Respectful Insolence

Help! Help! I’m being repressed.

Somehow, that is the image I have gotten in the three weeks since the very last shred of Andrew Wakefield’s facade of scientific respectability tumbled. As you may recall, at the end of January, the British General Medical Council found Andrew Wakefield, the man whose trial lawyer-funded, breathtakingly incompetent, and quite possibly fraudulent study in 1998 launched the most recent iteration of the anti-vaccine movement, not to mention a thousand (actually, many more) autism quacks, guilty of gross research misconduct, characterizing him as “irresponsible and dishonest.” Soon after that, the tainted first fruit of Wakefield’s “research,” his infamous 1998 Lancet paper, was retracted by the Lancet‘s editors. The anti-vaccine movement reacted, predictably enough, with paranoid conspiracy theories that surpass even those promulgated by Alex Jones of Prison Planet or Jeff Rense. In particular, the conspiracy theories pushed by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey (not to mention J.B. Handley) were particularly entertaining in their sheer paranoid nuttiness.

Basically, the conspiracy theory went like this: It’s all a conspiracy to suppress Andrew Wakefield’s latest “research,” which, if you believe them, demonstrate once and for all that vaccines are The One True Cause of autism. I’m referring, oof course, to Andrew Wakefield’s “monkey study,” which I blogged about in 2008 and again in 2009. Prometheus and Science Mom have also eviscerated the study, which, as you may also recall, had somehow managed to slither its slimy way past some haplessly clueless peer reviewers and editors in order to ensconce itself in the actual real scientific literature. Make no mistake, the anti-vaccine movement took full advantage of it, as cranks always do whenever editors and reviewers for peer-reviewed journals slip up and let pseudoscience into their pages. Of course, this must have been a doozy of a conspiracy theory, though. Not only did it get the GMC to bring him down but it even went beyond that. It somehow managed, if you believe the antivaccine movement, to pressure the editor of NeuroToxicology, which had accepted Wakefield’s latest manuscript reporting on his monkey study for publication. Indeed, it worked so well that pharmaceutical company heiress and benefactor of Andrew Wakefield’s Thoughtful House had had enough. With Wakefield’s last hope for scientific vindication gone, she forced Wakefield to resign. Since then, we’ve been wondering where Wakefield would finally show up. Indeed, Free Speaker has started a blog WakefieldWatch, that specifically asks, Where in the world is Andrew Wakefield?

Now it looks like it’s Mark “not a doctor, not a scientist” Blaxill’s turn. The one anti-vaccine loon who can match or even exceed Orac’s logorrhea, Blaxill’s shown up after a suitable pause, entitled Joan Cranmer’s Fateful Decisions and the Suppression of Autism Science. He asks:

How can a scientific study simply vanish? This paper had cleared every hurdle for entry into the public scientific record: it had passed peer review at a prestigious journal, received the editor’s approval for publication, been disseminated in electronic publication format (a common practice to ensure timely dissemination of new scientific information), and received the designation “in press” as it stood in line awaiting future publication in a print version of the journal. Now, and inexplicably, it has been erased from the official record. For practical scientific purposes it no longer exists.

Correct. Consider it a mistake being erased. It’s not unlike the case of anesthesiologist Scott Reuben, who was caught in massive scientific fraud and, as a result, many of his manuscripts in press were retracted. True, it’s might not be fair to other authors who may not have known about the scientific fraud. Also true, Wakefield wasn’t accused of scientific fraud on the monkey paper manuscript itself, but it is not unreasonable in light of the ruling of the GMC to consider all of Wakefield’s work to be suspect. Indeed, there’s abundant evidence of utterly incompetent science and possibly even scientific fraud on the part of Andrew Wakefield. It is not “censorship” or “suppression of science” to acknowledge that. Rather, in the case of the monkey study, it is simply acknowledging that the peer review system screwed up big time. Not that that stops Mark “not a doctor, not a scientist” Blaxill from claiming otherwise:

The answer, of course, is that this is no ordinary scientific study. Age of Autism reported previously on its importance HERE , where we noted that “one likely tactic of critics of the study will include attempts to nullify the evidence based on the alleged bias of those involved.” The obvious risk, of course, was that a co-investigator on the paper, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, might make the study a target, especially in light of the hearings then underway at the U.K.’s General Medical Council (GMC). In the wake of last month’s GMC findings of misconduct, we also reported on the calls by Generation Rescue to recognize the even greater importance of Dr. Wakefield’s work on this primate project, an analysis of the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated macaque monkeys (see HERE and HERE). Sadly, true to our prediction, and despite the quality of the work and the importance of the findings, it appears that the “attempts to nullify the evidence” have been successful.

No, it is because of the quality of the work, as in the lack of quality of the work and its highly unethical nature, that the study should never been done, much less accepted for publication, much less published. Of course, it is a measure of just how critical to the anti-vaccine movement Wakefield’s monkey study was to providing a false appearance of scientific respectability to his work.

My speculation regarding this paper, of course, was that the peer reviewers probably had no clue about the stench of dishonesty and incompetence that hang on Andy Wakefield’s “scientific” career like a shroud. Those of us who pay close attention to the anti-vaccine movement often forget that we are oddballs in a way. The vast majority of people, even scientists who study this stuff, are either unaware or only vaguely aware of Andrew Wakefield and the anti-vaccine movement. Many of them are vaguely aware of the anti-vaccine movement but correctly view them as dangerous cranks who could cause them trouble and therefore stay as far away from them as they possibly can. My guess is that neither Cramner nor the peer reviewers knew the depths of Wakefield’s scientific perfidy. If they did, they never would have accepted the paper for publication. On the other hand, Blaxill does provide a revelation at the end that shows that NeuroToxicology had some connections that I didn’t know about with the anti-vaccine movement, specifically the revelation that the anti-vaccine group SafeMinds had sponsored past NeuroToxicology conferences.

Be that as it may, the editors clearly made a huge mistake as well, given that apparently the huge problems with the study that I described in detail didn’t stop them from accepting the manuscript for publication. Leave it to Not a Doctor Not a Scientist to paint the acceptance of Wakefield’s paper as a brave act, rather than the profound failure of the peer review process:

When Joan Cranmer accepted the primate paper in Neurotoxicology, her decision could not have been an easy one. The study subject and one of the study authors, Andrew Wakefield, were known to be highly controversial. All of the information about the GMC proceedings and the accusations against Wakefield were well known to the editors and peer reviewers. Despite that knowledge and the risks involved, Cranmer and her editorial team judged the science to be sound and decided to go ahead. We complimented them at the time, noting that “the journal editors at Neurotoxicology have taken a courageous stand in publishing what is sure to be unwelcome evidence in some circles.” It appears, however, that Cranmer’s superiors within Elsevier did not share those views.

Uh-oh. The Brave Maverick Scientist appeared to have triumphed, thanks to Brave Maverick Actions by a Brave Maverick Editor, to the acclaim of Brave Maverick Anti-vaccine Cranks everywhere, especially Andrew Wakefield sycophants, toadies, and lackeys. But all is not well in woo-ville. Dark and evil forces were gathering to thwart Brave, Brave Sir Andy, much as the Nazgûl gathered to thwart Frodo and Sam. Can you guess what those forces might be? Of course, one of them is the evil Elsevier publishing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of Elsevier. Indeed, I’ve ragged on Elsevier myself on more than one occasion for its dubious activities, not the least of which is its publishing that bastion of pseudoscience Medical Hypotheses, as well as a number of really bad “alternative” medicine journals. Speaking of Medical Hypotheses, I note that HIV/AIDS denialists reacted pretty much the same to the retraction of a Peter Duesberg article from Medical Hypotheses as Not a Doctor Not a Scientist is reacting to the withdrawal of Wakefield’s monkey studies. I guess Wakefield can take solace in the fact that at least he hasn’t sunk so low as to have a manusript withdrawn from Medical Hypotheses. Yet. It’s hard to go lower than that. It’ll probably happen soon, though, because crank journals like Medical Hypotheses or JPANDS are probably the only journals that will even look at a Wakefield manuscript from here on out.

But I digress.

I’m sure you can guess where Not a Doctor Not a Scientist is going with this, can’t you? It’s not as though he’s been telegraphing his intent from early in his article, and it’s not as though he hasn’t been posting on the anti-vaccine crank propaganda blog Age of Autism. If there’s a conspiracy to “suppress” science there, it’s got to come from one place and one place only. That’s right.

Big pharma:

Suspicions over the editorial independence of Reed Elsevier on the question of vaccine safety draw support from evidence of board level conflicts of interest involving Reed Elsevier’s CEO, Sir Crispin Davis. Davis, who retired in 2009 as CEO of Reed Elsevier, has served since July 2003 on the board of directors of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a major vaccine manufacturer (also recently appointed to the board of GSK is James Murdoch, publisher of News Corp., which owns The Times of London, the newspaper which launched the media attack on Wakefield). In 2008, vaccines accounted for 12.5% of GSK’s worldwide revenues. And although Reed Elsevier has no known vaccine liability risk, GSK has been directly exposed to two of the most prominent autism/vaccine controversies. GSK manufactured Pluserix, a version of the MMR vaccine introduced in the UK in 1989 and withdrawn in 1992 due to safety concerns. GSK also produced a thimerosal containing vaccine similar to the one examined in the primate paper (which was a Merck product) named Engerix B, for hepatitis B. GSK lists its financial exposure to thimerosal litigation in the U.S. under the “legal proceedings” section in its 2008 Annual Report.

Of course! It had to be! Damn those vaccine manufacturers! Is there nothing they can’t control? Clearly, they saw Wakefield’s monkey study as a grave threat to their profits, even a grave existential threat to their very existence. Such is the power of Andrew Wakefield and his Brave Mavericky-ness™. Cower, thou vaccine-injecting evildoers! None can stand!

The reason, according to Not a Doctor Not a Scientist, is because Andrew Wakefield is just like Herbert Needleman, the man who carried out groundbreaking studies demonstrating the neurodevelopmental effects of lead exposure in children starting back in the 1970s. Amazingly, Not a Doctor Not a Scientist actually has the audacity to make this comparison:

Seen from this perspective, what if the next-generation incarnation of Herbert Needleman is Andrew Wakefield, but in today’s version of the story, the balance of power has shifted in critical ways? In Wakefield’s case the product is neither gasoline nor paint, but vaccines, one of the most privileged product categories ever invented, products that are produced and promoted by the medical industry with missionary zeal. In contrast to the limited scientific influence of the oil and gas industry, the medical industry Wakefield faces is far more powerful, pursues its interests with greater skill, controls the flow of scientific information and effectively dictates media coverage. It appears now that the medical industry is so powerful that it can rewrite scientific history when it wants and even erase important scientific publications in a reputable journal.

Yes, when I think of Herbert Needleman and his successful crusade to reduce childhood exposure to lead, the first man I think of as the heir to Needleman’s legacy is, of course, Andrew Wakefield. (For any anti-vaccine loons who might be reading this, that’s sarcasm.)

I wonder what Herbert Needleman would think of this comparison. After all, he dedicated his life to protecting children and their health by trying to decrease their exposure to lead as much as possible. He also did it through sound epidemiology and science, not litigation-driven, incompetent, and quite possibly scientifically fraudulent research. My guess is that, if he’s aware of the full extent of Andrew Wakefield’s anti-vaccine pseudoscience, Dr. Needleman would likely take a very dim view indeed of being compared to such an incompetent, unethical, and dishonest “scientist.” I wonder if he knows that Mark “not a doctor, not a scientist” Blaxill is talking smack about him and comparing him to a pseudoscientist whose activities have greatly contributed to the resurgence of measles in the U.K. and continue to frighten parents about vaccination, endangering children. At least when Blaxill compares Wakefield to Galileo (perhaps the most hilariously inapt bit of hyperbole ever to come out of the anti-vaccine movement), Galileo is hundreds of years in the grave, leaving as his only option what’s left of his bones spinning at thousands of RPM in his grave to protest the news. Dr. Needleman is still alive, and I’d love to see what his reaction to such a comparison would be.

In the end, Cramner’s action to purge her journal of the taint of Wakefield’s bad science surprised me. I didn’t think that she’d do it, but she did. Whatever Elsevier’s other faults or previous misdeeds, in this case, for once, an Elsevier journal did the right thing.

Comments

  1. #1 Rene Najera
    March 3, 2010

    Loons, all of them. At least the Lancet people and others were grown-up enough to admit the mistake. Anti-vaccine groups keep pushing and pushing their agenda even after being proven wrong time and again. That’s the kind of faith that would make a Catholic blush.
    Of course, anti-vaccine groups have NO MONETARY INTERESTS WHATSOEVER, right? Right?
    I’m off to buy some all-natural vitamins and chelating agents from companies who are not at all interested in profit, only the health of the little children.

  2. #2 Dan
    March 3, 2010

    Logorrhea, eh? It’s nice you can be introspective. I actually agree with most of the points you make in your blog, but why does it require such verbosity? It reminds of talk radio. You make a point, then proceed to make the same point, over and over again. I wonder how many people you convince after reading the upteenth paragraph who were not convinced after the second paragraph.

  3. #3 matt
    March 3, 2010

    I continuously laugh at the demonizing of BIG PHARMA based on the vaccine issue. It’s such a pathetic argument, particularly when, as the poster who already commented said, there are huge profits being made by these sham companies off of the ignorant and gullible.

    And yes, none of the numerous case-control studies which have been published refuting a link between autism and vaccines are valid literature, but a dubious study performed on non-humans written by a discredited scientist who takes money from trial lawyers is iron clad proof. Aren’t some of these anti-vaccine nutjobs the same people who don’t believe in evolution and thus believes monkeys are not at all related to us?

  4. #4 MikeMa
    March 3, 2010

    Baxill and the other stooges at AoA need to whip up the frenzy and keep it whipped in order to keep the clicks and donations up. Silsby and the other profit centers won’t pay if the traffic sags.

  5. #5 Paul Browne
    March 3, 2010

    “Indeed, I’ve ragged on Elsevier myself on more than one occasion for its dubious activities, not the least of which is its publishing that bastion of pseudoscience Medical Hypotheses, as well as a number of really bad “alternative” medicine journals.”

    I’m still hopeful that the welcome, if a little tardy, decision to withdraw the Hewitson/Whakefield study is an indication that the just criticizm that you and others have been directing towards Elsevier is beginning to have an effect.

