Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Walene James, 1926-2012

Image Source
Back in the early 1970s, I had a job reading and summarizing communiqués from various anti-government groups.  This was of course before the days of electronic communications; these missives were delivered by mail and were variously dittoed, mimeographed; and (cutting edge technology from better-funded groups) photocopied.

There was an anti-vaccine thread, mostly objecting to government coercion of vaccines for school entry (which had a history dating back to the nineteenth century).  There was a lot of overlap with resistance to fluoridated municipal water, as well.

As I began compiling this entry, I had a vague memory of encountering Ms. James's arguments in those long-ago days. I thought she was associated with John Welch's  John Birch Society (JBS, established 1958)  but subsequent researches have not established a  JBS link.

Walene James is a little-known figure in today's anti-vaccine world, but she was an early and ardent proponent of the myths that vaccines are dangerous and useless, and her books and articles are still in print. Her 1988 book appears to have had wide influence in anti-vaccine circles.

James published three books.
James, whose maiden name was Monson,  was raised in the Mormon church and earned a BA from the University of Utah in about 1947.  She earned a teaching credential from UCLA, again about 1949, and taught in the Los Angeles school district for a number of years. At some point, she married and had several children.  Her youngest daughter, Ingri Cassells, is carrying on her work.

In 1973, she moved to Virginia  to be closer to the Edgar Cayce organization, Association for Reasearch and Enlightment, or A.R.E., which published her 1977 book).

For those of you for whom the name Edgar Cayce (1866-1945) means nothing, he was a wildly popular psychic in the early to mid-twentieth century.  He was particularly interested in helping with health problems; some of the cures or treatments he suggested were:

  • topical applications of creosote for skin ailments
  • "peach-tree poultice" (for convulsions)
  • "bedbug juice" for disseminated swelling, usually caused by congestive heart failure ("dropsy")  
  • "fumes of apple brandy from a charred keg" for tuberculosis; 
  • Rabbit-blood serum for the treatment of cancers
  • "Animated ash," (bamboo fibers treated with an electrical current) 
  • Poultices made of freshly-killed rabbits, to treat breast cancers.  

  • While living in Virginia, James's older daughter refused immunizations for James's grandson; the case eventually went to court on charges of child neglect for vaccine refusal.  This court battle prompted James to publish Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth, and prompted her involvement with the lobbying group The National Health Federation.

    Here are James's rationalizations:
    Six Reasons to Question Vaccinations--by Walene James
    1. Vaccinations are forced. For example, there are compulsory vaccination laws  in every state. If something is good it doesn't have to be forced.
    2. Vaccinations are toxins by definition.
    3. Vaccinations are indigenous to only one model of healthcare--the allopathic medical model--and its practitioner's  particular understanding of disease phenomena.
    4. Vaccinations are promoted by fear, guilt, and 'creative' statistics.
    5. Vaccinations are represented as safe and effective when evidence suggests they are neither.
    6. Vaccinations are aggressively pushed by public health departments and other government agencies as though they were a public health issue when they are not.   This is done to insure a high rate of compliance.
    Ten Reasons to Just Say 'No' to Vaccinations
    1. Vaccinations are toxins by definition.
    2. Vaccinations are aggressively promoted by those who have a financial stake in their consumption.
    3. Vaccinations are promoted using fear, intimidation, and coercion.
    4. Vaccinations are big business.
    5. Vaccine manufacturers are nearly liability proof for their products.
    6. Vaccinations are not only forced upon us, but those who deny us the exercise of our free will refuse to take responsibility for the    consequences of their actions.
    7. Evidence suggests that vaccinations damage the immune system, the nervous system and the spirit-mind-body connection.
    8. Compulsory vaccinations ignore biochemical and psychospiritual individuality.
    9. Vaccinations are misrepresented by government agencies as a public health issue which they are not.
    10. Vaccinations are heavily subsidized, heavily propagandized and can be seen as a wake-up call for us to see how we allow ourselves to be programmed by huge vested interests.
    Walene goes on to say:
    Perhaps more important than anything else is for our group to consider the larger picture:   What lessons do we need to learn trying to stem the tide of coercion from an out-of-control medical-pharmaceutical industry and the Mass Mind that allows this?   How does understanding and working with the vaccination issue contribute to our maturation as spiritually aware and fully alive human beings?

    Among other counter-factual beliefs, James was a germ-theory denier, positing instead something she called "terrain theory".:

    Image Source: photo capture from The Vaccine Religion

    In 1996,  James founded Vaccination Liberation: Citizens for the Repeal of the Compulsory Vaccination Laws, which is now run by her daughter, Ingri Cassel.

    Who James Influenced
    • John Scudamor (UK, wrote that Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth was the first vaccine book he read and it inspired him to start's vaccine section)
    • Neil Z. Miller (US)
    • Sherri Tenpenny (US)
    • Viera Scheibner (Australia) Many big names in the vaccine awareness movement have noted that it was her second book, Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth, that compelled them to put fulltime energy into “the most important health freedom issue of our time”, as Walene would say. 
    • Robert Mendelsohn, M.D. (wrote the foreword to the 1995 edition of Immunization)
    • Archivides Kalokerinos (Australia)
    • Phillip Incao
    • Ingri Cassels, James's daughter, who now runs Vaccination Liberation. 

    Can we fairly say that James was anti-vaccine? To summarize, I think we can safely say a person or organization is anti-vaccine if he or she exhibits at least three of the following points.
    1. Claiming that all vaccines are unsafe and ineffective Yes
    2. Claiming better sanitation and nutrition account for the 20th century decline in vaccine-preventable diseases Maybe or Undetermined 
    3. Claiming that vaccines cause diseases and conditions such as autism, asthma, SIDS, or shaken baby syndrome Yes
    4. Claiming that anecdotal evidence is superior to scientific evidence; rejecting science and epidemiology Yes
    5. Cherry picking and misrepresenting the evidence Yes
    6. Using  logical fallacies without shame in arguing Yes
    7. Conspiracy mongering Yes
    8. Silencing criticism (especially by deleting online material), rather than responding to it Maybe or Undetermined 
    9. (If in business) Profiting from the sale of products and services that spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about vaccines, or products and services that are said to be superior to vaccines and conventional medicine in preventing disease No
    Yes No Maybe or Undetermined


    Walene James had deeply held beliefs in many counter-factual ideas, which would be of no interest here except that she also was a foundational figure in the anti-vaccination movement.


    1 comment:

    1. the person who wrote this article clearly did not read her book immuniation the reality behind the myth , the fact that statistics have been swayed to make it appear as though vaccines work by disease reclassification was not even mentioned , not to mention the in depth analysis of germ theory