Respectful Insolence

It’s times like these that I wish the Hollywood writers’ strike had really and truly shut down production of new dramas completely. A new series on ABC set to premiere on January 31 looks as though it’s going to dish up a heapin’ helpin’ of the vilest antivaccination lies and propaganda that will potentially endanger children’s lives by stoking fears about the safety of vaccines:

LOS ANGELES – A new legal drama making its debut this month on ABC is stepping into a subject that is the source of heated debate among some parents — the relationship between autism and childhood vaccines — and seemingly coming down on the side that has been all but dismissed by prominent scientific organizations.

The drama, “Eli Stone,” scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m. on Jan. 31, centers on a lawyer who begins having visions that cause him to question his life’s work defending large corporations, including a pharmaceutical company that makes vaccines.

The title character of “Eli Stone,” adopting the message of his visions to fight for the little guy, takes his first case: suing his former client on behalf of the mother of an autistic child who believes a mercury-based preservative in a vaccine caused her son’s autism.

But it’s worse than that. As the article puts it, the “script also takes several liberties that could leave viewers believing that the debate over thimerosal — which in the program’s script is given the fictional name mercuritol — is far from scientifically settled.” I really must give the reporter, Edward Wyatt, props for how he handled this article. No wishy-washy equivocation; he tells it like it is, pointing out that science does not support the contention that mercury in vaccines is a cause of or contributor to autism. For this article at least, he gets Orac’s praise for good science reporting for this paragraph alone:

Doctors have previously expressed fears that the popularity of the antivaccine movement could have adverse effects. In Britain a widely publicized — and since discredited — research paper published in 1998 started a scare over the safety of the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, drawing a potential link to autism. Though the premise of the research did not concern thimerosal, vaccination rates plunged in Britain. Over the next two to six years, outbreaks of measles soared in Britain and Ireland, causing at least three deaths and hundreds of children to be hospitalized.

He also points out that, other than the flu vaccine (which most children do not get) no childhood vaccine has contained more that trace amounts of thimerosal since late 2001 and, in a reversal of the usual position where the skeptic gets a token quote, prints the token quote from a representative of Safeminds and mentioning Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. only in passing. The one thing he didn’t do but should have was to cite the recent California study that shows that more than five years after the elimination of nearly all thimerosal from childhood vaccines, to the point where mercury exposure due to vaccines is currently lower than it has been since the 1980s, there has been no decline in autism. The evidence isn’t even equivocal. Still, even the correct science in the article can’t hide just how bad this show looks as though it will represent the “debate”:

The initial episode of “Eli Stone” posits that the child received a flu vaccine containing the preservative; in recent years vaccine makers have produced new versions of the flu vaccine for children that do not contain the mercury-based preservative.

“Is there proof that mercuritol causes autism?,” Eli Stone says to the jury in summing up his lawsuit against the vaccine maker. “Yes,” he says. “Is that proof direct or incontrovertible proof? No. But ask yourself if you’ve ever believed in anything or anyone without absolute proof.”

The script also draws a parallel with research linking smoking and cancer, saying three decades passed between the first lawsuit charging a connection and the first jury award against a tobacco company. After the dramatic courtroom revelation that the chief executive of the vaccine maker did not allow his daughter’s pediatrician to give her the company’s vaccine, the jury in “Eli Stone” awards the mother $5.2 million.

This is not “dramatic license.” This is nothing more than antivaccination propaganda and lies, plain and simple. Particularly galling is the line about asking yourself “if you’ve ever believed in anything or anyone with out absolute proof.” Lots of people believe in alien abductions or Bigfoot without “absolute proof.” By that standard, perhaps Berlanti should do an episode of Eli Stone in which Stone sues aliens for subjecting a client to anal probes, thus scarring the client for life, or maybe in which he sues the government for failing to prevent a Bigfoot attack. Or, as Walter Olson over at Overlawyered puts it:

Maybe next season Stone can sue on behalf of a client claiming that overhead power line emissions triggered recovered memories of autoimmune damage from her breast implants.

Of course, Greg Berlanti, executive producer of the series, dismissess criticism thusly:

With “Eli Stone,” however, neither ABC nor its ABC Studios production unit has expressed any qualms about the story, according to Greg Berlanti, a co-creator and an executive producer of the series, who said he believed that the script showed both sides of the argument. “I think they wanted us to do our homework about all of it, which we did,” he said.

J. B. Handley, David Kirby, Barbara Loe Fisher, or April Renée couldn’t have said it better. I wonder which “sides” he showed. Does he show that autism rates have not declined one iota in the five years since thimerosal was removed from vaccines? Does he show the several large, well-designed studies that have failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism? Or does he simply play the false equivalence gambit and parrot emotional Generation Rescue-style propaganda as though it had anywhere near equal standing with the science that has failed to find a correlation between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism? I wonder. Actually, from the ABC site, we see that the “O” in Stone’s name glows like a halo in the series logo and that Stone is represented as being like a prophet:

As Eli struggles to cope with his diagnosis, he looks to Dr. Chen for his take on the relationship of his revelations to his aneurysm. Dr. Chen suggests there could be a divine answer for why he’s having delusions of grandeur – Eli may be a prophet.

