Respectful Insolence

Readers may have noticed that we’ve had a minor antivaccine troll infestation in a couple of previous posts. It’s no big deal of course, hardly worth my attention–except for one thing. That one thing is that a certain member of the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, for which no evidence that vaccines are not associated with autism is strong enough to penetrate its collective Borg-like hivemind and no study suggesting that vaccines are associated with autism is too execrable not to trumpet to the high heavens as “vindication” that the antivaccine cult is correct, arrived to tell us in no uncertain terms why the antivaccine movement has much more in common with a cult religion than it does with anything rational.

In response to my comment that “no amount of science…will ever convince them that vaccines don’t cause autism,” what to my wondering eyes should appear but Jake Crosby showing up in the comments to confirm that I am absolutely right about this:

“Amount” doesn’t matter. A million “studies” claiming the Earth were flat wouldn’t make it true. Likewise, pseudostudies claiming no association to autism consistent with overwhelming evidence of a CDC-cover up will only further convince me that vaccines cause autism.

This is the mindset we’re dealing with in Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, J.B. Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, and the rest of the antivaccine movement. They all know that vaccines cause autism and are uninterested in anything that might challenge that belief. Science doesn’t matter. Evidence doesn’t matter. Epidemiology doesn’t matter. Reason itself doesn’t matter. None of them matters, other than how they can be twisted to make post hoc conclusions that support the antivaccine belief system, and any scientific evidence conflicting with that belief system must to them be the result of a CDC or big pharma coverup. This is all just like a cult, where, the more evidence is presented to members that they are in a cult, the more tightly they cling to their cultish beliefs.

I love Jake’s quote. I love it because it shows me what we’re dealing with in, free from the linguistic calisthenics of someone like David Kirby, who is far too clever ever to state it so baldly but, as you will see if you examine his writings carefully, is every bit as much a member of the cult as Jake. He’s just able to disguise it better. At the same time, I hate Jake’s quote because it shows that science will never be enough to convince the hardcore members of antivaccine movement that vaccines do not cause autism.

After all, Jake just said so.

Comments

  1. #1 Joseph
    April 11, 2009

    There are multiple levels to that. Jake will not only not accept evidence that falsifies the vaccine/autism link. He will also not accept any evidence that falsifies the CDC “cover-up” he claims exists. He lives in a hermetically-sealed closed circle, where all he does is defend everything anti-vax, no matter how despicable or preposterous.

    (BTW, he finds it suspicious that some of my posts show up as #1 in Google searches :)

  2. #2 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    To make it even worse – once Jake gets his book on autism published , he will be a ‘published authour’ and will have even more cachet and respectability in the vaccine=autism crowd.

    He’s about the best they have. He’s inexperienced and irrelevantly qualified, but he has a form of autism, is at a decent uni, and he agrees with them. They must have creamed themselves when he applied to AoA.

  3. #3 Iason Ouabache
    April 11, 2009

    You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

  4. #4 penn
    April 11, 2009

    Sigh, Jake apparently doesn’t realize that his metaphor actually undermines his argument. Scientific observations and experiments proved the Earth was roughly spherical over 2600 years ago. The only fact that supports a flat earth is that it appears that way in day-to-day life. This fact is readily incorporated into the spherical earth theory by assuming the Earth is such a large sphere that the curvature is indiscernible on small scales. No well designed study would ever support the theory of a flat earth. One could only agree with the flat earth hypothesis via ignorance. This is apparently what Jake has decided to do with regards to autism and vaccines.

    He made up his mind that there must be a connection a priori, and has decided that paranoid delusion is the best way to address the evidence against his beloved theory. Does Jake actually critique the studies that have been done beyond putting quotes around “studies” and claiming a massive conspiracy?

  5. #5 Pliny-the-in-Between
    April 11, 2009

    Religiosity can unfortunately never be defeated by facts. It’s the same with the ID creationists. The god of the gaps may get more obscure but is almost impossible to eradicate. It’s the same kind of thinking. When someone has found ‘truth’ their response to inconvenient facts is pretty mechanical. It’s why it’s so important to stress logic and critical thinking in the public schools.

  6. #6 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 11, 2009

    There was a scientific paper “Unskilled and Unaware of It” published about ten years ago which studied the phenomenon of those who are incompetent in a given field but don’t realize it. A common factor they found in such people was that they not only lack the knowledge of how to be competent in such fields, but they in fact lacked the knowledge of how to judge competence in such fields.

    Jake is demonstrating exactly that meta-incompetence regarding science. Jake, if you’re reading this, you probably think I’m merely insulting you. I’m not. I’m saying that unwillingness to accept evidence that doesn’t match your current worldview is a mark of scientific incompetence — not its opposite.

    Scientists have confidence in certain ideas because those ideas have been subjected to testing designed to distinguish true ideas from false ideas. You present us your ideas and you tell us “this is how confident I am in my ideas: I am pre-emptively rigging all tests in my mind so that they support my ideas! If the results support my ideas, I accept those results; if the results contradict my ideas, I dismiss the tests as ‘consistent with a CDC cover-up’!” You may in fact convince people that you really do seriously believe in a vaccine-autism link, but if your goal is to convince people that your ideas deserve to be believed, you are moving steadily away from your goal, not getting closer.

  7. #7 storkdok
    April 11, 2009

    They live in an alternate universe. They are not even in contact with reality. Their fervor is definitely cultish. There is no way to reach them, they are unreasonable.

    The best thing we can do is to reach out to the parents of the newly diagnosed children to teach them what the evidence really shows. They need to be educated on EBM.

    There is legislation being introduced to force the medical insurance companies to cover the costs of treating children with autism. Right now, what I have seen, it states that it must be evidence based to be covered. But the listservs are all atwitter about “forcing them to cover the biomedical/DAN services”.

  8. #8 JKW
    April 11, 2009

    Thanks to Antaeus Feldspar for the link to that paper. I will be sharing that it my students next week.

    What penn said.

  9. #9 Rjaye
    April 11, 2009

    While we can argue with Jake as though he were an adult, I would caution people he is a very young man with AS, and as such is five or six years behind. He argues with the fervor of a young teen, if that. He is regurgitating what his parents are telling him. It’s his parents who are coaching him, and given they are the editors of his blog, I would wonder how much is actually them checking his “answers,” and how much is actually him.

    This is an example of what I would call child abuse. I hope he has not been chelated or given Lupron. But given the source, my hopes aren’t high…

  10. #10 Chris
    April 11, 2009

    Rjaye, exactly! I often describe my oldest son as a 15 year old in a 20 year old body.

  11. #11 Jake Crosby
    April 11, 2009

    If I am so “unwilling” to believe vaccines don’t cause autism for equating those “studies” claiming they do not to the belief that the earth is flat, then Paul Offit is equally unwilling to believe that vaccines DO cause autism for making that belief analogous to the flat earth belief in his own book.

  12. #12 Chris
    April 11, 2009

    Jake, young man, what does “belief” have to do with it? What is needed in facts and data, something you seem to have trouble grasping.

    Again, why are you here? Shouldn’t you be concentrating on school work?

  13. #13 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    As a side note, I must add that people with AS tend to have impaired social development, which in some cases can present as impaired intellectual or emotional development.

    In contrast, some people with AS can present as very mature, serious and formal, fully capable of mature factual discussion. Some can become the ‘go-to’ expert on their special interest.

    If Jake is incapable of chasing up secondary references, sticking to his arguement, admitting when primary sources contradict him or of not using irrelevant data to make weaker assumptions, then that is part of who and what Jake is – it’s not an intrinsic part of AS.

  14. #14 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    Jake – that’s not even a remotely accurate summary of Offit’s comparison.

    Offit’s comparison noted that die-hard flat earthers will believe the earth is flat regardless of amount or quality of data to the contrary, up to and including misinterpreting data to fit thier beliefs.

    You indicated that the mere existence of data to the contrary doesn’t make a convincing counter-arguement (which – suprisingly given your appaling track record – is actually true). You then messed up a good start by going on to very heavily imply that data to the contrary CANNOT be of sufficient quality as long as it disagrees with you, and any disagreeing evidence will actually serve only to reinforce your belief.

    Ironically you made the exact same analogy except you (unwittingly) made it from the viewpoint of a flat earther.

    You can’t even read properly – the only person who brought up flat earth beliefs in this thread was you. The main gist of Oracs’ post was the belief you stated whilst making the comparison – not the comparison itself.

  15. #15 RxnMan
    April 11, 2009

    If I am so “unwilling” to believe vaccines don’t cause autism for equating those “studies” claiming they do not to the belief that the earth is flat, then Paul Offit is equally unwilling to believe that vaccines DO cause autism for making that belief analogous to the flat earth belief in his own book.

    Ah, the fallacy of “open-mindedness”

  16. #16 H. Broderix Wu-Peddle of the Gölpost-Schifft Institute
    April 11, 2009

    The only true CULT impertaining to this issue is the CULT of SCIENCE….

    Mr. Crosby addresses the “studies” and “evidence” that pile upon themselves in the bowers of the SCIENCE CULTISTS’ opulence.

    What REASON would we have to accept these totems of your EMPIRICIST EMPIRE? These lifeless FACTS ~~ contortioned into favorabilities by meek little SERVANTS and TOOLS of the Pharmacidal Medicoscientific ESTABLISHMENT ~~ are as nothing before the FEET of the honest-to-All Truth of Intuition.

    Ms. McCarthy’s pure maternal Knowing through her child is the PROFOUND Holy Grail that rests ever, ever outside the grasp of the lesser minds of younger souls still teething on the Finite.

    The post hoc, Sirs and Madams, is in the TEMPLE ~~ nay, the BABYLONIAN TOWER ~~ of your own BLIND SERVITUDE to the cult of naturalism!! ….And with the “more evidence is presented to members that they are in a cult, the more tightly they cling to their cultish beliefs,” right? Just like YOU operatives of Western Medicine, as “evidence” amounts in the form of Pharma-paid vacations, their priceless swag, and the attendant Illuminati privileges you all no doubt enjoy!!!

    How does it feel to be clinging tightly to WRONG?!?!

  17. #17 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    The worrying thing about the whole vaccine-skeptic movement is that they have made it harder to tell who is real and who is paradoy.

    Right up until I saw the name, I thought Wu-Peddle was a serious anti-vaxxer.

  18. #18 H. Broderix Wu-Peddle of the Gölpost-Schifft Institute
    April 11, 2009

    You SHOULD be WORRYING about MUCH MORE than that ~~ soon Mother Gaia shall be FREED from the shackles of Western patriarchy to ANOINT those chosen for, say, the measles (those whom COLD-HEARTED CLOSED-MINDED science brands as protected by “herd immunity“) in the manner of Her Earthly Design!!!

    Welcome to the time of your denouement, SERVANTS of RATIONALITY: a new age dawns!!

    ….A dim age….

  19. #19 Asplomat
    April 11, 2009

    Rjaye said “While we can argue with Jake as though he were an adult, I would caution people he is a very young man with AS, and as such is five or six years behind”

    I’d take offense to this statement, being an adult (albeit a few years older than Jake) with AS. At his age, from a social perspective, I was certainly stunted. Still am, to a certain extent as far as NT society is concerned. But intellectually? I was just as able at 18 as I am today as an aspiring Ph.D. candidate of 27.

    It is very easy to marginalize him based on a presumed lack of intellect, which is generally not the case (Hans Asperger himself called his original study group of children ‘little professors’ for their expertise upon individual obessions). Personally, I think that Jake has not so much been brainwashed, but is more the victim of the easy trust most people with Asperger’s have, until it is generally beaten out of us.

    From the sounds of his previous semi-coherent rants about how he believes he would be far more successful without his AS (regardless of the philosophical consideration of whether he would be himself sans ASD), and that he had to “fight his way out of special education” it sounds like he’s been far more sheltered from the cruelty of peers in mainstream education that his older Asperger’s counterparts were prior to the introduction of the DSM-IV and more widespread diagnosis. I wonder just how much of a favour that sheltering was to him.

    Personally, Jake, I really wonder why you support J.B. Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, and their ilk. I’m not sure whether you realize it or not, but you’re a political tool, useful whilst you parrot the party line, easily marginalized as not ‘really autistic’ once you cross the party line, just like many other autistics and people with AS who disagree with the idea that we are “toxic wastelands.” I guarantee you that if you ask certain hard questions as the goalposts of the vaccine movement continue to shift, and as movement rhetoric begins to circle around certain tropes of the political fringe such as “controlling elites”, you will find yourself dumped as the pet Aspie with remarkable speed.

    Just read, and watch your comrades-in-arms, the “warrior parents” as time goes by (note the language of combativeness, of violence). I wonder whether you’ll be quite as enthralled with their cause in years to come

  20. #20 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    phenomenon of those who are incompetent in a given field but don’t realize it. A common factor they found in such people was that they not only lack the knowledge of how to be competent in such fields, but they in fact lacked the knowledge of how to judge competence in such fields.

    The Dunning-Kruger effect, it’s everywhere.

  21. #21 Doazic
    April 11, 2009

    Damn, I thought us Aspies were smart enough to not fall for this nonsense.

  22. #22 The Perky Skeptic
    April 11, 2009

    I have to chime in and say that I have ALWAYS felt myself to be a few years behind my peers in terms of emotional development. I see the same thing in my son, too– he’s about seven or eight intellectually and about three emotionally. For some of us it does seem to be characteristic of Asperger’s.

  23. #23 storkdok
    April 11, 2009

    “Personally, I think that Jake has not so much been brainwashed, but is more the victim of the easy trust most people with Asperger’s have, until it is generally beaten out of us.”

    How sad, yet very true. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Asplomat.

  24. #24 Jake Crosby
    April 11, 2009

    No Dejd, that wasn’t Paul Offit’s complete use of the analogy. He used this analogy as the reason for why a TV journalist who reported on the IOM Report should have only brought on Harvey Fineberg to misrepresent the public with his low-grade fraud.

    Meanwhile, Offit was not surprisingly opposed to bringing on David Kirby for a televised debate. After all, Kirby knows why that Big Tobacco-style pseudoepidemiology parroted by the elitist IOM is nothing but a garbage collection.

    That said, it’s quite obvious that your pervasive claims about how I can’t comprehend properly are merely a projection of your own insecurities. You’re like Brian Deer who can’t even get the facts right about his own witness.

    Asplomat said,
    “but is more the victim of the easy trust most people with Asperger’s have”

    Thank you for that accurate description of yourself and other NDs.

    Orac said:
    “and any scientific evidence conflicting with that belief system must to them be the result of a CDC or big pharma coverup.”

    Like this CDC cover-up of children getting lead-poisoned from tainted water:

    “Health agency covered up lead harm

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention withheld evidence that contaminated tap water caused lead poisoning in kids.”
    http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2009/04/10/cdc_lead_report/

    That right, your “heroes” did this. And it wasn’t even the CDC that poisoned that water, they were just negligent about it. Think about how much of a reason they have to cover-up their contributions to the autism epidemic due to the MMR and mercury in other vaccines they recommend.

    Past posts of Orac to me:

    “Jake, you simply do not have the requisite background knowledge and experience to know what you are talking about. I’m sorry if saying so offends you, but sometimes a dose of reality is needed when a young man talks smack on something about which he is clueless.”

    “I really urge you to be more careful when you post, as you really don’t have the background to know what you’re saying on this matter. You don’t understand how IRBs work, how they are put together, and what their mandate is, any more than J.B. Handley knows about clinical trial ethics. (His “One Wing” post was so ridiculous and demonstrated such an ignorance or willful misunderstanding of clinical trial ethics that I was tempted to apply some not-so-Respectful Insolence to it, but decided that he thrives on the attention and conflict too much.)”

    “I don’t know why I bother with you, because you are so willfully dense on this matter and apply such a double standard; so I’ll make it very, very simple. You are completely wrong on this issue. You do not know what you are taliking about. I can’t put it more simply than that. Your citing of the relevant rules on the constitution of an IRB goes against your argument.”

    “Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.”

    Do those quotes sound like the words of someone willing to listen and consider both sides to the argument? Do you know how frustrating it must be for me when I encounter someone who essentially says “black is white?” The fact that you call people you disagree with “antivaccinationist,” when you don’t even know enough about vaccines themselves is all the more telling. You couldn’t even inform me of how long my meningitis vaccine would last before I need to get a booster.

  25. #25 Kelli Ann Davis
    April 11, 2009

    “Again, why are you here? Shouldn’t you be concentrating on school work?”

    Well gee Chris, considering this whole blog piece is about him don’t you think he has a fundamental right to respond to it if he so chooses?

    So, on the same condescending note, “Don’t you have a better place to stick your nose?” (Unless of course you’ve been hired by Orac as his bona-fide, muscle man/woman moderator.)

