Saturday, November 18, 2017

#1924: Carolyn Maloney

Carolyn Maloney is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district and, together with Bill Posey, the greatest friend of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists in Congress (anti-vaccine conspiracies are a bipartisan thing).

For instance, Maloney introduced the “Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Populations Act of 2007” (H.R. 2832) legislation that would require the National Institutes of Health, ostensibly to conduct a comprehensive comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in support of spurious claims asserting a link between vaccines and autism, and partially guided by the standard anti-vaccine myth that there are no large-scale studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children (there are, of course, but they don’t show what antivaccine advocates want them to show, so they want new ones to be conducted until they get different results). The bill did not pass, so Maloney (unsuccessfully) re-introduced it in 2008.

She introduced similar legislation (with Bill Posey) in 2013 to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct or support a study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. The details are discussed here; note how the bill assumes that scientists are in a conspiracy to hide the truth and effectively says that research done by qualified researchers shouldn’t count in the study (qualified researchers tend to be biased by truth and accuracy.)

And make no mistake: Maloney is antivaccine, and has been caught parroting anti-vaccine nonsense on several occasions, such as Dan Olmsted’s false claim that the Amish don’t vaccinate and don’t get autism. And during a hearing held by by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee she grilled CDC representatives demanding to know why autism prevalence has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88. Of course, there is no autism epidemic (there really isn’t) and the perceived increase in autism is due primarily to developments of screening programs, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, better detection and increased awareness. So to prevent the CDC representative from responding with facts Maloney emphasized that she “doesn’t want to hear that we have better detection” – yup: “explain this to me, but do so without referring the actual facts, since I reject those.” Maloney, who has no background in medical research, claimed that detection cannot account for a jump from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88, even though there are plenty of examples from medical science of screening programs, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, and better detection accounting for even larger increases in the prevalence of a condition. So yes, Maloney has already decided that the vaccine program or some other environmental factor (that is, vaccines) is causing an “autism epidemic,” which doesn’t exist, and to support her position, she adopts the nonsensical “too many too soon” trope so beloved by antivaccinationists.

It’s also worth noting that Maloney marched with Jenny McCarthy in her infamous antivaccine Green Our Vaccines rally in 2008.

In addition to her antivaccine views, it is worth pointing out that Maloney co-sponsored the 2009 reintroduction of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act to limit public access to scientific research (some details here and here. (Maloney was bought and paid by Elsevier to do so.)

Diagnosis: Maloney is scientifically utterly ignorant, and as such staunchly anti-science. And to support that position, Maloney subscribes to conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, she also has the power and influence to use her anti-science views and commitment to conspiracy theories to really do substantial harm. We count her as one of the more dangerous loons in the US at present.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently she has recently backed away from her antivaccine beliefs, at least to some extent.