Respectful Insolence

Well, well, well, well.

What is this I found forwarded to me in my in box? It’s from the anti-vaccine group Generation Rescue, and it is most interesting:

Generation Rescue is in the final stages of receiving grant funding for a vaccine research study on the long term effects of the current U.S. recommended schedule. The last thing we need are declarations of support from our community who purchased Airborne Health.

  1. Did you purchase Airborne during May 1, 2001 – November 29, 2007?
  2. Do you support a vaccine research study on the long term effects of the current U.S. schedule?
  3. Do you support a study on vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children?

If you answer yes to all three of these questions, then you are a supporter and can help Generation Rescue provide ground breaking research.

The first 40 respondents will receive a free bag of revitaPOPS for completing a declaration of support.

Please email Candace McDonald to receive your declaration form! Hurry supplies will go fast.

Thank you to our partner revitaPOP.

Best to you,

The Team at Generation Rescue

email: info2@generationrescue.org
web: www.GenerationRescue.org
phone: 1.877.98Autism

Generation Rescue is an international movement of scientists and physicians researching the causes and treatments for autism, ADHD and chronic illness, while parent-volunteers mentor thousands of families in recovering their children.


This struck me as very curious. Very curious indeed.

I’ve written before about how anti-vaccinationists are so keen to do a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study and how difficult it would be to do such a study in a way that would produce meaningful results that they have tried to do a phone survey and disguise it as a “scientific study.” That’s just for starters. This year they did an even more ridiculous pseudo-study about health disparities in different countries allegedly correlating with vaccination schedules. This latter “study” was so brain-meltingly bad that I think J. B. Handley owes me recompense for the loss of neurons from having read it.

Generation Rescue’s history aside, Airborne is the herbal concoction “created by a school teacher” that I first wrote about nearly four years ago. The company marketing Airborne took full advantage of the DSHEA, the federal law that in essence prevents the FDA and FTC from taking action against supplement manufacturers, as long as they keep their health claims vague. Unfortunately, for Airborne, it did go over the line was forced to settle a class action suit for $23 million for making false claims.

Why is this relevant to the question of why Generation Rescue is sending out e-mails asking for declarations of support from people who purchased Airborne from 2001 to 2007 and who are also down with the idea that vaccines are harmful and cause all sorts of neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular autism? I think Sullivan has probably speculated the closest to what the answer is:

My speculation: there is a big pot of the $23M left over, and Generation Rescue is trying to get Airborne to donate it to fund a vaccinated/unvaccinated study.

The reason? Possibly this:

The deadline to submit claims was December 5, 2009 (4 days ago). It strikes this observer as likely that only a small percentage of Airborne’s customers saved their receipts and were able to be compensated, leaving a large amount of money unclaimed.

I really wonder if Airborne knows what sort of group they are working with in Generation Rescue. Soon Airborne will receive testimonials from people who claim to have purchased their products, who want a Vaccinated/Unvaccinated study done by Generation Rescue.

The very fact that Generation Rescue is paying people to submit testimonials should raise red flags at Airborne.

Perhaps so. On the other hand, maybe not. After all, Airborne totally relied on testimonials rather than valid evidence from clinical trials in order to sell its product. (Well, that and a highly dubious “clinical trial” with no validity whatsoever.) However, I do agree that it is highly coincidental (and suspicious) that this appeal from Generation Rescue comes on the first business day after the deadline for claimants to submit claims to the settlement fund has passed. It may well be that Airborne, for whatever reason, is interested in funding a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study, although I really can’t figure out why it would, unless it is planning to market Airborne as an “immune booster” that can substitute for vaccines. However, that doesn’t make a lot of sense and would be highly risky in light of the class action lawsuit. On the other hand, one also has to look at the Center for Science in the Public Interest as well. One wonders if there’s someone on the board or high up in the organization who has anti-vaccine tendencies and is therefore helping Generation Rescue out. Whatever the reason, the claim by Generation Rescue that it is “in the final stages of receiving grant funding” for such a study coupled with its appeal to its members to complete a declaration of support two days after the deadline for submitting claims for the class action suit, strongly suggests that it is trying to get some funding from Airborne to produce yet another pseudoscientific attempt to prove that vaccines cause autism. The reason comes from the settlement:

