| Needles are scary|
|Pricks against pricks|
Del Bigtree is a dangerous anti-vaxxer activist and producer of the popular anti-vaccine propaganda Vaxxed, a film that touches on the CDC whistleblower controversy, but mostly promotes anti-vaccine fearmongering. He is also proud of being the producer of The Doctors, which he thinks is the "best medical talk show in the world." It is the best, you see, because it features people that agree with him on his
vaccine skepticism anti-vaccine views like Dr. Jay Gordon and Dr. Jim Sears.
Though he flaunts his show credentials to make statements he deems better than expert opinion, Bigtree is not a scientist. For instance, he sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detailing his "concerns" over "vaccine safety". Some of the tropes include complaining about the vaccine schedule being "overloaded" (the "too many too soon" gambit)[note 1], the lack of double-blind placebo studies (without assessing the ethics of exposing subjects to a disease; meta-analyses of epidemiological studies are also perfectly fine but Bigtree doesn't like them), using VAERS dumpster diving[note 2] to bolster the view that vaccine injury is more serious and common than it really is, and demands that the vaccine committees be replaced with "vaccine safety advocates" and other crap. Bigtree then threatened the HHS with a civil suit if they don't comply with his ridiculous demands. Fortunately, Melinda Wharton, MD, the director of the National Vaccine Program Office responded to his demands, dunked on his claims, and denied action.
Bigtree does not believe he is an anti-vaxxer. Instead, he claims to be pro-safe-vaccine. This is not an original argument. No one that identifies as a vaccine safety advocate has ever demonstrated what specific vaccines are safe, what proposed revised vaccine schedules are safe and evidence-based, what sort of reasonable evidence (except unethical double blind experiments) they will accept unconditionally, what dose-makes-poison actually means, and probably more; but in the end, they all fall to the same anti-vaccine tropes.
This does not stop the media from relying on his views to invoke some sort of balance on top of applying the nauseating "vaccine skeptic" or "controversial" label. He is neither a "skeptic" nor are his views "controversial". He has been interviewed by several journalists such as from The Daily Beast, CBC, and NPR, and those journalists don't do enough to demonstrate and expose him as the crank he really is.
✡️He is being repressed✡️
Like his anti-vax ilk, Del Bigtree suffers from persecution complex. No, there is no vaccine for that. Vaxxed gained notoriety after Robert De Niro promoted it at the Tribeca Film Festival only to drop it following public outcry. Following the removal of the Vaxxed film from the Tribeca Film Festival, he has complained about being "99% censored" by ABC World News Tonight because they didn't show all his interview with them. In March 2019, after giving a speech on the supposed perils of government mandated vaccines, he had the tastelessness to brandish the Star of David because not having kids go to public school for not being vaccinated is exactly like being carried in a lugubrious train toward filthy concentration camps. He and his anti-vaxxer friends shortly received swift condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and Poland’s Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, but Bigtree's not apologizing probably because apologizing is for honest and decent people, those that get bothered that measles coming back is a thing.
Sadly, this is also not an original argument. Anti-vaxxers, who have been at this for years, are not above stooping to this level of hyperbolic edginess. Other anti-vaccine activists that have been guilty of slapping Godwin in the face include Dr. Jim Sears (who is featured in Bigtree's favorite show), Robert Kennedy, Jr., Age of Autism, and the Facebook group "Californians against SB 277" (SB 277 is a California bill that removes personal belief exemptions on vaccinations for public school attendance; it was passed and signed into law by 2015). Mind you, this is only one cornfield of the thousand of acres of arguments Bigtree's company uses, as vaccines have also been compared to rape, slavery, apartheid, and human trafficking.
Del Bigtree has also relied on inflammatory and arguably (Second Amendment-endorsed) violent rhetoric to bolster his paranoid libertarian views on the big evil government (but not measles apparently) wanting to take away "choice", "privacy" and "control" over bodies or something.
