September 20, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
I’ve been meaning to write about the recently released Soderbergh film, “Contagion” for about a week now. The film is quite good though it certainly has it’s flaws, such as a scene where a man with an infected disease is told by an infectious disease expert to get off a bus immediately instead of insisting neither he nor anyone else get off the bus so it could be quarantined or various scenes where the same expert needs to teach the Minnesota Center for Disease Control the most basic information about their job.
But otherwise, the film mostly proved to be a strong film that was both pro-science and uncompromisingly anti-pseudoscience with Jude Law playing an amalgam of anti-vaccine cranks that are quite familiar. It’s the panic and hysteria Law’s character helps create which gives the film it’s title far more than the actual disease itself. In an interview, Law said that he read a lot of crank sites and built his performance around numerous figures, opting not to name any names. Of course, I know their names. I’ve been in the same room with several of them. Law seems to be channeling Mike Adams, Joseph Mercola, Andrew Wakefield, and Dan Olmsted, among several others. Law’s character is the closest the film has to a real villain.
I hope more people will go out and see this film. Rarely do such strong skeptical films where science is the hero get made in Hollywood.
April 11, 2011
Fuck you, CBS!
Joseph Mercola and the mis-named National Vaccine Information Center have formed an unholy alliance to bring a anti-vaccine commercial to the heart of Time Square on the CBS Jumpotron, which will be seen by hundreds of thousands of passersby.
The latest report is that the ad is already running and will continue to broadcast once an hour for the next two and a half weeks. So like with the recent AMC Theater debacle, Elyse Anders from Skepchick is leading the charge in organizing a protest against CBS:
Please sign this petition at Change.org telling CBS Outdoor to take the ads down.
Tweet @CBSOutdoor and @CBSTweet with the hashtag #VaxCBS to tell them how you feel about them running this ad.
Then, you can send an email CBS Outdoor’s board of directors and CBS Network executives asking them to stop running the ad IMMEDIATELY.
More information is available in my previous post and at Respectful Insolence.
And pass it on!
And if you’d like, you can use my email to the CBS executives as a template:
I am contacting you to express my deep outrage at your company’s decision to value money over child welfare. Joseph Mercola and the so-called “National Vaccine Information Center” are lying to the American people about vaccine safety because of a cult-like devotion to the belief that vaccines are dangerous. This is in fact not true. Vaccines are the single greatest medical achievement in human history and millions of lives have been saved around the world by vaccines. Every reputable health organization on Earth endorses vaccination and agrees that the risks from vaccines are minimal and rarely ever serious.
I am an regular viewer of a number of shows on your network, but as long as you continue to propagate deadly anti-vaccine propaganda that endangers the lives of children, either via your Time Square Jumbotron or by continuing to let sham journalist Sharyl Attkisson editorialize about the harms of vaccines when the facts clearly disagree with her, I can no longer in good conscience watch your network.
Please remove this ad and fire Ms. Attkisson at once.
PS: Here are a number of reputable, well-sourced websites attesting to the safety of vaccines and debunking the misinformation of anti-vaccine propagandists:
Video testimonials from Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases:
Other great sources:
October 18, 2010
I've been infected! OH NOES!!
I just got my flu vaccination today, so that may mean the zombie apocalypse has begun. But it seems quite appropriate that the day I got my vaccine, anti-vaxxers Barbara Loe Fisher and Joe Mercola declared November 1-6 “Vaccine Awareness Week” (VAW). Of course their real agenda is to use this time as a vaccine misinformation week. But the defenders of science-based medicine are more than happy to embrace this week themselves and, thanks to Orac, are now planning to organize to take vaccine awareness back from the ideologues.
Steven Novella is also game as is PalMD. And they’re inviting other science bloggers to join in writing articles debunking anti-vaxxer bullshit.
Now they’re collecting their own army of expert bloggers but even though I’m not a medical professional or even a scientist, I’ve certainly got an intermediate understanding of many of the facts that anti-vaxxers ignore and so am more than happy to help at least drown out some of the anti-vaxxer noise that week with some good information. So stay tuned. If they want a vaccine awareness week, we’ll give ’em one.
April 13, 2010
Merchant Of Death
1. Kevin Trudeau begins his 30-day jail sentence – Unfortunately, this merchant of death is only serving 30 days for harassing a judge. But hopefully, he’ll be back behind bars soon enough for his one-man genocide racket.
2. NCSE getting a little too cozy with the religious – Why does the National Center for Science Education feel they need someone working for them under the title of “Faith Project Director”? Which chapter in my science book discusses the importance of faith when conducting science?
