Janet Levatin is a pediatrician and one of few actual pediatricians who sympathize with the anti-vaccine movement – she has, for instance, been used in the marketing campaign for the anti-vaxx film “The Greater Good” after praising the movie for “offer[ing] a balanced discussion of the issues” (it doesn’t). Of course, Levatin doesn’t care about “balanced”; Levatin is a hardcore anti-vaxxer whose article “Why Do Doctors Push Vaccines” appeared right there on leading anti-vaxxer Sherri Tenpenny’s website. That article is rich in standard anti-vaccine tropes, such as:
- Confusing correlation and causation: “the deterioration of our nation’s health with the bloated vaccination schedule” (the correlation is itself highly questionable; the causation claim demonstrably false).
- Claiming that many pediatricians continue to recommend vaccines “out of fear” of authorities (and possibly greed).
Of course, taking a look at Levatin’s own practices is revealing. Yes, she does have a medical degree; she has also been a Homeopathic Master Clinician for 15 years who “regularly refers children for chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, allergy elimination, and other modalities,” and proclaims that her practice offers “holistic pediatrics” and homeopathy for children and adults. Yes, Levatin is a good, old-fashioned quack. And, says her bio: “Throughout her training Dr. Janet disagreed with much of what she observed in the conventional medical practice, including overuse of medications, unwholesome hospital nutrition, and virtually nonexistent methods for true prevention and health promotion. Since seeing more than one case of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) after infant vaccination in the 1980s, she has been an outspoken physician against the over-vaccination of children”. Of course, vaccination is demonstrably negatively correlated with SIDS, but Levatin is not one to let facts override conclusions she emoted herself to through motivated reasoning.
None of her background in quackery and the antivaccine movement was mentioned in the marketing campaign for “The Greater Good”, of course.
Levatin is otherwise a mainstain at antivaxx conferences and gatherings, and makes sure to keep the pseudoscience content high and levels of accountability and sensitivity to evidence low. You can see a summary of her talk at the 2012 AutismOne quackfest conference here (the hib vaccine causes peanut allergy because some pseudochemical equivalent of astrology that outweighs the complete lack of evidence for any connection; and vaccines causes autism since science and evidence don’t matter when up against Levatin’s powers of intuition guided by what she already knows to be true regardless of evidence.)
Diagnosis: Good, old-fashioned crackpot; and as all crackpot she bolsters her pseudoscience by rejecting actual science, evidence and facts in favor of an epistemic system based on inference by free emoting. But since she does have an actual education, anti-vaxxers cherish her firm commitment to the cause, and gives her ample air time. Frighteningly dangerous, in quite tangible ways (her vaccine position, if adopted by merely a small number, will likely lead to real deaths).