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Jun 21 2012

I must be suffering from withdrawal

I’ve actually got this lovely two-month long block of time with no conferences scheduled, where I get to stay home. And what do I do? I sign up for another one, simply because it’s right here in my own backyard. I shall be attending <duh-duh-duuuuh>the Canary Party National Convention, in Minneapolis MN, July 20 – 22.

It’s a conference of anti-vaxxers and other such ilk. I could not resist. Orac has mentioned them a few times, and they sound entertaining.

They have not asked me to speak. I’m just going to sit quietly in the back of the room and report on what they’re talking about.

Unless they get wind of my presence and revoke my privilege of attending, which could happen.


Damn. That was fast. Really fast. They got my application at 2:10, at 2:20 I posted my intent to attend, and at 2:22 I got this.

Mr. Myers,

Thank you for your interest in the Canary Party Convention.

However, as you are not a member of the Canary Party, and as your public stance runs counter to the values of our party, it is quite difficult to believe that you actually want to come and work on our issues in good faith.

As such, I am returning your registration fee.

Have a nice day.

Ginger Taylor, MS
Executive Director

Expelled again. It’s as if they knew who I was. I guess I’ll have to stay home.

52 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Crimeny, I hope you buy enough antiemetics. And keep them handy!

  2. 2
    Sili

    Unless they get wind of my presence and revoke my privilege of attending, which could happen.

    Meh. Just bring along Dawkypoo as your date.

    SABOT DAY II – MERCURIC VACCALOON!!!

  3. 3
    chigau (違う)

    Go in disguise.
    You could shave…

  4. 4
    Glen Davidson

    I’d be suspicious if the meeting is being held in a coal mine.

    Check that out.

    Glen Davidson

  5. 5
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Well, it’s not like you’ve announced your attendance on a widely read blog or anything.

    … Oh wait.

  6. 6
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Check that out.

    I was assuming that’s why the children are going to be there.

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    It’s getting harder and harder to crash wackaloon’s events. I’m going to have to wear a fake nose and use a pseudonym in the future, I guess.

  8. 8
    Glen Davidson

    However, as you are not a member of the Canary Party, and as your public stance runs counter to the values of our party, it is quite difficult to believe that you actually want to come and work on our issues in good faith.

    As they are members of the Canary Party and their public stance runs in line with the values of that party, it is quite difficult to believe that they wish to come and work on their issues in good faith.

    I guess if you’re a wacko you just assume your own good faith.

    Glen Davidson

  9. 9
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    That’s not withdrawl, that’s a vaccine injury. duh

  10. 10
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Expelled again. It’s as if they knew who I was. I guess I’ll have to stay home.

    Awww. And there they lost the opportunity to sway you to their side by convincing arguments supported by solid evidence.

  11. 11
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    It’s getting harder and harder to crash wackaloon’s events. I’m going to have to wear a fake nose and use a pseudonym in the future, I guess.

    I hear that Groucho Marx glasses are the must have accessory for this season’s event crashers.

  12. 12
    'Tis Himself

    Ginger Taylor, MS

    I’m so definitely not impressed by someone who needs to tell people they have a degree when signing correspondence where that degree has no significance.

  13. 13
    jonnyscaramanga

    I aspire to this level of notoriety. It might be inconvenient, but it shows you’ve made a difference.

  14. 14
    Rich Woods

    @’Tis Himself:

    I’m so definitely not impressed by someone who needs to tell people they have a degree when signing correspondence where that degree has no significance.

    It works even less well on this side of the pond, where the abbreviation MS is usually interpreted as Multiple Sclerosis. That doesn’t do anyone any favours, and it’s going to upset more than a few people.

  15. 15
    donny5

    PZ, why don’t you just hang outside the conference and try to change people’s minds, maybe give away some free lit.

    Then again, that would be rude, wouldn’t it.

  16. 16
    Larry

    Pretty funny if you ask me. Their little fantasy land can’t withstand the presence of a few critics. What, they’re afraid you’ll make them look foolish?

  17. 17
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    PZ, why don’t you just hang outside the conference and try to change people’s minds, maybe give away some free lit.

    Then again, that would be rude, wouldn’t it.

    Why would anti-vaxxers read something? They already have their special knowledge.

  18. 18
    Kristjan Wager

    Funny thing, Ginger Taylor always claim that she wants to debate the subject with scientists and science-based bloggers, and that we are closed-minded for not wanting to do so.

