Exception to the Rule at the March for Science: Asshole with Camera

Remember my last blog post, and how happy we all were? Keep that in mind. Hold fast to those glorious feelings of comaraderie and fraternity/sorority. Are you remembering? Are you in your happy place? 

As a rule, everyone at the March for Science in DC was cheerful, helpful, polite, and kept their signs and chants to the scientifically defensible. However, as we all know, rules are made to be broken. Several nay-sayers have gotten the courage up to attack the march with their usual cherry-picked outliers. A photo that dares mention that sexism exists, or that calls out Donald Trump, are reason enough to declaim the whole event. But that is to be expected. A whole lot of people, even those who claim to love science, don't really get it at the street level. They orget that one cannot draw generalities from a single data point and confuse outliers with a representative sample. So, a single photo is all the evidence they think they need. A single photo becomes the whole. We knew that going in though, didn't we? We were prepared for that. It's why we winced every time we spotted someone getting anywhere near these controversial topics in the planning or during the march itself. We thought we had mostly dodged the bullet, and that the woo peddlers had largely stayed home. And largely they did. But... are you in that happy place? Are you remembering how everyone smiled and wished us luck? You remember when they asked who could possibly be against science? Remember all the signs that pointed out that--

I got only approval of this sign at the DC march. 

I got only approval of this sign at the DC march. 

There's always one.

There was a particularly nasty anti-vaxer that showed up at the March for Science in D.C., and he posted an angry little video. I've forced myself to watch this piece of work myself, to save you suffering that fate. (And I watched it offline, so as to give him as little YouTube credit as possible.) You do you, but that's how I roll these days. This guy is a troll in every sense. He gets in the way as his target walks and when fans try to take pictures, asks idiotic questions, yells, and makes debunked points repeatedly. He is a full on avowed Anti-vaxer, as he cheerful admits near the start of this abortion of a video. This is the kind of anti-science propaganda that we are up against these days. It demands fierce science to rebut it. As one marcher said,

Pop culture reference for the win! You knew I'd get a few in here, right?

Pop culture reference for the win! You knew I'd get a few in here, right?

special presentation screenshot

First let me introduce our intrepid filmmaker with the shaky understanding of all things science and vaccine related. His name is Joshua Coleman. We know this because he presents his video as A Joshua Coleman Special Presentation. I have to chuckle. We've made videos like that too, amateur videos with the cool titles that mimic professional news productions. We do it in fun, but I get the distinct impression this guy is serious, like he really thinks The Joshua Coleman productions are well enough known that he needs to tell us that this one is a Special Presentation. Ok, enough fun at his expense. Maybe I'm being unfair.

Then again, a quick Google search turned up this story on Fox. 

The title is a bit misleading. Apparently he keyed a car while his kid was with him, then left the kids to run from the cops and hide in a trash can. So I don't know if "cruelty to children" was an appropriate charge. 

The title is a bit misleading. Apparently he keyed a car while his kid was with him, then left the kids to run from the cops and hide in a trash can. So I don't know if "cruelty to children" was an appropriate charge. 

The object of his ire in PANdemic is one pediatrician turned lawmaker, California State Senator Richard Pan, a Democrat. But party affiliation is not why Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman is angry. No, he is angry because Senator Pan advocates for vaccines. Yep, he is a doctor, who advocates for vaccines, and in the upside down world of the science deniers, that makes Senator/Doctor Pan, an enemy to be hounded and harassed. Worse, doctor Pan is also a California lawmaker who has championed the law that rescinded the personal belief exemption for vaccines. Just in case this whole idea is new to you, and you've never heard of them, a quick review. Most kids in the US are required to get vaccinated according to the CDC's recommended schedule in order to attend public school. That's it. There's no law requiring all children to get vaccinated, and no rule that adults must be. Only children who attend public school must, by law, get their recommended vaccines. Each state is allowed to make their own rules to a degree, and most have set up certain exemptions to these rules. For instance, some states provide religious exemptions for those in religions that object to vaccines for spiritual reasons. Almost all states allow medical exemptions for children that have contraindicated conditions that prevent vaccinating, such as those with autoimmune disorders or certain allergies. I have a relative that fits this category. But California had an especially lax code that allowed something called a personal belief exemption. It basically allowed any parent who said they had a strong personal objection to their child being vaccinated, to get exempted from the requirement while their child could still attend public school. Then the Disney Land measles outbreak happened and a lot of people finally agreed that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to let unvaccinated children in large numbers attend school. It was just too big a risk, and California voted to get rid of that category of exemptions. The result has been positive, with the number of unvaccinated children in some areas dropping dramatically. Lots more vaccinated children seems like a good thing to me, but not to the anti-vax crowd, who feel Doctor/Senator Pan is a criminal. That's right, advocating for safer schools and healthier children, is now considered a bad thing.

