I wasn't sure if I was going to write about this again so soon, because one post seemed adequate to describe the massive dump that the Tribeca Film Festival just took on reality by announcing the screening of a pseudoscientific antivaccine propaganda film by The One Antivaccine Quack To Rule Them All, Andrew Wakefield. Any skeptic with an interest in medicine and vaccines knows that he's one man most responsible for creating the myth that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. As a result, MMR vaccine uptake plummeted in the UK, and the measles came roaring back. I speculated why this might have happened. For instance, in a talk Wakefield had bragged that Leonardo DiCaprio was promoting his movie, only to deny later that he had ever said such a thing. Based on that it was hard not to speculate that perhaps DiCaprio or another movie star had something to do with greasing the wheels to get Wakefield's film selected. Of course, as commenters pointed out, given how prevalent antivaccine views are in Hollywood, it shouldn't be a surprise that there might be some antivaccine reviewers in major film festivals willing to let through a film like Wakefield's Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe, which tells the conspiracy theory of the so-called "CDC whistleblower."
I was happy to see major websites and news outlets picking up the story. For instance, Anna Merlan, one of the reporters on the Conspira-Sea Cruise in January, published a story on Jezebel about it, and Steven Zeitchik published a story in the LA Times about it. What interested me about the latter story were two pieces of information I had not yet seen anywhere.
On Monday, the annual springtime confab quietly announced that, amid a list of Hollywood-centric talks, it would screen a documentary titled “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.” The festival said that the film, a previously unknown production, draws a link between vaccines and autism and that the April 24 event would also feature “a conversation with creators and subjects of the film.”
Tribeca did not reveal the director. He is, it turns out, the highly controversial anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield.
This sort of behavior makes me think that the organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival knew all along exactly what they were doing with this. On the other hand, why hide the identity of the director? After all, it would come out eventually. There's no way antivaccine activists could resist trumpeting it to high heaven. The antivaccine cranks at Age of Autism are, not surprisingly, already doing exactly that.
Now here's the part that really irritated me:
Contacted by the Times, a Tribeca spokeswoman provided a statement about the decision to host the film and its director.
“Tribeca, as most film festivals, are about dialogue and discussion. Over the years we have presented many films from opposing sides of an issue. We are a forum, not a judge,” it read.
Efforts to reach Wakefield via his publisher were not immediately successful.
Festivals are known for including provocative voices, especially in documentary categories, which sometimes feature advocacy pieces.
But it’s rare for a gathering to touch on such a hot-button issue from only one side. Many screenings with activist positions usually come from outside filmmakers, such as Gabriela Cowperthwaite's “Blackfish,” about animal abuse at Sea World, or Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman,” about public education in the United States, both of which premiered at Sundance. The latter was strongly opposed by teachers unions, but it was made by a decorated Oscar winner, not the activists themselves.
"We are a forum, not a judge." Let's examine that assertion for a moment. 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. Within a very small margin of error, the existing scientific evidence strongly supports the conclusion that vaccines do not cause autism, and it's not as though this question hasn't been studied many, many times.
Let's look at this another way. The question of whether or not vaccines cause autism is very much like other scientific questions, questions such as
- Did the diversity of life arise through undirected evolution?
- Is human activity a major contributor to global climate change?
There are people who believe that the diversity of life did not arise through undirected evolution. They are called creationists or intelligent design creationists. Creationists believe God created all creatures in their original form, which hasn't changed. Some young earth creationists believe the earth is only 6,000 years old. Intelligent design creationists, in contrast, believe that living organisms evolve, but that their evolution is somehow "directed," that there is a "designer" (cough, cough, God) directing that evolution. Of course, from a scientific standpoint, none of these are scientific controversies. There is no science involved in their claims; in fact, science refutes their claims, as it does for the claims of believers in antivaccine pseudoscience. Would the Tribeca Film Festival organizers select a film by, for instance, Ken Ham claiming that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that evolution is a sham? Would they do it for the sake of "dialogue and discussion" as part of a "forum"? Would the Tribeca film festival screen the anti-evolution film the dishonest Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed or a film like it? Somehow I doubt it. Yet they have just done the equivalent by letting Andrew Wakefield use the imprimatur of their festival screen his conspiracy- and pseudoscience-laden film.
What about the question of whether human activity is a a major contributor to global climate change? The scientific consensus is overwhelming that human activity is contributing to the overall warming of the planet. Yet, as is the case with evolution denialists (a.k.a. creationists) and antivaccine cranks like Andrew Wakefield, there are a lot of people who deny the science, using the same low-quality and deceptive arguments. Would the Tribeca Film Festival organizers select a film by, for instance, Lord Monckton or Anthony Watts, claiming that human beings are not contributing to the warming of the climate? Would they do it for the sake of "dialogue and discussion" as part of a "forum"? Somehow I doubt it. Yet they have just done the equivalent by letting Andrew Wakefield use the imprimatur of their festival screen his conspiracy- and pseudoscience-laden film.
You see where I'm going. The claim that human activity is not contributing to climate change, that undirected evolution does not explain the diversity of life, these are all questions for which there is an overwhelming scientific consensus refuting them. Color me—shall we say?—skeptical that the Tribeca Film Festival would screen advocacy films promoting these pseudoscientific ideas so blatantly and unabashedly in the name of "dialogue and discussion." Of course, antivaccine pseudoscience of the sort that Andrew Wakefield promotes is every bit as refuted by an overwhelming scientific consensus as evolution or climate science denial, but the Tribeca Film Festival thinks it's just hunky dory to let Wakefield have a one-sided "dialogue and discussion" about vaccines.
