Respectful Insolence

Rallying resistance to the antivaccine jihad

About four weeks ago, I wrote what I thought to be an amusing piece about how our blog “buddy” J. B. Handley, antivaccine advocate extraordinaire and now second fiddle in the organization he founded (Generation Rescue) to a Jenny-come-lately former purveyor of Indigo Child woo previously best known for being Playboy Playmate of the Year, a game show hostess on MTV, the star of her own short-lived sitcom, and a gross-out comedienne known for eating her own vomit or sitting in a pool of her own menstrual blood. Unfortunately, along with her A-list boyfriend Jim Carrey, this former D-list star has become the public face of the antivaccine movement, even going so far as to lead rallies in Washington, DC against current vaccine policies, while spewing the most incredible bits of idiocy about “toxins” in vaccines and autism quackery.

One of my complaints has been just how little and how late the pushback has been from the scientific community to combat the dangerous quackery of the antivaccine movement that insists against the preponderance of scientific evidence that either mercury in vaccines or, more recently, vaccines themselves cause autism and all sorts of other problems. For over a year and a half, or so it seems, defenders of science- and evidence-based medicine mostly slumbered while the Jenny juggernaut grew stronger until now measles outbreaks are occurring in populations with large numbers of unvaccinated children. Only in the last three or four months have there been signs that that slumber is ending. One of the first among these signs was the release of a book by the man whom antivaccine zealots consider to be Satan Incarnate (or at least the Dark Lord of Vaccination), Dr. Paul Offit, entitled Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. It turns out that I’m not the only one who sees this book as a focal point to rally resistance to the spreading of antiscientific woo about autism and vaccines. In the New York Times, there’s an article entitled Book Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade.

I’m predicting that the vaccine pseudoscience-loving crew at Age of Autism will not like it. Look for J.B. Handley to write another hit piece now that the actual article the interviews for which he so whined about in December has finally seen print. The article begins:

A new book defending vaccines, written by a doctor infuriated at the claim that they cause autism, is galvanizing a backlash against the antivaccine movement in the United States.

But there will be no book tour for the doctor, Paul A. Offit, author of “Autism’s False Prophets.” He has had too many death threats.

“I’ll speak at a conference, say, to nurses,” he said. “But I wouldn’t go into a bookstore and sign books. It can get nasty. There are parents who really believe that vaccines hurt their children, and to them, I’m incredibly evil. They hate me.”

[…]

“When Jonas Salk invented polio vaccine, he was a hero — and I’m a terrorist?” he jokes, referring to a placard denouncing him at a recent demonstration by antivaccine activists outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The reason?

As a result, “a few years ago this ceased to be a civil scientific discourse and became about crucifying individuals,” said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, chief of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic, who says he has had threats against his children. “Paul is a lightning rod, a figure who goes charging into the fray.”

Those backing Dr. Offit say he was forced into the role. Opponents of vaccines have held rallies, appeared on talk shows like “Oprah” and “Imus in the Morning,” been the heroes of made-for-TV movies and found a celebrity spokeswoman in Jenny McCarthy, the actress and former Playboy model who has an autistic son. Meanwhile, the response from public health officials has been muted and couched in dull scientific jargon.

“If the surgeon general or the secretary of health or the head of the C.D.C. would come out and make a really strong statement on this, I think the whole thing would go away,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, who has a severely autistic daughter whose disease, he argues, is genetic.

I’m afraid that Dr. Hotez is very idealistic–and very wrong. I wish he were right and that that would be all it would take, but he’s not.

If every single high-ranking health official in the federal government, including the head of the CDC, FDA, the Surgeon General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services came out and issued strong statements supporting the safety of vaccination, reiterating the science showing that multiple studies have failed to find a link between mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves and autism, and trying to reassure parents, it might succeed in reassuring some of the fence-sitters, but you can bet that the hardcore antivaccine contingent would pay it no mind. In fact, not only would they pay it no mind, but it would probably harden their position. Their conspiracy mongering nature would be activated by such a display, and they would probably go into further heights of wingnuttery. AoA, that clearinghouse for all things antivaccine, would likely go into full mental jacket mode and post a series of articles about how the government was in the pocket of big pharma.

One thing I noticed in this article was an astounding revelation:

Asked why public health officials have been reticent, the acting surgeon general, Dr. Steven K. Galson, issued a statement saying that “childhood immunizations are one of the greatest achievements of all time” and that “scientific evidence clearly shows that vaccines do not contribute to autism.” He has spoken on issues like obesity, tobacco, air travel and exercise, but his office said he had not been questioned by journalists about vaccines and autism.

Here’s one issue where an effective Surgeon General with the trust of the public could make a difference. One advantage that the Surgeon General has is that he is not part of the CDC or FDA, two organizations deeply distrusted, and not just by antivaccine advocates. He is, as far as it is possible to be, “America’s doctor,” not affiliated with partisan interests. Can you imagine C. Everett Koop staying silent in the face of J.B. Handley and Jenny McCarthy? I can’t. Could you imagine the press not asking C. Everett Koop about the antivaccine movement if he were still Surgeon General? Again, I can’t. That’s because Dr. Koop was a strong and outspoken Surgeon General. In marked contrast, “acting” Surgeon General or not, by not speaking out for immunization and against the kooks, Dr. Galson has abdicated his responsibility by not combatting an obvious and immediate threat to public health. He shouldn’t think it necessary to wait to be asked by reporters about this topic in order to speak up.

As for Dr. Offit’s book, it does appear to be having an effect:

Dr. Nancy J. Minshew, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a leading autism expert, said she had begun telling any parent asking about vaccines to read the Offit book. A brain-imaging specialist who gets no money from vaccine companies, she said she had never met or spoken with Dr. Offit.

Autism, she said, is one of many diseases, like dyslexia, Elephant Man’s disease, tuberous sclerosis and schizophrenia, that are caused by genetic flaws but show no symptoms for years.

She blamed journalists for “creating a conspiracy where there was none.” By acting as if there were two legitimate sides to the autism debate, she said, “the media has fed on this — it’s great for ratings.”

Many doctors now argue that reporters should treat the antivaccine lobby with the same indifference they do Holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers and those claiming to have proof that NASA faked the Moon landings.

Exactly. What Minshew is describing is a manufactroversy, the favorite tool of cranks. In this, the antivaccine lobby is indeed very much like HIV/AIDS denialists, 9/11 Truthers, creationists, Holocaust deniers, those who believe in alien abductions, and people who think that NASA faked the Moon landings. To them, evidence doesn’t matter. Science doesn’t matter. History doesn’t matter. At least neither evidence, science, nor history matters except to the extent that they can cherry pick it, twist it, and misrepresent it to support their point of view. Science has conclusively demonstrated that, whatever rare adverse reactions it may produce, immunization is not associated with autism. That’s reality. That’s science. But the antivaccine lobby is not interested in reality or science. Its members “believe” that vaccines cause autism, and that’s enough for them, evidence be damned.

