Respectful Insolence

I knew it. I just knew it.

I just knew that when I finally decided to come back from my absence from this blog that something very unpleasant and sad would be waiting for me. True, there had actually been one very nasty thing that I simply had to deal with a few days ago, but that was a particularly vile and despicable human being who, believe it or not, was not John Best. That is not the case here, although the misinformation being pushed is truly disturbing.

Not surprisingly, what awaited me upon my decision to come back was posted earlier this week on that repository of antivaccine propaganda, The Huffington Post. Also, not surprisingly, what awaited me had been penned by everybody’s favorite pediatrician to the stars’ children (especially antivaccine activist Jenny McCarthy’s son Evan), namely Dr. Jay “Whatever You Do, Don’t Call Me Antivaccine” Gordon, the man who’s been known to parrot the worst antivaccine canards, who penned the foreword to Jenny McCarthy’s latest paean to antivaccinationism and autism quackery, and, who, most recently, invaded my alma mater with a kinder, gentler version of his nonsense.

I know, I know, Dr. Jay is “not antivaccine.” How do I know? He tells us so ad nauseam whenever it is pointed out that he is the chief physician apologist for the antivaccine movement, of course! Usually he tells us either with outrage or with a hurt, puppy dog demeanor at the perceived injustice of being called out for spewing his nonsense. I’ve even bent over backwards to try to give Dr. Jay the benefit of the doubt at every opportunity. Indeed, I do believe that Dr. Jay believes he is not antivaccine. Unfortunately, what he believes and reality are related only by coincidence. That includes vaccines, and that also includes his self-delusion that he is not “antivaccine.” If you don’t believe me, get a load of Dr. Gordon’s reaction to the recent decision in the Autism Omnibus, in which the special masters roundly and utterly rejected the arguments of the plaintiffs in the first three test cases (more about that on Monday, unless something more current demands my attention by then). I’m tellin’ ya, the dude is closer to sounding unhinged than I’ve ever seen him, and that anger shatters for me any claim by him that he is not antivaccine. If you think I’m being too harsh, then check out his two posts on HuffPo, “There Is No Proof that Cigarettes Cause Cancer” and The Vaccine Court Was Wrong.

Even I never would have expected something so unscientific and just plain dumb from Dr. Jay. As much as I think Dr. Gordon is probably a nice guy who cares about his patients, being nice does not excuse one from being taken to task for advocating dangerous pseudoscientific nonsense. Unfortunately, he managed to live down to my expectations and then start digging. With a backhoe. Let’s take a look at his first bit of idiocy:

It took fifty years before the courts finally acknowledged that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

There were billions of dollars at stake.

The dozens of court decisions that there “was no proof” were supported by physicians, expert witnesses of all types and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on attorneys.

Experts and doctors alike stated over and over again that we need not continue studying this issue because there was just no proof.

Let me state very simply, vaccines can cause autism.

No real scientist would encourage us to stop studying this possibility.

Note the blatant straw man argument (“No real scientist would encourage us to stop studying this possibility”). Note the specious and false comparison that antivaccine advocates love to use: Comparing tobacco research to vaccine research. No matter how easy it is to demonstrate how wrong they are, they think it’s a slam dunk comparison that bolsters their paranoid, conspiracy mongering world view. After all, decades ago, scientists kept finding scientific and epidemiological evidence that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer and all manner of other health problems. Tobacco companies funded a well-financed denialist campaign of lies, bad science, and outright pseudoscience to try to convince the public that there was no link between smoking and cancer in order to protect their profits and forestall the regulation or banning of cigarettes by the government. So to antivaccinationists, it seems perfectly reasonable to claim that claiming that vaccines cause autism is the same thing, except with the evil big pharma vaccine manufacturers suppressing the “truth” to protect their profits and keep themselves safe from lawsuits.

There’s just one problem. (Well, there are several, actually, but let’s start with one.) If you’re going to compare the claim that vaccines cause autism with the science that shows that smoking tobacco causes cancer and all manner of other health problems, it is the antivaccine advocates who most line up with the tobacco companies denying a link. The reason is that the science at the time showed a strong link between cigarette smoking and cancer, but tobacco companies denied it repeatedly because it would hurt profits. Indeed, tobacco companies maintained a long campaign of misinformation, bad science, and outright lies to stifle any regulation or any attempt to hold them accountable for the health problems cigarettes cause. Unfortunately for Dr. Jay’s analogy, science now does not show a link between vaccines and autism. I know Dr. Jay and other antivaccine apologists and advocates believe that there is a link, but scientific and epidemiological reality do not line up with that belief. The question has been studied and studied multiple times in multiple large, well-controlled epidemiological studies, in multiple countries, all with the same result: There is no detectable link between vaccines and autism or between the thimerosal that used to be used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines and autism. It doesn’t get much more clear than that. Yet in this case, it is the antivaccine advocates–like Dr. Jay–who deny the science and try to convince the public that vaccines cause autism. It is they who use the same sorts of denialist tactics and misinformation that the tobacco companies used all those decades ago: Bad studies, pseudoexperts, and a cadre of attack dogs ready to pounce on any new study, looking for any flaws, real or imagined, that they can exploit to sow doubt. Too bad that in their case it’s more like attack poodles than attack dogs, but the principle is the same, and antivaccinationists use the same techniques amplified by the ability of the Internet to spread misinformation even faster than it spreads information. They don’t need nearly the level of financial clout that tobacco companies did back in the 1950s, because celebrity and the Internet have become the great levelers, allowing them to spread their message far and wide at much less cost.

Note another thing. Note the absolute certainty with which Dr. Jay states unequivocally that “vaccines can cause autism.” He even uses boldface and italics in the font, but that isn’t even enough to convey his level of certainty. He has to underline it too! (Props to the doctor for refraining from using all caps as well.) Note that Dr. Jay’s certainty comes with no scientific evidence presented whatsoever to support it. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. This is very consistent with his past behavior, in which he apparently believes that simply asserting something is the same as proving it. It isn’t; argument by assertion is the lamest form of argument. In any case, apparently, Dr. Jay just knows that vaccines cause autism, science be damned. Indeed, he demonstrates this utter belief–not science, belief–that the “proof” will someday be found:

The proof is not there yet. It will be found. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another fifty years and hundreds of court cases to convince the government and the public. Private industry is once again duping the FDA, doctors and the public. The conflicts of interest are obscene and illegal.

The diseases against which we vaccinate are still dangerous and still present in other countries and in America but simple risk/benefit analysis would show that the risks from the way vaccines are manufactured and administered far outweighs the risks of harm from these relatively rare illnesses.

Yeah, Dr. Jay, and The Truth Is Out There. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have taught us this, and Dr. Jay wants to believe. Oh, does he ever want to believe! He wants to believe so much that the repeated repudiations of his beliefs by science and now by the courts have driven him to a level of rage that appears to have unhinged his reason beyond what I’ve ever seen before. And, boy, oh, boy, is he pissed off at the special masters:

They were disdainful and unscientific in their approach and did not gather the needed evidence. In the absence of that evidence, they should have insisted on further studies to assist in the decision-making process.

