Anne Dachel okay with everyone else’s kids dying so long as her’s make it out

November 19, 2011
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It was inevitable that as soon as the NY Times released its short but devastating review of the latest anti-vaccine propaganda flick, The Greater Good, the folks at Age of Autism wouldn’t take it lying down and mount an assault on the critic.

And sure enough, Anne Dachel delivered in spades with this amusingly hyperbolic screed against a film critic for not liking their shitty movie. Not since The Brown Bunny has there been such a petty, childish response to a bad review.

Just how absurd, fundamentally dishonest, and hyperbolic is Dachel’s response? Look at the title of her piece:

New York Times Reviews The Greater Good Movie Tells Vaccine-Injured Children to Drop Dead

Um, did I miss that part? I read the review and it said nothing…NOTHING of the kind. What film critic Jeannette Catsoulis DID say was that the film was an “…emotionally manipulative, heavily partial look at the purported link between autism and childhood immunization” that “…would much rather wallow in the distress of specific families than engage with the needs of the population at large.”

Catsoulis continues by pointing out that the whole thesis and line of inquiry of the film is entirely “fundamentally flawed”, since “it fails to point out that even were such a link proved definitively, all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent.” In other words, the film sets up a total straw man argument by focusing on the wrong questions.

Catsoulis argues the film isn’t as balanced as it pretends to be as it didn’t show the suffering of children who contract the very diseases the vaccines prevent:

“A cost-benefit analysis is completely ignored. Also elided are the mostly forgotten horrors of measles, mumps, chickenpox and polio: instead of lingering at a graveside with grieving parents who believe vaccines killed their baby girl, perhaps the filmmakers could have unearthed some footage of children encased in iron lungs.”

Though a correction has been made to the review because apparently the film does show children in iron lungs, it’s quite clear from Catsoulis’ mistake that this is clearly not emphasized and certainly not given equal attention to the very few individual cases of alleged vaccine injuries the film is much more interested in feeding to the public.

But that’s where Anne Dachel’s whiny response takes an odd turn as she leaps many dimensions of logic to argue that it’s not reasonable for health practitioners to place greater importance on protecting the most lives because they should apparently only care about protecting Anne Dachel’s kids:

Phrases like, “needs of the population at large,” “cost-benefits analysis,” and “all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent” are really frightening to me. It makes me think of things like “peripheral damage” and “acceptable loss.”

That’s because you’re insane, Anne. The terms you describe come from military strategy, not medical practice. In fact, such behavior is considered highly unethical in medicine and could lead to losing one’s license to practice (ya know, like Dachel’s buddy Wakefield lost his license for his callous disregard for child welfare). Perhaps the single best example demonstrating that medicine doesn’t work that way is with organ donation. Doctors can’t just harvest organs from a terminal patient to save numerous other patients. Hell, if a person drops dead this very minute, doctors can’t just take the organs. The person would have to have volunteered to be an organ donor. So even if the fate of five other terminal patients rests on the organs of one dude who’s already dead, they still must respect that person’s wishes as best as they can. This is not something that is taken lightly. But yes, generally doctors have to play a numbers game and do the best they can to protect the most people. It’s almost like that’s their job or something.

But what this all comes down to is, exactly as the review says, a cost-benefit analysis. Doctors often have to make major life and death decisions, sometimes very quickly. This often means going with what has the best odds of a positive outcome paired with the lowest odds of making things worse. It’s not perfect. Sometimes medical procedures can fail or even make things worse. Nobody knows for sure how it will all turn out in the end. But keep in mind that even seat belts have been responsible for some deaths. So does that mean we should all stop wearing seat belts? No. That’s absurd because when you look at a cost-benefit analysis, it’s clear that seat belts save far more lives than they hurt.

Like seat belts, vaccines aren’t 100% safe. And everyone acknowledges this fact openly. That’s the whole point of Catsoulis’ criticism. Everyone already agrees vaccines CAN cause injuries. The only real point of contention if a legitimate one existed (it doesn’t) would be whether vaccines do more harm than good. And the answer to that question is absolutely not.

Lastly, Dachel exploits a common argument among anti-vaxxers, implying that vaccine requires some sort of child sacrifice. It does not, at least no more than saying automobiles require child sacrifice. The fact is that as long as we drive cars, some people will get killed in car accidents. But that’s not a requirement of society’s continued use of cars. To suggest otherwise is absurd. Same with vaccines though even more so. Cars kill thousands of Americans every year. Vaccines haven’t killed even one for at least the last two. Incidentally, 27 Americans died of lightning strikes in 2010 alone. So consider that while Dachel condemns them damned vaccines.

