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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

RFK Jr. and the 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 wrongA leading anti-vaxxer is presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the HolocaustRolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autism.

Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck at CNN:

Public campaign finance disclosures from Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign reveal numerous payments to individuals and groups whose ideologies differ significantly from traditional Democratic Party politics, a review by CNN’s KFile finds.

Among the expenditures was a payment for $13,550 to a consulting company called KFP Consulting which was registered in May 2023. The company’s managing member, according to incorporation records, is controversial anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree.

Bigtree, a film producer who also founded the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, regularly speaks against vaccination and public health measures. He was condemned by Jewish groups for once comparing vaccination to the persecution of Jews by wearing a Holocaust-era Star of David badge to protest vaccinations. He also spoke against Covid-19 vaccinations at the rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.


The Kennedy campaign also paid at least two people employed by Moms Across America, an organization that spreads awareness about GMOs and pesticides in food, and which has promoted the claim that GMOs are linked to autism – a claim the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says is false. Anne Temple, a graphic designer, and the group’s founder Zen Honeycutt – who Kennedy called a “modern day Rachel Carson” – both received payments from the campaign. Carson, a marine biologist and nature writer, wrote the influential environmental conservationist book “Silent Spring” in 1962, which documented the harm of the pesticides on the environment.

Other individuals paid by Kennedy’s campaign include a film editor who worked on anti-vax films; a woman who works as a coach to help parents “unschool their children” from traditional in-person schools amidst the coronavirus pandemic; a self-declared autism advocate who has falsely linked vaccines to autism; and an artist and content creator who has a podcast that frequently discusses aliens and founded a Clubhouse channel where users ruminate on “aliens, demons, and witchcraft,” vaccine conspiracies, reptilian humanoids, and artificial intelligence.