Saturday, March 19, 2016

#1625: Wendy Fournier

Wendy Fournier is an anti-vaccine activist and president of the National Autism Association (NAA), a group committed to the ridiculously false idea that “[v]accinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions” (it also lists the other usual and falsified (if they were ever worth taking seriously) autism “biomed” causes, such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, proximity to freeways and the like). Katie Wright is a board member. Fournier and the NAA are, of course, more committed to antivaxx lunacy than the “mays” or “cans” of the NAA mission statement might suggest (and which, to emphasize once again, is in blatant denial of the uniform results of actual research). Indeed, the NAA is a sponsor of the quack seminar Age of Autism. But Fournier and the NAA of course don’t market themselves as antivaccine conspiracy theorists. That’s presumably how they could for instance manage to land a partnership with Chili’s, which the company – after actually taking the time to check out what they were sponsoring – subsequently backed out of. Mike Adams took the case to show, once again, that there is a global conspiracy by the “medical mafia” to kill everyone (a framing that probably didn’t help the NAA’s standing with donors, and Fournier claimed that Chili’s cancellation was bullying, orchestrated by people who hate children with autism and that the anti-vaccine claims of the NAA are made by parents who “are entitled to their viewpoints without being attacked.”

Of course, despite denying that she is “antivaccine” (which most anti-vaxxers do as a ploy to look “moderate”, even though it is usually not hard to see through it), Fournier has a penchant for participating at antivaccine conferences, such as the Give Autism A Chance Summit of The Autism Trust, together with “luminaries” like Rob Schneider, Andrew Wakefield, Arthur Krigsman and Kim Stagliano. Though she knows nothing about science or how research works, Fournier has also been caught dismissing scientific studies that find no link between vaccines and autism out of hand. And if you don’t understand the science but don’t like the results of a study, what do you do? You obfuscate, appeal to conspiracy (“conflict of interest”) and move the goalposts, of course.

Diagnosis: Hardcore science denialist and conspiracy theorist. And like most rabid antivaccine activist she has been forced into the conspiracy theorist position position by those pesky, bullying scientists: She knows what she wants the answer to be, but evidence, science and reality tell us that this answer is wrong, so what choice does she have?

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