Sherri Tenpenny claims her anti-vaccine comments are like Jesus

Sherri Tenpenny

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny is one of the leading activists on the anti-vaccine side. Yes, she’s a real physician – she’s actually a DO, an osteopath (see Note 1). Despite her medical education and training, she is a science denier on many levels. Not only does she hate vaccines, ignoring the wealth of science supporting them, but also she denies a lot of basic scientific principles.

For example, Tenpenny denies the Germ theory of disease, which states that infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms. Germ theory is one of the basic foundations of biology – denying it implies either she doesn’t know anything about biology, or she has a vast body of evidence to overturn a scientific theory. My guess it’s the former, rather than the latter.

Instead, Sherri Tenpenny believes that diseases are due to toxins flooding the body, and germs subsequently jumping into the toxin-damaged tissues. Let’s be clear, there isn’t a stitch of evidence supporting this idea. Of course, once Tenpenny denied Germ theory, she would find vaccines to be useless. The vaccines aren’t actually protecting against disease in her mind.

Does Dr. Sherri Tenpenny have any training, education or background in infectious diseases, immunology or microbiology which would lead one to think she has a clue about all of this? Not as far as anyone can tell. She’s board certified in osteopathic neuromuscular medicine (AOBNMM) and the woo-based integrative and holistic medicine (ABIHM). Again, there is absolutely no indication that she actually has any kind of research, training or educational background in anything to do with vaccines, infectious diseases or epidemiology. She fails basic science here.

Despite this lack of serious knowledge about vaccines and infectious diseases, she makes herself out to be some authority figure regarding the danger of vaccines. Anti-vaccine activists will constantly quote her, as if she has the same credentials as Dr. Paul Offit, who really knows vaccines and diseases, and who invented the rotavirus vaccine that saves hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

In a recent post in the anti-vaccine website, Vaxxter, Tenpenny pretends she’s Jesus (as in the Christian myth) telling a parable on how she tries to pass out information on the evils of vaccines – but that her claims are rejected by “close-minded” pro-vaccine types. Like me I suppose.

Shall we take a look? Sure, it’s a good day to debunk some anti-vaccine nonsense.

 

Sherri Tenpenny and Jesus

To be honest, doesn’t directly compare herself to Jesus. But she comes really really close.

Jesus often told stories called parables to teach a lesson through an example. Many of you may be familiar with the Biblical story, “The Parable of the Sower.” For those who don’t (and there are many faiths here, so many may not), here is a summary of The Parable of the Sower. I always keep this in mind as I am sowing seeds of information about vaccines (emphasis mine).

In essence, this parable attempts to assert that the seeds of faith (the word of Jesus, I suppose) can’t take root everywhere. But where it does grow, the rewards will be abundant. As an atheist, I find all of this to be ridiculously obtuse, but she’s the one claiming to use the parable to spread the seeds of her anti-vaccine information.

Let’s examine this.

 

The Parable of the Sower of Vaccine Seeds

So, Sherri Tenpenny, the Jesus of vaccines, says the parable fits into her dogmatic religion of the anti-vaccine. She’s the savior in this metaphor, I suppose.

Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1–Some seeds never have a chance. There will always be skeptics and “know it alls” who believe in the Religion of Vaccination and can never hear the information. Try as you might, they will never hear. Like the hard soil, their mind is closed. Save your energy. Move on.

She says that we’re close minded? I don’t think that means what she thinks it means. A close minded person has established a conclusion, evidence be damned. An open minded person (yours truly is one) only comes to a conclusion after weighing all of the highest quality evidence. In fact, the seeds of science never have a chance with Tenpenny and her ilk, because they believe in the Religion of Anti-vaccination, a faith based group. They ignore all the high quality evidence to stick stubbornly with the pre-conceived conclusions demanded by their religious faith.

