Respectful Insolence

I don’t much like The Huffington Post.

My dislike for The Huffington Post goes way, way back–all the way back to its very beginnings. Indeed, a mere three weeks after Arianna Huffington’s little vanity project hit the blogosphere, I noted a very disturbing trend in its content. That trend was a strong undercurrent of antivaccination blogging, something I wrote about nearly three years ago. At the time, I pointed out how Santa Monica pediatrician to the stars and “vaccine skeptic” Dr. Jay Gordon had found a home there, long with David Kirby, author of the mercury militia Bible Evidence of Harm, and Janet Grilo.

This was right from the beginning.

These antivaccination luminaries were soon joined by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and more recently by Deirdre Imus, the driving force ramping up the antivaccinationist mercury militia proclivities of aging shock jock Don Imus and whose ignorance and stupidity when it comes to vaccines threaten to rend the fabric of the space-time continuum. (Indeed, if Jenny McCarthy didn’t exist, Deirdre Imus would get my vote for the antivaccinationist who routinely says the most astoundingly ignorant things about science.) Although we don’t hear much from Grilo or Gordon anymore, unfortunately we do hear from Kirby, Imus, and Kennedy on a fairly regular basis, all on The Huffington Post, with the only voice of reason when it comes to vaccines being Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, who, unfortunately, has not posted to HuffPo in a long time. It’s not for naught that I’ve dubbed the Huffington Post “Arianna’s Home for Happy Antivaccinationists” and seriously questioned whether it could do a science section.

I’m revisiting this topic because I think I’m starting to understand a bit why this may be the case. Oddly enough, the impetus was Jenny McCarthy’s appearance on Larry King Live last week for Autism Awareness Day, following her breathtakingly self-absorbed and inane article published on CNN.com. Several readers sent me both her article and later the transcript of her appearance on Larry King’s love-fest. Perhaps some of my readers were wondering why I didn’t blog about it, and, before I get to the antivaccinationist blather at HuffPo, you deserve an explanation why. It’s simple.

Jenny McCarthy bores me now.

The reason McCarthy bores me is, quite frankly, because she is so unbearably, unbelievably, and willfully stupid, full of the arrogance of ignorance. Rebutting her brain-dead pronouncements is like fighting the Black Knight–after all his limbs have been cut off, that is. Sure, these days sometimes I’m in the mood to do it, but only when I’m in a really nasty mood, the kind of mood that makes one feel an intense urge to pull the wings off of flies. However, like pulling the wings off of flies, there’s just no challenge to refuting McCarthy’s nonsense. True, it does have to be done sometimes if only because at present McCarthy appears to be the loudest antivaccinationist out there, the one who’s getting the most media attention, but increasingly slapping down her cult pseudoscience has become a chore. After all, look at something like this gem from Jenny:

Evan is now 5 years old and what might surprise a lot of you is that we’ve never been contacted by a single member of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any other health authority to evaluate and understand how Evan recovered from autism. When Evan meets doctors and neurologists, to this day they tell us he was misdiagnosed — that he never had autism to begin with. It’s as if they are wired to believe that children can’t recover from autism.

So where’s the cavalry? Where are all the doctors beating down our door to take a closer look at Evan? We think we know why they haven’t arrived. Most of the parents we’ve met who have recovered their child from autism as we did (and we have met many) blame vaccines for their child’s autism.

We think our health authorities don’t want to open this can of worms, so they don’t even look or listen. While there is strong debate on this topic, many parents of recovered children will tell you they didn’t treat their child for autism; they treated them for vaccine injury.

Against such hunks o’ hunks o’ burnin’ stupid coupled with malignant self-absorption, the gods themselves contend in vain. Or perhaps I should say “in pain,” because pain is what happens to one’s brain when Jenny cranks the Stupid-O-Meter past 11, all the way to 13 or 14–into the realm of stupid that would not just cause a rent in the fabric of the space-time continuum but collapse on itself like a black hole, sucking all intelligence, logic, and rationality into its unquenchable maw of dumb. Jenny can’t believe she isn’t taken seriously by the medical profession? I can’t imagine why. Can you? Could it maybe–just maybe–have anything to do with McCarthy’s ignorance and her extreme arrogance in thinking that her time perusing the University of Google’s Antivaccination Institute qualifies her to bluster, swear at, and yell over experts in the field on Larry King’s show as though she is on equal terms with them in scientific knowledge? Naah! Perish the thought! Or maybe it’s her frequently sweeping denunciations of the CDC and entire vaccine establishment as wanting to “poison” our babies. Naahh, that couldn’t be it, either!

What I find even more disturbing than the ignorance that Jenny McCarthy routinely delivers on the topic of vaccines and autism (such as the “toxins in vaccines” canard) is her apparent belief that she cured her son of autism and that she could make him autistic again if she ever lets up. Yes, Jenny McCarthy is definitely a piece of work these days. In fact, I rather miss the old bimbo, gross-out Jenny of a decade or more ago. She was certainly easier to tolerate than this loud-mouth “warrior mom” incarnation who’s arrogant enough to think that the scientific community should accept her pronouncements that vaccines cause autism and that she has “cured” her son of autism over the conclusions of large, well-designed scientific and epidemiological studies. At least the old gross-out Jenny was occasionally–very occasionally–actually funny and entertaining. At least she didn’t risk harming anything other than the sensitive stomachs of people who might not like to see her barfing for comic effect or being portrayed in a pool of her own menstrual blood. The new Jenny, on the other hand, has a very real power to influence parents not to vaccinate their children, contributing, along with other antivaccinationists, to the return of vaccine-preventable illness.

Too bad Rachel Sklar, the Media & Special Projects Editor of The Huffington Post, doesn’t agree with me. She appears to have been quite impressed with McCarthy’s antics on CNN:

Former MTV star Jenny McCarthy is now an outspoken activist on behalf of parents, ever since her son Evan was diagnosed with autism at age 2. McCarthy was on with King for the full hour, and her passion and fierceness was riveting as she described how parents kept having identical stories about a perfectly healthy child getting immunized, coming down with a fever and never quite being the same again.

What Sklar calls “passion,” I call boorishness. Be that as it may, in particular Sklar seemed impressed with this statement by McCarthy:

I believe that parents’ anecdotal information is science-based information. And when the entire world is screaming the same thing — doctor, I came home. He had a fever. He stopped speaking and then he became autistic. I can’t — I can see if it was just one parent saying this. But when so many — and I speak to thousands of moms every weekend and they’re all standing up and saying the same thing. It’s time to start listening to that. That is science-based information. Parents’ anecdotal is science-based information.

The stupid here really burns (even by Jenny McCarthy standards), and Sklar just eats it up, letting it digest in her gut and be absorbed into her bloodstream to make her stupid too. If Sklar had two neurons remaining to rub together, she’d realize how easy it is to confuse correlation with causation, which is what parents who think that vaccines caused their children’s autism do all that time, no matter how intelligent they are. It’s a very seductive logical fallacy, a normal human failing in reasoning to which we are all prone. Indeed, humans are always mistaking correlation of unrelated incidents with causation, and that’s one reason why the scientific method and epidemiology are so essential to trying to differentiate correlations that are likely to represent causation from those that are not. One reason that the myth that vaccines cause autism is so pervasive is because the first symptoms of autism often occur around the same time that children are getting series of vaccinations. Because in the U.S. this represents hundreds of thousands, if not millions of children, it is not surprising that a a significant number of children diagnosed with autism who regress manifest their regression in close temporal proximity to having received a vaccine or vaccines. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the vaccine(s) caused the regression, and several large epidemiological studies have shown us that there is no epidemiological link between vaccines and autism.

Anecdotal evidence, particularly in cases as emotionally charged as a parent observing her child regress, cannot be definitive. At best, if it’s clearly documented, it might serve as the basis for the generation of hypotheses to be tested–at best. Steve Novella has written a very accessible and useful guide to what the true role of anecdotes in science-based medicine is, and Prometheus has written a series of excellent posts about why testimonial evidence can be particularly deceptive even to very intelligent people. Sklar should read them before she credulously cheers on such idiocy from know-nothings like McCarthy. So should McCarthy, but I have much less hope that she would ever understand them, much less accept that the plural of “anecdotes” is not “data” and that anecdotes are considered a very weak form of scientific evidence, weaker still if they’re poorly documented.

Sklar also cheered on McCarthy’s boorish behavior on the show, behavior that, based on her entire career and her activities since she stopped being an “indigo mom” and started being a “warrior mom” fighting what she seems to think to be the evils of vaccination, should have come as no surprise:

In the second half of the program, two pediatricians joined the program who didn’t believe that there was a link between vaccines and autism, and McCarthy wasn’t having any of it. “Are we considered acceptable losses?” she asked dangerously after a point was raised on the cost-benefit of vaccinations, and what they offered in terms of prevention. “Give my son the measles! I’ll take that over autism any day.” It was also around that point that she called the standard vaccination program “bullshit” without missing a beat.

I just wrote about how unbelievably, incredibly, irredeemably stupid preferring the measles to vaccination against measles is. Given that there is no good evidence that vaccines cause autism, McCarthy’s “preferring” the measles, which can cause encephalitis, deafness, and death, is irresponsible and inexcusable. So is Sklar’s credulous agreement with McCarthy’s pronouncements:

The whole show was riveting and so is the read, if you want to check out the transcript here. I’m with Jenny, 1 in 150 is a staggering number and these dots don’t connect any other way.

There’s no other way to put it: Sklar’s stupid, it burns too. Maybe not at the supernova intensity that McCarthy’s does, but it still burns pretty darned hot. Contrary to the Sklar’s lack of imagination, which clearly keeps her from seeing more than one explanation for this phenomenon, the dots do “connect.” Paul Shattuck showed how the dots “connect,” as did a more recent study (which I may blog about soon). It’s called broadening the diagnostic criteria (which occurred in the early 1990s for autism) and diagnostic substitution. Children who in the past would have been diagnosed with mental retardation or a learning disability are now frequently being diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorders, hence the apparent massive apparent increase in autism prevalence since the early 1990s.