While Eli is skeptical of being a prophet, his visions have helped him to recall what his father once impressed upon him — “You’re meant to do great things… speak inspired words… you’re going to help people.” With his father’s words in mind, Eli redefines his outlook on life and his intent as a lawyer, beginning with a case in which he represents an old acquaintance against one of his firm’s most important clients. Despite opposition from his imposing boss and future father-in-law, Jordan Wethersby (Victor Garber, Alias), and fiancée Taylor (Natasha Henstride, Commander in Chief), he chooses to stay the course.

Ugh. Bad science, bad theology, and a cheesy premise, all rolled into one!

It appears that the only thing Berlanti gets right is that trial lawyers are a major force behind the persistence of the myth that thimerosal-containing vaccines or vaccines in general cause autism, just not in the do-good, crusading manner he portrays. I also wonder if he mentions that, in a real lawsuit, his crusading lawyer would pocket a cool 30% or more of that $5.2 million award, which, by the way, would be a victory for pseudoscience, not a victory for any wronged or injured party.

As much as I enjoy Berlanti’s other series Dirty Sexy Money, which is a deliciously warped soap opera about a fictional “richest family in New York City” whose patriarch is played to perfection by Donald Sutherland, I have to say that, when it comes to medicine and science, he is clearly a pinhead and suffers from both the arrogance of ignorance and an affliction that all too often plagues creative types: a near-complete lack of concern over whether a story accurately represents an issue as long as there is drama to be had. He should have stuck to dysfunctional rich Manhattanites and stayed away from science, because this show, just from the description thus far, looks to be a travesty. Worse, this show appears custom designed to take a dump not just on the science showing that vaccines do not cause autism, but to promote pseudoscience in a number of areas.

I really don’t want to do it, but it looks as though I may have to try to bring myself to watch this show on January 31. I’m afraid to, though. No, I’m not afraid to confront the “other side.” I’m must more afraid that the misinformation and lies will result in my hurling a significant object (which, if I blog about it while the show is on, could be my computer) into the TV screen, thus costing me a lot of money. It’s also probably too late to make a difference, especially since this is the first episode of a new series and pulling it would require the producers to either reshoot or do some serious creative editing to produce a viable pilot episode, but a polite (and I emphasize the word POLITE) letter-writing campaign to ABC might still have an effect.

ADDENDUM:

A reader has forwarded me relevant contact information for ABC:

ABC Media Relations for “Eli Stone”:

Carissa Gilmore
Vice President of Media Relations
818.560.7472

Aime Wolfe
Email: Aime.Wolfe@abc.com
Phone: 818.460.7421

ABC Studios Relations for “Eli Stone”:

Nicole Marostica
Email: Nicole.Y.Marostica@abc.com
Phone: 818.460.6783
Fax: 818.460.5636

Comments

  1. #1 Anon
    January 23, 2008

    I just saw the online NYTimes article, and came here expecting to find this.

    Why is it that the side of ignorance always sells more soap?

  2. #2 Margaret Romao Toigo
    January 23, 2008

    I note that the NY Times article gives away the ending. Oops — or maybe not oops.

    It’s too bad the producers of this program couldn’t see the drama in portraying anti-vaccination lunacy for what it really is, and how it affects people and threatens public health.

    I think it would be more dramatic if it went something like: mother contacts lawyer about vaccines/autism, lawyer investigates the science and learns the truth about vaccines, autism, and anti-vaccination extremists and all of the drama that entails, drops suit against vaccine maker, and then everyone turns on the anti-vaccination activist group for threatening public health with misinformation and conspiracy theories. It’s a sweeps month winner!

    Drama is little more than conflict, an it can be made with either ignorance or accuracy, but if it is accurate, it can be compelling entertainment, as well as educational.

  3. #3 Mike O'Risal
    January 23, 2008

    So, do you think they’ll have a follow-up show where the lawyer takes on the sellers of traditional medicines responsible for an estimated 30% of lead poisoning in US children, not to mention arsenic and real mercury poisonings?

    I mean, the anti-vax woo-spewers don’t seem to have taken up arms against ayurveda and the like. In fact, a sizable proportion seem to embrace this kind of alternative medicine. I’m sure they’re all just polishing their pitchforks before taking to the streets!

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    January 23, 2008

    Perhaps you should become a blackleg and write a sequel.

    Bob

  5. #5 marion
    January 23, 2008

    Sigh. I loved Berlanti’s “Everwood,” which featured two smart, competent, compassionate doctors. This new development is unwelcome. Let’s just hope that the show fades away quickly and quietly into the night. Meanwhile, I’ll stick to “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles,” which makes no pretense of scientific realism, but at least doesn’t suggest anything reprehensible by that.

  6. #6 Orac
    January 23, 2008

    I like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles quite a bit. It’s much better than I had expected before I watched the first episode.

