Respectful Insolence

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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 Science Pundit
    April 23, 2009

    That article is so much better when read in the voice of Fire Marshal Bill! I can laugh at sketch comedy; before it just made me sick.

  2. #2 Harold L Doherty
    April 23, 2009

    Terrific name calling and smear job!

    SOME of those who have indicated that more research should be done on possible vaccine autism connections include:

    Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the NIH and American Red Cross

    Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director CDC

    Dr. Duane Alexander, current NICHD (Eucine Kennedy Shriver National Institute Child Health & Human Development) director

    Dr. Jon Poling, MD, specializing in Neurology, claimed daughters autism caused by vaccines – COMPENSATED by government

    The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee includes vaccine autism research in its strategic autism research plan. Along with other possible environmental factors.

    Attacking Jim Carrey, or Jenny McCarthy, will not extinguish public concerns about vaccine safety in relation to autism or any other condition.

    Further research is needed.

  3. #3 dmcw
    April 23, 2009

    When Jim complains about conflicts of interest, surely the biggest conflict of interest is his!

    If he wants to get him some McCarthy pussy he has to be anti-vaccine!

  4. #4 colmcq
    April 23, 2009

    “Further research is needed.”

    Come up with a clearly defined hypothesis then.

  5. #5 Militant Agnostic
    April 23, 2009

    Using Bernadine Healy as an arugment from authority is hilarious given Jim Carrey’s bad tobacco analogy. Bernadine Healy was a tobacco industry shill as Orac has pointed out.

    Attacking Jim Carrey, or Jenny McCarthy, will not extinguish paranoid whackaloon’s concerns about vaccine safety in relation to autism or any other condition.

    Fixed that for you HLD

  6. #6 Matthew Cline
    April 23, 2009

    … will not extinguish paranoid whackaloon’s concerns about vaccine safety in relation to autism or any other condition.

    But not responding would likely fan the flames: “Pro-vaccinationists aren’t responding to Carrey’s post because it’s irrefutable!”

  7. #7 Vindaloo
    April 23, 2009

    By making fun of that actor and the HuffPo, Harold D, Handley, Handleu, Best, Erb, and every other antivax internet kook just got their widdow widdow feewings hurt.

  8. #8 MarkW
    April 23, 2009

    Harold L Doherty wrote

    The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

    but I read

    The Intergalactic Autism Coordinating Committee

    Oh Noes, it’s the aliens wot done it!

    It’s a more credible hypothesis than the anti-vaxxers’.

  9. #9 notmercury
    April 23, 2009

    Great videos. “Let me tell you something!” Forgot about those skits. There’s also a video of Jim playing Dr. Kevorkian on youtube. One scene shows him injecting a syringe full of air in to the arm of a patient. Sounds about right because the GR folks won’t be happy until vaccines contain nothing but air.

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 23, 2009

    The Bill / Jim comparison is completely apropos here.

    I wonder if The Bad Astronomer could tell us if they are sensing a black hole forming in the area of the Carey / McCarty household.

    Harold

    Attacking Jim Carrey, or Jenny McCarthy, will not extinguish public concerns about vaccine safety in relation to autism or any other condition.

    Care to refute a single thing said in Orac’s post, or are you just going to whine.

  11. #11 Jason Dick
    April 23, 2009

    Small aside, and you may not care at all, but I notice that in your Google links, you didn’t clear out your personal information. It’s clear that you use a Safari browser, for instance. You can strip the link to a Google search so that it only includes the “q=whatever” query, like so:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=orac+vaccines

    This may not work on advanced queries that include stuff like time information, but it works for simple queries.

    Anyway, back to your scheduled programming! I must say I rather enjoyed the rant, Orac. I rather doubt it would be effective against the woo pushers among us, but it was an enjoyable read for me, at least :)

  12. #12 SC
    April 23, 2009

    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.

    Allan Brandt’s The Cigarette Century is great on this.

  13. #13 Jud
    April 23, 2009

    Love the blog and I stand foursquare behind its general intent and posts like this in particular, where ignorant statements are given the thorough refutation they deserve. So it pains me just a bit to respond once again to one item where I think your characterization is (atypically) more enthusiastic than accurate:

    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.

    OK so far.

    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.

    A mild exaggeration. One particular aspect of the Daubert standard, a preference/requirement that literature supporting testimony or introduced in evidence be peer-reviewed, was not in force. (I agree this is an important aspect of the Daubert standard, but it is not the whole of it.)

    Speculation was permitted, and all that was required to potentially win a settlement was a “biologically plausible” mechanism.

    Err, no. Mere speculation is not considered evidence in the Vaccine Court or any other court. The second part of the sentence above gives a misleading impression of what the claimants had to do to prevail. **If the government put on no evidence whatever** (which was never a potential government strategy), then mere biological plausibility might have been enough for claimants to win. But since the government **did** put on evidence, the claimants’ evidence not only had to be biologically plausible, it had to provide a better explanation of what occurred than the government’s evidence. This is what’s meant by the “preponderance of the evidence” standard that claimants had to meet in order to succeed.

    In the actual event, as the special masters found, the claimants’ evidence did not even rise to the level of biological plausibility.

    What the [Vaccine] 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.

    I don’t think you’d have had quite so much trepidation if you’d (1) been mindful of the true burden claimants had to meet, rather than the slightly bowdlerized version reflected in this and previous posts, and (2) given the benefit of the doubt to the Special Masters; like most judges, they’re professionals sincerely trying to do a good job. I’m sure that you’ve seen, as I have, bad judges, “pliable” experts, and sleazy lawyers. But I think the Autism Omnibus, Kitzmiller, and similar cases help to demonstrate that the judicial process can be relied on to get the science right most of the time.

  14. #14 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    I believe the “only three cases out of more than 5000″ spin was started by TACA. It’s so ridiculous I’m sure no one at TACA or GR actually buys it. But they are trying to sell it to the unsuspecting public.

  15. #15 Mu
    April 23, 2009

    Dr. Jon Poling, MD, specializing in Neurology, claimed daughters autism caused by vaccines – COMPENSATED by government

    Would that be the same Dr. Poling who managed to get the defining journal article on the purported medical condition of his daughter published by NOT telling the journal that he was not only the father of the “anonymous” patient described, but also, as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit, to directly profit from the publication?

  16. #16 Kev
    April 23, 2009

    Hello Orac.
    I think you and AOA are on the same side using different forms of propaganda so I doubt you’ll use this. In paragraph 4 from the link below, it links to an email I received telling me that “DR” Moulden, who AOA is now promoting, does not have a medical degree.
    http://hatingautism.blogspot.com/2009/04/dr-james-neubrander-autism-quackery.html

  17. #17 Orac
    April 23, 2009

    Mere speculation is not considered evidence in the Vaccine Court or any other court.

    Maybe not in the legal code, but in practice speculation is exactly what the Vaccine Court accepted as evidence and expert testimony, as a reading of the transcripts of the three cases demonstrates.

  18. #18 Richard Eis
    April 23, 2009

    Thats a list of 4 people. How many DON’T think any more research is necessary? and Jon Poling. Cmon…who are you kidding here.

    -Terrific name calling and smear job!- no if you want to see name calling you need to check out J.B Handley and the reply at http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/

  19. #19 Scott
    April 23, 2009

    True, the special masters allowed speculation to be presented. But they then correctly identified it as speculation and disregarded it in their decisions.

    The Daubert standard was (approximately) applied to evaluate the testimony, even though it wasn’t used to exclude testimony. Which makes sense when you think about it; the reason for disallowing testimony from being presented in a jury trial is to ensure that the jurors don’t base their decision on it.

    But since there’s no jury in these cases, excluding the testimony based on Daubert would essentially be the special master determining that it’s not reliable so shouldn’t be presented – to the special master who determined that it’s not reliable (and will therefore not base their decision on it already). Pointless extra steps, really. (“Present it to me so that I can evaluate it in order to determine if you should present it to me.”)

  20. #20 storkdok
    April 23, 2009

    Glad you are back! Excellent heaping helping of RI!

  21. #21 bob
    April 23, 2009

    These guys are unbelievable! Great post, Orac.

    I personally think we should look for a link between vaccines and fantasy-prone personalities. The parallels between the antivaxxers and crap like creationism and ufology are undeniable. They each have their favorite talking points, their outright lies, their shady distortions, their conspiracy theories, their anecdotes, and their complete ignoring (and/or ignorance) of evidence contradictory to their beliefs. For crying out loud, he even mentioned mercury in vaccines! Gah!

  22. #22 Sid Offit
    April 23, 2009

    If,despite spending all your time obsessing over vaccines and watching old Dr. Who reruns, you have, by some miracle, been able to reproduce feel free to pump up your offspring with as much vaccine as you possibly can. Protect the herd in which you live. As to the rest of us keep your sensors out of our business. 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.

  23. #23 Prometheus
    April 23, 2009

    Let us not forget that Jim Carrey makes his living by saying – with faked emotion and exaggerated facial expressions – the words that other people have written for him. Even in his “Fire Marshall Bill” sketches, the words were written for him and the movements and facial expression were directed for him.

    It remains a mystery to me why people will give any credence to what an actor has to say about science or medicine. Jim Carrey never studied science beyond his required high school science classes and he has no experience in reading the scientific literature.

    The only area of expertise that Mr. Carrey has ever demonstrated is his ability to take the words and directions of other people and convince an audience that they are his own.

    Is this any different? Does anyone think that Jim Carrey is “off script” with this HuffPoo article?

    Anyone who believes that this was written by Jim Carrey on his own should contact me immediately – I have a bridge you might be interested in buying (it has a lovely view of Manhattan).

    Prometheus

  24. #24 Michael Simpson
    April 23, 2009

    Slightly off-topic, but DLH mentioned that Dr. Julie Gerberding is part of the anti-vaccination movement. She allowed the Bush administration to censor some of her testimony about global warming’s effects on disease, but the best I could find indicating any tie to the anti-vaccination movement is the cheering from the anti-science crowd.

    I have no personal opinion of Dr. Gerberding, other than thinking she was pretty effective, despite having to regularly battle the Bush administration’s attempt to use it’s resources to support its right wing agenda.

  25. #25 Courtney
    April 23, 2009

    Oh please let Amanda Peet come out and beat the crap out of Fire Marshal Bill! Actually I think that a mud wrestling match between Ms. Peet and Ms. McCarthy would be much more entertaining and would accomplish almost as much as trying to reason scientifically with that crowd of kooks. Since the anti vaxers aren’t interested in science maybe they would change their opinions when OUR celebrity kicks THEIR celebrity’s ass!

  26. #26 Chris
    April 23, 2009

    Sid Offit:

    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.

    Unlike you who could only name call and not put in one bit of fact, right?

    Tell us Mr. Offit, who should we get medical advice from: a second rate actor or someone who is actually qualified to practice medicine?

  27. #27 Liz Ditz
    April 23, 2009

    Examining the “36 vaccines” gambit.

    Later in the day: “Oh NOES! More Vaccines!!!” and even later, “Those Evil Pharmas Push Vaccines for Money!!!!!!!!”.

  28. #28 Sid Offit
    April 23, 2009

    Chris

    I guess name calling and personal attacks are OK when ORAC does it.

  29. #29 bob
    April 23, 2009

    @Sid: When he gives myriad reasons why those people deserve to be name-called and personally-attacked, then yes I’m okay with it.

  30. #30 stitch
    April 23, 2009

    @sid: If your non-vaccinated, disease-ridden little vermin didn’t go to school with my children then I wouldn’t give two hoots whether you vaccinated them or let them die of totally preventable diseases.

  31. #31 Natalie
    April 23, 2009

    As to the rest of us keep your sensors out of our business.

    No. It’s not just your business, asshat. Your unvaccinated children stay alive because of other people’s vaccinated childen, which makes you a freeloader. A sponge. A parasite. Call it what you will, it’s pretty damn selfish either way.

  32. #32 Scott
    April 23, 2009

    Protect the herd in which you live. As to the rest of us keep your sensors out of our business.

    Since unvaccinated kids can infect others (as no vaccine is 100% effective), it jolly well is everyone’s business! Those who decline to vaccinate are not just risking their own children (which would be more than enough cause to intervene by itself), they risk everyone else’s, too.

  33. #33 Orac
    April 23, 2009

    SOME of those who have indicated that more research should be done on possible vaccine autism connections include:

    Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the NIH and American Red Cross

    Already answered. Also particularly ironic, given Healy’s former ties to a tobacco industry-funded organization.

    Dr. Jon Poling, MD, specializing in Neurology, claimed daughters autism caused by vaccines – COMPENSATED by government

    Discussed in detail by me and others:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_hannah_poling_case_and_the_rebrandin.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/antivaccination_propaganda_about_the_pol.php
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=339
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=341

  34. #34 Dedj
    April 23, 2009

    Of course, no-one is interferring in anyones buisness by pointing out that the evidence is very suggestive against a vaccine=autism hypothesis.

    Those who call for more research are not neccisarily wrong, but there’s no reason why we should take thier calls as anything more than unsubstantiated opinion, given that the arguements of both themselves and their supporters is based on the authourity that those people once held, rather than a full and honest appraisal of their expertise, experience and evidence base available.

    Those who wish to link vaccines to autism however, seek to interfere with the rights of everyone, including those that support them. If they are successful in lobbying a product off of the market, despite the demand for that product by market forces, then they are automatically prohibiting anyone from even being able to make the choice of whether to choose or decline that product.

  35. #35 The Hypocrisy, it burns!
    April 23, 2009

    “When he gives myriad reasons why those people deserve to be name-called and personally-attacked, then yes I’m okay with it.”

    Wow…that says it all, doesn’t it.

    THE HYPOCRISY!!! IT BURNS!!!!

    It burns more than the stupidity of a thousand Oracs! It burns brighter than a million supernovas! It’s so bright that….Ooo, Dr. Who is on again.

    I’ll leave Orac to go play with his dolls (They’re Action figures, damnit!) and sit in his little basement and pretend to be important.

  36. #36 cooler
    April 23, 2009

    Hey guys. The Hannah Poling case clearly proves that Vaccines can cause Autism. She was totally healthy, besides some mild ear infections, was zapped with several vaccines and became autistic right after. Nice try. Epidemiology mostly from other countries where Thimerosal was never used in such high amounts as here probably won’t detect susceptible populations.

    This is why monkeys injected with the 1991 genocidal load of Thimerosal get brain damaged while controls don’t.

  37. #37 bob
    April 23, 2009

    @34: I’ll bite: why is my statement hypocritical? As an example, I think *your* insult-laden comment is worthless, because you threw out insults without any explanation for why Orac or I should be insulted. Why am I a hypocrite? Why is Orac stupid?

  38. #38 Dedj
    April 23, 2009

    “Wow…that says it all, doesn’t it.”

    Err, yes it does actually.

    Name calling to make the person look like an idiot = avoidance of the main issues.

    Name calling because the persons tackling of the main issues is idiotic = lacking in taste, but neither a logical fallacy nor a self-contradiction.

    It’s really, really no where near as hard for us to understand as it clearly is for you.

  39. #39 Scott
    April 23, 2009

    The Hannah Poling case clearly proves that Vaccines can cause Autism. She was totally healthy, besides some mild ear infections, was zapped with several vaccines and became autistic right after.

    Sigh. There isn’t really anything about this statement that ISN’T utterly wrong. I have no hope that cooler will actually read them, but Orac provided some links in #32 explaining just how far such claims are from anything vaguely resembling reality.

  40. #40 Jud
    April 23, 2009

    Orac, re your #16, Scott at #18 has it right. The fact that a court officer didn’t spring from his/her seat and clamp his hand over the mouth of whoever was testifying doesn’t mean the Vaccine Court accepted mere speculation as probative evidence. In fact, as we all agree, the Court found the testimony and documents claimants submitted regarding their theory of causation were not even plausible, much less probative.

    If this had been a jury trial, as Scott notes, the Vaccine Court’s short-cut would not have been possible: the judge would have had to consider, outside the jury’s hearing, whether the claimants’ testimony and documents could be admitted and considered by the jury.

  41. #41 Marc Abian
    April 23, 2009

    In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad

    Golden mean fallacy.

    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

    Ah of course, the university attending computer clown gambit. Never fails.

