Continuing the anti-anti-vaxx theme of the past couple of posts — honestly, there’s no end to this stuff. I could make a career out of posting stupid things people say and claim about vaccines, and I’m quite sure people do (while making a lot less money at it than some of the charlatans they target, and certainly far less than the societal value of the work they do). Just taking a moment to share a couple of additional items I’ve come across in my daily viewing and listening, that also happen to address this particular segment of the wretchedness of our times.
First up is an episode of Doug Henwood’s Behind the News radio program/podcast. Henwood and guest delve into the career of a notably unscrupulous yet highly successful anti-vaxx proponent named Sherri Tenpenny.
This caught my ear in part because they refer to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which came up during my previous fisking of J. H. Kunstler’s opinions about COVID-19. I actually looked at VAERS during my early evaluation of his claims, since it’s one of the few cases where he tried to back his claims with an independent data source that could be evaluated. I didn’t go into it in my post, but I reached pretty much the same conclusion as given in the radio episode: namely, that VAERS is a system that accepts reports of pretty much any kind of vaccine-related event. It’s simply a big wad of data, possibly anecdotal, and simply not something you can cite as demonstrating anything at all, without first doing a great deal of work to evaluate, clean and systematize that data into something meaningful. It would be like claiming to be an entomologist because you managed to fill a whole suitcase with Polaroids of anthills – completely invalid.
The second item is this video from Rebecca Watson. Here she takes on yet another anti-vaxx canard which also happened to form part of Kunstler’s tissue of errors, namely the claim that vaccines are bad because they promote viral resistance.
I feel I didn’t do the best job when I made my own argument in rebuttal to this point previously. Well, now I don’t have to because Rebecca Watson brings the goods. I hope you enjoy either or both of these selections if you have the time.