Examining the anti-vaccine movement — a podcast from Brandy Zadrozny

zadrozky vaccines

I don’t usually do this, but I wanted to post the transcript from the outstanding Brandy Zadrozny podcast about how the anti-vaccine movement treated Tiffany Dover who fainted after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine 18 months ago. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss wrote an in-depth article about Dover soon after it happened, and we have updated it as we have gotten more information. Not to give away a spoiler, but she’s still alive.

I have posted the full transcript of episode 4 because it gives you a history of the anti-vaccine movement and the various “truthers” who pass fall information about it. I’m not going to edit the transcript, but I will add in my commentary here and there (it’ll be in bold type) and links for more information, something you can’t get from a podcast. This is very long, but it’s filled with great information. I have made minor edits to spelling and punctuation to make it more readable.

I’m someone who prefers reading content to listening to podcasts or watching YouTube because I like clicking on links or researching more. If you’re like me, then you’ll love this.

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One vaccine clinical trial to rule them all — moving goalposts

woman holding books

If you spend time listening to anti-vaxxers, you would hear that they would support vaccinations if there were better vaccine clinical trial design. The problem with the anti-vaxxer demand for a better vaccine clinical trial design is one of several moving targets for their denialism, relying on a form of the Argument from ignorance, claiming that if we can’t absolutely “prove” that vaccines are safe, then it must be absolutely unsafe. It’s trying.

For example, there are literally thousands of articles, (an example here and was discussed here), that provide overwhelming evidence of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines using real science, real statistics, and real hard work. The antithesis of the fake science, bogus statistics, and 2 hours of Google.

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Quackery grifting — easy money for pushing pseudoscience

quackery

I always joked that I could have a profitable business if I engaged in quackery. I’ve got all of this science floating in my brain which I could use to confuse the customer and have them buy my quackery. But I have morals, so I don’t.

I just read a blog post by Melanie Trecek-King in Thinking is Power, a wonderful website that pushes critical thinking skills, something that I find is totally lacking in the quackery world. Anyway, I thought I take her nine steps and give it the old feathered dinosaur take — you know, a little snark, a lot of science, and a little bit of teaching. But read her article too, since I’m “borrowing” her ideas.

Before I start, it has become clear to me that all of the people pushing their quackery are also grifters — they sell their quackery for profit. Joe Mercola and Andrew Wakefield double down on their pseudoscience, just to add money to their coffers.

Please, don’t use this list to start your own profitable pseudoscience business. Use it as a method to weed out the quacks, woomeisters, and pseudoscientists.

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Autism and vaccines – 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles say no link

autism and vaccines

Autism and vaccines are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Ever since MrAndrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. 

This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others. 

This article presents 160 scientific articles, published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. Almost all of them are either primary studies that include large clinical trials or case-control or cohort studies. They also include numerous systematic reviews, which represent the pinnacle of biomedical research.

All of these articles, from some of the top vaccine scientists in the world, show that there are no links between autism and vaccines. None. 

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A list of retracted anti-vaccine papers – bad science and bad research

anti-vaccine retracted

Retracted anti-vaccine papers are a staple of my articles published here. Usually, they try to create some fake link between vaccines and autism, but these papers try to say anything that casts vaccines in a bad light.

As we know, real science has established that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Anti-vaccine papers generally try to show this link without epidemiological or clinical studies – they just try to make some specious biologically implausible claims trying to link something about vaccines to autism.

Much of the anti-vaccine research is so bad, so poorly designed, that it’s relegated to low-quality, predatory journals which have laughably poor peer-review systems. Even in those locations, we can find the occasional retracted anti-vaccine papers, because they are often so bad that even these predatory publishers are embarrassed.

So, I present to you, the loyal reader, a list of retracted anti-vaccine papers (and I use that term very carefully). It’s not a comprehensive list, it’s just what I’ve seen over the past few years. If you know of a retracted paper that I missed, leave a citation in the comments.

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Senator Richard Pan responds calmly to an anti-vaccine questioner

Senator Richard Pan

California State Senator Richard Pan is a physician who was instrumental in leading the charge for SB277, the law that eliminated personal belief exemptions to vaccinations by California school-age children. Senator or Dr. Pan, your choice I presume, has been dedicated to the health of children in the state of California, sponsoring bills that attempt to improve the healthcare of children across the state.

Unless you’re a vaccine denier, SB277 has been an unmitigated success. Vaccination rates have skyrocketed across the state, meaning more children are protected from deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. Pan deserves a statue in the Hall of Vaccine Heroes, which should include Edward Jenner, Paul Offit, Jonas Salk, and Maurice Hilleman. He’s probably too modest to accept such an honor.