Screenshot of poster carried by film maker from PANdemic of Lies at The March for Sciencce

Screenshot of poster carried by film maker from PANdemic of Lies at The March for Sciencce

Two quick notes, before we discuss the video itself. First, I think Senator Pan handled himself with more equanimity than could I. I tend to get mad about the third time I'm called a liar and lash out verbally. Senator Pan refused to be baited. On the other hand, I would have loved to see some of the people who started to address his comments really debate him. They were at a science march. What better venue could there have been to engage in some street epistemology for science? Now, to be clear, I don't for a second think anyone could have changed Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman's mind. He's a true believer and has heard all our arguments before. However, there's really no better spur to public discourse than a demonstration of the arguments for and against. Science grows from healthy debate. And a lot of people in the public have actually not heard the refutations to the claims of the anti-vax community. Letting someone like this make his idiotic declarations unopposed may leave in some people's mind the impression that medical science has no answers to his points. So below, I hope to show that they do. This is no criticism of Senator Pan or the other doctors in this video. Just a hope for better communication if the opportunity presents itself in the future. So here goes.

Right out of the box, Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman hits Sen. Pan with a machine gun burst of bullspit.  I've time stamped each of his more idiotic outbursts.

 

1:10 - "Every single case of polio since '94 has been caused by the vaccination." He says, then throws out the anti-vaxer's misappropriated word of the day, "...vaccine shedding."

 

Well, it would take exactly one hit on a Google search to put that one soundly to bed. In 1995, the WHO and the CDC reported wild polio myelitis present in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe (especially the Russian Federation), Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific region. These are wild polio cases. The only region free of endemic (wild) polio as of 1994-5 was the Americas. You can check the CDC archives for this information here

But let's be charitable and assume that what he meant was that, in America, all the cases of polio since 1994 have been due to the polio vaccine. It's still not correct, since there have been no cases of polio originating in the US since 1979. The only known cases were brought in from outside the US, last time in 1993. So that must be what he has mistaken (I'm being charitable here) for cases caused by the vaccine.

Polio can be caused by the oral polio vaccine, in rare cases. There have long been two forms of polio vaccine, the oral, live vaccine, and the weakened (attenuated), injected vaccine, or IPV. Which do you think kids were getting which resulted in polio? Right. The live oral vaccine. There's a history of this problem also at the CDC website. It's fascinating. Kids in the US had gotten the IPV for years without getting polio from it, but it is also less efficacious than the later OPV, meaning some kids could still get polio even after getting the shot because it just wasn't quite as good. The vaccine did not cause those cases, it just failed to prevent them. So we used primarily a live vaccine for a while. And as might be expected, kids got polio very rarely from the vaccine itself. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative states, "OPV is extremely safe and effective. However, in extremely rare cases (approx. 1 in every 2.7 million first doses of the vaccine) the live attenuated vaccine-virus in OPV can cause paralysis." A child's odds of getting polio in the wild after 1994 was lower than their odds of getting it from a live (OPV) vaccine. So, following the recommendation of vaccine experts like Dr. Paul Offitt, we switched over completely to the injection in 2000. We could only afford to do this because polio was no longer endemic in the US. Other countries where wild Polio was still present needed to continue the use of the OPV, which has helped eradicate polio almost globally. But it isn't globally completely eradicated, the way smallpox has been, just yet. That's why we continue to vaccinate for it. People travel, and that means diseases can travel. Rather than risk paralysis or death for even one child, we vaccinate. But we vaccinate with the safer IPV. And no one has gotten polio from IPV. However, because it is less effective, you will probably need a booster if you travel to an area where polio is endemic. 

