Vaxxed misinformation – legal remedies for those harmed?

vaxxed misinformation

The documentary Vaxxed uses misrepresentation to scare people from vaccinating and protecting their kids from disease. For example, it strongly suggests that MMR causes autism, and doesn’t mention that studies from all around the world show otherwise. Scientific research solidly refutes any link between vaccines and autism. I think it is time to examine if there are any legal remedies for those harmed by Vaxxed misinformation.

The documentary claims that there is a conspiracy by the CDC to hide the link between MMR and autism, even though the documents supposed to support that conspiracy do not support such accusations. In spite of the fact that even if the CDC wanted to hide such a link, it couldn’t control studies done in other countries looking at the issue (and finding no link). It makes untrue statements about vaccine testing, like falsely claiming that vaccines are not tested in combination.

In addition, in several cities, the Vaxxed team – discredited scientist Andrew Wakefield, his collaborator Polly Tommey, and producer Del Bigtree, and occasionally others – followed certain screenings with a question and answer session. In those sessions they made false claims that could mislead parents away from protecting their children by vaccinating.

The Vaxxed team claimed that preventable diseases were not prevented by vaccines. Among other things they claimed that vaccines were both ineffective and unsafe, ignoring abundant research showing the opposite: modern vaccines are extremely safe and effective.

Del Bigtree falsely described the hepatitis B vaccine – that protects against a virus that can cause liver disease and cancer – as “injecting a sexually transmitted disease”, potentially scaring parents off protecting their children against this dangerous infection. Finally, the Vaxxed team warned listeners against seeing pediatricians, because they can’t be trusted (see here and here for more of their misrepresentations and misinformation).

If a viewer watches Vaxxed and listens to the team’s advice, decides not to vaccinate based on this misleading information, and their child gets a preventable disease and is harmed by it, can they sue for money damages in torts?

What if their unvaccinated child infected a third party who was harmed?  Continue reading “Vaxxed misinformation – legal remedies for those harmed?”

Index of articles by Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Editor’s note – this index of articles by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has been updated and published here. The comments here are closed, and you can comment at the new article. 

 

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. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

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 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.

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. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.

Continue reading “Index of articles by Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”

Rachael Ross gets Vaxxed – that’s never good for a real doctor

Rachael Ross gets Vaxxed

Recently,  Dr. Rachael Ross, who gained fame when she was on the medical talk show, The Doctors has written a letter that suggests she now subscribes to a large number of anti-vaccine tropes. While there really isn’t anything new in the letter – the claims in it are far from original, and have been repeatedly shown untrue – as a doctor, her words carry weight. So Rachael Ross gets Vaxxed – it’s worth responding to her.

I don’t know what drove Dr. Ross to promote anti-vaccine misinformation. It may have been misplaced trust, believing in Del Bigtree, Vaxxed producer, who has been promoting quite a bit of misinformation recently, some of it incredibly harmful. She may have already been susceptible. Maybe all of the above. It doesn’t matter.

She chose to speak up, and whatever her intent, the result is that she provided ammunition to anti-vaccine activists and anti-vaccine parents that can be used to sway others away from protecting children from disease. Dr. Ross includes in her letter the mantra of “do no harm.” But a letter promoting this kind of misinformation – by a doctor, with the authority the profession confers – is very likely to do harm. It’s unfair to the children denied vaccines because of it.  Continue reading “Rachael Ross gets Vaxxed – that’s never good for a real doctor”

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”

Vaxxed – a guide to Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent film

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”

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”

The Trump Wakefield anti-vaccine bromance – yes, it’s a thing

trump wakefield vaccines autism

Two of the most disreputable public personas today are Andrew Wakefield, fraudulent anti-vaccine “scientist” and liar, and Donald J Trump, fraudulent anti-vaccine presidential candidate and liar. The Trump Wakefield bromance developed over their mutual belief that vaccines cause autism. In case you’re wandering to this blog from another planet, there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines are related to autism.

