Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Medicine Popular culture

Daily Beast reporter Jackie Kucinich falls prey to the perils of reporting on antivaxer Del Bigtree

So I’m finally back. As many of you surmised, I needed surgery; I had it two and a half weeks ago; and I’m back. I’ll say little more than that it was spine surgery and that no fusion was involved, hence my relatively rapid return to work. I must say, a lot of things happened in my absence. I was also fairly active on Twitter, mainly because I was rather bored not being able to do a lot and sitting in front of a computer screen was too painful until recently while using a smart phone was not. Now that I’m back, I think I’ll start relatively slowly, beginning with an article on The Daily Beast by Jackie Kucinich that I encountered, entitled Top Anti-Vaxxer Says He Learned All He Needs to Know From Being a Producer on ‘Dr. Phil’ and ‘The Doctors’. It’s an example of an article that on the surface seems to be deconstructing antivaccine pseudoscience but is actually too sympathetic to Del Bigtree, a man who started out as an obscure, little known producer on shows like Dr. Phil and The Doctors, and in a mere three years has risen to be one of the three arguably most famous antivaxers in the world, along with Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

It’s actually an interesting story that had great potential, but we get a taste of Kucinich’s intent right in the first paragraph:

Last month, Del Bigtree stood behind a podium at a Texas rally, his flowing gray hair blowing in the wind, to talk about the supposed perils of government-mandated vaccines—a speech he has given all over the country.

Got that? Del’s got flowing gray hair. According to Kucinich, he’s also unfazed by criticism:

This time, he had a prop: Near the end of his speech, he affixed a yellow Star of David to his coat with the words “No Vax” across the center. It was a symbol, he said, of solidarity with New York’s Orthodox Jewish community, which is in the throes of a measles outbreak.

Condemnation of the stunt—from the Auschwitz Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League, among others— was swift. But Bigtree said he wasn’t worried about the criticism.

“Honestly, I was doing what I thought I was raised to do, which was stand up for minorities,” he told The Daily Beast in a recent interview. “A Jewish community was going to be quarantined and not allowed to go into their own synagogues during Passover. To me it seems so obvious that smacks of the issues in Germany.”

Bigtree’s explanation for why he used the Yellow Star of David is transparent, disingenuous nonsense. He’s never shown evidence of standing for minorities that I’m aware of other than in the context of the antivaccine movement. Indeed, he arguably exploited the distrust for the medial system held by African Americans in his use of Brian Hooker’s bogus “reanalysis” of a study that purportedly showed that the MMR vaccine was associated with an increased risk of autism in African-Americans. He’s gone to Compton to preach the evils of vaccination, not unlike the way that Andrew Wakefield went to Minnesota to fuel the measles outbreak among the Somali immigrant community there.

I’ve written about the penchant of prominent antivaxers to liken school vaccine mandates to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. Indeed, RFK Jr. himself once likened vaccination to the Holocaust. (But don’t call him antivaccine!) This isn’t even the first time that antivaxers have misappropriated the symbol of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Yellow Star of David that the Nazis forced Jews to wear in order to be instantly identifiable. During the political battle in 2015 over SB 277, the California bill (now law) that banned non-medical personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates, an antivaxer named Heather Barajas made a badge with a syringe on it. True, it wasn’t yellow, and it wasn’t a Star of David, but her intent was explicit in the Facebook post in which she showed off her new badge with her child in a photo with photos of Jews during the Holocaust wearing Yellow Stars of David. She deleted it, but I preserved it (unfortunately I did not preserve the text):

That was 2015. In 2019, everything’s been amped up, and no only did Del Bigtree appropriate the idea of a badge, but he made it into a yellow star:

He’s not the only one, either. Here’s a version that’s been popping up on social media all over the place:

As an aside, I can’t resist noting that antivaxers are not the only cranks who’ve misappropriated the Yellow Star of David:

I won’t dwell on this, other than to note that I could probably find others abusing the Yellow Star of David to claim they are persecuted. It’s offensive, particularly when antivaxers do it.

Let’s get back to Kucinich’s article. The main problem with the article is that, for all its refutations of some of Del Bigtree’s claims, its refutations are incomplete, and, worse, it reads more like a celebrity profile, specifically a profile of a celebrity who’s earned notoriety and controversy. For instance, his antivaccine propaganda film disguised as a documentary, VAXXED, is described as “headline-grabbing,” and Kucinich makes sure to point out that Bigtree’s nonprofit has raised over a million dollars and that he has 13,000 Twitter followers and 114,000 likes on the Facebook page for his streamed show.

Kucinich also makes sure to point out that Bigtree has a “flair for the dramatic”:

Bigtree’s flair for the dramatic precedes his role as vaccine choice crusader. A graduate of the Vancouver Film School, Bigtree spent a few years directing small films and plays. A review of a show he directed at Hollywood Fight Club Theater in 2007 said: “Although it lacks the complexity and length of Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s Oleanna is no less worth pondering and no less astonishing. David Mamet’s 1992 script receives a fresh Hollywood rendering from Director Del Matthew Bigtree at the Hollywood Fight Club Theater with Randy Robertson playing John, the college professor and Ruby Laurelle Staly playing his challenging pupil Carol.”

The thing is, Bigtree is not controversial. There is no scientific controversy about his antivax views. He is a dangerous crank, an antivaxer. Unfortunately, the tone of the article doesn’t really convey that very well. Indeed, the tone borders on admiring in some places. Indeed, the very fact that Bigtree is unfazed by criticism, while a very common characteristic of cranks and fanatics, is presented in such a way that it isn’t clear that that’s what he is; that is, if you are not familiar with Del Bigtree and the antivaccine movement.

The next passage bothered me as well, because it basically let Bigtree present his experience as a producer on two cheesy medical TV shows is enough to provide him with the knowledge and the tools to question vaccine safety:

“As a television producer on a medical show on CBS called The Doctors and prior to that I was a producer on the Dr. Phil Show, so I had about 10 years of working first in psychology and then in medicine and surgery and cutting edge techniques in science as form of entertainment,” he said. “I would read medical journals while looking for stories that I saw were interesting. The things that always grabbed my attention were really brilliant surgeons… surgeons who had used less invasive techniques, do less damage to the body but achieved the same goal.”

Bigtree’s experience on The Doctors gave him the confidence to leave the show to delve into a new project, the documentary called Vaxxed with disgraced physician Andrew Wakefield. It centered on the debunked theory, championed by Wakefield, that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine caused autism and the government covered it up.