The antivaccinationist slant of HuffPo continues, and I’m guessing that Sklar has at least something to do with it. Meanwhile, Sklar’s not the only credulous fool posting glowing reviews about Jenny McCarthy’s CNN performance on HuffPo. We also have Alison Rose Levy mining into arguably even greater depths of stupid about vaccines and autism:

Unfortunately, there’s much that this research focus fails to address. The totality of the human being, the complexity of human health factors, the wide range of health stressors, the multiplier effect when all of these variables interact, not to mention the biochemical individuality of each human being. Yes, each of us is unique.

Testing single vaccine ingredients to refute vaccinations as a major autism contributor is inconclusive, especially given the poor nature of the studies. Vaccines are not single agents.

Imagine consuming several different type of cocktails at once. Each cocktail contains multiple infectious agents, microbes, and metals acting together and creating new and unexamined synergies in interaction with each individual. Our research model doesn’t assess those synergies or predict which individuals are vulnerable.

So when science repeatedly proffers findings that “No, it isn’t this single agent,” rather than proving that vaccinations don’t precipitate autism, what’s demonstrated are the limitations of the modern reductive research approach.

Yes, regular readers will recognize right away that Levy is mindlessly parroting the dreaded “toxin” myth about vaccines. She’s repeating the ideal antivaccinationist fallacy, too. From the perspective of antivaccinationists and their belief that vaccination is too dangerous to continue to be mandatory, the problem with the thimerosal hypothesis as an explanation for the apparently increasing prevalence of autism was always that the hypothesis produced a relatively easily testable hypothesis, a test of which could yield a concrete, inarguable falsification of the hypothesis. If thimerosal were to be removed or drastically reduced in vaccines, then the thimerosal-autism hypothesis would predict that autism prevalence should fall. Well, guess what? Thimerosal was removed from vaccines by late 2001, and autism prevalence has not shown any sign of decreasing, thus refuting the thimerosal-autism hypothesis about as definitively as it can be refuted. Antivaccinationists aren’t about to make that mistake again, hence the origin of the amazing ever-changing “toxins in vaccines” myth, where antivaccinationists can postulate endless “interactions” between various postulated “toxins” in vaccines. Of course, they opine, each and every one of these “interactions” could be what causes autism, intentionally producing such a large number of trivial hypotheses that they can never all be tested and refuted. Even if they could, there’s the “every person is unique” gambit, meant to imply that even though the evidence doesn’t support the contentions that vaccines cause autism it can’t be applied to individual cases.

And don’t even get me started on Levy’s citing Rustum Roy as an “authority” on healing, which really shows where she’s coming from. Remember that Roy is a woo-meister supreme who has justified homeopathy with all sorts of dubious arguments.

Sadly, nearly three years after HuffPo’s start, it’s clear to me that it has not changed its game one whit. True the HuffPo may on occasion allow a blogger who has not drunk the Kool Aid when it comes to claims that vaccines cause autism write a post arguing against a link between vaccines and autism, but that’s just window-dressing. At its core, HuffPo culture appears to remain deeply antivaccinationist. After all, one of its editors is clearly quite sympathetic to Jenny McCarthy while David Kirby, Deirdre Imus, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (now joined by Alison Rose Levy) crank out antivaccination nonsense. Antivaccinationism is clearly so deeply ingrained in the HuffPo blogging culture that it is not going to be dislodged unless Her Highness herself intervenes, a highly unlikely possibility. Clearly, the next phase in HuffPo’s antivaccination evolution will be to invite Jenny McCarthy to become a regular blogger. It’s coming. Just you wait.

Even worse, she’ll fit right in from day one.

Comments

  1. #1 Ruth
    April 9, 2008

    In Salem colony, an old woman mumbled curses, and girls fell ill with a mysterious syndrome. Hanging old women failed to cure them, just as surely as Jenny failed to cure her son. Those that fail to learn from history…

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 9, 2008

    I’d call Dunning-Kruger effect but I’m pretty sure no amount of training or education will change McCarthy’s stupidity or opinion on Vaccinations and Autism.

  3. #3 Dawn
    April 9, 2008

    Orac – you said “Children who in the past would have been diagnosed with mental retardation or a learning disability are not being diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorders, hence the apparent massive increase since the early 1990s.” Did you mean to say “…are NOW being diagnosed…” (sorry, I’m an HTML idiot so have trouble with using bold or italics instead)

    I’m confused by what you mean, otherwise.

  4. #4 Joseph
    April 9, 2008

    Not to mention that the following is physically impossible.

    I speak to thousands of moms every weekend and they’re all standing up and saying the same thing

    I guess she means that she speaks to thousands of moms every weekend, some of whom stand up and say the same thing.

    Or maybe the moms are all speaking simultaneously :)

    Jenny is not a very honest person, and she can’t get her stories straight, on top of everything else.

  5. #5 PalMD
    April 9, 2008

    I guess she means that she speaks to thousands of moms every weekend, some of whom stand up and say the same thing.

    Or maybe the moms are all speaking simultaneously :)

    Jenny is not a very honest person, and she can’t get her stories straight, on top of everything else.

    No, she meant what she said—but all the moms are simultaneously shouting “Shut the f*** up, f***wit!”

  6. #6 For Someone Who Is Bored ...
    April 9, 2008

    For someone who is supposedly bored by Jenny McCarthy you do spend quite a bit of your day blogging about her and others who must also bore you. When do you find the time to actually practice medicine?

  7. #7 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  8. #8 Lenora
    April 9, 2008

    Too true, PalMD. Parents have a vested interest in being taken seriously. We need to be listened to and believed when we describe our kids and their health issues. The last thing we need is for self-appointed advocates like McCarthy making parents look ignorant and irrational. She is a terrible representative for us.

  9. #9 Orac
    April 9, 2008

    For someone who is supposedly bored by Jenny McCarthy you do spend quite a bit of your day blogging about her and others who must also bore you. When do you find the time to actually practice medicine?

    When was the last time I blogged about Jenny McCarthy as a main topic of a post? (A throwaway mention as part of a post that was primarily about someone or something else doesn’t count.) Hint: It’s been well over a month since I did a brief one and the last time I did a post this long that was primarily about Jenny McCarthy was before the first of the year.

    Yeah, I do mention her frequently as an example of celebrity antivaccination lunacy because she’s a convenient example, but you’ll notice I don’t spend much time anymore actually seriously refuting her idiocy because, well, it’s so idiotic.

    And boring.

    As for how I find the time, I addressed that a really long time ago.

  10. #10 DanioPhD
    April 9, 2008

    For someone who is supposedly bored by Jenny McCarthy you do spend quite a bit of your day blogging about her and others who must also bore you. When do you find the time to actually practice medicine?

    It doesn’t take nearly as long as you might imagine to deconstruct nonsense. Anti-vaxers, along with creationists and most other purveyors of pseudoscience, are extremely helpful in this regard, in that they seldom if ever come up with any new arguments. Thus it’s not too hard for those of us who care about science, reason, and evidence-based medicine to thump them soundly without taking too much time out of our days.

  11. #11 Wasted Time
    April 9, 2008

    “As for how I find the time, I addressed that a really long time ago”.

    Don’t you have a family or friends? Whatever… Carry on.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 9, 2008

    Don’t you have a family or friends? Whatever… Carry on.

    Really? That’s your comment? Good one. Some people are good at managing their time and able to carry one more than one interest at a time. I’m sorry if your organizational skills preclude you from this ability.

    Now how about addressing the subject matter of the Post? Namely that Jenny McCarthy is a blithering idiot whose arrogance of ignorance on at least the entire spectrum of Science is quite astounding.

    I’m sure she’s very knowledgeable in fake vomit and fart noises. Maybe she suffers from the same organizational challenges your above question suggests?

  13. #13 Laser Potato
    April 9, 2008

    “Don’t you have a family or friends? Whatever… Carry on.”
    Predictable trolls are predictable.
    http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2006/11/doggerel-45-why-are-you-so-obsessed.html

  14. #14 Liz Ditz
    April 9, 2008

    In the course of researching the American Family Association’s “action alert” on McDonald’s, I found out that MickeyD’s supports immunization. Wait ’till the Mercury Militia finds that out!

  15. #15 Paul Prescott
    April 9, 2008

    I agree completely, but give it up. This junk has entered the public psyche and will never go away, no matter what. Just like “He went out without his hat and got pneumonia.”

  16. #16 Sid Schwab
    April 9, 2008

    As an unrepentant liberal, I must say I find it disturbing that such nonsense (the anti-vax stuff) finds a home in the heads of many other liberals. I’m a political information junkie, and as such I read the Huffington Post daily. I don’t consider it “fair and balanced” but it is often a good source of fresh political news. I’ve always associated liberalism with open-mindedness and fact-based opinions. Unfortunately not many are immune from magical thinking; and obviously some conflate liberal thought with rejecting convention, even when it happens to have all the facts on its side. So yeah. It’s embarrassing to see that crap over there. Or anywhere. Even liberals succumb to the human need to have answers when none exist, or to assign blame for that which can’t be helped.

  17. #17 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  18. #18 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  19. #19 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  20. #20 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  21. #21 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  22. #22 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  23. #23 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  24. #24 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  25. #25 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  26. #26 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  27. #27 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  28. #28 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  29. #29 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  30. #30 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  31. #31 ba
    April 9, 2008

    McCarthy may believe what she says but it is more likely that she is dishonest. She points out in her book on her son’s “autism and recovery” that she chain smoked through pregnancy but it was the vaccines that caused the autism not her smoking or perhaps other substance abuse. Talk about poisoning children, she need only look in the mirror for the cause and it’s not because she took him for his vaccines.

  32. #32 Jay Gordon
    April 9, 2008

    Hi–

    I tried to post a few days ago, but your server rejected me many times. Believe it or not, it was a good post.

