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After writing about a new low of pseudoscience published in that repository of all things antivaccine and quackery, The Huffington Post (do you even have to ask?), on Tuesday, I had hoped–really hoped–that I could ignore HuffPo for a while. After all, there’s only so much stupid that even Orac can tolerate before his logic circuits start shorting out and he has to shut down a while so that his self-repair circuits can undo the damage. Besides, I sometimes think that the twit who created HuffPo, Arianna Huffington, likes the attention that pseudoscience turds dropped onto her blog by quackery boosters of the like of Kim Evans garner. Certainly, the HuffPo editors seem utterly untroubled that, among physicians and medical scientists, HuffPo is viewed with utter contempt and ridicule. Certainly, I view Arianna’s vanity project that way whenever it publishes the antivaccine stylings of ignoramuses like Deirdre Imus or cranks like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and David Kirby, especially now that HuffPo’s decided that antivaccine nonsense isn’t enough and that it needs to “kick the pseudoscience up a notch” with its latest quack recruits.

Apparently, HuffPo has decided that even Kim Evans is not enough to bury its reputation when it comes to any form of medical science so deep into the mud that it would require nuclear weapons to blast it out; that is, if you even accept the contention that HuffPo even has a reputation for medical science. What am I talking about? I’m sure many of you know; you’ve deluged me with copies of links to this article. No, no, don’t worry, I’m not annoyed. It tells me that you, my readers, feel that this article is something that so desperately cries out for a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence and that said Insolence is what you desperately want to see applied to it.

Never let it be said that I don’t give the people what they want.

In fact, I so wanted to give the people that what they wanted on this one that I decided to save the post as a web archive and write this on the plane as I was coming home from Denver last night, leaving only the addition of relevant links as necessary upon my arrival home. So, welcome the latest arrogant idiot to the Huffington Post’s merry band of antivaccinationists. No, it’s not Jenny McCarthy, although I’m surprised that HuffPo didn’t recruit Jenny McCarthy to blog for it long ago. Unfortunately, it did recruit her boyfriend, perhaps because his A-list celebrity (as in danger of fading to B- and C-list as it is) far outshines Jenny’s D-minus-list celebrity. Yes, I’m talking about Jim Carrey, who applies his “intellectual firepower” (such as it is) to an article entitled The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???

Oh, the stupid, it does so burn.

You know, reading this article, a horrific vision came into my head. What if Jenny and Jim actually had a child? What if they actually reproduced? What would their offspring be like? I fear he would be the Antichrist of Stupid, whose power would suck all intelligence, reason and science out of the world, the better to usher in an Armageddon of Stupid against which the armies of reason might not be able to stand. If that were to happen, it would usher in a new age of dumb, a dumb so deep and profund that it might be thousands of years before humans were able to rub two stones together and make fire again.

But I digress.

In fact, what Carrey reminds me of more than anything else in this post is a character he used to play on his old sketch comedy show from the 1990s In Living Color, namely Fire Marshal Bill. Fire Marshal Bill, as you may recall, was a hideously burned Fire Marshall who would give lectures on fire safety during which he would, to comic effect, demonstrate all the dangerous things you shouldn’t do with fire, electricity, water, or whatever household objects or substances that can wreak havoc when people are careless with them, inevitably having things blow up in his face or burn him in the process. This post is a lot like a Fire Marshall Bill sketch in that Carrey lectures us about vaccines but keeps burning himself with flaming stupid every time he tries to make an argument. Before I discuss his HuffPo fiasco, I’d like you to watch this four minute video and then picture Carrey’s post being read in the voice of Fire Marshal Bill, especially his characteristic cackle. Trust me, it’ll help you take Carrey’s post exactly as seriously as it deserves:

In fact, Fire Marshal Bill’s warnings about all sorts of horrific dangers in everyday items that can only be produced if he does ridiculously over-the-top things reminds me exactly of his complaints against vaccines in this article. The stupidity starts out right from the first paragraph. Again, read this in a Fire Marshal Bill voice:

Recently, I was amazed to hear a commentary by CNN’s Campbell Brown on the controversial vaccine issue. After a ruling by the ‘special vaccine court’ saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn’t found to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ autism, she and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe. No one would be more relieved than Jenny and I if that were true. But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won’t be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe.

Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill–I mean Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim. How can you be so ignorant of what the test cases for the Autism Omnibus actually were? Here’s a hint: They weren’t chosen at random. If they were, you might have a point. Unfortunately for your brain dead argument, these were not just any cases picked at random; they were the very best cases the plaintiffs could come up with. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs chose them to put their best foot forward, and if any of them had been found credible by the Vaccine Court, then the rest of the cases would have gone forward. Moreover, these cases were tried in a special court in which the standards of evidence were clearly looser than they were in a standard court. The Daubert standard, which regulates what does and does not constitute acceptable scientific evidence and who can and cannot be used as an “expert” witness, was not in force. Speculation was permitted, and all that was required to potentially win a settlement was a “biologically plausible” mechanism. Under even that lax standard, the “crėme de la crėme” of cases that the antivaccine movement could come up as having had their autism caused by vaccines could not stand. They were roundly rejected, and the Special Masters castigated the autism quacks who had encouraged the parents of these very, very unfortunate children to hold on to the delusion that vaccines had caused their children’s autism and that their quackery could cure it.

Next, we get a lesson in “logic” from Jim:

This is a huge leap of logic by anyone’s standards. Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.

I discussed this specious analogy in nauseating detail when Jenny’s son Evan’s pediatrician, an old “friend” of the blog Dr. Jay Gordon, used it, but I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version here. First, mass produced cigarettes didn’t really become available until the late 1800s/early 1900s. Before that, it was necessary to roll one’s own, which naturally limited tobacco consumption, because rolling one’s own is a pain. You don’t get too many people who can smoke 40 cigarettes (i.e., two packs) a day rolling their own, but if all they have to do is to buy them premade then it becomes easy. Moroever, there is a time lag between smoking exposure and the development of lung cancer of about twenty years. Lo, and behold! That’s about how long it took for the increasing prevalence of lung cancer to start to make itself known. These stories may be apocryphal, but in the early 1900s, there were stories of how whenever an autopsy was being done of a person who had died of lung cancer, professors would urge their students to attend because they might not see another case in their careers. By the 1930s and 1940s, lung cancer was becoming a lot more common, and that’s when scientists started to notice. So right off the bat, Carrey’s “100 years” gambit is profoundly historically ignorant. In 1909, some doctors suspected that smoking may have been unhealthy, but had no clue that it was a cause of lung cancer. Indeed, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that such suspicions began to be backed up with evidence, from (of all places) Nazi scientists, which is perhaps why it took another 20 years before American scientists truly started to accept that cigarette smoking was linked with lung cancer. (See Robert N. Proctor’s excellent book, The Nazi War on Cancer for a detailed treatment of this topic.)

But what really makes this analogy so brain dead is that it was the very epidemiological methods that have so consistently failed to find any correlation between vaccines and autism that led scientists to realize that smoking is strongly correlated with cancer. Jim, while accepting the epidemiology linking tobacco smoke to cancer, rejects the very same sorts of methodology when it doesn’t produce the results he wants to see. Moreover, tobacco companies used the same sorts of denialist tactics that the antivaccine movement uses: Bad studies, pseudoexperts, friendly media contacts, coopted physicians, appeals to emotion twisting and cherry picking scientific studies and dishonest PR campaigns run by a cadre of attack dogs ready to pounce on any new study, looking for any flaws, real or imagined, that they can exploit to sow doubt. Antivaccinationists use the same techniques amplified by the ability of the Internet to spread misinformation even faster than it spreads information. They don’t need nearly the level of financial clout that tobacco companies did back in the 1950s, because celebrity and the Internet have become the great levelers, allowing them to spread their message far and wide at much less cost. If anyone resembles the tobacco companies in this analogy, it’s the antivaccine movement, which would make Jim Carrey the equivalent of the Marlboro Man, only not as handsome and rugged.

Next, after repeating the “show me the study” nonsense seen in Generation Rescue’s odiously dubious “Fourteen Studies” website. Fire Marhsal Bill proceeds to a massive straw man (which, true to form for Fire Marshal Bill, he burns down, destroying his argument in the process) coupled with scientific misinformation:

If we are to believe that the ruling of the ‘vaccine court’ in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.

No, if we are to believe the ruling of the Vaccine Court, the “test cases,” the very best cases the plaintiffs could come up with to convince the Special Masters that vaccines “injured” these children by causing their autism, utterly failed to meet the even the lax scientific standards required by the vaccine court. Moreover, as I’ve discussed in detail before, the court did not concede that vaccines caused autism in either Hannah Poling or Bailey Banks. This is nothing more than a talking point credulously parroted by the antivaccine movement’s Fire Marshal Bill, all to blow up in his face. Indeed, the straw man claiming that vaccine defenders argue that the Vaccine Court ruling means “all” vaccines are “safe” is so massive, that likely it was the burning of this straw man with the white hot flame of stupid that so disfigured our Fire Marshall Bill. And, as was the case for Fire Marshal Bill, Carrey remains utterly unfazed and unaware of just how dumb he’s been. The arrogance of ignorance strikes again, and Fire Marshal Bill destroys another building.

The vaccines in the vaccination schedule are not safe because of any Court ruling, as Courts do not determine matters of science except when they intersect with matters of law, and then they all too often don’t do such a good job. Vaccines in the current vaccination schedule are safe because they have been shown in scientific studies to be safe, and numerous epidemiological studies have failed to link them with autism. What the Court says about this is irrelevant to the science; it is only relevant to policy and the law. I say this now even though the Court made the right decision based on science, and I would have said exactly the same thing if, as I had originally feared, the emotional stories of the children in the three test cases had swayed the court to rule that vaccines caused their autism.

Next, Fire Marshal Bill trumpets anecdotal evidence:

In this growing crisis, we cannot afford to blindly trumpet the agenda of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or vaccine makers. Now more than ever, we must resist the urge to close this book before it’s been written. The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered. The legitimate concern they and many in the scientific community have that environmental toxins, including those found in vaccines, may be causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD), cannot be dissuaded by a show of sympathy and a friendly invitation to look for the ‘real’ cause of autism anywhere but within the lucrative vaccine program.

Once again, the plural of “anecdotes” is not “data.” It just isn’t. This is the same old fallacy that has been parroted again and again by the antivaccine movement. I find it interesting how the “thousands” of parents who think vaccination caused their children to regress has now been pumped up three orders of magnitude to “millions” without a single bit of evidence to support it, not even the sort of incredibly low quality “evidence” that passes for data to Generation Rescue and the antivaccine movement. I also notice how now it’s not enough to blame vaccines for autism. Oh, no. The goalposts shift, and the “hypotheses” morph. Now it’s not just autism, but ADD, ADHD, and pretty much every neurodevelopmental disorder under the sun. In any case, because the age range during which most cases of autism are diagnosed coincides with the ages during which children receive the bulk of their vaccines, by coincidence alone, there will be children who regress in temporal proximity to receiving vaccinations. Because humans are pattern-seeking animals, we are often too quick to confuse such correlations with causations. Sometimes they are, but often they aren’t. The way to answer the question and determine if correlation is likely to mean causation is to use science and epidemiology to control for correlations that occur by random chance alone or because of other confounding factors. These epidemiological studies have been done, and they have failed to find a correlation between vaccination and autism.

Whoosh! Another fire engulfs Fire Marshal Bill, who, utterly unaware of his own incompetence, soldiers on, completely unfazed.

Bill next goes on to regurgitate the usual evil big pharma conspiracy mongering (with the CDC, AAP, and the government, of course), in the course repeating the usual lie about Paul Offit and the rotavirus vaccine, which has been refuted time and time again. Other than to acknowledge that it’s part of his post, I see no point in a detailed refutation of the paranoid stylings I mean, really. If Fire Marshal Bill can’t even get that little fact right, what does that say about the rest of his post?