So what is he talking about when he mentions "shedding?" Well, I can't speak for him, he seems to be an idiot of unprecedented proportion. Most people who use the term are referring to the fact that most diseases like herpes, influenza, measles and polio go through stages of reproduction and at one point are shed by the infected and end up in feces, urine, etc. or even free on the surface of their skin. Often this shedding includes live virus, so others can get sick by coming into contact with these shed viruses. That's people who are infected, not vaccinated. More rarely, some people who have been vaccinated shed either the attenuated virus, or antibodies produced in response to them, in the same way. However, it's nearly impossible to contract a disease from shed attenuated virus, and completely impossible to become infected by someone's antibodies. So shedding by vaccinated people isn't nearly the risk of shedding by infected people. People who are vaccinated are not infected. The amount of virus injected is not enough to make them sick, just enough to trick the body into producing antibodies. There are no recorded cases of disease outbreak caused by a vaccinated person shedding. Certainly there have been no such cases of anyone catching polio this way. Remember, we no longer use the unattenuated virus, OPV here in the USA. So there is no way a vaccinated person would shed live polio virus. 

Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman has probably been told all of this before. 

 

1:55 - "Vaccine research is done without a control!" He shouts. When he's ignored, he throws out a doozy. "Maybe Bobby Kennedy, if he gets in there, will do something... with a placebo..."

 

Ok, this one is confusing to people. We're always on about using double blind, controlled studies, and then we go and do vaccine research without these things. What gives?

Well, for one, double blind control studies have been done. One such study was done between separate or combined MMR and varicella vaccines. The control is the usual dosing, the experimental condition is the combined dose. The Correspondent doesn't mean that, though. Pretty sure he means that they should do a randomized, double blind, placebo control group study to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in the first place. But once the vaccine shows efficacy in animal studies or small scale studies, it is no longer ethical to vaccine research in that way. Why? Well, imagine you are the parent of a child who is getting the placebo and your child contracts diptheria or meningitis. Are you going to be pleased that science was done, or furious that they lied to you and left your child exposed to this deadly contagion while others got protection? Exactly. That's not an ethical study. Children are not lab rats. Once the vaccine is considered safe and has proven itself at the earlier stages of testing, full scale testing is done by administering it to all the subjects. Then one compares their rate of infection to known infection rates in similar populations. This isn't hard, because most diseases which we vaccinate for are endemic in the areas where we vaccinate. Measles were around for a couple centuries in the US before the measles vaccine was ready for large scale efficacy trials. We knew how many kids we should expect to see get sick if they had no vaccine. When the vaccinated population got sick at much lower than usually expected levels, the scientists knew they had a winner.

ignoring evidence sign

The difference between a cancer drug study, and vaccines, is that the cancer drug is being given to a child who is already sick. And doctors almost never choose between a cancer drug and no cancer drug. Rather, they give the patient a drug that is already known to work, and one that is being studied. Or they use a treatment such as radiation or surgery as the control treatment group.The differences can still be noted as the course of cancer without drugs is already known. If the child's health starts to fail on the experimental drug, the patient is removed from the study group, and given a known good treatment, if possible. And both the patient and the parent are well briefed under right to know laws. There is rarely a true placebo group in thee kinds of trials in humans. Similarly, in vaccine human trials, the child and parent must be briefed on any possible negative reactions to the vaccine. There's no way to administer a vaccine to a normal, healthy child, and not tell the parent that you are giving them a vaccine, without violating all ethical principles we've developed over the last few decades. There is a reason there are ethics advisery boards for drug studies in humans. So there is no way to do a double blind study.