Vaccines as they are now manufactured and administered trigger autism in susceptible children.

This will be acknowledged by the AMA, the AAP, the CDC and the U.S. government at the same glacial pace these august entities followed in supporting the need to discourage smoking because it causes lung cancer, heart disease and other illness.

Actually, the special masters may have been many things, but disdainful they were not, at least not during the proceedings and at least not to the plaintiffs. Indeed, they showed too much respect to quacks–yes, quacks–who did not deserve such respect. In the end, it was obvious–painfully obvious–that the plaintiffs could not produce a coherent or compelling hypothesis for how vaccines might have caused autism in the three test cases, and any disdain that the special masters demonstrated was not directed at the plaintiffs, but rather at those who had duped them (more on that Monday as well). Remember, these three cases were the very best the plaintiffs thought they had to offer. Also remember that the rules of evidence in the Vaccine Court are considerably laxer than in regular court. Daubert rules do not apply; heck, the plaintiffs don’t even have to produce compelling evidence of causation, only a scientifically plausible-sounding mechanism by which vaccines might have caused autism or other neurologic injury for which compensation was being sought. Even by that very low standard, they failed utterly, and the comparison to how tobacco companies suppressed evidence that smoking causes lung cancer is utterly specious.

But get this. Dr. Jay still thinks he is a scientist:

In the meantime, I’d like to answer a few of the comments to my post.

Zortag comments:

“Dr. Jay is not a scientist, he is a technician – that is what most MDs are. They are highly-trained, highly-skilled, and highly-compensated, but they do for people pretty much what a mechanic does for an Audi. I see no peer-reviewed publications in his biography, no additional training in biomedical research, and no specific expertise in vaccine science. He has no more credibility in telling you that vaccines are unsafe than I, a computer programmer, do.”

Actually, I am a scientist. After high school, I continued my education and trained for twelve years in medical science. Subsequent to that, I have observed thousands of children and families and kept records about their health. That, Zortag, is science. Whether or not testing medicines and vaccines on a thousand people and then administering them to 100 million people is science is the real question.

Medical researchers have been caught manipulating results over and over again.

The stupid, it burns my grief away and turns it into disgust that a fellow physician can say something so utterly dumb. Dr. Jay, I’ve tried to be relatively nice in the past, but here the gloves come off. You’ve asked–nay, begged–for a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence, and Orac rarely turns down such a heartfelt request from a “friend” of the blog. So, I have a message for you:

You are not a scientist. You just aren’t. Really. Now, I will concede that the commenter Zortag is an obnoxious, arrogant twit who doesn’t have clue one what he’s talking about when he labels most MDs mere “technicians,” and on the off chance he ever sees this piece, I’d be more than happy to set him straight on that one with an enormous helping of not-so-Respectful Insolence of his very own. However, there is one gem in the latrine that is Zortag’s comment and that is that he is quite correct that most physicians are not scientists. It’s point I’ve made myself time and time again. You, Dr. Jay, in particular are not a scientist. Knowing a collection of scientific facts and how to apply them to illness is not the same thing as being a scientist. Moreover, you have demonstrated time and time again that you do not understand the scientific method. You believe that your “personal clinical experience” trumps large, well-designed epidemiological studies, refusing to acknowledge just how easily humans are fooled by their own anecdotal experience. But apparently you think your clinical awesomeness is simply too awesome to be led astray by the same cognitive shortcomings to which the rest of us are prone by the simple fact of being human.

And that’s the difference between you and me, between you and an actual scientist. We scientists understand how easily we can be fooled into making the wrong conclusions. We know we are prone to confusing correlation with causation. We know that confirmation bias, tending to remember what fits into our belief systems and to forget what does not, is all too likely to trip us up if we are not on constant guard. Regression to the mean can fool clinicians into thinking that an ineffective remedy works, as has happened to so many “brave maverick doctors” who think that the latest woo targeted against “vaccine injury” cures autism. As Dirty Harry Callahan said in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Well, I know my limitations, and scientists (usually) know theirs, but you clearly do not know yours. Because scientists know their limitations, they have devised and improved over the centuries the scientific method, in which proper methodology and careful controls minimize the chance that normal biases and our normal cognitive shortcomings will lead us astray.

But not brave, brave Sir Jay! He knows he is right. He knows his observations are correct and not due to any of the cognitive shortcomings and biases with which we mere mortals are plagued. If science doesn’t support Dr. Jay’s unwavering belief based on his clinical experience alone that vaccines cause autism, then he rejects the science as false and concocts all sorts of dark conspiracy theories to explain why study after study after study have failed to confirm his belief. Worse, he can’t even cite his own science, but that doesn’t stop him from making blanket statements like this:

I’m not arguing that we should abandon the shot or the vaccine programs which have saved lives. I’m saying that we should evaluate the possible risk from this and other live virus vaccines much more objectively and scientifically than we have in the past. Yes, h4tch, completely abandoning these vaccines programs could lead to disease outbreaks. I don’t recommend dumping vaccines; I recommend changing the level of safety we demand and a rigorous reevaluation of the schedule which now gives a hepatitis shot to a two-hour-old baby followed by six more shots six weeks later. The way we vaccinate lacks solid scientific support and ignores the possibility of increased vaccine safety.

Note that Dr. Jay cannot cite a single scientific or epidemiological study to support his belief that the current vaccine schedule is unsafe or somehow unsupported by science. Seemingly, he simply finds the idea of giving vaccines to a two hour old baby or a six week old baby repugnant (and therefore wrong) and seems to think that the current recommended vaccine schedule was pulled out of Paul Offit’s nether regions. He then combines that with his anecdotal experience, and–voilà!–instant scientific conspiracy designed to protect the nefarious dark lords of pharma and their minions.

Because Dr. Jay Gordon simply can’t acknowledge the possibility that his clinical experience might–just might–have led him astray.

I will conclude with a plea to Dr. Gordon. Please, please, please, stop your whining about how nasty and vicious I am to label you as “antivaccine.” You convince no one, and your last two HuffPo rants have shattered any pretense you might have still maintained that you are anything other than antivaccine to the core. (Steve Novella was right about you.) Give it up and let your antivaccine freak flag fly high, and embrace your inner antivaccinationist! You know you want to. After all, at various times you have said “I don’t give many vaccines,” and one time you even described an incident where you had to be talked into giving recommended vaccines, “respecting the parents’ wishes to vaccinate.” Meanwhile, you spread misinformation about all sorts of horrible “toxins” in vaccines, give speeches to antivaccine rallies in which you butter up the women who are passionately–and erroneously–convinced that vaccines caused their children’s autism, regularly show up on television as the “vaccine skeptic,” and write forewords to books filled with antivaccine nonsense and autism quackery, all the while confidently asserting that vaccines cause autism despite all the strong scientific evidence that argues otherwise.

If that’s not being antivaccine, I don’t know what is.

Comments

  1. #1 wfjag
    February 20, 2009

    I know he’s published in the Univ. of Mich. Law Review, but has he published any articles in medical journals, including your favorite – JPANDS — or are his medical and scientific articles limited to forewords for Jenny and in HuffPo?

