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Jeff Noble and Kerry Bentivolio host a “vaccine choice” (antivaccine) roundtable at a local Republican office

Kerry Bentivolio, Republican candidate for Congress in the 11th Congressional District in Michigan (Orac’s district), hosted an antivaccine roundtable with Orac’s state representative Jeff Noble, three antivaxers, and the antivaccine group Michigan for Vaccine Choice. Orac attended and now reports the craziness.

For some reason, the last two or three weeks have been rather slow in clinic and the operating room, and the nearest grant deadline is two months away. What that means is that occasionally there’s a day when I can come home early. Yesterday was just such a day. When I got home, however, I was greeted by a link sent to me by one of my readers to an event that was scheduled for 7 PM to be held a mere 15 minute ride away from my house. It was billed as a round table on vaccine choice, and it was hosted by Kerry Bentivolio, one of the Republican candidates for the nomination for Michigan’s 11th district, where I reside. Moreover, my state representative, Jeff Noble, was slated to be one of the panelists:

Please join us for a discussion on vaccine choice—what is it (and isn’t) and why is it important. Our goal is to bring awareness from clinical, legal & moral angles with our panel and encourage open, respectful dialogue about this important and complex issue. Doors open at 6:30pm.

Our panel includes:
“A nurse’s perspective: current culture and informed consent” with Amie Kremer, a NICU registered nurse and clinical nursing instructor at WSU

“How vaccines impact health: a clinical perspective” with Gretchen Perry-Emery M.S.N., F.N.P.-B.C., N.P.-C.​​

“Vaccine injury—a parent’s story,” with Dave McDowell, father to vaccine injured triplets and Michigan for Vaccine Choice activist

“State legislative briefing” Representative Jeff Noble

“Addressing vaccine choice at the federal level” Kerry Bentivolio, member 113th Congress

Q & A

This piqued my interest. I thought about going, but hesitated because I had only had two hours’ notice and hadn’t had dinner yet. Also, the thought of showing up at a roundtable that was likely to be attended by a lot of die-hard antivaxers was not appealling to me. On the other hand, I was enraged to see a nurse slated to appear at the event who is a clinical nursing instructor at the university where I am faculty, Wayne State University. Now, I know that clinical instructors are generally unpaid adjunct-like faculty who teach nursing students at local hospitals where nurses do their clinical rotations. (It’s the same thing with clinical faculty for medical schools who teach medical students.) Even so, it disturbed me greatly that this was not just a nurse, but a neonatal ICU nurse, and, worse than that, associated with my institution, even if only as clinical faculty. I also couldn’t help but notice that nowhere did the notice say what hospital she worked at.

Then there was another nurse, except that she was an advanced practice nurse, or, as they are more commonly called, a nurse practitioner. Longtime readers know that I’m a big fan of NPs and have spoken up for them in response to turf war-inspired attacks by my fellow physicians, which is why it disappoints me to see one so deep into woo.

I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Dave McDowell before this. However, I wasn’t surprised that a parent who thought his child had been injured by vaccines would be on the panel. What antivaccine panel would be complete without such a parent? The main twist here was one I hadn’t heard before: McDowell, I learned, claimed that his triplets were all vaccine-injured.

As for Kerry Bentivolio, a former schoolteacher and reindeer rancher, as well as an actor in extremely low budget movies, he was always a strange bird and very right wing. Elected to Congress representing my very gerrymandered district in 2012, he only lasted one term. He had actually truly been an “accidental Congressman,” having managed to take advantage of an open seat left by Thaddeus McCotter when McCotter resigned during the 2012 campaign and he was the only Republican challenger for the nomination on the ballot. In any event, he was defeated in 2014 by Dave Trott for the Republican nomination. Now he’s running again.

Then, of course, Jeff Noble is my state representative. I’ve written about him before in the context of his sponsoring a “vaccine freedom” bill designed to gut the state’s requirement that parents seeking personal belief and a bill to provide “informed consent” about “fetal parts” in vaccines. Yes, between Jeff Noble and Patrick Colbeck (my state senator who, because he’s term-limited, is now running for governor), who has been antivaccine-sympathetic if not outright antivaccine ever since I first encountered him, I’ve been really unlucky in terms of my state representation.

Ultimately, I decided to go. Again, lucky for me, I haven’t been that busy the last couple of weeks. Unlucky for Bentivolio and Noble, I haven’t been that busy.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this

I got in my car and headed to where the round table would be held. I knew the area well, because it was less than three miles from where I had grown up after my parents’ move to the suburbs when I was 10. The Livonia Victory Center sits in a near-empty strip mall that looks as though it dates back to the 1970s next to the abandoned, decaying hulk of an old K-Mart that I remember shopping at when I was a teenager. I didn’t remember if that strip mall was there when I used to frequent this K-Mart, but I suspect that it probably was. Either way, I suspect there’s a metaphor in the location somewhere.

In any event, the Livonia Victory Center is a Republican office “dedicated to helping elect Republican candidates in the state of Michigan” and serves as a “gathering place for like-minded conservative activists.” The office provided seating for up to maybe 100-150 people, and, once the event finally started, I estimated that roughly 60 people were in attendance, maybe 75, tops. It was actually more than I had expected. Indeed, I had worried that so few would be in attendance that it would be hard for me to keep a low profile. After all, my intent was not to draw attention to myself or argue. It was to observe, and observe I did.

As I approached the entrance, I was greeted by Kerry Bentivolio himself:

Right at the entrance was a table where we were asked to sign in. I was a little worried that a local antivaxer might recognize my name, but it turns out that there was nothing to worry about. I was half tempted to use the email for this blog ([email protected]) as the email that I used to sign in, but I decided not to be so bold. (In retrospect, I should have used that address as my calling card.) Instead I used my throwaway address and my Google Voice phone number. As a result, I’m sure I’ll soon be getting all sorts of emails from Bentivolio’s campaign, local Michigan antivaccine groups, etc. Particularly telling was a sign that informed me that audio and video recording was forbidden without seeking permission from the organizer.

After signing in, I wandered around. There was a lot of literature for pretty much every candidate running for the Republican nomination for state and local offices that encompass Livonia and surrounding environs. There were life-sized standups of Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Donald Trump, all standing side by side. There was a huge “Support our troops” sign. There were tables with refreshments. I grabbed a bottled water and some of the literature for later perusal and looked for a seat.

Gifts Chemtrail Guy gave me
Gifts Chemtrail Guy gave me.

Upon sitting down, I almost immediately encountered an older man holding court about chemtrails and how US money isn’t really money at all. (Yes, I recognized sovereign citizen conspiracy nonense when I heard it.) Just my luck, Chemtrail Guy sat down in the row in front of me and kept trying to engage me and those around me with his knowledge about chemtrails and currency. He claimed he knew someone in Army Intelligence who had confirmed to him that chemtrails are real, and he claimed to have debated a professor of economics about his claim that US currency isn’t real currency. Chemtrail Guy was amiable enough, but, even given how amiable he was, I could tell that even the antivaxers around us were growing a little impatient with him given how he perseverated.

Fortunately for everyone, the event started. Even more fortunately, I soon learned that the whole talk would be on Facebook Live, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about secretly recording the audio with my iPhone or sending out Tweets and emails in a building with absolutely horrible cell service (at least on my provider’s network). On the other hand, I kicked myself. I could have stayed home and just watched the video on FB Live. Of course, if I had done that I would have missed out on the amusement that Chemtrail Guy provided.

And here it is, in all its “glory”:

I’ve also downloaded the video, in case the Bentivolio campaign decides to take it down. Unfortunately, it’s not complete. It’s missing the last 10-15 minutes or so. I think that what happened was that the iPhone being used to record the panel discussion ran out of juice. Unfortunately, that meant missing much of the Q&A session, which was utterly bonkers.

The antivaccine tropes begin: Amie Kremer

The panel began with introductions of each panelist. Kerry Bentivolio started by telling his story of vaccine “skepticism.” According to him, when he was in Iraq, he was responsible for seeing that all the soliders in his unit received the anthrax vaccine, and he first became interested in the issue when a soldier asked for a waiver. I’ll go into that more later. Bentivolio also claims that he attended recent court cases in which parents engaged in a custody battle who were fighting over whether their child should be vaccinated or not. Lovely.

Amie Kremer kicked the whole thing off by talking about “informed consent” and the culture of informed consent when it comes to vaccines. Yes, regular readers will recognize right away that this is the antivaccine trope that I like to refer to as “misinformed consent.” The idea is to misrepresent informed consent as requiring that parents be informed of all sorts of fantastical “risks” of vaccines that science does not support. Not surprisingly, Kremer doesn’t think that informed consent is done well. She also expressed great unhappiness about the fact that “we give vaccines to premature babies,” and that’s part of her job as a neonatal nurse. She even invoked what I like to refer to as the “appeal to the package insert.” Here’s the thing. Package inserts are legal, not scientific or medical documents. They are the ultimate in “CYA” in that they include every adverse event observed in every clinical trial used to approve the vaccine, whether or not anyone thinks those issues had anything to do with the vaccine itself. Doctors and scientists know that most of these issues are not due to vaccines, but antivaxers frequently do their best to make it sound as though they are. Hilariously, she even notes that there is rubber latex in the stopper used for the hepatitis B vaccine. (Yes, I do shudder to mention this, knowing the annoyance it could potentially launch in the comments. Let’s just say, I plan to shut that shit down.)

Kremer was careful not to go too far off the deep end, at least initially. However, she couldn’t restrain herself. Eventually she brought up the issue of “aborted fetal cells,” a favorite trope of fundamentalist antivaxers. Yes, two of the cell lines used to make some vaccines were derived from fetuses well over 50 years ago. However, the connection between the fetal origin of these cells and the actual cells used now is so distant that even the Catholic Church is OK with using vaccines for which the virus is grown in these cells. Kremer even went so far as to ask, “How do Christians, Muslims. or Jews feel about knowingly injecting aborted fetal cells into their child?” Of course, unless Kremer is a blithering idiot, surely she must know that no such thing is happening. “Fetal cells” are not being injected into babies. Or maybe she is a blithering idiot. Unfortunately, she was a pretty good presenter. Also, does anyone really believe that she cares about anyone other than fundamentalist Christians when it comes to “aborted fetal cells”?

I’m still miffed that the nursing school at my university allows this woman to teach nursing students.

