Respectful Insolence

Dr. Jay Gordon: Pediatrician Warrior

Note: The following is a collaborative post between James (a.k.a. Dad of Cameron of Autism Street) and Orac. Feel free to tell which parts were written by whom.:-)

Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds, contains a foreword penned by “pediatrician to the stars’ children”, Dr. Jay Gordon. Dr. Gordon (or, as he often refers to himself, Dr. Jay), is the pediatrician for Jenny McCarthy’s son Evan, whose autism McCarthy blames on vaccines and whom she has also claimed to have “cured” of autism with so-called “biomedical interventions. Dr. Gordon has frequently shown up on this blog, mainly to complain piteously whenever he is criticized for being “anti-vaccine” because he not only parrots anti-vaccine pseudoscience but gives speeches to antivaccine rallies, along with Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Boyd Haley, and other luminaries of the antivaccine movement. We’ve never quite understood why Dr. Gordon gets so upset at being labeled “anti-vaccine” when his words are apologetics for the anti-vaccine movement, and his actions give it aid and comfort. If past internet exchanges with Dr. Gordon are any indication, one could expect that this foreword would be replete with pseudoscience and “brave maverick doctor” posturing. Readers are not likely to be disappointed in this regard. In fact, Dr. Gordon has surpassed himself in giving in completely to the dark side of the anti-vaccine movement. Aside from completely unsupported claims of fact like, “Vaccines can cause autism,” and “hyperbaric oxygen works,” to assertions of “tremendous increase in autism,” Dr. Gordon has laid out quite a spread of logical fallacies and pseudoscience.

“Help, help! I’m being ridiculed!”

Dr. Gordon doesn’t waste any time when it comes to deploying logical fallacies, in fact he begins right from paragraph one:

The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are filled with doctors who not only don’t believe the ideas in this book but actively ridicule them and spend a lot of money trying to disprove the causes and treatments so well presented when Jenny Mccarthy and others in the cure-autism community speak and write.

Unfortunately, ridicule neither validates nor invalidates a claim. The AAP and the CDC may have doctors who ridicule the ideas in Jenny’s book, but that they ridicule such claims does not make those doctors incorrect. In fact, what Dr. Gordon appears to be doing is combining a whine about being ridiculed with the Galileo gambit, in which those “brave maverick doctors” are implicitly likened to Galileo, who was persecuted for his science because it conflicted with the reigning paradigms of the time. It’s an invalid comparison, as Michael Shermer writes in his book Why People Believe Weird Things:

For every Galileo shown the instruments of torture for advocating scientific truth, there are a thousand (or ten thousand) unknowns whose ‘truths’ never pass scientific muster with other scientists. The scientific community cannot be expected to test every fanstastic claim that comes along, especially when so many are logically inconsistent.

Or, more succinctly:

They laughed at Copernicus. They laughed at the Wright brothers. Yes, well, they also laughed at the Marx Brothers. Being laughed at does not mean you are right.

There are many variations of this saying attributed to many skeptics, not just Michael Shermer, one of which goes “They laughed at Bozo the Clown, too.”

Of course, being laughed at does not mean that Dr. Gordon and the merry band of antivaccinationists to whom he provides counsel and gives talks at antivaccine rallies such as the “Green Our Vaccines” rally four months ago, whose ideas he defends while oh-so-selfrighteously proclaiming at every instance when he is criticized that he is “not antivaccine,” and with whom he pals around, are correct either. Sometimes, as in this case, ridicule is completely appropriate.

Indeed, as regular readers know, this very blog is written by a doctor who actively ridicules many of Jenny McCarthy’s claims with great gusto–because they are richly deserving of ridicule. It doesn’t make Orac or those other doctors correct, but it doesn’t make them incorrect, either. What makes them correct from a scientific standpoint is that current science supports them and does not Jenny McCarthy–or Dr. Gordon, for that matter. In fact, what’s rather disappointing is that the CDC and AAP have only recently roused themselves from their torpor to recognized the threat to public health represented by the sort of dangerous nonsense that Jenny is pushing to push back. It may be too little, too late.

In addition, Dr. Gordon is one to talk about ridicule. After all, what is he doing in his foreword but ridiculing the AAP, CDC, and any who have the temerity to point out that science does not support Jenny McCarthy’s ridiculous (and we chose that word intentionally) claims.

Special Pleading

In the next paragraph, aside from claiming to have read a lot of books about parents of children with autism and expressing his own desire to write a book about causes and treatments, Dr. Gordon brings up genetics and environment, and then pleads on behalf of the parents.

The concepts are best articulated by Francis Collin’s quote “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger,” and the notion that nobody knows your child better than you do.

As a generalization, the logic of “parents know best” is fallacious. A trained pediatric infectious disease specialist probably understands the components and function of a child’s immune system better than a typical accountant. If a child contracts a serious infectious disease, and the available parent is an accountant, who should give treatment advice?

Another aspect of this “parent knows best” fallacy is that the emotional bond between parent and child makes parents very much not objective observers. Indeed, because of their attentiveness to children, they are very likely to confuse correlation with causation. Dr. Offit gave an excellent example of this in his book Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. In it, he describes a child who has a seizure in his pediatrician’s office while the nurse was drawing up some routine vaccines to be given at that office visit. He points out that if the child had had that seizure a few minutes later, a few hours later, or perhaps as much as a few days later, very likely to the parent it would have appeared that the vaccine had caused it. But correlation does not equal causation, and when looked at at the population level in studies quite large enough to detect very small correlations, no correlation between either mercury-containing vaccines and autism or vaccines in general and autism has been found. The reason there appears to be a correlation is because the symptoms of autism often first manifest themselves at an age when children are receiving the bulk of their childhood vaccines.

Not that any of that makes any difference to Dr. Gordon. Next, he makes a couple of assertions of what he considers to be fact.

Begging The Question

Vaccines can cause autism.

Dr. Gordon offers not one whit of scientific evidence to support this claim. He simply makes it as though it were self-evident. It’s not, and there is no good scientific evidence that vaccines can cause autism. When challenged to provide support for this sort of assertion, Dr. Gordon is invariably flummoxed, usually retreating back to his “clinical experience” and logical fallacies, more of which are discussed below. His stating that “vaccines can cause autism” in this way suggests that no specific scientific support or mechanism for autism causation will be offered. Readers will need to chalk this up to the following format of fallacious logic, “X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true.”

False Dilemma

Diet and supplements and other alternatives to doing nothing can lead to recovery from autism. Period.

The implication would seem to be that alternative medicine and “doing nothing” are the only choices. They are not, but pseudoscientists pushing the vaccine-autism link and “biomedical” treatments for autism desperately want parents to believe that these are the only two choices. Although “recovery” certainly isn’t clearly defined by Dr. Gordon, parents can focus on education and social skills without getting into the expense of unnecessary supplements, restrictive diets, or other alternative medicine at all. Although some may not, many parents who focus on education and social skills for will see “improvement” as a result.

There is a false premise under this fallacy as well, and that is that autism is a condition of developmental stasis and that any development observed must be due to whatever intervention the parent is making. It is not; autism is a condition of developmental delay. Autistic children can and do develop, sometimes dramatically. Occasionally even dramatically enough to lose their diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. Morever, there is a great deal of expectation effect in parents’ reporting of the results of their interventions, along with a lot of confirmation bias. Consequently, it is impossible to say with any scientific validity that any “biomedical” intervention “works” in “improving” autistic symptoms without controlled randomized trials. Anecdotal experience and “personal clinical experience” (favored by Dr. Gordon) do not constitute sound scientific evidence, no matter how much Dr. Gordon would like to persuade you that they do. After all, physicians believed for hundreds of years that bloodletting was an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions based on “personal clinical experience” and anecdotes.

An excellent discussion of the appropriate role of anecdotes and how much credence should be given to them can be found here.

The “Evil Doctors” Straw Man

Gordon writes (presumptuously speaking for all doctors):

We doctors need to stop deceiving our patients into thinking that immunizations are “free.” Every medical intervention costs the body something, and we have a legal and moral obligation to tell parents.

Above all else, physicians also have a legal and moral obligation to be accurate in boiling down the best scientific evidence for a medical intervention, and claiming that vaccines might cause autism based on no good scientific evidence that they can or do is simply not accurate.

Most doctors would not agree to a statement claiming that “we doctors are deceiving our patients into thinking that immunizations are free.” Doctors do consider the contraindications before administering any injection – that alone conveys knowledge that all medical procedures are not “free.” Immunization requires a risk/benefit analysis. Don’t forget that every infectious disease cost the body something. Doctors also have a moral obligation to more than any one set of parents. They have legal and moral obligations to every patient that enters their offices on any given day. As an example, if a doctor can prevent the spread of an infectious disease (like the measles) to an innocent infant (too young to be vaccinated), by not allowing unvaccinated children in the office, he or she arguably has a moral obligation to do so. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with autism, and neither does much of the rest of the foreword for that matter, but let’s move on.

The “Pharma Shill” Gambit

Quoth Dr. Gordon:

The official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics may be the same as my personal position, but they are far too involved with the pharmaceutical industry to actually do anything but pay lip service to an open discussion. The CDC and the AAP are filled with doctors whose research, speaking engagements, and travel are often funded by the manufacturers of vaccines. Many of these same doctors are paid consultants, and some later go to work full-time for the pharmaceutical industry.

This is a gambit beloved of cranks that has been described before on this blog: The Pharma Shill Gambit. Indeed, Dr. Gordon has on occasion tried out this particular gambit on Orac himself in e-mails demanding to know if he receives renumeration from pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Jay was most disappointed to learn that Orac does not. (So was Orac to have to tell him that, for that matter–just kidding.) Dr. Gordon’s also rather quick to pull out the pharma shill gambit as well to preemptively slime those who might refute antivaccination and pro-quackery nonsense, after which he retreats to the “oh, sorry, we spoke too soon and really didn’t mean it” ploy.

Ties to, and support from, the pharmaceutical industry may exist, and they should be watched and carefully considered. However, research funding simply being connected to vaccine manufacturers, does not invalidate real science. Poor data, statistics, experimental methodology, and lack of reproducibility invalidate science. Sure there’s probably room for added transparency in any such arrangement where industry is involved with, or even produces some of the science, but the bottom line is that the alternative to acknowledging the actual science, is for one to believe in a vast conspiracy, hell-bent on hurting children and counting truckloads of money. This isn’t likely for most rational people.

Tu Quoque

Dr. Gordon is incensed:

They have called Jenny McCarthy and me “dangerous” for alerting parents to the possible risks of vaccinations. They forget that it was one of their own, Dr. Neal Halsey, who wrote the definitive article for the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999. Entitled “Limiting Infant Exposure to Thimerosal in Vaccines and Other Sources of Mercury,” this was the catalyst for removing most mercury from most vaccines.

While Halsey’s concern at the time was surely genuine, with respect to autism it’s now known to have been unfounded. Indeed, as documented in Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Halsey through the force of his personality and his alarmist statements managed to push through a recommendation to remove thimerosal from vaccines, even though the vast majority of the doctors and scientists on the panel didn’t believe that the evidence warranted such a quick move without further study and consideration. Claiming possible risks of vaccines in general with respect to autism (especially if unsubstantiated) is not justified, simply because Dr. Halsey did the same thing in the past with respect to thimerosal. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Indeed, Dr. Halsey, through his alarmist predictions and his pushing through a policy recommendation based on an excessive interpretation of the precautionary principle and that was also not well-supported by science, arguably did more to set the stage for the rise of the mercury militia antivaccination movement–and Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Gordon, as well. After all, the government was in essence saying, “Don’t worry about thimerosal; it’s not dangerous” while removing it from vaccines made it appear that the government believed otherwise. When asked about this apparent disconnect, the response was along the lines of, “Thimerosal isn’t dangerous, but removing it makes vaccines even safer.” No wonder parents were confused. No wonder demagogues like J. B. Handley and Jenny McCarthy, in concert with their apologists like Dr. Gordon, seized on that single action.

We actually think, in retrospect, that a better approach would have been the one advocated by Peter Sandman, namely to admit that the decision was a response to anti-vaccinationist pressure (“If you’re so sure thimerosal is safe, why are you removing it?” “Because our critics won that fight!”) and to point out that, whether it’s a genuine risk or not, a vaccine that significant numbers of people fear to take (or to let their children take) isn’t an effective vaccine.

Red Herring

Dr. Gordon is apparently smart enough to realize that beating the dead “autism = mercury poisoning” horse will not help his flailing arguments against vaccines, and he quickly changes the subject:

Yes, most vaccines have much less mercury, but wait until the evidence against aluminum in vaccines becomes common knowledge. The body of research regarding aluminum’s harm to human cells already contains hundreds of articles.

Of course, Gordon isn’t about to make any scientific connection to autism with the aluminum. He can’t, because there isn’t. Nor can he make any connection between aluminum and any measurable harm to infant health. Again, he can’t, because there isn’t. In reality, this is nothing more than a variation of the deceptive and downright brain-dead “toxin” gambit, one that Dr. Gordon has credulously parroted in the past before. Now that mercury has been largely exonerated as a potential cause of autism in several very large epidemiological studies, for the antivaccine movement aluminum has become the new mercury. So, being utterly unable to make a coherent case that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause harm, Dr. Gordon next resorts to even more fallacious logic.

Appeal To Fear

Quoth Dr. Gordon:

We can only guess what harm we might be causing to babies with the huge overdoses of aluminum.

This is what we like to call the “think of the children” gambit. The implication, of course, is that the harm has been and is being done (to children, yet)!) but it just hasn’t been detected yet. Given that aluminum has been used as an adjuvant in vaccines for nearly 80 years, and no harm has been detected counts for nothing to Dr. Jay, because above all it absolutely, positively has to be those nasty vaccines. Alternatively, one could look for evidence that aluminum in vaccines has anything to do with autism. It doesn’t, as far as science has yet been able to tell. However, once again with the utter failure of the thimerosal hypothesis of autism causation to hold up to scientific scrutiny over the last decade, antivaccinationists like Jenny McCarthy and their apologists who insist they aren’t antivaccine (like Dr. Gordon) have to start digging for other bogeymen in vaccines to blame for autism, because, once again, to them it absolutely, positively has to be the vaccines.

Following some praise for the former head of the NIH (Bernadine Healy), whom antivaccinationists have taken a liking to given her recent statements that seem to support their side but who has a rather checkered past when it comes to statements about science, and begging the question himself by asserting that “we need to study the link between vaccines and autism,” (when no such link has actually been established), Gordon moves on to the so-called “autism epidemic”.

The “Better Diagnosis” Straw Man

Dr. Gordon tells it like he thinks it is. Unfortunately, he’s so wrong he’s not even wrong:

Like many of you and like some of my colleagues, I’m extremely concerned about what has caused the tremendous increase in autism and related disorders over the past decade. The presumption that doctors are much better at diagnosis is absurd and unscientific. (I know that I’m not 400 or 800 percent smarter than I was years ago.)

The stupid, it burns. It sears.

If ever there were a straw man argument, this is it. This one, better known as the “better diagnosis” straw man, seeks to imply that any increases in autism prevalence cannot just be explained by “better diagnosis” (and therefore there must really be an autism epidemic). The problem for Dr. Gordon is that absolutely no one–we repeat, no one–is making such an argument. In reality, this particular straw man is an intellectual crutch, and an ineffective one at that, for those who don’t have the slightest idea how to address the real arguments of those who state (correctly so far), that there is no evidence of any autism epidemic. The real arguments are much more substantial than a simple, “doctors are better at diagnosis.” Read up on the changing definition of autism, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, increased awareness and recognition, and the influence of access to services, for more information.

A safe guess would be that Dr. Gordon is absolutely correct about one thing, and that the 400 or 800 percent smarter he acknowledges he’s not, would be approximately 400 or 800 percent off, had he claimed otherwise.

Science-Free Pleading

Dr. Gordon also likes to indulge in special pleading:

Last but far from least, we have to support and reinforce the intelligent and fiercely held hope these parents of children with autism have. Doctors have to acknowledge and help research the therapies that lead to recovery from autism, recovery brought on by therapies long ignored by the AAP and others. Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diets have succeeded far too many times for any doctor to claim that they’re not “evidence-based.”

That’s a pretty bold implication, asserting with such confidence that there are dietary therapies that lead to recovery from autism. It’s also not true that such claimed therapies have been ignored. They may not have had all the attention some true believers would like, but there is in fact research on the subject. Unfortunately, for Dr. Gordon’s assertion, the evidence that gluten-free diets improve autistic symptoms is much like the evidence for homeopathy. Smaller, unrandomized, uncontrolled trials suggest therapeutic effect, but the better designed the trial the more likely it is to show no effect distinguishable from placebo.

Let’s set that aside for the moment though. Is there more to Dr. Gordon’s unscientific assertion that diets have succeeded far too many times for any doctor to claim that they’re not “evidence-based”? Perhaps he’ll present some scientific evidence in support of his claim. We’ll follow his next few sentences step by step.