The evidence for the efficacy and safety of vaccines is mountainous. But like creationists, another science denying religion, anti-vaccine-ists (yeah, I did that) rely upon anecdotes, misinterpretation, logical fallacies, and all of the other tools of the science denying crowd to close their mind to real science and evidence. So Dr. Tenpenny, look at yourself in the mirror. Seeds of knowledge, truth and science have no chance with your closed mind.

2–Some seeds of truth will start to grow because the truth is exciting and their interest starts to sprout.

Actually, a lot of anti-vaccine-ists do see these seeds of truth, and end up accepting the facts about vaccines. But to be honest, for the science deniers, they’re still stuck at #1. They can’t get past their notions and conclusions, so these seeds never get a chance. This is sad really.

3–Some seeds start to grow, but the truth is quickly choked by the weeds. Family members in healthcare, social media friends, community nay-sayers crush the spirit of the growing seedling. Discouraged and literally choked out, the seeds of truth die.

This is where my job starts. I need to get rid of those weeds of science denialism with a good dose of Truth™ glyphosate. Just about anyone who supports vaccines does the same – they get rid of the weeds of doubt, misinformation and bad science so that open-minded parents will realize how valuable vaccines are to the health of their children.

4–But a few seeds of truth will take root, and grow…and grow..and grow. Some who heard the truth about vaccine hazards immediately embraced and understood it. Their resolve grew the more they studied. They joined a like-minded community for personal support. The seeds planted within this person grew into a massive plant.

Yes, there are many, over 90%, who have heard the truth about vaccine hazards and immediately rejected the nonsense spread by Sherri Tenpenny. Then they vaccinated their children. To abuse this parable (or Tenpenny’s version of said parable), the massive plant of like minded people who accept science and knowledge, and understand who is and isn’t speaking the truth have made sure their children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases.

To be frank, Jesus Tenpenny’s version of the parable of the sower fits more for her sycophants and followers rather than for the “pro-vaccine” side. Because the parable is about faith and accepting the teachings of a god, while rejecting science and evidence.

Science isn’t about faith and blind acceptance. Sure, I am not an astrophysicist, so I tentatively accept what Neil DeGrasse Tyson says about Pluto being a planet or not, because he presents evidence, and he’s not ridiculed by the vast majority of astrophysicists. But if further evidence appears, supported by brilliant scientists say he’s wrong about Pluto, I’d rethink my position. But on vaccines, I’ve done the research, not as an amateur accepting by faith the statements of others, but as an expert in several biomedical sciences who can read the thousands of studies supporting vaccines. The evidence leads me to the conclusion about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, not “faith.”

Sherri Tenpenny lacks any authority or credentials in infectious diseases. She asks her followers to have “faith” that she’s right, and the scientific consensus on vaccines is wrong. Why, because, she’s Jesus?

 

Notes

  1. In the USA, a licensed physician may be either an MD (medical doctor) or DO (doctor of osteopathy). DOs attend osteopathic school, rather than medical school, and are generally taught evidence based medicine. Its roots are somewhat based in medical woo, but that’s more historical than current philosophy. A DO must go through the same training process as an MD – they have to compete for the same internships, residencies and fellowships as MDs. Currently, it’s really hard to tell the difference between and MD and DO with respect to your own health care.

Dr. Jim Meehan anti-vaccine rant – examining his claims

Jim Meehan

Recently, an anti-vaccine doctor from Oklahoma, Dr. Jim Meehan, wrote an online post about why he would no longer vaccinate his children. It’s pretty clear that his post is not so much a discussion of his own children (most of whom are adults) as an attempt to deter other parents from protecting their children from preventable diseases. His post is basically a set of claims trying to convince parents that vaccinating is very dangerous.

The claims used to do so are nothing new: they are strictly out of the anti-vaccine playbook. But the post has received some attention in the anti-vaccine world, and was shared several thousand times, likely because many people treat an MD as an authority on the subject. So I decided to take a few minutes to explain why his claims are not good reasons to reject expert opinion and not protect children from disease.