    There’s an association between vaccines and autism, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

    Call it a “debated,” “disputed” or “tenuous” link but claiming that there’s no association at all flies in the face of the many excellent studies published in mainstream medical journals which you and I read. Everything from JAMA to J. Neurology.

    Yes,the majority of studies dispute the connection. This doesn’t negate the research on the “other” side though.

    If this post goes through, I have a little more to say.

    Best,

    Jay

  33. #33 Orac
    April 9, 2008

    Actually, there is a problem with commenting on this blog. I’ve been bugging the techies about it for at least a month now. Your comment from a couple of days ago actually went through several times. Consequently, I deleted the duplicates and left (I hope) only one copy. I also even replied to you. In fact, one reason I bug the techies is because I get tired of deleting duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate, etc. comments, and the commenting problem is irritating the heck out of my readers.

    That being said, if you get an error message when posting, please wait a minute and then check to see if your comment actually went through to appear on the blog before trying to post it again. The error message almost never means that your comment didn’t go through.

    Finally, the research showing a “connection” is almost invariably of very poor quality. I have reviewed the literature on a regular basis over the two years since I became interested in the pseudoscience that claims that vaccines cause autism–or anything of the other chronic diseases that antivaccinationists claim they do. So if you actually have high quality studies that demonstrate a link between mercury and autism or vaccines and autism, bring ‘em on. I’d be interested to see them. However, I rather suspect that you’ll just refer to the same old lousy studies that the mercury militia always cites when trying to make its case.

    Surprise me, though. I don’t claim to have read every study about this topic that’s been published.

    Contrary to what you may think, I would rethink my conclusion that vaccines are not associate with autism or the other chronic diseases if I saw compelling scientific evidence on par with the evidence showing no link. However, I warn you, if you’re going to try to bring up the Hannah Poling case, I’ve already written extensively about that, for example, this.

    Finally, I realize that you probably don’t like me unloading on your patient’s mother like that, but as long as she spews truly idiotic unscientific nonsense about vaccines, she deserves every word of it.

  34. #34 Estellea
    April 9, 2008

    My 2 year-old son just had a varicella vaccine and so far each day post-vaccination brings on a slew of new words. Is this a vaccine reaction? Should I call Jenny? Can she help me recover my baby?

    Jenny McCarthy is dumb and dangerous and I am glad you have blogged about her because parents, average parents are choosing to believe her. She is offering the brass ring to those that will “recover” their autistic children or prevent autism from happening if only they listen to her (and buy her book of course). But part of that entails refusing vaccinations. ‘I’m not against vaccinations’, my ass. Anyone who would ignorantly proclaim a natural measles infection is preferable to the vaccine is not in favour of vaccines, any vaccines. Period. Sadly, she is exhibiting undue influence over the vaccine issue with parents, particularly mothers who rabidly defend her as though she were the second coming. Sad and pathetic really.

  35. #35 notmercury
    April 9, 2008

    Jay Gordon: “Call it a “debated,” “disputed” or “tenuous” link but claiming that there’s no association at all flies in the face of the many excellent studies published in mainstream medical journals which you and I read. Everything from JAMA to J. Neurology.”

    Name one “excellent” study.

  36. #36 Mike the Mad Biologist
    April 9, 2008

    While I usually don’t whack anti-vaxxers, I do whack creationists, but I usually do it as an excuse to discuss some interesting biology that shows just how stupid a particular creationist claim is. Maybe there’s a way to do that with the anti-vax stuff, so you don’t get bored?

    On a completely unrelated note, I’m tangentially involved with some cystic fibrosis research, and I have to say CF patients and families are very sane about ‘their’ disease. Any thoughts why CF doesn’t attract dumbitude, while vaccination does? They’re both pretty debilitating.

  37. #37 Militant Agnostic
    April 9, 2008

    Mike – did you mean “while AUTISM does”?

  38. #38 DanioPhD
    April 9, 2008

    Damn, Orac. Your response to Dr. Gordon on the first Kirby/Olmstead thread was splendidly, blisteringly, awesome. I am prostrate with admiration, O blinking pyrex box of wisdom.

  39. #39 Joseph
    April 9, 2008

    When it comes to autism and vaccination, the only epidemiological research that exists claiming to have found an association is written by Geier & Geier. That in itself makes it suspect. Verstraeten et al. is often said to have found an association, at least in the early drafts. I’ve reviewed the drafts and that’s not true. Besides, Thompson et al. (2007) is basically a really well done follow-up of most of Verstraeten et al.

    So what’s left? Hornig’s “mouse model” which failed to replicate recently? Perhaps Holmes et al. which found non-autistic kids to have really high hair mercury levels and autistic kids normal levels?

  40. #40 Liz Ditz
    April 9, 2008

    1. Orac’s splendidly, blisteringly, awesome response to Gordon.

    2. Another way the “vaccinations cause autism” idiocy spreads: Last weekend, I went to a professional development seminar for teachers and occupational therapists. The presenter, Jan Olsen twice told the audience of approximately 100 that her grandson had acquired “full-blown autism” from vaccines, but with diet and other therapies had recovered enough that he “just has” Asperger’s.

    Sigh. I didn’t challenge her on it, as I was there to learn some techniques. I still feel like a chicken.

    I will write a letter, at some point.

  41. #41 Liesl
    April 9, 2008

    Mike:

    It is my contention that if the majority of the people who support quackery were diagnosed with a fatal disease (or their children) they’d run to the closest medical doctor for intervention. I challenge anyone to have several ischemic strokes and not seek immediate medical help. Only the most die hard dellusionist would allow themselves to die without the hope and amelioration of pain that medicine provides. Or, that’s what I think would/does happen, anyway.

    Liesl

  42. #42 Hey Zeus is my homeboy
    April 9, 2008

    “claiming that there’s no association at all flies in the face of the many excellent studies published in mainstream medical journals which you and I read.”

    BS, unless we’re counting the pay-for-publish spam that the DAN!ites flatulate onto the scientific world. Or perhaps we’re talking about real science (non-DAN!) that gets creatively interpreted.

  43. #43 isles
    April 9, 2008

    Jay Gordon blithely says vaccines are associated with “autism, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.”

    Easy to type but I don’t think you can back it up. Give it a try. I think you will fail.

  44. #44 John Best
    April 9, 2008

    Jenny McCarthy’s formerly autistic kid looks like he’s doing pretty good. If she was smart enough to fix his brain, that means she’s a lot smarter than you bunch of boneheads.

  45. #45 Ms. Clark
    April 10, 2008

    I had an interesting and heartening experience this afternoon.

    I went to the UC Davis MIND Institute to hear Dr. Laura Schreibman… of UC San Diego, I think…speak.

    She’s a behaviorist. I’ll let that go for the time being.

    Her second presentation was called the Science and Fiction of Autism… which is the title of her book.

    Anyway, a couple of times toward the beginning of her presentation she referred to McCarthy, the first time she said something like, “any actress with a book…” in the context of people proposing baseless cures for autism.

    When Schreibman referred to Jenny as “any actress with a book” audience laughed! I mean they really laughed. Almost all of them, it was loud and it was like, “Oh brother, HER!!??”

    Each time Schreibman referred to Jenny they had a similar reaction, and eventually Schreibman named her and dismantled the idea that the GFCF diet had any scientific backing. Each time the reaction of the audience was, “boy, don’t we know it!”

    They sort of groaned when she brought up chelation, too (that was apart from Jenny, just in a discussion of unproven therapies.)

    I hope that the MIND will put the lectures online as they usually do.

    Schreibman dropped the ball several times, and I didn’t have time to stick around and ask her questions at the end of the second talk, so I couldn’t correct her on any of them….
    still, the Jenny McCarthy thing was so refreshing.

    I would have expected “knowing laughs” from maybe 10 people, but this was group of about 150, I think…. the room was at capacity or close to it. I’d say about half of the audience was laughing AT Jenny McCarthy’s ideas, and I didn’t see anyone sulking in response to everyone else laughing, either, though I suppose there were some who did.

    I don’t know the composition of the audience, but I’d suppose that it was more than half ABA providers and school teachers and maybe some parents and grandparents, besides a good bunch of MIND docs (maybe 10 of them) and Dr. Ron Huff of the Cal DDS. No Rick Rollens or Lenny Schafer. None of the local mercury dads as far as I could tell.

  46. #46 ilikesubpoenas
    April 10, 2008

    Orac protested

    “As for how I find the time, I addressed that a really long time ago.”

    and linked to another lenghty (no doubt time consuming) tract.

    Are you Ben Goldacre in disguise?

    http://www.slingshotpublications.com/dwarfs.html

  47. #47 Phil
    April 10, 2008

    I too am a lefty, as I am really annoyed at the right wing religionists and their inane ignorance of science-when it doesn’t suit their purpose. Having said that, I groan and hold my head when the left goes on it’s own anti-scientific rants. These don’t seem to be religiously based, but do seem to be based on their own whack conspiracy theories. Has anyone noticed that 9/11 conspiracy nuts overlap political parties?

  48. #48 Regan
    April 10, 2008

    Liz,
    “Last weekend, I went to a professional development seminar for teachers and occupational therapists. The presenter, Jan Olsen twice told the audience of approximately 100 that her grandson had acquired “full-blown autism” from vaccines, but with diet and other therapies had recovered enough that he “just has” Asperger’s.”

    Was that a gratuitous extra or was there anything relevant to a workshop on learning how to develop handwriting skills? Thanks for the comment–that’s very interesting.

    Ms. Clark,
    Thanks for the note on the Schreibman talk and the audience response. I hope the M.I.N.D Institute gets it up on video soon.

  49. #49 Mojo
    April 10, 2008

    “And don’t even get me started on Levy’s citing Rustum Roy as an “authority” on healing, which really shows where she’s coming from. Remember that Roy is a woo-meister supreme who has justified homeopathy with all sorts of dubious arguments.”