The antivaccine tropes continue: Gretchen Perry-Emery

Next up was Gretchen Perry-Emery. She’s a functional medicine quack. I also note that she got her advanced practice nursing degree from Walden University, which offers online APN degrees. Given that my wife is an APN, I know that the problem with these programs is that, even if their didactic teaching is acceptable, they often leave it up to the student to find clinical rotations. In any event, Perry-Emery’s practice is a typical functional medicine practice in that it uses all the buzzwords we expect from functional medicine:

Gretchen approaches healing from a holistic perspective, using minimally invasive approaches and biomedical modalities first. She is persistent and inquisitive in the identification of root causes, and possesses a solid knowledge of functional medicine, nutrigenomics, epigenetics, overriding SNPs of methylation/detoxification pathways, the use of pharmaceutical grade supplements and compounded pharmaceuticals to treat dis-ease. Gretchen is dedicated to bringing wellness naturally to patients, and is excited to help those who have lost hope find it again, through the art of holistic healing- based on a Functional Medicine paradigm.

Perusing her practice’s website, I see that it’s basically her, plus a physician who oversees her prescribing authority. (I wondered: Doesn’t Perry-Emery know that Michigan recently passed a law unshackling NPs from an overseeing physician for prescriptions?) In any case, this doctor, Laina Feinstein, MD, boasts internal medicine and medical acupuncture, osteopathy (her husband is part of the practice and a DO), wrinkle reduction, and a quack device designed to detect acupuncture meridians through measuring the skin’s electrical resistance.

Perry-Emery apparently suffered a needlestick back in the 1990s, and says that, as a result, she got “a lot of injections.” She also claims that she suffered seizures. Only years later did she “connect the dots” and conclude that those injections had something to do with her seizures. Since then, she’s indulged in the ultimate in confirmation bias, saying that she often notices that her patients’ deterioration in health seems to happen after they receive vaccines. Why is it that I’m not surprised?

She is also very unduly impressed by a book called Vaccines and Autoimmunity. Guess who the editors are? Yes, it’s a book by Yehuda Shoenfeld, who invented the ASIA syndrome without evidence, and, of course, Lucija Tomljenovic, whose understanding of vaccines is, at best, weak. Hilariously, she invokes the gambit of the dreaded fetal DNA. I had to restrain myself from laughing (and giving the game away) when she opined about the problem of having “fetal DNA” from a female being injected into a male baby or “fetal DNA” from a male being injected into a female. Whatever will happen, she wondered? Also, according to her you have to check the patient’s methylation profile and prevent the burdens of “toxins” from just living or the even more added burden of “toxins” from vaccines.

Not surprisingly, Perry-Emery belongs to Physicians for Informed Consent. I haven’t written about this group before, but I will at some point. Suffice to say that it’s a group dedicated to the idea of misinformed consent. Of course, she presented a non-falsifiable hypothesis in that she said it’s not necessarily “just vaccines” causing autism, autoimmune diseases, chronic diseases, and all manner of problems. According to here it could be vaccines plus all the other nastiness in the air, water, soil, and food that is the real cause of autism, autoimmune disease, and, well, everything. Not surprisingly, Perry-Emery’s blog is full of what you would expect from functional medicine quackery, autism “triggers” due to “metabolic dysfunction,” the “dangers of glyphosate,” chronic Lyme disease, and more. Remember, functional medicine is quackery that combines the worst of both worlds, the excessive testing and overtreatment of conventional medicine with the quackery and pseudoscience of alternative medicine. Also not surprisingly, there’s a lot of antivaccine nonsense believed by many functional medicine practitioners.

Finally, I really, really, really had to restrain myself when Perry-Emery started claiming that herd immunity does not exist, that it’s a myth. (Wrong. Small declines in vaccine rates wouldn’t result in big increase in disease frequency if herd immunity wasn’t a real phenomenon.) This was, of course, a case of being so wrong that she’s not even wrong. It was at this point that I wanted to blow my cover, jump up, and yell at her, “Are you serious? You have no clue what the hell you’re talking about!” Fortunately, I restrained myself. Barely.

Perry-Emery concluded by saying that parents have a choice: Follow the CDC/AAP schedule, delay some vaccines, personalize the vaccine schedule, or don’t vaccinate. I say: Just vaccinate, unless you have a medical contraindication.

Vaccine mega-“injury”: Dave McDowell and his triplets

Any antivaccine panel would be incomplete without a parent who thinks his or her children are “vaccine-injured.” That brings us to Dave McDowell, a local Michigan man who thinks that his children, triplets, were all vaccine-injured. This part of the proceedings, I must admit, was the hardest to follow. McDowell told a story of his children all being normal in the morning of one day (June 25, 2007) and going to their not recognizing him when he came home from work in the evening. What happened? I didn’t really learn anything from what he said at this panel discussion. His anecdote was not clear, and I didn’t even realize from it until near the end that his claim was that all of his children regressed on the same day after a trip to the pediatrician for vaccines. So I did some searching, having heard that McDowell said that he had told his story to the VAXXED crew:

In this version of events, the parents blame the pneumococcal vaccine, which the triplets received that day. In the video above and in this post, Brenda McDowell describes a scene in which her children received their shots at 10 AM on 6/27/2007 and by noon her children had started to “shut down.” First it was their daughter Claire, who was described as “completely shut off, as if she was blind and deaf” and just “staring at the ceiling.” Then by 2 PM the sons started to “shut down” as well, first Richie, then Robbie, who, by the end of the day “looked like he was hit by a bus, he had a stunned look on his face.” Both emphasized that Claire “still has the mark on her leg” from the shot, which strikes me as highly unusual. At the Bentivolio event, Dave McDowell gave a much abbreviated version of the story, blamed the pneumococcal vaccine for what happened to their children, and expressed his displeasure with Jimmy Kimmel for his routine a couple of years ago in which doctors said in no uncertain terms that vaccines don’t cause autism.

I also note that the McDowells’ story was featured in a open letter by Dr. Rachael Ross, who, as you might remember, was featured in VAXXED as a convert to the antivaccine cause. I also can’t help but raise an eyebrow at how in her “mea culpa” letter she mentions the McDowell triplets and describes Brenda McDowell as a “very attractive white woman with years added onto her face and her smile”—why does it matter if she’s white?—and be disturbed by Ms. McDowell’s language, which was so reminiscent of antivaccine language, in which she is reported to have said that it was “as if someone replaced her children with new ones.” Yes, the McDowell’s narrative is steeped in the “lost child” and “not my real child” imagery of the antivaccine movement. Indeed, in the video, Brenda McDowell describes spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to “recover them” and how “the only person we got back was Robbie,” the one who “was last to shut off.”

Overall, the story as related at the Bentivolio event by Dave McDowell sounded a bit fishy, and watching the VAXXED video and reading posts about them didn’t make it sound better. It’s likely a combination of confirmation bias and missing earlier signs (which is very, very common among parents relating stories of sudden regression). For my purpose here, it doesn’t matter. They believe that the pneumococcal vaccine “took away” their triplets all on the same day. Apparently they were told that the pneumococcal vaccine was “contaminated” and blame that for their children’s autism. This was related by David McDowell at the event and by his wife in the video. I presume they meant this recall from 2007, which was done out of an excess of caution. Basically Merck had detected a sterility problem in one of its factories and, even though the vaccines they tested from the lots recalled were not contaminated, recalled the lots anyway because they couldn’t assure sterility of every vaccine vial in the lots.

It’s impossible to know what really happened to the McDowell triplets. Their story is dramatic, but it bears the hallmarks of increasing certainty with repetition. As we all know, confirmation bias is a powerful thing, particularly when it involves one’s children. What I do know is that the evidence is very clear that vaccines are not associated with an increased risk of autism. It is very unfortunate that Bentivolio chose to include Mr. McDowell in his little “vaccine choice” penal, because it guaranteed that emotions would win over science.

Jeff Noble: I don’t want to protect unvaccinated children during outbreaks

Up next was my state representative Jeff Noble. He’s a pastor at a local evangelical church and very conservative, spouting the usual small government platitudes that such politicians love to repeat. He started out by saying that children are a gift from God and that God gave the parents the responsibility of deciding what’s best for them. He pulled out the old trope about how supposedly parents know more about what’s best for their children than doctors or the state, a trope that is obviously incorrect in the case of antivaccine parents. Like Rand Paul, he spouted a bunch of rhetoric about parental rights, how the government shouldn’t be interfering with that choice, and how whether or not to be vaccinate their children should absolutely be only the parents’ choice with “informed consent.”

Rep. Noble, of course, is not happy about the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ requirement that parents seeking a personal belief exemption have to go to a local county health office and listen to an educational presentation and that they use a specific form. He described this as making parents “jump through all kinds of hoops.” (Good! Parents not wanting to vaccinate their children should, at the very least, be required to jump through a lot of hoops to accomplish that!) Then he went on a nostalgia kick about how, when he was a kid, he got the measles, the mumps, etc., and “we just dealt with it.” (I bet he got the polio and smallpox vaccines. Just sayin’.) Also, to remind you, Rep. Noble was co-sponsor of a bill that would have, if passed, eliminated the MDHHS’s authority to require parents to attend this educational presentation. It didn’t pass, but he’s at it again, assuring the audience that the bill is in committee and lamenting that he couldn’t get it to the floor before the summer recess. (Yes, horrifyingly, Rep. Noble sits on the Michigan House Health Policy Committee.) That’s not all, though. As I mentioned before, he’s co-sponsor of a bill to require “informed consent” about “fetal parts” in vaccines.

What most infuriated me about this panel wasn’t so much Rep. Noble’s invocation of “freedom” and “small government” coupled with broadsides at the government bureaucracy (always a crowd-pleaser among Republican voters ever since I was but a child) in the service of “vaccine freedom.” That’s pretty run-of-the-mill for politicians who’ve confused freedom from responsibility with freedom. No, what irked me was something I’ve discussed before, namely his desire to make measles great again in Michigan. Of course, that’s not how he put it, but that would be the effect. Basically, Rep. Noble appears to be very passionate about eliminating local health officials and physicians’ authority to pull unvaccinated children out of school in the event of an outbreak or if it is suspected that an unvaccinated child has been exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, viewing this power as a horrible affront to parental rights and harmful to unvaccinated children. I kid you not.

Jeff Noble
Jeff Noble explains why he thinks that empowering health officials and doctors to keep unvaccinated children out of school during an outbreak is an intolerable affront to liberty.

