Respectful Insolence

Blogging on PseudoscienceThree weeks ago, I wrote about some truly irresponsible antivaccination propaganda masquerading as entertainment that aired in the form of a television show called Eli Stone. This show, which portrayed its hero taking on the case of an autistic boy whose mother blamed his autism on thimerosal (going under the fictional name “mercuritol”) in vaccines and scoring a $5.2 million settlement in the process. One consequence of this show was that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was shaken out of its inaction enough to draft a letter protesting the show and urging its cancellation of the show. Not surprisingly, this infuriated the mercury militia, leading David Kirby to write a truly ridiculous editorial to published in that repository of all things antivaccine, The Huffington Post. Clearly, the mercury militia and antivaccination movement were quite peeved that the AAP actually had the temerity to speak out against misinformation about vaccines. Even though its voice was tiny compared to a media behemoth like ABC, which is owned by Disney, even that little protest provoked a near-hysterical response.

Now, I’m happy to say, the AAP appears to be taking a more pro-active stance with regards to vaccine misinformation. Given that one of the most common tactics of the antivaccination movement is to present heart-rending stories of “vaccine-damaged” children. Indeed, this is a key strategy designed to obtain “compensation” through lawsuits and the autism omnibus. In response, the AAP has been circulating an e-mail seeking to fight fire with fire:

From: Susan Martin
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:29 PM
To: SPOKESPERSONS@LISTSERV.AAP.ORG
Subject: parent spokespersons

Hello,

As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their child’s vaccines and his or her autism.

Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for immunization.

We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.

If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of parents from a wide range of geographical areas.

As the Jenny McCarthy and “Eli Stone” stories illustrate, this issue is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP recommendations.

The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP’s goals is a powerful tool for our media relations program.

Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.

Thank you,

Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics
847.434.7131

Here’s hoping that parents who understand the importance of vaccination and that science does not support Generation Rescue’s claim that vaccines cause autism will contact Ms. Martin to show their support. Alternatively, they can contact Kevin Leitch.

Not surprisingly, in response to Ms. Martin’s e-mail, in a breathtaking display of hypocrisy J. B. Handley, founder of the mercury militia group Generation Rescue, has posted a response on the Age of Autism blog entitled AAP Wags The Dog: Find Us Some Sick Kids Pronto!

After rehashing a bit of Ms. Martin’s e-mail, Handley begins:

As the father of an autistic child and the leader of a national autism organization, I found myself sitting at my desk, my chin nearly hitting the floor, in stunned astonishment as I read your email. Where, exactly, has the AAP’s humanity and moral compass gone?

Funny, but I’ve been asking that very question about J.B. Handley for the two and a half years since I first encountered him. After all, no misinformation about vaccines is too outrageous for his organization to purvey to the world, and he is utterly unconcerned about the effect that frightening parents into eschewing vaccination for their children can have in allowing vaccine-preventable diseases to return, as the MMR scare has done in the U.K. Moreover, he’s petty enough to buy up domain names of bloggers using Blogspot who have had the temerity to criticize his stance or him. Still, let’s see what he has to say. After bragging about how he can easily find many parents who blame vaccines for their children’s autism (never mind why anecdotes are the most unreliable of evidence, that there is no scientific evidence that’s the least bit convincing to an objective observer linking vaccines to autism, and that it’s very, very easy for human beings to confuse correlation with causation) and how these parents contact his organization all the time, he goes on:

When Generation Rescue rented a booth at your national convention 2 years ago, we were stunned by how many AAP members came to our booth, quietly mentioned that they supported what we were doing, and encouraged us to keep fighting for the kids.

Let me repeat that: Hundreds of your members congratulated my organization for fighting for the kids!

Meanwhile, employees of the AAP like yourself have your head in the sand:

Where is the media story of the AAP sounding the alarm that the prevalence of autism continues to rise?

Where is the media story of the AAP digging into the growing number of stories of children recovering from autism?

Where is the AAP when parents return to the pediatrician and explain to the doctors they trust that their child disappeared after receiving multiple vaccines?

Where is the AAP to help protect our kids from a growing, devastating epidemic of Autism, ADHD, PDD-NOS, asthma, food allergies, learning disorders, and other autoimmune issues?

You are nowhere.

You are looking for the needle in the haystack parent with the autistic child who supports vaccines.

You are looking for the parent with the illness to exploit to scare the masses.

What you should be looking for, Ms. Martin, is your own soul, which you seem to have lost somewhere along the way. Worse, particularly if you are a parent yourself, you also seem to have lost the ability to listen to the parents and to put the needs of our kids first.

Shame on you, Ms. Martin, for planning such blatant manipulation of the media.