    Kelli Ann Davis
    D.C. Political Liaison for Generation Rescue and a Jake Crosby supporter.

  26. #26 Asplomat
    April 11, 2009

    Quoth Jake Crosby “Asplomat said,
    “but is more the victim of the easy trust most people with Asperger’s have”

    Thank you for that accurate description of yourself and other NDs.”

    Sounds like you’re one step away from using the term “sheeple” – yet another term of the political fringe on both sides of the spectrum. And amusingly, Jake, being overly trusting is a well-known and documented facet of Asperger’s Syndrome – not just those of the Neurodiversity movement. I had that aspect of my personality (sometimes literally) beaten out of me long ago. Judging from the content of your remarks, I strongly suspect that you did not.

  27. #27 Mu
    April 11, 2009

    Wow, Orac, you nearly got them all; if JMc just could read and be able to respond in her threads.

  28. #28 Joseph
    April 11, 2009

    @H. Broderix: Is that sarcasm, or the mindset of the antivaccinationist revealed Part II?

    Sorry, I sometimes can’t tell.

  29. #29 Joseph
    April 11, 2009

    Jake Crosby has gone as far as defending anti-vax statements like “autistic adults do not exist.” That’s just to give you an idea of his level of religiosity.

  30. #30 Doazic
    April 11, 2009

    Could we focus on criticizing the content of Jake’s statements and not discard them on the basis of his neurological condition?

  31. #31 LMM
    April 11, 2009

    I would caution people he is a very young man with AS, and as such is five or six years behind

    I’m joining in on the bandwagon: being “very young” and having AS means nothing. I’m currently a senior grad student with AS: should my arguments be taken less seriously than my co-workers?

    The level of condensation assumed in your claim is mind-blowing. Being disabled doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re *wrong*.

  32. #32 Asplomat
    April 11, 2009

    Doazic said”Could we focus on criticizing the content of Jake’s statements and not discard them on the basis of his neurological condition?”

    Works for me.

    Take this little gem “Think about how much of a reason they have to cover-up their contributions to the autism epidemic due to the MMR and mercury in other vaccines they recommend.”

    Really. If only there was a tangible link…oh, wait! there isn’t! Wakefield was debunked earlier this year as a greedy, unprincipled researcher with undisclosed conflicts of interest that border on the grotesque, his studies being unreplicable. As far as the mercury hypothesis is concerned, you might want to read this:

    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/autism/Expert%20Reports/Mead_03-215V/ExEE_Rodier_Report_03-215.pdf

    A report from Dr. Patricia Rodier, one of the expert witnesses in the Autism Omnibus trial, taking to pieces the Autism = Mercury Poisoning hypothesis. I found it quite amusing that large number of her sources were published years prior to Bernard. et al’s paper “Autism: A novel form of mercury poisoning.”

    However, Doazic, note that whatever criticism is made of the content, it will be dismissed as “the black propaganda of controlling elites” or some other such garbage from the tinfoil hat brigade. It’s going to be interesting to see just how long it takes Age of Autism to source material from Alex Jones, or start prating on about a global Zionist conspiracy to poison all their kids for some obscure reason.

  33. #33 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    “No Dejd, that wasn’t Paul Offit’s complete use of the analogy.”

    Irrelevant, even in the unlikely event that you have properly understood your source. No-one in this thread brought up the flat earth comparison until you did.

    You were not disparaged for using the analogy, but for your thinking behind it and the statements that followed it, thus your attempt at playing ‘Gotcha’ with Offit fails.

    Sorry, but you really should stick to the point next time.

    “Meanwhile, Offit was not surprisingly opposed to bringing on David Kirby for a televised debate”

    I’m not suprised either – it would look much better on Kirby’s CV than Offits – or any expert that is likely to be invited to the show. Kirby is irrelevantly trained and qualified, and his only connection to autism and the whole vaccine issue is a book published some years ago now.

    There is nothing about Kirby that elevated him above the average autism of vaccine expert from the local hospital/college. There is no reason to have him on a show except for the fact that he is a recognised name.

    “You couldn’t even inform me of how long my meningitis vaccine would last before I need to get a booster”

    Woah! If you really think lack of knowledge over trivia like above is indicative of lack of understanding – as opposed to lack of knowledge over essential differences as you display – then you really will struggle to retain a sense of self-esteem if you ever should graduate.

    Sorry, but from the first post to the last you have shown very little comprehension of what is going on.

    “That said, it’s quite obvious that your pervasive claims about how I can’t comprehend properly are merely a projection of your own insecurities.”

    Not really – you’ve provided ample evidence that you have difficulties with contextual and subtextual comprehension. An example of this is our ‘debate’ over minimata disease. Despite telling you exactly who my sources where – the source of your source and the go-to experts for minimata disease – you nevertheless accused me of believing that I knew more than the local experts – despite my source being the local experts.

    If you are given several links, instructions on how to use those links, and are directly told how the source relates to your own arguement – and yet still get it so utterly wrong as to end up with the exact opposite conclusion – then it’s save to say that you have some comprehenion issues. This is just one example I can remember, and I know others have many more.

    Another being your silly arguement that some substances are taken up quicker through IM than IV. Although true – and I actually agreed and told you why it’s true – we were talking about the same substance, thus it’s irrelevant wheter ‘some’ substances are quicker IM than IV – only wheter the substance concerned is. You didn’t comprehend this and still argued on for several posts about it. If you did comprehend – you certianly didn’t show it.

    Normally you’d be expected to be allowed to make such elementary mistakes – you are after all untrained, inexperienced and unqualified in any medical or allied health profession – but you are in a artificially elevated position of power. Calling you on your mistakes of logic and facts is something that should be done and needs to be done in order to mitigate the damage you’ll be capable of doing in the future.

    No doubt, you will accuse me of projecting again.

  34. #34 Dedj
    April 11, 2009

    “Do those quotes sound like the words of someone willing to listen and consider both sides of the argument?”

    Yes. Being willing to listen to both sides of the arguement DOES NOT mean having to be willing to listen to everyone on both sides of the arguement.

    If a person demonstrates that they lack the ability to form a coherent, cogent and factual arguement, then you are not under any responsibility to listen to them – even if you would otherwise listen to the same arguement from a competant proponent.

    Being willing to listen is NOT the same being willing to listen regardless. You, the individual, are not the arguement. Yet another thing you don’t understand.

  35. #35 ababa
    April 11, 2009

    Kelli Ann Davis
    D.C. Political Liaison for Generation Rescue and a Jake Crosby supporter.

    Kelli Ann, exactly how much money has Generation Rescue put into research and exactly how much money goes into paying lobbyists like yourself, advertising and “administrative costs”?

    Don’t worry, you needn’t answer. We already know that from their publicly available tax documents. And you have the sheer unmitigated gall to claim that “Big Pharma” is profiting at the expense of children?

  36. #36 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 11, 2009

    If there were a million studies that explained how the world was really flat and accounted for why we had thought it was round and how that evidence had been by and large misinterpreted then yes we would conclude that the Earth was flat, wouldn’t we?

  37. #37 get to know the troll
    April 11, 2009

    Jake,

    Off topic, but I am curious. Aren’t you concerned that you’re amassing a mountain of reference-able stupid with your name undersigned?

    You may quickly give the likes of John Best and Harold Doherty a run for their money.

    If that does not concern you, can you explain why it doesn’t (for the benefit of those who might learn from such a perspective)?

  38. #38 Joseph
    April 11, 2009

    I have to agree that using AS as a quick way to discredit someone’s views is condescending and in bad taste. It could be used (and it is used) to dismiss the arguments put forth by those of us who completely disagree with Jake as well.

    But from a scientific perspective, I was also wondering if there’s any factual basis to believing that autistics are less rational compared to non-autistics of the same level of intelligence. Well, apparently not. See this and this. (Of course, as in most studies of autistic strengths, the strengths are portrayed as impairments or negatives, but you get the idea.)

    That’s not to say Jake is being rational. At the individual level, Jake can be anything. Autistics are as diverse as any other group of people.

  39. #39 ababa
    April 11, 2009

    Kelli Ann Davis said: Well gee Chris, considering this whole blog piece is about him don’t you think he has a fundamental right to respond to it if he so chooses?

    How much you want to bet Dan and Kim are going to have a little conversation with Jake on his “fundamental right to respond” when he has conceded the entire point of their opposition in a single post on a blog where they cannot wipe the evidence clean? Mom and Dad’s editorial control just got expanded to include Jake’s blog comments.

  40. #40 Azkyroth
    April 11, 2009

    While we can argue with Jake as though he were an adult, I would caution people he is a very young man with AS, and as such is five or six years behind.

    My gut reaction is that I’ve had the exact opposite experience, but I still default to the heuristic of “if they insist something’s important but get angry when you ask them to explain why, they’re bluffing.”

  41. #41 Michael
    April 11, 2009

    There are people in the world that just believe in things, rationality be damned. There are some who believe Obama was not born in the US. There are those believe that the moon landing was fake. And I’m sure from the perspective of of seeing a few miles to the horizon, there are those who believe the world is flat. Most of those beliefs have few consequences short of amusing many of every day. But the Jenny cabal causes harm through too many stories where children are not being vaccinated and who are at risk of debilitating diseases. Jake is furthering that harm.

  42. #42 Doazic
    April 11, 2009

    Anyone catch the Aspergers/Cortisol study last week?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20090402/hl_hsn/aspergersyndrometiedtolowcortisollevels

    Now, here’s why I bring it up:

    This is a study that could eventually to evidence based treatments for Aspergers or ASD.

    Contrast this with AoA and the Biomedical crowd’s track record.

    So far they’ve spent over a decade throwing money at dead ends like bogus vaccine links, diet, chelation, etc etc.

    What have they got to show for their time, effort and money?

    There are thousands of parents in debt, children with autism have died from dangerous treatments, children have died from preventable disease, and by forcing the scientific community to research “environmental causes”, any real hope of helping those with autism has been pushed back at least a decade.

    It is beyond infuriating to hear someone with autism, who should know better, not only buying into their crap but actively helping them.

    If anyone should be able to understand just how horrifying Abubakar Tariq Nadama’s death was, it’s someone on the spectrum.

    Is there even a word for this? This is like finding an African American who belongs to the KKK or a Jewish Nazi. (Yes the Godwin is necessary).

  43. #43 Seriously, Stop and Think
    April 12, 2009

    I respectfully request that each of you consider the possible consequences of this discussion.
    McCarthy, Best, etc–are fair game–but if this Jake is a young person on the autistic spectrum this is cruel and potentially harmful.
    I suspect all of you have been ‘bullied’ at one time or another–I hope you will all stop and think about how damaging your attacks could be to this young man.

  44. #44 Joseph C.
    April 12, 2009

    Well gee Chris, considering this whole blog piece is about him don’t you think he has a fundamental right to respond to it if he so chooses?

    First of all, there’s no “fundamental right” to post on a web site that is privately owned by someone else. Secondly, do you realize how asinine you look writing that when we all know that it’s AOA that actively moderates out anyone who isn’t anti-vaccine?

  45. #45 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 12, 2009

    I respectfully request that each of you consider the possible consequences of this discussion.
    McCarthy, Best, etc–are fair game–but if this Jake is a young person on the autistic spectrum this is cruel and potentially harmful.
    I suspect all of you have been ‘bullied’ at one time or another–I hope you will all stop and think about how damaging your attacks could be to this young man.

    Once you dip your toe in the water of public opinion, you are fair game.

  46. #46 Becca Stareyes
    April 12, 2009

    The quoted sentence reminds me of an analogy. Let’s say you are flung back to an alternate version of ancient Greece, one with science journals. You are made editor of the Athens Journal of Astronomy. You get two papers and only have space to print one — hey, those scribes don’t come cheap, and this is pre-printing press.

    You remember that one of the effects of a heliocentric universe is stellar parallax — the stars look different from the June side of the orbit and the December side. One paper claims to detect it and claims this is proof of the heliocentric theory. The other is unable to detect it (only setting an upper limit).

    Now, if you just read the conclusions (a paper against geocentric theory and one not against it), and approved the yes-parallax paper, you’d be in trouble. Because the parallax effect was so small that you could never see it with instruments you had available. Heck, it was 200 years after Galileo when this first was observed. If an ancient Greek did claim to see it, it would either be shoddy methodology or faking data, and — in our Greece-with-modern-scientific-method — all of his astronomer rivals would be writing rebuttals about how his data’s garbage and they can’t duplicate it. Which tars both him and you as the editor that turned down a perfectly sound paper because you thought you knew the answer.

    The lesson is to never assume you know the answer and that all studies backing up ‘the right answer’ are correct (and that all ones backing up the wrong answer are not). If you admit that you cannot be shaken from your correct belief, no matter how good the data, you are not practicing science at all, and going to let in some bad data (and throw out good data) and make wrong conclusions.

  47. #47 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 12, 2009

    So basically becca you are saying that all science in the history of the human race can not be trusted.

    that’s just great.

    Just be sure to remember that when you use the computer tomorrow or get in the car or brush your teeth (that tooth paste could be deadly poison).

    yawn

  48. #48 Chris
    April 12, 2009

    Kelli Ann, I have pointed out several times before that Young Master Jake should not use the computer except for school work, especially after he mentioned not doing well in some classes. What he should not have done was go and even make the idiotic statement that caused Orac to create this blog post.

    Oh, and love the fact that those who do heavy handed moderation on their own blog get free reign here, and yet complain that I should remind the young man that the networking sites are not conducive to school work.

    Why aren’t you and his parents making sure he has the support he needs to succeed in college? One of those supports he may need is encouragement to stay away from time sucking blogs, and another support is to make sure he is not reminded that he is a failure just because he is autistic. Telling him that he is “vaccine damaged” is not supportive!

  49. #49 Pareidolius
    April 12, 2009

    Rjaye, I hope you have that mind blowing level of condensation under control, because too much condensation can really ruin a perfectly good laptop.

  50. #50 Asplomat
    April 12, 2009

    “I respectfully request that each of you consider the possible consequences of this discussion.
    McCarthy, Best, etc–are fair game–but if this Jake is a young person on the autistic spectrum this is cruel and potentially harmful.
    I suspect all of you have been ‘bullied’ at one time or another–I hope you will all stop and think about how damaging your attacks could be to this young man.”

    And I, as an adult on the autistic specturm, respectfully request that you insert your condescending attitude up your major intestinal tract sideways sans lubrication. If Jake wants to engage in public discourse upon a contentious issue, than he should like people not on the autistic spectrum have to face the consequences of said discourse. I would want no less for myself.

  51. #51 Rjaye
    April 12, 2009

    I’m joining in on the bandwagon: being “very young” and having AS means nothing. I’m currently a senior grad student with AS: should my arguments be taken less seriously than my co-workers?

    The level of condensation assumed in your claim is mind-blowing. Being disabled doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re *wrong*.

    Posted by: LMM | April 11, 2009 8:05 PM

    And somehow I’m not impressed. I made no comments about people with AS not capable of being rational. I meant and should have written that emotionally he’s developmentally younger. That’s why I question his arguments-it seems to me he is emotionally involved and not able at this point to take what others have presented to him into consideration. I would not use AS as an excuse to ignore what someone said, but I would use it with a young person to gauge how I’m going to respond to them appropriately. I do this with everyone I meet, whether on line or in person.

    As to you, a grad student with AS, any arguments within your field of study should be taken seriously by your coworkers. In anything else, it’s up to the people around you to decide based on their experience of you.

    I am a 48 yo Aspie myself, and the one thing I keep running into is a denial of any kind of difference in functioning. I don’t even call it a disability, because one can work around it with the right training and enough time. ASDs tend not to be disorders of stasis, as Orac has said, but of development.

    Rjaye, I hope you have that mind blowing level of condensation under control, because too much condensation can really ruin a perfectly good laptop.

    Posted by: Pareidolius | April 12, 2009 1:59 AM

    I hope you’re being funny, because I’m terrible at detecting social intent in person, and even worse on the innertoobz.

  52. #52 adina
    April 12, 2009

    That is what is so frustrating. If people are impervious to reason, and tell you as such, you still feel like you’re crassly banging your head against the wall, even as you describe elegantly designed studies.

  53. #53 adina
    April 12, 2009

    Becca, maybe, in a thousand years, we’ll know that banana consumption causes cancer. But I’m not tossing out any bananas today. I need my potassium.