If the aggregate value of Valid Claims by Settlement Class Members is less than the amount of the Net Settlement Fund, the balance of the Net Settlement Fund, after payment of all Valid Claims of Settlement Class Members, shall be distributed cy pres to non-profit organizations. Class Counsel shall nominate the non-profit organization(s) that will be recipients of any cy pres funds, which shall then be subject to the consent of Defendants (which Defendants shall not unreasonably withhold) and approval by the Court. For purposes of this paragraph, Defendants agree that in order to validly withhold consent, Defendants must demonstrate that including a non-profit organization as a recipient would substantially undermine Defendants’ legitimate business interest or is otherwise improper, and that Defendants’ refusal to consent is not philosophically or politically motivated. Plaintiff agrees that the Center for Science in the Public Interest will not be a recipient of cy pres funds.

Yes, I do think that Sullivan’s on to something, particularly in light of this post on Age of Autism yesterday by Kent Heckenlively. It’s about Generation Rescue’s “Green Vaccines” initiative, wherein they have tried to win through politics where they can’t win through science by trying to promote a variety of anti-vaccine pet beliefs as law. This time around, poor Kent appears unhappy that things aren’t going as well as he’d like. There have apparently been lots of objections to his “pragmatic” new initiative, but in particular it appears that many of objections have been that the initiative just doesn’t go far enough in the anti-vaccine direction, as Kent himself points out:

I read with great interest an open letter to me from the Natural Solutions Foundation which made the assertion that there is no such thing as a “safe vaccine.” I find myself in sympathy with such a view and am certainly acting as if there is currently no such thing as a safe vaccine by not getting any myself or having them given to my children. I might eventually take such a position. However, it seems to me that to move things forward we need to change public perception from the belief that vaccines are universally safe, to one that they have troublesome components which render them potentially unsafe to a certain subset of the population, as a prelude to a full and objective look at the safety of the entire vaccination program.

Meanwhile, in the comments, AoA readers show in no uncertain term that they are anti-vaccine, not pro-safe vaccine, as Dawn Winkler (remember her?) does in this comment:

I also have to agree that there is no safe vaccine and can never be a safe vaccine, whether you take the mercury or any other ingredient out. So to me, a Green Vaccine campaign is not something I could ever support. Vaccination choice and education is in my opinion the better way to go. We desperately need a study that compares overall health of vaccinated vs unvaccinated. It is my belief that right now, ALL focus should be on this one goal. Yes, there are people working on this and I think we should ALL be supporting it in whatever way we can rather than diluting our collective effort by attempting something that is not possible, “greening” vaccines. Actually, I think that “greening” vaccines could be to our detriment because it could lead new parents in the future to believe that somehow the problems have been fixed when in fact they have not. Just because you take mercury out of a vaccine does not mean in any way shape or form that it is safe. The powers that be could also use this to ultimately TAKE CHOICE AWAY. They will point to whatever has been done and say “see, we listened and we made them safe. You have no excuse to want to opt out”. It’s a slippery slope and I can see where it’s going. I think that ultimately, we should focus our efforts on goals that we know will absolutely support maintaining and expanding vaccination freedom of choice and not risk supporting anything that might undermine it.

This additional exchange was particularly illustrative:

what would you do if the results of a trial were negative?

Amazing! A reasonable question in the comments of AoA! Was there a reasonable answer? What do you think? The response from a commenter named Benedetta:

If this research is done fairly as science should be and not done by some EPA official – and from what I have witnessed and many other parents have witnessed — IT WON’T !!!!!