It was that movie and the bus tour that followed that helped launch Bigtree into anti-vaccine stardom.

The Doctors

Now here’s where a bit of false balance. This story is mostly about Del Bigtree. He’s quoted extensively. Some of his misinformation is refuted. I’ll admit that some of it is refuted about as well as I can expect a reporter to do it (for instance, the part about ICAN). It’s not enough, though, particularly within the structure of this article, particularly given the way that he’s presented. Then at the end only one person supporting a science-based position is quoted, Dorit Reiss, and then not extensively. Indeed, the fact that it’s not enough, that Kucinich quoted Bigtree in such a way that allowed him to paint himself as some sort of self-taught expert is a form of false balance. It also led me to believe that the primary purpose of this article was to profile Bigtree as a rising star of the antivaccine movement more than it was to show him as a dangerous crank.

I must admit, though, that Bigtree’s bragging about reading medical journals during his time working for Dr. Phil and The Doctors did amuse me; it deserves mockery, as clearly he learned nothing. His misinterpretation of vaccine literature is epic and demonstrates that he, for all his bragging, he’s never understood science, not really. Working for those shows, at best, taught him how to do stories with a superficial mixture of understanding and misunderstanding tarted up with sensationalistic nonsense, much like what he demonstrated when he produced VAXXED. However, even that part of the story is problematic. You and I know that Bigtree’s full of crap when he proclaims his great knowledge of the medical literature, but the average reader doesn’t. We laugh—and rightfully so—at Bigtree’s claim, but the average reader doesn’t. The average reader thinks, “Maybe he is self-taught,” because the average reader doesn’t realize how difficult it is to teach oneself biology, immunology, infectious disease, and other topics relevant to vaccines. In fact, it’s damned near impossible. It might have been possible 100 years ago, but today it’s too complex to learn without guidance.

Another problematic part of the article is how it portrays Bigtree as a rockstar among antivaxers, a celebrity. People listen to celebrity. At the least, he comes across as appealing, rather than the arrogant, self-righteous jerk that he really is. Then there’s the way that the article concludes. It’s very, very grating. :

Criticism from highly credentialed experts is unlikely to stop Bigtree, who used the end of his show on Thursday to issue a call to action to supporters, encouraging them to keep pushing and demanding answers.

“All of this is coming to a head, this is such an exciting time. Do you feel it? Do you feel what’s happening? This one is not going to be easy it would be boring if it was…” he said.

“This is our time. You’ve got to feel it. It’s so exciting.”

Seriously? Kucinich ended the article with a quote from Bigtree about how great it is to be an antivaxer in 2019? In the middle of multiple large measles outbreaks? How hopeful he is? I think I know what she was going for, but this is an epic fail.

That’s why I said this article is basically free publicity for antivaxers. It’s not quite a celebrity puff piece, but it flirts with it. Indeed, Bigtree is even allowed to get away with the most common denial among antivaxers:

He maintains that he’s not an anti-vaxxer, a term he says is derogatory and made up by the pharmaceutical industry to discredit skeptics like him.

“I still believe that, for the most part, vaccines are effective. The question I have is are they safe and that’s the investigation I began and that’s why I started a non-profit to get to answers to that question,” he said. “When we say vaccines are safe, how do we determine that?”

Here’s a hint: Antivaxers always deny that they are antivaccine, with very rare exceptions. Famous antivaxers never admit to being antivaccine. Smoking them out is easy, if you know how. All you have to do is to ask the antivaxer denying he’s antivaccine a simple question: If, as he claims, he’s not antivaccine, then he must consider that at least some vaccines are safe and effective. So which specific vaccines he considers to be safe and effective. MMR? DTaP? Varicella? HPV? Antivaxers will either deny that most or all of the vaccines safe and effective or they will hem and haw and try to do everything they can to avoid giving a straight yes/no answer to the question about each vaccine. Either way, they reveal themselves as antivaccine. How do I know this? I’ve been dealing with antivaxers for nearly two decades now. (See? I can help.)

Kucinich’s article isn’t all bad. The false balance isn’t as blatant as it is in a lot of articles about antivaxers, and there are some good bits refuting specific bits of misinformation. Unfortunately, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, and its tone undermines whatever good intentions might have been behind it.

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]

91 replies on “Daily Beast reporter Jackie Kucinich falls prey to the perils of reporting on antivaxer Del Bigtree”

The CDC statistics show a surge in reported measles that has occurred in the US over the last 3 and 1/3 years. The measles virus was imported to the US by overseas travellers who had visited countries (e,g. Israel) where outbreaks occurred. Most of the travellers were unvaccinated. These travellers then moved amongst the community spreading the virus to unvaccinated people, resulting in local areas of outbreaks.

In 2018, 372 cases of measles were reported – and increase of about 332% over the 86 cases in 2016.
In the FIRST 3 MONTHS of 2019, 465 cases had been reported.

Let’s have a round of applause for those ignoramuses who have denied their children protection from this highly infectious and possibly lethal disease, and given their innocent offspring entry to the great Measles Lottery,

Thus I pose the questions:

If a child dies, or is maimed, by a known, preventable disease, are those responsible (the child’s carers) for refusing protection for the child punishable by law for gross negligence (or manslaughter)?

Are those who were responsible for influencing the carers to withhold that protection, punishable by law for aiding a abetting a crime of negligence (or manslaughter)?


Heart-breaking stories Chris.

The law is not about justice, or the punishment of evil, it is merely a maze of gibberish from which exits are only accessible to powerful people and institutions that can buy the wizardry of teams of voracious lawyers.

An insidious form of child abuse and sacrifice is allowed to thrive, untouched by the law, ignored by cowardly politicians.

“The law is not about justice, or the punishment of evil”


It’s about regulating behaviours.

“exits are only accessible to powerful people and institutions that can buy the wizardry of teams of voracious lawyers.”

Different countries have different problems with how their judicial system operates.

Sometimes there is justice, just barely:

Sometimes the problem is religion. In a neighboring state there is a graveyard full of tiny coffins. It is Oregon City, OR and their is a church that promotes faith healing. It has taken years but they are finally removing children from families after a kid death, though sometimes it takes more than two.

Dr. Paul Offit was dreadfully exposed to this mentality during the 1990 measles epidemic and there were at least two churches refusing to treat kids. Several died of measles. This is on of the reasons he wrote the book Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine.