  42. #42 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    Epidemiology mostly from other countries where Thimerosal was never used in such high amounts as here probably won’t detect susceptible populations.

    @cooler: You really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? There is autism-thimerosal epidemiology from the US. Furthermore, specific US-based predictions from proponents of the hypothesis failed to materialize.

  43. #43 rob
    April 23, 2009

    wait!! dr. who is on?

    gotta go!

  44. #44 isles
    April 23, 2009

    In fact, they’ve coddled and cajoled the antivaccine fringe far beyond what science would require.

    Yes! This!

  45. #45 Pablo
    April 23, 2009

    I’m curious why he talks about the agendas of the AAP and the CDC as if they are bad things?

    As far as I can tell, the agenda of the AAP is to “Promote the best pediatric care possible” and the CDC’s is, well, pretty much in the title.

  46. #46 plum grenville
    April 23, 2009

    This is why monkeys injected with the 1991 genocidal load of Thimerosal get brain damaged while controls don’t.

    Citation please, cooler. You can’t play without providing evidence.

    But if you’re talking about three studies done by the discredited Andrew Wakefield which never got published, I’ll be happy to locate the takedown of them I read recently.

  47. #47 Pablo
    April 23, 2009

    What’s a “genocidal load”?

    Sounds to me like “a load big enough to kill.” I am willing to stand corrected.

    But if that is the case, then it sounds really dumb. Of course if you inject enough to kill, it will cause damage. Pretty much by definition. Inject enough salt into the body and it can kill, too (in fact, vets use KCl to put animals to sleep if they are out of the normal solution). Does that mean that KCl is dangerous in small doses? Not at all.

    Something like iron can kill, too, if given too much. I guess then that small amounts of iron are dangerous, then (aside from the fact that it is essential for our bodies)

  48. #48 plum grenville
    April 23, 2009

    “This is why monkeys injected with the 1991 genocidal load of Thimerosal get brain damaged while controls don’t” is of course a statement from cooler @35.

    Sorry for the block quote fail.

    Still waiting for the cite, cooler.

  49. #49 Michael Simpson
    April 23, 2009

    I swear that Orac could cut and paste the comments from each vaccination post he makes, and we would read the same things. I don’t know if the anti-vaccine woo-meisters think that if they repeat their cruft over and over, someone will listen, or it’s new woo-meisters who think that if they repeat their cruft over and over…oh never mind.

    How many times do we have to respond to comments Healy and Poling? How many times is this thimerosal straw man going to have to be reputed?

    What are these people going to do if a polio epidemic occurs? HIB? Measles? Who’s going to pay for it? How are the hospitals going to handle it?

    I want to scream.

  50. #50 Sid Offit
    April 23, 2009

    @sid:

    If your non-vaccinated, disease-ridden little vermin didn’t go to school with my children then I wouldn’t give two hoots whether you vaccinated them or let them die of totally preventable diseases.

    Then don’t send your kids to school. The other kids won’t have anybody to make fun of but they’ll be safe from the killer measles.

  51. #51 Blake Stacey
    April 23, 2009

    “A brain consisting of two neurons connected by a spirochete”?

    Oooh, I’m going to have to steal that. :-)

  52. #52 Sid Offit
    April 23, 2009

    No. It’s not just your business, asshat. Your unvaccinated children stay alive because of other people’s vaccinated childen,

    @Natalie
    Do you talk to your mother with that dirty little mouth? “Stay alive”? You can’t be serious.

  53. #53 Liz Ditz
    April 23, 2009

    Tell Jim Carrey that hw is wrong about vaccines and autism from Autism.Change.Org:

    All the publicity surrounding the claims of a vaccine-autism link has diverted attention and energy away from focusing on issues of pressing importance to individuals on the autism spectrum including education and schools, services, employment, and housing.

    Ask Jim Carrey to reconsider his statements about vaccines and autism and, if he wishes to advocate for autism, to rather direct his energies to support services and education for individuals on the autism spectrum.

    The suggested text of the letter. Feel free to compose your own message and post it at the Change.org link, above:

    Dear Mr. Carrey,


    I have read your recent article in The Huffington Post, “The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???” in which you assert that “We don’t know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe” and that further research about a possible vaccine-autism link is necessary. Further research has and is being done, and the scientific evidence refuting this hypothetical link is steadily accruing. Nonetheless, this issue continues to hold the attention of the public and of parents who have become fearful of vaccinating their young children.


    It is unfortunate that, due to your celebrity, many people will listen to your statements about vaccines and even decide not to have their children receive the vaccines that are important for their health. Please reconsider your statements about vaccines and autism and please rather direct your energies to supporting services and education for individuals on the autism spectrum.

    Also feel free to circulate this to your friends.

  54. #54 HCN
    April 23, 2009

    Hello Common Sue (in the form of the less than charming “Hypocrisy” bot and/or the let’s steal a name from the doctor we most hate “Sid Offit).

    Ah, gee isn’t this lovely: “The other kids won’t have anybody to make fun of but they’ll be safe from the killer measles. ”

    Except that measles is increasing, and as I recall several children under age one were infected when a kid with measles was brought into a doctor’s waiting room. One of those babies ended up in the hospital with a very high fever.

    Isn’t that special?

    Tell me, Common Sue/Sid Offit/”Hypocrisy Idiot” what actual real factual evidence that I can find in my local medical school library (and is not an article that was redacted from the Lancet) shows that the getting the MMR vaccine shows greater risk than measles (which causes hospitalizations, and real neurological damage in about one out of a thousand), mumps and rubella.

    Oh, guess what… new study from Japan shows that mumps causes more deafness than previously believed:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19209100 … “CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of hearing loss in children due to mumps was 7/7400 (approximately 1/1000 cases), which is higher than previously suggested. Prevention of deafness is another important reason for assuring universal immunization against mumps.”

    So in addition to the measles causing one neurological impact in 1000, there is mumps causing one case of deafness out of 1000 — which basically doubles the chance of something going bad for a child without the MMR.

    So tell us the risks of the MMR vaccine (with supporting evidence).

  55. #55 Scott
    April 23, 2009

    Then don’t send your kids to school. The other kids won’t have anybody to make fun of but they’ll be safe from the killer measles.

    I presume this is sarcastic, but (a) measles does indeed kill, (b) the second quoted sentence is beyond despicable, and (c) the fact that you’re suggesting other people home-school in order to avoid the risks to which you’ve chosen to subject their children is a rather good illustration of how stupid it is to claim it as a “freedom of choice” issue.

  56. #56 bob
    April 23, 2009

    Are you feeling okay, Sid (or whoever you are)? In the five minutes between your last two posts, you went from insulting someone’s children to scolding someone else for being rude. This goes doubly if you are indeed also the Hypocrisy kook.

  57. #57 Paul
    April 23, 2009

    Hey guys. The Hannah Poling case clearly proves that Vaccines can cause Autism. She was totally healthy, besides some mild ear infections, was zapped with several vaccines and became autistic right after. Nice try. Epidemiology mostly from other countries where Thimerosal was never used in such high amounts as here probably won’t detect susceptible populations.

    This is why monkeys injected with the 1991 genocidal load of Thimerosal get brain damaged while controls don’t.

    You’re about 3 years behind on your talking points. Thimerosal isn’t used in vaccines anymore, and autism rates are still increasing. But it must be the Thimerosal in vaccines causing autism, yes…

    If you want to get your slogans up to date, make up something regarding unspecified “toxins” and run around yelling “GREEN OUR VACCINES!”

  58. #58 Stu
    April 23, 2009

    If you want to get your slogans up to date, make up something regarding unspecified “toxins” and run around yelling “GREEN OUR VACCINES!”

    First though, get breast implants and make puke jokes for a while. Then your child will turn indigo, I think.

  59. #59 sevişme
    April 23, 2009

    “A brain consisting of two neurons connected by a spirochete”?

    Oooh, I’m going to have to steal that. :-)

  60. #60 cooler
    April 23, 2009

    @45
    Hewitson et al injected monkeys with the same schedule used in the early 1990′s and only those injected became brain damaged while control monkeys didn’t.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/05/sick-monkeys-st.html#more

    There is also evidence looking at the urine of Autistics that they are mercury poisoned, while controls are not. Here is a summary, google scholar will take you to the studies.
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67953.php

  61. #61 resimler
    April 23, 2009

    I can’t speak to the Tickle Method or personology in general, but there might, possibly, be something to a relationship between morphology and behavior, albeit not individually.

    What I’m getting at is the Siberia farm-fox study with domesticating silver foxes. The gist is that as they used selective breeding for less aggressive traits, they also saw morphological changes appear, like broader heads and loss of musky odor. But the sense of it I get is a correlation of species features to behaviors in a broad sense, not on an individual level.

  62. #62 ANON
    April 23, 2009

    Natalie and Scott, (30/31)

    No. It’s not just your business, asshat. Your unvaccinated children stay alive because of other people’s vaccinated childen, which makes you a freeloader. A sponge. A parasite. Call it what you will, it’s pretty damn selfish either way. – end Natalie, begin Scott:

    Since unvaccinated kids can infect others (as no vaccine is 100% effective), it jolly well is everyone’s business! Those who decline to vaccinate are not just risking their own children (which would be more than enough cause to intervene by itself), they risk everyone else’s, too.

    I’m not sure this kind of hostility helps matters. Nor does the sensational claim that vaccinated people keep unvaccinated people alive. It also totally casts aside the thousands of children that have been injured and/or died in the name of vaccination. Surely vaccine enthusiasts aren’t so callous as to declare that kind of senseless loss acceptable.

    As I’m sure you both know, vaccinated people are just as capable of spreading disease in society, and this kind of discrimination has no place among civilized discussion. Since vaccine trials are not performed with unvaccinated populations (ethics aside), you cannot accurately compare the ability of both groups to fight disease and it’s well known that the mere presence of antibodies within the host is no measure for how well they will actually perform during any challenge. As an example, just because my neighbor’s kid is vaccinated out the whazoo, does this justify the kid eating McDonald’s everyday or being a lazy couch potato? Do you honestly think the fact that this kid DID seroconvert actually means he’s protected? Gawd I hope not.

    As for Stitch calling unvaccinated kids disease-ridden vermin… well, that’s just silly. And a bit sad.

  63. #63 Scott
    April 23, 2009

    Nor does the sensational claim that vaccinated people keep unvaccinated people alive.

    Try “proven beyond any reasonable doubt” instead of “sensational.”

    It also totally casts aside the thousands of children that have been injured and/or died in the name of vaccination. Surely vaccine enthusiasts aren’t so callous as to declare that kind of senseless loss acceptable.

    Not sure of the exact numbers, but given the fact that the number of children saved from death by infectious disease (not even counting in adults or the outcomes short of death) is orders of magnitude better, YES! The small risks of vaccination are eminently acceptable since they prevent much greater risks.

    As I’m sure you both know, vaccinated people are just as capable of spreading disease in society,

    Utterly false.

    Since vaccine trials are not performed with unvaccinated populations (ethics aside), you cannot accurately compare the ability of both groups to fight disease and it’s well known that the mere presence of antibodies within the host is no measure for how well they will actually perform during any challenge.

    You can, we have, and vaccines most definitely work.

    As an example, just because my neighbor’s kid is vaccinated out the whazoo, does this justify the kid eating McDonald’s everyday or being a lazy couch potato? Do you honestly think the fact that this kid DID seroconvert actually means he’s protected? Gawd I hope not.

    Completely irrelevant, since the things diet and exercise protect against are very different (practically disjoint, in fact) from the things vaccination protects against.

    As for Stitch calling unvaccinated kids disease-ridden vermin… well, that’s just silly. And a bit sad.

  64. #64 Paul
    April 23, 2009

    Nor does the sensational claim that vaccinated people keep unvaccinated people alive.

    Sensational? It’s called herd immunity. Look it up. This is very basic stuff.

    As I’m sure you both know, vaccinated people are just as capable of spreading disease in society

    And this is why herd immunity is so important.

    Since vaccine trials are not performed with unvaccinated populations (ethics aside), you cannot accurately compare the ability of both groups to fight disease and it’s well known that the mere presence of antibodies within the host is no measure for how well they will actually perform during any challenge. As an example, just because my neighbor’s kid is vaccinated out the whazoo, does this justify the kid eating McDonald’s everyday or being a lazy couch potato?

    Ethics aside is a nonsensical statement. Our actions should always be determined by proper ethics.

    As for the rest…as an example, wearing an athletic cup doesn’t stop your nose from being broken by a baseball. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a cup. You’re comparing separate issues.

  65. #65 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 23, 2009

    “As I’m sure you both know, vaccinated people are just as capable of spreading disease in society” — when I read this bit from ANON, I thought, “maybe he’s getting confused about carriers, and thinks that people who are vaccinated against a disease can still be carriers of that disease.”

    But after this bit: “As an example, just because my neighbor’s kid is vaccinated out the whazoo, does this justify the kid eating McDonald’s everyday or being a lazy couch potato?” I don’t think ANON actually understands to the least degree what vaccination actually is. Instead of making a reasonable assessment of vaccination based on the results it has, ANON judges vaccination as if it were a magical spell, and deems it to have failed because its results are not fairy-dust magical.

  66. #66 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    Hewitson et al injected monkeys with the same schedule used in the early 1990′s and only those injected became brain damaged while control monkeys didn’t.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/05/sick-monkeys-st.html#more

    @cooler: Let’s say we take these unpublished results at face value, and they can be extrapolated to humans. Explain why most people who are fully vaccinated don’t develop brain damage.

  67. #67 HCN
    April 23, 2009

    bob said “Are you feeling okay, Sid (or whoever you are)?”

    That is why I just figure they are all Common Sue.

    Though I am beginning to think the “Hypocrisy Idiot” is satire, it is very hard to tell.

  68. #68 bob
    April 23, 2009

    While it’s nice to see the occasional antivaxxer come in and clean up his/her rhetoric, it’d be nice if they cleaned up their facts and logic as well. The previous two takedowns are plenty for ANON to deal with, but I just want to re-emphasize this gem:

    “As I’m sure you both know, vaccinated people are just as capable of spreading disease in society[.]”

    Uhhh … what?! If the vaccination was successful, then NO they are most certainly NOT just as capable of spreading the disease. If you’re referring to vaccines lack of 100% efficacy, then you are actually arguing FOR vaccination since we don’t want extra potential disease-carriers around. If you’re talking about OTHER diseases, please try to focus and stop your denialist obfuscating. (Or do you expect, say, the MMR to protect against, say HIV? Pfft.)

    That statement is a wonderful example of being Not Even Wrong. Completely misses the point.

  69. #69 Mu
    April 23, 2009

    ANON might want to read up on the “Kraft durch Freude” movement, definitely no couch potatoes there. All those healthy activities in the fresh air keep kids safe from the evils of civilization.

  70. #70 ANON
    April 23, 2009

    Herd immunity is accomplished by natural exposure as well, and in any case, dealing with pathogens strengthens the herd regardless of the type of exposure.

    My point regarding diet, is that they are clearly confounding factors when addressing one’s overall ability to fight disease. I’d argue that diet is of paramount importance, especially in infants that are establishing microbial gut populations.

    I admit that some vaccines are effective at reducing the transmission of disease, but others are less so. Vaccinated people may show less symptoms to diseases in which they’ve been vaccinated against, not entirely sure that means they aren’t just asymptomatic and quietly spreading disease among the herd. I’m not sure how provoking an abnormal immune response makes that person fare better overall when actually presented with the real pathogen, but that’s another topic.

    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. Reasonable discussion appears to be limited, especially here, and that’s too bad.

  71. #71 cooler
    April 23, 2009

    Because, Joseph boy, why don’t all people who smoke get cancer? Who is to say that many more people who got high doses of thimerosal didn’t get subtle brain damage, maybe the difference in being a College grad, to just being a dropout, something that wouldn’t get counted in any statistics.

  72. #72 PalMD
    April 23, 2009

    … feel free to pump up your offspring with as much vaccine as you possibly can. Protect the herd in which you live…

    I’ve always loved this one. They feel that their individual anecdotes are so powerful that we will also adopt them. My personal experience is that no one in my family, all of them well vaccinated including my kid, has ever been diagnosed autistic.