It sounds to me as though Benedetta wouldn’t believe the results of the study if they went against her beliefs. If the results went against her beliefs she would simply find a convenient reason to dismiss them as either pharma- or EPA-influenced–whatever it takes for her to justify in her mind ignoring any “inconvenient” scientific results. Of course, if Generation Rescue designs the study, it would be among the safest of bets that it will be so poorly designed and biased that it will find the desired results. If it doesn’t, you can also count on its never being published anywhere.

What is clear to me are two things. First, the anti-vaccine movement is failing at restraining its true nature. For a while, “Green Our Vaccines” and the claim that they are not “anti-vaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” veiled the true aims of the movement, but the veil is coming off the longer science fails to support its pseudoscience and the more studies fail to find a link between vaccines and autism. As a result, the anti-vaccine movement launches initiatives that try to win through the political process what anti-vaccinationists haven’t been able to win fair and square through science, and as an alternative strategy they also try to pose as real “autism charities” in order to win grants to fund their pseudoscience.

So what’s next? I don’t think that the anti-vaccine movement will be able to paper over the differences between the “pragmatists” who want to take an incremental approach to their goal of eliminating any vaccine mandates and those who are totally against vaccines, period. Consequently, what we see is an increasing emphasis on an approach that will unite them all and sound oh-so-fair to average Americans, namely “vaccine choice.” This is not the first time we’ve heard this. After all, it sounds a lot more positive to say you are for something than against something, and what red-blooded American could say he is against “choice”? However, vaccine “choice” is very similar to “health freedom,” “health choice,” and other euphemisms for getting that pesky government from interfering with quacks; in reality it’s much more than claiming the right to refuse vaccines. In any case, look for “vaccine freedom” or “vaccine choice” to be more and more the rallying cry of the movement. After all, it’s a lot easier to sell than “no vaccines.” After all, average people still know that vaccines save lives.

Sadly, the anti-vaccine movement is doing its best to change that.

Comments

  1. #1 Pareidolius
    December 8, 2009

    These antivax nuts make my head want to explode. There’s no reaching them, but people like my neighbor can still be reached. I posted a link to the Daily Show interview with Michael Specter about his book The Culture of Denialism the other day on Facebook. My neighbor made the following comment . . .

    I like this interview. Totally agreed on the Swine Flu vaccine…we are VERY reserved in the timing of (Name Redacted’s) vaccinations and only do one at a time, but with a serious and highly contagious disease like Swine Flu…I felt lucky to live in a country that could actually offer me vaccine.

    You can tell that she’s already been influenced by the AoA/Wakefield/GR bullshit already. The all caps “very” should emphasize how fearful she is. She and her husband are fairly well-off professionals (which most of the worried well seem to be). I intend to casually bring this subject up in conversation at some time in the future and ask her what she knows about vaccines since she seemed reticent to follow the recommended schedule and see what the answer is. I’m not gonna jump all over her and get all up in my tree about it, I’m just curious to hear how this perception of danger came about in one particular case.
    Keep up the good work Orac!

  2. #2 Sid Offit
    December 8, 2009

    Is that the “Merck lied, 55,000 died” Michael Specter?

  3. #3 IBY
    December 8, 2009

    Kind of reminds me of intelligent designers who claim it has nothing to do with religion. Both of them, the “pro safe vaccines”, when not focusing, show their true selves as the crackpots they are: as advocates of religion into classrooms and anti-vaccine.

  4. #4 Donna B.
    December 8, 2009

    Where did the idea that anything is, or can be, 100% safe come from?

  5. #5 Pareidolius
    December 8, 2009

    Mr. Offit, don’t you worry that all those strawmen you surround yourself with constitute a fire hazard? Mr. Specter makes some very reasonable (decidedly non-flammable) remarks regarding the Vioxx issue in the video if you’d care to watch it.
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-3-2009/michael-specter

  6. #6 Damien
    December 8, 2009

    Orac, I wanted to relay a story to you the other day that fully encapsulates what I love about this blog.

