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.

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Parental and children’s rights – vaccination mandates

This article is by 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, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also 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.

On September 23, 2015, Lauren Stephens filed a “Parental Rights and Responsibilities” initiative with the California Attorney General. This initiative provides a chance to reflect on the tension between parental rights, the rights of a child and the role of the state.

Who is Lauren Stephens? She is involved in the attempt to get a referendum on the ballot regarding SB 277, the bill removing personal belief exemptions to school immunization requirements, sometimes referred to as a vaccination mandate, in California, along with being associated with efforts to recall several representatives who supported the bill, including Senator Richard Pan,

This article proceeds in three parts. First, it sets out the general framework of parental rights and a child’s rights. Second, it explains the initiative – and how it applies, or more probably doesn’t, to the authors’ target, vaccination mandates in SB 277. Third, it explains why the initiative, and similar statutes, are a problematic idea and the potential harm to children from those. Continue reading “Parental and children’s rights – vaccination mandates”

A vile personal attack on GMO scientist Kevin Folta

I have oft stated that those who lack scientific evidence resort to ad hominem personal attacks as their last resort. That’s all they’ve got, so the science deniers have to go double down on their personal attacks, often in the form of putrid hate speech.

I’ve written frequently about the personal attacks from the pseudoscience side, especially in the anti-vaccination cult. They’ve attacked Paul Offit. They’ve used anti-Semitic bigotry to attack Dorit Reiss, one of the writers here. They’ve attacked Senator Richard Pan, co-sponsor of SB 277 which mandates vaccination of children in California, with horrific violent threats and Nazi imagery.

The hate speech of the antivaccine lunacy is legendary, and apparently the anti-GMO version of the anti-science world has been taught well, confirming my suspicion that all anti-science cults get together at their annual meeting in the Bermuda Triangle to share strategies. I’m kidding, of course. Mostly I’m kidding.

As I wrote previously, a PLoS blog was posted that served as an attack piece on GMO scientist Kevin Folta – a respected University of Florida plant genetics researcher. The PLoS post, written by Paul D. Thacker and Charles Seife, attacked Dr. Folta for a whole host of sins, including a claim that he was more or less directing Monsanto’s strategies for dealing with GMO labeling laws.

Within a couple of days, after withering criticism across the science community, PLoS removed the attack piece with a whimpering non-apology apology.

In the meantime, character assassinations against Dr. Folta started.  Here’s one posted in craigslist, which is truly a vile personal attack.

 

craigslist-folta-monsanto

 

This cowardly post refers to Dr. Folta’s mother. According to him, the attack was personally offensive:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]Tomorrow would be my mother’s birthday, she’d be 69 years old, if she was still alive. She died a few years ago, way too young, and we all still miss her tremendously. [/infobox]

I don’t understand the hate of this coward who, because he really has no science, no knowledge, but plenty of ignorance, decides to attack someone on craigslist, the bastion of scams and rip-offs. And that hatred is based on a retracted, gonzo journalism piece that had all of the research quality of an elementary school newspaper. Oh, sorry, I think I’m insulting all those fine kids who do their best job on elementary school newspapers.

I don’t know Dr. Folta personally, but I do know other scientists who get attacked frequently. David Gorski, using snark and mockery, laughs at the anti-science crowd, entertaining skeptics everywhere. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss tries to ignore it, and sticks to facts. Others know that they win on the science, and write popular books to describe how their science ignorance can harm people.

Of course, I personally just throw back the ad hominem attacks right in their face, because if one has all the evidence, like I do, I have no patience with those nut jobs.

If I could give one tiny piece of advice to Dr. Folta–ignore the ignorant jerks. Or mock them with all the humor you can muster. You are their targets because they think they have something on you, but they don’t. I put up with personal attacks all across the internet. I just laugh, because they are just viruses, and I’m immune.

I often refer to Ernst’s Law which states:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”] If you are researching complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and you are not hated by the CAM world, you’re not doing it right.[/infobox]

This  Law refers to Edzard Ernst, an academic physician and researcher in the UK who specializes in analyzing and criticizing the claims of complementary and alternative medicine.

Replace “complementary and alternative medicine” with anti-GMO, and we have the Folta Corollary to Ernst’s Law:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”] If you are researching genetically modified organisms (GMO) and you are not hated by the anti-GMO world, you’re not doing it right.[/infobox]

It’s sad that hatred from the anti-science side has to be a badge of honor instead of the evidence and facts, but that’s where we are. We have become a world where science is hated, unless it fits some predetermined conclusion. Sigh.

Note. I identify Dr. Kevin Folta as a “GMO scientist,” a “label” that some people don’t like. My goals in this blog are twofold–first, to frame the discussion between those who use science and those who deny it. And second, to optimize search parameters to make certain people who  do internet searches of complex topics find my articles. People aren’t going to search “University of Florida plant geneticist Kevin Folta emails FOIA request.” They’re going to search “GMO scientist emails.” 

