I've written on multiple occasions of what I like to refer to as "antivaccine dog whistles." In politics, the term "dog whistle" refers to things politicians can say to certain groups, usually groups with odious views, that they are with them without actually echoing the views for which the group at which the dog whistle is aimed. The intended target audience gets the message, while those not familiar with the issues either don't get the message or see what is being said as something unobjectionable, even admirable. Think "states' rights" versus civil rights, for example.
It turns out that antivaccinationists have their own dog whistles. Used most prominently recently by the antivaccine pediatrician "Dr. Bob" Sears and by candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination Rand Paul, antivaccine dog whistles generally involve appeals to "health freedom," the "freedom" not to be injected with medicines, and, of course, "parents' rights." Unfortunately, in practice, what antivaccinationists mean is that parental rights trump the child's right to receive the recommended standard of science-based medical care with respect to preventative care. Indeed, Rand Paul even went so far as to answer a question about this issue by saying, "The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."
Except for those children, who apparently are the parents' property, it would appear.
Of course, in fairness, many politicians who use these dog whistles probably don't realize exactly just what they're appealing to (I'm talking to you, Chris Christie), but unless they're completely dense they do realize that they're appealing to a constituency that believes vaccines are harmful. Be that as it may, With SB 277, a bill that would, if passed into law, eliminate nonmedical exemptions in California, being the subject of intense opposition by the antivaccine movement, not surprisingly the antivaccine dog whistles are blowing fast and furious, so much so that I almost wish I couldn't hear them as well as I do now ever since I first noticed them. But hear them I do. I hear them in appeals to "freedom." I hear them in similes and metaphors that liken "forced vaccination" to the Holocaust, although Holocaust analogies bring the whistle into the hearing range of everyone else. The appeal to freedom is a potent message that has succeeded in squashing efforts to make nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates hard to get.
Unfortunately, such dog whistling has arrived right in my very own backyard, thanks to one State Senator Patrick Colbeck. Yesterday, as I idly perused Facebook while eating lunch in my office, I noticed this on Facebook:
Last week, I met with a group of concerned and well-informed parents from my district on the subject of mandatory...
Posted by Senator Patrick Colbeck on Monday, April 27, 2015
Here is a screenshot, in case the post disappears down the old memory hole:
Yes, that is a state senator promising to appear at a screening of an antivaccine "documentary" Trace Amounts that's being heavily promoted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and features a who's who of the mercury wing of the antivaccine movement. Yes, that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the man whose completely unhinged conspiracy theories provided my gateway into skepticism and science with respect to critically examining antivaccine claims nearly a decade ago and who just last Friday appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher to promote the movie using the same old antivaccine tropes designed to spread fear of vaccines through fear of mercury that he's been using ever since I first started blogging. Those "well-informed" parents from his district are anything but well-informed. They are, as I've described so many times before, misinformed.
Now, I can understand a politician meeting with groups of constituents to hear their concerns. That's part of his job. He should do that. But Colbeck has gone beyond that. Not only has he met with these antivaccine parents, but he clearly either hasn't bothered to examine the science or had had antivaccine proclivities himself—or perhaps a little of both. He's gone beyond hearing concerns and into advocacy. Worse, he's asking people to join him at a screening of Trace Amounts because "the responsible exercise of freedom depends upon an informed citizenry." What he's too clueless to understand is that anything about vaccines produced by RFK, Jr. will do anything but inform. It will misinform, as I've explained more times than I can remember. I haven't seen the film yet, obviously, but if it's anything like what's in RFK, Jr.'s book Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: Mercury Toxicity in Vaccines and the Political, Regulatory, and Media Failures That Continue to Threaten Public Health, I know it's going to be chock full of the same antivaccine misinformation that RFK, Jr. began promoting in earnest a decade ago and continues to promote through his book, reaching out to critics ineffectively, and now his movie. Indeed, given RFK, Jr.'s appearance on Real Time, and what I've read about the documentary, I know that it features the same ad hominem attacks on Paul Offit plus the infamously silly CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory. Moroever, his penchant for Holocaust analogies about vaccines and autism is nothing new.