I almost gagged when I read that last line. After all, what is Generation Rescue’s primary purpose for existence, if not to manipulate the media with stories of “vaccine-damaged” children and dubious stories of children who have “recovered” due to various unproven remedies that border on, if not cross the line into, outright quackery, such as chelation therapy? Generation Rescue proudly displays many links to advertisements that it has taken out in major newspapers:

  1. USA Today 5/24/2005
  2. The New York Times 6/8/2005
  3. The New York Times 11/14/2005
  4. USA Today 4/6/2006
  5. USA Today 9/25/2007
  6. USA Today 2/12/2008 (discussed by yours truly here)

Of course, the most amusing thing of all about this is that Generation Rescue got slapped down for its add 11/14/2005. The reason is that it listed all sorts of research studies that supposedly supported its belief that mercury in vaccines causes autism, even when those studies did not. If that isn’t “media manipulation,” I don’t know what is. Indeed, some of the researchers whose work was cited wrote a letter to the NYT complaining about the ad and disassociating themselves from Generation Rescue’s claims.

That’s not the only misadventure Generation Rescue has had trying to turn science on its head as representing its viewpoint. Last summer, it even tried to generate science supportive of its claim that vaccines cause autism in the form of an absolutely awful, badly designed telephone survey masquerading as epidemiology that–surprise! surprise!–concluded that vaccination was associated with higher rates of autism. Prometheus, Kevin Leitch, and I, among others, deconstructed the terrible methodology of the study and pointed out that, even if its findings were valid (and, given the horrible methodology, they almost certainly were not, given that the study was a mere exercise in doing multiple comparisons and seeing if anything shakes out), the study showed that in some populations vaccines appeared to be protective against autism. Even so, given that this study was plainly commissioned for P.R., rather than scientific, purposes, it succeeded to some extent in that I still see it popping up on antivaccination and “alternative” medicine websites as “evidence” that vaccines cause autism. Indeed, just last week, it popped up on that repository of all things woo and quackery, Mike Adam’s Natural News (formerly NewsTarget), as the “smoking gun” linking vaccination to neurological disorders. Despite the massive drubbing his study deservedly took in the skeptical blogosphere, J. B. Handley knows that pseudoscientific studies like this never die and, because they have the appearance of science (you know, all the “science-y” lingo), they will be given an undeservedly respectful hearing in the press. How’s that for media manipulation? Or how about engineering a protest at the headquarters of the AAP and then touting it to the press?

Pot. Kettle. Black, Mr. Handley.

In addition, on the “Testimonials” page of the Generation Rescue website, there are a number of parent testimonials and “recovery videos.” Moreover, the entire Age of Autism website is nothing, if not an attempt to “manipulate the media” in order to get the antivaccination viewpoint of Generation Rescue and similar group. If Handley is so disturbed about “manipulation of the media,” perhaps he should look at his himself and his cobloggers:

  1. All Hands on Deck: CDC Braces for Larry King Live by J. B. Handley
  2. Buy One of These Tomorrow! (boosting the Generation Rescue ad)
  3. Time to Rain on the Media Parade by Dan Olmsted
  4. ABC Drama Takes on Vaccines and Autism by Kim Stagliano
  5. Mom Calls Out AAP on ABC Letter
  6. National Autism Association: Eli Stonegate by Wendy Fournier

Note how not a critical word is mentioned over stories that support the thimerosal-autism claim, whereas any attempt to counter such stories and present the science that has not found a link between vaccines and autism as “media manipulation” or “censorship,” while one sends out e-mails to the EOH mailing list making jokes about parents of dead children in the service of mocking the AAP:

From: krstagliano
Date: Feb 16, 2008 6:57 AM
Subject: [EOHarm] Re: JB, email from AAP looking for sick kids
To: EOHarm@yahoogroups.com

Can you imagine the ad campaign? Dad sitting in a confessional proclaiming his remorse and grief for not vaccinating his child, while the bell tolls in the background. Then a quick shot over to a small pink casket with a dolly on top and mother on her knees sobbing in front of the altar……[]

Is that Kim Stagliano, one of the bloggers for Age of Autism, cracking such tasteless jokes? Why, I think that it just might be her!

People forget that vaccine-preventable diseases still kill and that unscientific fearmongering about vaccines has consequences. For example, in 2005 worldwide measles still killed 345,000. Indeed, measles has come roaring back in the UK since Andrew Wakefield stoked the fears of parents. In this world of international travel, we have managed to have outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases like measles here in the U.S., as well, most recently in San Diego.

