Help stop antivax ads in NYC

By Phil Plait | April 13, 2011 7:00 am

I’ve just learned that antivax ads are now running on the Times Square Jumbotron in NYC (ironically, I was just there, right at that intersection, but I was in a cab and missed seeing the ad). These ads are sponsored by Joe Mercola and the National Vaccine Information Center.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned these two fonts of rabid antivaccination nonsense. Mercola is an alt-medder who claims to only want to promote "natural health", which must mean getting pertussis, polio, and measles, because he fights vaccines tooth and nail. He won’t let reality stop him, nor decorum and good taste. He’s another in a long line of alt-med bullies, hoping to shout so loudly they can drown out reality.

The NVIC is just as bad if not worse; they spread dangerous information about vaccines, then sue anyone who tries to call them on their antics.

So it’s a pretty safe bet that any ads sponsored by Mercola and the NVIC are in and of themselves a threat to national health. Matt at Skeptical Teacher has details on the ads and what can be done, while Elyse at Skepchick is spearheading a campaign to stop the ads.

This kind of thing must stop. Now. The antivaxxers are a serious health threat; vaccines save lives, and when vaccinations rates drop, people — including babies — get sick and some die. It’s just that simple.

Pertussis image from Microbiology2009.

MORE ABOUT: antivax, Joe Mercola, NVIC

Comments (76)

  1. davidlpf

    …two fonts of rabid antivaccination…

    I think you mean”two fronts of rabid antivaccination”.

  2. Peptron

    Aren’t there laws against that? I mean… wouldn’t there be something to stop me from making adds claiming that drinking mercury grants immortality as I set shops that sell mercury for people to drink?

  3. Alex

    Petition and protest, now. Set up an international petition and I’ll sign pronto.

  4. And as always, the excellent Todd W. provides us with ammo to go after these anti-vax pro-disease loonies: http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.php

    In my opinion, every time someone dies from a vaccine preventable disease, these anti-vax pro disease nutters should be looked at for prosecution for involuntary manslaughter. But that’s just my opinion.

  5. alfaniner

    …two fonts of rabid antivaccination…

    I think you mean”two fronts of rabid antivaccination”.

    or “founts”? :)

  6. LaurenF

    “two fonts” is entirely appropriate as well as “fronts” or “founts”.

    Phil, thank you for posting this. Signed the petition, posted it to fb, and off to email CBS now.

  7. uptownZombie

    It’s really up to the owners of the devices that display the ads. The best thing you can help to do is inform.

    Just because some people say healthcare reform will create Death Panels doesn’t mean it will. We can’t really stop people from putting up a billboard stating that.

  8. Sean

    Petition signed, and fine with fonts, but I couldn’t help but think… comic sans and dingbat?

  9. BJN

    With television as the mouthpiece for hundreds of worthless snake oil and scam products who make fabulous claims and then denounce them in the fine print (this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease), I can’t see CBS turning away this ad money.

    Besides, the ad itself makes no claims about vaccination whatsoever. Yes, it’s designed to drum up traffic to a site providing bad information, but media companies have always just looked at the substance of the ad, not the end effect. Looking at the NVIC home page, I’m rather stunned to see it prominently featuring its status as a United Way participant.

    The only way to really fight bad information is to be more effective about spreading good information. Frankly, the forces for good are not very good at marketing and communications. http://www.immunize.org/

  10. CameronSS

    I just have to throw this out here… (NSFW language) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-agl0pOQfs

  11. stjobe

    font
    [font]
    –noun
    1. a receptacle, usually of stone, as in a baptistery or church, containing the water used in baptism.
    2. a receptacle for holy water; stoup.
    3. a productive source: The book is a font of useful tips for travelers.
    4. the reservoir for oil in a lamp.
    5. Archaic . a fountain.

  12. gcruse

    Come here for the astronomy, shake head at authoritarian leftist who would shut down the free speech of others.

  13. Calli Arcale

    gcruse — how is it shutting down free speech to encourage people to exercise theirs? Free speech does not mean never having your speech contested.

  14. gcruse

    @calli arcale said “how is it shutting down free speech”

    What part of this don’t you understand?

    ” Elyse at Skepchick is spearheading a campaign to stop the ads.

    This kind of thing must stop. Now. “

  15. Robin Byron

    @gcruse #10 – Oh, but you’re okay with authoritarian dingbats who are a threat to public health?