In one of the earliest chapters he tells of a Christian Science mom, Rita Swan, who relied on their church when her young son got sick. Unfortunately he died from meningitis. This made her rethink everything, and she started a non-profit called “Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Responsibility.” It dissolved by lives on for child advocacy in Pennsylvania:

So there is hope.

A. Bigtree certainly isn’t standing up for the Jewish minority when he is fighting efforts to stop an outbreak that has been making mostly unvaccinated Jewish children sick and putting some of them in the hospital. And it’s extremely jarring that he said that.

B. I did really appreciate her providing a clear response from congress on the reports issue and the links to the reports. This is an important tool for our debunking arsenal.

Orac writes,

…the tools to question vaccine safety

MJD says,

Effective vaccine continuous-improvement demands showing deficiencies in the prior art. Most important, the “vaccine safety advocate” must teach or suggest a novel means to improve its safety. In simplicity, Del Bigtree is not a “vaccine safety advocate” in that vaccine exclusionary measures alone fail to bring validity to the continuous-improvement process.

@ Orac and minions,

Have I failed the “vaccine safety advocate” litmus test in that I’ve preached exclusionary measures in the absence of a novel means to improve safety?

Please advise.

Yesterday there was something on Dutch television, where a lady in Brooklyn stated her rabbi was opposed to vaccines, but she didn’t want to mention his name. She also mentioned not wanting to inject her child with poisons. Alas they didn’t ask what poisons she was talking about.
We don’t want poisons injected in our child, but we are okay with it getting infected with a potentially dangerous virus.

@ Dorit Reiss
But those toxins are all natural and not those evil chemicals.

Re: the re-purported (and I will say, defaced) Star of David

It’s offensive, particularly when antivaxers do it.

My Grand-ma, rest her gentle soul, was living in Lyon and witnessed a few round-ups by the French/German authorities of “undesirable” families, Jewish or otherwise. Decades later, there were streets she was still unable to go through. Traumatic memories.
So yeah, offensive is the word.

I would agree. The use of Hebrew letters to form the words “NO VAX” reminded me of this notorious art exhibition from 1937, which arranged Hebrew letters to spell out “Der ewige Jude” (the eternal Jew). Has nobody explained this to Bigtree?

I, like Jake Blues, hate Illinois Nazis.

I’m having a hard time even wrapping around something so absurd and so offensive.

Kind of just an association, but I know Petersburgers in Russia of a certain age – even those born just after the war, but who heard and knew – who literally won’t walk down certain parts of certain streets because that was where the bodies were literally piled during the Nazi siege of Leningrad.

I have also been to the mass cemetery and read heart breaking diaries, like a little girl whose last entry was “and now there is only Tanya.”

Lord, again, just a rambling association, but Russians, once you get to know them and you sort of share a heart feeling, you will find yourself singing songs together (and, yes, drinking,) and they will weep when it’s time for weeping and they will also laugh uproariously at jokes and fun.

Once you are actual friends with a Russian, he or she will literally give you the shirt off their back or take a bullet for you. (I am not exaggerating; friendship is a very serious thing for Russians.)

I don’t know exactly why I got on this subject.

Welcome back. I hope as you recover that the procedure helped!

Bigtree: I still believe that, for the most part, vaccines are effective.

With Bigtree, I always have to wonder whether he isn’t a fraud in the sense that he doesn’t actually believe in the antivax cause. He seems to say whatever the audience is most receptive to at any given time. He goes full-on nazi baiting for the antivaxxers at his base and also still has time to slow down appeal to the humanity of both sides when a reporter is in the opposite seat, “gotta remember that everyone has the best interests of the children in mind…” I sometimes think he’s just found a way into celebrity and is simply enjoying selling a brand. This make him the most odious sort, in my opinion. With Bigtree, he has a financial stake in being antivaccine simply because he directly benefits from attention to “Vaxxed.”

He may be drumming up public interest for VAXXED II which he is working on currently: it will be a collection of parents’ stories from the VAXXED bus.

Orac** mentions that Bigtree is self-taught – which is a real problem in science and medicine,
I agree: I read that BIgtree studied film making. That’s it.

What I’ve observed is that the self-taught- mostly woo-meisters, anti-vaxxers and other brave mavericks- simply gravitate to topics they enjoy or think relevant and disregard everything else which may include the real basics and ways to evaluate research and new developments. Or difficult concepts or methods. I had the opportunity to study ( undergraduate) life sciences and ( graduate) social sciences. It wasn’t all subject matter that I chose BUT what the ( then) current) state of those systems DEMANDED: i.e. what students needed to know in order to have a decent overview. One prof, an expert in the history of psych, said that students had to be proficient in the entire history of the field so that we didn’t go about repeating false steps that led nowhere decades ago.

One set of blatant bad examples of course includes woo that focuses purely upon nutritional solutions to solve medical or psychological problems. I hear this all of the time: diet can cure cancer, autism, mental illness etc That’s already been studied and has failed . Even proposing ideas like that illustrates how little those involved know: how could diet change brain structure or cancer biology?
HOWEVER because woo-slingers are NOT expert and have a simplistic outlook on complex systems, they appeal to the general public who may not know very much either. Less educated followers may be put off by the complexity of reality.
In addition, they may both hold grudges against the “elitist” experts.

** Orac’s recovering- HURRAH!

Reading that she’s basically just moaning that people don’t have the same taste as her in gardens and quoting poetry as if that actually means anything.

FWIW my own personal tastes in gardens isn’t a million miles from what she describes but her condescending sneery tone and overblown hyperbole definitely rubs me the wrong way!

Many years ago, I worked in the Organic/Biochemistry Laboratory at Economics Laboratory (Ecolab today). The Chem Lawn division supplied a product that was about 99% by weight water. A columnist essentially wrote, the customer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to have their lawn watered. In this instance, water was considered “proof positive of the evil of chemicals.” Economics Laboratory/Ecolab sold the division ASAP.

@ Mimi,

Sometimes, the adversarial process is beneficial to consumers.

Q. Does the adversarial process related to vaccine safety and efficacy benefit consumers.

“Of course, the comments almost all agreed with her.”

Hum… no. Only a handful of comments were the sort of comments claiming Roundup = cancer. Most of them were quickly corrected by scientifically minded people.

Much more frightening were the nonsensical comments urging people to use vinegar on their lawns. Utter madness.

Most comments simply were people discussing how not to use chemicals on their lawns. Nothing wrong with that.