Dr. Meehan’s claims fall into several categories (which will be discussed individually below):

  1. The diseases we vaccinate against are not dangerous, and it’s okay, even good, to encounter them naturally.
  2. Vaccines have toxic ingredients.
  3. Vaccines are dangerous to children.
  4. The science behind vaccines is corrupt because the pharmaceutical industry controls it and corrupts it.
  5. We should listen to him because he is a doctor and knows what he is talking about.

Note: Dr. Meehan’s post doesn’t present these claims in that order. I have changed the order, because I want to address the claims in a logical order, that is, first his claims about vaccine safety, then the conspiracy theory that underlies them, and finally, his appeal to authorityContinue reading “Dr. Jim Meehan anti-vaccine rant – examining his claims”

Anti-vaccine nonsense – Robert F Kennedy Jr and Robert De Niro jump in

Anti-vaccine nonsense

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro just had a press conference to push their anti-vaccine nonsense on the public. This time, they’re offering US$100,000 to anyone who can show that mercury in vaccines are safe. Well, they can write me the check today, since there is NO mercury (really, there never was) in vaccines, so based on their lame accusations, it’s safe.

I’m starting to think that the anti-vaccine forces think that the wind is blowing in their direction. This so-called press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, an important venue for announcements. The National Press Club ought to be embarrassed – how could a prestigious institution allow such junk “news” at their site. But that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine nonsense – Robert F Kennedy Jr and Robert De Niro jump in”

Anti-vaccine bullshit – Robert De Niro and RFK Jr are full of it

Anti-vaccine nonsense

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro just had a press conference to push their anti-vaccine bullshit on the public. This time, they’re offering US$100,000 to anyone who can show that mercury in vaccines are safe. Well, they can write me the check today, since there is NO mercury (really, there never was) in vaccines, so based on their lame accusations, it’s safe.

I’m starting to think that the anti-vaccine forces think that the wind is blowing in their direction. This so-called press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, an important venue for announcements. The National Press Club ought to be embarrassed – how could a prestigious institution allow such junk “news” at their site. But that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine bullshit – Robert De Niro and RFK Jr are full of it”

Jon Rappoport attacks GMOs and medicine – should we care?

Jon Rappoport

For faithful readers of this blog, you know I try to keep focus on a small field of science – vaccines, GMOs, alternative medicine, and whatever strikes my fancy. I get all excited when a couple of my interests intersect, like GMO vaccines. Then I read a blog post from some writer, Jon Rappoport, who started out with criticism of Donald Trump and what he might do with the FDA. That got me excited.

Now a lot of us are worried about what Donald Trump might do with the FDA. The cantankerous Orac summed up many of our thoughts about Trump and the FDA thusly:

Obviously, though, I don’t like either of the two candidates under consideration by the Trump transition team to become FDA Commissioner. Basically, you have to pick your poison: Do you want the libertarian who doesn’t think that the FDA should have to require the demonstration of efficacy before approving drugs or the bona-fide, honest-to-goodness pharma shill, someone who’s pharma shill to a level that most pharma shills only dream of? It’s basically Sophie’s choice.

But Jon Rappoport quickly went off the rails by attacking the FDA and claiming GMOs are dangerous (and the FDA should regulate them). Here we go.

Continue reading “Jon Rappoport attacks GMOs and medicine – should we care?”

Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film

vaxxed

This is the 7th out of 13 most popular articles on Skeptical Raptor for the 2016 Year in Review. It’s all about the fraudumentary, Vaxxed.

This week, the Tribeca Film Festival, a New York City based film festival that focuses on independent films and documentaries, is highlighting one documentary, MrAndy Wakefield’s fraudulent anti-vaccination movie “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy.

The movie, directed by the cunning con-man Wakefield, promises to feature “revealing and emotional interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents, and one whistleblower to understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.”

