My name is.

My name is.

A note to my followers.

Many of you follow me on this site, Twitter or my Facebook page because of my outreach work in science forums like Healthy Skepticism and Parents who Science, or know me from my time at SF both as a moderator and board member. Some of you became aware of me because of my #sciencetroll activities, relating to Vaccine Resistance Movement​ and others.


Clearly these are both two very different sides of the same coin. In the forums I strive to be the most civil, charitable, and evidence-based version of myself that I can be,while I employ both snark and sarcasm frequently as a science troll. My goals, desires and frustrations are identical with both pursuits but my methods vary greatly. The juxtaposition between the two, I have no doubt, is probably too great for some and results in them unfollowing me. I can understand and respect that. Those of you who remain in spite of this are true, loyal, friends and your participation in this journey is what makes it worthwhile.

Science Pony is also a character. While she is very close to my real life self and closely mimics the way I think, talk and act, she is just one snapshot of these aspects of my personality. The character is not me, no page or website could even accurately reflect a real person – but, and I need this to be heard and understood – I am one. I am a real person. My name is really PennyLane Handley and I really do love science. I also love my family and am wary of anything that threatens to harm it. It might be easy to forget that there is a flesh and blood human being behind these posts, which are sometimes snarky, sometimes silly, sometimes funny, sometimes trying to be funny and falling short, but I implore all of you who read this to remember that I am a person, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, and I deserve that same respect as is due to anyone else.

I have no advisors or assistants, I am not part of any secret group of science shills. I have my friends, Destroyed by Science​, The Mad Virologist​, The Credible Hulk​ and James Fell  and I have my own passion and desire to spread the good word about science and my own judgement, and sometimes that judgement is flawed or just plan wrong. I can honestly say that I am trying, and will continue to try because I believe in consensus. I believe in the importance of vaccines, in the importance of countering health woo before people turn their backs on evidence-based treatment methods. I believe that we are all better under the light of science than stumbling around in the darkness of ignorance.

The internet is exhausting.

To those persons who have recently decided to come to my page and impede my ability to outreach because of petty issues and silly squabbles, please take heed:

I am used to dealing with antis, I expect them to troll myself and others who spread science and consensus on these here internets. I never expected that the worst trolling I ever experienced would be from people who claim to support the same goals that I do. It is beyond bizarre. If you don’t like my message, change the channel. But please, and I cannot express this more clearly or loudly or firmly, do not tell me how to run my page. Do not try to enact change to it through ultimatums or threats. Do not think for a second that I would not walk away from this page skipping and whistling a jaunty tune rather than have a group of irrelevant, self righteous little pissants tell me how to do my job.

Fierce friends.

The arrogance it must take the honestly believe that you have the right to tell a perfect stranger what they are and are not allowed to post to a personal Facebook page is astounding to imagine. I posted a conversation that had the second participant’s name redacted. It might be guilty of being low hanging fruit in terms of comedy but it is not in violation of any law, civil or criminal, and it is not in violation of Facebook policy. I don’t know who you think you are but understand who I am – someone who would rather die than kowtow to the harassment and bullying of a few trolls on a Facebook page. So I invite you all to absolutely fuck off secure in the knowledge that if you comment on any of my posts you are banned.

To the rest of you, those who came for the science and stayed for the snark, and vice versa, I am really very sorry about the uninvited house guests, I realize that my desire to give everyone a voice I might have let some truly awful people kill your science buzz. I promise moving forward to do my best to remove the squeaky wheels so you can go back to the reason we are here – so this science groupie can help sneak you backstage at all the best science concerts. I totally can you know. I know a guy.

As always, I love you guys all *THIS* much.

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Vaccines don’t cause Autism (are we still doing this?)

Vaccines don’t cause Autism (are we still doing this?)

Science Pony gets questions from anti-vaxxers from time to time. When they are relativity free from profanities and suggestions on how she could most effectively suicide she does her best to respond. Here is her most recent request:

Ah, the old “Autism is caused by vaccines and Big Pharma has been covering it up since 1978” gambit – a classic. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Claim 1: “Since the vaccine manufacturers aren’t liable for any “vaccine injuries” since I think 1978 the number of vaccines has gone up significantly. “

  • Kids do get more vaccines now (and are protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases), however the immune system doesn’t count the number of shots, it counts what is in those shots, immune response triggering antigens, the number of which is thousands fewer than it once was – from 3,000 in just one DTP shot they used to get, to just 315 in all of the vaccines that they get by age two years today.
  • It is these antigens that stimulate the immune system. If you are worried about overstimulating your immune system, then that is what you would look at, not the total number of vaccines.
  • Dr. Offit explains how an infant’s “immune system has the capacity to respond to extremely large numbers of antigens,” and “each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time.” Another way to explain it is to say, as Offit subsequently did, that “if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be ‘used up.'”
  • It is not true that vaccine manufacturers are not liable for vaccine injuries sustained by intended use of their products, however, before someone can try to sue a the drug company directly, they must first file a claim through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Vaccine Court). A claimant can file a civil lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer if their claim is denied or if they reject the compensation offered after their claim is approved.

Claim 2: “Every time the number of vaccines goes up so does the rate of autism. Now I know that since there has been studies to show there’s no link what’s up with the autism rate going up?”

  • There are over 100 good quality studies that show no link between autism and vaccines.QpGSrC1441097484
  • No correlation exists whatsoever between autism and increasing antigen number.
  • Over 60% of the increase is autism spectrum diagnoses can be attributed to secondary
    factors like a change in diagnostic criteria.
  • There is a compelling case to be made that autism rates have not actually risen at all.
  • Correlation =/= causation.
  • If it did then the cause of autism quickly becomes obvious:



3: “Why can’t I find the rate of autism in nonvaxxed children?”

  • Because you are not good at research and should leave it to the professionals.
  • Because the first step in looking for something is opening your eyes.
  • Because you are only interested in confirming your pre-existing bias.

vax-meme-2-300x250I hope this has addressed your queries in a complete and timely manner. If you have any other questions for Science Pony, please feel free to re-submit them. Please remember that if you still put forth the antiquated and illogical idea that autism is caused by vaccines then your science is bad and you should feel bad.

I would also like to take a minute and remind you that autism is not the worst thing that can happen to a child, not by any means. Children die, that is a whole lot worse than being on the spectrum. When they die of vaccine preventable diseases, that is noting short of tragic. Do your part in normalizing autism, and preventing stigmatization for those with the diagnosis by trying not the be such an ableist douchebag.

Cheers and thanks.