I actually have to wonder if Sen. Colbeck knows that Trace Amounts is tightly associated with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I say that because Colbeck was first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, and he is very much of the Tea Party wing of the state Republican Party. Indeed, he loves to castigate "Obamacare," which he keeps characterizing as being about "control, not care" and was one of the most vigorous opponents of the state Medicaid expansion, almost succeeding in blocking it. His preferred "alternative" to the Medicaid expansion (and to Obamacare) consists of what are in essence concierge medical plans supplemented with high deductible health insurance, seemingly believing that the magic of the free market will lower costs. I've tried to educate him about why his assumptions are painfully simplistic, how the free market often provides perverse incentives in medicine that increase costs, and how one of the "success stories" he used to tout, a surgical center that undercuts the competition on costs, actually produces for itself a similarly perverse incentive to do unnecessary operations and provide unnecessary care in order to "make it up in volume." (Doctors like to think themselves immune to such influences, but we are not. We're very good at deluding ourselves that financial considerations play no role in our patient decisions.) The only reason I've related these things is because, knowing his far right, Tea Party-associated politics, it would amuse me to see Colbeck cite any material so strongly endorsed by RFK, Jr. for anything, except for the fact that in doing so now he is pushing RFK, Jr.'s brand of antivaccine misinformation, which Trace Amounts echoes in spades.
I also relate this history because it is easy to see how Colbeck would be very susceptible to conflating requiring vaccines to attend school with, apparently, jack-booted thugs coming to enforce "forced vaccination." You'd hope that a state legislator would know the difference, but apparently Colbeck doesn't. Either that, or he knows the difference but chooses to conflate the two. In any case, there is a big difference between forcing children to be vaccinated (i.e., true forced vaccination, wherein there are criminal penalties for not vaccinating) versus reasonable requirements that children be vaccinated before they can attend institutions (like school or day care centers) where large number of children will spend several hours a day in close proximity, thus creating what I like to refer to as veritable germ factories.
It's also very easy to see how he would be particularly susceptible to "health freedom" arguments, not realizing that all "health freedom" really means is the "freedom" of quacks to ply their wares without pesky regulatory interferences. It's the "freedom" of believers in quackery like antivaccine beliefs to exempt themselves from reasonable societal obligations. It's the "freedom" not to be science-based in medical matters. Meanwhile, nowhere is there any evidence that Colbeck has bothered to consult...oh, you know...actual pediatricians and scientists who know something about vaccines. Apparently he's too busy palling around with physician-entrepreneurs offering the sort of concierge medical services that he envisions as the future of American health care.
I also couldn't help but note that Colbeck also was featured as having answered yes to these three questions by Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines:
- I support an individual's/parent's right to make vaccine decisions for themselves and their children.
- I support an individual's/parent's right to informed consent. I would require legislation be passed before forcing parents to view any presentations by the Michigan Department of Community Health or local health departments. The presentations shall be accurate; complete; objective and non-judgmental; and geographically considerate.
- I would support independent basic scientific research on the link between vaccination end chronic disease."
Notice how these are phrased so that, if you take the phrasing at face value, you don't have to be antivaccine to sign any of these, with the possible exception of #3. In any case, We've met MOMV before. They basically have opposed any attempts to make personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates harder to obtain or to require true informed consent instead of misinformed consent before they are granted. The above statements are all seemingly reasonable statements on the surface, but if you know the code you will recognize three antivaccine dog whistles: parental rights, "informed consent" (actually misinformed consent when mentioned by antivaccinationists), and a call for "independent" (code for: having nothing to do with the hated CDC) research.
Why am I not surprised that Colbeck answered yes to all these questions?
