Of all the modern anti-science movements out there, few are more dangerous or harmful than the anti-vaccine movement. Yes, it has killed people. It will continue to kill people. It has also resulted in huge amounts of money and resources being devoted to combating public health problems that should have (and in some cases were) eliminated years ago.
One thing that is very noteworthy about the movement is just how well funded it seems to be. Obviously some of the funding comes from the fact that it often is a business and money is invested directly to make a return. Many of the dishonest doctors who have spoken out against vaccines do so to make money directly. In such cases, it is a self-funded enterprise, promoted like any other venture and funded by the sales of books, lecture tickets and various “detoxification” products and a like.
The alternative medicine world is very lucrative and has a great deal of interest in the anti-vaccine movement. Many of the promoters are either directly or indirectly profiting from it. Some may simply be pushing the message of homeopathy or other areas of quackery and the message against vaccines is simply part and parcel of the medical philosophy they choose to sell.
There are also true “grass roots” activists out there (read idiots). They work on their own time and may even contribute their own money to efforts to stop the progress of vaccines in combating infectious disease. However, these efforts are usually very amateurish in their style.
A few organizations stand out, however, as having a very professional and credible image which has clearly come from a well-funded effort targeted directly at discrediting vaccines. Chief among them is the National Vaccine Information Center. It is a non-profit that has paid for billboards and media campaigns against vaccines and runs one of the most visited websites on the topic. What makes it stand out is how professional and well managed the effort seems to be. The website is well designed and looks credible. The information provided is also deceptively well worded. They stay away from the more outlandish claims of things like chemtrails and Illuminati plots, but drive home a seemingly plausible story of deaths and injuries from vaccines.
Like many such efforts, they are hiding behind the false notion of “personal choice” in a matter which really only has one rational choice. There is no valid scientific reason to oppose vaccines (unless you just hate humans and love pathogens.) But the slick campaign and message makes it clear that there are deep pockets behind the effort.
Similar efforts have funded everything from advertisements in magazines to “independent” documentary movies on the topic.
It turns out that there are, in fact, some very wealthy individuals who are behind this. Their motive seems to be a genuine belief that vaccines cause harm. Clearly, you can be rich and still very stupid.
This video from CNN just scratches the surface of the issue:
(click here if your browser does not support embedded video)Unfortunately, it will be hard to take down these well-funded foundations. If these were rich individuals who were making money in a certain business sector, the
logical thing to do would be to destroy their companies through boycotts. Yet these foundations seem to be mostly founded by individuals with a lot of acquired wealth, which is not going anywhere. The Dwoskins do make money from a current property management group, but it would be hard to boycott such a company, since they have a limited number of clients, many of whom are locked into leases. Barry Segal is retired and just has a lot of money burning a hole in his pocket so little can be done there.
None the less, it is important not to become completely discouraged. This is not a grass-roots movement. It’s both a business sector and a campaign by some very twisted rich people. That should be all the more reason to get the message out and fight back. Just getting out that message alone can do much to undermine the image the movement has worked to craft.
Posted in Bad Science, Quackery