Next, Fire Marshal Bill tries to dazzle us with his knowledge of….science! The result is painful to watch: After spewing the results of the incompetent and intellectually dishonest Generation Rescue “study” that claims to correlate the number of vaccines mandated by each nation with its autism prevalence and child mortality rate, he writes:

I’ve also heard it said that no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has ever been found. That statement is only true for the CDC, the AAP and the vaccine makers who’ve been ignoring mountains of scientific information and testimony. There’s no evidence of the Lincoln Memorial if you look the other way and refuse to turn around. But if you care to look, it’s really quite impressive. For a sample of vaccine injury evidence go to www.generationrescue.org/lincolnmemorial.html.

Which is about as good a description of the antivaccine movement as I’ve ever seen. No doubt Fire Marshal Bill thinks he’s made a slam dunk analogy, but in fact scientists have looked in the direction that the antivaccine movement wants them to. In fact, they’ve coddled and cajoled the antivaccine fringe far beyond what science would require. The evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism was, from a strictly scientific standpoint, more than strong enough to let this line of research drop as being unproductive several years ago. The only reason scientists keep reinventing the wheel and doing the same types of studies over and over again is in the futile hope that either the weight of evidence will finally persuade the foes of vaccination or that they will find something all the other studies have missed. Neither outcome is likely.

Just like what happens with a Fire Marshal Bill sketch, our antivaccine Fire Marshal builds up to a crescendo of mishaps that truly boggles the mind, all the while not having a single clue of how stupid his actions are (or, in this case, Carrey’s arguments):

We have never argued that people shouldn’t be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio, but surely there’s a limit as to how many viruses and toxins can be introduced into the body of a small child. Veterinarians found out years ago that in many cases they were over-immunizing our pets, a syndrome they call Vaccinosis. It overwhelmed the immune system of the animals, causing myriad physical and neurological disorders. Sound familiar? If you can over-immunize a dog, is it so far out to assume that you can over-immunize a child? These forward thinking vets also decided to remove thimerosal from animal vaccines in 1992, and yet this substance, which is 49% mercury, is still in human vaccines. Don’t our children deserve as much consideration as our pets?

Oh, noes! It’s the dreaded “toxins” gambit. At least Fire Marshal Bill didn’t mention formaldehyide. Perhaps Dr. Jay warned him that the “formaldehyde” gambit only makes him look even stupider than he already looks. Oh, wait. No, Carrey goes straight for the formaldehyde gambit! Look away:

In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad. While ingredients like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze may help preserve and enhance vaccines, they can be toxic as well.

I’m too tired to deconstruct that most idiotic of antivaccine misinformation, the “formaldehyde gambit again other than to say that the body makes a fair amount of formaldehyde just from normal metabolism and that Carrey probably breathes more formaldehyde sitting in L.A. traffic for an hour than is contained in every vaccine in the childhood vaccination schedule; so I’ll refer you to an old post where I schooled Dr. Jay so hard that he has never–ever–repeated the “formaldehyde gambit” again. Indeed, I haven’t even heard Jenny McCarthy use that gambit since then, although I could have missed it. Too bad Dr. Jay apparently neglected to let Fire Marshal Bill know just how dumb using this gambit makes him look or that there is no ether in vaccines. (The whole “ether” thing is the result of ignorance of chemistry; if the word “ether” appears in a chemical name, the idiots who came up with the “ether” gambit think that it means there’s ether–as in the ether that used to be used as an anesthetic–in it.) Here’s another hint for our intellectually challenged antivaccine spokesactor: There’s no antifreeze in vaccines, either. That’s another canard cooked up by the chemically clueless.

In any case, note how Carrey plays the usual “we’re not ‘anti-vaccine,’ we’re ‘pro-safe vaccine'” gambit and seems to want to decided which diseases are “serious” enough to warrant vaccination. How about whooping cough, Jim? Is that “serious enough” for you? What about Hemophilus influenza type b (Hib), a disease that until the development of an effective vaccine in the late 1980s/early 1990s was the scourge of children and a pediatrician’s most dread foe, a disease that could cause encephalitis and death in a large proportion of children who contracted it? It’s nearly unheard of now, thanks to vaccines, so much so that most younger pediatricians have never seen a case. Is that “serious enough” for you, given that it’s arguably more serious a disease than measles? If not, why didn’t you mention it?

Truly, the burning stupid burns Fire Marshal Bill yet again.

In any case, vaccinosis is a rather dubious diagnosis. Google it and you’ll see what I mean. Even Google Scholar it. The vast majority of the hits come from antivaccine websites or “natural pet health” websites. If you search for the term in PubMed, very little is found–only ten articles, most of which are pre-1970 in foreign language journals and two of which are in the journal Homeopathy (hardly a major endorsement for the scientific validity of the concept). Dr. David Ramey has done a good job of discussing the issues involved in animal vaccination. Suffice it to say that, even if vaccinosis were as horrible as claimed, which it’s not, there is a lot of non-evidence-based practice in animal vaccination (for instance, needing such frequent boosters for rabies and other diseases), and animal vaccines are not held to as high a standard of purity as human vaccines are.

The more I read Jim Carrey’s HuffPo blog post and contemplate the similarities, the more I think the analogy to Fire Marshal Bill is an apt one. Indeed, I can’t read Carrey’s post (if in fact Carrey actually wrote it, which I sincerely doubt). We’ve even already seen the results of what happens when Fire Marshal Bill discusses medicine:

Think of Carrey’s HuffPo article as the same sort of thing, only without the comedic intent. Carrey is dead serious about the antivaccine pseudoscience he espouses.

Truly, J.B. Handley must be overjoyed that he’s found his very own celebrity spokesperson who is actually still famous (as compared to Jenny McCarthy, whose fame had waned long ago, after her Playboy and MTV days ended and she descended into gross-out comedy before delving deeply into “Indigo” woo). Even better, Jim Carrey has everything that J.B. could want in a celebrity spokesperson: Fame, charisma, and a brain consisting of two neurons connected by a spirochete who’s willing to repeat anything he’s told by Generation Rescue while making the most the most disingenuous disclaimers, statements such as “no one would be more relieved than Jenny and I” if vaccines were proven safe.

Jim might be, but I highly doubt Jenny would be. Her new fame depends entirely upon the antivaccination hysteria she has been stoking since the fall of 2007. Where would she be without it? I’ll tell you: She’d still be peddling her “Indigo” and “Crystal” New Age woo, as she did until when she transformed herself into a “warrior mom” against autism and tried to scrub all evidence of her previous favorite woo (before she moved on to antivaccine and autism quackery) from the Internet.

Meanwhile, the antivaccine echo chamber that is HuffPo should, as always, be ashamed of itself for publishing such copious quantities of dangerous pseudoscience. Unfortunately, the editors of HuffPo, apparently like Jim Carrey, have no shame. Let’s put it this way. When celebrity gossip sites like Gawker start making fun of the quackery and antivaccination idiocy being laid down by Carrey on Arianna Huffington’s vanity project, you know it’s bad.

Comments

  1. #1 The Horrible One
    April 27, 2009

    Sweet Cheesus… Apparently I’m good at emulating the thought processes of the champions of paranoia. And I just heard that someone had cleverly deducted that the actual purpose is indeed to make people get vaccinated – in order to give them the avian flu.

  2. #2 LW
    April 27, 2009

    Thank you, Mu. I just realized that autism is caused by homeopathic antigens.

    For vaccination, you select a weaker, less deadly strain of the virus, treat it to reduce its deadliness still further (maybe even “kill” it or just use part of it), and introduce a small quantity in a way that minimizes its ability to attack the human body, but at the same time gives the body an opportunity to attack it. Well, naturally (homeopathically) you’d expect a far more devastating result from this than you’d get with a full-on dose of a deadly wild strain introduced in the way the virus is evolved to attack.

    The only way you could make this worse is if you succussed the vaccine while you were preparing it … but I bet those eeevil pharma companies do that too.

  3. #3 Mu
    April 27, 2009

    Homeopathic vaccines! Why haven’t we thought of that before. Kill like with like, use measles virus in high dilution to prevent further measles.
    Ah, no, can’t be, that’s how they do it in the first place. So homeopathy is really vaccinations in disguise. That will give some people an moral problem I think.

  4. #4 HW
    April 27, 2009

    But you’re forgetting the critical importance of intention in homeopathic preparation. Measles virus in high dilution would prevent further measles if virtuous homeopaths prepared the vaccine and diluted away all traces of the virus. But when eeevil pharma companies do it, they think eeevil thoughts at the vaccine — and probably success it upside down, too — and thus it causes far more harm than the undiluted wild virus.

  5. #5 gpmtrixie
    April 27, 2009

    flimflam @ 158

    I found a video of what looks like the show you mention.

    http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunday-night/video/-/watch/13165619/

    How incredibly sad that this family had to be forced into the spotlight on the danger of the anti-vax message. The loony-tune who runs the anti-vax group sounds American. My apologies to Australia…looks like we’re exporting the crazies.

  6. #6 Dawn
    April 27, 2009

    Hey Orac,

    I think you ought to correct your stupid powers that be. Apparently there is some real misinformation floating around the CDC. It is their words, not mind.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/child/2009/09_0-6yrs_schedule_pr.pdf

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/vis/downloads/vis-multi.pdf

    Let’s see if you geniuses can figure out what is wrong with this picture. Maybe you guys should try your talent at the CDC’s headquarters, hum?

  7. #7 Jay Gordon
    April 27, 2009

    I don’t drink. I also attempt to engage in civil conversation even when on line. I had forgotten that there’s a bond of incivility here which I’ve never been able to understand.

    There’s very little intellectual curiosity, either. How about this: Any and all medical interventions can create side effects. Vaccines can create the occasional side effect of so-called regressive autism. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon. It doesn’t occur as often as some might say it does but denying that it occurs is dishonest.

    I know normal growth and development very well,as any experienced pediatrician should. Regression is not difficult to diagnose. “Language” at this age is happy babbling, and happy interactive play is the norm in babies this age. Those of you here with children know this.

    Prometheus, when you’re unpardonably rude you should at least be right. You’re not. You’re just obnoxious in your comments this time.

    If there’s really anyone on here who believes that this H1N1 influenza poses a threat of a dangerous pandemic I’d be quite surprised.

  8. #8 Orac
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Jay:

    Vaccines can create the occasional side effect of so-called regressive autism.

    No, Dr. Jay. They don’t. At least, there is no scientific or epidemiological evidence that they do. This has been studied time and time again, and there is no correlation between vaccination and regressive autism. You know this. It’s been pointed out to you time and time again, but still you repeat the same nonsense, without being able to cite one decent study to support your belief.

    I’ve witnessed this phenomenon. It doesn’t occur as often as some might say it does but denying that it occurs is dishonest.

    No, Dr. Jay. You think you’ve witnessed this phenomenon. Moreover, because you are widely known as an anti-vaccine sympathizer (no, no, don’t try to deny it; you’ve shown it so many times in so many ways), you attract parents who fervently believe that vaccines caused their children’s autism from far and wide. In any case, as I’ve pointed out time and time again, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. I’ve also pointed out that you keep falling prey to all of the cognitive quirks that science is designed to minimize, apparently thinking yourself, thanks to your “clinical experience” somehow immune from them. You’re not. The difference between scientific medicine and anecdotal medicine (which is what you favor) is that we scientists recognize our shortcomings. Indeed, that’s the reason that the scientific method was developed: In recognition that methodology is needed to control for human bias and various confounding factors. We scientists recognize our own shortcomings in this matter, or, as Dirty Harry once put it, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

    You don’t know your own limitations, Dr. Jay, and that’s why you keep spouting pseudoscientific nonsense.

  9. #9 Vindaloo
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Jay (the boy who cried HIPPA), Prometheus was right about you.

    Your convenient broadening of the definition of language is veneer over bullshit. Stick to the teeth whiteners, actors, and quack book jackets.

  10. #10 Chris
    April 28, 2009

    Dr. Gordon, you still need to keep up with the medical literature.

    Despite you telling us you know what a pediatrician should know, you have demonstrated a faulty knowledge of autism diagnosis, HIPAA rules and even the vaccine schedule. Even if you do not drink, your past midnight posting is not a good sign.