Unfortunately, the comments after Colbeck's post are, as of this writing, nearly universally positive, along the lines of:
- "Thank you Senator Colbeck for taking the concerns of your constituents seriously and addressing this very serious issue."
- "Thank you for taking time to hear the less publicized side of the story!!! We need more people in Government like you, sir! God bless you!"
- "Thank you for for protecting the rights of individuals and medical freedom in Michigan!"
One negative comment criticizing Colbeck for his stand resulted in at least one antivaccine trope like, "What's the concern if vaccines work, then an unvaccinated child is no threat to a vaccinated child correct?" Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! No vaccine is 100% effective, and then of course there are always those too young to be vaccinated. It's all of a piece with the the "screw you" attitude of antivaccinationists to any other than their own children, which they justify to themselves by deluding themselves into thinking that their decision not to vaccinate has no consequences to any other than their children, that their children pose no threat to other children, even though they do.
Given that Colbeck knows me and does not like me, I can only hope that there will be people in the State of Michigan who recognize how far down the rabbit hole Senator Colbeck's gone. I notice that there are as yet only 16 reservations, with 69 more needed for the reservation quota to show Trace Amounts at the theater being booked. In light of the past lack of success of antivaccinationists in getting enough people to sign up to book a theater, maybe this won't be happening. At least now we know where Senator Colbeck stands on the issue of childhood vaccines, and he does not stand on the side of science.
In the meantime, I know that, if any reasonable bill comes before the legislature to tighten up or eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, Senator Colbeck will likely oppose it, because freedom.
- Log in to post comments
I'm still stumbling over this. I'd require legislation before requiring anyone to do anything since legislation is the only legal basis for requiring it. This statement seems poorly drafted by MOMV.
I would support independent basic scientific research on the link between vaccination end chronic disease.
If we lived in a world with ample research funding, that would be a reasonable request. And I would have a pony, too. In the actual world, the studies which have been performed have been (1) underpowered, (2) fraudulent, or (3) obtained null results. So I can understand why peer review panels would give such research a low priority, as they should until and unless there is evidence indicating the possibility of such a link. I'll further note the irony of a Tea Party legislature urging this research, when his party has been doing what it can to make research resources scarce.
I don't understand why we don't seem to have any politicians here in the UK like senator Colbeck mentioning anything about vaccinations. We are coming up to a general election as well.
I mean Andrew Wakefield was British and did his research here. We also have Prince Charles and a few kooky Health ministers. But Zilch!
Wait, you actually want politicians like this, I'd be more than happy to send you a few.
Thanks but no thanks.
Just interested how the Zeitgeist is different.
I suppose there's also regulation by an executive or judicial agency, but that would have its ultimate authority in legislation as well.
Ah, but that's different.
Then, it was about wisely allotting limited resources and stopping the gravy train.
Now, it's about addressing a very important public issue.
Politicians were often weather wanes in a previous life.
What MOMV is referring to is the recent decision of the Michigan Department of Community Health to make personal belief exemptions harder to obtain. The new rule took effect on January 1; so during last year's election it was a big deal to antivaxers.
Basically, the rules were changed to be very much like California's AB 2109, which requires parents seeking personal belief or religious exemptions to see a health care provider for informed consent and have that form signed. As this was an administrative rule change allowed for by the law, it wasn't problematic from a legal standpoint, but what MOMV is referring to is requiring an explicit law to do this.
Because that's a good use of legislative time and taxpayer money.
I'd suggest publicizing this to Tea Party groups far and wide, that Colbeck is nuzzling up to arch-liberal Kennedy and getting all cozy with him.
If you want to go a little further, "inquiring minds want to know" if Kennedy's agenda is "population control" via disease outbreaks of the kind that regularly occur in the "Muslim world" such as Pakistan.
A little further still, make full use of crank magnetism to attract 9/11 truthers and their fellow-travelers into the game (chemtrails, anyone?). They will make endless pests of themselves until it becomes Crystal Clear* that the whole business is not worth wasting any more time on.