Bobby Kennedy, that is Robert Kennedy Jr., is a lawyer with political aspirations and an anti-vaxer. It's sad to see great potential wasted. What exactly he is supposed to do, given he has no scientific training whatever, is a mystery that only the Special Correspondent must be privy to.

 

3:21 - In response to a pediatrician's sign, "Vaccines don't cause autism... but they've only tested one vaccine. There's a lot more than just one."

 

Several studies have looked at vaccines other than MMR. Studies have been done for ingredients or adjuvants other than thimerosol, the first preservative that anti-vaxers claimed caused autism. There just is no link between autism and vaccines. One way to tell is to work backward, which medical researchers have done. They look at a large cohort of children with autism, then they check to see how many are vaccinated and not vaccinated, and compare that to the population at large. What did doctors and scientists find? No difference. Children who were autistic were not more likely to have been vaccinated than children who were not autistic, and children who were vaccinated were not more likely to be autistic. There was no correlation at all. So no matter how many individual vaccines were tested, the answer would have to be negative. It doesn't matter if they never test the next vaccine or the next. Autistic children are not more likely to have been vaccinated. Vaccinated children are not more likely to show signs of autism. Period. Can we finally put this idiot claim to rest? The CDC is pretty clear on this.

Dr. Senator Pan poses with two pediatricians who were marching for science in Washington D.C. - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Dr. Senator Pan poses with two pediatricians who were marching for science in Washington D.C. - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

 

3:46 - One of the marchers taunts him, asking how his Polio is doing. "My son actually has what used to be called Polio, he got it from a vaccination, transverse myelitis." Coleman rejoins.

 

No, he didn't. Because we don't use the OPV in the US and you can't get Polio from the IPV. And Transverse Myelitis (TM) was never the same as Polio Myelitis. Just because they both end in "myelitis," that doesn't mean they are the same illness. Johns Hopkins provides the following description.

"Transverse Myelitis (TM) is a disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. It is characterized by symptoms and signs of neurologic dysfunction in motor and sensory tracts on both sides of the spinal cord.  The involvement of motor and sensory control pathways frequently produce altered sensation, weakness and sometimes urinary or bowel dysfunction."

Because it involves paralysis and weakness, it might be confused with polio. But there is one really big difference. Polio Myelitis is caused by polio. There is an actual test. Either you have polio, or you do not. Period. He further claimed that transverse myelitis is usually caused by polio. This is false. It can be caused by any inflammatory virus infection. But 40% are caused by autoimmune disease or disorder and 60% by unknown causes. YOu can't jump from "unknown" to "probably polio." In fact, Johns Hopkins doesn't even list Polio as a disease associated with this condition, but the do list lots of other associated diseases. NIH says, transverse myelitis may be related to syphilis, measles, and Lyme disease, and viral infections like varicella zoster (chickenpox), herpes simplex, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, influenza, echovirus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis A, rubella, and west nile virus. What disease do they not mention? Polio. That's not to say polio, being caused by a virus, couldn't result in TM. It could. And it is therefore possible that the OPV could result in TM due to extremely rare polio infection caused by the Oral Polio Vaccine. It just isn't the primary cause. And doctors never called TM, Polio or Polio, TM. The two are different things, one being a viral disease (Polio) and the other being a condition secondary to an infection (TM).

If his son has TM, and has not made a complete recovery, that is very unfortunate, and the guy in the video grinning about it is being a (hopefully unintentional) ass too. But the Correspondent's mischaracterization of the condition and its cause is troubling not only because he is misrepresenting the science, but because failure to recognize its real nature could result in his not seeking appropriate physical therapy for his son. I sincerely hope that is not the case.

Marcher asks Coleman how his polio is. - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Marcher asks Coleman how his polio is. - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

 

4:11 - "It's called clean water and sanitation."