    I read somewhere that you do not deal with health insurance, that you are a cash only practice. Considering that you lack some basic knowledge and deal only in cash or credit card, and it was your actions that provided the information: you are a pediatrician that any parent who wanted to best for their child should avoid!

    Disclaimer: posted under the influence of wine.

    Disclaimer: parent of an adult child who has medical issues that were first noticed as a newborn; before any vaccine and includes a severe learning disability and physical issues — I have college friends whose younger “autistic” kids actually function better than my kid did at their age.

  11. #11 Curtis E. Flush
    April 28, 2009

    “I had forgotten that there’s a bond of incivility here which I’ve never been able to understand.”

    Think of it like this Dr. Dumbshit… you seem to promote stupidity on a pretty regular basis. You might even be an irritation to a good portion of the 99% of parents who don’t believe their autistic children were made that way by vaccines. Why on earth should anyone be civil to you? You may consider yourself civil, but you probably do more to help promote the spread of vaccine-preventable disease than you do to help any autistic people or their parents.

  12. #12 Chris
    April 28, 2009

    A reminder to the “pediatrician to the stars”… remember that for every person in front of the camera lens, there are several more behind the camera. Many of those folks have more functioning brain cells than your average actor — and if there are any who are bringing their child to your clinic; they should be advised to leave and take their children to a competent doctor!

  13. #13 FlimFlam
    April 28, 2009

    but jay, you don’t just get to make shit up. It’s not funny anymore.
    Kids are dying because of you and you fame whore friends. how many fricking times! there is no autism/vax link!. It’s all a steaming pile of crap.
    It doesn’t matter how much you want it to be true just so you can be some kind of super hero doctor to the stars.
    YOU COULDN’T BE MORE WRONG.
    maybe you should check out the australian doco & take a good hard look at the parents of the little baby who died of whooping cough because the area she lived in was full of your kind of patients, you know, too cool to vax, those deep thinkers, well educated google PHD warrior mommies. They had to watch their baby die. What would you say to them dr jay? hey. better a dead baby than an autistic one right? because that’s what the propaganda sounds like ” OMG! autism so scary! better not vax even if my baby might die!”
    As for dishonesty…you are full of it!. where are all the peer reviewed studies of all these imaginary children instantly regressing into autism after one vax?. they must be there right? i mean, generation rescue are talking about millions of kids. Where are they?.
    Why couldn’t the autism omnibus complainants find a single decent case out of the allegedly millions of affected kids?.

    Deep deep down under the layers of pomposity and ego defences you know the answer jay.. you know there’s no link. How many vaccine preventable deaths will it take before you and your fuckwit mates fess up and admit you’ve been so so wrong?. 100’s, 1000’s?.
    you know unvaccinated kids with autism are just as vulnerable as to V.P.D don’t you?. or does autism have some protective effect. shielding them from the ebil virus’s?. Also, i’m heartily sick of hearing about the generation rescue/mcarthyite parents of autistic kids & how i’m supposed to never question them even when they are full of crap and inflicting dangerous and painful unproven “treatments” on their long suffering kids and putting everyone elses kids at risk with their idiotic anti vax posturing. just in case they might have to think about something other than blaming vaccines and maybe just learn to love & accept their kids as they are .

    Autism is not a death sentence, it is not the worst thing that can happen to a kid. Autistic kids and adults are part of society, and have just as much right to be treated with respect as everyone else. They are not evil soul sucking monster people& i’m heartily sick of all the anti auti hate speech from the jenny mcarthy idiocy circus.

  14. #14 cooler
    April 28, 2009

    Dr. Jay Gordon is absolutely right. Here is a local news report where two kids were totally normal and then became autistic right after the vaccines. Poor kids, along with Hannah poling. Epidemiology mostly from other countries might not detect susceptible populations.

    And remember, these correlations can prove causality because the cause and the effect are separated by hours and days, not 10-30 years like HIV and Hepatitis C. Since the most if not all of the HIV/HEP C hypothesis are based on correlations where the cause and effect are separated by decades, one has to accept causality if the cause and effect are separated by a few hours or days.

  15. #15 antipodean
    April 28, 2009

    “..one has to accept causality if the cause and effect are separated by a few hours or days.”

    Not a cause. Not an effect. Because there is no correlation.

    And anecdotes are still not data.

  16. #16 Tassie Devil
    April 28, 2009

    Vaccination in the UK has reduced meningitis C to zero in the target age range:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/vaccination-campaign-halts-most-lethal-strain-of-meningitis-812644.html

    ‘For the first time since records began, no meningitis C deaths were recorded in the past year among under-19s.’

    Yeehaw! I love science! Now we just need to find a vaccine for MenB…

    Eat shit, antivaxxers!

  17. #17 Zetetic
    April 28, 2009

    @Anon:
    Again I thank you for replying, I know that my posts got a little long and I appreciate your patience with my attempts to clarify and better understand your position.

    @passionlessDrone:
    Thanks to you as well for your contributions to my questions.

    I’ll admit that the seat belt analogy certainly isn’t a perfect one, and that a seat belt is obviously better understood that the human immune system. My point is merely that it is not likely to be a study where a definite known life threatening risk (potentially dangerous diseases) is likely to be just accepted, in order to try and determine the possibility of a risk that at present is considered to be at best somewhat speculative by the many in the medical community.

    This is especially true when the subjects of the study (and therefore the ones at risk) will of course have to be infants. The most likely possibility for a true vax/no-vax study would of course those parents that refuse vaccination already, but that does have it’s own risks and complications.

    I mentioned the anti-vax movement being unlikely to accept any study that didn’t verify that vaccines caused autism because this thread is ultimately about them. I agree that credible data is useful regardless of their response, but such a study will do little about the political and social ramifications about the current movement.

    The most that can be hoped for would be to possibly influence a some of those on the proverbial “fence”. Unfortunately, even that is unlikely to happen unless such results (whatever they maybe) can be communicated over the screams of “Conspiracy”. This would require a substantial increase in the investment for public communications of health concerns in addition to the time and expense of any such studies and does add to the political complications.

    Finally @ Todd:
    Thank you for the compliment, and for also explaining your concerns as well.

  18. #18 MI Dawn
    April 28, 2009

    Well, Dawn, I read the links you left. Personally, I didn’t see any problems with them. To be honest, they look very similar to the information my doctors gave me before my kids were vaccinated as children (fewer vaccines, and the VAERS info wasn’t on my stuff). But the information about what the vaccines are for, possible reactions and side effects..that was all either written or given to me verbally.

    However, I read them on the computer screen and they were harder to read that way. I will print them up and really concentrate on them after work. Please point out the misinformation you saw, so I can re-read the pdfs and, if they are true errors, I will happily send an email to the CDC to ask them to correct them.

  19. #19 Jud
    April 28, 2009

    Dr. Jay Gordon writes: If there’s really anyone on here who believes that this H1N1 influenza poses a threat of a dangerous pandemic I’d be quite surprised.

    My maternal grandfather died of pneumonia caused by flu, leaving a widow and 8 children to fend for themselves at the outset of the Depression. My mother remembers my aunt sitting on the edge of her bed crying a few years later because she couldn’t afford the $25 tuition for her next semester in college. My grandfather’s death also left the family financially unable to help European relatives emigrate as Hitler came to power. (After the war, my grandmother, despite speaking very little English, camped out in Congressmen’s offices until the remnants of the family were located in European refugee camps and brought to America. Those who are still alive – kids then, getting on in years now – still talk to me about what a miracle that was to them.)

    That’s a bit of the collateral damage from the flu in the years before the flu vaccine. Now, as scores die in Mexico, we can act cavalierly and say we don’t expect much worse (as if the current toll weren’t awful enough), or we can risk “surprising”(!) Dr. Gordon and take scientifically proven measures to minimize further spread.

  20. #20 Joseph C.
    April 28, 2009

    If there’s really anyone on here who believes that this H1N1 influenza poses a threat of a dangerous pandemic I’d be quite surprised.

    This a red herring, Jay. And an especially ironic one coming from someone who thinks that the risk-benefit profile of vaccination, the main way we could theoretically stave off a pandemic of H1N1, is very poor to the point where it should be avoided.

  21. #21 Joseph
    April 28, 2009

    I’ve witnessed this phenomenon. It doesn’t occur as often as some might say it does but denying that it occurs is dishonest.

    Parents have “witnessed” regression after a lot of things, like birth of a sibling, moving, or infections, much more often than after vaccination. There are surveys. Yet, no one talks about these other alleged triggers in a hysterical manner, and no one suggests that because they have been reported, a causal relationship is established.

    BTW, you still said the baby “has autism now.” You can’t get out of that one with your excuses. You made it up, clearly.

  22. #22 Olivia
    April 28, 2009

    There is no distinct phenotype of “regressive autism.” All cases may involve some degree of regression but the concept “regressive autism” was invented by the anti-vaccine group. Cathy Lord (the author of the ADOS) was most clear on this during the autism omnibus hearings. The scientific literature does not support a distinct phenotype of “regressive autism.”

  23. #23 The Horrible One
    April 28, 2009

    “Parents have “witnessed” regression after a lot of things, like birth of a sibling, moving, or infections, much more often than after vaccination.”

    Yes. I was pretty damn flegmatic during the worst phase of that whooping cough I had. Didn’t really feel like talking or actually being around anyone. I guess that if someone would’ve wanted to say that pertussis causes autism, they’d jumped for joy (no, as far as I know, I’m not autistic).

    What? That’s as good a proof as someone saying an 8-month old baby became autistic after being vaccinated.

  24. #24 Ruth
    April 28, 2009

    In retrospect, at 8 months my autistic child cried more than the typical child, was irritated by noise and touch, and had more trouble soothing herself to sleep. Everyone suggested we let her ‘cry it out-she’ll fall asleep eventually’. Five hours of screaming was the most I could take before I ‘gave in’ and rocked her to sleep. Funny, she was like that from birth, before any shots. Must have been my childhood vaccinations causing the problem, cause it has to be vaccines, right?

    Dr. Jay, if you want civility, act in a professionally responsible manner and not like Kevin Tredeau with better hair and whiter teeth.

  25. #25 Joseph
    April 28, 2009

    That’s exactly right. In retrospect, you can say, yes, this baby was always a little different. But you can’t diagnose autism at 8 months, like Dr. Jay claims. There’s no evidence of any stable method of diagnosis at that age.

    Dr. Jay should clarify what exactly he meant by “he has autism now.”

  26. #26 Ruth
    April 28, 2009

    Yes, Joseph, many things make sense in hindsight, like the 8 engineers/scientists/mathematicians in our immediate family. My brothers faceblindness wasn’t diagnosed until he was 50. He had the whooping cough, so it must have been his kids vaccines that caused the problem!

  27. #27 Prometheus
    April 28, 2009

    Quoth Dr. Jay:

    “Prometheus, when you’re unpardonably rude you should at least be right. You’re not. You’re just obnoxious in your comments this time.”

    Dr. Jay could at least point out where I was wrong – was it the part about 8-month olds not having much of what most people would call “language”, or was it the part about “loss of motor skills” not being a recognized feature of autism?

    Or was it the part about the comment possibly being a spoof? I’ll freely admit that I was wrong about that – not that my being in error makes Dr. Jay look any better.

    I still have serious doubts about the child in question losing his language and motor skills three hours after a DtaP vaccination.

    Dr. Jay moves off on a tangent to ask:

    “If there’s really anyone on here who believes that this H1N1 influenza poses a threat of a dangerous pandemic I’d be quite surprised.”

    Well, I’ll own up to being concerned about the “H1N1 influenza” (A/California/04/2009(H1N1)) being a potential pandemic threat. The sequenced isolates show a mix of bird, swine and human influenza segments and the person-to-person transmission makes it a real threat.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard that Dr. Jay is advising people to avoid oseltamivir (Tamiflu) because of putative connections to Rumsfeld (?) – can this be true? What about zanamivir (Relenza)? Is that sufficiently free of political taint to be used?