    He now seems to have got involved with “The Intention Experiment”:

    http://theintentionexperiment.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=848178:BlogPost:92122

  50. #50 isles
    April 10, 2008

    I am loving Ms. Clark’s recounting of people laughing at the notion of Jenny McCarthy knowing something about autism. I’m glad not everybody has been snowed by her mommy act.

  51. #51 craig
    April 10, 2008

    I think she is a scientologist. They don’t buy into psychology/psychiatry. Remember tom cruise’ meltdown with matt lauer?
    Im pretty sure scientology is behind it. Dont forget John Travolta’s son Jet also has some form of autism and he refuses to get help for him. denial

  52. #52 Mike K
    April 10, 2008

    I’m forwarding this post to my medical students so they will learn that I am not the only curmudgeon ranting about this subject.

  53. #53 Uncle Dave
    April 10, 2008

    John Best;
    “Jenny McCarthy’s formerly autistic kid looks like he’s doing pretty good. If she was smart enough to fix his brain, that means she’s a lot smarter than you bunch of boneheads.”

    As a spouse of a 30+ year Special Education teacher I can say without equivocation your comment “formerly autistic” is quite nieve at a level I cannot address in this forum.

    “If she was smart enough to fix his brain”
    Again, I realize you are likely minimizing your typing time with this comment however, realize that there are teaching professionals that have and are dealing with the Autism issue for many years and have become quite familiar with developmental issues of autism prior to the realization that it even was an issue.

    There is no fixing it, there is no formerly autistic, there is quite simply a varying degree of a pervasive developmental disorder that is managed through intensive educational therapy.

    Jenny McCarthy’s son as far as I know has no publicly listed diagnosis as to his condition or the degree of his autism and there is no reference to any therapy plan or even a IEP that documents his progress. Her son’s response or lack there of to therapies is merely a conversation piece that is become tiresome in its loose reference.

    Please stop making vague references to brain fixing and stating things like formerly Autistic. It’s pathetic. Anyone that spends any number of years dedicating themselves to the education of children with pervasive developmental disorders finds these statements nieve.

    Children with autism make educational progress and develop in thier own way based on the degree of the condition and the specific variations of the conditions.

    Where are talking about education and development here not selling Orange Glow cleaner.

  54. #54 John Best
    April 10, 2008

    Uncle Dave,
    I admire the special ed. teachers who have fought an impossible battle trying to educate autistic children who were incapable of learning anything. It takes a special person to keep trying when they know they will never succeed.

    Now, we know that relying on teachers to improve the autistic condition is an obsolete practice. Since we know that most autism is mercury poisoning, we now rely on the few decent people in the medical profession to extract the mercury from the childrens’ brains. Once that is accomplished, some of the kids are capable of learning.

    The problem with old teachers, Dave, is that most of them stop learning themselves. Your wife must be one of these. You should have her do some reading at http://www.oracknows.com to catch up on the knowledge we have gained in the last 10 years.

    Autism is curable. Teachers have nothing to do with curing it. Your statements are not just naive. They’re outright ignorant.

  55. #55 That's Logic
    April 10, 2008

    Of course McCarthy’s son had autism.

    He was vaccinated, wasn’t he?
    QED

  56. #56 cathyf
    April 10, 2008

    Actually, I know of a particular case where a vaccine did cause “autism”. In this case, the child had his first MMR, and had a massive allergic reaction. Grand mal seizures and anaphylaxis, in the pediatrician’s office within a few minutes of getting the vaccine. The brain damage from the hypoxia caused him to have a life-long seizure disorder, and severe retardation. Several of his symptoms are similar to various symptoms of autism, and those particular symptoms respond to the same treatments that work with autistic people with those symptoms, but his behavior and neurologic symptoms are distinct enough that he does not have a diagnosis of autism.

    So, anyway, I’d call this the case of the exception that proves the rule. Yes, vaccines can cause injury and death (this young man would have died if it were not for the quick action of the pediatrician — one good reason to have vaccinations at a doctors office rather than dept of health or clinic with no doctor nearby.) But it’s quite rare, and pretty obvious when it happens.

  57. #57 It's Obvious
    April 10, 2008

    It’s obvious that this guy is the perfect representative for Generation Rescue. Keep up the great work, you make JB proud.

  58. #58 Uncle Dave
    April 10, 2008

    Well I can certainly agree with you that teachers have nothing to do with curing Autism.

    However, she has NOT fought an impossible battle. I am happy to say that she has acutally had quite a bit of success in the area of education with Autistic children.

    The reason for her success contrary to your statement is that autistic children are capable of learning quite a bit- it’s not very easy but they are capable of learning to varying degrees. Many autistic children are severely socially unresponsive and will remain that way for thier entire life but that often has no association with thier capacity to retain and compute information.

    I will not make an assumption based on your statement “…who were incapable of learning anything”.

    I must apologize however, I am speaking for another person in my response, which is not fair to that person specifically as a professional in the field (my wife).

  59. #59 Azkyroth
    April 10, 2008

    Uncle Dave:

    Assume away.

    Do not, however, assume that John Best is arguing in good faith, honestly mistaken, capable of the slightest shred of compassion, or on speaking terms with the real world. None of these, as should be obvious to anyone sane once they’ve familiarized themselves with his record, are true.

  60. #60 Azkyroth
    April 10, 2008

    his behavior and neurologic symptoms are distinct enough that he does not have a diagnosis of autism.

    Then you probably shouldn’t open your post by describing his situation as one in which “vaccines caused autism,” should you?

    (Seriously, the Mercury Militia are on a par with the Discovery Institute in their flagrant, malicious dishonesty. Expect to see yourself misleadingly quoted in the future.)

  61. #61 Mike Jackson
    April 10, 2008

    I note the dishonest manner in which you have framed your opponents as “antivaccinationists”, as if objecting to one or more vaccines for their children and the use of federal and state power to enforce compliance paints them as being against the use of vaccines at all.

    Well done, both you and Insty.

  62. #62 Uncle Dave
    April 10, 2008

    Azkyroth;

    Point well taken.
    Sometimes I am annoyed with myself as to why I even bother.

  63. #63 Orac
    April 10, 2008

    It’s not “dishonest” at all. Indeed, you’re attacking a straw man:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/antivaccination_propaganda_about_the_pol.php

    An excerpt:

    One other thing. A couple of antivaccinationists have infested the comments of this post. One of them is very upset at being lumped into the same category as antivaccinationists, vehemently denying that she is “antivaccine” and castigating me and others for supposedly claiming that the parents in these cases are antivaccine.

    Rubbish.

    That’s a huge straw man argument. Nowhere have I called all or even most parents who think their children may have been injured by vaccines “antivaccine.” There are lots of parents out there who wonder that but reject the idea based on the evidence. There are others who are reachable with the evidence. Unfortunately, however, there clearly is also a vocal contingent of parents who are antivaccine, their protestations otherwise notwithstanding. I base my conclusion on my observation that they keep repeating the same pseudoscientific antivaccination canards of the sort that show up on antivaccinationist websites, despite repeated corrections and demonstrations that they are incorrect on both the science and reasoning. I also base it on my observation of how, no matter how strong the science comes down against them, they seem able to pivot instantly to another pseudoscientific idea, just as they pivoted from mercury in the thimerosal preservatives in vaccines to a cornucopia of other “toxins” in a big way beginning about a year ago. This is very much like creationism, in which, no matter how many times scientists slap down its pseudoscience, they either repeat the same canards or find new ones. Indeed, it’s a major aspect of any pseudoscience.

    In fact, I have pointed out that the vast majority of the parents whose concern has been whipped up by this fearmongering are not “antivaccine,” but the people whipping up their fear based on pseudoscience most certainly are, even if they would never admit it:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/11/cries_the_antivaccinationist_why_are_we.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/still_more_evidence_that_its_all_about_t_2.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/02/still_more_evidence_that_its_all_about_t.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/02/still_more_evidence_that_its_all_about_t_1.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_new_strategy_of_the_antivaccination.php

    This whole “we’re not antivaccine, we’re pro safe vaccine” is nothing more than PR and propaganda. The leaders of the antivaccination movement knew they had a problem with being perceived (rightly in my opinion) as “anti-vaccine”; so they came up with a nice little slogan to try to reframe themselves. I plan to keep calling them on their disingenuousness.

    As for the Huffington Post’s bloggers, some are antivaccine (like Deirdre Imus, Janet Grilo, Dr. Jay Gordon, and RFK, Jr.); some are useful idiots (like Rachel Sklar) who don’t have enough critical thinking skills to see through the pseudoscience and are thus easily enamored by antivaccinationists or useful idiots like Jenny McCarthy (who is both a useful idiot and an antivaccinationist); and some I haven’t made my mind up yet whether they’re antivaccinationist, opportunists, or useful idiots (David Kirby, for example).

    As for whether the government should require vaccination, that’s far more of a political issue than a medical or scientific one.

  64. #64 Mike Jackson
    April 10, 2008

    “It’s not “dishonest” at all. Indeed, you’re attacking a straw man.”

    How ironic. You set up your “antivaccinationists” strawman and then protest about “strawmen”, which in this case consists of your choice of description, proudly headlined. Some “strawman”.

    Let’s see. How about a discussion about those who oppose government mandated religion. We’ll call them the “antireligionists” just to keep things honest and fair.

  65. #65 Laser Potato
    April 10, 2008

    “How ironic. You set up your “antivaccinationists” strawman”
    It’s not a strawman if it’s true, SUE.

  66. #66 Azkyroth
    April 10, 2008

    Jenny McCarthy is not evil and will continue to bring more attention to how little respect is given to families who are affected by autism.

    You might give some thought to the possibility of a causal link there…

  67. #67 Russ
    April 10, 2008

    Dr. Gordon,

    No one is saying that McCarthy is evil. They ARE saying she is ignorant. Additionally, she is dangerous.