Finally, what galls me the most about J.B. Handley’s letter to the AAP is how it denigrates the experiences of parents who have had children become ill or even die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Antivaccinationists frequently claim that those of us who try to counter their claims that vaccines damaged their children do just that when we point out the unreliability of anecdotes as a form of data to detect causation, given that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, parents facing the daily struggles of raising an autistic child or any child with serious health issues have nothing but my admiration for their caring, and few things evoke as much sympathy in me as seeing a seriously ill child. Moreover, in the rare cases when vaccine injury can be demonstrated (or even appears more likely than not), I would heartily agree that generous compensation is indicated. Fortunately, such cases are indeed rare. With these observations in mind, I’d like to close with a couple of questions. Perhaps someone could answer them for me:

If it is not “exploitation” or “media manipulation” for J. B. Handley and his crew at Generation Rescue to use stories of “vaccine-injured” children in order to gain public support for their cause, why is it “explotiation” or “media manipulation” if the AAP tries to use stories of children injured or killed by vaccine-preventable diseases because they were not vaccinated? Are not the lives of children who are injured or die of vaccine-preventable diseases as important and worthy of publicity as those of children whom Generation Rescue considers to have been injured by vaccines? If not, why not?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Finally, I will admit that the thought of dueling stories of suffering children does make me a bit queasy. However, J.B. Handley and his organization routinely use them as part and parcel of their P.R. strategy. Handley knows that it’s all about P.R., and for the most part he’s unfortunately pretty good at crafting a compelling set of stories to forward his cause. It doesn’t much matter to most people who see his anecdotes that there is no science behind his claims that vaccines cause autism and that chelation therapy and biomedical therapies can “recover” children. On the surface they appear compelling, and they definitely provoke an emotional reaction that predisposes to believe the antivaccination misinformation spewed by Generation Rescue. Very late in the game, the AAP has apparently finally realized that it is losing the P.R. battle, even though it has biomedical science on strongly its side. That’s why I hope that sane parents will contact the AAP at the number listed in the e-mail to show support, while at the same time lament that such a request is even necessary.

Comments

  1. #1 Ruth
    February 18, 2008

    This sort of thing makes me wish I could do the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ escape to a private, rationally based place, and let the loonies run the country into chaos, unhindered. But today I’m taking my kids(1 Aspie, 1 Pdd-NOS and 1 fashion diva) to the Science Center.

    I remember walking through my family’s private graveyard and seeing all my uncles who never lived beyond their second birthdays. They lived on a farm, with fresh air, good food and pure water, yet still died of infectious disease. Those who fail to learn from history will condem their children to repeat it.

  2. #2 Ruth
    February 18, 2008

    This sort of thing makes me wish I could do the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ escape to a private, rationally based place, and let the loonies run the country into chaos, unhindered. But today I’m taking my kids(1 Aspie, 1 Pdd-NOS and 1 fashion diva) to the Science Center.

    I remember walking through my family’s private graveyard and seeing all my uncles who never lived beyond their second birthdays. They lived on a farm, with fresh air, good food and pure water, yet still died of infectious disease. Those who fail to learn from history will condem their children to repeat it.

  3. #3 trrll
    February 18, 2008

    I think that the key point to make is that parents who do not vaccinate are parasites. They want other people’s children to take all of the risk (and vaccines, like any medical treatment, carry a small risk), while their children reap the benefits of mass vaccination–and put other people’s kids at risk.

  4. #4 Alex Bo
    February 18, 2008

    Vaccination is necessity, stupid parents should not to decide instead of kids.

  5. #5 BA
    February 18, 2008

    As a service provider I know many parents who do not buy Generation Rescue’s nonsense. I will be forwarding the AAP letter to them. I’m confident there will be volunteers.

  6. #6 demallien
    February 18, 2008

    This sort of stuff just depresses me. I can not, for the life of me, understand how people can be so messed up that they are totally incapable of thinking for themselves.

    My partner is one of those people – she has MS, but is so convinced that a faith healer is going to cure her, that she doesn’t even bother talking to her neurologist about possible treatments. I’m watching her slowly become incapacitated, slowly dying, and yet if I suggest that she talk to her neurologist about some of the new treatments just out, or due out in the next few months, I get my head bitten off. I get berated for being ‘close-minded’, because I think the faith healer is a load of nonsense (note – this is based on evidence – my partner’s condition has clearly degraded since starting to see this guy).

    Of course, with vaccination it’s even worse. At least my partner’s stubborness only harms her (and me I suppose – as I’m her support network), but people that convince others to not have their children vaccinated are putting everbody (and their children) at risk.

    And yet they will happily claim the moral highground, saying that it is actually the supporters of vaccination that are putting everyone at risk, when the FSM-damned hard physical evidence says the opposite. I just don’t get it.

  7. #7 genewitch
    February 18, 2008

    trrll, is that like being a person that doesn’t use the little toilet seat cover in a public restroom because everyone else does? Hehe i’m seriously falling asleep here, and that was the first thing that came into my mind.

    Hey Orac, you feeling ok, man? I’ve noticed your grammar and sentence structure slipping a little the past few posts, like you’re either tired, hurried, or distracted.

    Just making sure everything is kosher, best wishes.

  8. #8 Azkyroth
    February 18, 2008

    I’ll have to talk it over with my wife, but we might be able to contribute.

  9. #9 Matt
    February 18, 2008

    Orac,

    thanks a lot for blogging this. I read about this first on the Generation Rescue website. I immediately called the AAP to offer support.