    I was sitting in a Coffee Bean in Venice, CA the other day, just doing some web work and such. As I utterly detest web work, I was browsing around your archives and such and happened to be reading one of your entries about the “Green Our Vaccines” movement when a nice older woman next to me glanced over and said “Pardon me, but is that from Age of Autism?” Long story short, we got into a conversation about vaccines and denialism.

    The knowledge that I’ve picked up here allowed me to refute every single negative thing she said about vaccines, to shoot down her bogus statistics, and to also shoot down her “we need a clinical study” thing. She was extremely ill-informed but very obstinately attached to her opinions, which was unsurprising actually.

    It was so informative for me, because your principle of crank magnetism showed through with her disdain for “Western Medicine” also getting a good thrashing.

    Our conversation lasted for 4 hours of non-stop intellectual combat. Finally, and this may be my proudest moment ever, I got her to come here and read a few entries.

    And she looked up and weakly said “This can’t be true?” And I got the final verbal blow in, “It’s science, it’s backed up by data and evidence and is repeatable. It’s true.”

    She emailed me the next day to apologize and admit she had been wrong. And apparently she loves Respectful Insolence now!

    So extremely long story slightly shorter: some people can admit they’re wrong, it just takes a healthy dose of Orac.

    Thanks so much for what you do.

  7. #7 Militant Agnostic
    December 8, 2009

    If 4 hours straight is a healthy does of Orac, the mind boggles at what an overdose would consist of.

  8. #8 Kevin
    December 8, 2009

    So in Dawn’s mind, even if a vaccine contained only salt water and antigens it could still cause autism, but infection with the germs that carry the antigens, together with being 90% salt water by weight will not.

  9. #9 Lassi Hippeläinen
    December 8, 2009

    It may well be that Airborne, for whatever reason, is interested in funding a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study, although I really can’t figure out why it would, …

    Maybe they see the antivaxers as a group of perfect customers: gullible and loyal.

  10. #10 Richard Eis
    December 8, 2009

    -Airborne supporting Generation Rescue?-

    Well, that is crank magnetism in the flesh. Lets hope thier combind lack of intellectual honesty blows up in both their faces.

    Gullible, loyal and anti science-based-medicine. What better customers for Airborne…and of course funding a study on autism will look good for them (in principal).

    So Sid, do you have Airborne in your house?

  11. #11 Vindaloo
    December 8, 2009

    But it’s fizzy and orange and it was formulated by a teacher… I’m sure it cures autism as long as a DAN! “doc” injects my kid with it using 0.5 M Na-EDTA as a solvent. Way to go, antivax Generation Rescue!

  12. #12 Scardanelli
    December 8, 2009

    Damien, this is a really heartwarming story – especially as I never ever hoped something similiar to what happened to you could ever take place. It shows that there is hope. That is good news indeed. And thanks Orac for your blog.

  13. #13 attack_laurel
    December 8, 2009

    Well, Airborne already markets itsel as an “immune booster”, so I can see that it wouldn’t be much of a leap for them to imply that they can prevent polio. *eye roll*

    I, too, find Orac most useful when talking on anti-vaxxers with middle-of-the-road people; they don’t know any science, just what they hear, and what they hear tends to be vague and scary. Being able to talk about the processes used to test vaccines and the studies showing no link between vaccines and autism is useful (a lot of people have absolutely no idea that there’s been ten years worth of studies on that subject, all of them negative). It doesn’t hurt that I am familiar with how medical studies work, as that gives me a little oomph when it comes to authority, but it’s the facts and figures that really drive the point home.

    My mother lost her brother to a basic childhood disease, and has always been so glad that her children would never have to live under the threat of polio that she grew up with. It’s so infuriating that these people are indifferent to the permanent damage they cause – perhaps when it’s their own kids in iron lungs, paralyzed, deaf, blind, or dead, they’ll change their minds, but I really don’t see it happening before then.