    I’d forgotten all about the Duesberg paper being rejected by Medical Hypothesis…that must have took some doing…thanks fot brightening up my day!

  6. #6 Broken Link
    March 3, 2010

    What’s very lucky about the Neurotoxicology withdrawal is that the paper was still “in press”. That fact makes it easy to completely purge this flawed paper from the scientific literature. That isn’t so easy when a paper has already appeared in print. You can’t go back and tear it out of a bound volume, no matter how deserving of that treatment it is. And make no mistake, most, if not all of Wakefield’s scientific work should be retracted. His irresponsible and dishonest conduct puts all of his work under deep suspicion.

    The first paper that should be carefully examined by the publishing journal is “Detection and sequencing of measles virus from peripheral mononuclear cells from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and autism”, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Volume 45, Issue 4, 2000, Pages 723-729. DOI: 10.1023/A:1005443726670
    PubMed ID: 10759242

    This paper was subject to testimony at the autism omnibus hearing, summarized here

    http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2007/06/omnibus-hearing-chadwick-and-brent.html

    So, we have sworn testimony that Wakefield knew the results were garbage, but went ahead and published anyway. Moreover, it certainly looks like the autistic subjects were the same as in the withdrawn Lancet paper:

    Nine children with autistic
    enterocolitis—proven by ileocolonoscopy and histology—
    were all UK cases (3–10 years of age). These children have
    been reported on elsewhere. All had ileal lymphoid nodular
    hyperplasia and nonspecific colitis [neither Crohn’s disease
    nor ulcerative colitis (3)].

    reference (3) is the Lancet paper.

    Anyone want to contact the editor?

  7. #7 Todd W.
    March 3, 2010

    So, censoring the TruthTM is the work of Big PharmaTM? Then Age of Autism must be under the sway of Big PharmaTM, since they regularly censor comments.

  8. #8 Orac
    March 3, 2010

    I actually agree with most of the points you make in your blog, but why does it require such verbosity?

    Because that’s how Orac rolls, take it or leave it, baby.

  9. #9 Chance Gearheart, NREMT-P/EMD
    March 3, 2010

    Orac, I love you so much for that video.

    Can I cry repression for the way that Blaxil and others make scientists out to be.

  10. #10 JonF
    March 3, 2010

    You know, this just occurred to me. Since the evil spectre of BIG PHARMA is so fond of rigorous, double-blind studies to, y’know, actually prove stuff, maybe they’re doing that here and they don’t even know they’re part of a massive conspiracy because they’re blinded to it!

    Think about it. It would be just like BIG PHARMA (it’s important to put it in all caps) to have proper controls and parameters even in their attempts at global conspiracies. Also, they shot 9/11 while faking the moon landing with AIDS.

  11. #11 Vicki
    March 3, 2010

    Is this man seriously trying to convince us that the oil industry is not influential? What color is the sky on his planet? Bluer from lack of hydrocarbon pollution, possibly?

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    March 3, 2010

    The actions rebuking Wakefield(GMC,1998 article retraction, Thoughtful House “dismissal”,monkey article)and those concerning HIV/AIDS denialists Duesberg and Ruggiero(retraction of their separate articles)occurred in a relatively short period of time:this leads me to wonder how those of a conspiratorial bent(the “correlation=causation” crowd)will interpret these events.It’s grist for their mills:not only were “brave mavericks” slapped down in *two different areas of inquiry* but it involved *more than one country*,(UK,US;Ruggiero is from Italy)making it *global*!I can hear it now:”BigPharma stretching its greedy tentacles across continents…feeding vampirishly on dollars and euros…hell-bent on World Domination through psycho-active drugs!!!!” It’s only a matter of time before one of their “sharper tools” puts it all together..which is what makes brave maverick “truth tellers” so *dangerous*…

  13. #13 Berner
    March 3, 2010

    “Because that’s how Orac rolls, take it or leave it, baby.”

    Best response to a troll ever.

  14. #14 John
    March 3, 2010

    “The [wakefield] paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.” – Ben Goldacre

  15. #15 wfjag
    March 3, 2010

    Gee, I can hardly wait till DSM-V is released, and Aspergers, PDD-NOS, and Rett Syndrome are all deleted from diagnosis under ASD. See, e.g., DSM V and Rett Syndrome http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/03/dsm-v-and-rett-syndrome/ As this will reverse the expansion of ASD as a category that occurred, the number of new ASD diagnoses will likely drop, and, AoA and Green Our Vaccine apologists will claim that their heroic work turned the tide of the “autism epidemic.”

  16. #16 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 3, 2010

    Would it be unethical to send ALF after Wakefield for this monkey study?

    Well, off to participate in a farcical aquatic ceremony…

  17. #17 Composer99
    March 3, 2010

    @11:

    Very funny. Well played!

  18. #18 Matthew Cline
    March 3, 2010

    Is this man seriously trying to convince us that the oil industry is not influential?

    To be fair, he said that the oil industry has little influence over science. As to what metric he’s using to compare the scientific influence of Big Oil vs Big Pharma, I haven’t a clue.

  19. #19 Matt
    March 3, 2010

    I’m with Free Speaker. Where is Andy? Sounds like he should be wearing a red and white striped shirt and a knit cap

    http://www.findwaldo.com/

    Blaxill isn’t quoting Wakefield at all. Why? It isn’t as though Blaxill doesn’t have Wakefield’s email address (even if his thoughtful house email address may not longer work) or phone number.

  20. #20 Anton P. Nym
    March 3, 2010

    I’ll use Hanlon’s Razor here, and assume that this is alt-med unfamiliarity with the “big pharma” concept of recalling possibly-faulty or possibly-adulterated product in the interests of public safety.

    — Steve

  21. #21 Shannon
    March 3, 2010

    Great post. Antivaxers make me want to poke sticks in my eyes.

  22. #22 Prometheus
    March 3, 2010

    Matthew,

    The “metric” used by Mr. Blaxill seems to be that, while “BIG OIL” couldn’t stop Dr. Needleman, “BIG PHARMA” – in Mr. Blaxill’s version of reality – has managed to stop Dr. Wakefield.

    There are – as you might guess – several hidden (and erroneous) assumptions in this line of……logic.

    [1] The most glaring false assumption is the premise that since Dr. Needleman triumphed over “BIG OIL” and Dr. Wakefield is being plowed under by “BIG PHARMA” (again, in the universe according to Blaxill), that “BIG PHARMA” is therefore more powerful than “BIG OIL”.

    This is akin to saying that since the German Army was crushed by the Red Army and the Italian Army triumphed over the Ethiopian Army, that the Italian Army was more powerful than the German Army.

    Apples and orangutans. “BIG OIL” actually was trying to suppress Dr. Needleman’s findings. “BIG PHARMA” isn’t threatened by Dr. Wakefield’s inept bumblings in the slightest.

    [2] The second false assumption is that Dr. Wakefield’s research is as sound as Dr. Needleman’s. That, I think, comes perilously close to libel. If Dr. Needleman had not been meticulous and rigorous in his work, he would have been dismantled by the forces arrayed against him. Dr. Wakefield’s work, on the other hand, pretty much self-destructed.

    If “BIG PHARMA” was interested in destroying Dr. Wakefield’s reputation, they couldn’t have done half as thorough a job as Dr. Wakefield has done.

    Of course, if Mr. Blaxill knew anything about how science is done, he would have seen that. Unfortunately for Mr. Blaxill, his area of expertise is business, not science.

    Perhaps if he stuck to what he knows, he would do better.

    Prometheus

  23. #23 ebohlman
    March 3, 2010

    wfjag: Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, CDD and Autistic Disorder are all being folded together into a single diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorder. People who were previously diagnosable with AS or PDD-NOS will still be diagnosable under the new category; it’s not as if they’re declaring everything but Autistic Disorder to be non-pathological.

    Rett is being removed apparently on the grounds that it shouldn’t be considered a specifically psychiatric disorder; presumably it’s well-enough characterized that it shouldn’t be in the same differential as anything listed in the DSM (remember that some diagnoses in the DSM are there purely for rule-out purposes, like the much-ridiculed “caffeine intoxication” which is there simply because caffeine intoxication can mimic the symptoms of much more serious conditions and because you need a proper diagnosis to justify giving a benzo to someone suffering from caffeine intoxication).

  24. #24 Travis
    March 3, 2010

    Because that’s how Orac rolls, take it or leave it, baby.

    I have never heard your voice but for some reason I have now created a very cool one in my head to go along with that wonderful reply.

  25. #25 jen
    March 3, 2010

    yes! Let the damage continue!!

  26. #26 Brian Deer
    March 3, 2010

    Speaking of lead: when the GMC panel pulled the medical records of the autistic children in the 1998 Wakefield Lancet paper (retracted), two of the 12 showed dangerously high lead levels in their blood, probably indicating that they were eating paintwork at home.

    What did the noble, caring Dr Wakefield do about this?

    You bet.

  27. #27 Science Mom
    March 3, 2010

    “The [wakefield] paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.”

    John @14, Dr. Goldacre wrote that back in 2005 when little was known about the scientific misconduct of Wakefield save one journalist and just getting the attention of a handful of bloggers. Let’s see what Dr. Goldacre has said since:
    http://www.badscience.net/2008/08/the-medias-mmr-hoax/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jan/28/mmr-vaccine-ben-goldacre

    A proper sceptic doesn’t become so wedded to an idea that he can’t review new evidence and adjust his beliefs accordingly.

  28. #28 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 3, 2010

    “The [wakefield] paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.” – Ben Goldacre

    It’s worth noting that Goldacre made that comment several years before it was discovered that Wakefield had manipulated the data.

  29. #29 Broken Link
    March 3, 2010

    @23: Actually, I’d expect quite a few people currently diagnosed with PDD-NOS would not qualify under the proposed criteria. At present, PDD-NOS:

    This category should be used when there is a severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills, or when stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities are present, but the criteria are not met for a specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizotypal Personality Disorder or Avoidant Personality Disorder. For example, this category includes “atypical autism”— presentations that do not meet the criteria for Autistic Disorder because of late age at onset, atypical symptomatology, or subthreshold symptomatology, or all of these.

    For example, technically speaking, a child with only a delay in verbal and non-verbal communication skills could receive a PDD-NOS diagnosis. I don’t think such a child would receive a diagnosis under the proposed ASD criteria.

  30. #30 bones
    March 3, 2010

    “Because that’s how Orac rolls, take it or leave it, baby.”

    nice….

  31. #31 Matt
    March 3, 2010

    Brian Deer–

    say what?!? Wrong on so many levels.

    I expect the reply to be, “but none of the parents complained”.

  32. #32 Kristen
    March 3, 2010

    @Dan

    Logorrhea, eh? It’s nice you can be introspective. I actually agree with most of the points you make in your blog, but why does it require such verbosity?

    I, for one enjoy Orac’s “verbosity”. Keep rolling Orac ;D.

    @Jen

    yes! Let the damage continue!!

    Were you referring to the damage Andy is doing to his reputation? Or continuing to damage your own credibility by supporting his “research”?

  33. #33 wfjag
    March 3, 2010

    @ebohlman:
    I was not implying that persons meeting DSM-V’s criteria for ASD will not be diagnosed as ASD. Rather, it appears that DSM-V will reverse the broadening of criteria that occurred with DSM-IIIR and DSM-IV. Rett should be removed, as it appears that a genetic basis has been identified, and so, even if included in DSM-V, it should not be in ASD, which is a broad diagnosis (IMO, overly broad). Hopefully, people now diagnosed as Asperger’s will largely be outside the new ASD criteria. (IMO, we find enough ways to label kids. If you can function in society on your own, then you have the right to be left alone. Being smarter than everyone else, or approaching problem solving differently, should not be considered as pathology).

    My point was (and is) that DSM-V appears to be narrowing the diagnostic criteria for ASD, somewhat. That likely will result in fewer new ASD diagnoses. As the criteria were broadened under DSM-IIIR and DSM-IV, among other results was a diagnostic shift from MR to ASD (the r-squared on that was over .9999, something generally unheard of in social science subjects). The increasing ASD diagnoses rates led to claims of an “autism epidemic” (and, has largely fueled the hysteria accompanying much of the antivax movement, and been a major basis for funding drives). Narrower diagnostic criteria will lead to fewer new ASD diagnoses — but, you can bet that antivaxers will claim credit and dismiss the notion that a change in diagnostic criteria had any effect.

    Once a movement is established (especially one that involves a lot of money being gathered by its leaders and proponents), there is strong motivation by its leaders, proponents, and beneficiaries for it to continue (even if its reason for existance ceases to exist). If, under DSM-V, there are fewer diagnoses, the easiest claim that AoA, Green Our Vaccines, etc., to make is that their heroic efforts turned the tide (and, with more funding, they can “save” everyone).

    I believe that you were focusing on the science. I wasn’t.

  34. #34 Bill
    March 3, 2010

    Umm…I wouldn’t mind some comment on how the monkey studies got through the peer review process in the first place. From what I have read, they were seriously flawed in design and implementation, and should have been rejected on that basis by any competent reviewer. Now this guy hangs his entire conspiracy theory on the fact that they made it through the peer review therefore it is ‘legitimate’ science that is being suppressed (conveniently ignoring all those peer reviewed studies that don’t support his contention).

    While I don’t expect science to be perfect and I know it is self-correcting (this being an example), it does raise the question in my mind about whether there is a problem in the publication process, and if so, how could it be fixed? Given that these studies involved animals, is there also a problem there that needs addressing?

  35. #35 Sullivan
    March 3, 2010

    Umm…I wouldn’t mind some comment on how the monkey studies got through the peer review process in the first place.

    This is one question the editors of Neurotoxicology need to address. Did they give this paper any special treatment in the first place?

  36. #36 dt
    March 3, 2010

    Where’s Wally? err… I mean Where’s Wakey?

    He looks as though he will resurface for the upcoming Autism One conference in the guise of a primate neurologist (is there no end to this man’s talents?), when he will expound on his new concept that mercury and toxins absorbed through the vaccine-measles damaged guts of children circulate to the brain stem where they damage the “dorsal vagal complex”, causing autism.

    This new hypothesis appears to be based upon findings from his 12 munkeyz study.

