David Stephan #quack #conspiracy

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.


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.


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.

Andrew Wakefield #quack #crackpot

Andrew Wakefield #quack #crackpot 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.


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.


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.


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”:


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:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. #quack #crackpot #dunning-kruger

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. #quack #crackpot #dunning-kruger respectfulinsolence.com

[Cited in "Antivaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. writes to Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi about measles in the middle of an outbreak"]

I write with profound sadness to offer my condolences for the measles outbreak that has recently affected your country and taken the lives of precious Samoan children. These deaths are a personal tragedy for their bereaved families and for all the people of your tight-knit nation.

I was dismayed—but not surprised—to see media reports that linked the current measles outbreak to the so-called “anti-vaccine” movement. While we can expect pundits to engage in uninformed finger-pointing, Samoa’s public health officials must undertake the serious tasks of containing the infection and—equally importantly—to thoroughly understand its etiology. To safeguard public health during the current infection in and in the future, it is critical that the Samoan Health Ministry determine, scientifically, if the outbreak was caused by inadequate vaccine coverage or alternatively, by a defective vaccine.


Media reports from Samoa suggest that the infection is targeting young infants who are not yet of age to receive the measles vaccine. If true, the culprit is most likely a vaccine that failed to produce antibodies in the vaccinated mothers sufficient to provide the infant with maternal immunity. Young infants contracting measles is a relatively new phenomena first recognized in the 1990’s. Prior to the development and widespread use of Merck’s measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, mothers passed protection to their infants via passive immunity derived from the placenta and breast milk. In contrast, mothers vaccinated with a defective Merck vaccine provide inadequate passive immunity to their babies. Merck’s version of the MMR has created a crisis where infants under the age of one are now highly vulnerable to these infections. These young infants suffer a much higher morbidity and mortality compared to populations historically impacted by wild measles later in childhood.


When it first introduced its measles vaccine in 1963, Merck promised that a single dose of its vaccine would provide lifetime immunity and maternal immunity equivalent to that provided by wild measles. Merck predicted that its vaccine would eradicate measles by 1967, so long as 55% of children were immunized. Leading scientists including the world’s preeminent bacteriologist, Sir Graham Wilson and Harvard Virologist John Enders, who first isolated measles, warned against introducing a vaccine unless it provided lasting life-long immunity, as Merck promised. Measles, they cautioned, would rebound with increased virulence and mortality as the vaccine shifted outbreaks away from children—biologically evolved to handle measles— to young infants with inadequate maternal immunity and senior citizens vulnerable to measles-induced pneumonia. Unfortunately, we are now seeing the global emergence of the exact pattern that scientists cautioned against.


There is also the possibility that children who received the live measles virus during Samoa’s recent vaccination drive may have shed the virus and inadvertently infected vulnerable children. It is a regrettable possibility that these children are causalities of Merck’s vaccine. Alarmed CDC officials documented this emerging phenomenon during the measles outbreak in California in 2015. Federal epidemiological investigations found that at least 1/3 of Californian cases were vaccine strain. In fact, CDC identified 73 of the 194 measles virus sequences obtained across the entire United States in 2015 as vaccine strain A sequences. This means that those children contracted measles from vaccination or from someone who received the vaccine.

For obvious reasons, it is critical for Samoa’s public health officials to quickly determine if the Samoan children who recently died suffered measles from the Merck vaccine or from a mutant strain that evolved to evade the Merck vaccine. In each of those cases, Samoa’s public health officers would react with a very different strategy than if the lethal measles genotype was a wild strain that spread due to inadequate vaccine coverage.