Although I agree in principle that this is how reporters should treat Jenny McCarthy and her ilk, I doubt that it will ever happen. The reason is that antivaccine advocates tell a compelling story, and journalism is about nothing if not the story. They have cute children, stories of children regressing into autism, and long quests to find a cure that does not at present exist. It can provide a compelling narrative, particularly for anecdotes that might on the surface look as though “biomedical interventions” worked. Sorry, Dr. Minshew, it’s just not going to happen.

One thing we as health care professionals can do is to treat the antivaccine lobby in just the fashion suggested. No debates. Staged debates are not how science is determined, and for a reputable physician or scientist to appear on the same stage with an antivaccine advocate automatically implies to the audience that there is a real controversy. This is not to say that we should not refute antivaccine pseudoscience when we see it or when we can. It’s just that we should not give antivaccine advocates a chance to do their version of the Gish gallop that biologists who try to refute creationist nonsense have become so familiar with. No more appearances with Jenny McCarthy on Larry King Live. No more appearances on The Doctors opposite Dr. Jay Gordon. In my fantasy world, antivaccination advocates would be relegated to late night radio like Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, along with all the alien abduction believers, Bigfoot siting insomniacs, and chemtrails chasers. It would be appropriate, but it will never happen.

Although I liked this article and commend Donald McNeil, Jr. for his work, I do have a bit of a worry. That worry comes from the last sentence:

Next week: In the Personal Health column, Jane E. Brody will write about efforts, so far fruitless, to find a cure for autism.

I fear it will include woo. I hope I’m wrong, but such a description worries me. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

Comments

  1. #1 Bryan
    January 13, 2009

    In my dream world, anti-vaxers are held accountable for what they’ve done. I have visions of class-action lawsuits made against the perpetrators of this nonsense by the hundreds (thousands, tens of thousands – I’ve lost count) of parents of children who suffered measles, mumps, pertussis, etc, infection because the parents listened to these loons.

    …surely there is a lawyer out there willing to take this on…

  2. #2 Saskclectic
    January 13, 2009

    My parents, who have immigrated to North America at the end of the seventies, find this anti-vaccine controversy very odd.

    When they had my brother and I, they were adamant about getting us vaccinated. They had seen too many children getting ill back in Asia, children who could have been easily protected (my father himself had TB when he was younger).

    It makes me wonder: If we plopped these anti-vaccines parents in some remote village in Asia/Africa, would they start clamoring for vaccines? Just wondering.

  3. #3 Mu
    January 13, 2009

    Grr, there I found this link to send to Orac for a nice article from the Seattle paper on death threads to Offit canceling his book tour, and it turns out to be a reprint from the East Coast. This is time zone discrimination!
    And I wholeheartedly agree – the cigarette industry got clobbered for hiding the dangers of smoking, but at the same time it’s ok to promote the anti-vaccine agenda?

  4. #4 Alexis
    January 13, 2009

    Could someone (who has the information I can’t remember) write a clarification in to the NYT over this:

    “His opponents dismiss him as “Dr. Proffit” because he received millions in royalties for his RotaTeq vaccine.”

    IIRC, he assigned the patents to 2 foundations and no longer receives royalties (I don’t know how much he ever received), but I don’t remember who they are or any details. I think that’s a pretty important omission. He also donated all the royalties from his book to autism research.

  5. #5 JThompson
    January 13, 2009

    If at any point you question a person’s evidence and their automatic response includes the word “conspiracy” they can pretty much be safely dismissed as idiots.

    These people need to be put in the place they belong: Standing bravely beside the flat earthers, 9/11 truthers, contrails conspiracy people, etc. People that imagine a monster in every shadow, in other words.

    If Thimerosal were removed from all vaccines tomorrow, it’d shut them up for about a week. Then they’d pick another chemical at random and start screaming about it.
    For all their claims of not being antivaccine, they won’t be happy until plague ravages the land. They simply want to “win” in the way they’ve defined the term, consequences be damned.

    The only way science will win this one is by educating the public at large. Inoculating them against the stupid, if you will. The first time one goes on Oprah or the View and gets booed off the stage, they’ll sulk back onto the intarwebz to bitch about how no one understands but them. Just like the rest of the nutjobs.

  6. #6 bob
    January 13, 2009

    JThompson: “If Thimerosal were removed from all vaccines tomorrow, it’d shut them up for about a week. Then they’d pick another chemical at random and start screaming about it.”

    You’re behind the times. This has been more-or-less done, and now they’re whining about “aluminum” and “antifreeze” in the vaccines. Good prediction, though … OMG U R PSYCHIC!!1!

  7. #7 The hypocrisy continues
    January 13, 2009

    JThompson said:
    “If at any point you question a person’s evidence and their automatic response includes the word “conspiracy” they can pretty much be safely dismissed as idiots.”

    and:

    “If Thimerosal were removed from all vaccines tomorrow, it’d shut them up for about a week. Then they’d pick another chemical at random and start screaming about it.
    For all their claims of not being antivaccine, they won’t be happy until plague ravages the land. They simply want to “win” in the way they’ve defined the term, consequences be damned.”

    Wow…that’s a pretty big conspiracy, huh? A whole lot of parents involved in that conspiracy, too.

    Does that mean we need to dismiss you as an idiot, too?

    The Hypocrisy!! It burns with the stupidity of a thousand Oracs!!!!

  8. #8 bob
    January 13, 2009

    Wow, The hypocrisy continues, that’s quite the epic fail. You accused JThompson of proposing a ridiculous conspiracy theory (thereby making him an idiot), except what he’s suggesting is already happening. Classic.

  9. #9 Julian
    January 13, 2009

    “Wow…that’s a pretty big conspiracy, huh? A whole lot of parents involved in that conspiracy, too.”

    Um… I don’t think you know what a conspiracy is. Using Thomspon’s example, you could only consider it a conspiracy if the individuals got to together and decided before hand to reject the evidence or come up with a new claim. What was being described is the behavior of a denialist group (refusing to look evidence in the face and constantly moving the goal post.) There’s nothing wrong with Thomspon’s prediction.

  10. #10 Robster, FCD
    January 13, 2009

    JThompson, They already have. Since thiomersal was removed from childhood vaccines, the new thing is aluminum. Never mind aluminum absorbed into the body from tapwater is far higher than anything you ever get from shots. Then there is the too many too soon gambit. Again, never mind that autism still shows up in non-vaccinated populations, so that still isn’t it. And once more never mind that vaccine schedules are designed to protect kids based on some very careful epidemiology. With no evidence whatsoever that vaccines cause autism, this smacks more of numerology than an actual concern.

