Antivaxxers grow increasingly bolder

December 30, 2011

Over the last year, the anti-vaccination movement has grown more bold in their misinformation campaigns. It began Thanksgiving weekend of 2010, where they tried to advertise their propaganda in AMC movie theaters. This effort was thwarted however in no small part because of SkepChick activist Elyse Anders. Then months later, they succeeded in getting a commercial running on the Time Square CBS Jumbotron. And last month, they succeeded in getting Delta Airlines to air their propaganda on flights.

Each time Elyse Anders used a petition to influence those who have agreed to work with these antivaccine groups and I discussed this during my recent SkeptiCamp talk, which was focused on promoting more skeptical activism in NYC because as great as Elyse has been for NYC, she doesn’t live here and I hate needing her to fight our local battles when we have a sizable skeptical community, many of whom I suspect would be interested in skeptical activism.

Well now the inaccurately named National Vaccine Information Center is back to their old tricks and are currently, as well as during New Years, running another dishonest ad in Times Square on ABC Full Circle’s 5000 square foot TSQ Digital Screen. And the ad is scheduled to run during the New Years celebration. Also, Jenny McCarthy will be part of the televised show and has promised to try to draw attention to the ad.

And again, since there’s no organized NYC skeptical activism…yet (hopefully more on this soon!), New York’s protector, Elyse Anders, is back with another petition. Please sign this petition urging ABC to pull the ad at once.

Yay! Sweet, sweet death!

Now unfortunately, that’s not the only antivaccine news story lately. The antivaccine Australian Vaccination Network is currently promoting a children’s book that teaching kids that measles is awesome. I shit you not. The book is called Melanie’s Marvelous Measles, and it’s written by a woman named Stephanie Messenger. I’m reminded of another children’s author who wrote about measles, Roald Dahl. Though he wasn’t marveling at the disease so much as cursing it for having killed his kid. For more commentary on this sickening book, check out PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson and Reasonable Hank.

The other big news from Australia was that the head of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey was originally scheduled to give a talk at the Woodford Folk Festival about the evils of vaccines. After our friends at the Australian Skeptics campaigned against it, her talk transformed into a panel featuring Dorey and a bunch of actual qualified experts with the know-how to demolish her arguments. But the Australian Skeptics didn’t stop there. They amusingly paid to have an airplane fly over the Festival with a sign reading:  VACCINATION SAVES LIVES.

Bravo Australian Skeptics on a job well done. Now we just need to bring the same level of activism to NYC.

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Andrew Wakefield: Dead man walking

May 22, 2010

Matt...Matt! You don't know the history of vaccines. I do. Matt...Matt...Matt.

On Monday there’s an excellent chance that Andrew Wakefield, the man most responsible for the modern incarnation of the anti-vaccine movement, will no longer have a medical license. I wish I could say it’s been a fun ride but it hasn’t. Wakefield abused his medical position by accepting money from lawyers trying to build a case against the MMR vaccine, performed serious medical procedures on twelve children at a birthday party instead of in a medical facility as part of a “study” (or a non-study–Wakefield can never seem to make up his mind about this) designed to implicate MMR in autism, and then used the very public hysteria he created without proper cause to try to patent his own rival vaccine.

The man has done great harm to public safety and now it’s time for him to go:

The inquiry has finally drawn to its conclusion, and Andrew Wakefield — known as “the MMR doctor” — is likely to be struck off the medical register for what the five-member tribunal has already labelled “dishonest”, “unethical” and “callous” research.

In withdrawing his licence to practise, the council will be laying to rest a huge scare that spread rapidly among parents, causing a massive slump in the number of children who were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in Britain. Two children subsequently died of measles and many others became seriously ill.

Though constant showman that he is, Andy isn’t going without using up the last of his fifteen minutes of infamy. He’s going to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on Monday morning’s Today Show. His loyal followers over at Age of Autism are already trying to rally supporters to be outside the studio at 30 Rock as the interview is taking place at 8am.

My friend Tim Farley of let me know about their plans and suggested NYC-based skeptics mount a science-based response outside 30 Rock. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can make it there at that time but maybe others can.

Then again, it might not even be necessary. I don’t think AoA has the power to raise an army for a Monday morning protest that quickly and even if they can, I think there’s a good chance they’ll only end up hanging themselves (as well as Wakefield) by looking even more nuts.

While I expect a fairly softball interview from Lauer, that didn’t help Tom Cruise. The media seems to have grown tired of the anti-vaccine movement and now that Wakefield’s moments away from complete disgrace, Lauer’s going to want to use this opportunity to look like he’s a hard-hitting journalist. He’s not going to want to appear like he’s in any way supporting the guy who’s on his way to the firing squad. And if we’re lucky, this will be Wakefield’s “You don’t know the history of psyciatry; I do” moment. All Lauer needs is to get off two or three good questions and I expect this will not end well for the Wakefield.

The future of the anti-vaccine movement is in your hands, Matt. Don’t let us down.

Scientologist Spokesmen embarrassed by his own beliefs

October 25, 2009

It gets really good starting at the at the 3:40 mark:

I knew this looked familiar:

You can find the rest of the ABC report beginning here.

And you can find Tommy Davis giving CNN and KESQ the same dog and pony show here.