Generation Rescue denies autism

I often refer to those pushing the “vaccines cause autism” lie anti-vaccinationists or vaccine deniers because more often than not, their real target is the vaccines while the autism claim, though the most often mentioned in the media,  is just one of many evils these ideologues try to link to vaccines. Really, in the same way Scientologists blame all the evils in history from the Holocaust to 9/11 on psychiatry, the vaccine deniers try to blame vaccines for everything.

In fact, on any given day, if you visit the Age of Autism blog, you’ll find infinitely more entries condemning vaccines for all sorts of things than you’ll find articles actually discussing autism.

But that being said, they can just as easily be referred to as autism deniers given that they quite literally deny the most basic facts about the condition, particularly the role genes play in causing autism. Of course this position is just a means to an end because since their real target is the vaccines, any science that demonstrates something other than vaccines contributes either a little bit or entirely to causing autism hurts their vaccine unifying theory of evil and therefore must be denied. It’s like how Jack Thompson can never admit to anything other than video games playing as a main role in causing school shootings or why creationists can never accept evolution because it demystifies what in their mind is the majesty of divine creation. … continue reading this entry.

A bit of self-promotion

I recently wrote a short radio-play for a friend’s revisionist history ten-minute radio-play series.  If you’d like to get a sneak peak at it before we record them for podcasts, there will be a live performance of them on October 6th at “The Red Room” on 85 E 4th Street at 7:30.  Here’s a sneak peak at a scene from my play.

INT. PRESS CONFERENCE — DAY

SFX

Cameras flashing … continue reading this entry.

Why Health Freedom and Anti-Vaccine don’t mix

Can your kid get measles so I can pretend I didn't give mine autism?

"Can your kid get measles so I can feel like I'm fighting the phantom I'm blaming for my child's autism?"

The recent AutismOne conference in Chicago is something I’d like to consider a new low in the American health system.  I’d like to consider it a new low because it would mean that this autism/vaccine nonsense hadn’t been going on now for over a decade.  Unfortunately, it has, and why AutismOne hasn’t faded against the blaring horn of stupidity constantly playing at us from sources like Generation Rescue, Autism Speaks, and the omni-dreadful Age of Autism is inconceivable.  It would have missed my radar completely – I tend to avoid the autism people thanks to a family history of high blood pressure – had the most recent AutismOne conference not attracted the attention of a completely separate group of health ingrates, the “Health Freedom” movement. … continue reading this entry.

Antivaccine movement’s bad PR hits critical mass

Six months ago we were looking at a serious flu pandemic, a very strong  and vocal campaign demonizing vaccines, as well as a growing public distrust of vaccines and the entire medical industry. But then a funny thing happened. Despite all their bark, the antivaccine movement proved to lack sufficient bite, as enough Americans still seem to have gotten vaccinated against one or both prominent strains of flu, leading to a dramatically reduced number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this season.

It also goes without saying that none of the doom-saying predictions made by the antivaccine crowd panned out either. There was no dramatic increase in autism, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, or dystonia. Nor were there many deaths or serious injuries directly linked to the vaccines. And many of the “alternative” “medicines” the antivaccine crowd flock to like homeopathy and chiropractic  also got hammered with terrible press. But that’s not all that went wrong for the antivaccine movement over the last few months. There are numerous other reasons why 2010 is already proving devastating to their entire movement. … continue reading this entry.

Fighting emotional appeals with emotional appeals

Like every other group of cranks, the anti-vaccine movement makes up for their total lack of supporting evidence with emotional appeals. They know that they can exploit a single vaccine injury (or even a bogus vaccine injury) to sell fear and that this is far more persuasive than statistical data looking at tens of thousands of people.

But those on the side of science can play that game too. Dana McCaffery just turned one year old. … continue reading this entry.

2 Pseudoscience Peddlers Get Served… By Science!

Just in case you haven’t heard, a UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel found sufficient evidence to suggest “serious professional misconduct” on the part of Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues, who published the very first paper that insinuated a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Further, The Lancet has retracted the original article. [...]

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.

A Spot of Levity

This is a something I originally wrote for Skepticamp.  Unfortunately, I was unable to lock in actors in time to perform it.  Still, I hope you folks enjoy seeing this piece in this form.

Last Night on the News

A NEWS DESK.  PATTERSON SMILES and TAMMY TWINKLE sit behind the desk.

PATTERSON
And thank you, Tammy for that amazing report on puppies.

TAMMY
They are adorable. … continue reading this entry.

A skeptical book review: Denialism

Published by The Penguin Press, 2009

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to our discussion last week on atheism and skepticism.  I think it’s fantastic that we have a community in which we can talk about these things.  I want to give a special thanks to Michael De Dora for agreeing to cross post with me, and send my thanks to Massimo for continuing the conversation further.    And now for something completely different.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post inspired by hearing Michael Specter speak about his book, Denialism, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.  I figured it wasn’t quite right for me to rave about Denialism without, you know, reading it, so a couple weeks back I went out and picked it up.

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives is probably not a book with a plethora of information which will shock skeptics.  The biggest surprise for people in our camp will probably be that the book exists at all.  Specter takes a hard line, pro-science approach to vaccines, organic food, and alternative medicine, before moving into the frontier sciences of genomics and synthetic biology.  Throughout the book, Specter builds a case for why we must embrace science, all while using the Vioxx scandal as his launching point for why many people don’t. … continue reading this entry.

More reasons why intelligent people buy into anti-vaccination notions

H1N1_WorldMap

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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