  14. #14 colmcq
    December 8, 2009

    @damien

    good to hear that some folks do listen to reason. You must have been very polite to her.

  15. #15 Monica
    December 8, 2009

    “perhaps when it’s their own kids in iron lungs, paralyzed, deaf, blind, or dead, they’ll change their minds, but I really don’t see it happening before then.”

    I’m not so sure that it would happen then either. As long as the parents are needing someone to “blame”, there will always be someone (either individual or organization) to blame. All it really boils down to is not taking responsibility for one’s own actions.

  16. #16 Todd W.
    December 8, 2009

    @Damien

    Nice story. I’m glad you were able to get through to her.

    @Orac

    We desperately need a study that compares overall health of vaccinated vs unvaccinated.

    As I read this, a thought occurred to me. If such a study were to take place, the endpoints would necessarily need to include complications from the disease, as well as death. My guess is that the unvaccinated would have a higher incidence of death than the vaccinated group. I also predict that anti-vaxers would brush that off and, if there actually were any health impacts like asthma from the vaccine, etc., focus on the quality of life issues for the survivors. Because, y’know, death is so much better than being alive with asthma.

  17. #17 Scott
    December 8, 2009

    So in Dawn’s mind, even if a vaccine contained only salt water and antigens it could still cause autism, but infection with the germs that carry the antigens, together with being 90% salt water by weight will not.

    Not a problem. After all, if you don’t unnaturally destroy your immune system with vaccines and ALL TEH EVUL TOXINZ, then you won’t ever get sick in the first place.

  18. #18 Marilyn Mann
    December 8, 2009

    I know some of the leaders of CSPI, and they are pretty mainstream people. I also have been reading their newsletter, Nutrition Action, for years, and I have never seen anything anti-vaccine in it. So I doubt CSPI has anything to do with this GR scheme.

  19. #19 Clare
    December 8, 2009

    Interestingly enough, I read the sentence in the Generation Rescue letter “The last thing we need are declarations of support from our community who purchased Airborne Health” as not the “final thing we need” but “the last thing we need” i.e. “they come over as complete kooks and will hurt our prospects of getting all that lovely money.” Curious indeed given Orac’s later commentary about splits in the anti-vaccine movement, and the degrees of crazy that can be permitted before the whole thing collapses under its own weight. Somewhat off-topic, but I caught an episode of Law and Order:SVU last night (maybe a repeat, I don’t know) that was surprisingly (and refreshingly) no-holds-barred on the dangers of not vaccinating. Of course there was the usual melodrama associated with these kinds of shows, but it laid out some pretty stark facts and made no apologies for doing so.

  20. #20 Todd W.
    December 8, 2009

    @Clare

    I read that line the same way. I’ve seen that SVU, too. Good episode.

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    December 8, 2009

    I think the only connection the CSPI has is that they spearheaded the lawsuit against Airborne, doing what the FDA apparently couldn’t. I doubt they intended the money to be used in this manner, assuming of course that GR is doing what Orac suspects and trying to get people to collect from Airborne’s class action lawsuit to fund another spurious* vaccine study.

    *I say “spurious” only because I don’t think GR actually intends to produce good science. They just want money.

  22. #22 Tacroyt
    December 8, 2009

    For a while, “Green Our Vaccines” and the claim that they are not “anti-vaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” veiled the true aims of the movement, but the veil is coming off the longer science fails to support its pseudoscience and the more studies fail to find a link between vaccines and autism.

    I wouldn’t put it like that – I’d imagine that it’s not so much like a veil coming off as it is (I don’t know) a nuclear reactor boiling off all of its coolant. I think the reasonable people are figuring out that GR and AoA are promoting bunk, and leaving. This gives the real kooks more power and influence over those who remain, letting their crazy shine through. After all, it takes a rare kind of mind to continue to believe bullshit in the face of reality.

