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 change.org 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 change.org 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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Anti-vaccine ad running on CBS Jumbotron in Time Square

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.

-Michael

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:
http://www.youtube.com/user/PKIDsOrg#p/u

Other great sources:
http://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/index.htm
http://www.historyofvaccines.org/
http://hugmeimvaccinated.org
http://www.ecbt.org/
http://www.immunizeforgood.com
http://www.antivaxxers.com
http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org
http://antiantivax.flurf.net/
http://www.childrensimmunization.org/
http://www.whyichoose.org
http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/
http://www.GiveVaccines.org
http://health.nv.gov/Immunization.htm
http://shotbyshot.org/
http://justthevax.blogspot.com
http://shotofprevention.com/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

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Finally, an atheist ad I can get behind

March 2, 2011

No, this isn't it. Keep reading.

For the last few months, American Atheists have been rolling out a bunch of billboards across the country that, as I’ve made very clear in more than one article, I think completely suck. Eventually, other well-known atheists like PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson have jumped on the bandwagon and criticized those ads as well. And yet for some reason, the Raelians, France’s answer to Scientology, liked it enough to try to piggy-back off the “success” from the American Atheist campaign by ripping it off to draw attention to their kooky little atheistic, alien-worshiping religion.

But though I do love those crazy Raelian’s nudity policy, this piece isn’t about either of those “God is a Myth” campaigns. Rather, it’s about an advertising campaign that’s actually good, that actually sells atheism as as a positive thing rather than as a bunch of assholes whose sole purpose in life seems to be to piss people off and be miserable.

I can get behind this new commercial from the Center For Inquiry because, you see, they actually get it. They understand what the purpose of advertising is and they understand marketing. Great job, Center For Inquiry! That’s what I’m talking about!

Also, another great way to promote atheism and skepticism, Skepchick has just launched a sister site, Mad Art Lab, which “will include a diverse group of webcomic and fine artists, musicians, composers, and performance artists, with the occasional guest post by other well-known skeptical artists.”

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News From Around The Blogosphere 12.7.10

December 8, 2010

1. Age of Autism’s latest repulsive behavior – Elyse from Skepchick led the recent letter writing campaign that successfully persuaded AMC theaters not to run an anti-vaccine “PSA” from SafeMinds and Age of Autism that attempted to mislead the public by spreading false fears about the flu vaccine. Age of Autism didn’t like that, so instead of challenging the refutations against their propaganda with facts (because they can’t), they decided to launch a vitriolic character attack on Elyse herself with thinly veiled threats on her life on their Facebook page. Read the comments yourself  in all their sickening glory.

2. First Amendment activist vindicated in court after roughed up – Last April, Mitch Kahle of the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church protested a prayer being conducted at a meeting of the Hawaii State Legislature. He was then pulled outside and physically assaulted. He was then charged with disorderly conduct for his peaceful protest in defense of the Constitution. But now a judge has found him not guilty.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 12.30.08

December 31, 2008

Skepchick names The Top 10 Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008 – Find out who made the list. I’m also quoted in this blog making it EXTRA special. Also, I was the first to suggest one of the winners to Rebecca, Sanal Edamaruku.

After his colossal error this year involving not understanding the meaning of the word “eponymous”, Casey Luskin of the creationist “think” tank Discovery Institute botches up again.

creationism-cartoon-a-miracle-occursIndiana Congressman Mark Souder on Intelligent Design

I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design. I believe that if there wasn’t a purpose in designing you — regardless of who you view the designer as being — then, from my perspective, you can’t be fallen from that design. If you can’t be fallen from that design, there’s no point to evangelism.

vaccine1Harriet Hall explains why the $150,000 Vaccine Challenge is absurd

HIV Denialist Christine Maggiore is dead – I never heard of her but Orac explains her story here.

How to profit from the coming Rapture – This is a satirical how-to book by Steve and Evie Levy.

atheists-support-gaysHow atheists can be good allies

8 albums about atheism you never heard of



News From Around The Blogosphere 7.26.08

July 27, 2008

First, I’d like to thank the New York City Skeptics and Lori Lipman Brown of the Secular Coalition for a great lecture and The Skepchicks for an awesome after party.

And please check out the Action Alerts from the Secular Coalition and get involved.

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Crackergate fallout -They failed to get PZ fired but sadly Webster Cook and his friend didn’t fare so well. Cook has been impeached and his friend Benjamin Collard is facing harassment and intimidation from their own school, the University of Central Florida. If you want to help fight this injustice, then register your complaint with the university’s president, John C. Hitt. Here is a copy of my message to Mr. Hitt:

I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the unjust actions taken by your university against students Webster Cook and Benjamin Collard. It is reprehensible for you to bow to the demands of political ideologues and allow your institution to be a tool for Bill Donahue’s harassment and intimidation tactics. This is a man with a long history of condemning anything he doesn’t like. Well, this nation wasn’t founded to please Mr. Donahue. That your university chose to value a cracker and the absurd demands of an angry mob over its commitment to higher education shows a sincere lack of judgment and a failure of your university to uphold its values in the face of adversity. I assure you that until this grievous error is rectified I will do everything in my power to put pressure on the media to keep this story alive, to personally and closely monitor your activities, Mr. Hitt, and to publicly criticize your university. We’ve got our eyes on you, Mr. Hitt. And we can be just as loud as Mr. Donahue and his drones. “

The Fate of science education in Texas is being decided right now -Find out how you can take action and stand up for science by clicking on the link above.

Blogger Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, interviewed at Comic Con

-Phil ROCKS!

And now a moment of science:

Adult Stem Cells Activated In Mammalian Brain -“Adult stem cells originate in a different part of the brain than is commonly believed, and with proper stimulation they can produce new brain cells to replace those lost to disease or injury, a study by UC Irvine scientists has shown.”