Respectful Insolence

If you ever have any doubt at the sheer level of unscientific fearmongering and lunacy antivaccinationists like to foment, all you have to do is head to the comments section regarding the David Kirby article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that I deconstructed yesterday. Given that the Age of Autism site linked to it to send its ravening horde of antivaccinationists to descend upon the unsuspecting editors there, I feel that balance demands that I send my ravening hordes there to provide a modicum of counter-argument. (Well, I would send my ravening hordes if I actually had any; instead, I’ll politely ask you, my readers.) Really, the stupid in the comments there more than burns; it dissolves flesh to a gooey mess (starting with the brain, of course) and then starts to eat away at the bones until there is nothing left.

Still, it would be very cool to have a ravening horde that I could dispatch to destroy my blogospheric enemies. And, before one of the luminaries at the Age of Autism starts quote-mining this post to make it sound as though I’m a meglomaniac, I will emphasize that my comment is intended to be humorous. (Whether it succeeds or not is irrelevant.)

Comments

  1. #1 The Integral
    March 21, 2008

    I don’t have the patience or energy to deal with antivaxxers myself right now, but I agree that it would be awesome indeed if many of your readers went and “protested” against the antivaxxers by posting the truth.

    However……what would probably happen, is that some antivaxxers would cry foul and try to get your readers banned from the site and some disciplinary actions taken against them. You know how those people are……very hard to reason with.

    TI of athenivanidx

  2. #2 BB
    March 21, 2008

    Just posted, though the ignorant might not be able to read, you know.

  3. #3 Lenora
    March 21, 2008

    I’m kind of busy right now. My autistic kids are home from school and the five year old wants me to read to him about burrowing mammals. Does anyone want to borrow my Badge of Moral Authority, since apparently only parents of autistics have the right to an opinion? I will lend it out to any health care professional or scientist who needs one.

  4. #4 Elaine
    March 21, 2008

    OK. I ravened.

  5. #5 TheProbe
    March 21, 2008

    The horde should always ask:

    Who is paying Kirby?

  6. #6 Oldfart
    March 21, 2008

    I just went over there to take a look. Kidsdoc and wow are commenting in support of reason but it just doesn’t have any effect. The woo is strong over there and Kidsdoc and wow are universally ignored by most and the few who do respond, respond with the same old woo. I don’t know enough to argue with them and it would likely make me puke trying.

  7. #7 Patrick
    March 21, 2008

    Ok, I fomented! (Hope thats what I was supposed to do.)

  8. #8 The Integral
    March 21, 2008

    Lenora: how old are your kids, just out of curiosity? System here is 24….going to be 25 in December……..we’re autistic…….(yes, we. We’re a healthy mostly functioning multiple system)

    I’d go vent on the blog but I’d probably end up getting banned. We autistics don’t always understand or exhibit proper decorum in debunking stupidity…..

    TI of athenivanidx

  9. #9 Lucas McCarty
    March 21, 2008

    I’m a horde.

  10. #10 Anon
    March 21, 2008

    I am assuming you saw today’s front-page story in the NYTimes…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/us/21vaccine.html?ref=todayspaper

  11. #11 Kid Doc (aka Doc Strange)
    March 21, 2008

    Lenora, I would ask for your Badge of Moral Authority but I think the counterweight of my undergraduate degree in the biological basis of behavior, my four years of med school and three years of residency, not to mention several years seeing kids in the office receive vaccines without being “lost” or “slipping away”, and paying close attention to kids with autism, actually has resulted in a large scarlet “A” appearing on my forehead as I post comments. On one hand it’s disheartening that a pediatrician is unable to post a comment without being suffocated with full-frontal woo assaults; on the other hand, reading the quality of the writing by the antivax comment-writers indicates that we are dealing with an almost literal lunatic fringe…

    I would refer you all to the WSJ blog “The Juggle” for some more rational and logical commentators – it’s a breath of fresh air!