I can see the organizers retorting that, sure, maybe the science is against Wakefield, but what about the whole "CDC whistleblower" conspiracy, which is what the movie appears to be mainly about. As I've written so many times before, there's just no "there" there to that story. It's worse than that, though, particularly with respect to this movie.
Yesterday, Matt Carey did a masterful job of demonstrating how Wakefield deceptively edited recorded statements from William Thompson (a.k.a. the "CDC whistleblower," the scientist who was critical of a 2004 study that failed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, the same study tortured by Brian Hooker to appear to show a greatly increased risk of autism in a subset of African-American males) to give a very different impression than the actual transcripts give. You really should read all of Matt's post, but the CliffsNotes version is that Wakefield spliced two statements by Thompson together to make it sound as though Thompson was introducing himself to Hooker and than stating that he had "great shame" now because he knew Hooker had a son with autism, all as a prelude to alleging that the CDC had committed scientific fraud when in fact Thompson never really said anything of the sort. In reality, the statements were phone conversations much later in the Hooker-Thompson relationship, and Thompson, although complaining about a disagreement in methodology in the study never accused his colleagues at the CDC of scientific fraud. In fact, he even said:
The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males does not mean that there was a true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.
Thompson just wanted more research, or at least that's all he's ever said in any public statements or any of his phone calls with Hooker that have been published.
I really hope that some intrepid reporter will dig deeper into this. Already, I see some interesting tidbits. First, apparently Jim Sears, the celebrity pediatrician featured in the trailer for Vaxxed, no longer has his TV gig on The Doctors. At least, he's no longer on the show's website. Meanwhile, on Facebook, Sears is sounding a lot like his brother, Dr. Bob Sears, in doing the "I'm not antivaccine" but the "CDC committed fraud" boogaloo. Credulity must run in the family. It just took longer to manifest itself in Jim Sears with respect to vaccines and bogus conspiracy theories than it did in his brother Bob, who appears to me to be busy selling medical exemptions to the California school vaccine mandate under SB 277, the new law that eliminates non-medical exemptions starting next school year.
Another interesting tidbit is that the producer of Wakefield's antivaccine crapfest is Del Bigtree, who has produced many episodes of The Doctors since 2010 and has served in the past as a segment producer for the Dr. Phil Show. All he'd need would be a stint on The Dr. Oz Show to complete his credentials. Even without it, though, no wonder he gravitated to a a project as misinformation-filled as Wakefield's.
In any case, I don't buy for a minute the Tribeca Film Festival's reason for selecting Vaxxed for screening and a Q&A afterward. It's disingenuous as hell. Someone, somewhere in the process, be it a celebrity who recommended the film or a reviewer charged with selecting films for screening, there was an antivaccine or antivaccine-sympathetic person making sure Wakefield got in. Either that, or Tribeca has so little integrity that it would promote a film full of lies for the sake of some buzz and publicity. Either way, it reflects very poorly on the Tribeca Film Festival.
Here's hoping (again) that there is a strong skeptic turnout to make sure that the Q&A after the film has some polite, but pointed questions about the content of the film. In the meantime, skeptics can make their displeasure known in the comments after the Tribeca Film Festival entry for Vaxxed.
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Great post, Orac. I suspect if Tribeca knew about the thoroughly dishonest splicing of comments, they might consider pulling the film, as that's downright dishonest. Though I can also imagine the loons yelling "big pharma conspiracy!!!" if that were to happen.
Tiny point of order: we Brits don't say "Lord Christopher Monckton". Either just Lord Monckton, or say Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. You can just refer to him as Monckton after that.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has remained silent on this latest threat to public health by the fraudster Wakefield. The AAP has been stunningly silent on all things anti-vaccine for the past 5 years (when the AAP last spoke out against the NVIC for running anti-vax ads on airline flights and on the Times Square Jumbotron). The AAP has never outright condemned Wakefield. When I spoke with AAP President Robert Block about this in 2012, he told me the AAP was glad they hadn't spoken out against Wakefield out of fear of being sued by Wakefield. I thought that was the lamest of lame excuses for an organization supposedly dedicated "To The Health of All Children", but it's true. Confirming this is a response of the prior AAP President, O. Marion Burton, in 2011 to the AAP's Section of Young Physicians Committee stating that the from the AAP that :
It is important now that we make the right statement at the right time and in the right way rather than just "piling on" the Wakefield episode as many are doing. This could not be as effective as we would
hope and also could have negative aspects. Be assured we are trying to do what is best for all children and our members. (page 30 at http://tinyurl.com/zbkxzph, referencing a letter on page 29).
The AAP has utterly failed to address anti-vaccinationists like Wakefield, Sears, Gordon, the NVIC, etc. Nor have they shown any spine in addressing ever-increasing amounts of anti-vaccine propaganda like "Vaxxed". At this point, I fear the AAP itself has been brainwashed into believing anti-vaccine rhetoric, especially given how deeply the AAP has bought into SCAM. This is shameful, and the results of such apathy continue to multiply daily.
Godwin and his law be damned, here I go:
I hope they will screen the somewhat controversial documentary "The Eternal Jew". You know, to act not as a judge but rather as an open forum for discussion of the Jewish character.
