Respectful Insolence

Antivaccination propaganda in Oklahoma City

Any Oklahoma City skeptics out there reading this?

I just found an event that could use the presence of some actual science-minded individuals to refute the nonsense that’s going to be there. It’s an event called Educate Before You Vaccinate, and it’s happening on January 19.

Looking at the pamphlet advertising the event, I see the standard antivaccination lies about vaccines causing autism and some really dumb pseudoscientific blather about how a “genetic epidemic” of autism is impossible. The keynote speaker will be April Renée, keynote speaker for Vaccine Injured Children (VIC) and former President of The Autism Autoimmunity Project (TAAP). She’s the kind of antivaccinationist who approvingly links to Jenny McCarthy’s mind-bogglingly ignorant rant about “toxins” in vaccines and then says things like:

She realized [her daughter] Casi was vaccine injured, before she received the “label” of autism. Autism is 1 in 150 children today and it’s impossible to have a genetic epidemic. ADD, ADHD, diabetes, cancer (and rising number of other dis-ease “labels”) are more prevalent than ever-the evidence points to vaccinations as the cause. She has dedicated the rest of her life to doing WHATEVER is necessary to help these innocent victims and the children-yet-to-be from the autism epidemic!

And this is the sort of nonsense that the citizens of Oklahoma City can look forward to:

Note the whole “correlation equals causation” fallacy, because obviously if the number of vaccines has increased it must be the cause of the increasing numbers of autism diagnoses, you know, just the same way that the decrease in pirates correlates with global warming, meaning that obviously the decrease in the number of pirates is what’s causing global warming. Also note her bit about believing that God created us “perfect” and that vaccines are man usurping God’s role, not to mention the bit about the dreaded “toxins.” She even trots out the incredibly dangerous concept that getting the disease is the best way to produce immunity to a disease. Never mind that immunity to the disease can be produced by vaccination without the risk of actually getting the disease.

Of course, her talk was largely science- and evidence-free. Moreover the real evidence that it out there does not point to vaccinations as the cause, nor does there even appear to be an “epidemic,” as the evidence is most consistent with broadening of the diagnostic criteria for autism and autism-spectrum disorders since 1994. Of course, the real reason for this talk by Renée is not just to push an antivaccination agenda. The real reason for this talk is to sell quackery in the form of dubious “biomedical” interventions for autism by a naturpath named Gary Tunsky, who bills himself as a “cellular disease specialist,” whatever that means. (Actually, I’ll probably have more to say about what that means in a future post.) This is the sort of stuff that he claims:

He [Tunsky] applies strategies for full body detoxificiation, herbology, heavy metal chelation, oxygen/ozone therapy, homeopathy, vibrational medicine, immune modulation therapy, pH modulation, metabolic typing, and biological response modifiers. His non-toxic, non-invasive cellular treatment strategies are directed to a wide spectrum of degenerative, metabolic, and autoimmune disorders that are so prevalent in the 21st century.

Holy woo, Batman! It’s a veritable department store of methods ranging from the merely dubious (herbology) to outright quackery (pH modulation). But that’s not all. Supposedly, he’s “in the process of formulating the world’s first 24-hour comprehensive, full body detox and cellular cleanse system.”

Just what you and I need. I wonder if his system includes colon and liver flushes.

In any case, it’d be great if the usual collection of true believers and antivaccinationists that will be at this event encountered a skeptic. Of course, it’s the sort of thing that would take a fair amount of intestinal fortitude; so this task isn’t for everyone. I wonder if ERV would like a change of pace from making creationists acutely uncomfortable. After all, she has made a New Years resolution to eat more woos.

Comments

  1. #1 vlad
    January 2, 2008

    I found at least one piece of lit that supports the Autism vaccine correlation. Before I get lynched hear me out. This article http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/112/5/e420 shows that there is a correlation between autoimmune problems and ASD. This is also something that the anti-vax groups like to tout as well. Vaccinations allow the body to develop immunity to the disease without the dangers of the disease fighting with a weakened (poorly functioning) immune system. The danger of children with weak immune systems dieing or being injured from these diseases are reduced. So wouldn’t we have more people with weak or poorly functioning immune systems surviving to reproduce? Thus the prevalence of Autoimmune problems would increases due to the vaccines doing there job and preventing childhood illnesses.