Another Straw Man

Only the best straw men will do for Dr. Gordon:

Evidence doesn’t spring just from medical studies funded by drug companies and supervised by MDs and researchers on their payrolls.

Brilliant! Not only is this a classic straw man argument, but the pharma shill gambit is woven seamlessly into it! Alas for poor Dr. Gordon, no one, and we mean no one, is claiming that evidence can only spring from medical studies funded by drug companies and supervised by MDs and researchers on their payrolls. That doesn’t mean satisfactory evidence can come from just anywhere though. So, where does Dr. Gordon suggest we look for this evidence? Surprise, surprise! It’s not from scientists!

Argumentum ad populum

Dr. Gordon expresses his solidarity with The People:

Evidence can come from the hundreds of families and doctors who have watched children with autism get better and even fully recover from the symptoms that have kept them from mainstream education and social opportunities. This is hard evidence and to deny it is specious reasoning and bad science.

Oh, we see. You don’t have any science to support a claim? Just make something up to take the place of science. We have news for Dr. Gordon, anecdotes from hundreds of families and doctors, is not strong evidence. To accept it, let alone credulously repeat it, is not reasoning, it is to suspend logic (explanation below). We won’t say that Dr. Gordon’s apparent acceptance of anecdote is not “good science.” Rather, it is not science at all. In the critically thinking world, to which Dr. Gordon is apparently an outsider, acceptance of anecdote as “evidence” is called “believing.” The very reason that science developed is because it became more and more apparent that humans are prone to find patterns where none exist, especially when looking at small numbers and limited information. Such pattern finding ability probably had a survival advantage in the past, but it leaves humans with cognitive quirks that lead us frequently to attribute causation when none exists. The scientific method exists to correct for that and to prevent the beliefs of scientists from dictating the outcome of experiments–quite the opposite of antivaccinationist pseudoscience.

Dr. Gordon’s argument is nothing more than logic suspended. It’s argumentum ad populum: appeal to popularity. The observation that supposedly hundreds of families and doctors have watched children with autism get better and even fully recover from the symptoms is very close to meaningless. It wouldn’t matter if there were thousands of families and doctors with the claim. A large number of believers doesn’t equate to truth of the conclusion. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have claimed to have seen Bigfoot. Does this mean that Bigfoot is real? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens and subjected to various experiments. According to Dr. Gordon’s apparent logic, he should answer, “evidence can come from the hundreds of outdoorsmen and others who have seen Bigfoot” that Bigfoot exists or “evidence can come from hundreds of people who have been abducted by aliens” that aliens are visiting Earth and abducting people. Many other examples come to mind: Belief in ghosts, psychics, astrology. Many, many people believe in these things and have believed in these things for millennia. Does that mean they are real or work?

In Conclusion

Peeled back to its core, Dr. Gordon’s entire foreword says very little about autism, or Jenny McCarthy’s understanding of the subject. It appears to be little more than an indictment of vaccines in general, and a fallacy-filled presentation of “science doesn’t have all the answers” and “vaccines did it.”

Based on excessive use of fallacious logic, our lesson from this foreword from Dr. Gordon can be summed up thusly, “complete bullshit probably follows.” We’re sure that wasn’t Dr. Gordon’s intention (the book clearly isn’t aimed at critical thinkers or scientist types anyway), but this pediatrician’s foreword is enough to encourage us to save our money.

And you should save yours, too.

And we really wish that Dr. Gordon had not debased himself so far. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he seems too enamored of the hero status he’s been given by the anti-vaccine contingent and his time in the limelight with the celebrity mother of his patient. Worse, given that McCarthy’s book seems to argue that biomedical interventions can cure autism, Dr. Gordon’s giving his stamp of approval makes us wonder whether he prescribes the woo described therein. In the end, because Dr. Gordon strikes us as a nice enough guy whose credulity and lack of scientific acumen has led him down the wrong path, we keep hoping against hope he’ll eventually see the light. However, his penning such a brain dead, fallacy-filled introduction to a brain dead, fallacy-filled book advocating dangerous quackery does not make us optimistic that this will ever happen. More’s the pity.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott@grandison.me.uk
    October 20, 2008

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting read.

    I was wondering if you could explain what the purpose of mercury in vaccines is? I presume there must be a reason for it, otherwise it wouldn’t be in there but I’ve never seen an explanation as to why it’s there.

    Everything I’ve read debunking anti-vaxxers concentrates on the fact that there isn’t a link between mercury and autism. Which is obviously the correct approach, but if people also knew the reason why it needed to be in there that might help as well.

    Thanks for your attention!

  2. #2 Hank
    October 20, 2008

    Scott@grandison.me.uk: Thimerosal is a preservative.

    James, Orac: Great post, but you are far too kind. The guy is a baboon!

  3. #3 kraut
    October 20, 2008

    “I was wondering if you could explain what the purpose of mercury in vaccines is? I presume there must be a reason for it”

    I like o be polite, but in view of such questions my blood starts to boil a bit.
    1. – the role of thimerosal has been explained on this blog n times in the past.
    2. if ou can operate a keyboard, and participate here – what stops you from using google to inform yourself?
    If you are incapable to find it yourself, I am so generous to help you overcoming your ignorance:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal

  4. #4 DT
    October 20, 2008

    Even if Gordon were 800% more intelligent than he currently is, he still wouldn’t be any smarter.

  5. #5 JKW
    October 20, 2008

    So why does this guy even bother trying to persuade physicians and scientists that he’s not antivax? Does he not realize that [some] people can use teh internets to sew his many and clearly written antivax quotes in the lay press into a clear picture of his for-profit, antiscience interests?

  6. #6 DB
    October 20, 2008

    “Although “recovery” certainly isn’t clearly defined by Dr. Gordon, parents can focus on education and social skills without getting into the expense of unnecessary supplements, restrictive diets, or other alternative medicine at all. Although some may not, many parents who focus on education and social skills for will see “improvement” as a result.”

    Do you have any idea how much education costs for a child with autism? The recommendation is 20 hours of ABA a week. At a rate of $60 an hour, your looking at around $50k a year. Changing to a gluten free/ casein free diet is not expensive and including some supplements is also not that expensive either.

    Go to http://www.hriptc.org/ to read the scientific research relating to metabolic disorders that people with ASD have, like pyroluria and undermethylation. Blood samples from people with ASD show they are Zinc deficient. At the end of the day autism was defined by psychiatrists based on characteristics displayed by people. The underlying causes are not fully known, but there are likely to be multiple causes.

    So, many people decide on a multipronged approach to helping their children – diet, supplements, therapy. The diet and supplements often enable the child to get the most out of therapy. If you had experienced the dramatic change that can occur by changing the diet of a child with autism, then I don’t think you would be arguing so vociferously against doctors who support these families.

  7. #7 mk
    October 20, 2008

    The following is a collaborative post between James (a.k.a. Dad of Cameron of Autism Street) and Orac. Feel free to tell which parts were written by whom.:-)

    The use of my new favorite word “woo” I’m guessing is by Orac. ;^}

  8. #8 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    Arrrgh, what is it with the woo-shills popping up lately?
    “Do you have any idea how much education costs for a child with autism?”

    Do you know how much education costs for a child *without* autism?


    Didn’t think so.

  9. #9 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    And of course DB uses ol’ reliable Doggerel #46. (“Don’t Knock [Woo] Before You Try It!”)

  10. #10 DB
    October 20, 2008

    How funny, I didn’t realise that a typical 2 yr old has $50k worth of eduction per year. Are you royalty?

    Are you trying to compare the needs of a typical child with a child with autism? Children with autism need more support due to their communication and emotional needs. Their needs vary greatly. Find an autism support group in your local area and find out.

    My point was that the cost of diet and supplements is not expensive and can make a big difference to a child with autism.

  11. #11 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    DB, me and my brother are both autistic and it didn’t cost even a fourth of that much to educate us. We went to a few private schools, sure, but none of this “$60 an hour” malarkey. I’d like to see some evidence to back up your preposterous claims.

  12. #12 DB
    October 20, 2008

    Laser Potato, you and your brother have Asperger’s not Autism.

  13. #13 DB
    October 20, 2008
  14. #14 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    “Laser Potato, you and your brother have Asperger’s not Autism.”
    Er…you do realize Aspberger’s *is* a form of autism, don’t you? Or are you comitting the Distinction Without A Difference fallacy in order to avoid me?

  15. #15 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    Less site-plugging, more evidence.
    Oh, and almost all of the “research” on the first site you plugged were obviously press releases with no cites or sources attached.

  16. #16 Tom
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Halsey teaches a class about vaccines at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and when I was there in 2006 he told our class countless, countless times that there is no link between vaccines and autism. He also explained that taking thimerosol out of vaccines had been overly precautious.

    And in his defense, don’t you think that “stoking controversy” should not have been a factor when they were deciding whether to take out thimerosol from vaccines? The bottom line is that (at the time) there were some questions and thimerosol was not really needed in the vaccines so they decided to take it out; I don’t think they should have been concerned as to the public’s reaction to the decision.

  17. #17 Marilyn Mann
    October 20, 2008

    Have you written anything on Gardasil or other HPV vaccines? I already had my teenage daughter vaccinated, so I don’t have any decision to make, but I would be interested in your opinion.

  18. #18 Kraut is an Ahole
    October 20, 2008

    I like o be polite, but in view of such questions my blood starts to boil a bit… If you are incapable to find it yourself, I am so generous to help you overcoming your ignorance:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal

    Posted by: kraut | October 20, 2008 5:42 AM

    Kraut, you’re an Ahole.

  19. #19 Susan Goewey
    October 20, 2008

    VERY IMPORTANT VARIABLE, if a child is already fighting a cold, or has ANY underlying medical conditions, they should NOT get vaccines at same time.

    There is MUCH evidence that getting several vaccines AT ONCE or when a child’s immune system is already fighting an illness (even an undetectable one like “mitochondrial disorder”) can and does lead to regressive form autism. A slow, steady decline of cognitive function. Numerous parent reports ARE data points. This story has been repeated in thousands of homes. Healthy child brought in for “well check” up, given combination shots, reacts with fever, lethargy or worse, screaming/brain swelling and never fully recovers. Parents have numerous video tapes of their children (healthy) before and (dazed, inattentive) after. MANY parents figure out the connection too late for their first child, but refuse to get their younger children vaccinated, blindly, according to rigid “schedule” and thus “save” younger children from autism.
    Vaccines are KNOWN to not be “completely safe” i.e., without side effects (hence the national compensation fund, never mind that the link is almost impossible for parents to prove without hiring expensive lawyer and “experts” to make their case for them.)

    The reasons “most doctors dismiss the theory” of too many vaccines, too soon can cause harm is that they simply have not studied it…they take the word of other doctors and pharmaceutical companies and follow the herd mentality…ignoring “rare cases” that prove the opposite. The FDA is too slow to connect the dots of the CUMULATIVE affect of too many vaccines . Doctors do not have time or patience to look at raw data submitted to FDA.

    But a growing number of parents have. It is irresponsible not to mention the most famous case of this: Hannah Pollen, healthy child who now has autism after “too many” vaccines given at once.
    Parents shoule NEVER combine flu vaccine with MMR or other combined shots.
    Flu mist contains mercury in inhaled form…the most toxic form as it goes straight from nasal passageways to the brain. They’ve banned thirmerosal in eyedrops, but now RECOMMEND it for young children in flu vaccines?!
    It’s not simply a matter of “preference” for mercury-free vaccines. It is common sense.
    Like lead and others heavy metals, there are no “safe” levels of mercury for developing brain, only “less harmful”. But mercury sideeffects are slow and cumulative, so by the time they present themselves the connection is no longer made. Unfortunately, when they “took out” the mercury, or “reduced levels”, they replaced it with aluminum (another toxin) along with anti-freeze and other toxins to stop formation of bacteria in multidose jars of vaccines.
    A major”study” actually does show a link between vaccines and autism. It examines the complete LACK of autism in Amish community, where children are vaccine-free AND autism-free.
    Studies that attempt to prove thirmerosal is safe, have major flaws that do not take into account other variables in the participants health (air/water pollution in those areas, fish consumption, environmental toxins) and, again, fact that heavy metal poisoning is CUMULATIVE. They ignore proof of mercury toxicity. Remember the infants in Canada who all DIED when their umbelical cords were disinfected w/ thermerisol?? Smaller amounts in vaccines may not kill infants, but they can cause brain damage that is harder to detect.
    I’ll take the flu over “slight” brain damage any day, for me or my child.
    Please stop spreading dangerous propaganda for the pharmaceutical companies.
    And please examine NEW INFORMATION being reported about the side effects for the HPV vaccine vs. the supposed benefits. Young adolescence girls do not just drop dead or become paralyzed as dozens have after HPV vaccine. Please do your homework before you imply that it is safe to give both HPV and Flu shots at once.
    Risk simply is too great for benefits.

    Susan Goewey
    2228 Benedictine Ct.
    Vienna, VA 22182
    sgoewey@cox.net
    PS Doctors who say a shot is like “getting germs in bathroom” are disregarding fact that those germs more easily enter blood stream if you have a cut for them to enter your body. Meanwhile vaccines get INJECTED into bloodstream (yes they are meant to be intra “muscular” but babies have tiny muscles, therefore the heavy metal toxins contained in the vaccines go right into the bloodstream, circulatory system and move throughout their tiny bodies, up to their brains where they lodge in their delicate brain tissue and continue doing their neurological damage.)

  20. #20 Woobegone
    October 20, 2008

    “Numerous parent reports ARE data points.”

    Yes, they are data about what parents believe. Someone could plot an interesting graph of the number of parent reports of autism following vaccination over time, it would be nice to see how these kinds of rumors spread.

    What’s interesting is that these rumors are so localized, did you know that the mercury-causes-autism theory is almost unknown outside the US? Whereas in the UK we have the MMR-causes-autism theory, but no-one cares about mercury. In France a while back they thought Hepatitis B vaccination caused Multiple Sclerosis (It doesn’t.) In Nigeria some people think polio vaccination makes you infertile. (It doesn’t.) (See Bad Science by Ben Goldacre for more on this.)

    These rumors would make a great study for a sociologist. There’s a PhD in there somewhere…

  21. #21 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    “Parents know best”

    So, in other words, Dr. Gordon is a fraud who takes his clients’ money for things that they can do better than he does?

    Let’s apply a little consistency here, Jay.

  22. #22 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are filled with doctors who not only don’t believe the ideas in this book but actively ridicule them and spend a lot of money trying to disprove the causes and treatments so well presented when Jenny Mccarthy and others in the cure-autism community speak and write.

    I’m all for the AAP and the CDC spending a lot of money to counter the anti-vaxers. It would be their job to do so. But is there evidence that they do spend a lot of money? My view is that they just sit in the sidelines, and let parents like Kev or science bloggers like Orac carry their water for free.

  23. #23 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    Changing to a gluten free/ casein free diet is not expensive and including some supplements is also not that expensive either.

    And placing a wreath of chicken feathers over the child’s bed is even cheaper yet.

    Did you have a point?

  24. #24 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    If you had experienced the dramatic change that can occur by changing the diet of a child with autism, then I don’t think you would be arguing so vociferously against doctors who support these families.

    These sorts of claims might sound good if you were talking about something other than autism. Outcome in autism is so variable, that this type of testimonial tells us nothing. Just consider Victoria Beck, whose son was supposedly made to talk by Secretin. Or consider the kids Michael Menkin claims have improved with his thought screen helmet.

    The fact is that there’s no plausibility behind these supplements and diets. The notions behind them are fabricated out of thin air, practically. They are completely unproven. There’s no good track record for these made-up treatments. As soon as they are tested, they are shown to be placebos. Finally, they are not necessarily safe. Even a diet can result in nutritional deficits of various kinds.

  25. #25 Liz Ditz
    October 20, 2008

    Dear Susan Goewey,

    I’m sure you sincerely believe the load of codswallop you posted. Unfortunately you are wrong on most points.

    there are no “safe” levels of mercury for developing brain, only “less harmful”.

    Mercury is ubiquitous. Thimerosal was excreted efficiently. Citation

    But mercury side effects are slow and cumulative, so by the time they present themselves the connection is no longer made.

    You are asserting that blood levels of mercury following vaccination have not been studied. Wrong. Also, you are asserting that mercury toxicity cannot be diagnosed. Wrong again.

    Unfortunately, when they “took out” the mercury, or “reduced levels”, they replaced it with aluminum

    Wrong. Thimerosal was used as a preservative. The aluminum salts present in some vaccines is an adjuvant, not a preservative: it boosts the body’s immune response. citation

    (another toxin) along with anti-freeze and other toxins to stop formation of bacteria in multidose jars of vaccines.