    You of all people should be familiar with the concept of Herd Immunity, especially since most vaccines are only about 95% effective. The larger the pool of people vaccinated, the lower the possibility that a particular disease will be able to breed.

    When someone breaks this barrier, it brings danger to the entire group, especially to those who are more susceptible to infection.

    If a parent doesn’t want to vaccinate, then that’s fine and entirely their choice. However, at that point, keep your children out of public schools and away from other children. If they infect my child, expect to see a lawsuit for everything that parent owns.

  68. #68 Orac
    April 10, 2008

    I am not anti-vaccine. I gave a child a Varivax ten minutes ago and continue to respond to parents who would like their children to have DPT vaccines, polio immunity and more.

    I just would like a vaccine schedule which respects the complexity of the infant’s immune system and CNS. I’d also like independent evaluation of which vaccines may have outlived their utility in America and certain other countries.

    All right, I’ll be polite, but tough. If you’re not anti-vaccine, how come you talk the antivaccine talk so well? For example, you claim that the “risks” of the MMR outweigh its benefits, which is a load of…well, I promised to try to be somewhat polite so I won’t say what I thought. Another example is your posting dubious testimonials claiming that mercury causes autism on your website, as well as linking to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s dishonest Salon.com/Rolling Stone article. Also, your whole “respects the complexity of the infant’s immune system” bit is straight out of the antivax playbook. Surely you must know that. (If you don’t, you’re hopelessly naive.) It’s also a conveniently vague and meaningless statement that sounds profound on the surface but when thought about a bit more is revealed to signify nothing. Perhaps I’m wrong, though. Perhaps you could educate me by explaining to me exactly what you mean by “respects the complexity of the infant’s immune system.” Perhaps you could also explain to me just what a vaccine schedule that does that might look like and what the science is that would support your vision of what the vaccine schedule should look like. Specifics, backed up by good science and epidemiology, impress me far more than vague platitudes about infant’s immune systems. Whenever I see you in the comments, you’re long on vague statements and unhappiness at my uncouthness and “insolence” but mighty short on substance.

    I know very well that the preponderance of medical research refutes the association between autism and vaccines. I also know that just because these studies were funded by the pharmaceutical industry does not invalidate their conclusions. I it creates the appearance of conflict of interest, though.

    This is really lame. I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way to put it. You admit that the vast preponderance of medical research refutes the association between vaccines and autism, but you still seem to believe that there is one and fall back on “appearance of conflict of interest.” I’m glad you realize that the preponderance of medical evidence doesn’t support your position, but if you want to talk about conflicts of interest, how about Mark and David Geier? Kathleen Seidel has extensively documented their conflicts of interest and unethical behavior. They produce dubious studies supporting a vaccine-autism link to try to make them more credible as “expert” witnesses in vaccine lawsuits. What about Andrew Wakefield? He was paid by trial attorneys before he did his research and he had a patent application on a rival measles vaccine designed to supplant the MMR, as Brian Deerfield documented extensively. And don’t even get me started on Rashid Buttar, the doctor who has become very wealthy by treating autistic children with chelation therapy and who is being investigated by the North Carolina Medical Board.

    I’m not religious, but there is a Bible passage that describes the antivaccination movement when it rants about “conflicts of interest” in the pharmaceutical industry:

    Jesus said: You see the mote which is in your brother’s eye; but you do not see the beam which is in your own eye.

    This doesn’t even take into account all the “biomedical” docs out there who have discovered quite the nice livelihood treating autism with various dubious supplements and other therapies based on the bogus “vaccine injury” concept of autism. Yes, I think Jesus’ saying applies quite well to the vaccine “critics.” So does another saying: “Pot. Kettle. Black.”

    Jenny McCarthy is not evil and will continue to bring more attention to how little respect is given to families who are affected by autism. As time goes by, she and others like her, will successfully broaden this discussion to one which discusses overall prevention and treatment of autism and realated conditions.

    Straw man.

    I never said Jenny McCarthy was evil. I’m sure she thinks she’s doing great good. However, the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions, particularly when those intentions are mixed with toxic ignorance. In any case, what I did say was she was ignorant, stupid, and arrogant, all of which are assessments based on her public statements and behavior about autism and vaccines. I pointed out ample examples to support my assessment in my last response to you (to which you never replied; you don’t seem too interested in a dialogue other than a hit-and-run comment about a post you don’t like). I see no reason to go over them again.

    However, I do see a reason to ask you this: How on earth do you think Jenny McCarthy “broadens” the discussion? She’s a one-note propaganda machine. To her, it’s the vaccines. To Generation Rescue, it was the vaccines alone, but since it’s broadened to conveniently unnamed and unquantified “environmental” toxins–mainly because GR finally figured out that the thimerosal bogeyman was being destroyed by science and epidemiology.

    No, Jenny McCarthy and her ilk do nothing to “broaden” the discussion of anything. They’re one note propaganda machines and conspiracy theorists.

    Dr. Gordon, you seem like a reasonable guy otherwise. Open your eyes and see! Actually read the writings of the people you’re associating yourself with.

  69. #69 Uncle Dave
    April 10, 2008

    Dr. Gordon wrote;
    “Jenny McCarthy is not evil and will continue to bring more attention to how little respect is given to families who are affected by autism. As time goes by, she and others like her, will successfully broaden this discussion to one which discusses overall prevention and treatment of autism and realated conditions.”

    I as well do not view her as evil. My wife a life long special Education teacher knows all to well the environment surrounding the Autism issue as well as many other pervasive developmental disorders and thier associated hardships for families and families seeking sound advice and help.
    The issue from my view is the matter of fact casual coffee table approach to a very complex developmental disorder both from a medical perspective and from an educational and development perspective. Ms. McCarthy and many others that have the ability to voice thier opinions on a national media level should at least have the respect to confine thier opinions to what they know; that is, what is like to be a parent of an Autistic child and the struggle to find sound advice and help to this life long experience.

    Her views on the technical voracity of medical evidence in the area of vaccines and autism I find quite annoying, not because I feel that I have a better grasp of the subject (I do not), but because at sheer face value she as a non medically educated or even biological science educated individual should have a better respect for the complexity of the technical subject matter at hand – she does not.

    If the galaxy adromeda were due to collide with the Milky way galaxy, would we seek a celebrity perspecive on the voracity of the astronomical data to support it? After all, they are as impacted by it’s collision as anyone else???

  70. #70 AutismMomandProud
    April 10, 2008

    If anyone wants to listen to advice from Jenny McCarthy then please, please look at this article. It makes me laugh every time I read it. She really just needs to stop saying she is speaking for all parents of kids with autism. She sure doesn’t speak for me. I see my kid in front of me everyday and I love what I see:

    Insights of an Indigo Mom
    A Mother’s Awakening
    by Jenny McCarthy

    The day my son was born I knew the world was going to be okay. Some people only get to see heaven when they die. On May 18th 2002, I held heaven in my arms, and named him Evan. His big round eyes blinked at me and at that exact moment my life took a new direction. Every cell in my body wanted to make sure this world was safe for him and I was determined to break down walls and build bridges so that he can live in a world that mirrors his beauty.

    The day I found out I was an adult Indigo will stay with me forever. I was walking hand in hand with my son down a Los Angeles street when this women approached me and said, “You’re an Indigo and your son is a Crystal.” I immediately replied, “Yes!” and the woman smiled at me and walked away. I stood there for a moment, because I had no idea what the heck an Indigo and Crystal was, but I seemed so sure of it when I had blurted out “Yes!” After doing some of my own research on the word Indigo, I realized not only was I an early Indigo but my son was in fact a Crystal child. From that point on things in my life started to make sense. I always wondered why I was a ball-buster and rule breaker on TV, and at that moment I knew exactly why. I was born to not only think outside the box, but to break that box up into a million pieces. I called this day my “awakening” but really it was the day I remembered. This was the day my life and global mission became so clear. There was nothing I could do that could contain the excitement of what was to come.

    As all of you know, being a mother changes you in ways that you never thought you could imagine. I went from chain smoking and eating cheeseburgers to Hepa air filters and eating vegetarian after my son was born. The love I had for him made me want what was best for him. I was so eager to go on every talk show and preach to the world about the importance of healthy air, healthy food, and empowering our children to be the divine manifestors they came here to be. Unfortunately, I knew deep down inside that preaching would only go so far. Many parents get stuck in a comfort zone and don’t really want to change the way things run in their own households.

    So, I asked the Divine for help, and my Indigo awakening day brought it right to me. The way to create a new way of life for our children isn’t just about teaching the parents, but more about teaching the children. I knew immediately that changing education in schools was my global life mission. I want to open schools across the country that apply this philosophy so that our children can be taught in an environment that feeds their soul and has them in continual balance with their authentic self.

    I want our children to start each day in silent meditation with an intention for that day. I want organic cafeterias, outdoor class sessions, teaching about the power of thought, getting rid of rote memorization. I want it all. I want it to be everything and anything that ignites the fire in our children so they can live in the light, know that they have a voice, and that they can make a difference in this world. We will listen. We will build them the schools so they can have a place to do just that.

    Being the Indigo I am, I do know I have taken on the biggest task anyone could try to accomplish in one lifetime. I have no doubt in my mind you will be watching me do this for the rest of my life, until I can barely hold myself up with my walker. I hope to find moms like you who also want this for your children, and join me in doing this in your own neighborhoods. Strength is in numbers, right? Well ladies, have I awakened any of you to join me on this mission?

    On June 1st, I’ll be available in the Indigo Cafe forum at http://www.IndigoMoms.com to discuss these plans with you.

    Love, Evan’s Mommy,
    Jenny

    © Jenny McCarthy 2006

  71. #71 DanioPhD
    April 10, 2008

    Wow, what a whole passel of high-test crazy that was. On the other hand, I find the idea that Jenny McCarthy is a completely different species strangely comforting.

  72. #72 Ms. Clark
    April 10, 2008

    Jenny McCarthy may not be evil but she’s two-faced and probably an outright liar.