And don't forget to mention that arch-ultra-liberal Marin County California is one of the hot spots for anti-vax activism.
*Crystal Clear: That's "crystals" as in "magical healing crystals" and "clear" as in Scientology;-)
...the recent decision of the Michigan Department of Community Health to make personal belief exemptions harder to obtain. The new rule took effect on January 1; so during last year’s election it was a big deal to antivaxers.
Basically, the rules were changed to be very much like California’s AB 2109, which requires parents seeking personal belief or religious exemptions to see a health care provider for informed consent and have that form signed. As this was an administrative rule change allowed for by the law, it wasn’t problematic from a legal standpoint, but what MOMV is referring to is requiring an explicit law to do this.
Just wanted to note the rule change was itself "explicit" as well. Statutes are passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Regulations (a/k/a "rules") are published in proposed form by administrative agencies for public comment; after consideration of the comments, published again in final form; then in Michigan they are approved by a joint legislative committee before they become law.
Good point. I was unaware of that last part.
800 kids with narcolepsy after swine flu vaccine is enough for any parent to say no. Why the hell would anyone trust the CDC or the FDA or the Government to make a business free choice on vaccination!
I don't know anyone who does.
"If you want to go a little further, “inquiring minds want to know” if Kennedy’s agenda is “population control” via disease outbreaks of the kind that regularly occur in the “Muslim world” such as Pakistan. " bullshit swizzle
So you are going to compare a political craphole like Pakistan with the US and make an assumption about mortality from disease? What kind of racist nonsense is that?
Next you will be telling us these people are dying because of their religion
"I would support independent basic scientific research on the link between vaccination end chronic disease.
If we lived in a world with ample research funding, that would be a reasonable request." lund
But we do, the amount of money donated to cancer research is obscene
Cancer has a chance to be cured. Yes, we spend a lot of money on cancer research. As a result, outcomes are better and some cancers that had no cures, have some.
Since there is no evidence vaccination causes any chronic disease in the first place, researching it would be a colossal waste of money.
"johnny" keeps quoting that 800 kids with narcolepsy #, even though he/she/it has been provided with multiple cites that it's wrong.
About on a par with his/her/it's insistence that the toddler in Germany was vaccinated against the measles.
Leaving aside the fact that johnny is lying through his/her/its teeth, narcolepsy was 17 times more common following the flu than following vaccination. If the flu infected just 6% of immune naive individuals, the vaccine would still be a better choice.
Phildo's original assertion was that there were 800 cases in the UK. I'm not going through the ECDC report.
And the last thing anyone needs is yet another channel airing reruns of The Philip Hills Show.
A disclaimer- I endorse no views. I am brain dead according to narad.
But the link about 800 children was from Reuters
But the link about 800 children was from Reuters
The presence of the word "Sweden" reduces its relevance to Johnny Chav's compulsions..
The term I used was "boneheaded." The figure in that report is not background-subtracted, which is hard, and which is why I brought up the ECDC report.
What does the narcolepsy thing prove anyways? It seems like it shows that the US regulations worked well (Pandemrix was never licensed here) and that when there are legitimate side effects we can admit that and do better in the future. The CDC says:
Not much of a cover up.
And here I thought I couldn't be surprised by the extent of your lack of self awareness.
Is anyone else bored with johnny? Can we get a new troll, please? Or, maybe, someone to have an intelligent conversation/argument with?
Part of that was because AS03 isn't licensed in the U.S. The problem is that there's no good evidence that the problem was the AS03. The hypocretin paper didn't replicate, so the origin of the signal is still a mystery. It's going to be necessary to try to detect whether there's a dip below the previous background going forward, but that will take years and isn't going to be an easy signal to detect if it's there.
