Sunday, May 22, 2011

#204: Robert Kennedy Jr.

Since D. James Kennedy has been an ex-fanatic since his death in 2007, we’ll move on to one of the more famous (though probably not for his woo) people in the Encyclopedia. Robert Kennedy Jr. is the son of Robert Kennedy. He's a lawyer and a staunch environmentalist who has actually done a lot of good in that respect (kudos for that, but doing something right does not mean that you’re not a loon). Lately he has made himself notorious for his anti-vaccinationism and for propagating the thoroughly debunked vaccine-autism connection myth – together with the shitload of paranoid conspiracy theories that follow in its wake.

He has been working closely with the repugnant David Kirby, and has published opinion pieces devoid of fact or critical thinking in several places, including (unsurprisingly) the Huffington Post. See him peddling half-truths and paranoia here, as well as displaying a complete misunderstanding of scientific evidence when lamenting the fact that court cases on the purported vaccine/autism link is based on evidence rather than opinion: “vaccine court gives overwhelming weight to written medical records which are often inaccurate -- over all other forms of testimony and evidence. Observations by parents and other caretakers are given little weight.” A typical, willful failure to see why anecdotal evidence is disregarded in science and why science-based categorizations of ailments are preferred to untrained observer’s diagnostizations.

He also emphasizes that the fact that science disagree with caring mothers’ conviction that their children’s autism was caused by vaccines, means just that scientists and professionals hate mothers. He also recommends chelation therapy for children with autism.

More insane paranoia and conspiracy mongering here, here, and here (and as a follow up to that last post, see here). You get the idea.

Diagnosis: Kennedy is a traditional crank and deluded conspiracy theorist who is thoroughly anti-science (even on the topics on which he is right, he relies almost exclusively on non-scientific arguments); a typical crank and crackpot with little aptitude for actual evidence (as opposed to twisting any fact to look like evidence to lay people). He is enormously influential, and must be considered one of the more dangerous people in the US today.


  1. Taking the role of a skeleton from the past, Kennedy is apparently scheduled to speak at the 2013 version of the antivaxx annual quackfest Autism One.

  2. Kennedy has actually placed himself on the lunatic fringe of the antivaccine movement, complete with analogies to Nazi death camps and complete disregard for any scientific result that goes against his presuppositions (there is a fine portrait here).

    The scientists are just lying, and vaccine-makers are intentionally poisoning kids and giving them autism - and only he and his fellow activists know the truth because journalists, although they may report aggressively on the National Security Agency, Defense Department, and Central Intelligence Agency, are cowed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (discussed: here. In other words, this is standard material, apt for Alex Jones and Jeff Rense.