Respectful Insolence

I realize I complain periodically about when I get into what seems to me to be a rut in which I’m writing pretty much only about anti-vaccine lunacy. This is just such a week, when the news on the vaccine front has been coming fast and furious, first with Andrew Wakefield’s being found to have behaved unethically and dishonestly by the British General Medical Council, only to be followed up a few days later with the news that the editors of The Lancet had retracted his 1998 paper, the paper that started the MMR scare in the U.K. and launched a thousand autism quacks. Meanwhile, the cranks will leap to the defense of their hero, providing additional blogging opportunity. Sometimes these events will stretch out for several days or even a week when it appears that the only thing I’m writing about is vaccines. Depending on my mood, I’ll rail against fate and resist, often with Godfather, Part 3 references, before reluctantly charging back into the fray. Sometimes, when I’m in the mood for some seriously not-so-Respectful Insolence, I’ll just go with the flow and ride the wave for as long as it lasts before moving on to other topics.

This is one of those times.

Seeing the patron saint of the anti-vaccine movement, the man who started it all in the U.K. (at least the most recent incarnation of the anti-vaccine movement) finally forced to answer for his misdeeds by potentially having his U.K. medical license struck off and actually having the original source of his influence expunged from the scientific literature, demands nothing less. This is what I do in the blogosphere, and I want to make sure that there is copious explanation of what’s going on and why. If I can’t always resist indulging in a little schadenfreude at times, well, the blog pseudonym notwithstanding I am still human. Even so, I have to prioritize. Even though I rather miss our old friend, pediatrician to the anti-vaccine stars and apologist for the anti-vaccine movement Dr. Jay Gordon, has resurfaced in the Huffington Post just asking for a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence, something else demanded my attention first. The reason is quite simple. It epitomizes what is most wrong with science journalism. That’s why I hereby list the two worst offenders for execrable reporting of the Wakefield Lancet retraction.

Offender #1: CNN
Offense: “Tell both sides” fallacy with a heapin’ helpin’ of anti-vaccine loon Kim stagliano
Evidence: See the video.

The above video is truly painful to behold and emblematic of how the “tell both sides” model of journalism favors pseudoscience. First, the correspondent (Don Lennon) and Elizabeth Cohen, CNN’s senior medical correspondent, get parts of the story painfully wrong. For example Cohen provides only two dates in her time line for the Wakefield story: 1998 and 2010. This is rather like describing a timeline for World War II with only two years, 1939 and 1945. Completely ignored were a couple of more key years: For example, 2004, which was when Brian Deer’s first big revelations about Wakefield’s dishonesty and undisclosed conflicts of interest came to light and 10 of 13 of the authors retracted their names from Wakefield’s paper; 2007, when the General Medical Council started its proceedings; and 2009, when Brian Deer revealed evidence suggesting that Andrew Wakefield probably committed outright scientific fraud. Those are kind of important years in the Wakefield saga, wouldn’t you agree?

Next, Stagliano dives into some serious burning stupid, spraying it through CNN like gasoline spraying from a gas tank with a hole in it. In the process she shows that she is utterly clueless regarding even the basic language of medical science. First, Stagliano starts by condescendingly correcting Lemon by making a specious distinction between a study and a “case series,” stating that Wakefield’s study is not really a “study” at all and that he “didn’t do” it because it’s just a case series. Kim, Kim, Kim, Kim. Here’s one hint: Don’t be condescending unless you know what you’re talking about; you end up looking really dumb. A case series when published in a medical journal is a study. Period. It even requires IRB approval and everything–just as all studies using human subjects do! Moreover, it was represented as a prospective study (although it later turned out that it wasn’t really a prospective case study of truly consecutive cases). And to claim that Wakefield “didn’t do it” because it’s a case series is just plain silly. Who does Stagliano think designed the inclusion and exclusion criteria, looked at the charts, recruited the subjects, and analyzed the data and studies, if not Wakefield and his team? In any case, a case series is one kind of a medical study, and it irritates the crap out of me to see Stagliano self-righteously correct a correspondent based on her ignorance of that simple fact. That Ms. Stagliano could go on national TV and make such an ignorant statement should be a source of embarrassment to her forever. Condescension and ignorance are not an appealing combination.

Next, Stagliano parrots the line that Wakefield supposedly did not say that there was a link between vaccines and autism in his original 1998 study (I love referencing it over at Generation Rescue). Let’s go back and see what Wakefield wrote, shall we? First, there was this interpretation:

We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers.

And what was this “trigger”? Clearly, Wakefield wanted to implicate the MMR vaccine. It is true that he did write:

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.

However, after you’ve been in the science biz a while, you come to recognize statements that are almost certainly there not because the author wants them to be there but because the reviewers of the manuscript forced the author to include them in the revised manuscript if they wanted their paper published. The above passage strikes this surgical scientist as being just one of those statements demanded by reviewers. One reason is that it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the discussion; it caught my attention when I read it because it didn’t jibe with the rest. Moreover, Table 2 in the paper explicitly tries to link MMR vaccination to subsequent autistic regression and bowel symptoms. What the paper is trying to show is very clear, that one disclaimer notwithstanding, and those who know how to read scientific and medical journal articles can recognize that. Reinforcing that impression is what Wakefield writes later in the manuscript:

If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988.

And

We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

Basically, the entire discussion comes across to me (and I’ve been in the science biz a while) as the result of reviewers reining in the more–shall we say?–speculative interpretations of Wakefield’s study. In any case, it’s very disingenuous of Wakefield and the anti-vaccine movement to claim that Wakefield never said that the MMR causes autism in the Lancet paper, given that the paper isn’t how the public learned about the study. It was the press, starting with the the press conference he gave upon the release of the study. In that press conference, Wakefield went far beyond what he wrote in the manuscript. Indeed, appearing in a 20-minute video released by the Royal Free Hospital, Wakefield laid down these gems:

No, the work certainly raises a question mark over MMR vaccine, but it is, there is no proven link as such and we are seeking to establish whether there is a genuine causal association between the MMR and this syndrome or not. It is our suspicion that there may well be but that is far from being a causal association that is proven beyond doubt.

OK, not so bad. Yet. Let’s see what else Wakefield said:

And I have to say that there is sufficient anxiety in my own mind of the safety, the long term safety of the polyvalent, that is the MMR vaccination in combination, that I think that it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines, that is continued use of the individual measles, mumps and rubella components.

Uh-oh. Not so good.

INTERVIEWER: So you’re saying that a parent should still ensure that their child is inoculated but perhaps not with the MMR combined vaccine?

DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.

So Wakefield clearly believes this syndrome of autistic regression and bowel problems is due to the MMR, and he basically says so right here:

INTERVIEWER: Of course there’ll be many parents whose children have had this MMR vaccine who will now be concerned about what may happen to their children. What advice would you give to them?

DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Well, the interesting thing is that the damage, the behavioural or developmental change tends to occur quite soon after administration, and this is where, why parents or GPs or paediatricians have been able to make the link, the association with MMR. So if that hasn’t happened then it is extremely unlikely to happen.

INTERVIEWER: But there are going to be parents now whose children are about to have the vaccination, and they’re gonna say: I’m not gonna risk it. What would you say to them?

DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Well, my message is for the Department of Health and the regulatory authorities, and that is that this needs urgent investigation; it needs funding and it needs the appropriate level of commitment in terms of basic scientific research and clinical research to answer the question. And until that time we cannot offer any definitive evident, any definitive message to parents about this.

INTERVIEWER: Sounds to be saying, you seem to be saying perhaps don’t?

DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.