    Oh, my. Anti-freeze? Clearly you have not been paying attention. Try reading this article , Toxic Myths about Vaccines.. The short version: antifreeze is a combination of ingredients, commonly including ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. Those chemicals aren’t in vaccines.

    A major”study” actually does show a link between vaccines and autism. It examines the complete LACK of autism in Amish community, where children are vaccine-free AND autism-free.

    Wrong again, on two counts. As to the “study”, you appear to be referring to the shoddy, fearmongering tract, Evidence of Harm written by the publicist David Kirby. It was in no sense a study. Kirby’s lack of journalistic ethics have been widely covered.

    The complex canard about the Amish,autism, and vaccination has been thoroughly debunked. For example: Austism News Beat.

  26. #26 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    Oh gawd. Susan’s post is just a long list nonsense we’ve seen a million times. “Preventable diseases are safer than vaccines!” “The Amish are autism-free!” “There’s a study that shows a link between mercury and autism, but I won’t show it to you!” “Studies that fail to show a link between mercury and autism are flawed…somehow!” “TOXINS!!!!!”
    And the fact that she actually *posts her street address* is the deomposed cherry on top of the vomit sundae.

  27. #27 Tracy W
    October 20, 2008

    Healthy child brought in for “well check” up, given combination shots, reacts with fever, lethargy or worse, screaming/brain swelling and never fully recovers.

    And there are ample cases of a healthy child going nowhere near a doctor, developing a fever, lethargy or worse, screaming/brain swelling, and never fully recovering. Much of this happened to me, minus the brain swelling, about age 11.

    The relevant question is do vaccines save more lives, and protect more against the long-term damages of many infectious diseases than not vaccinating? The stories my parents tell about polio are not nice.

  28. #28 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    A major”study” actually does show a link between vaccines and autism. It examines the complete LACK of autism in Amish community, where children are vaccine-free AND autism-free.

    @Susan Goewey: Oh man, tell me something. Are you completely dishonest or just ignorant?

    There is no such major study. If you think otherwise, why don’t you cite it?

    Additionally, the Amish do happen to vaccinate. And autistics do happen to exist among the Amish. Whoever claimed the Amish are vaccine-free and lack autism either pulled it out of their ass or was negligent in their research.

    See my estimate of the minimum prevalence of low-functioning autism among the Amish.

    You might also be interested in this:

    The Amish are 12 percent of the local population, but their children represent close to half of the area’s most severe cases of mental and physical retardation.

    (source)

  29. #29 HCN
    October 20, 2008

    Joseph said “@Susan Goewey: Oh man, tell me something. Are you completely dishonest or just ignorant?”

    I bet she is just ignorant. Everyone who is a regular here knows that refers to Olmsted’s Age of Autism series… the one where he wandered around Pennsylvania and failed to find the Clinic for Special Children. Though after his first article came out several people told him about it, and THEN he called them. Only they knew his level of accuracy so rightly refused to talk to him:
    http://autism-news-beat.com/?p=29

    Susan, there is a reason that Olmsted no longer works for UPI.

    I have the feeling she came here based on some kind search for either Jay Gordon and Jenny McCarthy, by some kind of call by some anti-vaccine Yahoo group, or from Age of Autism itself (where Olmsted now works). She has obviously not looked at any previous posting, yet somehow believes she can “edumacate” us.

    Susan, and DD… you are welcome to show me exactly what real evidence shows that the DTaP is worse than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (pertussis still kills about a dozen American babies each year), or how the MMR is worse than mumps, rubella and measles (which is making a comeback, it tends to kill one out of 1000 and cause severe permanent neurological damage in about 1 in 5000). Just remember that the evidence must be real, and scientific: no anecdotes, no books, no news reports and no random websites (especially those that have links to let you find a personal injury lawyer like at NVIC). Something like this:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18925883?dopt=Abstract

    By the way, Dr. Jay has been asked this question several times and has yet to answer it satisfactorily. He is welcome to do so now (and he is AGAIN reminded that his personal anecdotes do not count).

  30. #30 Dangerous Bacon
    October 20, 2008

    To address just one of the many inaccuracies and distortions in Susan Goewey’s posting above (the bit about “NEW INFORMATION” showing the supposed dangers of the HPV vaccine, and the claim that “young adolescence (sic) girls do not just drop dead”.

    Sudden death among teenagers is a well-known phenomenon, and one not linked to vaccines. For example:

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51787.php

    Please stop spreading dangerous propaganda for the benefit of antivaxers.

  31. #31 cooler
    October 20, 2008

    Orac,
    Unfortunately your “Galileo Gambit” is a fallacy in itself. Read this post by mathmetician Darin Brown.

    THE “GALILEO GAMBIT STRAWMAN”
    Posted by Darin Brown on Friday, 23 May 2008

    Perhaps the most common reaction to dissident arguments is the argumentum ad populum, more commonly known as the “argument from consensus”. You know, “Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong”. This is perfectly exemplified by a quote Robert Gallo gave to Anthony Liversidge in 1989:

    “There is no organized body of science that thinks it is anything but comedy with Peter right now. That’s the fact. Why does the Institute of Medicine, WHO (World health Organization), CDC (Centers for Disease Control), National Academy of Sciences, NIH, Pasteur Institute and the whole body of science 100 percent agree that HIV is the cause of AIDS? If there was anything to what Peter is saying, wouldn’t it occur to you that there would be some other scientists that would agree with Peter? Can you tell me anyone?”

    Twenty years later, little has changed:

    “Debating denialists dignifies their position in a way that is unjustified by the facts about HIV/AIDS. The appropriate way for dissenting scientists to try to persuade other scientists of their views on any scientific subject is by publishing research in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. For many years now, AIDS denialists have been unsuccessful in persuading credible peer-reviewed journals to accept their views on HIV/AIDS, because of their scientific implausibility and factual inaccuracies. That failure does not entitle those who disagree with the scientific consensus on a life-and-death public health issue to then attempt to confuse the general public by creating the impression that scientific controversy exists when it does not.” — “Answering AIDS Denialists”, AIDSTruth.org

    The argument from consensus is a logical fallacy. The truth of a claim is not dependent on how many people hold the claim to be true. There are many counterexmaples from history, but a favorite is Galileo’s advocacy of Copernicanism. The response runs as follows: “Almost everyone thought Galileo was wrong, but he turned out to be right. Therefore, just because almost everyone thinks something is true, doesn’t make it so.”

    The fallaciousness of the argument from consensus is a banal fact which is hardly in dispute. Therefore, people arguing from consensus are forced to either defend their claims with other valid arguments or to defend the argument from consensus with further logical fallacies. The clever try their hand at the former; the dim-witted almost invariably try their hand at the latter by using a logical fallacy I like to call the “Galileo Gambit Strawman”.

    The idea behind the fallacy is to replace the above response to the argument from consensus with a strawman called the “Galileo Gambit”. The fallacy runs like this: “Yes, Galileo was right when almost everyone thought he was wrong. However, for every Galilieo, there are a thousand Bozo the Clowns who are wrong. Just because you compare yourself to Galileo, doesn’t mean you are right. You are far more likely to be wrong. Stop using the ‘Galileo Gambit’.”

    The “Galileo Gambit” has become a favorite tactic of pseudo-skeptics, as it was recently popularized by one of our favorite surgeons-turned-blogger “Orac” (“Respectful Insolence”), certainly familiar to many readers of this blog. Unfortunately for dear Orac and his readers, it is a strawman argument.

    When someone invokes Galileo as a counterexample against the argument from consensus, they are not asserting that because almost everyone disagrees with them, they are necessarily correct in their claims. Such an argument is patently absurd, and I have rarely, if ever, seen it advanced. When someone invokes Galileo, they are not claiming that such a comparison is sufficient to establish their claim, they are simply asserting that the example of Galileo provides evidence that consensus itself is insufficient reason to reject a claim.

    The Galileo Gambit Strawman is committed in response to a perceived use of the Galileo Gambit, not the Galileo Gambit itself. It is ironic that such an elementary and obvious logical fallacy as this is perpetrated almost invariably by those who most claim to be “rational”, “skeptical”, and “scientific”.

    APPENDIX

    =======

    For those wishing a more precise mathematical explication of the “Galileo Gambit Strawman” fallacy:

    Let

    D = “Everyone disagrees with me.”, and

    R = “I am right.”

    The skeptic is saying

    “~(D ==> ~R),”

    where “~” indicates logical negation, in words,

    “It is not the case that because everyone disagrees with me, I am necessarily wrong.”

    The defender counters

    “~(D ==> R)”

    in words,

    “It is not the case that because everyone disagrees with you, you are necessarily right.”

    The statement

    “(D ==> R)”

    in words,

    “Everyone disagrees with me, therefore I am right.”

    is called the “Galileo Gambit”, and it is correctly described as a fallacy.

    But the skeptic did not say “(D ==> R)”, they said “~(D ==> ~R)”. So I call the strawman counter above from the defender the “Galileo Gambit Strawman”.

    The Galileo Gambit Strawman then takes the precise form:

    “~(D ==> ~R) < ==> (D ==> R)”

    The first statement is the correct argument against the argument from consensus. The second statement is the fallacious Galileo Gambit. Taking the two statements to be logically equivalent is the fallacious Galileo Gambit Strawman.

  32. #32 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    Arguments for consensus/authority and the Galileo gambit are both logical fallacies. Cooler is saying that the Galileo gambit can be used legitimately to counter a consensus/authority argument. That’s nonsense. Don’t counter one logical fallacy with another (and a pretentious one at that). Simply point out the fallacy in the original argument.

  33. #33 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    Also note that while a consensus/authority argument is technically fallacious logically, it’s more of a heuristic in reality. Courts, for example, rely on it. It’s like Occam’s Razor. It’s not guaranteed to be right, and most people understand that, but it’s a reasonable guideline.

  34. #34 BA
    October 20, 2008

    On parent report as data, I know it is a different hypothesis, just allergen-free food for thought:

    SHORT REPORT (Free through medline: Arch. Dis. Child.; 2002; 493-494)
    Recall bias, MMR, and autism
    N Andrews, E Miller, B Taylor, R Lingam, A Simmons, J Stowe, P Waight
    Arch Dis Child 2002;87:493-494
    Parents of autistic children with regressive symptoms who
    were diagnosed after the publicity alleging a link with
    measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine tended to
    recall the onset as shortly after MMR more often than parents of similar children who were diagnosed prior to the
    publicity. This is consistent with the recall bias expected
    under such circumstances.
    In 1998 a paper by Wakefield et al hypothesised a link
    between measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and
    autism.1 The postulated causal association attracted considerable media attention, which has continued despite subsequent studies showing no evidence of an association.2 One of the negative studies was a population based study performed in mid-1998 in eight health districts in northeast London, which included 427 children with core or atypical autism.
    This study found no evidence of a significantly increased relative incidence (RI) of onset of regression or first parental concern in various time periods from two to 12 months after MMR immunisation, with the single exception of onset of parental concern within six months of MMR, possibly attributed to the large number of analyses performed.
    In 2000 the study was repeated in five of the original eight
    health districts with the aim of updating prevalence estimates and assessing the association between regression, bowel symptoms, and MMR immunisation in autistic children.5 The new study also provided an opportunity to examine the effect of knowledge of the putative autism-MMR causal association on parents’ perception of the temporal relation between immunisation and onset of symptoms, particularly regression, which has been claimed as a prime feature of vaccine associated cases.
    METHODS
    While the data collected in the earlier study conducted in
    19983 are unlikely to have been greatly influenced by the
    putative MMR-autism association, the data for the newly
    diagnosed cases in the study conducted in 2000 had the
    potential for parental recall bias concerning the age at onset of symptoms, particularly for those in whom regression was reported. The potential for this bias arises because details of symptom onset are usually recorded retrospectively at the time of autism diagnosis. In order to investigate whether this had occurred we compared RI estimates for children likely to have been diagnosed before and after the MMR-autism publicity. Since cases notes for children diagnosed up to 1998 (pre-hypothesis) could have been changed or updated subsequently, the data collected in 1998 for the five districts included in the 2000 study were used for the pre-hypothesis RI estimates. The study period for this cohort was from 1979 to the end of 1997. The post-hypothesis data set used information collected in the 2000 study and was restricted to those born from January 1995. This date was used because no child born from 1995 onwards had a diagnosis before 1997 and most had diagnoses between 1998 and 2000.
    The self controlled case series method uses conditional Poisson regression to enable estimation of the RI using only cases by comparison of the frequency of events within and outside specified post-immunisation risk periods. In these analyses the risk periods for autism onset considered were within 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of MMR. Age was adjusted for by stratification into one month groups. In the first analysis, cases were restricted to the subset of children with core or atypical autism in whom parents reported developmental regression, with onset defined
    as the age at which regressive symptoms were reported to have occurred. In the second analysis, all core and atypical autism cases were included and onset was defined as the age at first parental concern, irrespective of whether regression was reported. Only cases with age at regression or age at parental concern under 50 months were included. This age restriction resulted in the exclusion of four cases. Since no onsets occurred after a second MMR dose the RI was only estimated for the first MMR dose.
    RESULTS
    From the 1998 study, 86 cases with an age at regression from
    0 to 50 months and 285 cases with an age at parental concern
    from 0 to 50 months were identified in the five districts. From the 2000 study in children born from January 1995, 26 cases had an age at regression from 0 to 50months and 95 cases had an age at parental concern from 0 to 50 months.
    Table 1 shows the RI estimates for regression onset within 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of MMR for the two studies. The RI
    estimates in the 2000 study were greater than those in the 1998 study, although the confidence intervals were fairly wide and differences between estimates in the studies were not significant.
    None of the RI estimates in either study were significantly
    greater than one.
    Table 2 shows the RI estimates for onset according to first
    parental concern within 2, 4, 6, and 12 months ofMMRfor the
    two studies. The RI estimates for the 2000 study were similar to those in the 1998 study. The <6 month analysis for the five districts analysed from the 1998 study showed a significantly raised RI, similar to that previously reported for eight districts in the earlier study.
    DISCUSSION
    The results of this study are consistent with the existence of parental recall bias when reporting the onset of regression in relation to MMR immunisation in children with autism.
    Although the direction of the bias is as expected, the number of cases in the 2000 study with regression and born since 1995 was small, and the differences compared with the 1998 study were not significant. No evidence of bias was seen for reported age at first parental concern, consistent with the emphasis of the MMR-autism hypothesis on the subset of children in whom parents report developmental regression. The raised RI seen in the 1998 study in the <6 month period for first parental concern was not seen in the 2000 data. This suggests that the 1998 result was a chance finding because of the number of post-immunisation periods examined in the study.
    The potential for bias needs to be considered in any study
    reliant on clinical histories obtained after a hypothesis has been publicised. This may be in the form of recall bias or biased reporting of cases fitting the hypothesis and may lead to false conclusions. Although the difference in RI estimates pre and post the hypothesis was not significant, this paper highlights the possibility that such a bias could affect future studies.
    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    The 1998 study was funded by the Medicines Control Agency and the
    Department of Health. The 2000 study was funded by the Department
    of Health. We are very grateful to the paediatricians, child health
    computer staff, and their managers in the study districts for their help
    with these studies.
    Contributions: N Andrews conducted the statistical analyses and wrote
    the paper; E Miller and B Taylor also wrote the paper and designed the
    study. R Lingam, A Simmons, and J Stowe collated case note data.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Authors' affiliations
    N Andrews, Statistics Unit, Public Health Laboratory Service,
    61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK
    E Miller, J Stowe, P Waight, Immunisation Division, Communicable
    Disease Surveillance Centre, Public Health Laboratory Service
    B Taylor, R Lingam, A Simmons, Centre for Community Child Health,
    Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus,
    University College London, London NW3 2PF, UK
    Correspondence to: Dr E Miller, Immunisation Division, Communicable
    Disease Surveillance Centre, Public Health Laboratory Service,
    61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK; emiller@phls.org.uk
    Accepted 5 August 2002
    REFERENCES
    1 Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular
    hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in
    children: an early report. Lancet 1998;351:637-41.
    2 Elliman DAC, Bedford HE. MMR vaccine–worries are not justified.
    Arch Dis Child 2001;85:271-4.
    3 Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et al. Autism and measles, mumps and
    rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association.
    Lancet 1999;353:2026-9.
    4 Lingam R, Simmons A, Andrews N, et al. Prevalence of autism and
    parentally reported triggers in a North East London population.
    Submitted.
    5 Taylor B, Miller E, Lingam R, et al. Measles, mumps, and rubella
    vaccination and bowel problems or developmental regression in children
    with autism: population study. BMJ 2002;324:393-6.
    6 Farrington CP. Relative incidence estimation from case series for
    vaccine safety evaluation. Biometrics 1995;51:228-35.
    Table 1 Relative incidence of onset of regression after MMR immunisation in
    children with childhood and atypical autism
    Risk period
    post-MMR (mth)
    1998 study (n=86) 2000 study–born from 1995 (n=26)
    RI (95% CI)
    Cases in
    risk period RI (95% CI)
    Cases in
    risk period
    <2 1.01 (0.38 to 2.63) 6 1.82 (0.50 to 6.64) 5
    <4 0.99 (0.48 to 2.09) 14 2.07 (0.65 to 6.61) 10
    <6 0.97 (0.49 to 2.04) 24 2.10 (0.64 to 6.91) 16
    <12 0.94 (0.44 to 2.02) 46 1.76 (0.34 to 8.97) 19
    Table 2 Relative incidence of timing of first parental concern in relation to MMR
    immunisation in children with childhood and atypical autism
    Risk period
    post-MMR (mth)
    1998 study (n=283) 2000 study--born from 1995 (n=95)
    RI (95% CI)
    Cases in
    risk period RI (95% CI)
    Cases in
    risk period
    <2 1.07 (0.58 to 1.98) 14 1.17 (0.48 to 2.87) 7
    <4 1.18 (0.76 to 1.83) 34 1.25 (0.61 to 2.59) 15
    <6 1.55 (1.05 to 2.29) 65 0.82 (0.41 to 1.64) 22
    <12 0.91 (0.61 to 1.34) 106 1.53 (0.75 to 3.11) 52
    494 Andrews, Miller, Taylor, et al
    http://www.archdischild.com

  35. #35 BA
    October 20, 2008

    Figured one of these long posts should include sound information for a change.