    Don’t use a strawman. Nobody ever said that everything we think is true today, will still be known as true in one thousand years. However, what we can say is that, according to mountains and mountains of the best evidence we have today, failing to vaccinate children has enormous costs of death due to disease, and no cost of “developing autism.” It would be deadly and irresponsible to avoid vaccination. Speculating on something that we believe will be shown as correct, even though it goes against everything we know now, is irrational. If in a thousand years, the evidence shows that vaccination is harmful, then we won’t do it then. Right now we know that failing to vaccinate is significantly more harmful, and any purported links to autism are just imaginative attempts at prophecy.

  54. #54 John Fryer
    April 12, 2009

    To Adina

    Are you aware of ANAPHYLAXIS.

    This adverse effect of vaccines is so old the word has been quietly removed from usage and replaced by the weasel word ALLERGY.

    An ALLERGY is a reaction which might be a TIC.

    ANAPHYLAXIS is SUDDEN DEATH after VACCINES.

    Scarlet Fever is not a huge problem and the vaccine was never given to everyone.

    There are many diseases for which vaccines should be available that cause huge numbers of illness in the USA but aren’t developed for very simple reasons. NO PROFIT.

    Today and for the past few years the vaccine salesmen have been selling flu vaccines complete with ORGANOMERCURY at the level at which your brain cells are damaged.

    If you examine history you will find that the first use of this vaccine was in 1918 exactly at the time that this disease killed MILLIONS of people.

    Funny how the ONE and ONLY killer flu illness was COINCIDENTAL with the first use of the flu vaccine?

    Last year in Europe there was a trial of a new FLU vaccine. It took out or KILLED six per cent of those who took part in the trial.

    So of course vaccines have a use but for goodness sake lets use SCIENCE and not covering up or misnaming harm just so we can continue to get bigger and bigger cock ups.

  55. #55 Shiritai
    April 12, 2009

    Congrats, Fryer! Every statement you made is factually wrong. This might be a new record for you!

  56. #56 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 12, 2009

    Becca said Heck, it was 200 years after Galileo when this first was observed. If an ancient Greek did claim to see it, it would either be shoddy methodology or faking data, and — in our Greece-with-modern-scientific-method — all of his astronomer rivals would be writing rebuttals about how his data’s garbage and they can’t duplicate it.

    You do what Einstein did with some of his hypotheses … say, “If I am right, this is what will be observed when we have the equipment that can detect it.” And you present a testable hypothesis.

    What we see continually with the anti-vaccine groups, and the various “autism can be cured by ___” methods is that they neither present a testable hypothesis nor a plausible mechanism by which their fervently held beliefs could be right. It’s an idée fixe or perhaps a group delusion, not a scientific hypothesis.

    IF they were right about the thimerosal, there should have been a decline in autism after its removal from infant and toddler vaccines. There was no decline.

    IF they are right about the number of antigens overwhelming the infant’s immune system, autism should have been rampant earlier and declining now because despite the increase in number of covered diseases, the actual number of antigens is lower than it was 20 years ago.

  57. #57 Joseph C.
    April 12, 2009

    John,

    I really love how your posts are just pure tinfoil hat rantings. You don’t even try to make sense or hide behind any sort of reason. You just ramble on incoherently like a street corner sign holder.

    Funny how the ONE and ONLY killer flu illness was COINCIDENTAL with the first use of the flu vaccine?

    Why do you make such blatantly stupid and wrong assertions? Are you as dumb as you come off? There has been a lot more than one flu pandemic and they pre-date the 1918 epidemic by hundreds of years. Anyone with even a crappy Google PhD. should be able to find this out quite easily.

    Stop making stuff up and get yourself some Clozapine.

  58. #58 Richard Eis
    April 12, 2009

    John Fryer –

    YOU FORGOT to TELL us about THE government plot to keep EVERYONE ill using chemtrails and that aliens are VISITING the earth on a daily basis…because it’s flat. Really and I HAVE a website that proves it.

    Fibbs are easy.

  59. #59 ababa
    April 12, 2009

    It’s amazing that the anti-vaxers have no problem with Jake coming here and spewing pretty much any thing that comes to mind, but when he gets called on it then it’s all OH NOEZ, THINK OF HIS WITTLE FEELWINGS!.

    Face it guys, a representative of Age of Autism actually acknowledged that they are lying (and did so somewhere they can’t edit out!). They don’t care about research because they will never, ever accept evidence against their pre-defined beliefs. In fact, evidence against their theory will only convince them more that they are right. Welcome to Bizarro World.

  60. #60 MikeMa
    April 12, 2009

    John Fryer
    Don’t know where to begin to address such stupidity. Every line you uttered is a lie or a distortion. Your meds need adjustment ASAP.

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 12, 2009

    John Fryer, have you been introduced to this guy?

    I think you two would get along great.

  62. #62 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 12, 2009

    ANAPHYLAXIS is SUDDEN DEATH after VACCINES.

    Just vaccines huh?

    And fail

    Anaphylaxis is an severe, whole-body allergic reaction. After being exposed to a substance like bee sting venom, the person’s immune system becomes sensitized to that allergen. On a later exposure, an allergic reaction may occur. This reaction is sudden, severe, and involves the whole body.

  63. #63 D. C. Sessions
    April 12, 2009

    I think Rev. BigDumbChimp misreads Becca’s post:

    So basically becca you are saying that all science in the history of the human race can not be trusted.

    No, what Becca is telling us is that getting the right answer by bogus means is bad science. (Basic logic, by the way: [false]=>[true] is an invalid inference.)

    “I know I’m right and you can’t change my mind” started this, and she points out, as many of us have, how it’s not even wrong.

    That said, RBDC is right in one sense: all the science of human history can’t be trusted, in an absolute sense. Properly speaking, its reliability can only approach unity asymptotically. Of course, it’s pretty well up the curve but it’ll never quite get there.

  64. #64 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 12, 2009

    Did I?

    No, what Becca is telling us is that getting the right answer by bogus means is bad science.

    If that’s what she meant then ok

  65. #65 HolfordWatch
    April 12, 2009

    There is some tendency to using the Kruger and Dunning paper as a reason to discount somebody’s arguments. Overcoming Bias gives a good overview of the likelihood that

    Kruger and Dunning’s main data is better explained by positing simply that we all have noisy estimates of our ability and of task difficulty.

    The follow-up to the Kruger and Dunning provides some rather more nuanced results and interpretation that discount some of the knee-jerk uses of the original paper.

    Nonetheless, it seems likely that it is the lack of appropriate and timely feedback that contributes to a mis-understanding of relative skill or competence levels. It might be argued that Orac is providing that feedback to some of the commenters on the anti-vax continuum.

    As for this from Becca:

    The lesson is to never assume you know the answer and that all studies backing up ‘the right answer’ are correct (and that all ones backing up the wrong answer are not).

    Asimov has this response:

    (With reference to a correspondent) The young specialist in English Lit, …lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern “knowledge” is that it is wrong. … My answer to him was, “… when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” [Isaac Asimov, The Relativity of Wrong, Kensington Books, New York, 1996, pg 226.]

  66. #66 Joseph
    April 12, 2009

    I respectfully request that each of you consider the possible consequences of this discussion.

    I disagree. Treating Jake with kid gloves, so to speak, because he’s autistic, is just as condescending as using autism to dismiss what he has to say.

    He needs to take responsibility for what he says, just like everyone else.

    It’s similar to when he claimed that autism causes him to have too few citations in term papers. He basically used autism as an excuse for his poor work. There are certain deficits you can pin on autism, but it can get out of hand too.

  67. #67 Joseph
    April 12, 2009

    Congrats, Fryer! Every statement you made is factually wrong. This might be a new record for you!

    Sadly, I don’t think it is.

  68. #68 Emp
    April 12, 2009

    Becca Stareyes:

    You are comparing apples to oranges. Astronomy and astrophysics are extremely difficult to research even with today’s technology. With the best telescopes and probes we have, we can only understand so much. On the contrary, if there were some link between vaccines and autism at all – even a flimsy correlation – it would have been demonstrated in one of the recent major studies comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated populations. Furthermore, if you understand immunology, you know that all the mechanisms by which vaccines are proposed to cause autism are frankly quite outlandish. You can claim that “toxins” in the vaccines cause autism all you like, but there is literally no evidence for this and no biological reason for this to occur.

  69. #69 Chris
    April 12, 2009

    John Fryer: liar, liar, pants on fire!

    From John Fryer the Liar:

    Scarlet Fever is not a huge problem and the vaccine was never given to everyone.

    There is presently no vaccine for group A streptococcus, which causes both strep throat and scarlet fever. I read recently that it is returning to the UK.

    The Fryer Liar:

    Today and for the past few years the vaccine salesmen have been selling flu vaccines complete with ORGANOMERCURY at the level at which your brain cells are damaged.

    If you examine history you will find that the first use of this vaccine was in 1918 exactly at the time that this disease killed MILLIONS of people.

    There are thimerosal free versions of the flu vaccine.

    Have you even tried to examine history? Or do you just make it up because you know someone will call you out on it? Any way, the second paragragh of CDC Pink Book Chapter on Influenza:

    Smith, Andrews, and Laidlaw isolated influenza A virus in ferrets in 1933, and Francis isolated influenza B virus in 1936. In 1936, Burnet discovered that influenza virus could be grown in embryonated hens’ eggs. This led to the study of the characteristics of the virus and the development of inactivated vaccines. The protective efficacy of these inactivated vaccines was determined in the 1950s. The first live attenuated influenza vaccine was licensed in 2003.

  70. #70 Chris
    April 12, 2009

    Oh, crud, and I even previewed it: the blockquote only got the first paragraph of Fryer’s lie. It is supposed to also include

    If you examine history you will find that the first use of this vaccine was in 1918 exactly at the time that this disease killed MILLIONS of people.

    I keep forgetting that this site (and others) only put on paragraph in the blockquote.

  71. #71 Monimonika
    April 12, 2009

    To further point out the FAIL that is John Fryer, one example of “sudden death from vaccines” is from people with severe egg-allergies (anaphylaxis) reacting to the egg protein (isn’t that a “natural” ingredient?) that was used in MMR. There are MMRs that were developed that don’t have the egg protein in them.

  72. #72 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 12, 2009

    Today and for the past few years the vaccine salesmen have been selling flu vaccines complete with ORGANOMERCURY at the level at which your brain cells are damaged.

    If you examine history you will find that the first use of this vaccine was in 1918 exactly at the time that this disease killed MILLIONS of people.

    Neat trick, considering thimerosol was invented in the 1930s. Did they have a time machine?

  73. #73 Dedj
    April 12, 2009

    They must have Tsu Dho Nimh, the same one all the older adults with autism used to travel forward in time to get the current vaccine schedule.

  74. #74 Prometheus
    April 12, 2009

    Oh, goody! It’s time for another Fryer Fry!

    “Are you aware of ANAPHYLAXIS. [sic] This adverse effect of vaccines is so old the word has been quietly removed from usage and replaced by the weasel word ALLERGY.”

    WRONG. Anaphylaxis is still alive and well as a medical term. It is – in simple terms – a very serious manifestation of an allergic response.

    “An ALLERGY is a reaction which might be a TIC.”

    WRONG. Allergic reactions are caused by the immune system and DO NOT include “tics”.

    “ANAPHYLAXIS is SUDDEN DEATH after VACCINES.”

    WRONG. While anaphylaxis is a serious medical emergency and can cause death, it is not defined by death, nor is it limited to being caused by vaccines. Less than one in a million people respond to vaccination by anaphylaxis.

    “Scarlet Fever is not a huge problem and the vaccine was never given to everyone.”

    TRUE, but in a WRONG way. Scarlet Fever is not currently “a huge problem” and “the vaccine” – which never existed – was “never given to everyone” because it didn’t exist. In fact, the non-existent Scarlet Fever vaccine was given to nobody because you can’t vaccinate with a fantasy.

    Although Scarlet Fever is not currently “a huge problem”, it has been so in the past. Despite that, there is not and never has been a vaccine against Scarlet Fever. The proper treatment is antibiotics.

    “Today and for the past few years the vaccine salesmen have been selling flu vaccines complete with ORGANOMERCURY at the level at which your brain cells are damaged.”

    WRONG. There is less “organomercury” in influenza vaccines (when it is present at all) than in the past. Influenza vaccines have been around since 1945 and up until recent times most contained the organomercury compound thimerosal as a preservative.

    The amount of thimerosal in any vaccine is far below the dose necessary to cause brain injury, as has been shown in numerous studies.

    “If you examine history you will find that the first use of this vaccine was in 1918 exactly at the time that this disease killed MILLIONS of people.”

    WRONG. Influenza vaccine was not developed until 1945.

    “Funny how the ONE and ONLY killer flu illness was COINCIDENTAL with the first use of the flu vaccine?”

    WRONG. As mentioned above (twice) the influenza vaccine wasn’t developed until 1945.

    “Last year in Europe there was a trial of a new FLU vaccine. It took out or KILLED six per cent of those who took part in the trial.”

    WRONG. No such thing happened, unless by “took out”, Mr. Fryer means “caused some detectable symptoms”. There were NO deaths attributed to the vaccine, so Mr. Fryer is either being extremely disingenuous or is merely making his “facts” up out of thin air. If he were to provide citations instead of simply CAPITALIZING his assertions, perhaps those of us who are open-minded could check his “facts” for him.

    Hope you enjoyed it!

    Prometheus

  75. #75 tamarkot
    April 12, 2009

    D.C. Sessions said: “(Basic logic, by the way: [false]=>[true] is an invalid inference.)”

    I agree with your comment, D.C., but this statement is technically incorrect. An argument with false premises and a true conclusion is valid but unsound. A sound argument has all true premises and a true conclusion. The only really invalid argument (according to basic logic) is one where the premises are true but the conclusion is false.

    I guess I’m just in a nitpicky, “spare no one” kind of mood today…forgive me :)

  76. #76 Jake Crosby
    April 12, 2009

    Asplomat, Brian Deer denied being the original complainant, when in fact he was. There is even a copy of the email he sent to the GMC where he makes the first complaint against Drs. Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith.
    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/deer-letter-.jpg

    As for Dr. Rodier:

    Mr. Williams:
    Q: It wouldn’t have to be just thimerosal as a postnatal insult? There could be a susceptible subgroup that gets postnatal insults and gets the symptoms of regressive autism?
    A: I can’t disprove it. That’s one of many possibilities.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/05/holland-on-th-8.html#more

    Dejd said,
    “despite my source being the local experts.”

    Your source was an non-detailed, American diagram of a brain with a non-comprehensive, partial list of symptoms.

    “No-one in this thread brought up the flat earth comparison until you did.”

    Isn’t Paul Offit a more prominent person from the broken-record “vaccines do not cause autism” squad than anyone on this thread?

    “but for your thinking behind it and the statements that followed it, thus your attempt at playing ‘Gotcha’ with Offit fails.”

    The kind of “thinking” I am accused of having is essentially the same as Offit’s. So it doesn’t.

    “Kirby is irrelevantly trained and qualified”

    Which is irrelevant because the IOM has been completely manipulated. In a 2001 January IOM meeting notes, the words “$5000 Merck” can be found next to one person’s name, “SmithKline Beecham” next to another. Chair McCormick basically admits she’s being influenced to a pre-determined decision when she said, “they want us to conclude that these things are, well, pretty safe,” and meanwhile, another person said there will be “no changes in the vaccination program.” Yet despite all this, Fineberg denies any outside influence.
    http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/6.25.pdf
    http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/6.4.pdf

    Fineberg is supposed to be chair of one of the most prestigious medical bodies in the US. Yet he parroted a study that uses a failing HMO and flooded its data with children that are too young to be diagnosed, 3 studies that show artificial increases where there are none, and another from Britain that relies on a royal garbage dump for information to show that injecting mercury into infants is okay.

    Not surprisingly, this would not be the last time the IOM would be wrong:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14801666/

    “If you really think lack of knowledge over trivia like above is indicative of lack of understanding”

    The fact that it’s “trivia” about vaccines, yet cannot be answered by someone who calls the person asking him about it “anti-vaccine,” is all the more indicative of gross egotism, hypocrisy and utter incompetence on Orac’s part.

    “Despite telling you exactly who my sources where – the source of your source and the go-to experts for minimata disease – you nevertheless accused me of believing that I knew more than the local experts – despite my source being the local experts.”

    Your source was nothing but a shoddy American diagram, mine was from the website of the city where the disease first struck.

    “Although true – and I actually agreed and told you why it’s true – we were talking about the same substance, thus it’s irrelevant wheter ‘some’ substances are quicker IM than IV – only wheter the substance concerned is.”

    Our exchange:

    You said:
    “IM means intramuscular, with slower release into the system.”

    I said:
    “Claiming an IV release is faster than an IM one is a fallacious assumption, some drugs get absorbed faster when IM injected than by IV, and vice versa.”