    That being said, I don’t find my experience to be a compelling argument against the vaccine-autism hypothesis. The compelling evidence is seen in the large-scale trials that over and over fail to find a connection.

    Oh, and my “herd” is pretty much the human race, as I don’t keep my kid locked up in my house.

  73. #73 Stu
    April 23, 2009

    I’d argue that diet is of paramount importance, especially in infants that are establishing microbial gut populations.

    You DO know that your microbial gut population has fuck-all to do with resistance to, oh, measles, right? Those DanActive commercials are NOT reality.

  74. #74 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    Because, Joseph boy, why don’t all people who smoke get cancer?

    @cooler: You obviously did not understand the question. The study had, as a I recall, 10 monkeys in the exposed group and 3 in the control group (no randomization, obviously.) To detect an effect with such small groups, obviously most of the monkeys who got vaccinated developed brain damage. Why isn’t brain damage evident in most humans who are fully vaccinated?

  75. #75 Mu
    April 23, 2009

    cooler, you’re not up-to-date on the latest teachings of his pompous highness; mercury is out, but it’s only 1 of 53 ingredients. Please start reading up on aluminum, we need new material do take apart.

  76. #76 bob
    April 23, 2009

    What about Jim Carrey’s or JB Handley’s recent articles were rational, reasonable, or helpful? That’s not an excuse for Orac’s (or anyone’s) attitude or invective, but you need to look at the overall situation. The antivaxxers are spreading outright lies and misinformation; for instance, Carrey brought up mercury in vaccines, a dead issue. Also, Handley responded to the sort of calm, rational discussion you’re requesting with an outright and obnoxious attack on Steve Novella. This is terribly frustrating, because they’re completely wrong yet they’re convincing people to put their children at risk.

    As another example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at your own latest comments. Take this line:

    “I’m not sure how provoking an abnormal immune response makes that person fare better overall when actually presented with the real pathogen, but that’s another topic.”

    This is nonsense. You’re not sure only because you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m going to respond in a slightly mocking tone, because it’s frustrating to read the same unsubstantiated garbage over and over. Here goes:

    Why don’t you consult the smallpox virus about how people fared? Fair warning: you might have trouble finding it.

  77. #77 Paul
    April 23, 2009

    Herd immunity is accomplished by natural exposure as well, and in any case, dealing with pathogens strengthens the herd regardless of the type of exposure.

    Wow, thank you for proving that you didn’t even google the term. An effective herd immunity level is generally 80-90% of the population. There is no way you will ever reach that by natural exposure without significant danger to the public health (measles parties are irresponsible, creepy, and horrible when compared with the low risk vaccine).

    And since you’ve shown you’re not even going to put in the effort to read on such a basic concept, I’m done here.

  78. #78 ANON
    April 23, 2009

    Bob,

    I’m sorry you are aggravated, you needn’t mock me, I’m not here slinging mud. You (and everyone else) are also free to feel however you wish about what I post, and file it accordingly. Vaccines do in fact trick the immune system, ie. my use of the words “abnormal response”.

    I don’t think small pox is a very good example, and that was certainly a wretched time if we consult history in which there was a fair amount of vaccine failure.

    Paul,

    That % figure appears to change, and it’s first use was a very long time ago – well before vaccine programs were in effect. I agree that measles parties are irresponsible, but I’m not sure that you can effectively state that the risk for everyone is the same. I’m sorry I offended you, that wasn’t the intent.

  79. #79 cooler
    April 23, 2009

    @joseph
    Animal models are not exactly precise to the real world. For example Monkeys only get polio when injected through the brain, not orally or when injected in the blood stream like humans do. SIV infected macaque either die in 6-18 months or not at all and they don’t get Kaposis Sarcoma or dementia etc, chimapanzees rarely die from HIV infection. Use your brain son.

  80. #80 Orac
    April 23, 2009

    Hewitson et al injected monkeys with the same schedule used in the early 1990′s and only those injected became brain damaged while control monkeys didn’t.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/05/sick-monkeys-st.html#more

    Uh, no, that’s not what the rather bad study you are quoting showed:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=100

    And let’s not forget that Hewitson had a massive undisclosed conflict of interest in that she was a complainant in the Autism Omnibus case, and her husband it the IT director for Andrew Wakefield’s Thoughtful House.

  81. #81 bob
    April 23, 2009

    ANON, what you’re doing is called “special pleading.” You’re making up unreasonable excuses for why your ideas are correct and ours are wrong.

    You said that smallpox is not a good example of vaccines working because “that was certainly a wretched time.” What, precisely, does that mean? You claimed that “you’re not sure” if the immunity provided by vaccines will work against the real virus. The utter eradication of a deadly virus is excellent evidence that vaccines work, regardless of how artificial or abnormal they seem to you. Your complaint that it was a “wretched time” is not a valid criticism of my point, as it is special pleading. Do you understand?

    You then commented that the percents involved in herd immunity calculations are from a very long time ago (presumably during the “wretched times”). My understanding, and I’d be happy to be corrected if I’m wrong, is that herd immunity is a simple math problem. If a disease has an X percent chance of transmission upon person-to-person contact, then you need Y percent of the population immune to preclude widespread outbreak of the disease. If this is indeed the case, then this comment of yours is also a special plead. I also don’t understand your comment about “risk for everyone [being] the same,” and it seems to indicate that you still don’t understnad herd immunity.

  82. #82 bob
    April 23, 2009

    And, to everyone: cooler seems to have reached the point in his commenting where all cogency is lost. Might be time to start ignoring him. He started off (rather nicely, in fact!) by offering an animal study as evidence, and now just accused someone of not using their brain because (and I quote) “Animal models are not exactly precise to the real world.” Apparently they are good enough to show effects he believes in, but nothing more or less.

  83. #83 dt
    April 23, 2009

    HCN:

    So in addition to the measles causing one neurological impact in 1000, there is mumps causing one case of deafness out of 1000 — which basically doubles the chance of something going bad for a child without the MMR.

    In fact, in around 5% of all mumps cases there will be a very mild aseptic meningitis (mumps virus can be isolated from CSF). This is usually so mild all it does is cause a bad headache, but in a small proportion of cases it can be severe.

    As you may recall, the first version of MMR contained Urabe mumps virus strain, which caused aseptic meningitis in 1:23,000 vaccine doses.

    1:20 vs 1:23000.

    Yet antivaxers get hysterical at the thought that the early version of MMR could cause “potentially lethal neurological damage” (ie mumps Urabe strain meningitis). I guess they would rather take the 1:20 risk of this from the natural disease. Then they can call it “trivial” and harmless, nay, maybe even beneficial, and all because it’s “natural”.

  84. #84 David M.
    April 23, 2009

    If it wasn’t for Jenny and Jim, Orac would have no material to write about. Kinda sad.

    Just like the vaccine happy talkers on this post. So scared of Jenny and Jim. It must bug you all that Jenny and Jim are considered by the majority of Americans to know more about this issue than any of you lab rats and basement dwellers.

    And they can count Dr. Bernadine Healy on their side calling for more research into this issue. You guys have who, Paul Offit, Prometheus, and the CDC which is busy studying how pets trip their owners.

    But I digress, I just caught this whole Fire Marshall Bill rant and boy it is so funny. Great stuff.

    Hey, can anyone out there help me. I know this guy who thinks he knows a lot about science and the causes of autism. But it turns out he is only a tax claims expert in the Department of Justice. No background in science or medicine, just some civil servant hack but he is a whiz with a W-2.

    Anyway, his name is George Hastings. Anyone ever heard of him. It is spelled like this. G-E-O-R-G-E H-A-S-T-I-N-G-S.

    (Tick, tock, tick, tock…several minutes pass)

    Wait, I just Googled him using Orac’s Google skills. Hey this Hastings guy turns out to be a “Special Master” on the Vaccine Court. Cool. Boy a guy with a background in tax claims. I want him making the call on big issues. Maybe we could get Charles Schwab to sit on that court too.

    Orac, you think you may know science and medicine, you also claim you know ethics. But now you claim to be a legal expert with all that nonsense about the Vaccine Court.

    Please, spare us. Stick to talking about Jenny, Jim and smoking, Star Trek and Farrah.

    So some tax claims expert who knows the right politician gets appointed to a court and that means the vaccine issue is settled because he ruled that way. Wow. Ever hear of Plessy v. Ferguson.

    That was once law of the land and was decided by hack judges as well. And here’s a clue, that Plessy v Ferguson court case was settled right around the time when the best doctors in the land told people the best course of treatment was cutting open a vein and bleeding.

    How did that work out for them?

  85. #85 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    He started off (rather nicely, in fact!) by offering an animal study as evidence, and now just accused someone of not using their brain because (and I quote) “Animal models are not exactly precise to the real world.” Apparently they are good enough to show effects he believes in, but nothing more or less.

    My thoughts exactly. Not that the study is necessarily good enough to be considered evidence of damage to animals either. Orac looked at the conference abstract here.

  86. #86 Orac
    April 23, 2009

    If it wasn’t for Jenny and Jim, Orac would have no material to write about. Kinda sad.

    Not at all. Figure out the percentage of posts on this blog that are about Jenny or Jim since September 2007 (which is when Jenny became an advocate of autism quackery and antivaccine pseudoscience), then get back to me.

  87. #87 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    Hey this Hastings guy turns out to be a “Special Master” on the Vaccine Court.

    @David M: So in your view, vaccine court judges should be scientists or doctors? That’s absolutely ridiculous. Furthermore, if they were scientists or doctors, your excuse would be that scientists/doctors defend other scientists/doctors (that’s the gist of Handley’s attack on Dr. Novella).

    There were 3 special masters, BTW. Does your ludicrous conspiracy theory involve all 3 of them being “hacks” and so forth?

    You just can’t stand that reasonable non-scientists were presented with evidence for and against a claim, considered it carefully (see the documentation), heard expert testimony from both sides, and ruled against your unsupported and mistaken beliefs.

  88. #88 Magnus
    April 23, 2009

    “If it wasn’t for Jenny and Jim, Orac would have no material to write about. Kinda sad”

    Wrong. He writes about many other topics.

    “Just like the vaccine happy talkers on this post. So scared of Jenny and Jim. It must bug you all that Jenny and Jim are considered by the majority of Americans to know more about this issue than any of you lab rats and basement dwellers.”

    Argument ad populi.

    “And they can count Dr. Bernadine Healy on their side calling for more research into this issue. You guys have who, Paul Offit, Prometheus, and the CDC which is busy studying how pets trip their owners.”

    Argument from authority.

    “Hey, can anyone out there help me. I know this guy who thinks he knows a lot about science and the causes of autism. But it turns out he is only a tax claims expert in the Department of Justice. No background in science or medicine, just some civil servant hack but he is a whiz with a W-2.

    Anyway, his name is George Hastings. Anyone ever heard of him. It is spelled like this. G-E-O-R-G-E H-A-S-T-I-N-G-S.

    (Tick, tock, tick, tock…several minutes pass)

    Wait, I just Googled him using Orac’s Google skills. Hey this Hastings guy turns out to be a “Special Master” on the Vaccine Court. Cool. Boy a guy with a background in tax claims. I want him making the call on big issues. Maybe we could get Charles Schwab to sit on that court too.”

    Which is probably one of many reasons why the court decision does not count as scientific evidence for the lack of a link between vaccination and autism.

  89. #89 HCN
    April 23, 2009

    By the way, Common Sue, ANON, David M., cooler and Sid Offit:

    Do you notice a big difference between this blog and the Age of Autism blog? Can you see it? Do you know what it is?

    You are able to freely post all the drivel you please (within limits, and those limits are so vast only two people have been banned from this blog).

    Oooh, David M. — you found that George Hastings an lawyer, and has a been known to specialize in tax law. Now isn’t that special, it says so right here in the official bio:
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/george-l-hastings

    Did you also find out that Denise Vowell was an Army lawyer and judge? Or that Patricia Campbell-Smith has a degree in electrical engineering? Or that they are vastly more qualified than any jury from the general population?

    Anyway, have you guys figured how AoA differs from here? Here it is:
    They moderate their clown blog with an iron clown glove. No dissent from their agenda is allowed, not even to dare ask King Handley that how could he have not heard of Steven Novella when there was a letter from Poling to Novella on the blog he pays for!

  90. #90 Mu
    April 23, 2009

    Has anyone figured out the connection between the “separate but equal” decision from the 1890′s and medieval bloodletting? That guy could give James Burke a run for his money.

  91. #91 Cooler
    April 23, 2009

    Lol. Orac complains about the lack of control animals.

    “What next leaps to mind in looking at the abstracts themselves is that there are 13 monkeys in the “vaccine” group and only three in the control group. The authors do not explain or justify why there are such unequal numbers of subjects in the two groups or why they didn’t simply assign eight monkeys to each group. Doing so would have required the same number of animals. Similarly, there is no mention of how the monkeys were assigned to one group or the other (randomization, anyone?), whether the experimenters were blinded to experimental group and which shots were vaccine or placebo, whether the monkeys were weight- and age-matched, or any of a number of other controls that careful researchers routinely do when setting up animal experiments.”

    Well Orac there were no control animals at all in the SIV studies listed in the Durban Declaration, nor in Popper’s et al study that proved polio was caused by a virus. At least this study had 3 controls. Using this logic we can throw out the SIV hypothesis and the polio hypothesis because they had no controls.

  92. #92 cooler
    April 23, 2009

    “Considering these factors, right off the bat from the small numbers (particularly with only three monkeys in the control group), I can fairly safely conclude that the study almost certainly doesn’t have the statistical power necessary to find convincing evidence of an effect of vaccination on any of the parameters measured.”
    Dr. Orac.

    I’m sure because of this statement Dr. Orac will be very skeptical of the SIV portion of the Durban Declaration, and of Popper’s Polio experiment because they had no control animals.

  93. #93 sff
    April 23, 2009

    This isn’t directly related to the HuffPo, but it is vaccine related.

    Is it true that the varicella/chickenpox vaccine can cause shingles, or is this just an antivax talking point? I can’t remember where I read this, so I’m not sure whether to believe it.

    The only vaccines I’m at all skeptical about are Gardasil [more because it's awfully new and the disease it protects against isn't transmissible by most of the common routes AFAIK] and the varicella one.

    I can’t believe people still do this antivax crap…

  94. #94 ANON
    April 23, 2009

    Bob,

    You’re making up unreasonable excuses for why your ideas are correct and ours are wrong.

    I’ve not offered any “excuses”, I’m not sure I’m following you. I simply pointed out that vaccine failure does occur, and that vaccinated people can also spread disease. This is well documented. I didn’t say anyone’s ideas were wrong, I said they were hostile… with a little bit of sensationalism thrown in, and that *I* don’t think it helps to bridge the gap between the two camps. Just as if I came here claiming vaccines cause everything from ADD to homicidal thoughts, I’d also be sensationalizing. I do acknowledge that this is a two way street.

    You said that smallpox is not a good example of vaccines working because “that was certainly a wretched time.” What, precisely, does that mean? You claimed that “you’re not sure” if the immunity provided by vaccines will work against the real virus. The utter eradication of a deadly virus is excellent evidence that vaccines work, regardless of how artificial or abnormal they seem to you. Your complaint that it was a “wretched time” is not a valid criticism of my point, as it is special pleading. Do you understand?

    “Wretched” refers to the manufacture and administration… I surely hope we can agree that it was fairly grotesque. Small pox campaigns were totally wrought with vaccine failure. The entire Philippine population was vaccinated in 1918/19 and thousands of people died. That is what I mean by “wretched”. You are free to disagree.

    You then commented that the percents involved in herd immunity calculations are from a very long time ago (presumably during the “wretched times”). My understanding, and I’d be happy to be corrected if I’m wrong, is that herd immunity is a simple math problem. If a disease has an X percent chance of transmission upon person-to-person contact, then you need Y percent of the population immune to preclude widespread outbreak of the disease. If this is indeed the case, then this comment of yours is also a special plead. I also don’t understand your comment about “risk for everyone [being] the same,” and it seems to indicate that you still don’t understnad herd immunity.