BZZZZZZT! Wrong answer! In fact, as Dr. Mary Ramsay points out, this recommendation that the MMR vaccine be broken up into its separate components came out of nowhere. It wasn’t based on any evidence, either in Wakefield’s Lancet article or from anywhere else.

In any case, parents got the message Wakefield was laying down; only he didn’t lay it down in the paper itself. He was laying it down in his public appearances, aided and abetted by the sensation mongering credulous British press. Wakefield was telling them that the MMR could cause autism. Oh, sure, he qualified it with enough weasel words to appear cautious, but basically recommended that parents get single vaccines, rather than the trivalent vaccine (MMR), because the MMR was somehow not as safe, because he thinks it causes autistic regression. It’s all there, and it’s all clear. It’s also why whenever I hear an anti-vaccine loon like Kim Stagliano oh-so-piously and condescendingly proclaim that Andrew Wakefield never said that the MMR causes autism and said that it didn’t in the paper, I become quite annoyed at the half-truth and how they almost always leave out the press conferences Wakefield gave back in 1998 in which he wasn’t anywhere near so circumspect.

And antivaxers aren’t shy about pointing to the 1998 Lancet study as evidence of autism. Let’s take a look at what Generation Rescue’s deceptive 14 Studies website has to say about the study:

This study demonstrates that the MMR vaccine triggered autistic behaviors and inflammatory bowel disease in autistic children

D’oh! Maybe Ms. Stagliano should tell Mr. Handley that he’s wrong in his interpretation of this study. Wakefield never said that, right?

I will give the reporters credit for at least mentioning that Ms. Stagliano’s third child is on the spectrum but not fully vaccinated. However, I was always under the impression that her third child is completely unvaccinated. Be that as it may, Stagliano tries to tell us that the manifestation of autism in her third child was different, which strikes me as a bit of denial. In other words, vaccines clearly didn’t cause her third child’s autism; so it must be a “different” form of autism! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Stagliano then launches into the same old antivax talking points about the vaccine court’s having compensated children for being made autistic after vaccines. I’ve discussed that before in detail both here and just yesterday; so I see no need to tread the same ground again so soon. I do like her use of the Toyota analogy. For one thing, it isn’t the Prius that’s being recalled. Yes, I know that it was announced the other day that the 3rd generation Prius has problems with its anti-lock brakes, but that problem sounds minor compared to the accelerator problems for which Toyota has undertaken a massive recall of eight of its most popular models; so that analogy fails there. But on another level it’s hilarious to to see Ms. Stagliano use the example of driving a child to school in a car because, as I’ve pointed out before, driving a car–even a perfect car with no acceleration problems–is far, far more dangerous than any vaccine. Yet, I doubt that Ms. Stagliano thinks twice about taking her children wherever they need to go in her car. I also find it completely disingenuous of her to claim that she supports vaccination. Oh, really? What would it take for her to be convinced that vaccinating her kids is safe enough that she would do it? Antivaccinationists can never anser this question, other than either by demanding impossible levels of perfection that they don’t, for example, demand from autos or by shifting the goalposts each time it is pointed out that, yes, vaccines really do meet that standard of safety.

The rest of it consists of the same crank arguments based on straw men, such as the claim that we’re “shutting down science” and appeals to fallacious authority, such as Bernadine Healy, who, sadly, has betrayed her previous role as the Director of the NIH and become nothing more than another useful idiot for the anti-vaccine movement, if she hasn’t actually gone over to the dark side and become fully anti-vaccine. No, it isn’t “shutting down science” to point out that Andrew Wakefield was dishonest and unethical in how he carried out his “research,” nor is it “censorship” to retract the fruits of that unethical and dishonest research. It’s also amusing when she once again pulls the “vax versus unvaxed” study gambit without understanding what that would entail.

But what’s really disturbing is the false “balance.” At the end of the segment, we have Ms. Stagliano being praised for her “passion,” and, if you look at the whole segment, you’ll notice that Stagliano has had at least as much time to state her views than the real experts, namely Dr. William Shaffner, the Chairman of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt, who’s squeezed in as the token skeptic to try to refute the passion of the anti-vaccine movement. I’ll give him credit for being reasonable and direct and emphasizing that we should move on to other hypotheses. I also like how he kept repeating that we need to find the real cause of autism, driving home the point that vaccines are not the real cause, the “passion” of the anti-vaccine movement notwithstanding.

CNN exhibited a more than EPIC FAIL here.

Offender #2: FOX NEWS
Offense: “Tell both sides” fallacy with a heapin’ helpin’ of anti-vaccine loon Mark Blaxill, Vice President, SafeMinds
Evidence: See the video.

This one is pretty painful, too. Basically it paired Mark Blaxill, who is neither a scientist nor a physician but rather an MBA, with Dr. Marc Siegel, a FOX NEWS medical correspondent and Blaxill demonstrates all the science knowledge one would expect from an MBA. He shows it by repeating the very same anti-vaccine talking point that Stagliano did. He does, however, at least call it a study. Then he repeats the same claim that Wakefield worshipers always repeat, namely that Wakefield’s study has been “replicated.” Again, that is a half truth in that there are a few who have claimed to replicate Wakefield’s results, but none of them are reputable and they’re virtually all affiliated with the anti-vaccine movement or Wakefield himself. Indeed, the latest paper represented as a “replication” of Wakefield’s work comes from Arthur Krigsman, Wakefield’s partner in woo at Thoughtful House. But, hey, who needs to know that? Besides, Blaxill’s got anecdotal evidence, and he appeals to it right after claiming Wakefield’s work has been replicated.

Dr. Siegel got some good licks in, but Blaxill then tried to paint himself as the reasonable and not excitable, as he lays down another favorite anti-vaccine ploy, namely that it is a choice between autism and the measles. That’s utterly ridiculous. The MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism. The science is very, very clear on that. Consequently, when Blaxill says that he’s “not afraid of measles” and would rather deal with measles than autism, it’s a false dichotomy.

FOX NEWS joins CNN in EPIC FAIL here.

These two clips illustrate one of the most frustrating things about the media’s coverage of medical issues, namely that it’s not about the science. It’s about the human interest and the conflict. It isn’t interesting or compelling to state that the science has conclusively shown that the MMR is safe in response to the GMC ruling and the Lancet retraction. It is interesting to find a parent who erroneously believes that vaccines gave his child autism and pair him with a physician. Never mind that as an MBA he has no medical expertise and what scientific knowledge he has is so wrong that it’s not even wrong. Have him “debate” the medical correspondent! Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting TV. Who cares if it gives the impression that there is a real scientific controversy when there isn’t? Who cares if it elevates the crank to appear to an equal plain with a real physician or scientist? Who cares, as long as it brings the ratings? This sort of thing is irritating enough on fluff shows like The Doctors or when Oprah or Dr. Oz does it. However, it’s inexcusable coming from news organizations that are allegedly dedicated to accuracy.

The problem boils down to a set of rules that work well for journalists in one circumstance dont’ work so well when reporting on science. The “tell both sides” imperative that drives so much journalism is reasonable for issues of policy and politics. After all, such issues are often driven as much by values as evidence, and usually there are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides. At the very least, usually the level of evidence supporting two different political views is fairly close in quality and quantity, and values often matter at least as much as evidence, if not more. In such circumstances, it makes sense to present both sides more or less equally.

In contrast, science and medicine can often declare one side or another in a debate to be definitely wrong. Think science-based medicine versus the quackery that is homeopathy, for instance–or science versus the beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement. In such a case, presenting “both sides” as though they had equal validity ends up elevating the side of pseudoscience to a level on par with that of real science. In doing so, it makes pseudoscience and quackery appear equal to science and gives the impression that there is a real scientific controversy rather than a manufactroversy. Add to that sensationalistic journalists, such as the ones in the U.K. who aided and abetted Andrew Wakefield, and you have a press that is every bit as guilty as Wakefield in facilitating the resurgence of measles.