    Your response:
    “Uh, no it’s the purpose of IV administration.”

    No acknowledgement on your part that IM can have a faster release mechanism than IV whatsoever. You really are like Brian Deer who can’t get his own facts right, and whom you defended when he blamed autism on the parents.

  77. #77 Pareidolius
    April 12, 2009

    Rjaye, LMM’s use of condensation simply made me laugh. I envisioned you in some sauna-like office, firing off missives and wiping down your glasses and monitor with a towel. My blog probably offers a better view into my, er, unique brain than my posts. BTW, I find your posts outstanding and helpful in viewing this issue from a neurodiverse perspective. As for LMM, I have nothing but respect for anyone who makes it through grad school no matter how many typos they make, I just found the juxtaposition of terms irresistible and I’m and equal opportunity snark.

  78. #78 Rowan
    April 12, 2009

    Is it just me or does anyone else envision spittle flying with every CAPITALIZED word of John Fryer’s?

  79. #79 Rjaye
    April 12, 2009

    Thanks for letting me know for sure, Pareidolius. I knew he was blowing off steam (heh) to what I realized wasn’t a clear post.

    My main argument is that to argue with Jake Crosby isn’t all that productive because he’s stuck within a kind of cult. He’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. All we get to do is reiterate the evidence. Hopefully, those who read the posts will be influenced by the arguments.

  80. #80 D. C. Sessions
    April 12, 2009

    tamarkot:

    I guess I’m just in a nitpicky, “spare no one” kind of mood today…forgive me :)

    Nothing to forgive. “Spare no one” is quite the appropriate policy where logic is concerned.

  81. #81 arkadaşlık sitesi
    April 12, 2009

    thank you..

  82. #82 Daniel J. Andrews
    April 12, 2009

    It seems some people have difficulty adjusting to the internet age, and still think they can just make things up to support their argument, a al Cliffie from Cheers.

    That approach to arguing may have worked around the 1970s lunch-room table. People still would have suspected you were full of BS, but it was harder to demonstrate. Now it is very easy to demonstrate, but some people repeatedly act as if it weren’t. If you need to use lies to support your argument, then your argument isn’t worth supporting in the first place.

  83. #83 Whitecoat Tales
    April 12, 2009

    Does Jake actually critique the studies that have been done beyond putting quotes around “studies” and claiming a massive conspiracy?

    I direct you to my blog where Jake posted his “critique” of my posts on the evidence showing no links between vaccines and autism. The rest of the comments read pretty similarly to this, where no ‘evidence’ counts unless it agress with him, and he shows a profound misunderstanding of every facet of basic science.

    Sadly we have no hope of reaching those like Jake. We can only hope to reach those who haven’t made up their minds yet.

  84. #84 Jake Crosby
    April 12, 2009

    Well, whitecoat, you never really responded to my very first post implicating vaccines with autism. Instead, you responded to my second which was critical of the weight given to nutrition by Med Schools as you are a med student, where I talk about how B-12 was found to really help autistic children by redressing their methylation problems and how those issues might account for other aspects of the biological mechanism of autism. You, however, chose to disregard it all and defend Risperdal, a psych drug that has caused terrible adverse events in children and even killed a few of them, and has also been linked to brain shrinkage in animal studies. You responded by implying that the drug was okay because it supposedly killed comparably few children compared to the total that had taken it, while flatly rejecting Methyl B-12 as an effective treatment. You are going to be a physician someday and will probably see autistic children in your practice.
    What will determine your overall level of competence as a physician to them will be determined by how much they are helped by you, and nothing else.

  85. #85 Joseph
    April 12, 2009

    The only autism trial of Me-B12 that I know of was canceled after the results failed to live up to expectations. Preliminary results were discussed here.

  86. #86 Whitecoat Tales
    April 12, 2009

    Your entire first post had no evidence linking vaccines to autism, only the implications of conspiracy theorys without attempting to argue the evidence.

    Furthermore, as documented for all to see, we debunked literally every article you cited as being “pro” methyl B12 as being useless. I “disregarded” your evidence by reading the articles and finding that none of them said what you think they said.

    I defended risperdal as being helpful to some ASD patients. I did not “imply” that it was ok by saying it hurt comparatively few people. Actually, someone else pointed out that using risperdal for a year was about as likely to kill you as crossing the street. Meanwhile, you suggested that noone could be helped by it, because you weren’t helped by it.

    I see autistic patients now, and I’ve seen risperdal help. I’ve seen those same patients after they’ve been talked to by your ilk, and seen them come back poisoned by unsafe, unproven therapies advocated by DAN.

  87. #87 Jake Crosby
    April 12, 2009

    ” only the implications of conspiracy theorys without attempting to argue the evidence.”

    Argue the evidence? There is evidence of huge elevated relative risks associated with autism and thimerosal that Verstraeten expressed a desire to bring down in an email he sent to his colleagues. The only way those tables showing them ever saw the light of day was because they were retrieved in FOIA requests. The CDC destroyed the raw data used to put them together, and barred outside researchers from accessing the VSD, moving it to an off-shore private company. The tables still exist and the CDC has never been able to explain logically how they brought those risks down to what they were in the final one published in Pediatrics. How’s that for evidence?

    The studies by Jill James clearly showed how methyl B-12 helped, you can’t debunk that. Other studies were shown to hypothesize how methyl B-12 could effect other mechanisms of autism, which although based in part to speculation is something that requires more study. Finally, the one I posted on Risperdal’s effect on monkeys that share 93% of our DNA is confirmed by the effects of such drugs on humans.

    I know I posed this on your blog, but it’s equally relevant to post this here:

    “The big finding is that people with schizophrenia are losing brain tissue at a more rapid rate than healthy people of comparable age. Some are losing as much as 1 percent per year. That’s an awful lot over an 18-year period. And then we’re trying to figure out why. Another thing we’ve discovered is that the more drugs you’ve been given, the more brain tissue you lose. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/16/health/research/16conv.html?_r=1

    Drugs such as Risperdal have been shown to do this, these are drugs that are also taken by autistic children. Your *anecdotal* reports that Risperdal helps did not catch the critical fact that children given this drug and others like it are the real poisoned ones, not those given vitamins.

  88. #88 Whitecoat Tales
    April 12, 2009

    The Jill James study did not show that B-12 helps
    It showed that suppelmenting B-12 *gasp* normalized B-12 levels, I already debunked that. But it showed no objective improvement. Posted earlier here is the preliminary results of the study looking for such improvement – zero improvement found.

    Finally, the one I posted on Risperdal’s effect on monkeys that share 93% of our DNA

    Entirely irrelevant.

    I just want to be clear here Jake
    You don’t understand biology.
    You don’t understand physiology.
    You refuse to trust any resource that disagrees with your point of view.
    You don’t understand the resources that disagree with your point of view.
    All of this leads to one thing: Facepalm.

  89. #89 Jake Crosby
    April 12, 2009

    The clinical trial did show improvement, not surprisingly this was not mentioned on the “notmercury” blog:

    Interestingly, several of the children seemed to respond well. Three of the eight participants who subsequently completed three months of open-label therapy and two of the five who have completed six months were rated “much improved” on the Clinical Global Impression Improvement scale.
    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/53131

    So methyl B-12 is effective in a double-blind clinical trial, even with the use of such broad scales.

  90. #90 Jake Crosby
    April 12, 2009

    Whitecoat said,
    “I just want to be clear here Jake
    You don’t understand biology.
    You don’t understand physiology.
    You refuse to trust any resource that disagrees with your point of view.
    You don’t understand the resources that disagree with your point of view.”
    All of this leads to one thing: Facepalm. ”

    Orac said,
    “Jake, you simply do not have the requisite background knowledge and experience to know what you are talking about. I’m sorry if saying so offends you, but sometimes a dose of reality is needed when a young man talks smack on something about which he is clueless.”

    Oh, the similarities…

  91. #91 Whitecoat Tales
    April 12, 2009

    While there is a general trend toward improvement in several of the subjects, this trend does not reach group significance with this small sample size,” said Dr. Deprey.

    Your out of context quotes never fail to disappoint Jake.

    Oh, the similarities…

    I’m not sure what you’re going for there. You could get similar statements from about 100 other people. All it would prove is that you’re clueless, and want to be that way.

    The facts of the matter remain: It’s easy for someone who understands nothing to inject noise into any real discussion. Thats what you do. You decrease the signal to noise ratio on the discussion of autism. At first I thought you just didn’t understand, so tried to explain. However it is abundantly clear, you just don’t WANT to understand. Thats what I find most disappointing of all.

  92. #92 Saxaclone
    April 13, 2009

    “Oh, the similarities…”

    And when you get multiple, reliable sources agreeing with each other what’s does that suggest?

  93. #93 Prometheus
    April 13, 2009

    Jake comments:

    “Oh, the similarities…”

    Yes, Jake – they are both telling you that your understanding of biology and physiology (and apparently statistics, as well) is much more limited than you believe.

    Let me add my name to the list of people who are “too blind” to see the “truth” of your arguments.

    The vitamin B12 study you cited a few comments above is a perfect example. Did you not notice that the p-value for the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale was a shade over 0.4? Do you know what that means?

    It means that there is over a 40% chance that any differences between the “treatment” group and the “control” group are the result of random chance – not the treatment (vit. B12), but random events. The “standard” for accepting that the differences between the two groups are “real” is 5% or less. This wasn’t even close to being close.

    Of course, you may argue that this is an arbitrary standard – others in the “alternative” autism field surely have. However, the reason we have these standards and follow these procedures is not blind obedience to “tradition” – we do this to keep from fooling ourselves into thinking that what we want to be true actually is true.

    That’s why Verstraeten’s conclusions changed between his preliminary report and the final report – the final, complete data set showed something different than the initial bits he first analyzed. The “CDC conspiracy” is just a fever-dream cooked up by people who desperately wanted something to blame for their children’s autism.

    Which is more likely – that you are right and the vast majority of people who really study autism are wrong?

    Which is more plausible – that thousands of people are “in” on the conspiracy to hide the “truth” about autism and vaccines or that the dozen or so “leaders” of the “Too many, too soon” movement are mistaken, deluded or both?

    Jake, if you hang around the AoA crowd long enough, you will eventually have to completely suspend disbelief – or you’ll have to leave.

    Prometheus

  94. #94 Jake Crosby
    April 13, 2009

    Prometheus,

    The trial used a broad 1-7 range scale which would not pick up significant details of improvement during a mere 6-week period. After being switched to placebo they would regress and the previous progress they made on methyl B-12 would not be noted. In fact, I just realized that the children who did improve markedly on open-label therapy were not even part of the trial-period, so their success on the vitamin was not even counted. Overall, this was a very poorly-done trial, not surprisingly published in a medical journal that received $100,000 from Eli Lilly alone in the first half of 2007. If this trial approved methyl B-12, Lilly’s Zyprexa would have stiff competition with a vitamin of all products and the journal’s associated academy would never have received such a generous donation.

    “we do this to keep from fooling ourselves into thinking that what we want to be true actually is true.”

    I do not wish to be the advocate of the anti-vaccine lobby and sound like being convinced that thimerosal is or was harmful, but at least I feel we should use sound scientific argumentation and not let our standards be dictated by our desire to disprove an unpleasant theory.
    Sincerely,
    Tom Verstraeten
    http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/2.20.pdf

    No one at the CDC wanted the fear that thimerosal was causing autism to be true.

    “the final, complete data set showed something different than the initial bits he first analyzed.”

    Like being flooded with one-year olds, leaving out zero-exposure groups, and relying on a failing HMO to determine the final outcome while being published in Pediatrics, the journal of an academy that receives $25 million a year, mostly from big pharma?

    “The “CDC conspiracy” is just a fever-dream cooked up by people who desperately wanted something to blame for their children’s autism.”

    Which is more likely:

    That parents of autistic children will make up the pathology of their child’s own illness to blame something they could have prevented from being given to their children via a vaccine which is supposed to help them, not hurt them?

    OR

    That the CDC cooked the data which is obvious based on preliminary evidence showing stronger signals which Verstraeten emailed to his colleagues in December 1999 asking them to help him bring them down and added in confounders to make them go away out of a desire within the CDC to do so as Verstraeten said so himself in his July 2001 email?

    “Which is more plausible – that thousands of people are “in” on the conspiracy to hide the “truth” about autism and vaccines”

    This is not the only time pharmaceutical companies have been involved in cover-ups. If you are counting every single person who works for those companies then not only is it more likely that “thousands” of people are involved in this, but that thousands of people have previously been involved in many more like it.

    “or that the dozen or so “leaders” of the “Too many, too soon” movement are mistaken, deluded or both?”

    Those “leaders” are actually representative of thousands of parents who’ve watched their children regress after their shots.

    “Which is more likely – that you are right and the vast majority of people who really study autism are wrong?”

    All those people you’re referring to aren’t saying thimerosal or the MMR doesn’t cause autism because they have actually researched the possibility, they are saying so because they don’t want to get canned.

    Jake Crosby

  95. #95 Dixon
    April 13, 2009

    The trial used a broad 1-7 range scale which would not pick up significant details of improvement during a mere 6-week period. After being switched to placebo they would regress and the previous progress they made on methyl B-12 would not be noted.

    Do you understand what a cross over trial is designed to do? You might argue that 6 weeks is too little time to pick up improvements, but you cannot claim that people must have improved but then regressed, and that this was somehow inapparent to the researchers. This would have been picked up by the analyses at all the relevant time points. And why would these hypothetical “improvements” not be visible at 12 weeks on those who had placebo for the first 6?
    Your claims are inconsistent and contradictory.
    The logical conclusion of your assumption is that to be effective Methyl B12 would have to be given continuously to patients (or they would regress when they stopped). Is this really how it is used? Do you campaign over at AoA for this therapeutic strategy? Can you link to posts where you advocate this approach?

    I just realized that the children who did improve markedly on open-label therapy were not even part of the trial-period

    Perhaps you also now realize that this result 3 of 8 at three months open labelled therapy) is statistically insignificant, and therefore likely to be due to chance. (And anyway according to your hypothesis, they would markedly regress once they stopped treatment again, no?)

  96. #96 Emp
    April 13, 2009

    “And when you get multiple, reliable sources agreeing with each other what’s does that suggest?”

    A conspiracy, of course!

    Jake: Since I appreciate your (misled) enthusiasm, I encourage you to take courses in biology, chemistry, statistics and experimental design or research techniques when you can. I think you’ll find there’s a reason we don’t typically allow people to become medical researchers without this knowledge. Without the proper background, you will continue to be deceived by the studies you think are informing you because you have little knowledge of the topic at hand.

    I am not trying to be rude; I am simply speaking from experience. I thought I could hold my own when it came to interpreting research when I was in high school. But after choosing biochemistry as my major, I realized how little I really knew, and I’m sure I still have plenty to learn. Wait until you become an expert in this field and THEN form your own informed opinion – until then, you must rely on the informed opinion of today’s experts.

  97. #97 Vindaloo
    April 13, 2009

    Jake, by simply copying and pasting antivax propaganda, twisting quotes to support an evidence-free gut feeling, and refusing to actually think critically about what you’re spamming to the rest of the world, you’re making quite a name for yourself. The name will be remembered in years to come alongside Erb, Fryer, Best, Handley, and the whale.to site. In short, find some trustworthy scientist who doesn’t have a financial stake in alt meds and DAN!ish quackery and run your future comments and post through him/her because Kelli Ann and the other tipsy floosies prescreening your stuff are helping to make you look like an idiot.

  98. #98 Jen
    April 13, 2009

    The “CDC conspiracy” is just a fever-dream cooked up by people who desperately wanted something to blame for their children’s autism.>>>>>>>

    Speaking of fevers, were you going to address my reply to you in the “springtime for stupid” thread, Prometheus? I’d really like to know how the authors of those asthma studies came to the conclusion that Tylenol depletes pulmonary glutathione, when you had previously stated clearly that glutathione is depleted “in the liver, the organ that metabolizes it.”

  99. #99 Dianne
    April 13, 2009

    If this trial approved methyl B-12, Lilly’s Zyprexa would have stiff competition with a vitamin

    Because vitamins appear out of thin air and have no manufacturers who might have an interest in increasing sales of their product.

    And combination therapy is never used for difficult to treat diseases and so the use of B12 would automatically exclude the use of any other med in autism.

    The studies by Jill James clearly showed how methyl B-12 helped, you can’t debunk that.

    Indeed not. It’s hard to debunk the nonexistent and I can’t find any studies by SJ James on autism, B12, and clinical outcomes. The only study I could find suggested that giving B12 and folinic acid normalized some biochemical markers. It’s an interesting finding and could be of clinical significance but it is not by itself a reason to suggest the use of B12 or any other drug in a given condition.