    I said the percentiles appear to change, and that the term is rather old and was used, initially, well before vaccine programs were in effect. Not that the percentiles were from a long time ago, I apologize if I wasn’t clear. I don’t think we can adequately determine risk for susceptible populations, because if we could, we’d likely be doing that. At least I hope so.

  95. #95 plum grenville
    April 23, 2009

    David M.:

    So some tax claims expert who knows the right politician gets appointed to a court and that means the vaccine issue is settled because he ruled that way. Wow. Ever hear of Plessy v. Ferguson.

    That was once law of the land and was decided by hack judges as well. And here’s a clue, that Plessy v Ferguson court case was settled right around the time when the best doctors in the land told people the best course of treatment was cutting open a vein and bleeding.

    What about the thousands of other court cases in which the judge(s) reached decisions that have not been overruled or otherwise discredited?

  96. #96 Dan
    April 23, 2009

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Truly excellent.

    Another point that is worth making, though it took some time to verify, is that the “peer reviewed science” link on the “Generation Rescue” page leads to hundreds of references that, while dealing with autism, fail to mention immunizations at all in the vast majority of cases. If you’ve got time, and care to do so, you’re more than free to wade through all of the references:
    http://www.generationrescue.org/autism/

    However, I’ve already done it for you:
    http://bleakonomy.blogspot.com/2009/04/reading-this-crap-so-you-dont-have-to.html

  97. #97 plum grenville
    April 23, 2009

    You then commented that the percents involved in herd immunity calculations are from a very long time ago (presumably during the “wretched times”). My understanding, and I’d be happy to be corrected if I’m wrong, is that herd immunity is a simple math problem. If a disease has an X percent chance of transmission upon person-to-person contact, then you need Y percent of the population immune to preclude widespread outbreak of the disease. If this is indeed the case, then this comment of yours is also a special plead. I also don’t understand your comment about “risk for everyone [being] the same,” and it seems to indicate that you still don’t understnad herd immunity.

    ANON replying to the comment above:

    I said the percentiles appear to change, and that the term is rather old and was used, initially, well before vaccine programs were in effect. Not that the percentiles were from a long time ago, I apologize if I wasn’t clear. I don’t think we can adequately determine risk for susceptible populations, because if we could, we’d likely be doing that. At least I hope so.

    Posted by: ANON | April 23, 2009 7:19 PM

    What does that last sentence mean, ANON, and what does it have to do with herd immunity?

    Are you trying to claim that we don’t know what the baseline risk of catching some disease is so therefore we don’t what the risk is of not vaccinating enough of the population to achieve herd immunity?

    And what do you mean by “susceptible populations”? Is this some kind of bait and switch? All populations that don’t have herd immunity are susceptible to disease outbreaks.

    And why would we automatically be determining risk in “susceptible populations” if it could be adquately done?

    You’re going to have to spell your argument out more clearly. It seems to be: we can’t determing the risk of something or other because if we could, we’d be doing it.

    I can think of several possible reasons why we wouldn’t bother determining this risk (whatever risk you’re talking about):

    1) Maybe it’s already been done and we don’t need to keep on doing it.
    2) Maybe we know the risk is higher than the risk of whatever the alternative is, so determining a precise level wouldn’t change what we do.
    3) Maybe there is nothing we could do differently if we did know what the level of risk is.

    Without more explanation, I don’t accept that you’ve demonstrated that we can’t determine whatever risk it is you’re talking about.

  98. #98 Prometheus
    April 23, 2009

    Mu asks:

    “Has anyone figured out the connection between the “separate but equal” decision from the 1890′s and medieval bloodletting?”

    That “connection” had me stumped for a while, but I finally figured it out.

    David M. is apparently struggling to distinguish between laws and reality. For other people who have difficulty with this distinction, let me offer the following brief explanation:

    Laws are made by people. They represent no inherent reality apart from the consensus of the group or individual making the laws. Laws can be rational or irrational – they can assert that non-existent things are real or that real things are non-existent. They can be changed for good reasons, bad reasons or no reason at all. Laws do not have to conform to any test of reality or relevancy.

    Reality, on the other hand, is real – it doesn’t change to suit our wishes or dictates. No matter how much we lobby, litigate or legislate against it, the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter is pi (3.14159…), not three.

    Science is our current best method for finding out what reality is. The goal of science is to find out what reality really is and how everything really works.

    Science achieves these goals by formulating hypotheses – proposed models of how some part of the universe (like orbital mechanics, for instance) works – and then testing them. If a hypothesis fails, we make changes to it or come up with an entirely new hypothesis that does fit all of the available data. Then we start testing it over again.

    Scientific hypotheses and theories are like the World Cup champions – they are only “on top” until they are beaten by a better hypothesis.

    David M. seems to think that a legal decision – made in 1896 – has some sort of bearing on anything other than the mindset of the judges who wrote that decision. He apparently forgot that the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision made the opposite determination. Same situation, same US Constitution, different interpretation. Times had changed and the same words were interpreted differently.

    On the other hand, bloodletting was abandoned as a medical treatment not because the mood of the country had changed or because society had changed but because it didn’t work. Scientific data showed that bloodletting did not improve patient outcomes (with one specific exception).

    Bloodletting didn’t become less effective with time because people had changed; it had never been effective. What had changed was that we no longer used anecdotes, testimonials and the “vast clinical experience” of practitioners to determine if bloodletting worked – we started looking at data. And the data showed that bloodletting didn’t work.

    The only connection I can see between the two is that Plessy v. Ferguson was in the late 19th century and bloodletting was practiced – by a steadily declining population of aging practitioners – until the late 19th century.

    One thing David M. is dead right about is that the decisions of the Special Masters weren’t what showed that thimerosal and the MMR vaccine didn’t cause autism – the scientific data had already shown that. All the Special Masters did was decide that the scientific data didn’t justify compensating the plaintiffs from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

    It also needs to be said that the settlements (not “decisions”) in the Poling and Banks cases neither add nor subtract anything from the body of scientific data about vaccines and autism. They are, in fact, as irrelevant as the decisions by the Special Masters.

    The data don’t support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. Legal decisions one way or the other will not change that. Legal decisions can – and often do – fly in the face of reality.

    Some day, people will figure out that trying to force a legal or legislative solution to a scientific question is counter-productive. Polls, surveys, legal decision and laws will not – cannot – change reality.

    Not even science can change reality – it can only discover it.

    Prometheus

  99. #99 David M.
    April 23, 2009

    Respectful Insolence = Gawker…next topic is whether Charlie Sheen has a good hairpiece or a bad one…any thoughts from the peanut gallery.

    Hey Plum Nuts – You mean like Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court decision in 2000. The guy with the most votes lost. Good call there by the Supremes. That one still stands.

    Joey Pants – you mean like the judge in the Bailey Banks case? How did that decision turn out. Oops. You can’t have it both ways, Joey Pants. If you say the Vaccine Court rules correctly, then you have to look at all the decisions they have made. (PS – Is that a Straw Man or a Mercury Man argument. I should check with Orac I wasn’t on the high school debate team.)

    HCN – who cares what you think or say. (Yawn) I almost nodded off reading your drivel. Anyway, the First Amendment even applies to you. Go back to your basement and blog. No one will care anyway, but go ahead. You have my permission.

    Mu-Mu – you should read your history a little better before you pop off. Ever hear of George Washington and how he died….I will even let you use the Orac Google skills on that one.

    And sorry Orac, I only read your blogs when you trash Jenny and Jim or other anti-vaccine folks. They are funny. Like the Three Stooges. I am not going to go back and count all your blogs and figure out some percentage. You can do the math. But I’m sure the percentage of Jenny and Jim columns is a lot smaller than the people who think you are the Bill O’Reilly of blog – loud and full of hoo, wait, goo, no zoo, oh yeah, woo. That’s the ticket, woo.

    I hate to break this to y’all – I know y’all think you are smart and everyone in the world agrees with you and anti-vaccine people think the moon landing was faked.

    But the reality is parents are not buying what you are selling. And the doctors on the front line know it. And the more you squeal like stuck pigs against people calling for more research into this issue, the weaker you become.

    If you think the science supports your views on vaccines, autism, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, whatever, then you should say – sure we will agree to testing, bring it on. Whatever you want. We will win, you will lose.

    By dancing around, whipping out straw men, attacking anyone who disagrees with you and firing links and basically saying the issue is closed, you appear to be like a Tour de France bike rider who is refusing to get tested. What do you have to hide.

    (Last post of the night as I have to go wait in line for the new Star Trek movie. Orac, Prometheus I will look for you both. Live long and over-vaccinate.)

  100. #100 Efogoto
    April 23, 2009

    Another good Carrey character to have cited: Ace Ventura, who had such delightful scenes talking out of his ass.

  101. #101 Coyote
    April 23, 2009

    The part anti-vaxers refuse to understand is that the issue IS closed. The science has spoken. There is no discernible link between vaccines and autism, and there are obvious consequences to not vaccinating. There is no refusal to test, because the tests have already been done, and the anti-vaxers were proven wrong.

  102. #102 Joseph
    April 23, 2009

    Joey Pants – you mean like the judge in the Bailey Banks case? How did that decision turn out. Oops. You can’t have it both ways, Joey Pants. If you say the Vaccine Court rules correctly, then you have to look at all the decisions they have made. (PS – Is that a Straw Man or a Mercury Man argument. I should check with Orac I wasn’t on the high school debate team.)

    @David M: Could you be more childish?

    You see, I think the judge in the Bayley Banks case ruled in good faith too. The vaccine court has a very low standard of proof, which is not difficult to meet. All they need is a plausible hypothesis and a temporal association. There’s no evidence that ADEM is associated with PDD, yet the special master ruled in favor of the petitioner. Why? Because there was no evidence that ADEM is not associated with PDD. Read the decision. That’s how weak it was.

  103. #103 Chris
    April 23, 2009

    Coyote, you will appreciate this:

    The science has been done, the link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link… “It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!! ” (hat-tip to Monty Python and the dead parrot sketch)

  104. #104 Sabio
    April 23, 2009

    Do you ever wonder if Vaccine Resistors serve any social functions? I blogged a short note on it today.

  105. #105 Chris
    April 23, 2009

    Sabio, the only social function those guys serve are as detriments to herd immunity. They also tend to gather in clusters, so one infected kid will infect another kid whose DTaP or MMR vaccine was being delayed.

    The “too many, too soon” is a silly argument, read this:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=289

  106. #106 Rowan
    April 23, 2009

    I am curious and have tried to find an answer via Google, but haven’t come up with the search terms that would provide what I seek.

    There is continued commentary by the anti-vax contingent regarding a correlation between vaccinations and autism. What I would like to know is how many children in the anti-vax scenario have been diagnosed with autism, yet have not been vaccinated?

    I keep getting the impression from them that not a single unvaccinated child has been diagnosed with autism. Surely there are statistics which refute that as it seems to me it would throw the argument regarding vaccines out the window.

  107. #107 HCN
    April 23, 2009

    Rowan, the diva of AoA, Kim Stagliano has three daughters with autism. The youngest was not vaccinated.

    You might want to read this:
    http://notmercury.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-was-wrong.html

    And when Generation Rescue’s idiotic phone survey was analyzed with competence, it was revealed that “Strikingly, the survey found that while 3.01% of all vaccinated children had an ASD diagnosis, about 3.73% of all unvaccinated children did. That’s right. The survey found autism to be more common among the unvaccinated. ”

    See http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2007/09/simple-selection-bias-model-explains.html

    You’ll also note that the large epidemiological studies done in several countries covering more than a million children, that the rate of autism was not affected by vaccine status, levels of thimerosal or use of the MMR (actually Japan stopped using their version of the MMR, and made measles vaccination voluntary — the numbers of measles shot up, and the autism still increased).

    But remember, Generation “Rescue”/Age of Autism/Safeminds/TACA and all of the other pro-disease groups will not let a simple thing like data get in the way of their beliefs.

  108. #108 Rowan
    April 23, 2009

    Thank you, HCN.

    Commonsense was telling me there was no way that only vaccinated children have been diagnosed as autistic.

    I appreciate the links!

  109. #109 mmackay40
    April 23, 2009

    @david m #84

    Science has progressed since they days of bloodletting. We learn from our mistakes.

    Similarly, the law has progressed since the days of Plessy v
    Ferguson.

    Both science and law are, to different degrees, self-correcting processes, susceptible to rational analysis.

    ****

    BTW the argument that we’ve only tested thimerosal, one out of 53 ingredients is a classic example of moving the goalposts. Duh — the reason why we looked at thimerosal is because you claimed (hypothesized) that it was a cause of autism. You were wrong. Now you want us to look at 52 more ingredients without giving a plausible basis for how they could cause the effects you claim.

    When science does err, it does not remain secret for long. So too, albeit to a lesser degree, because reproducibility is not a requirement to acceptance, with the law. The frailty of legal justification is just as obvious to the trained eye, to all but the most committed partisan. (See for example, Bush v Gore).

  110. #110 Joseph C.
    April 23, 2009

    But the reality is parents are not buying what you are selling.

    Bullshit. The vast majority of parents are vaccinating.

    We will win, you will lose.

    If by “win” you mean that the vaccination rate might decline to the point where a bunch of children will die of preventable diseases, then you just might be right. But this would be Pyrrhic victory for the pro-disease movement.

    You’re tilting at windmills. You and your New Age moron friends can’t possibly win in this.

  111. #111 Justthemiddleground
    April 23, 2009

    I vaccinated my children according to the schedule used by Sweden as it was more spread out and started at a later date when the children were older and, obviously, larger and more able to express themselves regarding any adverse affects. No problems.

  112. #112 Dr. P
    April 23, 2009

    David M.-

    Respectful Insolence = Gawker…next topic…yadda, yadda..

    I know one of your few thrills in life is to think you’re taking the piss out, but no, as a pediatrician on the ‘front lines’ I can say I’ve seen no decrease in the immunization rates in my clinic. I have seen a few of the preventable diseases that you minimize in your ignorance and your lack of any real experience in this area.What I can say is that between your constant vacillating between rude and intentionally provocative to’oh my, what potty mouths’ you continue to have nothing of substance to say. Say something…anything really if it’s well considered, judicious, organized and filled with fun facts;I’m almost to the point that I won’t read your posts anymore. large rambling incoherent potshots with no semblance of reason that they are.I swear reading them is like being underwater with my brain screaming at me for air.

  113. #113 HCN
    April 24, 2009

    Justthemiddleground said “schedule used by Sweden as it was more spread out and started at a later date”

    How does it differ from the Japanese shedule:
    http://idsc.nih.go.jp/yosoku/vacpdf/EN_05-1.pdf

    … which looks like the USA schedule except for the lack of Hepb, and the addition of the BCG and Japanese Encephalitis — oh, and the MMR instead of the separate measles and rubella with no mumps. Plus there is the OPV instead of the safer IPV for polio.

    So with the power of Google, I can find that information! Here it is:
    http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/vaccination/sweden.html

    Other than the ADDITIONAL vaccination at birth with BCG (which is for tuberculosis, and has never been required in the USA, oh and yes it like the HepB is for high risk populations!), instead the USA has the rotavirus vaccine (trust me, it is a disease you want to prevent!)… how exactly does the Swedish vaccine schedule differ from the USA?

  114. #114 Azkyroth
    April 24, 2009

    This is why monkeys injected with the 1991 genocidal load of Thimerosal get brain damaged while controls don’t.

    Cooler is living proof.

  115. #115 Anne Ecdote
    April 24, 2009

    Justthemiddleground
    My parents followed the US vaccination schedule. I was 2 months premature and underweight. No problems.

    Thanks to both of us for our 2 in 6,706,993,152 person-experience.

    What’s our point?

  116. #116 ababa
    April 24, 2009

    HCN said: Rowan, the diva of AoA, Kim Stagliano has three daughters with autism. The youngest was not vaccinated.

    You are kidding me. I did not know this, no doubt a state secret at AoA.

    So every morning she wakes up she is staring at her own anecdotal evidence that vaccines are not the cause and she hasn’t figured it out yet? We all know how the anti-vaxers love their personal anecdotes.

    Sigh, just more proof that some people are beyond reason.

  117. #117 HCN
    April 24, 2009

    ababa said “You are kidding me. I did not know this, no doubt a state secret at AoA.”