Treatment of the MMR-autism scare similar to how FOX NEWS and CNN covered let’s you see how this could be the case across the pond. Sadly, our own news sources are no better, and if Wakefield had been in American it wouldn’t have surprised me if we had had the same results as far as plummeting vaccination rates and the return of the measles.

Comments

  1. #1 KWombles
    February 4, 2010

    Excellent job deconstructing these video pieces. Note that Stagliano calls for her three children to be used as a vaccinated/not vaccinated pop in the video; I suspect that CNN did some light digging and the reporter simply got that part only partially right.

  2. #2 MartinM
    February 4, 2010

    …but Blaxill then tried to paint himself as the reasonable and not excitable, as he lays down another favorite anti-vaccine ploy, namely that it is a choice between autism and the measles.

    Let’s assume this is actually true.

    Autism prevalence is generally quoted as around 1 in 150; let’s be generous and bump it up to 100.

    Wikipedia puts the mortality rate of measles “for otherwise healthy people in developed countries” at 3 deaths per 1000. Let’s be generous and drop it to 1 in 1000. Furthermore, let’s ignore all other possible complications. I have no idea what percentage of a completely unvaccinated population would be expected to contract it during their lifetime, so let’s put it at a nice, low 10%.

    Having thoroughly stacked the deck in the anti-vaccinationist’s favour, we now have a choice between a 1 in 100 autism prevalence, or a 1 in 10000 death rate from the measles. Not vaccinating would be approximately equivalent to curing 99% of autists, at the expense of killing the remaining 1%. That’s insane. And that’s looking at just one vaccine-preventable disease, under radically conservative assumptions.

    The conclusion is obvious; even if the anti-vax crowd were completely correct about autism, vaccination would still be better than the alternative.

  3. #3 kittywhumpus
    February 4, 2010

    Thanks for the continued entries on these events; I appreciate it. A normally sane person, I found myself victimized by pervasive stories stories of vaccine harm when I had my own child. I didn’t have to seek them out, they have gotten so much press, they were just there in my head when it came time to vaccinate my child, in this case, an extremely premature son.

    These parasites caused emotional agony for me. It’s easy for arguments based on fear to get into the psyches of otherwise thoughtful people when they are placed in emotional situations.

    Thank goodness for time, information, and evidence. Though some paranoia still clings to me, my boy is incredibly healthy (and fully vaccinated).

    I wish the anti-vaccination people would direct their considerable resources and media platform in directions that would help parents and children instead of engaging in fear mongering and obfuscation.

  4. #4 Not the crazy one
    February 4, 2010

    CNN regularly drops the ball with their lazy, glossed-over reporting. You would think an all-news channel with no obvious political agenda would be able to do better.

  5. #5 superdave
    February 4, 2010

    so the age of autism got 15 minutes of representation on national news networks. That means Big Pharma got you like a full hour segment right?

  6. #6 Pablo
    February 4, 2010

    Not vaccinating would be approximately equivalent to curing 99% of autists, at the expense of killing the remaining 1%. That’s insane.

    You might think so, Martin, but remember, according to the anti-vax crowd, autism is worth than death.

  7. #7 MartinM
    February 4, 2010

    Oh, I know. Worse than cancer, apparently. Fucking morons.

  8. #8 daedalus2u
    February 4, 2010

    What an ass####! Blaming the Lancet because they didn’t catch Wakefield’s deliberate fraud? Blaming the Lancet because they took Wakefield at his word and waited until the evidence was in that he deliberately lied? Wakefield could have joined the other authors of that paper and retracted it many years ago. Wakefield knew that he lied in the paper.

    I guess that just shows the corrupt mindset of Dr Jay. Blame the victims of lying scammers, not the lying scammers. Yes, the reviewers didn’t notice Wakefield’s conflicts of interest because Wakefield lied and said there wasn’t any. It isn’t sloppy research to misrepresent what was done, it is scientific fraud.

  9. #9 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    I just love how Kim plays the victim. She has made my life and the lives of rational autism mothers infinitely harder.

    I can’t find support from other mothers I know with children on the spectrum because they believe what Kim, Jenny, Jim and all the others are saying. Because of my firm belief in the science of vaccines not causing ASD I am ostracized and treated with pity, like I am just too naive to know the truth.

    The side of reason has become a very unpopular one. I hope they lynch Wakefield (figuratively speaking) in the media and it begins to make the anti-vaccers show their true selves; angry ignorant people not rooted in reality, who will blame any and everything they can for their children being different.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    February 4, 2010

    The “tell both sides” imperative that drives so much journalism is reasonable for issues of policy and politics. After all, such issues are often driven as much by values as evidence, and usually there are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides.

    Well, most of the time, but even then the media needs to sometimes take a stand when one side is flat-out lying. For example, it’s fine for journalists not to take an official stand on gay marriage, but when one side claims that legalizing gay marriage will result in kindergartners being instructed on the mechanics of gay sex (I shit you not, this argument was actually made by the Yes On 1 folks in Maine), I think the media has a responsibility to call “bullshit” on that, “tell both sides” be damned.

  11. #11 James Sweet
    February 4, 2010

    I can’t find support from other mothers I know with children on the spectrum because they believe what Kim, Jenny, Jim and all the others are saying. Because of my firm belief in the science of vaccines not causing ASD I am ostracized and treated with pity, like I am just too naive to know the truth.

    Wow. That’s just horrible!

  12. #12 Pablo
    February 4, 2010

    I can’t find support from other mothers I know with children on the spectrum because they believe what Kim, Jenny, Jim and all the others are saying. Because of my firm belief in the science of vaccines not causing ASD I am ostracized and treated with pity, like I am just too naive to know the truth.

    Another serious cost of the anti-vax movement. It’s actually pretty evil, I think.

  13. #13 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    Thanks, It just pisses me off when they complain about being repressed.

  14. #14 David
    February 4, 2010

    Thanks for an excellent post. Bad journalism needs your insolence.

    I take issue with one minor point, though…

    making a specious distinction between a study and a “case series,”

    One of the problems with alt-med types is that they don’t distinguish between levels of evidence. A telephone survey can be treated as equally valid compared to a randomized double-blind prospective trial.

    So I think it’s important to distinguish between “studies,” “case series,” and “observational studies.”

  15. #15 Orac
    February 4, 2010

    I’m standing by what I said. A case series is a study. It’s just one kind of study. Trying to lecture a news anchor by claiming that Wakefield’s case series is not a study shows an astonishing bit of ignorance.

    Now, we can certainly distinguish between types of studies (case series, cohort studies, retrospective studies, etc.) and point out that case series are among the least reliable forms of studies, but I don’t see the point in trying to claim that a case series is not a form of a study.

  16. #16 AutismNewsBeat
    February 4, 2010

    Ms. Stagliano made the blanket statement that a case series is not a study. But her hero, Andrew Wakefield, thinks it is. Writing in the latest edition of Autism File, Wakefield cites the Hennekens and Buring definition of case study:

    Case series studies describe the experience of a single patient or a group of patients with a similar diagnosis.

    Case series studies? Looks like someone didn’t get the memo.

  17. #17 Anthro
    February 4, 2010

    Anyone who thinks that cable “news” is a legitimate news outlet (almost) deserves to get fed infotainment “news”. The network news isn’t much better and is just a venue for pharmaceutical ads.