  100. #100 D. C. Sessions
    April 13, 2009

    And when you get multiple, reliable sources agreeing with each other what’s does that suggest?

    That if you look hard enough you can find lots of outliers.

  101. #101 Dedj
    April 13, 2009

    “Your source was an non-detailed, American diagram of a brain with a non-comprehensive, partial list of symptoms. ”

    I clearly meant the source as in the institution that provided the intital information to your source. I stated that clearly in the thread, and stated that I got it as a secondary source through your link.

    At no point in the thread did use any source except from the ones you referenced, or the secondary sources they referenced. Every piece of information was from the original studies that informed your sources, or the advisors to your sources.

    You clearly just clicked and saw a picture, but didn’t bother to think about what it meant for your arguement (the source of your source was saying different to your source) and my arguement (that you were clearly only investigating sources to fit a pre-concived notion – and were switching sources whenever it was indicated that you had not properly read or researched a source).

    By the way, 4058-18 Hama, Minamata City, Kumamoto, 867-0008, Japan is NOT in America. Hell the link even had the .jp domain on it, so you fail to even get the right country.

    “No acknowledgement on your part that IM can have a faster release mechanism than IV whatsoever.”

    Except I stated that uptake (which is NOT the same as release) is dependant on the particular pathway used, so I actually did acknowledge that possibility and expressly stated it, in a more accurate and competant way than you did. This is irrelevant as you have provided no evidence that the proportedly neuroinflammatory substance at play requires any myogenic activation or alteration at all. Making generalised statements such as “sometimes some substances are absorbed quicker than others” is NOT evidence that the substance under scrutiny does.

    You failed to use terms correctly, failed to understand basic concepts and failed to stick to the point, even after being directly and repeatedly informed how and why you were wrong.

    That was, is, and always will be your doing, not mine.

    “Which is irrelevant” (re Kirby)

    No it’s not – your misdirection onto the IOM is not a defence of Kirby. It’s possible for a lay person to develop a grasp of the science involved – Deer for example has a solid reputation and shows evidence of grasping enough basic interactive psychology and group dynamics to be getting on with, but Kirby does not appear to be one of these people. Kirby’s spontanious appearance on the autism scene despite an apparant abscence of any reason for him to be treated like the autourity he is, IS a reason to question his status.

    “The fact that it’s “trivia” about vaccines, yet cannot be answered…….is all the more indicative of gross egotism, hypocrisy and utter incompetence on Orac’s part”

    Fail. It’s pure trivia that is more to do with remembering detailia than actual comprehension. Blooms taxonomy indicates that understanding the systems at play indicates a GREATER level of understanding than merely regurgitating data.

    Again, you want to disabuse yourself of this childish understanding of how understanding works. If you ever do manage to graduate, you will definetly be expected to look at the political and social factors behind whatever history period you chose to specialise in. Exact knowledge of vote count or deaths will be seen as a bonus, but you will be judged by you professional peers by your level of understanding of the systems involved, not the detail of your trivia recall. Many people with aspergers struggle at Uni with making this distinction, so don’t feel alone in it all – and definetly make use of available services.

    You really are shite at this – explain why any of us here should bother with you further.

  102. #102 Dedj
    April 13, 2009

    Sorry, I didn’t realise the post was so long. Please edit it as you fit, Orac.

    Jake – I an not willing to engage with you on this subject further. You are clearly incompetant and totally unaware of it.

    You would do very well not to accuse me of projection as this is the general view of you that is held around here.

  103. #103 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 13, 2009

    Jake said: All those people you’re referring to aren’t saying thimerosal or the MMR doesn’t cause autism because they have actually researched the possibility, they are saying so because they don’t want to get canned.

    The only one saying MMR caused autism was a man being paid by a law firm to find a link, and a guy with a patent on a competing measles vaccine, and a man with a patent on a treatment for the supposed MMR damage … all of those guys were named Andrew Wakefield.

    Finding a real cause for autism, especially if it were avoidable, would be BIG scientific stuff, worth awards and raises and funding.

  104. #104 Scott
    April 13, 2009

    It always makes me laugh when antivaxers invoke a Big Pharma conspiracy to hide the risks of vaccination in order to make money. If they were inclined to a coverup, they’d do the *opposite* (i.e. cover up the safety and efficacy of vaccination) since treating infectious disease is a lot more profitable than preventing it!

    Jake is doing a MUCH better job boosting Big Pharma’s bottom line than Orac is. MMR = $. New measles epidemic = $$$$$.

  105. #105 Dangerous Bacon
    April 13, 2009

    Jake Crosby: “”Amount” doesn’t matter. A million “studies” claiming the Earth were flat wouldn’t make it true. Likewise, pseudostudies claiming no association to autism consistent with overwhelming evidence of a CDC-cover up will only further convince me that vaccines cause autism.”

    “Why can’t you see
    This ain’t the first time
    It’s happened to me
    I got my mind made up
    I got my mind made up”

    – Tom Petty

  106. #106 Joseph
    April 13, 2009

    The tables still exist and the CDC has never been able to explain logically how they brought those risks down to what they were in the final one published in Pediatrics. How’s that for evidence?

    I’ve seen the tables, and you don’t know what you’re talking about, Jake.

    SafeMinds doesn’t make it very easy to find the original tables obtained via FOIA, actually. Strange for supposedly damning evidence.

    Find the tables, post them here, and we’ll discuss.

  107. #107 Phoenix Woman
    April 13, 2009

    Jake — or rather, Jake’s parents, since they’re the ones behind this:

    Please don’t give your son Lupron. It will not magically cause him to be neurotypical, and it will trash his bones in addition to chemically castrating him. If you see him as a human being worthy of your love and respect, you will not hobble him this way.

    And please don’t start hating your son — or pretending that he really isn’t on the autism spectrum — when he inevitably grows up and out of your hands.

  108. #108 skeptiquette
    April 13, 2009

    Jake/others,

    What study by James are you referring to?

    The discussion has taken a detour into the discussion of “the oxidative stress/methylation hypothesis of autism. ” I am curious as to peoples’ base level of knowledge concerning this hypothesis. Is anyone here familiar enough with the research to be able to paraphrase this hypothesis?

    Jake, you may be interested in a recent article by Jill James, et al.

    “Cellular and mitochondrial glutathione redox imbalance
    in lymphoblastoid cells derived from children with
    autism”

    This study was published (Epub ahead of print) on March 23. 09’ in FASEB.

    The study compared whole cell glutathione redox status (GSH:GSSG levels), Mitochondrial redox status, mitochondrial membrane potential, and ATP synthesis between LCL’s (lymphoblastoid cell line) from autistics and controls. These comparison’s were done at baseline and after exposure to varying concentrations (0-2.5 micromolar) of thiomersal.

    The results showed a statistically significant difference in whole cell and mitochondrial glutathione redox status between the autistic LCL’s and those of controls. For example the baseline ratio of GSH:GSSG in the autistic cell line was about 60% that of controls (61.81 +/- 10.6 compared to controls 99.14 +/- 33.5, P<.001). In the mitochondria the difference was even more pronounced at baseline between autistic and control LCL’s, where the GSH:GSSG ratio from the autistic cell line was about 50% that of the control cell line (5.06 +/- 1.3 compared to control 11.63 +/- 3.9, P<.001).

    When the cell lines were exposed to the pro-oxidant thiomersal the ratio of GSH:GSSG from both the autistic LCL’s and the control LCL’s exhibited a dose dependent decrease. This is what I would expect, as the glutathione in the autistic cell line is the same glutathione in control cell line (obviously) and is therefore effectively depleted by thiomersal. The difference, however, is dependent on the baseline, which in this study proved to be significantly different between autistic/control. From this perspective, it would appear that autistics would have a reduced threshold for thiomersal exposure. As their inherently lower GSH:GSSG ratio would be lowered to levels, which could potentially lead to cellular dysfunction, at a lower exposure to thiomersal than that of non autistic individuals.

    Jake, it is my advice to remain objective and continue your research and learning. The biomolecular mechanisms related to the etiology of autism have not been thoroughly elucidated and most cases ASD diagnosis remains idiopathic. The research associated with the oxidative stress/methylation hypothesis is in its infancy, in fact, autism research as a whole is in its infancy. I am pretty familiar with this particular avenue of autism research and would be happy to answer any questions or provide relevant citations.

    skeptiquette

  109. #109 skeptiquette
    April 13, 2009

    somehow this part wasn’t included it is the remainder of the paragraph which got truncated at the P value…

    P<.001). In the mitochondria the difference was even more pronounced at baseline between autistic and control LCL’s, where the GSH:GSSG ratio from the autistic cell line was about 50% that of the control cell line (5.06 +/- 1.3 compared to control 11.63 +/- 3.9, P<.001).

  110. #110 skeptiquette
    April 13, 2009

    HUH??

    why can’t I post the last half of that paragraph?

    Here it goes again

    P is less than .001). In the mitochondria the difference was even more pronounced at baseline between autistic and control LCL’s, where the GSH:GSSG ratio from the autistic cell line was about 50% that of the control cell line (5.06 +/- 1.3 compared to control 11.63 +/- 3.9, P is less than .001).

  111. #111 Scott
    April 13, 2009

    These comparison’s were done at baseline and after exposure to varying concentrations (0-2.5 micromolar) of thiomersal.

    Which in itself is adequate cause to discard the entire study as completely meaningless, as I understand it. Doesn’t thimerosal dissociate into ethyl mercury and salicylate so fast, once injected, that cells are (barring the few at the actual injection site) not exposed to actual thimerosal at all?

    And that’s leaving aside the fact that the underlying question has been so throughly addressed. Once “is there any significant association between thimerosal and autism” has been answered with a resounding NO, what’s the point to asking “is this a mechanism by which thimerosal and autism might be linked” (which sounds like the point of the study)?

    (BTW, was the “is less than” a “&lt” character in the copy/paste? If so, that would account for the posting difficulty due to that character’s special meaning in HTML.)

  112. #112 Mu
    April 13, 2009

    2.5 micromolar, that’s 500 microgram of mercury per liter. Very relevant to compare to your typical vaccine concentration of 12.5 microgram per injection (but maybe they are trying to extrapolate for very small babies in the 1 oz weight class).

  113. #113 Prometheus
    April 13, 2009

    Let’s see…. 2.5 micromolar thimerosal, the atomic weight of mercury is 200 grams per mole, one atom of mercury per molecule of thimerosal. Yep – 500 micrograms per liter.

    I just wanted to be sure the numbers checked before I pointed out that the vaccines only contained 50 micrograms (of thimerosal) per milliliter (at most). With a dose of 1/2 ml per vaccination, the most that a child would have received at one go would have been – worst case – 75 micrograms. That’s a pretty hefty dose, and it does assume the worst-case scenario – all thimerosal-containing vaccines and all at the highest concentration of thimerosal.

    Now, since thimerosal – as we’ve been repeatedly told – is 49% mercury by weight, that means that this worst-case scenario results in a dose of 37.5 micrograms of mercury.

    Now, the average birth weight in the US is about 3 kg, and a newborn is 80% water, so the volume of distribution of the mercury (again, we’re doing worst-case and assuming that all of the mercury is absorbed into the bloodstream and immediately distributed to only the body water) would be 2.4 liters.

    So, the worst-case scenario is that a newborn would have a concentration of 15.6 micrograms per liter of mercury. Again, the real concentration would be a lot less.

    The test concentration (500 mcg/liter) was 32 times the worst-case concentration. In reality (but when has that ever limited people?), the top concentration should have been 25 nanomolar – 100 times lower. Even the lowest test concentrations (except the control – 0 micromolar) were significantly higher than any feasible thimerosal concentration in an infant.

    Now, if the argument is that this was to simulate low birth-weight infants, that is a different story. The test concentrations would have been appropriate for a newborn weighing….about 30 – 100 grams (1 – 3 ounces). For reference, a newborn kitten weighs about three ounces.

    Prometheus

  114. #114 Mu
    April 13, 2009

    Damn, forgot the /sarcasm tag again. Prometheus, you read too much AoA if you took that seriously.

  115. #115 passionlessDrone
    April 13, 2009

    Hi skeptiquette –

    I am pretty familiar with this particular avenue of autism research and would be happy to answer any questions or provide relevant citations.

    I have a question.

    The fact that they used thimerosal in this study kind of bugged me. To my (self taught) mind, I kind of figured that there were tons of compounds that could have been used to demonstrate the same effect; after all, thimerosal isn’t special in this regard other than its relatively high toxicity. Couldn’t they have used anything else likely to generate ROS in order to see if GSH:GSSG ratios would be different between groups?

    Thank you for any insight.

    – pD

  116. #116 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 13, 2009

    “Asplomat, Brian Deer denied being the original complainant, when in fact he was. There is even a copy of the email he sent to the GMC where he makes the first complaint against Drs. Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith.”

    Jake, “complainant” is not just a word for someone who complains; it designates a specific legal role akin to “plaintiff”. Brian Deer denies being the original complainant because he is not a complainant in the case, any more than someone celebrating during an Easter Mass becomes the “celebrant”.

  117. #117 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 13, 2009

    Jake Crosby said: “There is evidence of huge elevated relative risks associated with autism and thimerosal that Verstraeten expressed a desire to bring down in an email he sent to his colleagues.”

    I’m afraid that Jake’s syntax is so poor that I can’t quite figure out what he’s specifically trying to claim. If he’s trying to claim that Verstraeten detected a huge correlation between autism and thimerosal, I’m wondering how that’s reconciled with Verstraeten’s presentation at the Simpsonwood conference, in which he said:

    “This is the result for autism, in which we don’t see much of a trend except for a slight, but not significant, increase for the highest exposure. The overall test for trend is statistically not significant.” (emphasis added)

    Now, I don’t intend to imitate Jake’s mistakes by pretending to scientific knowledge I don’t have, but I think it’s clear that Verstraeten’s presentation at Simpsonwood did not present “evidence of huge elevated relative risks associated with autism and thimerosal”. So where, exactly, does Jake claim that Verstraeten presented this evidence of “huge elevated relative risks”?

  118. #118 skeptiquette
    April 13, 2009

    I believe you have made an honest mistake.

    You have vaccines: 25, 50, and 75 mcg thiomersal at a volume of ½ mL (.ooo5 L). Here are the calculations:

    25 mcg/.0005 L =50,000 mcg/ L. this is the concentration of thiomersal in a single vaccine administration in the form: micrograms per liter (mcg/L).

    From the study:

    To get a comparable value you have to change M (mol/L) into micrograms per Liter (which is what we got above) so to do this you have to take the known concentration of 2.5micromolar, which is .0000025 mols/L. Then you want this in grams(actually micrograms) so you multiply by the number of grams that are in one mol of Thiomersal (MolecularWeight of 404.81 grams)now you have cancelled out the mols and have g/L but you want mcg/L ,so, to cancel gram and get microgram you multiply 10^6 micrograms per 1 gram

    (.0000025 mol thiomersal/1 L) X (404.81 g/1 mol) X (10^6 mcg/1 gram) = 1012 mcg/L highest prooxidant concentration (so yeah roughly 500 mcg Hg/L)
    (.00000125 mol/1 L) X (404.81g/ 1 mol) X (10^6 mcg/1 gram)=506 mcg/L second highest prooxidant concentration (250 mcg mercury/L)
    (.000000625 mol/ 1 L) X (404.81 g/ 1 mol) X (10^6 mcg/1gram) = 256 mcg/L third concentration (128 mcg mercury/L)
    (.000000312 mol/1 L)… you get the picture = 128 mcg/L fourth concentration (64 mcg mercury/L)
    (.000000156 mol/ 1 L) = 64 mcg/L (32 mcg mercury/L)

    So from here you can compare apples to apples. In the case of vaccines you have a concentration of 50,000 mcg/L ,therefore the administration of one dose equates to (50,000 mcg/L X .0005 L) = 25 mcg thiomersal being injected into 2.4 L so now the concentration in mcg/L is (25 mcg/2.4 L) = 10.4 mcg/ L(5mcg Hg/ L) for three vaccines you have 37.5 mcg Hg/2.4 L = 15.625 mcg/L.

    Now look at the assays. In the material and methods section I was unable to find how many mL(s) thiomersal solution were dispensed into the microwells containing the cells. I will assume that 1mL of the thiomersal solution was dispensed into each well, which contained 2 ml (this was stated)solution of cells.

