Friday, August 30, 2019

#2235: Kristine Severyn

Medical Voices is an antivaccine website that seems to pretend to offer scholarly articles written by various quacks, pseudoscientists and denialists on various medical issues loosely related to vaccines (or: it used to be; at present it seems to have reverted to its origin as the International Medical Council on Vaccination). The publication criteria seem mostly to be that the author uses (or misuses) medical terms in their articles, and their academic standards are otherwise non-existent. The goal, however, seems clearly to be to have a repository of articles that quacks can cite in a manner that superficially looks scholarly practice, which they certainly need given that they otherwise struggle to have their rants published in outlets that care about details like evidence, fact and accuracy. The list of people who have published on the site accordingly makes for a fairly comprehensive list of the most egregious woo-promoters and antivaccine advocates in the US, including Joe Mercola, Suzanne Humphries, Bob Sears, Russell Blaylock and Sherri Tenpenny.

Kristine Severyn has also “published” with Medical Voices. Severyn is an “RPh, PhD” and antivaccine activist. For Medical Voices, Severyn published the article “Profits, Not Science, Motivate Vaccine Mandates,” where she argued that “[v]accines represent an economic boon for pediatricians. Profitable well-baby visits are timed to coincide with vaccination schedules established by the AAP and the CDC,” and therefore that vaccine mandates are not motivated by science – the shill gambit is a recurring strategy in Medical Voices articles. Of course, in real life (yes: there are studies on this), “the vaccination portion of the business model for primary care pediatric practices that serve private-pay patients results in little or no profit from vaccine delivery. When losses from vaccinating publicly insured children are included, most practices lose money.” It is worth emphasizing, however, that Severyn’s conclusion wouldn’t follow even if one assumed the opposite of what is actually the case with regard to profits.

Severyn is otherwise the founder of Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety, which has long been fighting for religious as well as “moral and philosophical” exemptions to vaccinations in Ohio as well as pushing various myths and conspiracy theories about vaccines (including aborted fetal tissue scaremongering and falsely claiming that vaccines aren’t tested). Severyn, a registered Republican, has apparently also been involved in various anti-abortion campaigns.

Diagnosis: A tireless veteran campaigner for unreason, denialism and conspiracy theories, Severyn is perhaps not among the most notable celebrities in the antivaccine movement, but her persistent efforts to promote myths and falsehoods are surely not making a positive contribution to humanity.

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