Respectful Insolence

I’ve been very critical of The Huffington Post since shortly after its formation three years ago, when (I believe) I was the first blogger to notice a proliferation of antivaccination propaganda at the then brand new group blog. It is a situation that the HuffPo has maintained to the present day. Indeed, on that day three years ago, I noticed that, right in among posts written by such mercury militia antivaccine apologists such as David Kirby, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., there was also Dr. Jay Gordon, who is currently very unhappy at having had a taste of not-so-Respectful Insolence yesterday. Indeed, HuffPo’s been so utterly, consistently bad that I’ve even ridiculed the very suggestion that it could ever have a credible science blogging presence. Arthur Allen and the occasional other voices of reason about vaccines just weren’t enough to balance out the die hard antivaccine loons.

So after that roll call of anti-vaccine shame, whom could the HuffPo possibly add that would continue its tradition of catering to the antivaccine fringe? Who could join David Kirby, RFK, Jr., Deirdre Imus, and all the rest of the merry band of antivaccinationists there, as well as other varieties of woo-meisters, like Deepak Chopra?

Kim Stagliano of the Age of Autism blog. Even worse, it’s Kim Stagliano thinking she’s a comedienne, a veritable female Jonathan Swift, so to speak, with her own “Modest Proposal” entitled New Jersey To Require Mandatory Kidney Donation:

New Jersey has had it with the lack of participation in the organ donation program among its citizens. In an effort to save the lives of gravely ill men, women and especially innocent children in the Garden State, Governor Corzine has passed a law that requires all healthy citizens to donate one kidney by age 45. Yes, the Garden State plans to reap your kidney. The law is called “Kidney2Me.”

That Kim. She’s sure hilarious, likening vaccination to organ donation and mandatory vaccination for school to mandatory organ donation. Of course, she’s making her rather pathetic attempt at satire in the wake of a “demonstration” held in Trenton for an antivaccination organization disguised as a “vaccine choice” group, namely the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice, a demonstration that at most looks like it drew 200-300 people, if the pictures on Age of Autism and the NJCVC website (not to mention media reports) are any indication. Not surprisingly, many of the usual antivaccinationist suspects were there, including Stagliano (who apparently lives in New Jersey), that grand dame of the antivaccine movement Barbara Loe Fisher (whose “no forced vaccination” mantra belies activists claims that this rally was not an antivaccine rally), and, that quack of quack, Gary Null:

Word to the organizers of this rally: If you really want to have just a little bit of credibility when you claim that your rally is not “antivaccine,” don’t–I repeat, don’t–invite HIV/AIDS denialist, coffee enema advocate, supporter of cancer quackery, and antivaccinationist Gary Null to give a speech. It doesn’t exactly enhance your credibility.

Just a friendly word of advice.

But I digress. Gary Null may be entertaining as a diversion because of just how out there he is, but let’s get back to Kim’s lame attempt at a Swiftian satire about New Jersey’s vaccine mandates. I find it very telling that she apparently equates vaccination as being as risky as the donor operation for kidney donation. Having done a few of these myself during the course of training in my surgery residency, I can’t help but point out that, even now that the operation can be done laparoscopically, it’s still a fairly major operation. Even though it remains a very safe operation, there is still a non-zero complication rate, and, uncommonly, even the occasional death. Indeed, the complication rate is in the range of 5%, and the mortality rate is in the range of 0.03%, many, many orders of magnitude greater than the possibility of injury from a vaccine. But, hey, Kimmy’s got what she thinks is a brilliantly hysterical idea, and she’s going to run with it:

Anticipating great civic success with the “Kidney2Me” program, the Governor is also planning to tackle obesity within the Garden State. A new law is pending that will require all slender citizens to eat the first six forkfuls of food off the plate of heavy citizens. Failure to show appropriate weight loss among the heavy will result in a .05% property tax increase on the slender for each 5 pounds not lost per capita. There will be monthly weigh ins at every town hall. Bumper stickers are in production. They read, “Fork You, Fat.”

Apparently Kim thinks using fat people as a source of satire is funny, too. She gets so upset (and correctly so) at insensitive remarks about autism by someone like Denis Leary, but, hey, belittling the obese is fine, as long as it serves her purpose. So is poo-pooing the health concerns of the elderly, who are most vulnerable to complications of the flu. Worse, she really has to “bring home teh stupid” in order to do it:

I saw an ad for the flu vaccine today sponsored by The American Lung Association. It ended with a small child hugging her grandmother. The voice over tells the viewer to get a flu shot to protect your loved ones. In other words, if you don’t give a flu shot to your child, you’re endangering your Mom or Dad or great-aunt Millie. Never mind that the flu shot is often only 70% effective.