    So, ( 500 mcg/L) X .001 L = .5 mcg/ L. This is where the mistake above was made. Just as you multiplied the concentration of 50,000 mcg/L by the dose of .5 mL to get the number of micrograms, you also had to multiply the concentration of 500 mcg/L by the aliquot dispensed into the wells. This probably was 1mL but I am not sure. I am sure that it was not 1 liter into each microwell. So the final concentration .5 mcg Hg/.003 L = 167 mcg/L. This is at the highest concentration. ( I used .003 L because the initial volume of the wells was 2 mL of solution w/cells and then 1 mL of thiomersal was added to make a final volume of .003 L or 3 mL

    The lowest concentration is (32 mcg Hg/ L) X (1.0 ml added to the microwell) = .032 mcg Hg. Then since you put 1 mL into 2 mL your final volume is 3 mL so the final concentration is .032mcg Hg/.003L = 10.6 mcg/L

    As you can see the lowest concentration of thiomersal solution used in this study is almost exactly equivalent to the concentration of two TCV’s which have which have been administered to an average weight baby.

    This leads me to my next point , which is: I don’t think that you can make the assumption that the Hg injected evenly disperses to form a uniform concentration throughout the cells. This really isn’t the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario would be if the complete injection(all 37.5 mcg Hg) of ethyl mercury migrated to the brain. Either way that is a discussion regarding the kinetics and disposition of ethyl mercury when injected into an infant, and would require a fair amount of research to express an accurate opinion. If you’re up for it you could lay out in words what the fate of the mercury that is injected intramuscularly is, preferably at a bio-molecular level and tissue level and on a time scale.

    Anyway, I think that the interesting point was that at a baseline the autistic whole cell GSH:GSSG ratio was only 60% that of the controls’. And the mitochondria GSH:GSSG ratio was about 50% that of the controls’. Thus raising the susceptibility to pro-oxidant conditions.

  119. #119 skepticooter
    April 13, 2009

    Anyway, I think that the interesting point was that at a baseline the autistic whole cell GSH:GSSG ratio was only 60% that of the controls’. And the mitochondria GSH:GSSG ratio was about 50% that of the controls’. Thus raising the susceptibility to pro-oxidant conditions.

    Holy microgrannies. I reckon with those youngins bein’ all suseptibible and what not, thus mebbe theys rilly just got piezining or sumthin with them shots.

  120. #120 Dr. P
    April 14, 2009

    Interesting; but what you are expressing in vitro has not been borne out in population studies; in fact the removal of thimerosal has not reduced the annual incidence at all; since we’re talking ethyl mercury( not the ‘poisons’ or aluminum to which the antivaxers are now shifting the argument) some large scale correlation should be seen ,no? It will be interesting to see the final published article, but are you saying that all cell lines from autistic displayed this characteristic? that would be an unusual finding if the postulate is that autism is multifactorial.

  121. #121 sophia8
    April 14, 2009

    Reading through Jake’s comments here has had me squirming with embarrassed recognition.
    As an adult with ASD, I used to be just like him, convinced I was right about everything. I remember as a kid of about 10 arguing with an aunt over when WWII had ended – I was convinced that it had finished in 1946, and would NOT accept my aunt’s crazy belief that it had finished a year earlier; after all, her only qualification for making such a flagrantly wrong statement was that she had lived through the war!
    I don’t know if such arrogant obstinacy is due to ASD or not; but I realise now I was quite fortunate in having a family who just laughed quietly at me and let me find out in my own good time that I was wrong.
    Unfortunately, it looks like Jake isn’t so lucky; he’ll have quite a bump when he realised eventually that he isn’t always right.

  122. #122 The Perky Skeptic
    April 14, 2009

    Sophia8, I know whereof you speak! :sigh: My husband did the same kind of things when he was little, as did I, and now I see it in my son. He doesn’t want to know *how* things work the way they do, but as early as age 1 has always sought out memorizable facts to latch onto and repeat as gospel.

    These are all anecdotes, of course, but of late I’ve really been worrying that it may just be damn hard for autistic people to learn critical thinking skills. I know it was hard for me, impossible for my father, who attributes everything to conspiracy theories, and I see Jake here doing the same thing.

    It makes me REALLLLLLLY want to see some kind of Critical Thinking curriculum taught in schools, because that’s where I learned it– in a history class, of all places. It took a while for it to percolate into the rest of my life, but the way it shaped my thinking is really responsible for my giving up woo for science.

  123. #123 Mu
    April 14, 2009

    Sorry skepti, the use of “micromolar” has a very specific meaning in chemistry; it’s a concentration and is independent of volumes you dispense it in.
    Even the lowest concentration used in the study is double of what your own concentration gives for 3 shots of Thimerosal containing vaccines at once to a 5 lb baby (the half life time of ethylmercury is so short, all mercury has been excreted by the time the next shot in the series comes around).

  124. #124 D. C. Sessions
    April 14, 2009

    It makes me REALLLLLLLY want to see some kind of Critical Thinking curriculum taught in schools, because that’s where I learned it– in a history class, of all places. It took a while for it to percolate into the rest of my life, but the way it shaped my thinking is really responsible for my giving up woo for science.

    Puzzles. Also, there are games specifically designed to reward falsification of preconceived ideas (no, sorry, I can’t name any.)

  125. #125 Rogue Medic
    April 14, 2009

    Becca Stareyes,

    I believe I am summarizing accurately, here. What if we are looking at something, but we do not have tools accurate enough to measure the problem? There is the possibility that there is a change in the increasing rate of autism that is so small, that we cannot measure the change with our current methods/equipment.

    This change might not exist. No change due to vaccines is the conclusion of all of the valid research. There might be an increase in autism, due to a harmful effect of the vaccines. If so, this change is too small to measure. There might be a decrease in autism, due to a protective effect of the vaccines. If so, this change is too small to measure. If there is a vaccine effect, do vaccines cause autism, or do vaccines protect against autism? We cannot tell.

    Becca suggests that currently, the ability of the scientific method to detect change, does not make allowances for these possibilities. Actually, the scientific method has this error checking built in. Variables are controlled for, so that similar populations are examined. Studies use large enough populations to detect changes even to subpopulations. The study is designed to reach a 95% Confidence Interval. Data are published to allow for replication of the studies. Error is something recognized by science. Error correction is part of the scientific method.

    But, Becca is probably thinking that this is not what she meant. What she meant is something huge, but hard to notice. Not noticing that the Earth orbits the Sun seems gigantic. The measurement of parallax involves measuring the angle to a star, from one side of the Earth’s orbit and then on the other side of the orbit. These two measurements are made about 300,000,000 kilometers apart. Not a small distance.

    So, why didn’t the tools exist to accurately measure parallax? Because 300,000,000 km is an insignificantly small distance compared to the distance to a close star. Advances in measurement were needed.

    The suggestion is that science is missing something huge. Something that will eventually be obvious. Something significant. That science does not have the ability to detect huge changes.

    Becca’s suggestion is wrong. Science does have the ability to recognize huge changes. Science has looked at vaccines carefully enough to be able to say, without fear of being contradicted in a couple of hundred, or even a couple of thousand years, there is no significant difference. Any change is tiny. Any change is as likely to protect against autism as it is to cause autism.

    If you look at this from the individual level, you can make the case that every individual is significant. This is true. Every individual deprived of vaccination matters. Exposing children to the real dangers of sickness and death, because of a fear of a risk so small, that it cannot even be measured, is completely misunderstanding risk management. This child endangerment does not protect anybody. It does bring in money for Dr. Wakefield. For Dr. Wakefield, Fraud = Income.

    Hundreds of years from now, we should have the ability to detect much smaller changes. That does not mean that we are not able to detect small changes, currently. We are. The research looking for any connection between vaccines and autism involves studies so large, that we can confidently state that vaccines show no sign of causing autism. Vaccines also show no sign of protecting against autism. The research does not favor either conclusion.

    The studies are large scale studies, so they should detect even small changes. The studies are well done. The variables are controlled for objectively. The effect of vaccines on the rate of autism cannot be detected. Based on this lack of change, it is reasonable and safe to conclude that autism is not increased by use of vaccines. There is one obvious effect – a longer, healthier life due to the protection from the vaccine-preventable diseases. Without vaccination the number of sick autistic children would be larger. Without vaccination the number of dead autistic children would be larger.

    But, Becca is probably thinking that this is not what she meant, either. She described research that was coming to the correct conclusion, heliocentric solar system, but based on bad data. She thought of Dr. Wakefield and his made up data. She is suggesting that even though this is not scientific evidence, it might some day be shown to be the correct conclusion. Maybe, just maybe, if you look at fraudulent data from far enough away, maybe 300,000,000 km away, and squint your eyes in a certain way, it doesn’t look like fraud.

    That is the wrong conclusion. That is taking the result that Becca wants and trying to find some way to explain how the science does not invalidate this mistaken conclusion. Looking at clear evidence and saying, Yes, it is fraud. Yes, it is abuse of patients. No, that doesn’t mean that Wakefield is wrong. This kind of reasoning is similar to a quantum physicist driving a car and refusing to steer around obstacles, because the obstacles might enter another dimension/universe before he arrives at that spot. This is creating a huge risk, just to make a point. There is a ridiculously small chance that this might work, but acting on this theory is crazy.

    In Becca’s example, if we look only at the conclusions, we have no way of telling the difference between a fraud and good science. According to Becca, if we look at the details, recognize the fraud, and throw out the fraud, we end up with the wrong conclusion. Current medical research is not perfect, but it is much better than astronomy from thousands of years ago. It is much better than fraud. The difference in size is one place where Becca makes a mistake. The error is due to the inability of such a small difference in parallax to be detected because the diameter of the Earth’s orbit is so insignificantly small.

    How can 300,000,000 be insignificantly small?

    In the tremendous distance to the stars, the diameter of our orbit really is insignificantly small.

    Not being able to confirm the heliocentric solar system theory would be a huge mistake. It makes a difference in whether we have conclusive proof to support the use of the term solar system. This is an astronomic mistake, not a medical mistake.

    The analogy between Becca’s example (not having tools accurate enough to look at the the universe in enough detail to recognize that the Earth does orbit the Sun) and the research on vaccines and autism is not valid. We do have tools accurate enough to detect small changes in rate of autism.

    On one side – a large benefit in protection from disease.

    On the other side – a belief in something that, if it does exist, is too small to justify avoiding the benefit of vaccination.

    And Becca is claiming that she believes in fraud, apparently because it agrees with what she wants to believe. What if the fraud is right? What if tin foil really is the latest in hat couture?

  126. #126 ababa
    April 14, 2009

    Minesweeper, Sudoku, Picross …

    The thought process to play them successfully involves critical thinking. They all involve determining an answer based on the truth or falsehood of related information, as well as disproving false theories based on new evidence.

    If you have a Nintendo DS, “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” is also very good.

  127. #127 passionlessDrone
    April 14, 2009

    Hi Rouge Medic –

    Science has looked at vaccines carefully enough to be able to say, without fear of being contradicted in a couple of hundred, or even a couple of thousand years, there is no significant difference.

    But we haven’t studied vaccines. We have studied a preservative in vaccines or its absence. We have studied a single vaccine, usually the last one given. In the meantime, we have drastically increased the number of vaccines given at much earlier times in an infants life. We have simply not performed an evaluation of children who got six shots in their first six months versus those that get fifteen.

    We can only detect changes if we bother to look for them. In large part, we have failed to do this with vaccines.

    – pD

  128. #128 Joseph
    April 14, 2009

    These are all anecdotes, of course, but of late I’ve really been worrying that it may just be damn hard for autistic people to learn critical thinking skills.

    @The Perky Skeptic: You probably missed the comment I posted previously. When compared to non-autistics of the same intelligence, autistics apparently “suffer” from hyper-rationality, and enhanced logical consistency, as we apparently “fail to incorporate emotional context” into our thinking. We are thus “insensitive” to “framing.” Some researchers believe this is a core “deficit” of the disorder.

  129. #129 The Perky Skeptic
    April 14, 2009

    Joseph– How interesting. That contradicts my family’s experience completely. Every autistic person I’ve had extensive dealings with (including the kids in my son’s CBIP class) are, if anything, hyper-emotional! But what I’ve also noticed is that they have a hard time understanding the emotional states of other people, which comes off as being insensitive.

    Although, wait wait, on second thought, it DOESN’T contradict my experience at all! I see myself and the kids using enhanced logical consistency all the time– but using our own experiences/viewpoints/hypersensitivities as the starting assumptions! There again, this renders us “insensitive” to the emotional context of others.

    So, I guess we need to utilize our unrelenting logic on our own often-invisible-to-us mental postulates, and be taught to analyze critically every assumption we’re making.

    Hey, that’s a good idea! I think everyone ought to learn to do that! :)

  130. #130 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 14, 2009

    Admittedly, I may be biased because Becca Stareyes happens to be a friend of a friend and therefore I know a bit about her, but I believe her basic point has been, and is being, radically misread. People are still representing her argument as “Becca is claiming that she believes in fraud, apparently because it agrees with what she wants to believe” and I believe that is a completely inaccurate reading of her statement.

    I believe that her point is simply that Jake is saying “I have already learned The Truth from the Real Scientific Studies and therefore nothing will ever change my mind, not even a million more scientific studies.” And she is pointing out that if our current structure of scientific investigation existed at a time when astronomical instruments were sufficiently primitive, a reasonable person looking at the best scientific studies possible at that time would come to a completely wrong conclusion about the universe. That person might live long enough to see better astronomical instruments come in that provide better evidence and thus make it possible to correct the wrong conclusion, but that person will never benefit if they do what Jake is doing, and resolve never to change their minds, no matter what new evidence comes to light.

  131. #131 Scott
    April 14, 2009

    Good grief. I can’t believe any scientist could look at what Becca actually wrote and have ANY dispute AT ALL with it! Bad science can still produce correct results (stopped clocks and all that). Therefore, it’s always important to evaluate the *data* and not just the *conclusion* before the veracity of a paper may be judged.

    It obscures the point a bit that her hypothetical editor’s belief as to the “right” answer is in fact correct while Jake’s is not, I’ll admit, but that’s irrelevant to the point. The editor who accepts the yes-parallax paper because it gets the right conclusion is exactly making one of Jake’s mistakes.

  132. #132 skeptiquette
    April 14, 2009

    “Sorry skepti, the use of “micromolar” has a very specific meaning in chemistry;”

    AFAIK, micromolar means: 10^-6 mols/liter
    it’s a concentration and is independent of volumes you dispense it in.

    Well, if this is the case then why don’t you just compare concentrations directly?

    Because it does matter, otherwise don’t bother with the fact that the human infant is more voluminous than a microwell!

    I think there is an easier way to look at this.

    Figure out the molarity of thiomersal in a typical ½ mL vaccine injection:

    (25 mcg/.0005L) X (.000001 g/ 1 mcg) X (1 mol/404.81) = .000125 M (mol/Liter)

    This is the molarity of the vaccine containing thiomersal (this should be agreeable)

    Now we can compare that to the molarity of the thiomersal solutions used in the study

    Highest to lowest
    .0000025 M, .00000125 M, .000000625, .000000312, .000000156.

    As you can see the first concentration is 50 times less(.000125/.0000025) than that of the concentration of thiomersal in vaccines, the second 100 times less, the third 200 times less, the fourth 400 times less, and the lowest concentration used in the study is 800 times less.
    OK, so far so good. But, we are injecting that concentration of thiomersal(from vaccine) into (let’s say a five pound baby 2.27 Kg X 80% H20=1.8 so 1.8 L , this is from prometheus’ calculations) a 1,800 ml system, whereas we are injecting the concentrations from the study into a 2 mL microwell.

    Well, the five pound baby is a 900 times larger volume, therefore to compare equivalently we would need a solution 900 times less than that of the concentration of thiomersal found in vaccines. The lowest concentration solution is 800 times less. So, I think we were both wrong initially.

    I was thinking about the procedure for this experiment (specifically what we are talking about) and am wondering if this would be right:

    1.Weigh 40.481 grams thiomersal and place in a 1 L volumetric flask, dilute to mark. This should give you a .1 M solution of thiomersal.

    2.Use micropipette and transfer 25 microliters from volumetric flask to microwell

    3.Do the same for next well but transfer 12.5 microliters.

    4.Same for the rest but transfer 6.25, 3.12, and 1.56 microliters

    Would this be the procedure, or would the researchers have diluted successively and used the same transfer volume? Just curious.

  133. #133 skeptiquette
    April 14, 2009

    interesting; but what you are expressing in vitro has not been borne out in population studies; in fact the removal of thimerosal has not reduced the annual incidence at all; since we’re talking ethyl mercury( not the ‘poisons’ or aluminum to which the antivaxers are now shifting the argument) some large scale correlation should be seen ,no? It will be interesting to see the final published article, but are you saying that all cell lines from autistic displayed this characteristic? that would be an unusual finding if the postulate is that autism is multifactorial.