 

Clean Water is a Right! - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Clean Water is a Right! - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Oh lordy, not this stupid static again. This is easily disproven. India recently eradicated Polio. Gone. Yet they still don't have indoor plumbing in some parts of some cities. Where is their clean water and hygiene? Vaccines work. Hygiene also works. The two work hand in hand. The US Army has understood this for over 200 years. We practice the 5 Fs of Field Sanitation and get our shots. The Army has reduced deaths due to disease to nearly zero after many years of having disease related deaths that outpaced combat deaths. We didn't do that by clean water and toilets alone. If you've ever eaten your meal while dirty water drips down your hat bill and into your chow, because you are laying in a muddy foxhole, you know that's just not possible. Vaccines save lives independent of hygiene. And hygiene saves lives independent of vaccines. The two together are like superpowers against disease. There's no reason to pick one.

Oregon Trail
 

5:41 - He tries to get Dr. Pan to admit there are aborted fetal cells in vaccines.

 

This is one of those online zombie memes. You kill them, and they keep coming back. Like most rumors, this one has a kernel of truth that has gotten twisted all out of shape. There are no fetal cells in vaccines. Rather, a fetal cell line, developed from aborted fetal cells, are used as the substrate when growing the virus used in some vaccines. It's like saying there are worms in your potatoes because worms help create the soil mix in which you grow your potatoes. Obviously, there are no worms in your potatoes, and there are no fetal cells in your vaccine. None. The reason he couldn't get Dr. Pan to admit there are aborted fetal cells in vaccines, is because there are no aborted fetal cells in vaccines. Any vaccine that was found to have whole human germ cells in them, would be thrown out as contaminated. So even if there ever were aborted fetal cells in the vaccine, they would have been removed prior to use. There aren't any. None. Not ever. 

 

6:31 - He claims there are "...seventy plus vaccines now on the children's schedule."

 

Ah, an even easier one. All we have to do is download the current vaccine schedule, and count. 

CDC schedule of recommended vaccines from birth to 15 months

CDC schedule of recommended vaccines from birth to 15 months

CDC schedule of recommended vaccines from 18 months to 18 years

CDC schedule of recommended vaccines from 18 months to 18 years

There are not seventy vaccines recommended on the CDC schedule. The current CDC recommended vaccine schedule recommends a total of forty-seven doses of vaccines between birth and eighteen years for healthy children on a normal schedule, not forty-seven separate vaccines and definitely not seventy.  But maybe he means that there are a total of seventy plus vaccines that are listed on the schedule, recommended for all or not. But no, there are only thirty different vaccines listed.

Is the Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman suggesting that California demands more vaccines than are recommended by the CDC? Well, if he is, he is badly mistaken. I'm done with this one. I don't know where this idiotic claim came from, though I have my suspicions, but it's just mathematically incorrect.

California Department of Education school vaccination requirements

California Department of Education school vaccination requirements

 

7:10 - claims that California "...force mandates children. One of three states in the United States that does that."

I think he meant force vaccinates? But of course, they don't. They mandate vaccines for school or childcare. If you don't enroll your child in school or daycare, no one will show up at your home and hold your child down and forcibly vaccinate them. And nearly every state has some vaccine requirements. I think what he is intending here is to say that only three states have vaccine rules as stringent as California, which got rid of their religious and personal belief exemption. Mississippi and West Virginia being the other two.  But all states require vaccines for school attendance. Most states only allow medical or religious exemptions. California was one of very few that ever allowed personal belief exemption. It was that laxness that allowed large areas of California to lose their herd immunity due to high rates of vaccine refusal. Now that California has changed their law, vaccine rates are climbing.

 

9:51 - He reminds Dr. Pan of the many times he has said vaccines are safe and effective. Then he says, "The Supreme Court said they are unavoidably unsafe. If they were safe, we wouldn't have a vaccine injury compensation program, or VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System."

 

Putting aside the fact that courts are not scientific research bodies and cannot make judgments about the risk-benefit analyses of any drug as that's not their job, he confounds the existence and purpose of VAERS and the vaccine court, with an assessment of safety from a medical perspective.