    I killed my television years ago. When I see it at someone’s house or a public place, I get this eerie feeling that I’m an alien observing some very odd “other alien” race. How can people just sit there and take in the garbage that passes for “news” and on top of that, watch endless ads for e.d. drugs? E.d. is apparently a very widespread “disease”. As a woman of a certain age, that suits me just fine–I really have better things to do.

    A big shout out to Kristen–I know what you mean–I went through some of this with my youngest child’s health issues and was completely ostracized by my new-agey community for taking the “pharma” path with my child. Many of the people who post here are scientists and have not faced this in the same way an average mother might. I thank them for their efforts and support.

  18. #18 Radar Jer
    February 4, 2010

    I agree entirely. But it begs the question: even if you only present the side actually backed by evidence, the anti-vaxxers will cry foul and say it’s further proof of the the witch hunt against them. They will use it as evidence that there’s a conspiracy cover up.

    Kind of reminds me of when I was reading my local paper and there was an anti-vax article stating that the fact that there had been epidemiological studies looking for a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism was proof that scientists know there is a connection because why else would they be looking. (She, of course, completely ignored the fact that all those studies she cited found no connection.)

    Ultimately, I’m not sure what can placate or at least quiet down this silly anti-vax movement.

  19. #19 Liz Ditz
    February 4, 2010

    Kristen,

    I can’t find support from other mothers I know with children on the spectrum because they believe what Kim, Jenny, Jim and all the others are saying. Because of my firm belief in the science of vaccines not causing ASD I am ostracized and treated with pity, like I am just too naive to know the truth.

    That sounds painful. Let me introduce you to a few people who have children with autism and do not believe in vaccine causality, biomedical (“biomeddling”) treatment, and who are focused on making their children’s lives as best as they can be.

    The gang at LeftBrain/RightBrain; Squidalicious; Kristina Chew; and Emily Willingham.

    That’s just a small sample. There are a lot more bloggers and folk in real life who feel the same way. You just have to find them.

  20. #20 Scott
    February 4, 2010

    What really bothered me about the CNN piece especially was that it seemed pretty clear that “tell both sides” was the only reason Dr. Schaffner was there at all. So “tell both sides” wasn’t the problem in that case. The problem was that they’d apparently concluded that one side was obviously right and the other side obviously wrong, but gotten which one is which backwards.

  21. #21 KWombles
    February 4, 2010

    Kristen,

    Countering Age of Autism, Respect for Infinite Diversity, Autism Herd (and a whole bunch of other parents and autistic indviduals in my blog links) eschew the vaccine-woo line. Come on over! You can find us on facebook as well.

  22. #22 Tom
    February 4, 2010

    Kristen,

    I sympathize. I cannot find support in my own HOUSE because my wife strongly believes that vaccines are responsible for our son’s autism. Though she’s backed away from some of her more hateful rhetoric lately, it wasn’t so long ago that she regularly referred to me as “Nazi,” “babykiller,” etc. because I don’t share her views.

    One possible glimmer: Even she has begun to see that I “have a point” (her words) when I refer to sites like Age of Autism as “hate sites.” And she used to be a regular contributor there.

    I hope you’re able to find some like-minded folks from whom you can draw support.

  23. #23 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    Liz,

    I am very glad I have found a supportive community online. My Pediatrician and my son’s former preschool teacher are also great sources of reliable information (and a listening ear).

    I know there are other mothers who feel like I do, it just can feel very lonely sometimes, especially when I get questioned by family and friends. Asking why I would ‘risk’ getting my younger daughters vaccinated.

    There is so much fear and blame emanating from the vicinity of the anti-vax crowd it has really caused two distinct factions. Mothers of children with ASD should not feel like they have to take sides.

  24. #24 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    Oh, and I love Kristina Chew, I have been reading since Autism vox. I think Charlie is great, he reminds me of my own boy.

  25. #25 Ian
    February 4, 2010

    Scanning through the first page of comments on the article, there are decidedly more pro-vax posts than anti-vax ones. I can only surmise that HuffPo has stopped censoring dissenting views, and that either people are getting smarter or the dumb ones are getting quieter. Even other HuffPo bloggers are joining in! Calloo, callay!

    Also, hilarity by someone named Exene (don’t know how to do links, anyone who could help would be appreciated)

    “I have brown hair, and I like to drink coffee. I have never seen any proof whatsoever that drinking coffee does not cause brown hair. I challenge the medical community to disprove this obvious connection between coffee drinking and brown hair.”

  26. #26 daedalus2u
    February 4, 2010

    Ian, it is only in a subgroup of people that drinking coffee causes brown hair. Those people with a genetic susceptibility to brown hair.

  27. #27 LAB
    February 4, 2010

    @ #19 Liz,

    If I’m not mistaken, Kristen is referring to the people she socializes with–like other mothers with ASD kids in her area. I have exactly the same problem where I live, which is why I read the blogs you listed (among others). While the online community is helpful, it is unfortunately no substitute for support and understanding from people you can actually have a cup of coffee with once in a while. Just about every mom of an autistic child (and most definitely the moms of Asperger’s kids) I meet is doing the biomed and skipping vaccinations. I had to drop out of the one info/support group I was in due to the anti-vax nonsense and the pushing of biomed down the throat of every new parent who joined the group.

  28. #28 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    KWombles

    I just went to your link for the first time. Great blog, it is nice that you are willing to read that crap (AoA) and summarize for those of us who don’t have as strong a gag reflex :).

  29. #29 Denice Walter
    February 4, 2010

    Support for parents is often coming from spurious practitioners and woo-inspired cheerleaders who are so “out there”(*double entendre*)that more realistic sources are drowned out(similar to woo in general).Unfortunately,the media has often added to the noise.If there’s counseling, we have to remember,that like the case of SMI,often the “patient” is not the *only one* in the family with cognitive/other problems(consider the possibilities:one parent has a highly heritable MI/the other doesn’t,child is affected;endless arguments ensue over whether child needs meds/ meds “plus”/ day programs…… believe me, books can-and have- been written about this)…I believe that “human interest stories” can be a wedge into the thick stupidity-((on a lighter note(to rest your mind)1.Mike Adams goes where I feared he’d go-serious mental illness-how to “treat” it-(not how to “have” it, although….)see “Fish Oils as Safe Alternative to Anti-Psychotics”,2/3/2010, NaturalNews..2.Gary Null continues to develop his own internet radio network,PRN(so people might confuse it with NPR?)-see website-as the “voice of the new renaissance”(like he’d know!),complete with podcasts,archives,24/7,as he single-handedly creates his own new “progressive”(sic) political party……….))

  30. #30 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    Lab,

    You are exactly right. That is what I meant.

  31. #31 Denice Walter
    February 4, 2010

    @ Kristen- what I said about families above, also goes for these groups- some of the parents *in the group* may be AS or other issues,unlike you.

  32. #32 OleanderTea
    February 4, 2010

    And some people out there wonder why so many Americans use “The Daily Show” as a primary news source…

  33. #33 ctenotrish
    February 4, 2010

    The ‘tell both sides’ issue can get even worse that those video clips. In Sioux Falls, our local paper, the Argus Leader, interviewed a Developmental Pediatrician for the rational side. Guess what they picked for the ‘we don’t believe the overwhelming evidence’ side? A *chiropractor*. It was a painful, painful thing to read.

  34. #34 bones
    February 4, 2010

    Ehhhhhh…..did Stags just emphatically proclaim that not only was Wakefield’s paper not a scientific study, but that it also did not demonstrate a link between mmr/autism?

    Did I hear that correctly?