There’s been a lot of criticism by the pro-science community about  this film, including this series of three articles by the enigmatic and inscrutable Orac:

Although you should definitely read all three articles, the Delphic Orac’s response to Tribeca’s implication that the movie represents part of the “debate” (there is no debate) about vaccines and autism is legendary:

It’s a common excuse made by, for example, reporters for “telling both sides” about scientific issues. Here’s the problem. This sort of attitude might make sense for social and political issues, but science is different, because in science there is often a right and a wrong answer.

You can have all the “dialogue and discussion” you want about a scientific topic, such as the question of whether vaccines cause autism, but at the end of the day there is a correct answer based on science

In other words, there is no debate in science.

The Los Angeles Times, which has a long history of fighting the ignorance against vaccines, published an editorial entitled “Has Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival sold out to anti-vaccine crackpots?”  They follow the trail of Andy Wakefield from his fraud to this “documentary.”

And of course, the website, Age of Lying About Autism, made up of Wakefield sycophants who deliver deceitful garbage about vaccines, is having a huge orgasm over the featuring of this movie.

I don’t want to tread on what other’s have written. From the oracular Orac, you can get the whole story, the criticism, and the debunking of the “this is censorship” nonsense.

I just wanted to give people a quick list of the facts about this story, a quick debunking tool, if you will. Let’s talk about Wakefield’s Vaxxed.

Continue reading “Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film”

Your one stop shop for the anti-vaccine hate debate

vaccine hate debate

I and others have written several articles on this website about the anti-vaccine hate debate – discussing the atrocious and hateful behavior of a large portion of the anti vaccination cult.

This kind of “free speech” goes beyond simple mockery, ad hominem attacks, or, though it rarely happens, arguments about the science. Ad hominem attacks are, by definition, personal attacks that are used in lieu of real evidence. So, if you lack evidence to support your side of a debate (even a fake debate like what is happening with vaccines), you attack the person, rather than the evidence.

Of course, if you do lack evidence, you will be mocked mercilessly for lacking said evidence. Cherry-picked evidence doesn’t count. Appeals to authority as evidence doesn’t count. Employing the Nirvana fallacy doesn’t count. The only evidence that matters must come from high quality sources that are repeated many times and are often rolled up into a substantial meta-review.

The vaccine hate debate on exists because they have nothing – no evidence of harm, no evidence of a lack of benefit. None. Ground zero of the Facebook anti-vaccine hate crazies is The Vaccine Resistance Movement (VRM) – read their hatred and lies. Donald Trump would be proud of them.

Continue reading “Your one stop shop for the anti-vaccine hate debate”

Anti-vaxxer personal attacks – embracing hatred and ad hominems

anti-vaxxer

The anti-vaxxer cult, also known as vaccine deniers, are infamous for their ad hominem personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with their pseudoscience, anti-science beliefs. I’ve documented a tiny percentage of their vile hatred towards us, but I don’t have enough time to keep up with their hate speech.

These anti-vaxxer crackpots were beside themselves recently, when the New York University Langone Medical Center hosted a lecture and panel discussion entitled “Confronting Vaccine Resistance – Strategies for Success.” Sounds like a great one to attend.

But what must have caused arteries to burst across the anti-vaxxer world are the list of speakers – Dr. Paul OffitDr. Richard Pan, and Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. If you’re unfamiliar with these three, at which point I would have to ask why you don’t know them, let me spend a minute just telling you about them.

Dr. Offit is one of the leading authorities on vaccines on this planet. He has committed to world-class research and training to understand all facets of vaccines. His left pinky finger probably knows more about vaccines than the whole lot of the anti-vaxxer cult. He invented a vaccine for rotavirus, which is the source of all sorts of anti-vaxxer attacks, ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives are saved every year by the vaccine.

Dr. Pan is a California State Senator who lead the fight for California SB 277, which mandated vaccines for children in school. Of course, the anti-vaccine movement did not appreciate this effort to save lives of children, so they attacked Dr. Pan in some particularly filthy ways.

Finally, Prof. Reiss, a tenured professor of law at University of California Hastings School of Law, is a regular contributor to this website. She is an expert on vaccines and the law and is one of the most civil individuals I know in spite of withering attacks on herself, her family, her education, and yes, her ethnicity. She has to deal with disgusting and disturbing anti-semitic attacks, along with just about every other personal attack one could imagine.