  16. gcruse

    @Byron – Let the facts prevail. The first amendment isn’t just for protecting popular speech.

  17. Jim

    Keeping someone from lying doesn’t constitute a violation of free speech. And, yes, I’ve heard the argument, “Don’t stop people from lying, just tell people the truth and let them decide,” but that argument’s just silly, frankly.

  18. Jake Featherston

    Still sounds like a reactionary knee-jerk reaction to a series of events that were taken advantage of by a certain group of people.

    If they wish to no longer use vaccines, then it is their problem, is it not? So long as they do not enforce their will upon others, there is no problem.

    It is a shame though, only reason I did not get my flu shot this year is I had an early case of the damned stuff. I would’ve gladly have gotten my shot earlier to gain back a couple days of misery and make them more productive.

  19. Thanks, Phil!

    @gcruse – This is the opposite of shutting down free speech. This is using free speech to send a message.

    Shutting down free speech would be having the government step in and take down the ad for being objectionable, not a civilian protest to get a corporation understand the dangers of this ad and why it shouldn’t be shown.

    Free speech is not “I can say anything I want and you can’t say anything about it in response.”

  20. gcruse

    Jim – I think religion is based on superstitious, manipulative lies. But I don’t think religious speech should be banned, neither did the Founders. The idea of letting people decide for themselves is not only not silly, but its antithesis is, indeed, authoritarian.

  21. This is *how* the facts prevail.

    And the first amendment has literally nothing to do with whether or not the owners of the sign decide to continue letting this air or not, or people telling them to stop. Do you think that boycotts violate the first amendment, too?

    What about blatant lies? If I go on TV and advertise a pill that cures cancer, MS, heart disease, ALS, and autism, but all my pill actually does is cause a slow and lingering death, should the government shut me down? Or should it have to rely on the market?

    Because with a good enough PR department, my pills could murder thousands upon thousands of suckers with no significant drop in sales. But hey, free market, right?

    Do you honestly think that the government shouldn’t step in?

  22. Jake, tell Dana McCaffery’s parents that it’s their problem… There is a Public Health issue at stake here. Herd immunity is a proven mechanism to halt the spread of disease, and the anti-vax pro-disease loons are endangering that. It IS OUR problem as well. Diseases don’t care what your stance is in regards to vaccines, they will kill anyone they infect.

    Just analyzing the anti-vax pro-disease movement shows that people are generally very bad at deciding for themselves.

  23. @jake: it actually does impact others, very seriously. There are many people who cannot get vaccinated for various reasons (or young children who won’t get vaccinated until they are older). These people rely on herd immunity; the fact that everyone around them is vaccinated means they won’t be exposed.

    By choosing to not vaccinate, you are compromising the herd immunity and hurting everyone around you.

    There have been whooping cough, measles and other serious outbreaks like this across the country because people are choosing not to vaccinate.

  24. I wonder… could the CDC or FDA fine them in some way for false statements?

  25. gcruse

    Jacob – Boycotts have little to do with speech. My refusing to listen to you does not shut you up.

  26. gcruse -

    The first amendment has nothing to do with this. It only prevents the government from stamping out most varieties of speech. Since the government has not been involved in this affair, nor is anyone calling for it to step in, the first amendment is absolutely irrelevant to the discussion.

    This is individuals banding together to publicly shame a corporation for displaying advertisements which they perceive to be harmful to public health.

  27. The Panic Man

    gcruse: The first five words of the First Amendment are “CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW…”. If you can’t understand that, then I suggest you go back to high school civics class or shut the hell up.

  28. Unspeakably Violent Jack

    The right to freedom of speech does not extend to the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre – isn’t this a similar situation?

  29. Jim

    gcruse, what Panic Man said, only more politely. Speech – and a petition or boycott aimed at removing these ads would be a speech act – can often performed in an effort to keep someone from speaking – that’s not in violation of the first amendment and is, in fact, part and parcel of what it seeks to enable.

  30. Ethyachk

    @gcruse

    The anti-vaxers got their message publicized. Free speech. The pro-vaxers are asking that the ad be taken down as it is a threat to the public’s health. Free speech. The company running the ads can choose to go with either side. Free speech.

