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Monday, November 1, 2010

Origins of an Anti-Anti-Vaccine Crusader

The Respectful Insolence blogger explains:

Believe it or not, for all the vociferousness with which I routinely go after anti-vaccine loons, I'm actually a relative newcomer to the task of taking on the anti-vaccine movement. Ten years ago, I was blissfully unaware that such a movement even existed; indeed, I doubt the concept would even have entered my brain that anyone would seriously question the safety and efficacy of vaccines, which are one of the safest and most efficacious preventative medical interventions humans have ever devised, arguably having saved more lives than any other medical intervention ever conceived. Even six years ago, although I had become aware of the existence of the anti-vaccine movement by that time, when I considered anti-vaccine loons at all, I considered them a small bunch of cranks so far into the woo that they weren't really worth bothering with. Yes, I was a shruggie.

All of that changed not long after I started the first iteration of this blog back in December 2004. Approximately six months later, to be precise, is when everything changed. That was when someone as famous as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. published an infamous screed simultaneously in Rolling Stone and entitled Deadly Immunity that was so full of misinformation, pseudoscience, and conspiracy mongering that it altered the course of my blogging forever, beginning when I called it the "biggest, steamingest, drippiest turd" I had ever seen. Although I had already been becoming less and less of a "shruggie" about the anti-vaccine movement before RFK's propaganda piece, "Deadly Immunity" resulted in a significant percentage of my blogging turning to discussions of the anti-vaccine movement and the scientifically-discredited myth that vaccines cause autism.