Respectful Insolence

Do you think vaccines cause autism?

There’s an idiotic poll up at Larry King Live with the question: “Do you believe vaccines cause or contribute to autism?” Idiotic, because it’s science that says whether or not vaccines cause or contribute to autism. Whether the public thinks they do or not is irrelevant to the biological, medical, and clinical science that say, to the best of our knowledge, they do not.

Even so, please go tell him the real science about vaccines and autism. The pseudoscientists have already stacked the deck, and clearly antivaccinationists are voting, as the numbers are running around 80% to 20% in favor of “yes” as of this posting.

Vote now, and bring some balance!

Comments

  1. #1 DanioPhD
    March 6, 2008

    Public Health Concerns should really always be decided by popular vote, don’t you think?

    CNN did their characteristic ‘low on info high on alarmist rhetoric’ coverage of ‘the Atlanta girl’, whose parents are scheduled to be on Larry King tonight. With over 80% of the viewership still, apparently, affirming that vaccines are linked to autism, I’m not at all optimistic that this case is going to be taken as the isolated, uncharacteristic example it apparently is.

  2. #2 meerasedai
    March 6, 2008

    Actually both my friend and I voted just now and the ‘no’ total did not go up. ‘Not scientific’ indeed!

  3. #3 Beth
    March 6, 2008

    I sent an email asking if they thought it was fair, given the serios physical problems that come with mitochondrial disorders, that some in the “vaccines cause autism” crowd were latching on to the idea that autism is a misdiagnosed mitochondrial disease. I think that might be a bit of a softball question. This should be interesting to say the least.

  4. #4 Anonymoustache
    March 6, 2008

    I wonder if someone could set up a poll like this:
    Basic question: “Do vaccines cause autism”. You get to click on Yes or No.
    If the answer is “no”, screen says “Thanks”
    If the answer is yes, the next question appears: Do you believe that Iraq was behind the attacks of 9/11?
    Then tally the scores.

  5. #5 Suska
    March 6, 2008

    Public voting on scientific facts? What’s next do we get to vote on whether the earth is round or flat??? The fact that right now about 70% voted “yes” on the poll shows you the intelligence level of Larry’s viewers. I’ve officially lost what little respect I had for Larry King. Ugh he’s just like Oprah now *shudders*.

  6. #6 Lindsay
    March 6, 2008

    Sure CNN did their usual ‘low on info high on alarmist rhetoric’, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution coverage was significantly worse. http://www.ajc.com/health/content/health/stories/2008/03/06/autism_0306.html
    Oh, and if you check out the comments, apparently scientists are all evil. Just so you know.

  7. #7 ozzy
    March 6, 2008

    I think overall the scientific intelligence level of the average US citizen is pretty abyssmal. I read an article in the NY Times about Dr. Jon Miller from Northwestern who research the public understanding of science. Here’s a quote from the piece:
    “Dr. Miller’s data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/science/30profile.html

    It’s really not surprising that the Mercury Militia finds a receptive audience. I wouldn’t expect “news readers” like CNN anchors to be any different.

  8. #8 Dustin
    March 6, 2008

    I watched CNN’s report at lunch today. The only reference to research was a 4-second statement in the middle that the CDC or NIH says there’s no link between vaccines and autism, and then they went on with 5 more minutes of coverage of how everyone (except those gov’t scientists–you know how they are wink, wink…) is sure vaccines cause it. I took the Larry King poll and wow, science isn’t doing too well.

    From what little I know of the law, I can see why they won, but that has to do with strict liability and not science, and the press isn’t reporting that well. All they have to show is that the dose administered caused something with this girl, not that vaccines cause any particular disorder or are dangerous. In agriculture we worry about this stuff because of things like E. Coli. I think that in civil cases the burden of proof is lower, too. Maybe a lawyer can comment.

  9. #9 Dr Aust
    March 6, 2008

    There is /was a “guest commentary” lower down the Larry King page by Orac fave (not) Jenny McCarthy. It is fairly restrained (for her) and does not contain the word “vaccine”… but it does mention (approvingly} her “DAN doctor” and give a link to the DAN site.

    Aren’t celebrities wonderful…?

  10. #10 Liz D.
    March 6, 2008

    Guess what? The King poll is Chicago-style voting!

    I have now cast 12 votes over the last two hours.

    vote early and vote often!

  11. #11 Calli Arcale
    March 6, 2008

    There are those in the Mercury Militia who have probably already noticed that weakness of the poll, Liz D, and exploited it. Some of the more vocal elements have demonstrated a willingness to deliberately distort the truth — repeat voting would be a simple thing for them, and they would consider it a noble cause, since it would be “getting the truth out”.

    Sort of like stuffing a ballot box because you know everybody *really* wants {insert candidate here}.

    Of course, this is just speculation. It’s also possible King’s audience is scientifically illiterate to the point of being dangerous to themselves and others.

    I’m wading through the tangle of insurance bureaucracy to get my daughter assessed for autism spectrum disorders. I was looking for some kind of online reference listing which providers conduct such testing. I found a very nice, likely-looking name and clicked on it. First thing I saw was something to the effect of “government admits vaccines cause autism”, boldfaced and about five times the size of most other text on the page. It was depressing to run into the woo so quickly. I mean, you have to be either stupid or self-deceptive to think that’s true, and I don’t most of the MM are stupid. So the only alternative is that they’re deceiving themselves — and anyone unfortunate enough to go to them for advice.

  12. #12 Calli Arcale
    March 6, 2008

    There are those in the Mercury Militia who have probably already noticed that weakness of the poll, Liz D, and exploited it. Some of the more vocal elements have demonstrated a willingness to deliberately distort the truth — repeat voting would be a simple thing for them, and they would consider it a noble cause, since it would be “getting the truth out”.

    Sort of like stuffing a ballot box because you know everybody *really* wants {insert candidate here}.

    Of course, this is just speculation. It’s also possible King’s audience is scientifically illiterate to the point of being dangerous to themselves and others.