3. Jim Carrey mind-wiped from Generation Rescue’s memory banks – Oh, the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Now that Jim Carrey has broken up with Jenny McCarthy, he’s being erased just like Desiree Jennings:
By Friday, Generation Rescue had completely revamped its website. Gone is the picture of Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, and Evan from the front page of the website. Gone is any mention of his name, leaving Generation Rescue as now being just “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization – Generation Rescue.” Gone is Jim Carrey from the Generation Rescue Board of Directors. Given the slickness of hte new look, no doubt that this revamp of the website has been a long time in coming, and probably GR simply moved up its originally planned revamp in order to deal with Jim and Jenny’s breakup. More interestingly, all mention of Desiree Jennings appears to have been send down the memory hole. In case you don’t remember who she is, she is the young woman who claimed that a flu vaccine caused her to develop dystonia, a claim riddled with inconsistencies that didn’t stand up to even mild scrutiny.
This again raises the issue of whether or not Jim Carrey is still an anti-vaxxer at all? Did he come to his senses and opt to cut all ties with Jenny McCarthy just like the co-founder of her now doomed school?
4. Chicago Tribune questions the authority of the great and power Dr. Oz – Their conclusion seems to match that of the medical consensus, pay no attention to man on the screen inexplicably wearing surgical scrubs. And they also talk about Joseph Mercola, the most dangerous cola of them all.
March 4, 2010
Dr Rachael Dunlop, or Dr. Rachie, is one of the hosts of the Skeptic Zone podcast. I had the pleasure of meeting her once back in September at a meeting of The Jolly Thirteen, where she interviewed me for the podcast (episode #51).
Now last month, I wrote about these Shorty Awards, a silly new award voted on by Twitter users because Dr. Rachie was nominated for their health education category and was competing with not one but two total quacks, Joseph Mercola and Mike Adams. Adams was quickly disqualified because his cult members cheated in large numbers by ballet stuffing so he could win this irrelevant award. Then either he or Mercola (they’re pretty indistinguishable) threw a public temper tantrum by calling Dr. Rachie fat. Oo, I haven’t heard an insult that good since nursery school.
Anyway now it’s over and in what’s becoming a growing theme these days, the skeptic ended up on top.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
March 2, 2010
The great and powerful Oz decided to have both Deepak Chopra and Joseph Mercola on.
Now I can forgive him for Chopra, who while delusional, isn’t all that dangerous. But Mercola is a total quack and a disgrace to the medical profession, far more than Mehmet Oz.
After all, Mercola is a supporter of some of the most blatant quackery out there. The worst example of his support of quackery occurred when he promoted the cancer quackery of Dr. Tullio Simoncini, the Italian “oncologist” who believes that all cancer is caused by fungus and that he can cure it using baking soda. He’s also claimed that baking soda can cure H1N1, making it the all-purpose cure-all. Add to that Mercola’s support for homeopathy and anti-vaccine views, and Mercola is rapidly approaching Mike Adams territory.
Ozzy might as well have invited Andrew Wakefield on too while he was at it.
January 27, 2010
1. Studying the attention spans of flies may lead to insights in ADHD and autism – Remember two years ago when Sarah Palin laughed at fruit fly research. . .and everyone who knew anything at all about science proceeded to laugh at her. Well here’s another reason why.
An Australian-German team of scientists at Freie Universität and the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia, has found a way to measure the attention span of a fly. The findings could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in humans.
And that laughter extends to J.B. Handley, who I reported yesterday has called legitimate scientific research into autism a waste of money, insisting instead that research dollars should go towards trying to prove his already debunked hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.
2. Rationally Speaking podcast is now available to download – The New York City Skeptics now have an official podcast, Rationally Speaking, which is hosted by Biologist/Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and a friend of mine, Journalist Julia Galef, Check it out.
3. Vote Rachie – Dr. Rachael Dunlop, who once interviewed me for The Skeptics Zone podcast (ep. 51), is now in a head-to-head competition with the certifiably insane Joseph Mercola for the number one spot in the Health category of the ShortyAwards, voted by Twitter users. You can vote for her here. Mercola has even gone so far as to childish call Dunlop “fat” and “Big Pharma’s wet dream.” Classy guy.
4. New study further suggests flattery works. . .but I’m sure not on people as smart and clever as you –
What this research suggests, however, is that the implicit positivity we experience as a result of viewing these images could play an important role in what we reach for when standing in the liquor store staring at a freezer full of cheap beer. You may not know why, but you’d feel pretty good about a Bud right now. And while you feel certain to you that your preference is not due to those silly ads (just like it might seem obvious to a manager that they didn’t promote a candidate because he brings her donuts every morning), perhaps it is the certainty with which we dismiss these kinds of manipulative and deceptive appeals that allows them to hold such sway.