    It is interesting to see GR trying to accuse others of “media manipulation”. Good job letting them know it is so obviously wrong.

  10. #10 PalMD
    February 18, 2008

    The anti vaxers are a cult. You can’t reason with them, but you must speak out an counter their propaganda.

    Their leaders should be called out for what they are—dangerous demagogues/cult leaders who care only for self-aggrandizement and don’t care about anyone’s health.

  11. #11 brook
    February 18, 2008

    My father is a retired physician, one of the last trained just as vaccinations were becoming available. At odd intervals throughout my childhood he’d talk about how wonderful it felt to know that you were never going to have to tell a parent that their child had died or suffered permanent injury from childhood diseases.

    He still doesn’t understand why I chose to have my kids at home or live off grid or not have a tv but one of the best presents I ever gave him (and myself and my children) was a copy of my oldest child’s immunization record.

  12. #12 DuWayne
    February 18, 2008

    I too, will forward this to our autistic friends and their families. I know of at least one that will jump on it. I will also forward it to a speech pathologist I have done some work for, who deals with a lot of autistic children.

    On the upside, I recently had another opportunity to discuss anti-vax non-sense, this time with a pregnant women. She is in the prenatal group that is moderated by the daughter of one of my customers. She wanted someone to come finish getting the nursery together and said daughter gave her my name.

    Knowing that we just had our second, she asked whether we were going with the vaccine schedule. She was concerned, after hearing the insufferable Jenny McCarthy on Oprah a while back. Since, she had gone through the university of google on the issue, but still wasn’t really sure about it all.

    Thanks to your blogging and that of others, I didn’t need to stop at; “yes, of course we did.” I was able to speak knowledgeably and provide her with references. I also explained the danger of not vaccinating children, not only to the child not vaccinated, but to others around them. While I would like to say that I totally convinced her, she was still not certain. But I am certain that having the handy man she hired provide the amount of information I did, definitely had an impact.

  13. #13 JB Handley
    February 19, 2008

    Orac:

    Man, thanks for putting us back in our place. Our message that:

    1. Autism is a treatable condition

    and

    2. Too many vaccines too early has triggered autism for kids

    …was just about to take hold until you wrote this.

    Missing from your long and boring post was any mention of something I wrote proposing a more sane and reasonable vaccine schedule. Also missing was any explanation on your part on why the vaccine load on our kids has nearly tripled in the last 25 years. If we just went back to the 1983 schedule, would that be OK? Here it is:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/02/national-immuni.html

    If I am so “anti-vaccine” – why propose a more sane schedule? Can I be anti-waytoomanyvaccines? Or is it a binary deal?

    By the way, did you read this study from Canada that just came out where they showed that a delay in DPT could drop the asthma rate in half?

    http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/vaccination_delay.pdf

    Have you ever met a parent who watched their child disappear immediately after they vaccinated them? Someone you were close to? I’ve met hundreds and you can never convince them they didn’t see what they saw. I like how idiots like you note that vaccines and the onset of autism happen around the same time and that’s why we blame vaccines. Do parents who have kids develop cancer at 2 blame vaccines? Not typically. But, we do. Why? Because often times the kid’s decline is IMMEDIATE!

    Thanks for putting all our ads in one place for people to see, we are very proud of them. Almost as proud as we are when we hear from people who saw our first ad several years ago, went to a DAN! doctor, and now have a recovered kid. Perhaps you should meet a recovered kid? Naaah, that would ruin your whole position on a topic that you know very little about. Instead, the bloggers who you cite as reasonable on this topic are either i) autistic or bipolar themselves, or ii) belive autism is a gift from God that cannot be cured. Ever. And who is the nut job?

    Warmly,

    JB Handley

  14. #14 andrea
    February 19, 2008

    Blogging for the AAP request:
    A shot in the arm, A slight kick in the butt

    andrea

  15. #15 Freddy the Pig
    February 19, 2008

    Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math Bad Math has also blogged about this.

    I had an aunt who had polio. They fused both her knees so she could walk with crutches. I was born in 1956 so I got vaccinated before I had a chance to contact polio. However, the much youger brother of girl in the same grade as me was crippled by polio. I know she was always going to a chiropractor so I suspect that he was not vaccinated.
    There is no excuse for anyone younger than me getting polio.

    A few years ago I the host of a World Music program on my favourite radio station (www.ckua.org) departed from her usual format to interview someone from Rotary International about the campaign to eliminate polio in Africa. The contrast between this passionate and dedicated man and the selfish antivaxers was day and night. He described people paddling out in canoes with their childern to intercept his boat and get their children vaccinated. It would appear that hunter gatherers cannot afford the stupidity that is so abundant in our high tech society. Simple hunter gatherer societies understand the problem casued by free riders very well.