    Although I have no idea what Dr. Jay was trying to imply with his comment (perhaps he doesn’t, either), I think that he would be just about the last person I would ask for advice on how to handle an infectious disease, given his track record.

    If that was obnoxious – and it probably was – it’s simply my innate reaction to willful ignorance.

    Prometheus

  28. #28 Sid Offit
    April 28, 2009

    Pareidolius@145

    After all, to us you’re just an amusing little clown – one who apparently thinks itself to be some kind of computer robot – toiling away in obscurity at a little known hospital or university.

    Sid, do you have any education? Your writing prowess certainly betrays only the most basic grasp of English syntax. Oh, and that “clown” you disparage has saved or extended the lives of many mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, you barely literate vaxaloon. Computer robot? WTF?!!!!!

    Pareidolius? Great name. You must have lots of education. I’m curious, what lives has your Orac saved. Are they as fanciful as the millions saved by vaccines? And as to computer robots sorry I don’t have any other name to describe that 3rd grade science project orac imagines himself to be.

  29. #29 passionlessDrone
    April 28, 2009

    Hi Jennifer B. Phillips –

    They are all dealing with very specific, pyretic responses to a very specific immune response trigger: Lipopolysaccharides.

    Except we have many examples wherein straight tnf alpha was sufficient to cause the same effect:

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

    This has nothing to do with LPS.

    Postnatal Inflammation Increases Seizure Susceptibility in Adult Rats

    Here, the authors were able to achieve identical results again by using tnf alpha instead of LPS. Concurrent administration of anti tnf anitbodies provided the same result as saline.

    Long-term alterations in neuroimmune responses after neonatal exposure to lipopolysaccharide

    Here, authors went to the trouble to provide an different antigen and achieved the same results.

    Neonatal infection-induced memory impairment after lipopolysaccharide in adulthood is prevented via caspase-1 inhibition

    Again, inhibition of the inflammatory response ameliorated symptoms.

    Neonatal programming of the rat neuroimmune response: stimulus specific changes elicited by bacterial and viral mimetics

    Here, the authors determined that very similar neuroimmune programming could be achieved using a viral mimic, PolyIC.

    While your statement approached technical correctness, by focusing on stimulant you are missing the point, it isn’t about the trigger, but the response, and that response is the same regardless of the trigger. Is there a different innate immune system that is triggered by exposure to LPS, as opposed to the one triggered by antigens wrapped around adjuvants in a vaccine?

    is utter nonsense.

    Is it? Children with autism go on to develop epilepsy at significantly higher rates than their undiagnosed peers; and rodents treated with LPS (or tnf alpha) were much more succeptible to seizures. Most of the studies I posted earlier showed increased anxiety and/or fear responses in the animals in the treatment group, a well known behavioral response in autism.

    – pD

  30. #30 ababa
    April 28, 2009

    No Sid, I am quite certain that Orac has not saved nearly as many lives as vaccines. No one has. That’s pretty much the point.

  31. #31 passionlessDrone
    April 28, 2009

    Hi LW –

    The two common arguments, “Too many too soon is damaging” and “autistics have hyperactive immune response that injure their brains when they are exposed to antigens” kind of puzzle me. How then is it that “autism was unknown until recently” or “there’s a brand new epidemic of autism” or “Somalis don’t have autism until they come to the States and get vaccinated” in that case?

    In the past, the concepts of hygiene and contagion were unknown (and even now, in places like Somalia, the concept of hygiene may be known, but when you’re desperately poor and don’t have running water anyway, cleanliness is rather more difficult to achieve than in the States). Under those conditions, babies and young children were routinely exposed to sick and contagious people, diseases in the water supply, and the contaminated hands of their caretakers, and they suffered scratches and cuts which were in no way disinfected … if one child in a hundred reacts to early exposure to antigens by developing autism, wouldn’t you expect autism to have been common and well-known?

    Well, there are a few things that might explain this.

    1) The timing of the immune activation. We’ve been pushing closer and closer towards day zero out of the womb, and increasing the number of vaccinations given at two, four, and six months for a while now. We are accumulating several studies that tell us that the when of an immune response can be a critical determinant in long term outcomes. This doesn’t mean that some children didn’t get the same thing from wild exposure in the past, but our recent modifications have taken to insuring that every child does.

    For specific examples of a time dependent outcome of an immune activation, try some of these out.

    Postnatal Inflammation Increases Seizure Susceptibility in Adult Rats

    Early-life immune challenge: defining a critical window for effects on adult responses to immune challenge

    Neonatal immune challenge exacerbates experimental colitis in adult rats: potential role for TNF-alpha

    Each of these shows very different effects depending on when an immune response was triggered, or rather, an effect and a lack of effect.

    2) The rest of the environment is also different, and the exposure to some man made chemicals has been shown to exacerbate the immune response in our subset of children.
    For example:

    Preliminary evidence of the in vitro effects of BDE-47 on innate immune responses in children with autism spectrum disorders

    where researchers found that priming blood cells with a common pollutant resulted in even greater pro inflammatory response from children with autism as compared to normal children.

    I’m very skeptical on our existing research involving vaccines and autism; but the absolutely worst thing that could happen is that our terror of asking questions about vaccination paralyzes us from looking at the sea of chemicals our infants are exposed to, because we have invested so much energy in the notion that there is no increase in autism in our because that must mean that vaccination cannot be to blame. For a variety of reasons, however, vaccination tends to dominate the discussion.

    Here is a terrifying study, wherein researchers found that lower amounts of PCBs could cause long term neurological outcomes when compared to higher amounts, the authors are not clear on the mechanism, but suspect that just because you don’t have enough PCBs to trigger the bodies garbage collectors, doesn’t mean you don’t have enough to exert subtle effects.

    http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20090413/how-pcbs-may-hurt-the-brain

    Fifty years ago, our children simply were not exposed to the PCBs, pesticides, flame retardants, and other sythentic chemicals that our infants are now; to say nothing of the pass through epigentic effects. The cumulative effect of PCBs, other pollutants, and having an early life, innate immune response that is much more robust would be very difficult, if not impossible to detangle from an epidemiology standpoint; but comparing Somalia of one hundred years ago to todays downtown St. Paul is a gross over simplification for a vareity of reasons.

    3) We should acknowledge the possibility that children who would have gone on to develop autism in the past simply never made it out of childhood as a result of the changes in hygeine and medical care.

    There may be others.

    – pD

  32. #32 Joseph C.
    April 28, 2009

    and other sythentic chemicals that our infants are now

    Do you have any data that indicates that synthetics are any more prone to being toxic than naturally occurring substances?

    Every chemistry book I’ve looked at indicates that a synthetic substances is roughly as likely to be toxic as a natural one. And let us not forget the plethora of really nasty natural toxins that are floating out there as well.

    For example:

    http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2000/Dec00/pondscum.htm

    William “Bill” Gerwick, a professor of pharmacy at Oregon State University and principal investigator in the study, said kalkitoxin is so potent that a half-drop of the compound could kill an entire swimming pool of animal-derived nerve cells, or neurons.

  33. #33 skeptiquette
    April 28, 2009

    Joseph,

    You are correct in saying there are some very toxic “natural” substances that are prevalent in the environment, but these shouldn’t be confused with the tens of thousands of chemicals produced industrially every day. In fact there are roughly 3000 chemical compounds produced in quantities greater than 1,000,000 pounds per year. Although, this fact is disheartening (IMO), what is worse is that only a small fraction of these have established toxicological profiles. Roughly 200 of about 80,000 have been established with good evidence to be neurotoxicants to adults, and 1000 are suspected neurotoxicants. This leaves a rather large percentage to the realm of the unknown. In other words roughly 79,800/80,000 registered chemicals don’t have an evidence based toxicological profile (99.75 %)

    About 80 000 chemicals are registered for commercial use with the US Environmental Protection Agency, and 62 000 were already in use when the Toxic SubstancesControl Act was enacted in the USA in 1977.(24) The situation is similar in the EU, where 100 000 chemicals were registered in 1981.(25) The full extent to which these chemicals contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders and subclinical neurotoxicity is still unknown.

    The number of chemicals that can cause neurotoxicity in laboratory studies probably exceeds 1000, which is far more than the estimated 200 that have caused documented
    human neurotoxicity. However, in the absence of systematic testing,28 the true extent of the neurotoxic potential of industrial chemicals is unknown. The physiology of brain
    development12–14 and experimental evidence14,26,27 suggest that developmental neurotoxicity is likely for all of them, except perhaps for some of the compounds that require metabolic transformation to become neurotoxic, in which immature metabolism may provide some degree of protection.19,107 The few substances proven to be toxic to human neurodevelopment should therefore be viewed as the tip of a very large iceberg (figure 2).

    Sources:
    Scientific Consensus Statement on Environmental Agents
    Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders
    http://www.iceh.org/pdfs/LDDI/LDDIStatement.pdf

    P Grandjean, PJ Landrigan Developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals. Lancet 2006; 368: 2167–78

    @ pD, if you need some more reading material: try a search of “developmental immunotoxicology” in pubmed. Here is an article specific to autism:

    Dietert RR, Dietert JM. Potential for early-life immune insult including developmental immunotoxicity in autism and autism spectrum disorders: focus on critical windows of immune vulnerability. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2008 Oct;11(8):660-80. Review

    Where do you generally blog, pD?
    Personally, I think you are on the right path in your quest for knowledge and I enjoy reading your posts. Once I have more time, I would like to engage in more dialogue with you. Anyway, for now I just have time to check in and see what everybody is writing. (and make an occasional post)

  34. #34 Pat Cahalan
    April 28, 2009

    @ cooler

    > Dr. Jay Gordon is absolutely right. Here
    > is a local news report where two kids were
    > totally normal and then became autistic
    > right after the vaccines.

    I’ve posted this in a few different places, but it’s germane to this error, so I’m duplicating it here, as well:

    This actually *is* a fallacy, a post hoc ergo propter hoc. There is a simple reason why this is not relevant, take the following facts…

    * children take vaccines
    * autism displays its first symptoms in childhood
    * children under the age of 5 make up ~7% of the population
    * there are ~360 million people in the U.S.
    * about 80% of children are vaccinated entirely

    (editor’s note: I didn’t make those numbers up, you can find them with a couple seconds and a web browser)

    This means 360 x 0.07 x .8 = 2 million children (roughly) have been vaccinated. With the vaccination schedule being what it is, then, there are somewhere around 100,000 children getting a shot every month (that last one is handwavy, it assumes a lot about frequency distributions, but that’s not really germane to my point). Autism rates are estimated at anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 150 children, that means we have about 17,000 diagnosis of autism. If every single one of those autism diagnosis was given to a vaccinated child (they’re not, but again for our sake here it introduces very small error), and those 17,000 have a scatter distribution of vaccination patterns, that means not one, not dozens, not hundreds, but *thousands* of those diagnosis came within days or weeks of a vaccination.

    Put those thousands of people together on a message board (and since autism is hard to deal with, a very high percentage of these family *do* bond together, like SMA sufferers or MS or cancer or any other family-impacting disease), you’ll have a few thousand people all saying to each other, “Gee… MY kid got a shot right before her symptoms started showing, too! There are thousands of us! THAT CAN’T BE A COINCIDENCE.”

    But you can see, it actually *isn’t* a coincidence… it’s exactly what we would expect to happen.

    This is one of those times where people don’t think about what big numbers really mean. Here’s another example, one without a muddying emotional component: the odds of hitting “black” 20 times in a row on a standard “0″ and “00″ roulette wheel are really bad. A roulette wheel has 18 blacks and 18 reds numbered 1-36, plus green 0 and 00 for a total of 38. The probability of a black is 18/38, the probability of black 20 times in a row is

    (18/38)^20 =~ 3,091,874 to one.

    Holy bejeezus, you think, that’s crazy impossible! For the record, it’s still much better than the odds of winning the California lottery.

