Friday, September 28, 2012

The Obsessions of Antivaxxers

I often wonder why some antivaxxers seem to be so obsessed with posting information about vaccines.  It isn't as if it is merely a matter of sharing information or merely a hobby, but rather it appears to be what defines many of them.  I can understand when a parent feels a vaccine harmed their child that they would react to their situation.  I can also understand someone standing behind a cause and supporting it with their words and actions.  I can even understand someone devoting themselves to an action which they feel has merit.

However when someone spends the vast majority of their time each and every day on the Internet scouring anti-vaccine websites and posting comments to countless stories and articles about vaccines, and when someone essentially ignores the world around them due to their obsession it stops being about a cause and starts becoming nothing short of an obsession.

Recently, a local antivaxxer Lowell Hubbs posted the following status update to his Facebook page, and it serves as one example of what happens when someone becomes so obsessed with an issue that they essentially forget about the life around them.

Now I am not about to claim I have any idea what was going on here, but I did check the Sioux Falls Police Department Call Log and was unable to find anything that relates to Mr. Hubbs around the date he posted his update, so for all I know Mr. Hubbs is once again making up details.

I do know that the Police Department doesn't typically serve eviction notices, and they don't typically take the Fire Department along for good measure, so why Mr. Hubbs is stating they joined the Minnehaha County Sheriff (who would typically handle evictions) is beyond me.

Of course I would expect if someone was serving me with an eviction notice I might step away from the computer instead of updating my Facebook status... but to each his own I suppose.  The other question that comes to mind is why these agencies would be involved in serving just a notice.  Per SDCL 21-16-2, typically a landlord would serve the first notice of eviction, and if the resident isn't home they are allowed to post the notice at the residence, so law enforcement is not needed.  It is only when the resident refuses to leave that they bother to seek a judgement at which point the Sheriff becomes involved to force the resident to leave the property.

So the question remains - why would law enforcement visit Mr. Hubbs if it was not to serve an eviction notice?  As with most stories told by Mr. Hubbs, I'm guessing there is a lot more to this one than what he claims, and his words cannot be fully trusted.  Nevertheless, Mr. Hubbs did add a bit of detail in a follow-up Facebook posting.

Let's be clear here - I'm not accusing Mr. Hubbs of having any outstanding warrants, nor am I accusing him of any nefarious activity.  I'm not sure who Mr. Hubbs was speaking with when he posted this, but considering there weren't any other comments on his earlier post other than the one shown I suppose it is possible he was merely speaking to (or arguing with) himself.  I suspect we aren't getting the full story here, but even if it is true that Mr. Hubbs is merely being evicted I can only hope he lands on his feet and finds another residence soon (if he hasn't already).

What troubles me is that I see a pattern of behavior here that seems all too common with antivaxxers.  They seem to have no significant life outside of their time on the Internet or their time on the anti-vaccine seminar circuit.  They can't be troubled by pesky details like finding gainful employment, obtaining degrees from legitimate post-secondary institutions, completing research studies, finishing residencies, or in some cases even minor details like paying the rent.

I have also noticed a pattern where many of the most prolific and predominant non-medical antivaxxers are either stay-at-home parents, unemployed or underemployed, and/or they are on disability.  Is it simply a matter of these people having too much time on their hands, or is there a deeper connection here?  I simply cannot understand why the anti-vaccine movement seems to attract so many people who, at least on the surface, appear to suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Beyond the obvious symptoms of OCD, I am left wondering about the other mental health aspects of this type of behavior.  Is the obsession really about vaccines themselves or is there something else at play here?  As mentioned previously, I could understand a parent reacting to vaccines if they felt their child was harmed by them.  Even if a parent is confusing correlation and causation, I can still understand the desire to find answers and it isn't a stretch to see how they would latch on to some of the views that are central to the anti-vaccination platform.  