    I found this out on HuffPo, where she has a blog. It must have been before HubbPo installed draconian moderation software because someone mentioned that little fact… which was followed by “StagMom, is that true? One of your austistic daughters was not vaccinated?”… there was never a reply.

    It has probably been removed by now.

    But, still… without that little fact that is denied by the “StagMom”, there is the experience of notmercury, and the several other studies.

  118. #118 DLC
    April 24, 2009

    A well-written piece of insolence, Orac.
    Well deserved by it’s target.

  119. #119 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 24, 2009

    @93 Is it true that the varicella/chickenpox vaccine can cause shingles, or is this just an antivax talking point?

    Chickenpox – the natural, wild, infection DOES set you up for shingles later … so whether the vaccine does or not is a moot point. It’s not an immediate consequence. Some people may get a slight itchy rash after varicella vaccine – shingles is a PAINFUL rash, not itchy, that shows up years after the natural illness.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/faqs-nipinfo-varicella.htm says:

    “How often does zoster (shingles) occur following varicella vaccination?

    Varicella vaccine is a live virus vaccine, and may result in a latent infection, similar to that caused by wild varicella virus. Consequently, zoster in vaccinated persons has been reported. Not all of these cases have been confirmed as having been caused by vaccine virus. The risk of zoster following vaccination appears to be less than that following infection with wild-type virus. However, longer follow-up is needed to assess this risk over time.”

  120. #120 Alex Reynolds
    April 24, 2009

    Do you guys have the same views on Monsanto or do you consider them another “benevolent giant” after all the toxic waste theyve dumped into the environment? Here is a framework of their subversive actions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

    Finally, rGBH milk is being pulled off the shelves– once and for all. There’s a reason why the WHO and the Canadian Ministry of Health condemned them and wont sell any of their products, while our own scandal ridden FDA turns a blind eye. At least with all the lawsuits theyve been losing recently, we’re finally bringing them down on their knees. Meanwhile you naive little idiots can live in your wonderful fantasy-land… but just know that people have the right to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children and neither you nor anyone else should ever take their right away.

    BTW, before I hear any of you fools defend large corporations like Merck… just remember that they were recently found guilty of trying to threaten doctors into prescribing their medication (in the court system of Australia)

    http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,27753,25273468-462,00.html

    and need we get into the landmine that is/are Celebrex, Vioxx etc– and why the FDA lets these commercials air on TV is beyond me– except of course, overwhelming greed. 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.

  121. #121 Coyote
    April 24, 2009

    Annnddd the typical “Big Pharma is ebul” bullshit shows up. Joy.

    You still don’t understand a damn thing. Vaccines are NOT a profitable venture! If all vaccination was was a profit/cost analysis, the companies would drop vaccines altogether. The shadiness of their business practices is not proof that vaccines are dangerous.

  122. #122 passionlessDrone
    April 24, 2009

    Hi Tsu Dho Nimh –

    You might be interested in knowing of a couple of observational studies that seem to show an increase in the numbers of shingles cases in adults since we started vaccinating for chicken pox. The theory is that occassional, latent contact with someone who is exposed with chickenpox provides the immune system with a reminder, which in turn, keeps shingles at bay. If you start not having such occassional, latent exposure, shinges emerges. Apply at a population level, and you begin to see more cases of shingles a few years after chicken pox vaccination begins.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18999945?ordinalpos=12&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Population-adjusted rates of HZHDs did not change significantly from the prevaccination years (1993-1995) through the initial 5 years of the varicella vaccination period. Beginning in 2001, however, the rate of HZHDs overall began to increase, and by 2004 the overall rate was 2.5 HZHDs (95% confidence interval, 2.38-2.62) per 10,000 US population, significantly higher than any of the rates calculated during the years prior to 2002.

    A review indicated four evaluations had been done, with two neurtal findings, and two (likely including the one above) showing an increase in zoster since chicken pox vaccine implementation.

    While a vaccine for shingles is under development, the people most likely to develop shingles, the immunosuppressed, will be unable to utilize it.

    - pD

  123. #123 Marilyn Mann
    April 24, 2009
  124. #124 ANON
    April 24, 2009

    Coyote,

    You still don’t understand a damn thing. Vaccines are NOT a profitable venture! If all vaccination was was a profit/cost analysis, the companies would drop vaccines altogether. The shadiness of their business practices is not proof that vaccines are dangerous.

    I don’t think vaccines are “profitable” per se, but what they do have, is a guaranteed captive market… government agencies, lucrative research contracts, etc. I hope you see some irony in your last statement?

    To plum grenville,

    I hope that we can agree, that there are certain populations of children that are susceptible to vaccine injury. And I also hope that we can agree that their lives are just as valuable as those that succumb to communicable disease. I’m not aware of any steps taken to identify predisposition, whether that be allergies to certain substances, or immune competence in general.

    Either vaccine refusers are taking advantage of the risk that those who DO vaccinate take, conceding there IS risk, or there is no risk and they are irrationally afraid. Can’t have it both ways.

    Many may say “there is no medical treatment without risk”, to which I’d agree. So, we are acknowledging the risk. Risk to whom? Clinical trials contain healthy subjects… not all people (children) that receive vaccines are healthy. I am not convinced that the newborn immune system is well understood.

  125. #125 bob
    April 24, 2009

    Thus spake ANON:

    “I don’t think vaccines are “profitable” per se, but what they do have, is a guaranteed captive market… government agencies, lucrative research contracts, etc. I hope you see some irony in your last statement?”

    I don’t see the irony in Coyote’s statement, but I do see the tin foil hat in yours. You admit that vaccines aren’t profitable, yet you think they’re the linchpin of some massive conspiracy to get research money?

    Let me see if I understand your, er, logic. Researchers want money, so they decide to get vaccines adopted everywhere because then they have to study them. To accomplish this, they collude with the government AND drug manufacturers AND pediatricians. The govt mandates vaccines (despite their danger and/or lack of efficacy) which the drug companies make (despite their low return on investment) and the doctors give out (again despite their danger or ineffectiveness). All so that researchers can get grants to study vaccines, which of course they lie about to preserve the money train.

    Again, do you see where our frustration with the antivax movement comes from? Your conspiracy-mongering is completely typical of their (your?) mindset. If you’re going to posit a conspiracy THAT insidious and THAT complex and THAT powerful, there’s no arguing with you. Any evidence you don’t like becomes evidence for the grandness of the conspiracy. We might as well start debating about the lizards who live in the center of the earth and run the world’s governments.

  126. #126 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    I don’t think vaccines are “profitable” per se, but what they do have, is a guaranteed captive market… government agencies, lucrative research contracts, etc. I hope you see some irony in your last statement?

    Congratulations on the dumbest statement I’ve heard in days.

  127. #127 Calli Arcale
    April 24, 2009

    The guaranteed captive market is the only thing keeping the vaccine manufacturers in the business in many cases, and even so, manufacturers do leave the business.

    Either vaccine refusers are taking advantage of the risk that those who DO vaccinate take, conceding there IS risk, or there is no risk and they are irrationally afraid. Can’t have it both ways.

    I don’t think anybody here is arguing that vaccines are completely without risk. The argument is that vaccines are considerably less risky than just crossing your fingers and hoping you don’t contract the actual disease. (The actual diseases are in many cases dangerous enough that it would be folly to hope to get them in order to achieve immunity. Measles, for instance — most people who get it don’t die, but a lot of them end up with significant neurological damage.)

    So you have summed it up in a nutshell — the vaccine refusers are taking advantage of the risks that others have taken. However, they are still being irrationally afraid. Vaccine risks are extremely small, while the disease risks are quite high, and with these diseases still very much alive and well in other parts of the world, the chances of later exposure are better than one would hope.

    Clinical trials contain healthy subjects… not all people (children) that receive vaccines are healthy

    A clinic which vaccinates an ill child is probably not doing its job properly, depending on the illness. There’s a reason why vaccines aren’t just stocked on the shelves at Walgreens, but are instead meant to be administered by licensed professionals after the patient has been screened to make sure their personal risk is acceptably small. A kid with whooping cough probably shouldn’t be vaccinated (and frankly, shouldn’t be in the doctor’s office but in the ER).

    No immune system (newborn or others) is perfectly understood, but it is understood better than you seem to think.

  128. #128 Joseph C.
    April 24, 2009

    Do you guys have the same views on Monsanto or do you consider them another “benevolent giant” after all the toxic waste theyve dumped into the environment?

    This is a non sequitur. Your argument seems to be that since “corporations bad” then vaccines must also be bad because they’re made by bad people.

    Is that really the best you’ve got?

  129. #129 Joseph C.
    April 24, 2009

    I hope your children end up with autism or mental retardation because you surely deserve it.

    Today’s pièce de résistance from the anti-vax cultists.

  130. #130 ababa
    April 24, 2009

    Alex Reynolds said: I hope your children end up with autism or mental retardation because you surely deserve it.

    Very nice, I think the could not be emphasized enough. This is coming from the supposed “compassionate” side of the debate. No matter how much I disagree with you I would never wish the consequences or your extremely stupid viewpoint on your children. I personally hope no child ever has to pay for the anti-vaxers moronic agenda.

  131. #131 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 24, 2009

    “…or I’ll make you run with your tail between your legs”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

    Oh I am so SO SO SCARED!!!!

    What a wanker you are.

  132. #132 Pablo
    April 24, 2009

    A clinic which vaccinates an ill child is probably not doing its job properly, depending on the illness.

    Before my baby gets vaccines, we have to fill out a brief questionaire, which includes the question “Is your baby healthy today?” They warn that if your baby is sick, they might have to postpone the vaccinations.

    I don’t think this is atypical.

  133. #133 ANON
    April 24, 2009

    Bob and Stu,

    People that recognize that human beings are subject to conflict, and apply skepticism to vaccine policy are not tin foil hatters. And I’m certainly not here claiming gubmint conspiracy, only that there certainly is a guaranteed market and there certainly are contributions to what you consider to be the best preventative measure to protect health.

    Calli Arcale,

    I don’t think anybody here is arguing that vaccines are completely without risk. The argument is that vaccines are considerably less risky than just crossing your fingers and hoping you don’t contract the actual disease. (The actual diseases are in many cases dangerous enough that it would be folly to hope to get them in order to achieve immunity. Measles, for instance — most people who get it don’t die, but a lot of them end up with significant neurological damage.)

    That’s fair. I don’t consider myself antivaccine, you and others may disagree. The changes in vaccine policy over the last 40 years is astounding.

    There’s a reason why vaccines aren’t just stocked on the shelves at Walgreens, but are instead meant to be administered by licensed professionals after the patient has been screened to make sure their personal risk is acceptably small.

    You may have misunderstood what I was trying to say. Children that are experiencing any kind of immune challenge likely shouldn’t be vaccinated at that time, but it appears to be happening quite a lot.

    No immune system (newborn or others) is perfectly understood, but it is understood better than you seem to think.

    I’m talking specifically about the newborn immune system, as they are challenged by vaccines pretty regularly during the first two years of life. I think it’s fairly well established that, at least in animal models, the newborn immune system is distinctly different. This may be a needless observation, and all I mean to suggest is that I’m not convinced that vaccine-induced immune stimulation has no ill effects. Clearly, the evidence is inconclusive.

  134. #134 bob
    April 24, 2009

    ANON, I’m noticing a pattern. You say something vaguely (occasionally overtly) anti-vaccination, someone calls you on it because you’re wrong, and you give a non-response then move onto other antivax points.

    Look at our last exchange: you posited a conspiracy theory, I and others called you on it because it was absurd, and you replied “[I'm claiming] only that there certainly is a guaranteed market and there certainly are contributions to [vaccines].” First off, that is not at all what you said or insinuated. More importantly, even if it was, you’re still appealing to conspiracy (albeit a more vague and ill-defined conspiracy). That’s to say nothing about your “just askin questions” gambit … you’re not asking questions, you’re conspiracy- and mystery-mongering.

    There’s other points I’d like to raise about your last post, but I’ll leave others to fight their own battles.

  135. #135 ANON
    April 24, 2009

    ababa,

    Very nice, I think the could not be emphasized enough. This is coming from the supposed “compassionate” side of the debate. No matter how much I disagree with you I would never wish the consequences or your extremely stupid viewpoint on your children. I personally hope no child ever has to pay for the anti-vaxers moronic agenda.

    I agree completely with your viewpoint. I don’t consider this compassionate, and I would never wish harm upon someone that doesn’t share my views, and never an innocent child. I think many of those finding themselves confused over this issue feel the same way that I do. There are also those that wish harm upon those refusing vaccines, which is equally reprehensible.

  136. #136 ANON
    April 24, 2009

    Bob,

    You are certainly free to file what I say in the trash can, you clearly already are. Crying tin foil hat syndrome simply because I’m skeptical of vaccine policy isn’t surprising, nor is it new. Vaccine pushers have been doing it for decades.

    I’ll be skeptical of any public health policy that surrounds the manufacture of a product by a publicly traded corporation. Human beings have long demonstrated to be fallible when faced with an opportunity for corruption, to believe otherwise is fairly gullible. Does this mean that all things vaccine are corrupt? Of course not, so fishing for debate tactics in every word I type is tiresome.

    I have to believe, that the program is inherently good and that the purpose is good – to believe otherwise is simply more cynicism than I’m capable of at the moment. It doesn’t replace or change the fact that sufficient changes have occurred over the last few decades with very little science to support it.

    I’ve said my peace, file it accordingly, and have a nice day.

  137. #137 Stu
    April 24, 2009

    Anon: just let us know when you’ve found a permanent spot for those goalposts, okay?

  138. #138 Red Ruffansore
    April 24, 2009

    Per Fire Marshall Bill’s rant “She blinded me with science”. Both of them. Great blog ORAC.

  139. #139 bob
    April 24, 2009

    ANON, thank you for enunciating my right to file away your comments as I see fit. Very kind of you. (Where’d I put that eyes-rolling smiley …)

    You’re not “skeptical” of vaccine policy, though it warms my heart to see you trying to co-opt the term because it implies skepticism is a good thing (which it is). You spelled out the reason explicitly in your last comment, when you said that you’re always going to be skeptical of corporations making health care products. Skepticism involves provisionally accepting and rejecting hypotheses when the evidence is in, yet you just admitted that you’re never going to trust vaccination regardless of the evidence. That is about as close-minded as you can get.

    I’m sorry that you find my “fishing for debate tactics” to be tiresome. I’m not sure what else you’d like me to do. I disagree with your position because I think you’re supporting it with crummy arguments, and I’ve been pointing out said crummy arguments. How would you prefer that someone have a discussion with you, especially in light of the fact that you keep trying to dodge our criticisms? As an example: you proposed a conspiracy theory, I called you on it, and you whined “I’m just asking questions!” How should I have approached your conspiratorial comments? Should I just let them slide, and agree that corporations should never be trusted? Of course, you don’t trust the government or the universities either … and, what do you know, we’re back to your grand conspiracy.

    Oh, and you have a nice day yourself.

  140. #140 AtheistAcolyte
    April 24, 2009

    Excuse the ad hominems, but I need to vent a little steam -

    Sid Offit @#50:

    Then don’t send your kids to school. The other kids won’t have anybody to make fun of but they’ll be safe from the killer measles.

    You, sir (and/or madam), are a fucking moron, and for your children’s sake, I hope intelligence is not completely hereditary. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your pubic hair, you bleeding hemorrhoid on the human race’s ass.

    Sid Offit @#52:

    @Natalie
    Do you talk to your mother with that dirty little mouth? “Stay alive”? You can’t be serious.

    You’re not her mother, you gender-confused little shit-for-brains.

    David M. @#99:

    HCN – who cares what you think or say. (Yawn) I almost nodded off reading your drivel. Anyway, the First Amendment even applies to you. Go back to your basement and blog. No one will care anyway, but go ahead. You have my permission.

    I care. Kiss my ass, you self-indulgent miserable little cockbag of insanity.
    </anger>
    ahhhh… much better. All sunshine and puppy dogs again. Thanks for bringing these folks out into the open, Orac! :-)

    <sensible>
    Alex Reynolds @120:

    I don’t think any of us are willing to take on the “goodness” or “badness” of any individual companies, let alone Monsanto. It’s wholly unrelated to the topic at hand:

    Vaccines are the safest, most effective public health measure ever in the history of mankind, and unscientific hypotheses that scare people into jeopardizing the public health are grossly irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

    There is no defense of Merck or Monsanto included there, nor any reference to Vioxx. Those are all red herrings. I hope you understand this.

