I've told you about the #ConspiraSea Cruise and all the reporting about it. This post is about one Larry Cook, a "healthy lifestyles" promoter; how two speakers on the ConspiraSea behaved appallingly toward some of the reporters on the the cruise; how Mr. Cook opposed their conduct in an admirable manner; and how those two speakers are now vilifying Mr. Cook.
In order to understand the scurrilous attacks on Mr. Cook, some background is in order. To begin with, naturopaths were licensed in California in 2003; the original legislation required naturopaths to be under the supervision of MDs or DOs in order to prescribe medication. That requirement is still in effect. The overarching legislative goal for CNDA is to expand the scope of practice of NDs, and especially to remove the MD/DO supervision requirement. Secondly, some clarification about the role of an Executive Director (ED) in a professional medical association is in order. The ED may draft policies, but she or he does not make policy. That's the role of the board. So to hold an ED responsible for an association's policies (or legislative stances) is a profound error. Next, we need to move on to the legislative history of California's previous vaccine law, #AB2109, which was introduced in February 2012, and went into effect in 2013. It was a pretty simple bill; it merely required parents desiring a Personal Belief Exemption for required school-entry vaccines to listen to counseling about vaccine safety and efficacy from qualified medical practitioners. During the fight for the bill, the California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA) had a success:
Successfully amended the Vaccine Bill (AB2109) to include NDs as providers authorized to counsel parents on childhood vaccines and facilitate access to vaccine waivers if appropriate
Relative to the legislative process for AB2109, the ink was barely dry on Cook's employment contract before the process started. There was very little press coverage of the bill's progress through the legislature; the best summary is at History of Vaccines. Personally, although I was following the progress of AB2109 closely, I don't recall Larry Cook's name coming up.
Now, let's turn to the California's law enacted in 2015 #SB277, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in June, 2015, and will take effect with the start of school this fall (2016). SB277 eliminates all but medical exemptions to required school-entry vaccines. Naturopathic doctors are not qualified, by law, to write medical exemptions. This is a change from AB2109, which allowed Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Naturopathic Doctors, and School Nurses to sign off on Personal Belief Exemptions.
On April 8, SB277 was heard for the first time in the Health Committee. The legislative analyst reported that the CNDA opposed unless amended:
That is, California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA) wanted their members to be able to sign medical exemptions. Personally, I think that naturopaths are not competent in that respect, but (putting on my economic analysis glasses) I can understand why CNDA expended time and treasure to make that effort. If the CNDA had been successful in this legislative ploy, it would have given naturopaths both a boost in legitimacy and an economic boost. These are both things that professional associations are supposed to do; that is why members pay the dues. It's appropriate to reiterate here that Mr. Cook may have drafted the CNDA position, but he is not responsible for it. It's a statement from the Board of the CNDA.
But the CNDA failed to enact into the #SB277 law a provision that naturopaths could write medical exemptions, and therefore at the final legislative analysis, CNDA opposed the bill.
In late March or early April, 2015, Mr. Cook started a GoFundMe campaign to produce short films, interviews with parents who felt their children had been damaged by vaccines, in order to share those stories with legislators and the general public to build opposition to SB277. He also created a series of images, such as the ones below, spreading his opinions about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. As far as I can tell, he was doing so as a private citizen, not as a representative of CNDA; just as I was in advocating for SB277.
During the legislative struggle to get SB277 passed, there was a tremendous amount of infighting in the ranks of the opposition, which continued after the bill was signed into law. One wing of the opposition, lead by Tim Donnelly, mounted a petition campaign to have a referendum on the bill on the 2016 ballot; another wing wanted to wait and litigate the bill when it comes into effect in the fall of 2016.
Mr. Cook supported the petition drive, run by Tim Donnelly, and created training videos for signature gatherers. However The petition drive failed miserably, garnering less than two-thirds of the needed signatures. Mr. Cook continued his opposition to SB277, by raising funds to run short ads on local television. He also has become much more forthright in his opposition to vaccines, as you can see from the images below.
As you can see from the time stamp, this image was posted January 18, 2016.
This brings us to the issue at hand. Larry Cook was a member of the audience on the ConspiraSea Cruise (January 24-31 2016) organized by Susan Shumsky, an author and spiritual teacher. Shumsky included in the speakers roster Leonard G. Horowitz and Sherri Kane, who bill themselves as .... well, I am not sure I can summarize accurately their many and varied self-reported accomplishments. What I can say is, they have a remarkable record of in-person and cyberbullying both within the anti-vaccine or "health freedom" movements and for others who have displeased them in some way.