    Autism and the vagrant in the brainstem

    This talk examines the possibility that brainstem injury plays a central role in autism. In light of recent observations of brainstem injury in a primate model of vaccine-associated effects on early neurodevelopment, and an analysis of the scientific literature, it is proposed that, as an epicentric event, damage to the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) of the brainstem may be necessary and sufficient to initiate the central and systemic features of autism, including the many that fall outside the behavioral definition of this condition. Mechanisms by which primary systemic inflammation can cause brainstem damage are presented with reference to the published literature. The talk discusses the anatomical predeliction of the DVC for injury resulting form a variety of mechanisms including disruption to the blood supply in the developing brain, environmental toxicity and, via retrograde vagal pathways, intestinal inflammation. Ways of examining this theory are discussed.

    http://conference.autismone.org/abstracts.cfm?a1year=2010#wakefield1

  37. #37 gaiainc
    March 3, 2010

    Ummm, I am not a neurologist, but brainstem functions are pretty primitive in the grand scheme of things (like breathing). Social interactions and the developmental delays seen in ASD are higher brain function issues, like what is thought to lie in the frontal cortex and higher areas of the brain. Thus, this new theory really shouts bogus to me.

    As for peer-review, a peer review process is only as good as the peers who are doing the review.

  38. #38 Denice Walter
    March 3, 2010

    I’m surprized Andy didn’t somehow manage to cram “Mitochondrial Disease” into that description(@36).

  39. #39 Dangerous Bacon
    March 3, 2010

    Andy’s Amazing Hypothesis references: “…the anatomical predeliction of the DVC for injury resulting form a variety of mechanisms including disruption to the blood supply in the developing brain, environmental toxicity and, via retrograde vagal pathways, intestinal inflammation. Ways of examining this theory are discussed.”

    Presumably Andy is guessing that MMR vaccination (or vaccination for other diseases) causes inflammation in the gut that zooms up the vagus nerve and does nasties in the brainstem, thus causing autism. If one accepts this impressively Rube Goldbergish theory, what’s to stop all manner of infectious diseases themselves from causing this sort of postulated inflammation? Will Andy be mentioning this in his “talk”, or just continuing an obsessive focus on vaccines and their “toxins”? Maybe his own gotta-be-safer-than-the-MMR proposed vaccine will be shown to have an amazing theoretical non-predilection for causing the evil inflammation.

    Hope there’ll be a video of his presentation, or at least someone with a tape recorder to preserve it for posterity.

  40. #40 DrWonderful
    March 3, 2010

    Dan- “It’s because they mistake their self-righteousness for happiness.” <—- best line EVER when describing these fundamentalists! (who I also often agree with but my God could their delusional egos be any more out of control?)

    t-minus 9 minutes until Dangerous Bacon surfaces…

  41. #41 kayleigh
    March 3, 2010

    Curse you, dt!

    I could have been happy *not* knowing about the upcoming AutismOne conference with its execrable pile of “presentations”. I could have been happy *not* clicking your oh-so-helpful link to the conference’s planned proceedings. I could have done without the increase in my blood pressure while reading some of the authors’ names and presentation titles.

    It burns me to think that dangerous quacks pushing unproven ideas/treatments, under the misleading guise of a “scientific conference”, might influence even just one individual parent of an autistic child.

    However, one presentation title did make me chuckle … “Not so Black and White: The Many Faces of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections)”. Get it? Black and white? Pandas are…

    Never mind. Given the humourlessness of anti-vaxxers (and their supporters), I’m thinking the joke might have been unintentional.

  42. #42 jen
    March 3, 2010

    “Shut up! I order you to be quiet. Long live autism!!”
    I did enjoy the video, though.

  43. #43 antipodean
    March 3, 2010

    Hey Orac

    If you can roll doesn’t that make you a Zeroid from Terrahawks?

  44. #44 Science Mom
    March 3, 2010

    Completely off topic but noteworthy; @DrRachie (Rachael Dunlop) won the Health category for the Twitter Shorty Awards tonight.

  45. #45 Sullivan
    March 4, 2010

    bring out your dead theories….bring out your dead theories…

  46. #46 Phoenix Woman
    March 4, 2010

    Brian Deer –

    Oh. My. God. He ignored cases of lead poisoning in one-sixth of his test subjects?!?!

    No wonder the antivaxers worship chelation therapy — one wonders how many of them live in homes with lead paint. (Of course, if there’s no actual contamination, chelation does the kid no good and can likely do harm, but what the hey.)

  47. #47 CulturalIconography
    March 4, 2010

    Quoth Orac (OK, I’m just partially quothing him): “…the very last shred of Andrew Wakefield’s facade of scientific respectability tumbled.”

    Tumbled? That’s bein’ right charitable, that is! I’d say the shred of the facade burned down, fell over and then sank into the swamp!

    (With apologies to Monty Python)

  48. #48 DLC
    March 4, 2010

    Dan @ 2: your Concern is noted.

    Orac : well done.
    The other reason to re-visit a point was once stated by Sir Winston Churchill, who said “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use the pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time; a tremendous whack.”

  49. #49 dt
    March 4, 2010

    Sorry Kayleigh.
    Looking at the content of the conference is interesting. There are numerous hypotheses for autism etiology being put forward (which is good scientifically) but I would say the evidence base for many of them seems very speculative, and many of the supposed “causes” are mutually inconsistent/contradictory.

    There is even a chiropractor saying that autism is the result of birth trauma causing misalignment (ie “subluxations”) in the neck which affects the brain.
    Most of the theories that get attention wil be the ones that finger vaccines in some way, no doubt.

    It’s hard to know how seriously any of this gets treated by the scientific community. It just seems a forum for proponents to rehash their own ideas and present these to an adulating and totally uncritical audience.

  50. #50 Jetspring
    March 4, 2010

    “Speaking of lead: when the GMC panel pulled the medical records of the autistic children in the 1998 Wakefield Lancet paper (retracted), two of the 12 showed dangerously high lead levels in their blood, probably indicating that they were eating paintwork at home.”

    Did the panel get the medical records from you, Brian?

  51. #51 Science Mom
    March 4, 2010

    Did the panel get the medical records from you, Brian?

    @50 I don’t mean to speak for Brian but the GMC had access to the medical records, not Mr. Deer until the proceedings began. I’m sure he will correct me if need be. But in any event, so what if he did have access and presented those? It certainly would be relevant and doesn’t say much about Wakefield and how he ‘cares only for the children’.

  52. #52 Jetspring
    March 4, 2010

    Well, I’m trying to understand how the patients’ medical records came to be entered into evidence. Who entered them?

    This is from the “MMR doctor fixed data” story:

    “However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records.”

    It sounds as though Brian had already concluded from the medical records that Wakefield had fiddled the data; the GMC then agreed.

    So did Brian submit them himself?

  53. #53 MikeMa
    March 4, 2010

    Brian Deer has a pretty complete record of the years he spent investigating Wakefield. I read it maybe half a year ago and do not recall seeing any references to patient records but I could have missed or forgotten that. Google his saga. It’s good reading and shows the best results of the sadly dying art of investigative journalism.

  54. #54 Chris
    March 4, 2010

    The one anti-vaccine loon who can match or even exceed Orac’s logorrhea

    A comic strip that describes Orac. ;-)

  55. #55 Joseph
    March 4, 2010

    Did the panel get the medical records from you, Brian?

    Is that the beginning of a new conspiracy theory? I guess Wakefield must have forgot to point out during the hearings that the medical records supposedly submitted by Brian Deer were not the real medical records.

  56. #56 Jetspring
    March 4, 2010

    “I guess Wakefield must have forgot to point out during the hearings that the medical records supposedly submitted by Brian Deer were not the real medical records.”

    …How did the patients’ medical records come to be submitted to the GMC panel?

    Have you any idea, Joseph? Was patient approval obtained beforehand?

  57. #57 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    “Speaking of lead: when the GMC panel pulled the medical records of the autistic children in the 1998 Wakefield Lancet paper (retracted), two of the 12 showed dangerously high lead levels in their blood, probably indicating that they were eating paintwork at home.

    What did the noble, caring Dr Wakefield do about this?

    You bet”.

    ——————————————————————–

    More reason to believe that children with autism may have difficulties in tolerating/handling toxic assaults on their system. Thanks Brian… for showing evidence which supports OUR beliefs (that’s the loony anti-vax crowd to you). Of course, instead of believing that this could be an individual issue with the child who has difficulty tolerating toxic substances… Dopey Brian has to assume that the crazy parents just sit around while their babies are gulping down lead paint pieces… Brian, you’ve really outdone yourself. Congrats.

  58. #58 Vicki
    March 4, 2010

    Awesome–

    The claim isn’t that lead poisoning meant the parents were “crazy” or “just sitting around.” It’s that lead poisoning is a specific problem, with real neurological consequences. It should not be ignored. I don’t know whether there’s any correlation between lead poisoning and autism, much less which direction any causality goes in, but autistic or neurotypical, a kid with lead poisoning has a problem that should be addressed.

    Lead paint is not necessarily, or usually, a sign of parental carelessness or neglect. Often, it’s a sign of poverty: the landlord doesn’t repaint, or not often enough, and old lead paint is exposed. Or it could be buying a toy that was painted with lead or made with lead alloys. (They aren’t labeled as such, of course.) Nor is it neglect not to be literally watching your child every second: the kid is sitting quietly with a picture book or a set of blocks, and you’re listening as you cook dinner or read a bit yourself. So the kid tastes her blocks. That’s completely normal behavior–but if that nice bright paint contains lead, it’s also dangerous.

    Without blame, if a pediatrician detects lead poisoning in a patient, he should not ignore it. If he detects it in two out of twelve patients, he either has an epidemic in his practice, or those patients are atypical. (With n=12, all sorts of random variations can occur, of course–if five of them were left-handed or blond, that would prove nothing.)

  59. #59 Science Mom
    March 4, 2010

    …How did the patients’ medical records come to be submitted to the GMC panel?

    Have you any idea, Joseph? Was patient approval obtained beforehand?

    @56 The parents didn’t complain so all’s well right? ;)

    @57 Leave it to an anti-vaxer to pull that one out of her bum and completely ignore the dire implication. That wasn’t evidence supporting your BELIEF and yes, that is belief as in leap-of-faith, unsupported fabrication. Don’t blame the messenger for the failings of your precious St. Andy.

  60. #60 Jetspring
    March 4, 2010

    But… how can you just look through a patients’ medical records then report them in a national newspaper, paint or no?

  61. #61 MikeMa
    March 4, 2010

    Jetspring
    With consent?

  62. #62 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    “The claim isn’t that lead poisoning meant the parents were “crazy” or “just sitting around.” It’s that lead poisoning is a specific problem, with real neurological consequences”.

    The point is… if a child has issues with lead, it is not a huge jump to be concerned about other toxic assaults, correct? Thimerosal, anyone? This isn’t tough people…

  63. #63 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Awesome

    The simple fact that they had high levels of lead doesn’t say much other than that they have high levels of lead. It does not say when they got to those levels (before or after their diagnosis?) It says nothing about how much lead was actually ingested.

    PICA is a very common thing among kids with autism. If these two kids had PICA, they very well could have been going around eating little bits of paint or other lead-containing tidbits.

    And why are you bringing up thimerosal? It’s already been shown to have no correlation with autism. Sheesh!

  64. #64 Dedj
    March 4, 2010

    To my knowledge, Deer was given access to anonymised copies of the relevant sections of the childrens records during the failed court action against him by Wakefield.

    I believe that at least two mothers and one father have volunteered information to Deer.

  65. #65 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    @Todd W.

    “And why are you bringing up thimerosal? It’s already been shown to have no correlation with autism. Sheesh!”

    LOL! No it hasn’t… Sheesh!

    If, in fact, a child has a problem with lead… (for whatever reason)… you darn well better be concerned about any and all toxic assaults on the system. This is NOT brain surgery. It’s simple common sense. I get it though… Lead = possible lead poisoning = possible autism diagnosis… but Mercury = totally safe = no chance of autism. Got it….

  66. #66 MikeMa
    March 4, 2010

    (Not) Awesome…
    For possibly the millionth time, Thimerosal was studied and NOT linked to autism.

    If the child has issues with lead, I’d say that dwarfs any other concerns and getting the lead out a primary focus.

    Was there an actual point to your rant?

  67. #67 Zaher Bey
    March 4, 2010

    Awesome… leads me to believe that Tom Smykowski’s infamous “Jump to Conclusions Mat” may actually be a marketable idea.

  68. #68 Scott
    March 4, 2010

    if a child has issues with lead, it is not a huge jump to be concerned about other toxic assaults, correct?

    As a matter of fact, yes, it is a gargantuan leap. Since there are no actual connections between them.

  69. #69 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    Lead = Bad. Mercury = Good.

    Got it. :)

    Weirdos.

  70. #70 Dedj
    March 4, 2010

    “you darn well better be concerned about any and all toxic assaults on the system.”

    Why? Not all toxins have the same biochemical profile and don’t all have the same pathway for elimination.

    The difference in chemical properties alone will mean that some toxins will bind to, or otherwise be transported by, transporter molecules with different properties.

    This is clearly evidenced in the use of different chelators for different heavy metals.

  71. #71 LK PhD
    March 4, 2010

    @ (not) awesome

    What do you mean by “issues” with lead? Any kid who’s exposed to enough lead is going to have problems.

  72. #72 Calli Arcale
    March 4, 2010

    Awesome, I don’t understand how you can assume that if a child is found to have high levels of lead, one should assume they have high levels of some other heavy metal, absent any evidence of the same. If someone stubs their toe, do you assume they have probably also been smacked upside the head?

    (Note, however, that Wakefield wasn’t studying thimerosal. He was studying what he called “autistic enterocolitis” caused by measles virus acquired from the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine, notably, has never contained thimerosal. It can’t; thimerosal would render the rubella portion ineffective. So if you want to find a researcher to pin your hopes for the thimerosal connection on, it ain’t Wakefield. I simply do not understand why the “mercury militia” likes Wakefield, given that his research, if true, would contradict their thesis. It wasn’t even anti-vaccination research; his aim at the time was to clear the way for his own monovalent measles vaccine. That’s right — just like Paul Offit, Wakefield is a vaccine developer. It would also contradict his later work, but I’m not sure we should expect consistency from him.)

  73. #73 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    @ LK PhD

    “What do you mean by “issues” with lead? Any kid who’s exposed to enough lead is going to have problems.”

    Yup. Totally agree…. How about those kids who are/were exposed to too much mercury? That’s totally safe, right? Around and around we go….

