Unethical is too mild a word

Am I going to face the wrath of the anti-vaccination kooks for linking to this? Bring them on. Orac has an article that thoroughly disgusted me: a report on the infamous MD, Andrew Wakefield, who published an article in The Lancet that claimed to have found a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. I had no idea that it had such a strong effect.

Wakefield’s work for the lawyers began two years before he published his now notorious report in The Lancet medical journal in February 1998, proposing a link between the vaccine and autism.

This suggestion, followed by a campaign led by Wakefield, caused immunisation rates to slump from 92% to 78.9%, although they have since partly recovered. In March this year the first British child in 14 years died from measles.

Orac has a timeline that also includes this fact: in 2003, there were 4204 cases of mumps; in 2004, 16436; in 2005, 56390. That’s in addition to the death from measles. That’s an awful lot of misery. What did Wakefield get out of this? Was it the satisfaction of advancing the cause of science? Of revealing the truth? Of combating autism? It looks like the rewards were a little less lofty and a lot more venal than that: £435,000. He’s got a little consulting gig now, getting paid £1000 per day to testify against the wickedness of vaccinations for legal firms out to sue pharmaceutical companies.


It got me wondering how much you’d have to pay me to make 50,000 children sick, and maybe kill a few. There isn’t any sum you could funnel to my bank account to get me to do that, but Wakefield would do it for the low sum of about a million dollars. Who knew evil could be had so cheaply?

Another thing that appalled me was that one of the referees for one of his papers was paid £40,000 for his review. I thought we were supposed to do this anonymously, and for free! Next paper, I should call up the author and get bids on a positive review…and if ever I should do that, strip me of my degree, fire me from my job, and throw me out on the street in disgrace. The “scientists” who perpetrated this fraud are vermin, and ought to be similarly drummed out of the ranks.

One set of things not mentioned, though, are the identities of the lawyers and the law firms who threw millions of pounds at scientists to corrupt them, and gin up the grounds for a lucrative lawsuit. There should also be an ethics investigation of those people, and a loss of their right to practice law in any way.

What evil lurks near you?

Brock at Stupid Evil Bastard finds a fascinating map of US hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you’re wondering what nastiness can be found in your neighborhood, it’s a handy reference. Minnesota has more Neo-Nazis and Christian Identity groups than I like to see, but you’ll have to look at the maps of California and Texas to see more scary stuff than this.


This is a slightly weird map—the Christian Identity group that looks like it is close to Morris is actually in Burnsville, south of Minneapolis, and should be way over to the east, near the cluster of swastikas. More accurate information can be found in the text accompanying the maps at the SPLC.

Welcome to an American institution of higher learning

Rob Helpy-Chalk has a horrific video of a student being repeatedly shocked with a taser…for not exiting a UCLA library quickly enough. If you’d rather not listen to a hand-cuffed young man screaming in pain, you could just read the story. There are a few campus police officers who need to be sacked immediately and publicly; there are no excuses for their abuse of power.

Fools and monsters

I’ve long respected the Amish—they aren’t Luddites, as typically portrayed, but a community that consciously deliberates over the effects of technology on social interactions, and limits those effects (in ways I would find personally disagreeable, but hey, it’s their life), and I like the fact that they are willing to let young members explore the life outside their communities. The recent murders were monstrous, their perpetrator sick and evil, and I can’t even imagine the pain those families have to be going through. This comment, though, says that at least some Amish also live a life of sad delusion.

“We think it was God’s plan, and we’re going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going,” he [Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker] said. “A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors.”

No, no they’re not, and this old kook should know better. If his claim were true, you’d have to argue that the murderer did a good thing for those children, and that parents ought to strangle their kids as soon as they’re born.

Get enturbulated

A reader sent me a link to this unpleasant video of Scientologists in Clearwater, FL. I recognize the work: it’s by Mark Bunker of XenuTV, where you’ll find a whole collection videos documenting the kind of religious fascism Scientology, the creepiest cult on the planet, sponsors.

