Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#1741: Nancy Hokkanen

Nancy Hokkanen is an anti-vaccine activist and contributing editor to the anti-vaccine and quackery site Age of Autism as well as contact person for the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota (not a scientific body). Hokkanen is apparently convinced that autism is mercury poisoning and has compared the use of mercury to genocide; details such as the difference between methyl-mercury and ethyl-mercury don’t bother her that much, nor does the evidence that thimerosal doesn’t cause neurological damage – once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, everything just fits and any inconvenient data easily be explained away by questioning the integrity of those who identified those inconvenient data.

Hat-tip: Destroyed by Science
Naturally, Hokkanen doesn’t like critics who prefer science and evidence to anecdotes and conspiracy mongering: “They reveal much about their narcissistic personalities via a chilling lack of compassion for vaccine-injured children and their families,” says Hokkanen, because anyone who disagrees with her about facts is likely a narcissist (just think about it). Steve Novella, for instance, is one critic not worth taking seriously, according to Hokkanen; Novella “buries his nose in literature, but he fails to recognize the political backstories that skewed the studies” – in other words, he follows the evidence and doesn’t fall for the ad hominem fallacy of trying to dismiss the evidence with conspiracy theories instead of actually engaging with it – and “he hasn’t had face time – or G.I. time – with any kids on the autism spectrum.” Hokkanen, on the other hand, has a son with autism, and that gives her – by the magic of the mommy instinct, apparently – insight into the causes of autism. Not that Hokkanen has the medical or scientific background to engage with the actual research (she has a BA in communications).

Hokkanen has also been involved in promoting dental amalgam crankery. Apparently, after “learning about the variety of health damage caused by mercury toxicity in medical products [from various conspiracy and crackpot sites], [she] had her amalgam tooth fillings removed; subsequently her health improved.” She also promotes raw milk because she grew up with it and (arguably) turned out fine.

Diagnosis: Lizard-people-level conspiracy theorist. The anti-vaccine movement has devolved into a fringe conspiracy group, and fortunately reasonable people have started to realize that this is what the movement is, but they are still numerous enough to pose a genuine threat to public health.

1 comment:

  1. O/T I think Maurice Symonette deserves a place in your Encyclopedia.