    Cuz….heh-heh….I could have …heh-heh…swore she and her mob have been extolling its conclusions as valid evidence of a link for the past 10 yrs.

    Haven’t they? Am I missing something?

  35. #35 IDM
    February 4, 2010

    “spraying it through CNN like gasoline spraying from a gas tank with a hole in it.”

    Personally, I think a better metaphor would be “spraying it like a drunk person on a urinal.”

    If burning needs to be invoked, then the drunk person has gonorrhea.

    And Orac, this is yet one more reason why the news on Comedy Central is far more credible…it actually holds talking heads accountable to their own hypocrisy and facts. Too bad their discussion on vaccine critics (during the H1N1 shortages) was limited to Glenn Beck’s paranoia.

  36. #36 Catherina
    February 4, 2010

    Martin, in prevaccine times, about 98% of a given birth cohort would have had measles by the time they hit 15.

  37. #37 Sullivan
    February 4, 2010

    “BZZZZZZT! Wrong answer! In fact, as Dr. Mary Ramsay points out, this recommendation that the MMR vaccine be broken up into its separate components came out of nowhere. It wasn’t based on any evidence, either in Wakefield’s Lancet article or from anywhere else.”

    This is pretty important. I think that most parents heard that there was a question about MMR and were smart enough to see that Dr. Wakefield didn’t make any real case that the monovalent vaccine would be any safer. The net result–reject measles vaccines altogether.

  38. #38 muteKi
    February 4, 2010

    #27 (LAB):

    That *really* infuriates me, for some reason. It seems that such organizations have become beyond support groups to, due to their insular nature, what I’ll have to call “circle jerks”.

  39. #39 Michelle
    February 4, 2010

    Kristen…

    I know exactly what you’re talking about–it’s very hard to find parents of ASD kids in my area (St. Louis) who haven’t drunk the anti-vacc kool-aid. They seem to take over every local support group and online support forum. That’s why I am such a fan of bloggers like Kristina, Kev/Sullivan and Emily–and of course, Orac.

    I think Denice has a point about some of these anti-vacc parents having issues themselves–the way they perseverate on the vaccine issue and refuse to believe they are wrong (not to mention the need to constantly correct others–hello Kim S, I’m talking to you) remind me very much of my 10 yr old daughter with HFA. I’m not naiive–I recognize that both my husband and I (and our family members) struggle with some of these traits–which is why the genetic explanation has always made perfect sense to me.

    Ironically, what I’ve found is that those parents least likely to concede genetics/blame vaccines are those who exhibit the most personality/social traits consistent with ASD and similar disorders. It would be sort of amusing if it wasn’t so sad–and harmful to their children who are being used as science experiments.

  40. #40 Michelle
    February 4, 2010

    correction to my post:

    it should say “those parents least likely to concede genetics and blame vaccines”

  41. #41 Science Mom
    February 4, 2010

    A bit off topic but Dr. Steven Novella will be on Inside Edition today to follow-up on the Desiree Jennings case. Please watch. http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/

  42. #42 rob
    February 4, 2010

    now the only way wakefield is going to be able to re-establish his credibility as an expert on vaccines is to pose nude in Playboy.

  43. #43 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    “Measles is a very big threat to us”

    Surely your’re joking Dr. Seagull.

  44. #44 KWombles
    February 4, 2010

    @Kristen,

    Thanks. :-) I’ll admit that when I see Orac’s (or another of the fine bloggers I read) tackled something like these vids, I’m grateful that I can skip talking about it, and focus on another topic or angle.

  45. #45 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    “Measles is still one of the number one killers in the world. It is only not a big killer in the United States becasue of the MMR.”

    Dr. Seagull,

    “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

  46. #46 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    What we really need is a packaged lettuce vaccine. Packaged lettuce is a potentially deadly vegetable. When I was young my grandmother used to tell us stories of the packaged lettuce outbreaks. Whole villages were wiped out by the packaged lettuce.

  47. #47 Poogles
    February 4, 2010

    Sid says: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    Don’t follow your own advice very often, do ya Sid?

  48. #48 JohnV
    February 4, 2010

    Funny story, Sid. Some of your fellow anti-vaxers are germ theory denialists. You know the type? The ones that “blame the terrain not the germ”. They’d agree, presumably, that it must be the lettuce and not the E. coli that sickened people recently :p

    One of the anti-vaxers I responded to on huffpo pretty much quoted noted scientist Bill Maher (winner of the Richard Dawkins award for increasing scientific Knowledge) in making the above statement about terrain and not germs.

  49. #49 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    I guess that’s why almost any time the terrain improves the virulence of infectious diseases diminishes.

  50. #50 Ruth
    February 4, 2010

    So who did more harm, Wakefield or Bettelheim?

    Michelle (#39). I hear you-I’m in West County, and gave up our local parent groups. MO-FEAT is completely antivax. Perhaps we can create a local science-based group.

  51. #51 Andreas Johansson
    February 4, 2010

    Also, hilarity by someone named Exene (don’t know how to do links, anyone who could help would be appreciated)

    “I have brown hair, and I like to drink coffee. I have never seen any proof whatsoever that drinking coffee does not cause brown hair. I challenge the medical community to disprove this obvious connection between coffee drinking and brown hair.”

    That’s nothing. My hair turned brown around the time I started drinking coffee.

    (Yes, I was previously blond. Why do you ask?)

  52. #52 JohnV
    February 4, 2010

    Do you have a proposed mechanism for this Sid? Is it host side or microbe side?

    Why is it, in a lab setting where the environment is constant, virulence can be otherwise modulated?

    What changed in the USA from, oh say, 1905 to 1918 to 1926 that resulted in such fluctuations in flu deaths (as per Doshi 2008 Trends in Recorded Influenza Mortality: United States, 1900–2004)? I’m not a history major but I imagine if some great cataclysm hit the mainland US during that time that made flu deaths spike (since its terrain and not microbe) I would remember it from a history book somewhere.

  53. #53 Chris
    February 4, 2010

    Ruth:

    So who did more harm, Wakefield or Bettelheim?

    How many deaths of children can be attributed to Bettleheim? There are at least two in the UK, and a few on the continent from measles. There there are several children who have been hospitalized and some permanently disabled from mumps and measles in several countries.

  54. #54 Dave
    February 4, 2010

    Martin, in prevaccine times, about 98% of a given birth cohort would have had measles by the time they hit 15.

    No, I don’t think so. In 1960, there were about 4 million births in the US, but the annual number of measles cases in prevaccine times was about 500,000. So you’re looking at only about 1/8 of the population contracting measles. That actually surprises me; measles is extremely contagious. I wonder if the actual number of cases was significantly higher than the number of reported cases?

  55. #55 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmHzDpTLP2mp-qpt639sa9q2J8Wl4QREfQ
    February 4, 2010

    My mother never had me vaccinated with MMR and I had Measels and Mumps but not Rubella. I can not remember much about it but I do remember dimly that it wasn’t pleasent. I’me sorry I can not be more specific but it was a long time ago-I’me nearly 60 now

    * sarky joke *

  56. #56 Science Mom
    February 4, 2010

    No, I don’t think so. In 1960, there were about 4 million births in the US, but the annual number of measles cases in prevaccine times was about 500,000. So you’re looking at only about 1/8 of the population contracting measles. That actually surprises me; measles is extremely contagious. I wonder if the actual number of cases was significantly higher than the number of reported cases?

    It is actually true Dave, measles cases (and deaths) were vastly under-reported in the pre-vaccine era and even post. The annual number of cases (pre-vaccine) did closely correspond to the birth cohort.

  57. #57 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    Do you have a proposed mechanism for this Sid? Is it host side or microbe side?