  2. #2 Joseph
    February 20, 2009

    Dr. Gordon actually makes some money off of anti-vaccine sentiment. He sells a DVD about vaccines. I assume he also has these seminars from time to time, and they are probably not free. Most of his reputation depends on anti-vaccine sentiment.

    It’s not surprising at all that he’d be terribly upset by the Omnibus verdict, and would attempt to use argument by assertion to try to refute it.

  3. #3 ababa
    February 20, 2009

    The Omnibus ruling obviously will cut into his routine. The diehard anti-vaxers do not need convincing. It’s the many more parents on the fence that he needs to sell books, DVDs, interviews and seminar lectures. These are the people that will take note of the ruling and the avalanche of media associated with it.

    You can only make so much money preaching to the choir.

  4. #4 Badger3k
    February 20, 2009

    To use a paraphrase for Dr Gordon, “Methinks the Dr doth protest too much”.

  5. #5 Interrobang
    February 20, 2009

    So let me get this straight: In Gordonland, saying “There’s no evidence of something” (for which even he has to admit “[t]he proof is not there yet”) is exactly the same as saying, “This mountain of evidence over here, painstakingly collected over 30 or 40 years? Wrong. Doesn’t exist. Pay no attention to the man behind the (smoke-reeky) curtain.” Errr-riiiight…

    Dear Dr. Gordon: I’m not even a scientist and don’t even play one on tv, and even I know that “proof” is for mathematicians and distillers. The rest of us deal with “evidence.” You don’t have proof that vaccines cause autism, and you’re never going to. The problem is, you’re saying these things and you don’t even have evidence. (If you think you do, the rest of us would really like to see it. Real evidence, not just “Well, I watched a whole bunch of people, so I say it does.”)

  6. #6 Jacques Hughes
    February 20, 2009

    I’ve been following this whole vaccine/autism story for a while now. I feel for the families, but they usually don’t know any better. But guys like this one, and all the other charlatans who peddle this kind of quakery, they truly are dangerous.

    No different from all the other snake-oil salesmen throughout history.

    JH

  7. #7 Sam
    February 20, 2009

    We can but hope he’ll shut up but I get the feeling Dr, Jay & co. will be with us for a long time. The human mind is truly amazing in its ability to ignore what doesn’t fit with its idea of the world…..

  8. #8 MartinB
    February 20, 2009

    I have observed thousands of children and families and kept records about their health. … Whether or not testing medicines and vaccines on a thousand people and then administering them to 100 million people is science is the real question.

    You owe me a new irony meter, mine just exploded…

  9. #9 Mu
    February 20, 2009

    After reading the omnibus decisions, I can’t believe he’s still defending the methods tried on those kids. After the descriptions of the “treatments” in the Snyder case, I was just asking me, when did we introduce medical waivers for child abuse laws?
    Regarding the cited comment, Dr. Jay might be having a failed dream of being an actual scientist, and take the recognition from his crowd as a replacement for the recognition from the scientific world he craved.

  10. #10 torgofan
    February 20, 2009

    Let me state very simply, Dr. Gordon is a douche.

  11. #11 D. C. Sessions
    February 20, 2009

    namely Dr. Jay “Whatever You Do, Don’t Call Me Antivaccine” Gordon,

    Shouldn’t that be Dr. Jay “Whatever I Do, Don’t Call Me Antivaccine” Gordon

  12. #12 storkdok
    February 20, 2009

    When I read his posts a few days ago, I thought, “Am I in oppositeland?”

    His statement, “Medical researchers have been caught manipulating results over and over again.” obviously doesn’t apply to Dr. Wakefield, in his eyes.

    His posts are barely coherent. He is getting desperate.

  13. #13 Danimal
    February 20, 2009

    Welcome back Orac!

  14. #14 Prometheus
    February 20, 2009

    Poof! There goes another irony meter! I don’t think I’m ever going to get those burn marks off my desk.

    Here are a couple of my favorites:

    “Actually, I am a scientist. After high school, I continued my education and trained for twelve years in medical science.”

    After high school?!?!?! Let’s see, that’s four years for college, four years for medical school and a three-year pediatric residency – that leaves an entire year for “Dr. Jay” to learn science.

    By the way, did he get a bachelor’s degree in “medical science”?

    What utter cow manure! The man is trying to “pump up” his CV by claiming that he was learning “medical science” as an undergraduate. I don’t know where he went to college (and, actually, I don’t want to know), but undergraduates at every university I’ve ever attended don’t learn how to be “scientists” – that’s what graduate school is for.

    Next favorite Jayism:

    “Subsequent to that, I have observed thousands of children and families and kept records about their health.”

    What a hoot! That’s what doctors do, “Dr. Jay” – they see patients and – by state law – keep records. It’s a pity that “Dr. Jay” hasn’t gone back through those records to see if his recollections (e.g. the children becoming autistic after vaccination) is representative of reality.

    Seriously, can’t “Dr. Jay” open his mouth in public without saying something embarrassing (to himself and his supporters) and incredibly stupid? He should stick to what he knows (whatever that might be) and leave medical science to the scientists.

    Come on, Jay – “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    Prometheus

  15. #15 KeithB
    February 20, 2009

    If he is such a good “scientist” and he has records on “thousands” of children – many probably not vaccinated because of his views – he can do his own data mining and compare the autism rates of vaccinated vs un-vaccinated, and publish in a journal.

    He just has to make sure in the protocol to use those that came to him before any signs of autism – the kids he has been treating from birth, for example.

    Heck, Orac, I bet you wouldn’t mind teaming with him and being co-author on the paper!

  16. #16 ababa
    February 20, 2009

    Jay’s science is his personal experience with his patients like Jenny McCarthy. Ha.

    What I find amazing is how he seems to completely disregard that Jenny wasn’t exactly taking care of herself while pregnant (smoked, drank, partied …). Then Evan is born and she calls him an Indigo child. He gets a vaccine and now she calls him Autistic.

    He is such a fantastic scientist that he doesn’t correlate that Jenny noticed Evan was “special” before vaccines. Or maybe he just hasn’t looked since she tried to scrub it from the web. That’s why you can’t just take a parent’s “sense” as evidence – it is often flawed and sometimes revisionist.

  17. #17 Karl Withakay
    February 20, 2009

    Reading those articles by Dr Gordon is an exercise of the game “Spot the Logical Fallacy”. How many different fallacies can you find?

    I counted about eleven:
    No True Scotsman
    Argument by Assertion
    Argument from Strength of Certainty
    Argument from Personal Incredulity/Repugnance
    Straw Man
    Argument By Pigheadedness
    Burden Of Proof
    False Dichotomy
    Unsupported Statements
    Non Sequitor
    Argument From Adverse Consequences

    In regards to his comment about the special masters: “They were disdainful and unscientific in their approach and did not gather the needed evidence. In the absence of that evidence, they should have insisted on further studies to assist in the decision-making process.”

    Isn’t providing supporting evidence the burden of the claimant, not the judge/jury/special master?

