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Monday, June 6, 2022

New School and Old School 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

David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine:
Since the pandemic hit, a new generation of antivaxxers has risen to prominence. These “new school” antivaxxers don’t view themselves as antivaccine, at least not in the classic sense. Indeed, many of them view themselves as provaccine, just not pro-COVID-19 vaccines. However, as I’ve discussed many times over the last two years, to demonize COVID-19 vaccines, they have recycled and repurposed every antivaccine trope under the sun. In the two weeks since I wrote my last post, a couple of stories have occurred that emphasized to me that thes
I’m using the Better Way Conference, specifically the panel touted by Del Bigtree in which he “debates” Geert Vanden Bossche, because it demonstrates the tension between old school and new school antivaxxers that, increasingly, is being resolved by new school antivaxxers embracing old school antivax ideas about childhood vaccinations.

Let’s look at who’s on the panel. Besides Del Bigtree, who was the MC of the entire conference and moderator of this panel, there was Robert “inventor of mRNA vaccines—not” Malone, Geert Vanden Bossche, Bret Weinstein, Tess Lawrie, Maajid Nawaaz, Jessica Rose (I think), and some other people whom I can’t identify, both on stage and by video conferencing. I note that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was also in attendance at the conference but apparently not on this panel. Truly, this was, as it has been described, the Davos of COVID conspiracy theorists

When the time came for the Q&A session after panelists’ talks, instead of simply asking the questions that were being beamed to his iPad from the audience, Bigtree decided to “go there”, as he put it.

What do I mean by “go there”? He went straight to old antivaccine talking points about the childhood vaccine schedule, including false claims that vaccines cause autism and that the current generation of children is the “sickest generation” (a favorite of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.) due mainly to the expansion of the vaccine schedule in the 1990s. He did it even though he knew he would be blindsiding panelists who had been “dancing around” the topic of the childhood vaccine schedule. In this, I think that Bigtree inadvertently did everyone a service, because his “debate” with Vanden Bossche is an excellent tool for me to show unequivocally that most “new school” COVID-19 vaccine “skeptics” are now no different than old school antivaxxers. They are, in fact, antivaccine. Vanden Bossche might be a holdout, but he’s definitely moving in that direction.