The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to a Theater Near You… Literally!

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 20, 2010

**UPDATE (11/24/10): Looks like AMC Theaters has pulled the plug on this ad 🙂

**Update (11/23/10): I may have spoken too soon with my earlier update, folks.  It seems that over the last day or so we’ve received some conflicting reports about exactly what is & isn’t going on at AMC with these ads.  Elyse Anders provides more details over at Skepchick on this – until we have more info, stay tuned & continue contacting the theaters in question.

**Update (11/21/10): It appears the executives at AMC (which owns some of the theaters in question) have listened to the public outcry – they say they have pulled the ad and do not plan to show it. However, some of the other theaters may not be owned by AMC, so please contact them.


It’s time to kick some ass… I just found out that the anti-vaccinationist groups called Age of Autism and SafeMinds are planning on running a public service announcement (PSA) in movie theaters nationwide the weekend following Thanksgiving. I’ve seen the 30 second ad, and it contains the usual thoroughly debunked nonsense regarding “mercury toxins in vaccines” and how this is supposedly dangerous for children.  The facts are that there is ZERO evidence that the mercury preservative in vaccines, called thimerosal, is any sort of danger – there are no links between thimerosal & autism, either (a common claim by various anti-vaxxers).  In fact, even after the U.S. government removed thimerosal from the vaccine schedule for children the rate of autism continued to rise!

But don’t tell that to the anti-vax crowd, because they don’t give a whit about the science.  They believe in their heart of hearts that they know the “truth about vaccines”, and they don’t care one way or the other what the actual evidence is… and they want to proselytize this lunacy to you:

Folks, the purpose of this ad is simple: it is to sow fear & distrust of vaccines in the hopes that you & your kids don’t get them at all – that’s it.  These anti-vax groups are, for whatever reason, ideologically opposed to the very idea of vaccinations, and they’ll use every slimy tactic in the book to push it on you.  If you can stomach it, here is their ad…

And here is the list of theaters that are currently being targeted by Age of Autism for this dangerous propaganda (with the potential to reach over 500,000 people):

*Empire 25 in New York City

*Long Beach 26 in Long Beach, California

*River East 21 in Chicago, IL

*Boston Common 19 in Boston, MA

*Phipps Plaza 14 in Atlanta, GA

*Tyson’s Corner 16 in McLean, VA

*Northpark Center 15 in Dallas, TX

*Rosedale 14 in Saint Paul, MN

*Pavillions 15 in Denver, CO

We cannot let this stand… I suggest that if you live in any of these areas (or know people who do) that you contact the theater in question to find out whether or not they plan to run this PSA, and if they do plan to do so then make it well known to them that you will boycott that business in perpetuity (and you will encourage everyone you know to do the same) – when it comes to stuff like this, money talks & bullshit walks.  I would also notify your local health department and medical doctors’ organization about this, on the chance that they might wish to make some kind of public statement against this idiocy.

And spread the word – the skeptical & pro-science community needs to send a strong, clear message to those who would spread such life-endangering pseudoscience that we will not stand for it.  We didn’t ask for this fight, be we will fight it & we will finish it.

16 Responses to “Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to a Theater Near You… Literally!”

  1. Tim Farley said

    Perfect timing – I’m at Atlanta Skeptics in the Pub right now and we will put the word out on Phipps. It’s about a mile and a half from my house.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim Farley, Reed Esau and skepticalguy, Matt Lowry. Matt Lowry said: Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to a Theater Near You… Literally! – […]

  3. Jennifer Brown said

    Boycotting these theaters is not the answer… all that will do is leave an audience that isn’t informed exposed to this crap (like a virus! ha!) Instead, write the theater company explaining the situation, and what a disservice they are doing allowing this to air. If worse comes to worse download some fact sheets from the NIH (available at their site) and hand them out at the theater…

  4. […] Leer completo en: Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to a Theater Near You… Literally! […]

  5. limey said

    How about getting a short rebuttal statement made available and encouraging people to go to the cenemas and when the PSA ad plays, these people stand up and read out the rebuttal to everyone there!

  6. GeekGoddess said

    Thanks for this. I’ll send it to my Dallas area friends.

  7. Maria said

    I would absolutely freak out if I saw this add in a theater.I would be screaming at the screen and would likely be knocking on management’s door while be movie played. Free speech is one thing, but spreading LIES to mislead the public in something that could damage the health and well being of others should be a CRIME.

  8. Not House said


    Did she really just say that because they have mercury they’re disposed of as hazardous waste? Does it have anything to do with the VIRAL PATHOGENS in the shot?


  9. Susan Gerbic said

    Stirling noticed this on FB and passed it on to me. I’m sending it out to IIG LA as they are going to be in Long Beach, CA and I also have my other group Monterey County Skeptics (soon to be IIG Monterey County). Skeptic groups need to have a heads up about what to do when this kind of thing comes to town.

    I think the first thing each group should do is to contact the theater to make sure it is happening, and see if the management is aware of it. They might just pull the ad right then.

    If they decide to run the message then I think the next call might be to the Health Dept. They have a lot more pull in that area, Plus they are more organized and can put together a table at the theater with flyers ect.

    Anyway, this kind of thing needs to stop and a great way for the local skeptic groups to join forces with the local health dept and make things happen.


  10. I’ll get the Boston Skeptics and all my Facebook frends in on the announcement.

    And remember: for a nice list of the lies and debunking thereof.

  11. […] Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to a Theater Near You… Literally! […]

  12. powelfl said

    You must have your head in the sand or be getting a kickback from vaccine manufacturers if you actually believe that vaccines that contain thimerosal are safe. Have you ever seen the direct video evidence of extremely low mercury vapor and its affect on brain neuron tissue? You probably think MSG and aspartame are safe too.

  13. […] Comments powelfl on Anti-Vaccination PSA Coming to…Peter Pants on Celebrate the JREF’s Sea…Anirudh Kumar Satsan… on Keep Your Feet […]

  14. […] that a month ago I had announced that the anti-vaccination groups Age of Autism and Safe Minds were planning on running an ad in movie theaters. Also, you may know that thanks to the skeptical community’s quick action, we were able to get […]

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