“Anti-vaccine doctor met with Somalis” went a recent headline in the Minneapolis StarTribune. It refers to Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former UK physician who reanimated a moribund anti-vaccine movement in the US and elsewhere with his fraudulent 1998 Lancet paper. Wakefield was in the Twin Cities last week to reassure Minnesota’s 70,000-strong Somali population that the measles outbreak that has stricken 11 persons to date is not his fault, and that it isn’t really an outbreak anyway, and it’s OK to keep on not vaccinating. Five of the 11 victims are unvaccinated Somali children.
Not all Somalis are buying the shtick. When Wakefield’s one-man listening tour stopped at the Safari Restaurant in Minneapolis last week, five parents reportedly showed up, one of whom was there to call Wakefield a liar.
Back to the headline. Wakefield’s noisy apologists object to calling anybody, much less their idol, anti-vaccine. To vaccine rejecting parents, the A-word is the new scarlet letter, one that unfairly characterizes their purported interest in vaccine safety. “There is no anti-vaccine movement,” says Paul King, PhD, of the Coalition for Mercury Free Drugs (CoMeD). The acronym’s scarlet A is silent – King is partners with Mark Geier, the notorious Maryland physician who blames vaccines for autism, and who chemically castrates autistic children under the guise of “treatment.”
The anti-vaccine description can be misused. One can legitimately question and even criticize the way the medical establishment immunizes the population against the diseases that panicked our grandparents. The vaccine program is constantly scrutinized, analyzed, and tweaked by researchers who understand the relevant disciplines, and to call those folks anti-vaccines would entirely miss the point. What we refer to as “anti-vaccine” is really a spectrum of disordered thinking that is best characterized by indifference to facts and reason. Less severe cases include parents who heed Dr. Bob Sears’s advice to “go slow” on their child’s shots, to the more severe cases of germ theory denialism.
So to better help writers, editors, parents, and others to define “anti-vaccine”, AutismNewsBeat offers the first-ever diagnostic criteria for Vaccine Rejectionism Spectrum Disorder. Feel free to criticize – that won’t necessarily make you anti-criteria.
Vaccine Rejectionism Spectrum Disorder (VRSD)
Vaccine Rejectionism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term applied to individuals who mislead others, through spoken and/or written communications, about the risk of vaccines and vaccination.
The five VRSDs are Pervasive Anti-Science Disorders. They are classified as Crank Disorder, Handley Disorder, Reason Disintegrative Disorder, Jay’s Disorder, and Pervasive Anti-Science Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PAD-NOS).
PRSDs are characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of reasoning skills; communication skills; or the presence of stereotyped talking points, interests and activities.
The qualitative impairments that describe these conditions vary significantly compared to the individual’s investment in vaccine rejectionism.
A. A total of six (or more) items from (1), (2) and (3) with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3):
- Qualitative impairment in logic and reasoning, as manifested by at least two of the following:
b. failure to understand the difference between virus and bacteria
c. belief that it is better to “get the disease” than the vaccine
d. belief that all disease can be prevented by proper nutrition, exercise, and chakra balancing
2. Reliance on certain primary communication sources for health information:
d. Rescue Angels
3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
a. encompassing preoccupation with the Amish and/or Somalis
b. apparently inflexible adherence to the DAN! protocol
c. stereotyped and repetitive anti-vaccine talking points, e.g., “Allopaths kill people, too!”, “Only a pharma shill would say that atoms have electrons.”
d. persistent preoccupation with the Simpsonwood Conference
B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas: (1) providing relevant links in web comments, (2) proper use of capital letters (3) admitting a mistake
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Handley Disorder or Reason Disintegrative Disorder.
A. All of the following:
- stubborn adherence to baseless ideas, even when those ideas contradict one another
- projecting one’s own lack of integrity on others (see Offit Derangement Disorder)
- normal head circumference at birth
B. Onset of all of the following while surfing the internet:
- inflated sense of importance
- loss of any previously acquired purposeful reasoning skills
- loss of empathy (although often social interaction with D-list celebrities develops later)
- appearance of poorly coordinated media relations strategy
- severely impaired moral compass
A. Apparently normal understanding of scientific method until interaction with peers who harbor vaccine rejectionist attitudes and beliefs
B. Clinically significant loss of previously acquired reasoning skills in at least two of the following areas:
- understanding the difference between “correlation” and “causation”
- having a polite and constructive dialogue with your child’s pediatrician
- healthy skepticism
- ignoring day-time talk shows
- recognizing one’s own biases
C. Abnormalities of functioning in at least two of the following areas:
- qualitative impairment in answering relevant questions
- vacuous appeals to authority
- strawman argumentation
D. The disturbance is not better accounted for by another specific Evidence Developmental Disorder or by Palin Infatuation Syndrome
Qualitative impairment in mounting a coherent argument, as manifested by at least two of the following:
A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
- marked impairment in the use of the empirical evidence
- failure to develop appropriate professional peer relationships
- a preference for personal observations and anecdotes over data and evidence
B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
- encompassing preoccupation with seeking the approval of celebrities
- embarrassing oneself in front of a national television audience
- confusing what might be true with what is proven
- persistent preoccupation with junk science
The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning
- There is no clinically significant general delay in billing patients for services
- There is no clinically significant delay in adaptive behavior (other than in peer interaction)
- Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Anti-Science Disorder or Dr. Bob Syndrome
This category should be used when there is a severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reasoning skills, or when stereotyped anti-vaccine talking points, interests and activities are present, but the criteria are not met for a specific Pervasive Anti-Science Disorder, Warrior Mom Personality Syndrome, or Mercola Personality Disorder. For example, this category includes atypical anti-vaccine presentations that do not meet the criteria for Crank Disorder because of atypical symptomatology, or sub-threshold symptomatology, or both of these.