  11. #11 HCN
    January 13, 2009

    The one who can stick to a ‘nym said “Wow…that’s a pretty big conspiracy, huh? A whole lot of parents involved in that conspiracy, too.”

    Some of those parents are lots of money, money enough to buy idiotic ads in newspapers, buy space in the “Medical Hypothesis” to spout their theory, and congregate in silly Yahoo groups like “Autism/Mercury”. Where lawyers and quacks can fan the flames and drum up business for themselves (so which one do you work for, Bradstreet, Geier, Yasko or some other scumbucket trying to scam money out desperate parents?).

    It is helped along this thing called the “Internet”. It has been the best thing to push anti-science since the introduction of the US Postal Services “bulk mailing” system.

    Still waiting for the real scientific evidence that the DTaP is worse than pertussis, a disease that kills over a dozen American babies each year.

  12. #12 WonderingWilla
    January 13, 2009

    As someone who looks out for medical decisions for both myself and my child, I would say that primary care providers are pretty unaware of the rhetoric that is influencing their patients so they are not prepared to handle objections of the alternative vax schedule/anti-vax crowd.

    I found this directly, when I asked my potential ped about thimerisol, under the influence of Deirdre Imus and insomnia in the final months of pregnancy, she just wasn’t conversant in the conspiracy theories of the day and said there wasn’t thimerisol in most of the vaxes and handed me a brochure from the health dept. Also, when I asked my family doc about adult boosters for some of the biggies. He was just confused about the question and seemed out of touch with the anti-vax discussion and consequent erosion of herd immunity.

    I encounter this indirectly in conversation with other parents on the subject (I am currently in a heavy discussion about the topic on my local mommy message board — inspired by Orac to be the change I want to see on this topic). A parent will ask four peds about the vaccine schedule and the practitioners just recommend the standard schedule without realizing that the parent has unfounded anxiety about aluminum, too much too soon, or a Hep B vax for a newborn — why a vax against a sexually transmitted disease for a baby?! Not satisfied with the answers from four trained professionals, the parent turns to a message board, then Dr. Sears, and is now ‘informed’.

    If doctors were to add ‘what makes you ask’ or ‘could you tell me what specifically what has you concerned about the current schedule and where did you get the information’ to their rap with folks, it would go along way toward diffusing parental anxiety. Of course, I realize that there are time limits to Dr. visits and that could spiral off into a discussion about insurance reimbursement, but getting primary care docs and their staff up to speed on this could go along way toward diffusing this nonsense.

    In my hippie-dippie super-richie area, we have had outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough in the past *year*. Given that, even delaying certain vaccines is pretty reckless.

  13. #13 grenouille
    January 13, 2009

    It’s interesting that Dr. Minshew mentions tuberous sclerosis as an example of genetic diseases that take time to manifest.A few weeks ago, our local free paper (neighborhood paper, really) had a story about a county official whose grandson was diagnosed with TS. The most incredible thing about the story was that the mother of the child stated that they first noticed something was wrong “immediately after his one year vaccinations, when his development started to slow.”

    No, folks. His developmental issues weren’t caused by the brain tumor they found and eventually removed. It was the evil shots. I feel sorry for health professionals when it comes to things like this. This mother knows what’s wrong with her child and still has to bring up vaccines.

  14. #14 DonZilla
    January 13, 2009

    Wow…that’s a pretty big conspiracy, huh? A whole lot of parents involved in that conspiracy, too.

    The hypocrisy continues, I’m curious about the above comment. Are you trying to say that having a fully functional set of sex organs, finding a suitable mate of the opposite sex with equally fully functional sex organs, mating and then conceiving the subsequent offspring automatically makes one a qualified expert on each and every subject concerning said offspring?

    I think Orac has kids, too–is that a bigger qualifier than all his years of hard work and education and if not, why not?

    What if someone without kids supported your side of the autism/vaccine debate–does that mean their opinion is less valid/important than someone who’s a parent? Would you refuse their support?

    I’m just trying to figure it all out. Thanks for helping!

  15. #15 RJ
    January 13, 2009

    DonZilla,

    You’ve made some good points. But the bottom line for the most vocal members of the mercury militia has nothing to do with information, logic, or reality for that matter. The bottom line for these people is their sense of victimization, coupled with profound narcissism. They know! They’ve been ‘educated’! They have a better understanding than people who have trained and practiced for decades. And there is no way…absolutely no way!….that they themselves, the source of genes for their ‘damaged’ child could be called into question. Just keep your eye on them and how they react to the possibility or suggestion that genes are involved. There is the typical denial, but it goes even further, often expressing as outrage. They’ve concocted some very interesting explanations as to the mechanisms associated with autism…MMR, thimerosal, aluminum, too many too soon, whatever (the goalposts shift almost daily). Their explanations are remedial and are filled with holes, but consistently refer to conspiracies involving big pharma, all governments around the world in the pockets of corporations, huge cover-ups, doctors and scientists who refuse to or are afraid to do vaccine research, and usually some kind of profiteering to explain what has happened. And they and their damaged kids are the victims.

    Oh, these poor, poor people! They are victims. Their lives ruined by having ‘damaged’ kids. Someone needs to be blamed! They’ve got this all worked out and understand everything. And, most importantly, someone needs to pay for their victimization!

  16. #16 Shay
    January 13, 2009

    “Are you trying to say that having a fully functional set of sex organs, finding a suitable mate of the opposite sex with equally fully functional sex organs, mating and then conceiving the subsequent offspring automatically makes one a qualified expert on each and every subject concerning said offspring?”

    Absolutely, DonZilla. Just ask any schoolteacher. Janie’s parents always know what’s better for Janie than any some schmuck who only has a four year degree in education, annual refresher training to meet professional re-certification requirements, and a dozen years of pedagogic experience.

  17. #17 JThompson
    January 13, 2009

    @bob: Ah, I thought it was still used in a couple. I knew a couple of the groups were still screaming about the presence of thimerosal. Should’ve known to verify it was even still present instead of taking anything known lunatics say at face value. ;)

    @The hypocrisy continues: I said if someone claims a conspiracy in lieu of presenting evidence. There’s an awful lot of evidence you nutjobs are there. I didn’t claim you were a conspiracy. Just that you’re around and you’re nuts.

  18. #18 Metro
    January 13, 2009

    I believe there is a conspiracy out there to promulgate conspiracy theories, to keep Flavr-Aid drinkers from understanding WHAT’S ReALLy GOIGN ON!

    It’s promoted by scientists, who don’t want the public to learn any science because then they’d always have to be answering smart, informed, questions and then they’d never be able to get any work done.

    So they promulgate 9/11 Troofs, Moon Shot legends, Freemasonry, AIDs denialism, and anti-vaccine hysteria, in order to distract folks from understanding the actual sciency stuff. That way the stupid questions can be endlessly debated by media talking heads rather than anyone who actually has any idea what they’re talking about.