    That’s free speech for everyone. What exactly are you complaining about? Oh right, you’re a concern troll complaining that Phil’s blog isn’t 100% astronomy. Do you actually give one crap about astronomy, or are you actually just here to level unwarranted complaints about the response to that anti-vax add?

  31. Moreover, publicly shaming a corporation for their practices is quite obviously an expression of free speech.

    If you are unable to comprehend this, I strongly urge you to stay out of the voting booth.

  32. gcruse

    Ethyachk – You nailed me right there. I went back and reread the post, expecting to find ads on public conveyances, which is not the case. You are right. As for the rest, I come here for the astronomy, and get distracted by Phil’s ugly leftism, which boiled over on this post. It’s a shame he pollutes this column with politics, but there you go.

  33. Lynxreign

    @33 gcruse

    It is a shame you don’t know what “leftism” is and yet feel the need to yammer in blog comments. Are you one of the ignorant blatherers who thinks vaccines are a bad thing? Do you think accurate medical knowledge is “leftism”? Come on, use your free speech and tell us.

  34. MartinM

    Ethyachk – You nailed me right there. I went back and reread the post, expecting to find ads on public conveyances, which is not the case. You are right. As for the rest, I come here for the astronomy, and get distracted by Phil’s ugly leftism, which boiled over on this post. It’s a shame he pollutes this column with politics, but there you go.

    Wait, what? We’ve successfully established that your original comment was in error; there’s no authoritarianism here, nobody’s free speech is being suppressed…and Phil is still an ugly leftist? If using one’s own free speech in an attempt to convince a private company not to disseminate dangerous misinformation is all it takes to earn that label, guess I’m an ugly leftist too, as are most sane, well-informed non-sociopaths.

  35. uudale

    @gcruse:

    How is this article about being against the anti-vax movement in any way leftist or political? Although Phil appears to lean left when he discusses politics, I don’t see anything leftist or political about this particular topic.

  36. gcruse

    uudale – Sorry. I meant to say that my dislike of Phil’s leftism boiled over on this post because I misread it as attempting to suppress the free speech of those he opposes. Anti-vax is a mis-informed, dangerous movement. Phil has plenty of other posts I could have weighed in on, and in retrospect, should have. Maybe next time I will. Right of center ideology seems to need more representation here.

  37. davidlpf

    Fonts could be used here as well just never really seen used that way before.

  38. Ethyachk

    @gcruse

    I was right? On the Internet? Is that even possible? Anyway, it was big of you to admit that, so thanks.

    Now we just have to convince you that Phil’s blog having 95% astronomy and 5% other is OK and we can all agree and go get some beers!

  39. mike burkhart

    I think we should buy billbord space refuting the anti-vaxers and touting the benefits of vacanation, Phil has allredy stated the right view on the issure on this blog. Oh when the right decides to accept science insted of trying destroying it maybe they will get repesented more hear. I’m glad I’M a Moderate .

  40. Lynxreign

    @37 gcruse

    “Right of center” ideology gets enough airtime as it is. Perhaps if it is ever correct about anything it could use some more representation. As it is, it is simply a collection of ignorance and hate promulgated by fools and cowards. If you really feel the need for some idiocy I’m sure you can find a tea party over at worldnutdaily or many other reality-challenged sites. Why come here and foist your idiocy on us?

  41. gcruse:

    Phil’s own words: “This may sound crass, but it’s true: it’s my blog, and I’ll write what I want to. If you don’t like it, there are lots of other sites about astronomy on the web. Spare me the lectures, the drama, and the grandstanding in the comments.”

    Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/07/15/politics-science-me-and-thee/

  42. @ gcruse:

    Boycotts are used to pressure large companies or groups of companies into doing something differently. They have the same goal as petitions, writing the CEO, or calling the company to tell them to stop an action. Saying “this must stop” about antivax is no different than a group of people saying, “this must stop” about unethical situations at sweatshops. We call, we petition, and potentially we boycott, all to convince the corporation to either *start* or *stop* something. This time we want CBS Outdoors (or whoever controls that big sign) to stop airing ads.

    But you did ignore the second half of my comment completely. Should the government intervene if someone is selling poison on TV, claiming it cures cancer? If so, then why is stopping antivax so different? If not, then at what point *should* the government intervene when someone is causing harm to others?

  43. gcruse wrote:

    … Phil’s ugly leftism, which boiled over on this post.