  7. #7 Samantha Vimes
    January 23, 2008

    I wonder if someone whose child died from not being vaccinated could successfully sue a network which aired anti-vax propaganda?

  8. #8 madder
    January 23, 2008

    I wonder if someone whose child died from not being vaccinated could successfully sue a network which aired anti-vax propaganda?

    They could on Boston Legal.

  9. #9 Estellea
    January 23, 2008

    For lack of anything better to say about such tripe; I wonder who Jenny McCarthy had to boink to get this drivel on the show? Hey, maybe she was appointed the episode’s science consultant, she does have her Google U PhD after all.

  10. #10 Interrobang
    January 23, 2008

    For a rhetorician, the rhetorical work of a good lawyer is often a joy and a wonder to behold. Too bad most scriptwriters aren’t as rhetorically-skilled as most lawyers. “‘But ask yourself if you’ve ever believed in anything or anyone without absolute proof’” is a terrible, sleazy rhetorical trick, containing at least one logical fallacy and two deliberate instances of semantic pollution (loaded words — using “believe in” in the case of a fact, implying that all beliefs have the same weight, and “proof” when talking about a scientific fact, which is unduly privileging the anti-science side). It’s a despicable bit of hackwork and apparently flew right over the producer’s head.

    Speaking of which, who did write the script for this? It didn’t come from nowhere, and, unless the producer wrote it himself, he’s not originally responsible for it. Orac, I finally truly understand your contempt and loathing for creationist surgeons — I’d like to find whichever creative typist wrote the thing and…I’m not sure yet, but I can think of something appropriately dramatic.

  11. #11 isles
    January 23, 2008

    If there was ever any doubt that TV executives are utterly amoral, “Eli Stone” erases it. Way to go, guys! Nice job planting the seed of doubt in well-meaning parents! I’m sure they’ll remember you fondly when their babies get whooping cough and spend weeks gasping for air and turning blue!

  12. #12 tonyl
    January 23, 2008

    Speaking of which, who did write the script for this? It didn’t come from nowhere, and, unless the producer wrote it himself, he’s not originally responsible for it.

    According to IMDB the writers are: Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim.

  13. #13 Bad
    January 23, 2008

    Don’t know if you’ve strolled over to NewsTarget lately, but they had a doozy of an anti-vacc article over there recently.

    They’re also currently pimping Heath Ledger’s death from “FDA approved pharmaceuticals” are if the fact that it’s possible to overdose on something proves their claims that all pharmaceuticals are bad for you and you should just suck on grapes instead. Ghoulish.

  14. #14 Orac
    January 23, 2008

    It’s too bad the producers of this program couldn’t see the drama in portraying anti-vaccination lunacy for what it really is, and how it affects people and threatens public health.

    He could sue a Dr. Roy Kerry-like doctor who killed an autistic child by doing IV chelation therapy to “detoxify” the mercury that is supposedly “causing” the child’s autism.

  15. #15 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    January 23, 2008
  16. #16 JC
    January 23, 2008

    The producers should put a disclaimer at the beginning of the show stating that there is no link between childhood immunizations and autism, and further advising viewers that children who do not receive vaccines are at risk of serious illness or even death from several pathogens that commonly afflict children.

    Even better would be to include a public service commercial recommending childhood vaccinations.

  17. #17 wfjag
    January 23, 2008

    Overlawyered has a pretty good review of the show, too. See “ABC series ‘Eli Stone’” (Jan. 23, 2008) at http://www.overlawyered.com and cross links to this site. When lawyers describe a doctor as “on the warpath” that may be taken as a compliment.

    Still “his crusading lawyer would pocket a cool 30% or more . . “. Orac, you need to have such statements reviewed by a lawyer. 30% is soooo 70′s. 40% to 50% is becoming a standard contingency fee, and a savvy plaintiff’s lawyer then has the client sign up for “court costs” and “cost of living” advances against recovery (in a loan firm the lawyer just happens to either own or have a large stake in). With a little luck, the lawyer can get 100%. (or maybe more. Math is not a required subject in law school or on the bar exam. If a lawyer billing hourly can bill one client for 30 hours in a single day http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/01/21/jaffer-investigation.html (no word yet on if any other clients were also billed for work for them on that day), then there doesn’t appear to be any logical reason that a lawyer working on a contingency basis couldn’t collect more than 100%.)

    “Too bad most scriptwriters aren’t as rhetorically-skilled as most lawyers. ” Wanna bet Interrobang? I am daily tempted to ask different attorneys whether they speak or write in any known human dialect or language.

  18. #18 Ranson
    January 23, 2008

    Well, my family and I are scheduled to be a Nielsen household that week. I’ll do my part to help by not watching.

  19. #19 Heather
    January 23, 2008

    What about the last Grey’s Anatomy episode where “healing touch” makes its way as the focus the whole time? Even if some of the doctors say “this is stupid”, everyone still allows it to continue, including the Chief! It makes me kind of happy that they don’t have any more episodes coming out until after the writers’ strike – I need a while to not be angry about such drivel.

  20. #20 Prometheus
    January 23, 2008

    OK. It looks like “Big Autism” has managed to influence network television to get their agenda translated into a series episode.