    It is immeasurably helped by the enormous echo chamber of the internet, on the currents of which one may drift for days before discovering an informed, rational, opposing viewpoint. ( Including mine, by the way. I’m just another soundwave :) )

    But it’s clearly gotten a little out of control.

  19. #19 bob
    January 13, 2009

    @JThompson: No worries, I think it is still in some vaccines (the flu, perhaps?). My comment wasn’t meant to be angry or sarcastic towards you (rather towards the woo-meisters I expected to show up), but now I see that it read that way. My bad.

    WonderingWilla: “[My doctor] was just confused about the question and seemed out of touch with the anti-vax discussion and consequent erosion of herd immunity.” This is a general problem with skepticism. The actual experts are often unaware that there is a grassroots campaign of bullshit against their field, and more problematically they often don’t care about it when they do find out. (“Shruggies.”) Hopefully you took the time to inform him, or perhaps your question prompted him to look into it. Or maybe I’m just being stupidly optimistic.

  20. #20 Landru
    January 13, 2009

    Orac, I recognize that there’s no point in you being Little Suzy Sunshine about the potential impact on the wackaloon community of a strong public statement on immunization from a strong Surgeon General. Or from Peter Hotez, who’s a pretty brilliant guy who may be the nicest, most accessible, and least arrogant academic I’ve ever worked with (I say this as a nonacademic, business/operations person with an attitude–I was lucky to work with Dr. Hotez in a prior professional life). And I don’t want to discourage appropriate doses of not-so-Respectful Insolence. That would be…disrespectful.

    But if the battleground is public opinion, and it’s clear that you believe that it is, positive statements from respectable figures in the medical/academic community can’t really hurt. My notion of that community includes you, and I’d love to see other constructive suggestions about how to fight this battle.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I think there’s a certain degree to which you must confront these idiots on their own level. And your anger is most righteous. But it’s got you by the throat.

    Sure, I’m entertained, and I’ll stay that way. And you’re the one who has something at stake, there, credibility-wise, so I’ll but you no further buts.

  21. #21 Chris
    January 13, 2009

    Landru, have you read his comments on his other blog? Because they are under his real name they are written differently.

  22. #22 Landru
    January 13, 2009

    Didn’t, and should have, thank you. That said, I recognize some of my concern is pointless whine, because it’s not Orac’s behavior that actually upsets me–it’s the other side’s. While I wish there were something more constructive to be done, under the circumstances wishing equals whining.

  23. #23 Landru
    January 13, 2009

    Actually…just looked there, and didn’t see anything new. As a general proposition, your point is valid enough, though.

  24. #24 I am so wise
    January 13, 2009

    My meta-study of the relevant research shows that not been a single study that demonstrates a correlation, much less causation, between breeding and good parenting.

    Simultaneously, there are numerous studies showing that idiocy, poor self-discipline, lack of education, the consumption of narcotics and booze leads to breeding.

    Yet, despite these startling facts, there are no licensing requirements to breed. No minimum IQs. No criminal background check. Not even a credit check. People starting spawning at any time without any supervision despite the deleterious effects on their community those children may have.

    We require almost anyone else that deals with children to be extensively licensed, screened and even bonded. Daycare centers, the teacher assistants the state pays barely legal wages to to deal with the most violent, idiotic, and subnormal of our children, pediatricians, and teachers all have extensive licensing requirements. Some require years of study and multiple degrees.

    Worse yet, we grant those have kids because they were too impulsive/dumb/drunk to use a condom or pop the morning after pill as being endowed with special knowledge. We give them rights over their children’s education, health care, and other highly specialized fields that take years of study to master on the grounds that they are parents. Seriously, if a child does not want to learn something, he’s a bad student in need of discipline. If a parent decides there children do not need to learn something, we grant them the right to overrule the dozens of experts who have deemed it necessary despite the fact they have no idea what they are talking about. Nor does it matter if their idiocy endangers other people. If they are a parent, we let them go with it.

    Take conspiracy theories. If I believe that vaccines are the cause of the world’s evil- I’m a kook. If a parent believes that vaccines are the tool of Big Pharma to poison the world- they’re being a good mom.

    Anyways, if you believe that getting knocked up grants people magical powers to raise children without need for education or training, I invite you to look at the parents around you. Would you trust them with your kid? If not, would should they be trusted with the ones they’ve accidentally bred?

  25. #25 Chris
    January 13, 2009

    Landru said “just looked there, and didn’t see anything new.”

    He only posts there once a week. Sorry, I did not really mean that every Respectful Insolence posting is repeated there, only that the ones written under his real name have a different tone. This is where one can be snarky.

    Oh, and “I am so wise”, well yes you are. There is no magic “mommy knowledge” that trumps someone who has actually studied medicine and other specific specialties.

    I know what my deficiencies are, and I have learned to filter the wheat from the chaff. I learned this when I researched the Doman-Delacato crud many years ago. I found out that there was nothing to it, and that the OT/PT at my son’s school had more relevant experience. Note my questioning here:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1718#comment-54891

  26. #26 Coin
    January 13, 2009

    Book Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade.

    Hm, that’s harder to parse than you’d expect. It seems like we’re heading for some Proposition 8 style double-negative linguistic difficulties here… I await the articles about the Opposition to the Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade.

  27. #27 jay
    January 13, 2009

    that not been a single study that demonstrates a correlation, much less causation, between breeding and good parenting.

    Evolution, of course does not ‘care’ about good parenting or bad parenting. It throws a whole lot of variety into the mix and lets the environment sort it out. I suppose an argument could be made that there is a natural selection advantage to children who can survive to breed regardless of their parenting.

    On a note closer to home, though, there is a conflict between a free society (where people are free to make mistakes, and the government is very reluctant to second guess parents) and a highly managed society, where the ‘overall good’ is held above personal freedom. As wrong as these wack jobs are, I’d rather err on the side of freedom.

  28. #28 Melissa (oddharmonic)
    January 14, 2009

    @Alexis: the patent for RotaTeq was assigned to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The Winstar Institute of Anatomy and Biology. This is available from the publicly accessible full-text patent database on the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website. The Children’s Hospital Foundation subsequently sold its royalty interest to Royalty Pharma for $182 million in cash.

    Liz Ditz posted about both of these items in a blog post a few days ago at I Speak Of Dreams.

  29. #29 Alexis
    January 14, 2009

    Melissa: thanks. I just didn’t want to write to the NYT without the details; I knew I’d read them somewhere (possibly in Offit’s own book!) but couldn’t remember.

  30. #30 Andrew Dodds
    January 14, 2009

    Jay –

    Freedom is fine.. but the result of their ‘free choice’ is that my kid catched measels or another vaccine -preventable disease, they are limiting my child’s freedoms. After all, we require (at least in the UK) that cars have basic annual safety checks and are insured not because of risks to the occupants, but because of the innocent bystander effect.