    I’m wading through the tangle of insurance bureaucracy to get my daughter assessed for autism spectrum disorders. I was looking for some kind of online reference listing which providers conduct such testing. I found a very nice, likely-looking name and clicked on it. First thing I saw was something to the effect of “government admits vaccines cause autism”, boldfaced and about five times the size of most other text on the page. It was depressing to run into the woo so quickly. I mean, you have to be either stupid or self-deceptive to think that’s true, and I don’t most of the MM are stupid. So the only alternative is that they’re deceiving themselves — and anyone unfortunate enough to go to them for advice.

  13. #13 Schwartz
    March 6, 2008

    Well, it’s not really a poll on science is it? It’s a poll of opinion — hence the “Do you believe” part of the question.

    From a scientific perspective, it’s totally pointless.

    However, since public opinion influences many things including research funding, presidential pledges, news coverage etc, it is certainly unsurprising that CNN would query the opinion of it’s readers.

    Although the suggestion by someone above — eg asking other questions at the same time — would be very interesting

  14. #14 John Best
    March 7, 2008

    I think we should poll the doctors now and see if more of them will admit the truth that they poisoned our babies with thimerosal. Our public opinion of them will improve when they stop lying to us.

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 7, 2008

    Am I wrong? I think the parents of the child are doctors, or at least one is. And I’m pretty sure that they said they’d continue to vaccinate if they had other children. I wonder that the anti-vax crowd will sa……nevermind. I know exactly what they will say.

  16. #16 John best is losing
    March 7, 2008

    John, did the doctors tell you your kid has Sotos syndrome? And did you reject that when you figured that there was no one to sue for that?

  17. #17 genewitch
    March 7, 2008

    HO SHIT IT’S JOHN BEST, OUT OF HIBERNATION FOR THE WINTER!

    And yea, that poll shows me one thing, 81% of people are dumber than peat moss.

    Heh.

  18. #18 Azkyroth
    March 7, 2008

    I think we should poll the doctors now and see if more of them will admit the truth that they poisoned our babies with thimerosal.

    Thimerosol has been out of virtually all vaccines for the past several years. Why are we not seeing a decrease in autism diagnoses?

  19. #19 Grammar RWA
    March 7, 2008

    81% of the people who can click a mouse and swarm a website. Most people are not especially dedicated. Cranks by their nature get overrepresented.

  20. #20 Daniel Murphy
    March 7, 2008

    Quick Vote
    Do you believe vaccines cause or contribute to autism?

    Yes 81% 9454

    No 19% 2235

    Total Votes: 11689

    This is not a scientific poll

    Duh!

    I remember when CNN was a news channel. That was a long time ago. And now, back to Larry King Live with everything you need to know about Janet Jackson, Autism, Valerie Bertinelli, Elton John and Randy Jackson.

  21. #21 Fernando Magyar
    March 7, 2008

    My kid has Asperger’s syndrome, was vaccinated and he voted no, go figure.

  22. #22 John Best
    March 7, 2008

    Fernando,
    People with Asperger’s are gullible. You should explain to your kid how he was conned.

    Askyroth,
    The criminals who perpetuate the poisoning of children learned that poisoning the fetus via the mother’s flu shot was more efficient at causing autism. It has the added benefit of making these criminals look innocent to the uneducated masses.

  23. #23 e.
    March 7, 2008

    Being a scientist myself, I know that scientific truths are very rare. Instead we have theories with various degrees of probability of being correct. I like that this post says “to the best of our knowledge” vaccines are not linked to autism. This level of uncertainty is not a weakness, although I can see that somebody who has firm irrational beliefs might take it as a proof of the failure of what they would probably call “mainstream science”. However, insulting people who don’t understand how science works – or who are not aware of the evidence available in this case – doesn’t help. It would be nice if somebody wrote a post outlining very honestly what the evidence is at this point, what is still unclear, what real debates are there in the medical community about this
    (for example about vaccination schedules) and what is instead just completely unfounded. I would be very interested in reading such a post and I would have a link to give to people who tell me about the dangers of vaccination.

  24. #24 genewitch
    March 7, 2008

    Changed to a clinton/obama poll as of 7:40AM CST

  25. #25 notmercpoisoned
    March 7, 2008

    It doesn’t matter what a person believes, when it comes to autism or any other condition, since belief or popular opinion are not factors in the actual cause of autism. Beliefs and strong opinions can sway the direction of research and spending priorities; if they’re wrong, time and money will be wasted and people’s lives will be negatively impacted.

    I certainly don’t feel poisoned in any way, nor does it seem likely that I have had an underlying mitochondrial disorder for the past 50 years. As a taxpayer, I wish more money would be spent on services and supports for those individuals and families who need them, and less on hype about a single court case that doesn’t “concede” that vaccines cause autism, but that indicated that *in this particular case* it looks like vaccines aggravated the underlying condition.

  26. #26 Laser Potato
    March 7, 2008

    For the anti-vaxers out there: how about rabies vaccinations for pets?
    Would it really be worse for Fido or Kitty to get a shot than for him to die a slow, horrible death from a disease that can be contracted via bites from just about any damn small animal (which dogs and cats are fond of chasing?)

  27. #27 Heather
    March 7, 2008

    Perhaps not the right place to post this, but hopefully this group of doctors and scientists will be able to offer some “what would you do” sort of advice (I realize this is not medical advice)…

    My 3-year-old daughter’s pediatrician did not record her MMR and Varicella vaccinations (I am 99.9% sure she received them last August at her pre-preschool well visit, although I did not create an independent record at the time). The state is requiring her to be re-vaccinated to continue to attend nursery school. Is there any harm in duplicating these vaccinations?