  141. #141 AtheistAcolyte
    April 24, 2009

    ANON @136:

    Perhaps it would help your claim of being merely “skeptical” if you quantified the changes made that were “sufficient” to warrant your position, and what science may be sufficient to decrease your worries? Epidemiological studies? Clinical trials?

    It’s an honest offer to do research for you. Take it as it is.

  142. #142 Phoenix Woman
    April 24, 2009

    So good, it had to be repeated:

    By the way, Common Sue, ANON, David M., cooler and Sid Offit:

    Do you notice a big difference between this blog and the Age of Autism blog? Can you see it? Do you know what it is?

    You are able to freely post all the drivel you please (within limits, and those limits are so vast only two people have been banned from this blog).

    Oooh, David M. — you found that George Hastings an lawyer, and has a been known to specialize in tax law. Now isn’t that special, it says so right here in the official bio:
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/george-l-hastings

    Did you also find out that Denise Vowell was an Army lawyer and judge? Or that Patricia Campbell-Smith has a degree in electrical engineering? Or that they are vastly more qualified than any jury from the general population?

    Anyway, have you guys figured how AoA differs from here? Here it is:
    They moderate their clown blog with an iron clown glove. No dissent from their agenda is allowed, not even to dare ask King Handley that how could he have not heard of Steven Novella when there was a letter from Poling to Novella on the blog he pays for!

  143. #143 HCN
    April 24, 2009

    (blushing) Thank you!

  144. #144 Zetetic
    April 25, 2009

    Sorry for the length of this post but I have a few questions for you Anon….

    First to clarify the situation…
    You made an argument that since pharmaceutical companies make money on vaccines, they can’t be trusted.
    Yet the companies that make them also make less financial profit than they do from the care of those that contract a communicable disease, as you yourself seemed to agree with in the quote further below. Therefore, their financial interest is more towards not vaccinating the population. On the other hand, the people that make vaccines also benefit from having their own children, and the children of others vaccinated since it helps to protect them from disease, in addition to the smaller financial benefit for them. This applies to both the CEOs as well the the workers that can only afford to send their kids to a public school. Next, there are all of the other doctors in the field, that can make more money off of sick patients than they typically can from a vaccine. Also, what about doctors in countries with socialized medicine, where is their profit motive, what is their motive to be part of a cover up?

    Now lets look at the anti-vax side. They are composed mostly of “alternate medicine” promoters, some religious extremest groups, and quack healers. Just one case in point being Wakefield’s clearly vested financial interest in promoting a link between vaccines and autism that started this whole mess in the first place. So on the anti-vax side you have people that have a clear and definite monetary interest in lying to the public. For many of them, their entire (or at least most) of their income is dependent on promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism and that it can be “cured” with unproven therapies. For others, like Jim and Jenny, they have a clear emotional/psychological interest in promoting their belief. They don’t want to believe it’s genetic, or that they’ve been paying most of their income to con-artists and the deluded.

    Question #1:
    Who has the greater financial interest in this issue? The pharmaceutical companies, for which vaccines account for a small part of their income, or the quack snake oil salesmen for whom their entire income may depend on what the public believes?

    Question #2:
    Using the logic of your prior statements, who is the least trustworthy on the subject?

    Question #3:
    Why is it that you only seem to be paying attention to the profit motive of the pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccines? Why no mention of the monetary interest of the anti-vax side from you?

    I’m now going to consider your quote here for the next few questions….
    “I don’t think vaccines are “profitable” per se, but what they do have, is a guaranteed captive market… government agencies, lucrative research contracts, etc.”

    Question #4:
    Why would pharmaceutical companies have a “guaranteed captive market” if the same government agencies, that are supposedly involved in the cover-up, didn’t actually believe that vaccines work, and didn’t cause more good than harm?

    Question #5:
    Who has the more captive market? The pharmaceutical companies than often have to compete with one another for the same contracts you mentioned, or quacks selling desperate parents on fake (and possibly dangerous) “cures” for a condition for which there is no other cure but the time, love, and care of the parents?

    Question #6:
    How do you explain this massive cover up involving every government medical agency, their employees, and form of medical system. As well as every vaccine manufacture and their employees on the planet?

    Question #7:
    Why is it that when the anti-vax groups are shown evidence of un-vaccinated children that have autism, that they brush it aside or try to cover it up? Such as from their own phone survey results.

    Thank you for your time, I’m eager to read your answers.

  145. #145 Pareidolius
    April 25, 2009

    Sid@22

    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?!!!!!

  146. #146 Kula
    April 25, 2009

    I just disagree with one thing:

    For many of them, their entire (or at least most) of their income is dependent on promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism and that it can be “cured” with unproven therapies. For others, like Jim and Jenny, they have a clear emotional/psychological interest in promoting their belief.

    I would argue that Jenny, at least, has primarily a financial interest in her antivaccine activities.
    When she starts donating ALL of her profits from her book sales and personal appearances at anti-vaccine rallies or shows, then I will believe her motives and beliefs are pure and true.
    But for now, I believe she is in it for the $$$$$.

  147. #147 Kula
    April 25, 2009

    When she starts donating ALL of her profits from her book sales and personal appearances at anti-vaccine rallies or shows, then I will believe her motives and beliefs are pure and true.

    Sorry, meant to say “when she starts donating her profits to credible autism research…”

  148. #148 notmercury
    April 25, 2009

    Jenny started cranking out books when she was pregnant and had every intention of sharing her unique perspective on the pitfalls and perils of parenting. The serial changed themes when her son was diagnosed (and later undiagnosed??)with autism but it’s pretty clear she is just collecting stories and factoids to fill out the pages of her books.

    It’s pretty silly to play the profit motive card when JB Handley’s company is heavily invested in vitamin supplements, gluten free food, and green products.

    If JB had any scruples at all he would at least denounce the products and the quacks who scammed him and his family early on. Instead he endorsed Amy Yasko and her fake RNA drops so that other parents bought it and other useless therapies. How about Rashid Buttar and his bullshit transdermal chelating agent that was supposed to cure Jamie Handley in a year or two.

    Accomplice to profiteering at the least.

  149. #149 The Horrible One
    April 25, 2009

    *sigh*

    Say no to vaccines, yes to diseases.

    I had a whooping cough at ten or eleven. Sure, I had had all the vaccinations, but… shit happens. When combined with asthma and various allergies, the symptoms lasted for more than a year. Best time of my life. And yes, I was old enough to actually understand what is happening.

    How many parents want to listen to their kids try to cough their lungs out and then, because of it, vomit – again and again?

    I get immensely angry when I hear this kind of crap, and I don’t even have (or want) kids I should worry about.

  150. #150 Zetetic
    April 25, 2009

    @Kula

    Good point, I was merely trying to be generous in the motivations of Jenny due to the possibility that her child may have autism. Although there is some question as to whether her child actually has autism or not, some think that he may have been misdiagnosed.

  151. #151 Lucas McCarty
    April 25, 2009

    A fairly large number of Autistic children have their diagnosis removed, regardless of intervention, because their development shows they were not Autistic to begin with. It’s a reason to be suspicious of those advocating early diagnosis and one specific treatment as early as possible: the earlier someone is diagnosed and given a therapy, the more likely they are to have the diagnosis removed. But it has nothing to do with the therapy and everything to do with the emphasis on early diagnosis.

    Autism often presents delays in development, but never a complete freeze on it and most grow into able adults like myself after periods of accelerated development. At an early age, children who are just a bit slow at the time are too easy to slap the label on. I wouldn’t question the diagnosis Jenny McCarthy’s son has; but it gets to me that the possibility is never considered when an alt-med parent loudly declares their child is no longer Autistic. Jenny McCarthy is certain that if she ever stopped the loopy diet she has him on, he’ll ‘turn Autistic’ again. I’m sure his difficulties will increase, due to a change in the routine rather than the nosh itself.

  152. #152 Dr. P
    April 25, 2009

    anon

    You may have misunderstood what I was trying to say. Children that are experiencing any kind of immune challenge likely shouldn’t be vaccinated at that time, but it appears to be happening quite a lot

    No, actually, there’s no good evidence to support this idea; This particular phrase is a very arbitrary and potentially confusing conundrum;What’s a immune challenge? A cold? a Sneeze? Allergies? A fall on the pavement? Mild colds and respiratory infections are not a contraindication to vaccination ,no matter what Jenny says.And no, the best available reliable evidence is not clearly inconclusive; it rather points to some obvious conclusions.That this fails to convince everyone is no suprise, but if an immature immune system was the root of these issues why aren’t we looking to other possible environmental issues that pose as possible triggers than one which, after millions of dollars and hours of study the best one can say(your words, not mine) is that the results are inconclusive?

  153. #153 The Horrible One
    April 25, 2009

    “At an early age, children who are just a bit slow at the time are too easy to slap the label on.”

    That’s another thing that gets me. I know they’ve used Finland as an example of a country with fewer vaccinations and lower number of kids with Autism. Now, there is a good possibility the data they use might be less than correct, but what may explain a thing or two is the simple fact that parents here are less likely to get their child diagnosed at a very young age. Kids start school when they’re seven. Before that, many go to kindergarten (the number is, AFAIK, increasing), but while they are being taught, it is not particularly rigorous. Therefore, there might be less pressure to diagnose every personality quirk as an illness – they’re just kids. That could even “hide” some of the milder cases for a couple of years.

    I don’t really know, I’m just talking out of my Finnish arse… But I know kids who might’ve been diagnosed as X when they were small, but grew up to be pretty damn “normal”.

  154. #154 Kelli Ann Davis
    April 26, 2009

    “….but no, as a pediatrician on the ‘front lines’ I can say I’ve seen no decrease in the immunization rates in my clinic. I have seen a few of the preventable diseases that you minimize in your ignorance and your lack of any real experience in this area.”

    No decrease in immunization rates BUT you’ve seen preventable diseases….really? So what does that say about the “efficacy” of the vaccines?

  155. #155 Chris
    April 26, 2009

    The increase in measles have mostly been in clusters of unvaccinated people.

    And where does it say that vaccines are 100% effective? They are often between 80% to 95% effective. Which means that there will always be a portion of the population that will be vulnerable to infection despite being vaccinated.

    Anyway, you responded to a personal anecdote: the plural of anecdote is not data.

  156. #156 Anonymous
    April 26, 2009

    @KAD: While responding to you is an exercise in futility, it is an opportunity to give better information to those who might be interested in a factual answer to your pathetic attempt to discredit vaccines.

    As has been mentioned already, it is fully disclosed that vaccines are not 100% effective in 100% of the population 100% of the time.

    I can’t speak for the original poster and that person’s specific experiences, but it seems like there are some other, completely obvious situations in which a physician would see Vaccine Preventable Diseases. And they have nothing to do with efficacy.

    A few examples…
    Any VPD: person unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated

    Pertussis: an infant is susceptible to disease until he/she has completed the primary series (first three doses).
    Hib: Recent outbreaks in children who were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated demonstrate the importance of having completed the primary series (2-3 doses depending on vaccine type) http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/publications/news/news-now/clinical-care-research/20090324penn-hib.html
    Measles, Rubella: imported cases in unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated persons

    I would encourage anyone who questions the efficacy of vaccines to take a look at the history of hib disease pre- and post-vaccine era. Ask an older MD or nurse about Hib disease before we had the vaccine.

  157. #157 ANON
    April 26, 2009

    Phoenix Woman,

    I can say that every comment I’ve ever tried posting here has always made it through moderation. I can’t speak to what others have experienced, and perhaps I am biased and feel I’m nonconfrontational, and that’s why my posts make it through, but I’ve never encountered censorship posting here.

    Bob,

    I’m sorry for your clear agitation at my mere presence here. I’ve always considered myself pretty reasonable, and totally rational. Your painstaking steps to align me with kidnapped aliens is truly misplaced. You’ve not pointed out much about your disagreement with my position, other than the fact that you think I have aluminum foil wrapped around my entire body because I might have a question or two… the “question gambit” (just in case we’d like to add it to our growing list of logical fallacies). Nothing mystical about any of it really… sorry if that’s anticlimactic.

    Zetetic,

    You made an argument that since pharmaceutical companies make money on vaccines, they can’t be trusted.

    No, I didn’t. I said that I was skeptical of public health policy that involves a product manufactured by a publicly traded corporation, nothing novel about that.

    Question #1:
    Who has the greater financial interest in this issue? The pharmaceutical companies, for which vaccines account for a small part of their income, or the quack snake oil salesmen for whom their entire income may depend on what the public believes?

    I don’t know.

    Question #2:
    Using the logic of your prior statements, who is the least trustworthy on the subject?

    I don’t know.

    Question #3:
    Why is it that you only seem to be paying attention to the profit motive of the pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccines? Why no mention of the monetary interest of the anti-vax side from you?

    There are unscrupulous people everywhere. I’m skeptical of all of it. My issues are pretty simple, and I do my best to remove myself from drama and marketing.

    Question #4:
    Why would pharmaceutical companies have a “guaranteed captive market” if the same government agencies, that are supposedly involved in the cover-up, didn’t actually believe that vaccines work, and didn’t cause more good than harm?

    I am not sure what you mean. I believe that *some* vaccines work at reducing the transmission of disease that is endemic.

    Question #5:
    Who has the more captive market? The pharmaceutical companies than often have to compete with one another for the same contracts you mentioned, or quacks selling desperate parents on fake (and possibly dangerous) “cures” for a condition for which there is no other cure but the time, love, and care of the parents?

    The “market” consists of a constant supply of money that will contribute to the production or circulation of said product, (immunization requirements stretch pretty far and wide for certain services). What about people that are just simply bystanders with nothing to gain that are trying to understand all of this? Anyone care about them?

    Question #6:
    How do you explain this massive cover up involving every government medical agency, their employees, and form of medical system. As well as every vaccine manufacture and their employees on the planet?

    I can’t explain it. I’ve never suggested it.

    Question #7:
    Why is it that when the anti-vax groups are shown evidence of un-vaccinated children that have autism, that they brush it aside or try to cover it up? Such as from their own phone survey results.

    I’m not here making claims about autism, so I can’t answer this question either, sorry.

    Atheist Acolyte,

    Perhaps it would help your claim of being merely “skeptical” if you quantified the changes made that were “sufficient” to warrant your position, and what science may be sufficient to decrease your worries? Epidemiological studies? Clinical trials? It’s an honest offer to do research for you. Take it as it is.

    Specifically, vaccinating newborns through 24 months. Data is scarce, if at all present, to support this shift in target age.

    Animal models suggest that the newborn immune system (while clearly operational) is sensitive and easily agitated. I’ve scoured most of the clinical trial data available for most vaccines, even those that have been exempt from providing it due to regulatory circumvention. This also extends to those that are not required to report “adverse events”, because they’ve not determined the event to be related.

    I don’t think the manufacturer of a drug or biologic should be allowed to determine what, if any, adverse events are related to the use of said drug/biologic. Vaccine monographs are 1) generic 2) they aren’t lot specific and 3) they don’t tell you what if any regulatory loopholes their product may or may have not engaged during licensure… and they should. I think that’s a pretty reasonable request.

    As for epi studies… I’d love one. Confounders and all. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that it cannot be done.

    If we are prepared to accept an Italian study that covers a span of 10 years which “exonerates” a little bit of thimerosal compared to a lot of thimerosal… then we can put our heads together to construct a vax/nonvax epi study that demonstrates that vaccinated populations are not only less autistic, but also overall healthier than their nonvaccinated contemporaries, can’t we? Why don’t we want that?