    I especially like the part where the title character “…begins having visions that cause him to question his life’s work…”.

    Visions, eh? I think that the psychiatrists call those “hallucinations”. They aren’t a sign of good reasoning skills. At least not reality-based reasoning.

    Unfortunately, most viewers will probably see this as a “sign from God” rather than as a sign of schizophrenia or a brain tumor, which would be more likely.

    As an example of the type of person who believes the “mercuritol”-causes-autism hypothesis, it isn’t a very flattering image. We have here a person who is following an actual “vision” (as opposed to the type you see in “vision statements”) and wants people to believe him even though he hasn’t given them enough data (evidence) to do so.

    I suspect that aspect of this episode will be lost on most viewers.

    Prometheus

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    January 23, 2008

    I suspect this show was about as well researched as “Armageddon” (about which the Bad Astronomer said that it got one thing right — asteroids do in fact exist). That is to say, somebody got an idea for a story, the production company said it should be well researched (because that makes it more realistic, of course), so they went out and asked some scientists. This, of course, had no affect on the actual script, but they probably did do their research, because having done your research is all that matters. Then you can get on with production.

    Fairly typical of the film/television industry, in other words.

    “By that standard, perhaps Berlanti should do an episode of Eli Stone in which Stone sues aliens for subjecting a client to anal probes, thus scarring the client for life, or maybe in which he sues the government for failing to prevent a Bigfoot attack.”

    Amusingly, I’m home with a sick child and have been doing a Babylon 5 marathon. A few hours ago, I watched “Grail” in which somebody did just that. :-P Or close to it, anyway. The guy was suing a Gray because the Gray’s great-grandfather had abducted the guy’s great-grandfather and subjected him to probing, which had subsequently led to the guy being the laughingstock of his community. Good stuff. I love that show almost as much as Doctor Who.

  22. #22 John Best
    January 23, 2008

    You people are really getting desperate to deny the truth. As more kids recover by removing the mercury from their brains, your obfuscatory rhetoric becomes more deranged.

  23. #23 Dangerous Bacon
    January 23, 2008

    The link to the News-Off-Target article on vaccination has this to say about the author:

    “Andreas Moritz is a medical intuitive; a practitioner of Ayurveda, iridology, shiatsu, and vibrational medicine; a writer; and an artist.”

    Sounds like a candidate for adjunct medical school faculty.

  24. #24 Freddy the Pig
    January 23, 2008

    “A practitioner of Ayurveda” eh

    In other words someone who deliberatily gives people heavy metals including lead (see the item on folk medicinces containing lead that a couple of posters have linked to) – what a hypocrit!

  25. #25 Lucas McCarty
    January 23, 2008

    Don’t worry people.

    First episode of the second series, he’ll wake up in a padded room and be told he completely hallucinated the whole thing.

  26. #26 wolfwalker
    January 23, 2008

    Hmmm…

    Not to take anything away from your righteous fury (which I share) about the antivax-wacko support, Orac, but I note another, perhaps even more worrying thing here:

    a lawyer who begins having visions that cause him to question his life’s work defending large corporations

    “Having visions” generally carries the connotation “from God or gods.” The networks have gone nuts recently with paranormal-themed shows, such as “Medium” and “Supernatural” and even “Life” with the zen cop, but a drama with a protagonist who receives visions from his god(s) is something new and more than a little worrying. Where are all these paranormal-themed shows coming from, and why are they succeeding?

  27. #27 SKFK
    January 24, 2008

    Based on the promos I’ve seen, this is a show about a guy who sees visions of George Michael singing “Faith” whenever he goes. It looked to me like one of those “we don’t think this series is good enough, but WGA strike means we have to put something on the air” kind of shows.

    Marc Guggenheim, one of the producers and writers for the show, was actually a lawyer before he became a full-time writer, so I’m guessing that he had a lot of input into the main character and the courtroom stuff. It’s too bad that he’s involved with this nutty antivax episode. I’m currently enjoying his comic book series called Resurrection, which is about what happens AFTER alien invaders from another planet have been defeated.

  28. #28 CSI
    January 24, 2008

    Math is not a required subject in law school or on the bar exam.

    Which is probably why there are so many lawyers. Everyone expects their kids to go to college nowadays, but not everyone has the aptitude for math, which leaves arts or law – and everyone knows law is a lot more lucrative than arts.

    I strongly suspect that the real reason for the increase in autism and autism spectrum disorders is overdiagnosis and some kind of public panic, and not vaccines or environmental contamination. Hopefully this will become clear with the passage of time.

  29. #29 Dawn
    January 24, 2008

    Oh, joy, a visit from JB in the comments.

    Yeah, chelating works so well, he’s been doing it on his own kid for YEARS now, and his son is still autistic. Wonder why? (Hint…possibly related to the Israeli study that there was a higher incidence in autism in children who had older fathers when they were conceived?)