  28. #28 raindogzilla
    March 7, 2008

    I believe that young Mary poses no threat to the rest of us, despite that pesky typhus
    I believe I will have this dance with the Spanish Lady…
    I believe this smashing, pointy mask will make me aerodynamically immune to the plague miasma…
    I believe that eschewing dirty needles is discrimination…
    I believe for every drop of rain that falls…

  29. #29 Joseph
    March 7, 2008

    John, did the doctors tell you your kid has Sotos syndrome? And did you reject that when you figured that there was no one to sue for that?

    Is that true or just speculation? John?

  30. #30 John Best
    March 7, 2008

    Laser potato,
    They took the thimerosal out of animal vaccines a long time ago. I’d guess the reason for that was the value of some thoroughbreds. All those breeding fees would be wasted if the foals were autistic and wouldn’t respond to the whip.

    Joseph,
    This is the first time I’ve heard of Soto’s syndrome. What is it?

  31. #31 Ettina
    March 7, 2008

    Firstly, the poll measures what people *believe*, which is not necessarily reality. If it was better designed, it would actually be useful for that, but it appears too easy to have biased samples and even the same person voting multiple times.

  32. #32 ddt
    March 7, 2008

    As an interesting twist to the story, the father of the child is lead author in a case report: (sorry, I haven’t figured out how to create hyperlinks here)

    http://jcn.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/2/170

    “Developmental Regression and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Child With Autism” Journal of Child Neurology, Vol. 21, No. 2, 170-172 (2006)

    I don’t work in science research but would be interested in the opinion of those who do on the ethic/conduct of authoring a study on one’s own child (I can only presume this is his kid.)

  33. #33 ddt
    March 7, 2008

    Oops, I guess the links create automatically.

  34. #34 Elf M. Sternberg
    March 7, 2008

    This will not make Orac happy: this morning, I turned on the TV for probably the first time in six months, and Good Morning America had “GMA Exclusive! Government concedes case in vaccine-autism link,” and some talking head was blathering on and on about “Google for the Thimeresol and mitochondria link, and you’ll find thousands of pages…”

    All of which have been brought to you by the Mercury Militia. It’s about to get very, very ugly.

  35. #35 anonimouse
    March 7, 2008

    What is truly, truly sad is that there are parents out here who will now choose not to vaccinate their kids because they think the government says vaccines can cause autism. And more kids will get vaccine-preventable diseases, and some will die. And all because a bunch of money-grubbing, hate-mongering loons are exploting ONE case in vaccine court that – in all reality – says very little about whether vaccines cause autism.

    I am more convinced than ever that these loons really hate kids.

  36. #36 John Best is losing
    March 8, 2008

    John’s kid looks like he could have Sotos syndrome. If John denies that he’s ever heard of it, that would mean that his kid has been diagnosed with Sotos and he rejected it because there was no one to sue for that, if John’s true to his usual lying self. If you haven’t had him evaluated for Sotos yet, you should.

  37. #37 ebohlman
    March 8, 2008

    The things you learn here:

    They took the thimerosal out of animal vaccines a long time ago. I’d guess the reason for that was the value of some thoroughbreds. All those breeding fees would be wasted if the foals were autistic and wouldn’t respond to the whip.

    I wasn’t aware that autism could be diagnosed in horses (a Google search on “autism horses” brought up mostly references to hippotherapy for autistic kids, but also some very surprising hits from the Autism-Mercury list). Do you have any citations from the veterinary literature?

    P.S. “Autistic Horses” = band name.

  38. #38 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    The poll is consistent with the news media’s understanding of science.

    The opinion of a bunch of uneducated, uninformed people always has the same weight as the conclusion drawn by careful scientific analysis by the best educated recognized scientists in their field.

    CNN believes they are presenting all sides of a ‘controversial’ issue in an unbiased way. Actually investigating an issue and presenting the facts is not news, and besides it doesn’t sell well either.

  39. #39 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: ddt I don’t work in science research but would be interested in the opinion of those who do on the ethic/conduct of authoring a study on one’s own child (I can only presume this is his kid.

    Considering how absurd it is to blame your child’s vaccination when apparently even if the case is valid, the next URI would have triggered anyway, this whole case smacks of a lack of ethics. I’m sure a large compensation settlement out of the VICP also made for a bit of extra motivation.

  40. #40 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: Heather My 3-year-old daughter’s pediatrician did not record her MMR and Varicella vaccinations (I am 99.9% sure she received them last August at her pre-preschool well visit, although I did not create an independent record at the time). The state is requiring her to be re-vaccinated to continue to attend nursery school. Is there any harm in duplicating these vaccinations?

    There is absolutely no harm and she needs two doses of each anyway. If a child has a good response to a live vaccine such as MMR and varicella vaccine, then the child will be immune to the next dose. And if they are not immune, then they needed the vaccine.

    If it did matter, however, you could check with whomever the doctor billed for the vaccinations. Sometimes if a dose isn’t in a shot record, it may still have gotten into the billing records.

  41. #41 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by ddt: As an interesting twist to the story, the father of the child is lead author in a case report: (sorry, I haven’t figured out how to create hyperlinks here)
    http://jcn.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/2/170
    “Developmental Regression and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Child With Autism” Journal of Child Neurology, Vol. 21, No. 2, 170-172 (2006)

    If this paper is true, and there was an increased finding of this metabolic disorder in other autism cases, and, if the vaccines did have an affect on this child, then there should be epidemiological evidence that vaccines affected other children with autism who also have this disorder. Yet that data isn’t found.

    I think this is more of a case of the VICP judges being too intimidated to rule against a neurologist from Johns Hopkins. (Or his friends if other physicians presented the case.) And, Dr P probably also knew the system and how to manipulate it.

  42. #42 Joseph
    March 8, 2008

    Joseph,
    This is the first time I’ve heard of Soto’s syndrome. What is it?

    I’m not surprised, John. Soto’s syndrome is a known cause of ASD, albeit not a very common one. I haven’t seen a picture of your son, but if he has or had a big head circumference as a young child, you might want to look into it. Now, kids with Soto’s tend to catch up to their peers in development by the age of 10, which is why I’d be skeptical your son has Soto’s. On the other hand, that’s something you could use to say “you see! chelation really works!”