  31. #31 Sara Conner
    January 14, 2009

    Andrew,

    Are the very same freedoms limited when your child becomes ill due to exposure from a person that was vaccinated?

    Are we all under the impression that only unvaccinated people suffer from illness here? I’m forever confused as to why vaccination status is some sort of beacon of health.

    Sara

  32. #32 Mike
    January 14, 2009

    Sara twit,
    So you have studies showing that vaccinated children pose the same risks to herd immunity as do unvaccinated ? Don’t know what bit of woo you are sucking on but spit it out. It’s bad for you.

    Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike CAN get sick but the likelihoods are skewed – a lot. Care to guess which way? Go ahead twit, you can do it.

  33. #33 RJ
    January 14, 2009

    “Are the very same freedoms limited when your child becomes ill due to exposure from a person that was vaccinated? ”

    Where’s the logic at? Did IQs suddenly drop around here?

    If someone is wearing a seat belt, driving at the speed limit, and avoids personal distraction while driving, should we consider them as negligent as the one who drives 70 in a 45 zone, talking on their cell phone? Both can, and do, get into accidents, but which one PREDOMINANTLY causes the accidents? Which on is applying good faith towards the community?

    Sure, a vaccinated individual can have, and expose others, to an infectious disease. This is because some individuals have issues with their immune system or perhaps there was something wrong with that particular dose of vaccine (whatever, choose your hypothetical reason). But the majority in society will have immunity and will not be infectious. Those that do not participate in the social contract are much more likely to be infectious and spread the disease.

    Some of our freedoms are restricted by circumstance and the realities of the universe (there are no 100% absolutes). Our point is the freedoms that are restricted because of poor choices of others is the problem.

    That’s the difference.

  34. #34 Interrobang
    January 14, 2009

    There’s also another difference: If J. Smith is toting their hypothetical baby around, and some unvaccinated twit infects her with a cold, big deal, she’s got a cold, and probably so does J. Smith. That’ll be one of many in both cases. If, on the other hand, J. Smith is toting their hypothetical baby around and some unvaccinated twit infects her with HiB, or measles, or diphtheria, there’s higher odds than I’d (or J. Smith’d) care to bet on that the Smiths are going to be burying that hypothetical baby sometime after that. See, the thing about vaccines is we generally speaking have them for things that are more lethal than we’d care to bet our lives on. Your mileage, and ability at risk assessment, may vary, but the risk consensus is the risk consensus.

  35. #35 HCN
    January 14, 2009

    Sara said “Are the very same freedoms limited when your child becomes ill due to exposure from a person that was vaccinated?”

    You seem to be stuck in 1972.

    About the only vaccine that could routinely be transmitted was smallpox, and that was dropped from routine childhood vaccine schedule in 1972 (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/smallpox.pdf)

    All the other vaccines are small little bits of the antigen that have either been killed or attenuated. Transmission of full-blown measles from the MMR is highly unlikely. Though you are welcome to troll PubMed and come up with some case studies of vaccinated children infecting unvaxed kids (this specifically excludes the case of the military father who passed along a pox vax to his kid).

  36. #36 wfjag
    January 14, 2009

    @I am so wise: “Yet, despite these startling facts, there are no licensing requirements to breed. No minimum IQs. No criminal background check. Not even a credit check.”

    And, you can’t even sue them for lying to you about their age and having you arrested and prosecuted for statutory rape. See, e.g., JOHN DOE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SEXSEARCH.COM, et al., 08a0462p.06; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 26522; 2008 FED App. 0462P (6th Cir. Dec. 30, 2008)

    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Pseudonymous plaintiff, a member of defendant online adult dating service, sought review of a judgment from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo granting defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s 14 causes of action for failure to state a claim.

    OVERVIEW: After plaintiff had sexual relations with another member who described herself as 18 years old, he was arrested and charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor because the female was only 14 years old. Plaintiff’s allegations were variations on the claim that defendant was at fault for his sexual relationship with a minor and the harm that resulted. The US Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that plaintiff’s complaint failed to state any claims. Because the terms and conditions of defendant’s service stated that defendant could not verify members’ information and did not guarantee the information provided by users of its service, there was no breach of contract or fraudulent misrepresentation. Plaintiff’s failure to warn claim failed because the danger that a member of defendant could be a minor was open and obvious.

    OUTCOME: The US Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment dismissing plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim.

    TEACHING POINT: That’s what’s meant by caveat emptor.

  37. #37 Roger Rains
    January 15, 2009

    “Still waiting for the real scientific evidence that the DTaP is worse than pertussis, a disease that kills over a dozen American babies each year.”

    Of course, that’s the rate WITH the vaccine. Prior to the vaccine the rate was about 2-3 deaths per 1000 population per year, mostly in children under five. New parents today have no concept of what it was like.

    -RR-

  38. #38 John H
    January 15, 2009

    Roger – You make an extremely valid point

    Just to compare like with like (sort of) in the period 1950-1960 there were 4594 deaths from pertussis in the USA.

    In the period 1993-2003 there were 95 death from pertussis in the USA.

    These figures (plus those for measles etc) can be found in:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/G/cases&deaths.pdf

    It would appear that pertussis has a comparatively low success rate compared to other vaccinations. It is 94.6% compared to 100% for smallpox, diptheria and polio and 98%-99.9% for measles, mumps and most other vaccinations See Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (16th Ed, page 713) – reprinted on the somewhat excellent Professor David Colquhoun’s site here (Post 37):

    http://dcscience.net/?p=260

    As a non-medic I assume pertussis and/or the vaccine have particular complications.

    Of course I use the word “comparatively” low success rates but in reality they are the difference between playing Russian Roulette with a single shot pistol or one with 48 chambers (OK OK not really statistically valid but you get the point).

    It is valid to say that there are 4500 Americans walking around today who would otherwise have been dead (although in reality this is much more if you count the rest of the years). And it is even more if you add the rest of the lives saved by vaccination. And it is multiplied by an order of magnitude if you apply these results across the globe (especially to the developing world where “simple” childhood diseases kill with alacrity).

    Even more interesting is that 58 of the 95 deaths were in the last four years (1999-2003). I think I detect the malign influence of the crackpot jabbophobes here as the numbers are creeping upwards.

    So congratulations to half-witted gurners like Jim Carrey and his porn star consort. You are achieving your aim of ensuring more kids die of diseases which can be prevented for a few pence. You must be vey proud.

  39. #39 Sara Conner
    January 15, 2009

    Twit? Very mature.

    @Mike: [[Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike CAN get sick but the likelihoods are skewed – a lot. Care to guess which way? Go ahead twit, you can do it.]]

    I suppose I can guess all I’d like. Guessing, and proving are completely different. Seroconversion has little to do with actually fighting disease… unless, of course, innate immune response fails the host.

