Afternoon InquisitionAnti-ScienceScienceSkepticism

Good guys win!

It’s official. AoA and SafeMinds are a combined crap force that is no match for us!

Earlier this evening, Age of Autism and SafeMinds released a statement that their “safe vaccines” “PSA” (which was actually not a PSA but a paid advertisement) would not be aired:

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.

We did it! We stopped their misinformation/fear campaign from running in our theaters this weekend.

A huge thank you to AMC, and to Ryan Noonan (who I probably owe a huge fruit basket for putting up with me) for all their help. They turned away a paying client in favor of reason and responsibility and of us, their paying clientele. Be sure to thank them yourself by going to their feedback site.

And thank you to you, all of you, who wrote, clicked, complained, retweeted, facebooked, called, and otherwise contributed to this wonderful victory.

This week we sent a message to the anti-vaxxers that we are here. We’re pissed. We’re passionate. And we’re ready to fight back… and we will fight. And we will win… because our bodies aren’t riddled with preventable diseases… so we’re stronger.

Also, we’re right.

So skeptics, with Thanksgiving approaching in a few hours here in the US, I have a lot to be thankful for thanks to you. And you all do, too.

Now… I need to get to bed. I’m running my first 5K in the morning. My awesome never rests. (Yes, my awesome is still awesoming while the rest of my body sleeps… like it is now.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Cheers!



Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. November 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm —

    Hurrah! Long live Elyse! :D

  2. November 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm —

    Happy Thanksgiving and bravo! :)

  3. November 24, 2010 at 10:54 pm —

    One thing I have noticed: The anti-science types always moderate the comments. Doesn’t matter what their particular woo is, or how much they like to talk about free speech and “teach the controversy”, the anti-science types always moderate the comments.

  4. November 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm —

    “A small group of vocal vaccine proponents dismissive of mercury concerns…”

    I don’t think this small group *snicker* is dismissive of mercury concerns, just dismissive of people who create “manufactroversies” where they aren’t needed.

  5. November 24, 2010 at 11:26 pm —

    Hooray! Go us! Go you Elyse!

  6. November 25, 2010 at 12:26 am —

    Excellent, bravo, bravissimo, and all the rest.

    Elyse, you are not only a very funny and entertaining woman; you are also a very effective — or is that affective — one.

    Congratulations to all your great activism.

    And, not that it would matter a whit to you, but I am so proud.

  7. November 25, 2010 at 12:29 am —

    @Mark Hall:

    I’m not sure what your point is. Everyone, everywhere, including here, PZ Myers’s Pharyngulajoint, Skepticblog, JREF, et al, moderates, censors, and regulates the comments. Yes, some to a lesser, and others to a greater degree; nonetheless, all do so.

  8. November 25, 2010 at 1:05 am —

    Pardon my language, but that is the fucking shit! Elyse, you are The Shit. The doctor who posted the complaint to AMC’s community page is The Shit. Each and every one of us who did their part to help out is, in my opinion, The Shit.

  9. November 25, 2010 at 1:27 am —

    John Greg, the moderation at AoA is more draconian. So much so that they approve comments that go against their stated policy if it is in agreement with their anti-vax theme, but do not approve polite dissent.

    See this review of how they moderate.

    By the way, many blogs have very little moderation. Like Orac’s Respectful Insolence. Sometimes I wish it was a bit more moderated, but it does let us see how some people really think (even though I might agree with him, I wish “puirnoiz” would tone it down on Respectful Insolence, but that is just a personal opinion).

  10. November 25, 2010 at 1:35 am —

    @John Greg: May simply be my more limited experience, but I have noticed that science-friendly sites tend to allow respectful dissent and even heated arguments, whereas the science-opposed sites don’t just moderate for tone, but for content.

    Sure, pretty much any site is going to moderate a mindless flame-rant… getting moderated as a virulent flametard is easy… but science positive sites are, in my experience, more likely to address/argue with someone who says “I think that [vaccinations are dangerous/Jesus is the way/there is a coming zombie apocalypse for which we must prepare]”, even if that goes against the prevailing view of the site, whereas science-negative sites tend to moderate any dissenting view, no matter how respectfully put.

  11. November 25, 2010 at 1:43 am —

    Huzzah for reason, huzzah for science, huzzah for public safety, huzzah for AMC, huzzah for everyone who spoke out, and huzzah for our spearhead Elyse! Chalk one up for the good guys. I know we shouldn’t rest too long on our laurels, but DAMN it feels good to save the world a little bit.

    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of you.

  12. November 25, 2010 at 2:25 am —

    Put some cranberry sauce on that can of whip ass Elyse!!

  13. November 25, 2010 at 2:45 am —

    On the surface you may seem a small group, but there is a majority of people who believe in science and common sense. We are all behind you.

  14. November 25, 2010 at 7:43 am —

    I started lurking on this site when I saw the “Top Ten Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008”. I don’t recall seeing a top ten list for 2009. I hope there is a list for 2010 and I certainly nominate you to be on that list! Job well done!

  15. November 25, 2010 at 8:30 am —

    Today, I give thanks to Elyse…hooray!