Heh, I just had a mental vision of the entire theater being booked out by science and autism advocates, who turn up in similar manner to Rocky Horror or Mystery Science 3000. A high profile nationally televised public humiliation would be worth a hundred withdrawals for fraudulent editing, with no convenient "censorship" cries behind which to hide.
No, they would just cry "bully!" instead.
Yeah, as I said in the other thread, I don't want Tribeca to pull the film, now that its organizers have made the massively clueless decision to select it for screening. What worries me, though, is that Wakefield will see the uproar and either cancel the Q&A afterwards or try somehow to control the questions that can be asked (presubmission of questions, Twitter questions to a hashtag and then select only friendly ones, etc.).
They would have no qualms about running an anti-GMO movie. Or a pro-0rganic movie. Nothing different about running an anti-vaccine movie.
Correct. Their desire for "dialogue" is a double standard: "Dialogue" for pseudoscience and crankery that fits within the world view of the organizers and Hollywood in general, shunning of "dialogue" for pseudoscience and crankery that they oppose. The example of Bill Maher comes to mind.
Ayup! Although I would guess that Wakefraud has already anticipated this (given he shielded it's viewing from sceptical eyes on the ConspiraSea Cruise) and will have already pre-empted any sceptical inquiry at the Q&A.
But Bill Maher is an upstanding and committed skeptic! I mean, he is the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award. How could you forget that? [/sarcasm]
The worst thing is that this film will show up in my Netflix “recommended for you” because I have watched actual science based films, such as the PBS Frontline program on vaccines.
any dialogue will surely be a parroted discourse with some sort of million moms march with signs -- "cdc lies and we're all gonna die".
the last part of that being true
This reminds me of an incident twelve years ago where C-SPAN planned to broadcast a speech by Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, followed by a speech by the neo-Nazi Holocaust denier who tried to sue her for libel, David Irving. After the predictable outrage, C-SPAN decided not to air either speech.
I may be the only one here who's ever been on a festival jury (not a big one like Tribeca), has friends who program festivals, and other filmmaker friends who kvetch about the wacky choices festivals seem to make all the time. Anything is possible here, but the more I think about it, the more I think the most probable scenario here is that someone with juice pulled some strings to get 'Vaxxed' on the Tribeca schedule, along with the personal appearance by Andy. I doubt that individual would be a well-known actor (their agents and managers would get so POed if that came out), though it's possible there's a very hush-hush quid pro quo in return for a big donation. I'd look at Del Bigtree's connections before that... but more generally, as Mark Felt told Bob Woodward, if you want to know what's going on, 'follow the money.' Does anybody know who'd been paying Andy's bills down in Texas since he landed in those friendly confines, and who's funding his rather prolific spew of 'Autism Media.' It's fairly slick stuff, and the DPs, editors, computer graphics folks with those chops don't fall out of trees and work for free. I might guess Andy's tapping some 1%er whale for whom his budgets are chump change, and can readily also dump enough whatever to buy a slot at Tribeca via some connected intermediary. I there isn't high drama over this within the festival staff going on right about now, I'd be surprised. I wouldn't be totally surprised if a real whistleblower emerges (anonymously, maybe) to spill the beans, though I'd guess the odds of that aren't that good.
I'll tell you a few things about the film community: 1) Nobody is going to call for this film to be withdrawn, now that it's been announced, and everyone will defend the programmers in public, as they'll know the staffers might be between a rock and a hard place. 2) They really believe 'film festivals are about dialogue and discussion ...a forum, not a judge.' 3) They know when that principle is being stretched to absurdity, and they don't like it at all. 4) Tribeca is going to lose a lot of credibility over this in ways that count to the modestly-paid folks who actually run the thing. Film programmers work full-time year round, going to other festivals, networking with other programmers and struggling-artist filmmakers, scouting for good-but-unheard-of material. After this, most of these folks are going to be looking at the Tribeca reps with a fish-eye and a barely veiled snarl on their lips.
There are people at Tribeca who don't want to show this film, and every documentarian with a tiddly damn of integrity is upset it has been schedule. But every one of them will fight like hell on principle against a campaign to have it pulled, because if 'Vaxxed' can be pressured out, their even more socially marginal stuff can get pressured out too. You can argue until you're blue in the face that 'scientific concensus' ought to rule the day and settle the question, but it doesn't.
It's not like 'Vaxxed' would be the first steaming pile of effluent that got screened or even distributed. You can look at the histories of these things, see how the film community deals with them, and how that works. We counterpunch, use ju jitsu. What we do is call out the crap as loud as we can, and flip it back in the faces of the jerks trying to spread it around. We do everything we can to make sure it's hard for anyone to see it in innocence. It works, too. It's the unchallenged voice that does damage by being the only thing people hear. That happens to some extent whatever anyone says, since some folks are willfully deaf and blind, so sealed are they in their bubbles of belief. Y'all have more than enough experience with that, right? You can't beat that, and neither can filmies. We can all only speak to people wllling to listen.
'Vaxxed' is going to circulate to its bubble audience whether Tribeca shows it or not. True believers are going to spread Andy's BS as far as they can on social media whether Tribeca shows 'Vaxxed' or not. Anyone 'uncommited' about vaccines will at least listen to criticism of Wakefield if it's out there in public, whether that's spoken fro the dais at the screening, from the audience at the Q&A, from protesters outside the theater, or scathing reviews in the NYC print press or on Gawker, which will also be forwarded to them on social media.
