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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Marcus Lamb

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.

Tim Fitzsimmons at NBC:

Marcus Lamb, a co-founder and the CEO of the conservative Christian Daystar Television Network who vocally opposed Covid-19 vaccines, has died at 64, weeks after he contracted Covid-19, the network said.

“It's with a heavy heart we announce that Marcus Lamb, president and founder of Daystar Television Network, went home to be with the Lord this morning," the network said a tweet Tuesday. "The family asks that their privacy be respected as they grieve this difficult loss. Please continue to lift them up in prayer."

On his website, Lamb spread the myth that vaccines cause autism, hosting such notorious antivaxxers as Del Bigtree and RFK Jr. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Republicans Account for 60 Percent of the Unvaxxed

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.  

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.  There is a great deal of overlap between MAGA World and the antivax movement.

From KFF:

By April 2021, a majority of U.S. adults (56%) self-reported they had already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Among the 43% of adults who said at that time that they had not yet been vaccinated, about four in ten (42%) identified as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents and about one-third (36%) identified as Democrats or leaned that way, while 16% identified as independents who didn’t lean toward either party. The partisan divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated adults became even more evident as larger shares of the population received COVID-19 vaccines. Now, six months later, in October 2021, one-quarter (27%) of U.S. adults say they have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, but the unvaccinated population is now disproportionately made up of those who identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, with six in ten (60%) identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning (compared to about four in ten of the U.S. total adult population1) and just one in six (17%) calling themselves Democrats or Democratic-leaning. 


Monday, November 29, 2021

Polling People with Disabilities

In The Politics of Autism, I write:  "Support from the general public will be an important political asset for autistic people. Another will be their sheer numbers, since a larger population of identified autistic adults will mean more autistic voters and activists."

Andrew Pulrang at Forbes has a recommendation for survey organizations:

Include questions about disability and disability issues in standard political polling. There has been some valuable work on disabled people’s voting patterns over the last few election cycles, particularly from Rutgers University and Pew Research. But we would understand a lot more if all political and opinion polls would measure disability along with race, age, gender, and other demographic categories. Over time this would also prompt more people with disabilities to think about how their disabilities might shape their political identity and voting decisions.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Wakefield: Forefather of COVID Antivaxxers

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.  The ur-antivaxxer of our time is the disgraced Andrew Wakefield.

Matthew Rozsa at Salon:
A direct line can be drawn between Wakefield's assertions about MMR vaccines and the rhetoric about COVID-19 vaccines (an issue where Wakefield is also anti-science, but has not emerged as a prominent voice). Studies have repeatedly found that general vaccine skepticism increased as a direct result of Wakefield's study; just last August, researchers writing for the scientific journal PLOS One again confirmed that vaccine hesitancy went up after Wakefield's paper came out.

"The Wakefield et al paper arrived at an interesting time in history," epidemiologist Dr. René Najera told Salon in June. "The internet was growing. The 24-hour news cycle was growing. People like Jenny McCarthy and others were becoming 'influencers.' His paper only brought to the forefront fears that many parents had: that vaccines caused developmental delays. Before 1998, you didn't have the internet as a bullhorn, or time to interview or showcase celebrities."

While hesitation about vaccines existed before Wakefield, the British doctor made it possible for misinformation to do something that had previously only occurred in the world of epidemics: achieving virality. Even after Wakefield himself sank into obscurity, other anti-vaccine activists emerged to take his place. By normalizing the practice of questioning vaccines without regard to reliable medical knowledge, they laid the foundations for the denial of the COVID-19 vaccines that is so prevalent today.

Wakefield may not be one of the so-called "disinformation dozen" —
social media voices today who create two-thirds of all anti-vaxxer content online — but he is their forefather. Without Wakefield, it is hard to imagine that the anti-vaccination movement would have been so loud before the pandemic that it would metastasize during it, to the extent that millions of Americans now view opposing vaccines as a crucial part of their identity.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

JBS and RFK Jr.

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.  

The John Birch Society, an old ultra-right group of conspiracy theorists, is plugging Robert Kennedy Jr.'s bogus claims about vaccines, including the toxic myth that they cause autism.


His father criticized the Society.  From NYT (4/7/61):  -- "Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy termed the John Birch Society "ridiculous" today. He said people should stop paying so much attention to it."