Update: Gov. Brown signs California vaccine exemption bill

The California vaccine exemption bill – SB 277, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children to be vaccines prior to attending schools in the state – was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown (D).

The SB 277 vaccine exemption bill was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians. It passed quickly through both houses of the California Legislature.

The law applies to students attending any public or private school in the state, so parents who choose not to vaccinate children for non-medical reasons would need to make other arrangements for their child’s education. Now, only valid medical exemptions, such as known allergies and other medical conditions, approved by a physician, will be allowed an exemption to vaccination.

Governor Brown also reiterated, while signing the bill, that “while requiring that school children be vaccinated, the law explicitly provides an exception when a physician believes that circumstances – in the judgment and sound discretion of the physician – so warrant.”

There is some evidence that the medical exemption has been abused by parents who do not want their children vaccinated with cooperation of like minded physicians. This does worry me, since there are pediatricians who “advertise” their services in signing these forms.

Notwithstanding my concern, this makes California one of the three toughest states for vaccinations, along with Mississippi and West Virginia. And that is good news indeed.

 

Update: SB 277 vaccine bill sent to Gov. Brown

he California SB 277 vaccine bill, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children in schools in the state, has passed it’s last hurdle in the California legislature and has been sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

The SB 277 vaccine bill was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians, and it passed 25-10 after the two senators agreed earlier to compromises aimed at easing its passage.

This makes California one of the three toughest states for vaccinations, along with Mississippi and West Virginia. Now, only valid medical exemptions, such as known allergies and other medical conditions, will be allowed an exemption to vaccination. Continue reading “Update: SB 277 vaccine bill sent to Gov. Brown”

SB 277 vaccine bill sails through California legislature

I’m a little late with this story, for no other reason than I was distracted by all the good news this week–the Supreme Court rulings on the legality of Obamacare and the removal of all state laws that prevent the right of all citizens to marry.

As I’ve written before, the California SB 277 vaccine bill, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children in schools in the state, continues to get overwhelming support from the legislature, and passed through one more step to becoming law.

According to several news reports, Senate Bill 277, which mandates vaccinations for all schoolchildren regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs about vaccines and vaccinations, passed on a 46-to-31 vote in the state Assembly after an hourlong debate. The outcome of the vote was expected.

On Monday, 29 June, there is a Pro-Forma vote in the California Senate (to approve minor language changes in the Assembly version), and there is little doubt that it will pass there.

Once that happens, the bill will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown, who has, for unknown reasons, showed some openness vaccine exemptions. Two years ago he essentially gutted a bad law that made vaccine exemptions a bit harder to obtain by adding this language to his signing bill:

This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations – both the benefits and risks – for an individual child and the community. Whether these are simple “information exchanges” or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate.

I am signing AB 2109 and am directing the Department of Public Health to oversee this policy so parents are not overly burdened by its implementation. Additionally, I will direct the department to allow for a separate religious exemption on the form. In this way, people whose religious beliefs preclude vaccinations will not be required to seek a health care practitioner’s signature.

So, we’ll see if he realizes he’s flying against the wind here, and joining some of the right wing anti-vaccination types.
Continue reading “SB 277 vaccine bill sails through California legislature”

California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill–going strong

The California SB 277 vaccine exemption legislation, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children in schools in the state, continues to get overwhelming support from the legislature, and passed through one more step to becoming law.

According to several news reports, the California Assembly’s Health Committee approved the legislation in committee, by a 12-6 positive vote (with one exemption), late on 9 June 2015. The bill will now be sent to the full Assembly for a final vote, then back to the California Senate for final approval, and if both steps are successful, the bill will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for signing into law. Continue reading “California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill–going strong”

California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill passed by Senate

An important healthcare bill that abolishes “personal belief exemptions” for vaccinations was overwhelmingly approved by the California Senate on May 14 2015.

The measure, SB 277 was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD, who was a target of violent threats by the antivaccine cult because of his support of this healthcare bill, and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians, and it passed 25-10 after the two senators agreed earlier to compromises aimed at easing its passage.

The proposed California SB 277 vaccine exemption law would require children to be vaccinated before entering kindergarten. Medical exemptions are permitted, but exemptions based on personal and religious objections are not. That would make California one of only three states — the others are Mississippi and West Virginia — that doesn’t allow personal or religious exemptions to vaccine laws.

The bill will now go to the California State Assembly, where further hearings will be required. If it passes the Assembly, Governor Jerry Brown would have to sign or veto the new law. At each step, we can expect further

Continue reading “California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill passed by Senate”