David Barton Features Anti-Vax Speaker at Legislators Conference

Yesteday, I wrote about David Barton’s pitch to Republican lawmakers to avoid low income, young, and uneducated people in voter registration efforts.  Today, I want to point out that Barton promoted anti-vaccine ideology to the assembled legislators by having Theresa Deisher as a featured speaker for the event.

Deisher has a PhD in microbiology from Stanford and was, at one time, a mainstream scientist. However, she converted to anti-vax ideology several years ago and has promoted the theory that vaccines cause autism via the introduction of fetal DNA. Her theories have been thoroughly examined and lack support.

One of the more recent empirical tests comes from friend of the blog Morten Frisch. Frisch and colleagues examined the population of children in Denmark and found no relationship between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. Deisher asserts autism cases are related to use of this vaccine. Here is the summary:

Participants: 657,461 children born in Denmark from 1999 through 31 December 2010, with follow-up from 1 year of age and through 31 August 2013.

Results: During 5,025,754 person-years of follow-up, 6517 children were diagnosed with autism (incidence rate, 129.7 per 100 000 person-years). Comparing MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated children yielded a fully adjusted autism hazard ratio of 0.93 (95% CI, 0.85 to 1.02). Similarly, no increased risk for autism after MMR vaccination was consistently observed in subgroups of children defined according to sibling history of autism, autism risk factors (based on a disease risk score) or other childhood vaccinations, or during specified time periods after vaccination.

David Barton’s Project Blitz has caught on with religious right lawmakers. I would really hate to see anti-vax ideology become a part of the religious right dogma. Putting Deisher in front of legislators as an expert is troubling even if she didn’t talk about vaccines.

This is getting more serious as time goes on. Misguided parents listening to anti-vax crusaders put their children at risk. See below:

Constituents of legislators who want to expand exceptions to vaccination should be prepared to ask their legislators where they are getting their information about vaccines.

9 thoughts on “David Barton Features Anti-Vax Speaker at Legislators Conference”

  1. Originally, I used to see the “anti-vaxxers” as the liberal version of ‘creationists’ (i.e. people who ignore/distort science based on mis-informed personal beliefs). Clearly this is a sad phenomenon that crosses political boundaries. Although, I still use liberal anti-vaxxers to demonstrate how it isn’t just conservatives that mis-use/understand science.

    However this quote:

    “vaccines cause autism via the introduction of fetal DNA.”

    makes me think the conservative side is anti-vax because of a “stealth” anti-abortion stance.

    I do recall one case where a teen refused to get the chicken pox vaccine because it was “derived from aborted fetal tissue.”

  2. Incredible. What on earth is the motivation of these people? Do they come only to steal, kill and destroy?

  3. ah anti-vaxxers: where the spectre of being on the autism spectrum is *so* bad you’d rather see your child (or someone else’s) dead than autistic.

  4. ah anti-vaxxers: where the spectre of being on the autism spectrum is *so* bad you’d rather see your child (or someone else’s) dead than autistic.

  5. This is the phenomenon known as “crank magnetism” in action. Basically, when you already believe one scientific conspiracy, then it’s very easy to accept the pseudo-science or conspiracy theories around another idea and then more and more.

    Let me put it this way, why wouldn’t anti-vax ideology become a part of the religious right dogma at this point? They already believe there are vast scientific conspiracies about the age of the earth, evolution, and climate change. So, it’s not a high hurdle to get them to believe there’s a vast conspiracy of doctors lying to them about vaccines. And the target audience is not exactly about to go look at the evidence or trust the relevant experts to counteract this nonsense. They’ve inoculated themselves against information from the outside world.

    Once you’ve made the choice to abandon reason to justify your conclusions, it’s tough to go back.

  6. The love of disease makes strange bedfellows. David Barton and Bill Maher on the same side, against science.

  7. I don’t think it’s officially a new cause of the religious right… but at the grass-roots, via social media I see some bubblings of a possible connection – of course it’s tied to abortion. To me it seems some anti-abortionists are picking up the bogus autism connection as more fodder for their cause with the added benefit of coming from a few scientists. (But the same people have no problem dismissing other scientists, in other areas or related areas). IMO it’s nuts, but given what the religious right so easily falls for these days, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this becomes a new layer to their other causes.

Comments are closed.