Anti-Vax Lie III
So far this month I have presented analyses of how the anti-vax movement uses distortion of scientific terms, inflammatory imagery and out of context quotations to fuel their argument. When there is no scientific basis for their position, these tactics are their best refuge. You even have been treated to the unsolicited comments of anti-vax proponents, allowing a first-hand glimpse of implementation of pseudoscience and logical fallacy to argue their side.
Today we'll look at the standing offer by Jock Doubleday. You can read Jock's offer here-- stating right up front $210,000 and Still No Takers. In short, he says that he offers this cash prize to the M.D. or pharmaceutical CEO that will take him up on his challenge. The challenge- to drink a mixture of a body-weight adjusted dose of a vaccine, sans antigen.
So, he wants to pay someone $200,000 to essentially drink a glass of water. At least a 300ml glass would contain with a less than a few micrograms (thousanths of milligrams) of additives... Sounds like easy money! I wrote to Mr. Doubleday and inquired as if he'd bend the rules and allow a lowly skeptical Ph.D. level scientist to engage his challenge.
The answer was no, a condescending and cranky no. He does not want me to take his challenge, which is no challenge.
Why not? I'm a vocal proponent of science, hypothesis-based research and the astounding safety record of vaccines. I attack pseudoscientific and anti-science thinking and train students on how to approach a scientific question. In this way I'm better than an MD or CEO as a target for the challenge. I'm about as good as they get as an anti-vax challengee.
Turns out I'm not alone. The challenge is completely disingenuous. It is not a question of drinking his concoction. You can't just do it and collect the check, you have to apply and submit to a laundry list of conditions. Including reading a bunch of anti-vax propaganda, taking written exams and then pay $10,000 to take the challenge!
Now even an ardent anti-vaxer has to look at the entry barrier to this challenge and admit it is a little disingenuous. If his contention is that nobody will do it, then allow anyone to do it, and someone will do it! A real challenge has no entry barriers, like a payment to participate in the challenge. That should be a tip-off about his sincerity.
See, it is easy to say that nobody meets your challenge when they only a tiny portion of the population qualifies for it, and they don't give a give a rat's ass about what ol' Jock thinks.
You can read here and here some information from others (including physicians and an immunologist) that attempted to take his challenge, along with examples of Jock's sunny attitude in his correspondence.
He also has a standing offer to Bill Maher, that if Bill researches the 9-11 attacks and concludes that they were an inside government job, then Bill gets $250K. I mention this only because it illuminates his conspiratorial proclivities.
Step it up Jock. I'll take your lame challenge and even do it at ten times the concentration.
If you submit "Jock Doubleday" and "vaccine challenge" into a search engine you'll also see many anti-vaccination websites that trumpet how afraid people are to accept his challenge, leading the casual reader to think their cause has some gravity. Of course, they don't note that there is ample evidence of many that will take the challenge, IF it didn't have crazy entry barriers. "I'll give you a million dollars if you drink this glass of water.... BUT you have to be a lesbian Hawaiian midget with one eye, give me $10,000, climb Mount Everest, bring me a kilogram of moon rocks and then pass a written exam I give you (and grade)."
Most of all, it is important for anyone studying the anti-vaccination rhetoric to pay close attention to his tactics. It is insincerity, misdirection and inflammatory statements of success when none have been achieved. Here again you should recognize the genuine disingenuous nature of the statements and add them to the set presented over the past several days. When you don't have science on your side, you resort to the rhetoric that appears clean on the outside, yet holds no value when examined closely.