Respectful Insolence

Oh, no! Phil Plait did a great post on why vaccines do not cause autism. What’s his reward?

To be invaded by antivaccinationists!

I think you all know what to do. Please, go lend Phil some tactical air support, and I’ll be grateful.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    Have you come across the woman who writes/edits this site before?

    Lisa is commenting there at Phil’s and it seems she is the author of that site. It’s a shame that the about.com person is at least an anti-vax enabler. Not that about.com is the pinnacle of reliable information, but still that sucks.

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChmp
    May 12, 2008

    Oh, and not that you are into this sort of thing but there is a chance for a PZ styled Internet Poll “visit” on that page.

  3. #3 Orac
    May 12, 2008

    You know, after the almost universal negative reaction that I got in response to my criticism of PZ’s poll crashing and Greg Laden’s cheerleading of it, I’m almost wondering whether I should just conclude that maybe I was wrong, throw in the towel, shrug my shoulders, and say “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” before sending my micro-horde (compared to PZ, that is) off to crash that silly poll…

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    hehe Yeah I’ll admit when I posted that comment, I must have missed your previous opposition to the poll crashing. Just a coincidence I guess.

  5. #5 Liesl
    May 12, 2008

    Orac wrote: “I’m almost wondering whether I should just conclude that maybe I was wrong, throw in the towel, shrug my shoulders, and say “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” before sending my micro-horde…”

    Noooooo! That was before I discovered the goodness that is your blog; I would have surely backed you up on that one. Didn’t we stop with the “she/he started it” excuses when we were in grade school?

  6. #6 What an Idiot
    May 12, 2008

    “Oh, no! Phil Plait did a great post on why vaccines do not cause autism. What’s his reward?

    To be invaded by antivaccinationists”!

    Orac,

    This guy begins his post by quoting from the Danish autism studies… The guy doesn’t even realize that these studies have been proven to be completely fraudulent. You consider this guy to have posted a “great post” despite the fact that he relies on bogus studies to make his point? Sad, Orac, very sad (but not surprising).

  7. #7 Joseph
    May 12, 2008

    The guy doesn’t even realize that these studies have been proven to be completely fraudulent.

    Sue, that is false and probably slanderous. You might say the studies have been found to have limitations and confounds the authors did not consider, which is not unusual in scientific papers. That is not the same as fraudulent.

    If a paper were, say, plagiarized from a 2000 draft, we might say it’s fraudulent. If a paper had a graph that completely skipped a set of years in the X axis in a dubious manner, we might suspect it’s fraudulent. If a medical study of children had been approved by an IRB composed of the study authors and their friends, we might say there’s something ethically wrong with the study.

    In your case, Sue, you’re making some pretty serious accusations without foundation.

  8. #8 Manduca
    May 12, 2008

    I put in my two cents (for whatever good it will do).

  9. #9 Donalbain
    May 13, 2008

    I tried, but apparently, badastronomy is the occult and so West Sussex LEA have blocked it!

  10. #10 colmcq
    May 13, 2008

    “I tried, but apparently, badastronomy is the occult and so West Sussex LEA have blocked it!”

    you’re not missing much on the vax thread – it’s decended into chaos thx to the anti loons.

    c

  11. #11 I'm scared
    May 13, 2008

    “Sue, that is false and probably slanderous. You might say the studies have been found to have limitations and confounds the authors did not consider, which is not unusual in scientific papers. That is not the same as fraudulent”.

    Slanderous… Please. The autism studies have been debunked. End of story. Yet, “Phil” writes a “great post” (according to Orac) in which he references bogus studies? Oy. What is wrong with you?

  12. #12 Joseph
    May 13, 2008

    Slanderous… Please. The autism studies have been debunked. End of story. Yet, “Phil” writes a “great post” (according to Orac) in which he references bogus studies? Oy. What is wrong with you?

    You didn’t say debunked. You said fraudulent. Big difference. I’m not even sure they have been debunked. Certainly not all “autism studies” have been debunked.

    As I suggested over there, he could just change the Denmark graph with a California graph. Problem solved.

    BTW, just because a study might be flawed, it doesn’t mean that there was a drop in the Danish administrative autism prevalence after removal of thimerosal. There was none. At least, I haven’t seen any valid evidence that there was. In fact, no country in the world has ever (ever) reported a drop in the incidence of autism following removal of thimerosal.

  13. #13 Prometheus
    May 13, 2008

    Danish autism prevalence is still going up!

    How does that debunk the “Danish studies”?

    Saying something over and over does not make it so. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it the truth – not even on the Internet.

    Prometheus

  14. #14 Orac
    May 13, 2008

    It’s just the time-honored antivaccination technique of perseverating on a couple of flaws that don’t invalidate a study, while ignoring subsequent methodologically stronger studies that followed and validated the results of that study. By harping on one perceived flaw, antivaccinationists think they can convince the unwitting that every study failing to find a link between vaccines and autism is flawed.