  74. #74 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Awesome

    Who said lead can result in a possible autism diagnosis? If you go back and read what I said, I stated that kids with autism have a higher risk of PICA, an eating disorder where they ingest non-edible objects. If that is the case with these two kids, they may well have eaten leaded paint or other lead-containing things because they have PICA.

    Also, please show where anyone has said that “Mercury” is totally safe. Again, we have said that thimerosal has been studied and the results of those studies show that thimerosal is not a toxic agent in the doses that used to be found in vaccines.

  75. #75 Calli Arcale
    March 4, 2010

    Oh, and regarding the GMC pulling medical records….

    I don’t know what the rules are in Britain, but I believe in most US states (maybe even all), medical boards are permitted access to patient records in the course of their duties. I know the GMC isn’t entirely analogous, but it seems to fulfill a similar role and so I would expect it would be allowed the same access. How else are they to investigate claims of malpractice or fraud? In general, the details would have to be redacted before allowing the general public to see, and perhaps even the patient names would be redacted before allowing the agents of the medical board to see the records. (After all, they don’t need to know who the patient is. Just how the doctor treated them so they can judge whether or not it was appropriate.) Doctors can even be reprimanded purely for failing to keep adequate records (partly because that can conceal fraud, but also because if you don’t keep good records, you can’t be sure you’re remembering their history accurately and you certainly can’t hand them over to another doctor reliably should it become necessary to do so).

  76. #76 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    Awesome should be ignored. I know I am the last person who should say that because I do love pushing these people but this is just too irritating for me to handle. Too much willful ignorance in this one, and so unwilling to actually respond to what people have actually said. The post saying

    Lead = Bad. Mercury = Good.

    Got it. :)

    Weirdos.

    pushed me over the edge on this one. Condescending and totally misunderstanding and twisting what others have said.

  77. #77 Awesome...
    March 4, 2010

    @ Calli Arcale

    “The MMR vaccine, notably, has never contained thimerosal. It can’t; thimerosal would render the rubella portion ineffective”.

    Exactly… because thimerosal is too toxic…. :) You guys are funny. By the way… I’m not trying to pin my hopes on Wakefield in any manner whatsoever… In fact, while I respect him… I know that this is way bigger than Wakefield. It’s mainly the parents at this point who spread the word and inform others of their experiences with vaccines. Way beyond Wakefield. People in your camp like to demonize Wakefield – which is cool, whatever floats your boat – but we know that this isn’t about him…

  78. #78 LK PhD
    March 4, 2010

    @troll (#73)

    The only reason we go “around and around” is because you make vague, unfounded, statements. I’m guessing from your response that there is a safe level of lead and mercury exposure? That would seem to run counter to the “toxins” gambit as it is usually employed.

  79. #79 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Travis

    Yeah. Awesome is just engaging in strawman logical fallacies. The only real reason I responded was in case there are others reading, to show that Awesome is not only wrong, but intellectually dishonest, as well. I know that nothing I say will change Awesome’s mind.

  80. #80 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    @Todd W.
    I understand completely. I think I am just feeling bitter today and am tired. I also have the urge to correct, and I also like to make it clear when people are dishonest. But today, for some reason, I just cannot handle it.

  81. #81 a-non
    March 4, 2010

    Awesome barfed…

    Exactly… because thimerosal is too toxic…. :) You guys are funny. By the way… I’m not trying to pin my hopes on Wakefield in any manner whatsoever… In fact, while I respect him… I know that this is way bigger than Wakefield. It’s mainly the parents at this point who spread the word and inform others of their experiences with vaccines. Way beyond Wakefield. People in your camp like to demonize Wakefield – which is cool, whatever floats your boat – but we know that this isn’t about him…

    You shouldn’t pin your hopes on Wakefield, because it’s clear from the GMC hearing that he’s a pretty appalling doctor and researcher, even if by some minute chance he’s actually correct.

    The bigger problem, Awesome, is that beyond the quacky science of folks like Wakers, you have nothing. Zero. Zilch. You have a handful of angry parents who revel in their own little echo chamber, eager to find anything to blame their child’s condition on.

    The medical profession and drug companies are an easy target, because believe me, they’ve screwed up in the past. But in this case? You’re dead wrong and I bet in your quieter, more reflective moments, you know that you are but can’t bring yourself to admit it. Thus the wilder and more outrageous conspiracy theories.

  82. #82 Raging Bee
    March 4, 2010

    Simple chemistry lesson for (not) Awesomely Stupid Troll: just because a certain substance contains the element mercury in its molecular structure, does not mean it shares any of the toxic properties of mercury in its pure form.

    Here, let me give you another example: hydrogen is flammable and possibly poisonous; water molecules contain hydrogen; does this mean water is flammable or poisonous?

    No, it’s not that tough; it’s apparently just too tough for trolls like you.

  83. #83 MikeMa
    March 4, 2010

    (Not) Awesome…
    Once again, toxicity is in the dose. How much lead? Unknown, possibly quite a lot. Mercury in thimerosal? Dosage precisely known and studied to have no toxic effect.

    Do you have an actual study of thimerosal as an additive to an unknown amount of lead? Rather than wasting money on this, why not try and prevent the much greater danger of the lead? Oh, wait, we do that.

  84. #84 triskelethecat
    March 4, 2010

    I’d answer awesome, but he/she doesn’t deserve the attention.

    However, for anyone who reads down this far and is unsure about thimerosol and the MMR: the MMR is one of the vaccines that contains live viruses. Thimerosol, in the doses it was contained in MULTI-DOSE VIAL vaccines (not even in all vaccines – most single-dose vials, even when thimerosol was in common use, didn’t contain it because the rationale for its use was moot) was used to kill bacteria and other pathogens (i.e viruses) that might be inadvertently introduced into the vial when a dose was removed.

    Since the MMR contained live viruses, it was rarely available in multi-dose vials since the risk of contaminated doses was possible. Even the best nurses and doctors were aware, every time they used a multi-dose vial, that contamination was possible.

    As for lead poisoning…lead poisoning has specific symptoms if the levels are high enough. I’d be interested to know if the children seen by Wakefield had the tests that showed the elevated levels before or after his invasive procedures.

  85. #85 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 4, 2010

    The fallacy that Awesome is committing is called affirming the consequent. Awesome is reasoning as follows:

    1) If the Lancet children “have difficulties in tolerating/handling toxic assaults on their system”, then they might be expected to have large amounts of toxins, of which lead might be one, in their systems;
    2) Two of the Lancet children had large amounts of lead in their systems;
    3) Therefore the Lancet children must have difficulties in tolerating/handling toxic assaults on their system.

    Unfortunately for Awesome, the following syllogism follows the exact same pattern as Awesome’s:

    1) If the Lancet children were deliberately poisoned by evil parents engaged in a dastardly plot to inject their own children with toxins, damaging their children, and then try to blame someone perceived as having “deep pockets” for the damage, then they would be expected to have large amounts of toxins, of which lead might be one, in their systems;
    2) Two of the Lancet children had large amounts of lead in their systems;
    3) Therefore the Lancet children must have been deliberately poisoned by evil parents engaged in a dastardly plot to inject their own children with toxins, damaging their children, and then try to blame someone perceived as having “deep pockets” for the damage.

    Both syllogisms have the same structure: 1) If A, then B; 2) B; 3) Therefore, A. Because the form of a syllogism determines its validity, if Awesome argues that the first syllogism is valid, he is arguing that the second syllogism is also valid, and that the Lancet children were poisoned by their own parents!

    However, more experienced logicians are already quite aware that the form of Awesome’s first syllogism is flawed. It exhibits, as said before, the fallacy of affirming the consequent; B is the consequent, and premise 2) affirms (declares to be true) that consequent, but we cannot draw the conclusion that A is therefore true – unless we were to conclude that every A, of every true premise in the form “If A, then B,” is equally true! Would the children have large amounts of lead in their system if they were shot with lead ammunition? Hey presto, we just proved that the Lancet children were shot, even though not one of them has a bullet hole! Would the children have large amounts of lead in their system if they were fed pewter figurines by aliens from Mars? Hey presto, we just proved that the Lancet children were fed pewter figurines by aliens from Mars!

    Now, if you want a syllogism that starts with an “If A, then B” premise and is in valid form, try “not B” as the second term. Something like this:
    1) Responsible physicians who care about their patients report things like lead poisoning when they discover it.
    2) Andrew Wakefield discovered lead poisoning in two of his patients and didn’t report it.
    3) Therefore Andrew Wakefield is not a responsible physician who cares about his patients.

  86. #86 Vicki
    March 4, 2010

    In case anyone is confused by Awesome–nobody is arguing that mercury can’t be dangerous. But that doesn’t mean that all problems are caused by mercury. Which is what Awesome is claiming: “Autism is a problem, and mercury can cause problems, therefore autism is caused by mercury.” I can use the exact same lack of reasoning to prove that it’s caused by an allergic reaction to penicillin, or by vitamin D deficiency, or by being hit by a car. There is no evidence that autism is connected to mercury exposure, and people have looked. If this were a detective story, the cops would long since have gone looking for a more plausible suspect than the one against whom there is no evidence and who has an airtight alibi.

  87. #87 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Antaeus Feldspar

    Thanks for the logic lesson. I think Awesome is also engaging in the strawman fallacy, though, with his comments attacking our supposedly saying that lead can cause autism and that mercury is completely safe. We are not saying either of those things. Hence the strawman. No?

  88. #88 jetspring
    March 4, 2010

    @Dedj

    Thankyou for your reply… Do you have a link for back-up? Do you know for certain the records were obtained as part of Wakefield’s failed action? By document or just word of mouth?

  89. #89 Joseph
    March 4, 2010

    The point is… if a child has issues with lead, it is not a huge jump to be concerned about other toxic assaults, correct? Thimerosal, anyone? This isn’t tough people…

    It is a huge jump. Many autistic children have Pica. That’s why lead paint is a relevant concern. It doesn’t mean that lead causes autism. We’re talking about completely different doses too.

  90. #90 gaiainc
    March 4, 2010

    Having spent my residency in the US Northeast where we test kids every year up to age 5 for lead levels, the fact that Wakefield didn’t do anything about elevated lead levels makes me furious. Lead is neurotoxic. I’m not in agreement with the EPA about what is an acceptable lead level in kids, but that is my bias, my own assumptions, and I don’t necessarily expect everyone to have the same opinion. Symptoms of lead poisioning are NOT the same as symptoms that lead to an ASD diagnosis, though. I had to chelate kids on a regular basis (one kid about every 2-3 months) and they were clearly not autistic.

    On another note, kids don’t have to have pica to like lead paint chips. According to my lead experts, lead paint chips taste sweet which is why kids often eat them.

  91. #91 Joseph
    March 4, 2010

    @Awesome: BTW, are you saying that some children do not have issues with lead? They can just ingest lead paint and they are fine?

    See, the problem is the lead paint. It is bad, whether the child who ingests it is autistic or non-autistic.

    It’s nonsense to say “if the child has issues with lead…” All persons have “issues” with lead in high doses.

  92. #92 JB Handley
    March 4, 2010

    So, let me get this straight:

    1. Ten licensed vaccines for kids given 36 times

    2. 55% of total shots come 0-12 months

    3. Most appointments, kids receive 5-7 shots per visit

    4. The first 19 shots received do not include MMR, MMR is the 20th shot

    5. Wakefield’s paper said that a majority of the 12 j=kids studied had serious bowel disease, that the kids had regressed, and that parents blamed MMR

    6. Now, people say Wakefield was lying, kids were no different than peers, so therefore all vaccines are safe

    7. Huh?

    8. Meanwhile, only one vaccine has been studied for its relationship to autism (MMR), but its been proven vaccines don’t cause autism?

    And, you guys are the honest scientists? You should be embarrassed. It’s pathetic. If you have actually read the papers and believe that science has proven vaccines don’t cause autism, you are a liar or imbecile.

    Here’s Geraldine Dawson, PhD, CSO for Autism Speaks, Please Orac-lovers, tell me she is wrong!!

    2. “Recent studies point to a key role of the immune system in the biology of ASD, raising questions about the effects of the significant immune challenges associated with vaccinations, particularly when delivered in combination and early in life.”

    3. “We believe that the question of whether immunization is associated with an increased risk for ASD is of extremely high priority.”

    4. “Still other studies point toward subgroups of children with ASD with genetic vulnerabilities than can amplify the adverse effects of environmental exposures, including vaccinations, on brain development and function”

    5. “There is a need to describe the nature and prevalence of vaccine adverse events in children with metabolic disorders and assess risk factors for these events.”

    6. “As mentioned in the draft scientific agenda, many key questions have not yet been adequately addressed. Many of the studies to date have relied on data from the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS). While this system has clear strengths such as its broad coverage, it nevertheless has substantial limitations (Ellenberg and Braun, Drug Safety, 2002). Because the system relies on passive self‐report, a major limitation is under‐ reporting such that only a small fraction of adverse events are reported. Furthermore, events that occur weeks following vaccination are less likely to be reported than those that are proximal to the vaccination.”

  93. #93 Calli Arcale
    March 4, 2010

    Lead doesn’t have to taste good for small children to eat it. Kids eat all kinds of stuff, because they’re experimenting with their world. I remember eating sand pies once just to find out what it would taste like. (Awful, BTW.)

    Awesome @ 77:

    Exactly… because thimerosal is too toxic…. :)

    Too toxic for rubella. You may not have noticed, but you and I and our children are H. sapiens. Rubella isn’t even a bacterium. What kills one does not necessarily kill the other. As Paracelsus observed, the dose makes the poison.

    Look at it this way: water is necessary for all life on Earth. You can safely drink far more than you need to stay alive, with the only adverse effect being more frequent trips to the bathroom to relieve yourself. Water is as safe as safe gets.

    But even water has a toxic dose. Water intoxication occurs when you manage to drink so much water that it upsets the electrolyte imbalances in your blood. Hyponatremia (salt deficiency) greatly lowers the lethal dose of water, but even with adequate or excessive salt intake you can wind up with water poisoning. There was a famous case a few years ago in which a woman tried really hard to win a game offered by a radio station so she could get a nice present for her kids. The game was “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”. Contestants had to drink water and not use the bathroom, and whoever held out longest would win. She was determined. She ultimately died of water intoxication.