    It could be on either. For example in overcrowded conditions an infectious agent can be more virulent since the host need not go very far to spread the pathogen. As overcrowding lessens, the aforementioned virulence becomes a handicap since the host is unable to spread the infection due to incapacitation. Regarding waterborne infections, as water supplies become purer a pathogen cannot afford to kill it’s host so quickly since opportunities for transmission decline a water quality rises.

    On the host side I think it’s pretty obvious that a move out of poverty increases resistance to the complications of infectious diseases.

  58. #58 Liz Ditz
    February 4, 2010

    Kristin & LAB,

    Evidently my communication skills are lacking. What I meant to convery was that I’ve made some real-life, hometown friends by reading & commenting on blogs. In fact, even though Kristina & I live on opposite coasts, I’ve met her and Charlie in real life…through blogging.

    Another real-life, hometown friend is Squid herself. Relative to the idea that the anti-vaxxers / biomedical intervention folks are fixed in their ideas, Squid points out that people’s ideas can evolve with experience. Here’s her post on how her family moved from DAN! true believers to a more science-based approach.

    KWombles — didn’t intend to give you or the rest of the science-based autism bloggers short shrift. I apologize.

  59. #59 Joseph
    February 4, 2010

    In 1960, there were about 4 million births in the US, but the annual number of measles cases in prevaccine times was about 500,000. So you’re looking at only about 1/8 of the population contracting measles. That actually surprises me; measles is extremely contagious. I wonder if the actual number of cases was significantly higher than the number of reported cases?

    Right. There’s no data on total number of cases. There’s only data on reported cases, presumably from hospitalizations. If you know the hospitalization rate, you can probably extrapolate it.

  60. #60 grendel
    February 4, 2010

    Kristen, I am another parent of a child with autism who, like you, has also had problems finding other rational parents at times. Fortunately (although unfortuantely for the local residents) in Australia the nutjobs seem to be mostly concentrated in the North Coast of New South Wales. There is of course a sprinking in other areas but they can’t seem to achieve the critical mass that seems necessary for true nutjobbery to take root. Most of the parents I know apply critical thinking skills quite well and have come to the conclusion that autism is not the result of vaccination.

    Some of us blog about it occasionally – when we can get our heads out of our coffee cups.

  61. #61 Dave
    February 4, 2010

    It is actually true Dave, measles cases (and deaths) were vastly under-reported in the pre-vaccine era and even post. The annual number of cases (pre-vaccine) did closely correspond to the birth cohort.

    I can easily believe this, but is there some kind of documentation to back it up? Somehow, I have visions of the anti-vaxers pointing to the “official” number of reported cases to attempt to demonstrate that measles isn’t really all that contagious. And wasn’t all that prevalent, thus attempting to undermine the need for the vaccine.

    I myself am a bit over 50 and never had measles; I seem to recall getting the vaccine when I was about 9 and I don’t recall whether kids I knew at around that time had had measles or not. I don’t recall any epidemics during my childhood, but I could just have gotten lucky on that one. I *did* have both mumps and chicken pox, by the way.

  62. #62 Michael
    February 4, 2010

    Sid, there’s some truth in what you’re saying but not the whole truth. For example, in Bergen-Belsen, Jews were starved,overcroweded and dehydrated. Thus, they were suffering from various diseases. But when the Allied doctors and nurses came to treat them, they took precautions to avoid catching those diseases, even though those doctors and nurses were not starved and dehydrated.

  63. #63 DLC
    February 4, 2010

    Orac — it really is distressing how badly this is being reported in the news. The problem is, CNN dumped their science & technology staff ages ago, and their advertisers just don’t care so long as it’s “Human Interest.”
    Kim Stagliano holding hands with her autistic children is pithy and will get people to watch the commercial.

    Sid,it’s five card draw, you’ve got a 2, 3 and 7 and you keep trying to draw to the straight. The mechanism by which infectious diseases are transmitted is fairly well known. And really, Germ theory denial ? dude, go study some microbiology, please.
    Even just read the encyclopedia entry. or even the Wikipedia entry, if you can’t be bothered to open a real book.

  64. #64 Katherine
    February 4, 2010

    Ahhh! Doctor blogging at Sciblogs.co.nz uses “too many too soon” phrase to describe vaccine schedule >_< And he says that the people complaining about recent measles outbreaks or unvaccinated children near them are overreacting! http://sciblogs.co.nz/macdoctor/2010/02/03/too-little-too-late/

    Only problem is you have to register to post a comment. I will eventually get around to registering and I’ll probably be linking or quoting some of your posts, Orac.

  65. #65 Science Mom
    February 4, 2010

    I can easily believe this, but is there some kind of documentation to back it up? Somehow, I have visions of the anti-vaxers pointing to the “official” number of reported cases to attempt to demonstrate that measles isn’t really all that contagious. And wasn’t all that prevalent, thus attempting to undermine the need for the vaccine.

    Sure Dave: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/378501

    And you’re right, measles is highly infectious, just been very under reported. But in case you get into it with an anti-vaxxer about higher morbidity, they will undoubtedly try and make that a case for lower mortality, but that is not necessarily the case. Deaths related to measles were also under-reported.

  66. #66 Bill
    February 4, 2010

    A question for the lawyers out there. Given the link from Wakefield’s pronouncements to decrease in vaccination rates to deaths from measles, is there any legal avenue, civil or otherwise, for Wakefield to be sued for wrongful death or endangerment or something? While it would probably only martyr Wakefield in the eyes of the true believers, it might have some level of consciousness raising among those who follow the ‘woo’ course out of fear.

  67. #67 liz ditz
    February 4, 2010

    Andreas at @51

    Here’s how to do links

    [a href=”url”]the words you want to use to identify the url[/a]

    as in

    [a href=”http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/02/how_not_to_report_science_and_medical_ne.php”]Awesome post from Orac, again[/a]

    The trick is, you replace [ with that left pointy thing abouve the comma, and ] with that right pointy thing above the period.

    On an American keyboard, anyway.

    It turns out like this:

    Awesome post from Orac, again

  68. #68 Science Mom
    February 4, 2010

    It could be on either. For example in overcrowded conditions an infectious agent can be more virulent since the host need not go very far to spread the pathogen. As overcrowding lessens, the aforementioned virulence becomes a handicap since the host is unable to spread the infection due to incapacitation. Regarding waterborne infections, as water supplies become purer a pathogen cannot afford to kill it’s host so quickly since opportunities for transmission decline a water quality rises.

    On the host side I think it’s pretty obvious that a move out of poverty increases resistance to the complications of infectious diseases.

    Not really Sid; first off, virulence and infectivity are separate ‘qualities’ of pathogens. As far as overcrowding and socio-economic status, improvements of both helped to increase the rates of congenital rubella syndrome and polio respectively. As for diarrhoeal diseases such as rotavirus, noroviruses, etc., there are no differences in prevalences between developed and undeveloped countries. Disease epidemiology isn’t as simplistic as you think.

  69. #69 FreeSpeaker
    February 4, 2010

    Let’s be blunt, the media is run by journalists who are not versed in science or medicine. They are incredibly sloppy, as shown by my article:

    http://age-of-ignorance.blogspot.com/2010/01/experts-used-by-4th-estate-should-be.html

  70. #70 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    @DLC
    And really, Germ theory denial

    There is a difference between the recognition that multiple factors affect a “germ’s” ability to harm us and germ denial
    ——————————-
    @Science Mom

    Deaths related to measles were also under-reported.