My mouth dropped as I listened to him go on about this, bringing up the example of a straight-A student who’s terrified that she’ll be pulled out of school if there’s a case of measles or other vaccine-preventable disease in her school because her having to stay home for up to 21 days would endanger her perfect GPA. Why, asked Rep. Noble, if this unvaccinated child is perfectly healthy, should she be kept out of school if a student there was diagnosed with a vaccine-preventable disease? I wanted to leap up and shout, “You flunk Epi 101!” but wisely restrained myself. Of course, the reason you exclude unvaccinated children from school in the event of an outbreak or cases of a vaccine-preventable disease for the incubation period of the disease is to protect them and the other students because they are much more susceptible to the disease than the vaccinated children and therefore much more likely to get it—and much more likely to pass it on. Rep. Noble’s ignorance on this topic is epic. I also can’t help but note that, if this bill were to pass into law, it would make Michigan the only state handcuffing local health officials when it comes to deciding to exclude unvaccinated children from school in the event of outbreaks. What happened to local control, given that this law would put such decisions in the hands of the state through the MDHHS? Apparently, local control is fine for “small government” conservatives, except when they disagree with what is done with that control.

Later on, this topic revealed an ugly strain. I don’t know if Rep. Noble thinks this way (I hope not), but in the Q&A session a woman got up and ranted about this very topic, asking why we don’t worry about children with HIV and hepatitis B, and require them to go to school rather than excluding them. I wanted to explain the difference to her, but, again, wisely restrained myself. As the woman was going on and on about this, I heard women nearby murmuring their horror that children with AIDS were being allowed in school when unvaccinated children were being excluded and approval of what the woman was saying.

Kerry Bentivolio
Kerry Bentivolio holds court. Chemtrail Guy’s arm is in the lower right hand corner

Kerry Bentivolio: I’ll reform the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986!

Last up was Kerry Bentivolio. I’m not going to spend much verbiage on him because he is truly a fringe candidate, but his central promise was that he was going to “reform” the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and basically eliminate the Vaccine Court. I couldn’t help but chuckle ironically as such an über-conservative said this, because apparently Bentivolio doesn’t realize that eliminating the Vaccine Court is one of the fondest wishes of trial lawyers who want to sue big pharmaceutical companies. The reason is that the Vaccine Court, although it pays complainants’ legal fees and reasonable expenses and has a pretty liberal evidentiary standard, rarely pays eye-popping settlements. These lawyers don’t want to make just hourly fees; they want a nice fat 30% cut of huge judgments on contingency.

In any event, there was much murmuring of approval from the crowd. As they had been doing periodically for the whole session, several women seated behind me kept repeating, “Amen!”

As I said, I’m not very worried about Bentivolio. He’s not going to be the Republican nominee for my Congressional district. However, since the rise of Donald Trump, his strain of the Republican Party is in ascendance, and this crowd showed that definitively. Indeed, I can’t help but take note of an off-the-cuff remark by Rep. Noble in the Q&A in which he mentioned that the Republicans on the Health Policy Committee are the only ones receptive to vaccine choice initiatives, while the Democrats won’t even consider them and want to “shove vaccines down your throat (or arm).” From my perspective, that’s just another reason to vote Democratic in the fall.

One last curiosity: Mr. Bentivolio came back to his experience in Iraq, talking about observing the soldiers in his unit before and after getting the anthrax vaccine. He swore that they were less happy, more irritable, and more depressed after the vaccine and wished that he had made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track. He was also convinced that morale in his unit plummeted after everyone was vaccinated. Can you say “confirmation bias”? Sure, I knew you could.

An antivaccine greatest hits compilation

By the time the Q&A finally rolled around, I was exhausted. I had just sat through a veritable greatest hits package of antivaccine tropes, courtesy of an antivaccine NICU nurse, a functional medicine NP, a fringe Congressional candidate, a dad convinced that vaccines had caused his children’s autism, and, most distressing of all, my state representative who, even if he himself didn’t spout antivaccine tropes, appeared to take what he was hearing at face value and indulge the pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and other nonsense in the name of “freedom.” I mean really? “Fetal cells in vaccines“? Check. “Fetal DNA in vaccines that’ll make your child autistic“? Check. “Toxins“? Check. CDC conspiracies? Check.No herd immunity? Check “Virus shedding” after vaccination? Check. Food allergies due to the MMR because it’s a “mutated virus”? Check. Chemtrails? Check…no, wait, that was just the one guy, and none of the panelists brought up chemtrails. They might as well have, though, given how divorced from reality and science they were.

Patrick Colbeck
Patrick Colbeck makes his entrance.

Heck, near the end, my old buddy and state senator Patrick Colbeck showed up. He’s running for governor now, and told the crowd to ignore the polls because he, who had predicted Trump would win, is now predicting that he’ll be our next governor. He won’t. (He also seems to forget that he was Ted Cruz’s campaign chair for the state back during the Republican primaries in 2016.) In any event, I can’t wait until after August 7, when he’ll be out of the race, and then for January 1, when he’ll no longer be my state senator.

A favorite conspiracy among the crowd that popped up in the Q&A was the claim that pediatrics practices were falsely entering unvaccinated children in the state vaccine database as having been vaccinated. One woman claims that her child showed up in the database as having been vaccinated at a pediatrics office in Kalamazoo, even though she and her children had never been to Kalamazoo. (I’m guessing these are likely bureaucratic mistakes, which will happen from time to time in a database of millions, but that’s just me.) The motivation? Money, of course. There was much discussion of how Blue Cross apparently pays a bonus for each fully vaccinated child. Yes, it’s known as pay for performance, and it’s nothing at all nefarious. (It’s also generally not that much money.) Ask yourself: Why would Blue Cross want to encourage vaccination? It’s the same reason it encourages other preventive care services; in the long run vaccines save the insurance company money because vaccinated children are far less likely to get preventable diseases. In any case, this mother was amazed that her child’s name and birthday had appeared in the database, apparently not considering that a typo could have rendered a child with the same name as having the same birthdate. Rep. Noble said that he thought the mother should talk to the attorney general. (Of course.)

Another claim made in the Q&A by a different woman (but the same woman who was incensed that HIV-positive children were allowed in school while unvaccinated children could be excluded) was that “three babies died on the table” following their vaccinations. Naturally, the woman wouldn’t “reveal the name” of the pediatrician, but called the doctor “her” and said she was a “real Henry Ford Pediatrician.” Lovely. Another woman went on and on about how vaccine injuries are underreported. By this time, I was tuning out, and, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view, the video cuts out, leaving me with just my notes. (At this point I wished I had recorded the audio.)

One refrain I kept hearing among people in the audience that you probably don’t get from the video was, “Where are all the doctors?” It’s a refrain that popped up a couple of times over the course of the 90 minutes, and at each point I exercised near-superhuman restraint and didn’t jump up to say, “Here’s one!” Actually, the lack of doctors anywhere on the panel or anywhere in attendance was the only thing about this antivax confab that made me happy. There shouldn’t be any doctors at a meeting like this, ever, except to report on it or to to inject some science. It didn’t take me long to conclude that trying to inject some science would have been a lost cause; so I took the Paul Knoepfler approach to his attendance at a stem cell sales event and just observed.

After the Q&A, the meeting was over, but many of the attendees lingered to talk with the panelists, and Chemtrail Guy went around buttonholing more people to talk to them about…chemtrails. (There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, too.) I wandered around one last time, noting a table where copies of VAXXED on DVD were for sale, along with other antivaccine propaganda films and books, interspersed with free pamphlets and booklets, some of which members of Michigan for Vaccine Choice had been handing out while the panel discussion was in progress.

Ack! It's the "toxins" gambit!
Ack! It’s the “toxins” gambit!

So what concerns me about this event, besides the usual antivaccine myths, tropes, pseudoscience, and misinformation? To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made the effort to attend if it had just been Kerry Bentivolio there with the same antivaxers. He is, after all, a fringe candidate. However, my state representative was on the panel too. He sits on the Health Policy Committee, pushing efforts to make measles great again in Michigan. He happily participated in an event in which the antivaccine group Michigan for Vaccine Choice was prominently in attendance. This is very bad.

I’m glad I went, too. Rewatching parts of the session on FB Video, I understand that being there was a very different experience than watching it on FB. For one thing, being there let me know that the crowd was basically 100% antivaccine. There wasn’t a word of skepticism was expressed by anyone I saw there, and fervent belief was expressed by many. (Can I get an “Amen,” brothers and sisters?) I also now understand that Rep. Noble is beyond recall, something I hadn’t realized before. I don’t think he’s antivaccine himself, but he is what I would call antivaccine-sympathetic or antivaccine-adjacent. He has no clue about epidemiology and has hopelessly conflated “freedom” with permission for parents to let their child endanger others based on pseudoscience, quackery, conspiracy theories, and fairy dust.

And I’m still really, really cheesed that that antivaccine NICU nurse is a clinical instructor at my university’s nursing school, and, after having endured assaults on my brain through over an hour and a half of this nonsense, I was also seriously tempted to stop at the local liquor store on the way home. I didn’t, but barely. It was, after all, a weeknight.

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]

172 replies on “Jeff Noble and Kerry Bentivolio host a “vaccine choice” (antivaccine) roundtable at a local Republican office”

I warn people, sincerely, of the dangers of vaccines because of what my family has been through.

We’ve experienced food sensitivities, allergies, gut issues, anxiety, depression, night terrors, and muscle and vocal tics. I think the work of Chris Exley and Stephanie Seneff is compelling. Polysorbate 80 opening the blood brain barrier…there’s definitely a gut-brain connection in things we’ve experienced. On another note, it’s awful to discover that the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services has not been doing their job. No one is watching out for community safety re: the vaccine schedule.

I think the work of Chris Exley and Stephanie Seneff is compelling.

Seneff doesn’t do “work,” aside from being a glorified TA; she pulls things out of her ass. Remember, it’s only seven years until everybody is autistic. If anybody’s BBB is open, it’s hers, and it’s draining into her gut.

“We’ve experienced food sensitivities, allergies, gut issues, anxiety, depression, night terrors, and muscle and vocal tics.”

Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes those issues on a regular basis. Neither of those researchers are qualified.

Plus if you are afraid of polysorbate 80, then never feed your kids ice cream or anything else where it is used as an emulsifier again.

“No one is watching out for community safety re: the vaccine schedule.”

Yeah, sure, ya betcha. Except for the Vaccine Safety Datalink Program and qualified researchers from all over this planet, which are a much more reliable than the scaremongering websites that feed you the evidence free dreck you are parroting here.

I warn people, sincerely, of the dangers of anti-vaccine people like you.