    Anything can be poisonous. Thimerosal is no different. But below a certain dose, or administered in a certain way, most substances can be safe — either because the dose is too small to cause significant harm, or because it is not in a place where it can do harm, or because the body eliminates it too quickly, or some combination of the above. In the case of thimerosal, it’s a combination. Injected into muscles, it has less opportunity to do damage than if it were injected into the bloodstream. Injected in miniscule quantities, the dose is far too small to worry about. (Indeed, many chelatinists claim to remove more mercury from children’s bodies than the entire vaccine schedule could contain even if each dose actually did contain thimerosal. That alone ought to raise your suspicions, Awesome, if you really are interested in thinking for yourself and not merely swallowing someone’s propaganda.) Lastly, thimerosal is ethyl mercury, and recent studies have shown that ethyl mercury is actually eliminated from the body fairly rapidly compared to methyl mercury, the more common environmental form of mercury, which is used for generating all of the EPA guidelines and which is far more dangerous. Ethyl mercury, it turns out, has a half-life of about a week in infants, and somewhat longer in adults. (It is not unusual for drugs to be processed more quickly by children; their metabolism is different from adults.)

    You guys are funny. By the way… I’m not trying to pin my hopes on Wakefield in any manner whatsoever… In fact, while I respect him… I know that this is way bigger than Wakefield.

    Methinks thou dost protest too much. You have respect for Wakefield, and you suggest his studies are valuable, yet his studies do not support your thesis, even if his studies were not incompetent (and, in the case of the Lancet study, actually fraudulent — yes, I said fraudulent, because making up data for publication is fraud).

    You’re right that a lot of parents are the ones pushing all these various methods of quackery, and these various bogus “explanations” for autism. But I don’t want to know a bunch of random people’s hunches. I want to know *facts*. You’re happy with what some random stranger tell you to do to help your autistic child? Well, I guess, “whatever floats your boat”. But it doesn’t float mine. I put my child ahead of my pride. Perhaps you should also.

  94. #94 Joseph
    March 4, 2010

    Now, people say Wakefield was lying, kids were no different than peers, so therefore all vaccines are safe

    They do say he was lying. The rest is clearly made up, unless you can produce a quote.

    Meanwhile, only one vaccine has been studied for its relationship to autism (MMR), but its been proven vaccines don’t cause autism?

    Also clearly made up. See, for example, Thompson et al. (2007).

  95. #95 Sean O'Doherty
    March 4, 2010

    Posted by: JB Handley | March 4, 2010 3:33 PM

    Wet cleanup on aisle nine…what a mess.

  96. #96 a-non
    March 4, 2010

    JB brayed…

    5. Wakefield’s paper said that a majority of the 12 j=kids studied had serious bowel disease, that the kids had regressed, and that parents blamed MMR

    6. Now, people say Wakefield was lying, kids were no different than peers, so therefore all vaccines are safe

    7. Huh?

    Did anyone suggest the twelve kids in the study were normal? There’s a difference between saying the kids had ASD and that all of the stuff done to this children was warranted. Why that distinction is hard for you to make is beyond me, and speaks to willful ignorance.

    Furthermore, why in the world would someone as savvy as yourself try to defend Andrew Wakefield and his research at this point? The study in particular, and Wakefield in general, has been discredited. If you are serious about making the case about the perils of vaccines to the public, you will need to associate GR with doctors that don’t have the stench of international scandal all over them.

    Here’s Geraldine Dawson, PhD, CSO for Autism Speaks, Please Orac-lovers, tell me she is wrong!!

    If she is asserting, or even strongly suggesting, that vaccines play a role in autism based on the available evidence, then yes, she’s wrong. The available evidence doesn’t support that conclusion. I’d love to know what “studies” she’s using to back up that argument.

  97. #97 Socrates' ThinkPad
    March 4, 2010

    Mr. Handley is the smartest, bestest person in the whole world and I am his biggest fan! He thinks real good so I don’t have to. I love Jenny McCarthy she is so funny! Please don’t question me or I will cry.

  98. #98 belleprovince
    March 4, 2010

    Thank you to everyone who answered Awesome’s posts. I try to read as many books as I can but sometimes, I feel like I need people to explain things to me (English is not my first language and my background is not in science). I’ve learned a lot from what you just wrote, so… please continue your good work and do not consider it a complete waste of time!

    Kudos @Antaeus Feldspar for the logic lesson. It’s nice to have someone to untangle the fallacies (is untangle the right word?)

    (I’m going to back in my humble corner now :)

  99. #99 Sullivan
    March 4, 2010

    So, Mr. Handley,

    are you going to accept what Geraldine Dawson said–that the VAERS system is severely limited?

    Or will you and your groups continue to quote VAERS reports as though they are facts?

    As an aside–will you keep the Desiree Jennings page on the Generation Rescue website now that she is walking, talking and driving?

  100. #100 Sullivan
    March 4, 2010

    8. Meanwhile, only one vaccine has been studied for its relationship to autism (MMR), but its been proven vaccines don’t cause autism?

    You keep saying this and avoiding the next part–MMR was cleared.

    When you can accept that you will have more credibility accusing others of being poor scientists.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  101. #101 Sullivan
    March 4, 2010

    Quoth JB Handley:

    “Is Autism Speaks’ Geri Dawson a Blithering Idiot?”

    “Geri Dawson is either a blithering idiot, or she is a corrupt, partisan hack who so desperately wants the autism-vaccine thing to just die so she can get back to work chasing her genetic-psychological theories on autism that she will happily go along with the mainstream spin on a stupid little study and do her part to exonerate the MMR, even if hundreds if not thousands of parents have called her organization which is supposed to help our kids and told them that the MMR turned their child upside-down including the daughter of the very people who founded the place she now calls home.”

    But, now that she says something Mr. Handley likes, she’s a good resource.

    Are you the 2005 JB Handley or the 2010 JB Handley?

  102. #102 Orac
    March 4, 2010

    And, you guys are the honest scientists? You should be embarrassed. It’s pathetic. If you have actually read the papers and believe that science has proven vaccines don’t cause autism, you are a liar or imbecile.

    Dr. JB, I presume? Well, no, as it turns out, you are even less of a scientist than Mark Blaxill is.

    Really, JB, your cluelessness never ceases to astound me. Do you even understand the papers? Certainly you’ve shown no evidence in all the years that we’ve intermittently sparred that you have or that you understand science. Indeed, your “14 Studies” website is perfect evidence why. Oh, and I have read nearly all, but not quite all, of the studies; so I guess that means all my training in science, experimental design, and the scientific method must count for nothing compared to the genius of the almighty JB.

    In any case, it’s not a matter of “proof” or “proving” anything. It’s a matter of simply pointing out that the vast preponderance of the evidence available, including multiple high quality epidemiological studies with hundreds of thousands of children in the aggregate, do not support your faith-based belief that there is a detectable correlation between vaccines and autism. That’s just the science, and you have yet to show otherwise. Certainly Andrew Wakefield hasn’t.

    Speaking of Wakefield, though,I’m curious. Now that Wakefield’s monkey study has been withdrawn, what is GR going to do? I described in my traditional nauseating detail what was wrong with that misbegotten unethical excuse for primate abuse. Where’s it going to be published? JPANDS? Is he going to become the new medical director for GR? (Now that’d be a hoot, but very appropriate.)

    In any case, if you think that vaccines cause autism, make your case. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t be making fun of your lack (or Blaxill’s lack) of scientific credentials were it not for your utter arrogance of ignorance, in which you think you can interpret the scientific literature and evidence better than experts who have spent their entire professional careers studying vaccines. Certainly, I don’t make fun of the lack of scientific credentials of my commenters in general. (There’s usually have no way of telling whether a commenter is a scientist unless they tell me, anyway.) I judge them on the merits of their comments. Make intelligent, cogent arguments, and you will be treated accordingly. Rant away about conspiracies and how anyone who disagrees with you must be an idiot or a liar, and you will receive the same in kind.

    Unlike at Age of Autism, comments here are not censored. You can say pretty damned near anything you want and it will either go through or be approved when I check the spam filter. Give it your best shot! Who knows? You might convince someone.

  103. #103 Joseph
    March 4, 2010

    I just wrote:

    Also clearly made up. See, for example, Thompson et al. (2007).

    Let me change that reference to something else, since Thompson et al. (2007) did not specifically look at ASD outcomes, just general neurological outcomes.

    Any study looking at thimerosal-containing vaccines is obviously a study of many different kinds of vaccines. The higher the cumulative thimerosal dose, the more vaccines a child should have received in average, and vice versa.

    Any dose-response study would do. One could cite Heron et al. (2004), for example – a UK study.

  104. #104 Dan Weber
    March 4, 2010

    The signature of @97 (March 4, 2010 4:45 PM) links to an executable, and while the link is currently broken, it sure feels a lot like an attempt to get people to download malware. It should probably be killed.

  105. #105 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    I would love to see JB actually give that a try. This must be a strange place for JB anyway, so alien, where comments are allowed to stand and people can disagree. Craziness!

  106. #106 Dedj
    March 4, 2010

    “By document or just word of mouth?”

    By mention on Deers’ website.

    However, given that Deer has had his opinions and ‘word of mouth’ validated to a high level of concordance, under a high standard, in front of the highest relevant authourity, there is currently no known reason to dispute this claim.

    It does seem more than co-incidental that Deer’s writing appears to change from what some parents said, and what he found out from the LAB and RFH, to what is in the clinical notes, just after the failed suit against him.

    As such, I know of no reason that would disbar the GMC from legally obtaining anonymised or even fully disclosed copies of the childrens records. Patient agreement is not always needed and would be unworkable in cases where the clinician is operating undue influence, or in some cases where the client is under Section or MCA.

    Wakefields defence would be unworkable if he had not submited medical records as evidence in his defence.

    I’m currently reading through the Eady hearing to see if there’s any mention.

  107. #107 Vindaloo
    March 4, 2010

    6 Degrees of JB Handley: chaos, control, chaos, control, chaos, control.

    I have to say that I snicker at each new uncovering of the two-face by Skeptico, Sullivan, et al.

  108. #108 Dave
    March 4, 2010

    So, let me get this straight:

    1. Ten licensed vaccines for kids given 36 times

    2. 55% of total shots come 0-12 months

    3. Most appointments, kids receive 5-7 shots per visit

    He can’t even get this straight. Actually, the “total shots” number isn’t really meaningful, since it varies depending on how the shots are given and whether influenza is part of it. I make it a total of 25 shots up to the age of 2, with others at 2 or after. The first MMR dose is around 12 months. The max number at any given pediatrician visit is debatable but typically would be at most five.

  109. #109 Dangerous Bacon
    March 4, 2010

    Orac: “Unlike at Age of Autism, comments here are not censored. You can say pretty damned near anything you want and it will either go through or be approved when I check the spam filter. Give it your best shot! Who knows? You might convince someone.”

    I doubt JB is up to the task of actually defending his beliefs in skeptical company. Hastily dumping a load of strawmen and illogic and then running away is more his style.

    JB: “Here’s Geraldine Dawson, PhD, CSO for Autism Speaks, Please Orac-lovers, tell me she is wrong!!”

    Funny thing about Geraldine Dawson. Her PhD is in developmental and child clinical psychology, not in immunology, genetics or any branch of medicine pertaining to vaccination. Yet she poses as an authority on these topics.

    Even worse, her online CV lists here as a consultant to IntegraGen, a Big Pharma-allied company that (worse and worse) is trying to develop a genetic test to predict development of autism. Gosh, isn’t this a betrayal of the dogma that environmental toxins (a.k.a. vaccines) cause autism, not genetic factors? Better boot her out of the club!!!

  110. #110 Prometheus
    March 4, 2010

    Isn’t Geraldine Dawson the “Chief Scientific Officer” of “Autism Speaks”? As such, doesn’t she have a “conflict of interest” when it comes to speculating about the cause(s) of autism?

    I figure if JB thinks Dr. Offit is “conflicted” simply because he has developed vaccines, then Dr. Dawson is “extremely conflicted”.

    Prometheus

  111. #111 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Dangerous Bacon

    I doubt JB is up to the task of actually defending his beliefs in skeptical company. Hastily dumping a load of strawmen and illogic and then running away is more his style.

    It would seem that way. He did a drive-by garbage-dumping on Bad Astronomy. I asked him some questions, but he has yet to appear again. Perhaps he labors under the delusion that, despite explicit statements to the contrary, his comments will ultimately get censored, so why bother.

  112. #112 Marc
    March 4, 2010

    Orac, that clip was genius. I can’t believe that the peasants went as far as talking about Anarcho-Syndicalism and Marxist theory of government. You MUST tell me where you took this from. Btw, speaking of Anarcho-Syndicalism, do you know Noam Chomsky? References to Anarcho-Syndicalism are so rare that when I hear them, I am always reminded of him.

  113. #113 Toad
    March 4, 2010

    Go back and redo your meaningless math JB. Didn’t anyone tell you that Rotavirus vaccine is not a shot? Were you to stupid to ask?

  114. #114 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    Marc @ 112
    It is from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Apparently you have not seen it…I am shocked there are people who have not.

    You must watch it immediately.

  115. #115 Marc
    March 4, 2010

    @Travis: I’m 20. That thing must have come out long ago. Sorry. Not from the same generation. Btw, to Orac, Travis, Todd W., Prometheus, Dan Weber, Sullivan and the other real scientists here: Why do you bother answering JB and others like him? I am studying something entirely different from medicine and am not from the domain but it was crystal clear from his first comment that JB was BS-ing. Why waste the time? I can’t believe that I actually read all the comments myself. LOL.

  116. #116 Todd W.
    March 4, 2010

    @Marc

    Thanks for calling me a real scientist. I’m not, but I do support science and science-based medicine. I like to think that I have at least a decent grasp of the science involved.

    As to why we bother responding to JB, it’s not to change his mind. He’s a true believer who will not accept anything that doesn’t fit his tightly boxed worldview. Instead, at least for me, it’s so that if anyone else happens to be reading, they can see where the errors lie. Not everyone is as quick to pick up on his blather, and they might fall for it. I try help people avoid that when rabid antivaxers show up (part of the reason I created The Truth About the Evils of Vaccination a while back).

    At any rate, I’m generally in awe of some of the others you listed, in particular Orac’s verbally robust posts and Prometheus’ talent for making statistics understandable.

  117. #117 Jennifer B. Phillips
    March 4, 2010

    Marc,

    What Todd W. said. And see comment #98.