  36. #36 Scott
    October 20, 2008

    I’m sorry for my original question about the purpose of mercury. I’m a new reader and I thought it was a reasonable enquiry. I actually did subsequently look it up on Wikipedia, which I should have done first.

    I also thought I did it in a polite and respectful way, but apparently not enough to avoid incurring someone’s wrath. I won’t ask anything else in the future.

    Best wishes.

  37. #37 Gray Falcon
    October 20, 2008

    Sorry about your bad initial experience, Scott, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. The reason why everyone was so upset was because of the way you phrased the question, it sounded like a heavily loaded one. Basic chemistry states the elemental mercury and mercury compounds (such as thimerosal) are two very different things, referring to one as the other is a common error.

  38. #38 Ms. Clark
    October 20, 2008

    DB wrote: “How funny, I didn’t realise that a typical 2 yr old has $50k worth of eduction per year. Are you royalty?

    My point was that the cost of diet and supplements is not expensive and can make a big difference to a child with autism.”

    He makes my point very well that the promotion of autism as a disorder that can be cured if you pour about a million dollars on it (if you find it at 12 months and start pouring a half a mil on it you might not need to spen the whole million and the accompanying gallons of blood, sweat and tears).

    The ABA sellers are at the root of a lot of the dangerous woo. ABA as it is sold to parents of autistic kids is a mind numbingly destructive force in some families and far out of reach for many others. The mom is usually required to quit her job just to manage the cadre of girls with high school diplomas (and their supervisors) coming and going from the child’s home for 40 hours a week! The therapy is sold as being the only chance to “recover” a child and keep him out of an institution. Parents do insane things to get this paid for, and if they get the gov’t to pay for it, it makes the gov’t resent the existence of autistics and start planning ways to wipe them out for the future because they are so expensive.

    The therapy does not “work” it’s inherently abusive to autistic kids (if it’s done in the “classic” intensive way of 40 hours a week of Discrete Trials – discrete trials are all behaviorism look a whole lot like dog training in reality). What happens is that they get some kids who grow out of the more obvious stage of autism, then they give credit for all this expensive therapy to the expensive therapists.

    So a GFCF diet (which is like an entry drug into more expensive and dangerous quack therapies) looks good compared to that potentially family-destroying mess of 40 hours a week of ABA.

    25 hours of week is proportionally less effective, and if you therapize your kid for 40 hours a week and it doesn’t work, then you have to go to 50 or 60 hours a week. Not kidding. This kind of ABA cure is a cult and it’s sick.

    It’s part of what has given us Jenny Stinking McCarthy and her lap dog Dr. Jay Gordon.

    Yes, autistic kids may need extra work compared to a typical kid but sometimes with loving, normal parenting and regular (not exotic) medical care, they turn out to be people who are happy and healthy and even tax paying adults.

    Some typical kids have food issues. Some autistic kids have food issues. There is no real evidence that autistic kids are more likely to have serious “gut” problems than any other group, except that kids who are retarded (with or without autism) are more likely to be constipated (and have overflow diarrhea). Constipation can come from not having the cognitive ability to figure out how and when to go to the bathroom. That’s not some exotic food allergy thing, it’s reality for a special needs kid.

    ABA as it is sold, as a cure for autism, is woo and quackery of the worst sort.

  39. #39 Ms. Clark
    October 20, 2008

    Clarification: I meant this is how the ABA sellers will explain it and justify what they are doing: “25 hours of week is proportionally less effective, and if you therapize your kid for 40 hours a week and it doesn’t work, then you have to go to 50 or 60 hours a week. Not kidding. This kind of ABA cure is a cult and it’s sick.”

  40. #40 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 20, 2008

    Good Morning Dave et al,

    Busy day here and I’ll reread this post later. Excellent indictment of my character and the lack of science behind my ideas.

    I just gave a child a vaccine and will probably give others today. I believe that current vaccine formulations,combinations and schedules are not as safe as they could be.

    More later.

    Best,

    Jay

  41. #41 Orac
    October 20, 2008

    No, Dr. Jay, I’m not indicting your character. You can interpret it that way if you like, but I consider you misguided, credulous, and lacking in scientific acumen, not dishonest. You believe what you are doing is right, but your blaming vaccines for autism and your support of “biomedical interventions” are not supported by scientific or clinical evidence. Certainly, you haven’t been able to convince anyone here that they are, and, even though you don’t see yourself as antivaccine, your promoting Jenny McCarthy’s nonsense and giving speeches to antivaccine rallies makes you at least an apologist for the antivaccine movement.

    I am with Dad of Cameron, however, in indicting your entire foreword to Jenny McCarthy’s book as a load of pseudoscientific rubbish. How could you write something that bad? Aren’t you embarrassed? In my book, your associating yourself with Jenny McCarthy’s pseudoscience and quackery–yes, I said it: quackery–gives the appearance that you endorse it or even that you advise her about it.

    Do you?

    In any case, you have repeatedly been asked for scientific evidence to support your assertions that vaccines cause autism, that biomedical treatments work, etc. You have consistently failed to provide it. That’s a fact.

    The floor’s always open if you want to try again. As you well know, I almost never censor anyone here, no matter how much they disagree with me. (John Best was one of the rare exceptions, but, quite frankly, when he dissed my dog not long after she died of cancer and then started trying to call me a pedophile, I thought I was completely justified in booting him. Even I can only take so much.)

    Perhaps we could start again with three questions: What, specifically, are the “toxins” in vaccines and what is the scientific evidence that they are toxic at the doses given? What, precisely, does “green our vaccines” mean? What scientific data, specifically, led you to conclude that vaccines can cause autism?

  42. #42 L'asperge
    October 20, 2008

    But a growing number of parents have. It is irresponsible not to mention the most famous case of this: Hannah Pollen

    Susan, the girl’s name is Poling, not Pollen. It is irresponsible to pose as knowledgeable when you can’t correctly name your star witness.

  43. #43 AutismNewsBeat
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Jay, would it be accurate to refer to you as Jenny McCarthy’s de facto science advisor? If not, who does advice Jenny that vaccines contain anti-freeze and ether?

    Thank you.

  44. #44 Woobegone
    October 20, 2008

    cooler : The “Galileo Gambit” may or may not be a strawman (I don’t think it is because it’s not an argument, it’s a rhetorical flourish). But look, can you (or anyone) provide an actual example of a “Galileo” from the past, shall we say, 50 years?

    I mean someone who proposed a radical new idea in science, and met with an angry dismissal, but now everyone accepts that they were right.

    I can’t think of a single one.

  45. #45 Jennifer
    October 20, 2008

    @Woobegone – your question about other scientists with radical ideas:

    “A German scientist has won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, for his discoveries about the family of viruses that cause cervical cancer. Harald zur Hausen, MD, bucked conventional medical thinking in the 1970s and pursued the idea that HPV, or human papilloma virus, played a role in cervical cancer. Eventually, he singled out HPV 16 and 18, the strains responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers worldwide.”

    “Two Australian scientists have been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine for their discovery that stomach ulcers can be caused by a bacterial infection. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall showed the bacterium Helicobacter pylori plays a key role in the development of both stomach and intestinal ulcers. . . In 1982, when H. pylori was discovered by Dr Marshall and Dr Warren, stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of stomach and intestinal ulcers. . . Dr Marshall proved that H. pylori caused gastic inflammation by deliberately infecting himself with the bacterium. The Nobel citation praises the doctors for their tenacity, and willingness to challenge prevailing dogmas.”

    I’ve quoted these snippets from the news reports of the prizes. I think it’s interesting that such discoveries, which did go against the grain of contemporary science are so rare that they are rewarded with Nobel prizes.

  46. #46 Steve D
    October 20, 2008

    I hope one component of Dr, Jay’s “…more later…” includes an explanation of his assertion that “vaccines can cause autism”. The myriad researchers who have devoted their professional careers to adding to the body of knowledge about autism causation will be thrilled to know that a pediatrician in California has compelling evidence to add to the subject!

    I also feel compelled to ask – does Dr. Jay take the time to advise the parents of his patients that vaccines can cause autism prior to administering the vaccines? Many parents must bring their kids in and not ask about autism prior to their kids receiving their shots, so how does Dr. Jay handle these cases? Is he not ethically bound to inform the unwitting parents of the risk that he is convinced they are taking with their child’s health? If he says nothing and the child develops autism, is it then his fault for knowingly precipitating the event despite the parents’ ignorance? Does he add to the established list of “reactions” items such as “withdraws into one’s own world” or “flaps hands”? If so, does he give a time frame in which this may happen?

    I wonder how many VAERS reports about autism causation have originated at Dr. Jay’s offices vs. the average pediatrician’s office in the U.S.?

  47. #47 Bachalon
    October 20, 2008

    Thanks everyone for the links (very informative. As a layman, I’m not as learned in this areas as I am in some other areas). BA, is there a link to the article you posted (it would be handier to have than the text of the thing)?

    Thank you.

  48. #48 Dr Aust
    October 20, 2008

    The classic modern example that most Woos tend to cite as examplar in answer to questions like Woebegone’s is Barry Marshall and Robin Penrose’s discovery (or re-discovery) of Helicobacter pylori and then the link of it to gastric and duodenal ulcers.

    Of course, the sleight-of-hand is that this is actually isn’t a “Galileo story”. Penrose and Warren did the pioneering work in 81-82 and published it in The Lancet in 1983 and 84. So not precisely “angrily dismissed”. Their work was met with a certain amount of polite scepticism, but they kept working, and publishing in serious medical journals, and other people repeated bits of it successfully, and the field gradually came around. Eventually the key evidence all stacked up and the case was incontrovertible. In 1994 a consensus conference basically made their ideas, and the antibiotic treatment of ulcers, into the mainstream therapies.

    The key points here are that: (i) Marshall and Warren’s ideas got published in mainstream journals, and were listened to, albeit sceptically at first; and (ii) they kept doing, and putting out, proper science. They didn’t throw a sulk and storm off to set up a private Woo-clinic / institute somewhere (the typical resort of quacks through the ages).

    Spot the difference with (e.g.) the anti-vaccine quack of your choice. There are a large number of candidates.

  49. #49 Prometheus
    October 20, 2008

    Orac mentioned that anecdotes (or “testimonials” OR “personal narratives”) are not data – but he didn’t really go into why they aren’t.

    Apart from the problem of parents (like other human beings) being susceptible to confirmation bias (seeing what you expect to see, i.e. your child getting better), confusing correlation with causation (“My kid got better after we started XYZ therapy, so it must be the XYZ therapy that helped them!”) and all the rest, anecdotes suffer from a very serious limitation:

    They only represent one side of the “story”.

    Dr. Jay says that he knows of “hundreds” of families who have seen their children “get better and recover from autism”. Even if we accept that number, we have no idea how many families tried these same “therapies” and didn’t see any improvement. Or saw their child get worse.

    Success stories become “testimonials”; stories of failure are generally ignored. “It won’t happen to me!”, “My child will be one of the lucky ones!” and “You’ve got to keep trying!” – these are all ways to negate and suppress the very real – equally real – stories of therapeutic failure.

    This is an important point. The “biomedical” enthusiasts claim that thousands or even tens of thousands of parents are using “biomedical interventions” (such as HBOT, diet, supplements, etc.) to treat autism. If only “hundreds” are seeing any improvement then – using the “biomedical” enthusiasts’ own numbers – these “therapies” (or “interventions”, if you like) are effective only between 1% and 10% of the time.

    This starts looking more and more like random chance – a coincidence.

    But wait – there’s more!

    The “biomedical” enthusiasts like to point to the numbers of people using “biomed” (another argumentum ad populum) without mentioning how many are using any one particular “therapy” OR how many have tried it, seen it fail, and moved on.

    In fact, it appears that the overwhelming majority of people who use any one “biomed” therapy see it fail. They just move on to another “therapy” (then another, then another…) until they reach “success”. This is part of the “culture” of “biomedical intervention” for autism – keep trying different “therapies” until one of them “works”.

    That’s like saying that the “secret” for winning at the slots is to keep plugging dollars into the machine until it finally pays off.

    What makes the numbers “work” for “biomed” is that they claim that improvement following (and they sometimes define “following” as up to three years later) any “biomed” therapy is a “win” for all “biomed” therapies.

    That’s nonsense.

    If you keep trying different patently useless “therapies” for autism – guinea pig therapy, a junk-food rotation diet, vigorous aura massaging, quantum cuddling – you will eventually find some sort of improvement – dramatic or otherwise – after one of them (perhaps even after a few of them). By coincidence.

    If you have been told (by a well-meaning if uninformed “alternative” pediatrician, perhaps) that autistic children “don’t develop at all” (at least, not without some type of “biomedical intervention”), then you will be doubly sure to attribute any improvement you see to the “therapy de jour“.

    My state has a lottery that it uses to generate revenue (“for the schools”, we’re told – maybe they’ll use it to teach better math skills). The lottery commission requires that all winners go on television to promote the fact that they won. The losers are not required (or even encouraged) to go on television to talk about their loss. Thus, although there are hundreds of thousands of lottery “losers” every week, we only hear about the “winners”.

    Same thing with “biomedical interventions” for autism.

    Prometheus

  50. #50 Rogue Epidemiologist
    October 20, 2008

    Woobegone, I hate giving fodder to cotter’s argument, but the scientist who uncovered H. pylori as the etiology of peptic ulcers would fit the bill. Although, I don’t think their dismissal was “angry” per se — It was more like, LOLWUT?

    With that said, Drs. Marshall and Warren had EVIDENCE to back up their findings.

    So the Galileo gambit doesn’t work when it’s one crackpot against a status quo that has evidence to back up its stance. The burden of proof is on the crackpot to provide real findings to support radical new claims for change.

  51. #51 Orac
    October 20, 2008

    Actually, I did, although I only did it by linking to what I consider to be an excellent explanation why:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=33

  52. #52 Rogue Epidemiologist
    October 20, 2008

    Well, Jennifer got to it before I did. Damn this slow connection. But the rest of the post explains it ok.

  53. #53 Dr Aust
    October 20, 2008

    Re. Harald zur Hausen and Marshall and Warren – discoveries being met with “scepticism” is not the same as the “Galileo Gambit”‘s “angry derision”.

    Other scientists may well have thought Zur Hausen, and Penrose and Warren, were barking up the wrong tree (wasting their time), but their work got published, in proper scientific journals. It was not rejected out of hand with ringing denunciations. I am sure people said stuff like “Why are you bothering spending years studying this unimportant and unproductive phenomenon?”, but zH, and M&W, stuck to their guns.

    But… WRT the claims that this “proves” science-suppresses-maverick-views, actually it shows the opposite. Science considers maverick views, IF they come backed with proper, believable evidence. The work may take a bit longer to gain acceptance, but if the evidence is really there, and if it stands up to investigation and attempts to repeat it, then acceptance will come.

    On the other hand, if the evidence is poor-quality, or non-existent, or is shown to be flawed in some way, the “maverick” theory will be rejected – that is normal scientific process.

    If the “maverick” scientist then insists, all evidence to the contrary, that his/her non-existent/lousy evidence is right, and all of everyone else’s carefully scrutinized and consistent evidence therefore MUST be wrong or fraudulent, then the “maverick” will (understandably) be re-branded as a fool or a nutjob. See cold fusion, Peter Duisberg, Andrew Wakefield, etc etc.