"the amount of money donated to cancer research is obscene"
It would be amusing to see johnny yelling this at participants in a breast cancer awareness march, and getting repeatedly whacked over the head with placards as a result.
I hear ya. I never thought I'd miss Th1Th2... (But I don't miss He Who Shall Not Be Named But It Starts With A G. Not at all.)
I miss Thingy,and I miss Sid,too. :(
Anyway (and ultimately relating to a nearby state), I noticed that canaryparty-"this site may be hacked"-org is trumpeting a poll* they apparently commissioned:
Leaving aside my inability to find any trace of this at, you know, surveyusa-dot.com, and the $200k GR boondoggle with the same firm, one thing caught my attention:
Um, no, Illinois' SB1410 passed the Senate as amended** and is in the hands of the House. There's no bill that I'm aware of that sought to remove religious examptions.
* Scroll down for the bonus, though: "Mark Blaxill on RT Discussing Vaccine Mandates and the CDC Whistleblower Scandal." Soy Gevondes!
** The first version was unconstitutional on its face.
About this narcolepsy thing... A back of the envelope calculation takes a birth cohort of about 4 million children per year, incidence of 1 in 2000 overall, and age of onset typically 10-30 to suggest that one would expect about 2000 new cases per year with about 1000 of them being in their teens. This matches up reasonably well with the Reuters article and its loose figure of 800 cases in Sweden and other European countries.
So maybe this is another case of "children develop autism after MMR vaccines, because MMR vaccines are typically given at the age when autism begins to appear." AKA no causal relationship, even if the clusters are real and temporally connected to the shots.
In just a few decades, the changes are staggering. When I started university in early 90's, diagnostics of child leukemia were not seen as a death sentence as it was in the 70's, but still had a "very bad prognostic", as our teacher put it.
Nowadays, it's still very far from a walk in the park, but survival rates are above 60%.
The Reuters report, as written, appears to just be a tally of the number of narcolepsy reports since Pandemrix was introduced. Of itself, this is completely meaningless.
There definitely was a coincident temporal spike, though. To bring things more up to date, GSK stated in 2014 May (PDF) that
"By July 2013, a total of 989 cases of narcolepsy in people reported to have been vaccinated with Pandemrix™ (H1N1) or Arepanrix™ (H1N1) during and after the 2009 pandemic had been received by GSK. Due to limitations imposed by local privacy law, sufficient information cannot be obtained on many reports to ensure they do not represent duplicate reports and/or that they describe confirmed cases of narcolepsy. Over 90 million doses of Pandemrix™ (H1N1) or Arepanrix™ (H1N1) have been administered worldwide. Of the reported cases, approximately 69% are from Finland and Sweden."
Now, 2013 is well past the actual spike, so the tailing reports have a certain built-in bias. Another one to consider, though, is simple case surveillance bias.
Phildo, of course, remains a simple affront to any conceivable notion of the Mystical Body within which the imperative of the dispensation is perfection of the individual.
A little OT...but has anyone seen anything from lilady? I don't frequent everywhere she posts, but she seems to be missing from RI comments...I miss her.
"SACRAMENTO, CA—Survey USA released new poll results today showing the majority of California residents believe parents and doctors, and not bureaucrats at the State Capitol, should make vaccination choices." NObRed
Getting good at this, the majority of people who filled in the poll agreed with this, most people who fill in polls believe in their value so again we see a biased cohort in the sample.
I think we can take it as read that anything alluding to a study on vaccinations is going to bias the data as much as possible in favor of the studies' forgone conclusion
"Bills like SB277 are dying all over the country because this is America and we value freedom."NObRed
They are dying, dear boy, because they are a shit idea. Too right, who the hell wants some practice nurse shoving a syringe full of untested snake oil in your kids arm?
^ Sheesh, I sent myself into moderation with a broken third link: "any conceivable notion."
That's funny. Just yesterday you were complaining about vaccine testing not meeting your exacting standards for dubious and contradictory reasons. Today you're saying that they haven't been tested. What happened?