Q. Does the adversarial process related to vaccine safety and efficacy benefit consumers.

I realize that you enjoy using whatever smart-sounding word or phrase was on your “how to sound intelligent at dinner parties in 500 wipes” toilet paper that morning and that by posting it as a vague one liner non-sequitur to a comment that has only the most tenuous link to what you said you’re hoping it’ll just be largely ignored rather than you actually having to expand on something and have an actual discussion that might risk showing up that you don’t actually have any understanding of what you throw at the wall. Like more or less everything you post on here (that isn’t sniping at people or turgid “poetry”) it’s intellectually dishonest and a waste of Orac’s bandwidth.

But to answer your question..

The NVICP isn’t a “conventional” adversarial process (in the sense of a normal civil court in the US), giving the vaccine manufacturers the protections of being “no fault”, reduced tort liabilities etc in exchange for several measures to reduce the downsides of a fully adversarial trial for the plaintiffs – reduced costs, lower burden of proof and the use of specialized special masters (as opposed to a judge & jury) bringing in inquisitorial process elements. The use of the injuries table to provide scientifically-backed presumption of causation in common scenarios is another big plus for the “consumer” as you deemed them.

As a freely-admitted layperson my view is that the NVICP setup isn’t perfect, but that it’s a significant improvement over a conventional civil court process the ability of a billion-dollar organisation (in this case a pharmaceutical company) to bury the “little guy” in an avalanche of top-dollar lawyers, experts and ever mounting costs is mitigated, the special masters are better placed to understand the issues than a trial judge who will most likely be outside their expertise. Would I like to see more scientific background/training in the chosen special masters? Absolutely. But on the whole I think it works reasonably well. From a survey of petitioners attorneys in 2012 the majority (56%) felt they process was fair too so I’m confident I’m not alone in thinking it’s a Good Thing(TM).

And of course if they (the petitioners) still feel unsatisfied following a rejection at NVICP they can still do things the old fashioned way and sue in civil court if they want (albeit not for everything).

The argument that the NVICP removes the incentive for vaccine manufacturers to make the safest product they can (and to make continuous improvements to that safety) isn’t one I hold much faith in – it doesn’t seem to have played out that way thusfar and it’s fundamentally putting the cart before the horse, any system that relies on the spectre of expensive legal liabilities to ensure the development of safe medical products is getting it wrong IMO. The primary time to ensure that products are as safe as is practicable is before licensure not afterwards, hence the extensive and rigorous trials and testing before a vaccine is even put on the market/schedule. This is the arena for scientists and scientific regulatory bodies – the real vaccine safety adocates to do their thing – and from what I can see it pretty much works. The NVICP and traditional civil courts provide a useful backstop for when things go wrong (as is always going to happen with just about any product) but they aren’t a primary tool for ensuring vaccine safety and nor should they be. The US is most litigious society in the world but that doesn’t mean that “I’ll sue ya!” should be the only tool in the box.

motosubatsu writes,

Like more or less everything you post on here (that isn’t sniping at people or turgid “poetry”) it’s intellectually dishonest and a waste of Orac’s bandwidth.

MJD asks,

Thanks for sharing your perspective on the NVICP, Motosubatsu!

Can you please define “intellectually dishonest?” Orac’s bandwidth is used as the most appropriate place to share respectful insolence on a particular subject. I also place my intellectual concerns about vaccine safety in the public domain through articles in science-based journals, government citizen petitions, and books.

Q. What’s the best measuring-stick for effective respectful insolence.

A. Select phrases in a rebuttal or comment including “everything you post, sniping at people, intellectually dishonest, and a waste of Orac’s bandwidth.

@ Motosubatsu,

Post your legal name with documented research, and maybe I’ll start to like you.

“Post your legal name with documented research, and maybe I’ll start to like you.”

So now, we have to comply with random expectations in the hope of being “liked”? To some extent, that sounds like emotional blackmail to me.

Thanks for sharing your perspective on the NVICP, Motosubatsu!

But of course you aren’t about to share your perspective are you? Or is it just a case of having to wait for (and ultimately purchase) the inevitable book of the “Wisdom” of MJD on the subject?

Can you please define “intellectually dishonest?”

No. I’m not a human dictionary working for your benefit. Not to mention of course that I don’t for a minute believe that you don’t know what the term means.

Post your legal name with documented research, and maybe I’ll start to like you.

No. Nee. Jo. Aye. Iaa. Votch. Na. Non. Ne. Nah. Nein. Hapana. Nage.

I’m not going to be posting my “legal name” and I don’t give a rodent’s posterior whether you “like” me or not. Orac has (as is his prerogative as our gracious host) deemed ‘nyms to be acceptable for commenting here and left the choice up to the individual. Some use their “real” names and some don’t, personally I choose not to and I don’t find “because some weirdo lunatic demanded it” to be a particularly compelling reason to change my mind.

As far as research goes – well my brief stint doing such was a long, long time ago in an entirely unrelated field. But what does that matter? I’ve never claimed otherwise, I leave that particular conceit to you.

@ motosubatsu

No. Nee. Jo. Aye. Iaa. Votch. Na. Non. Ne. Nah. Nein. Hapana. Nage.

It’s what I like on this blog. I always have a chance to learn, or re-learn, something. Or, falling that, see a well-done use of rhetorical tools.
If it’s a good day, like today, we get both.

“Orac** mentions that Bigtree is self-taught – which is a real problem in science and medicine”

While that’s generally true, it’s not entirely a clear-cut issue. I’d phrase my objection this way: it’s almost always wrong that you can make genuine progress when self-taught. It’s however not always that wrong that you cannot find fallacious errors in common “scientific arguments”.

Indeed, spotting fallacies in media reporting of science is all too common and can be done when self-taught. Then, in medicine, there also is the case that most doctors are not scientists and that some of their reasoning flaws can be sometimes rather easily be spotted when you do have a scientific background. There also is the problem that there is a mismatch between the avowed mission to cure of doctors and their commitment to disclosing the truth. Sometimes a lie is a better option to manipulate the patient, and doctors are not immune to lying to themselves about medical matters. To some extent, scientists and policy makers are also not immune to prioritizing public health over scientific truth for various reasons.

There’s no easy fix for these issues. I’d advise putting more moral philosophers in charge of the ethics of medicine, and more implications of philosophers of science when it comes to examining biases of medical scientists.

In my country, reading the regulations of medicine, I can safely claim that: 1. It’s OK, even advised, to lie or manipulate the patient if it’s the doctors appreciation of the greater good, and 2. that doctors are not allowed to criticize current medical practice in any relevant ways, which goes as far as sanctions of practitioners from medical authorities for crimes such as criticizing homeopathy.

