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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Don't Mess with Skepchick!

Skepchick asked you to boycott movie theaters that were showing the anti-vaccine video promoted by Age of Autism [Let’s all go to the movies and save ourselves some lives]. Many of us posted complaints on the AMC website.

Yesterday Age of Autism and SafeMinds released the following statement as reported in the latest posting on Skepchick [Good guys win!]. Congratulations Skepchick!
SafeMinds was notified late yesterday afternoon that AMC Theaters has decided to block the SafeMinds Public Service Announcement (PSA) on influenza vaccines with mercury. The PSA alerts parents and pregnant women of the presence of mercury in most influenza vaccines and the ample availability of mercury-free alternatives. The CDC has declined to give a preference for the mercury-free versions, so it is important that the public is aware of its options. AMC’s advertising representative had reviewed and approved the PSA to run in AMC cinemas over the Thanksgiving weekend. A small group of vocal vaccine proponents dismissive of mercury concerns learned of the PSA and bombarded the AMC website, leading to the company’s decision to prevent its release. SafeMinds thanks its supporters who viewed the PSA and contributed to its efforts to educate the public to avoid unnecessary mercury exposure. Mercury in all forms is dangerous, especially to the developing fetus and infants, as referenced on the PSA website SafeMinds will continue its mission to educate the public on this important healthcare topic.
BTW, the ad was NOT a public service announcement by any stretch of the imagination.


Theo Bromine said...

I'm waiting for the companion anti-tunafish PSA (to be followed by the anti-CF lightbulb PSA).

Ben Finney said...

> BTW, the ad was NOT a public service announcement by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, if you're going to start pointing out their fallacies, I can join in:

* The “presence of mercury in most influenza vaccines” is the perservative thiomersal, a compound of mercury; it's like saying that table salt “contains chlorine”. True, but irrelevant.

* Despite huge attention on the issue and huge motivation for knowing about harm from the substance, “There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines” beyond the mild irritation caused by the injection at the site on the skin.

* The “ample availability of mercury-free alternatives” is unspecific, but presumably these are either vaccines without preservatives (far more risky) or failure to vaccinate at all (insanely risky).

* The statement implies that the proponents of vaccines are small, and that only such a small group is dismissive of concerns over thiomersal. The truth is that the CDC and all respectable medical bodies agree that thiomersal is not harmful, and the entire medical community is consistent in pleading with parents to vaccinate their children.

* The statement that “mercury in all forms is dangerous” is a factual claim, and is simply wrong; the form they're banging on about, thiomersal, is well-studied and in widespread use with no good evidence of harm as a result.

How exhausting to have to fight dangerous ignorance; I applaud those who do so.

J. J. Ramsey said...

"The 'ample availability of mercury-free alternatives' is unspecific, but presumably these are either vaccines without preservatives (far more risky)"

FYI, most vaccines these days no longer contain thimerosal. It's generally been the flu vaccines that have still used it, and apparently even that's being phased out.