If you hold a rally and no one comes, does it make a sound?

February 24, 2011

As I reported two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled to maintain the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), in a 6-2 decision. And as predicted, the anti-vaxxers are not too happy about it. So what was their great plan?

Last night, my friend Michael De Dora, Executive Director of the NYC Branch of the Center For Inquiry, relayed a link to me via Dr. David Gorski on Facebook. This link. It seems that the co-editors of the recently released anti-vax polemic “Vaccine Epidemic” tried to organize a last minute rally today in NYC to protest the Supreme Court decision…and Bill Gates for completely unrelated reasons. This follows a book launch party they held at NYU, which I attended and have begun a 4-part series reporting about over at the Vaccine Times.

Now I was unable to attend this rally, but from what I can tell from the announcement linked to above, the theme of the event was the exact same as the NYU event:

If you can’t join us in NYC tomorrow, buy a few copies of Vaccine Epidemic and commit to loaning them or giving them to people who will read them. You can always donate a couple to your local library.

There is no “standing still.” Either we move forward, or we fall behind.

It is a formidable act of advocacy to put copies of Vaccine Epidemic in people’s hands. Knowledge is powerful. To open your eyes is to find your voice. And at just $14 each, it won’t break the bank.

Which I guess is understandable since, given that the Supreme Court has already ruled on the subject, what else could they have possibly hoped to accomplish with this rally other than use it as an opportunity to move merchandise?

Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way it seems. Numbers are a funny thing. For instance, in that announcement for the rally, they proudly boast about their 300 attendees at the NYU event. And what’s so funny about that is that five days before that event, the Center For Inquiry and the NYC Skeptics held a Darwin Day event in the very same auditorium, Tishman Auditorium. On that day, I’d asked Michael De Dora what the full capacity of that room was, and he told me 450. which is confirmed on their website.  And indeed, I noticed when attending the “Vaccine Epidemic” book launch that, unlike the Darwin Day event, the anti-vaxxers failed to fill the room to capacity.

But that’s nothing compared to what happened with today’s rally from what I hear. Apparently, their big last minute rally turned up a whopping 18 protesters, which fell slightly short of their predicted turn-out of tens of thousands. Oops.

[UPDATE 2/26/11 – Age of Autism finally posted an entry on the rally. Notice they never mention the size of the turn-out and the only about 10 or 11 people can be seen in their photo. Draw your own conclusions]


And on an unrelated note, happy second birthday to my nephew!

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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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