    What did they do just bury the kids in the backyard?
    ——————————–
    @Science “Fiction” Mom
    as far as overcrowding and socio-economic status, improvements of both helped to increase the rates of congenital rubella syndrome and polio respectively

    Never heard the cleanliness theory applied to CRS but in regards to polio it’s silly.

    “Polio cases appeared in both overcrowded slums and sparsely populated suburbs.”[Dirt and Disease P. 15]

    —————————
    @Science Mom

    Before the introduction of the newer rotavirus vaccines, rotavirus was estimated to cause 20-60 deaths annually in the United States in children younger than 5 years.3,5
    Approximately 527,000 deaths in children younger than 5 years are seen worldwide due to rotavirus.

    Seems the terrain is playing a role

  71. #71 DLC
    February 4, 2010

    an excellent work on Homeopathy can be found at
    http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/holmes.html
    wherein Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr (father of the Jurist).
    It is of particular interest as it shows that people in his own time were debunking Hahnemann and his malarkey.
    It’s also a good exercise in logic.

  72. #72 DLC
    February 4, 2010

    That post on Homeopathy deserves to be over at Pharyngula, where PZ Myers has written a post decyring the existence of a woo-med place at UM.

    Sid: you keep missing the point, perhaps deliberately.
    in essence, you keep drawing to the inside straight with a 2,3 and 7. Healthy, clean people who live in first world nations with first class health care drop dead every day from those germs you seem to think won’t hurt you.

  73. #73 Science Mom
    February 4, 2010

    @Sid, remember what you said earlier? “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    You really, really should be following your own advice.

    @Science Mom
    Deaths related to measles were also under-reported.

    What did they do just bury the kids in the backyard?

    It would really behove you to actually look into the matter before letting your keyboard diarrhoea run rampant. Measles deaths went under-reported because death certificates reflected the complications from measles and not the primary cause, measles.

    @Science “Fiction” Mom
    as far as overcrowding and socio-economic status, improvements of both helped to increase the rates of congenital rubella syndrome and polio respectively

    Never heard the cleanliness theory applied to CRS but in regards to polio it’s silly.

    “Polio cases appeared in both overcrowded slums and sparsely populated suburbs.”[Dirt and Disease P. 15]

    Just because it is unknown to you doesn’t mean that it is unknown, in fact it would seem, far from it. Rubella cases amongst adults, ergo pregnant women became more prevalent post WWII because of improved economic conditions and less overcrowding. As a result? A skyrocket in CRS cases until the vaccine was introduced.

    Your second statement about polio supports mine. Increased sanitation increased polio and paralytic polio cases due to shifting the disease burden to older cohorts and reducing the frequency of natural exposure. Like in suburbs? And trying to mock one’s username is really an infantile folly; if you are going to be a troll, at least be an interesting one.

    @Science Mom

    Before the introduction of the newer rotavirus vaccines, rotavirus was estimated to cause 20-60 deaths annually in the United States in children younger than 5 years.3,5
    Approximately 527,000 deaths in children younger than 5 years are seen worldwide due to rotavirus.

    Seems the terrain is playing a role

    Please try and actually read my posts; I said nothing of mortality, just morbidity and they are the same. Mortality is lower in developed countries because of improved healthcare and overall nutritional status. Terrain only goes so far.

  74. #74 anon
    February 4, 2010

    Bill @ 66:

    Given the link from Wakefield’s pronouncements to decrease in vaccination rates to deaths from measles,

    You’ll need to be more specific (which deaths).

    Suing non-vaccinators is not a novel concept, it is continually entertained and pondered by many. You’ll be hard pressed to prove that number 1) had the person been vaccinated that they would have mounted sufficient response to be ‘protected’ and number 2) that their vaccination status (alleged immunity) also meant that they would be able to resist the disease in the first place.

  75. #75 Kristen
    February 4, 2010

    @grendel, Liz Ditz, KWombles, Michelle, LAB,

    Thank you all for the great advice and support. I will just have to keep looking for mothers of like mind here in my area (husband would be seriously pissed if I posted the city I live in:)).

  76. #76 Liz
    February 4, 2010

    Well – FOX NEWS finally admits it: Their mouths are “fecaly-contaminated.” And, apparently, they like it that way.

    If “combined” vaccines are evil, why no ire over DTaP or Pediarx? Just MMR.

    A mother asked me what I knew about ADD. Her 6 yr old daughter was having trouble with sequential math problems, so the teacher told the mother that her child has ADD. She also suggested giving the little girl fish oil pills to help her behavioral problem.

    It should be hilarious… but these days, not so much.

  77. #77 Sid Offit
    February 4, 2010

    @Science Mom
    death certificates reflected the complications from measles and not the primary cause, measles.
    —————————
    As you know all measles deaths are really measles-related deaths due to the disease’s inherent mildness.

    Here’s what Dr. Ciro A. de Quadros of the Pan American Health Organization had to say:

    “Measles doesn’t kill nourished children, but it kills 1 to 2 million children each year in the developing world.”
    —————————
    Rubella cases amongst adults, ergo pregnant women became more prevalent post WWII because of improved economic conditions and less overcrowding.

    Any evidence in regards to the above?

  78. #78 Bill
    February 5, 2010

    Anon @74,

    I was specifically thinking of the death of a 13 year old boy in England in, I think, 2007, which was the first in a long time. I guess what you are saying is that, if a whole range of things could be demonstrated, then there is nothing to prevent someone from trying this. I guess I am also taking it up a notch from non-vaccinators, the majority of whom, while culpable, are probably acting out of ignorance and fear; to Wakefield himself, who is a clear trigger for that ignorance and fear to have been promulgated.

  79. #79 Andreas Johansson
    February 5, 2010

    @liz diz #67:

    Thank you, but I wasn’t aware I should have been trying to make a link anywhere?

  80. #80 Not the crazy one
    February 5, 2010

    Los Angeles Times – The damage of the anti-vaccination movement
    By Michael Fumento
    “Childhood diseases once mostly eradicated are making a comeback. And children are dying.”

  81. #81 Anonymous
    February 5, 2010

    Salon – The autism-vaccine lie that won’t die

    “The media trumpeted an irresponsible study, ensuring that its nasty legacy thrives”
    BY RAHUL K. PARIKH, M.D.

  82. #82 historygeek
    February 5, 2010

    So sid how do u explain the incress in measels in the uk i mean they are in the devolped world and all, at least last time i checked. the UK hasn’t been blown up or leavaled. the water and sewer system are still working. they are feed better then they have been ever

    acording to u they should be deases free and yet measels is increasing

  83. #83 Scott
    February 5, 2010

    @82:

    From previous comments, Sid is apparently into eugenics; anybody who dies from measles obviously was weak and deserved to die so should be ignored.

  84. #84 Science Mom
    February 5, 2010

    @Science Mom
    death certificates reflected the complications from measles and not the primary cause, measles.

    @Science Mom
    death certificates reflected the complications from measles and not the primary cause, measles.
    —————————

    As you know all measles deaths are really measles-related deaths due to the disease’s inherent mildness.

    Here’s what Dr. Ciro A. de Quadros of the Pan American Health Organization had to say:

    “Measles doesn’t kill nourished children, but it kills 1 to 2 million children each year in the developing world.”

    I’m afraid that you are taking a broad-sweeping statement and using that as proof. Well the epidemiology and statistics belie that statement. Measles-related deaths are less in developed countries than in undeveloped countries but they still occur in previously healthy children. Your first statement is erroneous. Measles deaths are directly (encephalitis, SSPE, MIBE) or indirectly from measles (pneumonia, renal and heart failure) and went under-reported along with cases.
    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/129/3/307
    —————————
    Rubella cases amongst adults, ergo pregnant women became more prevalent post WWII because of improved economic conditions and less overcrowding.