  43. #43 No, No, No
    March 8, 2008

    Heather,

    Do not allow your daughter to be re-vaccinated for those diseases. If you are that certain that she was already vaccinated… Fight it! Double doses of mmr and chicken pox within a short time period = dangerous.

  44. #44 clarence
    March 8, 2008

    Oh, the internet would be so much less funny if John Best weren’t in it. I can’t wait to ask my father-in-law, the large animal vet who vaccinates thoroughbreds every day of the week, about all the autistic horses he’s seen. Maybe he should get into the equine chelation biz; then he could buy a boat.

    Do you think maybe ALL horses are autistic, with the exception of Mister Ed? They do tend to have very limited verbal skills.

    What do you call a horse who “wouldn’t respond to the whip”? A dead horse. Just like the link between vaccines and autism. QED!

  45. #45 AL
    March 8, 2008

    Heather, I’m pretty sure your daughter doesn’t need to get those vaccines again. If for some reason documentation is needed, I’m pretty sure a blood test can be performed to see if your daughter has the antibodies for MMR. I’m not a medical doctor, but this is what happened to me. I lost my vaccination card, and I went to a pathology lab and they just took a blood sample, and I tested positive for all the MMR antibodies, and they just gave me a printout, which I showed to a doctor and then that doc filled out a new vaccination card for me.

  46. #46 CarmellaMae
    March 8, 2008

    Sorry,

    It is doctors such as yourselves who are stacking the deck against vaccines causing autism because of what you’ve been taught, but there are two sides to every argument, even against what you were taught,you need to study the other side, before you can make a viable conclusion. Mercuty poisoning causes a spectrum disorder very similar to autism, and mercury is in vaccines, even many of those that claim to be thermosal free. Did you know if it contains less than 25 Micrograms of mercury, they do not have to declare it? When you vaccineate children, you are injecting Formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, and many other toxic chemicals, not to mention they also have guinea pig cells, and aborted fetal tissue, and being a doctor you should know this. We won’t even get into the possible 98 million people injected with SV40 a cancer causing monkey virus that hitched a ride with the polio vaccine, and that is not an isolated incident.

    Mercury is the most toxic substance second only to plutonium and you are injecting it into babies. By the age of 6 years, children have been injected with enough mercury to contaminate 23 gallons of water that the government would declare undrinkable, but you’ve injected all this into tiny undeveloped bodies? You are a doctor, you know the greatest defense the body has against intrusion is the skin, and all the internal organs are protected from intrusion, and when poisons are injected, the stomach, intestinal system, liver, etc all serve to filter poisons and toxins out before they damage other internal organs. You circumvent that, and if you think you can bypass the bodies greatest defense barrier, then you have been brainwashed by 8 years of pounding, and have made no scientific studies into what you are doing. You have believed everything you have been taught.

    Colleges get a great deal of research financing from Pharmaceutical and vaccine companies, what type of slant do you think your education has? Do you think they would contribute billions of dollars to teach people against their trillion dollar business?

    being the parent of a 19 year old, severely autistic son, I have to tell you, your wrong!!! Vaccines are the MOST DANGEROUS “idiotic”, medical screwup this Country ever came up with! And there are now many doctors who have done their research and now know the truth about vaccines. There are still the rest though who insist on believing what they have been spoon fed in college. I’m sure you will say, vaccine reactions are rare, only 1 in a 1000 or so right? So glad you agree. Now answer this question for me… I had 6 children who I allowed doctors such as yourself to convince me the best thing was full vaccinations. Those same doctors then told me when I called for days after the vaccines, constantly with every vaccine administered, begging for help because my baby was screaming for days on end, and running high fevers, huge red, swelling all around the vaccine site, long hours of restless sleep, the list goes on, and on, and this became an occurance that I learned to live with for at least a full week, after each vaccine was adimistered to ALL 6 of my children! Guess what the doctor ALWAYS said, “It’s a NORMAL REACTION”!!! Well the CDC DISAGREES! So, what do you have to say to that? Oh lets not leave out, my oldest son fought cancer for 6 years, his doctor blamed what? Oh yes, his DPT vaccines! Why is that do you suppose? That was over 20 years ago, and I have researched these vaccines ever since, and let me tell you something, #1, neither YOU, nor any other doctor, or scientist, are God!!! Because of this, your science is a joke! A very intellegent man once said to our Church, “what was science 20 years ago, is laughable today”! For the record, I am a Baptist, not Christian Science or whatever that religion is.

    God made a very intelligent machine called the human body. He made this machine to fight infection and disease. He also made the machine to GET disease in order to LEARN how to FIGHT many diseases. Man however, felt God knew not what He was doing, and decided to play God himself, and now we have instead of a few dying from a natural disease that God made for natural immunuity, we have millions if not billions dying, or being permantly disabled from diseases that were never heard of, or were very rare, before vaccines. Look at the childhood cancer rate. I’m sure you have a lovely explanation for the rise, even though just like with autism, as the vaccines increase, so do both of these diseases!

    You may be able to convince a lot of parents that you are right, and us “quaky parents” are wrong, but I bet you us quaky parents have done more extensive research into vaccines than you could ever dream of!

    One more tidbit to think about… Besides all the reactions my children had that I mentioned above. My oldest two got the measles from their MMR, (doctor said it was from their vaccine, and a NORMAL REACTION!!!). My second daughter got whooping cough from her DPT! Oh, and the pertusis vaccine, only protects you for a few months, if at all! Many who get whooping cough, are fully vaccinated against it!

    My 2 Cents!

    CarmellaMae – Mom on a mission to educate parents, and STOP vaccine injury!

  47. #47 AL
    March 8, 2008

    Gotta love the whole “parents vs. scientists” dichotomizing with CarmellaMae’s barely readable rant. As though scientists can’t be parents. And as though being a parent means a couple of very personal, emotional anecdotes about your kids is grounds for sweeping scientific conclusions.

