Wednesday, March 15, 2023

#2627: Marco Cáceres de Iorio

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is an old beast among anti-vaccine groups, and one of the most unhinged – yes, it is Barbara Loe Fisher’s group. The Vaccine Reaction (TVR) is a house organ of the NVIC, and one that continues to spew out antivaccine propaganda covering every anti-vaccine PRATT and trope we have encountered (the VAERS database, anyone?), applying no discernible judgment as long as their claims, accusations and conspiracy theories might resonate with their audiences. Marco Cáceres is the editor of TVR, and seems to have written most of their articles.


According to Cáceres and the TVR, the numbers of people who “have been sickened or injured by the toxins in our environment, foods, and pharmaceutical products” (i.e. vaccines) is enormous and on the rise. They know this because they have already decided that it is the case, and will do anything to make the evidence fit the hypothesis, regardless of what medical science might say. Indeed, a central ploy of the TVR is, unsurprisingly, to try to spin virtually any medical event of note to concern vaccines, even when they really know it doesn’t. So when former Senator José Peralta died of sepsis at 47, Cáceres rushed to point out that the CDC admits that the flu vaccine can cause allergic reactions. He didn’t say outright that Peralta was killed by the flu vaccine, of course. Sepsis is, after all, not an allergic reaction. But you get no prize for answering the question “If Peralta died of sepsis, why did Cáceres bring up allergic reactions to the flu vaccine?”


And on the other hand, one can always go disease denialism. When the zika virus led to an increase in incidence of microcephaly in Brazil (thus suggesting a market for, you know, a zika virus vaccine), Cáceres was quick to lament how viruses are always the easy scapegoat (and “the same thoroughly unscientific mentality has been disseminated widely with regard to bacteria, disease, and fever”) – after all, viruses are natural: “we carry lots of viruses within us all the time, and they don’t harm us in the least bit. And some of them actually do good things for us,” says Cáceres, as if it were remotely relevant to the issue. But it is important to remember that germ theory denialism often lurks right beneath the surface in antivaccine thought.


And oh, is he (and antivaccine activists in general) persecuted! And in his post “Internet Trolls Attack Anyone Resisting Vaccine Party Linehe connects the dots: it’s the shills! All those social media friends and people showing up to tell you that vaccines are safe and effective: they are either backed by shadowy pharma-financed people or rely on information that originates with a small number of shills – apparently using a number of aliases to make you think there are more of them than there are. And one of the notable things about these nasty fellows is how mean they are – they resort to slander and personal insults [i.e. correct people like Cáceres using the mean and offensive technique of appeal to evidence], and when you do that, it shows that you have lost. No, Cáceres didn’t grasp the irony of his claim. But conspiracies are, unsurprisingly, strong with Cáceres, and with them comes the right to dismiss any research or evidence on the basis of perceiving ulterior motives: For instance, Cáceres could easily dismiss research on antivax media by noting that the lead author of a study was an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health – in other words, the author was interested in public health and thus clearly not a disinterested party.


Diagnosis: One of the really central producers of antivaccine propaganda, and as such a serious threat to human health an well-being. Dangerous.

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