  23. #23 Jparenti
    December 8, 2009

    I admit freely that I used Airborne once about four years ago. I came to my skeptical senses eventually, as did Michael Shermer. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=airborne-baloney)
    Now I don’t feel so bad about it…

  24. #24 rrt
    December 8, 2009

    Kevin@8:

    I’ve been wondering about this for a while. I wonder if someone has studied the psychology of the antivax mentality…? I agree with you that many, if not most, would balk just as hard at pure antigen-plus-saline as they do at “OMGTOXINZ!!!1!” vaccines. But what if you could convince some that a saline-only, no-antigens shot was (somehow) necessary to prevent some infectious disease. Would we get the same reaction? In other words, I’m wondering if this is really about the scary viruses/viral antigens that they don’t really understand but that we want to inject them with anyway, or if it’s really about the scary men and women in lab coats who want to stick us with sharp objects.

    I think there is a fundamental fear here that underlies the rationalizations they offer. I just wonder what exactly it is.

  25. #25 Anne
    December 8, 2009

    And why would the EPA be involved in testing vaccines in the first place?

  26. #26 Scott
    December 8, 2009

    In other words, I’m wondering if this is really about the scary viruses/viral antigens that they don’t really understand but that we want to inject them with anyway, or if it’s really about the scary men and women in lab coats who want to stick us with sharp objects.

    In at least some cases, it’s the latter. There have certainly been enough people spout off about how “unnatural” it is to stick babies with needles. (The human body, of course, having evolved so that it can distinguish between a stick from a thorn contaminated with tetanus vs. a stick from a needle containing tetanus vaccine; the former being natural and therefore good.)

  27. #27 Enkidu
    December 8, 2009

    rrt@24

    There is a portion of anti-vaxers who think that if they just eat healthy, wash their hands, and take fish oil that they will be able to fight off any disease, no problem. The actual viruses, they would love to be infected by them to build “natural immunity.” They are terrified of a vaccine, but poo-poo the wild-type virus. It baffles me.

  28. #28 dave
    December 8, 2009

    They are terrified of a vaccine, but poo-poo the wild-type virus. It baffles me.

    Thats because they are not afraid of the virus in the vaccine, but of the formaldehde, squalene, mercury, rat poison, insect poop and whatever other additives their fervered imaginations put in the vaccines, in addition to the virus. Besides, the vaccine comes from a labratory, and nothing good ever came from a lab, I mean, DR. FRANKENSTEIN HAD A LAB!!!11!eleventy-one!!

  29. #29 Prometheus
    December 8, 2009

    Unfortunately, the “Green Our Vaccines” spokesperson (J. McCarthy) has already telegraphed the anti-vax response to an epidemic of vaccine-preventable disease. When (not if, but when) there is a large-scale outbreak of – for instance – measles, they will say, “This is your fault for not giving parents safe vaccines!”

    I expect the anti-vax rhetoric and political pressure to climb even higher as science – in its own slow but inexorable fashion – grinds each of their “hypotheses” to dust. A “vaccinated vs un-vaccinated” study run by GR and funded by Airborne is just the opening act. Look for them to “discover” that vaccines “cause” either autism or – even more likely – “suboptimal wellness” (vague and unspecified).

    Let me engage in a little prognostication. I predict that the GR/Airborne vaccine study (if it ever sees the light of day) will:

    [1] Look at a very large number of “outcome measurements”, including some that are only available from certain mail-order laboratories.

    [2] Use at least one population that cannot reasonably be compared to the general population (e.g. Amish).

    [3] NOT rigorously evaluate their subjects for the presence of autism (or whatever “wellness” endpoint they decide to use).

    [4] NOT correct statistically for multiple comparisons. [That’s a given, like the “free space” in BINGO]

    [5] Combine unrelated disorders under a vague heading (e.g. combining autism and ADD/ADHD as “neurological disorders”)

    [6] Ignore morbidity, mortality and disability caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.