    Sincerely,

  158. #158 flim flam
    April 26, 2009

    Looks like the pro vax fightback has commenced!. hurrah!. Just watched Sunday Night ( an australian current affairs show) BIG pro vax segment.
    Started with a couple who had lost their baby to whooping cough, she was too young for the vax& had the misfortune to be living in a big woo area where only a third of the children are vaxxed.
    Cut to the women who runs the antivax network (cant’ remember what their name is) she came across as quite a nuff nuff ( as we say over here). having just seen the devastated family who lost their baby ,listening to her spout nonsense about how whooping cough was “natural” and just like having a cold was a telling illustration of the lack of understanding of the real risks of vax preventable illnesses amoungst the anti vaxxers. It worked really well, after all, if she cant get that right, why should we listen to her about anything else?
    Then lots of doctors talking about the benefits of vaxxing and the lack of evidence for any autism connection.
    The female presenter did a great piece about how vaxxing protects not just those who are vaxxed, but the weak and vulnerable too, cut to a little boy who is the youngest australian heart transplant recipient and his mum talking about how they are relying on everyone to be responsible and vaccinate to protect kids like him.
    Now kids have started dying, and the diseases we thought long gone are back, maybe people are waking up to the reality of how important vaccinating is.
    i hope so, its about bloody time this insane, woo woo, money making bullshit was bought to an end.
    apologies for the incoherence but just so amazed to see such a sensible, powerful piece on TV about vaccination.
    I hope plenty of non vaxxing/fence sitting parents watched and had a good hard think about vaccinations.
    for the record i’m fully vaxxed, so are my kids. I even had an extra MMR & flu vaxxs. ( oh noes! the mercury!!)& i’ll be getting a DPT to make sure im not a risk to any vulnerable babies.

  159. #159 Zetetic
    April 26, 2009

    @Anon:
    Thank you very much for responding. Sorry for the length of this post.

    No, I didn’t. I said that I was skeptical of public health policy that involves a product manufactured by a publicly traded corporation, nothing novel about that.

    Never the less, that is the implication of the argument that you were making. That they must be viewed with concern since the vaccines are made by publicly traded companies. Would you be similarly skeptical of products made by non-publicly traded companies? How about those produced by government agencies? It seems to me that all medical breakthroughs and products should be objectively evaluated, regardless of the source or claimed motive. I assume that you would agree with that position. Focusing on the publicly traded nature of the companies, sounds much like the “follow the money” cry of the vaccines=autism crowd, who then ignore the money trail on their own side of the issue, perhaps it gives an impression that you didn’t intend.

    Response #1:

    I don’t know.

    Fair enough, but would you be willing to admit that there is a definite monetary interest for some on the anti-vax side?

    Response #2:

    I don’t know.

    Understandable. Would you then say that maybe the motives of some on the anti-vax side should be treated with at least as much skepticism as you seem to reserve for the pharmaceutical industry?

    Response #3:

    There are unscrupulous people everywhere. I’m skeptical of all of it. My issues are pretty simple, and I do my best to remove myself from drama and marketing.

    Again, fair enough, but it really doesn’t answer the question. The question was merely asking why you didn’t also point out the anti-vax side’s conflicts of interest, if you are trying to be as objective, as you claim. If you really are just being objective, isn’t presenting the problems of both sides kind of important? Throughout this entire thread you’ve made numerous replies which expressed skepticism toward the pro-vax side, but not one single comment critical or skeptical of anyone on the anti-vax side. In fact for the few weeks I’ve been lurking, off and on, I’ve yet to see you make any comment to that effect. If I’ve missed any I do apologize, but perhaps you can see why many here doubt your objectivity on the matter? Please note… I’m not accusing you of lying, I’m just clarifying the impression that you seem to be making.

    Response #4:

    I am not sure what you mean. I believe that *some* vaccines work at reducing the transmission of disease that is endemic.

    So which one’s don’t, and do you have evidence to that effect? Or are you just assuming that some might not? I’m assuming of course that you’re not referring to older/obsolete vaccines or Flu vaccines with are based on trying to predict which strain will be most common each year, and are therefore problematic.
    The question referred to your statement that pharmaceutical companies had a “captive market”. My question was why would there be one if the government agencies involved didn’t believe that they work for at least the most part, and that they generally caused more good than harm? If they didn’t believe that much, then there wouldn’t be a “captive market” (whatever you meant by that) for most of the governments on the planet. Therefore, the implication is that most of the world’s governments (and their researchers and medical experts) at least believe, either rightly or wrongly, that vaccines generally work and are a net benefit for society.

    Response #5:

    The “market” consists of a constant supply of money that will contribute to the production or circulation of said product, (immunization requirements stretch pretty far and wide for certain services). What about people that are just simply bystanders with nothing to gain that are trying to understand all of this? Anyone care about them?

    You seemed to be dodging the question on that one. The question was: Which side’s market was more “captive”? The bystanders you mention are precisely the point of the question. That I care about them is why I, and many others here, don’t like seeing them exploited by quacks. Where is your expression of outrage over how they are being used? Where are your expressions of skepticism towards many of the so called therapies promoted by the anti-vax side? You seem to have no trouble expressing skepticism towards the effectiveness of vaccines. Again, it creates the at least the appearance that you are less than objective on the issue.

    Response #6:

    I can’t explain it. I’ve never suggested it.

    It’s implied in your premise. If many vaccines were often ineffective, not to mention causing widespread harm, it would require a huge cover up involving agencies (and their employees) around the world to have been so widespread and unnoticed for so long. Granted I find it reasonable to assume that a few ineffective vaccines may get mass produced (like the Flu I earlier mentioned) for a year or two in some areas, but for the major diseases over not just years, but in some cases decades, in countries over the world? That seems a bit of a stretch.

    Response #7:

    I’m not here making claims about autism, so I can’t answer this question either, sorry.

    Is it really so unreasonable to make even a supposition about why anti-vax groups would hide such evidence? Also, doesn’t the issue at least call into question the credibility of some on the anti-vax side? It seems to me to be an important question for truly objectively evaluating the pros and cons of all sides.

    Perhaps I’ve unfairly grouped you with the vaccines=autism crowd, but that you don’t seem to express anything critical of the anti-vax group (no matter how obviously incorrect the claim, such as some of “cooler”‘s comments) again creates the impression of bias on your part. Also, you seem to have no trouble being critical of those on the pro-vax side for being uncivil, yet show no tendency to be similarly critical of incivility of the anti-vaxers even when their invectives came first. Again if I’ve missed an example to the contrary in past threads, I do apologize, but I certainly didn’t see any examples in this thread.

    I suppose my ultimate point is that you keep claiming to be objective on the issues at hand, and that may be true, but many of your comments (and in some cases the lack of comments) don’t give that impression. As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, it’s a common thread running through many of the questions towards you. Perhaps it might explain a few of the “tin-foil hat comments” others have directed your way? Surely you must realize that if others are to view your comments as coming from an objective concern, it might help if they didn’t see you as being biased?

    I don’t think the manufacturer of a drug or biologic should be allowed to determine what, if any, adverse events are related to the use of said drug/biologic. Vaccine monographs are 1) generic 2) they aren’t lot specific and 3) they don’t tell you what if any regulatory loopholes their product may or may have not engaged during licensure… and they should. I think that’s a pretty reasonable request

    If by that you mean that they should be tested by an independent party, I agree with that. Sometimes they are independently tested, although an argument can be made that it’s not often enough. While you and I may approve of independent testing, as will many on the pro-vax side, it unfortunately will do little to stop the anti-vaxers that will still cry conspiracy.

    As to a vax/non-vax study, same problem and worse. AoA and others will still cry cover up unless it proves them absolutely correct, and there are serious ethical problems. Having a vax/non-vax study would be like promoting large numbers of people to not wear seat belts, in order to better assess the benefits vs risks of wearing the belts. Also, the risk of public harm will greatly increase with the size, and therefore the validity, of the study. Due to the obvious ethical concerns it’s rather unlikely for any civilized country to have a pure vax/non-vax study and still have it balanced or large enough to make it properly conclusive. The best that can be perhaps be realistically hoped for is a vax “A” vs. vax “B” (i.e. thimerosal vs. non-thimerosal) study. But, then something else will always be blamed for health problems including the antigens themselves that make the vaccine, hence the too-many-too-soon argument (the anti-vax groups are apparently trying to make their position non-falsifiable). So now we’re talking dozens of large scale studies over many years, and groups like AoA and their spokespeople will still cry conspiracy, since any vaccine at any age is being blamed for health problems (i.e. Gardasil).

    Once again, thanks for having responded.

  160. #160 passionlessDrone
    April 26, 2009

    Hi Zetetic –

    As to a vax/non-vax study, same problem and worse. AoA and others will still cry cover up unless it proves them absolutely correct, and there are serious ethical problems. Having a vax/non-vax study would be like promoting large numbers of people to not wear seat belts, in order to better assess the benefits vs risks of wearing the belts.

    Perfect is the enemy of very good. Even with confounding effects, we could learn from such a study.

    The real problem seems to be that most people don’t seem to be able to conceive of a way that there could be a relationship between early life immune activations and subsequent alterations of behaviors into adulthood; and thus, such a study seems both pointless and unethical.

    The comparison to seat belts is a gross over simplification, as it implies that our knowledge of the immune system is as comprehensive as the very straightforward relationship between the difference of having an secondary impact in a vehicle, and not having such an impact. It also ignores the fact that our particular group of interest, children with autism, have been shown to have highly abnormal innate and adaptive immune responses. The listing of observations in this regard is far, far to lengthy to post here but, I posted a very abbreviated list of those studies on this blog, here, at comment 203 There are many, many others.

    I’m not sure that the concerns over the response of the AOA crowd should be used as a meaningfull criteria over whether or not to do a study if our goal is to understand if we are having impacts other than disease prevention. If our only goal would be to shut AOA up, then that is one thing; but that is a very different endpoint than the pursuit of knowledge.

    The best that can be perhaps be realistically hoped for is a vax “A” vs. vax “B” (i.e. thimerosal vs. non-thimerosal) study. But, then something else will always be blamed for health problems including the antigens themselves that make the vaccine, hence the too-many-too-soon argument (the anti-vax groups are apparently trying to make their position non-falsifiable).

    Unfortunately, we have many, many animal models that tell us that immune activation during critical developmental windows can have long lasting immune, behavoiral, and metabolic impacts into adulthood. It just so happens, many of these impacts have similarities to what is observed at a physiological and behavioral level in autism. The entire list is far too long for me to type this morning, but I built a series of links previously on this blog, here (specifically, see post 236) There are many more; but at a high level all tell us that our knowledge set concerning the effect of immune activation during early life is nascent, and that in many cases, the immune system is in some sense programmable, and unforgiving to early life insults. Analyzing thimerosal content tells us absolutely nothing about these effects.

    I appreciate the civil tone you have taken with Anon.

    - pD

  161. #161 HCN
    April 26, 2009

    Hey! Kelli Ann Davis, you obviously know the difference between this blog and the one you moderate, right?

    You are actually allowed to post your fact free speculations here, while there is no dissent on the Age of Autism. Your friend, Kimmy Stagmom (the mom with three autistic daughters, one of whom has never been vaccinated) wields the cast iron clown glove of moderation.

    Anyway, make sure to tell Handley that he got a great mention in a very popular podcast, or have Kimmy approve my comment about that on AoA:
    http://theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcastinfo.aspx?mid=1&pid=196 … it is one of the most popular of the science podcasts, so there are lots of people laughing about Handley’s remarks on McCarthy’s favorite toxin, Botox and other such nonsense.

  162. #162 ababa
    April 26, 2009

    Yes, Kelli, please explain to us how if the Generation Rescue Age of Autism have all of this figured out and tracked down to vaccines then exactly how one of your leaders can completely avoid vaccines and end up with the exact same results. It seems to me that what you guys proved was that vaccines did not cause the Stagliano children to become autistic. You guys love the anecdotes, don’t you?

    Chew on that one for a while then liason it to Washington DC.

    And, by the way, still waiting on you guys to start spending ANY of that donation money on research you are demanding. Wouldn’t want to put a crimp in your expense budget?

  163. #163 khan
    April 26, 2009

    Specifically, vaccinating newborns through 24 months. Data is scarce, if at all present, to support this shift in target age.

    Please explain why exposure to vaccines below age 2 is more dangerous than exposure to the ‘real thing’ diseases at that age.

  164. #164 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 26, 2009

    Unfortunately, we have many, many animal models that tell us that immune activation during critical developmental windows can have long lasting immune, behavoiral, and metabolic impacts into adulthood.

    PD, your list of LPS experiments don’t support your case here. They are all dealing with very specific, pyretic responses to a very specific immune response trigger: Lipopolysaccharides. There is no connection with vaccines here except that, occasionally, children can develop high fevers in response to the antigens introduced by the vaccine. High fevers do not happen in every vaccinated child, and long-term effects are seen in only a fraction of the children who do react to the vaccines in this manner, often because there is an underlying condition that is triggered by the fever. The important distinction here is that the resulting fever, not the vaccines themselves is the critical event. A fever in response to any incidental infection (say, for example, measles in an unvaccinated child) would have the same effect.

    And this bit:

    It just so happens, many of these impacts have similarities to what is observed at a physiological and behavioral level in autism.

    is utter nonsense.

  165. #165 ANON
    April 27, 2009

    Zetetic,

    I, too, appreciate the civility of your posts and thank you for what appears to be a genuine attempt at civil discourse. I might get lengthy as well, accept my apologies in advance.

    Would you be similarly skeptical of products made by non-publicly traded companies? How about those produced by government agencies? It seems to me that all medical breakthroughs and products should be objectively evaluated, regardless of the source or claimed motive. I assume that you would agree with that position. Focusing on the publicly traded nature of the companies, sounds much like the “follow the money” cry of the vaccines=autism crowd, who then ignore the money trail on their own side of the issue, perhaps it gives an impression that you didn’t intend.

    This is more than fair. You are correct in that I’ve not discussed any of the profiteering that is happening on the antivaccine front, and I absolutely acknowledge its presence. I suppose I didn’t think I might appear to be supporting that position by not addressing it at all. My singular issue with publicly traded corporations, is that they have a duty to their shareholders. There isn’t anything conspiracy about this observation either, it’s simply fact. I do have a problem with public health policy recommendations made by individuals that have a vested interest in such recommendations. I don’t agree with granting waivers from conflict of interest either, and this is a real problem.

    would you be willing to admit that there is a definite monetary interest for some on the anti-vax side?

    Yes.

    Would you then say that maybe the motives of some on the anti-vax side should be treated with at least as much skepticism as you seem to reserve for the pharmaceutical industry?

    Yes.

    The question was merely asking why you didn’t also point out the anti-vax side’s conflicts of interest, if you are trying to be as objective, as you claim. If you really are just being objective, isn’t presenting the problems of both sides kind of important? Throughout this entire thread you’ve made numerous replies which expressed skepticism toward the pro-vax side, but not one single comment critical or skeptical of anyone on the anti-vax side. In fact for the few weeks I’ve been lurking, off and on, I’ve yet to see you make any comment to that effect. If I’ve missed any I do apologize, but perhaps you can see why many here doubt your objectivity on the matter? Please note… I’m not accusing you of lying, I’m just clarifying the impression that you seem to be making.

    Another fair observation, and I’ve not addressed any issues relating to the problems with the vehement antivax positions, or those that may monetarily gain from such a strained time our history. Honestly, no one has ever bothered to ask, and I’ve often just simply tried to make some fairly rudimentary points and the conversation has never gone far enough for me to express anything else. It’s usually met with a hefty dose of vitriol, and there’s not been a need to express my opinion on the other side of the issue. I am equally skeptical of those that are in a position to gain from the suffering of others, with the exception of diet correction.

    So which one’s don’t, and do you have evidence to that effect? Or are you just assuming that some might not?

    I think the measles vaccine is fairly effective, whereas pertussis vaccine and other bacterial vaccines are less so… and don’t appear to prevent transmission (based on their own circulars).

    My question was why would there be one if the government agencies involved didn’t believe that they work for at least the most part, and that they generally caused more good than harm?

    I don’t mean to insinuate that vaccines don’t work. Some of them clearly do, like MV. Some create *other* issues by their widespread use, like Hib… ie. serotype replacement etc… I don’t think there is enough data to realize full effect, and certainly not *enough* evidence (or confidence in the current evidence). This may be a needless observation, but it is not sensational and it is often dismissed.