    However, I don’t think I’ll be watching this show. Too boring. If I’m going to numb my brain with watching anything, it’ll be men in toolbelts (I LOVES me some HGTV)

  30. #30 Lucas McCarty
    January 24, 2008

    When did John Best/Fore Sam have his ban lifted? Or did he get a new IP?

  31. #31 Estellea
    January 25, 2008

    Something about Johnny-boy Best has been niggling at me for sometime now. I know ‘they’ say there is someone for everyone but I can’t help but wonder that this simply doesn’t hold true for Johnny. What woman could stand in the same padded room with him let alone breed with that misogynistic, crackbrained schmegegi? Just my random, cosmic order thought for the day.

  32. #32 Prometheus
    January 25, 2008

    Now, I’d have to say that this comment from John Best was easily the least offensive thing I’ve seen him write.

    I’ve kicked him off my ‘blog for trying to post obscene and offensive diatribes about people he doesn’t like (because they don’t agree with him), but I’ll have to admit that I miss the way he always proves my points about the mercury/vaccines-cause-autism “believers”. This comment is not an exception.

    Apart from the “You’re so immature!” message, which wouldn’t seem out of place on the average grade school playground, he provides nothing to bolster his often repeated but never supported claims.

    Again, this is nothing new for John and is widely imitated by other like-minded people.

    I guess I see John – and others of his ilk – as being caught in a trap of their own making. Without understanding the science, he made a “stand”, staking his ego on the chance that the people who told him that “autism is nothing more than mercury poisoning” were right.

    As it turns out, they weren’t, and enough ink has been spilled (electrons expended?) on this subject to show the poverty of Mr. Best’s “arguments”.

    Now, faced with the overwhelming evidence that he was wrong, Mr. Best (and many others) are unable to find the courage to admit that they were wrong. As a result, he (and many others) are trapped by their own egos into repeating their own tired (and well-refuted) “arguments” ad nauseum.

    The sad thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I doubt that anybody would give two cents if John Best simply let it drop and slipped away. Nobody would track him down and force him to make a public confession of his errors. It’s only his pathetic need to have his point of view affirmed that leads him to repeatedly humiliate himself on this and other ‘blogs.

    Frankly, John Best is irrelevant to the “debate”, largely because the “debate” is over. The data is overwhelmingly against mercury causing autism. If and when data emerges that supports the mercury-causes-autism hypothesis, the “debate” can begin again. But for now, it’s over.

    Prometheus

  33. #33 Prometheus
    January 25, 2008

    BTW, I expect that John or one of his avatars will be along shortly to say “Is not!” to my comment.

    I also expect that no data to support this position will be provided.

    Just using my mythological powers of precognition.

    Prometheus

  34. #34 sortis
    January 25, 2008

    John Best Jr. went frankly spittle-spewing insane recently when he tried to get his comrades on the EoHarm yahoo! group to attack any judge who had the temerity to find against a parental thimerosal-autism claim. He wanted all the members of that group, even the majority; who stopped reading it a year ago or more; to join him in attacking one judge in particular. He got about 3 people to respond. He accused the rest of them of being sodomizers and was kicked out of EoHarm. …………………..
    John’s only concern is what kind of payoff he hopes to get when he sues for his son’s obviously congenital autism. He’ll keep trying whatever he can to keep influencing future jury pools to believe his insane tripe and the derisible “chemistry” of Andy Cutler. It costs John Best nothing to spread paranoia and lies and he rarely faces any consequences for even threatening to kill people or suggesting that they kill their own children because they are autistic.

  35. #35 John Best
    January 29, 2008

    Thanks for the insults guys. They just let me know you’re still scared of the truth I speak.

    Being able to cause autism with less thimerosal actually does a good job of proving my point. When Eli Lilly began causing autism in 1931, they did it with very little thimerosal. Of course, they were only able to affect kids at 1 in 10,000 back then. In 1994, they learned that the key was timing. So, as long as they poisoned the babies before the Blood Brain Barrier formed, via the HepB on day one, they were very successful at causing autism.

    Now, by poisoning the fetus through the mother, a small amount of mercury does an even better job of causing autism since the fetus can be so much smaller than the newborn infant.

    Estellea, Send me a picture, the padded room might be fun.

  36. #36 Tony Silver
    January 29, 2008

    THIS IS A TELEVISION SHOW. It is not real. It is drama and entertainment. Any parent who makes parental decisions based on any information from a television drama is as stupid as those who blog about it.

    Wake up. It’s 2008. Time to get a life.

  37. #37 Baffled By Ignoramuses
    January 29, 2008

    My autistic son is almost fully recovered. This happened via heavy metal chelation. As his mercury and lead levels decreased so did his autistic behaviors. My house was being renovated when I was pregnant — there is the lead. I don’t eat fish. I have a few fillings and got a Rhogam (thimerisol) shot while pregnant. Some of his vacinnations contained mercury…some did not. So, there is the mercury.

    All mothers should question every single thing that goes in their child’s body, but to assume we are suggestible enough do that based on an ABC pilot is offensive and suspicious.