    [7] No matter what the data show, they will find some way to blame vaccines, even if their hypothesis is contradicted by all previous work in the field (e.g. the tortured “poor excretor” dead-at-the-scene hypothesis of Holmes et al). [This is another “free space”]

    Prometheus

  30. #30 ebohlman
    December 8, 2009

    Prometheus:
    8) They will triumphantly report that their unadjusted data shows that unvaccinated kids are overall healthier than vaccinated kids. Which it will, because the unvaccinated kids will disproportionately have crunchymommies, a group that in turn is disproportionately upper-middle-class and white, a demographic which in the US tends to be associated with better health. That will, of course, be as informative as finding that Electrical Engineering majors have a higher lifetime incidence of prostate cancer and a lower lifetime incidence of breast cancer than Elementary Education majors (again, not adjusting for confounders).

  31. #31 deep
    December 8, 2009

    Does this mean the generation rescue is in league with BIG WOO? This obviously means that every member is in the pocket of the Airborne corporation. As a result we cannot except any results of their upcoming study as it will obviously be faked in order to push their “natural supplement agenda”. How dare they risk the lives of children for PROFIT!

    Hey, this is kinda fun after all. Not to mention it requires a lot less effort than digging up papers from pub-med.

  32. #32 ENT-TT
    December 8, 2009

    Heh. Just a bit of levity from The Onion:

    “Despite all our efforts to advise this nation, America still throws out its recyclables, keeps its guns in unlocked cabinets where children have easy access, eats three times as much red meat as is recommended, watches seven hours of TV per day, swims less than 10 minutes after eating, and leaves halogen lights on while unattended,” said Dr. Simon Peavy, vice-president of the National Association of Experts. “Since you don’t seem to care about things you don’t understand, screw you. We quit.”
    “My final piece of expert advice,” Peavy added, “is that all of you people should just go fuck yourselves.”
    According to Peavy, despite the vast amounts of scientifically proven and historically sound advice provided by the nation’s experts, the National Association of Experts could cite no instances of advice being followed in the manner they had intended.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nations_experts_give_up?utm_source=onion_rss_daily

    Thank you for staying in the race, Orac.

  33. #33 Broken Link
    December 9, 2009

    I, too, received a forwarded copy of the GR e-mail. It seems to have gone out to a list of those they consider their loyal supporters. But, the Airborne initiative, whatever it is exactly, hasn’t been raised on the AoA blog. I wonder why that is? My guess is that they must be simply testing the waters, and don’t want real publicity at this point. They must then, be annoyed with this blog post.

    This brings up a fundamental conflict these anti-vax people have. They don’t want any dissent or actual open discussion, because underneath they are aware that their arguments don’t hold up to real scrutiny. Yet, if they remain completely secretive, without any publicity, they cannot spread their message. They settled on using the heavily censored AoA blog as an attempt to seem open, and maintain the pressure of publicity. But anytime the AoA is mentioned in the mainstream press, a new bunch of rational people visit and attempt to make comments – only to be censored out. That will spread their reputation as a quack organization.

    I have a feeling that after the present exposure, GR will move away from using that e-mailed newsletter to do anything of importance – thus removing another avenue of publicity. A good thing you have done – Orac and Sullivan.

  34. #34 Broken Link
    December 9, 2009

    Orac wondered: “It may well be that Airborne, for whatever reason, is interested in funding a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study, although I really can’t figure out why it would, unless it is planning to market Airborne as an “immune booster” that can substitute for vaccines.”

    It’s simpler than that. Those supplement companies are making out like bandits in the “biomedical treatment” of autism game. “Big pharma” pales in comparison. Here is a discussion on the yahoogroup Autism-Mercury where someone asks

    “I am about to do a hair test and challenge test to prepare my son for chelation. Someone told me that the cost ofchleation is $20,000 – $40,000 per year!!!! Is that true? I can’t imagine that everyone on this web site is spending that much money.”