    Here’s the thing. If every man, woman, and child in the United States started playing roulette right now, guess what? After 20 spins each, we’d have roughly100 people (give or take) staring thunderstruck at the roulette wheel, amazed at their unbelievable luck. Put all of those 100 people on the same message board, and they’d probably attach some sort of crazy significance to the day that they all won – it must be significant, how could *that* be a coincidence? Not to burst their collective bubble, but there’s nothing amazing or unbelievable about it.

    With enough trials, the seemingly crazy becomes commonplace.

    THIS is why we do science, gentlemen. To eliminate confirmation bias.

  35. #35 passionlessDrone
    April 28, 2009

    Hi Joseph C –

    Do you have any data that indicates that synthetics are any more prone to being toxic than naturally occurring substances? Every chemistry book I’ve looked at indicates that a synthetic substances is roughly as likely to be toxic as a natural one. And let us not forget the plethora of really nasty natural toxins that are floating out there as well.

    I don’t think it matters if they are ‘more prone to being toxic’ or not; and toxicity need not be our only measurement point. We’ve always been exposed to more or less the same naturally occurring substances that are toxic; animals have evolved over millions of generations in relative homeostasis with such substances. But within the past one hundred years, our industrial activities have vastly increased the number of other substances for our infants to navigate. Much like global warming, the fact that there have always been toxins is unimportant; the rate by which we have introduced these new chemicals is unprecedented. Just because there are a thousand naturally occuring substances that have deliterious effects on us; this is no reason to think that we should be able to introduce another thousand in a very short timeframe without some consequences we were unable to forsee.

    In any case, if we take a look at what we are figuring out about some widely distributed chemicals, there are many parallels to autism, and other developmental disorders.
    For example, PCBs:

    Developmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls interferes with experience-dependent dendritic plasticity and ryanodine receptor expression in weanling rats

    CONCLUSIONS: Developmental exposure to PCBs interferes with normal patterns of dendritic growth and plasticity, and these effects may be linked to changes in RyR expression and function. These findings identify PCBs as candidate environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders, especially in children with heritable deficits in calcium signaling.

    Calcium signalling, and dendritic spine abnormalities have both been identified as risk factors in autism, and in fact, many other neurological disorders.

    What else can PCBs do? Well, for one, there is a direct correlation between maternal blood PCB levels and the size of the thymus in their infants.

    Prenatal PCB exposure and thymus size at birth in neonates in Eastern Slovakia

    . . . The thymus is essential for the differentiation and maturation of T-cell lymphocytes. . . RESULTS: Prenatal PCB exposure was associated with a smaller thymic index at birth [beta= -36 (natural log-transformed; nanograms per gram lipids); p = 0.047]. District of residence and delivery also predicted thymic index. Male sex, later gestational age, larger birth weight z-score, and Roma ethnicity were associated with a larger thymic index, whereas respiratory illness was associated with a lower thymic index. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first evidence to date that PCB exposure in neonates is associated with a smaller thymic volume, suggesting possible impaired immunologic development.

    (snipped for purposes of brevity)

    It just so happens, children with autism have been shown to have skewed lympocyte populations in several studies.

    Are there any studies on naturally occurring toxins you could provide that indicate they alter dendritic spines, correlate with smaller thymus in infants, and have increased to the point of environmental ubiquity in the past fifty years? By the standard of toxicitiy, pondscum has a more direct, killing effect; but this does not constitute evidence that PCB exposure is harmless.

    What about pesticide exposure? In this study:

    Maternal residence near agricultural pesticide applications and autism spectrum disorders among children in the California Central Valley.

    We see that the mothers living closest to fields industrially sprayed gave birth to children with autism at nearly six times the rate than mothers living furthest from those fields. Similar findings were found for neural tube defects. Strangely enough, it seems that children with autism are more likely to carry alleles known to affect processing of organophosphates, and circulating levels of the agent responsible for organophosphate detoxification were reduced in another study.

    These are exposures our infants simply did not deal with in generations past, regardless of the number of naturally occurring toxins. There are many others.

    – pD

  36. #36 ababa
    April 28, 2009

    But Pat, that is logic. Cooler doesn’t understand logic.

    Can you put the numbers in the form of a conspiracy theory? He likes those.

  37. #37 cooler
    April 28, 2009

    Pat,
    That is why generation rescue supports vaccinated vs unvaccinated studies. Secondly comparing the adverse effects of drugs, toxins etc on the body to a game of roulette is totally irrelevant. Roulette is purely based on statistics, it has nothing to do with biology acting as a confounding factor, we know everything about roulette and the statistics that surround it, but far less about the human body.

    We know much less about the the biology of the human body than a game of roulette, scientists still do not know about the causes of Alzheimers disease, ADHD etc, why antidepressants take a month to work, why HIV takes 10 years to cause disease, why some drugs harm some people and not others. So your math is totally irrelevant to the world of biology. It is biologically plausible for drugs, supplements, mercury, vaccines, stress, genetic factors etc to influence ones health. This is why correlations where the cause and effect are separated by moments and hours matter much more in biology than in a roulette table, with the roulette table we know 100% that its stats and nothing else, there are no confounders like genetics, toxins, and those things that are not understood about the human body yet that can plausibly harm someone. Nice fail.

  38. #38 Pat Cahalan
    April 28, 2009

    > So your math is totally irrelevant to the world
    > of biology

    Oy. Well, if you honestly believe this, you’re not going to get anywhere talking to anyone on the comment thread of this blog. Or anyone else who would be regarded as a credible scientist.

    > Roulette is purely based on statistics, it has
    > nothing to do with biology acting as a confounding
    > factor, we know everything about roulette and
    > the statistics that surround it, but far less
    > about the human body.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote (which, I’ll note, you didn’t address directly). And, from a population standpoint, it has everything to do with biology.

    You’re making a pretty simple error that was actually common fairly recently in science; you’re assuming that direct observation is a necessary precondition for observation. It’s not. Indirect observation is a legitimate form of evidence. Epidemiological studies qualify.

    > That is why generation rescue supports vaccinated
    > vs unvaccinated studies.

    That’s awful nice. However, based upon your thread, I’m imagining that you won’t take a vaccinated vs unvaccinated study as evidence (if you did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, as these have been done)… *unless* you’re doing direct observation. This is patently impossible. It’s also contraindicated by your own postings; by your own premise, we know nothing about biology so it would be impossible for us to create a direct observation study, since we cannot control confounding factors. Put another way, please tell me how you would construct this study, and why you think your design adequately meets your own credibility standard in a way that a epidemiological study does not.

  39. #39 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    Use your brain. If someone correctly picks a random number between 1-100 we now 100% that it was pure chance and they were no confounders.(assume no cheating etc)

    If one out a 100 people that took a new drug called Drug x dies, we don’t know 100% that it is by chance, because of the nuances, confounders, and nebulous entities that are present in biology that are not present on a roulette table.

    My point is that case studies (for example someone who hits black 10 times in a row) on the roulette table are always the result of chance and statistics, yet in biology they are not.

    As far as a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study if there was a correlation it would provide more evidence towards causality, if there wasn’t it would provide much less evidence. Sometimes case studies are telling because they can pick up susceptible populations better than epidemiology. And equating case studies in Mathematics (Roulette) and Biology is just plain stupid, since the two fields differ greatly.

  40. #40 bob
    April 29, 2009

    Aaaaaaaaaaand cooler completely misses yet another point. Seriously folks, as I said way back in comment #82, you can only get a couple cogent back-and-forths with this guy (at best) before it all goes to hell. We reached that point ~150 comments ago.

    Pat, your numbers are very interesting. I see you have it up on your blog; I think we should all save that link for future instances of “THE AUTISM DIAGNOSIS HAPPENED A DAY AFTER VACCINATION” and the like. Nice work.

  41. #41 antipodean
    April 29, 2009

    Case studies are epidemiology. But they are really really shitty epidemiology.

    I love it. Statistical variation has no role in biological systems. That is really funny. Way-the-fuck-out-west wackaloon funny. Top draw crackpot, cooler. Well done.

  42. #42 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 29, 2009

    Sweet! Law and Order SVU tonight was all about antivax lunacy–the script was full of shitty melodrama, of course, but it was definitely pro-vaccine, and the antivax crowd is
    squealing:

    http://boards.nbc.com/nbc/index.php?s=1feba7ff8d5fdd7579bc6e0a19ba4ded&showtopic=821653

    I can’t bear to link to Mothering.com, but they’re pretty much on fire, too.

  43. #43 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    @ cooler

    Last try.

    > If one out a 100 people that took a new drug
    > called Drug x dies, we don’t know 100% that
    > it is by chance, because of the nuances,
    > confounders, and nebulous entities that are
    > present in biology that are not present on
    > a roulette table.

    You’re getting wayyyy to caught up in the roulette table, my friend. Perhaps an illustrative analogy was not the right way to go.

    There are two reasons why you’re misinterpreting what I’m saying. The first is that you’re not understanding the scale.

    Yes, if I have a small study, I have results that are difficult to generalize. However, if I have a very, very large study (like the four epidemiological studies refuting the link between autism and vaccines), I can control for confounding factors. When I have a quarter of a million data points (vaccinated and unvaccinated patients and their autism rates), I can exhaustively troll through the data. I can control for sex, socioeconomic background, parental health history, mental health history, environmental factors, etc. With each analytical run of the data, I strengthen my hypothesis. This has been done to death.

    > As far as a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study
    > if there was a correlation it would provide more
    > evidence towards causality, if there wasn’t it
    > would provide much less evidence.

    You misunderstood my challenge, I think. Describe your proposed study, in detail. How long does it run? How many people in the control? How many people in the experimental group? Do I expose them to other factors? What? How? What hypothesis are you proposing, precisely, that I should be testing?

    > Sometimes case studies are telling because
    > they can pick up susceptible populations
    > better than epidemiology.

    Ah, so now you have a multiple causal hypothesis? That is, you’re proposing that it is not vaccines alone, but vaccines in combination with other factors present in a “susceptible population” that result in autism? What factors are you positing cause this reaction? Again, without a detailed description of the experimental method you’re proposing I don’t know how you’re controlling for these factors, unless you already have a good hypothesis as to what they are.

    > And equating case studies in Mathematics
    > (Roulette) and Biology is just plain stupid,
    > since the two fields differ greatly.

    Dear sir, you’ve alluded to my lack of intelligence several times, but it’s painfully obvious that you don’t understand how statistics (or math in general) relate to the sciences. I’m a card-carrying, degreed mathematician (albeit non-practicing, I do science now not math), and I can state fairly unequivocally that I’m *far* more aware of the differences between mathematics and science than quite possibly many of the people who routinely practice science 🙂

    @ bob

    The Bad Astronomer’s posts have led to a few compilations. You should look at Todd W’s stuff, which was handily schlurped out of the comment thread by a benign entity and hosted here: http://antiantivax.jottit.com/

    Also, Liz Ditz has compiled a list of bloggers who have been debunking this: http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2009/04/jim-carrey-repeating-antiscience-propaganda-ii-100s-of-vaccines-in-the-pipeline-vaccine-profitabilit.html

  44. #44 Joseph C.
    April 29, 2009

    I can’t bear to link to Mothering.com, but they’re pretty much on fire, too.

    If no linky, then how about a quote:

    Population control well I can see the beauty of how you think of it,but I view this a little diffrent,this day in age I wouldnt be suprised if this flu is man made and getting us ready for the new world order.There is a whole bunch millions to be exact plastic coffns to put people in georgia.And fema camps.

    I truly hope its just a conspricy thought but look em up on u tube they are there…..

    Dont flame me just giving my views,personally it scares the crap right out of me

    The thing about sMothering.com is this level of crazy is completely normal there.

  45. #45 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 29, 2009

    “With enough trials, the seemingly crazy becomes commonplace.”

    It can be boiled to just this. Cooler thinks that two children showing their first (acknowledged) signs of autism within hours or days of a vaccination proves causation, because the alternative is too improbable. But there is no such thing as “improbable” without the context of a number of trials.

