For most of my adult life, I never gave vaccine safety a second thought. But then I started to discover the vile world of online conspiracy theorists who harass victim’s families from Sandy Hook & other horrible tragedies. This led me to an equally disgusting group of hate-filled monsters known as Holocaust deniers.
Naturally this led me to vaccine deniers. Or as most know them, anti-vaxxers. (Or as I also refer to them, “Vaccine risk unaware.”)
Much like conspiracy theorists and holocaust deniers, anti-vaxxers are a cultish fringe minority who deny facts in the face of overwhelming evidence. Also like those other delusional groups, they reject the label of “conspiracy theorist.” They view the term as negative. Some even view it as a “slur.”
Enter James Lyons-Weiler
James Weiler, is an anti-vax PHD with zero qualifications in immunology, neurology, infectious diseases, autism and virology.
Here’s what science blogger Orac wrote about him in a Februrary 2018 blog:
“Lyons-Weiler describes himself as having been an “evolutionary biologist.” That made me curious. So I wandered over to his LinkedIn page. There, I learned that he did apparently earn a PhD in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1997. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Molecular Biology at Penn State University from 1997-2000. So far, so normal.
Then he did have a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1999 to 2002. Oddly enough, this seems to overlap somewhat with his time as a fellow at Penn State. Be that as it may, he didn’t last long there, only three years. This suggests to me that something odd happened. Usually, new faculty in the biomedical sciences is given around five years to acquire funding, become independent, and earn tenure. On the other hand, he says that he established “a Center for Bioinformatics, taught undergraduate & graduate courses (biology, genetics, bioinformatics)” and helped “researchers w/microarray data and developed web applications for high-throughput data analysis.” This does not sound like a tenure-track position, as there is no mention of independent research or running a lab. Lyons-Weiler then moved on to the University of Pittsburgh, where he remained for twelve years and in 2007 became director of the Bioinformatics Analysis Core there until the core closed in 2014, according to him due to state budget cuts.
Lyons-Weiler touts his career as a scientist to make it seem as though his antivaccine claims are more valid, even though they were not. ”
As Skeptical Raptor points out in their recent blog on Weiler:
“…nothing he has done is even peripherally related to vaccines.”
The blog goes on to discuss his qualifications as a “scientist”:
Using the term “scientist” to describe someone who hasn’t done real science, especially with respect to vaccines, seems strange. I want to see the first authorship on a body of papers where clinical trials, epidemiological studies, or basic scientific research are described and analyzed that focuses on vaccines. The anti-vaccine world might want to tout James Lyons-Weiler as a scientist, but he doesn’t do basic scientific research, so that is a title that is probably undeserved.
The vaccineswork blog is equally intrigued about Weiler’s mysterious past and has a theory:
“I have a pet theory that something happened at his last job and he had to leave in disgrace. Finding this niche, in the antivax world, is his last ditch attempt at making a living. “
To summarize James Lyons-Weiler has no qualifications in any field related to vaccines yet uses his PhD to make it seem like he does.
Of course, the “PHD” is right there on his Facebook “fan” page (ignore the old picture he uses from when Bush was in the White House):
What’s even more strange about James Weiler is how many Facebook pages he actually has.
There’s his “fan” page.
His personal page.
His….other personal page.
His “charity” IPAK page.
And, of course, his fake name sock account page.
I’m not an expert in Facebook policy but this seems like a violation!
What’s also strange is how little interaction there is on his “fan” page. There are 6,547 people listed who “like” the page but only one comment on his last four posts…combined. And that one comment is by him! It’s basically a ghost town leading to the possibility that James purchased “likes” to make his influence seem stronger than it really is.
If he didn’t buy his likes his followers are simply not engaged. Either way, it shows he has basically no influence. Which, as you will soon see, is a very good thing!
IPAK – Follow the Money
IPAK is the co-called “charity” research organization that Weiler set up. It stands for “Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge” the pretentious & ironic name Weiler gave to an organization designed to manufacture negative studies on vaccines.
IPAK, while appearing to be a legitimate un-biased research organization (they have a website and everything!) in reality is just a front to pass off anti-vaccine propaganda “research.”
You want proof? Ask James to produce the positive studies on vaccines that IPAK has released.
The other function IPAK serves is giving Weiler an outlet to accept monetary donations. I don’t question that some of the money goes to fund his anti-vaccine studies. However it appears a good amount of the money also funds…James himself. In fact, my investigation has led me to believe that James may have been living off donations funded by his followers for some time. If true, it’s unclear that his followers realize they are donating to pay his Netflix bill.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s James himself in a recent Facebook post after explaining how he needs to fix his brakes on his car and pay his taxes:
“One thing and only one thing can keep me going past June.” And that one thing is people donating money, of course. So I guess if you care about the brakes on James car and him paying his taxes, then you should donate to him!
To be fair, I’m not claiming that using donations to pay for his own lifestyle and bills is illegal or even immoral. That would be for the reader to decide.
“I’m not anti-vax.”
So how does James spend most of his time these days in between begging for money to fund studies that will “prove” vaccines are bad? Well, he also writes blogs that are negative about vaccines, tweets that are negative about vaccines and Facebook posts that are negative about vaccines.
I can’t confirm or deny he has an Instagram and/or Pinterest but if he does I imagine he uses them to post negative things about vaccines.
In between his anti-vax postings he finds time (and money) to travel the country to defend anti-vax parents in court cases or appear with notable anti-vax figures at various anti-vax events.
He also likes posts that are…not exactly pro-vaccine.
I don’t know about you but if someone likes a post that claims no vaccine can ever be safe, I’m going to assume that person is not pro-vaccine.
He was recently caught on video saying vaccines are “nasty filthy vials of toxic sludge.”