    Dr. Gordon, she’s marketing her son. She’s selling herself just as she always has. She told her son when he was a preschooler that she had to leave him and go to work because, “mommy’s got a work it,” referring to selling her body for photos of silicone enhanced self in very little bits of fabric. There’s her mentality. What’s left to “work” now?? She’s too old to play Hollywood’s vomit-eating bimbo. She’s not able to sell herself as a bikini model so easily now.

    First she marketed her son as a psychic “crystal” child and herself as an “Indigo mom” and yes, the intent was to make money off her “indigomoms.com” website, it wasn’t just about sharing the experience with other “indigomoms”, it was about linking to online stores that that sold the indigo accoutrements (gemstone necklaces that promised to treat mental, physical and spiritual ills), it was about advertising “angel therapists”.

    When he was a “crystal” child he wasn’t autistic, and overnight he went from being a crystal to not being a crystal, but being autistic. She shut down the indigomoms site suddenly right when she was starting to promote her autism book.

    She can’t keep her stories straight about what happened to her son. I for one, am not even sure his heart stopped. To me, it’s the kind of thing she would concoct to get people’s attention. Maybe it did happen, but it had nothing to do with vaccines. The kid has epilepsy!!

    But about Dr. Gordon’s brave new vaccine schedule, here’s the deal.

    He works with spoiled, wealthy and upper middle class parents. These people get everything made custom to the extent that they can afford to do that. The uber wealthy have custom made clothing and shoes. Their cars, offices and homes are designer designed and custom. These people have decorators who get them custom made curtains and custom made counter-tops for their bathroooms. (I’m guessing Dr. Gordon has some of this custom stuff himself.)

    So why should Missy van der Wutsit or Jessica Bimbo’s kid be on the same vaccine schedule and little Juan, the kid who belongs to the guy who mows their lawn?

    So which doctor is Missy van der Wutsit and Jessica Bimbo going to pick? The one that follows an evidence based schedule meant to do the greatest good for the greatest number of kids, one that saves many lives every year?

    Of course not. Missy and Jessica want to be cosseted, they want to get “custom” treatment. They want the bespoke vaccine schedule. After all they can just send junior to the doctor with the au pair every few weeks to get all those separate shots covered in a reasonable time period. Mommy doesn’t care if it’s more difficult to source the single dose mumps vaccine in the Gucci designed bottle. She wants to be able to tell her friends that HER son is too GOOD and SPECIAL to be getting vaccines on the same vaccine schedule as little Juan and little Mary-Sue. She goes to SPECIAL doctor, not just any doctor, and he creates a CUSTOM schedule for each patient….

    uhuh.

    Works out fine expect for every disease for which you delay the vaccine the kid remains unprotected for that disease. So while you are delaying a meningitis vaccine because your CUSTOMER wants him to get it only on the waning of the moon and Saturn is in Capricorn, the child could get meningitis and die.

    Poor little rich kids.

  73. #73 Ms. Clark
    April 10, 2008

    I typo’d, “Works out fine expect for” make that “except for”

  74. #74 MikeZero
    April 10, 2008

    Fine. If folks don’t want their kids to be vaccinated, let it be documented. The day my kid gets measles, I’m taking their effing house.

  75. #75 John Best
    April 10, 2008

    “Fine. If folks don’t want their kids to be vaccinated, let it be documented. The day my kid gets measles, I’m taking their effing house.”
    Mike, that’s a nice thought. In the spirit of fair play, you would agree that when a vaccine takes my kid’s life away by making him autistic that I should be allowed to take the doctor’s life. You also may want to lower your expectations about taking someone’s house over a minor two week illness that makes your kid’s immune system stronger by fighting off the illness. How about a six-pack of beer for your inconvenience instead of the house?

  76. #76 ozzy
    April 10, 2008

    http://www.oracknows.com What’s up with that? I think Orac should sue! A whole burning heap of stupid over there.

  77. #77 Orac
    April 10, 2008

    The story of how that came to be is here.

    Nothing I can do about it, and besides, I no longer use Oracknows. I do, however, own the “respectfulinsolence.com” and various permutations of it.

  78. #78 anonimouse
    April 11, 2008

    Dr. Gordon,

    Please name a specific vaccine or portion of the recommended vaccine schedule in the U.S. that you feel is unnecessary. The only semi-legitimate argument I’ve ever entertained is regarding Varivax, and that’s as much due to the cost-benefit analysis than any legitimate concerns about safety. Seriously, we don’t use OPV anymore, we went to acellular DTP vaccines, thimerosal is out of all childhood vaccines but some flu shots. Unless you’ve got a legitimate medical or scientific beef with the vaccine schedule beyond vague worries about the “complex immune system of infants” (which can deal with thousands of antigens, btw) then you’re really just parroting anti-vax propaganda.

  79. #79 Insider
    April 11, 2008

    Doctor Orac,

    I have heard conflicting information from a bunch of sources on this issue, and everyone seems to be passionate and authoritative. You are going to think I am a rabid anti-vaxxer trying to be rhetorical, but I truly am not. I am however profoundly cynical of the pharm industry where I have worked for the last 15 years, and am curious to a fault. Can you help me sort through things by answering some questions please…

    How many cases of the following VPD occur in the U.S. each year?

    Mumps
    Measles
    Polio
    Tetanus
    Diptheria
    Chicken Pox

    How does the U.S. compare to other countries of the world in terms of disease incidence? Are there any anomalous experiences in countries with High vaccination/High disease incidence, or Low Vaccination/Low disease incidence? Are there now, or were there in the past, substantial racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic factors involved in the incidence and severity of VPD? Does chlorinated water, generally improved sanitation/nutrition, or the availability of vastly superior medical care change the epidemiology of these diseases (or would it if there were massive decreases in vaccine coverage?)

    How many children were injured last year due to vaccine induced adverse events? Do you believe that reporting of serious adverse events to VAERS and other systems is routine, occasional, or rare in a typical pediatric office? Is adverse event reporting in pediatric practices more or less common than other medical specialties or hospital/institutional settings?

    What is the duration of immunity conferred by these various immunizations? If it isn’t lifelong, why don’t adults receive routine compulsory booster shots? Shouldn’t we?

    How do you design a RCT to evaluate durability of immune response/efficacy over 5,10, 15 years or more? How do you observe and monitor adverse events over these long time frames when so much of the population is vaccinated during childhood? i.e. How do you find a control group that doesn’t have a slew of confounding variables?

    In light of the overwhelming success of the vaccine program in recent decades, doesn’t it make sense for a given individual to elect not to receive the vaccines, assuming everyone else still does? On the grounds that my chance of having an adverse event, however remote, is greater than my chance of contracting the disease, which may be even more remote, and suffering a significant negative outcome. Selfish maybe, but this would seem to be the safest route for MY kid. I enjoy the benefits of herd immunity, and avoid the admittedly slight risk of a serious adverse event.

    These are just a few of the better arguments I have heard from various anti-vaxxers. I have had my kids vaccinated by the way, although we weren’t exactly militant about the schedule.

    I realize it would constitute a good start on a book to answer all of these questions in detail, so thanks in advance for any response you may be able to provide.

  80. #80 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Dear Insider, are you familiar with PubMed? That is where you can get most of the information you need. If you don’t know about it, I would suggest you learn about it.

    Wait, you wrote “Are there any anomalous experiences in countries with High vaccination/High disease incidence, or Low Vaccination/Low disease incidence? ”

    Look at Japan. They decided to make their version of the MMR vaccine voluntary. It contained a different mumps strain (Urabe versus the much safer Jeryl Lynn). As it happens, measles returned to Japan with a vengeance. They had to close several college campuses because of that:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18357755?

    Now what about the mumps resurgence in 2006 in the USA? It was written about today at:
    http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/GeneralInfectiousDisease/tb/9062

    Wait… do you not follow the news?

    Wait you wrote “I enjoy the benefits of herd immunity, and avoid the admittedly slight risk of a serious adverse event.”

    So you admit you are a leech on society. That is not a good thing.

  81. #81 Natalie
    April 11, 2008

    Insider, you’re also asking the wrong question when you ask “How many cases of the following VPD occur in the U.S. each year?” The prevalence of vaccination has meant that there are very few cases of vaccine preventable diseases in the US. If you want to see an accurate reflection of how many cases of these diseases there would be without vaccination, you’d have to look at statistics from before the vaccine was available, or statistics in a comparable country that doesn’t vaccinate.

  82. #82 Tom
    April 11, 2008

    Jenny McIndigo wrote, “I went from chain smoking and eating cheeseburgers to Hepa air filters and eating vegetarian after my son was born.”

    Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is a known risk for crystalism/autism. No wonder she’s looking to scapegoat vaccines.

  83. #83 AutismMomandProud
    April 11, 2008

    I watched Beautiful Son last night and was so angry. I think I get it now. People want to blame vaccines so badly for autism (personally, I think autism and vaccine damage are two different things, but don’t listen to me, I’m not a doctor) because then they don’t have to blame their own genetic makeup. It comes down to two camps–How do you make your kid feel better or how do you make yourself feel better. Doing everything and anything to try to “cure” your kid of autism makes you feel better about yourself as a parent thinking there isn’t possibly anything you missed, so you must be a good parent. Be a responsible parent and use the methods that have been tried and tested to help lessen some of the core problems. My son is the exact same age as Jenny’s son, he grew up in LA and he had most of the same therapy–they even went to the same UCLA program–but the difference is I didn’t do supplements or diet–pure behavior therapy, speech and ot–plus a lot of love and attention. My son is doind wonderfully, but then again he was always wonderful to me. I never thought I lost him, he was the same way since birth. That is a statement that always makes me sad. In Beautiful Son, the father was so upset that by his son’s 5th birthday, he didn’t have him “back” yet. What kind of expectations are these DAN doctors setting?