The cruise ran from Sunday to Sunday; blogger Colin McRoberts was on board, as were a photographer from Popular Mechanics, and reporters Anna Merlan (Jezebel) and Bronwen Dickey (Popular Mechanics). In Troubled Waters: ConspiraSea Cruise Day 4(ish), McRoberts recounted how Horowitz and Kane put both Merlan and the photographer on the spot during one of Horowitz and Kane's presentations, yelling and berating them. Later, Horowitz and Kane badgered Merlan more than an hour. Then on Friday morning, there was another incident, which McRoberts explains in A skeptic on the ConspiraSea cruise, day 5: I Just Can’t Do Another Nautical Pun. Horowitz and Kane cornered Dickey and Litovsky, the Popular Mechanics photographer.
This is how Anna Merlan saw the incident
The next morning, Shumsky had to intervene again. Horowitz and Kane had jumped out at Litovsky and Dickey and tried to hand them a huge stack of photocopies. (These turned out to be of the junk science article and information from Wikipedia about Hearst, the magazine’s parent company.) Horowitz got very close to Dickey, trying to shove the paper in her hands. Larry Cook, an anti-vaccine activist, intervened. He and Horowitz got in a heated shoving match, with Dickey pinned up against a wall behind them.
With Shumsky’s help, Horowitz and Kane were corralled on one side of a hallway, while Dickey, Litovsky, and I were on the other. Cook stood between us and Horowitz and refused to move.
“I won’t tolerate that behavior,” he said afterwards. (He later revealed, in a low-key manner, that he’d been praying for us, and that a crowd of angels had descended on the boat for protection.)
As far as I know, there were no further confrontations between Horowitz and Cook...at least during the cruise. Afterwards, though, Horowitz and Kane published a series of attacks on Larry Cook , Colin McRoberts, and "pharma propagandists". I am sure there will be direct attacks on Merlan and Dickey in the coming weeks.
In the long and cofusing Horowitz and Kane piece attacking Cook, Kane claims that Larry Cook is secretly pro-vaccine
The evidence proved Cook lobbied to pass California’s controversial mandatory vaccination Bill SB277 in order to secure a cut of the healthcare dollar generated by imposing vaccinations on all school children, regardless of philosophical objections.
As "evidence" Horowitz and Kane linked to a Quora response I wrote during the SB277 hearings. The relevant part of the answer is a quotation from the legislative analysis for the bill from the Health Committee
[Health Committee Analysis] California Naturopathic Doctors Association Oppose (unless amended) "California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA) states that it supports immunization for the prevention of disease and the public health objective of achieving high rates of immunity to infectious disease. CNDA states that as licensed primary care doctors who can diagnose medical conditions such as anaphylaxis and immunodeficiency, reasons outlined in the CDC’s list of contraindications to common pediatric vaccinations, naturopathic doctors must also be able to sign medical waivers for vaccination, when such medical conditions exist. CNDA opposes this bill unless it is amended to include NDs as providers who can sign medical waivers for vaccination."
It's interesting that as far as I know, Horowitz and Kane (who seem to be based in Hawai'i) did nothing to oppose SB277 during the legislative process.
Anyway, Horowitz and Kane make the following claim (in the piece attacking Cook), quoting from an email to them from Cook:
[Cook]: It’s my FB peeps who found [McRoberts's] first blog and shared it with me – that’s how I found out he was writing a blog.[Horowitz and Kane]: This appears to be a lie also, because McRoberts shared social media contacts with Cook and Liz Ditz–a leader in the pro-vaccine SB277 campaign in which Cook was likewise very active, but supposedly on the opposing side. In fact, the following screen shot shows Ditz questioning Cook’s funding and excess video production budget, when Ditz, working with McRoberts, would have, or should have known, that Cook was CNDA Executive Director lobbying, like her, for SB277’s passage.
The passage refers to this twitter exchange
Now, to the best of my knowledge, prior to this week, I've never had a social media, face-to-face, or any other kind of communication exchange with Larry Cook. I checked; here is the one and only tweet that includes both me and Larry:
During the SB277 hearings I was aware of Larry Cook, mostly through his "my child is vaccine injured" videos, and in that context vaguely aware of that he was associated with the CNDA, but did not really make the connection.
