SafeMinds propaganda blocked by skeptics

This week the anti-vaccine propaganda organization SafeMinds is rolling out a commercial in some movie theaters that makes bogus claims designed to scare people away from getting their annual flu shot.

Initially, I heard about this from an article in Skepchick that reported which cineplexes would feature the commercial and urged skeptics to contact the management to voice their outrage. One of the theaters set to air the commercial was the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

Fortunately, only a few hours after I added myself to the over a thousand who participated in the campaign by contacting AMC and writing a Letter to the Editor for my local newspaper, a representative from that company responded by saying they will not air this commercial or any other ads on the topic. … continue reading this entry.

It’s our Tube too

Go to YouTube right now and type into the search bar:  vaccines. Congratulations! You just found an endless stream of the most hyperbolic doom-saying vaccine denialist propaganda that makes Glenn Beck look reasonable by comparison.

In fact, I didn’t see a single skeptical video challenging this anti-vaccine propaganda until near the bottom of the second page of search results. That first skeptical video was this one by Rebecca Watson. The next video down was a paranoid video of David Icke warning us of the evils of vaccines. It isn’t until well down the third page before finding a second skeptical debunking of anti-vaccine claims. And other videos challenging anti-vaccine claims are few and far between. This YouTube dominance shouldn’t be very surprising as the anti-vaccine movement have dominated the web since even the early days of the internet. … continue reading this entry.

An Anti-Vax Tea Party (Part 2 of 2)

Who has a question for "Dr." Wakefield?

During the Q&A, I’d wanted to ask Wakefield what vaccines he was in favor of giving to infants as it’s clear that many of his supporters are far more anti-vaccine than he professes to be but someone asked a similar question first. When I finally did ask a question, I simply asked for clarification about the studies he claimed supported his research. At times during the Q&A, it seemed as though Wakefield was among the least insane in the room. But his answers were so slick as to somehow appease both less fanatical anti-vaccinationists as well as those who believe vaccines have no benefits at all and are used to deliberate poison the populous. … continue reading this entry.

Anti-vax Tea Party (Part 1 of 2)

Andrew Wakefield, the British medical researcher notorious for his discredited work that attempted to link autism to the MMR vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease based (largely on bogus analyses of twelve children), stands in the front of the room sporting an adolescent haircut. Giving a warm smile to his audience, over and over again, the man, with the sleeves of his collared shirt rolled up, angrily condemns what he calls an, “effort to erase these children’s histories from the public record.” Composing himself, he continued, “And that will fail. And I will explain to you why it will fail.”

The evening had begun with a brief introduction by a woman representing DAN! or Defeat Autism Now!, an organization that claims to medically treat children with autism. She then passed the proceedings over to Tony Lyons, President and Publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, without whom this event would not be taking place.

Skyhorse is the company that published Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard. Lyons began his short introduction by calling the book controversial. He mentions how his own daughter has autism and that nobody knows if vaccines are responsible. In fact, he expresses this last sentiment exactly five times over the course of the next three minutes, while drawing comparisons to a time when doctors didn’t object to cigarettes and would even sometimes recommend certain brands. … continue reading this entry.

Linky Loo

In case you have down time over the holiday weekend, there was a lot of science and skepticism news the last week or so. Here are a few brainy links and a few just for fun:

The vaccination issue has had a lot of press this week. Wakefield was interviewed on TV in New York and Chicago [...]

Time Magazine Provides Honest Look at Jenny McCarthy

Presentation1Even if you haven’t yet read Time‘s new article, Who’s Afraid of Jenny McCarthy?, I bet most of you have answered the question already. The author, Karl Taro Greenfeld, is no stranger to the issue of autism and wrote a book about his autistic brother. While the article takes a hard-line on McCarthy’s belief that vaccines cause autism, it paints a very clear and realistic picture of Jenny’s mass appeal and her devotion to her son.

The antivaccine movement has by now gone through numerous iterations in trying to explain how autism happens… Each of these theories has been thoroughly discredited by scientific research, but that has done nothing to silence McCarthy and her Generation Rescue colleagues.

It is impossible to overlook the larger and direct dangers inherent in her position on vaccines. Yet it is equally difficult to ignore the emotional core of what she is saying: Listen to parents. … continue reading this entry.

Vaccines, Circumcision, and The HuffPo


(For further discussion please read the continuation here.)

No this is not a new game akin to 6-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon.

Unlike Sarah Palin, I don’t read “all” periodicals, but I have a few favorites… the HuffPo is not one of them. Their editorials tend to come off as tirades by individuals who like to hear themselves talk… type… whatever. But the reviews of the site from friends and colleagues is always mixed enough that I do check in from time to time, an action I usually regret but pursued this evening.

I first stopped off at an article called, “The Lancet Retraction Changes Nothing.” Naïve fool that I am, I expected an article exploring the continued and irrational devotion of anti-vaxers to their cause despite the public declaration of the invalidity of Wakefield’s research that first suggested a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. I’m such a Pollyanna. To illuminate the opinion of David Kirby, the author, I refer you to his own words: … continue reading this entry.

The Desiree Jennings Case, a Win for Skepticism

I don’t usually write a post that solely tells you to read another blog post, but in the strange case of Desiree Jennings, Steve Novella has become something of a primary reference. I recommend his post on this case penned at Neurologica.

Desiree, if you will recall, was the young woman who presented with a mysterious suite of symptoms, coincident with receiving a flu vaccine last fall. Enter the Anti-Vax contingent, and a controversial diagnosis of a rare neurological disorder. Being that neurology happens to fall squarely within the purview of Dr. Novella, he and many other science and medical bloggers raised educated criticisms of Desiree’s diagnosis, cause, and subsequent treatments, which included chelation and other pseudoscientific panaceas. … continue reading this entry.

Dangerous Legal Games

Shackling Reason

(Image Pelham Library)

The anti-vaccine community is at it again, launching inane legal assaults in an attempt to gain a foothold in their war against science and reason. This time, Barbara Loe Fisher, infamous founder of the ironically-named National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), has launched a libel suit against Paul Offit, renowned vaccine expert and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I can only hope some good will come of this idiocy. First, some background. … continue reading this entry.

More reasons why intelligent people buy into anti-vaccination notions


Swine flu outbreaks by country (by HotWikiBR)

A meaty conversation with John Snyder at last week’s Drinking Skeptically, produced a lot of food for thought, and I spent Thanksgiving weekend chewing over some of his comments in addition to my turkey. We have learned so much from the outreach that doctors and researchers like John and Paul Offit have been doing to combat the growing misinformation associated with vaccines. And on the issue of the connection between autism and vaccines, of lack thereof, I honestly feel like we are making some headway. However, many of the fundamental notions being put forth by anti-vaccination groups, such as vaccines are “toxic,” are being broadly applied to all vaccines, of any variety, all the time, in every case. We are receiving a front row seat for this phenomenon this flu season with the introduction of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Despite my second glass of wine at Drinking Skeptically (please don’t hold it against me that I drink wine at bars, I just don’t like beer), I managed to verbalize two points that have been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks, which help explain why otherwise rational, intelligent people are having trouble trusting in the safety of this new batch of flu vaccine. … continue reading this entry.

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