…but now we’re watching the most powerful lobby in the country and in the world poisoning our children. And our government is helping them. What are we going to do about it? We have the power. But we have got to stop being afraid to talk about it. If you’re afraid to talk about it, your Twitters, your Facebooks, I don’t want to bring it up at my PTA meeting, I don’t want to at lunch or at Thanksgiving dinner, then I can imagine those same conversations were happening in Nazi Germany among the Jewish people. Let’s not talk about it. I don’t want to bring it into my reality. It’s still 20 miles away. I’m still allowed in this theater, not that one. All I have to get is this little star. All I have to do is to sign this little thing saying that I’m not going to vaccinate because I think they’re dangerous—and they are dangerous. I’m just going to sign this paper. I’m going to let them put me in a log. At some point, they have gone too far.
Do you think it’s a good idea to let the government own your baby’s body and right behind it your body? That is the end for me. Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.
It’s now. Now’s the time.
ICAN… be both rich and stupid
Bigtree is the founder of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), which is a non-profit that claims to support science-based inquiry but is actually anti-science because it promotes parental choice/non-medical vaccine exemptions, and because it promotes vaccine hysteria (e.g. "aluminum adjutivants" in vaccines causing autism). ICAN is largely financially supported by Bernard Selz and Lisa Selz through their Selz Foundation; The Foundation donated more than $3 million to ICAN and other anti-vaxx causes as of 2019. The Selz Foundation also gave $200,000 to Andrew Wakefield's legal defense.
- "Too many, too soon" is a common anti-vaccine refrain and is not based on any science
- See here on why you should not rely on VAERS to accurately quantify vaccine-averse events. Basically, VAERS is not curated, and there have been reports of people turning into the Incredible Hulk after a vaccine.
- Tracy, B. (January 27, 2015). Doctor explains why he lets kids avoid the measles vaccine.CBS News. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- oracknows (December 23, 2008). Run, don't walk, away from these Doctors. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- vaccinesworkblog. (March 16, 2018). Del Bigtree is not a scientist. WordPress. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- Kucinich, J. (April 12, 2019). Top Anti-Vaxxer Says He Learned All He Needs to Know From Being a Producer on ‘Dr. Phil’ and ‘The Doctors’. The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- Orac (November 16, 2017). The annals of “I’m not antivaccine,” part 26: “No, I’m not an ‘vaccine safety’ advocate”. Respectful Insolence. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- oracknows. (March 29, 2016). Tribeca Film Festival wrap-up: Andrew Wakefield's "brilliance" and spies and Nazis, oh my!. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- ADL (April 5, 2019). Anti-Vaccine Protesters Misappropriate Holocaust-Era Symbol to Promote Their Cause. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- Orac (April 9, 2015). The annals of “I’m not antivaccine,” part 15: California SB 277, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and the vaccine “holocaust”. Respectful Insolence. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Haelle, T. (June 18, 2015). California Doctor Invokes Holocaust Analogy, Compares Non-Vaccinating Parents To Persecuted Jews. Forbes. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- White, J. (April 7, 2015). Robert Kennedy Jr. warns of vaccine-linked ‘holocaust’. Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Reuben. (February 23, 2015) To the “Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice,” vaccine requirements are exactly like the Holocaust (UPDATED). "The Poxes Blog". WordPress. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- lbrbSullivan (Jul 18, 2016). Del Bigtree: "Now's the time" for guns. Youtube. Retrieved May 10, 2019. Full video: https://www.facebook.com/del.bigtree/videos/10153574221765964/?pnref=story
- Del Bigtree: Founder, ICAN
- The Danger Of Eliminating Vaccine Exemptions & Curtailing Vaccine Criticism ICAN (archived from April 1, 2019).
- Autism & Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines: How Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines Can Cause Autism (August 18, 2017) ICAN.
- Meet the New York couple donating millions to the anti-vax movement by Lena H. Sun & Amy Brittain (June 19, 2019 at 6:00 AM).