  48. #48 clarence
    March 8, 2008

    CarmellaMae = fake.

    There’s just too much idiocy concentrated in one post, and it’s the same tired old idiocy we’ve all heard before. I don’t believe anyone that stupid could even figure out how to have children in the first place.

  49. #49 cooler
    March 8, 2008

    Being one of the worlds leading science journalists, I had to weigh in. What I’ve learned in debating the mercury is harmless in vaccines crowd is this.

    1) There isn’t one study comparing about 1000 people with no thimersol intake vs. those with the 1991 levels of intake looking for differences in Autism etc. Thus the most properly designed study has not been conducted yet by honest scientists truly seeking an answer, so for all of these “scientists” who mock people don’t have much scientific evidence to stand on.

    2) There were never any original toxicology/animal studies done in the 1930’s to see if Thimerosol was even safe to put in vaccines in the first place. When Splenda was approved they inoculated animals with several times the regular intake dose etc, with thimersol this never occured, a drug company just decided to give it to us as a suprise gift, with no real attempt to study it’s safety in humans.

    And then people wonder why 80% of the population has legitamate concerns about Vaccine safety.

  50. #50 AL
    March 8, 2008

    There isn’t one study comparing about 1000 people with no thimersol intake vs. those with the 1991 levels of intake looking for differences in Autism etc.

    Yes there has been. Stehr-Green, et al, 2003. Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25, 101-106.

    The study notes that in both Denmark and Sweden (population > 1000), thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1992, and yet autism rates have continued to climb up until at least the publication of the paper (2003).

    As “one of the worlds (sic) leading science journalists,” please do your homework.

  51. #51 Skwee
    March 8, 2008

    @John Best:

    I may have Asperger’s but I’m not gullible enough to fall for the bullshit conspiracy theories of a random Internet troll.

  52. #52 cooler
    March 8, 2008

    That study was totally rigged if you actually read the data. Dr. Ayoub points out how deceptive it was. They increased they pool of patients by 13 times after mercury was taken out, and then saw that the absolute # of cases went up, when you look at % the rate actually went down. Its like comaparing the absolute # of cancer cases in a small town vs. New york, you need to compare %, not absolute counts.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6890106663412840646

  53. #53 Joseph
    March 8, 2008

    Do you think maybe ALL horses are autistic, with the exception of Mister Ed? They do tend to have very limited verbal skills.

    This reminds me of something John once said on the topic of whether animals are autistic. I’m not kidding. This is what he said verbatim:

    “Mr Ed wasn’t autistic. Neither was Flipper. In fact, Flipper may have cured some autistic people. I once had a very affectionate cat so it couldn’t have been autistic although it didn’t talk much. I don’t think Hornig’s mice were autistic until after she gave them mercury and they became violent like “Hands” from Boston Legal. So, there goes your “all animals are autistic” theory.”

  54. #54 No, No, No
    March 8, 2008

    “As “one of the worlds (sic) leading science journalists,” please do your homework”.

    This is actually quite funny. AL telling someone to “do your homework”… while quoting from the Danish studies. AL EVERYONE knows that the autism studies out of Denmark are completely bogus. Come on now… (You look like an idiot right now, by the way)…

  55. #55 Robster, FCD
    March 8, 2008

    CarmellaMae, If God created the immune system and diseases to train said system, then God is crappy designer (or is malevolent), based on the ravages these training diseases cause. Just another example of how unintelligent the design claim actually is.

  56. #56 Joseph
    March 8, 2008

    There isn’t one study comparing about 1000 people with no thimersol intake vs. those with the 1991 levels of intake looking for differences in Autism etc.

    Experiments have been conducted in many countries, i.e. those where thimerosal has been removed, and their results documented in studies. More than 1000 people have been involved in each case obviously. Denmark is the punching bag of the merc militia, because the studies there might have had some methodological issues. But we can skip it. Thimerosal has been removed in Sweden, Canada, the UK and the US. In not a single country ever has a drop in the incidence of autism been reported after removal of most thimerosal. Not one. California is perhaps the most interesting case because of the detail of the public reporting available and their substantial population. Again, there’s a recent study on this.

    It looks like there’s also substantial evidence that cooler was lying when he said that he’s “one of the worlds leading science journalists.”

  57. #57 cooler
    March 8, 2008

    It’s called a joke boner brain.

  58. #58 John Best is losing
    March 8, 2008

    Joseph, John’s son looks like he has a genetic disorder. It might not be Sotos, he has downward slanting eyes and a large head. I wonder what a competent geneticist and some lab tests might turn up for that poor boy. Older fathers are more likely to have children with genetic problems, another reason why John fights so blindly to blame thimerosal.

  59. #59 John Best is losing
    March 8, 2008

    Joseph, John’s son looks like he has a genetic disorder. It might not be Sotos, he has downward slanting eyes and a large head. I wonder what a competent geneticist and some lab tests might turn up for that poor boy. Older fathers are more likely to have children with genetic problems, another reason why John fights so blindly to blame thimerosal.

  60. #60 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: No, No, No: [See above, they are not worth repeating]

    Is the concept of evidence based medicine just too hard for you, No,no,no?

  61. #61 Joseph
    March 8, 2008

    AL EVERYONE knows that the autism studies out of Denmark are completely bogus.

    Hi Sue :)

  62. #62 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: AL I’m pretty sure a blood test can be performed to see if your daughter has the antibodies for MMR. I’m not a medical doctor, but this is what happened to me. I lost my vaccination card, and I went to a pathology lab and they just took a blood sample, and I tested positive for all the MMR antibodies, and they just gave me a printout, which I showed to a doctor and then that doc filled out a new vaccination card for me.

    Al is correct on the option of a blood test sort of but as “not a medical doctor” he has not described the options completely.