    Care to explain how calling anti-vax nutters out on their nuttiness is “ugly leftism”?

  44. Free speech has limitations. If you run a round yelling “I’m going to kill ____!” then it’s only a matter of time before you’re arrested and questioned. You were free to make the statement but was it good judgement? Antivax people aren’t directly threatening our lives with weapons but their actions serve to misinform and harm us in the long run.

    These people might be on the fence of just plain might not know and they see these garbage ads and take it as fact. In turn they might choose against vaccination. In turn that puts their child at risk and it puts other children at risk. Some children inevitably die and all because of an ad.

    I really hope it doesn’t come down to it but at some point we liable to end up with a large number of angry, grieving parents. Angry that they were, in fact, misinformed. We can try to head that off now if we work to stop the demonization of vaccines.

    They save lives. It’s a fact.

  45. Joshua

    Hey all,

    I got so angry about this idiocy that I went to my doctor to make sure my vaccines were up to date. Turns out, since last I checked, a few more vaccines are available! I immediately got stuck and have started my part to contribute to the eventual elimination of Hep-A! Hooray!

    One thing you can do is encourage everyone you know to check with their health care provider to see if (s)he is up-to-date with all the vaccines. Tell your family! Tell your friends! Remember, adults need vaccines too (for example, a tetanus shot every 10 years).

  46. @ Joshua:

    ZOMG GET AWAY FROM ME! AUTISM IS CONTAGIOUS!

  47. Regner Trampedach

    As Colbert famously quipped: “Reality has a left wing bias”.
    Anyway – it is rather interesting to me that scientific facts can be a political issue.
    And that they are so much more so here, in the most exceptional country (the US) ever on Earth, compared to other (ho-hum) members of the so-called “western civilization”. Just saying…
    – Regner

  48. VinceRN

    Talking sense, publicizing what idiots these antivax types are, educating people, convincing the owners of the billboard thing to remove the ad, these are all good things, totally consistant with free speech. Asking the government to stop them would be wrong, that would be a violation of free speech. The first ammendment was meant to protect unpopular, offensive and stupid speech.

    Educate people, show them the math, and hope for the best is all we can do about this.

    @Solidus – While you are correct that Phil, like most Academics, seems pretty far left, this has nothing to do with let or right. There are antivax whackos at both ends of the political spectrum. Phil is not calling for government intervention, he’s calling for educating the public, he’s calling for a petition, he’s calling for using free market forces to convince a private company to remove an ad placed by another private company. Everything here is consistant with my own libertarian views. This post isn’t leftist at all.

  49. Daffy

    gcruse, your associating anti-free speech with left leaning thought seems odd in light of the Patriot Act. I mean, I know people like you will excuse ANYTHING a Republican does—up to and including lying and dismantling the Constitution, but—well, actually there is no but. That’s what you people do.

  50. ND

    gcruse,

    Is there non-ugly leftism, or is all of leftism ugly? What is your definition of leftism?

  51. VinceRN

    @Jacob – You ask at what point the state should intervene. It’s well established where that point lies. It’s called the Brandenberg test.

  52. Missy

    @jtradke LOL I was thinking of digging up one of those quotes too! This is the same issue I have with people getting pissy because they don’t like something someone has on THEIR media. This is PHIL’S blog and he has the right to post what ever he wants, astronomical or not. Don’t like it? Stop following it!

  53. JimB

    @VinceRN – It’s called the Brandenberg test.

    I didn’t know what that was, so looked it up. I love learning stuff from random blog comments. :)

    Thanks VinceRN.

  54. Gunnar

    Why should anyone have a problem with Phil Plait warning about dangerous misinformation spread by idiots or charlatans like anti-vaxxers? I thoroughly agree that what he is recommending we do about it has nothing to do with violation of first amendment rights.

    @Regner Trampedach: Thanks for that quip by Colbert: “Reality has a left wing bias”.
    I never heard anyone say that before, but the more I think about it, the more I think that is correct. It is becoming more and more obvious to me that to many, perhaps most conservatives, merely giving more credence to hard scientific evidence and sound reason than to subjective, religious faith is unacceptable, left wing bias. At the same time, though, as has been pointed out, some extreme left-wingers can be every bit as irrational and anti-scientific as the most reactionary, right-wing religious fundamentalists. Some of the former seem to be firmly in the anti-vax camp.