    By the way, the main fuel to the fire of the vaccine manufacturversy seems to be the so called autism “epidemic” and the belief that there has to be an environmental cause for the rise in autism diagnoses. Please check out Prometheus’ latest post at http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=158 which provides good data to support to the position that “epidemic” is due to diagnostic substitution.

  18. #18 Vindaloo
    February 20, 2009

    Dr. Jay != scientist

    Dr. Jay doesn’t even know science.

    Dr. Jay panders to morons and tells them what they want to hear.

    /PhD here.
    //I LOLed at Zortag’s comment and I’d bet a meager paycheck xe’s a PhD

  19. #19 gingerbeard
    February 20, 2009

    Well Prometheus

    “but undergraduates at every university I’ve ever attended don’t learn how to be “scientists” – that’s what graduate school is for.”

    During my undergrad I took courses in experimental design and statistics alongside all of my relevant science courses. I spent entire years doing literature reviews for coursework and before doing my own experiments. I did field work, actually out in shitty rainy fields.I spent several years working in the genetics department laboratory, while an undergrad.

    I, and many of my fellow undergraduate students, had papers published (though obviously not as the principle author). I even had one friend who obtained 2 patents while an undergrad.

    Not sure what you think makes a person a scientist, but my undergrad work was as demanding as my grad studies.

    I agree Dr. Jay cannot make the claim for scientist, but don’t be dissin undergrads who work their ass off actually participating in research.

  20. #20 PalMD
    February 20, 2009

    I am very pleased that your insolence has returned to a world in need. I must say that I’ve been too cranky lately to be as nice as you.

  21. #21 RJ
    February 20, 2009

    Mad props for gingerbeard.

  22. #22 Kev
    February 20, 2009

    Dr Gordon, I’m dad to an autistic child. I just want to tell you that as my child becomes increasingly ostracised by the general public – who are now convinced that no autistic child is vaccinated – that you are one of the people I hold personally responsible for that.

    You stopped being a doctor a long time ago. Around about the time you lost the ability to see what was in front of your nose.

  23. #23 Kelly
    February 20, 2009

    Kev,
    wait. what? If the public believe that vaccines cause autism — wouldn’t they assume autistic children have had vaccines?
    Or are their logic-ometers that broken!?

  24. #24 Kev
    February 20, 2009

    Unfortunately not. They think we’re all rabid antivaxxers.

  25. #25 Diane
    February 20, 2009

    I always find it bizarre when Dr. Jay trots out the ol’ “Why should we vaccinate here in America because all these diseases are rare” gambit–they’re rare because we vaccinate! If he wants to see how “rare” these diseases are when people don’t vaccinate, he can come visit us here in the NW where we had pockets of pertussis, mumps and measles last year.

  26. #26 mekei
    February 20, 2009

    “Damn it, Orac!” Why can’t Dr. Gordon be more like Dr. McCoy and just accept his limitations.

  27. #27 DT35
    February 20, 2009

    Orac, did you get a chance to hear Brian Deer’s lecture at U-M last week? I suppose it covered most of the same information included in his recent newspaper articles, but still I wish I had heard about it in time to make a reservation and attend.

  28. #28 D. C. Sessions
    February 20, 2009

    To paraphrase the famous quote, “… and Jay, you’re no scientist.”

    I have observed thousands of children and families and kept records about their health. … Whether or not testing medicines and vaccines on a thousand people and then administering them to 100 million people is science is the real question.

    I get it! Dr. Jay considers his evidence to be of the same kind, although much less in quantity, as that for homeopathy. So when can we expect him to start practicing Hahnemann’s protocols?

  29. #29 SC
    February 20, 2009

    The diseases against which we vaccinate are still dangerous and still present in other countries and in America but simple risk/benefit analysis would show that the risks from the way vaccines are manufactured and administered far outweighs the risks of harm from these relatively rare illnesses.

    Let me get this straight. People in Africa should vaccinate as much as possible until that eyeblink of a moment in which the utterly miniscule risk from vaccines outweighs the risk of contracting the disease (because this has been reduced by the vaccine) – the same moment at which the disease is on the cusp of being eradicated, after which no one would need to be vaccinated for it. Then they should stop. You, Dr. Gordon, are a moron. A moron.

  30. #30 Prometheus
    February 20, 2009

    My apolgies, Gingerbeard – I was using too broad a brush. What I should have said is that simply obtaining a degree in a scientific discipline does not make someone a scientist. The classwork and “canned labs” of the average biology or chemistry BS degree do not prepare a person to make hypotheses, formulate ways to test them and to read the literature critically.

    That said, there are a growing number of programs where students are encouraged or even required to do real lab work and learn how to “do science”. Sad to say, however, graduates from programs like that are still in the vast minority. We have such a program at my university and most of the biology and chemistry undergrads “opt out” of it.

    Interestingly, of the students who do avail themselves of the program, none are “pre-professional” students (i.e. pre-med, pre-dent).

    Still, you have to admit that it takes a lot of….. of something for “Dr. Jay” to claim that he “trained for twelve years in medical science” after high school.

    From his statements, it would appear that he either forgot all the science he ever learned or was kidding about being “trained for twelve years in medical science”.

    Prometheus

  31. #31 Dangerous Bacon
    February 20, 2009

    Once again, Dr. Jay has drunk deeply of the Pedialyte of antivax foolishness.

    He has managed to lower himself even further in my estimation, and I hadn’t thought that was possible.

    “The proof is not there yet. It will be found. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another fifty years and hundreds of court cases to convince the government and the public. Private industry is once again duping the FDA, doctors and the public. The conflicts of interest are obscene and illegal.”

    Translation: “I’ve still got no evidence to support my hunches, so I’ll fall back on the Big Pharma conspiracy ploy.”

    I wonder if Dr. Jay’s pique at the Autism Omnibus rulings has something to do with plans to write a book cashing in on his sub-celebrity association with Jenny McCarthy. Such marked damage to the vaccine-autism hypothesis lessens the odds of writing a bestseller (or even getting a book contract). And then what becomes of the dream of becoming the next Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, or even the next Dr. Mercola?

  32. #32 D. C. Sessions
    February 20, 2009

    And then what becomes of the dream of becoming the next Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, or even the next Dr. Mercola?

    Why stop there? Maybe his ambition is to be the next Dr. Wakefield, and look at how that is shaping up. No wonder he’s not in a good mood.

  33. #33 Dangerous Bacon
    February 20, 2009

    “Why stop there? Maybe his ambition is to be the next Dr. Wakefield”

    Nah, too science-y. And it takes effort to churn out some semblance of research, even at the pitiful standards of the Geiers writing for JPANDs.

  34. #34 Joseph C.
    February 20, 2009

    Nah, too science-y. And it takes effort to churn out some semblance of research, even at the pitiful standards of the Geiers writing for JPANDs.

    I think D.C. is actually on to something. Dr. Jay enjoys the recognition he gets for his “bravery” in fighting the good fight, but without the fuss of all that bench work that Dr. Wakefield had to do. Just check out all the fawning “THANK YOU DR. GORDON” comments he received on that HuffPost piece that Orac blog bitch slapped him for. If Jay doesn’t get off on that, then I’m Kevin Trudeau.