    [I posted something else earlier about Marshall and Warren, but it has got held up in the spam filters due to URL content]

  54. #54 BA
    October 20, 2008

    To Bachalon:

    Try this link to the free full text:

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1755823&blobtype=pdf

  55. #55 Calli Arcale
    October 20, 2008

    Regarding the Galileo Gambit, it’s also worth mentioning that most uses of it have the history completely wrong. Galileo actually didn’t get in trouble so much because of the heliocentrism as because of the moons around Jupiter and, more significantly, the fact that he pissed off the wrong cardinal. It was personal.

  56. #56 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 20, 2008

    “I wonder how many VAERS reports about autism causation have originated at Dr. Jay’s offices vs. the average pediatrician’s office in the U.S.?”

    Zero.

    Best,

    Jay

  57. #57 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    Galileo actually didn’t get in trouble so much because of the heliocentrism as because of the moons around Jupiter and, more significantly, the fact that he pissed off the wrong cardinal. It was personal.

    You could say, “the wrong cardinal.” You could also say, “the wrong bishop.” In particular, the Bishop of Rome — who was, we should recall, no mean natural philosopher in his own right.

    Urban was perhaps Galileo’s main sponsor and at least sometimes a personal friend. Galileo, on the other hand, seems to have resorted to personal attack whenever anyone disagreed [1] with him, and that’s not really a good strategy when the person in question is a Prince of the Church. More particularly when he’s that Prince of the Church.

    [1] Read, “failed to worship”

  58. #58 Dangerous Bacon
    October 20, 2008

    As a physician, I find it interesting that when fellow MDs go off the deep end on some medical/scientific matter, they tend to be especially zealous in informing us of every degree or honorary title they hold, as if that justified their foolish positions. Dr. Michael Egnor, the evolution denialist skewered in Orac’s blog did this appeal-from-authority dance in his online CV, and now we see Dr. Jay Gordon, antivaxer hero lining up the letters after his name.

    Tell us, Dr. Gordon, don’t you feel a bit embarassed by trumpeting your status as a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, seeing that the AAP is a strong supporter of vaccination (including current schedules) and in its defense of children’s health seeks to educate parents to reject the debunked vaccine-autism link and other antivax nonsense that you help promote?

    Ignorance loads the gun – and credulous enablers in the medical profession help pull the trigger.

  59. #59 Kev
    October 20, 2008

    Dr Gordon – a question or two for you.

    1) Is Evan McCarthy now ‘cured’ of autism? At what date do you, as the boy’s doctor, consider he was no longer autistic?

    2) Did Jenny McCarthy plan to chelate Evan after she reported he was recovered on your advice? If so, why? If he was recovered what was the clinical need for chelation?

    3) Do you think God cured Evan McCarthy and passed on his/her/its plan to Jenny McCarthy so she could spread the Good News?

  60. #60 khan
    October 20, 2008

    Orac: I really appreciate your detailed explanations of medical science (and the opposed magical thinking).

    I also like knowledge served with a light seasoning of snark.

  61. #61 Orac
    October 20, 2008

    Kev,

    You know Dr. Gordon can’t answer those questions unless Jenny gives him permission. Doctor-patient confidentiality an all that.

    But I would love to know the answer to #3, which shouldn’t require Jenny’s permission for Dr. Jay to answer.

  62. #62 Kev
    October 20, 2008

    Very true, I’ll rescind those first two questions.

    But the third one. I’m really bothered by her words:

    “I made a deal with God,” she explains. “I said, ‘You fix my boy, you show me the way and I’ll teach the world how I did it.‘”

    Is jenny McCarthy actively elevating herself to the status of divinity?

  63. #63 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    “I wonder how many VAERS reports about autism causation have originated at Dr. Jay’s offices vs. the average pediatrician’s office in the U.S.?”

    Zero.

    Interesting that you think you’d know.

  64. #64 Ms. Clark
    October 20, 2008

    OK, so Dr. Jay Gordon says he’s never reported an adverse event involving a vaccine making a kid autistic to the VAERS?

    But he’s really sure that it does happen? Maybe he just gives so few vaccines that he can’t see any adverse events because they are so rare? Maybe he only give vaccines to kids over the age of 3 so they can’t regress.

    I’m curious, there was a comment from a mom on one of the insane autism biomed bulletin boards. She said that Jenny’s son had an infection with rotavirus last year and that it provoked him to have a massive seizure which landed him in the ambulance where Jenny lectured the EMTs about the problem of detoxification. The ambulance took him to the ER where Jenny got to lamely revive part of “Terms of Endearment” where fellow woo-mistress Shirley McClaine screamed at the nurses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWZOhQlJdN8 more or less, but Jenny not only was aggravated at nurses who couldn’t find “the shot” of some drug or other fast enough, she also screamed at her son’s unconscious body for an hour and a half to get him to “come back” or something. Of course, it worked.

    I hear that if you are in an earthquake and really scared you can pound your fist on something and yell, “stop it! stop it! stop it!” and eventually your yelling will actually make the earthquake stop. No really. I heard that.

    So Jenny reports that nurses told her that she got the credit from bringing Evan back to consciousness (in the ER).

    Anyway, Dr. Jay, the mom on the autism-biomed bulletin board said that Jenny said her son had been vaccinated for rotavirus and that it the vaccine didn’t work and it was rotavirus that had made Evan sick and brought on the seizure. Is that true? Is it written that way in her book? I think it’s not because Jenny’s son could not have had the rotavirus vaccine. He’s too old. I would think that this is just another of Jenny’s colorful lies, but maybe the mom on the gathering of stupids board got the story wrong.

    Also, Dr. Jay, you should know that the parents feed each other dramatic stories and they then start to remember things that fit the dramatic story that was supposed to have happened. The parents don’t necessarily have any facts to support what they are saying, and some of them are outright lying to get a payoff in a lawsuit because they can’t sue anyone for their ‘bad genes’ or if they did something like smoke through their pregnancy LIKE JENNY MCCARTHY DID.

  65. #65 trrll
    October 20, 2008

    There is MUCH evidence that getting several vaccines AT ONCE or when a child’s immune system is already fighting an illness (even an undetectable one like “mitochondrial disorder”) can and does lead to regressive form autism. A slow, steady decline of cognitive function. Numerous parent reports ARE data points. This story has been repeated in thousands of homes. Healthy child brought in for “well check” up, given combination shots, reacts with fever, lethargy or worse, screaming/brain swelling and never fully recovers. Parents have numerous video tapes of their children (healthy) before and (dazed, inattentive) after. MANY parents figure out the connection too late for their first child, but refuse to get their younger children vaccinated, blindly, according to rigid “schedule” and thus “save” younger children from autism.

    In fact, there is no evidence that getting multiple vaccinations at once, with or without an illness can lead to autism. Nor does it make much sense. A child is exposed to far more antigens from a scraped knee than from multiple vaccinations.

    Nor is it true that refusal to get the younger children vaccinated “saves” them from autism. In fact, a Generation Rescue survey found that unvaccinated siblings of ASD kids were more, not less, likely to be diagnosed with ASD. The difference was particularly big for girls, where unvaccinated girls siblings were three times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than vaccinated girls. It is commonly observed that the unvaccinated kids develop obvious ASD symptoms around the time when they normally would have received their vaccinations.

    Vaccines are KNOWN to not be “completely safe” i.e., without side effects (hence the national compensation fund, never mind that the link is almost impossible for parents to prove without hiring expensive lawyer and “experts” to make their case for them.)

    Not much of anything in this world is “completely” safe, and vaccines have rare complications. Nevertheless, vaccination is safer than many other other childhood activities such as bicycle riding, playing baseball, etc. There is a public compensation fund for injuries due to vaccination, and not bicycle riding, not because vaccination is more dangerous, but because the overall benefit of vaccination for public health is so enormous.

  66. #66 HCN
    October 20, 2008

    Ms. Clark said “OK, so Dr. Jay Gordon says he’s never reported an adverse event involving a vaccine making a kid autistic to the VAERS?”

    Because that is lawyer’s work. Haven’t you noticed the tab on the NVIC website to contact a lawyer?

    By the way, after my son had a seizure because of dehydration due to what was possibly a rotavirus infection, he was unconscious for a while, I can’t remember… but it was long enough for the fire department to come, for the ambulance, the trip to the hospital and into the ER. He regained consciousness after he was give IV fluids.

    After an EEG in the neurologist’s office and some research, it was figured that the infection caused the seizure and he did not have to go back on anti-convulsants.

    No mommy screaming involved.

  67. #67 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    Vaccines are KNOWN to not be “completely safe” i.e., without side effects (hence the national compensation fund,

    Which exists specifically due to the Bendectin precedent, where despite the manufacturer being vindicated in every single lawsuit brought against it, the cost of litigation drove the product from the market. The NVICP exists precisely to prevent the same thing from happening to vaccines.

    Rather than its existence proving that vaccines are dangerous, if anything it stands as a testament to useful and harmless products needing protection from frivolous litigation.

    never mind that the link is almost impossible for parents to prove without hiring expensive lawyer and “experts” to make their case for them.)

    Except that the Government picks up the tab for those expensive lawyers [1] and “experts.” [2]

    [1] (*cough*)Shoemaker(*cough*)
    [2] (*cough*)the Geiers(*cough*)

  68. #68 Ms. Clark
    October 20, 2008

    HCN, you don’t mean to tell me that you failed to lecture the EMTs in the ambulance about the necessity of detoxing? And really, you don’t know how the whole situation might have improved or been completed faster had you decided to play the part of a histrionic chippy with a dime-store medical education. I think silicone implants and a low-cut shirt would have helped, too. You could have a book on the NYT best-seller list had you planned ahead. :-/

    I am not convinced that Dr. Jay has ever seen Evan as a patient. I think Dr. Jay is just a wannabe Hollywood sumbuddy and Jenny’s Santa Monica woo advisor. I think Jenny has other doctors seeing Evan for his seizures and probably has a DAN! quack to prescribe chicken blood sacrifices, açai berry juice colonics and crystal necklaces for the boy.

  69. #69 Steve D
    October 20, 2008

    “I wonder how many VAERS reports about autism causation have originated at Dr. Jay’s offices vs. the average pediatrician’s office in the U.S.?”

    Zero.

    Best,
    Jay

    Thanks for answering my question, Dr. Jay.

    Hmmmmm.

    Your clinical experience tells you that 400% – 800% more kids in your practice are developing autism than “years ago”. You clearly attribute at least a significant portion of this to vaccines, and aver with certainty than “vaccines can cause autism”.
    So … why have you never logged a single event into VAERS linking the onset of autism to a vaccine?
    I do not profess to know your mind, and please forgive me if I miss the mark here, but it appears to this father of two autistic sons that you prefer to play out your particular brand of scientific posturing on the pages of sensationalistic “warrior mother” books, at political rallies, and on network news shows as opposed to academic venues where the standards are much more strict and exacting.

    Of course, I may simply be overreacting due to having to watch a parade of opportunists over the past couple of years use the topic of autism as a means of self-promotion without a moment’s consideration of how their actions affect or are perceived by autistic people and the broader (non-vaccine-blaming) autism community.

  70. #70 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    If I recall correctly, Dr. Gordon said previously that he had personally witnessed cases of apparent vaccine injury. If this is true, why didn’t he recommend a VAERS report be filed? Maybe he wasn’t sure it was a vaccine injury? Maybe he hasn’t really witnessed them?

  71. #71 Prometheus
    October 20, 2008

    It is truly interesting that Dr. Jay hasn’t filed a report with the VAERS. After all, some of his patrons advocate criminal prosecution of physicians who fail (or refuse) to file a report after a parent informs them of an adverse reaction to a vaccine (apparently forgetting that the parents can file one themselves).

    Either Dr. Jay is too lazy to file a report or he doesn’t believe that autism really is an adverse reaction to vaccines. Or maybe, since he seems to let the parents make the diagnosis and come up with the treatment plan, he simply leaves the VAERS report to them, as well.

    Dr. Jay seems to blow wherever the wind takes him. Vaccines are the “bad boys” this decade, so that’s the direction he’s blowing now. He apparently doesn’t “believe” it enough to actually make a VAERS report.

    Maybe if the wind changes to blaming everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease on soy protein, we’ll see him at the “Green our Tofu” rally. Not carrying a sign, mind you, but mingling with the crowd and getting noticed by the “right” people.

    Prometheus

  72. #72 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Jay seems to blow wherever the wind takes him.

    Oh, dear. Now you’ve done it.

    Anyone feel like having a go at topping this?

  73. #73 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 20, 2008

    If I recall correctly, Dr. Gordon said previously that he had personally witnessed cases of apparent vaccine injury. If this is true, why didn’t he recommend a VAERS report be filed? Maybe he wasn’t sure it was a vaccine injury? Maybe he hasn’t really witnessed them?

    Good question, Joseph. I can’t prove anything. I have been on TV, the radio, in the newspapers and repeatedly on this blog site telling you that I can’t prove that vaccines cause autism. I do think that the way we manufacture and administer vaccines can cause autism but that’s an opinion not shared by many doctors or scientists.

    I wish I were as sure as the rest of you that vaccines have nothing to do with autism and other injury because I would love to see everyone protected from whooping cough.

    Unfortunately, I have personally seen neurological issues arise in close temporal relationship to vaccination and heard countless similar reports from parents. Until adequate studies are done, I am forced to act on my experience. That I am lacking adequate scientific proof is indisputable. I have the one thing that no one else on this board has: Nearly three decades of close observation of children and vaccinations.

    Jay

  74. #74 Ms. Clark
    October 20, 2008

    Dr Jay, In Jenny McYeasty’s book you said you know that autism can be caused by vaccines, now you say you can’t prove it.

    You say, “Unfortunately, I have personally seen neurological issues arise in close temporal relationship to vaccination…”

    Uhuh. But you haven’t reported any adverse events to the VAERS system? Odd, no? Maybe it’s like Prometheus said, you let the parents diagnose, develop treatment plans and contact VAERS. I know that at least one DAN! quack says it’s just his job to write out the prescription for whatever the parents decide will cure their kid….. and to take the dough to the bank.

  75. #75 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 20, 2008

    Dave–

    I honestly will try to make time tonight to answer your critique. Sometimes the denizens of this site remind me of an office day with two-year-olds: The louder they say something and the nastier they get, the more likely they are to get their way, they think.

    And, just to clarify, I’m not “anti-vaccine.”

    I do think we create and administer vaccines without enough science to support their safety. Again, it’s not my job to prove they’re dangerous. It’s their job to prove they’re safe. Phrased a little differently, no one denies that certain diseases–including infectious and neoplastic illnesses–are dangerous, but the medical intervention used to treat these conditions must be proven safe in your specialty of oncology, Orac, and in mine.

    Jay

  76. #76 Orac
    October 20, 2008

    Feel free to answer. However, add to my list of questions: Why haven’t you ever reported a case to VAERS? I mean, really, Dr. Jay. You truly, passionately believe that vaccines cause autism and other neurological problems, but you haven’t reported a case? Remember, VAERS is an early warning system. It’s quite lax in its reporting requirements. You don’t have to have “proof” that a given reaction is due to a vaccine, only that it occurred in close temporal proximity to vaccination. I”m surprised you apparently don’t know that.

    As for all the “nastiness,” the critique above was actually relatively tame.

  77. #77 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    And, just to clarify, I’m not “anti-vaccine.”

    Of course you’re not — if parents insist forcefully enough, you’ll vaccinate their kids.

  78. #78 HCN
    October 20, 2008

    Instructions on how to report to VAERS here, a demonstration as a UK citizen reports his daughter being turned into Wonder Woman after a vaccine:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=342

    (I am also curious why Dr. Jay has not responded on the ScienceBasedMedicine blog about his forward in McCarthy’s book)

  79. #79 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    I have the one thing that no one else on this board has: Nearly three decades of close observation of children and vaccinations.

    True, Dr. Gordon. But you’re also not the only pediatrician in the world, and I’d suggest the experience of most pediatricians differs from yours. Take, for example, David Tayloe, who was on Larry King, and as I recall, said he’d never seen one case of vaccine injury. Or take the AAP.

    Consider also Dosreis (2006), a survey of pediatricians: “Most pediatricians (71%) believed that ASD prevalence has increased, and nearly all attributed this to changes in diagnostic criteria and treatment.”

    Could it be that a very rare or coincidental event that you witnessed shaped your views?

    It’s kind of like meeting a lottery winner who insists that it’s easy to win the lottery.

    That’s why things like Epidemiology were invented.

  80. #80 Chris H.
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Gordon wrote: “And, just to clarify, I’m not “anti-vaccine.” ”

    Then why did you say vaccines can cause autism without any real evidence? The quote above says you wrote “Vaccines can cause autism”. Is this a misquote? Is it out of context?

    Have you seen the book recently discussed here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/bookclub/autisms_false_prophets/

    By the way, I just checked, you are not mentioned. Except in the Epilogue Jenny McCarthy’s pediatrician is mentioned on page 242 with the statement “It was inconceivable to her that her pediatrician didn’t know what she now knew.” If you were her pediatrician there, are you now getting your medical education updates from her?