Andy kept the journalists on the ConspiraSea out of his preview screening on the boat. He knew what they'd do with it. They're going to see it now, if Tribeca goes ahead. I can absolutely guarantee you that many more people will hear about how ridiculously fraudulent this thing is than will ever see the movie, and that WON'T happen if its just on YouTube and doesn't get shown in a theater in Manhattan.
Kate's right. Matt has caught an egregious documentable falsification in the trailer. Having caught some pretty-obvious-to-a-sound-editor-paying-attention diddling with other Thompson clips in Andy's YouTube videos, I'd guess there are more in 'Vaxxed' too. Matt's catch could be enough for someone at Tribeca to go over the film and check all the Thompson audio against the record, and the results could be enough for them to get righteously scared and cancel the event with a vague notice of 'improper procedure' or a half-truth deflection or an outright CYA lie. Which could be exactly what Andy wants. He'd still get his name in circulation, and get to refuel his martyr-act-engine with a full tank of hi-test.
IANAL, but Matt's catch sounds to me like grounds for a lawsuit and an injunction on behalf of Dr. Thompson.
What's happening in Slick Rick Morgan's world today, Thompson doesn't have to utter a peep if the film totally diddles stuff documented in the transcript. Thst's the only way I can think of for the screening to get scotched w/o benefit to Wakefield: if his fantasy's 'hero' is the agent of it's undoing.
IANALawyer, but, should he wish to do so, could Dr. Thompson file suit against "Doctor" Wakefield for this fabrication?
Not that I think Thompson wants to do any such thing. I suspect that he would like the whole thing to go away. After all, if Hooker recorded the calls in CA, a two party consent state, and where Hooker was living and working at the time, Thompson could likely have forced legal action.
Maybe this continued dredging of these events will spur Thompson to grow a pair and go after Wakefield and Hooker.
Hey, a man can dream.
I swear sadmar's comment was not up when I composed mine.
I share the author's disappointment in the Tribeca selection board. That being said, however, I do not think the featuring of Wakefield's film at the festival will have much of an impact on the social conundrum that is anti-vaxxers. Having been to a few Tribeca Film Festival screenings, though the festival itself grabs headlines, many of the screenings go unnoticed. I have a feeling that most of the audience will be people already committed to Wakefield's idiotic ideas. Furthermore, I doubt the subtle endorsement of the Tribeca Film Festival is going to change any minds.
Unfortunately the comment thread for the TFF refuses to load for me. I did see many excellent comments yesterday though.
I hope it isn't closed or broken by sceptical indignation.
- It irks me past my boiling pointed that I continuously am bombarded with cries of
'Corruption! Malfeasance! Fraud! Lies!' and' Sociopaths' ! 'The entire World is against my Science!' **
by charlatans who make very decent livings off of the public by doing or being exactly that.
- And true, anti-vaccine mania is acceptable amongst left-leaning hipsters and crunchy mothers whilst anti- AGW and YEC are decidedly not cool. Too right wing or evangelical.
- I've been to a few film festivals ( including this one, several years ago) but I'm not sure how the venue/ tciketting will affect who and how many attend. I imagine that TMs and AoA mavens will be their in full force.
It sounds as though it's in an art school's auditorium which can be large- a few hundred seatsat least?. How many of anti-vaxxers live near to NY or are obsessed enough to travel?
- I'm not sure if I can attend although there is a chance if I am back from stuff I'm doing earlier that week end.
** as well it should be.
TICKETTING ....be THERE .. seats at least
And the anti-vaccine brigade has started invading the comments. MeMyselfAndME, Seattle Mom, and Claire Dempsey have all posted in rapid succession.
Dan ( AoA, today) is squawking about the SB comments/ snarky repartee made at Jezebel.
@ has #4; I LIKE it!
@ Orac #6. Yes. But if they rig the 'talk after' part of the 'conversation' (likely already the plan) the press will dog them for that, and if they try to keep Anna Merlan out of the theater there will literally be hell to pay. It's OK if skeptics don't get to talk in the theater, as long as they make their presence known. Silent protest. Poster of kid with measles labeled 'when they deny science, innocents die'. They just need to let the reporters know they're going to be there beforehand, and have a good spokesperson for the press to talk to at the event. I'd try to get as many immuno-compromised folks involved, including some kids w. a parent. Let the AVs try the Pharma Shill Gambit on them, and see how that flies. Enough non-violent civil disobedience to briefly interrupt an Andy scripted schtick and get an at-risk or victim of VPD escorted from the premises w/o 'shouting him down' would sweeten the pot for the City Desk editor.
@Amethyst #3 Film schools screen 'Birth of a Nation' and 'Triumph of the Will' all the time. and yeah, sometimes 'The Eternal Jew'. Surprisingly, we don't have to say anything to keep the students from joining Stormfront. Mostly they get really scared by or POed at the films, all by themselves. I used "Know Your Enemy: Japan" which is not-as-awful as 'The Eternal Jew", but it's ours.
Must sleep now... Later...
We're friends with a Canadian film director of some repute. Skype'd with our friend this morning about this and was told that this won't be the first or last time "reasonably packaged sh!t" is screened.
They would have no qualms about running an anti-GMO movie. Or a pro-0rganic movie. Nothing different about running an anti-vaccine movie.