  35. #35 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 20, 2009

    “We know that confirmation bias, tending to remember what fits into our belief systems and to forget what does not, is all too likely to trip us up if we are not on constant guard.”

    One small problem with your statement Orac: It’s kinda hard to “neutralize” or “dismiss” medical records, video and shot records which provide historical *documentation* which of course has NOTHING to do with perception or wishing it into existence.

    Unless of course, you want to claim that all the doctors were wrong, the video was altered and the shot records were forged.

    Kelli Ann Davis
    D.C. Political Liaison for Generation Rescue

  36. #36 Joseph
    February 20, 2009

    One small problem with your statement Orac: It’s kinda hard to “neutralize” or “dismiss” medical records, video and shot records which provide historical *documentation* which of course has NOTHING to do with perception or wishing it into existence.

    And that’s exactly why the Cedillos lost. The video evidence didn’t match the recollections of the parents. The medical records didn’t match the claimed chronology of events either.

  37. #37 Joseph
    February 20, 2009

    For Kelli Ann I’d like to quote Lingam et al. (2003), which addresses the matter of recollection bias in the part of parents when it comes to autism and vaccines, and how this changed post-Wakefield.

    From August 1997 the reported presence or timing of regression changed in 13 cases. For six of these, regression was mentioned for the first time after August 1997, even though many health professionals had seen these children before this date. In seven cases the recorded timing of onset of regression changed in relation to MMR: six closer, one further away.

  38. #38 Inquisitive Raven
    February 20, 2009

    Let me get this straight. People in Africa should vaccinate as much as possible until that eyeblink of a moment in which the utterly miniscule risk from vaccines outweighs the risk of contracting the disease (because this has been reduced by the vaccine) – the same moment at which the disease is on the cusp of being eradicated, after which no one would need to be vaccinated for it. Then they should stop.

    Steve Novella described this on Science Based Medicine as “playing ‘whack a mole’” with the disease. Which brings up something that hadn’t occurred to me until I first read that piece, which is that if “Big Pharma” really makes that much profit off of vaccines, then the anti-vaxers are playing into their hands. After all, if the disease is eradicated in the wild, like smallpox then the vaccine manufacturers can no longer profit from the vaccine for that disease, since they will no longer be making it for widespread distribution.

    However, if people get panicky about vaccines, and stop using them, then the disease undergoes a resurgence, and eventually people become more scared of the disease than the vaccines again, so they resume vaccinating. Lather, rinse, repeat. Much more profitable. Well, not really, since vaccine manufacturers don’t actually make much profit off of vaccines.

  39. #39 Orac
    February 20, 2009

    One small problem with your statement Orac: It’s kinda hard to “neutralize” or “dismiss” medical records, video and shot records which provide historical *documentation* which of course has NOTHING to do with perception or wishing it into existence.

    Unless of course, you want to claim that all the doctors were wrong, the video was altered and the shot records were forged.

    Kelli Ann! Glad to see you’re reading my blog! You might actually learn something.

    In any case, Joseph beat me to what I had intended to say. The Cedillos lost because video records showed that Michelle had symptoms long before the vaccines that the Cedillos blamed her deterioration on. In fact, I can relate this to Andy Wakefield. Part of the falsification of data is that the actual medical records showed that several of the parents who told Wakefield that their children deteriorated before vaccination, even though the parents told Wakers that it happened within two weeks of MMR vaccination.

    Yes, Kelli Ann. Medical records are a bitch. It’s true; they’re a lot more objective than parents’ memories, and they often contradict parents’ memories. In fact, they show just how often parents misremember.

  40. #40 Joseph
    February 20, 2009

    Another point is that not even video and medical records can control for coincidence, though that didn’t appear to be an issue with the very best test cases the Omnibus petitioners could come up with to illustrate the thimerosal and MMR hypotheses.

  41. #41 Dr Benway
    February 21, 2009

    Where are these awesome video tapes of normal kids pre-vax who become frankly autistic within a couple of weeks of the vax?

    If anyone has such evidence, there are a number of academic departments that would love to review it. Let me know and I’ll post where to send the vids and medical records.

  42. #42 DLC
    February 21, 2009

    So, Dr Gordon has to say that he has all these kids who were examined by board-certified neurologists and declared “normal” or neurotypical before the vaccines who then were documented to have been diagnosed as being somewhere on the autism spectrum in the days following their vaccination ?
    Let’s see them. Time to put up or shut up, Dr Gordon.

  43. #43 snerd
    February 21, 2009

    Once again, apropos:

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/selfish-dummy-mummies-need-consciences-pricked-20090220-8dko.html

    “The educated mother who thinks she knows better than the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists and doctors partly explains why some of Sydney’s richest suburbs have the state’s lowest child immunisation rates.”

  44. #44 storkdok
    February 21, 2009

    @Kelli Ann Davis

    3.5 years ago on one of our visits to Dr. Margaret Baumann, you know her, the renowned REAL AUTISM EXPERT at Mass General Hospital, was examining my then 4 month old son, who was being enrolled into the Siblings Study. I asked her about “regressive autism”. She told me that in their study up to that point, there had not been one case of true “regressive autism”. When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.

    Parents are not experts in development and delayed development, so they don’t know what they have missed, as aptly demonstrated in the Siblings Study. Just because a child has some language that they lose doesn’t mean all of their development was completely normal and on target.

    This was what the Special Masters saw in the Cedillo’s case.

  45. #45 Militant Agnostic
    February 21, 2009

    My irony metert melted when Jay Gordon made the analogy to tobacco-cancer denialism. I (and I am sure most of the readers here as well as Jay Gordon) can remember when the prime tactic of the unpaid smoking cancer link denialist was the anecdote about their grandmother, uncle, aunt, etc. who smoked and lived to be 90.

    This is exactly what Jay Gordon is claiming – his anecdotes and personal experience trump large scale epedemiological studies and the knowledge of the experts in the field. His claim that he is doing science just shows his ignorance of the scientific method.

  46. #46 Alyric
    February 21, 2009

    What bothers me a great deal was the choice of the Petitioner’s Steering Committee of Michelle Cedillo as the test case. She was so obviously not the best choice on the evidence. She was demonstrably autistic way before the MMR and her bowel problems started years after the MMR not even months after. She was certainly the most disabled of the Omnibus candidates but this is not a jury case where such things count.

    What if way back, Powers et al, lawyers for the PSC decided they could make a very nice buck if they could get the parents to believe it was not only possible but a near certainty that they could get a payout. Then the choice of Michelle is a good one because she is the worst affected and among the scientifically illiterate that really counts for something. It also means that this is a rather elaborate scam but while they can keep the parents as true believers, it’s the same cushy deal. So far the parents have remained faithful poor things. They’ve got nothing for their loyalty.

  47. #47 bob
    February 21, 2009

    Well, Kelli Ann, it looks like you’re caught in a bold-faced lie. Any response?

