Being savvy at internet communication and social media is becoming more important for doctors and healthcare providers, especially since so many parents seek out information about vaccines (and much more) online. One of the wonderful things I get to do is go around and speak to healthcare workers and public health people, and I stress the importance of reaching out to their communities through online media. People I know and respect, like Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, Dr. Nathan Boonstra, and ZDogg MD, all have varying and significant (and wonderful) online platforms.
Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician for whom I have little respect, has lately been dipping his toes into the online scene. In reality, his family has been huge online for a number of years following their success with Attachment Parenting bible The Baby Book and other parenting books. When I was a new mom, I took comfort in some of the information I could easily get from the Sears family books and website, although I knew their approach wasn’t right for everyone.
Dr. Bob has since made a name for himself by writing The Vaccine Book, which is full of misinformation and lies by omission. Conveniently, the book also includes an alternate schedule–one which has never been studied or tested, but which does allow the parent to make more than twice as many visits to a pediatrician.
I had always assumed that his endgame was that obvious. Sell some books; get parents to make extra appointments. Actually, I’ll back up. I do believe that he buys into what he is selling–that aluminum is scary and that an alternate schedule is a good thing. I think at some point, he read a study that made him uneasy, and the subsequent studies and evidence have not shaken his obstinate insistence that vaccines are not safe. This assumption is purely my conjecture. However, I think the fact that he uses the fear of vaccines as a marketing tool for his book and for his practice is significant. But I really had thought that was the end.
When Dr. Bob started what he called a “blog” on Facebook (I can forgive him that he has confused a social media outlet for a blogging platform), it seemed to be an extension of his fear-based marketing for his book and his practice. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate an everyman, lovable image of himself.
Of course, he missed the mark sometimes. My favorite so far was the post in which he made fun of parents using strollers at his office.
That’s not charming. Lately, he has been using this Facebook-blogging platform to lobby against SB277. Since a significant portion of his social media followers (and probably his patients) skew toward vaccine hesitant and anti-vaccine, being against this bill seems to fit both his persona and his marketing scheme. In one recent post, he compares his vaccine refusing patients to holocaust victims (and then adds a disclaimer that he didn’t compare them to holocaust victims).
I could spend an entire post explaining how that disclaimer is complete horse pucky, that the holocaust was that time when Jewish people many years ago felt discrimination and prejudice while being asked to wear yellow Stars of David, but this is the man who sits in his office and laughs at parents as they put their children in strollers for an appointment with him. There is too much lost on him, and his patients will continue to defend him as long as he makes them feel good for feeling bad about vaccines. It’s part of his marketing scheme.
Except I had the end game wrong this whole time. I had always assumed that because his family already endorsed all sorts of untested supplements and that because he had branched out into anti-vaccine land and staked a claim there, that his marketing plan was just about the book and the practice.
See all those asterisks under the percentage of the daily value needed? Yep–that’s stuff you don’t even need any of each day. Perhaps to compensate, Dr. Bob gives us way more than we would need each day in Vitamin C. All of this stuff we don’t need and extra stuff our bodies won’t use for one (not evaluated by the FDA) reason: to give our immune systems a boost.
It kind of begs the question–how do these herbs we don’t need and vitamins we don’t need that much of know just how much to boost the immune system? What if they boost the immune system too much? Could they turn the immune system against us and make it attack us? And if we are concerned about our immune system, why aren’t we helping it practice defending us against diseases by just getting vaccinated?
Actually, this whole affair begs a better question–now that Dr. Bob has thrown his entire lot in with the anti-vaccine crowd, turning his back on his evidence-based colleagues, will they buy his supplements? Or will they feel like they have been the victim of his long con?