  19. 19
    geocatherder

    PZ, maybe you could stay home and, I don’t know, re-acquaint yourself with Trophy Wife? Just sayin’…

  20. 20
    mikee

    At the Global Atheist Convention there was an open invitation for non-atheists to attend. One even got the opportunity to ask a question of one of the speakers (though it did seem more of a mini sermon than a question!)

    I guess if you believe you have a strong position then you have no issue with those with contrary views, however, if you have a weak, hard to defend position, I guess having an articulate, intelligent person with a contrary view is something to be avoided at all costs.

    The thing that really annoys me though is it is these sorts of echo chamber groups that accuse us of having a closed mind.

  21. 21
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Wear a fake beard. They’ll never expect that!

  22. 22
    ImaginesABeach

    They don’t seem to show a list of speakers or breakout sessions. How am I to decide if I want to go?

  23. 23
    Pierce R. Butler

    This proves it: the Canary Party is just yellow!

  24. 24
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    You’re just throwing the scent off Dawkins.

  25. 25
    Matt Penfold

    Political parties not only normally allow those with differing views to attend their conferences, but actually invite them. OK, they may not be allowed to actively take part (except at fringe events) but they are allowed to attend and observe.

    The only reason I can see why this would not happen is if the party really had something to hide.

  26. 26
    jonjermey

    Well, at least they admit they’ve got ‘issues’. That’s the first step to recovery.

  27. 27
    markr1957

    I’d say that showing up to try and make sure they operate with factual information qualifies as working on the issues in good faith. Of course anti-vaxxers try to avoid anything remotely resembling a fact.

  28. 28
    nohellbelowus

    C’mon Professor Myers, get smart about this.

    Hire yourself an Agent 99, call her on your shoe phone, and tell her to attend the Canary Convention.

    You HAVE been traveling too much. Sheesh. It’s so simple.

  29. 29
    J Bowen

    Um, so uh, yeah me and my wife are staging an anti-vax convention at our house right down here in Iowa in the near future…

    I have Ardbeg.

  30. 30
    merkinmcmuff

    Gee, I wonder why people think they’re a cult.

  31. 31
    Stella

    Either you need an alter ego (Z.P. Meyers, mild mannered wackaloon, perhaps?), or you need a network of spies to attend these things for you. Given that you have students and your loyal Pharyngula Horde, this really shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

  32. 32
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    Their website is a real piece of work. Their very first “principle” is this:

    1. That awareness of the new man-made epidemics is the first requirement for ending them

    So not only do vaccines not work/hurt people/kill people/cause autism, but the epidemics they were invented to stop are man-made?! Maybe I’m not as aware of the workings of anti-vaxxery (and thank fuck for that; such behavior can only be neuroprotective), but do they actually believe this kinda ultra-conspiracy shit?

    I mean, I don’t even get the logic. What do they think doctors and medical researchers are doing?

    Doc Snidely: Yes, our first batch of Avian Flu is almost complete, mwahahaha!

    Researcher Whiplash: Very good, doctor, but I have an even better idea!

    Doc Snidely: What’s that?

    Researcher Whiplash: We’ll release a manmade virus to the public, then release a vaccine to cure it, and the vaccine will work!

    Doc Snidely: That…doesn’t sound all that good. In fact, it sounds like it would ruin my fiendish plot!

    Researcher Whiplash: But wait! Most people will have the disease prevented by the vaccine, but a very tiny amount of people will get autism through an as-yet-confirmed link espoused only by a discredited doctor!

    Doc Snidely: Brilliant!

  33. 33
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    *release a vaccine to prevent
    **as-yet-unconfirmed

    Sigh. Damn my typin’ fingers.

  34. 34
    Dee Phlat

    Hahaaaha…. without even knowing the conference’s topic, that type of response demonstrates clearly it is not a scientific meeting.

  35. 35
    beerijuana

    Canaries have been depicted in cartoons from the middle 20th century as being harassed by domestic cats; the most famous cartoon canary is Warner Brothers’ “Tweety Bird”.
    ~ Wikipedia entry for “Domestic Canary

    Hmmm…

  36. 36
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Perchance they are talking about the “man-made epidemic” of increased autism diagnoses by California schools.

  37. 37
    Charlie Foxtrot

    They’ve done you a favour there, PZ.

    Probably done your dentistry a favour too. I know I’d come out of a ‘conference’ like that with nothing but a mouthful of splinters and dust :(
    (grrr – hate anti-vaxxers!)

  38. 38
    koyote ken

    Where’s Ben Stein when you need him??