    Do you people know anyone with autism? Because the 3 kids that died of measles and few hundred that were hospitalized with measles in the UK doesn’t really compete to 1 in 150 kids with autism for me. I’ve read about 2 parents murdering their autistic kids this week.

    Wake up people. Do you really think it’s more likely that millions of crazy parents think there is a connection to autism and vaccines or that gazillion dollar corporations are botching studies to make sure that there isn’t.

    Thimerisol is used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in vaccines. So, maybe it’s not the preservative — maybe my kid got some whacky fungi. My point being…there is no harm in a nation taking a minute to question vaccines. I had chicken pox and here I am. I’m almost 40 and never had HPV. Do we really need to pump all of these live viruses into our kids.

  38. #38 Tyler DiPietro
    January 29, 2008

    “My autistic son is almost fully recovered.”

    I’m sorry, but anecdote doesn’t make a science, and this is especially true of unverifiable anecdote.

    “All mothers should question every single thing that goes in their child’s body, but to assume we are suggestible enough do that based on an ABC pilot is offensive and suspicious.”

    And to assume you are capable speak for everyone who is a “mother” is narcissistic and stupid. We know that popular portrayals in the media affect public perception, it’s a good idea to make noise in response so that such things do not go unchallenged.

    “Do you people know anyone with autism?”

    Several, actually. One of them has asperger syndrome, which wasn’t classified as an autism spectrum disorder until around 15 years ago. Something to think about.

    “Thimerisol is used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in vaccines.”

    Thimerisol started being phased out of vaccinations in the late 90′s here in the States, and in the U.K. the phase-out began in the early 90′s. Austism diagnosis has failed to deviate from the overall trend in either country. Time to find a new hobby horse.

  39. #39 Tyler DiPietro
    January 29, 2008

    And to assume you are capable [of speaking] for everyone who is a “mother” is narcissistic and stupid. We know that popular portrayals in the media affect public perception, it’s a good idea to make noise in response so that such things do not go unchallenged.

    Fixed.

  40. #40 Baffled By Ignoramuses
    January 29, 2008

    Go hang out with your theories and trends and I’ll hang out with my son, now that he can talk and all.

    You don’t think people should pause and research both sides of this argument before innoculating their children? In most states vaccinations are mandatory — you think its a bad thing for all mothers (oh my god — feeeeel the narcissism!) to see a show like this and do a little googling before the jab-a-thon?

    There are safer ways to go about vaccinating your children…one at a time, not when they are sick, etc. You think it’s a bad thing to give parents something that is going to make them think a bit before vaccinating?

    Do you know there are 11 deaths connected to HPV vaccines?

  41. #41 Tyler DiPietro
    January 29, 2008

    “Go hang out with your theories and trends and I’ll hang out with my son, now that he can talk and all.”

    Translation: Yeah, I obviously don’t have the facts on my side, I’ll resort to insubstantive taunts instead.

    “You don’t think people should pause and research both sides of this argument before innoculating their children? In most states vaccinations are mandatory — you think its a bad thing for all mothers (oh my god — feeeeel the narcissism!) to see a show like this and do a little googling before the jab-a-thon?”

    Oh wait, I thought it was just a comment above this one where you claimed that it was “offensive and suspicious” to state that someone would let a TV show influence such a decision. You must be a different poster. Either that, or you just can’t get your story straight.

    “Do you know there are 11 deaths connected to HPV vaccines?”

    Yes, a handful of vaccines induce adverse reactions. On the other hand, did you know that there are about 3670 deaths from cervical cancer among women every year? Do you have any idea how much death and suffering was caused by polio, tetanus, etc. before vaccination eradicated these threats? Congratulations on being so insulated from the reality of preventable disease that you can make such stupid arguments.

  42. #42 Tyler DiPietro
    January 29, 2008

    Miscopied the cervical cancer link. Here it is.

  43. #43 amelia
    January 29, 2008

    all that has been evidenced clearly by medical research is that researchers have not yet been able to develop a causal link between thimerisol or vaccines and autism. plenty of corollaries have been established, however. additionally, no studies as of yet use a control group of children who are not vaccinated. control groups in these studies are still other vaccinated children. perhaps most importantly, the vaccine adverse effects reporting system unquestionably underrepresents the number and severity of possible affects of vaccines, and even that data has been sealed from public use until recently. overwhelmingly, the science is problematic.

    vaccines may be an efficient (and profitable) way to prevent some very serious diseases, but they certainly aren’t the only way. further, they may also be contributing to more illness than they prevent in the long run. until balanced research is conducted, it is only fair that parents and other concerned citizens be given the opportunity to challenge what may be flawed health policy.

  44. #44 Tyler DiPietro
    January 29, 2008

    You know, amelia, for allegations that are “established, “unquestionable”, and “overwhelming” (presumably evidence-wise) and “certain”, you don’t seem to have a whole lot of evidence backing them up. Perhaps you could provide some?

  45. #45 Estellea
    January 29, 2008

    Baffled, “Do you know there are 11 deaths connected to HPV vaccines?”
    No there aren’t actually; there are 11 VAERS entries and some of them are clearly not associated with the HPV vaccine and others, well go like this, “I know someone who knows someone that said…”. Is that where your Googling has led you? If you have bought into that then what are your qualifications to know what both sides of the issue really are?