  81. #81 cooler
    October 20, 2008

    The studies have already been done, monkeys injected with 1990 Thimerosal load got brain damage while the controls didn’t, 3 different studies show Autistic kids are heavy metal poisoned by looking at their urine levels of heavy metal indicators while controls aren’t.

    Dr. Jay is an American Hero that should win a Nobel prize. Anyways I got into a long debate with mercury denier ttrl and took him to school, he actually told me mercury is good for you and prevents Autism! Here is the debate on Tara’s blog, with the studies I mentioned. Ttrrl couldn’t handle my power, so he ran away. I love it!

    http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2008/09/oh_lets_go_back_to.php#commentsArea

  82. #82 *** JUST SAY NO ***
    October 20, 2008

    ********************************************************************************************

    Dr. Gordon

    Please ignore this site. I know that it is difficult to keep quiet after reading such nonsense from a bunch of goons…. BUT… This is not a place where you want to post. These people do not care about what you have witnessed or heard from parents. Their intention is not to learn and to follow the science wherever it may lead. Their intention is to continue to ignore the issues and concerns surrounding too many vaccines given at too young an age.

    Please for your own sanity…. IGNORE these morons. It is wasted time. In fact, I am already regretting these 20 seconds that I have used up in posting here :)

    Please continue your good work, Dr. Gordon….

    ******************************************************************************************

  83. #83 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    October 20, 2008

    HCN–I work.

    DC Sessions–parents and I discuss vaccines at every office visit.

    ORAC–I think you’re right. I should file reports. I have to get much more familiar with the VAERS system. I think even you’d be hard-pressed to refute the “fox guarding the henhouse” analogy regarding VAERS and the government. I could be wrong.

    And, my spiritual beliefs run more to agnosticism so I’m not sure that God has influenced Evan’s illness.

    Chelation Therapy is many decades old. I don’t think there has been sufficient research regarding chelation and autism. It might work if metal toxicity plays a role in disease of any kind.

    Ms. Clark–You’re wrong and far too unpleasant for this conversation of parents and children in pain.

    Jay

  84. #84 HCN
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Jay said “I have to get much more familiar with the VAERS system.”

    Hence the instructional website I posted. It includes a little video.

    Why does working keep you coming here and not to this site:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/

    You should bookmark it, it has more relevance to your job than this blog does.

  85. #85 *** JUST SAY NO ***
    October 20, 2008

    “Why does working keep you coming here and not to this site:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/

    You should bookmark it, it has more relevance to your job than this blog does”.

    ******************************************************************************************

    You see Dr. Gordon… Even HCN agrees with me. This site is a waste of time. Finally, HCN speaks some truth.

    Although the other site HCN references looks luck a bunch of quackery. I’d stay away from that too!

    ******************************************************************************************

  86. #86 Joseph
    October 20, 2008

    The studies have already been done, monkeys injected with 1990 Thimerosal load got brain damage while the controls didn’t, 3 different studies show Autistic kids are heavy metal poisoned by looking at their urine levels of heavy metal indicators while controls aren’t.

    @cooler: If we could extrapolate those results to humans, it would mean that most children who are vaccinated become brain damaged. The limitations of the study have been talked about in detail, but it’s also hard to take it seriously when Wakefield is one of the investigators and Dr. Hewitson concealed the fact that she’s a petitioner in the Omnibus.

    I think even you’d be hard-pressed to refute the “fox guarding the henhouse” analogy regarding VAERS and the government. I could be wrong.

    @Dr. Gordon: Are you saying the government deletes VAERS reports or something? Someone would’ve reported that if it were to ever happen. You can look them up by ID.

  87. #87 Militant Agnostic
    October 20, 2008

    Dr. Gordon,you seem to place great stock in anecdotes as evidence. I remember often hearing the argument that “My aunt/grandmother/grandfather etc. smoked an lived to be 80/90 or whatever – therefore smoking doesn’t cause cancer / doesn’t harm your health.” It is foolish to believe that anecdotal evidence trumps large sample statistics.

    Believing that your experience/perceptions trump the work of people who have actually done the science and who understand the statistics strikes me as a wee bit arrogant.

  88. #88 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    True, Dr. Gordon. But you’re also not the only pediatrician in the world, and I’d suggest the experience of most pediatricians differs from yours.

    There are several possible explanations for that:
    * They’re just not paying attention
    * They’re paying attention but lack Dr. Gordon’s ability to recognize what they see
    * Dr. Gordon’s patients differ from theirs in some important way.
    * They’re all pharma shills

    I suspect that there might be other explanations.

  89. #89 The Perky Skeptic
    October 20, 2008

    Another aspect of this “parent knows best” fallacy is that the emotional bond between parent and child makes parents very much not objective observers.

    That is so true! I was confronted with this very issue today, in fact. A school counselor, whom I had passionately despised for what I viewed as her tactlessness, mentioned a condition which she thought my son might have. After doing furious internet research with the intent of icily refuting her at the next IEP meeting, I realized, “Crap! That diagnosis fits my kid to a T!” I hate being wrong, but I gotta go with the evidence. I should probably buy her a coffee.

  90. #90 D. C. Sessions
    October 20, 2008

    Back to the main topic: “Help! I’m being ridiculed!”

    That’s a bit selective. Many of us take him at his word and just follow them where logic leads us. For some reason he prefers to ignore those posts, though, and concentrate on the ones where he is being ridiculed.

    I am, however, truly impressed with his endurance. He’s been stuck on that escalator for several months now. How he manages to keep up with his other commitments while trapped is truly heroic.

  91. #91 DB
    October 20, 2008

    It is evident from the posts that some people need 100% proof before they can acknowledge anecdotal evidence. Do you know that black and white thinking is a characteristic of ASD. That’s 100% true.

  92. #92 Dad Of Cameron
    October 20, 2008

    @Jay N. Gordon, M.D., F.A.A.P, I.B.C.L.C, F.A.B.M. wrote:

    Excellent indictment of my character and the lack of science behind my ideas.

    and

    I do think we create and administer vaccines without enough science to support their safety. Again, it’s not my job to prove they’re dangerous. It’s their job to prove they’re safe.

    Hi Dr. Gordon,

    As usual, it’s nice to see you respond promptly and courteously. It is a shame, however, that you always seem to show up unarmed with basic logic.

    It was you who wrote the claim, and I quote,

    “Vaccines can cause autism”.

    You make the claim, you bring the evidence! It is your job to prove they can cause autism, as it was you who sent the claim to the American public in writing via this foreword.

    Regarding your feeling like your “character” was indicted by this post. I will add, for the record, that I don’t consider you to be dishonest either. We’ve exchanged e-mails in the past, and I found your communication to be sincere and very polite. I consider such sincerity to be good character. If you find that this doesn’t help a little to know this, let me know – I’d be happy to try and burp you, and can even offer you a binky or a blanket.

  93. #93 trrll
    October 20, 2008

    Cooler, you have previously argued that the results of the Danish study that showed no effect of the elimination of insisted on autism incidence (just like when thimerosal was eliminated in Sweden and California) was the result of “manipulation” and “coverup” because that one of the researchers worked for the Danish equivalent of the CDC, and thus had a “conflict of interest.” So don’t you feel a bit like a hypocrite citing the work of Andrew Wakefield, who concealed that he had received $800,000 from lawyers pursuing vaccine lawsuits? Don’t you think that is a bit of a conflict of interest?

    And by the way, if vaccination causes autism, how do you explain the Generation Rescue survey that found that unvaccinated siblings of ASD kids were not less likely than fully vaccinated siblings to have ASD, and that unvaccinated sisters of ASD kids were actually significantly more likely –threefold more likely–to have ASD than vaccinated sisters?

    So autism does not decrease when countries stop using thimerosal, and the risk of autism does not decrease when parents of autistic kids choose not to vaccinate their other kids. Kind of a problem for the mercury hypothesis, don’t you think?

  94. #94 RexuAngel
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Gordon, if you have the chance could you answer a question raised by your introduction?

    You state “Every medical intervention costs the body
    something, and we have a legal and moral obligation to tell parents.”

    Doesn’t the same legal and moral obligation apply to alternative medical approaches to autism?

    But, since these are not tested for adverse events, and there is no requirement to report adverse events, how is this supposed to happen?

  95. #95 HCN
    October 21, 2008

    DB said “It is evident from the posts that some people need 100% proof before they can acknowledge anecdotal evidence.”

    Not even wrong. Even with properly collected data there is a statistical margin that is acceptable. The problem is that the anecdotes are not collected in a systematic manner, there must be a justifiable form of random selection and a third party interpretation of the evidence.

    For example, you are going on the anecdotes of “my kid got a vaccine and became autistic”… which are self-selected and ignoring the hundreds more kids who got a vaccine and are perfectly okay. Or even kids like mine whose seizures occurred BEFORE any vaccine, so there could be no correlation with any medical procedure.

    Let me repeat: The plural of anecdote is not data.

    By the way, anecdotes are useful. If there are enough then they do point to a viable angle of research. This is where VAERS can be useful. In reality VAERS is just a collection of anecdotes, so taken as a whole it is pretty worthless. But it has been useful in pointing to possible problems for further research. One thing that was noticed was that there were increases in reports with pending litigation, ;-)… see:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/117/2/387

    To get a more complete understanding of some of the issues here you need to read the book discussed here (it has a detailed explanation of much of the science, including the importance of epidemiological studies):
    http://scienceblogs.com/bookclub/autisms_false_prophets/

    By the way, DB, I am a stay at home mom who is going back to college. I have recently taken a statistics course. You might want to pick up a basic book on the subject, plus some introductory books on science. Some things you can look up should included “random selection”, “selection bias”, “self-selected surveys”.

    Oh, and, yeah… Dr. Jay tried to get back at me by saying he has a job. Dr. Jay, the reason I had to quit a very well paying job as an aerospace engineer was because my newborn baby had seizures and could not be vaccinated against pertussis (because folks like Barbara Loe Fisher claimed the DPT caused seizures!). So I could not put him in daycare and would have had to hire a nanny. Looking at the finances, even as an engineer I would have been bringing home less than the nanny (and folks wonder why Boeing engineers go on strike?).

    So I had an infant who was vulnerable to pertussis, at a time when our county was having a pertussis epidemic (due to folks like you and Fisher!). So there was no herd immunity for him!

    He also had another seizure later due to dehydration from what might have been a rotavirus infection.

    I have spent many years taking him to therapy appointments, dealing with school IEPs and his other medical issues (like the genetic heart condition, and the “why-me” psych issues after that diagnosis).

    Most of those have stabilized… but due to the fact that I cannot be hired back as an engineer I am back in school to go into something less type casting than “aerospace”… yeah, I don’t work for pay — I spend my time protecting and advocating for my kids… thanks for demeaning my efforts. You really don’t live in the real world (oh, and I was so going to use the “stuck on the escalator” bit, but Sessions used if first!).

    And idiots like you who are helping to reduce herd immunity to kids with health issues are NOT helping other parents in the same situation!

  96. #96 Michael Rosch
    October 21, 2008

    I’ve heard that in the U.S. vaccines aren’t even a profitable enterprise. Can anyone confirm this and if so, provide me with a reliable source?

  97. #97 HCN
    October 21, 2008

    Mr. Rosch, here is an idea… do a search on these words “vaccine economics companies shortages”

  98. #98 Barry
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Gordon, why do you KEEP saying that you’re not “anti-vaccine”. Either they are dangerous or they aren’t. While writing the foreword for Jenny’s book suggests that they are dangerous, providing them to patients suggests they are safe. How can you justify doing both? Furthermore, you yourself admit that you have no evidence supporting your claims.

    Perhaps it would be better to pursue the evidence and wait until a conclusion is reached before whole-heartedly supporting a former Playboy playmate’s book about neurological disorder. You sir, are delusional and should be embarassed of yourself.

  99. #99 Barry
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Gordon, why do you KEEP saying that you’re not “anti-vaccine”. Either they are dangerous or they aren’t. While writing the foreword for Jenny’s book suggests that they are dangerous, providing them to patients suggests they are safe. How can you justify doing both? Furthermore, you yourself admit that you have no evidence supporting your claims.

    Perhaps it would be better to pursue the evidence and wait until a conclusion is reached before whole-heartedly supporting a former Playboy playmate’s book about neurological a disorder. You sir, are delusional, and should be embarassed of yourself.

  100. #100 HCN
    October 21, 2008

    For Dr. Jay:
    http://scienceblogs.com/bookclub/2008/10/finally_science_pushes_back_ag.php#comment-1165307

    (it is addressed to you, I thought you should know)

  101. #101 jay
    October 21, 2008

    Dear Scott–

    Welcome. Yes, you asked a reasonable question and were met with a rude and nasty answer. That happens a lot here at “Reprehensible Insolence.”

    Watch what happens when I answer the questions posed to me honestly and with no deception. Here I go:

    Jenny McCarthy’s son is doing better than he was before she started intervention. He is recovering from autism. That’s an ambiguous phrase but it’s the best I can do.

    Dave, yes I amembarrassed that I don’t have more science to support my ideas but I continue to risk the opprobrium of your crew because I have a valuable counterpoint to offer. Someone, somewhere should support some real research into the connection between vaccines and autism.

    The government, the insurance industry and the medical community need to respond more intelligently and compassionately to the needs of children, teens and adults with autism. I support Jenny in her efforts to draw more attention to these needs and further support her attempts to find innovative treatments. Some work, some don’t. And, yes, I do advise her whenever she asks but she has consultants far more experienced than I in caring for children with autism.

    I’m sorry (belatedly) about your dog and the absurd attacks the person named John Best made. I refuse to be tarred with that same brush that reprobate deserved.

    The toxins in vaccines? Aluminum for one. You know that! It’s well supported by the medicalliterature. It’s the one straw I can can grasp when asked to “prove” vaccines’ potential for harm.

    “Green Our Vaccines” is a catchy little phrase suggesting that we could make vaccines medically safer and “cleaner.”

    I persist in telling you that I do not have proof that vaccines can cause autism. I have nearly thirty years of observation and I value that more than you do. I also have suggested in the past that much of what you must do as a cancer surgeon is based in experience rather than published data. I am not wrong, am I?

    The “antifreeze” comments I made have made in the past were hyperbolic and scientifically incorrect. Please feel free to quote me as saying that I disagree with people who say that vaccines contain antifreeze.

    Vaccines don’t always cause autism . . . obviously. Not all autism is caused by vaccines.

    Steve D, I counsel my patients as wisely as I can. Belittling my contributions to this discussion doesn’t make you sound any smarter nor does it really make me sound any dumber. (I can handle that task on my own . . . )

    Yes, I put myself right up there with Galileo, Marshall and Penrose. I merely need thirty or forty years of peer-reviewed research and publications and there’ll be no question about that. Good one, guys.

    Prometheus, well said. Not all therapies work for all people and if one tries many therapies on many people, some of the pasta will stick to the wall. But, I think that biomedical research and treatment for infectious diseases, burns, autism, malignancy and other medical entities work that way. The funding for autism research would help to quantify results. In the meantime, parents who wish to spend their own time and money looking for answers are not wrong. I agree that we need much more scrutiny of autism treatment to weed out the ineffective modalities.

    Dangerous Pork, I am pleased to be a “fighter from within” in good standing in the AAP. I have other letters that I don’t use. I wish that the AAP were a little less influenced by the pharmaceutical industry but my resigning would not improve that situation so I keep paying my dues and doing my CME.

    Again, not so sure about God’s involvement in this deal. I do think that he want my football teams (Packers, Badgers, Ducks) to triumph on the field most Saturdays and Sundays, though. Other people’s spiritual and religious beliefs are truly, truly none of our business.

    My knowledge about chelation is far too scanty for your interest. I’ll learn more at my leisure and may actually support its use in my office when I know more.

    DC, parents might have reported to VAERS without my knowledge. I misunderstood the question but agree that I should get more involved when I suspect an adverse vaccine reaction. Most of the families I have seen are coming to me for a second or medical opinion. Reports might certainly have already been made.

    Ms. Clark, I know the facts in many stories told to me to be true. Period. Some colorful stories may float around the Internet but I do not participate in their propagation. I have enough true stories, thank you.

    I also know that some first seizures, first autism symptoms and much more occur without any influence from vaccines. Some that do occur in close relationship to vaccination may have nothing to do with shots. I sincerely believe that some of these events are related to vaccines combined with a genetic propensity to problems triggered by these vaccines. Most doctors disagree with me but a lot of docs agree with that last statement. Many more than you know agree that there is a significant subgroup of vaccine recipients who respond very unfavorably because of a genetic susceptibility to vaccine injury. They fear for their careers so they don’t speak out much.