    (Bad with links: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/03/21)

  12. #12 Kid Doc (aka Doc Strange)
    March 21, 2008

    Lenora, I would ask for your Badge of Moral Authority but I think the counterweight of my undergraduate degree in the biological basis of behavior, my four years of med school and three years of residency, not to mention several years seeing kids in the office receive vaccines without being “lost” or “slipping away”, and paying close attention to kids with autism, actually has resulted in a large scarlet “A” appearing on my forehead as I post comments. On one hand it’s disheartening that a pediatrician is unable to post a comment without being suffocated with full-frontal woo assaults; on the other hand, reading the quality of the writing by the antivax comment-writers indicates that we are dealing with an almost literal lunatic fringe…

    I would refer you all to the WSJ blog “The Juggle” for some more rational and logical commentators – it’s a breath of fresh air!

    (Bad with links: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/03/21)

  13. #13 Jritter
    March 21, 2008

    This one dropped my jaw:

    By P. Rose

    March 20, 2008 12:38 PM | Link to this

    There is only one vaccine schedule I am willing to follow. None! For Gods Sake, there are more problems with vaccines than just causing autism as if that isn’t enough. It has to be pretty obvious to all by now that CDC, NIH, FDA, Public Health Departments are in bed with the pharmaceuticals and the plan is to mandate any and all vaccines for our children. These idiots will stop at nothing, no amount of lawsuits will stop them. There is only one way and that is to refuse to vaccinate. There will never be a safe vaccine. As soon as they take one toxic substance out, they will add another. Here we are 15 years into to fight about the neuro toxicity of thimerisol. Is is out yet, NO! they are still denying it.

    Yiiikes!

  14. #14 Margaret Romao Toigo
    March 21, 2008

    I’m one of your ravening horde, Orac — and also a huge fan of your blog. Here is what I entered over at the AJC comments (though it hasn’t been posted just yet):

    I note that Mr. Kirby’s article appears in the opinion section of this newspaper, and not in the news or science sections.

    This is because there are very little to no facts or science contained within the text of Mr. Kirby’s anti-vaccination sentiments.

    Vaccines do not cause autism. There is a very large body of scientific evidence that backs up that assertion, and there is not even one shred of credible evidence to the contrary.

    There is no scientific controversy whatsoever surrounding vaccines and autism. Mr. Kirby’s nonsensical op-ed is based purely upon a fringe political agenda, not any legitimate science.

    Since the first signs of autism become apparent around the same time when most kids are getting their vaccines, anti-vaccination activists have latched onto autism, and are now using it as the centerpiece of their campaign to turn the clock on public health back to the bad old days, before vaccines, when infectious diseases killed or maimed millions of people — mostly infants and children — every year.

    It should also be noted that anti-vaccination activists have posted links to this editorial on their web sites and blogs, urging their fellow anti-vaccination activists to flood the comments section so that it appears that their cause is embraced by large numbers of people when anti-vaccination politicking is, in reality, a sub 1% issue.

  15. #15 Landru
    March 21, 2008

    Thank you for taking time out from cashing your Big Pharma checks to try to impose some reason on the lunatic fringe, Doc Strange. The consistency of shrill over at the AJC is quite remarkable. Their grammar and spelling is simply otherworldly (not that we’d be insolent about that, respectfully or otherwise).

    While there’s some reason going on over at the WSJ link, there’s still a whole lot of shrill, and a whole lot of righteous, indignant, presumptuous hoo-ha. But thanks for the link–it’s a lot less depressing than the AJC fray. It does appear that, between the AJC and CNN, Atlanta is becoming the geocenter of vaccine woo.

    I’m way happy with your education as a counterweight to my Badge of Moral Authority, which somehow did not confer upon me (or Lenora, apparently) a corresponding herd immunity to science and reason.

    And thanks again to Orac for continuing to provide focus to my seething rage against the antivaxers and blame freaks.

  16. #16 Landru
    March 21, 2008

    Thank you for taking time out from cashing your Big Pharma checks to try to impose some reason on the lunatic fringe, Doc Strange. The consistency of shrill over at the AJC is quite remarkable. Their grammar and spelling is simply otherworldly (not that we’d be insolent about that, respectfully or otherwise).