  15. #15 ebohlman
    May 13, 2008

    It’s also the time-honored denialist tactic of pretending that one aspect of a situation is all there is. For example, AIDS/HIV denialists always talk as if AZT monotherapy is the “establishment” treatment for AIDS, cancer quacks assume that chemotherapy is the only conventional treatment for cancer (probably because they realize that their marks wouldn’t see their nostrums as substitutes for surgery), etc.

    Part of the problem with having your mind completely made up is that you end up ignoring new data. The vaccine denialists refuse to acknowledge that there have been newer studies since the two Danish ones because no amount of studies will change thier position.

  16. #16 John Best
    May 14, 2008

    Ebohlman,
    If you ever watch an autistic child improve by chelating mercury out of his brain, you won’t need to look at any studies either.

  17. #17 SteveM
    May 14, 2008

    I started reading the comments over at BS and was overwhelmed by the stoopid there. Particularly by a “Michael” who kept describing vaccines like they were some witches brew of toxic chemicals. Now I am just a simple EE but as I understood it, vaccines are either a “dead” virus, or some selected proteins from the “shell” of the virus. I know that is what the Salk and Rabin(?) vaccines were but is that still true with modern vaccines, particularly the childhood vaccine spectrum?

    I ask because I would like to say to “Michael” that how could a dead virus or just the protein shell of the virus possibly be more harmful than the live virus? It would be like saying that a car with no engine is more dangerous than driving because occasionally one falls on the mechanic when the jack fails. But if there is more to vaccines than that I don’t want to be too ignorant.

    Thanks.

  18. #18 AtheistAcolyte
    May 14, 2008

    There are also live virus vaccines (MMR is one such, which is why thimerosal was never used in it), but these live viruses have been “attenuated”, or naturally selected for less virulent strains. I suggest you take a look at
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination#Types_of_vaccinations for more in-depth descriptions of these types. Good luck!

  19. #19 HCN
    May 14, 2008

    SteveM: This is an interesting book to read. It will tell you much about vaccine development:
    http://www.amazon.com/Vaccinated-Defeat-Worlds-Deadliest-Diseases/dp/B0013L4DNU/

    I believe some more recent vaccines use bits of the virus. I heard about it on the James Randi forum… so I bit of looking around and found this article (I have not read it completely, yet):
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol2no3/whalen.htm

  20. #20 Pat
    May 14, 2008

    Um, John? You do know that it’s fairly well established that individuals with autism improve despite these treatments, not because of them? And that individuals untreated also continue to improve? And that prognosis for improvement was only based on initial severity, not based on any other factors?

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-09/uow-ssa092607.php

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-07/chop-nmm063005.php

    Improvement occurs with no intervention by chelation, secretin, or whatnot.

  21. #21 DLC
    May 15, 2008

    I went by Phil Plait’s blog site and read the article.
    It’s well-written, and as far as I can see, a clear representation of the facts.

    I will note for those still looking here that
    one commenter made the claim that Neither the Bad Astronomer or Orac were suitable persons to analyze a medical research study. I posted a reply asking him who then was qualified.
    Somehow, I doubt I’ll get an answer.
    For me, anyone who can comprehend the language, understand the math, and who has a good grasp of the scientific method can do an analysis of a study or experiment.
    apparently this fellow believes one must be a specialist.
    I wonder what specialty he considers appropriate for reading
    studies on the (non-existent) Autism – Vaccine link ?
    A PhD from the University of Google ?
    No doubt with a strong post-doc in Autism Quackery ?

  22. #22 SteveM
    May 15, 2008

    I wonder what specialty he considers appropriate for reading
    studies on the (non-existent) Autism – Vaccine link ?

    First and foremost requirement is to have an autistic child. If you don’t then you have no right to speak about autism at all. And if you do have an autistic child you are automatically a world-class expert qualified to judge (and discount) any and all scientific studies concerning autism and vaccines.

  23. #23 ozzy
    May 15, 2008

    I wonder what specialty he considers appropriate for reading studies on the (non-existent) Autism – Vaccine link ?

    You absolutely must star in some softcore porn and drink vomit to truly be classified as an expert in the field.

  24. #24 Joseph
    May 15, 2008

    And that prognosis for improvement was only based on initial severity, not based on any other factors?

    Actually, there’s a study that suggests non-verbal IQ but not severity of symptoms is predictive of outcome. That would be Szatmari et al. (1989). I guess another way to put it is that if you control for IQ, the correlation between outcome and severity probably goes away.

    An interesting thing about the Szatmari et al. group is that half of them were successful in university studies at a time when maybe 40% of the US population went to college. About 30% of the successful autistics in this group had no useful speech before the age of 5.

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