Ah, yes, the fallacy of the perfect solution, so beloved of antivaccinationists! The argument goes: If the current solution to a problem is not sufficiently close to perfect, then we should do nothing at all. Of course, the flu vaccine is not perfect; no medical intervention is. However, it’s far from useless, and 70% protection is nothing to sneeze at. Contrary to the fearmongering of antivaccinationists, it is also very safe.

But let’s continue Kim’s game of “name that logical fallacy.” She can’t resist launching into a a couple of nonsequiturs:

Forget the fact that the version recommended for children and adults ages 4 and up contains 25 micrograms of mercury based Thimerosal. Ignore that fact that 60% of health care workers do not get a flu shot.

Number one: Mercury does not cause autism. I’m sorry, antivaccinationists, but the best available evidence is that it just doesn’t, and no investigator believing otherwise has been able to produce any credible scientific evidence that it does. Until someone produces such evidence in the quality and quantity necessary to cast doubt on established science, then there is no reason to conclude that vaccines contribute to autism. Indeed, there’s no evidence that the dose of thimerosal in a single flu vaccine is harmful. Multiple epidemiological studies powered to find even small correlations between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism have failed to find even a weak correlation, an observation from which we can conclude that, if mercury can in any way cause or contribute to autism, it would have to be so exceedingly rare that these studies couldn’t detect it–hardly a cause of an “autism epidemic.”

Rarer than active neurons in Ms. Stagliano’s central nervous system, actually.

Moving on, the next nonsequitur is that physicians don’t get the flu vaccine. It’s irrelevant, but it is a disgrace. The number should be close to 100% of health care workers who do not have a medical contraindication to receiving the vaccine. Our profession must do much more to bring that number up. Perhaps a vaccine mandate if a physician wants to have hospital privileges would be in order. (I wonder if Kim could get behind that.) Indeed, to my shame I have to admit that I didn’t get the flu vaccine last year. It wasn’t fear that the thimerosal in it would make me autistic or that the formaldehyde in it would cause some horrific toxic injury to me; it was sheer laziness. I paid the price, actually, getting my first major case of the flu in many, many years. I did not make the same mistake this year. (In fact, I was tempted to ask for extra formaldehyde and thimerosal.) Yes, I know that’s anecdotal evidence–testimonial evidence, even–but I present it nonetheless because anecdotes and testimonial evidence seem to be the only kind of evidence that antivaccinationists seem to consider convincing.

Next, there’s the confusing of correlation with causation:

Disregard that New Jersey has the highest incidence of autism in the 14 state Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, or ADDM

Of course, no evidence suggests that flu vaccine mandates or vaccine mandates in New Jersey have anything to do with this, but that doesn’t stop the stupid from burning.

Then we have more nonsequiturs:

Close your eyes to the death stats that are really about the bacterial infections people who are immune compromised tend to contract while they have the flu, probably in a hospital setting where health care professionals don’t bother to wash their hands.

Nice. Not only is Kim hating on immune compromised people (anything for a laugh!), but she’s trying to shift the blame to doctors who don’t wash their hands. Now, don’t get me wrong. Doctors in hospitals are all too often lazy about washing their hands between patients, which is inexcusable. But patients already in the hospital with influenza complicated by pneumonia almost certainly acquired their flu in the community and were hospitalized after the flu is complicated by pneumonia. There’s a reason that the CDC recommends that the flu vaccine be offered to persons older than 50 years; residents of chronic-care facilities; patients who have chronic heart or lung disorders, and patients with chronic metabolic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus), renal insufficiency or immunosuppression from whatever cause. In other words, this is yet another nonsequitur.

Kim’s leading up to a grand finale, as you might imagine. What grand finale can you possibly imagine? What is the favorite rhetorical gambit of antivaccinationists? I think you know the answer:

The push is on to sell as many flu shots as is humanly possible. Remember, “Don’t be a turd. Protect the herd.”