Finding issues in mainstream science is no excuse for endorsing pseudoscience. But failure to criticize properly shortcomings of medicine is also a big part of what pushes people into legitimizing alternative medicines.

John Horgan once exhorted skeptics, rather simplistically to some extent, to consider targeting hard targets instead of soft targets. While his position wasn’t entirely convincing, and rebuttals by Steven Novella where rather up to the point, John Horgan still had a point.

I know. I mentioned that on purpose. I’m aware of your article. I do not entirely disagree with your article (though I find Steve Novella’s more accurate, or less “insolent”). In fact, I mostly agree with your article.

That doesn’t change my assessment that John Horgan’s point of view has some value on which skeptics should reflect a bit more.

There is an interesting book – Rethinking Expertise – by Collins and Evans that looks at varying levels of expertness and this problem of thinking one knows something about a technical subject when really one doesn’t have a clue. These authors separate knowledge into a number of categories and discuss the philosophy of natural and social science and various approaches to knowledge. They demonstrate that an amateur can develop a high level of understanding of quite difficult topics (their example is the physics of gravitational waves) but they emphasize that this is developed through extensive interaction with the scientists that actually are capable of and do the physics and science involved. They coined a wonderful phrase to describe Dunning-Kruger – distance lends enchantment.

@ F68.10

2. that doctors are not allowed to criticize current medical practice in any relevant ways, which goes as far as sanctions of practitioners from medical authorities for crimes such as criticizing homeopathy.

I would just point out that some critics got it lighter than others. By example, Dr Joyeux has been strongly antivax for a long time (the toxins gambit, too many too soon, breastfeeding is enough…), and was only sanctioned after he decided to go on retirement.
The punition – having his licence to practice revoked – won’t hurt him much, if at all. Actually, that must have helped him to sell his books.
A French colleague insinuated that his fall from grace may actually be correlated to his fall in surgery skills. As long as he was a successful surgeon, he was untouchable, whatever he may be saying outside of the operating theater.

Finding issues in mainstream science is no excuse for endorsing pseudoscience. But failure to criticize properly shortcomings of medicine is also a big part of what pushes people into legitimizing alternative medicines.

I agree.
Although another big part of the push toward alt-med/unproven-med is that we humans like to hear good stories, and alt-med pushers are very prolific at spinning good stories, variously mixing scientific buzzwords and spiritual symbolism (quantum and magnets on one end, faith healing on the other end, homeopathy all over the place…).
OK, so alt-med has two chief weapons – benefiting from failures/shortcomings of mainstream medicine (real or because of too high expectations), and riding on our cultural bagage to promote the promise of a miracle cure.
(to some extent, these are the two faces of the same coin)
Oh, and having time to spend with their customers. OK, so alt-med has three chief weapons…

“As long as he was a successful surgeon, he was untouchable, whatever he may be saying outside of the operating theater.”

That’s typically the kind of confusion of priorities that enable this nonsense to go on: concerns about health are prioritized over concerns about truth.

Much more concerning than his antivax positions, in my opinion, are his moral positions concerning stuff like sexuality and medical ethics. It’s time MDs understand that they are medical doctors and not priests. In his case, I consider Joyeux as a backdoor through which catholicism funnels its values onto others via the medical profession. We do not any need any more moral confusion of this kind in French medicine.

@ F68.10

Much more concerning […] are his moral positions concerning stuff like sexuality and medical ethics.

Ah. I did not do an extensive study of Dr Joyeux opinions – I discovered him through a local newspaper’s interview about vaccines, honey and health, a couple months before his revocation – but I cannot say I’m surprised. I have long suspected that health advocates with a fetish for breastfeeding are likely to also have, let’s say, conservative opinions on the way society should be shepherded. Traditional roles and all that.
About the backdoor part: that seems something culturally French, despite our pretensions at being a secular society. From a conversation I had with a disillusioned Calvinist physician, it seems that career prospects in a French hospital are dependent on being aligned with either the militant Catholics or the Freemasons. Dunno how much this is real and prevalent.
All I know, as a foreign friend once told me a decade ago, is that France is a Catholic country pretending not to be one.

Wow , you all blindly follow this moron!!! Orac. God Bless our babies that are being poisoned for the almighty dollar and you fools fall for their NON science. OMG the fox is guarding the hen house .Wake the hell up. Instead of wasting time beating on people who are trying to bring a light to what is going on, try HEARING what the hell they are saying and backing up with resources from CDC etc!!!

Alas, the illnesses your children are not vaccinated against are far more dangerous than the vaccines.

Recover well Dr G! I’m recipient of a C6C7 ACDF, but doing awesome considering how bad it coulda been.

“A Jewish community was going to be quarantined and not allowed to go into their own synagogues during Passover. To me it seems so obvious that smacks of the issues in Germany.”

Bigbooté seems to have failed to internalize a major detail of the Exodus tale.

One of our postdocs has a good friend who worked with some Somalis targeted by these nuts in the upper Midwest. She says they were very aggressive and fanatical and provided no human source of information whenever anyone questioned the anti-vax rhetoric. These people mostly come from an authoritarian culture where you can get killed for asking questions. They were very intimidated by the anti-vax whackjobs.

Del Bigtree, 2016 (personal appearance on behalf of “Vaxxed”):

“Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.”

"It’s now. Now’s the time.”

Del Bigtree, 2019 (Kucinich interview):

“This is our time. You’ve got to feel it. It’s so exciting.”

Del just loves dramatic lines about how it’s time. It is indeed time – for Del to get a clue.

Welcome back, Orac.

It is indeed time – for Del to get a clue

It would also be a good time to hit the delete button on Del (figure of speech, not meant to be taken literally).


“Bigtree comes across as appealing, rather than the arrogant, self-righteous jerk that he really is.”

Only to people predisposed to like him. The DB audience knows how to read pieces like this, which are skewerings executed under the rules of a certain kind of journalism, with which the readers are familiar. Trust me, the vast mass of folks who read this piece are chuckling at BigScree’s pretensions. (E.g. they knopw what Godwining is, and that folks who do it are generally Bozos).

“it portrays Bigtree as a rockstar among antivaxers, a celebrity…” which most readers understand is NOT a good thing to be, either an anti-vaxer, or a ‘celebrity’ messing in medical science.

“Kucinich ended the article with a quote from Bigtree about how great it is to be an antivaxer in 2019? In the middle of multiple large measles outbreaks? How hopeful he is? I think I know what she was going for, but this is an epic fail.”