    Oh, by the way Mr. Best…don’t blame the doctors for vaccinations gone wrong. Stop blaming people. If you think for one second that the general population of pediatricians are willingly damaging kids with vaccines then you probably believe that the US government created AIDS to kill black people. You are sadly mislead in your intentions. People like you make me sad and angry. No one is willingly passing on autism, but if you don’t vaccinate your kid, you are saying that you don’t care about anyone buy yourself.

  84. #84 MikeZero
    April 11, 2008

    John Best: “How about a six-pack of beer for your inconvenience instead of the house?”

    Only if you hand deliver it.

  85. #85 Prometheus
    April 11, 2008

    Re: “mandatory” vaccination

    There seems to be a misconception common among some of the commentors – that the federal government mandates vaccination. This is simply not true.

    The CDC (a federal government agency) puts out its vaccination recommendations, but I have yet to find a single case (apart from the armed services) where anybody is “mandated” by the federal government to be vaccinated.

    For that matter, even the state, county and municipal governments do not mandate vaccination – they do often require that people (particularly children) be vaccinated (or have a written statement of medical or religious/philosophical objection) before entering the public schools.

    This is not the same as a universal mandate for vaccination, and I think that many of the people pushing this particular canard are aware of that. In all cases (except the service), people who object to vaccination can simply affirm a religious or philosophical objection (note: “philosophical” objections are not available in all states). I know of no person whose written statement of religious objection has been challenged, although I would welcome any verifiable information to the contrary.

    Most states have decided that the risks of vaccination are less than the risks of having a large group of unvaccinated children together in the public schools. If parents object, they can either fill out the proper form or they can put their children in a private school that does not require vaccination (or statement of objection).

    So many commentors have repeated the “mandatory vaccination” canard that it must be seen as the “truth”, even though a few moments of thought would show that this is not so. Think about it, folks! How many times are you asked to show any proof of vaccination? The only times I have had to were:

    [a] In the service
    [b] To get into college and graduate school
    [c] To get my kids into public school

    You don’t have to show your vaccination records to get on a plane, train or bus; you don’t need to show your vaccination records to get your paycheck or tax refund; you don’t need to show your vaccination records to get a driver’s license, fishing license, vehicle registration, business license, medical license, or even (at least in my state) a food handler’s permit.

    It doesn’t seem that vaccines are actually very mandatory at all.

    Prometheus

  86. #86 Interrobang
    April 11, 2008

    Jenny McCarthy drives me up the wall, but it does bother me somewhat to see so many people here who are awfully quick to blame her for causing her son’s autism by smoking while pregnant. A quick PubMed search turns up one paper that seems to make an explicit link, and it refers to maternal smoking during pregnancy as being a “risk factor,” not a cause. In other words, to say that “she need only look in the mirror for the cause” is a little on the spurious side, and it reminds me, frankly, of the deeply sexist moral panic about rigourously policing every single thing a pregnant woman can eat, drink, ingest, wear, and think about lest she be dogpiled for giving her baby some dread condition after birth. That’s not to say I think smoking during pregnancy is a good thing; I don’t think smoking is good anytime. But there’s something else going on here, which seems to me to be a combination of specific contempt for McCarthy and a more general sexism. “She might have done something that might have increased the risk of her son’s developing a condition with which he might have been misdiagnosed in the first place” isn’t exactly grounds for saying “OMG! She caused it!”

  87. #87 listenup
    April 11, 2008

    I don’t think anyone really thinks she caused it. We are just bored of coming up with ways to get her to stop talking about curing autism.

  88. #88 Uncle Dave
    April 11, 2008

    Prometheus,
    see link below for California requirements;

    http://tp.sduhsd.net/immunization.html

    Some important excerps below;

    EXEMPTIONS
    The law allows (a) parents/guardians to choose exemptions from immunization requirements based on their personal beliefs, and (b) physicians of children to elect medical exemptions. The law does not allow parents/guardians to elect an exemption simply because of inconvenience (a record is lost or incomplete and it is too much trouble to go to a physician or clinic to correct the problem.) See the back of the blue California School Immunization Record (PM 286) for instructions and the affidavit to be signed by parents/guardians electing the personal beliefs exemption. For children with medical exemptions, the physician’s written statement should be stapled to the CSIR. Schools should maintain an up-to-date list of pupils with exemptions, so they can be excluded quickly if an outbreak occurs.

    Granted you can come up with a pretty lame religious excuse to exempt your child.

    CONDITIONAL ADMISSIONS
    “Children lacking one or more required vaccine doses but not currently due for a dose may be admitted on condition that they receive the remaining doses when due, according to the schedule below. If the maximum time interval between doses has passed, the child must be excluded until the next immunization is obtained.”

    Based on this link and your comments, I am not sure what the practical diference between mandate and requirement is?

    They could be excluded from participation in school but in all likelyhood no one will ever be FORCED to take thier shots.

  89. #89 Uncle Dave
    April 11, 2008

    Interrobang;

    I believe the general diatribe against her is that admitting to smoking then almost going into rage over toxins in vaccines potentially causing autism at face value is annoying. God knows how much aersol hair product she still likely ingests? I don’t believe anyone suggests (you don’t either) that there is a link between smoking and autism, however her diatribe seems to be part and parcel to the new age ‘O’ natural toxin scare routine.

    Sexist angle to the attacks? Interesting perspective. Based on the bubble headed bimbo comments, sure there is likely a propensity to draw on her good looks and sex and add a little twist to the knife, but after all, thats precisely what gets her invited to the table to speak on the subject in the first place. Larry King and Opra don’t invite average looking intelligent women that do valid clinical research on autism to appear do they? You have to cahnge the channel to NOVA for that.

    If you feel that you have a right to step into the boxing ring of scientific discussion with less than a adequate understanding of scientific method, you better be prepared for a relentless beating from a professional scientist.

  90. #90 Uncle Dave
    April 11, 2008

    The boxing ring metaphor was aimed at McCarthy BTW

  91. #91 Laser Potato
    April 11, 2008

    “The boxing ring metaphor was aimed at McCarthy BTW”
    Great, now the “hit the floor” sound from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! is playing in my head. BEEWEEWIEEEEEW *thuddudud*

  92. #92 The Christian Cynic
    April 11, 2008

    Uncle Dave, you missed the point of Prometheus’ comment entirely: He (I assume he) was talking explicitly about the restrictions coming from public schools, and you pulled your stats from a list of California public school immunization requirements. A mandate from a public school is not a mandate from the government; it would only be so if public schooling was mandatory. Since public schooling is not in fact mandatory anywhere in the US (that I’m aware of, at least), immunization requirements for them cannot be considered a federal mandate.

  93. #93 Insider
    April 12, 2008

    Dr. Orac,

    Thank you for your “gracious” response. It is clear that you interpreted my post as a ruse despite my most sincere protestations to the contrary, and you are clearly an arrogant twit. With that said, the articles you linked were interesting, and I thank you for the information.

    Just to clarify my personal opinion, I actually support compulsory vaccination as a public health imperative, but it does annoy the hell out of me to have paid whores and their errand boys dismiss every vaccine critique as though all of medical science relating to vaccines is settled fact. There are clearly some unanswered questions, not necessarily those that the rabid anti-vaxxers commonly raise, and not enough to counter the clear societal benefits of mass vaccination, but each vaccine and each disease has a unique set of risks and/or benefits. As a “scientist” you should exercise more caution in interpreting even the most robust data. Admittedly, my knowledge of this specific issue is limited, and certainly tainted by propaganda from both sides of the debate, but I do have the common sense to recognize that none of this is absolute.

    With that said, I would like to respond to a few of the points you attempted to make…

    I do find it quite humorous that you concede the point, albeit with the accompanying insult, that a logical leech would elect not to receive vaccinations.

    I also noted, in the first article you linked to, the following disclosures:

    One author reported having an equity interest in Abbott Laboratories, a second reported a recent change in employment from the CDC to Sanofi Pasteur, and a third reported receiving a federal Emerging Infections and Protection grant.

    Give me a second while I stop laughing. This is sort of like a climate change assessment co-authored by Al Gore, The Sierra Club, and Robert Kennedy Jr. Do you rely on the NY Times, CNN, and NPR for all your political news?

    The second article has some real jewels also:

    “If the patient’s record indicates that he or she has been received two MMR doses, the assumption would be that this is caused by another virus,” he said. If the symptoms abate, the episode would be little more than a notation in a medical record.”

    and in the next paragraph…

    “because these symptoms are often overlooked — especially in people who have received the required vaccinations — we doubt we will ever identify the index case,” she said.

    If I need to hold your well educated hand and walk you through the significance of these statements, then perhaps you should spend a little more time on Pubmed yourself. Twit.

  94. #94 Uncle Dave
    April 12, 2008

    The Christian Cynic
    “Uncle Dave, you missed the point of Prometheus’ comment entirely”

    agreed.

  95. #95 Gibbon1
    April 13, 2008

    “On a completely unrelated note, I’m tangentially involved with some cystic fibrosis research, and I have to say CF patients and families are very sane about ‘their’ disease. Any thoughts why CF doesn’t attract dumbitude, while vaccination does? They’re both pretty debilitating.”

    You mean Autism. The reason is really simple. CF is an actual disease with a known cause and reliable diagnostic tests. As such it’s very black and white. A doctor can tell you with 100% certainty that your child has it, what the cause is, what treatments are available and the long term prognosis. And it’s a serious condition, which tends to focus the mind.

    Autism in contrast is mud, a collection of cognitive and developmental deficits with no particular cause. I like to think of it as rolling a bunch of genetic and developmental dice and getting snake eyes. Oops. So the diagnosis is ‘your son seems to be autistic. Why? Hell if I know’ Thats not very reassuring to most people.

  96. #96 Ms. Clark
    April 13, 2008

    another usually overlooked reason for why there are more insane acting parents of autistic kids is that mental illness is found amoung relatives of autistic kids at a higher degree than is found among relatives of random kids.