Meanwhile, millions of lives have been protected from deadly diseases. If looking at those statistics, Anne Dachel wants to side with the viruses at the expense of the human species, she’s welcome to do it but the rest of us sane people are going to mock her mercilessly for her pathologically terrible decision-making skills. Her child is much, much more likely to suffer at the hands of the diseases vaccines can prevent than the vaccines themselves. And if she wants to take her chances by not wearing a seat belt because seat belts too have caused injury or even death, she can do that too.

And how does Dachel defend this idiotic view?

Catsoulis isn’t troubled by the fact that there’s no way to tell WHOSE CHILD IS VULNERABLE. It’s just the chance we all have to take—for the good of the herd I guess.

It makes me afraid that in the end, when “a link [is] proved definitively,” to use the author’s words, we’ll be told that what happened to our kids is justified by the claim that vaccines prevented lots of other kids from getting sick.

Dachel isn’t troubled by the fact that there’s no way to tell WHOSE SEAT BELT WILL FAIL. It’s just the chance we all have to take–for the good of the people who might be hurt if our bodies get thrown from our vehicles during a car crash. Dachel would have people believe it’s a choice between protecting your kid or protecting other people; it’s not. Vaccines protect BOTH the vaccinated and those around them. There’s no need to pick and choose priorities. It’s a fuckin’ win-win situation for everyone. But if she wants to risk everyone’s lives on this appeal to hypothetical future evidence that will confirm her presently unjustifiable speculations–if that’s what she wants to hang her hat on–then I’m going to have to cite my own hypothetical future evidence that she’s certifiably insane. So just remember my warnings when future Anne Dachel is up in the bell tower massacring dozens of people with a shotgun while eating babies, stealing Christmas, and using magic to resurrect Hitler.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 10.27.11

October 27, 2011

1. Skeptical zombies ignored by James Van Praagh – In possibly the best PR stunt the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has ever come up with, their president, DJ Grothe led an army of zombies on a mission to get self-proclaimed “psychic” James Van Praagh to finally take the JREF’s Million Dollar Psychic Challenge. Not surprisingly, Praagh’s goons kept the zombies from meeting with him but of course that doesn’t matter as this story is getting a lot of press.

2. Church’s bogus AIDS cure causes 3 deaths – Though this is an isolated incident, this is precisely the kind of tragedy that can be expected in a culture that demands unquestioned belief and condemns skepticism.

3. 60 Minutes pisses off anti-vaxxers – As part of their Steve Jobs-centered episode this week, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the remarkable benefits that iPads and other tablet devices have demonstrated for people with autism. And somehow by simply highlighting an important, practical tool in helping autistic people communicate, they’ve pissed off Age of Autism. And bravo to Age of Autism’s commenters for declaring war on Temple Grandin of all people. That takes serious balls. Maybe their next target will be blind nuns, adorable puppies, and AIDS-infected orphans. I’m just shocked Age of Autism didn’t rant about the fact that Pfizer is a major sponsor of the show.

4. ‘Sybil’ admits she never really had multiple personalities – The most famous alleged case of multiple personality syndrome, or what’s now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder was based on lies and manipulations.

5. Atheists doing volunteer work – This is something I want to see more of in atheist groups. This is one of the ways we’ll change people’s negative stereotypes about atheists.

 

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Rethinking autism

October 27, 2011

Dana Commandatore is trying to change the conversation when it comes to autism. Like me, she was largely motivated to activism because of Jenny McCarthy. Below is an awesome talk she gave about the past, present and future of her site Rethinking Autism at the 2011 Autcom Convention.

Also, one cool thing I noticed was that one of her videos she shows during the talk includes actor Armie Hammer, who was phenomenal in last year’s The Social Network. So I’m happy to see him doing his part to help fight pseudoscience.


News From Around The Blogosphere 5.29.11

May 29, 2011

1. Murdering teen escapes punishment because she was possessed by evil spirits

Lorraine Mbulawa, 19, escaped jail after judge Mr Justice Keith accepted the girl had such strong beliefs in witchcraft and evil that she was acting upon what she was told to do by spirits.

2. Anti-vaxxers forcefully remove peaceful protester from their convention – Ken Reibel and Jamie Bernstein were both ejected from the anti-vaccine “Autism One” conference by 3 security guards and 4 police officers. Their crime: being recognized as dissenters of the movement’s ideology. This speaks volumes about the intellectual integrity of their movement. If anti-vaxxers attended TAM or NECSS, no one would kick them out unless they were actually disrupting the conference.

3. Catholic adoption agency shuts down rather than let gays adopt – Finally, a charity that has its priorities in place. Better a child grow up in an institution than risk that child being infected by evil, gay cooties. Good thinking there, Catholic Charities of Rockford! You guys are a class act all the way!