If you follow this, or honestly any skeptic’s, website, you’d know that Andrew Wakefield is one of the greatest conmen in medicine and science. And to be honest, that’s a tough list. His delusion that vaccines are related to autism has lead to actual harm to children throughout the world, as parents listen to his junk medicine and refuse to protect their children from vaccine preventable diseases.

Of course, most rational people understand Donald Trump’s misogyny, racism, and alt-right beliefs. I’ll let political writers elsewhere continue to point that out leading up to the election. For me, there are so many reasons to dislike Trump, with his anti-vaccine ignorance being near the top.

Lovely, aren’t they? Many skeptics have pointed out Trump’s dishonesty for years. The mysterious Orac has been pointing out Trump’s ignorance on vaccines for years.

Let’s take a look at the budding Trump Wakefield bromance. I promise, it will make you ill.

Continue reading “The Trump Wakefield anti-vaccine bromance – yes, it’s a thing”

Del Bigtree compares anti-vaccine cult to Founding Fathers

Del Bigtree

Vaxxed promoter and producer Del Bigtree has decided to take his ignorant anti-vaccine beliefs to whole new level – he compares himself and the anti-vaccine movement to America’s Founding Fathers‘ fighting against the tyranny of the British. You read that right. Del Bigtree thinks he’s a modern day Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. And he’s leading the charge against the tyranny of mandatory vaccinations.

I know, many of you are laughing so hard, it may not be possible to read the rest of the article. Don’t worry, it’ll be here after you catch your breath.

I was thinking maybe Bigtree has watched Hamilton too many times.

Now, part of the reason Bigtree conflates the anti-vaccine movement with the Founding Fathers is that many of these activists are Donald Trump type Republicans. He’s pandering to the anti-government and anti-science beliefs of these people. To be fair, a lot of the anti-vaccine gang are crunchy liberals, but they have their own special type of arrogance about science.

If Del Bigtree is going to compare himself to Adams or Jefferson, then let’s see how that works out. Warning – snark infested verbiage ahead.

Continue reading “Del Bigtree compares anti-vaccine cult to Founding Fathers”

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift – support the Skeptical Raptor

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift

Yesterday, 3rd of September, was birthday of one of the most vile frauds known to this planet. Using a term we just learned, benevolent trolling, we’re asking the loyal readers of the Skeptical Raptor to consider giving an Andrew Wakefield birthday gift to the snarky dinosaur so that he might enhance this website to make it even more snarkalicious.

This website has made it one of its missions to constantly attack the vain ignorance of Wakefield and his sycophants. Consider this – if you Google “Andrew Wakefield fraud,” the number two Google hit is yours truly.

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift

Actually, we were surprised by that. And we are very proud that our regular features discussing Wakefield, his lame fraudumentary, Vaxxed, and many other aspects of this cunning fraud, are so popular on the internet.

But to keep this website going, especially in light of the millions of page views we get each month, please take a moment and contribute whatever you can to keep this place running. We’re getting pretty close to the goal of $1500, which will help upgrade the server, coding and landing page.

In fact, we’ have already become the upgrade process for the server, and the transition will continue over the next week or two. Issues with 404 errors have nearly dropped to 0, since implementing the changes. We do have much more to do.

Give to the Andrew Wakefield birthday gift fund. What is that you ask? It is the promise that the feathery dinosaur will continue to troll the fraudmeister as many times as we can. In fact, sometime next week, we’re going to have an “Andrew Wakefield, cunning fraud” page that will contain all of the myth busting that has been written here about Wakefield.

One more thing – the Skeptical Raptor just growled into my ear that he’s a little ticked off that he’s number two on the Google hit parade for Andrew Wakefield. Number 2 is actually pretty damn fine.

But please help out if you can. We’re almost there. Just click on the links below, and you can donate to the site. Thanks everyone!