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David Stephan #quack #conspiracy respectfulinsolence.com

I’ve been writing about the case of Ezekiel Stephan since 2016. The reason, of course, is that Ezekiel Stephan was a healthy toddler living in Alberta who died unnecessarily because his parents, David and Collett Stephan, chose to treat him with “holistic” treatments, including olive leaf extract, whey protein, and supplements made by David Stephan’s company Truehope, as over a couple of weeks Ezekiel got sicker and sicker and sicker from what turned out to be bacterial meningitis. By the time the conventional medical system was involved, which didn’t occur until the Stephans called emergency services because Ezekiel had had a respiratory arrest. EMS managed to get Ezekiel to the hospital, but it was too late. He did not survive long, dying in the hospital of massive sepsis from his infection.

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Unfortunately, the Canadian Supreme Court reversed the conviction on a technicality and granted the Stephans a new trial in 2018. The results of that trial were not good. In a massive miscarriage of justice, Justice Terry Clackson acquitted the Stephans in a ruling that used such insulting language about a key expert witness for the Crown that a formal complaint of racism was made against him and based the acquittal on such brain dead reasoning and an egregious misinterpretation of the facts and belief of a dubious expert witness for the defense that the Crown decided to appeal. So at odds with reality was the ruling that, personally, I strongly suspect that the fix was in.

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I don’t want to re-argue the facts of the case against the distortions, misinformation, and dubious arguments about the case being promoted by Stephan, his supporters, and the various quacks who have taken up the Stephans’ cause. I’m more interested in showing how Stephan is portraying himself, and, unsurprisingly, it’s as a victim. For example, a week ago on Facebook:

He starts out by complaining that the Canadian Medical Association has alerted its 75,000 members about his case and how they should feel and act about it, claiming, as he did in his blog post, that the CMA is engaged in an effort to influence the court to rule against him and his wife.

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Andrew Wakefield #quack #psychoceramics respectfulinsolence.com

My words have been justified a thousandfold by the actions of the AAPS, this time around, it’s giving Andrew Wakefield the Featured Article position in its latest issue of JPANDS. The article? It’s called The Sixth Extinction: Vaccine Immunity and Measles Mutants in a Virgin Soil, and in it Wakefield argues that we’re heading for a sixth extinction because of—you guessed it!—vaccines.

Before I get to Wakefield’s magnum opus of antivaccine fear mongering, let’s review a bit of background for those not familiar with AAPS and its official journal JPANDS. The first time I wrote about AAPS and JPANDS was over 13 years ago. In that post, I described AAPS as the John Birch Society for physicians, given its far right-wing tilt. More recently, I like to refer to AAPS as a right wing crank organization disguised as a medical professional society, given how assiduously AAPS likes to don the trappings of a society like the American Medical Association, the better to use the medical profession to give the appearance of scientific legitimacy to its views.

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This brings us back to Andrew Wakefield. In many ways, Wakefield is a perfect fit for AAPS and for the lead article in JPANDS. He “doesn’t follow the herd” (unless it’s a herd of antivaxers) but does bucks the system (albeit in a horrible way). He rejects evidence- and science-based medicine if they don’t conclude what he believes and thereby reinforce his beliefs. He possesses an ego as inflated as that of the fictional Dr. Hendricks, feels completely unappreciated because the medical profession rejects his pseudoscience and scientific fraud. He doesn’t believe that he as a physician—a no longer licensed physician, I hasten to add, his having had his license stripped from him by the UK—should have to bow to any medical authority or science- and evidence-based guidelines, and his narcissism is knows no bounds. You get the idea. So naturally, AAPS would see Wakefield as a perfect contributor to its house organ JPANDS. I’m only surprised that it hasn’t happened before, as far as I can remember. (I’m not going through JPANDS back issues to see if he’s contributed before.)

I also can’t help but be surprised at what Wakefield has written in JPANDS for AAPS. Wakefield has always assiduously tried to deny and avoid the label of “antivax.” Yet, here, he goes further off the deep end of antivaccine pseudoscience, general medical pseudoscience, and conspiracy mongering than I’ve ever seen him go before. In this article, Wakefield manages to be a denialist not only of vaccines, but he also flirts with evolution denial (or at least an incredibly poor understanding of evolution), and even sidles up to germ theory denialism. To set the stage, he starts with Louis Pasteur (of course!), proceeds to evolution, where he misrepresents a lot of science. Naturally, AAPS and JPANDS, being AAPS and JPANDS, the editors and ludicrous “peer reviewers” let it all pass without questioning.

Wakefield begins by decrying how Pasteur framed his germ theory, which is not entirely unreasonable, given how much of our microbiological flora are either beneficial or neutral, something that wasn’t understood in the late 19th century. It doesn’t take long for Wakefield’s complaint to go from semi-reasonable to ludicrous as he abuses science more and more in the article.

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From here Wakefield proceeds to the Sir Alexander Fleming, penicillin, and the antibiotic era, making the observation that bacterial resistance has evolved as a result of overuse of antibiotics. At this point, it becomes quite obvious where Wakefield is going with this:

Are vaccines destined for a similar fate? It’s a very interesting question. One answer is, why not? For vaccines, resistance equates to strains of the microbe, the virus, or the bacteria that can elude the imperfect immunity created by the vaccine.

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From here on out, Wakefield goes pretty much whole crank, totally off the deep end, listing the “greatest hits” of antivaccine conspiracy theories, including the Simpsonwood conference, thimerosal, and the like, and then, in a feat of projection that only an antivaxer could pull off, accuses scientists of being “too certain”:

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Of course, Wakefield buys into the “autism epidemic” distortion, including ridiculous claims that autism prevalence will be 100% before too long, even saying that we are “approaching a situation in which everyone either has autism or is caring for someone with autism.” To him, this is a potential extinction-level event: