CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives

CDC whistleblower

Today is Valentine’s Day, 2016. For many of you, it’s all about roses and chocolates. But for a bunch of us, it’s all about The Walking Dead and zombies. And in honor of the return of The Walking Dead, let’s talk about zombie anti-vaccine tropes that never die – the infamous CDC whistleblower oh my.

If you haven’t noticed, any time I can tie something I’m writing to zombies or The Walking Dead, I’m happy. So bear with me.

The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence for their unscientific beliefs, tend to grab on tightly to the flimsiest of stories. They love to scream “GOTCHA” to anything that shows up on the internet that puts vaccines in a bad light. A few years ago, they were jumping for joy regarding some comments from Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil. Except, the story was a lot different than they claimed.

Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminal frauds of the past 100 yearsMrAndy Wakefield, who alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Or trying to push the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.

So what now? What zombie trope has come alive again?
Continue reading “CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives”

Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film


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”

Vaccines. Autism, Italian Court of Cassation – they get it right

Vaccines, autism, Italian court of Cassation

Twice before we have examined a decision by a low-level Italian court that claimed a link between vaccines and autism. One decision was already overturned on appeal. The other appeal has not, to my knowledge, been decided yet, but the decision is just as ill-founded.

In spite of their problems these decisions were heralded by anti-vaccine activists as demonstrating once and for all that vaccines cause autism, despite the extensive science showing otherwise. I have said this elsewhere and will repeat: if your best evidence that vaccines cause autism are two (badly reasoned) low-level court decisions from another country, you have a very weak case.

Now, even that weak case has suffered a serious blow.

Continue reading “Vaccines. Autism, Italian Court of Cassation – they get it right”

In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield

vaxxed by andrew wakefield

Late last week the fraudumentary (my portmanteau of fraudulent documentary, you can thank me in the comments), Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield was going to be a part of the Tribeca Film Festival, then got support from Robert DeNiro, then got trashed by everyone as being old news, then was pulled from the film festival.

Various anti-vaccination activists whined about all kinds of things, including various conspiracy theories, complaints about censorship (without really knowing what censorship means), and just about anything else you could name.

Unless you were living under a rock (and I’d have to ask why), this kerfuffle seemed to have exploded in an instant and disappeared within a couple of days. I think it was the unified indignation of nearly every science writer on the planet that convinced Tribeca to cut bait and run (I’m really on my game for clichés).

I mean it really wasn’t that hard.  MrAndy Wakefield is a fraud – period. Vaccines and autism are unrelated according to all of the high quality epidemiological research – period. And the so called CDC Whistleblower manufactroversy (another invented portmanteau, just to be thorough), a key part of the film, was really much adieu about nothing.

And that whistleblower has stated over and over again, he strongly recommends that all children get vaccinated according to the CDC schedule. Let that sink in.

I’ll but this into terms that should be clear to any reader. Vaxxed is, was, and forever shall be pure, organic, GMO-free, derived from virgin cows, BULLSHIT.

But like most bullshit, the stink doesn’t go away very fast. Let’s see what happened.

Continue reading “In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield”

Robert De Niro and Wakefield’s propaganda film – Vaxxed

wakefield's propaganda film

Several sources report that Robert De Niro was the power behind the throne that got Mr. Andy Wakefield’s propaganda film, about a so-called CDC whistleblower, on the Tribeca Film Festival’s lineup. Many of us had an inkling that De Niro was involved, because he has an autistic child. But I was skeptical until just a while ago.

Earlier today, the ethereal Orac received an email from Tribeca Film Festival that confirmed De Niro’s participation:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]I wanted to provide you with following statement from Robert De Niro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, regarding Vaxxed at the Festival:

“Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.”

Thank you,


I am sympathetic to De Niro’s personal association with the autism issue. But there are no “discussions” about vaccines and autism. Vaccines are absolutely not related to autism – science speaks in black and white, and in this case, there is no debate.

What this propaganda film does is cause people to not vaccinate their children, putting them at risk of many vaccine preventable diseases. Wakefield is a fraud – that has been established by boatloads of evidence, including his inability to get a judgement against his accusers who have stated that fact.

If De Niro thinks that vaccines cause autism, then he should take is millions of dollars that he’s earned from his movies, and fund a great autism research center that relies upon science and evidence to speak to what causes autism.

Instead, he’s going to allow the cunning fraud, Andy Wakefield, lie to an audience with the passive, or more probably, the active support of one of our generation’s greatest actors.