There is, of course, a difference between film schools screening a film like Triumph of the Will or The Eternal Jew for their students as part of a class on some aspect of film making and a prestigious film festival choosing to screen a modern day equivalent of such a film. For one thing, as odious as they are, Triumph of the Will and The Eternal Jew are important historical documents that help explain the rise of Nazi-ism, and Triumph of the Will, in particular, used groundbreaking film techniques, making it not just important in the history of Nazi Germany but important in the history of film making as well. Consequently, there is educational value in having film students watch, discuss, and analyze them.
In a sane world, yes. But we don't live in a sane world, as you could probably deduce if you are following the US presidential election. If Wakefield et al. try to keep Ms. Merlan out of the theater, I have no confidence that it will be accurately reported in mainstream media, or that there will be any hell to pay.
There was a parallel incident several years ago when a creationist group screened a propaganda film in a theater in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. PZ Myers and a companion tried to get into the screening, but the organizers recognized Myers and refused to let him enter, although his companion was allowed in. Bonus irony points: the film in question was called "Expelled". Double bonus irony points: PZ's companion that evening was Richard Dawkins, one of the people explicitly trashed in "Expelled". The incident was reported on various ScienceBlogs at the time. But AFAICT the creationist crowd paid no price whatsoever for that kerfluffle. Thus my skepticism that the anti-vax crowd will pay any price should they attempt a similar stunt.
Denice, the comments wouldn't load in Firefox for me, either, though they do in Edge. Try another browser; I suspect my various extensions were interfering with the script that expands the comments.
Something tells me he's not going to revisit the post when the Gawker verdict is overturned on appeal.
Thanks. It was working yesterday and I really don't have much on this machine ( mostly because I understand little so I keep it minimal).
Perhaps SOMEONE or SOMETHING is interfering with my progress because I investigate ...
oh wait, I'm not Sharyl Atkisson.
It took me a couple tries to get the comments to load. Try refreshing the page a few times.
Why? I don't see the connection.
Orac: "For one thing, as odious as they are, Triumph of the Will and The Eternal Jew are important historical documents that help explain the rise of Nazi-ism, and Triumph of the Will, in particular, used groundbreaking film techniques, making it not just important in the history of Nazi Germany but important in the history of film making as well. "
One of my high schools had Mein Kampf in its library. I checked it out and read bits of it to friends in the cafeteria during lunch. It produced lots of laughter over its sheer idiocy and paranoia.
The German department here has been known to screen the mentioned films, along with others, but as far as I know they have (thankfully) never used Mein Kampf in their language classes.
I try to act as a go-between between the Slavic and German departments, because otherwise it all devolves into "well, they didn't stop us in Berlin!" jokes. Which I will admit to laughing at.
^ We share the third floor of the Modern Languages Building with the German department, which tends to do much better than us financially, and is always taking over the common conference room.
Oh, the irony of history.
@ Todd W.:
Thanks. But no dice. As I said, it worked YESTERDAY.
Wakefield has been "convicted" of scientific fraud. The idea that an organization like the TFF would take a documentary from a known fraudster seriously beggars belief.
Not that I think Thompson wants to do any such thing. I suspect that he would like the whole thing to go away
Wakefield knows that Thompson is gagged by legal advice, leaving him free to make up whatever words he likes and put them in Thompson's mouth.
Yep. There's no way Thompson can sue, because he can't say anything now. He's been silent for a full year and a half now.
I don't really see why that would be the case. He would seem to be well shielded by 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8), not to mention his attorneys.
On the other hand, neither do I see any good reason overall for him to sue anybody for anything. (I'm not even sure how splicing quotes in a movie trailer would become actionable in the first place; it's hardly the worst of the indiscretions so far.)
What on earth would he stand to gain?
Thank you for making my point for me. Unless the presenters are going to announce the film as an example of piss-poor and blatantly dishonest movie-making However, I must object to the latter part of this sentiment:
Blah, blockquote fail.
The latter part was me (if that was not obvious enough).
I think you missed my point.
re: "The scientific consensus is overwhelming that human activity is contributing to the overall warming of the planet. "
What matters in real science is the evidence, that the projections of theories actually match reality, not "consensus". The climate models don't match reality yet, their projections don't match the real world observations. If most docs fell for homeopathy and used it, that wouldn't mean their "consensus" was accurate since there isn't credible data proving its effectiveness. The site "Skeptical Science" isn't much different than the anti-vaxxer "science" sites, its a a site of true believers that don't seem to grasp the concept of actual scientific skepticism. The reason you are concerned about AGW is because you believe what others have told you without question, just as some folks fall for homeopathy because they believe what others tell them without question.
While I'm at it, I note the pathetic hypocrisy of the AoA crowd on the subject of the implications of suing or not suing. A recent example is this one:
For icing, there's this on the Jezebel item:
Hey, remember when Wakefraud was going to sue Emily Willingham? I take it that he concedes that he in fact set back autism research by a decade.
How about this one?*
Better threaten to sue Real Soon Now, Andy, so that everyone will have as much time as possible to forget about it before the statute of limitations expires again.
* Supplied by Liz Ditz in comment 67 of the preceding Tribeca thread:
I hear ya' bout the state of our politics. There's so much crazy going on, Andy's con could easily get buried under more other bigger insanity du jour. The PZ thing isn't analogous though, for what it's worth. 1) He's not a press professional, and Merlan is. Reporters have each other's backs. 2) The creationist film didn't get the kind of pre-screening publicity Merlan's coverage in Jezebel has sparked. 3) IIRC that screening was sponsored by the CTs, who just rented a room from the uni and tried to pass that off as some official affiliation (or was that some other woo?). This is the TFF. The spotlight's already there. 4) I'm from the Twin Cities. It ain't Manhattan. 5) Creationists aren't a serious public health menace, 6) The film in question probably didn't fabricate 'whistleblower' claims that are manifestly false by dirty editing of audio clips. 7) I'm guessing PZ just showed up with RD, and hadn't alerted the press to the possibility of a juicy story about a confrontation.