Unfortunately, Senator Richard Pan has been the target of violent hateful racism and withering personal attacks across social media. He seems to either ignore it or like many of us, just stand up to these attacks with reasoned, evidence-based arguments. Not that the vaccine deniers are capable of listening to reason or evidence.

Recently, Dr. Pan was accosted by an anti-vaxxer at an airport in Orange County, CA. She recorded the encounter on video, despite being asked by Dr. Pan to not do so. Well, let’s look at the video, especially Dr. Pan’s responses, which were calm, professional, and accurate.

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Sharyl Attkisson says science-based websites are astroturfers

Once upon a time, I was told of an article published on the website of “journalist” Sharyl Attkisson where she accused a lot of people of being astroturfers, including this old snarky feathered dinosaur. Now I admit to not being up-to-date on every cultural term that flows through the internet every day (who could?), but I had to find out more.

Well, what is an astroturfer? Supposedly, it’s a pejorative term that describes a fake grassroots effort. Astroturf is fake grass, so that’s its roots (pun intended).

I’m not really sure of the logic of placing science writers and evidence-based websites into the “astroturf” category, but she does it. It’s like the Big Lie, I guess if she keeps repeating it, people will think it’s true.

Of course, let’s not forget that if we’re going to accuse any person or group of being astroturfers, we should straightaway look at anti-vaccine groups led by Del Bigtree and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. I mean they are the epitome of astroturfers. To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change DNA – Wakefield is wrong again

The cunning fraud  MrAndrew Wakefield is back again pushing a new brand of anti-vaccine gibberish combined with a huge dollop of COVID-19 denialism. Of course, he would jump into the fray pushing debunked and discredited tropes about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, because he has had nothing factual to say about any vaccine for twenty years. It would be delusional to believe that he would suddenly see the light about these new vaccines.

Of course, the anti-vaccine religion considers Andrew Wakefield one of their high priests, along with Del Bigtree and Robert F Kennedy Jr, all of whom appear to have the power of papal infallibility – whatever they claim is considered dogma, irrespective of science. Of course, Andrew Wakefield’s initial paper about vaccines and autism was retracted, and the overwhelming science debunks this claim.

Wakefield has become so discredited as a “scientist” that he has resorted to “publishing” his most recent gibberish, vaccines are causing the sixth mass extinction, in the discredited Journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which is not indexed in PubMed. The AAPS is a far-right medical association that rejects most science about climate change, vaccines, HIV, and many other issues. In case you’re wondering, their leader, Dr. Jane Orient, is a COVID-19 denier.

So, what has Mr. Wakefield said now? He’s repeating the debunked myth that the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will change your DNA. No, they won’t. Here I go again, disputing more garbage spewed by Andrew Wakefield.

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Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – an index of her vaccine articles on this website

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA) – is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

She was also one of the many contributors to the book, “Pseudoscience – The Conspiracy Against Science.”

Many bloggers and commenters on vaccine issues will link to one or more of her articles here as a primary source to counter an anti-vaccine claim. The purpose of this post is to give you a quick reference to find the right article to answer a question you might have.

Below is a list of articles that Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. This article will be updated as new articles from Professor Reiss are published here. We also may update and add categories as necessary.

Because she has written over 160 articles for this website, there is a vast amount of information about vaccines and the law, I have created a search engine that allows you to quickly find a specific article written by Professor Reiss on this website by using any keywords that you want. This should help speed up your search for just the right article that she has written.


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1986 The Act – review of Andrew Wakefield’s anti-vaccine “movie”

1986 the act

This article about Andrew Wakefield’s “1986: The Act” was written by Sarah, aka 42Believer. Sarah is an “influencer” who uses her various social media platforms to advocate for science and against misinformation. She doesn’t let her lack of credentials stop her from speaking out, and her efforts resulted in the successful removal of anti-vax books from Amazon. You can find her breakdown of anti-vaccine influence in Ohio state politics here.

She hangs out on Twitter correcting disinformation from the anti-vaccine crowd while also publishing entertaining YouTube videos about the 42 things wrong with various movies, and it includes one about anti-vaxxers

No matter the genre, a good movie should have a first scene that draws you in instantly. The first scene of the film “1986: The Act” opens with a scene of a woman peeing into a cup. I wish I was joking.

As you might already be aware, “1986: The Act” is the newest anti-vaccine “documentary” directed by Andrew Wakefield. He is also listed as the director for Vaxxed, but Vaxxed is so much better than “1986: The Act” that I have a feeling Del Bigtree was almost as much, if not more, of a director than Wakefield (this makes sense given Del’s prior experience on The Doctors).

In fact, of all the anti-vax documentaries I’ve seen 1986: The Act is by far the worst of the bunch (and that’s saying something!). This article will focus on the technical aspects of the film, but if you would like a thorough breakdown of the scientific/legal claims Dorit Reiss did a wonderful job of that here.

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