    Anyone know of studies that look at correlations between vaccination rates and infant mortality rates.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    January 2, 2008

    Orac – ERV is in Normon OK, about about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City. She did a great job fisking Dembski, and even found Dembski was stealing from Harvard, when he was dumb enough to give an ID talk at Normon, so she and her friends would be great to recruit. Don’t know where they are on workload though. Also, since they are probably all Starving Students(TM), someone should raise them an honorium to recompense them for their woo-fighting.

    Hmmm…Woo Fighters – What a great name for a band.

  3. #3 doc M
    January 2, 2008

    here’s a good post:

    compare and contrast John Edwards with the typical Ob-GYn

    contrast the routine 36 hour shifts doctors pull during 3-8 year residencies, and contrast edwards pitiful exhaustion pulling an all-nighter in IOwa with the heroic ob-gyn who never sleeps.

    http://slate.com/blogs/blogs/trailhead/archive/2008/01/02/portraits-in-exhaustion.aspx

    And don’t forget how edwards disrespected the entire profession of medicine when he made millions blaming obgyns for CP cases, using pseudoscientific claims and emotional manipulation of juries. I hope he crashes and burns.

  4. #4 _Arthur
    January 2, 2008

    I just perused the rounds 2 and 3 of the Autism Omnibus Vaccines Court,
    and saw that baby Colten, test case #3, was subjected to:

    Nystatin, Diflucan, Vermox, Secretin, Chemet/DMSA, OIG, Gamunex/Gamimune, Baygam,
    Syclovir, Alpha Lipoic acid, Flax, Primal defense, N-acetyl cystein, Taurine, other supplements
    by the good Dr. James Bradstreet

    Oh, and also chelation and hyperbaric O2 tent treatment.

    The full extent of the supplements course was not disclosed at the hearing.

    How any scientist can hope to effect a “cure” by combining dozens of experimental, unproven treatments is beyond me.

    And they clam the baby has digestion problems/gut inflamation, when any of their “treatments” or supplements can potentially upset digestion.

    The treatments continue.

  5. #5 ERV
    January 2, 2008

    J-Dog– No Im in OKC! OU is in Norman, OUHSC is in OKC, dir :P

    Its okay about the food thing. Im sure the woo-grocery store where this presentation is being held will be so grateful of our being there to debunk the woo that they will give us free vegan burritos.

    We will be greeted as liberators!

  6. #6 Schwartz
    January 2, 2008

    During one of our rounds of hiring, we came across a resume where the fellow (a new grad) described himself so grandiously that it sounded like if you hired him, he could single handedly transform the company into an instant success overnight.

    We never gave him an interview, but we sure as hell kept the resume for entertainment purposes.

    Anyone who’s skeptometer doesn’t go off for a blatent cure-all descriptions like that will probably learn a life lesson the hard way. It shouldn’t take a skeptic to see through that. It should only take common sense.

  7. #7 Julie Stahlhut
    January 2, 2008

    o wouldn’t we have more people with weak or poorly functioning immune systems surviving to reproduce?

    What reason do we have to think that heritable variations in human immune system function can be ranked on a single, linear scale from “weak” to “strong”?

  8. #8 daedalus2u
    January 2, 2008

    No Schwartz, a skeptic can only argue from data, from facts and logic, not from incredulity. One is not a skeptic because one discounts something as “too good to be true” while being ignorant of the factual details.

    That is a problem I run into all the time, pseudo-skeptics discounting my various low NO hypotheses without understanding them because “it can’t be that simple”. NO physiology is not simple. No system of thousands of coupled non-linear parameters can be said to be “simple”.

    Many of the problems of the immune system observed in ASDs are consistent with low NO, as is the recent result of resolution of some symptoms of autism with fevers. I now have a discussion of the fever paper up on my blog.

    Low NO leads to increased autoimmunity primarily by a reduction in the effectiveness of autophagy and the incompletely digested cellular bits then getting picked up by antigen presenting cells leading to autoimmune sensitization.

  9. #9 Robster, FCD
    January 2, 2008

    J-Dog,
    Hmmm…Woo Fighters – What a great name for a band.

    It would, especially since Foo Fighters are HIV/AIDS denialists.