    Cooler seems to think that if there is no causal relationship between vaccination and autism, that only one child at most, out of all the children who are ever diagnosed with autism, will ever show their first symptoms (or more accurately, have their first symptoms acknowledged) within days of getting a vaccination. Oh really? If autism has no causal relationship that makes it follow a vaccination, then it sure as hell doesn’t have some sort of magical anti-causal relationship that makes it avoid showing up within a certain time period, does it? “Oh hey, here I am, I’m autism, I have no ability to calculate or indeed any will at all since I’m just the anthropomorphism of a phenomenon, but guess what — I’m going to specifically not choose the five days following this child’s vaccination to kick in, because that would make people think I’m connected to the vaccination!”?

    The idea that autism, if not caused by vaccination, would not still sometimes ‘show up’ in the period right after a vaccination, not more than once out of all the children who ever show autism symptoms at all — now that’s improbable!

  46. #46 Joseph
    April 29, 2009

    @cooler: You completely failed to address the fact that if there’s zero association between vaccination and autism, there should still be thousands of autistic children whose autism was first noticed shortly after they got vaccinated.

    This is necessarily true, mathematically. It means that anecdotes are uninformative.

  47. #47 ababa
    April 29, 2009

    Joseph C. said The thing about sMothering.com is this level of crazy is completely normal there.

    Yeah it is. It’s the same on the my local mommies forum in the NL/AP area. They were actually talking about the FEMA/NWO/death camp/Georgia thing and how the swine flu was bioengineered and so on. You read it and just shake your head at the paranoia – and anyone that points out the crazy gets an instant slap on the wrist/ban for not being “supportive”. I think it does irreparable harm to young impressionable mothers.

    While on the Mothering.com subject, did anyone catch the thread where the mother was asking about unvaccinated children that are autistic. She was completely distraught that she had followed their advice and not vaccinated her 4 year old and he ended up autistic. “I am at a total loss” she said. It’s sad, they convinced her that not vaccinating would make her safe and she had reality slap her across the face. These are the people that need help – you can’t fix the coolers, JB, and Dawns of the world – but you can reach these people. I feel sorry for her, she was taken advantage of by nutcases.

    If anyone has an ID (I don’t) and doesn’t mind risking potential banning it wouldn’t hurt to point out that Kim Stagliano of AoA fame also has 3 autistic children, one of which is totally unvaccinated. I highly doubt any of them will bring it up.

  48. #48 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    Talking swine flu panic, I just dropped my kids at daycare and they have a big sign up (paraphrased): If your kid has a fever, take it home and don’t bring it back without doctor’s note.
    On a side note, cooler has a blog? Anyone care to link, I need something for days WND doesn’t cut it for funnies.

  49. #49 Joseph
    April 29, 2009

    We’ve always been exposed to more or less the same naturally occurring substances that are toxic; animals have evolved over millions of generations in relative homeostasis with such substances. But within the past one hundred years, our industrial activities have vastly increased the number of other substances for our infants to navigate

    @pD: While that could be a bad thing in general, the evidence of any association between environmental pollution and autism is quite poor. Studies like those by Windham, the first Palmer study, and more recently, DeSoto, fail to control for population density. Diagnosed autistics tend to be urbanites.

    The second Palmer study did control for urbanicity, and found a much smaller effect than in the first study. The main limitation in this study is that urbanicity was considered a discrete variable.

    Using county-level California Dept. of Education data, I’ve found that there’s a good association between administrative prevalence of autism and log of population density. If you standardize prevalence for log of population density, the association with environmental pollution goes away. I’ve tried atmospheric mercury concentration, other pollutants, and EPA superfund sites. I’ve also tried this at the state level in the US.

  50. #50 Militant Agnostic
    April 29, 2009

    Joseph @280 – According to Prison Planet (this must be where Evil Dawn and Cooler get their news) we don’t need to worry about the swine flu since it is just a beta test by the NWO to try distribution techniques for the coming real pandemic.

    Pat Cahalan – you sadistic bastard – math and big numbers make Cooler’s head hurt.

    Math is not relevant to biology? ROFLMAO

  51. “I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language,…”

    You fucking … WHAT?????

    “What do you think?”

    I think you’re a daft twat!

  52. #52 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    pD, before you move the goal posts the wrong way – people were exposed to PCBs a lot more 50 years ago than today. PCB were used in a lot of “open” applications which allowed outgassing, from the 1930 until it was banned in the 70’s. And while PCBs are pretty persistent in the environment, they do degrade over time, and exposure today is just not what it was in the 70, and more related to accidents/local sites than general widespread distribution. Something that should show up in case clusters if it had anything to do with autism.

  53. #53 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    I never said math was irrelevant to biology you worthless retards mu and antipoldean. Pathetic losers. I said case studies on a roulette table are always the result of chance while in biology they are not always the result of chance. Dumbasses. Losers. Whackjobs. Psychopaths.

  54. #54 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    Cool, cooler has reached the name calling stage, usually he goes away about then.

  55. #55 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    Miltitant agnostic et al, why don’t you losers use your brain.

    In roulette if someone hits black 10 times in a row we know it has to be chance, there is no biological possible mechanism for this to happen.

    In medicine and biology if even 1 person out of a 100 dies right after taking a new drug we don’t know if it 100% by chance, since biologically things that are not fully understood can happen.

    This was my point, also my understanding there is only one study from 2007 in California that looks at Autism since Thimerosals removal in America and did not find a decrease. Is this the nail In the hypothesis? Even the Authors of the study cautioned against this. I don’t know, I’m not crazy like you guys and claim to know with 100% certainty exactly what is going on. There are studies not based on correlation that show a link (animal models, Thimerosal toxicity in cells, Urinary analysis.) So my position is I don’t know. So you whackjobs should find a new hobby.

  56. #56 Dr. Rocketscience
    April 29, 2009

    skeptiquette@ 219 said:

    Roughly 200 of about 80,000 have been established with good evidence to be neurotoxicants to adults, and 1000 are suspected neurotoxicants. This leaves a rather large percentage to the realm of the unknown. In other words roughly 79,800/80,000 registered chemicals don’t have an evidence based toxicological profile (99.75 %)

    Wait, wait, wait…

    That doesn’t follow. You haven’t quoted any data on the number of substances determined to be non-toxic through testing. Without that data, your assertion of 99.75% is highly misleading.

    I realize that the conclusions you quoted “suggest that developmental neurotoxicity is likely for all of them”. Unless Joeseph C.’s assertion about the likelihood of toxicity of a synthetic substance is way of the mark, then that implies that nearly all naturally occuring substance are developmentally neurotoxic. Is that true?

  57. #57 passionlessDrone
    April 29, 2009

    Hi Joseph –

    While that could be a bad thing in general, the evidence of any association between environmental pollution and autism is quite poor.

    But I cited none of those studies.

    The problem with this approach is that it mandates that we ignore what has been shown time and time again at a clinical level; exposure to these chemicals and others have deliterious effects in animal models. In many cases, the changes have correlations to what is seen in autism.

    For example, the PCB studies I linked to above. Sure, it didn’t say anything about environmental PCB density and autism diagnosis; but it does tell us that low level PCB exposure results in alterations to dendritic spines, and unless being born with a smaller thymus is somehow capable of causing your mother to have higher PCB levels in her blood, exposure causes that too. The fact that our existing research on pollution and autism have confounding effects does absolutely nothing to mitigate these findings; and in fact, we need to start searching for some rather miraculous ways these chemicals aren’t affecting our infants.

    Likewise with our empirical findings regarding circulating levels of paraoxonase enzymes in children with autism and those without. We have at least one study showing genetic associations with PON1 alleles (another was neutral), two studies have shown decreased PON1 enzymatic activity within the autistic population, and one study has shown a correlation between exposure to organophosphates in utero and autism rates. We also have animal studies that tell us that a decrease in PON1 enzyme activity leads to increased succeptibility to organophosphates.

    Don’t all of these findings have to be wrong in exactly the same way in order for there to be all smoke and no fire? I’m open to this possibility, but confounding effects in other studies are a poor way of making that case.

    What reason do we have to ignore what has been observed at a clinical level regarding these chemicals, and many others, besides the deficencies you report in four studies?

    – pD

  58. #58 passionlessDrone
    April 29, 2009

    Hi Mu –

    before you move the goal posts the wrong way – people were exposed to PCBs a lot more 50 years ago than today. PCB were used in a lot of “open” applications which allowed outgassing, from the 1930 until it was banned in the 70’s. And while PCBs are pretty persistent in the environment, they do degrade over time, and exposure today is just not what it was in the 70, and more related to accidents/local sites than general widespread distribution. Something that should show up in case clusters if it had anything to do with autism.

    Interesting stuff, thank you. What do you think about the findings that less PCB exposure can result in alterations to brain structures as compared to high PCB exposure?

    http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20090413/how-pcbs-may-hurt-the-brain

    In any case, your argument hinges on exposures to a variety of sythetic chemicals has dropped since the 1970s. I wonder, what was our infants exposure to BPA, or phylates, or brominated flame retardants, or all three at once in 1970 compared to today?

    – pD

  59. #59 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    @ cooler

    > In medicine and biology if even 1 person out
    > of a 100 dies right after taking a new drug
    > we don’t know if it 100% by chance, since
    > biologically things that are not fully
    > understood can happen.

    Allow me to remove a disillusionment. There is no such thing as 100% certainty in science. Axiomatic proof is limited to the realms where you can declare your foundational principles to be true internal to the system (formal logic and math, and to a lesser extent theology); science ain’t one of those places, and classical philosophers to the contrary it never has been.

    > I’m not crazy like you guys and claim to know
    > with 100% certainty exactly what is going on.

    I never claimed 100% certainty, perhaps other have on this thread. You, on the other hand, are *demanding* 100% certainty.

    So, in fact, you are failing your own test; you’re demanding 100% certainty in the *null hypothesis*.

    By your own measure, then, you’re “crazy just like the people who claim 100% certainty”.

    You’re not going to get it, not in science and not in reality. If I can declare things to be true, I can prove other things using logic. If I can’t declare things to be true (and the best I can do is describe a workable model in most circumstances), then the best I can do is have degrees of certainty. This is one of the major differences between math and science.

    The vast majority of scientific evidence refutes a causal link between vaccinations and autism. It outweighs the counterclaim by several orders of magnitude, both in number of studies and rigor of approach. Is it 100% certain? Of course not, but that’s not the point.

    Again, you’ve avoided my challenge. Quite frankly, if you’re going to keep avoiding my challenge, I’m going to stop responding to your posts.

    SHOW ME YOUR EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN. Show me how you propose to create an experiment, the results of which *you will accept as definitive proof* that vaccines do (or don’t, I’ll accept either design) cause autism. What is the size of your study? What is the duration of your study? What tests will you perform? You’re asking for 100% certainty, show me how you would attain this level of confidence.

    And then people here will rapidly dissect, disassemble, and dismantle your proposed experiment and show you why in fact it fails on several levels to meet a “100% certainty” standard. I’ll go out on a limb and hazard a guess that not only will your experimental design fail miserably to meet your own standard, but it will be qualitatively and quantitatively *less* robust than studies that have already been performed, which you are rejecting as insufficient.

    In other words, sir, you are claiming that experts don’t know what they are doing. Please therefore enlighten us as to what they should be doing, so that we can all go and do it the right way. One of the differences between science and opinion is that good design trumps belief. If your experimental design meets my challenge and passes critical evaluation, you can actually rest assured that someone will take it up. There’s plenty of doctoral students and postdocs who will jump at the chance to kickoff a Kuhnian paradigm shift in their field of study (they do happen, and will happen again).

  60. #60 Joseph
    April 29, 2009

    For example, the PCB studies I linked to above.

    There’s one ecological study on this, right?

    That’s rather preliminary. I’d also like to see some raw data.

  61. #61 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    Ok, here is my study. Ok inject 3,000 kids with the old Thimerosal containing vaccines,have a control group that recieves no vaccines. Look for differences.

    If you guys are too wimpy to do that study find 3,000 people who got the 1993 American load of Vaccines and compare to a similar group of people that did not receive any vaccines.

    Also you can inject monkeys with the vaccine load , oh wait that has already been done and shown a damaging effect (Hewitson et al) or look at urinary markers of mercury poisoning, oh wait that hass already been done (Nataf et al, Geier and Geier). You could also look at Thimerosal in culture, oh wait that has been done as well…..