Some of my kids fully vaccinated, some partially. Experience is a good teacher for future decisions.

So, Paulette, you have a story about anecdotes and how useful it is to leech off of your community’s immunity. Not terribly convincing. Plus encouraging others with your anecdotes is eroding the community immunity to some nasty diseases.

Please thank your responsible neighbors who protect your family by vaccinating their families according to the suggested schedule.

I warn people about the dangers of rotavirus and chicken pox because of what our family has been through. So how many 911 calls and trips by ambulance did you have? Also, have you ever taken care of a six month old with chicken pox? Plus, as a bonus, the child is much more likely to get shingles in their 20s… especially when they start graduate school in three weeks.

Also, have you ever taken care of a six month old with chicken pox?

My cousin Jerry, who had Down syndrome, was staying with us one summer when I was a kid. I still vividly remember my mom applying calamine lotion to his groin when he came down with chickenpox. Screw varicella and the horse it rode in on.

Narad, your comment brings back memories that I’d rather forget.
Of me developing Chicken Pox a few months before my 13th birthday and also having calamine lotion applied to my genitals.
Chicken Pox is a jerk of a disease.

Chicken Pox is a jerk of a disease.

I wound up listening to side 4 of Traffic on the Road for over a day when I contracted it at age 19, because I was too weak to get out of bed and make “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” stop.

I warn people, sincerely, of the dangers of vaccine-preventabe diseases because of what my family has been through.

Isn’t it fun to try and blend in amongst the enthralled ? It can be hard to restrain yourself and not give yourself away especially when there are only perhaps 1% who disagree: I wanted to scream. I’ve been at new age presentations and woo book events. I drew the line at applauding and managed a snarky response when asked directly if I had any questions: I said, ” Not about HEALTH”.

Fortunately, my own area has been represented by very liberal, sane fellows, righties usually don’t get very far around here.

Enthralled or mob mentality? It is probably true that Orac was one unbeliever among many, but it’s equally probable that there were spouses/significant others who were there, but weren’t believers. Most couples do things to please one side of the relationship. The mob pressure to conform is a powerful force. I’m guessing a number of them did the same as Orac, scoffed internally and kept quiet.

I’d be curious to know how many left during the presentations or Q&A. Hats off to Orac for suffering through this idiocy on our behalf.

@ Anonymous Pseudonym:

I do think that the enthralled may bring along guests who may be sceptical but I’ve never seen anything obvious to indicate this – like someone walking out or loudly disagreeing or questioning. Manners I guess.

Most of the new age events were held in a large auditorium rented from a university and involved yoga, auras, pure foods, spiritual journeys etc. Possibly a hundred to several hundred people attended these events. The book events were held at a book store ( remember those?) and had a few dozen to over a hundred present ( who applauded wildly and cheered)

What I found hilarious is that the aura reader, a wise student of human personality/ souls and the woo-meister, who is an energy healer and spiritual guide, couldn’t tell that I was there to scoff and report on my findings.

A. As a Jew, I’m very happy for the ability to protect my children from disease, as are my catholic friends and others. There’s a reason most theologians support vaccines that prevent deaths and harms, including harms to the newborns (hmmm, rubella,measles, chickenpox, anyone?).

B. I wonder what your representative thinks about parents who don’t want to give their diabetic children insulin. And as you point out, he was likely vaccinated.
And of course, children that died from measles can’t run for office, so of course he got through it.

C. The NCVIA does need reform. There are changes it could use. For example, increasing the statute of limitations and the caps on damages. But when all the candidates who want to reform it are anti-vaccine fringe people who go to extremes, there is no reasonable support for reform, so even what is needed doesn’t get done.

To counter Mr. Bentivolio’s anecdote with my own, after getting 3 anthrax vaccines prior to a deployment, I can say that my morale was not affected by that. Being away from my home in a hot desert climate and working long hours probably affected my morale a bit more. 🙂

To be fair though, there were some side effects (mainly swelling at the injection site) that went away in 1-2 days. The rumor mill among the troops was that doing push-ups right after the injection site would help alleviate the swelling. Never did figure out how that rumor got started, but figured it was harmless enough.

Now the small-pox vaccine was even more fun. One of the guys my spouse knew didn’t do a great job taking care of the injection site and cross-contaminated his eye area with the virus, or so the story goes. I can’t imagine that was pleasant, but probably more tolerable than having to sit through 90 minutes of that roundtable. I don’t know how you do it, Orac.

Simon Chapman who maintains a list of diseases caused by exposure to wind turbines has advanced the theory that English speakers are particularly susceptible to wind turbines. I wonder if the chemtrails man is correct but that chemtrails only affect Republicans in the USA? That might explain Noble and Bentivolio? BTW, I was surprised to see that Bentivolio is a reindeer farmer in Oakland County.

Here is Chapman’s list Something reminds me of antivaxers.

The presence of chemtrail enthusiasts at anti-vax events only helps us. 9/11 “truthers” would help the same way.

When Joe Average and Jane Mundane show up wondering about “the stuff they heard” about vaccines being “harmful,” or come because it’s a candidate’s event, and run into a gaggle of other obvious cranks, they’ll be more likely to dismiss the whole thing as so much crazy s***.

Publicizing anti-vax events among the chemtrail and 9/11 “truther” crowds (get on their mailing lists!) might encourage some turnout. One chemtrail nut alone might not be sufficient, but a few of these and a few of those might reach critical mass.

Think of it as the opposite of crank magnetism. Crank repulsivness, anyone?

Looks like after the Aug. 7 Republican primary, Bentivolio will be heading back home to his reindeer, unless he gets a monster turnout from the antivax/chemtrail crowd.

“The poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing indicated that, in the Aug. 7 Republican primary, businesswoman Lena Epstein — who is making her first political run but helped run Trump’s successful 2016 effort in Michigan — led a crowded field with 26 percent support, compared with 19 percent for former state Rep. A. Rocky Raczkowski. State Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township had 12 percent; state Sen. Mike Kowall, of White Lake, had 8 percent, and former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford — who represented this seat in 2013-14 — had 7 percent. Twenty-eight percent were undecided.”

That’s the reason why I’m more concerned about Jeff Noble, who is actually an elected official and has at least a 50-50 chance, if not much higher, of being reelected given the gerrymandered district that I live in.

Jesus, the AIDS comment would have had me ready to punch someone. I thought we left that nonsense behind in the 90s

If you want to raise your blood pressure, the woman’s comments about hepatitis B and AIDS are around 4 minutes before the end of the video. I note that, as she was saying that, women near where I was sitting were basically repeating, “Yeah, what about HIV?” and grumbling their approval of what the woman was saying.

Having done it myself, I know how difficult it is to sit and listen to the brain drain and not say anything. At one anti-vaxx rally I attended, Dr. Toni Bark was banging on about how awful any pharmaceuticals were and how they were poisoning us. Standing in front of me was a woman nodding in agreement and wildly applauding, all while having an Epi Pen in her back pocket. And I know it was for her because she told me so.

@ Science Mom:

I’m glad to see that you ( and Dr Chris) have also sat in on woo sessions.

If anyone else is interested in trying this, here are a few tips:
– go to free events, save your money fro reality-based expenses
– dress to fit in.
for new age events, I would try to emulate a well-to-do hippie. which means, natural fibres, expensive jeans, unfixed hair etc.
for more generic woo, I would go business semi-casual: jacket, shirt, expensive bag, tamed hair.
– go alone to avoid tell tale side glances and poking of cohorts.

It worked so well that I’ve been asked to step up to have my aura read and a well-known woo-meister trotted over and asked if I had any questions. Oh the irony!

@ Denice, once I detached it was quite entertaining and educational. I could easily relate to those in attendance and they were a mostly friendly lot but the speakers lied their arses off (I got the sense that even the true believers recognised some of that) and were generally vitriolic.

I went to disease-spreading cardiologist Jack Wolfson’s “Wide Awake” seminar in Phoenix in 2015 (is it any wonder the Phoenix area is an anti-vax hotspot?). It was a vile, ugly thing. “The Drs. Wolfson” stood up there for two hours spouting all manner of anti-vax bullshit to almost 300 people–and that was only half the show. I left at that point because some people I didn’t recognize had started pointing at me during the break and gesturing to the Wolfsons. These people live in the stone ages and its hard being in the middle of a herd of non-immunity that most people do vaccinate. Wolfson deserves to lose his license for the damage he’s done to public health in Arizona.

When Patrick Colbeck arrived, I worried that the jig might be up. I could have sworn that he kept looking over at me. We had never met in person, but we had interacted online enough that it was possible he knew what I looked like from my photos on various social media. Of course, he blocked me long ago; so he might never have seen a photo of me with my current beard. Maybe the next time I do something like this I’ll have to make sure to shave my beard…

Sir, Dr,

I saw your picture some months ago but not too many month. I must say that i’m heterosexual (for the record) but with that out of the way, you are really good looking with your current trim so if woman in general love your beard and haircut (I get all my advices from woman regarding haircut and beard), keep it.

That said, my bias, if by some circumstances that somebody like colbert recognized me, I would send him a flying f*ck off and would have stood there in the face of adversity no matter what[1]. In your case, you do as you’re comfortable.

[1] == I might have brought my steel toed boots in case of very significant adversity (read: physical adversity).


I didn’t know if I’d be recognized or simply spotted for not having a look on my face matching those around me. There was no way I could look enthralled or fascinated by what they were saying, and trying not to show anger and disgust was hard–the absolute worst was when they showed a horrible picture of a child with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS–a very severe life-threatening condition where you desquamate large areas of skin and GI tract) and told the audience the MMR vaccine causes SJS. Utter bullshit coming from a quack physician that I guarantee terrified any fence sitting parents in the audience into not vaccinating their children.


blockquote>but with that out of the way, you are really good looking with your current trim so if woman in general love your beard and haircut (I get all my advices from woman regarding haircut and beard), keep it.



I think Orac is much more handsome with the beard for the record and FWIW.

IMHO it’s worthwhile to stay and stand your ground. What are they going to do, get violent? At that point you can have them charged with assault and sue the h*ll out of them. You were just standing there peacefully, and they accosted you: guilty as charged, case closed. Have a mobile in your pocket with video & audio recording turned on, for evidence: it’s not illegal to record in a public space.

At some point it will become worthwhile to go overtly (though scrupulously peacefully) confrontational. Perhaps after then next significant outbreak, and even better if you can persuade a few friends to come as well.