  10. #10 Uncle Dave
    January 2, 2008

    I am constantly amazed at the amount of revenue that these things generate? Its an industry all unto itself?
    I can picture Monty Python having a field day performing a skit around this event – soemthing along the lines of the Ministry of Silly Walks…

    Gary Tunsky N.D.???
    Naturopathic Doctor? what the hell is that?
    Nebulous Doctorate?
    Neophyte Demonstrative?
    Numbingly Deplorable?

  11. #11 Uncle Dave
    January 2, 2008

    Seems pretty big time with the podium and microphone and all but is there really anyone in the audience in that video. We may be the only ones watching this video…

    Running amuck wondering how to get this large ceramic jar off of my head.

  12. #12 Texas Reader
    January 2, 2008

    A potential solution to all this vaccine woo has just occured to me. 1 – find a parent who declined vaccination as a result of this crap 2 – who also had a child who suffered an illness for which said child was not vaccinated and get the parent to file suit against the anti-vaccine idiots for pain and suffering to the child and any permanent damage.

    Accountability.

  13. #13 CanadianChick
    January 2, 2008

    or, Texas Reader, we can find one of those anti-vax types that still ended up with a kid with autism…

  14. #14 Shelley
    January 2, 2008

    Doc M:
    Whatever you may think about John Edwards legal career, the positions he is taking as a presidential candidate are populist–something that we can use after decades of Republican corporatism-a ala Blackwater, KBR, Exxon, investment bankers. Of course, you’re probably one of those I’ve got mine, screw you types.

  15. #15 andrea
    January 3, 2008

    I’d like to meet someone who developed a resistance to tetanus after contracting it!

    These folks are obviously ignoring the face that Thimerosal has been out of childhood vaccines for several years, but that the incidence of (young) children with ASD etc continues. But who wants to let simple data get in the way of their pet twaddle?

  16. #16 Prometheus
    January 3, 2008

    Andrea,

    You won’t meet anyone who developed immunity to tetanus after contracting the disease because too little of the toxin is produced to stimulate an immune response.

    While I was working in an un-named children’s hospital, there were two cases of children with tetanus. Both survived (with massive un-natural interventions, like respirators and chemical paralysis), but neither had any detectable antibodies to the tetanus toxin.

    As a result, both children needed to be vaccinated against tetanus. The irony is that the parents of both children (they were from different families) had avoided vaccines because they felt “natural” immunity would be better.

    No responsible doctor or scientist would ever argue that vaccines are “completely safe” or “without side-effects” or even that they are “100% effective”. None of those statements would be true.

    But what is true is that, over the entire population, the risks from vaccines are much, much less than the risk from the diseases they prevent.

    Likewise, I have read stories of people injured by seatbelts or trapped in burning cars by seatbelts that won’t release, but the overall effect of seatbelts is to reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle collisions.

    Prometheus

  17. #17 wfjag
    January 3, 2008

    Dear Prometheus:

    “But what is true is that, over the entire population, the risks from vaccines are much, much less than the risk from the diseases they prevent.

    Likewise, I have read stories of people injured by seatbelts or trapped in burning cars by seatbelts that won’t release, but the overall effect of seatbelts is to reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle collisions.”

    And, a secondary effect of general vaccination of the population is that those for whom the vaccine is not effective or who are not vaccinated (including those who have a weakened immune system and so should not be vaccinated) are much less likely to be exposed to the disease, since its spead is greatly limited.

    The analogy to requiring seat-belt use is apt. Last summer Kentucky changed its law so that the police can now stop a motorist for failing to wear a seat-belt. The change was made over vocal opposition. Although only in effect for about 6 months, and not strictly enforced, the number of fatalities in 2007 dropped by 61 from the number in 2006, a decrease attributed wholly to this minor change.

    Dear Shelly:

    A historical perspective on populist attorneys who are elected to head the executive branch of government is warranted. Huey Long of Louisiana was a populist. I suggest that you read T. Harry Williams book “Huey Long.” Edwin W. Edwards was another attorney/populist governor of Louisiana. His career is also facinating, and during his tenure, Louisiana became known as “Cancer Alley.” Before touting the virtues of populist ideology, you should consider the effects resulting when such a person is elected.

  18. #18 CJ
    January 4, 2008

    I’m an Okie and I’m strongly considering taking some action regarding this event. Either a protest or some kind of pamphlet to hand out to the people coming and going from the event.

    Any suggestions?