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Supreme Court rules to maintain National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, 6-2

February 22, 2011
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The Supreme Court just ruled to maintain the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), 6-2. This is the Act that protects vaccine manufacturers from frivolous tort litigation, so of course the anti-vaxxers hate the decision because this means they’ve more or less lost their battle in the U.S. courts for good. Sure, another controversial case favorable to their position could end up in the Supreme Court in the future, but it’s not likely. So with their embarrassing defeat in the Autism Omnibus cases and now the Supreme Court standing behind the NCVIA, they’ve really got no place left to go.

And of course they’re bitching about this defeat over at Age of Autism, and as always, preferring to invent a conspiracy rather than acknowledge the actual facts. For instance, they still refuse to acknowledge regulatory compliance policies and other measures to reign in the vaccine manufacturers in favor of presenting a woefully naive version of reality where these companies are given total freedom to do whatever they want and show callous disregard for public safety when nothing can be further from the truth, as the Court decision makes clear. That’s where the Court of Federal Claims comes in. It compensates people by letting them petition the government directly. And if a vaccine is not prepared properly or doesn’t have proper directions and warnings, that is grounds for a legitimate lawsuit against the manufacturers. The only thing vaccine manufacturers are being protected from are unavoidably unsafe products.

So who dissented? Shockingly, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg with Kagan abstaining. Which only makes me want to scream, WHAT THE FUCK?! It is truly a dark day when I’m forced to side with guys like Justices Scalia and Thomas over the more liberal Justices. Sullivan summarizes what this ruling means over at Left Brain/Right Brain here and at the Vaccine Times here.

The anti-vaxxers have been utterly defeated in the court of science and the court of law. And it seems even the media is mostly through pretending they’re not loons. I’d say we’re definitely beginning to finally turn the tide against this preposterous pseudoscience.

[UPDATE: Orac also covered this story here.]

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As so-called ‘Vaccine Danger Awareness Week’ ends, Bill Gates declares vaccine-autism link an ‘absolute lie’

February 5, 2011

Last year, the anti-vaccine community introduced what they called “Vaccine Danger Awareness Week,” (VDAW) where they devoted a whole week to doing what they do all the time anyway, churn out loads of propaganda for their minions to spread around. Well the good news is that this year VDAW passed almost without notice. In fact, I only heard about it a few days ago and I follow this issue much more closely than most. Age of Autism doesn’t even seem to be involved. As far as I know, this event is only being represented on Facebook.

But that being said, I found it very fitting that this week saw Bill Gates popping up on The Daily Show and now CNN discussing the importance of vaccination. And in the latter, he directly called out the vaccine-autism hypothesis as an “absolute lie.”

Of course Age of Autism responded in their usual way, by making outrageous libelous accusations against Gates, as Orac discusses here, but here’s the full CNN clip in all it’s glory:


Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Have you no sense of decency, Ginger Taylor, at long last?

January 26, 2011

I have to wonder at this point if the anti-vaccine community ever gets sick of using the same McCarthyist tactics over and over again. I’ve been debating them for years now and I don’t think there has been a single occasion where they didn’t either  accuse me of being paid off by the pharmaceutical companies without any justification or accused other critics of theirs of being paid by pharma. And I’m not being hyperbolic here. This accusation has been made on every single occasion. That alone should speak volumes about the intellectual honesty of their movement.

Now another drone from Age of Autism, Ginger Taylor, has written a piece where she explains how incredibly reasonable she and her cohorts have been to their critics…despite their critics being corrupt monsters who willing sacrifice the safety of children for their own profit.

That’s her version anyway:

I published an extensive piece detailing the problems I saw in the Skeptic movement (which I really now see as just the Contrarian movement, as they don’t seem to be skeptical of some assertions that someone from Missouri would demand proof of, but merely oppose anything our community says no matter how reasonable) and in “science writers” who act as mere functionaries of Pharma and their friends/sometime employees in public health. It was entitled:

Chris Mooney, Sheril Kirshenbaum, Lori Kozlowski, Rosie Mestel, Thomas Maugh, David Gorski, Virginia Hughes, Science Journalists, The Dying of the LA Times and an Angry Autism Mom*

It details my earnest attempts to get through to these skeptics/science journalists, and an effort to point out that they are shooting themselves in the foot with their actions, and that our children are collateral damage in their efforts.  Long story short… they are some pretty myopic people and not open to self-evaluation, so their tactics continue to loose them the vaccine/autism wars.

See,  she made earnest attempts to get through to these maniacs who have the repugnance to disagree with her, despite their evil and willful corruption. Of course she, like her cohorts and her predecessor Senator McCarthy, failed to present evidence of foul play by her critics at all.