Basically, what I’m saying is that the DB readers get irony. That ending isn’t a fail at all, It cemented exactly what she was going for.

Part of the trick, you must understand is that journalists need people to talk to them. They can’t burn their sources, or they won’t get new stories going forward. So the ‘hit pieces’ have to be subtle – or as we say in the semiotics biz ‘double-coded’ – meaning only that they’re relatively open to be read along the lines of the reader’s confirmation biases. So Del reads the piece sees himself, and is content. I read it, and see a ludicrous fool exposed.

I think Orac completely underestimates the “average reader of the DB. They get the snark that is the actual tone here, because it’s a key part of their cultural lingua franca. That is, they see this kind of prose all the time, and readily see it for the shade it is.

Can you give an argument for the presence of this ‘irony’ and ‘snark’ you claim to detect, or for the likely reactions of its readers? I doubt it, but you are free to prove me wrong. You may not realize that your post pulls rank on media knowledge. Do you have an argument better than ‘trust me, I know media better than you’?

Irony is part of any serious literary writing and journalism. But overdone and lionized as is endlessly done by the pomo-influenced, it gives everyone a convenient way to avoid responsibility for their attitudes and statements. Long past time for the pendulum to swing back to the real stuff.

After I hit return on my post i realized that in thinking about it I had intended to add that the fact the vast majority of DB readers likely read the piece as critical of Bigtree isn’t necessarily worth very much. Because, indeed, irony ” gives everyone a convenient way to avoid responsibility for their attitudes and statements.” There is an argument better than ‘trust me, I know media better than you’*, but these days I’m not up to pulling it together. It would be long and probably bore you to tears. The evidence in the text is the way it interweaves Del’s claims to expertise with contrasting info suggesting he’s a clueless buffoon. The problem with Orac’s reading is that somehow he assumes all of his reactions are somehow going against the intent, when actually they’re spurred and keyed by those juxtapositions, which are absolutely intentional. One could make a comparative analysis of the semiotic structures in the Del profile and a sincere puff piece, or document how pieces similar to Kucinich’s from the recent past relate to the public evaluations of the subjects involved, look at comment threads in web-pubs that have them (DB doesn’t).

FWIW, actual scholars of pomo neither lionize ubiquitous irony nor totally condemn it either. There’s an essay I think is very good on the sociological roots of the kind of ironic mindset I’m talking about, called “Makin’ Flippy Floppy” by Fred Pfeil. It talks about changes in education, work, historical coindition, and identifies SNL as a kind leading edge of a changing sensibility. It’s mildly jargony, but not too difficult.

Honestly, I do know media better than ‘you’ having received a PhD in Media Studies from a School of Journalism no less, written a dissertation that addresses the issues discussed, plus been a practitioner of media work for decades, and most importantly, I think, been a teacher in the field for decades, thus quite exposed to how educated twenty-somethings interact with the media they use… But, at this stage of my aging and mental deterioration, sometimes all I retrieve is what I ‘know’, not all the details of why and how I came to know it. I put know in quotes because what I expressed above is indeed an interpretation, not empirical fact. It’s theory, a good one, hardly idiosyncratic, well supportable. But it ain’t science.

I shall note that no one queried Orac for argument in support of his claims about the gullibility of ‘the average reader’. In this, he’s, uhh, way outside his field of expertise, and, oh, showing what he might call Dunning Kruger or something..

I never comment on any website or YouTube, but just discovering this blog site, I am so relieved to read so much sense and logic for a change. Will be coming back again. Enjoy all the comments as well. Antivaxxers have always been a problem with me. Perhaps someone could comment on the fact that my grandsons were vaccinated so early in life, with so many injections at once which I actually object to. But anyone with some medical experience could perhaps tell me whether or not this is a problem today??? Thank you, Sunami

It’s perfectly normal to instinctively recoil from so many injections so early in life. It doesn’t mean that it’s the right attitude. This natural instinct is exploited by antivaxxers with their alternative schedules for more sinister motives than simply catering to people’s natural instincts and worries.

If practitioners do all these injections simultaneously, it’s mostly for practical purposes.

“my grandsons were vaccinated so early in life, with so many injections at once”

Doesn’t it make sense to have your grandsons vaccinated before they are actually exposed to the infections? If so, then the earlier the better. In fact, it would be beneficial to vaccinate at birth except for the fact that immune responses to most vaccines are ineffective at birth which is why some are delayed till 2,4,and 6 months (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Haemophilus influenza) and others are delayed till 12 months (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella).

That is also part of the reason why so many are given at once. Why spread them out over time. That only increases the risk of your grandsons being exposed to and contracting the infections before they’ve had the chance to be vaccinated. The vaccines are meant to prevent these infections so the idea is to vaccinate before exposure.

Also, the vaccines have been studied extensively and it is has been found that it is safe to vaccinate with multiple vaccines at once. The childhood vaccine schedule, although it varies a little from country to country, is not arbitrary. Just think how many infectious agents children are exposed to every day. That is more of a challenge to their immune systems than multiple vaccines every couple of months

I’ve never understood why people like Mr Bigtree claim not to be anti vaccine. They’ve never met a vaccine they like and they claim that vaccines do irreparable harm to infants, but no they’re not ANTI vaccine, just, you know, vaccine sceptical. It smacks to me of the speaker knowing that their beliefs are unfounded, and dangerous, and trying to sugar coat them to make them palatable for general consumption.

By the way the Washington Post is reporting that the measles outbreak in Madagascar has killed more than 1200 people. This is, tragically, a country where poverty prevents the population getting vaccinated and widespread malnutrition makes measles all the more lethal. Link below:

This will succinctly answer Sunami’s question about many vaccines given at a young age:

“Some parents worry about overloading a child’s immune system. But parents don’t need to be concerned about this. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies’ immune systems can handle the number of recommended vaccines ( according to the vaccination schedule because they are exposed to multiple germs on a daily basis. A healthy baby’s immune system can accommodate multiple vaccinations. In fact, babies’ immune systems can respond to approximately 100,000 organisms at once. The antigens in vaccines use only a small fraction of a babies immune system response. Childhood immunizations are recommended to children at a susceptible young age after immunity from their mother wears off.”