    At least the creationists are lying for their deity. What are you lying for? Dead babies?

  48. #48 Robster, FCD
    February 21, 2009

    Alyric, how large does a conspiracy need to be before it becomes ridiculously large to you? Is it possible that you might be wrong?

  49. #49 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  50. #50 Vindaloo
    February 21, 2009

    Kelli Ann, are you drunk? Or did you read what you quoted or is someone miming for you to copy, paste, and then claim victory no matter what the words say?

  51. #51 Orac
    February 21, 2009

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    Even if that is true, it does not prove that vaccines caused your son’s autism. As I have pointed out time and time again (including this very post), human beings are very prone not just to selective memory but to confusing correlation with causation, and the time when children start developing autism is right around the time when they get a lot of vaccines. By random chance alone, some children will demonstrate their first symptoms within close temporal proximity to vaccination. Take a simple example. If children only got one vaccine between ages 1 and 2, by random chance alone 1/26 of them would exhibit their first symptoms within two weeks of vaccination. Even 1/365 having a reaction within one day would be a significant number of children. Of course, given the number of vaccines children do get, the odds of a regression around the time of a vaccine just by random chance alone is significantly higher than that.

    Again, that is why the scientific method and epidemiology are so important. Without them, especially at the level of individual anecdotes, it is very difficult if not impossible to tease out when correlation does mean causation, and that is where Dr. Jay and you have been led astray. You have confused correlation with causation. The studies have been done ad nauseam, and every time the results are the same. There is no correlation between the two, and children do not demonstrate a higher incidence of autism or regression.

    I realize that neither you nor Dr. Jay will accept that, because it’s been pointed out to you time and time again and you still refuse to accept it. In fact, as I pointed out above, it is not scientists who are arrogant on this issue. We know how easily personal experience can lead us astray. It is people who think their own personal observations and anecdotes trump careful science.

  52. #52 Robster, FCD
    February 22, 2009

    Kelli Ann,

    What makes your kid different from the kids that developed autism after thiomersal was removed or greatly decreased from childhood vaccines? The incidence of ASD from year to year hasn’t changed, so that disproves your hypothesis that thiomersal is the culprit.

    It sounds like you are making an assumption that the note “possible reactions to vaccines” is an admission that vaccines cause autism. You are jumping to a conclusion, discounting that the docs might have observed any of the known and accepted reactions to vaccines. I would call that a gross exaggeration, if not a flat out fabrication.

  53. #53 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  54. #54 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  55. #55 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  56. #56 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  57. #57 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  58. #58 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  59. #59 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  60. #60 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  61. #61 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  62. #62 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  63. #63 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  64. #64 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  65. #65 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  66. #66 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  67. #67 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 21, 2009

    “When she and the other investigators would review all the tapes and home videos from any of the children who the parents thought were progressing normally and then “regressed”, they found very early signs of autism starting at 6 months of age, and being very obvious by 9 months of age when they had not developed joint attention.”

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Which brings me to my original point: Medical records don’t lie. The notations are right there — in my son’s records — and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with me trying to “fabricate” the facts to conform to my “belief system” as Orac states in his post.

    And yes Orac, I read your blog from time to time. And the point is — what??

  68. #68 RJ
    February 22, 2009

    Don’t confuse the issue folks. It’s not an objective assessment of whether or not vaccines caused her child’s autism, it’s that she wants to believe it caused her child’s autism. It’s not her or her husband…no way! It’s the evil concoction called a vaccine, designed and formulated by ‘big pharma’ to afflict her with this burden in life: the task of raising a “damaged” child.

    You are attempting to use logic with someone who has subconsciously chosen to be irrational.

    As for Dr. Jay, this is his business. His posts haven’t offered anything to help. They are just confirmations of the delusion. In other words, all this hoopla is just a free advertising opportunity. “Hey, all you people who still want to deny the evidence, I’m over here!”

  69. #69 storkdok
    February 22, 2009

    @Kelli Ann, you just don’t get it. This proves selective memory bias. Not your ignorant theories.

    Many of these kids received no vaccinations because their parents were scared. The ones who did receive vaccinations were well after 2001, when thimerosal was removed from vaccines. If you went to any real medical meetings on autism, you would hear these reports. I go to the MGH/Harvard/LADDERS Autism conference yearly, to find out what the new findings are in the research world. When we saw Dr. Baumann last month, she stated again, “There is no evidence vaccines are related to autism.”

    I noticed you and your cohorts over at AOA wouldn’t print my reply to the post over there on this subject. Talk about selection bias.

  70. #70 Joseph
    February 22, 2009

    Storkdoc: You prove my point. My son rec’d a plethora of shots containing the FULL amounts of mercury by the time he was 9 months old in 1992-93 and the doc notated in his medical charts “possible reactions to vaccines” after his 6 WEEK baby well visit!

    Just out of curiosity, what were the “possible reactions to vaccines”? Could it have been a fever?

    But wait, your son could not have been diagnosed with autism at age 9 months. That’s impossible.

    I’m guessing your son received vaccines throughout his early childhood, and then got diagnosed with autism. It couldn’t have been any other way, so what does this tell us?

  71. #71 Dedj
    February 22, 2009

    Anyone who seriously thinks that medical records don’t lie has clearly not spent time working with medical records on a professional basis.

    If medical records can fail to be consistent over the persons age, number of children and even what they have been admitted for (all situations I’ve came across, sometimes all in the same person , even by the same authour in the same document), then they may also be wrong over whether a rash or fever is a everyday rash or fever or an iatrogenic one.

    Add in a parent who may be more willing than others to read a query as a suggestion of aetiology, and you have “facts right in the records!” which don’t always mean what the reader thinks they do.

  72. #72 Kelli Ann Davis
    February 22, 2009

    “It is people who think their own personal observations and anecdotes trump careful science.”

    Here’s the science Orac:

    My son got injected with mercury — plain and simple. And there is not ONE study that can demonstrate that the amounts of mercury injected into this system was SAFE. Period.

    So please. Stop the lectures about “careful science” because the fact of the matter is the science has NEVER been done.

    Bottom Line: The day when you or one of your cronies can show me ONE study demonstrating that injecting mercury into an infant is SAFE, that will be the day when I’ll shut up.

    Until then, don’t expect me to alter my message one iota.

  73. #73 Orac
    February 22, 2009

    The day when you or one of your cronies can show me ONE study demonstrating that injecting mercury into an infant is SAFE, that will be the day when I’ll shut up. Until then, don’t expect me to alter my message one iota.

    God, you’re dense. I’m sorry, but it’s just a statement of fact. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Haven’t you ever figured out that the dose makes the poison? Apparently not. Answer me this. If mercury in vaccines is a major cause of autism, why is it that now, seven years after thimerosal was removed from vaccines, autism prevalence hasn’t tumbled? The amount of total exposure of thimerosal has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, but autism prevalence hasn’t fallen to levels seen in the 1980s. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but evidence doesn’t get much more slam-dunk against a role for mercury in vaccines as a mechanism causing autism than that. It just doesn’t.