  16. #16 Tennessee Walker Jr.
    February 19, 2008

    So how big of a hypocrite is JB Handley? Is it ok for him to say that soy is an inappropriate food for children while he sits as a director of Genisoy? Is it ok for him to use the word “Merck” to imply something inferior, or possibly corrupt, as in, ‘A-Merck-ican Journalism’ when he sits on the board of a company that sells fiber products (International Fiber Corporation–some used as fillers in pills) to pharmaceutical companies? Should he let International Fiber Corp execs know how really feels about pharmaceutical companies? How appropriate is it for him to recommend that dairy and wheat should be removed from the diets of autistic children when the company he co-owns owns a dairy and a bakery in Canada and when JB Handley himself sits on the boards of companies that sell cheeseburgers and cheese sandwiches? How much mercury is in the gummy vitamins he sells through Santa Cruz Nutritionals http://www.santacruznutritionals.com/news.html? Mercury is ubiquitous. Are all foods he is in any way profiting from tested for mercury level? If an individual were to buy examples of the foods these companies sell and send them to Doctor’s Data Inc, as Handley has sent samples of his children’s urine to for testing for “heavy metals” How much mercury would show up? Do companies he works with sell anything containing fish? Are there any molecules of lead or mercury in any of the sporting goods sold by Bravo Sports? Can Handley verify that there are none? Should he be able to prove that paint on the skateboards distributed by Bravo Sports Corp has never made a child autistic? It would seem that this is the kind of accountability that he is asking of vaccine manufacturers. I believe it’s time for some transparency on the part of JB Handley. Perhaps concerned parents who read his blog would think that if Handley is selling products containing gluten, casein, soy or traces of heavy metals he should stop before he contributes more children becoming autistic, that is if Handley was more open about where his money is coming from.

  17. #17 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    One thing though: I’m having a hard time finding more information on this on the AAP’s site. Is there a link I missed?

  18. #18 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    PS: I reposted the email here (it’s not exactly a blog, but…) Orac, if you have a chance to look at that post and, if necessary, correct any minor errors on my part, please feel free to email me at the address attached to this comment with suggested corrections).

  19. #19 Liesele
    February 19, 2008

    I’ll be calling in this morning. In an earlier generation, my son’s “developmental disability” would have been classified as autism. Today we know he has agenesis corpus callosum and septo-optic dysplasia/optic-nerve hypoplasia. If someone can show me how vaccines “caused” his central nervous system to malform in utero I’d be glad to get behind their group, however I suspect they’d be reaching a bit. I suspect that a lot of kids dx’d with PDD-NOS just might show similar malformations if there was ever any cause to subject them to MRI (though I would not recommend that purely for diagnosis/screening of ACC and so on). Vaccines don’t cause their autism; an unusually wired cns might.

  20. #20 Liesele
    February 19, 2008

    Almost forgot–I am working on the (non-definitive but as exhaustive as possible) bibliography of evidence-based medicine showing that vaccines do not have any relationship, causative or other, to autism. http://leesyknits.blogspot.com/2008/02/bear-with-me-more-librarian-type-stuff.html
    If anyone has more citations or other similar bibliographies to forward my way, please do! Mine is not a science blog, but I’m using my blog and this particular posting as a temporary repository.
    For the record, I am an MLS-holding librarian so I have some reasonable credentials to do this in my spare time. I just don’t have much spare time.

  21. #21 Joseph
    February 19, 2008

    get berated for being ‘close-minded’

    What I do in such cases is point out that open-mindedness goes both ways. If you’re willing to consider the possibility that some woo is true, why not also consider the very likely reality that the stuff is a worthless waste of time? Someone who claims to be open minded but is closed to what the evidence says, is hypocritical and not open minded at all.

  22. #22 notmercury
    February 19, 2008

    Brad said: “I like how idiots like you note that vaccines and the onset of autism happen around the same time and that’s why we blame vaccines. Do parents who have kids develop cancer at 2 blame vaccines? Not typically. But, we do. Why? Because often times the kid’s decline is IMMEDIATE!”

    What happened to your stance that all autism was really mercury poisoning? Well, anyway, how immediate and how often?

    I saw “declines” in both of my kids around the age when they would be vaccinated. One was vaccinated, one was not. Looking back I have to admit that the first child had periods of regression that were independent of the vaccine schedule. Both happened over a period of time but if you had asked me then, I would swear the reaction was immediate and couldn’t possibly be coincidence.

    How’s that non-vaccinated daughter of yours?

  23. #23 isles
    February 19, 2008

    Pssst…Bradley-boy…did you know that one of the ways you know a person is mercury-poisoned is that the damage DOESN’T show up right away? Uh-huh. A cardinal feature is delayed onset of symptoms.

    So, yeah, all your stories about “my kid got vaccinated and turned autistic the next day” serve as excellent evidence that mercury is NOT involved in the development of autism.

    But, hey, maybe it’s not mercury, it’s just…vaccines in general? Got some kind of idea about how that might happen? I think what they call it in science is – hmm, what’s the word – oh, a hypothesis? No?