    While there’s some reason going on over at the WSJ link, there’s still a whole lot of shrill, and a whole lot of righteous, indignant, presumptuous hoo-ha. But thanks for the link–it’s a lot less depressing than the AJC fray. It does appear that, between the AJC and CNN, Atlanta is becoming the geocenter of vaccine woo.

    I’m way happy with your education as a counterweight to my Badge of Moral Authority, which somehow did not confer upon me (or Lenora, apparently) a corresponding herd immunity to science and reason.

    And thanks again to Orac for continuing to provide focus to my seething rage against the antivaxers and blame freaks.

  17. #17 Landru
    March 21, 2008

    Gah! Sorry about the double-posting disorder/dysfunction/disease.

  18. #18 Melissa (oddharmonic)
    March 21, 2008

    Is it acceptable to be committed to more than one ravening horde? And what if I played Alliance in my Warcraft days?

  19. #19 Orac
    March 21, 2008

    Atlanta is becoming the geocenter of vaccine woo.

    There’s a reason for that. Atlanta is where the headquarters of the CDC is located.

  20. #20 Eamon Knight
    March 21, 2008

    Still, it would be very cool to have a ravening horde that I could dispatch to destroy my blogospheric enemies.

    Experiencing a little PZ-envy are we? ;-)

  21. #21 Ray C.
    March 21, 2008

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for Big Pharma to push the antivaxers’ agenda, so we’d all start getting measles and polio again and they could make money off the sick? I realize, of course, that this is far too logical for the woomongers to grasp.

  22. #22 Laser Potato
    March 21, 2008

    “Experiencing a little PZ-envy are we? ;-)”
    *throws a tomato at Eamon for that pun*

  23. #23 The Integral
    March 21, 2008

    I actually read the damned comments…….

    and think the Respectable Orac, MD was a bit over-respectable with the words he used in reference to them “stupid”……

    I’d be doing the equivalent of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright………….I envy your ability to refrain from being inflammatory against idiocy………(well, maybe you are, but the words you use are certainly kinder than what I would say)

    I just refrain from commenting, and I greatly appreciate the efforts of those with more diplomacy skills……..to try and sway the public to see reason.

    The Integral of athenivanidx

  24. #24 jay
    March 21, 2008

    Internet mobs. A few years ago, on an atheist site I was involved with, the moderator posted an article on ‘recovered memories’. Now keep in mind that this site was always being targetted by religious fundies, anti abortionists, creationists, etc. but NOTHING was anywhere near the virulence of that assault. They came in droves accusing everyone there point blank of pedophilia and protecting pedophiles … especially the moderator, James Randi, and various skeptics organizations.

    Alas, it’s hard to get rational people to behave like a horde.

  25. #25 CanadianChick
    March 21, 2008

    the stupid, it burns…

    I can’t do it. I want to be part of the ravening horde, but as soon as I visit that site, my eyes start to water, the blood vessels in my head begin to throb and I have trouble breathing.

    I think I’m having an allergic reaction to anti-vaxers.

  26. #26 CanadianChick
    March 21, 2008

    the stupid, it burns…

    I can’t do it. I want to be part of the ravening horde, but as soon as I visit that site, my eyes start to water, the blood vessels in my head begin to throb and I have trouble breathing.

    I think I’m having an allergic reaction to anti-vaxers.

  27. #27 DanioPhD
    March 21, 2008

    CanadianChick, you should totally sue them. They’re obviously full of ‘toxins’. Where’s the justice for the innocent victims of burning stupidity???

  28. #28 CanadianChick
    March 21, 2008

    Danio, I never even thought of that…I’m SUCH a Canadian. *lol*

    hmmm……the idea is rich with tasty evilness.

  29. #29 CanadianChick
    March 22, 2008

    Danio, I never even thought of that…I’m SUCH a Canadian. *lol*

    hmmm……the idea is rich with tasty evilness.

  30. #30 CanadianChick
    March 22, 2008

    Danio, I never even thought of that…I’m SUCH a Canadian. *lol*

    hmmm……the idea is rich with tasty evilness.

  31. #31 CanadianChick
    March 22, 2008

    Danio, I never even thought of that…I’m SUCH a Canadian. *lol*

    hmmm……the idea is rich with tasty evilness.