    In the documentary “The Atheist Tapes” the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Steven Weinberg, recounted a story about a devoutly Muslim physicist colleague (now deceased) who lamented the reluctance of Muslim learning institutions to fully embrace science in their curricula, though they loved to take advantage of the technological products of science. Their reluctance was due to their fear that openly teaching science and its methods of discerning and testing for truth would tend to be corrosive to religious faith. Unlike his Muslim colleague, Weinberg agreed that it would indeed be corrosive to religious faith, and that that would be a good thing!

  55. Nigel Depledge

    gcruse (17) said:

    @Byron – Let the facts prevail. The first amendment isn’t just for protecting popular speech.

    This is true, but naively unaware of realpolitik.

    What is your opinion on censorship of media such as TV and movies in the USA?

    Right up until the late ’60s, TV, movies, newspapers and books were either self-censoring (something that some of these media still do to avoid public outcry) or were subject to active censorship, despite the fact that no-one (no, not even the Supreme Court) ever defined what the word “obscene” actually meant.

    Would you agree that it is OK to censor a medium to avoid offending people on the grounds of obscenity or the portrayal of religious beliefs?

    If not, why not, and to whom have you protested about the continuance of censorship in the USA?

    If so, why is that acceptable but it is not acceptable to censor on the grounds of factual accuracy?

  56. Nigel Depledge

    Jake Featherston (19) said:

    If they wish to no longer use vaccines, then it is their problem, is it not? So long as they do not enforce their will upon others, there is no problem.

    Except it is not only their problem.

    Vaccines are not 100% effective. Some people cannot receive certain vaccines for medical reasons (such as allergies).

    People who choose not to get vcaccinated (or, more commonly, choose not to vaccinate their kids) are creating a potential pool of infection. The fact that such a pool exists can impact on other people, unless you quarantine the unvaccinated.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Gcruse (21) said:

    Jim – I think religion is based on superstitious, manipulative lies. But I don’t think religious speech should be banned, neither did the Founders.

    Actually, the Founders did want to ban all religions except their own. Somehow, after the 13 colonies rebelled and independence was declared, the mood had changed enough that religious freedom was written into the first amendment.

    The idea of letting people decide for themselves is not only not silly, but its antithesis is, indeed, authoritarian.

    Letting educated, informed people decide for themsleves is indeed not silly.

    Most USA citizens these days do not have the educational background to understand the issue to the level at which they can make their own decision. They perforce must choose in what the media represent as a “he said, she said” situation.

    In reality, the lies spread by the antivax movement have a genuine impact on public health. An extreme example comes from Nigeria, where, several years ago, antivax campaigners actually prevented the worldwide eradication of polio. IIUC, the WHO is trying again, but it now has to tackle polio in about half-a-dozen countries (that had been polio free before it spread again from Nigeria) instead of only backwoods Nigeria.

    By way of analogy, do you consider it reasonable to prohibit the publication of information that harms a person’s reputation? What about the publication of information that compromises national security? IIUC, these are both prohibited in the USA.

    Freedom of speech is a good thing, but it is never absolute. Your comments look like an ignorant attempt to polarise the issue.

  58. VinceRN

    @Nigel – Quarantine the unvaccinated? No need to do that to protect the vaccinated, most of whom are in fact vaccinated and so are already protected. It would serve only to concentrate the potential pool of infected together, making the spread of infection more likely in that population. Perhaps are you suggesting a sneaky atttemt at eugenics?

    In the western world unvaccinated people are no risk at all to the population at large, and the extreme rarity in the west of these diseases makes them only a very small risk to themselves and their children. So long as the overwhelming majority of us are vaccinated these folks are just stupid and annoying, not really dangerous.

    Authoratarian measures like you suggest would create more antivax believers and make the problem worse. We should strive to educate, to minimize the number of people that fall into this trap, but we should accept that some people will, just as some will believe in astrology, homeopathy, ghosts, little green (or grey) men, and unknown large primates in the forest’s of Washington.

  59. VinceRN

    If reality had a left wing bias then a man alone on a desert could expect reality to come solve his problems for him. Instead, if he wants to survive, he better start doing stuff for himself, finding water, food and way out for himself. If he depends on reality to help him he’ll die quickly.

