5/22/2011

If Wishing Made It So: Why Offit's Words Will Always Fall on Deaf Ears

The vaccine-injury crowd  is inoculated against reason, evidence, and appeals to civic duty and compassion for the suffering of millions. Those of us who've spent time in the trenches with them know it all too well. You can acknowledge that vaccine injuries do occur. You can commiserate on how tragic those are, how we need to always continue to do more, to make vaccines as safe as possible, but it falls on deaf ears. As long as you follow those acknowledgements with the statement that the accumulated body of replicated science shows no connection between vaccines and autism, vaccines and asthma, vaccines and MS, vaccines  and SIDS, you are the enemy. You are a pharma shill. Or a pharma whore. You're a sheople. Or you're blind to reality. Don't you know they haven't studied vaccines enough? Don't you know about the terrible neurotoxins and the aborted fetal cells and the pig DNA and so on? How can you not get that the CDC is engaged in a massive coverup and Offit is in it for the money?

So, today's nice review of Offit's book entitled "At last: Ignorance inoculation" in The Philadelphia Enquirer, while hitting all the right notes about how Offit's book reveals the history of the anti-vaccine movement while still revealing the problems that vaccines can and do have and the need to improve, is incredibly naive in its closing point. Dr. Rachel Sobel writes, "Conspiracy theories about Offit and scientists like him abound. But the conspirators can step back and consider where Offit is coming from with this book. All profits go to the Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding the biological triggers of autism and its most effective therapeutic interventions."

Yeah, except they don't listen; they won't step back and consider. They hate the Autism Science Foundation because they hate Alison Singer and they hate Offit. It doesn't matter what Offit says. It doesn't matter where his money from the books go. They consider him to be the devil. Handley wrote in January 2011: "I think Paul Offit is a blowhard liar, a vaccine profiteer and apologist, and every time he opens his mouth he disrespects my son. When the final chapter is finally written on this man-made autism epidemic, I will do everything within my power to ensure that Offit is remembered by history as one of the most sinister, dishonest, well-funded talking heads pharma ever produced, and that his efforts served to afflict so many children with autism who may otherwise have avoided it." He wrote last week of Offit: "If I am “mean-spirited,” the vaccine profiteer, who is denying the suffering of millions of children and their families and doing everything he can to ensure the poisoning of our kids continues, is the devil himself."

And to be fair to Handley, he's rather mild-mannered compared to some vaccine-injury people who hate vaccines and hate Offit. Despite Dr. Sobel's hope that conspirators will consider Offit's words, his measured stance, his charity, those who have demonized Offit will not be swayed from their views.

The reality is that extreme movement will not be swayed by any amount of evidence. Self-justifying and confirmation biases will make sure they never give Offit or vaccines the benefit of the doubt.

Attempting to sway these individuals is a waste of precious resources. Instead, the carefully researched and well-detailed books that Dr. Offit continues to write, like his latest two books, Deadly Choices and Vaccines and Your Child, will move those individuals who are undecided and unaware of the anti-vaccine movement in any specific way. It is an incredibly important work that he is doing, and our best way of reaching the masses is to speak directly to them about the diseases, about the vaccines and to carefully provide rebuttals to the anti-vaccine movement without drawing undue attention to them.

2 comments:

Eileen said...

Kim,
Thank you so much for that eloquent description of the craziness of the anti-vaxxers world. When I have tried to comment on anything on the Age of Autism website, I have been blocked if I ask a thoughtful question that makes them uncomfortable. And I can't believe the level of anger and hatred there. I am sad for their kids because that kind of deep bitterness must permeate everything they do and color the way they see their "vaccine-damaged" children.

jre said...

Last week, huh?

There must be some mistake. If I recall correctly, J.B. Handley promised as part of his bargain with somebody or other never to mention Paul Offit again. For Handley to still be bad-mouthing Offit, he'd have to be a weasel, right? Hmmm ... I have the dictionary right here, just a sec ... look under "W-e-a-s-e-l" ... oh, I see, they have Handley's picture in the definitions. Never mind.