Yes! You knew it all had to lead up to this, and Kim didn’t disappoint! It’s all a plot by big pharma to sell flu vaccines. Never mind that vaccines don’t exactly make pharmaceutical companies a lot of money, profit margins being rather small and certainly not compared to hassle it takes to manufacture them and the potential legal liability they face for manufacturing them. I do commend Kim on her restraint, though, in not claiming that pediatricians are pushing vaccines because they are greedy and make tons of money administering them. Maybe even Ms. Stagliano realizes that this is not the case. But, hey, big pharma is always a good whipping boy. Sometimes it even deserves it–but not in this case.

Now there is a debate to be had about just which vaccines should be mandated before a child can attend school and what the appropriate balance between public health and parental choice should be. Ms. Stagliano, however, is clearly not interested in engaging in a reasonable debate about these issues, as her logical fallacy-filled screed demonstrates. She is unwaveringly convinced that vaccines cause autism and that they cause more harm than good. After all, if she weren’t, she wouldn’t be a regular blogger at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. If she weren’t, she wouldn’t have to use lame attempts at satire and logical fallacies to argue against vaccines.

If she weren’t, she wouldn’t be so at home with the antivaccine cranks who regularly blog for The Huffington Post.

Comments

  1. #1 Annie
    October 21, 2008

    Sigh, I’ll close my eyes to all the runny nose kids and sneezing adults that could kill my immune compromised self, if she makes herself immune compromised for a month and hangs out with a school of kids or rides the NYC subway for the month.

    >Close your eyes to the death stats that are really about the bacterial infections people who are immune compromised tend to contract while they have the flu, probably in a hospital setting where health care professionals don’t bother to wash their hands.>

    Annie

  2. #2 Brian
    October 21, 2008

    Okay, as a New Jersey parent who until very recently has been very very anti-vax (I’m still coming around, I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it), I really do wish they would pass this conscientious objection law. I know that the fear out there is that the law will cause more people to NOT vaccinate, but for me, it would actually make me MORE likely to vaccinate my kids. Having the ability to pick and choose (at least at the beginning) the shots for diseases that I find the most scary, while opting out of ones that I don’t feel are really necessary (like chicken pox). And then as I get more comfortable with the ida, overcoming 4 years worth of anti-vax fears, and feel secure that, okay, my kids really are okay, I can gradually get her up to date.

    Currently New Jersey requires more immunizations than any other state and the only exemptions are religious and medical. That really puts an “all or nothing” choice on the parent. What’s wrong with meeting people half way so that we can get some or most of the shots without fear that the others will be forced on us. Once you alleviate people’s fears (founded or unfounded) they become much more willing to try the things that once scared them.

  3. #3 Pieter B
    October 21, 2008

    From Gary Null’s Wikipedia entry:

    He is the author and producer of more than seventy books, booklets, and audio CDs on the topics of health, wellness, nutrition, and alternative medicine. His opinions on medical issues have been published in Penthouse.

    I love this.

  4. #4 leigh
    October 21, 2008

    i just want to hurl insults at the mob of idiots who fawn over this crap in the comments. but that’s counterproductive, as satisfying as it sounds.

  5. #5 Brian
    October 21, 2008

    Orac, you also mentioned the 25 micrograms of thimerisol in the flu vaccine. Can you put that into perspective? What does that equate to? At what dose does thimerisol become something to be concerned about health-wise (not just in regards to autism)?

  6. #6 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 21, 2008

    Gary Null claims to be a “scientist” with a “PhD”.
    This claim is about as genuine as his hair colour.

  7. #7 Mu
    October 21, 2008

    http://www.pbs.org/now/science/mercuryinfish.html

    6 oz of white tuna chunks have 50 micrograms of mercury

    I’ve seen data on blue fin with more than 1 ppm, so your 12 oz steak has 300+ microgram

    Plus this is methyl mercury, which is much slower excreted than the ethyl mercury in the vaccines (44 days halflife time vs. 3.7 days)

  8. #8 Grep Agni
    October 21, 2008

    I’m surprised the vaccination rate for health-care workers is so low. I managed the file room in a pediatric clinic (I rarely even spotted a patient,) and I had to have a flu vaccine.

  9. #9 Brian
    October 21, 2008

    Thanks Mu, that helps a lot!

  10. #10 Inquisitive Raven
    October 21, 2008

    Gee, let’s not mention the reason why the flu vaccine is only 70% effective, like there’s so many strains out there that one shot can’t possibly cover them all. Or the fact that the reason that one needs a new vaccine every year is that new strains are always emerging.