    Reality is Darwinian, and quite brutal. Reality is liberatarian.

  60. Nigel Depledge

    Ethyachk (39) said:

    Now we just have to convince you that Phil’s blog having 95% astronomy and 5% other is OK and we can all agree and go get some beers!

    Actually, it’s completely up to Phil what he posts and how. Recently, it seems to have been 95% astronomy, but he has had phases of being about 50% astronomy and 50% non-astronomy topics. And that’s OK too.

    As long as Phil is fighting for critical thinking and for science, that’s fine by me.

    And – yay, beers!

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (59) said:

    Quarantine the unvaccinated? No need to do that to protect the vaccinated, most of whom are in fact vaccinated and so are already protected.

    But vaccination is not 100% effective, so the vaccinated are only fully protected when enough people are vaccinated that herd immunity effects kick in.

    Plus, also, those who cannot receive a vaccine for medical reasons need herd immunity in order to be protected.

    The increasing number of people who choose not to vaccinate their kids are creating a breeding ground for many preventable diseases. It is this pool of people I suggested quarantining. And I was not wholly serious, just pointing out the foolishness of their choice.

    It would serve only to concentrate the potential pool of infected together, making the spread of infection more likely in that population. Perhaps are you suggesting a sneaky atttemt at eugenics?

    Yes, you found me out. Let’s round up all the by-choice non-vaccinators and put them out of our misery.

    [And, for the hard of thinking - j/k]

    In the western world unvaccinated people are no risk at all to the population at large,

    They are if there are enough of them to break down herd immunity. Partly because some folks cannot receive particular vaccines for medical reasons, and partly because vaccines are not 100% efective.

    and the extreme rarity in the west of these diseases makes them only a very small risk to themselves and their children.

    And the whole antivax movement seems to be causing diseases like pertussis to make a comeback. These diseases are not as rare as they were 10 or 15 years ago.

    So long as the overwhelming majority of us are vaccinated these folks are just stupid and annoying, not really dangerous.

    True, but the antivax campaigners are scaring people away from getting their kids vaccinated. This is actually happening.

    Authoratarian measures like you suggest would create more antivax believers and make the problem worse.

    And yet I feel very strongly that schools should have the option to turn away shildren who are unvaccinated without a good medical reason.

    We should strive to educate, to minimize the number of people that fall into this trap, but we should accept that some people will, just as some will believe in astrology, homeopathy, ghosts, little green (or grey) men, and unknown large primates in the forest’s of Washington.

    Yes, and this too. But some people refuse to be educated. (Come to think of it, this proportion seems to have increased over the last 20 – 30 years as well).

  62. Gunnar

    @Nigel, “Yes, and this too. But some people refuse to be educated. (Come to think of it, this proportion seems to have increased over the last 20 – 30 years as well).”

    Yes, I have noticed that too. It is a very scary trend! What do you suppose is the cause of that? Why does willful ignorance seem to be regarded as a virtue by a growing proportion of our population?

  63. Pac

    @63 Because it is ultimatly making people money.

  64. JentheGeek

    60. VinceRN Says:
    “If reality had a left wing bias then a man alone on a desert could expect reality to come solve his problems for him. Instead, if he wants to survive, he better start doing stuff for himself, finding water, food and way out for himself. If he depends on reality to help him he’ll die quickly.
    Reality is Darwinian, and quite brutal. Reality is liberatarian.”

    If myself and a highly trained search and rescue team crash on a desert island I’d be a fool not to give way to the greater knowledge and experience of those around me. Sure I could go off on my own and try to find everything myself, but I’d be smarter to take orders from the team and do what I can to assist them.

    Reality is never that one sided, but we all have things we’re better at. I don’t pretend to be able to be able to run my own medical studies, so I trust that, as a community, scientists will give me the information needed to make an informed opinion.

    Being a “leftist” has nothing to do with waiting for the answers to come to you, but having more faith in your fellow man then you seem to have. You’ll always have people abusing the system, no matter what that system is, but we are better off working together. As you pointed out, reality is Darwinist. If having a complex social structure was not advantageous, by your logic, we would not have one.

  65. fred edison

    Dr. Oz had Mercola on his show a short while back. I used to respect Oz, he seemed like a cool and helpful guy, but I’m thinking that with Oprah’s powerful influence (she listens to Jenny McCarthy’s pseudo-expert advice) it must have him coming down with a permanent case of woo-too fever.