  118. #118 Marc
    March 4, 2010

    @Todd W.: I am not a scientist either. Well, not fully one anyways. I’m pursuing degrees in mathematics and computer science. Completely unrelated to medicine. However, here’s an example of what I mean by BS-ing — again this coming from someone who is not in medicine or anything even remotely related. I take the following from JB’s first comment (#92):

    “And, you guys are the honest scientists? You should be embarrassed. It’s pathetic. If you have actually read the papers and believe that science has proven vaccines don’t cause autism, you are a liar or imbecile.

    Here’s Geraldine Dawson, PhD, CSO for Autism Speaks, Please Orac-lovers, tell me she is wrong!!”

    -> A simple appeal to authority will not convince a serious scientist to accept an argument.
    -> No serious scientist would refer to other serious scientists as “Orac-lovers” or any other form of name-calling.
    -> Let’s see who the famous Geraldine Dawson is (a simple Google search will reveal this):
    1) PhD in Psychology. Therefore, not from the domain. Therefore, not a reliable source. Therefore, the argument fails… but just for fun let’s keep going!
    2) Has competing interests (which JB did not reveal and should have). She’s doing some sort of work for the companies IntegraGen and Nastech.

    All of the above could have been figured out from clicking on the first site from the search results of Google:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/dawson/GDawson.html

    Q.E.D.

  119. #119 Marc
    March 4, 2010

    @Jennifer B. Phillips: I just checked comment 98. My bad. Understood. Won’t make the mistake again.

  120. #120 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    Marc, I hope I did not come off as being too critical, I meant my surprise to be a rather lighthearted thing, it just happens to be a really well known movie, especially in the nerdy crowd so I always assume people know it.
    You should see it. Also you should watch the Life Of Brian. Very good but you need to listen to it.

    And I am only 27 (a month or so from 28 though) so I am not sure I am really in a different generation:-)

    Am I a scientist? I dunno, I have a few papers with my name on them and I am currently a masters student studying computer science, though interesting in computational biology. Scientist in training maybe. Being in CS I am not sure what I should say. I do have a degree in physics. Anyway, I am near science and scientists at least:-)

    Sorry for the shambling rambles.

  121. #121 Travis
    March 4, 2010

    I type interesting when I mean interested all of the time. There is something wrong with my brain.

  122. #122 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @Travis: For reasons which elude me, I very often miss things fundamental to nerd culture, while clearly belonging to the nerd set. I’ll watch them both and come back here…

    And don’t worry you’re more of a scientist than me. I only have 2 papers with my name on them and they’re minor work in math. Still, probably much more significant than anything JB has to show!

  123. #123 David N. Brown
    March 5, 2010

    In case JB Handley’s still around, I would like it if you posted this correction to your unacknowledged and misleading use of my work:
    I wrote the letter to Neurotoxicology, and I must insist that certain things be noted. First, I sent the letter last November, as soon as I became aware of the paper. The omission of this information suggests that you are trying to incorporate it into your allegation of a timed “campaign” against Wakefield. Second, I ensured that my exchange was documented thoroughly and in a timely way, and made available to whom it might concern. Thus, to speak of “claimed” and “alleged” is quite frivolous. Finally, my only arguments were the evidence that Wakefield committed fraud, and the standard professional penalties for fraud. I said nothing whatsoever about the honesty or quality of Wakefield’s current work. Therefore, to precede a discussion of my correspondence with a hypothetical line about “poisoned” monkeys is entirely deceptive.

    If you don’t I will post it as a comment once or twice a day and file a complaint with google news every time it fails to appear until your article is deleted from the news feed. Anyone else want to join in?

  124. #124 JB Handley
    March 5, 2010

    Orac:

    You wrote:

    “It’s a matter of simply pointing out that the vast preponderance of the evidence available, including multiple high quality epidemiological studies with hundreds of thousands of children in the aggregate, do not support your faith-based belief that there is a detectable correlation between vaccines and autism.”

    And, there it is again. What kind of scientist with even half a brain would generalize from “MMR” to “vaccines” – it shows a shockingly unscientific bias to make the science sound far more complete than it is. As I recollect, the only real critique you had of 14studies was the grading system, because the simple (for a person with a brain) point that it made is that (sorry for the caps) THE WORK HASN’T BEEN DONE.

    What drives me nuts is when people like you simply lie and assert that the evidence shows vaccines do not cause autism.

    Here’s what I say: the evidence does not yet show whether or not vaccines cause autism, because so little work has actually been done. And yet, many, many people on your side feign exasperation that we should move on to to other areas of study…

    Yet, we keep getting the phone calls, and the parents aren’t making it up. There simply has to be a way, that science should be able to devise, to figure out if all this simultaneous administration of vaccines is hurting some kids, and perhaps more and more as more and more vaccines get added. The monkey study, as one simple example, is a means to devise an animal model to try to reflect the real world with an unvaccinated control group. Nitpick the actual study all you want, an animal model with that as the construct makes all the sense in the world to try and find an answer.

    Bernadine Healy is the only doctor so far who has been honest. She didn’t say “I think vaccines cause autism,” she said, “they haven’t done the work.”

    So, when you assert in manny different and subtle ways that science has proven us wrong, you are completely full of shit, and you know I’m right, especially if you have really read every study I have as you claim you do.

    Please, cite just one study of any vaccine other than MMR that has been studied for its relationship to autism? You know they don’t exist – the only reasoned answer is – “no one has really looked.” And, please, idiots, rather than the usual insults (which don’t make me go away), someone please produce the preponderance of evidence beyond MMR that proves your point?

    And, Orac, if you’ve really read the studies, than you know that the other scientists who get on TV and say its been proven that “vaccines” do not cause autism are completely lying – is that OK by you?

  125. #125 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @Orac and the real scientists (and you know who you are): I’m new to Respectful Insolence. Orac, do you deal with clowns like JB every day? What a mind job! My brain would have exploded by now! What patience!

    @JB: What about my comment about Geraldine Dawson? How do you justify citing someone from the wrong domain and without mentioning that she has competing interests? And what about this: “Bernadine Healy is the only doctor so far who has been honest.” I thought the only one was Geraldine Dawson…

  126. #126 Sullivan
    March 5, 2010

    In the past, Mr. Handley showed disdain for those who did “tobacco science”. In a comment on this blog, he tried to berate Orac with:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/10/david_kirby_admits_that_mercury_in_vacci.php#comment-1179723

    “Do you remove your skeptic hat when reading the tobacco science farted out by the CDC trying to cover up the vaccine program?”

    Today, he quotes Bernadine Healy,

    Bernadine Healy is the only doctor so far who has been honest. She didn’t say “I think vaccines cause autism,” she said, “they haven’t done the work.”

    whose name appears on this document as a member of TASSC, an organization paid by Tobacco companies to deny the dangers of second hand smoke. In this document, TASSC is asking for $50,000 from Brown and Williamson tobacco company, to “educate the public, media, and policymakers on priorities in public health”

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/tassc-letter-showing-bernadine-healy-on-the-letterhead.pdf

    So, Tobacco scientists are good resources, when they support your viewpoint?

    Once again, I ask: are we speaking with 2005 JB Handley or 2010 JB Handley?

  127. #127 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    I’m confused, JB; so I’d appreciate it if you’d help me understand your position. You appear to be subtly conceding that thimerosal does not cause autism. You also appear to be subtly conceding that MMR does not cause autism. Would these assessments be correct or is this just wishful thinking on my part? Will you say here and now that neither the MMR nor thimerosal is associated with autism and therefore each is highly unlikely to be a cause, contributor to, or exacerbating factor of autism? After all, by your standard, there does appear to be more than adequate evidence to back up such a statement.

    Also, before you once again accuse me of “lying” yet again, please consider your own words:

    Here’s what I say: the evidence does not yet show whether or not vaccines cause autism, because so little work has actually been done. And yet, many, many people on your side feign exasperation that we should move on to to other areas of study…

    I note that this is a huge change for you, JB, to retreat to the position that the evidence does not show whether vaccines cause autism. Maybe there’s hope for you yet. Not too long ago you were stating dogmatically that “autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning,” that vaccines are definitely associated with autism, and that you thought they caused autism. Now you seem to be backing off from that position. That’s progress. Going from dogmatic belief in something that science doesn’t support to uncertainty is progress.

    In any case, by your invocation of Bernadine Healy and your “we don’t know” statements above, you yourself appear to be subtly conceding that there are numerous studies exonerating MMR and thimerosal. So how can you make such a statement as the one above without adding “except MMR and thimerosal, for which there is good evidence of no association with autism” and claim to be intellectually honest in making a statement like the one above, especially since, in the case of MMR and thimerosal, it is clearly not correct to say that “so little work has been done”?

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Finally, there is one difference between you and me, JB. (Well, there are a lot of differences, but this one is most pertinent.) If you show me compelling scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism, I will rethink my position. If the evidence accumulates to the point where it is too compelling to explain, I will, as Tim Minchin puts it:

    Then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell…

    And I would be, too, but I go where the evidence leads.

    Tim Minchin also said:

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve “Fancy That!” on the side of my cock.”

    Given your general crudity and penchant for profanity, I thought you might be amused by Tim Minchin’s Storm, which is the poem from which I extracted the two quotes above. I have yet to see that you will do what Tim says in his poem, other than the glimmer that maybe, just maybe, given your apparent retreat to the “we just don’t know” gambit, there’s a glimmer of hope that you, too, might change your mind when the data become so overwhelming.

  128. #128 The dog ate JB's homework
    March 5, 2010

    JBH,

    What does the evidence show about autism being a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning? (You know from vaccines and all)

    What does the evidence show about chelation for autism?

    Remember those cool pics in the paper of your kitchen cupboard full of TD-DMPS and RNA drops? That was cool, huh?

  129. #129 JB Handley
    March 5, 2010

    Marc: Rather than trying to play “gotcha” and being a nitpicky little twit, why don’t you react to some of the substance Dawson, Healy, or I have actually offered up? Don’t worry, I only post here on rare occasions, largely because of jackasses like you.

    And, Marc, Geraldine Dawson is the Chief Science Office of Autism Speaks, I just excerpted a letter they wrote to the NVAC. It’s just another way for me to prove a very simple point that the work hasn’t been done, and everyone knows it. When idiots like Orac dismiss us while knowing full well the work hasn’t been done, that annoys me.

    Almost as much as twits like you, Marc.

  130. #130 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @Orac and Real ones: Messing up JB is actually quite easy. He writes huge chunks of text which usually contradict his previously written huge chunks of text. Just pick statement X from chunk of text N and find out where statement !X appears in chunk of text N+1. Then, contradiction. Q.E.D.

    @JB: Maybe you don’t understand what’s happening. From chunk to chunk, you change your argument. We are not arguing against you as much as you are arguing against yourself. The only thing that remains consistent in all your comments is your religious anti-vaccine stance. It would be far more efficient for both you and us if you only posted one comment packed with lies and stopped there. We would only disprove your points once and you would only disprove your points once.

  131. #131 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    Don’t worry, I only post here on rare occasions, largely because of jackasses like you.

    One notes that you are free to comment here, even when you accuse me and my readers of being “jackasses” and “liars.” That’s because, unlike you and your crew at Age of Autism, I do not fear criticism.

  132. #132 JB Handley
    March 5, 2010

    Marc: You remain a twit. React to the substance of what I have said or move on. Here’s my final word, a final huge chunk. And, Orac, you are completely full of shit on this issue and your comments are those of a partisan, not a scientist:

    If in fact vaccines seemed like a good place to start to assess a fairly obvious risk from the environment, a risk that was known to cause brain damage and that many parents were pointing to as a cause of their child’s regression, than it would really be hard to know where the hell to start because we give so many vaccines at once.

    People forget how many vaccines we actually do give in a very short period of time so sometimes it just bears repeating the obvious, even though I’m certain I’m boring some of you in doing so, so here’s just the first 6 months of most American newborns:

    Day 1 of life: Hepatitis B
    2 month visit: Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTP, Hib, Pneumococcal, Polio
    4 month visit: Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTP, Hib, Pneumococcal, Polio
    6 month visit: Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTP, Hib, Pneumococcal, Polio, Flu

    Getting back to these scientists again, the ones learning about this whole thing for the first time, the one thing I am dead certain about, so certain in fact that I’d bet everything I have and then borrow another 100x what I have to really, really go for it is that there is not one shred of science anywhere on this planet that yet, in any way shape or form, looks at the real world in terms of how vaccines are administered and tries to figure out if, in the real world, something very, very horrible may actually be happening to our kids from so many vaccines given at once.

    Something like, we started out with really good intentions to save kids lives, but didn’t realize that something with a tiny risk of brain injury when given singularly, may in fact see that risk grow geometrically when given in combination, so that the risk of brain injury is no longer a risk so much as simply an expected side effect.

    So these scientists, looking at this whole mess for the first time and all these vaccines and all these parent reports and the fact that vaccines are most certainly known to cause brain injury would realize that there simply had to be some way somehow to isolate some population somewhere who had not yet actually been exposed to all these vaccines that are given to most children so early in life.

    What these scientists would be left with, I am wholly certain, is that there are three relatively easy and obvious paths for how you would go about trying to figure out if all these tens of thousands of parent reports were actually telling you something, or if all these parents were just sort of making it up to get better services:

    - Find a group of kids who never received any vaccines and compare their rates of all the things you suspect the vaccine schedule may be causing to kids who got all their vaccines. See if there are any differences that are significant, statistically speaking.

    - Take a group of kids whose parents claim regression after vaccination and see if there is anything materially different about their bodies from a group of normally developing children who didn’t regress after vaccination.

    - Start from scratch with an animal model, thereby bypassing potential ethical issues of not having children vaccinated, and see what happens to a group of animals vaccinated like our kids compared to a group of animals getting no vaccines.

  133. #133 Sullivan
    March 5, 2010

    Mr. Handley,

    the work hasn’t been done, that is true. The work hasn’t been done to make any sort of reasonable case that vaccines in general are a significant cause of autism.

    Make your case first. Your comments here do not do that.

    “too many too soon”…too many bad claims made too soon before a logical argument has been put forth.

    But, you have “blithering idiots” and “tobacco scientists” on your side.

  134. #134 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    the work hasn’t been done, that is true. The work hasn’t been done to make any sort of reasonable case that vaccines in general are a significant cause of autism.

    …or any of the other chronic conditions or diseases attributed to vaccines.

  135. #135 Dear Leader
    March 5, 2010

    “Don’t worry, I only post here on rare occasions, largely because of jackasses like you.”