Bunker’s videos show how these grim fanatics can take over a whole town by terrifying the residents and coopting the police—it’s very unsettling.

Just another Christian ranter on the fringe

He only has a few radio and television programs, his own university, tens of millions of dollars to throw at his political causes, and a few million voters in his pocket, so Jerry Falwell* is just a marginal nut, right? We can just ignore him when he says things like this:

It is apparent, in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel, that the present day events in the Holy Land may very well serve as a prelude or forerunner to the future Battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ.

Those rapture freaks who are cheering on the bloodshed in the Middle East certainly don’t have any real clout…at least, not as much as us influential atheists, I’m sure.

(via DefCon)

*Grade A Demented Fuckwit.

Praying for the mushroom clouds

Praise Jesus!

The Talent Show had to ruin my morning with a revelation: check out this evil thread on Rapture Ready—these kooks are overjoyed at the war and mayhem and death in the Middle East, and treat every catastrophe as a sign of their imminent ascent into heaven.

I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what’s going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, Ohappyday, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!

There are a few people late in the long, long thread who express some reservations, but it’s like this person, who thinks they have to wait longer…because there aren’t enough potential nukes involved.

I’m excited just to be alive! I love life! I still got all of it to look forward to! Getting married this summer, third year of university etc… I live everyday as though Jesus was coming back (at least I try to), yet I plan as if I will be here until I die. Personally, I still think there is years left and much much more wars and rumors of, and natural disasters, and hatred…sigh. I think it will get much much worse, even so that those of us in the west are struggling to survive! The middle east will most likely stay tense, even tenser than ever before. I dont think Iran has nukes yet, so it wants to wait to start a war with Israel. Same with Syria. They need more weapons of mass destruction before theyll start anything…which is dumb cause they will just get oliberated in return!

Oh, but I forgot…these are just healthy religious views that we must respect. I should tread lightly lest I offend.

The Rapture Ready link is dead—the administrators yanked the thread. It must be painful to be so crazy, yet not quite so crazy that you don’t notice that the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy.

Immigration solved, the Christian Libertarian way

Just when you think the lunatic Right can’t possibly get any more deranged, we’ve got Minnesota’s own Christian Libertarian, Vox Day, to raise the wingnut bar another couple of meters. He doesn’t like our president, but not for the reasons I dislike him: it’s because George just doesn’t realize the full extent of American power. The immigration problem is nothing, and is easily solved.

And he will be lying [GW Bush, in his address to the nation], again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic—it’s just not going to work.”

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Now you might be thinking that this is a terrible idea, and that turning the force of the State against millions of people sounds fascist and not at all like what a good Christian Libertarian would propose, and you’d be right. Mr Day isn’t suggesting that we enable a large authoritarian state to do the work: at the first word of a pogrom, I mean “deportation program”, he thinks a third of the aliens will immediately skedaddle, and market forces and the mob are sufficient to take care of the rest.

A fence is not necessary, for there are other means of efficiently resolving the problem without resorting to such an obviously dangerous measure. Instant deportation policies, employer fines and bounty programs combined with the denial of all social services to non-citizens would suffice to settle the matter without the need to imprison the American citizenry. As the Minutemen have proven, again, unleashing the power of motivated private citizens is far more efficient than relying on government bureaucrats.

Strip illegal immigrants of all rights and privileges, set bounties, unleash the armed mobs, and the immigration problem is solved! Now why didn’t we think of that?

Oh, right. Because we aren’t freakin’ nuts.

(via Yowling from the Fencepost)

DaveScot, defender of terrorism…as long as you do it one innocent at a time

DaveScot, the lunatic who rants at Dembski’s blog, has just posted an appalling complaint. He’s been falsely sliming Kevin Padian as a racist, and now he’s attacking Padian for saying that the religious fanatics who kill abortion doctors are contemptible. You read that right: you are not allowed to regard anti-abortion extremists who murder in their cause as bad people, or DaveScot will whine about how you are a bigot who hates Christians.

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