  46. #46 Estellea
    January 29, 2008

    John, I should be flogged for feeding the trolls but you are a prime example of so many assholes, so much bandwidth. I will give you some credit by saying that I don’t think you are bat-shit insane; just someone in excruciating need of constant attention, regardless of what kind. Whatever did you do before the internet? If a picture of me in a padded room would titillate you, does your undoubtedly extensive and eclectic collection of porn bring you joy no more?

    Others have pointed out the painfully obvious flaws in your arguments so I won’t even bother. John, at best you fail to even come up on the radar and at worst, a complete embarrassment to even the staunchest of anti-vaccine groups that you have embraced. You are probably nothing more than a trained pitbull to them. Your crowning achievement is being a loser amongst losers of a lost cause.

  47. #47 aluminumfree
    January 29, 2008

    This may be a silly show since it deals with a made up additive, but kids do get harmed by vaccines. Two of mine regressed overnight after getting vaccines; one was later diagnosed with a form of autism, and the other was in the process of being diagnosed when I researched the ingredients in his vaccines. I found one that caused loss of speech, poor coordination, swelling of the brain, host of other neurologic and immune problems: aluminum. I had him tested for aluminum poisoning since he had so many of the same symptoms, and in fact he did have aluminum poisoning. With treatment he is no longer considered autistic, and is now developing normally.

    Aluminum exposure from vaccines has risen with advent of Prevnar vaccine (which was introduced just as thimerosol was phased out) and Hep A vaccine. Aluminum in the vaccines is added as an adjuvant, to make the immune system react to the vaccine more strongly, provoking better immunity to the vaccine. Only problem is the aluminum is not specific to the vaccine, and has been shown to cause increases in food allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders as well. It is a very small amount but is very potent at provoking immune system.

    The funny thing I learned about vaccines was that no aluminum adjuvanted vaccine made for children has been safety tested against a non-reactive placebo like saline solution. Every pediatric vaccine is either safety tested using either other aluminum vaccines or aluminum solutions as the placebos. Why would vaccine manufacturers not be required to test the whole product for safety, instead of the vaccine minus its most toxic ingredient? In the Prevnar safety trials, the placebo (a hepatitis B vaccine which contains the more dangerous aluminum hydroxide adjuvant in Prevnar except at a higher dose) caused more deaths than the prevnar vaccine. Why go to such trouble to hide the side effects of a vaccine? Why are vaccines not required to be safety tested like other pharmaceuticals? Why are additives to infant formula screened and tested more carefully than additives in vaccines?

    I am glad this show will air if it makes more parents ask questions about the vaccines their children are getting. I don’t think that the rise in asthma, autism, food allergies, seizures, tics, ADD/ADHD, poor muscle tone, developmental delays, learning disorders, auto-immune disorders along with the rise in cumulative aluminum dose in vaccines is coincidental. I believe it is unethical that the FDA does not have better and more standardized long term safety-testing procedures for vaccines.

  48. #48 Baffled By Ignoramuses
    January 29, 2008

    Estella, I have a son on the spectrum that had very high levels of mercury. As his mercury levels have gone down via chelation…his autistic behaviors have significantly diminished. I’m not a scientist…I’m a mother. My qualifications are first person…and yours?

    I would love to have no idea what this debate is about actually. But autism is with me 24/7. What are your qualifications on autism? Chelation? Heavy metal toxicity? Have you ever followed a child through the DAN! protocol? Paid for a mercury challenge test or DMPS? EDTA? Have you seen a kid that banged his head on the wall until it bleed regularly at 3 learn to snowboard at 6?

    If the people on this list don’t think taking a second look at what is in vaccinations, how often they are administered and see that there is a very good chance – logically – that they are not good for kids, then you all give a whole new meaning to double blind.

    Here is a link: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007_docs/GardasilVAERSReports.pdf

    If you feel comfortable trusting what Merck says about the safety of the HPV vaccine, that’s up to you. Personally, I can flip through these VAERS listings for less than 5 minutes to decide that I’ll pass.

    BTW, I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m anti injecting dangerous, neurotoxins and other ingredients that haven’t been properly tested into myself and my loved ones.

  49. #49 Freddy the Pig
    January 30, 2008

    The “the example of my son proves dozens of large scale studies wrong” argument ranks right up there with the old “my grandmother smoked a pack a day and lived to be 90, so smoking doesn’t cause cancer” argument for idiocy. We don’t the latter one very much anymore fortunately.

  50. #50 Tyler DiPietro
    January 30, 2008

    aluminum free,

    Nice goalpost move, I’m sure the antivax hysterics will eat it up with reckless abandon. The rest of the us in the real world recognize that aluminum has been used in vaccines for the past 75 years, and in quantities that have never been found to cause long term harm in either human or animal subjects. It also happens to occur naturally in breast milk (but again, in a small quantity) and is also in much of the food we consume on a daily basis, e.g., baked goods and pastries. I’m afraid aluminum is another thimerasol dud, though the credulous will likely take solace in the fact that they have another hobgoblin to gnash their teeth at.