  39. 39
    w00dview

    @ RahXephon
    Don’t you know that Big Pharma deliberately release viruses and make millions by having people vaccinated? Because I don’t know that but it is pretty scary sounding and is probably true so I will only take Homoeopathic medicine in the future.

    /anti-vax kook

  40. 40
    Balstrome

    What would the ultimate acknowledgement that their points of view are untenable? Maybe getting a visa into a country rejected on the grounds that your world-view is in opposition to theirs, or governmental disapproval in the news media. If that ever happened to one of our lot, we would know that there is only a few more steps for us to totally win the debate and have our position accepted as the valid one, by all right thinking humans.

    But this would mean that our world view would have to be see as the threat that it really is to their way of life, and I do not think that they have the intellect to realise this. And most likely never will be able to see it.

  41. 41
    rickschauer

    Hmmm, maybe like Eric Jayne or someone like that and I could go as your surrogates…heheheee! Would be fun!

  42. 42
    Daniel Fincke

    It’s getting harder and harder to crash wackaloon’s events. I’m going to have to wear a fake nose and use a pseudonym in the future, I guess.

    Go dressed as Dawkins.

  43. 43
    Usernames are smart

    Strange, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to “join” the Canary Party.

    Sure, you can sign up for their email blasts, or donate your filthy vaxer lucre to the cause, but how do you join?

    as you are not a member of the Canary Party

    See, that’s the trick: join up at the cheapie student/educator rate, then crash the party. They couldn’t say no to a member, right?

  44. 44
    DLC

    PZ, your notoriety is soon going to make it necessary to establish your Secret Sub-Volcano Headquarters.

    Of course, that’s the real reason for your recent trip to Iceland, isn’t it ? you were scouting out locations for the new HQ. Oh, wait.. . I probably shouldn’t have told anyone… now the Ninjas will be out to get me!

  45. 45
    Emrysmyrddin

    I think that you should take disguise lessons from Jaquen H’ghar.

  46. 46
    bastionofsass

    I don’t know how much fun it would be to hang out at a Canary Party anyway–unless you like seeds a lot because that’s mainly what they eat at these things. Maybe some small pieces of fruit or vegetables if you’re lucky.

    No beer. No booze. Just water to drink.

    And the music. Not a lot of variety. Pretty maybe at first, but after you’ve heard the same basic tunes over and over, it gets to be more than enough.

    Also, if for some reason, you are able to go, words of wisdom: don’t wear nice clothes or shoes and watch where you sit and step. Even when they’ve only been drinking water, canaries invariably poop on the furniture and floor.

  47. 47
    tkreacher

    RahXephon @31,

    What you’ve quoted doesn’t imply to me that they believe any virus itself is man-made, but rather the man-made vaccinations are an epidemic themselves.

    Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover a number of these types actually do believe that viruses are released upon the public in a big pharma conspiracy, but there is no evidence of that in what you quoted.

  48. 48
    Turtles

    If they don’t want you there they must know their views are on such shakey ground that it can’t stand some examination and criticism.

    If they thought they were on to something they’d want as much exposure as possible, as it is they want a private back-slapping, mutual “positive reinforcement” experience. Sounds like religion to me.

  49. 49
    zb24601

    Make sure you are current on your vaccinations.

    Maybe you could make yourself up to look like Bill Donahue, but you will have to yell everything you say.

  50. 50
    Sastra

    As Matt penfold pointed out @24, the average political party has no problem with non-members attending their conventions, even if the non-member is opposed to most of their platform. And I’d extend that generous and open attitude to atheist, skeptic, and humanist events. If the people in preregisteration were to see Ken Ham signing up for the Atheist Alliance convention — or Deepak Chopra at TAM — they ‘d probably be thrilled. Hell, that might even be leaked as an incentive to boost attendance. They would be queried in the hallways, listened to very respectfully, and then they would be politely crushed. Fun for all.

    I agree with Turtles: this sounds more like religion than politics. It also sounds like a therapy group, something formed to support victims, perhaps.

    What it most certainly does NOT sound like is a group that understands the value of open debate, free discussion, and critical examination of every side, including your own.

  51. 51
    gomerp

    At least she wants you to have a nice day.

  52. 52
    =8)-DX

    From the The Canary Party Position Paper on thier web:

    American children are over vaccinated and over medicated, over fed, undernourished and have record levels of chronic illness and developmental delay.

    I may be missing something, but seriously: how can a child be at the same time overfed and undernourished? Are the kids eating grass?

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