    Also a study could look at people who had kids who became autistic suddenly, interview thousands of them and see if there is a correlation between vaccines and illness.

  62. #62 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    > Ok, here is my study. Ok inject 3,000 kids
    > with the old Thimerosal containing vaccines,
    > have a control group that recieves no
    > vaccines. Look for differences.

    As has been pointed out, “old Thimerosal” isn’t used any more. What will this show?

    Where am I getting these 3,000 kids from? Again, SPECIFICS, please… the sort of specifics that would be *required to pass an IRB and get FDA approval*. I’m assuming since you’re a self-taught science expert you know what these are, but if not you can look up the requirements to run a human trial on the web.

    How big is the control group? How are you getting a randomized sample? Are you drawing those 3,000 from multiple socioeconomic backgrounds? How long does the study run? Are you quarantining 6,000 children for the duration, and if not, how do you propose to have 100% certainty that you’ve eliminated environmental factors?

    Is this a trans-national group of subjects, or just U.S. ones? Are we running the full vaccine schedule (since you claim that the number of vaccines is relevant) or just one? Are we going to run this experiment of 6,000 subjects multiple times, one for *each possible combination* of vaccinations?

    How are you getting 6,000 people to agree to the study? I’m assuming you’re taking truly random samples, but certainly some people will refuse to join one group or the other, probably because they want vaccinations and you’ve assigned them to the control, or they *don’t* want vaccinations and you’ve assigned them to the experimental group. What are you going to do here? Switch groups? Now you have a possible vector for confirmation bias, no more 100% certainty. Reject them from the study and replace them with someone else? New vector for confirmation bias, no more 100% certainty. Force them to take part? No more IRB or FDA approval, no experiment, try again.

    Are you screening for preexisting conditions? Do you regard this as relevant, if not? If not, why? The evidence on a genetic component is IIRC at this point inconclusive, are you going to have a separate study run for people who are already a high risk for autism? How do you establish this?

    What if someone in your randomly assigned experimental group turns out to have an adverse response to one vaccination? They do happen; are you going to scrub your entire experiment, or find a new subject to add to your experimental group, or what? How do you justify altering the experimental design after it’s begun, if you want 100% certainty?

    > Also you can inject monkeys with the vaccine load

    Wait, I thought we didn’t know anything about biology, and it’s simply too complicated to know that we’ve controlled for all the possible factors… remember? Your words – “since biologically things that are not fully understood can happen.”

    If that’s the case, no, all animal studies are off the table. In fact, mere mention of this as an alternative leads me to believe that you’re just not serious about your “100% confidence” standard of proof. What would a monkey test show us about human biology? By your standard, nothing.

    > look at urinary markers of mercury poisoning

    Why? Are we testing for mercury poisoning, or autism? If we test for mercury levels, what constitutes “poisoning”, by your measurements? Again, do we prescreen? What is an acceptable baseline level of mercury in the urinary samples to allow someone into the study? If we exclude people with elevated mercury levels, but those people represent a large fraction of the population, is this increasing or decreasing the strength of our results?

    > You could also look at Thimerosal in culture

    I don’t even know what this means. I don’t hang out with Thimerosal on the weekends, and I don’t watch its TV show, so I have no idea what its culture is. Am I looking for other sources of Thimerosal? Why? I thought we were trying to establish a link between vaccines and autism. If I show no link between vaccines and autism, but at the same time I see a link between Thimerosal and autism in the same study (because apparently I get exposed to Thimerosal through culture), what does that show? That Thimerosal is safe if it’s in vaccines, but not safe otherwise? What about vaccines might make Thimerosal safe?

    Since you cannot answer basic questions about HOW to construct a study, why do you regard yourself as a credible source of critical analysis of the studies that have been done? This is functionally equivalent to my cousin the plumber critiquing my computer cluster design based upon his thought that the internet is a bunch of tubes, or me critiquing his plumbing manifold design because I think it doesn’t look pretty.

  63. #63 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    Why didn’t you bring up all of these multiples of confounders when the Danish study etc came out you buffoon? Also I meant thimerosal in cell cultures, sorry you’re to dumb to make that connection. Also you’re proven yourself to be a compulsive liar, I never said we knew nothing about biology, I said we didn’t know everything you retard, for example we do not know exactly why some people get Alzeheimers and others do not.

    Did the California study and the Danish study control for environmental factors, socionomic factors, preexisting conditions, genetic factors, shoe sizes, visits to Disneyland, boxer or briefs that could confound the results? I swear you are totally nuts. There is not much point in debating you.

  64. #64 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    urinary markers of mercury poisoning … Geier and Geier

    Cooler, you’re such a hoot. Please, explain how the mercury markers trump the fact that there was no actual mercury per se (detection limits for mercury are sub-ppb, you can’t miss that stuff).

  65. #65 cooler
    April 29, 2009

    Buffoon,
    Here is your answer you stupid Punk.

    Testing for Mercury Toxicity:

    Poisoning with most heavy metals is detected easily with blood tests. For example, if a person has detectable lead in his body, he will have some detectable lead in his blood. In fact, the gold standard for the detection of poisoning for most heavy metals is a test of intracellular content using red blood cells. Hair and urine levels of heavy metals are a general reflection of blood levels. Also, getting rid of most heavy metals such as lead with chelating agents is not difficult. This is because most heavy metals in the body exist in a reasonable equilibrium between their preferred storage sites and the bloodstream.

    This is not the case with mercury. After an exposure, detectable levels are present in the blood for only a short time, on the order of weeks to a few months. This is because mercury, unless eliminated, quickly becomes tightly bound to sulfhydryl-containing enzymes and other proteins in the liver, kidney, lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and brain. So, if any amount of time has elapsed after a significant mercury exposure, little if any mercury will be detected in the blood, urine or hair.

    The only way of directly detecting the amount of mercury present in the liver, kidney, GI tract, and brain is via biopsy of these organs. This is NOT a recommended procedure. Besides, the real issue is not how much mercury is present, but how mercury-toxic the patient really is. Mercury has well-documented effects on different laboratory tests, so this is the preferred way of measuring mercury toxicity. The list below is only a partial list of helpful lab tests, and does not reflect at all the effect of mercury on the brain itself.

    *
    Useful Lab Tests for Assessing The Presence of Heavy Metal Toxicity (Partial List):

    1. Urine Tests

    1. Indications of Mitochondrial Dysfunction
    1. Uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation
    1. Elevated fatty acid metabolites
    2. Elevated lactate
    3. Elevated hydroxymethylglutarate
    2. Multiple partial blocks in Krebs cycle
    2. Elevated 3-methyl histidine
    3. Elevated sarcosine
    4. Elevated pyroglutamate
    5. Elevated vanilmandellate
    6. Elevated homovanillate
    7. Fractionated urine porphyrins
    1. Elevated coproporphyrin
    2. Elevated precoproporphyrin

  66. #66 passionlessDrone
    April 29, 2009

    Hi Joseph –

    There’s one ecological study on this, right?
    That’s rather preliminary. I’d also like to see some raw data.

    Ack! We have one study that correlates PCB exposure to thymus size, sure. But if we look for exposure affecting thyroid hormone levels, your skepticism requires that lots of people have been making bad observations in exactly the same way.

    Effects of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides on thyroid function during pregnancy

    Results suggest that exposure to PCBs and/or hexachlorobenzene at background levels may affect thyroid function during pregnancy. These findings are of particular significance, since thyroid hormones of maternal origin may play an essential role in fetal neurodevelopment.

    Thyroid disruption at birth due to prenatal exposure to beta-hexachlorocyclohexane.

    Relationship of thyroid hormone levels to levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, p,p’- DDE, and other toxicants in Akwesasne Mohawk youth.

    CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate a reduction in thyroid function in adolescents in relation to their current serum levels of PCBs. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that pre-natal exposure to PCBs alters thyroid function in a long-lasting manner but does not exclude the possibility that postnatal exposure is influential also.

    Associations between prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and neonatal thyroid-stimulating hormone levels in a Mexican-American population, Salinas Valley, California

    CONCLUSIONS: Our results support grouping PCB congeners based on their potential mechanism of action of enzyme induction when investigating associations with TH. Findings also suggest that PCBs affect TH homeostasis even at the low background level of exposure found in the CHAMA-COS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) population.

    In utero exposure to dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls and its relations to thyroid function and growth hormone in newborns

    What if we look at IQ, or infant alertness tests?
    The relationship between prenatal PCB exposure and intelligence (IQ) in 9-year-old children

    RESULTS: For each 1-ng/g (wet weight) increase in PCBs in placental tissue, Full Scale IQ dropped by three points (p = 0.02), and Verbal IQ dropped by four points (p = 0.003). The median PCB level was 1.50 ng/g, with a lower quartile of 1.00 ng/g and an upper quartile of 2.06 ng/g. Moreover, this association was significant after controlling for many potential confounders, including prenatal exposure to methylmercury, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, hexachlorobenzene, and lead. CONCLUSIONS: These results, in combination with similar results obtained from a similar study in the Great Lakes conducted 10 years earlier, indicate that prenatal PCB exposure in the Great Lakes region is associated with lower IQ in children.

    Prenatal organochlorine exposure and measures of behavior in infancy using the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS).

    I got tired of cutting and pasting, but there are many, many more. Many of these studies came out in 2008. Do you honestly believe that all of these researchers were wrong, in exactly the same way, and if you could just get a look at their raw data the relationships they thought they had uncovered would dissipate?

    – pD

  67. #67 BillyMonkeyBoy
    April 29, 2009

    ermmm…. aside from the “urine tests” being the first no. 1 and the long diatribe about not being able to find mercury except by biopsy,I’d like to point out that a number of the test on the list would also show if you have cancer or morbid obesity/metabolic dysfunction.

  68. #68 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    @ cooler

    > Why didn’t you bring up all of these
    > multiples of confounders when the Danish
    > study etc came out you buffoon?

    You misunderstand me. I happen to think those confounders are fairly well controlled for in an epidemiological study of the size in the Danish study.

    You, apparently, do not. That *can be*, in fact, a legitimate criticism, properly analyzed.

    And yet, when I ask you to design your own study, *you cannot control for those confounders in a manner that meets your own criteria*. I’m absolutely astonished to find that this is the case. If you’ve given so much thought to criticizing other studies I would think you would have given a large volume of consideration to designing your own study.

    What I’m trying to get you to see, Cooler, is that *you* cannot design something that will meet the criteria you yourself set as a meaningful credibility standard. This is equivalent to saying, “Science can’t answer any questions with enough validity to suit me.” Okay, you’re certainly welcome to take that stance, but if that’s the case why are you bothering to try and argue with the science using science? Just say you don’t accept the concept of scientific exploration. Call a spade a spade.

    > Also I meant thimerosal in cell cultures, sorry
    > you’re to dumb to make that connection.

    My apologies for being “to dumb”, but you’ve avoided my questions. How do we establish the baseline? How do we control for this in a study? And most to the point… Why? I thought we were trying to establish a link between vaccines and autism, not thimerosal and autism. Or is this your actual hypothesis? Come to think of it, what *is* your actual hypothesis?

    > Also you’re proven yourself to be a compulsive liar

    “compulsive” – this word does not mean what you think it means.

    > I never said we knew nothing about biology, I
    > said we didn’t know everything you retard

    Again, you’re misunderstanding me (I’m beginning to suspect willfully).

    *You are asking for 100% certainty*.

    Given that this is the case, “not knowing everything” means that we will always have doubt. In this context, “not knowing everything” == “always have doubt” == “we cannot prove anything in biology with 100% certainty”, which means we “know” nothing about biology, because we can never state anything with 100% certainty. Your measure of credibility, not mine.

    Oh, and for the record my IQ is well above mental retardation.

    > for example we do not know exactly why some
    > people get Alzeheimers and others do not.

    There’s lots of things we don’t know exactly. There are, however, lots of things we can state with reasonable certainty.