    And let’s forget that the world’s deadliest epidemic was a flu epidemic in 1918. Oh right, the anti-vax loons don’t remember that what real epidemics look like. Heck, the worst I remember was half the class out sick in high school. Come to think of it, that was the flu. The Swine Flu, IIRC.

  11. #11 Marilyn Mann
    October 21, 2008

    I am definitely pro-vaccine, but I would not be in favor of the HPV vaccine being included in any state mandates. I got my daughter vaccinated, but I think it should be an individual choice. I have an open mind on the subject, though, if someone wants to try to convince me otherwise.

  12. #12 ThoJ
    October 21, 2008

    I found her comments far from funny. As I noted on a post (that was not approved) on her blog piece, I had a relative with a severely compromised immune system.

    I was unable to visit this relative for a long time because infections like the Flu could kill him.

    The idea that most deaths are caused by bacterial infections from doctors who don’t wash their hands was ignorant and annoying.

    My vote: Kim Stagliano can open for Denis Leary in some tiny commedy club. I think if they find one in the town that hosted that McCain rally in your recent post, they could have a reasonably sized crowd.

  13. #13 Ms. Clark
    October 21, 2008

    Li’l Kim must be moderating the comments over there on Huffpoof like she does on the clown blog. Huffpoof doesn’t let many critical comments through about vaccines. They’ve blocked me from commenting on anything there. I could comment by setting up a new email account, I guess and maybe using someone else’s computer, but the effort is not worth it to me.
    I know they’ve blocked a few other skeptics from commenting likewise.

    No dissent is allowed, unless they decide to let a negative comment through so they can then out the identity of the commenter. I thought that Li’l Kim’s clown blog frowned on anonymous posters, but I checked yesterday for the first time in a while and there were a bunch of loony antivaxers posting there anonymously.

    What I wondered was that if Huffpoof has a rule that you can’t say anything personal and negative about their bloggers why is it that Li’l Kim can insult “ThoJ” and call him “Thing”.

    Stankliano is the one with three autistic daughters, one of which is unvaxed. I guess no amount of biomed has cured them for some reason. Maybe mommy dumbest could sell a kidney and get them a toy hyperbaric oxygen ballooon from Dr. Neubrander, he’s there in Jersey.

  14. #14 Dave
    October 21, 2008

    Um, Raven, I am quite confident that whatever epidemic you remember was not swine flu. Swine flu was a total non-happening. Unfortunately, it was also one of the first big efforts to get the public to go in for flu vaccines.

    Alas, there was no epidemic that year (not of swine flu, anyway), but the vaccine did cause a number of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome. This has made it a favorite bugbear of the anti-vax crowd, mostly because they have so little else to draw on.

    (On the other hand, it did allow for a hilarious moment on Saturday Night Live, where Chevy Chase appeared as Gerald Ford, with a hypo sticking out of his upper arm, through his coat sleeve. Ford had strongly pushed the idea of everyone getting a swine flu vaccination.)

  15. #15 Dawn
    October 21, 2008

    I can’t stand HuffPo. And Kim is infuriating to read. I truly hope she doesn’t live in NJ. The state has enough problems without her.

    Flu shot for me next week. I work for a “Big Healthcare Company” and about 30-50% get the flu shot through our employer. Others go/have gone/will go to their own MD. I’d say overall about 60% get the flu shot.

    Orac: did you know that CA law makes it illegal for pregnant women and children (I believe under 6, but I could be wrong) to receive the flu vaccine from a multidose vial? Since it contains thimerisol, they cannot receive it and must get the more costly individual doses. The exact wording is on the consent we must sign before we get the flu shot (guess the company giving them at our work is a national group)

  16. #16 Dawn
    October 21, 2008

    I can’t stand HuffPo. And Kim is infuriating to read. I truly hope she doesn’t live in NJ. The state has enough problems without her.

    Flu shot for me next week. I work for a “Big Healthcare Company” and about 30-50% get the flu shot through our employer. Others go/have gone/will go to their own MD. I’d say overall about 60% get the flu shot.

    Orac: did you know that CA law makes it illegal for pregnant women and children (I believe under 6, but I could be wrong) to receive the flu vaccine from a multidose vial? Since it contains thimerisol, they cannot receive it and must get the more costly individual doses. The exact wording is on the consent we must sign before we get the flu shot (guess the company giving them at our work is a national group)

    (hope this doesn’t double post; getting submission errors)

  17. #17 jayh
    October 21, 2008

    And let’s forget that the world’s deadliest epidemic was a flu epidemic in 1918.

