and bothered about before his mysterious silence about vaccines. It appears he’s moved on to kissing Trump’s posterior, judging by his latest writings in the National Post. They deserve each other.

James, aka Jack Knight, is so silly. He says he was censored by the CDC. He spammed a bunch of links on the Facebook CDC page and the FB spamfilter caught him and hid them. But, he thinks the world revolves around him and blames page admin. Typical ego maniac antivaxer.

“Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”


“He also thinks vaccines are “filthy, nasty vials of toxic sludge.” That sounds rather…antivaccine, doesn’t it. Or is it just me?”

I have been following Jack/James for a while now and his rhetoric is growing more and more irrational and angry, of late. I am not sure where this comes from but I wonder if this is a combination of his own personal health issues combined with frustration at not being taken seriously for his ideas. It must be very frustrating to see your papers turned down by reputable journals and then you cannot even raise $2600 through crowd funding to get your paper published in a bottom feeding rag.

I have a pet theory that he was outed from his academic job and cannot get a new one for the reason that led to him being outed. He also lists multiple sclerosis in his Facebook about so I wonder if he is not personally dealing with that debilitating health issue.

At any event, he spent some fun time over at my blog, which might be an interesting read for you all. I get no monetary compensation for spamming this link 🙂

The guy is approaching Munchausens levels of drama. My interest was sufficiently piqued by the claim that “I’ve even been censored (temporarily) by the CDC” to follow the link… only to find that “censorship” in this case had been redefined to include “A CDC website not publishing his comment immediately”.

Then, he reckoned, he couldn’t publish the comment himself, because of pending litigation. That is, the dumbarse bumblefuck censored himself and blamed it on the CDC.

I continue to insist that the “Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge” sounds like an organisation in a Marvel comic.

You’re talking about two different occasions of complaint. Your interlocutor is talking about the comments on on the mmr VIS that Dr. Lyons-Weiler submitted and were not put up for a while, then put up redacted, then put up fully. That’s referenced in the post on AoA.

You’re referring to his attempt to crash the CDC q&a on flu that got caught in the spam filter.

his rhetoric is growing more and more irrational and angry

JLW’s writing is so intellectually squalid, it makes me want to soak it in bleach. Scrupulous attention to the meanings of words is no guarantee of clarity of thought, but it certainly helps.

Ugh. Thank you for doing the Twitters and Facebooks so I that don’t have to. Also my younger kids would block me.

Still, it must take lots of energy, and I admire you for that. Though I have found as my son gets older, I get more tired… and the supports are still developing (just had his DDA annual assessment this week, it was informative… but not fun). This is well illustrated by this mother’s story, and her daughter is eight years younger than my son:

Thankfully, neither of my kids is on either. LOL I mostly follow Dorit around on Twitter and heart and share her comments. It’s exhausting to try to argue in a short comment. And half the people in the convos will have me on block. Annoying.

My girl had services at Children’s Seattle, from age 6 mos to 3 yrs. Then, we moved north. Great hospital. Excellent docs and nurses. We recently found a new pysch for our girl. She is really knowledgeable about the uniqueness of ASD. I am happy.

Wow. I just read that blog and comments, it was exhausting.

What I do come away with is that the dude is apparently against women, sex and actual evidence.

I forgot to ask: Jack Knight!? What in the blue blazes is that all about? Is it some strange personal he takes when lurking on teh internets?

Oy! That is weird!

And more reasons to avoid some corners to teh internets. Along with the difference in school funding from more than a decade ago, I am now much more happy my kids are full grown adults. Even though one is disabled and needs supports that are not yet in place.

So I looked up Jack Knight. The very first hit was from Wikipedia.

Starman (Jack Knight) is a fictional character, a comic book superhero in the DC Comics Universe, and a member of the Justice Society of America. He is the son of the original Starman, Ted Knight. Created by James Robinson and Tony Harris, he first appeared in Zero Hour #1 (September 1994).

The arrogance and delusion of JLW.

I beg forgiveness from our host and my fellow minions, but I find no other post more fitting to let you know that this is the end of big pharma, and the evils they rain down on mankind.

I know this because I read it at

It seems that that the original source is, unfortunately, anonymous, but someone has spread word of the coming pharmapocalypse on, get this, 4chan. Yeah, the home of 9th grade boys has a real a very real person on the inside who really knows what is going on, and has leaked the true plans of the Trump administration.

We are going to be lucky to survive this. I myself have a black capsule ready – they won’t take me alive.

@ Johnny:
Ha ha ha!
Recently I heard that Gary Null is getting information from Anonymous that he will use to quash the Deep State-Medical Industrial Gulag:
It’s just a matter of time!
Be very very afraid.

Totally OT but great news!

Steven Novella @ Neurrlogicablog reported yesterday (2018-02-09) that Georgian College, a community college in Ontario, was setting up a program in homeopathy.

CBC, the same day, reports the program has been cancelled.

“In light of the recent response from our local community and beyond and in consideration of our students, Georgian College has made the decision to cancel the homeopathy program,” the Ontario school said in a statement on Friday.

And I will scoop even that!

Kim Rossi links to Orac’s post about this affair ( AoA) he “delights in the harm ….” **
Various commenters criticise his abilities.

Go, look, laugh

Shame on you, Rossi: go write about karate or Howard Stern which don’t affect how parents care for their children

** How can a multiple puppy foster parent harm ANYONE!

Is another anti-vaxxer in-fight brewing?
Jake asks AoA’s Kim why she linked to Orac when she “promised” she wouldn’t?

