Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Confession

This post was very hard for me to write. For four years, now, I've been writing this blog. Four years putting out post after post refuting the claims of "anti-vaxers". For several years before that, I was active in the comments of a few different sites, trying to be quick to respond anytime someone questioned vaccines. All this time, so many hours pushing the pro-vaccine angle. But I just cannot, in good conscience, continue. Not any more. The little bit of income I earn for my efforts just isn't worth the guilt. Not after this past weekend.

What happened? What changed my mind? Last weekend, I attended the Pharma-sponsored Midwest Conference on Vaccines. This is the first time I've been to this conference, now in its sixteenth year, and the first time I've met many of my blogging colleagues face-to-face. Normally, all of my dealings with the inner workings of the pro-vaccine machine have been through email or snail mail. I get my orders. I write. I get paid. Simple, easy money. To say that this conference was an eye-opening experience is an understatement.

Source: The Vaccine Machine
My first shock was when I entered the main presentation hall after picking up my registration packet. I had always seen anti-vaxers describe my colleagues as basement dwelling sorts, unable to find anyone to love them, all alone. I hadn't put any stock into such characterizations before, yet here before me were a collection of pasty, white bottom-feeders. Some thin as twigs. Some grotesquely fat. But all physically repulsive, acne-riddled mouth-breathers. Some of these people I once called my friends, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe them. More shocking still was how many people were wearing brown uniforms, a la 1940s Germany.

Jarring though this all was, I put it aside. I was here to learn more about how to do a better job selling the pro-pharma message so I could increase my income and possibly afford that lovely 6 bedroom house with the three-car garage and pool and hot tub in the back that I've had my eye on. At any rate, I found a seat for the plenary session.

The Media, Cash and You

ANB's Favorite Tool
The conference opened with a presentation by AutismNewsBeat, titled, "The Media, Cash and You". In recent years, mainstream media has gradually turned from being a platform for the anti-vaccine message to marginalizing it. This slow change has been rendered through the actions of people like AutismNewsBeat. It starts small: fresh coffee and doughnuts for reporters, free pens, notepads. A little bit of friendly banter, finding common interests in sports or hobbies. Then come the lunches and dinners, tickets to events. And finally, the plain, unadorned envelopes bulging slightly in the middle, slid across the table with a copy of the latest gossip rag on top to hide it. The strategic application of cash has revolutionized how the media treats the topic of vaccines. Back when I started doing all this, it was a fairly regular occurrence to see someone like Barbara Loe Fisher on TV, warning us of the dangers of, say, the flu vaccine. Now when vaccines come up, it's almost always in the context of outbreaks of diseases, with the articles placing blame on the anti-vaccination movement. Greasing the right palms has won a significant number of reporters over to the pro-vaccine side. Indeed, throughout the day I saw or talked to a number of different journalists from major papers and television networks. ANB concluded his talk by explaining how everyone could help solidify the hold on the domestic media and expand to international outlets. Those who are interested can apply for grants to help defray the costs of winning over reporters.

The plenary session was followed by a number of breakout sessions. Since I knew several of the presenters online, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally meet them in person.

How to Be an Epidemiologist When You're Not

Photo credit: Michael Gil
The first session was by Reuben Gaines, author of The Poxes Blog. He handed out a manual to each attendee and explained that it contained a number of talking points and statistics that could be used to confuse people and make it seem like you have robust science on your side. "Regular people don't understand the language of statistics," he explained. "They see numbers and big words and their brains just shut down. After that, you could tell them anything and they'd believe you." He went on to show that the more numbers and jargon you post, the greater the appearance that your argument is valid, even if it is completely empty. Some of his talk I already knew, such as the Vaccine Information Specialist program, of which I was already a part, which pays $15 per blog post and $1 for every comment you make. That can add up very quickly in a very short period of time. The VIS program only requires a minimum of 3-4 hours per week and is how I was able to buy my new 2014 Jaguar F Type with cash. Another bit I was already familiar with was impersonating disease-injured families online, using fake names to appear more numerous (aka astroturfing). Like I said, I knew most of his talk already, but I was taken aback at his utter lack of any hint of ethics (this was a frighteningly common trait among the presenters as a whole).

Respect the Masters: Maximizing Your Income Potential

"Respect the Masters: Maximizing Your Income Potential" was a panel discussion that included Dr. David Gorski, Dr. Matt Carey and Liz Ditz. Each participant presented their own perspectives on how best to please Lord Draconis Zeneca and one's pharma overseers, in turn getting the most financial returns for your efforts. All three are established bloggers taking different approaches to spreading pro-vaccine propaganda. Dr. Gorski is one of the most-read, influential bloggers around and is arguably one of the most prolific, pumping out lengthy posts on a daily basis. He discussed several different approaches that have netted him a very comfortable life. Designing research to produce results favorable to his pharma overlords was a given, but he also discussed the numerous alter egos he uses. Numbering in the hundreds, he admitted that the effort consumes a great deal of time, but the payoff is well worth it. This approach gives the appearance that there are far more pro-vaccine voices than the smattering there really are.

Dr. Carey is an autism parent and successful blogger in his own right. His financial success and position within the conspiracy has come largely through writing about autism and vaccine research. He found that by putting studies into lay terms that make it seem to the average sheeple that autism and vaccines are not connected at all and that vaccines are safe and effective. This not only pleases pharma, but lulls people into complacency.