Argument by opinion poll is not accepted here, johnny. It is widely known that subtle rewording of questions, and leading or loaded questions, can skew poll results.
"That’s funny. Just yesterday you were complaining about vaccine testing not meeting your exacting standards for dubious and contradictory reasons. Today you’re saying that they haven’t been tested. What happened?"justheshits
Well that makes complete vaccine logic.
"Argument by opinion poll is not accepted here, johnny. It is widely known that subtle rewording of questions, and leading or loaded questions, can skew poll results."
Well that's odd Julian, the thread used argument by opinion poll to make a point Julian - this is a case of pot and kettle black or medical vaccine anecdote Offit syndrome? Might even be a serious case of Bill Gates transmutation Polio syndrome by proxy?
Being against vaccination is a response to reading all the evidence and finding it seriously lacking in any substance. Over here at PubMed promo central, the consistent line you spin is that everyone who is against vaccination per se is a nutter! That sort of 'science' is usually the privilege of religious dissension or that of the likes of Saddam Hussain.
Until you come up with some real comparative evidence, not some kind of weird advertising market thang, you will always appear like ridiculous people, clutching at straw fallacies and the like.
Visions of NobRed having nothing better to do than polish his helmet over his geeky ability to quote PubMed is disturbing enough. What a waste - of tissue
We have, dimwit. The fact that said evidence contradicts your dearly held wrong notions about vaccination doesn't make it "not real".
The hilariously sad thing about Phildo is what an utter square he is. Think about it: a Papist and disgruntled Rotarian with nothing better to do – for years on end – than actively seek derision using a stale script so half-assed that other people have to tell him what he's referring to, a parade of gender-swapping pseudonyms, and a singular lack of talent when it comes to the fallback glue that's supposed to sustain the operation, simple insult.
He's freaking Hyacinth Bucket. There's little need for imagination to form a picture of how much he must loathe his clientele, given the repression that oozes from the hobbyist personas, but speculate, if you dare, on what his record collection must be like.
I suspect that I may have also forgotten earlier to get around to the obvious Lance Kerwin parallel.
I didn't know you liked "Keeping up Appearances", Narad.
That would be going a bit far, but I was saddened when the news broke that Geoffrey Hughes had died.
For some reason, the results aren't on the Survey USA website.
I wrote an email to know when they will be put online.
Where? The only person who's using opinion polls is you.
800 kids with narcolepsy after swine flu vaccine is enough for any parent to say no.
Wha, whazzat? Sorry, I momentarily fell asleep.
You've read all the evidence! I'm extremely impressed. I doubt even Paul Offet can say that. After all, there are an enormous number of studies* published on the topic.** How did you find time to read all of that?
I get it! You're using paraconsistent logic and chiding us for our small-mindedness in thinking the universe follows classical logic. I admit I have a hard time believing that a statement and its negation can both be true, myself.
Now everything you say makes total sense!
Would you like to let us in on the flavor of paraconsistent logic you favor? It needs to be one where the following statements can be part of a non-trivial theory:
∀ PaperAbout(vaccines, ) ⟶HasRead(johnny, )
∃ HasRead(johnny, ) ⋀ PaperTests(, vaccines) ⋀ DoesNotLikeButCannotExplainWhy(johnny, )
∄ PaperTests(, vaccines)
* You'll notice that I linked to Google Scholar instead of the most popular search engine for medical research due to your aversion to it.
** Other searches you should find interesting and relevant include "thimerosal toxicodynamics" and "disease eradication."
Looks like WordPress doesn't like the Unicode for variables. Let's try this:
∀p PaperAbout(p, vaccines) ⟶HasRead(johnny, p)
∃ HasRead(johnny, p) ⋀ PaperTests(p, vaccines) ⋀ DoesNotLikeButCannotExplainWhy(johnny, p)
∄ PaperTests(p, vaccines)