  32. #32 HCN
    March 22, 2008

    If you get some kind of error when posting on Scienceblogs, before submitting your comment again: open another browser window to check and see if your post actually occurred.

    Been there, done that.

  33. #33 Ruth
    March 22, 2008

    I was trying to explain anti-vaxers to my 14 year old. She asked if we can make a vaccine for stupidity? But even if we could, the people who need it the most wouldn’t take it.

  34. #34 CanadianChick
    March 22, 2008

    the interesting thing is that I didn’t get an error, and did only push the submit button once…then walked away to make a cup of tea. I came back, it had posted once, I went on to read the newest comments at Pharyngula…and now I see it posted multiple times.

    Odd.

  35. #35 HCN
    March 22, 2008

    Okay, that is a new error. What did we have to cause the same level of frustration before computers?

  36. #36 TheProbe
    March 22, 2008

    Just remember, every time anyone posts to a blog where Kirby is mentioned, ask who is paying him? He does not seem to have a regualar job.

    Do the same for Olmsted.

  37. #37 TheProbe
    March 22, 2008

    Just remember, every time anyone posts to a blog where Kirby is mentioned, ask who is paying him? He does not seem to have a regualar job.

    Do the same for Olmsted.

  38. #38 Jon
    March 22, 2008

    Thanks for the update on Kirby’s activities. Apologies for dropping a blog link, but I noticed that Kirby messes up the basic maths in his article (not for the first time).

  39. #39 David Edwards
    March 23, 2008

    Tangential diversion but relevant.

    Bad news – it seems the anti-vaccine woo is picking up converts here in the UK too:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3602704.ece

    Take a look at the comments attached to that article in The Times (London) and weep. Including people who *still think* that Andrew Wakefield’s work is anything other than wholly discredited.

    *Shakes head*

  40. #40 Liesele
    March 24, 2008

    Once again, my appeal to all: if you have or know of lists of citations, bibliographies, etc. of articles establishing the lack of link between vaccines and autism, can you please send them my way? I’m establishing a bibliography of them. At the moment the ones I have are in a holding pen on my personal blog; once I get a chance to clean that all up and expand it I’ll take it elsewhere to a more appropriate venue. All contributions of lists and listings in the interest of ebm and public health are appreciated!
    I’d also love it if anyone finds and could send any articles on mis-diagnosis of agenesis corpus callosum, septo-optic dysplasia, Smith-Magenis Syndrome, or other neurologic abnormalities or chromosomal diseases as autism.
    Fight teh onlines stupid!

  41. #41 John Best
    March 24, 2008

    Don’t you dopes ever get tired of abusing children with your thimerosal denials? Mercury causes brain damage that is misnamed autism.

  42. #42 Laser Potato
    March 24, 2008

    “Mercury causes brain damage that is misnamed autism.”
    Sigh…must we go over this again? There’s itty bitty trace amounts of mercury in EVERYONE. Even *RAINWATER* contains up to a nanogram of mercury per liter. Oh noes!!!

  43. #43 John Best
    March 24, 2008

    Liesele,
    You can accumulate one million studies that claim thimerosal does not cause autism.
    One child cured with chelation proves they are all BOGUS.

  44. #44 vlad
    March 24, 2008

    “Liesele,
    You can accumulate one million studies that claim thimerosal does not cause autism.
    One child cured with chelation proves they are all BOGUS.”
    That would only be correct if two things happened. First that ALL children who were vaccinated became Autistic. Second that your claim is in any way substantiated by anything other then your own words on the internet.

  45. #45 vlad
    March 24, 2008

    Since you will not permit any evaluation of said case by a neutral observer, nor do you have a neutral diagnosis prior to being chelation therapy I’m curious as to your justification.

    BTW if you continue to use chelation and you continue to get mercury out then you might want to look at other sources of mercury.

  46. #46 vlad
    March 24, 2008

    Oh and I forgot one: That there is any evidence the chelation works on any real cases. Most chelation applications in Autism treatment even anecdotal ones show no improvement and a hell of a lot of risk.