    So yes, I agree, if everything stayed constant then there should have been a concomitant decrease in autism as thiomersal was removed. This is only if everything stays constant, particularly, the rate of autism diagnosis. It seems like the publicity that autism has gotten(especially when thiomersal/MMR controversies came to light) would only have increased the awareness amongst medical professionals and therefore the rate of diagnosis. Therefore at the same time as thiomersal was removed the awareness went up, to me this is a confounder that needs to be addressed.(maybe it has, I just would need an explanation.)

    The author’s of the paper cited also feel that large population based epidemiologic studies are not sensitive enough to detect minor high risk subpopulations.

    Although cell models provide insights into mechanism, the extrapolation of thimerosal dose/response characteristics from artificial, albeit controlled, cell culture conditions to the complexities of the in vivo cell milieu is tenuous at best. Nonetheless, based on previous experimental evidence and the results reported here, it is plausible to hypothesize that exposures to prooxidant environmental toxins, including thimerosal, would have the greatest effect on individuals with a preexisting fragile redox homeostasis or depleted glutathione reserves due to concurrent infection, or who are simultaneously exposed to other prooxidant contaminants that in combination can reach a toxic threshold (68). These potentially vulnerable subpopulations need to be identified and evaluated independently because large population epidemiologic studies do not have the sensitivity to detect minor high-risk subpopulations.

    I would like to ask these authors why they think this, and get an informed answer, anybody here have insight into this?

    but are you saying that all cell lines from autistic displayed this characteristic?

    No, the only cell line in this study was a lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL). In fact, the authors, in their conclusion commented on this:

    Because reduced levels of glutathione and biomarkers of oxidative stress have been implicated in pathophysiology of several other neurobehavioral disorders (3, 4, 83), further investigation of redox status and metabolism in primary cells and other experimental models of autism may lead to better understanding of mitochondrial gene-environment vulnerabilities associated with this complex disorder.

  134. #134 Prometheus
    April 14, 2009

    Skeptiquette,

    I checked my calculations and they are correct.

    [1] 2.5 micromolar thimerosal = 2.5 micromolar mercury = 500 micrograms/L

    [2] Pre-2000 children’s vaccines contained at most 50 mcg/ml thimerosal (there may have been rare exceptions) – some contained only 25 mcg/ml – we’ll use the “worst-case” number of 50 mcg/ml.

    [3] Each vaccination is given in a dose of 0.5 ml – this works out to 25 mcg of thimerosal or 12.5 mcg of mercury.

    [4] In the pre-2000 vaccination schedule, children received a maximum of three (3) thimerosal-containing vaccines at any one time. This works out to a dose of 37.5 mcg of mercury (worst-case).

    [5] Even though newborns only received a single vaccine in the pre-2000 schedule, we’ll use a worst case of a 3 kg newborn infant getting three thimerosal-containing vaccines at one go – all with the maximum thimerosal concentration. Your “assumption” of a “five-pound” newborn would be for a low-birthweight newborn – a “worst-worst-case scenario”. Let’s just stick with “worst-case”.

    [6] Even though the bulk of the injected mercury would bind to sulfur-containing proteins at the injection site, we will assume a worst-case scenario in which the entire dose was absorbed rapidly from the tissues and distributed into the infant’s water volume (volume of distribution). This volume is 80% of the infant’s weight, or 2.4 liters.

    [7] Dividing the mercury dose (37.5 mcg) by the volume of distribution (2.4 liters), we have a maximum (and transient) worst-case concentration of 15.6 mcg/L.

    [8] The authors state that the highest concentration of thimerosal used was 2.5 micromolar (500 mcg/L). It matters not what volume they placed in the wells, since the concentration remains the same.

    [9] It is the concentration that determines diffusion rates and reaction kinectics.

    You are making the mistake of comparing the concentration of thimerosal/mercury in the vaccine to the concentration of thimerosal/mercury in the solution bathing the cell culture.

    Wouldn’t you agree that the concentration of thimerosal in the vial is irrelevant to the child, since it is the concentration in their body that will determine its effects?

    If that was too brief an explanation, I’d be happy to go into more detail.

    Prometheus

  135. #135 Prometheus
    April 14, 2009

    By the way, even if you want to claim that the thimerosal was injected intravenously (not the way vaccines are given) and only distibuted to the blood (which is ludicrous), the “worst-case” scenario still only reaches 139 mcg/L.

    I’m not knocking the researchers – you often have to “jack up” the concentration to see an effect. However, to say that this directly correlates to what is seen after vaccination with thimerosal-containing vaccines is a serious stretch.

    Besides, taking thimerosal out of children’s vaccines hasn’t even put a bend in the USDE and Cal DDS reported prevalence of autism. Sounds like a dead-end hypothesis to me.

    Prometheus

  136. #136 Mu
    April 14, 2009

    Prometheus, you completely ignore how sneaky Thimerosal is. It completely ignores Fick’s law, and sneaks as a combined mass to the blood-brain barrier, where it stealthily takes the testosterone shuttle to wreak havoc in the brain of the unwary.

  137. #137 Prometheus
    April 14, 2009

    Mu, that’s the problem with getting a degree in chemistry – all that physical chemistry and biochemistry gets in the way seeing the magical and fantastical.

    Thanks for pointing it out to me.

    Prometheus

  138. #138 skeptiquette
    April 14, 2009

    Prometheus,

    I still don’t agree. Did you read my post from today

    Why can’t you compare the two concentrations?

    It seems as this is the only way to compare apples to apples.

    [1]Do you agree with my calculation as to the concentration of Thiomersal in a .5 mL vaccine?

    [2]This concentration is added to a 2400mL system(the human body)Agree Y/N?

    [3] we know the concentration being added to a 2mL solution in a microwell.

    [4] The only difference here is the volume of the system these concentrations are being added to. Agree Y/N?

    [5] Therefore, since the human system is 1200 times larger you would expect the concentration of thiomersal used in the study to be 1200 times smaller. Agree Y/N?

    [6] The lowest concentration used in the study is 800 times less than that found in a vaccine. Agree Y/N?

    Even though the bulk of the injected mercury would bind to sulfur-containing proteins at the injection site

    What happens after that? Does the mercury bind irreversibly?
    Does it magically get shuttled out of the body on that protein sulfhydyl it initially bound to?

  139. #139 Mu
    April 14, 2009

    You write enough proposals for DARPA, and it all comes back.

    Mu, post hole digger chemist.

  140. #140 Mu
    April 14, 2009

    Skeptiquette, the concentration in the vaccine is completely irrelevant for the question at hand, unless you’re trying to measure the effect of the vaccine injection at the injection side, and only there.

  141. #141 skeptiquette
    April 14, 2009

    I guess I don’t understand.

    The way I see it is this:

    25,000 mcg Hg/L ———– into a 2400 mL system

    500 mcg hg/L ————– into a 2 mL system (high conc.)
    31.5 mcg Hg/L—————- into a 2 mL system (low conc.)

    50 times less 1200 times less
    800 times less 1200 times less

    Where am I going wrong? (honest question)

  142. #142 Mu
    April 14, 2009

    the correct way to do the baby concentration is

    0.5 ml x 25,000 mcg/l into a 2400 ml system = 12.5 mcg/2.4 l = 5.2 mcg/l
    this is the concentration you have to compare to the 500 mcg/l (and the 31.5) in the micro plates.

  143. #143 Scott
    April 14, 2009

    Where you’re going wrong is that the 2 mL is completely irrelevant. The concentrations listed in the paper are the concentrations used, i.e. the FINAL concentrations. ONLY the vaccine concentration must be adjusted, because ONLY the vaccine was diluted from the originally stated concentration.

  144. #144 Joseph
    April 14, 2009

    The way I see it is this:

    25,000 mcg Hg/L ———– into a 2400 mL system

    500 mcg hg/L ————– into a 2 mL system (high conc.)
    31.5 mcg Hg/L—————- into a 2 mL system (low conc.)

    50 times less 1200 times less
    800 times less 1200 times less

    Where am I going wrong? (honest question)

    There are several ways to explain the confusion, I’m sure. But try this. Suppose that instead of…

    25,000 mcg Hg/L ———– into a 2400 mL system

    It’s this:

    25,000,000 mcg Hg/L ———– into a 2400 mL system

    Much worse, right?

    How do you get 25 million micrograms per liter? Easy. Let’s say it’s a tiny vaccine with only 0.0001 mL in volume. You only need 2.5 micrograms of of mercury in the vaccine.

    Say it’s a 0.000001 mL vaccine. Now you only need 0.025 micrograms of mercury to have the same concentration.

    You see, the concentration in the vaccine can be arbitrarily high, in theory. But this is not what matters. What matters is how much mercury goes into the child.

  145. #145 Rogue Medic
    April 14, 2009

    passionless Drone,

    But we haven’t studied vaccines. We have studied a preservative in vaccines or its absence. We have studied a single vaccine, usually the last one given. In the meantime, we have drastically increased the number of vaccines given at much earlier times in an infants life. We have simply not performed an evaluation of children who got six shots in their first six months versus those that get fifteen.

    We can only detect changes if we bother to look for them. In large part, we have failed to do this with vaccines.

    From 2007 from the Journal of the American Medical Association, on the death rates prior to vaccines and after. Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.

    Where are the epidemics from the vaccines?

    Where are the dead babies from the vaccines?

    There is no valid research supporting the claims of the anti-vaccine scaremongers, because vaccines save lives.

    Science is about testing ideas that do not make sense. Even testing ideas that do make sense. Even though you claim otherwise, vaccines are frequently tested by scientists. The results do not show that vaccines are dangerous. Nothing is 100% safe, but the risks of vaccination are clearly much lower than the dangers of avoiding vaccines.

    Do scientists not like children? Do scientists not want to ensure the safety of vaccines? Do scientists avoid studying vaccine safety?

    No. Many scientists have children and would never risk increasing harm to their children. The much greater harm is from not vaccinating. The much greater harm is from listening to the illogical claims from the anti-vaccine people.

    Vaccines have been thoroughly studied. The prodisease movement does not understand scientific research, so they claim that every possible combination hasn’t been studied. They claim that any change to the vaccines requires that everything be studied from scratch. There is no good reason for this.

    New vaccines and changes in vaccine schedules are changed. The strange thing is that any changes studied, well they are studied in those already receiving vaccines according to the current recommendations. They do not go and find wild children raised without vaccines for their studies, so they can study just one vaccine.

    The risk from the vaccines is not zero, but it is microscopic compared to the risk from not vaccinating. That much is clear from the study of vaccines. The demand to test vaccines to death ignores the deaths of the children, while the vaccines that could have prevented those deaths are delayed.

    Demanding that every possible combination be studied is a mistake. This mistake leads to dead children. Vaccines are thoroughly studied. Vaccines are safe.

    There is no valid research to support the anti-vaccine claims.

    The decrease in deaths from vaccine preventable diseases is in the millions of children every year. If we were to stop vaccinating, these deaths would return. There have been several cases of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses lately. These are just a small sample of what happens when large numbers of parents do not vaccinate.

    The prodisease movement make a fortune selling books and treatments. They are well paid for their lectures to the gullible. Follow the money. Members of the prodisease movement are raking in the money.

    Vaccines save lives.

    Vaccine avoidance kills.

  146. #146 Joseph
    April 14, 2009

    We have simply not performed an evaluation of children who got six shots in their first six months versus those that get fifteen.

    This exact thing has not been done, that I know of. But if you consider a large thimerosal study, specifically Thompson et al. (2007), where they looked at several different levels of exposure, it comes to reason that children who got more vaccines tended to get more thimerosal and vice versa. In that sense, it has been done.

  147. #147 Rogue Medic
    April 14, 2009

    Antaeus Feldspar and Scott,

    I don’t think that anybody is suggesting that we should not look at any new research with an open mind. To do otherwise is bad science.

    Science is not perfect. The analogy suggested that we are not able to look at vaccines in enough detail to detect problems. I think that the research makes it clear that this analogy is false, when it comes to vaccines.

    This does not mean that we should not keep studying vaccines, but we should not demand that the same studies be done over and over. refusing to accept the scientific evidence is bad science. Refusing to move to new topics of research, because one topic has not been exhausted, is bad science. Refusing to accept research, because in a few hundred years we will have better tools, is bad science. We will not improve our research if we do not continue to make progress.

  148. #148 passionlessDrone
    April 14, 2009

    Hi Rogue Medic –

    Where are the epidemics from the vaccines?

    Where are the dead babies from the vaccines?

    There is no valid research supporting the claims of the anti-vaccine scaremongers, because vaccines save lives.

    I cannot help but notice that instead of trying to defend your statement that:

    Science has looked at vaccines carefully enough to be able to say, without fear of being contradicted in a couple of hundred, or even a couple of thousand years, there is no significant difference.

    instead, you have generated a library of claims I have not made, put them into my mouth, and demand that I defend them? Why? Why not show me a study where vaccines as opposed to specific preservatives, or a single vaccine has been studied? This should be a simple task, if such studies exist. You also seem to have quiety tried to substitute general safety studies, whose measurements are immediately obvious, with autism, a diagnosis of which is not available for years after a child begins receving vaccinations. Why?

    For the record, I will state that I have no doubt that vaccines save millions of lives. Further, the number of acute injuries as the result of vaccination are very low; much lower than the diseases they are intended to prevent. But these admissions do not comprise proof that we are not affecting children neurologically in ways that are not apparent months, or years after an event.

    Science is about testing ideas that do not make sense. Even testing ideas that do make sense. Even though you claim otherwise, vaccines are frequently tested by scientists. The results do not show that vaccines are dangerous. Nothing is 100% safe, but the risks of vaccination are clearly much lower than the dangers of avoiding vaccines.

    Your argument is specific to vaccines and autism though; not general safety. This area has yet to be studied.

    Do scientists not like children? Do scientists not want to ensure the safety of vaccines? Do scientists avoid studying vaccine safety?

    No. Many scientists have children and would never risk increasing harm to their children. The much greater harm is from not vaccinating. The much greater harm is from listening to the illogical claims from the anti-vaccine people.

    Well, excepting the MMR and thimerosal, they have avoided studying a relationship between vaccines and autism. In any case, your argument hinges on the incredibly feeble foundation that scientists know that vaccines cause autism, and choose to ignore or hide that knowledge. You have modified the big pharma gambit, implied that I have made such an argument, and triumphantly knocked it down. Congatulations.

    What if, instead, there are things we do not yet understand about a relationship between early life immune responses and long term, chronic neurologic dysfunction? What if, there are age dependent differences in how the immune system reacts to challenges, and the long term results mimic some of what see in autism? What if we found that the mechanism of action in these cases was dependent on components of the immune system that, it just so happens are highly increased in autism? What if, as I’ve been told, we don’t know what we don’t know? Certainly, relying on studies on mercury or the MMR will leave us blind to any such relationships, and yet this seems to be what you are proposing.

    It turns out, scientists in 2009 are finding what I have described above.

    Long-term disorders of behavior in rats induced by administration of tumor necrosis factor during early postnatal ontogenesis

    Here, researchers found that administration of tnf-alpha resulted in behavioral changes into adulthood.

    Postnatal Inflammation Increases Seizure Susceptibility in Adult Rats

    Here we see that a single, transient dose of tnf alpha is sufficient to cause increased succeptibility to seizures into adulthood. Administration of tnf alpha antibodies makes the control and treatment groups undiscernable. Further, the changes are only noticeable if inflammation occurs during specific developmental timeframes. By the way, did you know that children with autism go on to develop epilepsy at far higher rates than children without that diagnosis?

    Glial activation links early-life seizures and long-term neurologic dysfunction: evidence using a small molecule inhibitor of proinflammatory cytokine upregulation

    Yet another telling us that early life seizures are predictive of ‘long term neurologic dysfunction'; and again, the driving factor is the immune response. There are many others.

    Now what I’m curious about is, how are all of these scientists getting funded if our understanding of the results of robust immune responses in early development are so well understood? Hasn’t this already been studied? Talk about a waste of funding and resources?

    Strangely enough, children with autism have been shown to generate TNF-Alpha at highly inflated rates compared to their peers to environmental pollutants, LPS, and food proteins.

    What do you know about that? Children with autism just happen to react far more robustly in ways that have been shown to cause or exaberbate conditions that have been observed in autism. What sets into motion the events leading to neurologic dysfunction is time dependent, and has nothing to do with the mercury content of the insult. If we were to restrict our analysis to immune respones that occur outside of such a critical window, why should we expect to learn anything of interest as to occurences within that window?