    So little is understood about the ’18 flu, I wonder if it would be a success story even now. Would it have been identified in time, could a vaccine based on other flu versions even work, inasmuch as it seems to have behaved very differently than normal flu.

    My understanding (which could be wrong) is that it was one of those diseases that relied on a strong immune response to sort of turn the body against itself… hence most victims were young and healthy, unlike typical flu. Would a vaccine even work on such a disease?

    To be honest, I’ve rarely bothered with the flu shot, didn’t seem worth the trouble. This year I happened to be in the doctor’s for a physical, they offered a shot, so what the hell I took it. But I don’t have that much faith in it, with all the variants that come around.

  18. #18 Kelli Ann Davis
    October 21, 2008

    “Orac, ….. At what dose does thimerisol become something to be concerned about health-wise (not just in regards to autism)?”

    Good question Brian. Let’s see if he’s able to show us a study that clearly demonstrates a SAFE dose for the neurotoxin (autism aside).

    [Hint: Don't hold your breath]

  19. #19 Tsu Dho Nimh
    October 21, 2008

    Dawn WroteOrac: did you know that CA law makes it illegal for pregnant women and children (I believe under 6, but I could be wrong) to receive the flu vaccine from a multidose vial? Since it contains thimerisol, they cannot receive it and must get the more costly individual doses.

    That’s what happens when you have politicians practicing medicine .. the law has been in effect since 2006. The California law concerning mercury-free vaccine, authored by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, was intended to reduce the risk of developmental problems such as autism, which some health advocates believe can be traced to thimerosal, a mercury-laden preservative that was used in many vaccines.

    And we know how well that’s working … there should have been a decrease in new cases and it’s not happening.

  20. #20 Calli Arcale
    October 21, 2008

    Marilynn Mann:

    I am definitely pro-vaccine, but I would not be in favor of the HPV vaccine being included in any state mandates. I got my daughter vaccinated, but I think it should be an individual choice. I have an open mind on the subject, though, if someone wants to try to convince me otherwise.

    My two cents is that the HPV vaccine can save a person’s life. Cervical cancer can kill (and at the very least can render a person infertile), and evidence is mounting that HPV causes some other cancers as well. (Legally, Merck cannot market the vaccine for other cancers, and doctors cannot administer it to prevent other cancers except off-label or, preferably, as part of a clinical trial.) However, I personally do not think it is worth adding to the mandatory vaccine schedule. Firstly, it is an expensive vaccine, partly because it is so new, but secondly, the way it is currently approved to be used, it cannot achieve herd immunity. Based on that, I don’t think it has sufficient societal benefit to justify the societal cost and risk of adverse events.

    That said, I plan on getting it for both of my daughters when they are old enough. Individually, it makes sense (if one can afford it). I just don’t think it makes sense as part of a mass vaccination campaign. At least, not yet.

  21. #21 TexDoc
    October 21, 2008

    “Orac, ….. At what dose does thimerisol become something to be concerned about health-wise (not just in regards to autism)?”

    Good question Brian. Let’s see if he’s able to show us a study that clearly demonstrates a SAFE dose for the neurotoxin (autism aside).

    [Hint: Don't hold your breath]

    Kelli Ann Davis, everybody! Always one to chime in for a good laugh. God could blast the answer from his arse with a blazing realm of Seraphim, and you still wouldn’t buy it.

  22. #22 Orac
    October 21, 2008

    Or I could be snarky and point out that all the studies failing to find a correlation between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism (or any other health problem, for that matter) demontrate one thing: Whatever the upper limit of the “safe dose” of mercury is, it’s certainly higher than the total dosage received in the vaccination schedule. :-)

  23. #23 Rogue Epidemiologist
    October 22, 2008

    Dawn, a lot of public health jurisdictions in CA offer FluMist for free to those groups.

    I’m wondering if a friend gave me the flu as an early b-day present. I’ve been sick for three days, and our county just released free flu vax YESTERDAY.

  24. #24 Dawn
    October 22, 2008

    Rogue Epi..thanks for the info about the free FluMist. Since I’m on the other coast, I didn’t know that.

    Hope you don’t have the flu…

  25. #25 Kim
    October 22, 2008

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Kaiser Permanente warned some flu shot recipients a batch may have gone bad during shipping.

    KGW

    A flu vaccine injection is prepared.

    Spokesman Dave Northfield said the batch of Fluvirin likely got too cold during shipping, discoloring a temperature-sensitive strip. The 35,000 vaccine doses weren’t a health risk, they may not be effective.

    There was no indication of any health hazard for those who got the shots.

    Kaiser was checking with the manufacturer to determine if the vaccines were ineffective and if anyone in Portland and Vancouver would be able to get a second dose.

    CDC guidelines indicated revaccination would be safe if it was determined the shots were ineffective.

    http://www.kgw.com/health/stories/kgw_102108_health_bad_flu_shots.1365f4abc.html

  26. #26 Joseph
    October 22, 2008

    Let’s see if he’s able to show us a study that clearly demonstrates a SAFE dose for the neurotoxin (autism aside)

    Seriously? Thompson et al. (2007). I think researchers would be hard pressed to do a better retrospective study than this one.

  27. #27 snerd
    October 22, 2008

    So we seem to have Sane Dawn and Loony Dawn. I assume they’re different people – Sane Dawn, can you perhaps modify your moniker to suit? :)

  28. #28 Militant Agnostic
    October 22, 2008

    Maybe it’s the same Dawn, on her meds and off her meds ;)

    Actually – I second Snerd’s request, although I usually can tell which one it is after the first couple of lines. However, she did manage to throw a scare into Orac when she met him in person.

  29. #29 Doug Bremner MD
    October 22, 2008

    Hi David,

    Huffpost “science” blogger (actually “living”, and then we got separated from the gossip colomnists) here and sadly I couldn’t agree with you more.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bremner

    I had a brief burst of enthusiasm blogging for the huffpost last year on science/political themes but I must admit that I am dissapointed.

    I have the feeling that I am trying to write about science and medicine in a funny but entertaining way but am surrounding by people like Jenny Block who are writing about their slutty adventures and similar ilks and not anything really revealing in the form of science or medicine, with a bunch of post-Vassar young women sitting on couches in Arianna’s living room with laptops. On top of that there is a random order as to when posts get put up or if ever. And then they post it but don’t put it anywhere on their site that anyone sees it. Arianna was quoted as saying that authors sell a lot of books on her site but I don’t find that is true. I would rather be honest and post on my own site and write what I want about and have my timely posts go up right away than deal with her band. Not to saw I won’t post there anymore but I find it much more satisfying posting on my own web site.

    Doug Bremner MD

  30. #30 cooler
    October 22, 2008

    Dougie boy,
    Unfortunately the science has spoken, 12 monkeys injected with the 1991 schedule developed brain damage while the controls didn’t, and 3 seperate studies show abnormal urinary patterns consistent with mercury poisioning while the controls didn’t……I’ve posted the studies on Tara’s blog.

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

  31. #31 Gray Falcon
    October 23, 2008

    I’ve checked the earlier posts. “Sane Dawn” is the original. The insane one’s given up on this place, too many people confusing her with reality.

  32. #32 snerd
    October 23, 2008

    Once again, cooler confuses “has the last say after exhaustively boring all to death” with “UNBEATABLE DEBATING VICTORY”

  33. #33 notmercury
    October 23, 2008

    Here I thought he’d confused the Bruce Willis movies “Twelve Monkeys” with “Mercury Rising”, or was it the “Die Hard” and “Look Who’s Talking” serials?

  34. #34 Dedj
    October 23, 2008

    Some of these anti-vaxxers amuse me no end.

    They want – nay, demand – that we present studies that give direct safety values. When people point to the numerous epidemelogical studies – which, by their nature can indicate safe/unsafe doses – they say “Nope, not good enough, we demand this highly specific study is done, and only this highly specific type of study”.

    Without doubt, if an epi study did show that people were being harmed by the schedule dose, they’d be the first to claim that it indicates an unsafe dose (which is exactly what happened with the preliminary results of one of the earlier studies), yet they never even begin to consider the flip-side. No evidence of harm (where there should be) is evidence of harmlessness* whether they like it or not.

    *for the particular ‘harm’ under study anyway.

  35. #35 Phoenix Woman
    October 23, 2008

    Some of these anti-vaxxers amuse me no end.

    They want – nay, demand – that we present studies that give direct safety values. When people point to the numerous epidemelogical studies – which, by their nature can indicate safe/unsafe doses – they say “Nope, not good enough, we demand this highly specific study is done, and only this highly specific type of study”.

    What really strikes me is that the antivaxers freak out over minuscule amounts of a compound that several studies have shown doesn’t stay in the body very long, yet are total marks for things like colloidal silver and the gross misuse of chelation therapy (which, unlike ethyl mercury in vaccines, really has harmed and even killed people when used by quacks).

  36. #36 MI Dawn
    October 23, 2008

    snerd and Milatant Agnostic…you are right. I am a different Dawn from the one who threatened Orac, but I am the one who (inadvertantly) scared him in NY. We had planned on meeting, but I was unaware, haveing been off-line for a bit, that the other Dawn was calling for protests at the Sciblog get-together. For a while I was posting under “not that Dawn” but it was too long to type every time and my one computer does not retain signons. I’ll try MI Dawn (that’s not where I live, but Orac knows the significance of MI for me).

  37. #37 Orac
    October 23, 2008

    I wouldn’t say I was scared; it was more alarmed as in, “Oh, hell, don’t tell me I have to deal with this nutcase. I had just wanted to have a couple of beers and talk science and blogging.”

    Before I realized it wasn’t that Dawn, of course.

  38. #38 Joseph
    October 23, 2008

    Unfortunately the science has spoken, 12 monkeys injected with the 1991 schedule developed brain damage while the controls didn’t, and 3 seperate studies show abnormal urinary patterns consistent with mercury poisioning while the controls didn’t.

    @cooler: Science doesn’t “speak” with one unpublished litigation-generated study of 10 monkeys in the exposed group and 3 monkeys in the control group, with no blinding; a study that, if extrapolated to humans, would mean most vaccinated children become brain damaged.

    If you think it does, clearly you don’t understand how science works.

    Also, there are no studies that show a higher mercury levels in the urine of autistics (studies which should also control for diet, pica and urbanicity). You’re talking about porphyrins.

  39. #39 cooler
    October 23, 2008

    Yes, Joseph, I Totally agree. But the problems with this is we have to throw out the HIV hypothesis as well, since the macaque monkeys injected with SIV die within 6 months to a year, not near the ten year latency seen in AIDS. And in those studies there were no control animals at all and were unblinded. And none of the monkeys developed Kaposis Sarcoma etc, and monkeys in the wild infected with SIV are just fine, and so are the hundereds of Chimpanzees that have been infected with HIV.

    So using your logic the SIV model of AIDS needs to be thrown out, and since the SIV model has been used over and over again to help prove the HIV hypothesis, nullyifying these studies would cast doubt on the HIV hypothesis as well.

  40. #40 Scott
    October 23, 2008

    Large amounts of independent, consistent, mutually supporting data =/= a single poor-quality study. Regardless of what superficial similarities there may be between the latter and parts of the former.

  41. #41 Joseph
    October 23, 2008

    @cooler: You’re talking nonsense. Read about the evidence that HIV causes AIDS here:

    http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Factsheets/evidhiv.htm

    Not the same thing by a long shot.

    If the only evidence consisted of a few limited animal studies, that would definitely not be enough evidence.

  42. #42 cooler
    October 23, 2008

    My point was that you say because the disease in monkeys injected with thimerosal didn’t exactly mimic the real populations, that using that logic you’d have to throw out the SIV model of AIDS as well because they dont match up with real life AIDS cases as well (10 years latency etc), and those studies had no controls, even though SIV is always mentioned as evidence for HIV causation.

    Point being using your logic, the SIV model of AIDS would have to be thrown out, not the entire HIV hypothesis, but the SIV part of it, because it doesn’t exactly mimic what occurs in real populations.

  43. #43 Joseph
    October 23, 2008

    My point was that you say because the disease in monkeys injected with thimerosal didn’t exactly mimic the real populations,

    But you see, that’s not the only limitation of and not the only problem with the study. It’s not even published, so we don’t know, for example, how many different tests they did (if color discrimination was one of them, we can assume there were many others not reported in the abstract).

    It’s an animal study, so by itself it can’t be considered evidence of causation in humans, even if it were a good study.

    Also, it’s not that we should throw out the thimerosal hypothesis because this study is poor. Cooler, you’re misunderstanding the argument.

    The thimerosal hypothesis was thrown out a long time ago for other reasons, not the least of which being that it hasn’t been predictive of anything in the real world.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!