I've got a few more, but the bottom line is if the TFF goes ahead with the screening, and public health advocates play the PR cards right, spit will hit fan.
Doesn't she mean... oh never mind.
Having lived through this particular incident, I'm not so sure about this.
Go away. It's clear you don't know what your'e talking about. The scientific consensus on human-caused global climate change is every bit as strong as the scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism—probably strong. And what do you think scientific consensuses are based on, anyway? Evidence, experimentation, and models.
I did wonder how long before a climate change denialist would pop up, though. It took longer than I expected.
The list of speakers for the after-film talk is up on the TFF page;
Sheryl Attkisson (mis-spelled twice as 'Atkinson')
Diaz is the head of Cinema Libre Studio, a 'social issues' documentary distributor. IIRC, Cinema Libre was IDed on the 'Vaxxed' TFF page as the film's distributor/press contact/etc. as of yesterday, but now all the info directs to email addresses "@vaxxedthemovie.com" , though the phone number listed is indeed the Cinema Libre office. There's a vaxxedthemovie.com website with no trace of the Cienma Libre name anywhere.
Cinema Libre has distributed two autism related films: "Citizen Autistic' and 'Loving Lampposts'. Anyone seen either? They look like neuro-diversity takes from the short blurbs. This is all curious, to say the least...
@ Orac #46 Sorry. I was guessing. If you have a link at hand to anywhere you or PZ or anyone wrote about what happened, lemme know. if not, I'll Google Expelled/PZ/RD when I get the time. I'm curious. Gotta be open to evidence...
I'll ask again: Does anyone know who exactly bankrolls Wakefield and 'Autism Media Channel'? Or beyond his own name-dropping of Leo, anyone with real power and $$ definitively associated with him, who might have gone to bat for him to get pub for 'Vaxxed'?
sadmar@49: A little searching turned up this report from then ScienceBlog poster Ed Brayton. The link therein to PZ's firsthand account is stale.
sadmar@48: That's not a discussion panel, that's a bunch of sycophants.
Great piece in the LA Times, complete with a quote from you, Orac, as a giant pullquote in the middle of the piece.
Thank you Orac for another great Article.
I am disgusted with the Tribeca Film Festival and I telephoned them today voicing my concerns.
They asked me to send then information about Wakefield which I have done this evening.
I told them they are going to cause immeasurable damage if they allow this Charlatans Film to air.
I truly hope they will reconsider as it will also damage their Reputation.
ART Autistic Rights Together
Damn, forgot to include that it's also a rare example of a headline that breaks Betteridge's Law of Headlines. (I'm a journalist; I care about headlines.)
Ms. O'Leary, has anyone told you lately how awesome you are? I among others appreciate your work to improve the lives of autistics. If you have any more conversations with the Tribeca people would you please include Matt Carey's expose of Wakefield's fabricated content of Dr. Thompson's conversations? It's on Leftbrain/Rightbrain.
I among others appreciate your work to improve the lives of autistics.
Repeated with acclamation.
Hey, "Actual Skeptic," if you had shown up a bit earlier, you could have helped out "Denier" at Ethan's residue. In any event, I'm sure there are better places than here for this sort of random asshurt to seek balming.
Just read that LA Times piece that Kate linked to. YEAH!!! Also, it links to an earlier article on the same which also quotes our esteemed host.
I know what you meant and I agree. I just felt compelled to be snarky and point out what an average, run-of-the-mill, film "Vaxxed" is in contrast to those movies which, for better or worse, are quite "good" movies in terms of historical value and their place in the history of movie-making. :P
For shame, Orac! Your response seemingly reflects an uncharacteristic unwillingness to consider all evidence. After looking more closely and open-mindedly at availible information, I suggest you will find that the "consensus" and "overwhelming evidence" on the topic of human contribution to global warming are, in fact, less comprehensive than reported. The first represents a cherry-picked group of like-minded parties (who met as the IPCC under the pretense of evaluating evidence as a body to declare a predetermined outcome) who have consistently elected to ignore the opposing views of scientists with equal, and occasionally greater, qualifications. The second, as stated, is overwhelming only when the data is viewed with a pre-established bias. The comments about the models were correct, and there is a significant body of evidence on contributing factors not related to human influence that the so-called "consensus" crowd consistently pretends doesn't exist. Don't delude yourself into believing all dissenters are whackos who rely on sifted internet content as "research". There are many qualified researchers with differing opinions.
Re: Fiona O'Leary @ #53
For those readers who are unfamiliar with Fiona O'Leary, she has worked tirelessly and almost single-handedly to bring to wider attention some of the most appalling abuses of autistic children, including attempts by parents to "cure" them by the administration of sodium chlorite (bleach) orally and by enema. She has been particularly effective in getting media and regulatory authorities in the UK and Ireland to start taking notice.
She is one tough and courageous woman, who has been relentlessly attacked by the charlatans she has exposed. She deserves our fullest support, if not a medal of some kind.
Speaking of recent media links, the BBC is running a piece on cognitive miserliness, including the classic example of flesh eating bananas and the case of fraud perpetrated by Wakefield:
Why, it's almost like someone doesn't know what they are talking about...
