The radio show Rover’s Morning Glory had antivaxxer Brandy Vaughn on the show. Things start to go cattywampus for her on the issue of her credentials.
She was a pharma rep for Merck, for whom she sold Vioxx. Now she runs an scare-mongering effort called “Learn the Risk.” She claims a “background in biochemistry” but I can’t find any information about whether she has a degree in a scientific field. After all, many pharma reps do actually have biochemistry degrees. But, I feel like it would be more front-and-center if she had such experience.
I didn’t title this “SHOCK JOCK DESTROYS ANTI-VAXXER” because we all need less clickbait in our lives. I admit this is just a cheap thrill along the lines of the Jeremy Paxman-Michael Howard interview.
But for me, it has a little more personal significance. I’m a low-level researcher and as I tell people, a rather bad chemist. At least that’s how I feel 90% of the time, because I have an overactive self-awareness of my limitations at this early stage in my career. I find myself very hesitant to discuss chemistry I don’t have direct experience with, even if I think I understand it pretty well, because I know from experience that there are often subtleties that you can miss unless you’ve actually done work in that particular sub-field. It’s not just unethical to hold forth like you know more than you do, it’s deeply, deeply embarrassing when you’re wrong.
So watching people like Vaughan inflate their credentials to such dramatic degree doesn’t just seem like advertising puffery–it feels like downright fraud.
This is adapted from something else I wrote previously, but have yet to publish. This notice is just so that I’m not self-plagiarizing.