    You seemed to be dodging the question on that one. The question was: Which side’s market was more “captive”? The bystanders you mention are precisely the point of the question. That I care about them is why I, and many others here, don’t like seeing them exploited by quacks. Where is your expression of outrage over how they are being used? Where are your expressions of skepticism towards many of the so called therapies promoted by the anti-vax side? You seem to have no trouble expressing skepticism towards the effectiveness of vaccines. Again, it creates the at least the appearance that you are less than objective on the issue.

    I appreciate this explanation, and the time you’ve taken to help me understand why the dialogue has been so difficult. You’re right, I haven’t expressed any outrage. I’ve often felt there’s enough here (and elsewhere) that I needn’t contribute, as it’s been dismantled and addressed fairly well. In most cases, I’ve found myself defending those that I identify with, and not those that are out to take advantage of other people’s suffering.

    It’s implied in your premise. If many vaccines were often ineffective, not to mention causing widespread harm, it would require a huge cover up involving agencies (and their employees) around the world to have been so widespread and unnoticed for so long.

    I don’t believe “many” are ineffective, on the contrary, some are quite effective.

    Is it really so unreasonable to make even a supposition about why anti-vax groups would hide such evidence? Also, doesn’t the issue at least call into question the credibility of some on the anti-vax side? It seems to me to be an important question for truly objectively evaluating the pros and cons of all sides.

    No, it’s not unreasonable. I, like many others, tread lightly into the subject. I don’t have children with autism. I don’t have children that regressed after receiving vaccines (clearly this is an example, and an anecdote). I see the problems in accurately determining autism numbers because of diagnostic change. I think that reasonable people are capable realizing conflict. I think it’s a mistake to include everyone that has an issue, or concern over a specific facet of vaccine policy in the conspiracy camp. It makes the pro camp look unreasonable, regardless of where the discussion takes place (ie. on Insolence, or at SBM).

    Also, you seem to have no trouble being critical of those on the pro-vax side for being uncivil, yet show no tendency to be similarly critical of incivility of the anti-vaxers even when their invectives came first. Again if I’ve missed an example to the contrary in past threads, I do apologize, but I certainly didn’t see any examples in this thread.

    This is true. I try not to feed the trolls… some people obviously are. Vaccine critics are far outnumbered here and they are raked pretty well, so I didn’t feel I needed to contribute to that. In hindsight, I likely should have, and admit it would have created more of a balanced view. This constructive criticism is duly noted.

    While you and I may approve of independent testing, as will many on the pro-vax side, it unfortunately will do little to stop the anti-vaxers that will still cry conspiracy.

    Yes, there are some that will not accept anything you furnish them. I think it’s a mistake to think *everyone* that is confused will do so. With the help of others, they can be appropriately persuaded.

    As to a vax/non-vax study, same problem and worse. AoA and others will still cry cover up unless it proves them absolutely correct, and there are serious ethical problems. Having a vax/non-vax study would be like promoting large numbers of people to not wear seat belts, in order to better assess the benefits vs risks of wearing the belts.

    A vaccine trial with a true control would never be viewed as ethical, I totally understand this. I am talking about an epidemiological study that assesses the overall health of the two populations over a period of time. There are clearly some confounders to contend with here, this is true of any study of this construct. Regardless, it is worthwhile to do.

  166. #166 Todd
    April 27, 2009

    Zetetic,

    Thank you for a well reasoned discourse. It would be worthwhile for pro-vaccine posters to remember that articles such as this and the condescending attitude of the replies above do little to educate people on the benefits of immunization. Those concerned about the risks of vaccines would have difficulty stomaching such posts in an effort to learn more.

    Most I talk to are amazed by the breadth of immunizations today. While they would not think of ignoring recommended standards, they question the risk versus reward of the newer applications. How many drugs have been pulled from the market that made it through clinical trials? How many reviewers have been exposed to have strong conflicts of interest? All drugs, including immunizations, can have side effects. If you or your children have experienced drug side effects, it can be devastating.

  167. #167 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    April 27, 2009

    Hi–

    I miss all of you.

    I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language, motor skills, reaction to his own name and responsiveness to his 3 year old sister. This all happened three hours after a DPT/HIB combination. All previous observation and video of this little boy is normal. Lots of great video of a vibrant, talkative happy baby.

    He has autism now. No proof, but the temporal proximity of the regression to his vaccines is daunting to those of us who would like more rigorous proof rather than just a collection of hundreds of pieces of anecdotal evidence. Tempting to assume causation even if only this one case/child.

    Just thought you’d want to know. I usually see these kids in my office months or years after the event the parents think caused the problems. I have read hundreds of emails and spoken to thousands of parents who are certain that vaccines triggered or mightily contributed to their children’s autism.

    Not this time: This family came to my office just days after the vaccines, distraught that he was no longer talking,smiling, acknowledging his sister or his mom and dad and was flapping his hands a lot.

    What do you think?

    Jay

  168. #168 antipodean
    April 27, 2009

    Jay

    Please read up on clinical referral bias. If you hang your shingle out as the “Vaccines Cause Autism Woo-tastic Pediatrician” then of course you see all the cases where some poor kid has got both. Temporal proximity means nothing in your clinic. Vaccines didn’t cause any associations here. You did.

    Stop telling anecdotes as if they are hypothesis generating clinical vignettes when your hypothesis has been investigated in some depth and found to lack any explanatory power.

  169. #169 Vindaloo
    April 27, 2009

    A suffering child is never funny and is never a thing to be used as a prop.

    Jay, are you violating HIPPA right now? No? Maybe the next time you froth at the mouth and swing blindly trying to libel someone you can remember back to this act of cowardly showmanship.

    Jay’s brontosaurus brain thinking, “Gee, how can I use this kid’s condition to say ‘in your face’ to mainstream science and in doing so, boost my bottom line?”

    Jay, you are a dilettante. The only thing you are really good at is grandstanding and hob-knobbing with actors. Save the science and medicine for professionals and please stick to your TV and quackery book jackets.

    Lastly, I love the “He has autism now” comment – like it’s contagious.

  170. #170 Joseph
    April 27, 2009

    I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language, motor skills, reaction to his own name and responsiveness to his 3 year old sister. This all happened three hours after a DPT/HIB combination. All previous observation and video of this little boy is normal. Lots of great video of a vibrant, talkative happy baby.

    He has autism now. No proof, but the temporal proximity of the regression to his vaccines is daunting to those of us who would like more rigorous proof rather than just a collection of hundreds of pieces of anecdotal evidence.

    Should be easy to prove in court then. Keep us posted on how that goes.

    Makes you wonder why the PSC was unable to come up with better test cases out of 5000 claims.

  171. #171 Joseph
    April 27, 2009

    Wait. @Dr. Jay: You “just” saw an 8 month old baby who “has autism now?” This is impossible. A diagnosis of autism can’t occur at 8 months. Your anecdote is complete bullshit.

  172. #172 Jud
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Jay Gordon wrote: All previous observation and video of this little boy is normal.

    As the Cedillo case in the Autism Omnibus showed, parental observations of pre-vaccination normalcy and post-vaccination changes are subject to the same sorts of confirmation biases as all eyewitness accounts from memory. This is not to impute any bias to family members; rather, it is to say simply that, like the rest of us, they are only human.

    Memory tends to fit into a cogent story observations that weren’t so cleanly defined in actuality. It isn’t at all surprising that the little boy you’re speaking of is recalled as completely normal pre-vaccine, or that videos either didn’t capture, or weren’t retained if they did capture, the pre-vaccine moments when the child was **not** being responsive to the camera.

  173. #173 ababa
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Jay, while you are here …

    What’s up about that swine flu email that is going around signed by you? The one that claims the danger is trumped up to sell more Tamiflu because Donald Rumsfeld is a major stockholder? What’s up, are you dabbling in some conspiracy theory now to go along with your woo?

    That along with your extremely poor taste April Fool’s email has me laughing as the local anti-vax mommy brigade starts to disown you. Isn’t it interesting that Andrew Wakefield can commit fraud and they still love him, but you send out a couple of emails and no one likes you anymore?

    Oh, that’s what happens when you try to be a celebrity …

  174. #174 Dick
    April 27, 2009

    Is this guy Jay Gordon for real? I don’t think so. How much language did this 8 month old have!? Typical 8 month old kids cannot say a word (by 1 year old they have things like mama and dada) but rather just babble streams of consonants.

    I don’t think this could be a real pediatrician writing. It must be someone pretending to be Jay Gordon because even Jay Gordon isn’t THAT stupid.

  175. #175 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  176. #176 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  177. #177 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  178. #178 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  179. #179 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  180. #180 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  181. #181 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  182. #182 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  183. #183 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  184. #184 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  185. #185 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  186. #186 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  187. #187 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  188. #188 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  189. #189 To HCN: LOL!
    April 27, 2009

    Nice try HCN! Trying to pretend that you know who is posting on this site? Nice try, dumbass.

    Keep up the good work, genius!

  190. #190 Broken Link
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Gordon – please stop posting late at night. Whether you are just tired, or have been drinking too much, you leave yourself open to looking pretty silly. Babies of 8 months old don’t have language or talk! They babble with streams of ba-ba etc. They flap their hands. They are just barely sitting up. Good grief. Your anecdote is like me saying: “I took my puppy for vaccinations, and within hours he was chewing the furniture.”

  191. #191 RickK
    April 27, 2009

    I’m curious – I haven’t seen any of the news outlets rushing to interview Jenny McCarthy about how we should respond to swine flu. I’m surprised, actually, by how much the media seems to want time and talking points from the CDC. Is this the same CDC that so many people think is full of drug company shills out to make money at the public’s expense?

    The flu is natural, after all. Can’t we just tell people to buy the latest biomed, homeopathic, crystal-infused product sold by one of those companies advertised on AoA and HuffPo? Can’t Oprah and Larry and Jim and Jenny tell us what to do so that we don’t have to rely on all these evil, money-grubbing doctors and researchers?

    Can’t we make this one a test case, tell science to stand down and see how the woo-meisters handle it?

  192. #192 ababa
    April 27, 2009

    I imagine the anti-vaxers will try to keep their heads down till the swine flu passes. An actual demonstration of how fast and wide a disease can spread is bad for business.

    It doesn’t take a huge leap for someone to compare it to measles or another vaccine preventable disease.

  193. #193 Mu
    April 27, 2009

    I’m not sure they’re not going to try to exploit the swine flu, after all, since it wasn’t included in the strains for this year’s flu vaccine, it’s clearly a failure of the pro-vaccine movement – exposing millions of people to the dreaded thimerosal for nothing.

  194. #194 LW
    April 27, 2009

    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?

  195. #195 Chris
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Gordon:

    I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language, motor skills, reaction to his own name and responsiveness to his 3 year old sister.

    Excuse me, but are you a real doctor? Or is this some kind of Poe? And if you really are Dr. Gordon, when was the last time you got some CME, Continuing Medical Education credits?

    There is a reason that autism and other speech/language disorders are not diagnosed until a child is at least 27 months old. That is when toddlers speak within one standard deviation of the mean. An eight-month old child who is speaking is way above the the first standard deviation in speech development. Also, most children under the age of two years do not relate to other children.

    How can you be a pediatrician and not know the basics of child development? And it is the DTaP-Hib vaccine, from the CDC Pink Book chapter on Hib:

    Two combination vaccines that contain H. influenzae type b are available in the United States—a DTaP–Hib combination (TriHIBit, sanofi pasteur), and a hepatitis B–Hib combination (Comvax, Merck). Combination vaccines containing whole-cell pertussis vaccine and Hib are no longer available in the United States.

    It looks like you are in dire need of some CME credits. You can get some at the Science Based Medicine Conference. Though in order to prevent being the entertainment there, you should do some serious medical education catch-up on the basics of child development, vaccines and HIPAA rules.

  196. #196 Prometheus
    April 27, 2009

    Dr. Jay states:

    “I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language, motor skills, reaction to his own name and responsiveness to his 3 year old sister. This all happened three hours after a DPT/HIB combination.”

    Curious. According to most developmental charts, an eight-month old child should have – at most – one or two words that they use with meaning (this is actually a twelve-month milestone) and be able to respond to their name and (possibly) simple instructions.

    I’m also curious about the loss of “motor skills” – seems a bit extreme and not at all consistent with autism.

    Personally, I’m suspicious that this comment was left by someone trying to “spoof” us using Dr. Jay’s name. It says a lot about the idiocy Dr. Jay usually spouts that most people assumed that it was Dr. Jay. However, even a medical student should know that eight-month olds have limited language and that the loss of “motor skills” is not consistent with autism.

    If this is Dr. Jay, I am very concerned for the safety of his patients. If not, I would remind the “spoofer” that it is very difficult to successfully satire a farce.

    Prometheus

  197. #197 The Horrible One
    April 27, 2009

    What’s up about that swine flu email that is going around signed by you? The one that claims the danger is trumped up to sell more Tamiflu because Donald Rumsfeld is a major stockholder? What’s up, are you dabbling in some conspiracy theory now to go along with your woo?

    Oh, what a silly boy/girl! The swine flu is obviously man-made. The evil scientists created a horrifying disease to benefit from people’s suffering; this also ensures they can poison more babies with awful toxins.

    Why do I feel like someone else has said this already…

  198. #198 ababa
    April 27, 2009

    Yes, my local forums already has a few people claiming the swine flu was “engineered”. It’s right next to the 3 page thread about some post-partum depression bill that recently passed that they believe is just the government’s way of trying to take their babies away for not giving in to the “medical establishment” or not vaxing.

    I wonder what it’s like being a paranoid conspiracy nut. Feeling like the whole world is out to get you if you don’t second guess everything. Cooler, can you give us some insight?

  199. #199 Pablo
    April 27, 2009

    BTW, for Jay Gordon’s story, keep in mind that the standard vaccination schedule consists of 2 mo, 4 mo, 6 mo, and then 1 year. Vaccinations for 8 mo old is extremely uncommon (is this on the Sears schedule or something?)

  200. #200 Mu
    April 27, 2009

    wouldn’t you expect autism to have been common and well-known?

    LW, you forget, the kids in Somalia are exposed to NATURAL antigens, not the evil pharma-engineered ones from the vaccine. Natural measles have never caused autism, only the vaccine strain can do that.

  201. #201 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.

  202. #202 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.

  203. #203 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.

  204. #204 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.

  205. #205 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.

  206. #206 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?

  207. #207 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.

  208. #208 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.

  209. #209 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.

  210. #210 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.

  211. #211 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.

  212. #212 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!

  213. #213 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.

  214. #214 cooler
    April 28, 2009

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

    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.

  215. #215 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.

  216. #216 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!

  217. #217 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.

  218. #218 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.

  219. #219 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.

  220. #220 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.

  221. #221 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.

  222. #222 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.”

  223. #223 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.

  224. #224 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.

  225. #225 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.”

  226. #226 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!

  227. #227 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

  228. #228 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.

  229. #229 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

  230. #230 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.

  231. #231 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

  232. #232 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.

  233. #233 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)

  234. #234 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.

  235. #235 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

  236. #236 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.

  237. #237 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.

  238. #238 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.

  239. #239 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.

  240. #240 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.

  241. #241 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.

  242. #242 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.

  243. #243 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

  244. #244 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.

  245. #245 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!

  246. #246 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.

  247. #247 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.

  248. #248 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.

  249. #249 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.

  250. #250 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

  251. “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!

  252. #252 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.

  253. #253 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.

  254. #254 Mu
    April 29, 2009

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

  255. #255 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.

  256. #256 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?

  257. #257 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

  258. #258 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

  259. #259 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).

  260. #260 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.

  261. #261 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.

  262. #262 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.

  263. #263 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.

  264. #264 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).

  265. #265 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

  266. #266 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

  267. #267 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.

  268. #268 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.

  269. #269 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.

  270. #270 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?

  271. #271 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.”)

  272. #272 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

  273. #273 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.

  274. #274 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 :)

  275. #275 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.

  276. #276 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.

  277. #277 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.

  278. #278 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.

  279. #279 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.

  280. #280 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.

  281. #281 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.

  282. #282 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. ;-)

  283. #283 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?

  284. #284 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.

  285. #285 Alex
    July 27, 2010

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

  286. #286 Scott
    July 27, 2010

    What’s with the flurry of threadomancy lately?