    “Not much of anything in this world is “completely” safe, and vaccines have rare complications. Nevertheless, vaccination is safer than many other other childhood activities such as bicycle riding, playing baseball, etc. There is a public compensation fund for injuries due to vaccination, and not bicycle riding, not because vaccination is more dangerous, but because the overall benefit of vaccination for public health is so enormous.” Wowie, trrll, I got slammed for my cheese and ice cream comments. I’ll leave your analogies alone . . . G’Bless, you, though.

    Ms. Clark, I am a Hollywood wannabe but I do not let any other doctor advise Jenny on the chicken blood sacrifices. We use tofu puree.

    Joseph, I am never 100% sure that vaccine injury has occurred. I think it has and I think that I should report my suspicions in the future. And, do you really believe that Dr. Tayloe has never seen a case of vaccine injury??

    I refuse to be considered for the Nobel Prize because it might draw too much attention to me. OK, I’ve changed my mind.

    I am not anti-vaccine.

    I gave some today, will give some tomorrow and will continue to be judicious in counseling either for or against a specific shot.

    HCN, did you give your child any vaccines? I am sorry for your son’s problems. I did not “try to get back” at you. I was answering your question. It takes a lot of time to answer and I have a very time-consuming pediatric practice. You deserve compassion and polite responses. By the way, your story doesn’t make much sense. I refuse to take much blame for a non-existent “pertussis epidemic.” And, for heaven’s sake, if vaccines work, why would you fear putting him into daycare?

    Barry, your triple post makes your point far better than just one would have: Vaccines could be given more safely. That’s all. They way we make them and give them is just not safe enough for our children. To me,being “anti-vaccine” means that a person opposes, on pricinple, all vaccines in any form for any reason. That’s not me.

    Night all.

    Jay

  102. #102 Ms. Clark
    October 21, 2008

    Dr Jay,

    You wound me (that’s wound, rhymes with “swooned,” what you did when you first met Jenny McYeasty, not wound, rhymes with “sound,” the kind of reasoning you are sorely lacking).

    Oh and if you want to defend the poor parents. I am a parent.
    I am a parent.

    I. Am. A. Parent.

    I am an autistic adult and a parent. Once more–I’m a parent, and a parent of another autistic adult.

    Got that? I give fellow parents respect when they act in a half decent manner and don’t put their children straight in harms way by taking them to outrageous quacks, like the ones Jenny’s book recommends in the back pages.

    I’ve also been observing antivaccine/biomed parents for about 3 years now and I have seen that they lie, and lie and lie, and those who aren’t lying flip-flop the details of their tales of woe, over and over, like your little bunny friend Jenny McIndigo.

    You are going all delicate and sad again because you don’t want to ask the questions that I asked.

    Did Jenny’s book say that Evan had been vaxed for rotavirus and that rotavirus is what triggered his last massive seizure (where Jenny starred in a screaming rôle in the ER)?

    How can you say in Jenny’s book that vaccines do cause autism, and then say here that you think they might.

    One more question, are you out of your mind? HBOT without a question treats autism? ORLY?

    And you are doing tremendous harm to autistic adults (including me and my kid) by promoting an epidemic that never happened and by promoting a false cause of autism.

    How about an another apology, this one for autistic adults wherein you admit that there hasn’t been an epidemic, instead of pretending you’ve been offended. I think your acting skills are worse than Jenny’s if that’s possible.

  103. #103 Jay Gordon
    October 21, 2008

    I missed some questions well worth answering!

    Barry, lots of smart women and men got their start by exploiting their looks. I refuse to hold that against Jenny or anyone else.

    Vaccines are very profitable. Look at the pharmaceutical companies’ reports.

    I missed this:

    Dr. Gordon, if you have the chance could you answer a question raised by your introduction?
    You state “Every medical intervention costs the body
something, and we have a legal and moral obligation to tell parents.”
    Doesn’t the same legal and moral obligation apply to alternative medical approaches to autism?
    But, since these are not tested for adverse events, and there is no requirement to report adverse events, how is this supposed to happen?
    Yes! Alternative medicine should be scrutinized and we have a legal and moral obligation to tell our patients when a therapy is yet unproven. We have an even larger obligation to discuss the possible dangers of new therapies.

    True, Dr. Gordon. But you’re also not the only pediatrician in the world, and I’d suggest the experience of most pediatricians differs from yours.
    There are several possible explanations for that:
* They’re just not paying attention
* They’re paying attention but lack Dr. Gordon’s ability to recognize what they see
* Dr. Gordon’s patients differ from theirs in some important way.
* They’re all pharma shills
    I suspect that there might be other explanations.

    DC, I can’t imagine any other explanations! :-)

    Jay

  104. #104 Ms. Clark
    October 21, 2008

    Here’s the deal, Dr. Jay. I don’t believe you have ever seen a child regress into autism following a vaccine in a way where the two events could be reasonably linked. If you had you could have written it up and had it published. If you had seen such a thing, why wouldn’t you have at least reported it to the VAERS?

    What I think you have is a bunch of stories from parents who have heard the same stories that the other parents are saying.

    Jenny has readjusted the details of her son’s history to match the current autism “narrative.” I believe she’s a liar and an exploiter.

    There needs to be some reason to suspect vaccines as causing autism. Not generic brain damage, but autism.

    If you look at what autism is, it’s not damage from some toxin at age 18 months. It’s wiring from early embryonic development.

    You don’t go from normal brain to autistic brain suddenly at age 18 months.

    Sorry. Doesn’t work that way. You can go from normal to brain damaged at any point, but generic brain damage is not autism. You damage the lives of autistic people by saying that it is.

    Your little friends get all huffy at Dr. Offit for commenting on autism, you have no right to comment on autism. You are not autistic, you don’t have an autistic child. And you haven’t even bothered to educate yourself about what autism really is.

    And you need to tell all your little gang to stop saying there’s been an actual increase of autism. There is NO evidence that there has been a real increase.

  105. #105 Kev
    October 21, 2008

    …He is recovering from autism….

    Fascinating. Thank you Dr Gordon.

  106. #106 Jay Gordon
    October 21, 2008

    Ms. Clark–

    I am staying up late researching a completely different medical matter and saw your post.

    A few months ago, I saw a child in my office develop autism closely following the administering of three vaccines. I have witnessed this before. Denying that this ever happens weakens your case, it does not strengthen it.

    Don’t you dare call me a liar.

    Jay

  107. #107 Woobegone
    October 21, 2008

    @ DrAust and others :

    Thanks for your input. My point was that while there have been excellent scientists who put forward new ideas and found that other scientists were sceptical, I can’t think of any case in which these ideas were dismissed out of hand and the scientists’ careers ruined. Certainly this didn’t happen to the people behind H Pylori, HPV etc. – people may have been sceptical but they still got grant money to develop their research. Nothing like Galileo.

    Actually, I can think of one example which sort of fits the bill for the Galileo Gambit : the Sociobiology controversy back in the 1970s. A lot of people were very angry at Edward O Wilson for his ideas on human behaviour. The thing is, though, I don’t think many of them were biologists. It wasn’t a case of Wilson vs. the rest of biology. As far as I can tell most of the opposition was politically motivated, it wasn’t that his ideas were *scientifically* heretical.

  108. #108 Ms. Clark
    October 21, 2008

    Here’s the deal, Dr. Jay. I don’t believe you have ever seen a child regress into autism following a vaccine in a way where the two events could be reasonably linked.

    I am not calling you a liar. I said I don’t believe you.

    There’s a difference. I don’t believe you have the right kind of judgment clinical or otherwise to make that sort of link. And now, here’s your big chance. Show me I’m wrong. Publish a paper on your observations of how kids regress into autism following a vaccine where the vaccine caused the regression… show your work.

    Thanks.

    And, please, stop degrading autistic adults by saying there’s been an epidemic, and see if you can’t get the little bimbo Jenny to do the same. That would just be very sweet of you, and it would do much to help the lives of real living autistic adults and would help people not to see me and my daughter as victims of a faux poisoning.

  109. #109 Orac
    October 21, 2008

    Actually, I think I’m finally figuring Dr. Jay out.

    You see, I value science and the scientific method or, as I like to call it, science- and evidence-based medicine as the optimal methodology to determine what does and does not cause disease or other conditions, evaluating what treatments do or do not work for various conditions, and estimating risk-benefit ratios for any medical intervention.

    Dr. Jay clearly values science much less than I do.

    What Dr. Jay appears to value are anecdotes and his own “personal” experience. He cannot accept that anecdotes are frequently very misleading, as “personal clinical experience” can be. In fact, when it is suggested that this might be the case, he takes umbrage because he thinks the implication of such observations is that he and the parents who passionately believe that vaccines cause autism (or whatever other problems attributed to them) is that he or the parents must be lying. He simply cannot accept that he is like every other human on the planet in that he can easily be deceived by anecdote and personal experience.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Indeed, the reason the scientific method developed is not because scientists think themselves to be superior, but because we realize that we are just like every other human and thus easily deceived by our own subjective observations and biases. The scientific method, it can be argued, is nothing more than a means of combatting those deficiencies in our abilities to observe and draw valid conclusions from our observations.

    Indeed, because there was very likely a survival advantage to the rapid identification of patterns that outweighed the deleterious impact of leaping too rapidly to conclusions, humans appear to be hard-wired to see patterns everywhere–even when there aren’t any. This is particularly true when concentrating only on what one observes in one’s own life and among the people one deals with, rather than pulling back to see the bigger picture. Dr. Steve Novella described this phenomenon well and described what the appropriate role of anecdotes are in science-based medicine:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=33

    Prometheus also did a number of excellent posts that touch on these issues:

    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=120
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=110
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=150
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=148

    Indeed, Prometheus put it well when he said:

    …you can now see the value of testimonials in “alternative” autism therapy (not much). It’s not because the parents are lying; it’s not because the parents are stupid – it’s because the parents can only see their own experience.

    Since they can only see their own experience, the “success stories” in “biomed” have no way of knowing if their child was going to be one of the 19% that is spontaneously “cured” or the unknown percentage who will show at least one period of rapid improvement. The only way to know that is to look at hundreds (if not thousands) of autistic children, some of whom received the treatment and some of whom didn’t.

    And it would be best if the people evaluating the children didn’t know who got the treatment and who didn’t.

    In other words, the only way to really know what works and what doesn’t is to use science.

    Dr. Gordon can see only his own experience and what parents tell him; he can’t look beyond that and accept that epidemiology and science have failed to validate what he believes. Indeed, I find it most telling that in his speech to the “Green Our Vaccines” rally he said something along the lines of that he bases his conclusions that vaccines probably cause more harm than good on “over 30 years” of his own experience and above all (emphasis mine) “listening to you,” meaning the audience of antivaccinationists whom he was addressing

  110. #110 The Perky Skeptic
    October 21, 2008

    Thank you, Dr. Jay, for working so hard to demonize my autistic child’s GENETIC condition as something that should be eradicated and “cured,” while at the same time you work to divert precious research dollars into trying to support a repeatedly refuted hypothesis. It makes my job as a mother that much harder.

  111. #111 D. C. Sessions
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Gordon:

    The toxins in vaccines? Aluminum for one. You know that! It’s well supported by the medicalliterature. It’s the one straw I can can grasp when asked to “prove” vaccines’ potential for harm.

    Yup, aluminum is right up there with formaldehyde.

    Now, in the “money where your mouth is” department: do you also counsel your patients’ parents on how to avoid the much larger sources of aluminum uptake? Foods, for instance, that have more aliminum content than others? Dietary components that enhance aluminum uptake? Stuff like that?

    Or is it just the vaccines?

  112. #112 Joseph
    October 21, 2008

    Do you know that black and white thinking is a characteristic of ASD. That’s 100% true.

    That’s an ironic statement, considering it’s not 100% true. It’s probably true to an extent. Take that from an autistic person with supposedly “black and white” thinking.

  113. #113 trrll
    October 21, 2008

    Joseph, I am never 100% sure that vaccine injury has occurred. I think it has and I think that I should report my suspicions in the future.

    Adverse event reporting does not demand 100% certainty; if it did, it would be useless, because one can never be 100% certain that a single adverse event is caused by a treatment and is not coincidental. I am dismayed to hear that there are people out there practicing medicine who don’t understand this basic fact. Although by its nature, voluntary adverse event reporting cannot provide valid statistical data on incidence, it is a crucial component of safety monitoring and the responsibility of every physician. Adverse event reporting is designed to alert researchers, manufacturers, and health monitoring agencies to potential hazards that merit further study. Many serious hazards have initially been discovered from physician reports of adverse events.

  114. #114 Joseph
    October 21, 2008

    And, do you really believe that Dr. Tayloe has never seen a case of vaccine injury??

    I frankly don’t see what’s hard to believe about that. About 4 million people are born every year in the US. The vast majority are vaccinated. Out of those, there are, what, hundreds of VAERS reports every year? These are reports which do not even conclusively show vaccine injury. Some are even “late onset” reports. Who knows how many can be explained as coincidence.

  115. #115 Dangerous Bacon
    October 21, 2008

    “Watch what happens when I answer the questions posed to me honestly and with no deception.”

    “I am not anti-vaccine.”

    Hmmm…telling an antivax rally that vaccines probably do more harm than good isn’t anti-vaccine? Oh, that’s right. You’ve redefined the term as meaning what you want it to mean. Encouraging parents to distrust and avoid vaccines through speeches, inane comments about vaccine “toxins”, and publicly supporting clueless antivax celebrities doesn’t make you “anti-vaccine”, just a concerned clinical observer (insert rolleyes smiley here).

    Good to see that you’re embarassed by the lack of science supporting your ideas about vaccines and autism. Instead of just shrugging that off, you could make an honest effort to educate yourself for the benefit of your patients.

  116. #116 Alan Kellogg
    October 21, 2008

    Based on things I’ve heard in my scattered study of autism, a person doesn’t have autism, he is autistic. A big difference. The autistic isn’t ill, autistic is the way he is normally.

    From what I’ve read it appears that the problem starts while the brain is developing in the womb. For some reason development takes different paths than in other fetuses, with the result that information is processed differently. in short, the autistic thinks differently. He sees things differently than most people, and reacts differently as well.

    I recently became aware that I could be autistic. Finding out if I am or not has proven to be difficult, because somebody my age (54) who hasn’t yet been diagnosed with autism shouldn’t be autistic; it would’ve been noticed previously if I were. No siree, autism is something adults notice in toddlers, not something adults notice in themselves.

    If I turn out to be autistic, let it be noted that I did not get a lot of the vaccinations kids now get, that the vaccines I did get did not include thimerosol, and yet my abilities and behaviors are so typically autistic—albeit high functioning—it aint funny.

    My understanding of the subject is that autistics developed that way starting in the womb, thus autism is not properly speaking a disorder. Therefor there can be no outside cause that makes anyone autistic, especially not in the 3rd or 4th post natal year. It further means there is no cure for autism, because you can’t cure what a person is. You can treat it if a treatment is available. You can help a person adjust and adapt when his condition interferes with functioning in society. You can’t cure what a person is.

    Sometimes there is nothing you can correct.

  117. #117 Ruth
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Gorden:

    Can you point to any clinical evidence that any known toxin produces the neuronal pattern seen in autism?

    My brother, age 50, was diagnosed with face-blindness just 3 years ago. My ASD child is also face-blind. My brother had only the smallpox and polio vaccines. By todays criteria, my father, brother and I would fall on the spectrum. Please explain how ‘toxins’ and vaccines caused this.

    My child is now attending regular middle school, with just extra classroom help for reading. At age 2 1/2, she regressed and lost most of her language and social skills. Please explain how she has improved without biomed. Why is my story less compelling than that of the biomed moms?

    I guess Jenny and her friends are much cooler to hang out with than us geeky science types, who value evidence and facts above ‘feelings’ and mommy instinct. In your 30 years as a pediatrician, how much congenital rubella syndrome have you seen? I suggest you study up on it-your actions are helping to bring it back, however good your intentions.

  118. #118 HCN
    October 21, 2008

    Dr. Jay said “HCN, did you give your child any vaccines?”

    Are you sure you are qualified to practice pediatrics?

    Have you not heard of the vaccine that only has diphtheria and tetanus, like the DT and Dt (and whatever combination of big and little letters they have depending on dose)? Of course he has been vaccinated! He even finally got protection from pertussis last year with a Tdap vaccine.

    He also has a very severe genetic heart condition that puts him first in line each year for a flu shot, even when there is a shortage. Or do you also counsel the parents of kids with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other of the many kinds of heart conditions to avoid the recommended vaccines? Do you tell them to avoid prophylactic antibiotics prior to dental procedures? (yeah, I know that the criteria has changed, but the cardiologist and dentist still recommend it for him due to some other issues, including the severity of the heart condition)

    Orac said “Dr. Jay clearly values science much less than I do.”

    Exactly. Plus, his critical thinking skills drop drastically as the wee hours of the morning creep up.