One of the things that extremists count on, is being able to capture “territory” in public meme-space. For example white supremacists “colonize” various medieval symbols, such that scholars and medieval enthusiasts (SCA etc.) who innocently use those symbols for whatever purpose, become obligated to give them up: ceding the territory to the extremists. Keyphrase search “Schroedinger’s Medievalisms” for an article by a Smithsonian historian on the subject. (That’s not quantum woo, it refers to the uncertainty about the symbols, that enables racists to hide in the crowd and use plausible deniability, while still being able to find each other.)

A couple of years ago some white supremacists tried to colonize “milk” as their symbolic beverage (because it’s white, of course). That failed because the conventional connotations were too strong to overcome. It also shows that reason can prevail over vicious idiocy. Pushback works.

One thing we should do is learn their style of argument, such as going heavy on emotionally-compelling anecdotes. Anyone who’s ever seen a baby with whooping cough, or knows someone who suffered a vaccine-preventable disease, has a strong example. We aren’t going to reach the hard-cores, but we might reach some of the fence-sitters. That’s worth the effort.

Have a mobile in your pocket with video & audio recording turned on, for evidence: it’s not illegal to record in a public space.

Pockets are public spaces? Good to know.

Actually, it wasn’t a public space. It is a storefront office in a strip mall. The office is owned the local Republican Party apparatus for use by local Republican candidates. Bentivolio’s campaign could therefore ban video and audio recording other than by approved people if it wanted to. You could argue that it’s not a good look for a candidate for Congress to ban recording at one of his events, but he had the right to do it if he was holding it in a private space.

For example white supremacists “colonize” various medieval symbols, such that scholars and medieval enthusiasts (SCA etc.) who innocently use those symbols for whatever purpose, become obligated to give them up:

I’m keeping Odin (and the rest of Norse mythology) and the runes. That stuff is mine – I’m half Norwegian, after all – and the godd@mned Nazis can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

He claimed he knew someone in Army Intelligence who had confirmed to him that chemtrails are real

OK, so I have a Red Dawn T-shirt the front of which just says, “The chair is against the wall” where a breast pocket would be. A couple of days ago, I was sitting outside of the grocery store vaping, and some fellow stops and stares at me and then points his finger.

“That’s pretty funny.”

“Do you get the reference?”

“I used to work at an agency where we used to do that sort of thing.”

He then walked about 10 feet toward the entrance, turned around, and said, “Maybe.”

overriding SNPs of methylation/detoxification pathways

That’s not even a good name for a band.

He started out by saying that children are a gift from God and that God gave the parents the responsibility of deciding what’s best for them.

It’s unfortunate for this assertion that the nuclear family is a fairly recent invention.

A version of Chemtrail-Guy must turn up at many local events. I had a “house-party” (fundraiser) for the Dem. party a few years ago and a 911 Truther Guy showed up early, talked non-stop about his conspiracy, and hung around after until I finally sort of snapped and shoved him out the door. Worse yet, a couple of people seemed very interested in his ramblings. Happily, most were eye-rolling as they disengaged from him.

Thanks for the report. I hope people sitting nearby weren’t concerned by your twitching and teeth grinding.

As a medical professional and alumnus, will you express your concerns about Kremer to the university? Perhaps you are sensitive to this, since outsiders tried to get you fired, but facts matter, and this nurse certainly shouldn’t be in a teaching position if she is expressing anti-vax sentiments to her students.

This is different. She’s almost certainly unpaid for her teaching. (Clinical instructors, unless based at the nursing school itself, are rarely paid.) I’m less worried about destroying her livelihood is I were to contact the College of Nursing.

The idea of her being an Level 3 NICU nurse is very troubling for she could be talking parents of extremely premature infants out of important vaccines for pertussis, pneumonia, RSV and meningitis, all in the name of her idiotic beliefs.

Orac, 2 things:

As Paul Offit once said about deciding whether to argue with antivaccine parents that are convinced of outrageous claims: “I just bail. I know its not worthwhile” ( He would say that you did the right thing by restraining yourself in an atmosphere where facts don’t matter.
I speculate that the details in the triplet’s story are muddled. The only pneumococcal vaccine the triplets would have received in 2007 was Prevnar 7. Merck still doesn’t make a pneumococcal vaccine so it couldn’t be Comvax or PedVaxHib. You make the excellent point that recalls typically involve an excess of caution. I further speculate that as the McDowell’s subsequently increased their involvement with the VAXXED folks they were told that the pneumococcal vaccine was “contaminated” and simply accepted that. In fact, there have only been two recalls for Prevnar 7 ( 2009 & 2010; limited to 17 lots total). In neither case was there contamination, and my understanding was that the lots were recalled prior to use (

Thank you. I remembered that I couldn’t find a recall matching the story, and was a bit thrown off by Orac’s mention of one – and forgot to go back and check. This helps. There really wasn’t a recall matching it.

And honestly, if they were only getting pneumococcal vaccine that day, the family was already vaccine hesitant (the mother’s story confirms that). and inclined to blame vaccines.

Correct: no recall of the vaccine matches the timing. Like you I assumed that because they limited the 6 month visit to just Prevnar 7 that the family had misgivings about vaccination. What reasonable parent would want to follow a “customized” schedule (e.g. spread shots over time) when they have triplets?

I can understand why the parents blame the vaccine(s). It’s sad that other anti vaccine people lie by claiming the vaccine was contaminated, thereby perpetuating a myth (and exploiting the McDowells for their own warped reasons).

Nine months is very young, especially for multiple births. I doubt the pregnancy was full term, and that there may have been other issues affecting the triplets. The vaccine sounds like the hoof falls of a zebra.

The mother said they were born at 36 weeks, and claimed they were healthy. Of course, we had people say that before when the medical records showed otherwise.

Uh, huh. It does seem that their story needs to be independently verified from medical records.

I would agree. I had never heard the McDowell story before, and, watching Dave McDowell and then that video, I got the distinct impression that their story is fishy. No, I don’t think anyone is lying. I think something’s going on in terms of confirmation bias, conflation of memories, and the usual human cognitive quirks that lead parents to become utterly convinced that vaccines caused their child’s autism.

All the videos and online pictures I’ve seen on these triplets don’t show any “after” videos or pictures, which is indeed rather fishy.

My older child (now a teen) had a scary reaction after vaccines given at age 5. We had split up the 4 shots due at ages 4-6, to two at 4-yo and two at 5-yo, as it seemed mean to give a kid 4 shots on the same day. So age 5 was back half of the set, and then we had to go through a round of medical followup. Against my pediatrician’s advice, I used the internet to look for more information about vaccine adverse events, which included reading this site. Plus all of Jenny McCarthy’s nonsense: the light went out of his eyes!

A year later, my younger child was due for the same set of vaccines: MMR, Polio, chicken pox, DTaP.

I agonized over whether to vaccinate the younger child. I could not find any information that might reassure me that I was not going to end up watching a similar event to what had happened with my older child. I did not know that the MMR was not going to harm my child.

Then at some point, I looked at the children’s vaccine records. You know what? The problem with my older child didn’t happen after the MMR. It had happened after Chicken pox + DTaP. Since we live in San Diego we had given the MMR + Polio vaccines the year before thanks to the Bob Sears Index Patient outbreak going on at the time. But after reading all the idiocy spouted by Handley, Wakefield, and McCarthy, I had mixed them up.

I learned that parents’ memories are fallible, and pliable.

Maybe some day the McDowells will understand that too. But at this point in their lives they have invested too much into their narrative, and it’s a lot easier to listen to people who support you than to ask yourself what if I’m wrong about this ?

P. S. Younger kid got the vaccines. On time. They had combined MMRV to reduces it to 3 shots instead of 4 (hooray: fewer pokes!). At the end of the day, I decided I would never forgive myself if that kid got pertussis because I was too scared of the vaccine.

When I was in high school (about 40 years ago) a friend of the family’s daughter began to act strangely, she was 14. To this day I have vivid memory of sitting outside the school councillor’s office and hearing the councillor saying to some one on the phone that she didn’t think the girl’s actions were due to behaviour problems and that she needed medical attention.
The councillor was right, the girl was suffering post measles encephalopathy, she died about 6 months later. Her father has no memories of his child’s last 3 months of life, her death was painful and he shut down.
I know this is a, blessedly, rare complication of measles; but it is a proven, well documented complication. Measles isn’t a nuisance; there is a reason it is a notafiable disease, a reason it invokes the highest level of (routine) isolation precautions in hospital – airborne precautions. Measles can kill you.

I had two childhood friends who also died of measles complications. They did not attend my school, but their deaths prompted a well-deserved panic and a new round of vaccinations. My parents were very cautious about allowing me to be near anyone from their school for quite a while even though I had been vaccinated. It galls me to hear occasionally even now that it is a routine childhood disease blah blah. This seems to be the non-argument of first resort for these people: just allow kids to contract these potentially deadly diseases and then everything will be fine.

That was still the mentality about chicken pox when I was little. I had it when I was four and was fortunate to have had a mild case, but the casual attitude about just letting little kids contract it because it was a normal risk for pre-school kids now seems cruel and horrible. Just expose them and then everything will be fine was a standard attitude among my parents’ friends. Even among pediatricians, I suspect.

The measles horror came later, and I’ve always wondered whether that changed anyone’s cavalier attitude.

Measles encephalitis is terrible. Olivia Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl, died aged seven from it. On a related note, when I was learning to drive, my instructor was deaf in one ear from a Measles infection.

In other news from Antivax Crazyland:

A nurse practitioner identified as “Sarah Anne” is protesting that Facebook has censored her antivax opinions, and her cause has been taken up by similarly-minded online backers, including Sherri Tenpenny of antivax “Boot Camp” fame*.

Also, a couple of antivaxers are suing California state senator Richard Pan for blocking them on Twitter, claiming it violates their First Amendment rights (a similar ploy was successfully used against Donald Trump).

“Rummel, who is one of Pan’s constituents, frequently uses her Twitter account, @SuzieQT11, to link to stories describing adverse effects of some vaccines.
Rummel has also used the forum to criticize Pan, such as when she called him a puppet and referred to his legislative agenda as a “Nazi regime.” In a different tweet, she described an interaction with a Pan staffer as “traumatic.””

*sorry, registration for the 2018 “Boot Camp” session has closed, so you’ll have to wait until 2019 to learn all the good stuff from Tenpenny that will help you successfully argue with those science people.

“As a pediatrician and public health advocate, I feel it is important that I use my non-state social media accounts to share accurate information that promotes public health and good public policy.”