    Which is not to say that all bipolar or OCD or depressed or anxious parents are as psycho acting as the well known mercury malicia… not at all, neither are all parents of autistic kids mentally ill, just an increased number of them over the background rate. But this must be a factor in some of the raving lunacy you see from some of the parents…

    full disclosure, I am the parent of an ASD kid.

  97. #97 Uncle Dave
    April 14, 2008

    Ms. Clark;

    “another usually overlooked reason for why there are more insane acting parents of autistic kids is that mental illness is found amoung relatives of autistic kids at a higher degree than is found among relatives of random kids.”

    I would not equate this to the “raving lunacy” of which you refer (saracism) but all the same the higher incidence of mental illness history may be a valid piece of the incidence puzzle in my non professional observational opinion. When discussing this issue (Autism incidence) many are not so willing to come clean with the thier family history. Great uncle Johnny and your second cousin Phil were in an institution etc etc.

  98. #98 l'asperge
    April 15, 2008

    Insider wrote: “it does annoy the hell out of me to have paid whores and their errand boys dismiss every vaccine critique as though all of medical science relating to vaccines is settled fact.”

    We’re not dismissing every concern – just the ones that make no sense, or have been answer a jillion times. Of course there are still legitimate questions about immunology and toxicology and all the other ologies. But your little tantrum suggests that all “critiques” are somehow equal. That’s absurd. There really is such a thing as a stupid question despite what your seventh grade science teacher told you.

  99. #99 Jon
    April 17, 2008

    Insider:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it wasn’t Orac that responded to you. It was a commenter named “HCN”.

  100. #100 Insider
    April 17, 2008

    Heh, I just checked back to see how the group think exercise was going. Thank you Jon, I did not realize, being new to this board (via Insty) that HCN was someone other than the moderator.

    In any case, I’ll just add one final thought on this entire subject of vaccines, and the broader topic of Pharma sponsored research. Recent news relating to the ongoing revelations about Merck in re Vioxx are the tip of a massive iceberg of study protocol, patient entry criteria, and statistical chicanery. The deceit and misrepresentation in the world of clinical trials is staggering, and if ever fully revealed will make the tobacco companies look like an old ladies’ bible study class. Stay tuned.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/104141.php

    From my perspective it is truly hilarious to listen to non-investigator physicians and other “credentialed experts” go on about science and RCTs. In a word they know not whereof they speak. So long.

  101. #101 HCN
    April 17, 2008

    Oh give me a break!

    Because there is a problem with one product, that does not mean all other products are bad!

    You have yet to give any real evidence, or show that you know what you are talking about. Good grief, you cannot even follow a comment thread!

    Get over yourself with the stupidity you exude with comments like “but it does annoy the hell out of me to have paid whores and their errand boys dismiss every vaccine critique as though all of medical science relating to vaccines is settled fact.”

    Did you even bother to look at my links? Why is Japan experiencing such a large increase in measles that they closed schools? Was it because of a deterioration of sanitation or their government making the measles vaccine voluntary a few years ago?

    I am stay-at-home-mom who used to be an aerospace engineer. One of the reasons I no longer work is because I have a health impaired child whose health has been threatened by lack of herd immunity due to living in an area full of stupid people like you (there was a pertussis epidemic in my county when he was born, and because of campaigning by idiots like Barbara Loe Fisher he was denied vaccination against pertussis… about the time over 120 Americans died of measles, about 20 years ago).

    On what evidence do you have that I have been paid for anything in the last 15 years? What I have done is WRITE checks to neurologists, speech therapists, cardiologists and other health care professionals. Along with spending hours in waiting rooms, observation rooms, driving to appointments, filling out medical forms and going to the long long meetings at the school that are common for kids in the special education system (lately that includes filling out long forms for the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation).

    Is there a place I can go to get paid for all of that, and perhaps for responding to idiots like you?

    Just show me the PubMed indexed paper that shows the MMR is more dangerous than measles, mumps and rubella. Show us that the vaccine (which has been in use since 1971, and has never contained thimerosal) causes more problems than the diseases it is designed for. Remembering that during 2006 mumps caused deafness in at least four persons in an outbreak that involved less than 3000 people.

    Show me that infants do better getting pertussis than getting the DTaP vaccine. Knowing, of course, that in the USA several babies under a year old die from pertussis. Just show us your evidence that the vaccine is just a big ol’ money maker, and is unnecessary.

    Show us how you are not a leech on the public for relying on herd immunity. (which does break down when enough of you folks gather together, like what happened in California and in Austria… along with Japan, Australia and the UK)

  102. #102 Orac
    April 17, 2008

    From my perspective it is truly hilarious to listen to non-investigator physicians and other “credentialed experts” go on about science and RCTs. In a word they know not whereof they speak. So long.

    How about an investigator-physician like me?

  103. #103 HCN
    April 18, 2008

    I really want to know what real research shows that the DTaP is more dangerous than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Especially after reading this:
    http://ernursey.blogspot.com/2008/04/whooping-cough.html

    (by the way, during my oldest son’s first year, I routinely asked about the vaccine status of the children he came in contact with… our county was having a pertussis epidemic at that time)

  104. #104 Keith
    May 1, 2008

    Bwaaahahahahah! That was great Orac. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

    Then I got sad again. Sad at the general lack of understanding about scientific method. I guess I should expect it when public schools suck at teaching things like 2+2…

    It just baffles my mind that as a society we don’t place heavier emphasis on the use of decent research before blabbering off.

    I sneezed last night and the lamp went out, therefore, sneezing create an electromagnetic field which causes lamps to shut off!

  105. #105 Amanda
    May 16, 2008

    I just stumbled on this blog. You sir are an idiot! I am very sorry if you doubt the link between vaccines and Autism because a blonde movie star said the words or maybe youve been paid for by a vaccine maker , I have a daughter with Autism, I do not smoke or drink, I run 2 miles a day ( 18 minutes)and surely I did not cause my daughters Autism! What a low blow to blame the mother for smoking…get real.. My child was fine she was meeting all her milestones of devolpment, speaking words at her 18 mo old well child one day after that well child ..after thoose vaccines I had a non verbal Autistic. So you tell me? I am no idiot, I do not believe all vaccines are bad … but is it right to inject a ton of chemicals into a baby? cant it wait .. and can you explain why the Amish have a zero rate of Autism?? no vaccines …no autism…its a miracle…why am I even wasting my time trying to figure out why? maybe we should just give up? not look for a ryme or reason …..just Drug the kids for their disability…institution….. YEAH RIGHT ! not this mom…. not ever.. so I see alot of critism on this blog….yet no insight?

  106. #106 Orac
    May 16, 2008

    To whom are you referring as an “idiot”? Certainly I never said that prenatal smoking by the mother causes autism. I also don’t moderate comments here, except in extreme circumstances. In any case, the point of bringing up smoking is simply to ridicule how Jenny McCarthy says it must be the vaccines, when she ignores all sorts of other equally plausible potential causes.

    By the way, personally I do not “doubt the link between vaccines and autism just because a blond movie star said the words.” Rather, I dismiss the link between vaccines and autism because the science and epidemiology overwhelmingly do not support such a link. Moreover, I have written extensively on this blog over the last three years exactly why the science does not support the myth that vaccines cause or contribute to autism. The reason I pile on Jenny McCarthy is because she is particularly vocal, famous, and stupid in her antivaccinationist posturing. She has the potential to do great harm to public health in the U.S.

    It’s nice for you to “stumble on” this blog and then decide that I and many of my regular commenters here reject the lie that vaccines cause autism just because I think Jenny McCarthy is an idiot. (And she is an idiot.) However, there’s nearly three years of history of my writing substantive posts about the science behind why it’s a myth and a lie that vaccines somehow cause autism. Moreover, you’re whole “pharma shill” gambit is so utterly transparent that I have to laugh, as is your credulous parroting of the Amish myth. See:

    http://autism-news-beat.com/?p=29
    http://photoninthedarkness.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-to-seek-and-not-find.html

    You’re also parroting the “toxic myth” about vaccines:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9

    Really, you are spouting quite a bit of misinformation.

    Finally, who said we should “give up”? Certainly not me, and certainly not anyone here. However, the evidence is quite strong that there is no link between vaccines and autism; all we’re saying is that that is unlikely to be a productive avenue of research. Moreover, blaming vaccines tends to be a cash cow for lawyers and quacks.

  107. #107 Amanda
    May 16, 2008

    Thank you for your educated response! So in your ” experience with Autism” what do you believe is a productive avenue of research? Do you believe DAN doctors are not experts in treating and helping to put symptoms of Autism into remission ( I will not call it a cure ) and maybe I am misinformed…its hard not to be with a divided scientific community… Parents grasping at hope and all of the different information available on Autism.. So as a parent of a very young Autistic how do you know what to believe? who is correct? everyone says their information is the best… So what is the right path for a parent to take? Who is right? who is bologna? ( besides Jenny..lol) and can you really blame me for thinking this? I walked in with a normal child and a day later had a veggie? I will check thoose links…and if you have any clue why MD’s are becoming DAN doctors… please inform me? I mean I have a doctor in one hand telling me one thing and so many other’s with other views on treatment and possible cause?

  108. #108 HCN
    May 16, 2008

    Amanda, I suggest you go to the upper right hand side of this page. In the search box put in a pertinent word like “autism”, and then hit the enter key. You will then show a list of Orac postings over the past couple of years on the very subject you are aksing about.

    I would also suggest that you check out this Autism Blog Hub for more information:
    http://www.autism-hub.co.uk/

  109. #109 HCN
    May 16, 2008

    Sorry, I’m mixing up my left and right, the search box is on the left side of the page. Also, you might be interested in Orac’s old blog:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/search?q=vaccine

  110. #110 HCN
    May 16, 2008

    While I’m finding more supplemental reading, I would also like to suggest the blog of neurologist:
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php?cat=6

    And this one:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?cat=36

    There might be enough information there to answer most of your questions.

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