    > Did the California study and the Danish
    > study control for environmental factors,
    > socionomic factors, preexisting conditions,
    > genetic factors, shoe sizes, visits to
    > Disneyland, boxer or briefs that could
    > confound the results?

    Well, Cooler, since you’re the one saying the studies are bad, I would expect that *you* would be the one who would be able to answer this question right off the top of your own head. You have *read* them, right? What about their methodology do you find objectionable?

    > I swear you are totally nuts. There is not
    > much point in debating you.

    Seeing as how nothing we’ve actually done here can be described as a “debate”, since you can’t be bothered to actually even go so far as to define your terms (I’m still unclear on what you regard as “a good study”), I’m inclined to agree with the second half of your proposition.

  69. #69 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    Nice copy-and-paste from the chelation sites, got any primary sources for that?
    And you need to tell the folks at safeminds to stop linking to NIH propaganda, their stuff claims mercury in the brain has a half life time somewhere between 30 and 60 days, which means it’s going away on it’s slowly but surely (usually 10 half life times means it’s gone).
    http://www.safeminds.org/research/library/Burbacher-EHP-Primates-April-2005.pdf
    Of course, we all know what Pharma shills run that site.

  70. #70 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    @ Mu

    > Of course, we all know what Pharma shills run that site.

    The NIH? Oh, pray tell, what “Pharma shills” run the National Institute of Health? Your evidence of this accusation is what, precisely?

  71. #71 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    No, your browser must not be displaying the /sarcasm tags. I was referring to safeminds (hint, they describe themselves as “The Coalition for SafeMinds (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders) is a private nonprofit organization founded to investigate and raise awareness of the risks to infants and children of exposure to mercury from medical products, including thimerosal in vaccines.”)

  72. #72 passionlessDrone
    April 29, 2009

    Hi Skeptiquette –

    Thanks for the link re: the Dietert paper. It has been on my short list of papers to get a copy of, but it hasn’t bubbled to the top yet.

    I remember hearing on the radio a few months ago about the national effort to begin testing on all of the industrial chemicals for endocrine blocking and neurotoxicity profiles. Funny enough, everyone was still bogged down in which rodent species should be used as a model. Some folks were worried that the choice being pushed was too resistant to chemicals; it was so robust that findings may give us a false sense of security. The flip side of the argument was, if we can’t be assured of a steady stream of offspring, it’s tough to tell if we are observing changes from the chemicals! Thus far, they’d spent millions, and hadn’t tested a single chemical. We are doomed.

    I sometimes post at the autismspeaks forum. Because I felt that the autism arena needed one more blog, I recently started passionlessdrone.wordpress.com, but I have only one post there so far. I’m working on a big one, but need to spend a few more days to give it the attention it deserves. I would appreciate any input you might have.

    Take care.

    – pD

  73. #73 skeptiquette
    April 29, 2009

    Wait, wait, wait…
    That doesn’t follow. You haven’t quoted any data on the number of substances determined to be non-toxic through testing. Without that data, your assertion of 99.75% is highly misleading.

    Um… There’s a reason I didn’t qoute any data on the number of substances (of the ~79,800) determined to be non-toxic. It is the same reason I wrote this:
    This leaves a rather large percentage to the realm of the unknown. In other words roughly 79,800/80,000 registered chemicals don’t have an evidence based toxicological profile (99.75 %)

    As you can see my assertion is that a rather large percentage, 99.75% haven’t been systematically tested in order to have a “known” toxicological profile. This isn’t me asserting that all 99.75% are developmentally toxic. As you noticed, I left it to the author’s of the Lancet article to make the speculation that you are accusing me of.

    I realize that the conclusions you quoted “suggest that developmental neurotoxicity is likely for all of them”.

    Unless Joeseph C.’s assertion about the likelihood of toxicity of a synthetic substance is way of the mark, then that implies that nearly all naturally occuring substance are developmentally neurotoxic. Is that true?

    I don’t understand what you are trying to express here.

    I think that it should be rather obvious that not all naturally occuring substances are developmentally neurotoxic. I thought Joseph C.’s assertion was that: when it comes to chemicals, a naturally occurring chemical is just as toxic as its synthetic analogue, which I agree with. I was referring to industrially produced chemicals that don’t necessarily have naturally occurring analogues.

  74. #74 Pat Cahalan
    April 29, 2009

    @ Mu

    > No, your browser must not be displaying the
    > /sarcasm tags.

    Ah, sorry, I got lost in my thread with cooler 🙂

  75. #75 Chris
    April 30, 2009

    I don’t watch lots of television, but I do have a DVR. Recently I was told to watch “Law and Order”, and tonight my DVR recorded an episode of a doctor involved in an HIV denial family, similar to Christine Maggiore’s very tragic story.

    Dr. Gordon you were portrayed by Martin Mull! That must have made you quite proud. Um, wait… at one point they showed the good doctor being taken away in hand cuffs.

  76. #76 Dr. Rocketscience
    April 30, 2009

    @skeptiquette

    You said there are 200 with known neurological toxicity, and 1000 that are suspected to be toxic. What about the other 78,800? Have none been studied, at all? That’s crucial in trying to establish some kind of percentage, isn’t it? What if they’ve all been studied, and none of those 78,800 have been shown, with evidence, to have no neurological toxicity? Then, suddenly, rather than a scary 99.75% of unknowns, you get a much more comfortable 1.5% of dangerous and “suspected” chemicals. Now I agree, that’s highly unlikely, both in terms of the number of studies and that no other neurotoxins would be identified. But without data on the number of “safe” chemicals in that list of 80,000, all you have is what baseball stat-heads call a “counting stat”: 1200 known and suspected neurotoxins. now, if you can say that, say, 800 chemicals are “safe”, then you can say that 60% of tested substances are known or suspected to be neurotoxic, and extrapolate that perhaps 48,000 are probably neurotoxic. That’s a meaningful, if crude, analysis. On the other hand, if you say that 6,800 are “safe”, then suddenly th statistics drop to 15% known or suspected toxins, or perhaps 12,000 total. Remember, I’m making up numbers here to back my assertion that your analysis is flawed.

  77. #77 skeptiquette
    April 30, 2009

    Dr. Rocketscience

    I think you are missing the point. I am simply saying that the 78,800 number or 99.75 % of industrially produced chemicals haven’t been systematically tested to produce a “known” or established toxicological profile. This is a fact that I obtained from reading the two sources that I provided. Feel free to double check what I am saying, if you can’t access the journal article, click on the link. The link is a concensus statement, (i.e. many qualified individuals agree on what they have written)

    What if they’ve all been studied, and none of those 78,800 have been shown, with evidence, to have no neurological toxicity? Then, suddenly, rather than a scary 99.75% of unknowns, you get a much more comfortable 1.5% of dangerous and “suspected” chemicals.

    the first sentence above is a double negative. You can look at or interperet it any way you feel fit. If you are more comfortable thinking about it as we KNOW 1.5% have neurotoxic capabilities rather than we don’t know the neurotoxic capabilities of 98.5% of registered chemicals, that’s fine by me. But it doesn’t change the fact that a toxicological understanding of the vast majority of chemicals is unkown.

    Remember, I’m making up numbers here to back my assertion that your analysis is flawed.

    This should’ve tipped you off that you are making a mistake. The difference is I am not making up numbers(to the best of my knowledge). I would be happy to admit my analysis was flawed, if you could provide me with some concrete evidence (such as I provided) that we have systematically tested a certain percentage (or maybe all) of these chemicals, and therefore, with reasonable certainty, can say that we KNOW their neurotoxic impact.

    I am not attempting to “scare” anybody, just bringing light to the fact that when it comes to potentially toxic chemicals, there are still many unkowns to be considered.

  78. #78 Joseph
    April 30, 2009

    @pD: I don’t doubt that pregnant women being exposed to high doses of PCBs is a bad thing, and causes all kinds of problems. The autism data from Roberts et al. looks pretty convincing too, especially figure 3 (but I think it’s interesting that they tested 249 unique hypotheses in order to find an effect.) However, it looks like the moms lived in very close proximity to the contamination source (500 meters).

    I’m wondering if this is in any way applicable to the autistic population in general. Does it explain special education discrepancies in any significant way, for example? If so, it should be demonstrable ecologically, say, at the county level. Roberts was quite specific too. Organochlorine, and not other types of pesticides, apparently are associated with autism.

  79. #79 Mu
    April 30, 2009

    One remark on all the different “chemical exposure” hypothesis. Awareness of the dangers of chemicals has been drastically increased since the 70s. If you look at production/use/exposure data for most of the stuff mentioned, your average pregnant woman/newborn/toddlers gets but a fraction of what our generation was exposed to. Since we’re assuming a drastic increase in the autism rates triggered by something in the early 90s, most of these chemicals don’t qualify. The only one I’m not sure about is the bisphenol A that’s claimed to be leaking from polycarbonate bottles and are reported to have some for of hormon-like effects. No idea when plastic bottles replaced glass. So most of the leaching will happen during sterilization, not during food preparation.

  80. #80 Dr Rocketscience
    April 30, 2009

    Ah, i see what you’re saying. Now, the paper you linked referenced the Grandjean paper, which I, lowly science teacher that I am, can’t access, so I’ll have to take their word on it.
    Looking at the bottom of page 6 of the ICEH paper, it doesn’t quite say what you think it says. It’s not that 200 of 80,000 substances are known to be developmentally toxic. It’s that 200 are known to be toxic, 1000 are suspected to be toxic, but an additional 80,000+ substances are currently untested for developmental toxicity. Unless I’m missing it, the ICEH paper doesn’t say how many total substances are produced, nor does it say how many substances have been tested and shown to be benign in terms of neurological development. The answer to the former is what you need to show that XX% of chemicals are untested. If those numbers are similar, then yeah, that certainly supports your (and the author’s) concern. At this point, I don’t know. I suppose the answer to the latter could be zero. Again, I don’t know. As it stands, it still looks like counting stats, useful for qualitative comparison only. (As in “OMG, look how many chemicals haven’t been tested!!)
    I admit I am suprised at the paucity of testing, but then I suppose testing adverse effects on neurological development is tough – who’s going to offer up their kids as test subjects? In fact, I don’t strongly object to the findings of either paper. There were some holes in the data set you presented (which, admitedly, I haven’t found plugs for either) that struck me as playing a tad loose with the numbers.

  81. #81 Kevin
    May 2, 2009

    Anon #70: My point in posting, is that hostility and irrationality do not help to bridge the gap between the two camps, it only further divides the issue.

    There are NOT two camps. There are scientists, doctors, and medical researchers from countries around the globe who conduct tests, evaluate evidence, and publish the results in peer reviewed journals so that others can evaluate and analyze their findings and advance the state of knowledge, and then there are celebrity posers with high public name recognition, but zero credibility in the science community, who rely on anecdotes, distortions, and hysteria to argue that black is white and up is down.

  82. #82 Jack
    October 7, 2009

    I LOVE Fire Marshal Bill! Singlehandedly, the FUNNIEST man on Earth! I cannot say how many times I have repeatedly watch his sketches. ROTFL every time – without the thumb tacks. 😉

  83. #83 Chris
    October 7, 2009

    Jack, I see you also have his intellectual capacity! Good for you. Now go up and read the content of this six month old blog entry.

    Is it funny or tragic? Does it matter if you are adequately amused?

  84. #84 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    May 18, 2010

    @ Alex Reynolds

    So before I see any of you low IQ morons try to defend the large corruption infested drug companies get your facts straight or I’ll make you run with your tail between your legs. I hope your children end up with autism or mental retardation because you surely deserve it.

    You’re a pathetic wee shit with absolutely no possible ‘scare’ effect in you. You’re also a contemptible tosspot who – if nothing else – is just plain fucking nasty. Obviously more into superstition than intelligent thinking.

  85. #85 Alex
    July 27, 2010

    Orac, would you say that Carrey’s involvement in anti-vacine conspiracy paranoia makes us all ‘Dumb and Dumber’?

  86. #86 Scott
    July 27, 2010

    What’s with the flurry of threadomancy lately?

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