Dear L-rd, Sherrie Saunders’ Twitter account (or, more accurately, collection of retweets) is a thing to behold.

No kidding!
I’d like to know if the Obama-Trump cartel are correcting the misdeeds of the Bush-Clinton cartel?

Also, is there a record of the vaccine status of Kanner’s original subjects?

They certainly didn’t get mmr or flu shots.

I am too cynical for my own good, so I look at this with an internal stopwatch–i.e., in the face of legitimate criticism and irrefutable fact, how long will it take before these fools resort to one or more of the following:

1) legal victimhood
2) outright paranoia (corollary of #1)
3) hysterical hyperbole
4) global insults
5) infinite ad hominem insults/distraction from said facts
6) refutation in infinite permutations of this pesky thing called “science”
7) false balance between their “science” and anecdotal nonsense and actual science

Also, is there a record of the vaccine status of Kanner’s original subjects?

They certainly didn’t get mmr or flu shots.

Funny you should ask. Even though Kanner’s original eleven patients were likely only vaccinated for smallpox, if that, that didn’t stop Dan Olmsted of AoA fame to claim that those were the first autistics and were given thiomersal-laden vaccines.

Well, I hope this makes you feel a little better: the clinical instructor is highly unlikely to be a regular member of the faculty. Clinical instructors are usually (though not always) adjunct faculty who work on a contract basis: they are not unpaid, but they are very low paid. When I was a clinical adjunct, I got about $1500 per semester to take 8 students to a clinic site once a week for 8 hours. Occasionally, university nursing programs will hire full time regular faculty who do only clinic. Mine does, but they are not on the tenure track.

So I looked at the faculty list for WSU. Numerous clinical instructors are listed. Her name is not among them. She IS a licensed, registered nurse in Michigan, and holds a current, valid license with no restrictions or discipline listed. I suspect she worked one semester as an adjunct and puffed up her resume for this “symposium.” WSU might not appreciate that, especially if she’s not currently under contract. I know my institution would not allow someone not actively employed by them to speak as if they were. Sadly, the principle of academic freedom could protect her if she is in fact under contract, depending on if your faculty are unionized through the AAUP, and how strong your chapter is if so.

As for Ms. Perry-Emery: that her school required her to find her own clinical preceptors is actually nothing unusual in NP education. Most APRN programs require students to find their own clinical placements, though a handful do it for the student. That’s why I’ve had to sit out a year in my own NP program. I lost my preceptor a third through the semester, couldn’t get another by the deadline set by my Chair, and had to withdraw from school and wait until this Fall to return. I only just found an Internal Medicine preceptor a couple of weeks ago, and only because the preceptor is a friend of a friend.

Sadly, I know too many nurses and APRNs who buy into this bullshit. And I’ll agree; the model of forcing NP students to find their own preceptors would allow for this kind of functional medicine crap to be accepted by a school. I spoke at an open mic session of the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses last Fall about the problems with NP clinical education; the model is badly broken, this has been written about in the literature for at least 10 years, but NP faculty are doing next to nothing to fix the problem while programs actively recruit students who may take years to finish because of this problem (OK, putting the soap box away).

the model of forcing NP students to find their own preceptors would allow for this kind of functional medicine crap to be accepted by a school

My former cardiologist, who greatly resembled Mandy Patinkin, was the preceptor for his regular nurse on the path to APRN. He was quite rigorous, and I got a 24-hour urine collection as a result.

“There should never be any blood in male urine.”

Nice guy. I ran into him on one of his last days, and he actually recognized me after years while I was on the way to radiology.

This is Wayne State. It’s not exactly wealthy, and there are a fair number of clinical instructors who are not paid, particularly in nursing. It could also be that she is a preceptor for nursing students but never got an official title; there are preceptors like that. If that’s the case, she’s…exaggerating her qualifications. I don’t know.

I got paid for clinical teaching, and I worked for a community college at the time. I would not undertake the liability and responsibility of supervising nursing students in a clinical setting for free. If WSU is somehow convincing nurses to do this, they are NUTS!

Now preceptors are different from clinical instructors. Preceptors supervise a single student; they’re hospital employees not university employees, and they are not paid. They get service credit for promotion on the clinical ladder in return for precepting.

Sorry, I meant that the instructors were nuts, not the university. Sadly, the state of higher education and how adjuncts are treated in this country, I am hardly surprised they would use unpaid adjuncts.

They might be covered by liability insurance, but that won’t help them with the BON if something happens. In any event, I still would not take on that kind of professional risk without compensation. Not to mention the work–it’s a LOT of work to supervise 8-10 nursing students on a med-surg floor.

But it really bothers me this woman is claiming an affiliation with your institution that may not exist.

An all-time comment about vaccines from an Ohio nurse on Facebook:

“Fox8 Cleveland interviewed Megan Elder of Amherst, OH regarding the University Hospital nurse’s Facebook post. The post reads, “460 flu vaccines in 8 hours. That’s nearly 1 autism a minute. I’m exhausted.”

Yes, engaging in virulent stupidity must be exhausting.

There’s at least one nurse* active in running “Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom”, an antivax group that opposes measures to increase vaccine uptake (like a proposed Ohio law limiting vaccine exemptions. Curiously, OAMF’s website does not contain any info on its leadership. Probably they don’t want to be hunted down by jack-booted AAP goons. 🙂

*this one claims to have seen numerous cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome following vaccination, but apparently never saw GBS stemming from influenza or other infectious diseases, or GBS related to other etiologies.

Yeah, I’m familiar with Megan Elder. She’s bat shit crazy. Her “testimony” before the Ohio Legislature in May is full of tropes, distortions, and outright falsehoods.

The only good part is the anti vaxxers were roundly ignored.

She actually started this organization, IIRC.

So you were flying under the radar so to speak, but people did notice and recognize you. Your picture was taken also. While you were in a room with those who were for vaccine choice you really said nothing at all. Why did you keep to yourself instead of educating those you consider to have “lunacy.”? You are an educator, right?

Odds are that if Orac had even mildly objected to any of the antivax crazy at the meeting, he would’ve been denounced as a “troll” or Pharma stooge.

If he’s that well known in the area and they truly wanted to hear “open, respectful dialogue” (as opposed to antivax monologues), why didn’t the campaign invite him (or any knowledgeable pro-immunization physician) to speak?

On second thought, I’m calling BS on Mr. Scott’s claim that I was recognized at the meeting. I was checking while I was there for any sign that someone recognized me. There was none until Patrick Colbeck showed up. Even then I wasn’t sure if Colbeck had actually recognized me or if I was just being paranoid. No one said anything. No one other than Colbeck even looked at me funny.

My guess is that they went over photos taken at the event after I embarrassed them by publishing this post and figured out who I was by comparing photos of me you can find online with photos of the event.

I recognized you. You were wearing a black (dark) color polo shirt with jeans. I believe you wear an Apple watch which was more of a copper color and black band on your L wrist. You had a small book to write in.and of course your phone The Chemtrail know it all guy was sitting before you more to the L of you. The man to the R of you had a cane and his wife stood up to say he was injured from Anthrax vaccine. After the presentation you stood by the back of the room as if to look for the bathroom and then you saw it and went in that direction. You were by yourself as you did not seem to interact with anyone. You left out the door and walked toward and in front of the old Kresge store. You did not seem to park where everyone else parked and you were observed dropping a paper and picking it up and continuing on your way to wherever you parked your car. I will see if we can get you the picture if you like.

DNA for each individual is unique. The cell line WI38 was harvested from a therapeutically aborted 3 month old girl from Sweden in the 1960s. So abortion was illegal in the United States at that time. The baby was aborted and then dissected right at the table to get the lungs….needing live cells for vaccine production. The lungs were sent to the Wistar Institute where Leonard Hayflick developed the cell line. Now the cell line from that baby is alive but the baby is dead…taken out by an abortion. So would that be a crime as a dead baby’s lungs were brought into the US where abortions were illegal? I would think so in my opinion. It was against the law. Moreover, the unique DNA from the vaccine cannot be removed from the vaccine and the FDA has had concerns about the amount of contaminating fetal DNA in the vaccines but they have not really done anything about it. You, Professor, have stated “of course there’s a huge difference between a cell line 55 years ago and the current cell line….many generations removed from the initial abortion.” Are you sure about this and can you tell us why there is a huge difference between the cell line then and now?

So would that be a crime as a dead baby’s lungs were brought into the US where abortions were illegal? I would think so in my opinion.

Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

Maybe if they were a little puppy’s lungs, people would be outraged.

Some more reading for you Mr. Scott: The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman

Now if you come up with a better way to prevent rubella, chicken pox and rabies please be sure to tell the world. Make sure your solution actually works. Now if it does not exist then, then go spend the years required to develop that solution.

If you read that book, you will understand why there were obvious reasons for not using cells from other animals for virus that will only infect human cells.

Of course it was part of solving another issue anti-vaxers bring up that is five decades out of death. Essentially, it is just another moving of the goal posts, and a solid ignorance of biology combined with giving humans some special status other over other animals.

If you want more details, then read the book and take an intro to biology at your local community college.

Yeah, it is beyond the scope of blog comments to provide that sort of basic education. It’s like trying to talk about engineering to someone who’s never taken Physics 101.

“… five decades out of death.” should be “… five decades out of date.”

Obvious typo when thinking of something that is akin to beating a dead horse, while on vacation waiting to go to dinner and trying to respond to dear hubby who is being texted by two of the kids.

Orac: “It’s like trying to talk about engineering to someone who’s never taken Physics 101.”


He is bringing up old tired anti-vaccine tropes and doubling down. It all sounds like bits and pieces he picked up on various anti-vax websites, including a citation to a medical infectious disease reference. I can pretty much tell he does not know the basics when he brings up TB and vaccines, even though the USA never routinely vaccinated for TB.

Oh, and then an allusion to vaccines effectiveness fading away. Well, that happens if you happen to survive many of the diseases. I know that from personal experience when middle kid had a strep without symptoms and kept infecting his siblings multiple times over a three month period (cycle stopped when all three got antibiotics). Kind of the reason that there is no vaccine for strep throat.

Though another disease that does not cause immunity is rotavirus. There was some serious research in preventing that. I read about in Paul Offit’s latest book: Bad Advice (which is hilarious in parts). There is a reason that a veterinarian was involved.

I doubt Mr. Scott would spend the time to learn the actual science, biology and history. It would take too much work.

Mr. Scott probably thinks this isn’t a topic I’ve written about many times before over many years. ?‍♂️


Basically, the evidence indicting fetal DNA in vaccines for anything is of VERY poor quality.