The John Birch Society had little use for his uncle.  From the Wisconsin Historical Society:

An advertisement placed in "The Dallas Morning News" on the morning of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The ad attacked Kennedy's foreign and domestic policies. The lower half had a dozen questions starting with the word "Why," preceded by the statement "MR. KENNEDY, despite contentions on the part of your administration, the State Department, the Mayor of Dallas, the Dallas City Council, and members of your party, we free-thinking and America-thinking citizens of Dallas still have, through a Constitution largely ignored by you, the right to address our grievances, to question you, to disagree with you, and to criticize you. In asserting this constitutional right, we wish to ask you publicly the following questions — indeed, questions of paramount importance and interest to all free peoples everywhere — which we trust you will answer . . . in public, without sophistry." Note that the ad has a black border, a style similar to a death notice. The ad was placed by Bernard Weissman, Chairman of the American Fact-Finding Committee. The Committee described themselves as "an unaffiliated and nonpartisan group of citizens who wish truth," but they were in fact affiliated with the John Birch Society. The cost of the ad was $1,465.00, and was provided by Joseph P. Grinnan, who was a member of the John Birch Society. Bernard Weissman was not a member of the Society. He was shocked by the assassination, and feared he would be accused of involvement with the killing. He was interviewed by the Warren Commission. Afterwards, he left the Dallas area.

 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Antivax History

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.  


Kayleigh Beaveridge at McGill Health E-News:
Fear of the development of syphilis and animalistic metamorphosis have been replaced with fears of the development of autism, immune disorders, allergies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).14 The association, in particular, between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism is one of the most frequent concerns cited by parents when deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children.15 MMR, as a causative agent of autism, became popularized in the 1990s following the publication of Dr. Wakefield and colleagues’ article in the Lancet, which claimed to have evidence of an association between the MMR vaccine and “chronic enterocolitis and developmental regression”.16 Though the methodology of the study was questioned, its results disproven, and the paper retracted, the association remains at the forefront of the vaccination debate.17 The MMR vaccine-autism association is reminiscent of the smallpox vaccine-syphilis association of the 19th century by its consequences on the population despite a lack of supportive evidence. In both cases, the words of a physician coupled with repetition through visual media and by prominent figures have had a strong impact on the general population.

Caricatures published in booklets and handed out on street corners have been digitalized and bolstered by memes and pictures propagated by social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. A study on the presence of anti-vaccination content on YouTube in 2019 found that 32% of videos about vaccination were against the practice and that these videos had more views and higher ratings then content supporting vaccination.2 Quick searches on other social media platforms yielded caricatures which perpetuated beliefs that vaccines cause autism or SIDS (see Figures 3 and 4).

2. Benecke O, DeYoung SE. Anti-Vaccine Decision-Making and Measles Resurgence in the United States. Global Pediatric Health. 2019 Jan;6:2333794X1986294.

... 

14.Vaccine Choice Canada. Health Risks [Internet]. Available from: https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/health-risks/
15.Dubé E, Laberge C, Guay M, Bramadat P, Roy R, Bettinger JA. Vaccine hesitancy: An overview. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. 2013 Aug 8;9(8):1763–73.
16.Wakefield A, Murch S, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson D, Malik M, et al. RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet. 1998 Feb;351(9103):637–41.17. Bean SJ. Emerging and continuing trends in vaccine opposition website content. Vaccine. 2011 Feb 24;29(10):1874–80.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Another Antivaxxer Gets COVID

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.  

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.  There is a great deal of overlap between MAGA World and the antivax movement.

Steve Neavling at Detroit Metro Times:
A Trump-adoring Wayne County Republican who spread misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine has been hospitalized in intensive care after contracting the virus.

William Hartmann, former vice-chairman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, has been on a ventilator since about Nov. 6, according to his sister Elizabeth Hartmann.

Two sources confirmed to Metro Times that Hartmann has been in intensive care since early November.

The status of his health is unclear.

Hartmann, who refused to certify the county’s election in November 2020 after Joe Biden won, downplayed the coronavirus in a February 2020 Facebook post and questioned “all the hullabaloo in the media about” COVID-19. He suggested it was “about the money.”