So these three are together in New York discussing how to overcome vaccine resistance. I’m almost certain that the anti-vaxxer cult will will think these lectures are presented in the Gates of Hell by three demons. Nah, I’m sure I exaggerate, they will hardly notice.

Continue reading “Anti-vaxxer personal attacks – embracing hatred and ad hominems”

Anti-vaxxer personal attacks – embracing the ad hominem

The anti-vaxxer cult, also known as vaccine deniers, are infamous for their ad hominem personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with their pseudoscience, anti-science beliefs. I’ve documented a tiny percentage of their vile hatred towards us, but I don’t have enough time to keep up with their hate speech.

These anti-vaxxer crackpots were beside themselves recently, when the New York University Langone Medical Center hosted a lecture and panel discussion entitled “Confronting Vaccine Resistance – Strategies for Success.” Sounds like a great one to attend.

But what must have caused arteries to burst across the anti-vaxxer world are the list of speakers – Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. Richard Pan, and Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. If you’re unfamiliar with these three, at which point I would have to ask why you don’t know them, let me spend a minute just telling you about them.

Dr. Offit is one of the leading authorities on vaccines on this planet. He has committed to world-class research and training to understand all facets of vaccines. His left pinky finger probably knows more about vaccines than the whole lot of the anti-vaxxer cult. He invented a vaccine for rotavirus, which is the source of all sorts of anti-vaxxer attacks, ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives are saved every year by the vaccine.

Dr. Pan is a California State Senator who lead the fight for California SB 277, which mandated vaccines for children in school. Of course, the anti-vaccine movement did not appreciate this effort to save lives of children, so they attacked Dr. Pan in some particularly filthy ways.

Finally, Prof. Reiss, a tenured professor of law at University of California Hastings School of Law, is a regular contributor to this website. She is an expert on vaccines and the law and is one of the most civil individuals I know in spite of withering attacks on herself, her family, her education, and yes, her ethnicity. She has to deal with disgusting and disturbing anti-semitic attacks, along with just about every other personal attack one could imagine.

So these three are together in New York discussing how to overcome vaccine resistance. I’m almost certain that the anti-vaxxer cult will will think these lectures are presented in the Gates of Hell by three demons. Nah, I’m sure I exaggerate, they will hardly notice.

Continue reading “Anti-vaxxer personal attacks – embracing the ad hominem”

Jill Stein anti vaccine message – be aware progressives

Jill stein anti vaccine

The focus of this blog is science, though I occasionally wander into other topics. But in today’s world science and politics intersects a lot – and mostly politics comes up woefully short on science. Case in point, the Green Party in the USA has a candidate for President of the US, Jill Stein, who may deny more science than your standard Republican. For example, the Jill Stein anti vaccine message should make every progressive run away.

Before I delve into Dr. Stein’s anti-vaccine beliefs, I want to point out why I think that both those on the left and right need to be taken to task for their beliefs trumping science. If a politician denies scientific evidence to come to their own personal conclusions, then how can they be trusted to use real evidence to come to conclusions about anything else?

Do you want your leaders to use bad evidence or maybe invented evidence to start a war that killed thousands of young people and nearly bankrupted several economies? Well, that has happened recently, when President George W Bush used weak or invented intelligence reports to cause the world to go to war. Unsurprisingly, President Bush was also an extreme science denier.

There are many reasons why scientific facts shouldn’t be a political volleyball, but they are, with people bouncing it back and forth until someone gets exhausted. To be fair, science isn’t a volleyball. To most of us, it’s a mountain that can only be moved with higher quality and quantity of evidence, not by badly done metaphors from the science deniers.

Let’s take some time to examine the Jill Stein anti vaccine belief – it makes her really the same as your every day science denying Republican.

Continue reading “Jill Stein anti vaccine message – be aware progressives”