Science pledge and white house

Objectives of VAERS (from https://vaers.hhs.gov/about/index)

The primary objectives of VAERS are to:

  1. Detect new, unusual, or rare vaccine adverse events (VAEs);

  2. Monitor increases in known adverse events;

  3. Identify potential patient risk factors for particular types of adverse events;

  4. Identify vaccine lots with increased numbers or types of reported adverse events; and

  5. Assess the safety of newly licensed vaccines. 

It's a feeder database for scientists who want to follow any trends that might appear in the things being reported. It serves no judicial or tort function. Any adverse event that happens in close time proximity to a vaccine is reported, even if there is no likely connection between the two. People have reported broken bones and auto accidents, for instance. Something having been reported to VAERS does not mean it was actually caused by a vaccine, so one has to be careful in analyzing the data from it.

The vaccine injury court was set up to make sure that vaccine injured persons can be compensated more quickly than they likely would going through the regular civil courts. It was created specifically because several vaccine manufacturers had already stopped making vaccines, and others had indicated they intended to. This created a significant public health risk. To encourage them to stay in the business of making vaccines, congress created this law. The vaccines are taxed to create a pool of monies to compensate any victims of vaccine side effects. So the manufacturers are not getting out of paying. Rather, they are essentially paying for mandated insurance. Whether you think this is a good system or not, it's not some sort of crooked corporate malfeasance aided and abetted by the courts and congress. The system actually benefits real victims by allowing them to be compensated automatically for certain recognized injuries with no need to even adjudicate. Other victims can choose to not accept any settlement offered, and go forward with normal civil suit if there is evidence they improperly manufactured the product, or failed to include the proper labels and warnings. Manufacturers have limited liability protection, not unlimited.

But that does not mean vaccines aren't safe and effective as Doctor Pan stated. "Safe" is never absolute. When it comes to medicine, it is even less so. All medications, all drugs, have some risks associated with them. Marijuana is one of the least dangerous of recreational drugs. Yet even marijuana can induce some negative health effects in some people. Marijuana would be classed as a safe drug by any scientist reporting on it. That does not mean or imply there are zero risks. There is nothing with zero risk. Even oxygen can cause brain damage in too high doses. But vaccines are "generally safe". They are highly unlikely to result in side effects. Millions of people receive multiple doses yearly, yet fewer than a few hundred people are injured annually. That's a better record than exists for cars, peanuts, or household appliances. Medicine works on a risk-benefit basis. When it comes to vaccines, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

got smallpox
 

11:00 - Special Correspondent Coleman describes his son's illness as transverse myelitis and states that it is listed on the vaccine insert as a potential adverse reaction. 

 

It's not

Polio vaccine insert

Polio vaccine insert

 

11:58 - "Injecting an STD vaccine in infants on their first day of life, anyone thinks that's a good idea?" A woman shouts that she thinks it's a good idea. He responds, "My infant wasn't having intercourse or sharing intravenous needles with heroin abusers. So, he did not need a Hepatitis B vaccine."

 

science saved our son

Hepatitis B is not generally classed as a sexually transmitted disease, though sex is one of the most common ways to spread it. While it is true most adults get Hep B from either sex or injecting drugs, there are good reasons to vaccinate infants against it. Many adults may have chronic Hep B and be unaware of it. Older adults are more likely to have it, as they were likely not vaccinated against it as children. There are lots of ways to be exposed to Hep B. Those of us who were born prior to the 80s could have been infected by a blood transfusion. You could get it from a single sexual encounter. Infants can become infected via their mothers during childbirth. So, if mom has chronic Hep B and is unaware, she can give it to her child. The thing is, infants are far more likely to suffer serious consequences of Hepatitis B, and to develop a chronic infection. There are estimated to be over 850,000 Americans with Hepatitis B. Many don't know they are infected until they are hospitalized for some other reason and undergo screening. To prevent a baby getting Hep B before they are able to resist the virus effectively, a vaccine at birth is recommended. Once a child turns about five years old, they have greater resistance to the virus and are usually able to fight off an acute infection. So a shot at birth is a precaution against the worst the disease can do, at a time when a person is most vulnerable. It doesn't imply your child is doing drugs or having sex. It could imply the mother is doing these things, but doesn't necessarily. If all the infants in the next two generations get the vaccine, it will be mostly unnecessary for future generations. Of course, they won't all get it, because people like the Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman think only drug abusing sexual infants need it. So we'll keep having to vaccinate everyone else's babies. 