Mr Lying Pants Fraudy Trousers has had ample opportunity to avail himself of our fine legal system and sue Brian Deer and many, many, many other people (including quite a few of my direct acquaintance) for defamation of any sort, but oddly he hasn't...Which is most peculiar as it is easier to sue for defamation here then in many jurisdictions - Merkinania springing to mind there.
Is Puma_59 a Poe or just really ignorant and closed minded?
Mr Lying Pants Fraudy Trousers has had ample opportunity to avail himself of our fine legal system and sue Brian Deer and many, many, many other people (including quite a few of my direct acquaintance) for defamation of any sort, but oddly he hasn’t
Shirley that is untrue. IIRC, Mr Wakefield did initiate legal action, but only circumstances whereby it could not proceed, and eventually let everything lapse; it was almost as if the action's main purpose was to gull more donations from his supporters.
Puma_59: "I suggest you will find that the “consensus” and “overwhelming evidence” on the topic of human contribution to global warming are, in fact, less comprehensive than reported."
Off topic troll is off topic, and very silly.
Puma_59 #60, you're banging your head against some mad bugger's wall -- If it were to be shown that the rate of sea level rise hasn't changed in 20 thousand years, this crowd would consense that it is 97% due to the oceans boiling away.
Gilbert: did you forget 3rd grade science? Water evaporates from the ocean, lakes, etc, rises, condenses, and falls again as rain. So the oceans don't "boil away". And take a look at the fact that iceburgs that have been around for thousands of years at the same size are shrinking faster now than ever documented history?
Mrs Pointer #61
Re:Re: Fiona O’Leary @ #53
Thanks so much for making those of us who don't know Fiona O'Leary's, indeed, courageous and life-saving work, aware of it. Reposting yours as if to underline...
For those readers who are unfamiliar with Fiona O’Leary, she has worked tirelessly and almost single-handedly to bring to wider attention some of the most appalling abuses of autistic children, including attempts by parents to “cure” them by the administration of sodium chlorite (bleach) orally and by enema. She has been particularly effective in getting media and regulatory authorities in the UK and Ireland to start taking notice.
She is one tough and courageous woman, who has been relentlessly attacked by the charlatans she has exposed. She deserves our fullest support, if not a medal of some kind.
Html code fail;-( "For those readers........" should be in quotes.
I believe the only discussion they were hoping for is about this C Grade festival. Maybe Steve Harvey can host...
This is orac writing. Nothing worth reading here. Move on along...
Iceburgs, MI Dawn #69? Got a proxy for the size of an iceburg thousands of years ago?
^^ That article sounds to me like they're warming up to the idea of spraying shiny stuff in the atmosphere to 'combat' CAGW limit solar input available to photosynthetic organisms.
While I'm perusing ARS 'churnalism',
They just can't leave well enough alone. I bet the new vaccine for it will be pricey. If viruses can change the genome, I wonder if it may be engineered into an innoculation to also affect such changes -- I *suspect* the vaccine schedule is causing some homogenization of the human genome, for better or worse.
@SL King: then why even bother commenting? Afraid you'll learn something that will hurt your brain?
@herr doktor bimler:
It is true, and don't call us "Shirley".
Sorry, couldn't resist. ;)
You know, it occurs to me that there's a documentary to be made giving wider exposure to the truth about Wakefield.
Brian Deer-- has anyone approached you about this or have you given it any consideration yourself?
Naa MI Dawn #69, I know you meant to say 'glaciers'. Still, I linked to an observation of accelerated warming for the arctic being possibly due to decreased aerosols. There is record sea ice in the antarctic -- aerosols were never a factor there; 'They' propose it is due to global warming..."We left the freezer door open so now the icecubes are all over the floor."
They note that arctic sea ice is minimized but it is highly variable season to season. Still, 'the science is settled' is just as nausiating as 'nuclear is clean because it doesn't spit out plant food'.
re: "Go away. It’s clear you don’t know what your’e talking about. The scientific consensus on human-caused global climate change is every bit as strong as the scientific consensus"
I suspect the odds are incredibly high that I know far more than you about the topic (have you read through an IPCC science document? I have). , and that you are relying on the mere claim of a "consensus" and *not* on actual evaluation of the evidence.
Ah, yes. The AGW deniers are here, full of bluster. And other substances, as well.
It's all a conspiracy by those nasty physical scientists to cash in on that sweet government cash, you see, and the government is feeding them all that money because they see a way of raising taxes and exerting social control.
Never mind the ironclad physics case.
Yeah, I thought about answering, but then realized that, if anything, many AGW denialists are even dumber and more stubborn than antivaccinationists.
Orac -- That's an entirely reasonable course of action, especially since it's not your usual home turf.
I've cited your classic column on how suspicion of a scientific consensus is a sign of a crank many times now, by the way.
Our AGW denialist friend is also incorrect that I haven't read IPCc reports. :-)
You lost me when you said that Wakefield said the MMR caused autism. In his PAPER, not study, he never ONCE says that the MMR causes autism. Get your facts straight.
While that's technically true, Wakefield has said many times since that he thinks the MMR causes autism. He even held a fear mongering press conference at the time of release of his 1998 Lancet paper that strongly suggested that. My guess as someone who knows about science and how papers are published is that only reason he didn't say it in the paper is that the peer reviewers almost certainly forced him to tone down his language. Antivaxers have been using this dodge since long before I became familiar with Wakefield's mendacity.