    Actually, I think you only post here rarely because you know poor logic, reliance on anecdote, contradiction, and general weakness with verifiable facts puts you at a huge disadvantage in the long run.

    You’re not stupid when it comes to preserving your image to your followers.

  136. #136 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @JB: I cannot “react to the substance”, since there is none. “Substance” in a domain can only be produced by serious scientists in that domain. Dawson, Healy and you cannot produce “substance” in medicine since you are not serious scientists in medicine. Therefore, I cannot “react to the substance”, since there is none. Q.E.D.

  137. #137 JB Handley
    March 5, 2010

    Orac:

    Trying to turn my post into an “event” where I have somehow changed my mind about vaccines and autism reflects your relatively frequent interest in making anything I do newsworthy, no matter how immaterial it is. I think the likelihood that vaccines cause autism is extremely high. I think the science on MMR and Hg has been extraordinarily poorly designed to get a certain answer, so I view it as useless. The only reason ANY science has been done is to quell rumors, not address the stories so many parents tell.

    One of the most extraordinary things about the MMR/Hg work is how almost none has actually been done on American children… (only CDC’s first study with a neutral conclusion)

    But, again, for “scientists” to continually say (as Offit always does) that the “science has been done and vaccines don’t cause autism” makes him and others a liar.

    So you won’t be disappointed when I don’t respond to your collective hate, I’m out!!

    And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.

  138. #138 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    My theory holds! At chunk N, JB has written: “Here’s my final word”. However, at chunk N+1, he wrote more, thus disproving “Here’s my final word”. Q.E.D.

  139. #139 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    I think the likelihood that vaccines cause autism is extremely high. I think the science on MMR and Hg has been extraordinarily poorly designed to get a certain answer, so I view it as useless

    Please specify what about the studies done on MMR and Hg is so poor. What are the specific flaws in the numerous studies that are so great as to invalidate them in your opinion?

    If you can’t do so in a way that is compelling to a scientist, then you simply reinforce my position that you won’t change your mind that MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism, no matter how much evidence shows that they do not.

    One of the most extraordinary things about the MMR/Hg work is how almost none has actually been done on American children… (only CDC’s first study with a neutral conclusion)

    And this would make a difference because…? Why are American children different?

    So you won’t be disappointed when I don’t respond to your collective hate, I’m out!!

    No doubt off to write yet another screed on AoA attacking me once again.

    Obviously, this particular post irritated you enough to break your usual rule about commenting on this blog. I wonder what it is about it? I think I know. You unwisely staked GR’s and AoA’s reputation on defending Andrew Wakefield, and now you know just how big an error that turned out to be. You can’t refute a single thing I wrote in my post about Andrew Wakefield and his incompetent, litigation-driven, and quite possibly fraudulent “science.” So instead, you start spewing anti-vaccine talking points and doing a bit of the “we don’t know” and Gish gallops. Then, when my readers start calling you on your nonsense, you leave.

  140. #140 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    My theory holds! At chunk N, JB has written: “Here’s my final word”. However, at chunk N+1, he wrote more, thus disproving “Here’s my final word”. Q.E.D.

    Oh, JB will be back. He always comes back. It may take days, weeks, or months. It may even take a year or more. But he’ll be back. None can resist the power of Orac, and I basically irritate the crap out of him. Every so often (and sometimes many months go by between such incidents), something I write annoys JB enough that his self-control crumbles and he starts commenting again. Apparently this was one such post.

    Usually, after posts like this, JB’s next move is to write an attack on me and post it at AoA. That’s been his MO over the past couple of years.

  141. #141 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    “And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.”
    >> HAHAHAHAHAHA! In other words, the reason why posts are screened is so that the lies can be safe. Lies tend to be unsafe when debates start. This also shows that none of you AoA people is a scientist or has any clue about how the scientific method works. But all this is redundant. The big fish: after calling Orac a jackass, a twit, an imbecile, etc., he turns around and says that Orac is actually useful and that he should keep up the good work! Useful for what, I ask? I think I know. Whenever you cranks at AoA feel like releasing some steam, you come to SB and do so on the real scientists. So, in that sense, Orac is useful to AoA. This reminds me about what Sigmund Freud wrote on the release of emotional tensions in Civilization and it’s Discontents.

  142. #142 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @Orac: This has been going on for YEARS?! I thought they would eventually give up. I’m happy we don’t have problems like this in math — would be the end of the Queen of Sciences. There is actually one mathematician who messed up bad and who I know is teaching at some college in the US, Southern Baptist “something” College. He tried to prove the veracity of ID/Creationism mathematically. He’s being laughed at frequently in the math community but I somehow can’t remember his name.

  143. #143 Chris
    March 5, 2010

    Oh, Marc, for a young guy you are learning so much about this. Trust me, if you watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Life of Brian” this weekend, it will not be wasted. You will catch up on lots of popular culture. Trust me (unless you have a take home exam, which are by definition evil), you should really spend a few hours watching those classics.

  144. #144 Brian Deer
    March 5, 2010

    Ah, so Mr Handley is here, holding forth. Perhaps he might take this opportunity to answer a few pertinent questions:

    1. Why did the autism omnibus petitioners – representing some 5,000 alleged vaccine injured children, and so presumably not in the pay of government or Big Pharma – not call Dr Andrew Wakefield, or present any of his purported research whatsoever for scrutiny by the court?

    2. Why did Jane Johnson, director of the Defeat Autism Now network, and so presumably not in the pay of government or Big Pharma, fire Andrew Wakefield from Thoughtful House?

    3. Does he join me in condemning “Age of Autism”, which holds itself out to be a “newspaper”, for failing to make the slightest effort to diligently report on such important matters in an honest and transparent way, so as to mislead parents and inflame them with false beliefs.

  145. #145 David N. Brown
    March 5, 2010

    So… I tell JBH I’m going to try to have him censored by google news, and he says nothing to me. Is it AoA/GR’s policy to act like I don’t exist even while using my work?
    Kudos to the “Hairy Biped” for saying that AoA isn’t interested in debate.
    A note to Mr. Handley: You already did one study on autism rates among vaccinated v. unvaccinated. What it showed, despite massive fraud in the data presentation, is that the unvaccinated sample had an approximately normal autism rate, while “partially vaccinated” had an elevated autism rate.

  146. #146 Vindaloo
    March 5, 2010

    @Handley: “the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.”

    That might be the most insightful, truthful, and unintentionally hilarious thing the idiot has ever said.

  147. #147 l'asperge
    March 5, 2010

    What drives me nuts is when people like you simply lie and assert that the evidence shows vaccines do not cause autism.

    And this whole time I thought it was a chemical imbalance in your brain, or a Handley Family history of sociopathy. Thanks for clearing that up, JB.

  148. #148 Andrew
    March 5, 2010

    JB: Since I’m the parent of an autistic child, I appreciate your warning that AoA is an echo-chamber where only your opinions are allowed to be heard. I’ll stay here on Orac’s site, thanks…

  149. #149 AutismNewsBeat
    March 5, 2010

    “And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within.”

    What are you trying to protect those parents from, JB? The same science and free inquiry that hasn’t been done regarding vaccines? What’s so unsafe about that? Is that what you mean by “too many, too soon” – too many relevant questions asked before your parents are ready for them?

  150. #150 agashem
    March 5, 2010

    I have said this before and I will say it again, my daughter with autism was not given any vaccines on day one of her life. So that rules out that cause. But finally, I want to know why these anti-vaxxers hate the fact that their children have autism so much? I am proud of my daughter and that she has autism is part of who she is, I couldn’t conceive of her in any other way. I wonder how the children of these anti-vaxxers must feel: ashamed of themselves that they were damaged? Anger at their parents for supposedly damaging them with vaccines? Confused as they don’t want to be ‘normal’ and would like to be left alone being autistic? (this is what many adults with autism are saying). I don’t/can’t/won’t understand all of this misdirected energy. Tell me at the end of your daughter’s/son’s life what they will have gained from your anger.

  151. #151 Sullivan
    March 5, 2010

    Orac,

    there is a blogger over at Science Based Medicine who is highly critical of JB Handley. For some reason, Mr. Handley doesn’t comment there.

    One of the most extraordinary things about the MMR/Hg work is how almost none has actually been done on American children… (only CDC’s first study with a neutral conclusion)

    Well, I guess if they used Peruvian Hamsters to make the case it would be just plain silly…Oh, wait, that’s you!

    Or, maybe if they depended on non-peer reviewed work by MBA’s in stead of scientists…Oh, wait, that’s you!

    Or, maybe if they created their own faux journals and packed the editorial board with people whose research doesn’t reach the standards or any high quality journal…oh, wait that’s you!

  152. #152 Natalie
    March 5, 2010

    Did anyone else notice that, even thought there are over a dozen posts asking JBH a question or arguing against one of his points between his entrance in #92 and his response in #124, he only responds to two commenters – our host, and the commenter who self identifies as a 20 year old undergraduate student.

    Seems to me JBH thought he’d picked an easy opponent by responding to someone young and still in school. Interesting.

  153. #153 Broken Link
    March 5, 2010

    @151: LOL! Amazing.

    Actually, there’s lots of work on American children. For example:

    1. The CDDS-based study which concluded: “The DDS data do not show any recent decrease in autism in California despite the exclusion of more than trace levels of thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines. The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism.”
    (PMID: 18180424)

    2. Hornig et al’s attempt to replicate Wakefield’s work, which concluced “This study provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure.” (PMID: 18769550)

    AoA often claims that epidemiology is not enough, we have to study the children. Well, here are examples of both. Both on American children.

  154. #154 Broken Link
    March 5, 2010

    I think that besides the fact that there are two JB Handleys, there are also two Mark Blaxills. Here’s the old Mark Blaxill (2005), posting to abmd:

    1. “Confusion” about the CA numbers. I couldn’t tell quite what Bruce
    was saying about the epidemic. Actually, the CA numbers are quite
    good, all things considered. With the strain of the overall case
    load, some changes have occurred recently. But there are many other
    states (in fact all of them) that are showing declines in autism
    rates by birth year cohort and most of these are falling FASTER than
    CA. The question is whether those rate changes by birth year reflect
    real change or ascertainment lags. We won’t know the answer to those
    questions for a few more years. I do think the assertion
    of “confusion” was not right on target, and frankly, I worry that
    anytime people start making that arugment, they start easing into the
    official line that “we simply don’t know whether the real rate of
    autism is increasing.” The fact is, the rates are up tenfold well
    into the 90s and we won’t know about recent cohorts for a few years.

    2. On mercury. It is certainly true that reasonable people can
    disagree on mercury as a causal factor in autism. There is a great
    deal of evidence supporting at the very least a role for mercury in
    autism. Teresa cited some, there is more than that already published,
    and there is more on the way. A lot of it is pretty compelling, at
    least in my view. The epi work done to make the reverse case is
    poorly done and conducted by researchers with conflicts of interest.
    But I also think it’s fair to say that the jury is out on this one
    from a scientific standpoint. The good news is that the mercury
    hypoyhesis is a testable one; it certainly deserves a lot of testing.

    See, the old Mark Blaxill states that the mercury hypothesis is testable, and implies that it will be statistics from the CDDS that will test it. When it was tseted, and found to be false, we don’t see the new Mark Blaxill admitting that.

  155. #155 Jen in TX
    March 5, 2010

    “And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within.”

    How incredibly insulting. I’m the parent of two autistic boys, JB, and I certainly don’t need the screening of comments to make me feel “safe.” What I do need to feel “safe” is accurate information, and honest and open discussions, and you know what JB? I feel a thousand times safer here at RI than I do at AoA, even if we do have disagreements here. You never learn anything if you’re living in a bubble with other like-minded people, nodding in agreement with one another. Real learning comes from having your ideas challenged every so often.

    YMMV, of course.

  156. #156 Jen in TX
    March 5, 2010

    “And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within.”

    How incredibly insulting. I’m the parent of two autistic boys, JB, and I certainly don’t need the screening of comments to make me feel “safe.” What I do need to feel “safe” is accurate information, and honest and open discussions, and you know what JB? I feel a thousand times safer here at RI than I do at AoA, even if we do have disagreements here. You never learn anything if you’re living in a bubble with other like-minded people, nodding in agreement with one another. Real learning comes from having your ideas challenged every so often.

    YMMV, of course.

  157. #157 Kristen
    March 5, 2010

    @Orac

    Certainly, I don’t make fun of the lack of scientific credentials of my commenters in general. (There’s usually have no way of telling whether a commenter is a scientist unless they tell me, anyway.) I judge them on the merits of their comments.

    I, for one am very glad for this, although everyone here can probably tell I am not a scientist, at least not trained as such (I like to think I have a scientific curiosity). I am just an (sometimes) angry mom, who tries very hard to be reasonable.

    @JB

    And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.

    As a parent of a child with autism I need to ask, why do parents need to be treated with so much tender care? Parents are too fragile to take differing opinions? I think you, JB are the one who is underestimating the parents, you want your echo chamber to validate yourself, not to protect the parents. But no, we can’t have those pesky scientists with their evidence upsetting the balance.

    Don’t know how this will go over, but:

    in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

    If people were doing this so long ago, I guess it should come as no surprise it is happening today at AoA.

  158. #158 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    @Natalie: “Did anyone else notice that, even thought there are over a dozen posts asking JBH a question or arguing against one of his points between his entrance in #92 and his response in #124, he only responds to two commenters – our host, and the commenter who self identifies as a 20 year old undergraduate student.

    Seems to me JBH thought he’d picked an easy opponent by responding to someone young and still in school. Interesting.”

    >> He did not respond to me. He called me a twit, assembled an army of straw men, armed them with logical fallacies and threw them at me. I don’t know about the other sciences, but in math, this is not considered “responding to an argument”. Besides, even with an unfinished degree in a scientific field unrelated to medicine, I’m probably more of an authority on this subject than JB. That alone says something.

  159. #159 Todd W.
    March 5, 2010

    @JB Handley

    And, Orac, the reason they screen posts at AoA is so that parents of children with autism have a safe environment to talk within. If they wanted debate, they can come to your lovely blog, so we all serve our little purposes, keep up the good work.

    Now, JB, I’m curious. What was specifically “unsafe” about my comments on Age of Autism? The last of my comments that you and your cadre of censorerseditors allowed to appear on there were regarding the fact that OSR, an industrial chelator, was totally untested for use in humans, let alone approved by FDA, and yet was being extolled by your colleague Kim Stagliano, among others. And not even all of those comments were allowed through.