Let us count up Horowitz and Kane's falsehoods in the passage above:
- That Colin McRoberts was a mastermind of the support for SB277. As far as I can tell, McRoberts's involvement with SB277 consisted of a presentation he gave at the California Immunization Coalition's summit in Riverside, April 26-27 2015. It was one of 13 presentations. I was not in attendance, so I can't say if McRoberts mentioned SB277.
- That I worked or communicated with McRoberts in advocating for SB277. That's just not true.
- That I shared "social media contacts" in any way with Cook. That's just not true.
- That the California Naturopathic Doctors Association lobbied for the bill. They did not; they opposed it.
Horowitz and Kane make the following claim (in the piece attacking McRoberts, Dickie, Merlan, and the photographer)
A year before the cruise, strategizing public support to pass SB 277, Ditz, whose alliance with Cook is well documented
Let us count up Horowitz and Kane's falsehoods in the passage above:
- Note the date on my blog comments: February 2, 2015. SB277 wasn't even introduced until February 19, 2015. How could I possibly be strategizing for a bill that did not yet exist?
- At that point, I'd never even heard of Larry Cook or the California Naturopathic Doctors Association -- or most of the other organizations that eventually arose to oppose SB277.
- My "well-documented alliance with Cook" consists of one set of tweets from six months later. It is another complete falsehood from Horowitz and Kane.
I am of course in favor of vaccines. I find Cook's arguments against vaccines to be at best, counterfactual. Keeping that in mind, I find the attacks on Cook, because he stood up for people he barely knew, to be abhorrent.
April 3, 2016 edited to add: other people amplified and spread Horowitz's and Kane's falsehoods. Found at the Facebook page Vaccine Resistance Movement: VRM Updates & News From The Trenches . The image is of Brian Deer.
Text in images above; or you can read it yourself at the source.
Sarah Lowrey: At the end of January 2016, during an offshore conference called the “Conspira-Sea Cruise” infiltrated by Paul Offit’s associate propagandist, Harvard-trained lawyer and “negotiator,” Kenneth Colin McRoberts, Dr. Andrew Wakefield was targeted for intelligence gathering and defamation.
That interview can be read HERE online, (or click to download the pdf file of Colin McRoberts Interview with Andrew Wakefield). Notice that McRobert’s questions are in black, Wakefield’s answers are in red, and “Matt Carey’s” comments (presumably Offit’s, but using an additional alias called “SULLIVAN” to confuse investigators) are in green.
You may also notice that among the bloggers commenting furiously is the complicit California agent, “Liz Ditz.” Ditz actively published with McRoberts and Larry Cook to deceive voters during their successful campaign to pass SB277–the mandatory vaccination bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Kitty Faria Sarah, what's your take on Larry Cook? He's my friend on here. I thought he was on the up and up - you don't think he is? What us the proof that he is a traitor? I'm very curious...
Kitty Faria I have to say, so many people in the community completely support him. I think he's a good one.
Sarah Lowrey Larry isn't a traitor. He is being targeted by Offitt, Pan, Ben Allen and their Goons. This must be worded in a confusing way-Liz Ditz, an Offitt Goon from all reports, weaseled her way into the No on SB277 Campaign with the other two and then seemed to be ruining it from the inside and undermining their hard work.
Lowrey, who seems to be a citizen of Nevada, is quite confused. Matt Carey is himself. He used the pseudonym "Sullivan" for several years to protect his family's privacy. Of course, I had nothing to do with the No on SB277 campaign.
Lowrey has some other interesting beliefs.
Sarah Lowrey The AshkeNAZI Psychopaths have been behind every Western European Genocide for the past 200 years. What's to stop them from coming after us next, since they have stated outright they want to reduce the World's Population by 5 Billion "useless eaters"?
Don't kid yourself-YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE USELESS EATERS IN THEIR EYES!!
Lowrey is also a 9/11 truther and a Sandy Hook denialist. The anti-semitism should not surprise you; it's a well-known feature of the anti-vaccine movement. See for example Juniper Russo's essay, Anti-Semitism in the Anti-Vaccine Movement and Skeptical Raptor's Anti Semitic Hate Speech Of The Antivaccine Cult. The echo chamber rarely rebukes the anti-semitic posturings.