    Of course, you’re also falling for the fallacy of perfection:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/06/vaccines_the_fallacy_of_the_perfect_solu.php

    In any case, what you are describing is not science; it is anecdotes. I’m sorry if you’re too arrogant to accept that you are just as prone to confusing correlation with causation as I am–or any other human is–and can’t accept that epidemiology and the scientific method are the only way to overcome those cognitive deficiences, but don’t call what you are basing your beliefs on science. It isn’t.

  74. #74 Dedj
    February 22, 2009

    The demand to have an out and out safety study is actually quite painfully dense, and betrays difficulty with information synthesis and absract thinking, both noted problem areas in people with autism.

    One can easily deduce harm by looking for it where one should expect to find it. If it’s not there, it is reasonable to conclude that there was no harm done.

    This has been done multiple times, as Orac may have pointed out to you personally. There are some issues with the studies that have been done (often not noticed by the “vaccine skeptic” camp until the pro-vaccine camp started discussing the studies), but they are overwhelmingly in favour of the “No autism” hypothesis.

    I am in no doubt that had the epidemiological research been in favour of the “vaccine harm” hypothesis, we would not be hearing a peep about direct safety studies from the vaccine skeptic camp.

    I am left in no doubt that direct safety studies would have been considered an unethical and un-nessecary step, had the epidemiological evidence been in the vaccine-skeptics favour.

    We both know this would have been the case. It’s time to stop pretending that only direct safety studies can answer the question and to stop pretending that people with little to no training somehow know how to answer the question better than teams of people who are both relevantly qualified and experienced.

  75. #75 Dedj
    February 22, 2009

    Sorry, my last post was referring to KAD, not Orac.

  76. #76 Indy
    February 22, 2009

    Here is the science Kelli Ann:

    Thimerosal is not mercury the same as common table salt is not chlorine. Chlorine would KILL you if you were exposed to it, yet you consume it every day, probably from a shaker you put on your kitchen table. This is 7th grade chemistry class stuff. If you graduated from high school you should know this.

    Running tests on mercury exposure would be next to no use in proving ANYTHING about vaccines, past or present.

    All you have proven is the fact you have no business at all being a liason to ANYONE concerning anything to do with science. Or is your expertise entirely composed around your personal anecdote?

  77. #77 Jud
    February 22, 2009

    Gonna pick a nit with you, Orac, in advance of your Autism Omnibus post.

    Daubert rules do not apply;

    Re the Autism Omnibus, absolutely correct.

    heck, the plaintiffs don’t even have to produce compelling evidence of causation,

    Also true, but no different than most other non-criminal court proceedings regarding the issue of causation. Here’s a good capsule summary of the applicable burden of proof:

    “The showing of ‘causation-in-fact’ must satisfy the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard…. Under that standard, the petitioner must show that it is ‘more probable than not’ that the vaccination was the cause of the injury. The petitioner need not show that the vaccination was the sole cause or even the predominant cause of the injury or condition, but must demonstrate that the vaccination was at least a ‘substantial factor’ in causing the condition, and was a ‘but for’ cause. Thus, the petitioner must supply ‘proof of a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the vaccination was the reason for the injury….’” [Citations omitted.]

    only a scientifically plausible-sounding mechanism by which vaccines might have caused autism or other neurologic injury for which compensation was being sought.

    Sorry, “plausible-sounding” and “might have caused” don’t square with the summary above, which was quoted directly from the Cedillo decision.

    As I mentioned in discussions on this blog preceding the Omnibus, the burden of proof was not lower than in a regular civil court case. What was lowered were the standards for scientific evidence laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Daubert, particularly the usual requirement that such evidence be in the form of, or be corroborated by, peer-reviewed publication. Note that this still leaves open the usual methods of showing such evidence is unreliable, i.e., testimony by opposing experts and cross-examination.

    In short, though the Autism Omnibus petitioners did not have to submit peer-reviewed studies as evidence, they did have to show a logically consistent path from vaccination to autism that, after being tested on cross-examination, was scientifically superior to any counter-evidence submitted by respondents. This they absolutely failed to do.

  78. #78 Enkidu
    February 22, 2009

    *scratches head* I thought the mercury hypothesis was dead and anti-vaxers had moved on to blaming aluminum and other “toxins?” Someone tell Kelli Ann that she is behind the times! The goalposts have moved and she is no longer in the same stadium!

  79. #79 Orac
    February 22, 2009

    As I mentioned in discussions on this blog preceding the Omnibus, the burden of proof was not lower than in a regular civil court case. What was lowered were the standards for scientific evidence laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Daubert, particularly the usual requirement that such evidence be in the form of, or be corroborated by, peer-reviewed publication. Note that this still leaves open the usual methods of showing such evidence is unreliable, i.e., testimony by opposing experts and cross-examination.

    Regardless of what one things of the Daubert standard (and there is not anywhere near universal approval of the specifics of Daubert), that’s still actually a huge lowering of the standard not to require peer-reviewed publications as evidence or corroboration. It’s an enormous lowering of the evidentiary standard, scientifically speaking. That’s not to say that peer review is any guarantee of validity, but lack of peer review is even much less so. In fact, not requiring Daubert is a lower standard than a regular civil case, regardless of whether or not cross examination and other means are used, because a lot of this evidence wouldn’t have even made it in the door in a regular civil case. Indeed, a lot of the testimony in these three cases would not have been admissible.

  80. #80 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 22, 2009

    “And there is not ONE study that can demonstrate that the amounts of mercury injected into this system was SAFE. Period.”

    If someone gets tried in a court of law, that court is never* going to return a verdict of “innocent”. No matter how innocent the defendant is, no matter how blatantly obvious it is that they’re innocent, even if it turns out that the original charges were, say, based on falsified evidence cooked up by a corrupt individual who had taken a great deal of money on the condition that he tried to get the defendant into hot water and perhaps even hoped to get the defendant’s job if the publicity of the trial caused the defendant to lose that job — even then, the verdict would at best be “not guilty.”

    The truth is that the defendant is innocent. The system cannot come closer than “not guilty.” Anyone who tried to argue that they were entitled to ignore all the evidence pointing to the innocence of the defendant simply because the system did not deliver the verdict “innocent” would clearly be dishonest and/or dumb.

    * There has actually been at least one exception, but the declaration of innocence came after the normal court procedure had been suspended.

  81. #81 trrll
    February 23, 2009

    And there is not ONE study that can demonstrate that the amounts of mercury injected into this system was SAFE.

    It’s worse than that. There is not ONE study that can demonstrate that ANYTHING is SAFE. Not strained prunes, not mashed potatoes. Certainly we can detect no evidence of harm, for strained prunes or for vaccines, but no scientist will ever declare that it certain that no child, past or future, could develop autism as a result of eating strained prunes. The same goes for vaccines.

    What science CAN show, and has shown, is that the risk (if any) of vaccine-induced autism is so small as to be undetectable–and far, far less than the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

  82. #82 Alligator
    February 23, 2009

    As I mentioned in discussions on this blog preceding the Omnibus, the burden of proof was not lower than in a regular civil court case.