  66. Gunnar

    #64
    I can’t help but conclude that your explanation is probably the most likely one. It saddens me that there are some wealthy, influential S.O.Bs who profit from current ways of doing things and apparently don’t care how disastrous will be the consequences to future generations, as long as they are safely dead and in their graves when worst happens.

  67. flip

    #63 Gunnar

    Why does willful ignorance seem to be regarded as a virtue by a growing proportion of our population?

    Because people don’t actually think they’re ignorant about things. Take anti-vaxxers: the majority are educated people. Likely those people are educated enough to think to ‘research’ things before deciding. And when that research points them to anti-vax stuff, and they don’t know anything about the subject already, then they’ll think “oh, I didn’t know this” and stop there, not bothering to double check their facts. Other people who they meet in forums and whatever reinforce this new ‘knowledge’. And they consider themselves well read and educated on the subject because they took the time to look it up.

    I don’t think most of it is willful, simply not knowing the difference between good websites and bad. Hence Jenny McCarthy and her Google University degree.

    Honestly, it does take a certain skill to figure out the good websites from the bad ones when you don’t even know anything about the subject. Pretty web designs and clear writing do more for professionalism than proper facts ever will.

    As for the money making aspect: the money makers wouldn’t earn anything if they didn’t have a willing and uninformed audience. The best thing we can do is interrupt the path between audience and profiteer. Exactly what this post is about!

  68. Pac

    @67

    When in doubt follow the money. Examples to follow.

    Bristol Palin continues to stand up for abstience only education despite admitting its failings. Why? She made a salary from a group that promotes this view to the tune of about $250,000. That is roughly seven times what the group gave last year to various clinics in charitable donations by the by.

    Wakerfield falsified lab documentation and a research paper, scaring parents around the globe and damaging children for generations to come. Why? He had a very lucrative amount of money coming to him from a law firm that wanted to find a link between autism and vaccines.

    I could go on and on with examples of this theory but I just ate lunch and feel sick just from the two I listed.

  69. @ ^ Pac :

    “Bristol Palin continues to stand up for abstience only education despite admitting its failings. Why?”

    Well, because that worked so well for her didn’t it? Oh wait .. ;-)

  70. tom

    Both sides of the argument are wrong and correct. So just put your faith and Trust in Thor and everything will work out fine.

  71. WigglyFace

    I find it hilarious that gcruse’s responses are all “Sorry what I meant to say was…..” Trolling? or just stupid?

  72. maurinemeleck

    If only I were in NYC now-great ad, great idea. Congratulations to Barbara at NVIC and Dr. Mercola for this brilliant idea. The autism community is so grateful to these 2 people for all their hard work toward getting people to educate themselves and make their own decisions
    regarding vaccinations. No more mandated vaccines. We need vaccination choice and parental consent.

  73. Drew M.

    @72 WigglyFace:

    Actually, I’d call it “intellectual honesty.” Something that far too many blog commenters know nothing about. His last two posts basically said, “mea culpa.”

    ETA: I understand gcruse’s standpoint. I love Phil Plait’s astronomy posts and writing style, but I seldom read his political stuff even though I agree with it. That is only because I read pretty much the same things in other blogs I follow. However, I’m glad he speaks out about this garbage because really, it needs to be said.

  74. Jared K.

    Dr. Joseph Mercola has been pushing a variety of scare stories not based on science for years, even though simple statistics prove him wrong most of the time. Once in a while he posts good material on his site, but unless one has a solid grounding in chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, biology, botany and medicine, it is difficult or impossible to separate the truth from the dross. Because of his indiscriminate approach to spreading information and disinformation, on the whole he performs a public disservice.

  75. barca

    I cannot believe what u r all saying here! Are you really that stupid and dont care enough to read the package inserts of vaccine????? Its own manufacturer says the vaccines can cause GBS, Seizurs etc…far worse ..JUST READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dont judge someone when u actually have no idea what r u talking about! And I would love to see what would you say to my friend Whoose baby girl almost dies right after the vaccination and it happened in the dovotrs office!!! What would you say to those parents? And those who actually got paid because their kids got vaccvine injury and now are totally disabled??? Just get the facts u people!!!!!!!!

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