    @RJ: [[But the majority in society will have immunity and will not be infectious. Those that do not participate in the social contract are much more likely to be infectious and spread the disease.]]

    That is pure supposition. Social contract? That’s ridiculous. Being exposed to disease is part of living in a society. Those that “don’t participate” simply show actual symptoms to disease… so what? As for being infectious – exactly what are the contagion levels within the host post-vaccination? D’oh, we don’t know – and who cares, we have antibodies.

    @Interrobang: [[HiB, or measles, or diphtheria, there’s higher odds than I’d (or J. Smith’d) care to bet on that the Smiths are going to be burying that hypothetical baby sometime after that. ]]

    Would that be the bug created by the vaccuum? Or the bug that many humans carry harmoniously? Lots of Salmonella outbreaks lately, even deaths. Perhaps we can vaccinate against it too? Don’t we humans get to decide who lives and dies? Bacteria has been around far longer than we have, and will be here long after we’re gone. I prefer to get along considering I have about 2 and a half pounds of bacteria in my gut alone.

    @HCN: [[About the only vaccine that could routinely be transmitted was smallpox]]

    Nonsense. Pertussis (your favorite) is notorious for creating a carrier state. Many outbreaks involve fully vaccinated individuals, doesn’t take much trolling in Pubmed to figure that one out. As for proving that the shot is worse than pertussis… well, that burden of proof isn’t mine, is it? The “dozen” of babies or so you tirelessly cite have co-morbidities associated with their demise. Easier to blame the bug, I know.

    You fellas are free to put all of your eggs in the vax status basket, I’ll pass. No adjusting for confounders in the real world, but we can keep pretending that seroconversion equals immunity until next Sunday… not everyone is stupid enough to believe it.

    Have a nice day.

    Sara

  40. #40 HCN
    January 15, 2009

    Sara said “Nonsense. Pertussis (your favorite) is notorious for creating a carrier state. Many outbreaks involve fully vaccinated individuals, doesn’t take much trolling in Pubmed to figure that one out.”

    Actually since the vaccine wears off, and is only about 85% effective that is not a case of the vaccine itself causing the outbreak. This is why there are booster shots, and why there is a Tdap.

    This is NOT a case of a person who is just been vaccinated passing the infection to someone else. It would be impossible for a kid with a fresh DTaP vaccine to give another child pertussis because the bacteria in the vaccine is not alive.

    You are being very silly and grasping at straws. Especially when you say something as horrible as “The “dozen” of babies or so you tirelessly cite have co-morbidities associated with their demise.”

    No, no, and no. For one thing you are claiming only “perfect” children get to live, and another thing is that pertussis does kill perfectly healthy young babies.
    See:
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/Slides/Pertussis10 … Slide 9

  41. #41 HCN
    January 16, 2009

    Seriously, Sara, did you really think that making crap up was going to work here?

    Here is a newsflash: the co-morbidity that ALL babies have is that they are small, and (from the CDC Pink Book)pertussis “bacteria attach to the cilia of the respiratory epithelial cells, produce toxins that paralyze the cilia, and cause inflammation of the respiratory tract, which interferes with the clearing of pulmonary secretions.”

    When the respiratory tract is small, it closes up so that no air gets to the lungs.

    This is also the reason croup is dangerous to younger children.

    This is why herd immunity to pertussis is very important. Except liars like you (I have no evidence you are a “twit”, but I do have evidence that you are a liar) have worked very hard to erode herd immunity. This is why pertussis is coming back and infecting children too young to be vaccinated, which just happens to be the group most likely to die from suffocation due to the disease.

    The reason you cannot get evidence that the DTaP is more dangerous than pertussis is because it does not exist. There have been hundreds of studies done, and the vaccine is still safer than the disease.

    Including a terrible experiment in Japan. Once upon a time the anti-vaccine zealots blamed the DTP for SIDS, so Japan decided to not give the vaccine until age two. Then 41 babies died in one year (in a country with a much lower population than the USA):
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15889991?
    “An antivaccine movement developed in Japan as a consequence of increasing numbers of adverse reactions to whole-cell pertussis vaccines in the mid-1970s. After two infants died within 24 h of the vaccination from 1974 to 1975, the Japanese government temporarily suspended vaccinations. Subsequently, the public and the government witnessed the re-emergence of whooping cough, with 41 deaths in 1979. This series of unfortunate events revealed to the public that the vaccine had, in fact, been beneficial. Furthermore, researchers and the Japanese government proceeded to develop safer pertussis vaccines. Japan now has the most experience worldwide with acellular pertussis vaccines, being the first country to have approved their use. This review describes the major events associated with the Japanese vaccination program. The Japanese experience should be valuable to other countries that are considering the development and use of such vaccines.”

    By the way, many liars (just like YOU!) have claimed that the number of SIDS deaths went down in Japan after the pertussis vaccine was delayed. In reality, even though the number infant deaths went up because there was no vaccine to blame, they could no longer say it caused the SIDS.

    So if you decide to post some more statements on vaccines without proof, I will just reply “Liar. Prove it.”

  42. #42 DT
    January 16, 2009

    Well said, HCN.

    In fact, there is plenty of evidence that getting vaccinated with DtaP is protective against SIDS, nearly halving the rate.

    1). Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunization and sudden infant death.
    Pediatrics 1987 Apr;79(4):598-611.
    “These results confirm the earlier preliminary findings from the NICHD SIDS Cooperative Epidemiological Study and suggest that DTP immunization is not a significant factor in the occurrence of SIDS.”

    2). Risk of sudden infant death syndrome after immunization with the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.
    N Engl J Med 1988 Sep 8;319(10):618-23.
    “We conclude that in this large population of children there was no increase in the risk of SIDS after immunization with the DTP vaccine.”

    3). Sudden unexpected death in infants under 3 months of age and vaccination status; a case-control study.
    Br J Clin Pharmacol 2001 Mar;51(3):271-6.
    “CONCLUSIONS: DTPP+/-Hib immunization is not a risk factor for early SUD.”

    4). The UK accelerated immunisation programme and sudden unexpected death in infancy: case-control study.
    BMJ 2001 Apr 7;322(7290):822.
    “CONCLUSIONS: Immunisation does not lead to sudden unexpected death in infancy, and the direction of the relation is towards protection rather than risk.”

    5). Immunisation and the sudden infant death syndrome.
    Arch Dis Child 1995 Dec;73(6):498-501.
    “CONCLUSIONS–Immunisation does not increase the risk of SIDS and may even lower the risk.”

    6). Immunization myths and realities.
    J Paediatr Child Health 2003 Sep-Oct;39(7):487-91.
    “Vaccines have been falsely implicated in the causation of a range of conditions, especially those which affect infants and young children, and whose aetiology is unknown, poorly understood or multifactorial.”

