Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#1720: Laura Hayes

Laura Hayes, who is a media editor for Age of Autism, is a bit unusual for an anti-vaxxer. As opposed to most anti-vaxxers Hayes has “no problem being called anti-vaccine,” because vaccination, according to Hayes is a “barbaric practice that is not founded on any sound science.” Of course, Hayes is almost remarkably unqualified to measure soundness in science (her CV summary on AoA lists her as a “mother”), as demonstrated for instance in her article “The Oxymoron of Safe Vaccines,” where she tells us that “it is of paramount importance for people to understand that the term ‘safe vaccines’ is an oxymoron, and therefore, I would argue that even those who might call themselves ‘pro-science’ would not agree that there is any ‘smart approach to vaccination’.” Why not? Since “[b]y their very nature, vaccines cannot be made safe, as they artificially and unnaturally stimulate the immune system (by injecting these toxic cocktails), versus inhaling or consuming them).” Yes, that’s right. Vaccines must be unsafe because they are unnatural (And no, she doesn’t really have any idea of how any of this actually works, despite attempts to parrot scientific language.) And according to Hayes, “vaccines have never been properly studied, either individually, or in the myriad combinations in which they are given, or as a complete whole over the first 18 years of a child’s life,” where “properly studied” apparently means “studied in a way that yields the conclusions I have already decided are the right one;” the tons of studies doing precisely what Hayes claims they are not doing do not give her the answer she wants. Also, Paul [sic] Thorsen, who peripherally worked on one big study, misused grant money to cover personal expenses; therefore all the results of big studies are invalid. Yeah, it’s the same as always (no, really).

Here is a discussion of her introduction to the antivaxx conspiracy film “Vaxxed”.

She also complains about “vaccine bullies”, who are apparently those who thinks that vaccines should be mandatory for school children. In her article “Dear Emily Willingham, Dorit Reiss, Christopher Hickie and other Vaccine Bullies” she rhetorically asks the question: “Do you believe anyone has the right to be exempt from vaccines? Does the Constitution protect the individual’s right to refuse a vaccine?” Of course, adults do have the right to refuse vaccines (apparently Hayes is a bit unclear on the distinction between “your children” and “your property”), and the Supreme Court has already ruled that philosophical and religious exemptions from vaccination for children are not required; it really doesn’t matter what Hayes believes. She proceeds to list 15 circumstances and asks the reader to consider these cases, most of which are misleading (no one is arguing against medical exemptions or exemptions in cases where there is a reasonable suspicion that an adverse reaction might occur, all things considered), where the really telling one is: “If a parent has independently researched vaccines, possibly to a level that exceeds that of any healthcare practitioner they might see, and is confident that they have reached the best decision for their family, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?” I assume the answer is supposed to be “yes”, for the same reason hospitals should consider replacing doctors with parents who have done their research. The implication that the knowledge she or other parents have obtained through google might rival that of experts is at least telling. That’s what the Dunning-Kruger effect is. Of course, she also repeats the myth that there have been no studies comparing the health of vaccinated v. unvaccinated children. As for evidence that supports her claims (to the contrary of science) she cites “informal surveys and assessments” such as an Internet survey by a German homeopath and a spectacularly incompetently administered phone survey commissioned by Age of Autism.

Courtesy of Refutations of
Antivaccine Memes
Now, it is common among anti-vaccine cranks to liken vaccines to the Holocaust, rape or brainwashing. Hayes has contributed to this collection of strained analogies by comparing vaccination with human trafficking. You may wonder how the analogy is supposed to go, but Hayes isn’t going to help you (she seems not to know what human trafficking is); she is still convinced, though, that “vaccine trafficking is a pharma-driven criminal industry that is based on the principle of ‘poison to profit’, with the goal being to ensure that every American is somewhere between sick and dead, for as long as possible.” Of course, she has compared vaccines to the Holocaust, too: “Please help stop this vaccine madness, this vaccine holocaust against our children,” says Hayes, and in the manner of your idea of a tinfoil hatter lays out, once again, how vaccines just is a means for Big Pharma to deliberately kill and injure as many children as possible.

Diagnosis: One wonders whether some of the less clinically insane AoA members sometimes stop up and ask themselves “wait, isn’t this article we’re promoting just hysterically crazy conspiracy theory?” Well, Hayes is not among that group, and yes: This is whale.to tinfoilhattery.

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