    And here’s a reply:

    “The cost can certainly get that high if you are using a doctor. When we were using Dr. Edelson it was $250 once a eek for EDTA IVs. The DSMA suppositories were like $50 a week. Not to mention all the other supplements and treatments. I spent $2500 for lab work. I did almost the same lab work with another doctor and it cost about $300. And if you have Blue Cross Blue Shield Great Plains
    will bill the insurance for the test.”

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Autism-Mercury/message/167213

  35. #35 Chris
    December 9, 2009

    We desperately need a study that compares overall health of vaccinated vs unvaccinated.

    Hope this doesn’t derail the thread, but: I recently ran across an almost identical statement by someone promoting “fat acceptance” — an assertion that “we desperately need a study” to determine whether the association between overweight and the various diseases associated with it is merely correlation or whether it is actually causation. Her theory was that people who become overweight also *independently* have increased (possibly genetic) susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes et cetera, and she points to a study done in Europe (of which she doesn’t give the particulars) comparing disease rates among overweight people and formerly overweight people who have lost weight. (The corollary being, of course, that if it’s all due to genetics, being overweight actually has no effect on health.)

    It seems to me that part of the problem here may be that people who want to deny a particular conclusion (whether this, vaccines, or some other) seem to think that it’s quite easy to design THE definitive study. Therefore, the reason why the particular study they have imagined is not being done must be either (1) because everyone else is stupid, or (2) for some nefarious reason. (Both premises have major flaws, of course.)

    In fact, I wonder just how many bad studies happen because someone thinks it’s “easy” to design a study and carry it out ;)

    (I would forward the post to Orac privately if I could find an e-mail link, in case this is an area he might want to write about. While clearly obesity is a complex issue, what I might call “fat denialism” seems to be growing.)

  36. #36 Todd W.
    December 9, 2009

    @Chris

    There’s a Contact button up at the top in the grey bar, just to the right of RSS.

  37. #37 PsyberDave
    December 9, 2009

    Orac,

    You may find it heartening that the funds left over from the case will not likely go to Generation Rescue. I spoke with one of the plaintiff lawyers and he said they have many attractive non-profits that have submitted grant requests more in line with how they want to disburse the funds.

  38. #38 Redblues
    December 10, 2009

    ‘While clearly obesity is a complex issue, what I might call “fat denialism” seems to be growing.’

    Here’s an article about that:
    http://www.livescience.com/health/091117-obesity-body-size.html

  39. #39 Chris
    December 11, 2009

    Duh. Thanks for pointing out the contact button. I didn’t notice it ;)

    Obesity Panacea very nicely answered my underlying question today:
    http://www.obesitypanacea.com/2009/12/obese-but-metabolically-healthy.html

    Summarizing: Yes, being overweight puts you at a higher risk for death *even if* you are metabolically “healthy” and don’t have high risk factors for developing diabetes, heart disease et cetera.

    This is what I was really trying to get at with “fat denialism” — not just that people tend to deny that they ARE overweight, but that they try to say that being overweight is, by itself, *not* a health risk (and therefore not something they would benefit from doing something about).

    Here too, there seems to be a lot of whining and complaining about how “persecuted” overweight people are, simply because of their weight, and how this is all terribly unjustified.

    They do, of course, have a point: prejudice against overweight people does make it harder for them to develop a positive self-image (which all humans need) AND there is good evidence that prejudice also makes it substantially harder for them to get good health care (they tend to get told that everything wrong with them is “because you’re fat” rather than the doctor actually looking for other possible factors).

    And as O.P. points out, the “solution” to everything is not to blindly recommend weight loss to all overweight people — the real situation is considerably more nuanced. OTOH, they also point out that the evidence indicates that overweight people *would* be better off at a lower weight: it’s just that getting there and staying there is very, very difficult and may have its own problems.

  40. #40 rw23
    December 12, 2009

    I wondered what on earth revitapops could be, so I stupidly followed the link. Proof indeed, if any was needed, of crank magnetism.

    Orac, I think you owe me recompense for loss of neurons too.

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