    Correct, but “close calls regarding causation are resolved in favor of injured claimants” because “the Vaccine Act does not contemplate full blown tort litigation in the Court of Federal Claims.” Althen v. Sec’y of HHS. and Knudsen v. Sec’y of HHS.

    What was lowered were the standards for scientific evidence laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Daubert,

    Assuming that you’re referring to the standard for admitting scientific evidence, you’re technically correct. The Courts of Federal Claims are not bound by Daubert (or any rules arising from the Federal Rules of Evidence), but Daubert is generally used to determine whether evidence is admissible in vaccine injury cases. From Fields v. Sec’y of HHS:

    After Terran [which affirmed application of Daubert in NCVIA cases], decisions from judges of the Court of Federal Claims have consistently cited to Daubert. E.g. De Bazan v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 70 Fed. Cl. 687, 699 n.12 (2000) (“A special master assuredly should apply the factors enumerated in Daubert in addressing the reliability of an expert witness’s testimony regarding causation.”)

    So Daubert is used by convention in “vaccine court.”

    particularly the usual requirement that such evidence be in the form of, or be corroborated by, peer-reviewed publication.

    Daubert does not require that evidence be in the form of, or corroborated by, a peer-reviewed publication to be admissible. All of the Daubert factors are non-exclusive, and the opinion itself explains that “the fact of publication (or lack thereof) in a peer reviewed journal thus will be a relevant, though not dispositive, consideration in assessing the scientific validity of a particular technique or methodology on which an opinion is premised.”
    You may be conflating the issues of admissibility (is the proffered evidence unreliable?) and evidentiary weight/value (if no, how reliable is it?). This is easy to do because courts use the Daubert factors to evaluate both issues. Evidence is frequently admitted because it has been published and peer reviewed, or because peer-reviewed publications indicate that it is not unreliable. Lack of publication or peer-reviewed corroboration, however, only affects the weight/value of admitted evidence.
    In short, Daubert has never required peer review, although courts have frequently recognize peer review as the easiest way to determine how much weigh a piece of evidence should receive: “It goes to the weight of the evidence, not admissibility.” Claimants are far more likely to receive compensation with a NCVIA claim than a tort claim because Congress mandated that close calls be resolved in favor compensation.

  83. #83 Miltant Agnostic
    February 23, 2009

    To get a perspective of how much MERCURY was INJECTED into BABIES, could someone put this in units of cans of tuna fish.

    I know that we are comparing methyl and ethyl mercury here and different routes of adminstration but I think this helps get a perspective on how small the quantities are. Also, how high can mercury levels get in breast milk?

  84. #84 Jud
    February 23, 2009

    Orac wrote: Regardless of what one thinks of the Daubert standard (and there is not anywhere near universal approval of the specifics of Daubert), that’s still actually a huge lowering of the standard not to require peer-reviewed publications as evidence or corroboration. It’s an enormous lowering of the evidentiary standard, scientifically speaking.

    No argument there. I was making the (admittedly somewhat pedantic) point that as a legal matter it wasn’t the *burden of proof* that was lowered in the Omnibus proceedings, it was one element of the *evidentiary standard*.

    But pay careful attention to what lowering the evidentiary standard actually did and did not accomplish. It allowed testimony and documents that may otherwise have been excluded, but it did *not* require the Special Masters to give any particular credence to that testimony or those documents.

    This may have resulted in respondents having to rebut or cross-examine where they otherwise might have been able to exclude if the peer review requirement had been in place. However, the rebuttal and cross-examination can also be seen as giving respondents an additional opportunity to show the weaknesses in petitioners’ cases.

    Alligator: While most Daubert indicia of reliability/admissibility of scientific evidence apply in vaccine injury cases, the peer review requirement in particular does not. See the discussion of the Capizzano ruling in the first full paragraph on page 23 of the special master’s decision in the Hazlehurst case (decision at ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/vaccine/Campbell-Smith%20Hazlehurst%20Decision.pdf).

  85. #85 Joseph
    February 23, 2009

    My son got injected with mercury — plain and simple

    It’s not plain and simple, and I think this is the part that Kelli Ann and most anti-vaxers don’t get.

    If any amount of mercury were toxic, then tuna sandwiches should be banned. Living on planet Earth should be banned, for that matter.

  86. #86 Mu
    February 23, 2009

    At .3 ppm mercury, your 6 oz can of tuna has about 50 micrograms of mercury. Unless they had some real (big, grown and with time to accumulate yellowfin or similar) tuna in it, than the sky is the limit.
    For comparison, the flue shots that still contain Thimerosal have about 12.5 micrograms of mercury per dose, or the same as a quarter can.

  87. #87 dean
    February 23, 2009

    “Kelli Ann! Glad to see you’re reading my blog! You might actually learn something.”

    No she won’t – why admit she’s wrong and give up a cushy position?

    As she said, nothing you say will make her quit lying.

  88. #88 Alligator
    February 23, 2009

    Jud:

    While most Daubert indicia of reliability/admissibility of scientific evidence apply in vaccine injury cases, the peer review requirement in particular does not. See the discussion of the Capizzano ruling in the first full paragraph on page 23 of the special master’s decision in the Hazlehurst case

    I thought I made addressed this in my earlier comment, but your reply and another look at that comment shows that I didn’t “connect the dots,” if you will. What I was trying to say was that Daubert does not have a peer review requirement even outside of vaccine court. All of the Daubert factors are not intended to be exhaustive or to create a multi-part test where each factor must be satisfied. As page 23 of the Hazlehurst decision notes, “Factors relevant to evaluating an expert’s theory may include, but are not limited to…” (emphasis mine). As I understand it, you’re arguing that Daubert requires peer-reviewed evidence outside of vaccine court. The Supreme Court explained in Daubert that peer review, like the other factors, was not a mandatory.

    The discussion of Capizzano seems to say only that claimants are not required to submit any particular type of evidence to prove their theories. If, however, they submit scientific evidence, then the special master must evaluate the reliability of the evidence, and Daubert is an appropriate framework for that evaluation. Because the Daubert factors do not comprise a four-part test, I see Capizzano as addressing a recurring issue in vaccine-injury claims, specifically assertions that a claimant must introduce epidemiologic studies or other types of evidence. How do you see that paragraph as (to paraphrase what I see as your argument) acknowledging that peer review is mandatory in cases that aren’t vaccine-injury claims?

    Daubert, in its gatekeeping role, is a very low bar. Forensic “science” passes Daubert, even though it’s not falsifiable and is peer-reviewed like creation science is peer-reviewed. It seems that you’re taking issue with the standard of causation for off-table injuries, which isn’t as stringent as the tort standard for causation.

  89. #89 kemibe
    April 23, 2009

    “Props to the doctor for refraining from using all caps as well”

    And an alternating marquee with flashing text.

  90. #90 Houston Lawyer
    March 18, 2011

    Experts and doctors alike stated over and over again that we need not continue studying this issue because there was just no proof.

    Let me state very simply, vaccines can cause autism.

    No real scientist would encourage us to stop studying this possibility.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.