Kate Tietje and the 7 signs of an anti-vax quack

Measles word cloud

Kate Tietje, who writes under the nom de quack Modern Alternative Mama, professes herself shocked by the outcry to the execrable piece Five Reason Measles Is Better Than Autism, her “most controversial post of all time.”

Yesterday I wrote about the factual errors and neuro-bigotry in the piece (WTF, Kate Tietje?). Today I’d like to show how Kate’s response illustrates the 7 cardinal signs of an anti-vax quack.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”If you agree, join me. If you don’t…leave quietly.”[/pullquote]

1. Striking contempt for basic knowledge

Since Tietje believes herself qualified to opine on vaccine safety, you might imagine that she would have formal education in immunology, science and statistics. You would be wrong.

Kate, like most anti-vaxxers is a walking, talking illustration of the Dunning-Kruger effect. That’s the paradox that those who know the least actually believe they know the most. She is so lacking in basic knowledge that she is literally incapable of realizing just how ignorant she is about the topic.

2. Fact resistance

Kate isn’t merely evidence resistant; she is fact resistant. It doesn’t matter what the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control or anyone else tells her about the fact that the association between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine has been thoroughly debunked by a plethora of studies, nor that the seminal study “proving” the association was fabricated by Andrew Wakefield in an effort to promote the profitability of own version of the vaccine that was in development at the time. [Correction: Edited to remove an erroneous claim that I made about measles death rates].

3. Embrace of blatant lying

In regard to the piece, Kate claims:

It was written because of all of the people who have said, “I’d rather my children have autism than die of the measles.” That’s an unfair and wrong comparison, that blow measles way out of proportion. Death rates from measles are quite low in developed countries.

Since the measles vaccine DOESN’T cause autism, no one is claiming that they’d rather have their children get autism than measles.

4. Privileging intuition over facts

Kate believes that vaccines cause autism because that’s what her intuition tells her, facts be damned.

5. Outsourcing blame

As the population has fallen prey more and more to autoimmune disorders, chronic illness, and disability, they’ve been told, “It’s just a new variation of normal! It’s genetic! There’s nothing you can do! Accept it and love it!”

There’s no denying this is happening. There’s no denying that rates of allergies, autism, autoimmune disorders, learning disabilities, obesity, and more are rising exponentially. But if the powers-that-be redefine all of these things as “normal,” then no one has to answer for it or do anything about it.

For every untoward occurrence, Tietje never thinks to ask, “What went wrong?” Instead she demands to know: “Who did this to us?”

The fault always lies with a conspiracy, in the case of vaccines a conspiracy so large as to encompasses nearly every scientist, doctor, and public health official in the entire world.

The truth is, that post hit people hard, in their core belief systems. These people believe the lies that the doctors and pharmaceutical companies have sold them. It isn’t their fault. Basically, they’ve been “gas-lighted.”

That’s not what gas-lighting means. According to Wikipedia:

Gaslighting … is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.

Gaslighting involves empirical facts, NOT feelings. Gaslighting means insisting that the lights are bright when they are actually dim. Giving greater weight to scientific evidence than the perceptions of the scientifically illiterate is not gaslighting; it’s SCIENCE.

6. Desperation for adulation and self esteem

For Tietje, like most anti-vaxxers, it has precious little to do with vaccines or with children.  She view the combination of self-education and defiance of authority as an empowering form of rugged individualism, marking out her own superiority from the pathetic “sheeple” who aren’t self-educated and who do follow authority.

I feel sorry for all of these people. These children deserve *better.* I want them, and all children, to be the best versions of themselves…

I know that there are possibilities to achieve health, to really HELP people, that exist outside of what the mainstream says is possible. They deny it angrily, they call it magical thinking. Yet I’ve seen it work…over and over.

7. Isolation is critical to self-regard

If you agree, join me. If you don’t…leave quietly.

Kate can’t be bothered to convince anyone who disagrees because she cannot tolerate anyone who does not praise her. She spent yesterday banning and deleting anyone who dared to present scientific evidence because she cannot abide proof that she isn’t knowledgeable, uniquely insightful and special.

Kate Tietje is merely ignorant and deluded; she’s hoping against hope that by wiping away real scientific evidence she can prevent her gullible followers from realizing it.