However, when someone who has no family and has no direct experience with vaccines suddenly and inexplicably expresses an interest in children, and when they appear to lack significant, meaningful relationships with adults in their life, and when they seem to often discuss subject matter involving physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children I'll admit it concerns me.  In fact, if you look at common psychological profile for a child predator you find many of these exact traits.  Although this doesn't directly have any connection to vaccines, this is a subject we have discussed in the past, and based upon some information recently provided to me it appears we will be discussing it again in the near future.

Stay tuned.


  1. Let me go ahead and get this out of the way now before Mr. Hubbs attempts to spam the blog with another round of his unrelated comments:

    Mr. Hubbs, since you still have refused to acknowledge the fact you have attempted to post comments under numerous fake names (sockpuppet accounts) even after being caught doing so, I refuse to give you a platform for discussion.

    Thus none of your comments will be published until which time you admit your actions and apologize for attempting to control the discussion via fraud and deceit.

    Carry on.

  2. Lowell tried to hang with the 'big dogs' over at Respectful Insolence today, but they sent him packing rather quickly.

  3. I'd like to say I learned something from reading some of Lowell's comments, but sadly it is just more of the "to [sic] much to lose" and "nothing would be enough" tropes that he relies upon so often.

    This is essentially an example of why people refuse to "debate" antivaxxers, because as you can see from his comments, they just jump from point to point and refuse to stay on message. When they are shown their information is obsolete by over 70 years,or when their sources are shown to be nothing more than opinion pieces rather than peer-reviewed published studies, they move to something else. When shown they lack the basic understanding of what they are reading or that they are misinterpreting the data, they resort to the "nothing is enough" excuse. It is a classic example of goalpost relocation.

    Of course my favorite 'Lowellism' is when someone says something to him and he almost immediately tries to counter using the same words as if he understands them. For instance some time ago I pointed out to Lowell that he engages in intellectual dishonesty. I also cited numerous examples of him relying upon ad hominem attacks when he couldn't rely upon evidence to support an argument. Without fail, those words became part of his responses on a regular basis even though prior to me mentioning them he had never once used them. It is nothing more than taking what someone says... adding a few words to it, and then parroting it back even when it is clear he has no understanding of the phrases or words he is typing.

    Imitation is a form of flattery right??

  4. I know this is a really old blog post but I just had to say that you don't seem to have a good idea of what OCD actually is. You describe the fact that AVers are ridiculously obsessed with vaccines as an "obvious" sign of OCD, as well as their lack of interest in finding gainful employment or completing any actual research of their own, etc. These are not obvious signs of OCD; in fact, they are not signs of OCD at all. It isn't that I'm saying that a person with OCD would never have that sort of tendency, but that wouldn't be related to the condition. The simple existence of an obsession, no matter how all-consuming, is not evidence of OCD.

    I have enormous respect for your work and am a big fan of your posts on the other blog. Now that I've discovered this one, I am eager to go through it. But I really suggest that you learn about OCD. It is an extremely distressing and sometimes disabling mental illness categorized by magical thinking that the sufferer is well aware doesn't actually make sense, and it entails a pattern of obsessions and compulsions. It is terrifying and distressing. AVers seem to delight in their peculiar obsession and whether there is some form of mental illness involved I have no idea, but it isn't obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    1. I get what you are saying but the URL I linked to states OCD can be described as the "need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life."

      I don't mean to suggest that every antivaxxer is suffering from OCD, but the behavior of a select few (including Mr. Hubbs) clearly demonstrates obsessive behavior... among other things. It clearly disrupts their lives, and when you have someone attempting to post hundreds upon hundreds of comments to a blog most of which contain the same types of incoherent nonsense you begin to wonder.

      Thst said... my post was firmly tongue in cheek. I have no doubt many antivaxxers suffer from mental illness, but I also agree with you that it likely isn't OCD.


All comments are moderated and comments from obvious sockpuppet accounts as well as spam accounts that do not add anything of value to the discussion will not be published.