As the elegantly subtle Orac says:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]I almost feel sorry for Mr. De Niro. Almost. He’s about to be besieged by antivaccine cranks, who will now look at him as a hero and try to get him to support all sorts of wacky quack and pseudoscience causes. I hope he likes his new admirers.

Actually, I do feel a bit sorry for Mr. De Niro. He’s now finding out the hard way why those of us who’ve studie him say that Andrew Wakefield discredits anything he touches. That now includes the Tribeca Film Festival.[/infobox]

I actually don’t care what celebrities say. In general, they are uneducated fools whose purpose in life is to create an illusion for the audience. But I have a policy – I do not pay a penny to any actor who tries to intentionally harm people through their ignorance and foolishness. Vaxxed will hurt children.

Even if only one child isn’t vaccinated because of the pseudoscience and lies in this fake documentary, that’s one child too many. Is Robert De Niro willing to risk one child based on a fraud and conman’s lies?

Thus, I will never watch another movie by De Niro. He’ll still get millions for each movie he does, no one will care about me.

But I’m on the side of science and truth. He’s not. Children will lose in the long run.

Tara Haelle just wrote an article saying that Robert De Niro “just broke my heart.” Yeah. That.


Unless you aren’t closely following this story, Robert De Niro and the Tribeca Film Festival removed the documentary from the schedule. They listened.

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Science deniers use false equivalence to create fake debates

This article is #3 of the 12 most popular posts on Skeptical Raptor during 2015. This article discusses how science deniers employ false equivalence to create fake debates.

If you read a news article, Google a scientific topic, or watch TV, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalence to make it appear that the often minority, and scientifically unsupported viewpoint is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is based on huge amounts of published evidence.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that scientists aren’t sure about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the age of the earth (or even the age of the universe). There are even those who think there’s a debate that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. It’s because some news sources think there’s a debate, so bring one person to represent one side, and one for the other, and the person screams the loudest often wins.

Continue reading “Science deniers use false equivalence to create fake debates”

Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine

Here we go again with the trope that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The Daily Mail, a British middle market tabloid, has published an article, MMR: A mother’s victory: The vast majority of doctors say there is no link between the triple jab and autism, but could an Italian court case reignite this controversial debate?, that is attempting to create a controversy out of thin air about the MMR vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. The article is referring to an insane Italian court ruling which, despite all evidence to the contrary, blamed a child’s autism on the vaccination.

Update–in February 2015, an Italian Court of Appeals overturns the decision by the Provincial Court, so the vaccine denier claim that “Italian courts state that vaccines cause autism” can be dismissed. Mostly.

Continue reading “Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine”

Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?


This article has been updated and the comments have been closed here. Please comment at the revised article.

Oh no, here we go again. The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence, grabs onto the flimsiest of stories, disregarding the foul and corrupt individuals promoting the story–using it all to scream “GOTCHA” to anyone involved with vaccines. Last year, it was laughably jumping on some comments of Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil, that appeared to say that Gardasil was useless.

Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminals of the past 100 yearsMrAndy Wakefield, who fraudulently alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Or furthering the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department, and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.

The Church of Antivaccines, whose god, Mr. Andy Wakefield, should be held criminally responsible for deaths of children who never got the MMR vaccine, are so bereft of any real evidence to support their beliefs, they will either invent, misrepresent, or manipulate any story that even tenuously supports their dogma that vaccines are dangerous. Continue reading “Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?”

“False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy

In the real world of science-based medicine, the link between autism and vaccines (particularly, the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella) has been thoroughly debunked, quashed, and discredited. In the delusional world of the vaccine denialists, the link between autism and vaccines is based on MrAndy Wakefield‘s paper alleging a connection between MMR and autism that has been retracted by the Lancet medical journal.

Then why is there even a debate about this manufactroversy (a manufactured or invented controversy)? Well, researchers actually examined this false controversy in a recently published article, by Graham Dixon and Christopher Clarke of Cornell University, in Health Education Research. They investigated how the news media and journalists try to “falsely balance” their reporting about the debunked link between vaccines and autism. The journalists create this false balance, “despite a strong medical and scientific consensus backed by rigorous epidemiological studies indicating no link between autism and vaccines.” Dixon and Clarke also state that “research suggests that journalists in the United Kingdom and United States often report this controversy by presenting claims both for and against a link in a relatively ‘balanced’ fashion. In some cases, so-called ‘falsely balanced’ reporting fails to mention which claim is supported by a scientific consensus.” An overwhelming scientific consensus, by the way. Continue reading ““False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy”