Respectful Insolence

You may have noticed that I’ve been laying off the antivaccination movement recently. Indeed, it’s been over two weeks since I last mentioned the topic, and then I only did so by briefly citing a post by Steve Novella. For this blog, aside from vacations, that has to be a record.

Truth be told, periodically I get really burned out on the topic, as I’ve pointed out from time to time. I frequently make jokes about the thermonuclearly burning stupid that regularly emanates from such “luminaries” of the antivaccine movement as Jenny McCarthy, David Kirby, Dan Olmsted, J. B. Handley, and others. It’s not an exaggeration. Under the relentless assault against science and intellect by such neuron-apoptosing black holes of idiotic pseudoscience, even Orac’s circuits need the occasional respite. Fortunately, around the time a respite was required, news on the antivaccine front went pretty quiet. Whether it’s a pre-Christmas lull or just a regression to the mean (if you know what I mean), there just isn’t much happening right now–certainly not much that’s motivated me to write about it–which, by the way, is a very good thing indeed. When I feel compelled to write about this topic often, it’s usually an indication that the antivaccine brigade is at work endangering public health.

Still, morbid curiosity guarantees that, even when things have been as blissfully quiet as they’ve been for the last two or three weeks, sooner or later I can’t resist taking a peak over at that repository of antivaccination lunacy, that the Age of Autism. I know, I know. You probably wonder why I subject myself to the concentrated, intelligence-sapping moronicity on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes I wonder myself, actually. Surely it can’t be good for my critical thinking skills. Consider it the price I pay for combatting this nonsense. I pay it willingly–well, most of the time anyway. Also, it’s rather like a slow motion train wreck. Being human, I can’t resist looking; eventually my willpower wanes, be it from lack of sleep, one beer too many, or whatever.

So it was that last night when I checked back in with our friends at AoA. I don’t know why. A whim took me and I did it. In any case, I found J. B. Handley, Founder of Generation Rescue (who’s now seemingly relegated to second banana status in his own organization since it became “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization“), demonstrating his mad skilz at winning friends and influencing people in the media, specifically Donald McNeil, a reporter for the New York Times. Mr. McNeil apparently had the misfortune of doing a phone interview with him, which J. B. described in a post he so characteristically entitled Some New York Times Reporters are Just Ignorant.

Somehow I don’t think our friend J.B.’s been reading much Dale Carnegie lately, although I can understand why Mr. McNeil may have wanted to interview him. As a blog acquaintance put it, “A Handley quote is to a dull public health story what an overturned semi-tractor trailer is to a monotonous road trip.” And Handley probably didn’t disappoint, if his account (below) is any indication.

After completely dissing another New York Times reporter named Gardiner Harris (who, by the way, happens to “get it” when it comes to the vaccines-autism fear mongering so beloved of J.B., which is probably what enrages him so) and briefly describing Mr. McNeil’s background covering SARS, diseases of the poor, and mad cow disease, this is how our old “friend” J.B. described him:

Oh good God, I thought, this guy is drinking the kool-aid like the other New York Times reporters. Just for fun I Googled “Donald McNeil New York Times Paul Offit” and wouldn’t you know, the quote machine has been very busy with Mr. McNeil, featured in nearly every article he has written on anything anywhere to do with vaccines. See for yourself.

Here we go again with the obsession antivaccine zealots have with Dr. Offit. For some reason, to them he’s Satan Incarnate, the Evil One, the Root of All Evil, Cthulu, Sauron, and Emperor Palpatine all rolled up into one. Other scientists attack antivaccine lunacy, but there seems to be reserved for Dr. Offit a special sort of visceral hatred on the part of people like J.B. that’s actually a bit frightening to behold. It goes far beyond any reasonable dislike based on what Dr. Offit has actually done, which is to defend science against pseudoscience and stand up for the vaccine program. Of course, people like J.B. don’t see it that way. To them, Dr. Offit is an evil big pharma minion hell bent on poisoning our babies in order to line his pockets with that filthy big pharma lucre.

But back to Mr. Handley’s description of his encounter with Mr. McNeil:

And here is what I am going to tell you about Donald McNeil: he was completely and utterly clueless. He’d never heard kids actually recover. He’d never heard of cases of children, now neurotypical, with detailed medical records and case reports charting their recovery. He didn’t know tens of thousands of kids are truly recovering from autism and being treated by doctors with medical degrees just like Offit. From his perspective there’s a lie by Andy Wakefield, one death from chelation, and a bunch of quackery. Substance to what we are actually saying and doing? He had no clue.

Seeing J.B. call anyone “completely and utterly clueless” brings to mind the old Usenet adage, “Pot. Kettle. Black.” Way to go, though, J. B., not even waiting to see what Mr. McNeil actually–oh, you know–writes about Dr. Offit’s book before going on the attack! How predictable! All I can say to Mr. McNeil is: Welcome to the club! And to Mr. Handley: Take a look at what I wrote about Autism’s False Prophets, of which you, by the way, are one.

After having been cybersquatted by Mr. Handley and subjected to one of his pathognomonic all out attacks replete with adolescent mockery of my appearance, all I can say in addition is that this is utterly typical behavior for Mr. Handley when confronted with skepticism or science that he can’t answer or someone he can’t sway or just doesn’t like. It doesn’t really matter if that person is polite or obnoxious (the latter of which, admittedly, I sometimes am, and as apparently Gardiner Harris is also). As Mr. McNeil found out, being civil won’t protect you from one of J.B.’s tirades either if you happen not to buy into his antivaccine nonsense. In any case, sometimes obnoxiousness is not only an appropriate response to dangerous pseudoscience like the antivaccine movement, it is the required response, especially when the target is someone who is clearly beyond persuading with the aforementioned Dale Carnegie techniques. Although it had only just come into being when Thomas Jefferson was alive, Jefferson might well have been referring to the antivaccine movement when he said, “Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them.” It would be one thing if Handley and his ideological soulmates could make a coherent case based on actual science and epidemiology for their demonization of vaccines, but they can’t.

Mr. Handley also frequently makes the claim that there are so many “recovered” autistic children, brought back to “normal” by the quackery–excuse me, “biomedical interventions”–favored by Jenny McCarthy. Many advocates of the scientifically discredited idea that vaccines somehow cause autism claim that there are “hundreds” or even “thousands” of “recovered children.” Oddly enough, they can never seem to produce even the least compelling form of evidence for this claim: convincing medical anecdotes that pass muster as publishable case reports. Believe it or not, anecdotes are an acceptable form of medical evidence. They’re just the least reliable form and can really serve only as a mechanism of hypothesis generation. Also, there is a huge difference between real medical anecdotes and testimonials. In marked contrast to the sort of testimonials favored by the antivaccine movement, a medical anecdote consists of a carefully documented case report with objective measures.

J.B. continued:

We went on to the next topic, which was probably my favorite. I took him to task on the sweeping statements he and his colleagues make that the science proves “vaccines don’t cause autism.” I took him through how every single study Offit and others cite only compare vaccinated kids to other vaccinated kids. I asked him to try and name any other drug on the planet where they try to assess adverse events by only looking at people who have received the drug in question. I explained how important it is to look at unvaccinated kids, something people like Offit never advocate doing.

His answer?

“Looking at unvaccinated kids would be immoral.”

Now, let me explain. Donald McNeil, senior medical writer at the New York Times, didn’t even know unvaccinated kids exist. He thought I meant you would do a study where you told parents not to vaccinate their babies. The idea that unvaccinated kids live in the US or that they need to be considered came from left field. He’d simply never considered such a simple notion and, I’m guessing, never realized all the science from the other side only looked at vaccinated kids.

Unfortunately, J.B.’s idea of “studying unvaccinated kids” produces worthless “studies” that wouldn’t pass even the most minimal muster of science. Such “surveys” are guaranteed to find a “positive” result, especially when so incompetently analyzed. In any case, I have to wonder: If such a study were done and found absolutely nothing, nada, zip, no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in autism rates or rates of any other neurological problem that J. B. and his merry band of antivaccinationists attribute to vaccines, would J.B. admit he was wrong and apologize for promoting antivaccine views that endanger public health? I doubt it. That’s the difference between a zealot and a scientist. I realize that Mr. Handley will never believe this in a million years, but if I were to see properly designed scientific clinical trials and epidemiological studies that showed that vaccines or thimerosal in vaccines were associated with a demonstrably increased risk of autism, I’d change my mind and start to wonder if there were actually something to this proposed connection. I really would.

No such data exist, however. Indeed, if anything, each new study that comes out only strengthens the support for the hypothesis that there is no connection between vaccines and autism and that vaccines do not cause autism. Of course, it’s impossible ever to completely prove a negative, but what we can say with a high degree of certainty is that, even if there is a potential mechanism by which vaccines might contribute to autism, it is an infinitesimally small contribution; otherwise we would almost certainly have detected it in currently published epidemiological studies.

Having happily dissed a reporter from the New York Times, Mr. Handley then couldn’t resist following up his demonstration of winning friends and influencing people by taking it to new heights in a post entitled Donald McNeil of NY Times Responds With an Early Gift, in which he published an e-mail by Mr. McNeil pointing out his errors in his first AoA post on their encounter, saying:

I wrote in my post that I said:

“Many of us on our side of the debate get threats, too, we’re just not wimps who whine about it. It comes with the territory.”

I considered my representation of the conversation to be a paraphrase of what I’d said, and Mr. McNeil’s notes are certainly more accurate. So, what I actually said was:

“I’ve received, not death threats, but emails threatening my physical safety on numerous occasions. I just don’t complain about them to all the world like a giant pussy.”

I deeply regret this error and vow never again to say I called Paul Offit a “wimp” when I actually called him a “pussy.” AoA editors, please accept my deeply held apology. And, Mr. McNeil, I’m very sorry for any confusion or professional damage this may have caused you.

Nice misogyny there, J.B.! Handley must not think much of women to use “pussy” as a derogatory term, wouldn’t you say? I would. Sure, he’ll deny that his use of a vulgar term for female reproductive anatomy as an insult means that he thinks little of women. Maybe he even really believes he is not misogynistic. But if he’s not misogynistic, then why does his preferred insult designed to paint Dr. Offit as a coward or wimp involve comparing him to a part of female anatomy?

But here’s where J.B. really shows his cluelessness:

I am shocked by my own inability to handle the facts and I apologize deeply to Mr. McNeil. While I claim that Mr. McNeil said, “Looking at unvaccinated kids would be immoral,” what he actually meant, as his email makes fully clear, is that, “Leaving kids unvaccinated (ie, in order to study them) would be immoral.” The difference between those two statements? I haven’t a fucking clue, but let the record show the Mr. McNeil was not only misquoted, but felt the misquote made him look “stupider than the truth would have.”

(I left the profanity in intentionally.)

J.B. has actually said something I agree with: He doesn’t have a clue. Of course, I find it most telling indeed that Mr. Handley apparently can’t tell the difference between saying that leaving kids unvaccinated in order to study them would be immoral and saying that studying unvaccinated kids would be immoral. It rather suggests that he really does equate “studying unvaccinated kids” with intentionally leaving kids unvaccinated in order to study them, at the very least subconsciously. After all, there is nothing inherently immoral about studying unvaccinated children if their vaccination status was preexisting and their parents won’t vaccinate them, but it is indeed totally unethical for investigators to leave children unprotected by vaccines intentionally as a part of a trial.

To drive home his cluelessness even more, though, J. B. concluded:

I hope, and I can only pray, that the New York Times will print, for all their readers to see, that a father of a child with autism called Paul Offit a pussy.

There we go with the macho posturing and misogyny again. There we go with the obsession with Dr. Offit again. Or, to sum it all up, there goes J. B. again.

Looking at J.B.’s behavior, I’m puzzled. I can’t for the life of me figure out what good he thinks insulting a NYT reporter could serve–especially before that reporter has even written the story for which he interviewed J.B.. The time between the research and the writing of a story is a time when hurling about such insults might negatively influence how the story comes out. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot with a 12-gauge! I can only think of two explanations. Either he’s “playing to his base” and being the “big hero” standing up to the evil New York Times, which is viewed as an enemy because in general it’s taken a pretty science- and evidence-based position on the vaccines/autism manufactroversy, or he’s intentionally poisoning the well because he wants the story to be as critical of him as possible, allowing him to paint himself and his group as misunderstood, persecuted victims instead of the cranks they are. In any case, I hadn’t been aware that the NYT was working on a story about Dr. Offit’s book. I can’t wait to see the story now. Maybe I’ll even blog it.

If there’s one thing this incident has shown me, it’s perhaps that not paying attention to AoA for a couple of weeks is a very good thing indeed. At least my neurons weren’t crying out in pain for that time period. Maybe I’ll have to go back to blissful ignorance of what the band of antivaccine loons over at AoA are up to. It’ll be good for my mental health.

Comments

  1. #1 FreeSpeaker
    December 18, 2008

    On a whim?

    Be that as it may, when one compares Mr. McNeil’s experience, with that of J.B.’s lackey, former journalist, now paid spokesmouth for GR and AoA, Mr. Kirby, one wonders what J.B. is “thinking”. And, do not mention Mr. Olmsted, the fellow who could not find the Clinic For Special Children.

    I believe that I know J.B.’s problem. In a *nut*shell, people such as McNeil, Offit, YOU, et al, scare the crapola out of him, as he cannot use facts to refute what they and you are saying. He is frightened that his AoA lemmings will no longer worship him, to feed his ego, if they finally figure out what he is up to.

    Instead of rational discussion, he relies on his bully tactics.

  2. #2 cptchaos
    December 18, 2008

    “I can’t for the life of me figure out what good he thinks …”

    Simple explanation: He does not think or perform any mental activity that would be adequately described as thinking from the point of a rationalist.
    Well you might call that thinking in the same way you might call ‘having a car accident’ ‘driving a car’.

  3. #3 Dave S.
    December 18, 2008

    Let’s see … the insane public ranting … the use of mysogenist terms … sounds like somebody is jealous of all the attention a certain former Playmate and sort-of celebrity blonde is getting.

  4. #4 wfjag
    December 18, 2008

    “I found J. B. Handley, Founder of Generation Rescue (who’s now seemingly relegated to second banana status in his own organization since it became “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization”),”

    When you turn off the sound, or just stop listening, who would you find more interesting? This explains the NYT piece via a phone interview — he found someone who would still listen.

  5. #5 I am so wise
    December 18, 2008

    How does one get access to “filthy big pharma lucre?” I’ve contacted Big Pharma numerous times to remind them that as a semi-popular history graduate student, I can be marginally helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground vaccine caves.” However, they ignore me.

    What gives?

  6. #6 Orac
    December 18, 2008

    I’ve been wondering that myself. After all, I write one of the top ten most popular medical blogs (I sometimes even crack the top five), and I routinely trash quackery and antivaccine lunacy. Where’s my cut of the filthy big pharma lucre?

  7. #7 JB Handley
    December 18, 2008

    Orac:

    Vaccines must be the only drug on the planet where they analyze adverse events by only looking at those who received the drug in question, vaccines.

    If you could produce a single study that shows “vaccines don’t cause autism”, I’d love to see it. You write:

    “No such data exist, however. Indeed, if anything, each new study that comes out only strengthens the support for the hypothesis that there is no connection between vaccines and autism and that vaccines do not cause autism.”

    Orac, this statement is a 100% falsehood, and it would be impossible for you to produce even a single study to support this claim. No mildly objective scientist would support your view that comparing only vaccinated children in any way proves vaccines don’t cause autism. Let’s have some fun: please start with the “British Study” (surely you know the one I’m referring to) and please explain to your readers why this study contributes to the proof that vaccines dont cause autism. Please, be your skeptical self!!

    Whether it’s the Danish, British, or CDC studies, they only contemplate vaccinated kids. Is that your idea of good science to determine if a drug is producing an adverse event? Have you actually ever read the “fourteen studies” your side often claims “prove” the case that vaccines dont cause autism? I have read them. To even get my hands on them took several hours as they aren’t all (some are) readily avaiable on the web…have you really read them? You either haven’t read them or you have a stupid that thermonuclearly burns.

    On the topic of why “out” the journalist before he writes the article, my motivation is simpler than you might think. I’ve grown weary of speaking to journalists with predetermined agendas who interview me solely for the purpose of having a quote from the other side.

    You try very hard to make it sound like our position on vaccines and autism is of the tin hat variety, when in fact the reality is very different, with many credible doctors and scientists supporting our position.

    The NY Times, uniquely, sees the world more like you do, so I chose to out this bias before the article ran so that our community would have the context of our full conversation, rather than whatever quote Donald McNeil will pull to suit his purpose. Accordingly, I held zero confidence that Donald McNeil would write anything but a glowing article of Dr. Profit, so outing him serves to give our community more persepctive, with little risk of making his article “worse” from my perspective than it would already be.

    BTW, the hatred of Offit is well founded. You’re just an annoyance, and I actually enjoy the back and forth. You never did anything to hurt my son and you certainly have nothing to do with his recovery. Offit has actively caused more children to fall into autism, as he meaningfully influences behavior at AAP, CDC, and elsewhere and he falsely reassures parents on a daily basis, while misquoting science with less regards for what the actual studies say than even you.

    Rather than quoting Thomas Jefferson, I’ll leave with a quote from Dr. Bernadine Healy, who used to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health:

    “We have to take another look at that hypothesis, not deny it. I think we have the tools today that we didn’t have 10 years ago, 20 yrs ago, to try and tease that out and find out if there is a susceptible group…A susceptible group does not mean that vaccines are not good. What a susceptible group will tell us is that maybe there is a group of individual who shouldn’t have a particular vaccine or shouldn’t have vaccines on the same schedule…I don’t believe that if we identify the susceptibility group, if we identify a particular risk factor for vaccines or if we found out that maybe they should be spread out a little longer, I do not believe that the public would lose faith in vaccines…I think that the government or certain public officials in the government have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick…I haven’t seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of a vaccine…I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational without sufficient studies of causation…I think they have been too quick to dismiss studies in the animal laboratory either in mice, in primates, that do show some concerns with regard to certain vaccines and also to the mercury preservative in vaccines…The reason why they didn’t want to look for those susceptibility groups was because they were afraid that if they found them, however big or small they were, that that would scare the public…I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show.
    Populations do not test causality, they test associations. You have to go into the laboratory and you have to do designed research studies in animals…The fact that there is concern that you don’t want to know that susceptible group is a real disappointment to me. You can save those children…The more you delve into it, if you look at the basic science, if you look at the research that’s been done on animals. If you also look at some of these individual cases and if you look at the evidence that there is no link what I come away with is the question has not been answered.”

    Hmm…I guess she burns the stupid, too, Orac? Who to believe, the blogger who calls himself Orac or Dr. Healy? It’s really a tough call.

    BTW, trying to slap the misogyny label on me through inference is even low for you, Orac.

    JB Handley

  8. #8 Handley is riding the intellectual merry-go-round
    December 18, 2008

    “If you could produce a single study that shows “vaccines don’t cause autism”, I’d love to see it.”

    Poll: Is JB an idiot or a liar? Or maybe someone with just enough arrogance to overcome his intellectual deficit?

    First it was Buttar who was going to give us the cure.

    Then it was *cough* Dr. *cough* Amy.

    Because autism was a myth.

    Because Thimerosal was the culprit.

    Then along came vaccines. Hmmm, juicier, tastier, richer.

    Now we have a full-bull antivax idiot on our hands.

    Don’t skimp on the idiocy and hypocrisy, JB. Go all out! Let us have it! Your fears and beliefs trump science and reason because… well, because they’re your fears and beliefs. This is not about truth, it’s about you and your feelings. Yay!

  9. #9 Matt C
    December 18, 2008

    Mr. Handley,

    you are an embarrassment to the autism community, plain and simple. You are scientifically illiterate, crass and,

    That would be fine if you weren’t damaging my life, my kid’s chances. The more you alienate the public and researchers, the less chance my kid has for a good life.

    The list of hypocrisies on your blog and in your actions is vast.

    Prime example–you try to paint Dr. Offit and other as being like the old tobacco company execs who denied the connection between tobacco and lung cancer. Yet, you rely on Bernadine Healy–someone who was paid by tobacco company money as part of an organization denying the effects of second hand smoke.

    Do the research yourself–Dr. Offit isn’t mentioned in the online databases of tobacco company documents. Bernadine Healy is. Multiple times.

    But that is merely a side track away from the fact that you–you personally Mr. Handley–are ill equipped to discuss science. Not by education, but by a complete lack of understanding. You demonstrate it over and over and over and over again. Every time you write a blog post it is filled with absolute crap. You rely on other scientific illiterates like Mark Blaxill and David Kirby. Take it from someone who knows science–those people embarrass themselves whenever they speak publicly. Mark Blaxill embarrasses us all with his insulting demeanor and arrogance at the IACC meetings.

    YOU are damaging the autism community. You personally, and you as an organization.

    The time where you and your allies can represent the “autism community” is over. OVER. People asking for science over politics are going to start taking the seats at the table that you so covet.

  10. #10 isles
    December 18, 2008

    “please start with the “British Study” (surely you know the one I’m referring to) and please explain to your readers why this study contributes to the proof that vaccines dont cause autism”

    Huh? This is willfully dumb even on the Handley scale.

    I don’t think it’s obvious which “British study” Handley is referring to. Was it Heron or Andrews? Let’s look at both.

    Heron et al., a prospective cohort study published in Pediatrics (N.B., hardly an obscure publication), September 2004. Researchers were from the University of Bristol. (Which is, in J.B.-land, apparently a key part of the Vast Child-Poisoning Conspiracy.) Funded by the U.K. Department of Health. The conclusion in a nutshell: “We could find no convincing evidence that early exposure to thimerosal had any deleterious effect on neurologic or psychological outcome.”

    Andrews et al., a retrospective cohort study published in the same issue of Pediatrics. Researchers were from a number of English institutions. Funded by the World Health Organization. Conclusion: “[T]here was no evidence that thimerosal exposure via DTP/DT vaccines causes neurodevelopmental disorders.”

    Oh, but wait! Handley wants these studies to show that *vaccines in general* don’t cause autism. Well, that wasn’t the question. The question was thimerosal, before you and the mercury brigade moved the goalposts. Now it’s “those scary vaccines!!!11!11!!!!”

    Here’s a clue, J.B.: Ever heard of what’s delicately referred to as the fecal veneer? How many antigens are in one bacterium? How many bacteria from the fecal veneer get directly into a person’s bloodstream with every scrape or cut? How does this compare to the antigenic content of the entire U.S. vaccine schedule?

  11. #11 Republic of Tariqistan
    December 18, 2008

    “Populations do not test causality, they test associations.”

    OK, I have to ask: How can there be causality in the absence of association?

    You’re up, JB!

  12. #12 JB Handley
    December 18, 2008

    Isles:

    You demonstrate a level of stupidity previously reserved for Orac. Thank God, however, that one of you is willing to wade in the details.

    Just for fun, let’s just look at one of the two studies you cite above, which happens to be the one I was talking about: Heron et al., a prospective cohort study published in Pediatrics. The actual name of the study is: Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association.

    What did this study actuall do? Well, from the study itself:

    “The age at which doses of thimerosal-containing vaccines were administered was recorded, and measures of mercury exposure by 3, 4, and 6 months of age were calculated and compared with a number of measures of childhood cognitive and behavioral development covering the period from 6 to 91 months of age.”

    Plain English: They compared the TIMING, and only the TIMING, of when kids got the DTP vaccine with Thimerosal, to see if the TIMING of the shots (earlier in a child’s life) was correlated with neurological disorders.

    Their conclusion:

    “We could find no convincing evidence that early exposure to thimerosal had any deleterious effect on neurologic or psychological outcome when given according to an accelerated schedule. This is reassuring for developing countries that receive DTP vaccines according to the Expanded Program of Immunization schedule and where multidose vials that contain the thimerosal preservative are often the only option. In the face of the current evidence from this study and the growing literature, the dangers posed by contaminated multidose vaccine vials far outweigh any potential risk posed by thimerosal.”

    Plain English:

    This would be the same as saying:

    We looked at smokers who began smoking at 13 with those who began smoking at 21. Their lung cancer rates were the same. So, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer.

    To look at a study that ONLY looks at vaccinated kids, and within that only looks at WHEN they got their vaccines and than say this somehow helps makes the case that vaccines do not cause autism means that you are one of the stupidest people in the history of mankind.

    No reasonably objective scientist would be able to reach any conclusion but one: this study doesn’t do anything to getting us closer to understanding if vaccines cause autism.

    Please, please cite another study and let’s do this again!!

    JB Handley

  13. #13 Frank Herbert
    December 18, 2008

    Mr Handley,

    I understand that in the last few years absolutely nothing has resulted from your various public utterances and that this has made you bitter. You are slowly learning that all the money and lawsuits (or even the threat of lawsuits) in the world won’t change the immutable truth of reputable science. Surely your experience with your telephone survey has taught you that.

    A prime example of your total divorce from reality was your belief that President Elect Obama really would appoint a frothing maniac like Kennedy to head up the EPA. It must have been a kick in the teeth to hear that Steven Chu and Lisa Jackson – a scientist and someone who works with them were appointed.

    And speaking of ex-Directors of the NIH, amazingly Obama overlooked Bernadine ‘pass the cigarettes’ Healy and went for Harold Varmus.

    You’re on the way out Mr Handley. Why don’t you listen to factual evidence for once and spare the next generation of autistic kids the lab rat status you have helped turn this generation into?

  14. #14 JB Handley
    December 18, 2008

    Matt C:

    You are a parent, I am a parent. I did not cause your son’s autism, you didn’t cause mine. You deal with autism in your way, I will in mine. Unless you haven’t looked lately, 99% of research dollars are going to anywhere BUT the things I advocate. Your side is winning, perhaps you can let go of the victim role with me.

    JB

  15. #15 Matt C
    December 18, 2008

    Mr. Handley,

    As a response to your comment to Isles: grow up. Seriously, drop the frat-boy childishness and act like the adult you are. Do that here and in your blog. You are an embarrassment.

    I am not a victim, and never took on that role. Far from it. I am part of the reason why autism research is not being siphoned off to keep trying to make your political statements.

  16. #16 Margaret Romao Toigo
    December 18, 2008

    JB Handley writes, “Your side is winning…”

    And no one makes tin foil hat jokes about us, either.

    So why not give up your silly exercise in futility, join the winning side, and quit embarrassing the autism community with your scientific illiteracy and conspiracist balderdash?

  17. #17 Republic of Tariqistan
    December 18, 2008

    Light chases away the darkness every time, Mr. Handley. Not immediately, and it takes some effort, but truth always wins. You never really had a chance.

  18. #18 Ramel
    December 18, 2008

    Mr Handley, one quick correction.

    “You try very hard to make it sound like our position on vaccines and autism is of the tin hat variety”

    Close but not quite right, we think you group is of the tin FOIL hat variety, similar yet noticably flimsier.

  19. #19 Interrobang
    December 18, 2008

    BTW, trying to slap the misogyny label on me through inference is even low for you, Orac.

    Nobody was “trying to slap the misogyny label” on you, through inference or otherwise. Here it is in short words, for easy reading comprehension: It is an anti-woman slur to use insulting words for specifically female body parts in order to call other people bad names. People who imbue women’s body parts with negative characteristics — especially negative characteristics that are, in this culture, imputed to be “feminine” — hate women. People who hate women are misogynists.

    It’s really quite simple — use sexist language, get called on sexism. If you don’t like it, next time pick your pejoratives better. There’s an entire universe of maledictions out there that don’t require the systematic belittlement of women; if you must use that sort of discourse, I suggest exploring them.

  20. #20 FreeSpeaker
    December 18, 2008

    Margaret, you point is well taken.

    JB, yes, we are winning, since our “weapons”, i.e. truth and facts, are superior to yours.

    Give up the dark side, J.B. and see the light.

  21. #21 Rowan
    December 18, 2008

    i find it interesting that mr. handley resorts to immature schoolyard behaviour in his continued use of insults and pejoratives. i would think an adult would know better when having a conversation in which they are attempting to sway people’s opinions to their point of view.

    his manner of interaction with others as viewed in this thread is really telling.

  22. #22 JB Handley
    December 18, 2008

    Please whatever all of you do, do not comment on the substance of the “British Study” I dismantled.

    It is criminal for those in positions of authority (CDC, etc.) to keep saying “vaccines dont cause autism” and rely on studies that only look at vaccinated kids.

    I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m off to do another interview. Matt C, stop being such a pussy!!

    JB

  23. #23 Broken Link
    December 18, 2008

    This isn’t the first time Handley has shown his school-yard bully tendencies in an inappropriate manner. Case in point his entry “Is Autism Speaks’ Geri Dawson a Blithering Idiot?” (I’m not linking to that blog, but you can find it easily by googling the title).

    J. B. Handley ranted:

    “Geri Dawson is either a blithering idiot, or she is a corrupt, partisan hack who so desperately wants the autism-vaccine thing to just die so she can get back to work chasing her genetic-psychological theories on autism that she will happily go along with the mainstream spin on a stupid little study and do her part to exonerate the MMR, even if hundreds if not thousands of parents have called her organization which is supposed to help our kids and told them that the MMR turned their child upside-down including the daughter of the very people who founded the place she now calls home.”

    Way to go, J.B. Insult those whom you might make allies.

    Oh, and by the way, why is there never anything under the heading “Listed below are links to weblogs that reference” Age of Autism piece X?

    Could it be that the editors don’t want their faithful few to read the serious comments by other bloggers?

  24. #24 RJ
    December 18, 2008

    ” i would think an adult would know better when having a conversation in which they are attempting to sway people’s opinions to their point of view.”

    Not just as an adult…he’s director of and speaking for an organization (GR).

  25. #25 RJ
    December 18, 2008

    JB,

    “Vaccines must be the only drug on the planet where they analyze adverse events by only looking at those who received the drug in question, vaccines.”

    No. Sorry, that is not at all correct.
    http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/vacappr.htm

    “Have you actually ever read the “fourteen studies” your side often claims “prove” the case that vaccines don’t cause autism? I have read them. To even get my hands on them took several hours as they aren’t all (some are) readily available on the web…have you really read them? You either haven’t read them or you have a stupid that thermonuclearly burns.”

    The body of information that lends credit to the overall safety and efficacy of vaccines is far, far beyond “fourteen studies”. And yes, I realize that access to scientific journals by the lay public is a bit of a problem. Here is a tip (from a scientist)…all information is NOT freely available on the internet. I hope this isn’t a shock to you, but google and your home computer will not provide you with even a fraction of the total amount of high-quality information that is available. Sorry, but that’s the case. I do have access to many (not all) of the leading scientific and medical journals because I work in a lab and in a field that requires it on a daily basis. Here is a dose of reality for you: generating information is very expensive. You have people who work incredible hours for months, even years to generate it. You have regulatory requirements, permits, fees, safety practices/equipment, and inspections that all cost money. You have equipment and material fees. In all, to generate information, it’s going to incur costs. So, for someone like yourself, who fancies himself as someone on par with professional scientists, clinicians, doctors, etc., you will have to excuse me while I laugh at the fact that you think it’s not going to take several hours, payment of fees, and trips to your local medical library to view them.

    I guess my point is, that you should stop to think that you do not know…what you do not know. You need to be aware of your relative knowledge level on this (and other) subjects and you seem to be oblivious of the fact that there is a level of ignorance and inability on your part.
    You think your conclusions on this issue are solid, based on what you have seen. I think this makes the point that everyone is trying to tell you…you really don’t have the information sources and the education or experience to intelligently interpret it, to make the type of claims that you have been making.

    Here is another suggestion. Consider the fact that this “fight” has more to do with you than it does with facts. It seems narcissism is a factor and you have something to prove, rather than trying to find an answer to the questions you have.

  26. #26 Prometheus
    December 18, 2008


    … if I were to see properly designed scientific clinical trials and epidemiological studies that showed that vaccines or thimerosal in vaccines were associated with a demonstrably increased risk of autism, I’d change my mind and start to wonder if there were actually something to this proposed connection. I really would.

    And that is the difference between a scientist (or a rational human being) and a demagogue.

    As I have said (too many times to count) – “Show me the data!” If there were any data that supported the idea that vaccines cause autism, I would be excited to see them. Instead, I hear chattering about “toxin” and “too many – too soon” – not data and not even decent anecdotes.

    Expect the screaming and profanity to get worse before it gets better. It’s a sort of “herxheimer reaction” as the “toxins” (toxic personalities) are purged – a “die-off reaction” as the last of the die-hard “vaccines-cause-autism” believers are slowly extinguished.

    At some point, the public (and the media) will realize that they’ve been duped (or have duped themselves). They listened to the scientific “expertise” of a very few “brave mavericks” amplified in the echo chamber of the Internet and thought it was the voice of the Great and Powerful Oz.

    When the echoes finally die down, the few shrill voices endlessly repeating their discredited dogma will be all that is left of this “movement”.

    When that happens, the demagogues had better have a good “exit strategy”.

    Prometheus

  27. #27 StuV
    December 18, 2008

    Hey, JB, how about that “American Study”? Or that “2006 Study”?

    How about an actual reference, you disingenuous, cretinous douchebag?

  28. #28 Dangerous Bacon
    December 18, 2008

    For the benefit of those confused by J.B. Handley’s ramblings, I offer the following translations into plain English.

    J.B.: “The NY Times, uniquely, sees the world more like you do, so I chose to out this bias before the article ran so that our community would have the context of our full conversation, rather than whatever quote Donald McNeil will pull to suit his purpose.”

    Translation: “During the interview I started sounding so idiotic that I even alarmed myself. The results in print are likely to be so embarassing to what’s left of my reputation, that I’m launching this pre-emptive strike to get Times readers to dismiss the entire article.”

    J.B.: “I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m off to do another interview.”

    This doesn’t actually need translation. It’s the classic “I have more important things to do” gambit of the poster who’s tired of being reminded that he’s an ignoramus.

  29. #29 Handley is riding the intellectual merry-go-round
    December 18, 2008

    Handley – project much?

    He calls men “pussy” because he looks down at his midsection and doesn’t like what he sees. He desperately wants to think that he’s all that and a bag of chips. Newsflash, BJ – you haven’t aged well. You have money and a mouth, nothing more.

  30. #30 DLC
    December 18, 2008

    Gee. Hit a guy in the face often enough with the facts and you’d think at least some part of it would sink in.
    I am reminded of the old Monty Python “parrot” sketch, where you have to complain until you’re blue in the face.
    Autism caused by vaccines is a dead idea.
    It’s dead, gone, departed, lowered the curtain and joined the choir invisible. (etc. all due apologies to John Cleese)

  31. #31 Joseph
    December 18, 2008

    Orac, this statement is a 100% falsehood, and it would be impossible for you to produce even a single study to support this claim. No mildly objective scientist would support your view that comparing only vaccinated children in any way proves vaccines don’t cause autism.

    I’m going to try to calmly elaborate on the arguments at hand. Orac is in fact correct in claiming that each new study that comes out (if we only count the ones that are not terribly weak methodologically) appears to strengthen the null hypothesis, which is that vaccines don’t cause autism.

    Of course, strictly speaking, you can never prove the null hypothesis. You can only find that you should not reject the null hypothesis. With every study that comes out, we know that we really (really) should not reject the null hypothesis.

    Now, the other issue is that the studies to date have looked at specific vaccines, like thimerosal-containing vaccines and the MMR vaccine. You could argue that they have not looked at vaccines as a whole. This is true, but it’s not a convincing point. Let’s take a methodologically strong thimerosal study, like Thompson et al. (2007). Obviously, thimerosal dose has to be a good proxy of vaccination load. You would see some effect in children who got more thimerosal than most, if vaccines had to do with neurological outcomes.

    Which brings me to JB’s main point: “No mildly objective scientist would support your view that comparing only vaccinated children in any way proves vaccines don’t cause autism.” This would have to be false. There has to be some sort of dose-response. It’s entirely possible to study causation by looking at dosage.

  32. #32 Sullivan
    December 18, 2008

    “Here is a tip (from a scientist)…all information is NOT freely available on the internet”

    One wonders if Mr. Handley has paid for the rights to host the copyrighted material he has on Generation Rescue.

  33. #33 Sullivan
    December 18, 2008

    “J.B.: “I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m off to do another interview.”

    This doesn’t actually need translation. It’s the classic “I have more important things to do” gambit of the poster who’s tired of being reminded that he’s an ignoramus.”

    There is yet another irony on top of that. Mr. Handley is expecting people to be impressed that he does interviews. Besides totally missing the point of Orac’s post, Mr. Handley leaves himself open for comparison to Paul Offit. Dr. Offit (heck even Kristina Chew) has gotten much more press of late that Mr. Handley.

    Let’s not get swept into that silliness, though. The reason why Dr. Offit is important in this debate is not in how much press he has gotten, but in who listens to him. Mr. Handley would no doubt be dismayed to hear the number of important people in the autism world who have read Autism’s False Prophets. As a somewhat intelligent man, he likely has already guess that AFP is in the hands of more legislators and other people of importance in the autism world than, say, “louder than words” or whatever that new book is. I was unable to donate my extra copy to any of the people on my list–they already had it.

    Along the same vein, Mr. Handley’s organization paid to have David Kirby and Mark Blaxill talk to congressional aides. Who does he thinks had a bigger impact: the dynamic duo of bad science or the good doctor in Congressman Waxman’s office who corrected them?

  34. #34 anonymous antivaccinationist
    December 18, 2008

    Would someone please post the animal models that demonstrate there is no damage to the nervous system of the human infant during each phase of the US vaccination schedule? Please also furnish some sort of laboratory evidence that the inflammation caused by vaccination does not disrupt the blood brain barrier. Since we are discussing demyelination, please provide a citation which discusses the clinical differences between SSPE and Autism.

    As a rational, vaccinated person – I’d honestly like to end this discussion. I think the above are rather basic and reasonable requests, and it is not the responsibility of those you wish to accept (or force) a vaccine (upon) to provide adequate safety data.

    Thanks in advance.

    AA

  35. #35 RJ
    December 19, 2008

    “Would someone please post the animal models that demonstrate there is no damage to the nervous system of the human infant during each phase of the US vaccination schedule?”

    Every and all FDA-approved vaccines must go through phase I/II/III trials. These include PK/Tox studies. Every one examines parameters associated with organ damage and alteration of normal physiological function. If there is anything anomalous, it will not pass. Your question suggests a complete lack of understanding how the drug approval process works in this and other countries.

    ” Please also furnish some sort of laboratory evidence that the inflammation caused by vaccination does not disrupt the blood brain barrier.”

    See above. Inflammation markers are some of the immediate early markers examined in in-house laboratory trials. Any injection (vaccine or otherwise) in any experiment/trial that ellicits any inflamatory markers would be flagged. If the injection was for a vaccine in development, there is no way it would continue without further examination. Again, your questions suggest you do not understand the drug development process.

    “please provide a citation which discusses the clinical differences between SSPE and Autism.”

    Here is an obvious clue: do doctors confuse the DIAGNOSIS of SSPE and autism in their patients? Some say there are no dumb questions..but this is a dumb question. The two are diagnosed based on separate criteria. No ‘study’ is needed for this because they are diagnosed (defined) differently. In other words…duh!

    “to provide adequate safety data.”

    I apologize, but a lot of this data is not available from the comfort of your home PC. GO TO A MEDICAL LIBRARY. Contact the FDA directly and examine the data from all of the trial for each approved vaccine. It exists. Just because you can’t google it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (not to mention…you really should take a college science class. At least one. You lacking basic understanding in some very remedial concepts and should be able to answer your own questions).

  36. #36 FrankZA
    December 19, 2008

    Perhaps I do not understand the inflammation argument, but surely most viruses and bacteria cause some form of inflammation. Children get sick regularly with a resulting inflammation that is far worse than what a vaccine causes. They don’t necessarily get autism. Am I missing an important point here?

    Frank

  37. #37 anonimouse
    December 19, 2008

    I think Handley, like other moneyed folks, is lamenting the relative drop in his income due to the economic crisis engulfing our nation, and is lashing out.

    Either that, or he’s a complete loon.

    Actually, I poked around on AoA and saw that he was suggesting he wanted to sue Paul Offit for libel. If nothing else, he can keep his lawyers in business.

  38. #38 Curtis E. Flush
    December 19, 2008

    “Either that, or he’s a complete loon.”

    Decide for yourself.

  39. #39 FrankZA
    December 19, 2008

    Surely mercury poisoning is more predictable than the 1 in 166 000 cases they mention in the video. If you get poisoned you get sick.

    Perhaps the extra attention the parents suddenly give the children is the reason the children are “cured”.

  40. #40 Catherina
    December 19, 2008

    AA

    Since we are discussing demyelination, please provide a citation which discusses the clinical differences between SSPE and Autism.

    SSPE is a chronic wild measles virus infection of the brain that leads (with a lag time of on average 7 years) to brain degeneration (hardening), which means that the children lose all their skills, get very frequent myoclonic and grand mal seizures and die (on average within 4 years after onset). Anti-viral treatment can in rare instances revert some of the degenerative changes and/or delay the rapid decline, however, there is no cure for SSPE, even though some children take incredibly long to die. You can have a look at Natalie, who is dying from SSPE because an unvaccinated preteen infected her with measles in a pediatrician’s practise when she was a baby, here:
    http://www.kinderaerzte-im-netz.de/video/krankheiten/masern/Natalie-SSPE.wmv

    The same child infected Micha who also developed SSPE 5 years later:
    http://www.wdr.de/tv/quarks/sendungsbeitraege/2007/1030/001_impfung.jsp?pbild=3

    SSPE is not even remotely similar to autism. Both are discussed, for example, in Rima and Duprex (2006), here:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/112217486/HTMLSTART

  41. #41 Anonyous Antivaccinationist
    December 19, 2008

    RJ,

    Might I suggest that your tone is not the way to engage the public. Last I checked, this blog is in public domain. I’m fully aware of the drug approval process. I’m also aware that vaccines are biologics and the regulations that govern their production are loose, and have ambiguous language that relates to the safety and purity of the product. The drug makers are able to apply for waivers during several phases of production, and even into the reporting of adverse events. The law is very clear, that harm to whomever receives the biologic is not a consideration. You are also misunderstanding my question (and rather rudely), which was for something during every phase of the US vaccination schedule… not just during the approval phase of said vaccine. Meaning: at birth, two months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, and so on.

    Biologic markers doesn’t seem like something that might be discussed during a routine doctor visit that includes a vaccination series, nor is it available in the product insert.

    I’m not going to address the rest of your comments, but do offer a piece of advice to those of you that are trying to convince others of their ignorance. This kind of attitude simply divides the issue further, especially to anyone that might be lurking and just reading. The attack of a rational person, over what is a reasonable question (the US vaccine schedule and its cumulative effects) while projecting superiority will simply alienate *you*.

    Frank,

    I’m not sure that inflammation can be caused in nature the way it can be by receiving a vaccine, but it’s compared often. I’ve always had a bit of concern over the unnatural introduction of the antigen. A person would never be unnaturally introduced to five different diseases (attenuated, killed, or not) in nature.

    Catherina,

    Thank you for the material. I’ve heard an argument that purports autism to be a nonfatal case of SSPE. The case of Natalie is tragic. I suppose she’d just be another person succumbing to SSPE had she contracted it from someone that had been vaccinated, but there is a special disgust in the hearts of vaccine enthusiasts because she has been epidemiologically linked to an unvaccinated person.

    Children too young to be vaccinated are in dire need of the protection of breastmilk. Thank you for taking the time to post the material.

    AA

  42. #42 alyric
    December 19, 2008

    There are lots of folks here who’ll correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me that the anti-vaxxers are hiding behind the ‘they haven’t compared vaccines to no vaccines’ because a) no one can do the study and b)it’s the only shrubbery left to hide behind. The reason they can’t do that study joseph pointed out – not enough unvaccinated to get meaningful results. Is such a study necessary at all? I don’t believe so. A vaccine is also its components and if those have been compared what’s the problem? We’ve had TCVs compared to no TCVs, MMR compared to no MMR and different schedules to compare and they found zip, zilch, nada to implicate vaccines in autism. What else would they be looking for? Vaccines in some vague generality isn’t going to cut it. We need to be more specific than that adn as well we need the plausible mechanisms of how theses components do lead to autism. Surely noone here needs reminding that the autism omnibus was a dismal failure at producung any kind of plausible mechanism.

  43. #43 alyric
    December 19, 2008

    Dear AA, this may lose you the title of ‘rational’.

    “I’m not sure that inflammation can be caused in nature the way it can be by receiving a vaccine, but it’s compared often. I’ve always had a bit of concern over the unnatural introduction of the antigen. A person would never be unnaturally introduced to five different diseases (attenuated, killed, or not) in nature.”

    No, they get exposure to the real deadly kind and not just five of them on a daily basis. Your thinking on that led you to this which really won’t win you any friends:

    “The case of Natalie is tragic. I suppose she’d just be another person succumbing to SSPE had she contracted it from someone that had been vaccinated, but there is a special disgust in the hearts of vaccine enthusiasts because she has been epidemiologically linked to an unvaccinated person.”

    It’s not possible to get SSPE from an attenuated virus – only from the wild strain. Are you not complicit in that trajedy and want to see more of them apparently ?

  44. #44 Catherina
    December 19, 2008

    AA,

    you would be very hard pressed to find a vaccinated person with measles, at least in the German-speaking area. For example, of the 173 measles cases at the Steiner School in Salzburg, Austria, 172 were entirely unvaccinated, and only one had been vaccinated once. We know that if it wasn’t for the unvaccinated, measles would no longer circulate in Germany, Natalie and Micha would not be dying. The unvaccinated preteen in that one pediatrician’s practise infected 7 babies in one visit. Breastmilk does NOT protect from measles http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15601649 This sad (and unusual) case is absolutely crystal clear: two previously healthy children are losing their lives because of the decision not to vaccinate of another family. My disgust is not so much with that particular family, my disgust is with the anti-vaccine loons, who put blame on the families of the dying children – like you with your (blatantly wrong) comment about breastmilk. I have seen worse in the German bloggosphere.

  45. #45 Anonymous Antivaccinationist
    December 19, 2008

    Alyric,

    “No, they get exposure to the real deadly kind and not just five of them on a daily basis. Your thinking on that led you to this which really won’t win you any friends:”

    The innate immune response handles the exposure just fine (standard disclaimer). Scientists just don’t think it works and it must be manipulated. I mean, humans made it… must be good.

    “It’s not possible to get SSPE from an attenuated virus – only from the wild strain. Are you not complicit in that trajedy and want to see more of them apparently ? ”

    I did not say you could. A person that recognizes a tragedy is not complicit, but your attempt to debate my character is duly noted… and ignored.

    ” My disgust is not so much with that particular family, my disgust is with the anti-vaccine loons, who put blame on the families of the dying children – like you with your (blatantly wrong) comment about breastmilk. I have seen worse in the German bloggosphere. ”

    Who’s blaming their family? Breastmilk does protect infants less than 12 months of age, this is published in numerous places, including the CDC pinkbook – perhaps you should notify them that they are blatantly wrong. I really don’t care that you are disgusted with families that don’t vaccinate and I’m not surprised. If you have the time and energy for that, who is stopping you? The emphasized, conceited attitude of vaccine enthusiasts is what is disgusting me… and a whole lot of other people on the fence about vaccines. But that’s okay, you’ve excluded us from discourse anyway while simultaneously trying to parent every child on the planet. Keep up the great work, and feel free to bash me in absence – I’ll not be back.

    AA

  46. #46 Catherina
    December 19, 2008

    Breastmilk does protect infants less than 12 months of age

    well, for anyone who is back to read – the above is is untrue and is also not supported by the CDC. It is a common misconception that is readily spread by anti-vaccinationists.

  47. #47 RJ
    December 19, 2008

    AA,

    Breast milk has some antibodies in it (mostly IgA). So, did the infants that died from today’s preventable diseases before their use, or infants nursing on mothers in the unvaccinated third world that die….are they not really nursing correctly? Seems to me that a huge number got (and get) the diseases and die regardless of the milk in the antibodies. Can you plug that hole in your theory for us?

    “Might I suggest that your tone is not the way to engage the public.”

    Thanks for the suggestion. If I thought for a second you were interested in a rational discussion, I would have utilized a different “tone”. However, your coming here to represent your particular position, regardless of facts or reality for that matter. So, instead, I will use a tone that best reflects the irrationality of your preconceived claims.

    ” I’m also aware that vaccines are biologics and the regulations that govern their production are loose, and have ambiguous language that relates to the safety and purity of the product.”

    Can you be specific?

    “The drug makers are able to apply for waivers during several phases of production, and even into the reporting of adverse events. The law is very clear, that harm to whomever receives the biologic is not a consideration.”

    Huh? How did you come upon this perspective? What information is available to justify this claim?

    “You are also misunderstanding my question (and rather rudely), which was for something during every phase of the US vaccination schedule… not just during the approval phase of said vaccine. Meaning: at birth, two months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, and so on. ”

    No, I understand what you think you are asking. What I am saying is that you need to investigate this further for yourself, because you are wrong. Ever heard of phase IV trials? VAERS?

    “Biologic markers doesn’t seem like something that might be discussed during a routine doctor visit that includes a vaccination series, nor is it available in the product insert. ”

    Because they are irrelevant to the discussion, but, if you are interested, the information is available. Does OTC drugs at your supermarket have info on biomarkers and PK/Tox studies? No. Does the sticker on the car you bought have all the results from the crash tests they performed during development?

    “The attack of a rational person, over what is a reasonable question (the US vaccine schedule and its cumulative effects) while projecting superiority will simply alienate *you*.”

    I disagree. The more I point out the illogical, irrational, and erroneous concepts and claims people like you make, the more apparent the weakness in your position is. I’m sorry if you don’t like the fact that I point out that the questions you pose are elementary. But hey, if a world filled with conspiracy theories and specious reasoning is what you need, knock yourself out. I, on the other hand, am not going to leave a disinformation campaign unaddressed.

    As a side note, you do have suspiciously good writing skills.

  48. #48 RJ
    December 19, 2008

    “The innate immune response handles the exposure just fine (standard disclaimer). ”

    Then…how did we end up with infectious diseases then? Why even have acquired immunity?

    What is the incidence of these diseases between individuals relying on innate immunity vs. previous exposure/immunization and acquired immunity? If innate immunity is all we need, you should be able to demonstrate that easily. What does the data say?

  49. #49 RJ
    December 19, 2008

    ” I’ve always had a bit of concern over the unnatural introduction of the antigen. A person would never be unnaturally introduced to five different diseases (attenuated, killed, or not) in nature”

    Huh?! Really. How do you know this? As far as bacteria is concerned, you have hundreds of species living in that body of yours. There are hundreds of species in soil, on foods, in the air, on objects. There are thousands of species in water. It’s similar for viruses. How in the world do they end up lining up at the gate and you are exposed one at a time? how come people with HIV die from other infections? How come people with severe flu die of pneumonia? If a person with a cold is stabbed, would they not have to worry about the resulting infection? If I have a cold, am I immune to STDs? Or food poisoning?

    Also, how many antigens are on one bacterium (pick your favorite). How is it that the immune system only reacts to one of these at a time? Please provide the mechanism for this explanation.

    I like AA’s dream world! I want to move there! Such a happy, happy place! The “nature only provides one exposure at a time” place! Happy happy!

  50. #50 Stop Jenny
    December 19, 2008

    I’ve just learned that Handley and Jenny McCarthy are supposed to be on Larry King tomorrow (12/20). I’m hoping the skeptical community can find a way to get their voice heard via phones or something, because of course Larry wouldn’t conceive of putting on a skeptic to debate these easy targets.

  51. #51 Sullivan
    December 19, 2008

    Now we know what was behind Mr. Handley’s little “gotta run” thing.

    So, Larry King plays shill for GR and Jenny McCarthy again. Anyone surprised? Heck, I’ve been surprised it took this long–what with Dr. Jay calling on them to go after Paul Offit months back.

    StopJenny–one problem with bringing skeptics onto the Larry King Live show is that Larry King is very slanted towards his celebrity guests. More importantly, it gives them even more credibility.

    Mr. Handley will give another in a series of TV appearances–like this one
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Hhgaf3Co0

    He will convince some people of his cause, even with the junk science he depends upon. He did it in 2005. Do you hear any of the people who were convinced that “autism is just a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning” making public statements of outrage at the lies Mr. Handley propagated?

    I hear the comments. Not publicly, and usually they are more humbled than outraged. But, I hear them.

    Who is going to go public and say, “Generation Rescue ruined my life”. It is really tough. But I know people who have told them exactly that.

  52. #52 RJ
    December 19, 2008

    “He will convince some people of his cause, even with the junk science he depends upon”

    Ten bucks says it’s the schedule (too many too soon) this time and not “a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning”. Move those goal posts JB, move those posts! That’s what narcissist do when they’re wrong!

    Let’s hope JB calls Paul Offit out on TV. If that’s the case, Larry might be obligated to have him on one day. JB vs. Paul. Yeah, that’ll be a close one.

  53. #53 anonimouse
    December 19, 2008

    As to our “anonymous anti-vaccinationist” – opposing a medical intervention that has saved (conservatively) hundreds of thousands of lives is one of the more repugnant things imaginable. Especially when one’s evidence against the safety and effectiveness of immnunization is incredibly flimsy.

  54. #54 Badger3k
    December 19, 2008

    I may not be understanding the term, but the use of “inflammation” refers to the inflammatory response that includes such things as fevers, yes?

    If so, then the question of whether or not you can get a response naturally that is as bad as that caused by a vaccination side-effect is a bit of a no-brainer. A few years ago, my temperature was up to 103.9 from a bug I picked up somewhere (never diagnosed as I had no money to go to a doc), and it came nowhere near any vaccinations I might have had (actually, for several years I did not get any vaccines). Now, if a virus or bacteria can cause that kind of response in an adult, I have no doubt it can happen to an infant. I have seen other typical symptoms – rash, swelling, etc – in response to some pathogen nowhere near the time of any vaccines.

    As for the “innate immune system” handling things just fine, I second the urge for the poster to look at third-world countries where many people get no vaccines. Look at the historical records of Polio, for instance, and see what the effects of that disease on unvaccinated individuals. Look at the history of other diseases on untreated populations. That statement is just so idiotic, it’s criminal.

  55. #55 HCN
    December 19, 2008

    AA has a rather odd view of the world. S/he/it picks and chooses only that information that s/he/it deems worthy to fit in her/his/its view of the world. It is in that “happy, happy” place that RJ described. I noted the naivete here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/08/the_dark_lord_of_vaccination_speaks.php#comment-1073043

    Do not waste anymore electrons on AA.

    RJ said “Let’s hope JB calls Paul Offit out on TV. If that’s the case, Larry might be obligated to have him on one day. JB vs. Paul. Yeah, that’ll be a close one.”

    There is little to be gained by debating idiots (which would include a Google U. educated “actress”, a finance guy who has delusions of intelligence, and a guy who dropped out of high school and armed with his GED did actually go to college: my 18 year old high school senior son probably has taken more science than the combined efforts of those three). Dr. Offit should not stoop to their level in what would be an unbalanced and unfair debate (remember that Miss Jenny got away with shouting at doctors the last time she was on the Larry King show). You can see what happened when Arthur Allen “debated” David Kirby, it was not pretty (but there was the incredible statement from Kirby about mercury laden smoke from China!). Our esteemed host, Orac, has mentioned that it is not a good idea to debate these guys (do a search).

    The science has been done. The science shows that vaccines are useful and have saved millions from infectious diseases. But you cannot communicate this to those who do not understand the science, or even basic math. One way to tell that a vaccine works is that it does induce an immune response in the form of a slight fever and inflammation in the muscle the vaccine was injected into. It is a form of inflammation that is far less severe and dangerous than the actual disease, something these folks seem to forget (especially when they are leeching off of the herd immunity by the vast majority who do vaccinate). Of course we can insist that these sheeple take some basic biology, math and other science classes — but they are too close minded for any of this information to actually sink in.

    Note, as an antidote, on This American Life:
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=370 … “When they decided not to vaccinate their son against measles, two San Diego parents thought they were making the best decision for their child. But when the 7-year-old came home from an overseas trip suffering from the disease (pictured at left: measles virus), his family’s personal decision became a whole community’s problem. The resulting outbreak infected 11 children and endangered many others. This and other stories about what happens when people’s actions and choices infringe on those around them. Including the disquieting truth about Amtrak’s Quiet Car.”

  56. #56 RJ
    December 20, 2008

    “There is little to be gained by debating idiots”

    I dunno KCN, I kind of like the idea of shooting (dumb) fish in a barrel. Regardless, Dr. Offitt is hardly going to waste his time with riff-raff like JB and the lot. And if he doesn’t, I would be perfectly happy to fill in. Any time.

    I am totally content calling these idiots out on their BS.

    The lay media is setting up the matches…not hose based what science has to to say about this (it’s about viewership!). Do not think for a second that logic and reason will always win. History suggests has suggested otherwise in some cases.

  57. #57 Do'C
    December 20, 2008

    So, Larry King plays shill for GR and Jenny McCarthy again. Anyone surprised?

    I’m not surprised.
    http://www.autismstreet.org/weblog/?p=216

  58. #58 Joseph C.
    December 20, 2008

    I dunno KCN, I kind of like the idea of shooting (dumb) fish in a barrel. Regardless, Dr. Offitt is hardly going to waste his time with riff-raff like JB and the lot. And if he doesn’t, I would be perfectly happy to fill in. Any time.

    The more leading medical figures like Dr. Offit debate cranks on national TV, the more the viewing public might get the sense that there is something to debate about. The lazy media, with their guiding principle of balance, tends to set these things up as if both sides carry equal credibility. Especially with people like Larry King who is prone to magical thinking himself at times:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4KQfJZSVjo

  59. #59 Idil
    December 20, 2008

    Mr. Handley came in our community of somalis living in minneapolis and pretended to help. When he found out that all parents are not blaming vaccines and some of the children with autism have never been vaccinated. Of course, he tried to silence us by bullying us and showing us the has few dollars more than we do.

    Well, JB;
    I have news for you. Perhaps you can buy some people with your influence and your few dollars. You will not buy all of the somali parents that want to find out the real truth. We just want to know why autism is being diagnosed in our children in minneapolis higher than the rest of the population. we don’t want to blame anyone just find real cause and cure our kids. Perhaps if you really want to find the cause of autism you should put your money where your mouth is and get objective non-bias researchers to find the truth of what really causes autism.

    Otherwise back off and don’t try to bully these recent immigrants to your country. Pick on someone at your level.

  60. #60 Kev
    December 20, 2008

    Idil – are you saying JB Handley offered you money to either say that your child was poisoned by vaccines or to just keep quiet? Remarkable.

  61. #61 anonimouse
    December 20, 2008

    JB isn’t above threatining to “out” and/or sue people who disagree with him in order to keep them quiet.

  62. #62 Orac
    December 20, 2008

    Actually, JB isn’t above actually outing people who disagree with him in order to try to intimidate them into silence. Me, for instance.

  63. #63 It doesn't really matter...
    December 20, 2008

    In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter when (or if) the Larry King Live episode airs. We know that too many vaccines trigger autism in some children. That’s unquestionable. The only people who suffer when that story is not fully investigated or ignored or shoved away are the babies who will become permanently damaged from an unsafe vaccination schedule. We do our best and we deal with it…. Who knows when the truth will become common knowledge but when it does, we will know that we did the best we could. The rest of you… I only feel sadness for you.

  64. #64 HCN
    December 20, 2008

    S/he/it who will not stick to a ‘nym wrote “We know that too many vaccines trigger autism in some children. That’s unquestionable.”

    It is not “unquestionable.” If you had paid attention to this blog over its four year history, and the blogs of many of the commentators above you will see that it has been questioned for years.

    You are arguing by blantant assertion. That does not work.

    Prove it. Show us the evidence. Show us the data. Show us the real science (just remember to leave out “lawyer paid” papers like anything by Wakefield, the Geiers and anything published in the “if you pay us we will publish” journal Medical Hyposthesis).

  65. #65 Joseph C.
    December 20, 2008

    We know that too many vaccines trigger autism in some children. That’s unquestionable.

    And this is why what the anti-vaccine brigade is doing is closer to religion than science. No amount of evidence will sway you because you live in unfalsifiable belief.

  66. #66 FreeSpeaker
    December 20, 2008

    It doesn’t really matter… thanks for demonstrating lemming behavior, a known side effect of reading AoA.

  67. #67 anonimouse
    December 21, 2008

    It doesn’t really matter.

    That’s so appropriate, it’s scary.

    You see, it doesn’t really matter if the weight of the science says that there’s no link between autism and vaccines.

    It doesn’t really matter if the conflicts of interest on the anti-vax side are as profound, it not more so, than those on the pro-vax side.

    It doesn’t really matter if the anti-vaccine contingent feels that intidimation, threats, and manipulation of credulous media should outweigh the recommendation of virtually every legitimate scientific and medical organization.

    It doesn’t really matter that diseases once thought to be extinct, or nearly so, are making a comeback – thanks to the efforts of those who believe that measles is “no big deal” and that pertussis can be prevented by breastfeeding, or other such nonsense.

    It doesn’t really matter, because it’s important that YOU think vaccines injured your child. That trumps everything else.

  68. #68 Joseph
    December 21, 2008

    We know that too many vaccines trigger autism in some children. That’s unquestionable.

    Wow, truth by assertion. Good try.

    What exactly is the foundation of such a grandiose statement?

    Round and round we go.

  69. #69 george
    December 21, 2008

    The point about religion raised by Joseph C. is important.

    If this debate is ever going to be more than recursions into the “show me your evidence I’m wrong, and if you do, it doesn’t matter, because I know I’m right” logic, it has to understand the cognitive strategies that the human mind is prone to when it is making important decisions about causality with inadequate information about cause and risk.

    It’s particularly important to evaluate the cognitive assumptions that are incorporated into communications strategies because of the accumulating evidence that religious beliefs – the exemplar of faith based beliefs – have a biological basis.
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/04/04/neurotheology/

    Any cognitive scientists out there?

    PS. Apologies if it’s not a nom de e-guerre, but Curtis E. Flush wins my homnonymous name of the day award.

  70. #70 ChrisL
    December 22, 2008

    Slightly tangential but I have to say calling someone a “pussy” is not necessarily mysoganistic.

    I’ve called people a “dick” before but I don’t hate men or women.

    “Pussy”, to me implies is someone who lacks proverbial “balls”. Since vagina’s universally lack said “balls” it seems rather a fitting name for someone who is spineless if that’s what’s intended.

    Anyway, I’m sure that JD guy is a douche (Is that mysoganistic?) but knowing little about this issue except what I read mainly on Neurologica (and now this fine blog) I think JD makes a fair point. I would appreciate if someone could clear this up for my sake.

    It seems JD is making what seems a fair point to me. (though with elequence that you typically see in comments on youtube videos). I appreciate he may just be moving the goalposts (something I understand anti-vaxers are fond of doing) or invoking the god-of-gaps fallacy but my current understanding of the issue does not allow me to see through it.

    His claim is paraphrased as, “How can you test the safety of vaccines if you don’t have an un-vaccinated control group”?

    That seems perfectly reasonable to me. I appreciate it may be difficult to find vaccinated children but surely it’s not impossible. From what I’ve read anti-vaxers seem like any true believers, if this test was done they’d simply move the goalposts further but this, to my uneducated self, seems a legitimate argument(if poorly made).

    I’d appreciate if someone could clear up my misconception.

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