    How’s that recovered kid of yours doing? A whole lot better than all the other autistic toddlers who have grown and gained skills over time even without having the “detox” brew of the week ladled into them?

    ———————

    Side note to Freddy the Pig: You are so right. There was rioting in Paragray last week by people desperate to get yellow fever vaccine.

  24. #24 JB Handley
    February 19, 2008

    Hey “Tennessee”:

    You forgot to mention that we used to own an alcoholic beverage company and I don’t even drink!!

    I like this new approach to criticising our side. When all else fails in terms of our simple message:

    1. Autism is treatable/reversible

    2. The vaccine load is a primary driver of why

    ..try to paint one of the messengers as a hypocrite. It’s brilliant.

    Also, once in a while, I let my son have a bagel…Gasp!! Don’t tell anyone. It’s just that he’s made such great progress that he doesn’t react to gluten the way he used to. Gasp!! The horror!

    Keep trying, buddy. We are going to get this giant rock pushed over the hill, and it will flatten you and your kind as it comes down the other side.

    I’m still waiting for anyone to mention some of the very reasonable points in my previous post.

    We’re just getting started,

    JB

  25. #25 ebohlman
    February 19, 2008

    Fascinating: between JBH and cooler, reading this blog this past week has introduced me to meanings of “disappeared” that I never knew existed (and neither does my dictionary).

  26. #26 grenouille
    February 19, 2008

    DuWayne, I agree that much of the worrying about vaccines is taking place while the baby is still in utero. The scariest post I ever saw on a pregnancy support site (very mainstream one) was from a woman who was SURE that folic acid caused autism and was trying to reduce her consumption of it. She was also mega-dosing on Vit A to “counteract” the folic acid. I begged her to confess this whole thing to her OB, but no luck.

    Perhaps the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists can get together with the AAP to educate parents earlier in the game. These myths are taking hold and it’s time to counteract them.

    Mr. Handley, I feel for you, but isn’t it about time these recovered kids came out of the woodwork? Shouldn’t these glorious DAN! people be collecting their Nobels by now?
    Why so reluctant to label yourself anti-vaccine? Why should that be a perjorative term to you? Unless you know that you endanger other people with your views…

  27. #27 grenouille
    February 19, 2008

    Sorry!

    Forgot to add a crucial element to my anecdote: The pregnant woman in question believed that more folic acid during pregnancy = more bad reactions to vaccines later.

  28. #28 MartinM
    February 19, 2008

    I like how idiots like you note that vaccines and the onset of autism happen around the same time and that’s why we blame vaccines. Do parents who have kids develop cancer at 2 blame vaccines? Not typically. But, we do. Why?

    …because the onset of cancer doesn’t typically happen around the same time as vaccination? Just a wild stab in the dark, there.

  29. #29 Orac
    February 19, 2008

    It’s rather amusing to see that J.B. appears to believe the old dictum that “any publicity is good publicity.” I suppose he has no choice but to take that position, given that my original post and posts elsewhere have dismantled the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc that is all that his ad is, coupled with his spreading of standard (and breathtakingly ignorant from a scientific standpoint) antivaccination canards about “toxins” in vaccines. If he’s proud of that ad and of the embarrassment that Jenny McCarthy routinely brings upon the antivax cause every time she opens her mouth about vaccines and autism, truly I’d hate to see what he would consider to be a true embarrassment to his cause. Even John Best doesn’t seem to be an embarrassment to J.B., and that’s pretty amazing.

    Apparently, given the multiple studies that now show no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines or vaccines in general and autism, even J.B. can no longer defend his original dogmatic claim that “childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.” You see, antivaccinationists like J.B. Handley made a serious mistake in hitching themselves to a falsifiable hypothesis with a testable prediction: That thimerosal in vaccines is a major cause of autism. Now that thimerosal in vaccines has been gone for six years, with the exception of the flu vaccine, and mercury exposure in children due to vaccines is at its lowest level since the 1970s or 1980s and autism prevalence is showing no signs of falling (the testable hypothesis), we can with considerable confidence say that the thimerosal hypothesis has been falsified.

    In any case, J.B. is simply unhappy that I and many others have criticized him for his castigation of the AAP for deciding that it has to use the same tactics that he has been using for years. Pot, kettle, black indeed.

  30. #30 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 19, 2008

    Missing from your long and boring post was any mention of something I wrote proposing a more sane and reasonable vaccine schedule.

    By which studies and standards are you basing your definition of “sane and reasonable”?

  31. #31 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    I’m still waiting for anyone to mention some of the very reasonable points in my previous post.

    Include some and we’ll be happy to.

    What you’re doing to your (inexcusably credulous) followers and their (innocent) children is a cruel and selfish betrayal. How many children’s live need to be crippled or ended by vaccine-preventable diseases before you man up and admit that you were wrong?