    7). The protective effect of immunisation in relation to sudden infant death syndrome.
    FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Aug 1;25(1-2):183-92.
    “Epidemiological evidence indicates infants immunised against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) are at decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”

    8). DPT immunization and sudden infant death syndrome.
    American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 77, Issue 8 945-951, 1987.
    “The mortality rate of non-immunized infants was 6.5 times that of immunized infants of the same age (95 per cent CI, 2.2 to 19).”

    And perhaps the best overall summary of trials looking at the subject:

    9). Do immunisations reduce the risk for SIDS? A meta-analysis.
    Vaccine Volume 25, Issue 26, 21 June 2007, p4875-4879
    “Immunisations are associated with a halving of the risk of SIDS.”

  43. #43 DT
    January 16, 2009

    Sorry that should read “DTP is protective” and not DTaP, since many of the studies predated the introduction of the acellular pertussis vaccine.

  44. #44 The Perky Skeptic
    January 16, 2009

    Hooray for booster shots! I just got a DTaP a few months ago. :) (Along with a flu shot, with EXTRA thimerosal on top!!! Sorry antivaxxers, I just can’t bring myself to care about thimerosal, since I used to squirt it in my eyes on a daily basis for many years as part of my contact lens care!)

  45. #45 RJ
    January 16, 2009

    RJ: [[But the majority in society will have immunity and will not be infectious. Those that do not participate in the social contract are much more likely to be infectious and spread the disease.]]

    “That is pure supposition. Social contract? That’s ridiculous. Being exposed to disease is part of living in a society. Those that “don’t participate” simply show actual symptoms to disease… so what? As for being infectious – exactly what are the contagion levels within the host post-vaccination? D’oh, we don’t know – and who cares, we have antibodies.”

    It is not supposition. It is a fact. Those who are immunized are far less likely to catch, propagate, and spread the bacteria/virus.

    “Being exposed to disease is part of living in a society.”
    Uh huh. Genius. The idea, if you can grasp this…is to reduce the incidence of disease. Get it? By doing so, fewer people have the disease, fewer people suffer, and have adverse events (including, but not limited to death). Oh yes, it saves us countless dollars by preventing avoidable medial costs.

    “As for being infectious – exactly what are the contagion levels within the host post-vaccination?”
    An exact figure (or descriptive) is unattainable since you are dealing with quite a diverse collection of people (different genes, different sociological situations, different behaviors). I think this is pretty obvious.

    “D’oh, we don’t know – and who cares, we have antibodies.” Uh, genius…you only have antibodies after exposure. Again, the idea is to prevent and eliminate contagious diseases. You don’t have a complement of antibodies waiting for disease agents you’ve never been exposed to. Hence, the concept of immunization.

    It’s like talking to a 6th grader. This is remedial stuff here and you seem not to grasp even the most basic of concepts. Why is that?

  46. #46 HCN
    January 16, 2009

    RJ said “It’s like talking to a 6th grader. This is remedial stuff here and you seem not to grasp even the most basic of concepts. Why is that?”

    Because she is making it up, or reading crap by people who just make it up. That has been a common practice with these people for years. Long ago there was an analysis of the information promoted by the guys by a pathologist. He posted it on the web, it is titled “The Anti-Immunization Activists: A Pattern of Deception”:
    http://www.pathguy.com/antiimmu.htm

  47. #47 Prometheus
    January 16, 2009

    RJ said:


    “It’s like talking to a 6th grader. This is remedial stuff here and you seem not to grasp even the most basic of concepts. Why is that?”

    “Sara Conner” does not understand the “principles” she is touting; she is simply repeating what she was told or what she read on some Internet site. She has no more understanding of immunology than any other parrot, as shown by her statements.

    This is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve seen over and over on this ‘blog and others (my own, for instance).

    People who are blissfully ignorant of even the basic concepts of a field (such as science or history) read or hear something that resonates with their own pre-conceived (ill-conceived?) notions about the world and they instinctually say to themselves, “Yeah! That’s got to be true because it conforms to my world-view!”

    Thus, we have people with an innate distrust of authority (a fairly common trait in the US) reflexively nodding their heads in agreement when they hear the “9/11 Truthers” blather on about how “fire can’t melt steel” despite the fact that Benjamin Huntsman was making crucible steel (which involves melting steel) in 1740, long before the electric arc furnace was invented (1907).

    So, despite the historical fact that people were melting steel with “fire” long before September of 2001, a small group of folks continue to parrot the ridiculous notion that the World Trade Center Towers were brought down by explosives because “fire can’t melt steel”. They do this not out of abject ignorance (they have been told that the scientific and historical “facts” disagree with their “position”), but because the “story” resonates with their internal belief system.

    “Sara Conner” won’t be convinced by the data – the “facts”, if you will – because her conviction that “seroconversion has little to do with fighting disease” wasn’t formed by looking at the data. She may have been given a list of “facts” or “data” that she was told support her adopted “position”, but she understands them no more than a parrot can understand the stories in the newspaper lining its cage.

    Something about the crackpot idea that there is a massive conspiracy to cover up the “fact” that vaccines are useless resonates with her particular (peculiar?) world-view and – as a result – she has decided it must be true.

    I suspect that we could put “Sara Conner” through the entire course of study – from general biology to immunology – and she still wouldn’t change her beliefs. It’s not a matter of simple ignorance – that we could fix though education. No, she is in the grips of a religious conviction. She has taken it on faith that what she heard or what she read is right and the rest of the world is part of the “massive conspiracy” to cover up the “truth”.

    This is the crux of the matter – HIV “denialists”, “9/11 Truthers”, anti-vaccination “crusaders” (think about the effects of the First Crusade on the people it was supposed to “liberate” to get my meaning) all are convinced that their fantasy version of events is “real” simply because it conforms to how they view the world. It’s a tidy little bit of circular reasoning.

    Their minds are thus firmly closed against any and all contrary evidence and so will never be changed by something as insubstantial as data, “facts” or even reality.

    It’s sad, really.

    Prometheus

  48. #48 RJ
    January 16, 2009

    “I suspect that we could put “Sara Conner” through the entire course of study – from general biology to immunology – and she still wouldn’t change her beliefs.”

    I dunno. I think that once they start to learn facts (that are substantiated by experimental science) instead of propaganda and specious reasoning, doubt would emerge. What people like Sara Conor, and I would submit many if not all of us want is an understanding of the universe. We want to be able to comprehend what is going on, be able to explain how and why, and to make the correct predictions and choices. Obviously, scientific explanations help us in this regard, which is why we’ve progressed from cave dwellers, to mindless sheep following what the religious hierarchy tell them, to exploring other world and practicing molecular medicine. ‘Sara Conor’…who in all accounts should be terminated…is doing the same thing, but like her fundamentalist Christian or radical Muslim counterparts, relies on what the high priest tells them. Things that sound good. Things they want to hear. It makes understanding a complex, dynamic, and dangerous world simple and manageable. That’s the power of specious persuasion.