    For some vaccines, the rate of immunity is high enough in the population, it is more cost effective to screen people before vaccinating to see who needs the vaccine. This is true with adults with no history of having had chicken pox. About 90% of the population is immune by the age of 19 and about 30% of the cases have no rash so people do not always know they have had chicken pox.

    For any vaccine, a blood test showing you are immune has to be looked at in context. If you are immune to hepatitis B for example, after 2 doses of vaccine, there is no assurance that immunity will last as long as those who have had 3 doses. And data on long term effectiveness is only available on people who have had 3 doses. You would be guessing vaccine protection would last if you went by the blood test rather than giving the third dose.

    For MMR and Varicella, 2 doses are recommended because we have seen vaccine failures decrease with 2 doses. It is most likely the increased effectiveness of 2 doese is due to decreasing the vaccine failure rate. With measles vaccine, MMR, that is what the studies show. But with munps and rubella, MMR, such studies have not been done. A few cases of mumps in the epidemic in the US and Europe last year did involve vaccinated people. (The majority infected had not been vaccinated.) No case occurred in someone who had had 2 doses of MMR. Breakthrough cases of chicken pox in vaccine recipients have only recently occurred and resulted in a change to recommending 2 doses of varicella vaccine.

    It is not absolutely clear from this data that antibodies detected in a person after one dose of these 4 vaccines is equal in establishing immunity to that of receiving 2 doses. We just don’t know. We do know that receiving 2 doses protects more people than receiving one and that extra doses are not harmful as I already said.

    Then there is the legal documentation. Were you to opt for the blood test your child needs 4 tests, one for each disease. It would be a single blood draw should they get enough in the tube, but it is not cheap. Figure to pay around $200 if your insurance doesn’t pay and they may not since repeating the vaccine doses are safe and less costly.

    And of course, if you are wrong and your child did not have the dose of vaccine, then the doses would still need to be given.

    I have not described this in detail to scare you or convince you one way or the other what to do. I already said to see if there was a billing record that documented the vaccines someone didn’t write a chart note on.

    The point I want to make in writing this tedious post is that a lot of education and experience goes into the practice of medicine. People, including health care providers, can be unaware of what they don’t know. Getting advice, and for that matter giving advice based on insufficient knowledge is a risky endeavor. So much of our “knowledge” or “common sense” is based on picking up bits of information here and there, (happened to me, happened to a friend, they say, I read it somewhere, even the infamous: “my doctor told me”). And people are all too eager to give unqualified advice. It seems to be in our human nature.

    Consider the source when getting medical advice and information. Consider as I posted in a previous blog comment on this subject that the medical community is just as capable of reading medical research and determining drug company influence as the most avid anti-vaxer or other supporter of superstitious medical beliefs. (Hopefully it’s obvious by now that most medical providers are more qualified.) Consider the fact that all medical research funding does not come from government or drug companies. Consider there are so many providers and scientists and different governments, and overwhelming research (in some cases) that the system is full of checks and balances. And all those providers and scientists cannot be in on the scam, they can’t all be duped, they can’t all be blinded by some establishment tunnel vision.

    The distraught mother or father of an autistic child is not better at evaluating the data than those thousands of separate health care providers and scientists.

    The isolated (& usually truly profit grubbing) rogue like the chemist who claims to have the autism mercury link all figured out and the rest of us don’t have that ‘special knowledge’ does not really have it figured out. Rather, he and others like him have been unable to provide any credible evidence to the scientific community supporting that ‘special knowledge’. So rather than proving their science to scientists, they choose to bamboozle non-scientists who are not aware of the flaws in the supposed ‘special knowledge’.

    There is a reason for minimum education and experience required of health care providers. And we don’t all come out as clones incapable of recognizing we’ve been brainwashed. The anti-vaxers, homeopathy believers, the ‘natural’ is better believers, and the rest of these people with their wacky conspiracy theories and incompetent medical conclusions do not have any “special knowledge” that the medical and scientific communities do not possess.

    Evidence based medicine is extremely successful. That’s how I know it is correct. Superstitious based medicine is not successful. Next time anyone wants evidence of who is right, just look at the track records of success. Sometimes neither has an answer and that is frustrating. But the bizarre theory believers never do and that is sad.

  63. #63 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: CarmellaMae [superstitious based beliefs snipped] My 2 Cents!
    CarmellaMae – Mom on a mission to educate parents, and STOP vaccine injury!

    How many health care providers do you think there are, CarmellaMae? How many scientists? Think other governments have any vaccine regulations? How about the many non-profit medical foundations, how many of those do you suppose there are?

    Do you think it is really possible you, CarmellaMae have special knowledge that all governments, all public health agencies, and the majority of all the individuals involved from medical researchers to health care providers do not have?

    Do you really think that a medical education leaves the graduate incapable of seeing the big pharma bias that you believe you can see? Do you think that at least some of those concerned individuals like those volunteering for Doctors without Borders, or OxFam, or the Union of Concerned Scientists, or any number of other knowledgeable and conscientious individuals would have spoken up by now against this vast profit making conspiracy and brainwashing medical education by now?

    Just curious if you had considered the ludicrousness of your conspiracy beliefs?

  64. #64 Skeptigirl
    March 8, 2008

    Posted by: cooler: Being one of the worlds leading science journalists, I had to weigh in. What I’ve learned in debating the mercury is harmless in vaccines crowd is this.
    1) There isn’t one study comparing about 1000 people with no thimersol intake vs. those with the 1991 levels of intake looking for differences in Autism etc. Thus the most properly designed study has not been conducted yet by honest scientists truly seeking an answer, so for all of these “scientists” who mock people don’t have much scientific evidence to stand on.
    2) There were never any original toxicology/animal studies done in the 1930’s to see if Thimerosol was even safe to put in vaccines in the first place. When Splenda was approved they inoculated animals with several times the regular intake dose etc, with thimersol this never occured, a drug company just decided to give it to us as a suprise gift, with no real attempt to study it’s safety in humans.
    And then people wonder why 80% of the population has legitamate concerns about Vaccine safety.