Of course James likes to attack doctors that provide vaccines. He also likes to promote the false claim that vaccines cause autism. Sometimes he does both in the same post!
I’m sure James has some outlier to “prove” doctors claim to not “have enough time” to inform patients of the real risks of vaccines. I’m sure James has some outlier to “prove” the VIS is handed out after vaccination. Clinging to “stories” and outliers doesn’t dismiss the fact that statements like this are actually defamation attacks on good doctors and do not represent the overall truth.
He also openly promotes paranoid and delusional conspiracy theories related to the government and vaccines.
Say what, now?
In perhaps one of his most heinous & disgusting postings he encouraged his followers to write fake attack reviews on Amazon (an online troll tactic known as brigading) for a children’s Jewish Hanukah book simply because it included vaccinations in the story.
Thankfully James & his cohorts failed miserably in their efforts as pro-science forces overwhelmingly outnumbered the anti-science reviews!
And there was this beautiful tidbit from a recent Romper article about the online attack & aftermath:
Despite all of this undeniable evidence of someone who is a rabid anti-vaxxer, Weiler claims he’s not anti-vax. In fact, he claims he’s 100% pro-vaccine! From Weiler’s own blog:
So in addition to being a self-proclaimed expert on vaccine science James is also a comedian.
I recently had an online discussion with James on his blog (before he blocked me) where he claimed he can’t be considered anti-vax because he’s “pro-artificial immunization.”
Let’s unpack that claim for a second.
So James is against and advocates against every vaccine currently on the schedule but he’s not “anti-vax” because he’s not against the theoretical concept of vaccines?
That’s like saying you can’t be called racist if you believe in the concept of races…but have serious issues with blacks, Jews and Mexicans.
Sorry James but being anti-vaccine isn’t about whether or not you are against the concept of vaccines. It’s whether you are for or against vaccines…that actually exist & are recommended to protect children from infectious disease!
James claims that talking about vaccine risk does not make him anti-vax. True! But when it’s ALL you talk about and when you misrepresent that risk and misrepresent the science by promoting anti-vax propaganda….that’s what makes you anti-vax!
He goes as far as to block anyone who calls him anti-vax, or as he dubs them “vaccine risk denialists.”
Of course this is less about him being offended with the term and more about him creating a protective echo chamber of followers. Followers who will only like/share and respond positively to anything he posts without ever questioning him. Followers who will make it appear like he is smarter than he truly is.
This is the world James Lyons-Weiler wants to create for himself. A world free of opposition. A world where he appears to be all-knowing and everything he writes appears to be truthful. It’s scary and somewhat dystopian.
Much like his charlatan peer, J.B. Handley, James openly believes in censorship and is against free speech when it comes to his agenda & his propaganda. An ironic belief considering he claims to be an advocate for “medical freedom.” I guess in his world some freedoms are more important than others?
His defense for his censorship…the cliched and debunked “trolls” response. Yes, much like many other anti-vax charlatans who don’t like others to see real science, James claims he is justified in censoring other viewpoints because those who oppose him are simply “trolls.” It’s of course a laughable and desperate defense that nobody outside his echo chamber accepts or takes seriously.
James writes a “study” & proceeds to censor
Which brings us to a paper that James got published recently in a journal. And by “got published” I mean he paid $1,800 to get it published. Money he received as “donations” from the same followers he was keeping locked in his echo chamber (now are you starting to understand why he does what he does?)
As Skeptical Raptor writes:
“This paper does not present original scientific research. It is not a primary pre-clinical or clinical study that accumulates data from experiments that might lead one to accepting or refuting a hypothesis, like “is the amount of aluminum in vaccines toxic?” The paper is not a meta- or systematic review, which collect and critically analyze multiple research studies or papers. The paper is more like an op-ed that provides us with an “opinion” about whether aluminum concentrations in vaccines may or may not be an issue.”
So basically James wrote an opinion piece. And *spoiler alert* his opinion is that vaccines with aluminum are bad!
It’s no surprise that the paper has many obvious flaws and James cherry-picks the data it uses. One commentator on the blog above summed it up perfectly:
As that blog does a great job of showing the many faults of the paper I won’t waste more time on that here. Instead I’ll speak to James qualifications and his claims about being unbiased. After the paper was published James wrote a blog addressed to the FDA where he had the audacity to claim his research has “low bias.” I kid you not.
I commented on his blog questioning his assertion that he has low bias.
The latter comment is even noted in his study:
So how did James respond to my comment? I think we can all take an educated guess as to what I saw when I refreshed!
After a few back and forth’s with James in private comments I refreshed and saw this:
So once again James decided to censor truth and free speech discussion.
*Update* In an ironic twist it appears the FDA blog James wrote on Medium has been removed!
James has republished the blog on Linkedin and added this note:
I guess James doesn’t get the irony of him complaining about an article being censored…an article where he censored the comments!
From his Facebook fake name account:
Pot meet kettle, James. Also complaining about “#firstamendment?” Maybe take a look at your actions regarding free speech first.
From his other Facebook account:
Triggered much James?
In conclusion, James Lyons-Weiler is against all vaccines currently on the CDC schedule. He spends his time on multiple social media accounts (including at least one with a fake name) advocating against vaccines and promoting negative opinions of vaccines.
He travels the country defending anti-vax parents in legal matters and speaking out against vaccines.
He raises money for an anti-vax charity he created to fund anti-vax research and is likely using at least a portion of the money to cover his own living expenses.
He has a mysterious professional past in between his legitimate scientific work and his new pseudoscience advocacy against vaccines.
He deletes, blocks and censors the majority of those who question him or refer to him as who he is.
Who is James Lyons-Weiler?