Then others have written about this too. Perhaps the best explanation:

Quote (note that these cell lines are now well over 50 years old):

Descendant cells are the medium in which these vaccines are prepared. The cell lines under consideration were begun using cells taken from one or more fetuses aborted almost 40 years ago. Since that time the cell lines have grown independently. It is important to note that descendant cells are not the cells of the aborted child. They never, themselves, formed a part of the victim’s body.


The FDA has had concerns about the amount of contaminating fetal DNA in the vaccines but they have not really done anything about it.

Actually, “homologous recombinaltion tiniker” is not still a thing.

You, Professor, have stated “of course there’s a huge difference between a cell line 55 years ago and the current cell line….many generations removed from the initial abortion.” Are you sure about this and can you tell us why there is a huge difference between the cell line then and now?

If you’d ever cracked open any introductory biology book that discusses DNA replication you wouldn’t have to ask.

Actually Dr Gorski made the quote and since he likes to share his wisdom I was rightfully asking him. However my concern has been more of an ethical moral nature. While I perceive that a few individuals aspire to a worldview of naturalism, it is a concern for those with a Biblical worldview: do patients have right to refuse what is injected in their bodies: vaccines and biologicals complicit with abortion. Also is there a point in which science is crossing the line into a very dark side.

Actually, “homologous recombinaltion tiniker” is not still a thing.

Oh geez. I had forgotten about that “fetal DNA in vaccines” fiasco. I suggest that Mr. Scott type that in the search box of this blog and see what comes up. ?‍♂️?

They can refuse all they want. Even in California you have the option to homeschool. They just have to accept that there will be some drastic consequences, because trying to leech off of the local community’s immunity has its limits.

Think about that next time you hear about a kid who was bitten by a rabid bat.

And seriously, read the book and take a biology course. They are certainly much more accurate than any multi-translated religious text written several centuries ago by unknown authors.

it is a concern for those with a Biblical worldview

Such as the Pontifical Academy for Life? We can do Judaism, too, if you want. Pikuach nefesh.

Hi John Scott.
if you are truly interested in the ethics of using cell lines in research (rather than using this commenting platform to promote inflammatory rhetoric against the use of vaccines), I recommend reading reading Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Get back to me after you’ve done that.

I sincerely doubt Mr. Scott would have the patience to read an entire book, even one that I read in one day because it was so compelling.

He is more concerned with a fetus or two that were aborted over fifty years ago at the request of a woman who had made her own decision, and not about the health of children who have no choice if they get sick from a vaccine preventable disease because of “reasons” due to the misinformation given to their parents.

Also I am in no mood to have anyone tell me how terrible it is to have an autistic child. My oldest did a spectacular job dealing with an aging and possibly dying pet while we were 3000 miles away (okay, helped by the proximity of younger child and their spouse who provided transportation). I will always maintain that my oldest is the best house sitter. Unlike Mr. Scott, my oldest has compassion for all living things. (yes, he is a vegetarian)

Very insightful, Chris, but you and I know there are so many emerging infectious diseases as well as the old regular diseases that we probably will not be able to make vaccines for every infectious disease and then attempt to wipe them all out….such as the thought TB would be gone by 2000. And vaccine failure is of course a major concern especially with the mumps outbreaks in the vaccinated making young men at risk for sterility. Also is the concern of waning vaccine viral titers with chickenpox. It is truly a horrendous disease as an adult.

“such as the thought TB would be gone by 2000”

Citation needed, which must be a PubMed indexed paper from a reputable qualified researchers, not a politician.

A vaccine for TB was never on any regular pediatric schedule in the USA at any time. Vaccine failure is another “moving the goal post” argument from those who do not understand biology. There is no such thing as total immunity from the actual disease, especially ones like pertussis, rotavirus, mumps and others.

By the way, I had mumps twice. The second time was during a mumps epidemic in 1968. I find it interesting that there should be a vaccine that is more effective in providing immunity than the disease.

Well, actually there are, but it is tricky. There is a reason it took twenty five years to develop a rotavirus vaccine. Obviously you have not read that book on infectious diseases or you would have known that.

but you and I know there are so many emerging infectious diseases

Don’t worry, those are false-flag operations; AoA told me so.

Biblical? So you didn’t vote for Trump, right? And you have urged everyone around you not to support Trump, right? Since you follow the Bible.

If you voted for Trump, then you do not follow the Bible.

I could be wrong on this. What I am not wrong on is the fact that anyone who values the 10 Commandments did not vote for Trump.

If varicella titers really do wane, the solution is simple enough. It’s called a booster shot.

Hey Chris. Check out Mandell’s Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases and let me know which vaccines we should be working on next…things that you yourself or family would be afraid to contract. Believe me there are some viral diseases that are much more lethal than childhood diseases. We don’t even have a Hepatitis C vaccine and that is epidemic in this country…with cirrhosis and resultant hepatomas. Truly a disease that many young people are getting today. Very challenging to take care of with ascites, bleeding varices, tumors. Thankfully we have the direct acting antivirals which are curative.

I am not taking orders from someone who does not understand the basics, especially one who has picked up the goal post and has moved it out of the parking lot of stadium. I believe the next move will be to the county line.

Anyway it is time for dinner.

So I take it when they develop a Hep C vaccine, you will be first in line?

Amen to that. Honestly, I’ve told people for years that Hep C scares me a heck of a lot more than HIV. Easier to catch, awful disease.

If Scott is an M.D. he’s probably either at the end of his career or retired (the reference to “hepatoma” dates him – the term in use for decades now is hepatocellular carcinoma).

“it is a concern for those with a Biblical worldview: do patients have right to refuse what is injected in their bodies: vaccines and biologicals complicit with abortion. ”

It’s surely not a significant concern for the Roman Catholic church, which tends to pay a lot of attention to the subject of abortion. The Church, while wishing there were other means of producing the vaccines that rely on the cell lines in question, but recognizes their value and encourages their use, seeing that protecting children from dangerous infectious diseases is vitally important.

Hey, if Scott et al recognized Orac, how come they didn’t call him out, as part of a “teachable moment”?

I always wonder about the morality that concerns itself with abortion (especially one done decades ago), but ignores the health of actual children. Though I usually go about why a woman going through a miscarriage of a wanted child needs to wait for some time period dictated by religion instead of what is really medically necessary. That has been known to cause deaths of women:

Obviously being “pro-life” is not exactly “pro-child” nor “pro-mother.”

I wonder now myself why he didn’t call me out or identify me. I do think that Mr. (or Dr.) Scott did recognize me, but if he knew who I was then surely he must have known that I’d blog about this. (I wasn’t going to attend such an event and not blog about it.) Looking over the photos I took at the event, I now suspect (but am not entirely sure) I know which attendee he was.

I get awfully weary of the antivax crowd. I was born a red hair too early for the Salk vaccine and contracted poliomyelitis before my first birthday, as many regular readers are likely tired of reading. My case was mild, my deficits relatively unremarkable, but they have persisted into my senior citizenhood. They are noticeable enough to have added to the mockery and bullying of the different that many neurotypicals are so fond of, and to have shut me out of many activities others take for granted. I have an autism spectrum condition without the dreaded vaccines, and have had measles, varicella, mumps, and rubella into the mix. My parents would have gotten me every vaccine available about thirty minutes after they hit the market and I wish they had been out there. None of them were any fun to go through. I don’t know what they have seen or read, but they are basically full of male bovine feces, and I would tell any one of them so to their face.

@john scott
Cells in cell culture evolve, ones more adapted to new environment survive better. Same thing with bacteria, they became resistant. Homologous recombination in the sense of “tiniker” do happen, in certain bacteria. They have specific mechnism for that. I am sure that FDA was not all worried.
I did have TB vaccination, and regular X ray screening. (And trams had sticker “Do not spit on the door”. All these disappeared, when TB become a rare disease. Nobody want to vaccinate against all, you pick the dangerous ones. And, you know, unvaccinated people definitely get measles.
Check how dangerous childhood diseases we are vaccinating against are. And diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are caused by toxins, ant ibacterials do not help. Thirdly, a republican should notir ce that one vaccine shot is much cheaper than many antiviral shots.
HIV vaccine would be even better, but even more difficult than Hep C. But people are working on these.
I remember that Bible is against false testimony. “Aborted fetal cells” is one. Be truthful with your propaganda.

So there is going to be a shortage of these live virus vaccines in production utilizing human diploid cells (MRC 5, WI-38) starting with Glaxo Smith Kline. Psalm 145

You could not find “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour” ? “Aborted fetal cells” means that for every vial of vaccine, aborted fetus is needed. Actually cell lines you mention have been establised 50 year ago, and their cells have been divided probably billion times.

Orac, you seem to enjoy taking care of puppies. The Hebrew word for dog is “caleb” meaning “all heart.” It describes the actual nature or being of a dog.

So you enjoy the pain of children when they have fevers, itchy open sores (pox), rashes and the very real possibility of seizures! You are all heart when you care more about a fetus aborted fifty years ago at the mother’s request over the health of children alive today.

By the way, if you have read that doctor’s book on infectious diseases you would have learned that congenital rubella syndrome is one known cause of autism. Though there are other known causes such has these genetic sequences:

In other anti-vax news…

I saw it first on AoA but checked reality-based sources as I always do.

The Local, today:
Italy’s new government has voted to overturn vaccine mandates. Prior to this, parents coulde be fined 500 euros if ther school-aged children were not vaccinated.

Anti-vaxxers will see it as an incoming tsunami that will soon inundate the rest of the world.
SBM folk will view it as an uptick in VPDs approaching.

I guess I’m gad I went to Italy last year. Why do people persist in dangerous anti-vax nonsense?

Frankly it is shocking to see what is coming out of the hearts of those on this blog. Hopefully there are not many physicians here because physicians take oaths to care for patients in a covenantal relationship. If there are physicians here there is something called a heart transplant….only this was described thousands of years before heart transplantation came to be in the 20th century..before surgeons ever thought about it. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel about the nation of Israel but this could pertain to a person: ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will remove from you your HEART OF STONE and give you a HEART OF FLESH.” EZEKIEL 36:26

Dr. or Mr. Scott, you still haven’t answered whether you are a physician or not. Inquiring minds want to know! Are you a physician? A simple yes or no will do. ?