    It’s ironic that this happens, given that science has provided them with the means and standard of living to actually do it.

  49. #49 The Perky Skeptic
    January 16, 2009

    Darn! I was going to make a “Sara Conner is just biding time until the robot uprising” joke, but RJ beat me to it! *lol*

  50. #50 Sara Conner
    January 17, 2009

    Prometheus-

    I have always found you profoundly condescending. Human beings (mostly American) have got to be the most conceited, arrogant individuals on the planet – unfortunately, scholar or not, you fall into this category. I’ve not offered you near enough information to draw your holier than thou conclusions… doesn’t stop you (and RJ) nonetheless. Feel free to continue to blindly stab at my position. Please, tell me more about myself? Or rephrase my questions so they suit you better, your choice.

    HCN,

    I’m not going support the position you’ve presented, that is your job. I simply grow tired of your continued request to prove the jab worse than the disease. A disease that affects vaccinated individuals quite regularly…

    RJ,

    Your condescention is at least genuine. Thanks? And talking to you is like talking to a pharma apologist… why would that be? No need to answer that, you already know.

    Sad to see you jump on the slamming wagon Perky. Oh well – is what it is.

    This place is simply a cesspool of ad hominem groupthink.

    Cheers.

    Sara Conner

  51. #51 Prometheus
    January 17, 2009

    “Sara Conner” seems to think that telling someone they are wrong and clearly don’t understand even basic immunology is an “ad hominem“. Strange. I thought I was giving her the benefit of the doubt by saying that she was simply repeating things she didn’t understand.

    I suppose it’s possible that she understands the topic but chooses to say things that are not true, but I prefer to assume that someone is simply mistaken unless I have solid evidence that they are lying.

    If speaking “truth” (or, more properly “data”) to ignorance is “condescending”, “conceited” or “arrogant”, I will have to plead nolo contendere.

    I am somewhat confused by this statement:


    “Human beings (mostly American) have got to be the most conceited, arrogant individuals on the planet – unfortunately, scholar or not, you fall into this category.”

    I would have to agree that human beings are the most conceited, etc. individuals on the planet, although I think that domestic cats may also be in the running. However, I’ll have to disagree with her apparent assertion that most humans are Americans – I think that there are more Chinese humans than American humans.

    As for falling into “this category”, I will have to admit that, yes, despite the Titanic pseudonym, I am human. I realize that this might come as a shock to some of you, but there it is.

    In anwer to her complaints that I have been guessing at her “position” – I am simply going by what she’s told us. I don’t know if she’s “anti-vaccination”, so I only restated her assertion that vaccines are not useful. Apart from that, I don’t believe that I’ve said anything about her beliefs (apart from inferring that she feels that there is a conspiracy to “hide the truth”).

    If she can find a place where I have assigned a belief or argument to her that she hasn’t made in public, I’d welcome the chance to publicly correct my statements.

    From where I stand, it sounds like “Sara” is simply peeved that we haven’t been struck dumb by the force of her logic. I’m sure it works better with the more “receptive” (i.e. gullible) audiences she is accustomed to.

    Prometheus

  52. #52 HCN
    January 17, 2009

    Nah, she is a liar and knows it. She has demonstrated by continuing to post lies even after the evidence was shown that what she posts was wrong. She can no longer be considered “mistaken” if she refuses to acknowledge being mistaken. One blatant example is her refusing to understand that most of the those who are mostly effected are those who are either not vaccinated OR where the vaccine has worn off (which is why there are booster shots).

  53. #53 Jennyj0
    January 17, 2009

    @ RJ,

    Quote
    I dunno. I think that once they start to learn facts (that are substantiated by experimental science) instead of propaganda and specious reasoning, doubt would emerge. End quote

    I used to think this too. But I’ve found they are extremely fact-resistant. In fact, the more facts you present to them, the more hard-lined they become.

  54. #54 Dan
    January 23, 2009

    Autism is one of what I believe are a number of what are called passive developmental disorders- and autism is the most common. Autism is a disability caused by a brain development disorder of unknown cause, yet some suspect the cause is some sort of neurological dysfunction. Usually, symptoms of the disease present themselves before the toddler reaches the age of three. Before Autism was more understood, others labeled them as childhood schizophrenia or as having a psychosis or mental retardation.
    Out of 16 related characteristics, eight must be present to be considered autistic, according to others. As with all passive developmental disorders, the person expresses language, social, and behavioral difficulties. Treatment includes what are called psychotropic medications that delay the progression of the disorder, as well as relieve some of the symptoms of one who is autistic. Behavioral therapy is common as a treatment regimen as well. Boys get Autism much more than girls.
    Then there is the controversy between many who claim that thimerosal- a preservative containing mercury, which is a neurotoxin that was used in vaccines until 2001, was the catalyst for autism in children. Over 5000 lawsuits have been filed because of this belief, and some have been successful for the plaintiff. Yet most agree the correlation between thimersal and autism is void of scientific merit. Furthermore, the cases of autism have not decreased since the preservative was discontinued in 2001.
    Aside from Autism, the other four passive developmental disorders are known as autism spectrum disorders.
    Asperger’s Syndrome is more common than autism, and the symptoms are milder, as there is minimal delay in language abilities, if at all. What is expressed with Asperger’s syndrome is mild autistic symptoms. In time, the patient may express atypical personality disorders, though. While intelligence is within normal limits with the Asperger’s patient, social interactions and abilities preset difficulty for such a patient. As with Autism, medications and behavioral therapy are treatment regimens with one with this syndrome
    Rett’s Syndrome or disorder presents with not only atypical behavior, but also suffers from restricted physical growth and movement. There is cognitive and social impairment as well. The disorder affects mostly girls, and the cause is due to a gene mutation.
    Chldhood Disintegrative disorder is rare, and is 10 times less common than autism. The disorder has a late onset with mild autistic symptoms. The disorder affects mostly boys, and regression is sudden and possible with this disorder. Skills lost with this disorder may be language, social, self-care, as well as play or motor skills. Decreased function or impairment with this disorder may include social skills and behavioral flaws. Central Nervous System pathology is a suspected cause of this disorder.
    Finally, there are passive development disorders that are not otherwise specified. This may include atypical autism, for example. Yet as with the rest of types of these disorders, the symptoms vary in their intensity, and the range of abilities of these developmental disorders vary widely as well. Medicinal treatment along with cognitive and behavioral therapy prove to be most beneficial for all the different types of Passive Development Disorders that unfortunately exist for unknown reasons,

    Dan Abshear

  55. #55 HCN
    January 23, 2009

    Oooh, look! Another drive-by idiot posting by Dan Abshear!

    He did not even correct the stupid errors that were pointed out the first time around. The “P” in PDD does NOT mean “passive!”

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