Del Bigtree:

A review of medical talk shows, including Del Bigtree’s The Doctors concluded: “Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.” [Korownyk C et al (2014 Dec 17 Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study. BMJ; 349)

BIgtree’s either really stupid and/or really dishonest. In a recent podcast he attacks Peter Hotez. Hotez discussed with Joe Rogan what we know about the genes involved in ASD and also research by Philip Landrigan which found several environmental chemicals involved in the prenatal development of ASD. Bigtree screams which is it. Well, it’s both. There are critical stages in the development of the brain, depending on which genes are expressed, etc. Chemicals can affect gene expression, e.g., methylation. Once the basic structure of brain develops in the first trimester, further changes, e.g., removing excess connections occur during further fetal development. Finding which of the genes are involved and chemicals that can affect their expression isn’t as Bigtree sees it, one or the other; but both. Later on Bigtree shows Paul Offit explaining that he had measles as a child, so he has life-time immunity. Bigtree shows this; but leaves out that Offit goes on to explain the risks from the natural disease, so a few jabs preferable. For those not aware, with our population twice that of the 1950s, without the measles vaccine, given it is one of the most contagious infectious diseases around, we could expect over a million cases of 7 – 10 days of anorexia, high fevers, severe itch, 100,000 hospitalizations, 1,000 deaths, 1,000 permanently disabled (blindness, deafness, mental retardation), and a dozen or more dying 7 – 10 years later from subacute sclerotic panenchephalitis, completely untreatable. And studies have found that natural measles infection suppresses the immune system for up to several years, thus, risking other infections and potential deaths and disabilities. Bigtree’s entire podcast was more of the above.

The Holocaust:

An article in the Washington Post explains how many Holocaust victims died from infectious diseases, many which could have been prevented by current vaccines, and how, when locked in ghettos, they either smuggled in vaccines or attempted to produce them. [Sinnreich H (2019 Apr 10). Anti-vaxxers are comparing themselves to Holocaust victims – who relied on vaccines to survive. The Washington Post.]

In addition, being born right after World War II, we would have barbecues where as a young child I noticed numbers tattooed on the forearms of some of my parents friends. I learned they were sole Holocaust survivors of extended families So I began reading and learning everything I could about the Holocaust. As a graduate student in Sweden, the city of Gothenburg had a small Jewish community of about 2,000. Over half were Holocaust survivors, sole survivors of extended families. What I learned is the Nazis were a death cult. They killed not only Jews; but psychiatric patients, handicapped, political foes, Slavs, and towards the end of the war, Hitler wanted all Germans to perish because they had “failed” him. Even if one believes, against ALL science, that vaccine risks are higher than they are, do antivaccinationists really believe that researchers at CDC, NIH, FDA, medical schools, here and abroad intentionally want to harm children? Especially given that everyone I know who supports vaccines has gotten vaccinated and their children as well. Do antivaccinationists really believe provaccinationists hate their own children and intentionally risk harm to them? Not only do antivaccinationists display an incredible lack of knowledge about the sciences underlying vaccines; but an irrational, illogical paranoid conspiracy theory. Antivaccinationists use of the Holocaust is contemptible!

By the way, antivaccinationists believe this conspiracy is to further the profits of the pharmaceutical industry. Yet, for instance, Age of Autism brags about being sponsored by various practitioners of CAM. One CAM practitioner, Joseph Mercola, runs such a profitable business that he donated $1 million to the National Vaccine Information Center (a little office in Virginia, not affiliated with the government). So, Age of Autism and other antivaccinationists must be CAM shills. The difference as this blog and others has pointed out is that CAM practitioners have no science, just testimonials and a few poorly designed studies, to back their claims and the FDA can’t even regulate ingredients or production (one study found mold and rat droppings in production facilities) and, since CAM practitioners don’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get FDA approval, their profit margins are huge.

“BIgtree’s either really stupid and/or really dishonest.” Nope. “Antivaccinationists display an irrational, illogical paranoid conspiracy theory.” Yup. In short: they’re not dumb or duplicitous, they’re cukoo. Hard core anti-vax is a cult. If we want to understand these folks, we should look at the sociological and psychological literature on cults. People attach themselves to cults for reasons, usually some pretty profound lack or disturbance, which cult membership functions to address. In general, we could say that these ‘answers’ work in no small part because they’re irrational and illogical. I think the Kucinich profile paints Del as having a comical messianic delusion. yes?

OTOH, the consensus of folks like Hotez trying to combat breakouts is that most parents expressing resistance to vaxing can be talked into changing their minds, though not necessarily quickly or readily. In short: they’re not cukoo. The key, say the experts, is listening to them, showing respect and understanding, and then working in the argument and evidence. Thus, profiles of providers successful in overcoming vax resistance show them to be sympathetic with woo in some way – a naturopath, a nurse who once resisted flu vaccines herself, etc.

It would seem important, then, not to conflate the hard-core anti-vax cultists like Bigboote and the trolls who show up here with the wider group of non-cultists who create anti-vax clusters – as, e.g., most of the ‘social science’ research on antivax does. Also, I think we need to know more about how these two groups articulate, how the nutsos influence the merely misled. For example, a number of the misled may have only been influenced at one or two removes from the cultists, via word of mouth and social media making the rhetoric less wacko and more tailored to the readers at each step. If that’s true, then maybe coverage like the Kucinich piece exposing just how extremist folks like Del are will give them some pause, creating conditions useful in getting them away from the edge.

It strikes me that there are two basic strategies against anti-vax that are difficult to make work together. One is to work harder to convince those leaning toward vax refusal to do the right thing. This, say the experts, should be done with sympathy rather than insolence. The other is to work toward public policy in the SB277 mode, but without religion/preference/etc. exceptions. To garner public support and political momentum for such legislation, it makes sense to emphasize to the general population the dangers of non-vax clusters. In this, it may indeed be best to focus on how wacky, self-centered and anti-social the hardcore anti-vaxers truly are. (Most folks are wary of cultish fervor, and would like to see that held in check…)

I might like to think we could present one set of discourse to the vax-hesitant, and another to the general public, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Maybe we could minimize the crosstalk thus minimizing any chance the two directions would cancel each other out. But there just might be some degree of Catch 22 involved in any case.

I can be very sympathetic to those who are being misled by anti-vax proselytisers ( I was going to say culprits but I didn’t)
For example, at SBM, our esteemed leader quotes a figure of 81% of measles cases occurring in the unvaccinated
NOW if you were to listen to anti-vax prevari… uh, advocates they would have you think that most of those who contracted the virus WERE vaccinated. Or it was all due to ‘shedding’ the vaccine.