    You forgot your spell checker, ‘worlds leading science journalist’.

    But let’s just say we take you at your word here and that you do report on science for some news organizations. You are an example of a large part of the problem communicating with the public. You have such a poor understanding of the science you are reporting on, you really need to consider a career change. Unfortunately, your post reflects the actual science reporting in the mainstream news that those of us in the scientific/medical communities so often see.

    Did you happen to miss all the links to the data showing removing thimerosal from childhood vaccines has been accompanied by a clear trend of increasing rates of autism? The data base involves a huge number of children, well over the 1,000 figure you suggest.
    http://www.fightingautism.org/idea/reports/CA-Autism-Statistics-Prevalence-Incidence-Rates.pdf

    And here it is for you in pictures, just in case you are more of a visual guy.
    http://www.fightingautism.org/idea/autism.php

    As for the animal studies, any good medical researcher worth their salt knows animal models are imperfect for testing toxicity in humans. The increasing rate of autism after removal of the thimerosal is much stronger evidence than any animal studies would be.

  65. #65 cooler
    March 8, 2008

    You need some Dr. Ayoub in your life son. In that Danish study when you looked at the % not the absolute count, which is what should have been looked at in the first place, the autism rate went down in Denmark after thimersol’s removal, ie smoking gun evidence of Thimersol’s causal role in Autism.

    Dr. Ayoub’s brillaint lecture. This man gives me a total, well you know what……….
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6890106663412840646

  66. #66 Ray C.
    March 8, 2008

    CarmellaMae, If God created the immune system and diseases to train said system, then God is crappy designer (or is malevolent), based on the ravages these training diseases cause. Just another example of how unintelligent the design claim actually is.

    It get’s even better than that. Apparently God created the immune system for no other reason than to fight off the diseases that God created for no other reason than so we’d need an immune system.

    This makes as much sense as a society needing burglars and rapists so we’ll all have the good sense to lock our doors to keep out the burglars and rapists.

    As they say on Fark: FAIL.

  67. #67 notmercury
    March 8, 2008

    Cooler: “This man gives me a total, well you know what……….”

    Umm….too easy.

  68. #68 HCN
    March 8, 2008

    Remember, cooler also believes in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. Especially since he think Ayoub is a reliable source (Ayoub is a conspiracy theorist who is a loony: http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=405 )

  69. #69 AL
    March 9, 2008

    “As “one of the worlds (sic) leading science journalists,” please do your homework”.

    This is actually quite funny. AL telling someone to “do your homework”… while quoting from the Danish studies. AL EVERYONE knows that the autism studies out of Denmark are completely bogus. Come on now… (You look like an idiot right now, by the way)…

    You mean EVERYONE who is part of the batshit anti-vaccination crowd “knows” all the studies demonstrating no correlation between autism and vaccinations are entirely bogus. See, I too can beg the question of my position on this topic while providing no argument whatsoever. Who looks like the idiot?

  70. #70 Anonymous
    March 9, 2008

    Oh, Joseph – EVERYONE knows the Danish studies are bogus.

  71. #71 Anonymous
    March 9, 2008

    “Who looks like the idiot”?

    Still you, AL. Ask anyone here about they Danish studies… we have been down this road 100 times. They are BOGUS, BOGUS, BOGUS. They all know it… the fact that you don’t, is quite telling.

  72. #72 notmercury
    March 9, 2008

    Welcome back Sue.

  73. #73 daedalus2u
    March 9, 2008

    If “everyone” knows the Danish vaccinations studies are bogus, why didn’t the authors retract it/them, the way the authors (at least the honorable authors) retracted the completely bogus Wakefield MMR study? I just looked and could find nary a retraction.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/112/3/604

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/290/13/1763

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/161/10/916

    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/161/2/193

    The incidence of autism is still increasing many years after thimerosal was removed. Either autism was underdiagnosed while thimerosal was in vaccines, and those children somehow managed to hide their autism better than later cohorts of children (as children and as adults), or thimerosal in vaccines was never an important cause of autism. It certainly can’t be an important cause now because children in Denmark are not getting any. Unless it is homeopathic thimerosal that is causing autism now.

  74. #74 Bronze Dog
    March 9, 2008

    And yet, no one ever seems to bother mentioning what attributes allegedly make the Danish studies bogus.

    Well, I do remember this one guy who, in a giant fit of Jingoism, suggested that anything done outside America doesn’t count. He didn’t say why, though.

  75. #75 Anonymous
    March 9, 2008

    Sue who?

    You guys are silly. It’s fun to check in to see how the “scientific experts” are doing over the admission that vaccines can trigger “autism-like symptoms” (lol!) in children… Who knew? Well, the anti-vaccine nuts for one. Good luck with your ah, SCIENCE …

    AL, good luck researching the Danish studies … have you noticed that no one’s backed you up on that one? Happy Day!

  76. #76 Larry Smith
    March 9, 2008

    I’m far from claiming any expertize on this matter, but this should be food for thought:

    http://ahrp.blogspot.com/2008/03/us-government-concedes-vaccine-autism.html

    What if it’s a 1 in 100,000 chance? There are quite a few genetic disorders in that probability range.

  77. #77 Joseph
    March 9, 2008

    You need some Dr. Ayoub in your life son. In that Danish study when you looked at the % not the absolute count, which is what should have been looked at in the first place, the autism rate went down in Denmark after thimersol’s removal, ie smoking gun evidence of Thimersol’s causal role in Autism.

    Dr. Ayoub is a guy who believes there’s a world-wide conspiracy of population control involving vaccines. I don’t remember if he mentions “new world order” exactly but that’s the gist of it.

    There is absolutely no evidence that the incidence of autism in Denmark has dropped at any point in time. None.

    But why look at Denmark when say, California, has a much better and publicly available reporting system. Why didn’t thimerosal removal (even if we accept that some thimerosal remained) have no discernable effect in California reporting?