Dr Bollocks’ observation is correct.

That was exhausting to get through. I don’t understand why it was so full of personal attacks. I come from a family.of non-vaxxers. Of five children in my family none were vaccinated. Of four children I have none were vaccinated. My daughter now has two beautiful unvaccinated children. That is three generations. We are all alive and well I am anti-mandate. The danger of childhood illnesses in way over rated and the danger over vaccines under reported. I chose exemption.

Dorie, please keep your beautiful unvaccinated children and grandchildren away from me and those I love. Having personal experience with several childhood illnesses, I know your post is a load of cobblers. My resistance is weakened due to age and illness, and I don’t need you and yours to make me sick or kill me.

The danger of childhood illnesses in way over rated

Dorie, my mother (first child born 1948) and mother in law (first child born 1955) would slap you silly for that remark.

A long time friend of ours was telling about finding a photo of her dad’s younger sister. Another person who was looking at them asked her if her father had gotten her to pose in a coffin. (He was a Hollywood still photographer for many years.)
Although the girl looked very much like our friend, it was her aunt who survived smallpox and diphtheria before succumbing to the Spanish flu epidemic.

I’m glad your family are alive and well, but these diseases haven’t gotten any less virulent.

If we don’t get enough people vaccinated, these diseases will come back and people will die as the measles epidemic in Romania and the diphtheria epidemic in Russia some years ago clearly show.

Orac’s posts are usually a bit long but are generally much easier to read than some of the amateur fiction I occasionally read.

And while he often makes fun of his subjects, he usually manages to avoid unsupported name calling, unlike James and Leslie for instance.

Dorie “I chose exemption.”

I get it: you do not believe that you are choosing the greater risk.

I hope that you never find out that you are wrong.

There is a family in Australia that is now grieving:

People in the USA still get measles:

Please thank your responsible neighbors for protecting your family by vaccinating their family. They are bolstering your community’s immunity to some very nasty diseases. But as you can see, it is not perfect and people get very sick.

The danger of childhood illnesses in way over rated and the danger over vaccines under reported. I chose exemption.

You are a dill. And a dangerous one at that. I had a cousin that died from measles aged 1. Measles was and remains a killer. No not everyone who catches it dies, only about 1 in 1000. A lot more young children are hospitalised following measles and it reduces their ability to fight off other infections for several years. Anyone who promotes a resurgence in measles is a ghoul.

In other news, from the CBC :

Father convicted in son’s meningitis death a featured speaker at Wellness Expo
David Stephan selling ‘multivitamin replacement’ in Saskatoon and will be at Manitoba, Alberta events

Orac wrote about this case at least a couple of times.

I couldn’t boo Stephan at his Alberta Court of Appeal hearing, but I could go boo him at the Calgary “Expo”.

Orac writes,

..very entertaining to watch you two go at it…

MJD says,

Q. Has Orac and Steven Novella had public disagreements on vaccine safety.

If the answer is NO, in my opinion, these two skeptics bring little to vaccine continuous improvement.

I’m very skeptical when a skeptic won’t criticize a skeptic.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – J.K. Rawling

I wondered if L-W had descended far enough to be a guest on Del Bigtree’s “radio” program, HighWire. The answer is, yes.

Title of a show from last year: “PlaceboGate!! The HPV Fraud, The Truth about Zika, and the amazing Dr. James Lyons-Weiler.”*

Just as soon as time opens up on my busy calendar, I will no doubt tune in to that episode and other thrilling chapters in antivax loonery, such as:

“Science Finds God: Tamiflu Death Toll; Homeoprophylaxis with Dr. Cilla Whatcott; Del Delivers in Mississippi. This is HIGHWIRE.”

*note his rather disturbing partial bowl-shaped haircut.

You forgot “Del comes clean about 2018, thinning the elderly population with flu shots”.

The minute they dip into the vaccines are a depopulation agenda, you know they have gone full blown conspiracy theory and are avidly following

Score two for Canadians putting successful pressure on quackery!

See jrkrideau’s post of a few days ago about the homeopathy course.

Sobeys, as a result of public pressure, has pulled their sponsoship of the Wellness Expo. Sobeys is a big grocery chain that operates under their own name and owns Safeway in Canada. Another smaller sponsor also pulled out for the same reason.

Stephan is no longer scheduled to speak, so even the turd who organizes the expos and was quite happy to use a child’s preventable death as “controversy” for his own profit, has received the message.

The CBC article linked above has been changed extensively to reflect all of this.

In other anti-vax news….

Bolen reports that Del Bigtree and his High-Wire act are being targeted by the sceptics so he of course includes the usual smears against James Randi’
he includes a photo of Orac and lists RI.
Orac’s reach grows!

Sceptics are to his mind ( or what’s left of it) a hate group which he will report to the main elf, er,,, Attorney General Sessions

I thought that we were only misogynists like well known feminist leaders
because we scoff at anti-vax mothers ( see Kim Rossi)

Or the evil liberals Mike Adams rants about ( see Natural News)

Since Tim thinks posting bad ratings on a Facebook page is worthy of being reported to the F.B.I.*, the Atty. Gen. (or both), he must surely agree that posting negative reviews on a doc’s page on a physician ratings website by antivaxers is equally worthy of federal investigation. Or not.

*The F.B.I. must be getting a bit tired of alt loons calling for them to get involved every time an altie feels unloved. Of course, the agency has a few other things on its plate right now…

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