Would you like some examples of him saying that vaccines cause autism? I bet you there are some in the film.
Good Herr Doktor @ 65
Check my location...You link was to the stuff in Merkinania...I am not aware of him trying to use our lax-er defamation laws.
Murmur, Wakefield DID take Deer to Court in Britain. He then stalled for years. Eventually, the judge told him to either proceed or drop matters. Wakefield dropped matters and sent Deer a cheque for legal costs.
Check my location…You link was to the stuff in Merkinania…
It did occur to me that you were referring specifically to a UK libel action, but I thought "No-one would be pedantic on the Internet".
As far as the 'rational' specifics here. Let's use some logic:
Fact #1) There is zero debate that vaccines carry risks (this is why the US government set up a vaccine compensation fund). The only debate is the amount of risk.
Fact #2: There is zero debate that very well credentialed experts disagree on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. One may side with a particular expert over another - but one cannot debate the fact that this expert disagreement exists.
The debate should be open and discussed, not vilified.
Also, vaxxers always hold on to Wakefield as a fraud, except he's already been exonerated and proven to be smeared and made an example. How about the blatant fraud being brought to your attention in a film like this? You vilify Wakefield for fraud, what does it tell you when the precious CDC has the same claims against them?
When and where was he exonerated? And don't mention John Walker-Smith's successful appeal, because:
1) Walker-Smith appealed on a technicality.
2) Walker-Smith's own lawyer said the MMR autism causation theory is dead as a dodo.
Walker-Smith's successful appeal throws Wakefiled under a bus.
It's an odd experience having watched Wakefield for so long, with all kinds of systems in place to respond to his vexatious gagging litigation, which means documents and files and god knows what.
One of the fascinating things is that, because he lies like a duck quacks, over time he moves on to a different deceit, often contradicting previous ones.
There is somebody in this thread called "Mel" who's still on one of Wakefield's deceptions that he moved on from about four or five years ago: about how he never said MMR caused autism.
Well, actually, his 1998 paper described MMR as the "apparent precipitating event" - and "precipitating" does mean causal, and he described it as the "possible environmental trigger". But since the whole paper was riddled with talk about MMR, and not a lot about bowel disease, that was the point of it.
However, the paper did say "we did not PROVE an association". True. But this is phrased and contexted very much like the murderer in a Columbo episode: "what can you PROVE".
So, his paper was given a press conference, and set off a public panic, in which children died.
Wakefield said many times then and since that MMR causes autism. Indeed, his whole Thompson scam is predicated on that. "I said MMR causes autism, and Thompson proves I'm right etc".
So, can I put it this way: the dumb fuck crap that Mel comes out with is just left there, like the decaying carcass of a dead whale. But he/she thinks it helps somehow.
Mel: the master has moved on. Get with the program.
You vilify Wakefield for fraud, what does it tell you when the precious CDC has the same claims against them?
Allegations without evidence tells me nothing. This site as well as LBRB have talk about the evidence Hooker and Wakefield have presented, so far. (And unlike Wakefield, LBRB have made all the documents available)
@Travis. Oh! Please, do tell where Wakefield has been exonerated. For every time he has gone to court he has either been told to put up or shut up, i.e. his libel claim against Brian Deer and Channel 4, where the judge said that he was trying to use the threat of libel as an attempt to gag critics so get on with it or drop it, he dropped it.Then the last I heard, every case he has tried in the US has either been dismissed as invalid or has failed.Then there was his hearing at the BMC where he was struck off as a doctor due to his proven fraudulent research and the way he broke almost every medical ethics research rule in the book in dealing with children.
So please, do tell is where this exoneration happened. You are either an idiot who has been conned by that weird aura of righteousness he seems to project to the gullible or as big a liar as he is. Unless of course you mean that his sycophants think him innocent of all charges in spite of the wealth of evidence against him, as I have seen many of them state. So which are you, gullible ignorant fool or liar?
Travis must think that Autism Investigated is real journalism: http://www.autisminvestigated.com/wakefield-medical-license/#comments
@Science Mom. Is Jake capable of reading anything without putting an anti-vax or pro-Wakefield spin on it. For yet again Wakefield ducks out of a court case he had initiated, this time the appeal against the GMC's findings and because the court then finds on technical grounds that Professor Smith was not fully as guilty as the GMC found, obviously Wakefield must also be not guilty.
If he was so sure of that, why didn't he actually stay and fight his case. Also, the court didn't exonerate the research as Jake Claimed. In fact, one of the problems with the paper that got the professor into trouble, was the inclusion of the statement that Ethics Panel permission had been given and which Wakefield was supposed to have removed from the paper to the Lancet and which for whatever reason, Wakefield didn't do.
So again, Wakefield causes problems for others and has his sycophants like Jake reading the court's ruling that the GMC went too far in its findings with regard to the Professor as proof that his hero must also be not guilty of professional misconduct. Yet brave Sir Robin didn't stay for the trial and withdrew. I wonder why?
As I understood, Walker-Smith's defence was in essence "Wakefield misled me".
**Um, G---le Translate.**
"The 5 worst movies conspiracy"
Eh, fame at last! The movie Vaxxed is internationally recognized as an achievement!
As I understood, Walker-Smith’s defence was in essence “Wakefield misled me”.
What happened to my blockquotes?
Sorry, I borrowed them for this reply. You can have them back now.