By Mary Anne Pankhurst
There’s no doubt that vaccine misinformation harms and kills people. Globally, the evidence for that is in. But do you know misinformation is also a money maker?
Fact is, Big Misinfo is a profit-making leviathan. It breaches in both physical and online communities, all tangled up with noxious and weedy conspiracy theories that infect peoples’ beliefs, encourage science denial, mistrust of public health advocates, and harassment and death threats to some.
The business also extends to promoters of some of the quackiest, goopiest, multi-trillion dollar features of the alt-med and wellness marketplace.
And apparently, some evangelicals are even cashing in.
Among the biggest media profiteers are Amazon, Facebook and YouTube.
Then there are the hundreds of small, generic personalities who mainly specialize in repeating misinformation.
Jason Christoff is among these, operating out of Cornwall, Ontario, the city he refers to as his “Kingdom.”
Very recently, Amazon and the others began taking a good long look in the mirror.
And while a few encouraging changes have begun, such as that Amazon has stopped selling a couple of books that promote dangerous, fake and abusive ‘cures,’ like bleach enemas for children with autism, the giants have Godzilla strides to make.
The deception business also includes a broad scope of businesses that are much less obvious, including pharmacies LINK and naturopaths who continue to sell homeopathy; chiropractors who may sell the idea that spinal adjustments can provide some kind of immune protection; and in Cornwall, media like Seaway News and the Freeholder who directly or indirectly made money from Jason Christoff’s columns while the gym-owner boosted his bottom line.
It’s a special kind of crazy. But clearly, there’s gold in them-thar anti-vaxx hills; big bucks to be made by the likes of Natural News, Mercola and Infowars (to name a few), all that exploit people, pushing them to embrace and share dangerous ideas like: “Bring on the Measles! I wish I could have been blessed with that infection as a healthy child.”
Editor’s Note: Ottawa just announced a case of Measles.
Blessed? Balderdash! Has anti vaccine and anti-science thinking become some kind of religion or are these beliefs symptomatic of some kind of 21st century sickness that historians will one day publish papers about, with titles like Backstories on the modern world’s return to the Dark Ages.
This claim defies classification.
Ah yes, the anti-vaxx mommy types who think (like Christoff, who has an undergrad in labour relations) that “they know” all about microbiology, infectious diseases and immunology.
And at this link you can read about a mum who charges $200. for anti-vaccine workshops designed to inform misinform other parents.
Question: If she’s profiting from misinformation (as we see many others do) should she/they be held responsible if a child, contracts or dies from, a vaccine-preventable disease? LINK
What if once-deluded parents suddenly start fighting back; mounting cases seeking damages from the profiteers of wild ideas, false promises, products, books, newsletters, videos, movies, seminars or advertising?
It brings to mind a recent case in the US, where an herbalist went to jail for practicing medicine without a license, and isn’t this what many of the aforementioned profiteers are doing when they give unsubstantiated health advice?
In this case, the herbalist convinced a family to treat their son with lavender oil, in place of insulin for type 1 diabetes. The boy suffered and died because the herbalist told the boy’s parents that insulin is poison.
Jason Christoff often refers to vaccines as poison.
This is how crazy things have become in the era of Big Misinfo, and these outbreaks of deception bring to mind a story that ran in CFN a few weeks ago.
Acting on a Facebook post written by a mother who announced her baby had contracted and was suffering with measles, the CFN editor tried to confirm – with very good reason given the highly contagious nature of the disease – whether the public health unit or the hospital could confirm the claim.
But his question was met with silence.
So why, even if the mother’s claim was not true, would health authorities avoid a teachable moment about protecting, not only children, but babies too young to be vaccinated and the immunocompromised?
On this local note, I can’t help but think of this little girl from Cornwall, Vanetia Warner, who died after contracting swine flu (H1N1) in 2009. LINK
I’m not suggesting anti-vaccine views played a role in her death. Not at all. But I lived in SDG at the time – when so many were spewing hogwash about the swine flu vaccine – that I have never forgotten her.
It was such a tragedy, one so great, it boggles the mind how or why Christoff so commonly posts about his totally unvaccinated daughter. Especially when it’s highly probable that he and his wife had the luxury of benefiting from vaccine-protection, as well as herd immunity, in their own childhoods.
Christoff, and some of his fans, considers himself some kind of medical researcher. Don’t believe me?
Still not sure what I mean? Then consider this story, and ask yourself who or what might have governed and informed decisions made by these parents?
In summary, their six-year-old was infected by a life-threatening tetanus infection, suffered 57 days in intensive care at a cost of over $800,000, but refused the recommended tetanus shot before the boy was discharged from hospital. LINK
It’s 2019 people. Should peddlers of “good sounding” deceptions about infectious diseases and vaccines that eradicated diseases like smallpox (by 1977), have saved, and continue to save millions of lives get a free pass?
Gold in Them Thar Hills.
Photos: Social Media