 

23:01 - "We got forty-seven states that believe as I do."

 

This man asked for evidence. He didn't get any from Coleman. - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

This man asked for evidence. He didn't get any from Coleman. - still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

I doubt it. If he means all the states whose laws are not (yet) as strict as California's, he's correct. But it's assuming a lot to say the states agree with his crazy mindset. In many cases the states have been given no reason to pass more stringent laws, because they already have high levels of compliance and have not recently experienced outbreaks. Speaking as a current citizen of New York and a former citizen of several other states, I have never seen a large population of anti-vaxers such as they had in California. Make of that what you will.

 

25:28 - "The three things we're primarily talking about at this march were global warming, GMOs, and vaccines."

 

He finally said something correct. Those were the three things most people were most concerned about. They were the most frequent subjects of signs. 

 

Special Correspondent Joshua Coleman claims that the marchers are saying "Do not question science."

The face of an asshole, Joshua Coleman - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

The face of an asshole, Joshua Coleman - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

This is untrue. The marchers and speakers repeatedly stated questioning is good. But one must also accept the evidence and what it demonstrates as true, and reject claims that are not supported by science. That's the part that he, and many others from Ken Ham to Donald Trump, seem to forget.

He asserts that moms, dads, and lawyers are "little scientists" who know more than their pediatricians. I'm sorry. That's just plain old fashioned horse shit. One does not have to be credentialed to be a scientist. And sometimes moms and dads do catch things that their doctors miss. But to suggest they know more than their doctors is just hubris and anti-science. It's the kind of anti-science that can cost children their lives. And that's why we march. 

 

On the  Conduct of the Principles

Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Throughout the video, as he follows the Senator, harangues him, and behaves like a snotty child, he keeps making obviously bogus claims about being struck and harassed by others. No one tries to stop him from speaking. One man even tells him he is free to make his commentary to everyone, rather than direct it at only one person incessantly. He insists that he is just practicing his right to free speech. I find that assertion nauseating. I've fought for free speech my whole life. As an individual and as a writer, it's a core belief that I hold dear. What he was doing was harassment. Yes, you are free to walk down the street following this man just to annoy him and fulfill your need to feel powerful in your little circle of fools. That doesn't make it right. It makes you a bully and an ass. I would not recommend anyone try to physically stop him from having his say. I would simply hope that he would come to see that his behavior is just plain wrong. I do not think he should be assaulted or silenced. His poster is knocked out of his hand twice. It's difficult to see by whom at times. That wasn't right either, and I hope if the folks who did it have a second chance, they won't do that in future. But no one seems to touch him at any point, despite his repeated assertions that they are. He keeps saying the camera is on them, yet at no time does the camera show anyone striking him. He claims they are trying to trip him, which is obvious nonsense. If they wanted to assault him, they obviously could have, as he was outnumbered by a large number.

A marcher tries to block the camera's view of Dr. Pan with his hand - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

A marcher tries to block the camera's view of Dr. Pan with his hand - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

As they continue along the road and around several corners, several people step in to question his behavior, try to block his camera with their hands or bodies, or in one case an umbrella, but he is undaunted. Finally, a hero emerges in the form of a man with a sign that says "Science Badger don't care about your alternative facts." He uses his sign to block the camera, sometimes assisted by the umbrella wielder, and prevent the special correspondent from successfully harassing the Senator. I'm sure some would find fault with the Science Badger man. But if one can claim freedom of speech as a defense against civility, surely another can claim freedom of movement and association, also in the Constitution, to stop someone abusing their ability to participate in civil society without harassment. The great thing about simply blocking the camera is, it is non-violent and does not prevent the film maker from communicating. It just stops him making someone else an unwilling participant in that communication.

Science Badger don't care about your alternative facts! - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

Science Badger don't care about your alternative facts! - Still from PANdemic of Lies at the March for Science

If this is the best the anti-vax community can do, we've already won. Science Badger for the win!