  47. #47 John Best
    March 24, 2008

    Vlad, Your first illogical statement is akin to saying all people who drink a beer will become alcoholics.
    Your second ignorant statement shows you need to look around and learn about lots of kids who have been cured with chelation. Just because nobody bothered to do a study doesn’t mean the kids aren’t cured.
    My experience with chelation is that the side effects were slight and the improvements were slow. Any studies that have been done were done without Alpha Lipoic Acid and were not done long enough. They were designed to fail or designed by people who were not very knowledgeable on the subject.
    There is nothing to argue about here, Vlad. You can learn from me or remain ignorant.

  48. #48 Laser Potato
    March 24, 2008

    *chases John Best around with a bucket of goat milk, which also has a trace amount of mercury* AAaaah!! Mercury! Mercury! RUUUUUN FOR YOUR LIIIIVES!!!

  49. #49 John Best
    March 25, 2008

    Potato Head,
    The best way to cause autism is to inject the mercury into infants and fetuses before they have a blood brain barrier. What caused your brain damage?

  50. #50 Liesele
    March 25, 2008

    Please don’t feed trolls who don’t understand epidemiology, genetics, immunology, basic chemistry, or many other basic areas of science. They just get hungry and restless and feel valuable. If this is the degree to which they understand science, our obvious job is to get to the 8th graders of the world, who can develop better critical thinking than this, and present them with an education including scientific training and critical thinking skills.
    My children attend a faith-based school where the absolutes of faith are taught in one set of classes and the realities of science, critical thinking, and specifics of biology, chemistry, and physics are taught in the other set. They could out-think and out-debate these trolls themselves with the intellectual skills and the awareness of the real world they are currently developing in middle and highschool.
    And Laser Potato, albacore tuna is far easier to run with, though it doesn’t spill so spectacularly. Who knew it was salmon and tuna which caused all this autism? Ceiling Cat obviously is playing tricks on us by dangling his favorite flavors before us and letting us turn our entire race into autistic followers of the great Fluffy.

  51. #51 Dyson
    March 25, 2008

    I see that the CDC have responded with a piece on AJC by Anne Schuchat, whoever she may be.
    http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/2008/03/25/vaccinesed_0326.html

    One thing strikes me. That is that Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder is meant to have deteriorated consequent to the febrile reaction caused by her vaccinations. Now, it is obvious that an unvaccinated child will be susceptible to and probably suffer from illneses like measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough etc, all of which are powerful pyrogenic infections. Any of these would result in deterioration of an underlying mitochondrial disorder.

    But since vaccines are much less likely to cause fever than the natural infections they prevent, vaccination should protect the majority of children with this disorder from progression, not precipitate it. In fact one could go further – give the children prophylactic antipyretics prior to vaccination as well to further reduce the chance of problems.

    Arguing, as the antivaxers do, that these disorders are not uncommon, and that fever can cause the children to deteriorate into autism seems like a particularly stupid strategy.

  52. #52 John Best
    March 26, 2008

    Liesele,
    If you understood basic biochemistry, you would know that mercury kills brain cells. We could prove that to you by drilling a hole in your skull and dripping thimerosal on your brain. Then you would understand the damage (but you wouldn’t be able to tell us about it).

  53. #53 LJ
    March 26, 2008

    Dyson, stupidity is one the the anti-vaxers have in great abundance.

  54. #54 Laser Potato
    March 31, 2008

    Oh GOD.
    As if there weren’t enough reason to hate John Best already:
    http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2006/03/john-bests-greatest-hits.html
    Choice quotes:
    “Some “brilliant” goofball coined the term “Homophobia” in a pathetic attempt to bring some small measure of respectability to a perversion. Fortunately for me, I grew up in an era when people were not subjected to public acceptance of sexual perversion. I never “stomped” a queer and I don’t approve of that behavior. I also don’t want to have to hear about this nonsense portrayed as anything near normalcy.”
    “Since we didn’t have any adult autistics until the 50′s, I think we’d be fine without them. Maybe without them, we could start making good cars again.”
    “You can use any term you want regarding homosexuality. I really don’t care. I’d just like to see it back in the closet where it belongs along with wackos who want to send pictures of their groins to people.”