    The rest of your post is sadly, more of the same; general rants on vaccine safety to which I do not disagree in principle, and arguments I have not made.
    – pD

  149. #149 Jen
    April 14, 2009

    Even though the bulk of the injected mercury would bind to sulfur-containing proteins at the injection site

    What happens after that? Does the mercury bind irreversibly?
    Does it magically get shuttled out of the body on that protein sulfhydyl it initially bound to?>>>>>>>>>

    Wouldn’t administration of a sulfur-depleting compound (such as acetaminophen) in conjunction with thimerosal-containing vaccines somehow affect mercury metabolism?

    Just curious.

  150. #150 Vindaloo
    April 14, 2009

    It was asked about pipetting 1.56 uL or something like that. It’s completely unreasonable. Pick up a tutorial on serial dilutions and you’ll get up to speed.

    It’s impossible, even for a computer.

    It’s not impossible, I used to bullseye wamprats with my T16 back home and they’re not bigger than 2 meters.

    About the concentration vs amount confusion: As I tell my students when they first learn about intensive and extensive variables: does the density of a brick change because I cut it in half?

  151. #151 JP
    April 14, 2009

    So yes, I agree, if everything stayed constant then there should have been a concomitant decrease in autism as thiomersal was removed. This is only if everything stays constant, particularly, the rate of autism diagnosis.

    Incorrect. The “rate of diagnosis” is not constant and has not be constant for years. What has been constant is the rate of increase of the rate of diagnosis (or use of the label) which can be seen in say, for example, the CDDS data for the 3-5 year old autism caseload cohort over the past 12 years.

    For autism “epidemic” believers: There should have been a decrease in total caseload.
    For the slightly less irrational: There should have been a significant decrease in the rate of increase.

    Neither occurred.

    If the argument is now little more than yet another goalpost move, that this hypothetical link (one so small the epidemiology cannot see it) to thimerosal only applies to a small subset of kids, then the entire basis for investigation of the “thimerosal-containing vaccines dunnit” hypothesis first place disappears. But I digress.

    It seems like the publicity that autism has gotten(especially when thiomersal/MMR controversies came to light) would only have increased the awareness amongst medical professionals and therefore the rate of diagnosis. Therefore at the same time as thiomersal was removed the awareness went up, to me this is a confounder that needs to be addressed.(maybe it has, I just would need an explanation.)

    Yeah, thimerosal’s relatively swift reduction/removal is matched with identical increases in awareness on a quarterly basis so as to maintain a nearly flat (increasing) line with an R-squared value of .99+ in the 3-5 year old autism caseload cohort. That’s a fancy hypothesis, I think it needs to be established with actual data (vs. your imagination), then it could begin to be addressed. Your bring the hypothesis, you bring the data.

    Asking for explanation of a potential confound of something that completely lacks scientific basis and support in the first place (a decrease in autism due to the reduction/removal of thimerosal from childhood vaccines) is classic anti-vax by the way. It’s a sciency way to ask for negative proof.

  152. #152 Mishal
    April 15, 2009

    @ Doazic Is there even a word for this? This is like finding an African American who belongs to the KKK or a Jewish Nazi. (Yes the Godwin is necessary).

    The word you want is quisling.

  153. #153 Louis
    April 15, 2009

    “In the meantime, we have drastically increased the number of vaccines given at much earlier times in an infants life.”

    How about the number of antigens? What’s happened with those in the past few decades?

  154. #154 gaiainc
    April 15, 2009

    My understanding on antigens is that if you took all the vaccines that kids these days are supposed to get by age 2 and added all those antigens together, then compared it to one dose of the oral polio vaccine, the latter has more antigens. That’s about 34-36 vaccines combined having fewer antigens than a single vaccine I got when I was I a kid.

  155. #155 Dr. P
    April 15, 2009

    ‘The author’s of the paper cited also feel that large population based epidemiologic studies are not sensitive enough to detect minor high risk subpopulations.’Skeptiquette–and this is the core of my problem with this argument from a purely rhetorical sense( I am not my self involved in research). this was the same rationale used with Polling, in his letter to Pediatrics a few years ago—on the one hand we have a surge epidemiologicaly but the mechanism that purportedly drives this is too small to be measured. I understand your argument regarding increased awareness in diagnosis, but changes in awareness go back to the nineties with concomitant changes in the DSM IV;Thimerosol was being phased out 7 years or so later.The main argument from antivaxers is that this is not a small subpopulation but represents one of the main mechanisisms that explain the increase.If this is correct it should be obvious.

  156. #156 Jen
    April 15, 2009

    The main argument from antivaxers is that this is not a small subpopulation but represents one of the main mechanisisms that explain the increase.If this is correct it should be obvious.>>>>>>>>>

    Precisely. Thimerosal doesn’t cause autism. Can we move on now? Please?

  157. #157 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 15, 2009

    “Antaeus Feldspar and Scott,

    I don’t think that anybody is suggesting that we should not look at any new research with an open mind. To do otherwise is bad science.

    Science is not perfect. The analogy suggested that we are not able to look at vaccines in enough detail to detect problems. I think that the research makes it clear that this analogy is false, when it comes to vaccines.”

    And I agree with you. But I also believe you are mistaken in your very strongly-worded assumption that Becca disagrees with you. I believe Becca was trying to make the point to Jake that to do otherwise than look at new research with an open mind is bad science, and it would be even if all previous results obtained from good science pointed to the conclusion that is now being challenged.

    I concede that if this was the point, which I believe it was, it could have been more clearly expressed.

  158. #158 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 15, 2009

    If the argument is now … that this hypothetical link (one so small the epidemiology cannot see it) to thimerosal only applies to a small subset of kids, then the entire basis for investigation of the “thimerosal-containing vaccines dunnit” hypothesis first place disappears.

    As the kids say these days, THIS. The antivaxxers are hypothesizing an increased risk of autism from vaccines that is at the same time:

    • so large that it merits the label of “epidemic” and all the concomitant panic, not to mention venom at those who respond with skepticism instead of panicked credulity, and
    • so small and confined to special, rare circumstances that it cannot be detected.

    No special medical training is required to see that it cannot be both.

  159. #159 Piglette
    April 15, 2009

    “…what to my wondering eyes should appear but Jake Crosby showing up in the comments to confirm that I am absolutely right about this:”

    You come across as rather uncompromising in your views, don’t you think, mr orac? Your vitriolic writing proves to me that you are so set in your beliefs that those also reach the level of religious fervor, similar to those whom you set out to criticize.

    By the way, if the occurrence of autism increase from – say – 1 in a thousand to 2 in 100, that is a 20 times increase and could be perceived by the afflicted parties as epidemic. Still, a 2% subpopulation might remain undetected with a crude statistical approach.

  160. #160 Scott
    April 15, 2009

    Antaeus Feldspar and Scott,

    I don’t think that anybody is suggesting that we should not look at any new research with an open mind. To do otherwise is bad science.

    My point is that people are objecting to Becca’s argument of exactly that point. And are therefore espousing bad science.

  161. #161 Scott
    April 15, 2009

    By the way, if the occurrence of autism increase from – say – 1 in a thousand to 2 in 100, that is a 20 times increase and could be perceived by the afflicted parties as epidemic. Still, a 2% subpopulation might remain undetected with a crude statistical approach.

    Please try again. Detecting an effect in 95% of the autistic population would be beyond trivial. It would in fact be completely impossible to miss. In order to get it undetectable, you have to assert that it accounts for only a very small fraction of autism cases so that it can be lost in the noise.

  162. #162 passionlessDrone
    April 15, 2009

    Hi Louis –

    How about the number of antigens? What’s happened with those in the past few decades?

    I love this argument.

    To answer your question technically, the number of antigens has decreased. For a table showing this decrease, here is a table provided by none other than Dr. Paul Offit.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/109/1/124.pdf [see page 5]

    The bigger problem is that the answer to this question is almost completely utility free if we wish to gather meaningful information about vaccine safety, our ability to extrapolate thimerosal studies out to ‘vaccines in general’, or the effect of stimulating the immune system in infants.

    You may notice that the entire drop in antigens is related to the reformulation of a single vaccine, the change from DTP to DTAP. Consider that DTAP was introduced in 1998, but other vaccines like variacella (69 antigens) and pneumococal (8 antigens) were added afterwards. But with a total of 123 antigens, this means that since the DTP/DTAP conversion, we have over doubled the number of scary antigens that our children are exposed to by introducing variacella and pneumococal. Does this mean that the vaccine schedule is twice as dangerous as it was in 1998? Strangely enough, Mr. Offit seems to believe that an infant could mount a response to 10,000 vaccines simultaneously (see page 4), this means that he thinks they could respond to a simultaneous injection of three entire schedules from decades past. If you think that higher numbers of antigens are meaningful, you seem to be odds with Mr. Offit.

    Further, the number of antigens isn’t the only thing that generates an immune response; especially in vaccines which come packaged with aluminum based adjuvants designed to insure that a strong innate immune response is initiated. It also it turns out, the robustness of the immune response is highly variable on a person by person basis. Children with autism, it has been observed, seem to be predisposed to generate exaggerated immune responses when compared to other children. This reality is invisible to the overwhelming majority of our existing studies, which compare only the presence or absence of thimerosal.

    – pD

  163. #163 Joseph
    April 15, 2009

    This reality is invisible to the overwhelming majority of our existing studies, which compare only the presence or absence of thimerosal.

    And who do you have to thank for that, pD? The anti-vaxers, of course; namely SafeMinds, Generation Rescue with “autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning,” and so forth.

    The CDC went out of its way to appease these guys.

    Now that the anti-vaxers are changing their tune, do you think it’s surprising that they aren’t taken as seriously? Should they be? Is there any reason whatsoever to believe they might be on to something this time around?

  164. #164 skeptiquette
    April 15, 2009

    A silly stupid mistake on my part
    Thanks for the correction!

    i was comparing the initial concentration of TCV with final concentration of aliqout to bathe cells. Duh!

    So it is correct that the lowest concentration used in this study was two times the “worst case scenario” for a 6.6 lb baby, promulgated by prometheus. 15.6 mcg/L compared to 31.2 mcg/L.

    Now that we are past that point. I guess my interest with thiomersal stems from all the research that keeps coming up. I try to stay current with autism research and every few weeks there is another study looking at thiomersal and various effects. To say that “its the mercury” is obviously not accurate. To say that ethyl mercury may have/had a deleterious effect on a subpopulation of individuals does seem accurate, to me. Although, I would not extrapolate this to: “it is the cause of autism.” Whether or not I would condone the continued allocation of research funds to look at the effects of low dose thiomersal exposure, it seems fair game, as there is a aura of mystery still cloaking this particular organo mercurial compound, and that it is still injected into millions and millions of babies a year around the world. This is, however, a moot point to me, because I don’t fund nor look for funding for autism research, rather I just read what comes out. I also read research regarding the immunological basis of autism, and this is far more intriguing! But to some extent these two subcategories overlap.

    I think that pD has raised some very important points in a previous post (addressed to rogue medic) that would be interesting to discuss based on the available research.

    I will try to get to some of the points later tonight.

    again sorry for my obtuseness regarding the earlier debate.

  165. #165 Joseph
    April 15, 2009

    I guess my interest with thiomersal stems from all the research that keeps coming up. I try to stay current with autism research and every few weeks there is another study looking at thiomersal and various effects.

    You have to keep in mind that the reason these studies keep coming up is not likely because this is an important avenue of research in terms of understanding autism. It probably has to do with litigation-related interests.

    There are much more promising avenues of research.

  166. #166 skeptiquette
    April 15, 2009

    This may be, I haven’t checked into the varioius authors’ backrounds to ascertain this.(some of them, I have) I do know that the Geier’s have a conflict of interest in this department. Although, I still read their research, just as I still read research generated by Paul offit, Gregory Poland and others. One has to keep these things in mind, but at the same time take each bit of research on a case by case basis. Discounting, research from a author with a conflict of interest, IMO, falls under a slippery slope fallacy. (unless of course, you have read the research and have found valid reasons to discount it). Just trying to remain objective.

  167. #167 The Perky Skeptic
    April 15, 2009

    Am I the only person on earth driven nuts by “thiomersal”/”thimerosal”/”thimerasol” thing? I wish whoever is in charge of naming chemicals would just declare by fiat “THIS is the RIGHT name!!!”

    Guess I need to take my paxil/paroxetine/seroxat. ;)

  168. #168 Scott
    April 15, 2009

    The conflict of interest isn’t the main reason to disregard the Geiers. The reasons to ignore them are (a) a lack of relevant qualifications and (b) an uninterrupted history of producing ‘research’ that would be unjustifiably flattered by calling it ‘garbage.’ The conflict of interest mainly serves as an explanation of these points.

    Once things reach a certain level, it *is* entirely justifiable to completely disregard an author or authors. The Geiers reached that point a LONG time ago. Objectivity most emphatically does NOT demand that you give every loon an equal hearing (once they have demonstrated themselves to be loons).

  169. #169 Ben Dover
    April 15, 2009

    Jake,
    Be careful. Orac likes young boys.

  170. #170 Chris
    April 15, 2009

    Mr. Dover you a skating very close to libel.

  171. #171 Señor Observer
    April 16, 2009

    “Now that we are past that point. I guess my interest with thiomersal stems from all the research that keeps coming up.”

    ¿Verdad? ¿No piensas que tiene que hacer con años de obsesión (especialmente con concentraciones)?

  172. #172 Piglette
    April 16, 2009

    Scott writes: “Please try again. Detecting an effect in 95% of the autistic population would be beyond trivial. It would in fact be completely impossible to miss. In order to get it undetectable, you have to assert that it accounts for only a very small fraction of autism cases so that it can be lost in the noise.”

    Are you saying that there was a study that compared groups of autistic people where one group had received vaccination with Thimerosal whereas the other did not, and still the frequency of autism was similar when compared to the respective healthy populations? If yes, please point that out to me.

  173. #173 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 16, 2009

    Are you saying that there was a study that compared groups of autistic people where one group had received vaccination with Thimerosal whereas the other did not, and still the frequency of autism was similar when compared to the respective healthy populations?

    In a study that compares groups of autistic people, the frequency of autism is pretty obviously going to be 100%.

  174. #174 Scott
    April 16, 2009

    Are you saying that there was a study that compared groups of autistic people where one group had received vaccination with Thimerosal whereas the other did not, and still the frequency of autism was similar when compared to the respective healthy populations? If yes, please point that out to me.

    While AF’s point is quite correct, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the first “autistic” wasn’t intended.

    But if you want pointers to such studies, sure. They’re quite easy to find. For example, one of Orac’s posts with cites to several:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/mercury_in_vaccines_as_a_cause_of_autism.php

    What there has *not* been is a decent study indicating that there *is* a correlation between thimerosal and autism. Between that and the huge amount of research finding no correlation, that particular dead horse has been kicked so hard it’s in orbit!

  175. #175 Skeptigirl
    April 16, 2009

    My thanks also to Antaeus Feldspar for the link above to the paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”

    I continue to promote the importance of research into why people think like Jake, and more importantly, what to do about it if we want to increase the critical thinking skills of the public.

    It’s easy to write Jake off as unreachable. And with our current knowledge of how one might get through to such a mindset, that is probably a correct assessment. But rather than resigning in defeat, we can put the scientific method to good use investigating the cause of such a mindset, and generating new hypotheses for solutions to getting through.

    In addition to being incompetent to judge good and bad science for themselves, people like Jake are also convinced those of us who are competent are either all duped or all in on the conspiracy.

    Jake, if you are reading these comments, have you ever asked yourself how many doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and other health care workers, medical researchers, and public health workers from countries all over the world there are? Are they all incompetent, brain washed, or in on the conspiracy?

    Yet you and a handful of anti-vaxers managed to see this vast conspiracy, complete with hundreds of faked studies? Not to mention how many of us have our own kids which we wouldn’t think of not vaccinating given our personal expertise in medicine and our personal review of the medical research that’s available.

    Were you aware that drug companies were not the sole source of money for vaccine research? Were you aware that many countries other than the US have funded vaccine research? Do you think that none of the graduates in the medical fields are capable of assessing the influence of research funding in biasing research results? Think none of us care about any of that? Only people outside the system care?

    Just some thoughts about the beliefs and thought processes that go into the mindset of people like Jake. We need to reanalyze the problem once we’ve found that a knowledge deficit is not the reason for people thinking like Jake. There are barriers to that knowledge which are causing the deficit. Throwing more knowledge at a barrier isn’t effective. Applying our scientific principles and skills is what we need to do to get past ‘Jake’ barriers.

  176. #176 film izle
    February 6, 2011

    That is what is so frustrating. If people are impervious to reason, and tell you as such, you still feel like you’re crassly banging your head against the wall, even as you describe elegantly designed studies.

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