  78. #78 Laser Potato
    March 9, 2008

    “Sue who?”
    A troll from Orac’s original blog who changed her monkier to “Common Sense” when he moved to ScienceBlogs.

  79. #79 Skeptigirl
    March 9, 2008

    Posted by: Larry Smith I’m far from claiming any expertize on this matter, but this should be food for thought:
    http://ahrp.blogspot.com/2008/03/us-government-concedes-vaccine-autism.html
    What if it’s a 1 in 100,000 chance? There are quite a few genetic disorders in that probability range.

    Allow me to explain the scientific method to you that we use to determine if a particular variable is affecting or related to a particular outcome. It is called matched controls. If we can add double blinded randomly assigned variables that adds to the reliability of the research outcome but we do not always have that luxury.

    Yet we have still managed using the scientific method to make incredible successful advances in medicine. That gives us great confidence in the scientific method even when not perfectly applied.

    By comparing two groups that are the same except for say, getting certain vaccinations, then any difference in the group would reflect the one thing that was different, the vaccinations.

    To detect an outcome that only shows up in say, 1 per million doses of vaccine, or in 2% of autistic children, or however you want to look at the problem, you need a large enough sample size and repeatable results.

    So, by using the scientific method, and enough studies, and large enough samples, the evidence at this point is overwhelming that even rare cases of vaccines causing autism or precipitating autism are simply not occurring.

    A decision to pay an insurance claim in a single case is not scientific evidence. The scientific evidence I presume this family presented is not sufficient to change the consensus there is no connection between autism and vaccines because there is already overwhelming evidence supporting no connection.

    The lack of knowledge in how we detect 1/100,000 cases is but one problem the public has in understanding why the medical community has come to certain conclusions such as vaccines do not cause or precipitate autism. The lack of understanding the public has that a single study with a single finding does not mean that finding is “true” is another problem the public has in understanding why the medical community has come to certain conclusions such as vaccines do not cause or precipitate autism. And the fact that an insurance award is not a scientific conclusion is another problem the public has in understanding why the medical community has come to certain conclusions such as vaccines do not cause or precipitate autism.

  80. #80 daedalus2u
    March 9, 2008

    Once the numbers start to get really large other effects start to be important. Suppose that with 10 antigens in one, the chances of an adverse reaction are 1/100,000. Suppose further that with single antigens the chances of a reaction are 1/2,000,000.

    If a million children are vaccinated with the 10 antigen vaccine, 10 will have an adverse reaction.

    If a million children are vaccinated with 10 separate single antigen vaccines there will be 5 adverse reactions. Which is better?

    If the Dr’s office is 10 miles away from home, a million trips is 20 million vehicle miles. Ten million trips is 200 million vehicle miles.

    Every 100 million vehicle miles there are about 2.7 fatalities. In 20 million that is about ½, in 200 million, that is 5.4 fatalities.

    http://www.tripnet.org/national/RuralRoadsPR030305.htm

    These numbers are just illustrative, pulled out of the air. The actual numbers for adverse reaction are not known so precisely as the number of fatalities per vehicle mile. You would have to do millions of the separate antigen vaccinations to see if they really are any safer. Even if the separate vaccinations were perfectly safe, is trading 2 adverse vaccine reactions for a vehicle fatality actually worth it? Not to me.

  81. #81 AL
    March 9, 2008

    “Who looks like the idiot”?

    Still you, AL. Ask anyone here about they Danish studies… we have been down this road 100 times. They are BOGUS, BOGUS, BOGUS. They all know it… the fact that you don’t, is quite telling.

    Still no argument? Ah, but you’ve “been down this road 100 times.” Yes, and that the anti-vax crowd is completely batshit is another road we’ve been down 100 times too. See, two can play this game of no arguments, and we can play it for quite some time.

    My point still remains. There have been studies demonstrating no link. I mentioned Denmark as one amongst others (and there’s actually more than one Danish study). Your point? Well, you never had one other than to declare that an invisible majority (EVERYONE IN ALL CAPS NO LESS) agrees with you and scream “No, No, No” eponymously and now anonymously. So until you do get a point, spare us your feet stamping and go drink a vat of EDTA.

  82. #82 Heather
    March 9, 2008

    Skeptigirl and everyone else who responded – thank you for your advice and information. I did speak directly with the pediatrician, and discussed the option of testing before re-vaccinating. He didn’t tell me not to do it, but did say that even if she had been vaccinated, the testing might not show a significant immune response after the first round of vaccines. He was also relatively sure that the records are correct and that she has not received the MMR or varicella vaccines – he noted that when the vaccines are delayed for some reason or another after 12 months (in her case she was ill with a fever at that checkup and we decided to postpone those two shots until 18 months), it isn’t uncommon to assume they were done and not check again at subsequent visits. I know I had forgotten that we deferred, but remembered when the doctor read the note in the file. I do wish someone would’ve been reading the chart, but I suppose I should’ve paid more attention myself. Also, the doctor noted that I had both kids in on the last well visit, and my 5-year-old received 2 vaccines at that time. I wonder if those are the ones I am remembering (along with the screaming of my daughter, who screams whenever she sees a needle, even if she’s not the target!)

    Conclusion: I will take her Tuesday to be vaccinated. She will be very unhappy about this, but would be even more unhappy to have blood tests and then vaccinations. Her next vaccinations will not be due until after she is 5, which is not close spacing.

  83. #83 Ranson
    March 12, 2008

    @Heather

    I’m glad to hear that things worked out in a way that alleviated your concerns, at least this time around. I know that my kids’ shot records aren’t the best-kept in the world (but I also know that my doctor’s files are spectacularly accurate on the matter; I look every time). My son has never really had any issue with the shots (other than the fact they insist on trying to hold him still rather than just asking), and my daughter usually only has a small “reaction” such as a bump at the injection site for a day or so. All in all, the fact that they have some measure of protection against fatal or disabling diseases helps me to sleep at night. Now I just have to worry about them sticking things into the power outlets . . .

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