  51. #51 Baffled By Ignoramuses
    January 30, 2008

    You’ll be happy to know the my Grandma has single handedly kept Jenny McCarthy’s, Louder than Words on the best sellers list for 23 weeks.

    She also invited all of her friends – 1100 total – to the DAN! conference in Anaheim last fall. She’ll be inviting her knitting circle to the Spring Conference in NJ as well.

    We’re talking about attending Autism One in May, but she thinks she has a conflict with her Red Hat Ladies commitments.

    Grammy, AluminumFree and I will be thinking of you all as we watch Eli Stone on Thursday.

  52. #52 MartinM
    January 30, 2008

    As his mercury levels have gone down via chelation…his autistic behaviors have significantly diminished.

    And his shoe size has (presumably) increased. Mercury shrinks feet, apparently.

  53. #53 John Best
    January 30, 2008

    Estellea,
    I can’t say whether or not a picture of you in a padded room or elsewhere would titillate me since I don’t know what you look like. It was your idea.
    Nobody has found a flaw in any argument I’ve presented. Some have tried and failed. Cured kids beat any argument you can dream up.

  54. #54 Estellea
    January 30, 2008

    Baffled, while I noticed that you were unable to validate your belief that the HPV vaccine was responsible for 11 deaths, your response speaks volumes. People like you are simply incapable of sorting fact from fiction and empirical from anecdotal. People like you are not interested in statistical significance, robust, scientific methodology and critical review of the literature. You merely find the information that fits your hypothesis, no null required. You mentioned lead but yet it must be the mercury in vaccines. Chelation? Squeeze a seemingly empty bottle hard enough and you are bound to get something out. Believe what you may but please don’t parade yourself about as an authority on the subject, you are clearly far from it.

  55. #55 Prometheus
    January 30, 2008

    Anecdotes.

    I’ll see your anecdote and raise you six more.

    Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch six young boys who were diagnosed with autism at about the same time. At age three, they all looked about the same: all six had regressed in the 12 – 18 month range, all six were non-verbal after having had a vocabulary of numerous words, etc.

    Now, many years later, three of these boys are verbal, social (if a little odd) middle school children who are in mainstream classes without assistance. Two of the boys are able to communicate as well as the average six-year-old and one is still non-verbal.

    Two of the boys who are, for all intents, “cured”, received nothing more than speech and occupational therapy in the classroom. The other “cured” child received intensive biomedical therapy for a few years.

    Of the partially verbal children, one had no “biomedical” treatment and one had various “biomedical” treatments until the last year.

    The only non-verbal child has had every therapy in the DAN! menu, including chelation, secretin, Lupron, HBOT, etc….

    From my anecdotes, I’d have to say that “biomedical” interventions worsen the outcome in autism.

    Of course, that would not be very scientific or very accurate.

    Neither are the anecdotes of other people.

    Prometheus

  56. #56 daedalus2u
    January 30, 2008

    Prometheus I would expect that subjecting an individual to a large number of “biomedical” interventions applied indiscriminately would worsen the course of any disease or disorder (or even of normal health).

    That is true for chelation with DMSA, chelation all by itself worsens cognitive abilities in animal models.

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=17384765

    Very modest increased doses of antioxidant vitamins increase the oxidative stress related damage they were supposed to stop.

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/8/842

    What would larger doses do? Very likely increase it more.

    One atmosphere of pure O2 will kill a mouse in a few days.

    http://ajrcmb.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/full/19/4/573

    What does HBO2 do? We know there are mechanisms by which it can cause harm. Are there any mechanisms by which it can help things? None that are known or even plausibly suggested. Autism is not caused by hypoxia, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or nitrogen bubbles, or any other condition for which HBO2 is known to be effective.

    It is not a surprise to me that your experience is that the child most subjected to these treatments has had the poorest outcome. Indiscriminately whacking away at physiology would be expected to make development worse, not better.

  57. #57 Linda Becker
    January 31, 2008

    It seems to me that ABC has become the network of the soap, and the network of the National Enquirer…..
    They do little more than arouse the lunatic fringe, something like Rush Limbaugh does on the radio.

  58. #58 Jesse
    February 4, 2008

    You don’t think people should pause and research both sides of this argument before innoculating their children?

    People- many physcians and scientists have ‘paused’ and done research. Guess what? There is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism.

    As for you being ‘baffled by ignoramuses’, I would suggest then, that you stop listening to cretins like Imus, John Best, Jenny McCarthy, and that royal imbecile Sue Leitch.

  59. #59 Tiffany
    February 5, 2008

    Autism connection or no…vaccines are danergous. My son almost died after one. Parents need to know there ARE risks.

  60. #60 HCN
    February 5, 2008

    Tiffany, no one has ever said that vaccines are completely safe. There are risks with everything.

    Can you tell us which vaccines in the present pediatric schedule are more dangerous than the actual disease? Be specific and give real references.

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