Jill Stein’s Anti-Science Pandering

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With Bernie Sanders out of the US presidential race, his supporters, of which I was one, have some tough decisions to make. The ones who didn’t really understand democracy in the first place may just stay home; the ones who were seething with bigotry will vote for Trump; the ones who just want to avoid a fascist government at this point will vote for Clinton (that’s me); and the ones who don’t want to give up the dream of immediate, radical change will vote for a third party candidate, neither of whom will ever be president in our or anyone else’s lifetime. Amongst those, the ones who skew conservative will vote for the libertarian Gary Johnson and the ones who skew liberal will vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, who is actually the candidate who most resembles Bernie Sanders out of the entire field.

Because I’m a filthy hippy, I have a number of friends who favor Stein, so I’ve been interested in her policies. Again, she will never, ever be president of the United States. I doubt her ability to become president of her homeowner’s association. But that said, it’s still worth taking a critical look at her beliefs, since she’s attracting a decent following of former Sanders supporters.

A lot of her policies mirror Sanders’s, or take them a step further. She’s in favor of a single payer healthcare system, eliminating student loan debt, legalizing marijuana, protecting lgbt rights, and ensuring safe access to abortion.

When it comes to science, though, she’s pretty hit or miss. She believes in global warming and wants to fight it, but she also thinks genetically modified crops are dangerous and wants to ban them. As a reminder, there’s simply no compelling scientific evidence that suggests GMOs are dangerous.

Stein also thinks that wifi may be dangerous to human health, and wants to establish a regulatory agency to oversee it. She points to poorly done one-off studies to support her assertion, which is par for the course for conspiracy theorists.

Possibly her worst quality, though, is her pandering on vaccines. Stein is an actual medical doctor, so she should be well aware of the mountain of evidence we have that shows absolutely no link between vaccines and autism, no link between vaccines and any serious injury, and no problem with the current vaccine schedule. But when asked direct questions about her opinion on vaccines, she always waffles. Take her Reddit AMA, in which she answers a question about whether vaccines are dangerous by blathering on for several paragraphs about how people are right to be skeptical of Big Pharma influencing the FDA.

She talked around the issue again when interviewed for Newsweek, causing the interviewer to have to ask her twice to actually get a clear answer. When nailed down and asked for a direct answer to the question of if she believes vaccines cause autism, her best answer is “I do not know of any evidence to that effect.”

I actually do think Stein knows vaccines don’t cause autism, but she is so focused on not losing the support of people who do think that way that she refuses to be direct. This has never been shown more clearly than last month when musicianColin Meloy asked her on Twitter, “Hey @DrJillStein, do you believe vaccines cause autism?” Stein responded with “There’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism. Let’s do more to support autistic people & their families,” which is a great fucking answer! But that answer was quickly deleted, and replaced with a second Tweet reading, “I’m not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines. Let’s do more to support autistic people & their families.”

All politicians may pander to some extent, but I can’t support someone who claims to be a radical revolutionary who doesn’t even have the courage to stand up for her own beliefs on an issue as important as this one. Even though she’ll never win an election, any politician pandering to anti-vaccination activists only makes them stronger.

photo credit:

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. All I can really say for her is she’s less anti-vax than a certain low-grade fascist presidential candidate from a major party who said:

    “I’m all for vaccinations, but I think that when you add all of these vaccinations together and then two months later the baby is so different … I’ve known cases”

      1. It is indeed. A bar so low as to be surpassed even by pretty much the entire rest of the republican party.

        The truth is, Hillary Clinton is a compromise candidate for me. Depending on just what the polls in my home state look like come November, Jill Stein might make an acceptable compromise protest vote for me.

        Really I just wanted to stew on the notion that anyone could be surprised a baby would change over the course of two months of development.

    1. Jill Stein panders to the anti-science crowd, just as Rebecca said.

      To say different is to not really look at what she says much less to read the Green party’s official platform.

      Besides, following Bernie (or voting for him, like I did) does not mean you blindly believe that the DNC did anything more than say some mean things about the Independent come Democrat.

      Not terribly professional, but again not that surprising.

      1. Yeah, really, the current DNC is mostly Third Way types, and they’re somewhere between “vestigial organ” and “malignant tumor”, leaning toward the latter. It’s quite telling that even over on the Great Orange Satan, it’s open season on Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, with only centrist trolls (including one idiot who calls herself “Crazy Horse”, I hate her most of all) defending her.

        Debbie’s the new Lieberman. I can only hope she becomes an independent more quickly.

    2. She thinks the problem with homeopathy is that it’s untested and it might have side effects we haven’t researched yet!

      Homeopathy’s real problem is that it’s so impure that there’s no medicine left. Much like Third Way politics!

      1. No, actually, homeopathy is unregulated, which means it can be whatever the manufacturer wants it to be, which in at least one case meant a real drug that failed to get approved by the FDA.

  2. I was also a Bernie backer who planned to vote for Dr. Stein after Bernie conceded the race. However, I too have decided to vote for Hillary because Trump.

    Stein’s not anti-science so much as anti-corporation. That’s why she can easily accept the science that supports climate change but distrusts the science that says GMOs are safe (Bernie Sanders shares this opinion and backed the GMO labeling law – it was one Bernie’s positions I didn’t like). Unfortunately her distrust of corporations leads her to the false premise that anything produced by big corporations should be feared regardless of what the evidence says. I can understand her hatred of “the corporatocracy” (it’s destroying the planet) but her opinions aren’t guided by evidence, they’re guided by her distrust.

    And that I don’t like.

    But despite that, I think I would prefer living in a country run by Sanders or Stein than any of the other candidates.

    1. I dunno, if you’re saying “vote for Hillary because Trump” then you have to accept some of her own Trumpian tendencies, proud Goldwater girl she is and all.

      I’m personally lulzing because everyone says how horrible Trump’s minority outreach is, and believe me, it is abysmal, but he literally copied his opponent’s husband’s preoccupation with “black-on-black crime”.

      1. Oh yeah, I am aware of what Hillary brings to the table. I’m voting for her only because the next president might select 4 supreme court justices. Trump can’t be allowed to pick those justices.

  3. In regards to Wifi, Jill Stein said (and I quote):
    “We should not be subjecting kids’ brains especially to that…(snip some stuff about Europe)…We make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die.”

    This is fear-mongering pure and simple. She is implying that your kids (and your own) lives are potentially at risk due to WiFi. It’s pretty low-down behavior, even for a politician.

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