Saturday, March 31, 2018

#1989: Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan is a dangerous crank and conspiracy theorist – he has been caught promulgating the craziest fake news – heavily involved in the anti-vaccine movement. Now, Meehan is an MD. That, of course, doesn’t mean that he knows anything about research or rational or scientific assessment of evidence (Meehan demonstrably does not), but the distinction between MD and medical researcher is one not generally recognized by conspiracy theorists, who’ll take anything whatsoever that looks like it can be promoted as an “expert” or authority supporting their side of things. Meehan has no background or expertise in vaccination or immunology – he is actually an ophthalmologist by training – but he is into functional medicine, which is as ridiculous as quackery comes. Currently Meehan operates a “wellness” center in Oklahoma.

He also doesn’t have the faintest idea how the VAERS database works. Meehan has tried to argue that the HPV vaccine is confirmed to have caused 144 deaths (by 2013), because there are 144 reports of death associated with the HPV vaccine in the VAERS database. This is not how the database works (indeed). “It absolutely is evidence,” says Meehan. It isn’t evidence.

But he does know how to parrot standard anti-vaccine claims, and his rants have been relatively widely distributed on social media by people who do not know anything about vaccines or actually bother with the evidence either; most of them is a combination of the claim that infectious diseases aren’t dangeroustoxins gambits – admittedly effective on the chemically illiterate – and conspiracy mongering: the science behind vaccines is untrustworthy because scientists are uniformly corrupt and bought by Big Pharma, who would actually benefit vastly more from hospitalizations due to vaccine-preventable diseases than from vaccines, but like all good conspiracy theories this one requires that you don’t look too closely. There is a thorough takedown of his claims here. Meehan has also been caught supporting the debunked idea that physical trauma and child abuse are “vaccine injury”.

Diagnosis: Aggressive lunatic and unhinged conspiracy theorist. Stay far away.

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