  32. #32 Prometheus
    February 19, 2008

    It seems that the AAP has finally recognized that the “vaccine-cause-autism” argument is 100% anecdote-based, which makes it (apparently) completely impervious to reason and data. After all, these are people’s stories, so they can’t be wrong – that would be like accusing them of lying (right?).

    So, in order to fight fire with fire, the AAP is trying – rather belatedly – to collect anecdotes of their own.

    What I can’t understand is how anybody relying on anecdote-based “science” could possibly object. These are people’s stories, too. Are stories about how their children’s autism wasn’t caused by vaccines (or how their child was “destroyed” by a vaccine-preventable illness) somehow less valid than the stories the GR and SafeMinds tell?

    I think not.

    Stories are all equally valid. None of them are data.

    Prometheus

  33. #33 Genisoy Jones
    February 19, 2008

    But Mr. Handley, do you let your kids eat any Genisoy products? These quotes are from your site

    “Remove other food allergens from the diet. The most common
    allergens are dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, and corn. Most children who are sensitive to dairy are sensitive to soy. (Use rice milk as a milk substitute, not soy milk).”

    “Then, we eliminated Soy from his diet (replaced with rice milk). Another big improvement in receptive language, ability to play with toys appropriately.”

    Are you in the process of getting these quotes placed on Genisoy product labels? Who knows how many children are languishing in the pit of autism because of Genisoy products in their diet?

    And if you are not anti-vaccine why did you announce that you were not going to vaccinate your baby at all, though you would consider making an exception of rubella before she became old enough to have a child of her own? Your ploy is to put doubt into the minds of people who would vaccinate their children. Once they start to doubt the need of vaccinations, then like yourself they may choose to avoid all vaccines.

    You seem to be a hypocrite in that you would prefer that your business associates not know what you do with your spare time, such as disparage their products and their customers. How much of IFC’s production every year goes to pharmaceutical companies? Would you be embarrassed if lawyers from certain pharmaceutical companies learned what a director of IFC is saying about their companies’ pharmaceuticals? Perhaps I could help out by posting their email addresses here?

  34. #34 Jennifer
    February 19, 2008

    J.B. Handley wrote: “Almost as proud as we are when we hear from people who saw our first ad several years ago, went to a DAN! doctor, and now have a recovered kid.”

    I keep asking and asking this, but let’s try again. Where are all those recovered kids, Mr. Handley? You know, when ABA “recovered” the Maurice children, they were written up in the scientific literature. Their histories, diagnoses and treatment were all published. It was great publicity for ABA, put right out there in the mainstream. Why haven’t any of your DAN! doctors done the same? There’s absolutely no downside, as far as I can see. It would be great publicity for the DAN! approach. We wouldn’t ask for much, even one child would do. Or is it perhaps, just perhaps that you don’t have one? What you seem to have are PDD-NOS children, who are still PDD-NOS, but just a bit less PDD-NOS. Or ASD children who still have quirks, speech delays etc. But, it’s well documented that ASD kids to tend to move around a bit on the spectrum, particularly when diagnosed early. I’d like to see a child with previous multiply professionally diagnosed autistic disorder, now, after DAN! treatments, multiply professionally diagnosed with no disorders whatsoever. And a documentation of the treatment protocol followed. And I’d like to see the mainstream testing that justified that protocol. That wouldn’t just be a story, it would be a documented story.

  35. #35 Joseph
    February 19, 2008

    It’s not true that there are hundreds upon thousands of children who “declined” immediately after vaccination. If this were the case, don’t you think the PSC would have no trouble coming up with slam-dunk test cases?

  36. #36 John Fryer
    February 19, 2008

    Hi Joseph

    Not hundreds of thousands but certainly at times more than 10 thousand USA infants a year were dying in the good old days of mercury vaccines. The numbers are still sky high and the refusal to admit they are vaccine deaths means they will never go down to ZERO.

    The USA has the highest numbers of vaccines and the highest numbers of infant deaths in the G7 nations.

    Just another coincidence?

  37. #37 isles
    February 19, 2008

    John Fryer, you are the trolliest troll on the internet. Not even J.B. Handley could make up a sockpuppet as ridiculous as you.

    Just for fun: Do you actually offer a biological hypothesis as to how vaccines exert harm?

    If not, go home.

  38. #38 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    Hi Joseph

    Not hundreds of thousands but certainly at times more than 10 thousand USA infants a year were dying in the good old days of mercury vaccines. The numbers are still sky high and the refusal to admit they are vaccine deaths means they will never go down to ZERO.

    The USA has the highest numbers of vaccines and the highest numbers of infant deaths in the G7 nations.

    Just another coincidence?

    Um, this post is intended to address the myth that vaccination causes autism, not that it causes infant deaths. Bringing an unrelated accusation against vaccines into this debate underscores the fact that the motivation here is an irrational opposition to vaccination itself, not concern about any specific kind of harm.