Source. Click to enlarge.
Finally, Ms. Ditz discussed the tactic of curating posts and resources. By picking out studies, news articles and blog posts that purportedly support vaccines, you can create the impression that there is more support, both scientific and social, for vaccines than there is against them. But she warned that you must be careful when selecting sites to include in your list to ensure you only include those funded by pharma. Since many pharma operatives hide their funding sources, she provided some key phrases to look for that all operatives are instructed to include in their writings (see image at left).

I have to say, I debated whether or not to include a description of this session. I expect that within hours (at the most) of posting this, the black helicopters will be closing on my location. However, I feel that revealing these tactics is worth more than my own well-being.

Lunch

Source: Age of Autism
Because the panel ran a little long and I decided to step outside to get some fresh air, I was late getting to lunch. As I entered the sumptuously decorated dining hall, the other attendees were just finishing a champagne toast. I passed on the champagne as I found my seat. At my table were a couple other minor bloggers, two reporters and several legislative aides. We exchanged small talk as the wait staff roamed through the room setting out the meal. Finally, they reached ours, setting out salads and sides before unveiling the centerpiece main entree. I was horrified. As I glanced around, I saw the same thing at every other table. Yet everyone else simply laughed before digging in. There in the center of the table was a meat-filled pastry in the shape of an infant. Back in 2009, Age of Autism posted a picture that at the time I thought they created just as a joke. But as I asked the person next to me about the centerpiece, she said that it has been a tradition since the first conference 15 years ago. Clearly the real reason that AoA ultimately removed the picture was not because of the backlash they got from even some of their own readers, but because pharma operatives forced them to take it down, lest it sour the public to what really goes on at these things. However, savvy people might still be able to find a cached version of the post. Needless to say, I didn't eat much. I excused myself and went for a short walk to try to calm myself before heading back for the first afternoon session.

WI-38 and MRC-5: Limitations of Diploid Cell Lines

Still a little shaken from the display at lunch, I made my way to a room that was already packed by the time I got there. I found a space to stand against the wall for "WI-38 and MRC-5: Limitations of Diploid Cell Lines", a presentation by Dr. Paul Offit about WI-38 and MRC-5, human cell lines used in the production of measles and rubella vaccines, among others. Basically, in the 1960s, a pregnant woman who had been infected with rubella had an abortion because of the risks of congenital rubella syndrome. Samples were taken from the fetus' lungs and eventually developed into a cell line (WI-38) used as media to grow vaccine-strain rubella and measles viruses, among others. Some anti-vaxers would characterize this as vaccines containing aborted fetal tissue, even though that is wrong. That's essentially the same as saying that if I have a smoothie made from the extract of a modern Cavendish banana, then that smoothie contains 200-year old Musa acuminata, the wild progenitor of modern bananas. Dr. Offit explained that while the WI-38 strain does not contain actual aborted fetal tissue, they do have some limitations. It turns out that pharma scientists have discovered that using tissue from freshly aborted fetuses greatly enhances a vaccine's ability to create Delta worker drones. As a result, newer vaccines actually contain aborted children, unlike vaccines made using the WI-38 or MRC-5 cell lines.

That was too much. Learning that pharma are actively aborting children for use in vaccines, coming so soon after that lunch... I just couldn't take it anymore. I left right away. That glimpse into the inner workings of the global vaccine conspiracy and learning that anti-vaxers have been right all along was a real wake-up call. I have agonized over this post and over my role in the vaccine-caused autism epidemic designed to create pliable worker drones, all for the profit of the conspirators. I hereby vow to turn over a new leaf and trumpet all of the talking points that anti-vaxers have been repeating for the past couple decades, all those points that I once thought were spurious misrepresentations of science and, in some cases, outright lies. Never again will I say that fine, upstanding and truth-loving organizations like the National Vaccine Information Center or Age of Autism leave out important information that create a false and misleading impression of vaccines, because they would never do that.

I'm turning over a new leaf. From now on, I will endeavor to be, like Brian Hooker, a "fellow advocate for the end of vaccination". Needless to say, I won't be attending the Pharma Shill Conference this June.
______________________
Author's note: Just for the humor impaired, this post is satire. I shouldn't have to state that, but you never know who might take this seriously. So, satire inspired by what anti-vaccine advocates have actually said about pro-vaccine writers.

10 comments:

  1. Conference update: I recently contracted with Halliburton to build 100 more Pharma-Cash-Omatics, which will be installed in the newsrooms at major media outlets throughout North America and Europe.

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  2. Maybe you should attend the next one to be able to expose more conspiracies.

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  3. Though after this post, you may be thrown out.

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  4. I'm appalled that you let out this secret. If my gold bar delivery from Big Pharma is anyway affected by this article, I'll have to apply for Obamacare and SNAP. And move out from my 10 bedroom mansion to a slum level six bedroom.

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  5. I would have been there, but my Lear jet pilot forgot to pick me up in time from my private island in the Caribbean in time to clear customs. Oh, well....maybe next year.

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  6. Satire . . . OR IS IT? Cue thunder sound effect.

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    Replies
    1. Or a nice dramatic sloth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSISidBUang

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  7. Aren't you about a week too early?

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    1. I suppose it may have made more sense to put this up a week from now, but I was prompted to write it a couple weeks ago when I saw some comment about pro-vaxers attending weekend seminars funded by Big Pharma.

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    2. LOL, I checked the date, I confess.

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