“God spoke …”

By the Hammer of Thor, which one? The one that dictates what you must do at every turn like Sharia Law, or Christian Science and the Children of God in Oregon and Idaho that dictates one must let their child die instead of getting medical care… or the one that gives you free will to learn and adapt with science? Be specific, because religion is just made up stuff and is not science. Like it or not, we do not have to adapt our beliefs to multi-translated writings by unknown persons more than a thousand years ago. Knowledge has advanced a wee bit since then.

“I will remove from you your HEART OF STONE and give you a HEART OF FLESH.”

Obviously you are the one with the heart of stone who would rather mourn the fetus that was aborted more than fifty years ago at the mother’s request for her own reasons than protect the lives of children who are alive now.

How does your deity of choice propose to protect real live human children from chicken pox, rotavirus, measles, pertussis rabies or the children from congenital rubella syndrome? Provide PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll to support your answer. Be precise.

If you support Donald Trump or the Republican Party, you don’t agree with the Bible. The Bible does not say it is OK to loudly advocate moral rules for others to follow while you do not have to.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will remove from you your HEART OF STONE and give you a HEART OF FLESH.” EZEKIEL 36:26

You seem to have missed out on the whole evidenced-based vibe of this blog.

God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel about the nation of Israel but this could pertain to a person: ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will remove from you your HEART OF STONE and give you a HEART OF FLESH.” EZEKIEL 36:26


Again you are making wrong assumptions, Orac. Perhaps you are making wrong conclusions about other things as well.You could be leading your “flock”down the wrong path.

Mr. (Dr.?) Scott:

What, pray tell, am I making “wrong assumptions” about? What are those “wrong conclusions”? My conclusion that you are antivaccine? Certainly your comments here and your enthusiastic attendance at Kerry Bentivolio’s provide solid evidence that you are at least probably antivaccine. Or about your being a physician? I can’t help but note how assiduously you avoid the question whenever I ask you if you’re a physician. If you are a physician, I don’t blame you. It would be embarrassing, I know, to be revealed as an antivaxer.

But, in any case, feel free to tell me what I’m wrong about, but, please, back up your criticisms with facts, evidence, studies, etc. Lots of antivaxers have come through here over the last nearly 14 years to make a run at me. So far, you’re not distinguishing yourself as better than they, and the only thing unusual about you is the level of religiosity you bring to your comments.

Oh, and are you a physician? Yes or no?

I just had a discussion with my youngest who is entering a graduate program. They had to get titers for chicken pox infection, which they had as a six month old a year before the vaccine was available. Yes, the titers cam out positive (obviously most of their new students have varicella in their shot records).

The child did not remember because of being just a baby, but I do. There is no sleep for the two to three weeks of a baby in pain.

I do not care much for those like Mr. Scott who think kids should get sick when the disease can be prevented.

In other news, not welcomed by antivax fringe Congressional candidates, Brazil is ramping up measles vaccination to deal with an outbreak (following a dip in immunization rates) that has killed five children and sickened a thousand.

And the Congo is launching an Ebola vaccination campaign.

People like Scott and Bentivolio-rhymes-with-polio would be laughed out of those places, or worse.

I think that John Scott is not a physician (or at least not any more) but rather, given his quoting of the Bible and use of the term “flock” is rather some kind of religious leader, probably a pastor. (His arguments don’t feel rabbinical and he ignored the Vatican’s ruling on the use of cell lines, so I doubt he’s Catholic.)

In fairness, I’ve come across a fair number of antivaxers over the years who also ignore the Vatican’s statement on vaccines whose manufacture currently requires these cell lines.

That will score you an exemption in New York State, if I recall my OSM cases correctly. Just have to keep it simple; canon law doesn’t bear.

Oh for goodness sake, how can you have reached adulthood and not learned the concept of a metaphor?

Do you really think that Ezekiel had a piece of stone in his chest and not a beating human heart?

How can you expect us to take you seriously when you say patently silly things like this?

Sort of vaccine-related:

I never would’ve believed it, but now we have Mike Adams declaring that the dose makes the poison.

Yessir, the Health Deranger, in coming to the defense of Rachael Ray over a lawsuit claiming her Nutrish dog food contains glyphosate residues, argues that the amount is important:

“…as I explain, nobody is reporting the actual concentration of glyphosate supposedly found in these pet food products. That’s a big red flag. Is it one molecule of glyphosate? Is it 50 parts per trillion? If it’s anything under 1 ppb, I’m not worried about it.”

No word on how Adams decided that <1 ppb is safe.

Wonder how the products sold by the NN store might test out when it comes to glyphosate.

In semi vaccine-related news, we have a convert to the concept that “the dose makes the poison”. It’s none other than the Health Deranger, Mike Adams.

In coming to the defense of Rachael Ray, who’s been sued over supposed glyphosate residues in her Nutrish dog food, Adams says the amount is important.

“…as I explain, nobody is reporting the actual concentration of glyphosate supposedly found in these pet food products. That’s a big red flag. Is it one molecule of glyphosate? Is it 50 parts per trillion? If it’s anything under 1 ppb, I’m not worried about it.”

No word how Adams decided that <1 ppb is safe.

Wonder how much glyphosate the products sold by the NN store might contain.

Mr.John Scott, you are probably younger than me. That would mean that when growing up you probably had few to none of the vaccine-preventable diseases that I have had. That also would mean that you benefited from the vaccination of millions of others depriving those diseases of potential hosts. Your apparent ignorance or denial of those facts must make you nothing but a freeloader and a hypocrite.
As I said in my comment above, I had all those diseases and they were no picnic in the park, to put it mildly. Somehow, in spite of not having had the dreaded vaccines, I still landed on the autism spectrum.
So,did you leech on herd immunity? Have you had any of those diseases? Can you offer an alternative explanation of my autism spectrum condition?
I won’t hold my breath waiting for a reply.

So Old Rockin Dave: I was born in the early 50’s and I had most of the childhood diseases: measles, rubella, chickenpox, mumps. I did have polio vaccination. I had an T&A as a child and knee surgery due to trauma. I do not take any medications now. Recently signed up for Medicare. As to issues of your autism spectrum I cannot give you an answer.

Your surgical history is irrelevant. You are close to my age and you have had those VPDs. Did you learn nothing from having them? Were you subjected to common precautions? Were you old enough to be aware of your family’s worries? If you skated clear of complications was anyone around you less fortunate? Are you aware of the dangers of these? If you are, what do you recommend to prevent or ameliorate them?
Speak up.

So what? Mr. Scott you are an N=1 sample size. Please why Olivia Dahl, the oldest child of the author Roald Dahl, cannot give us the same kind of testimony.

Plus, please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the disease. Despite surviving measles, it still kills between 1 or 2 per a thousand infected.

By the way, how many babies with chicken pox or rotavirus infections have you take care of?

I know someone who was permanently deafened in one ear by mumps (not all that rare a complication in pre-vaccine days).

I doubt those with hearing loss or sterility due to mumps are taking medication as a result. I suspect however they’re not as blithe about the consequences of infection as Mr. Scott seems to be.

Old Rockin Dave: You have a lot of questions. Learning from childhood infections: we are mortal and certainly subject to disease. Usually stress makes URI s or any disease process (even chronic) worse. Had Staph food poisoning overseas which was self limited. No common precautions except hand washing and rest and stay home when sick. I did come from a medical family and was aware of family worries…not of infections but but trauma. My older sister was less fortunate and died of trauma from a fall in tenement housing during my father’s residency training (residents were on call 24/7 365 days…sadly the iron men of medicine years and no pay…family lived on money from being in Army). I am aware of dangers of disease. There are many diseases that are here and also ones not detected yet for which there is no vaccine or treatment.To stay healthy: refrain from opiod drugs and smoking (including mj), limit alcohol, be sexually monogamous, seek medical care when necessary, attempt to rest when ill and decrease stress.I try to be a forgiving and less angry person. When seeking medical or surgical care, I do pray to God for direction for the right doctor and I usually pray throughout the recuperative period for good outcome (my mom had distal femur fracture at 89 years of age and one friend with severe cervical spinal stenosis requiring corpectomy and insertion of cage with anterior and posterior fusion). Both successful surgeries with good outcomes after much rehab and prayer. Thank God.

“Both successful surgeries with good outcomes after much rehab and prayer. Thank God.”

Thank your surgeons and the many other medical professionals who used science based medicine to improve your quality of life.

I have…absolutely. I have not only thanked them in person but written notes of appreciation. I have prayed for them and their families for God’s many blessings for this. In my mother’s case I was particularly thankful as the knee was totally blown out without much hope of union as she had brittle bones. The fracture did heal. My mother was without pain in that knee and was mobile with full range of motion. I am very thankful.

Remember to thank your responsible neighbors who vaccinate and therefore protect others from diseases by maintaining community immunity to measles, mumps, pertussis, etc.

Also thank your responsible neighbors who are protecting families like yours by maintaining your community’s immunity to some rather nasty diseases with vaccination. You are among the several who are leeching on others vaccinating for influenza, pertussis and other diseases that affect us baby boomers.

Now stop giving us your personal anecdotes, come up with those PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Conservative Christians are less monogamous, heavier-drinking, and heavier drug-using than average. They also promote a polity that leads to violence and employer domination, therefore higher stress for most people. Why do you belong to a social-political group that promotes unhealthy lifestyles?

“Old Rockin Dave: You have a lot of questions.”

I also asked you lots of questions, but you never bothered to answer any of them. Seriously, how many babies with chicken pox and rotavirus have you personally taken care of? Sleeping while your wife dealt with soiled sheets and/or a crying baby in the middle of the night does not count.

Please do provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that any vaccine on the present American pediatric recommended schedule cause more harm than the diseases.

@john scott You seem to think that only way to get a pathogen is a sexual contact. There are others, actually. A sneeze spreads may contagious diseases, like measles. So you would not avoid it by being monogamous.

[…] Regular readers might wonder why there was no post yesterday. Believe it or not, sometimes Orac needs to rest his Tarial cells. For some reason he hit the wall last night in the early evening, and, by the time he regained consciousness, it was the middle of the night. It happens occasionally. At least it gave you all an extra day to peruse part one of our mole’s report on the One Conversation antivaccine quackfest that had almost ensnared real scientists along with me. Since then, I’ve learned of something happening far too close for comfort for me, namely the Vaccine Choice Empowerment Symposium, which is to be held at Schoolcraft College. Guess who’s sponsoring this antivaccine crankfest? Yes, it’s our very own homegrown antivaccine lobbying group, Michigan For Vaccine Choice. Given how close it is, I’m seriously tempted to do what I did the last time antivaxers had a confab in my neck of the woods and show up to observe and report. […]

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