    Any evidence in regards to the above?

    —————————

    Of course: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16998777 and I would also suggest reading “Vaccine” by Arthur Allen for a poignant portrayal of what pregnant women endured in the pre-vaccine era with regards to rubella.

  85. #85 historygeek
    February 5, 2010

    yes i had noticed

    i was wondering how his ideas worked with non africans. as i understand the theory that cleaness and diet is what did in measels. then there should be no inceases in cases in the uk. vaccines rates should have no impact what so ever on the number of cases and yet measels is increasing and is back to endimic leavels. hence why have they increased if vaccines don’t matter.

    and truly i do not think i will change sid mind i’m just asking ? :) one good turn deserves another

  86. #86 bones
    February 5, 2010

    “I guess that’s why almost any time the terrain improves the virulence of infectious diseases diminishes.”

    Are you suggesting the invention of refuse containers assisted in the eradication of polio?

    ….and what the hell does “almost any time” mean?

    Laughable.

  87. #87 Sid Offit
    February 5, 2010

    @historygeek

    So sid how do u explain the incress in measels in the uk i mean they are in the devolped world and all, at least last time i checked. the UK hasn’t been blown up or leavaled. the water and sewer system are still working. they are feed better then they have been ever

    acording to u they should be deases free and yet measels is increasing

    ————————-

    Noooooo, that’s not true. I’ve never stated that vaccines didn’t eliminates measles, mumps etcetera. Simply that, at the time of their elimination they were less dangerous than in the past.

    Even though the measles “raged” back due to that Dr. Wakefield, there have been, over perhaps 14 years only 2 or 3 measles-related deaths. And yes any death is tragic but an extremely unusual outcome doesn’t make a disease dangerous.

  88. #88 historygeek
    February 5, 2010

    i’m confused if vaccines do play a role in contuiing to control measels then we should contuie to use them right they are cheep

    also what role does the modern hosptal play in the survial rate. things to think about icu is not cheep not to mention the contuied coast of life long disablitis, which are also not cheep.

    what should the policy be in your opine for the control of measels?

  89. #89 MikeMa
    February 5, 2010

    Sid,
    As usual you make light of the consequences. A few deaths in the UK bother you only a little but what about deafness and brain damage, both on the list of complications?

    According to WHO, there are 164,000 deaths annually, mostly in poorer areas and where vaccination rates are lower.

    How many deaths can we blame on Wakefield’s avarice, greed and lies? Difficult to say. How many stabbing deaths does it take to indict the perpetrator?

  90. #90 Otto
    February 5, 2010

    “A bit off topic but Dr. Steven Novella will be on Inside Edition today to follow-up on the Desiree Jennings case. Please watch.”

    While it lasts:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpe1u4cKbTk

  91. #91 Sid Offit
    February 5, 2010

    i’m confused if vaccines do play a role in contuiing to control measels then we should contuie to use them right they are cheep
    ————————–
    That’s an individual choice. Like all drugs vaccines have side effects and possible unknown consequences. If you are afraid of the measles to the extent you’re willing to accept those risks by all means vaccinate.
    ——————————–
    also what role does the modern hosptal play in the survial rate.
    —————-
    In my opinion, not much. All measures that could have had an influence on complications such as ventilators / antibiotics appeared long after declines began
    ——————–

    things to think about icu is not cheep not to mention the contuied coast of life long disablitis, which are also not cheep.

    In a free country insurance companies can charge more to insure those who are unvaccinated
    —————————–
    what should the policy be in your opine for the control of measels?

    There should be no top down policy. It should emerge from individual decisions regarding their desire to be vaccinated

  92. #92 MikeMa
    February 5, 2010

    Sid:

    There should be no top down policy. It should emerge from individual decisions regarding their desire to be vaccinated

    Bullshit. When your action, or in this case, inaction is shown to cause harm to me or the general welfare, top down rules are justified.

  93. #93 Scott
    February 5, 2010

    There’s also the point that protecting children from bad decisions by their parents is a worthwhile endeavor, ideally by education but if the situation is sufficiently bad by regulation.

    And yes, not vaccinating (barring a recognized medical contraindication) IS a bad decision by the parents and can’t really be rationally justified.

  94. #94 dedicated lurker
    February 5, 2010

    Sid, you are probably not listening, but in this country rotavirus is treated with IV fluids, which lessens the deaths by diarrhea and dehydration.

  95. #95 Sid Offit
    February 5, 2010

    I’m always listening

  96. #96 how
    February 6, 2010

    You’re just never understanding.

    Folks, please don’t feed the trolls.

  97. #97 Vicki
    February 8, 2010

    That an insurance company could charge more to cover the unvaccinated isn’t the point: they’re still more likely to need expensive medical care, and someone has to pay for it. Those are resources that can’t be used for something else, whether it’s schools or roads or movies.

    Besides, in that supposedly free country, what happens when the unvaccinated people are covered through their employers, or their parents’ employers? Suddenly, I am paying more for my health insurance because someone else’s father is paranoid about vaccines and sanguine about measles, rubella, and whooping cough. This is part of why health care is a place where the market doesn’t work: how much I pay is affected largely by things I have no control over.

  98. #98 W Sampson
    February 10, 2010

    If anyone is still interested – about what Dr. Arifeles is chasing after in his Morgellon’s crusade: We dealt with this 2 years ago and before that in conversation. Good docs don’t chase imaginary diseases.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=30#more-30

  99. #99 play bingo
    December 26, 2010

    I like to play game in my cellphones. I wonder if I buy the cellphones that have android system in it, I will be able to play the game thaty I like? I need to know bout this first, before I buy that cellphones.

  100. #100 Heating Red Deer
    February 1, 2011

    It’s great that they’re making strides in the prevention of autism, hopefully the rewards outweigh the risks soon.

  101. #101 Houston Chiropractor
    February 26, 2011

    Here is something to chew on. Have any of you noticed the number of recalls that are ongoing with the pharmaceutical companies? These are drugs that are causing permanent nerve damage, kidney failure, stroke, and other horrible disorders. These are the same guys that are producing the vaccines.
    With that in mind, why on earth would you trust them to make something safe to be injected into your body? Let me give you a hint: they don’t care about you. It’s the bottom line; money.

  102. #102 Chris
    February 26, 2011

    Houston Chiropractor:

    ave any of you noticed the number of recalls that are ongoing with the pharmaceutical companies?

    So? How many are vaccines? And are you including warnings and recalls on the Hyland Homeopathic Teething Cream? That caused actual poisoning of kids.

  103. #103 novalox
    February 26, 2011

    @101

    Oh great, another necromantic woomeister. Considering he apparently took a year for post a response, as well as the tired “pharma shill” gambit, I’d assume he/she it isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

    @102

    Considering the link posted to the name, I’d highly doubt it.

    Utterly ironic that he is complaining about money when he links to a website selling unregulated items and homeopathic items.

  104. #104 Chemmomo
    February 27, 2011

    Houston Chiropractor:
    Here’s something else to chew on.

    I can admit mistakes I’ve made.

    If I’ve admitted I can make mistakes, and take responsibility for those mistakes, am I a bad guy?

    Really, am I?

    I ask this as the parent of small children to whom I must instill a sense of ethics.

    Whom would you rather trust: someone who can admit to mistakes (i.e., recall the drugs that aren’t working as expected), or the person who’s busy trying to blame all mistakes on the other guy?

  105. #105 Deltron
    March 29, 2011

    Why don’t yall just FUCK OFF get a life and get off science blogs!!

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  112. #112 saga gold
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