  119. #119 Calli Arcale
    October 21, 2008

    Kudos, Alan. You’re right — there is nothing to correct in the case of autism. The autistic person simply thinks and learns in a different way. The main problem is that the person will run into a lot of challenges in life because some of these differences impede learning in certain settings, to varying degrees depending on the patient. I regard treatment (real treatment) for autism not so much as a quest to “cure” the autism as a quest to help the patient learn what they need in order to be successful in life. In borderline cases, if caught early, there is the very real chance of the patient moving off of the autism spectrum. The person’s brain still wires itself the same way; they’ve just been able to acquire the skills needed to navigate life despite that. Autism is detected not by fundamental differences in processing or learning but by relative success or failure to acquire an age-appropriate set of skills, academically and socially. So if one can teach a high-functioning autistic child how to act appropriately in society and to succeed in school, the child will move off of the spectrum. This doesn’t mean they’ve changed whatever it was that made them autistic.

  120. #120 We all want to protect our children
    October 21, 2008

    “Have you not heard of the vaccine that only has diphtheria and tetanus, like the DT and Dt (and whatever combination of big and little letters they have depending on dose)? Of course he has been vaccinated! He even finally got protection from pertussis last year with a Tdap vaccine”.

    That’s wonderful for you HCN.

    You protected your child when he/she was younger because he had seizures and it was determined (or you and your doctor decided) that he/she would be better off not having the pertussis portion of the dtp shot. Cool. Similarly, many of us wish to protect our children from the dangers of certain vaccinations and the unfortunate side effects that occur. How about those of us who have autoimmune/neurological issues with other children in our families … We want to protect our other children from some of those triggers which can cause these issues (vaccines for one). You don’t get to protect your child and then cry to us when we do the same. It doesn’t work like that. Sorry.

  121. #121 Natalie
    October 21, 2008

    “We all want to protect our children”, there isn’t any evidence that vaccines trigger autism, though, and quite a bit of evidence demonstrating the null hypothesis. That’s a rather large difference.

  122. #122 HCN
    October 21, 2008

    She/he who cannot decide on a handle said “. We want to protect our other children from some of those triggers which can cause these issues (vaccines for one). ”

    Then you should be pushing for proper herd immunity if your children do indeed have a real actual reason to not vaccinate. You need to be specific about which vaccines, and know that what used to be reasons to not use the vaccine no longer exists. Even the egg allergy has been reduced for many vaccines.

    Be sure to work towards HIGHER herd immunity, not to erode it.

    Our county had a pertussis EPIDEMIC when my son was an infant… this was not a good thing, and I had to make sure that children he was around were fully vaccinated.

    I repeat: if your family does have a real absolute positive reason to avoid vaccines, then you should be shouting on the rooftops that everyone else should be vaccinated around you! You really really need to avoid this scenario:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    In the mean time… there is no real evidence that vaccines have any connection to autism… PLUS it has turned out with further research that the pertussis part of the DTP had little to do with seizures, further research shows that babies like mine could have received the vaccine safely:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16940831? …”CONCLUSIONS: In this study of more than 2 million children, DTP and MMR vaccines were not associated with an increased risk of encephalopathy after vaccination.”

  123. #123 alyric
    October 21, 2008

    Just a little bewildered here. Dr Gordon isn’t anti vaccine but thinks, on the basis of no more than anecdote that at least MMR causes autism, if this is really him speaking:

    “They have called Jenny McCarthy and me “dangerous” for alerting parents to the possible risks of vaccinations. ”

    Actually, alerting parents to non existent risks is called scaremongering isn’t it?

    This is a paediatrician? Has anyone checked his university qualifications and further educational attainments? Might be the University of the Galapagos for all we know and at least that might be a kinder explanation for the anti-hard evidence sentiments than the rather cold blooded mercenary approach, which looks increasingly more likely. Honestly, this person can’t be igonorant of the consequences of anti-vaccine mongering based on no hard data, so why is he doing it?

    Just my usual curious and cynical self.

  124. #124 alyric
    October 21, 2008

    Forgot to add another couple of questions. Why do folks keep claiming that the safety of vaccines, especially some given together has not been tested? Aren’t there upwards of 1800 peer reviewed articles on vaccine safety on pubmed? Surely a pediatrician has heard of pubmed. Also, would it be that difficult to see what the FDA demands in vaccine safety testing? It’s pretty rigorous isn’t it? At least that’s what Paul Offit says. So why is Dr Gordon spouting things that just aint so?

  125. #125 Carlie
    October 21, 2008

    I have one son on the autistic spectrum and one who is entirely neurotypical. They both got all of their vaccines on the exact same schedules. Genetically, they are as similar as two full sibs can be, and given that they are less than two years apart in age, there was most probably no change in vaccine formulations between the two of them. Dr. Jay, if vaccines cause autism, why did one “get it” and the other didn’t?

  126. #126 D. C. Sessions
    October 21, 2008

    So why is Dr Gordon spouting things that just aint so?

    Could that statement be based on his thirty years of professional experience?

  127. #127 alyric
    October 21, 2008

    Yet another weird thing that doesn’t add up. Dr Gordon wrote:

    “The toxins in vaccines? Aluminum for one. You know that! It’s well supported by the medicalliterature. It’s the one straw I can can grasp when asked to “prove” vaccines’ potential for harm.”

    Excuse me, but Dr Gordon is blaming the piddling amount present in the vaccine for bad consequences when there are already a hundred times that amount in the newborn infant. How, pray tell, would the body know the difference between the vaccine aluminium, the tiny bit and the body aluminium, the gigantic bit and probably more importantly if aluminium in piddling vaccine amounts can cause harm, why isn’t every newborn infant neurologically compromised from birth?

    Can somebody please check this guy’s credentials. This is ridiculous.

  128. #128 D. C. Sessions
    October 21, 2008

    How, pray tell, would the body know the difference between the vaccine aluminium, the tiny bit and the body aluminium, the gigantic bit

    The vaccine aluminum has been infected by the Evil Vaccine Juju.

  129. #129 _Arthur
    October 24, 2008

    If Aluminium is the worst toxin in vaccines, does Dr. Jay recommend the vaccines that does not contain either thimerosal nor aluminium ?

  130. #130 Prometheus
    October 24, 2008

    Arthur,

    I suspect that Dr. Jay will find something objectionable about any vaccine – some “toxin” or other. If a tetanus vaccine were developed that contained nothing more than heat-denatured tetanospasmin, he would wail that it contained “toxins” (actually, “toxin”).

    Dr. Jay will be “reluctant” to give vaccines until his glitterati clientele decide that vaccines are “green” enough – probably after a few of them have children killed or disabled by a vaccine-preventable disease.

    On a side note – why aren’t any of the multi-millionaires in the “green-our-vaccines” crowd getting up a grant fund to develop “green” vaccines? Why aren’t they “leveraging” their connections to find a way to fund research into “greener” vaccines?

    Perhaps it’s because they don’t really want “green” vaccines – they just want to be able to blame someone.

    Prometheus

  131. #131 María Luján
    October 25, 2008

    Hi Prometheus
    What? Don´t you know about alum and the inflammasome?

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2019565/posts
    “The Nalp3 inflammasome is known to be activated by compounds of microbial origin and also by molecules that appear when cells die, such as uric acid. So researchers think that Nalp3 is like a “danger sensor,” says Yale immunologist Stephanie Eisenbarth, the first author on the Nature paper. Alum-containing vaccines may simply “hijack” that response
    Knowing how alum works its magic may help researchers design more specific adjuvants that are more effective or have fewer side effects, HogenEsch says. Alum, for instance, is known to kill muscle cells when injected into muscles, as many vaccines are.”

    Child Neurol. 2008 Jun;23(6):614-9. Epub 2008 Feb 15. Macrophagic myofasciitis in children is a localized reaction to vaccination.Lach B, Cupler EJ.
    Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. boleklach2@hotmail.com

    Macrophagic myofasciitis is a novel, “inflammatory myopathy” described after a variety of vaccinations, almost exclusively in adults. We examined the relevance of histological findings of this myopathy to the clinical presentation in pediatric patients. Muscle biopsies from 8 children (7 months to 6 years old) with histological features of macrophagic myofasciitis were reviewed and correlated with the clinical manifestations. Patients underwent quadriceps muscle biopsy for suspected mitochondrial disease (4 patients), spinal muscular atrophy (2 patients), myoglobinuria (1 patient), and hypotonia with motor delay (1 patient). All biopsies showed identical granulomas composed of periodic acid-Schiff-positive and CD68-positive macrophages. Characteristic aluminum hydroxide crystals were identified by electron microscopy in 2 cases. The biopsy established diagnoses other than macrophagic myofasciitis in 5 patients: spinal muscular atrophy (2), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (1), phospho-glycerate kinase deficiency (1), and cytochrome c oxidase deficiency (1). Three children with manifestations and/or a family history of mitochondrial disease had otherwise morphologically normal muscle. All children had routine vaccinations between 2 months and 1 year before the biopsy, with up to 11 intramuscular injections, including the biopsy sites. There was no correlation between histological findings of macrophagic myofasciitis in biopsies and the clinical symptoms. We believe that macrophagic myofasciitis represents a localized histological hallmark of previous immunization with the aluminum hydroxide adjuvants contained in vaccines, rather than a primary or distinct inflammatory muscle disease.

    Nature. 2008 Jun 19;453(7198):1122-6.
    Crucial role for the Nalp3 inflammasome in the immunostimulatory properties of aluminium adjuvants.Eisenbarth SC, Colegio OR, O’Connor W, Sutterwala FS, Flavell RA.
    Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.

    Aluminium adjuvants, typically referred to as ‘alum’, are the most commonly used adjuvants in human and animal vaccines worldwide, yet the mechanism underlying the stimulation of the immune system by alum remains unknown. Toll-like receptors are critical in sensing infections and are therefore common targets of various adjuvants used in immunological studies. Although alum is known to induce the production of proinflammatory cytokines in vitro, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that alum does not require intact Toll-like receptor signalling to activate the immune system. Here we show that aluminium adjuvants activate an intracellular innate immune response system called the Nalp3 (also known as cryopyrin, CIAS1 or NLRP3) inflammasome. Production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1beta and interleukin-18 by macrophages in response to alum in vitro required intact inflammasome signalling. Furthermore, in vivo, mice deficient in Nalp3, ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain) or caspase-1 failed to mount a significant antibody response to an antigen administered with aluminium adjuvants, whereas the response to complete Freund’s adjuvant remained intact. We identify the Nalp3 inflammasome as a crucial element in the adjuvant effect of aluminium adjuvants; in addition, we show that the innate inflammasome pathway can direct a humoral adaptive immune response. This is likely to affect how we design effective, but safe, adjuvants in the future.
    AND…
    Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Mar;58(3):888-94.
    Gene polymorphisms in the NALP3 inflammasome are associated with interleukin-1 production and severe inflammation: relation to common inflammatory diseases?Verma D, Lerm M, Blomgran Julinder R, Eriksson P, Söderkvist P, Särndahl E.
    Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.

    OBJECTIVE: NALP3, ASC, and TUCAN are components of the NALP3 inflammasome, which triggers caspase 1-mediated interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) release. Activating mutations in the gene encoding NALP3 (NLRP3) have recently been linked to familial periodic fever syndromes. We undertook this study to determine whether a patient with arthritis and antibiotic-resistant fever carried mutations in the genes encoding the NALP3 inflammasome. METHODS: Genetic analysis of NLRP3 and the gene encoding TUCAN (CARD-8) was performed on genomic DNA from the patient and from a population-based collection of DNA (806 subjects). For in vitro studies of IL-1beta production and caspase 1 activity, blood was obtained from the patient at different time points after administration of anakinra, an IL-1 receptor antagonist, as well as from 5 healthy age- and sex-matched control subjects. RESULTS: Mutation analysis of the patient’s genes encoding NALP3, ASC, and TUCAN revealed variations in the NLRP3 (Q705K) and CARD-8 (C10X) genes. The allele frequencies of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the population were 6.5% and 34%, respectively. The elevated activity of caspase 1 and the high levels of IL-1beta measured in samples from the patient returned to normal levels after treatment with anakinra. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that the patient’s symptoms were due to elevated levels of IL-1beta, since treatment with anakinra effectively abolished the symptoms. The compound SNPs may explain the increased IL-1beta levels and inflammatory symptoms observed, but further studies are needed to reveal a functional relationship. The prevalence of the polymorphisms (4% of the population carry both SNPs) in the general population may suggest a genetic predisposition for common inflammatory disorders.

    Now I wonder
    a-How many autistic children, teen and adults carry the NLRP3 AND CARD8 AND MIF polymorphisms?

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/122/2/e438?rss=1

    How many one or the other? What is the impact in mitochondrial function and the BBB and the gut permeability when Alum is present in the vaccines that are given at a pediatric visit- 5-7-9 vaccines in 2/3 injections?
    b-What impact has the IL-1Beta/IL-18 and caspase 1 activation , especially with the other cytokines activations that are needed and known that take place during the full vaccination schedule (IL-6 in the flu; Il-2 in the HepB vaccine, to begin with) with the known differences in NK that autistic children have- to begin with- there are many MANY other abnomral findings in ASD-IgA defficiency much higher than in non -autistics to begin with….?

    I trust that high level high quality evidence such as it is prsented in Nature is going to open more well defined questions than before on the topic of adverse reactions to vaccinations in genetically susceptible children especially related to inflammatory and autoinflammatory aspects- from the mechanistic point of view.

    More research of high quality is needed.

  132. #132 James Pannozzi
    November 3, 2008

    Orac wrote: “Unfortunately, for Dr. Gordon’s assertion, the evidence that gluten-free diets improve autistic symptoms is much like the evidence for homeopathy. Smaller, unrandomized, uncontrolled trials suggest therapeutic effect, but the better designed the trial the more likely it is to show no effect distinguishable from placebo”

    OH YES, of course Orac, “NO EFFECT DISTINGUISHABLE FROM PLACEBO!!!” just like that Shang article meta analysis of Homeopathy studies in the Lancet 2005 keeps getting busted up with NO EFFECT DISTINGUISHABLE FROM PSEUDO SCIENCE.

    Two new studies conclude that a review which claimed that homeopathy is just a placebo, published in The Lancet, was (surprise!) seriously flawed.

    from:
    http://www.cybermed.it/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19995&Itemid=134.

    George Lewith, Professor of Health Research at Southampton University comments:
    ‘The review gave no indication of which trials were analysed nor of the various vital assumptions made about the data. This is not usual scientific practice. If we presume that homeopathy works for some conditions but not others, or change the definition of a ‘larger trial’, the conclusions change. This indicates a fundamental weakness in the conclusions: they are NOT reliable.’
    The background to the ongoing debate is as follows:
    In August 2005, The Lancet published an editorial entitled ‘The End of Homeopathy’, prompted by a review comparing clinical trials of homeopathy with trials of conventional medicine. The claim that homeopathic medicines are just placebo was based on 6 clinical trials of conventional medicine and 8 studies of homeopathy but did not reveal the identity of these trials. The review was criticised for its opacity as it gave no indication of which trials were analysed and the various assumptions made about the data.

    Sufficient detail to enable a reconstruction was eventually published and two recently published scientific papers based on such a reconstruction challenge the Lancet review, showing that:

    • Analysis of all high-quality trials of homeopathy yields a positive conclusion.
    • The 8 larger higher-quality trials of homeopathy were all for different conditions;
    if homeopathy works for some of these but not others the result changes, implying that it is not placebo.
    • The comparison with conventional medicine was meaningless.
    • Doubts remain about the opaque, unpublished criteria used in the review, including the definition of ‘higher quality’.

    The Lancet review, led by Prof Matthias Egger of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Berne, started with 110 matched clinical trials of homeopathy and conventional medicine, reduced these to ‘higher-quality trials’ and then to 8 and 6 respectively ‘larger higher-quality trials’. Based on these 14 studies the review concluded that there is ‘weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions’.

    There are a limited number of homeopathic studies so it is quite possible to interpret these data selectively and unfavourably, which is what appears to have been done in the Lancet paper. If we assume that homeopathy does not work for just one condition
    (Arnica for post-exercise muscle stiffness), or alter the definition of ‘larger trial’, the results are positive. The comparison with conventional medicine was meaningless: the original 110 trials were matched, but matching was lost after they were reduced to 8
    and 6. But the quality of homeopathic trials was better than conventional trials.

    This reconstruction casts serious doubts on the review, showing that it was based on a series of hidden judgments unfavourable to homeopathy. An open assessment of the current evidence suggests that homeopathy is probably effective for a number of conditions including allergies, upper respiratory tract infections and ‘flu, but more research is desperately needed.
    Prof Egger has declined to comment on these findings.
    References
    Lüdtke R, Rutten ALB. The conclusion on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analysed trials. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2008. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2008.06.015
    Rutten ALB, Stolper CF. The 2005 meta-analysis of homeopathy: analysis of postpublication data. Homeopathy, 2008. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2008.09.008.

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