I recently learned that a anti-vaccine person was spreading an interesting rumor about be online. This person, whom we will name “Jenny,” wrote in an open forum on Facebook that I was fired from a previous job for saying “awful things” online. She wrote this as she circulated a screen capture of my LinkedIn profile where I openly mention where I am working. She said she was surprised that I would share the name of my employer because, again, she thinks that I was fired for saying “awful things.”
I think it’s kind of funny that I need to remind people over and over that I am not very anonymous with who I am and what I do for a living. If anything, I think I might be sharing too much. (A colleague of mine told me that she worried I wouldn’t be able to get a job after the doctoral degree because I wouldn’t be able to get security clearance.) Although, as some of you have noticed, I don’t share too much about Baby Ren, which is mostly because she has not consented to me sharing pictures of her. (So I get around that by using “faceless portraits” of her.)
Of course, this is not the only lie people have told about me. Back when I was living in Texas, my aunt was convinced that I was the one encouraging one of her sons to drink to excess. I was the black sheep, she said. The truth is that her son would go across the border to Mexico, where the legal drinking age is 18, and he would get plastered all on his own. It was his way of escaping from the realities of his life, I think. Because I was the one he’d call to come get him and drive him back home — on the occasions he found himself without a way to get back — I was named as the person making him drink. Talk about an post how ergo prompter hoc situation, right?
(Would it surprise you that the branch of the family they belong to has become ardently anti-vaccine lately?)
Back in college, we were assigned a hematologic cancer to study and present in a poster competition. Because I didn’t know a lot about leukemia, I went to the pathologist at one of the laboratories where I was doing my practicum and asked her for help. She patiently sat with me in a dual microscope and showed me all the slides she had on all the known leukemias. She showed me the differences between the cells and all the indicators of what made a cell cancerous. Then, at the end, she allowed me to print some photographs of the slides we looked at.
Well, that didn’t go over to well with this one dude in my cohort. He kept whispering to my other colleagues that I had not done any of the work, that the pathologist had done it for me. He did this as we were presenting the posters, too. I finally had enough of it and loudly told him to go tell the professors if he thought that I had cheated. I even asked one of the professors to come over and listen to him. It was one thing to spread gossip, it would be another for him to back it up with evidence and make a formal accusation. He didn’t. He told me to calm down and backed away slowly. It was comical.
It should not surprise you that I grab the bull by the horns.
No, dear readers, I do not do 99.9% of the things people accuse me of doing. The remaining 0.1% can be attributed to mere stupidity, or grumpiness, and I know very well when to apologize. I’m an adult, and I don’t have time for games. Just like with the anti-vaccine activists who accuse me of all sorts of things, anyone lying about me is quickly confronted and told to produce the evidence or shut up. In essence, “poop or get off the pot.” Ain’t nobody got time for that.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.