Pointing out these frequent misquotes / lies is a way to honestly communicate with the misled.
— we can show how the supposed experts quoted by anti-vaxxers are NOT expert
— we can point out how they twist data to suit their programming.
— we can even discuss in detail how anti-vaxxers/ woo-meisters operate on an emotional level and have COIs.
Wait a minute…
we are doing those things and have to keep it up.

Do we need two messages ? I don’t know. Maybe not. If we delineate how certain people are targetted – it may be helpful because those most at risk are being treated as easy marks perhaps.

We can explain how SB information is a prime area for charlatans because most people do not study these topics in detail:- there is no shame in NOT being an expert in vaccine science-
it is easy for woo-meisters to make stuff up in these subjects. You should hear the crap about nutrition.

AS I always say about woo: it needs conspiracy theories to explain why its brilliance is not accepted by the mainstream. Cults need an evil empire or demon-figure.

The Nazi’s also killed Roma and gay people. The latter wore a pink triangle.

Well, maybe her dad didn’t teach her critical thinking.

Don’t listen to self-proclaimed experts like Kucinich and Burton who throw out years of painstaking science and replace it with conspiracy theories and gut feelings. Instead, listen to your board-certified doctor. If he or she recommends you get vaccinated, do it. The life you save may be your own, or it may be that of a newborn infant living down the street from you.

Over the years, I became very familiar with her father courtesy of The Gary Null Show, where he was often a guest. While I can’t easily characterise his political position ( liberal-ish, libertarian? who knows) he was an advocate of veganism and IIRC “natural health* so he was very welcome aboard that shitshow.
I know we aren’t our parents but they could conceivably have influence on our thought and politics.

He is definitely left of center. Pro gun control, pro environment, anti war.

This is true. Except for RFK, Jr., the loudest and most influential voices in the antivaccine movement are currently on the right.

@ Orac

Actually, that was not meant as one of my sticks at the GOP, but rather an admittedly cynical rejoinder to “listen to your board-certified doctor. If he or she recommends you get vaccinated, do it.” Like there are too many board certified doctors who are antivax (or wacko in some other way). So we could toss Drs Bob and Jay and the rest you know all too well, who may be of different political stripes, or not ‘politcal’ in that sense at all.

Glad your surgery went well.

Interesting happenings over at the Ghat’s nest… expected, his “absolutist” attitude has him now turning on Del & RFK Jr….including noting that RFK’s interpretation of the NVICP statute is wrong (the whole “no studies” idiocy.

Right, I’ve been watching that. You can almost see the sparks of jealousy fly as he insults people who have positions in anti-vax orgs such as the two women..
If you look up Jake’s Linked In profile ( to separate him fro all of the other Jake Crosbys, he lives near Jacksonville, FL, in Ponte Vedra IIRC), he portrays himself as a researcher and blogger- seeking work. I imagine that he thinks one of these orgs/ blogs might hire him or print his exposes.

In related news:
Kim’s substitute editor, Ginger Taylor, describes her investigation and FOIA request concerning Prof Reiss and a Portland reporter. It is rather bizarre if you ask me: FOIA’ing e-mails between a prof and a reporter? SRSLY. Big secrets? An expert and a reporter: who would’ve thought they might communicate? Reporters talk to professors?

Ginger Taylor includes pointing out that Prof Reiss isn’t licensed to practice law. So what? Being licensed means one can be paid to represent cases, has nothing to do with ones knowledge of law. Prof Reiss has a multitude of articles in Law Reviews. As an analogy, a friend of mine, an American who did a PhD in neuroscience at University of Uppsala in Sweden, married a Swede, then studied medicine in Sweden, then became Board Certified in Neurology, for a few years worked as Associate Professor in Neurology at UCLA School of Medicine. While she did not get licensed in California, she supervised medical students and residents. In fact, Swedish medical training at that time was higher than in U.S. After medical degree, two-year general internship, followed by 5 year residency in speciality and her PhD. Despite all this, she would have had to undergo a one-year supervised residency to quaiify for licensure in California. Being licensed doesn’t necessarily equate with level of knowledge! ! !

And, of course, Taylor hates the Prof Reiss strongly supports science. I would be willing to bet, despite her training in law, that Prof Reiss has studied the science of vaccines a lot more than Ginger Taylor!

What particularly amuses me about Ginger is her insistence on using her MS degree in her bylines and correspondence. Basically, if it’s not a PhD or an MD, no one cares.?

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH writes,

I would be willing to bet, despite her training in law, that Prof Reiss has studied the science of vaccines a lot more than Ginger Taylor!

MJD responds,

I’ll take that bet at $2,000, and Del BigTree is the final judge. Put your money where your mouth is Dr. Harrison or stay silent.

Notice also: Taylor calls Dorit, MRS Reiss but Mary Holland is JD.

Re Taylor’s degree: it may be in psych or counselling. Paper bag time for me perhaps.

If anyone is interested, I’m happy to share the full correspondence (as sent by my school to Ms. Taylor). I do need to warn people that it makes for pretty boring reading.

Apparently, unless you’re very conspiracy minded.

“Basically, if it’s not a PhD or an MD, no one cares.”

I do not even care when I read PhD or MD. I indeed heard way too much BS over my short life.

I include my MD and PhD in my Twitter profile because it annoys the hell out of people whom I like to annoy. That’s the only reason. I’d include my FACS too, but space is tight. ?


Re the gnat, think of what happen to an human living all his life on an island, alone…throw in OCD to the mix and see what happen.

Alain <– don’t have a linked in profile but is making a nice living as full-time employed technical writer.

I’ll take that bet at $2,000, and Del BigTree is the final judge.

I really really hope that’s an attempt at a joke.

For sure.

AND these are the people yapping that women ( like them) aren’t believed in the era of @MeToo

Yes I think you’re right – given the swivel-eyed rants from the denizens of everyone’s favorite wretched hive where they try to latch on to the coat tails of metoo (as Denice mentions) and the whole schtick about “mommy warriors”, “mommy instincts” etc and the fact that Dorit is a mother herself I think they perceive her as some sort of traitor to their “righteous cause”. Or something like that.

I mean sure they hate the pro-vaccine men too – I just think they reserve a particularly special level of viciousness for females.

Keep up the good work Dorit!

@ motosubatsu:

You should take a look today at Ginger Taylor’s latest (AoA) she believes that removing vaccine exemptions is “the war on women”.
I read that Taylor’s degree is in counselling : I wonder how that worked out. I can just imagine her talking with distressed youth, people with chemical dependencies or a victim of violence.

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