    Also, you might do some research on the correlation between socioeconomic status and infant deaths, or between parents’ substance abuse and infant deaths. As I understand it the US has much higher rates of severe poverty, lack of healthcare or insurance, and substance abuse than most other first-world nations, and the present state of the research actually does suggest a causal connection there.

    On the other hand, the US also has the greatest land area in desert regions of any of the first-world nations, to my knowledge (possibly excepting Austalia). Clearly this is proof that deserts cause vaccine deaths!

    (By the way, do you have a reference for the claim that the US has more vaccines than other first-world states?)

  39. #39 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    Clearly this is proof that deserts cause vaccine deaths!

    …”that deserts cause INFANT deaths.”

    (Dear god, it’s contagious! D:)

  40. #40 Anonymous
    February 19, 2008

    The funniest thing about this AAP email that has been circulated is that it seems that it was sent out to pediatricians and/or other medical professionals. JB got a copy of it and printed it to show the ignorance and/or pathetic nature of the AAP. Now, though every single ND site has printed it. Hilarious. The AAP has got to be freaking out.

    ps. Before you guys call the AAP perhaps you should go talk it over with your doctors first…. Laughing my ass off….

  41. #41 Justin Moretti
    February 19, 2008

    The answer is simple. Every unvaccinated child dying from a vaccine preventable disease should be laid at the door of the antivax loons in the form of a murder charge.

  42. #42 Hey Zeus is my homeboy
    February 19, 2008

    John Fryer, John Best, and JB Handley – partners in crime.

    I’d be shocked at Handley’s behavior if I were one of his clients at Swine Capital and I’d be worried about the anti-government and anti-science mantra.

  43. #43 Joseph
    February 19, 2008

    The USA has the highest numbers of vaccines and the highest numbers of infant deaths in the G7 nations.

    Just another coincidence?

    Hmm… YES.

    The USA has the highest number of road fatalities. The USA has the highest rates of obesity. The USA has the highest number of a lot of things. It’s silly to make anything about the USA having the highest number of anything.

  44. #44 HCN
    February 19, 2008

    “The USA has the highest numbers of vaccines and the highest numbers of infant deaths in the G7 nations.”

    To continue what Joseph said… the G7 nations and their populations are:
    Canada: 33,390,141 (July 2007 est.)
    France: 63,718,187
    Germany: 82,400,996 (July 2007 est.)
    Italy: 58,147,733 (July 2007 est.)
    Japan: 127,433,494 (July 2007 est.)
    UK: 60,776,238 (July 2007 est.)
    USA: 301,139,947 (July 2007 est.)

    The USA has twice as much population as Japan, and several times more than the other countries. The data was obtained from the CIA.gov World Factbook. Here:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html … it says “world’s third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India)”.

    We will panic when the number of infant deaths in the USA is more than either China or India.

    Here is some recommended reading:
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statistics-Darrell-Huff/dp/0393310728/

  45. #45 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    HCN: you got me. Using the RAW NUMBERS for such a comparison is so completely boneheaded that my brain automatically translated “number” in his statement into “rate”…perhaps as some kind of self-defense mechanism. x.x

  46. #46 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2008

    …and now I’m suddenly terrified that by “the highest number of vaccines” he might NOT have meant “the largest number of different shots in the immunity schedule for each child.”

  47. #47 Sonya Beene
    February 19, 2008

    JB Handley must answer for his part in the sales of soy foods!!! The flower of youth, young men are turning into young women before our very eyes. It’s all a commie plot. Has the fluoride level in Handley’s soy snack foods been checked? We need to know these things.

  48. #48 HCN
    February 19, 2008

    Axkyroth, I had totally missed his statement about the high numbers of stuff until I saw it in isolation. I kind of skimmed his rantings.

    I had recently read (and was surprised by) the fact that the USA has the third largest population in the world. That puts lots of other statistics into better perspective.

  49. #49 Liesele
    February 21, 2008

    And reported today in the MMWR http://dodvclips.mil/index.jsp?auto_band=x&rf=sv&fr_story=FRdamp250959&rf
    Multistate Measles Outbreak Associated with an International Youth Sporting Event — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Texas, August–September 2007

  50. #50 DT
    February 21, 2008

    JB Hanley:

    Also missing was any explanation on your part on why the vaccine load on our kids has nearly tripled in the last 25 years.

    How droll….
    I am sure he well knows that the antigen load within modern vaccination schedules is only a fraction of what has been used before, with under 40 different antigens presently used compared to more than 200 previously.
    Yet he repeats the same old lies, again and again.

  51. #51 Azkyroth
    February 21, 2008

    I am sure he well knows that the antigen load within modern vaccination schedules is only a fraction of what has been used before, with under 40 different antigens presently used compared to more than 200 previously.

    Heh, perhaps ironically the reason kids are getting “so many more” vaccines is that we’ve learned to spread the antigens among more shots to reduce the chance of side effects. If so…damn, there’s just no pleasing some people.

    (Just out of curiosity, where’d you read that?)

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