The critics she mentions share the same position as every reputable health organization on Earth and their criticisms are quite substantive. But since Ms. Taylor doesn’t actually understand enough of the science to challenge their scientific criticisms, it’s much easier to just write off every criticism as mere contrarianism…a claim that she also doesn’t seem interested in backing up with evidence.

She does give one example of alleged conflict of interest though:

(*After I posted the piece, Dr. David “Orac” Gorski sent me a flattering email saying he had actually always respected me and asked me to remove the piece. When I declined, he let the insults fly again. So… not the most honest and straightforward guy.

A few months later, we learned that Gorski has spent the last several years developing a drug for vaccine maker Sanofi, which he had some how forgotten to mention in his hundreds of posts about these issues, so I do feel a bit the sucker for approaching him as if he was actually a somewhat disinterested party in this debate. Had I known I would not have wasted so many hours trying to have a real discussion with him, but live and learn I guess.)

I guess we’re just going to have to take her word about that first incident as she doesn’t seem to link to any evidence that it took place. I don’t know what happened and I certainly don’t see how that in any way refutes the conclusions currently held by every reputable health organization on Earth. And then just just repeats the “hungry lie” (to steal Handley’s stupid phrase) of Jake Crosby, citing his piece in the same blog she writes for. This is like if one of my fellow Gotham Skeptics wrote a piece accusing Ginger Taylor of being a drug dealer, a claim made by no other person, and then I wrote a piece in the Gotham Skeptic where I repeated the claim and cited by fellow Gotham Skeptic blogger’s unsubstantiated rumor as my source.

Of course, Gorski has already told his side of the story and called young Jake out on his libelous bullshit. But his refutation of the accusation wasn’t convenient to Honest Ginger Taylor here so she didn’t find it necessary to even mention it. Cause she’s such a fair and honest journalist. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Crosby and the rest of the anti-vaccine movement deliberate choose to not distinguish tenuous relationships with industry from real conflicts of interest. They also choose not to pay attention to regulatory compliance policies and how those policies discourage unhealthy relationships by making making it very costly to all parties involved while providing huge incentives to whistle blowers, as I discussed when addressing Jake Crosby’s hilarious accusation that John Stossel had a conflict of interest because he wasn’t an only child.

But back to Ginger:

…so I do feel a bit the sucker for approaching him as if he was actually a somewhat disinterested party in this debate.

No, anyone who thinks Ginger Taylor genuinely approached David Gorski or any critic of her warped ideology without actively searching for ammunition to launch a character attack as a cheap attempt to justify dismissing their position out of hand would be the sucker.

As Gorski began his rebuttal to Jake Crosby’s libelous blog entry:

One of the very favorite and most commonly used tactics to attack criticism in the armamentarium of pseudoscientists, cranks, and quacks (not to mention politicians) is the ad hominem fallacy. In this fallacy, rather than addressing the actual evidence and science that demonstrate their favorite brand of woo to be nothing more than fairy dust, the idea is to preemptively attack and discredit the person.

And indeed, Ginger Taylor has said not one thing in her entire polemic to even address the actual evidence and science. She doesn’t understand it and she’s praying you don’t ask her about it. Instead, she’d rather fling feces at her critics, crying that they’re all out to get her while pretending she’s fair, impartial, and genuinely open to engaging in civil discourse with her critics. Bullshit!

She says it all right here:

I hope you will take the time to read it, especially if you are someone who believes the media on this issue and  super especially if you are Matt Lauer, Anderson Coooper, George Stephanopolous or any other major news personality who has been handed a press release labeled “News” that was likely drafted in a Pharma conference room and told to get really angry at some guy named Andrew Wakefield.

That’s right. They’re ALL out to get her. Everyone in the position to disagree with her is in on the big conspiracy. I have not had one interaction with any members of the anti-vaccine movement that didn’t involve them accusing critics of being big pharma shills. Not one. And clearly Ginger Taylor has not broken that pattern.

There isn’t enough money in the entire world to pay off all the people Ginger believes are being paid off by Big Pharma to make people think vaccines are safe, let alone enough money for pharmaceutical companies to pay all those people off AND still actually produce the vaccines. Who made up this plan, Dr. Evil? This would have to be the most incompetent evil plot ever. How would pharmaceutical companies even hope to profit off the vaccines if they’re throwing so much money away just to convince people get the vaccines? And even if they could manage to at the end of the day make some profit, wouldn’t there have to be a much easier way to make a profit? Like couldn’t they must sell products that work and are safe that don’t require spending quadrillions of dollars sweeping public relations disasters under the rug?

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