  16. November 25, 2010 at 9:29 am —

    This was a simply wonderful way to start the holidays. Thanks, Elyse.

    The numbers on the Get Satisfaction page are encouraging, as well. The twenty-six hundred or so against the PSA versus the ballpark fifteen or twenty in favor.

  17. November 25, 2010 at 11:36 am —

    So Elyse, have you gotten any death threats yet? I’d be very worried about you at this point. Anti-vaxxer fanatics are not rational people and if they are willing to let children die from preventable diseases rather than allow for the slight risk of their getting autism……

    In any case, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  18. November 25, 2010 at 11:41 am —

    Way to go and thanks for doing this! It’s making me really optimistic that people are coming around and starting to realize that this vaccine controversy is bull.

    My sister’s sister-in-laws don’t vaccinate their kids, and their entire family got whooping cough, putting my infant nephew at risk. I’m pissed off beyond belief at this, these anti-vaxxers need to realize that their actions have extremely harmful consequences. I’m so glad that you guys have stopped an ad that would spread this information to so many people.

  19. November 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm —

    As an aspie, I can say that AoA and SafeMinds do not speak for me. I would dare say that few HFAs or Aspies would agree with these people claiming to speak for autistic people…

  20. November 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm —

    Can someone linky to more information? I really don’t know anything about AoA or SafeMinds, or what this mercury-in-vaccines thing is about.

  21. November 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm —

    Eryops, try Respectful Insolence posts on Age of Autism.

    Also get a copy of Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets from your local library and read about the major players: Handley, Kirby, Bernard, Blaxill, and Wakefield.

  22. November 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm —


  23. November 26, 2010 at 4:39 am —

    Wow, good news for a change. Keeping an eye out at other venues to see if they try to sneak that “PSA” in somewhere else. :-)

  24. November 26, 2010 at 11:15 am —

    Huzzah to Elyse! Boo-sucks to SafeMinds! Remember to thank AMC!

  25. November 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm —

    Lynn Redwood, in an interview at Dallas Mom’s Blog posted Wednesday 11/24/2010, claimed that the ad (or propaganda) will be screened at the following theaters:

    • Empire 25 in New York City (this apparently is an AMC theater, so …? The interview was done before AMC declined to screen the ad?
    • Long Beach 26 in Long Beach, California (a Regal Entertainment Group” Theater –any news on the Regal Group?
    • River East 21 in Chicago, IL (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Boston Common 19 in Boston (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Phipps Plaza 14 in Atlanta (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Tyson’s Corner 16 in McLean, VA (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Northpark Center 15 in Dallas, TX (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Rosedale 14 in Saint Paul, MN (An AMC theater, so?)
    • Pavillions 15 in Denver, CO (a Regal Entertainment Group” Theater

    Feel free to go over and leave comments at the Dallas Mom’s Blog.

  26. November 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm —

    Very well done, Elyse. Did you see this article?
    “Be thankful: No anti-vaccine propaganda at the movies this weekend” ->

  27. November 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm —

    I went to the first complaint at the AMC board. “Remove the Unfounded Anti-Vaccine Message from your Ads” and it said “2597 people have this problem.”

    Then to the one posted by others, “AMC flip flops on Mercury-Free Vaccines?”, which said “9 people have this question.”

    Do you think they noticed the difference?

  28. November 26, 2010 at 11:54 pm —

    @lizditz: Just saw a movie at the Rosedale 14 in MN, and no anti-vax ad! As an added bonus, the female lead in “Love and Other Drugs” totally disses “chelation therapy” – win and win!

    Thanks for all your work Elyse!

  29. November 28, 2010 at 12:17 am —

    Congrats on your badass activism Elyse (and all the people that voted, commented etc). That was some inspiring stuff right there. Being a skeptic is pretty heartwarming sometimes :D

  30. November 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm —

    What really offends me is that I am very concerned about the effects of mercury on the body. However, I actually bothered to research the difference between ethyl and methyl mercury and the actual amounts in vaccines, fish and water. The actual evidence shows that mercury pollution is a real threat and we need to more to protect our water and fish. What Safeminds is doing is akin to saying they’re trying to protect people from arsenic poisoning by keeping them free from the evil apple peddlers, as apple seeds do contain arsenic, but not mentioning that those amounts are minute compared to the real risk of arsenic in ground water.

  31. November 29, 2010 at 10:21 am —

    @Florence Erlenmeyer:

    Yes. This. Exactly.

    Except they may actually think that apples really do keep doctors away.

  32. November 29, 2010 at 12:08 pm —

    @Elyse: If an apple a day keeps a doctor away, how many dedicated orchards would it take to make Andrew Wakefield
    1) leave the country?
    2) The planet?
    3- Extra Credit) Permanently?

    … (spoiler)

    [NB – Question 3 is a trick question, since the same orchard will produce apples year after year, it doesn’t require any extra orchards.]

  33. December 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm —

    Elyse, I just read on Respectful Insolence and Countering… that AoA has finally decided to set their sights on you. I sense a Jake Crosby hit piece trying to tie you to BigPharmaTM and some tasteless ad homs from JB Handley in your future. Would this qualify me for Randi’s million?

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