    Since then, not a single comment of mine was allowed to appear in any thread on Age of Autism. Fortunately, I’ve published them over at Silenced by Age of Autism so people can see what is being censored. So, please, tell me what, in any of my comments listed on Silenced, is “unsafe”.

    To anyone else reading here, I strongly encourage you to post your thoughts over at Age of Autism. Just keep a copy of it in case it gets censored and cross-post it over at Silenced. I’d only ask that you be respectful, stick to the facts and stick to the content of the article on which you’re commenting.

  160. #160 Roberto
    March 5, 2010

    Orac asks JBH:

    “Please specify what about the studies done on MMR and Hg is so poor.”

    [nothing but the sound of crickets]

    I think I know why Mr. Handley feels the studies on MMR and thimerosal were so poor – because they didn’t support his belief that vaccines cause autism.

    Come on, folks! JB has no more scientific knowledge than Mark Blaxill – they’re both businessmen! In business it really doesn’t matter what the truth is, as long as the consumer keeps buying your product. Is Ford better than GM? Who knows? All that matters are the sales figures.

    Why JB thinks that name-calling will change the fact that Orac and others have shown the gaping holes in his “science” is beyond my understanding, but I’m not a psychologist. Most adults realize that when a person resorts to name-calling, they are admitting they have nothing to support their claims.

    The claim that most of the vaccines haven’t been specifically tested to determine if they are associated with autism is true. However, it takes time for studies to be designed, funded, completed and published. We have already seen studies showing that MMR and thimerosal aren’t associated with autism – other studies may be published in the near future.

    By rapidly shifting the “goalposts”, the “vaccines-cause-autism” movement has cleverly (if a bit cynically) kept one step ahead of the research. If a study comes out showing no difference in autism prevalence between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, I expect the “goalposts” would move yet again.

    If JB (and others like him) was truly interested in the science of autism, he would at least admit that he was wrong about thimerosal and the MMR vaccine. However, it wouldn’t be a very shrewd business strategy to admit error, and JB is, after all, a businessman.

    Roberto

  161. #161 Todd W.
    March 5, 2010

    @Roberto

    If a study comes out showing no difference in autism prevalence between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, I expect the “goalposts” would move yet again.

    The study hasn’t even been done yet and they already have shifted the goalposts. In a comment over at Age of Autism, someone said that the vaccines the mother received could be responsible, so a vaxed vs. unvaxed study would need to start with completely unvaccinated children whose parents were also not vaccinated.

    I expect that they would shift back yet another generation if that study came up negative.

  162. #162 Science Mom
    March 5, 2010

    What these scientists would be left with, I am wholly certain, is that there are three relatively easy and obvious paths for how you would go about trying to figure out if all these tens of thousands of parent reports were actually telling you something, or if all these parents were just sort of making it up to get better services:

    Tens of thousands? Hold on, didn’t you just
    say this,
    More importantly, autism is not an event, it’s a process. It is exceptionally rare that I hear the story, “my son was 100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment he lost everything.” I have heard that story, but very rarely.“? But now you are back to claiming tens of thousands? Really Handley, keep your stories straight. But of course that is difficult to do when you have to shift the goalposts as much as you do and torture science to get it to try and fit your biases.

    - Find a group of kids who never received any vaccines and compare their rates of all the things you suspect the vaccine schedule may be causing to kids who got all their vaccines. See if there are any differences that are significant, statistically speaking.

    Didn’t you already do that? I guess that didn’t work out quite the way you’d hoped huh? In any event and in spite of your assertion that vaccines are responsible for a large number of ASD cases, a study would have to include several thousand participants in order to be worthwhile. That is particularly so since you are suggesting a fishing expedition and particularly so if you want enough power to detect significant differences, if any. So why don’t you do your part and get the unvaccinated cohort together since you are their fearless leader.

    You also need to consider (thinking logically and scientifically is required for this so that will be problematic for you) is that there is no trend, or pattern with vaccination schedules and ASD prevalence estimates, globally. So without even a working hypothesis it is non-sensical to invest in a game of chasing tails.

    Sweden:
    Vaccine Schedule: http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/vaccination/sweden.html
    Autism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16568356

    Denmark:
    Vaccine Schedule: http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/vaccination/denmark.html
    Autism: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/162/12/1150

    Norway:
    Vaccine Schedule: http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/vaccination/norway.html
    Autism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19551326

    You see? Sweden, with the lightest vaccine schedule has surpassed the U.S. in ASD prevalence and did so a decade before.

    - Take a group of kids whose parents claim regression after vaccination and see if there is anything materially different about their bodies from a group of normally developing children who didn’t regress after vaccination.

    Didn’t Wakefield already do this? Oh right, that was a wee bit disastrous now wasn’t it? What do you think all of this genetics research is doing? Do you even bother to look at clinical trials to see what studies are recruiting, underway and completed? Do you understand that there are attempts to identify certain genotypes associated with certain phenotypes? This is precisely what you are asking for, you just don’t like that there isn’t an obsession with vaccines. Again, you are coming from the very erroneous platform that vaccines cause autism in most cases and you certainly don’t have the background to dictate how research should be conducted.

    - Start from scratch with an animal model, thereby bypassing potential ethical issues of not having children vaccinated, and see what happens to a group of animals vaccinated like our kids compared to a group of animals getting no vaccines.

    Again, what happened to your precious Hewitson et al. Monkey study? Why isn’t that good enough? A rhetorical question, of course. You see Handley? You want your crap science to be in the big leagues but it just isn’t good enough, ethical enough to get it there and that has got to frost your ass.

    But that is your own fault; produce some decent research that is unassailable and we will have no choice but to pay attention. Your and your ‘colleagues’ incessant mewling about how Wakers has been railroaded and maligned, along with all of your evidence-free assertions are just disenfranchising your group even more. It is patently clear that you are not remotely interested in evidence. If you were, you would have accepted what we have already.

  163. #163 Fuzzzone
    March 5, 2010

    “even though I’m certain I’m boring some of you”

    Iron-clad evidence that JB has at least one toe in reality. I’m both shocked and pleased. Perhaps Orac is right, there may yet be hope.

    Re: Kristen’s cited verse, while opinions on the religious content of the bible are sure to vary, it does contain a wealth of valid observations regarding human nature. That quote from 2Tim certainly qualifies.

    And I second Travis’ movie viewing recommendations. I strongly suspect that you’ll enjoy them, Marc.

  164. #164 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 5, 2010

    The filtering of posts at AoA is for sales and marketing of autism “treatments.” It’s just high-pressure sales. Get your marks in a room, make them anxious with doom and gloom, then sell ‘em some hope at the end. An intrusion of reality would derail the gravy train.

  165. #165 Dangerous Bacon
    March 5, 2010

    JB: “People forget how many vaccines we actually do give in a very short period of time so sometimes it just bears repeating the obvious”

    What bears repeating is that the number of antigens (you know, JB, those molecular thingies in vaccines (and disease organisms) that stimulate an immune response) that are contained in vaccines has decreased considerably over the years, so that the antigenic component in vaccines presented to children nowadays is less than they handled formerly (for instance, when smallpox vaccination was still being performed). So JB’s obsessive (and numerically incorrect) focus on number of shots reflects confusion, ignorance or (much more likely) deliberately ignoring evidence about how vaccines work. I suppose that clarifying levels of antigenic stimulation is yet another one of those “unsafe” ideas that JB thinks parents need to be protected from over at AoA, hence the censorhip.

    JB: “And, Marc, Geraldine Dawson is the Chief Science Office of Autism Speaks”

    She’s a building?

    Always interesting to see someone like JB spewing profanity and name-calling, while simultaneously upbraiding critics for being hateful (reminds me of a certain antivax pediatrician who drops in here every now and then to take a metaphorical dump and run). While our irony meters are blowing up from circuit overload, JB‘s own sense of irony is either ossified or never developed in the first place.

  166. #166 dt
    March 5, 2010

    @JB Handley:

    When Steve Novella made a simple error in describing the vaccine schedule, you came down on him like a shit storm, spewing bile about his dishonesty and ignorance.

    Now Steve, when attention was called to his mistake, corrected it, rapidly apologised and put his statement into context.

    However, you have persistently lied about the vaccine schedule yourself, and when alerted to your mistakes just blindly sail on regardless. So I wonder who is the more trustworthy, believable and reliable person?

    Detail: You made a specific claim, namely that

    “Most appointments, kids receive 5-7 shots per visit”


    You then tried to justify this by describing a schedule up to 6 months of age.

    Now here is the real, typical number of “shots” that kids get (as opposed to your entirely fictitious “schedule” described in your post above):

    Day 1 of life: Hepatitis B (1 shot)
    2 month visit: Hepatitis B, DTP, Hib, Pneumococcal, Polio (5 shots)
    4 month visit: DTP, Hib, Pneumococcal, Polio (4 shots)
    6 month visit: Hepatitis B, DTP, (Hib)*, Pneumococcal, Polio, (Flu)** (4-6 shots)

    Please note:
    1. Rota virus vaccine is not a “shot” and doesn’t count (and you stupidly fail to note that if it is given at 2 and 4 months then the 6 month dose is ommitted)

    *2. Hib at 6 months is unecessary if Merck Hib vaccine is given at 2 and 4 months.

    **3. Flu vaccine may be given as early as 6 months (but doesn’t have to be – it can be given at a year, and if live fluvirus vaccine is given as opposed to inactivated vaccine (an increasingly common event), it is first given at 2 years of age).

    Does anyone here think we can expect a grovelling apology from JB for his bare-faced lies? Don’t hold your breath people….

  167. #167 dt
    March 5, 2010

    Edited to add:
    It’s even worse than that, since Hep B can be combined with HiB into a single shot, and/or DTaP can be combined with HiB into a single shot.

    The numbers just keep getting smaller and smaller, JB….

  168. #168 Kristen
    March 5, 2010

    @Fuzzzone

    Re: Kristen’s cited verse, while opinions on the religious content of the bible are sure to vary, it does contain a wealth of valid observations regarding human nature. That quote from 2Tim certainly qualifies.

    Thank you, I wasn’t meaning to invoke religion. The Bible is full of great insights and some solid advice, it is a shame so many have used it as a tool of control and repression.

    Although, if this was a religious discussion I would have had at least one person take issue with my choice of translation. ;)

  169. #169 triskelethecat (MI Dawn)
    March 5, 2010

    @Kristen: I’m an atheist, but I can appreciate a well-quoted biblical text when it applies so well!

    @Marc: Enjoy Monty Python. I corrupted my kids with it years ago. They are about your age. (anyone who hasn’t see the Lego version of Knights of Camelot REALLY needs to see it…you will laugh till you cry)

    @dt: since my kids are grown (fully vaccinated, even with the evil HPV vaccine…their choice for that one; I just gave them the literature and said, decide if you want it or not), I’m not up on most of the vaccines. But I think most of the injections are combinations, aren’t they? So the child may only get 3-5 shots at a time. Personally, I think that’s why they pick on vaccines…the EVIL NEEDLES that make the babies CRY. My kids usually forgot about the shot(s) before we left the office.

    @Sullivan: Yeah, it’s amazing, Orac’s “friend” is never visited by JB. Guess he figures getting his ass handed to him here is bad enough, on SBM he’d be pounced on and chewed up into tiny bits.

    @Jen in TX: You have the right to be angry, but you are much more pleasant to communicate with than you were when you first appeared on RI. Glad you hung around. It’s nice getting to know the real you.

  170. #170 Marc
    March 5, 2010

    It was an interesting discussion, at least until JB showed up. Gonna go watch the Monty Python stuff I just downlo… bought at the store.

    Anyways, I have to go get another vaccine next week. This time it’s the seasonal flu shot. Good news is, it costs only half as much as last year. My age group isn’t really at risk of much with the seasonal flu but hey, better safe than sorry.

    Now, just for fun, let’s rewrite the paragraph above in “JB language”:

    Anyways, I have to get another poison next week. This time it’s the autism-causing, thimerosal-filled one. While the price for it has gone down, it is still one of the moneymakers of the medical-industrial complex. My age group isn’t really at risk of much with the seasonal flu but I have been indoctrinated by the government elite to get vaccinated anyways, better sorry than safe.

  171. #171 David N. Brown
    March 6, 2010

    dt,
    “The numbers just keep getting smaller and smaller, JB….”
    I have an article on this called “the 36-vaccine fallacy” up at evilpossum.weebly.com, where a whole page has been dedicated to the HB’s antics. It appears that GR is revising its def of vaccine again: Rather than relying only on counting each DOSE as one “vaccine” to inflate numbers, apparently the HB is now counting each DISEASE vaccinated against in one dose as one “vaccine”.

  172. #172 Chris
    March 6, 2010

    Marc, another blog that might interest you: http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath (has stuff on the math cranks)

    Also, in my experience university (and city) libraries have those videos in their libraries to be checked out (for free!). Plus, the health center at the university my son goes to is offering the H1N1 vaccine (and I have only sent him three to four emails reminding him to go and get one!… your age group is at higher risk than my age group, especially since I got the experimental swine flu vaccine as a college student guinea pig in 1976).

  173. #173 gaiainc
    March 6, 2010

    DTP hasn’t been given in decades. We give DTaP ( if JB is going to be a nitpicking ass so am I) because it caused a mess of problems that the DTaP lessens. It’s possible to do the 2 and 6 month vaccines with only three injections and one oral vaccine and do the 4 month with two injections and one oral. Pediarix combines DTaP with polio and hep B. Pentacel does DTaP with polio and Hib.

  174. #174 Dale
    March 6, 2010

    As someone who heard this story for the first time this January, I don’t know what to believe any more.

  175. #175 Marc
    March 6, 2010

    @Chris: I got the H1N1 already. The idea is that H1N1 has blown over and the seasonal one might come back at this point. So it’s better to get the seasonal one too. Yeah I heard the 1976 vaccine caused deaths but other ppl told me it’s never been proven that the vaccine was responsible. Public health ppl just withdrew it to be sure.

  176. #176 Dale
    March 6, 2010

    ” The question is really not “What took the Lancet so long?” The question is: “Why did the GMC take so long and spend all this money and effort without interviewing all available parents and grandparents of the children who supposedly were tortured and traumatized at the GI unit at the Royal Free Hospital?”

    Take me for example. I am the grandfather of one of those children. I am a pediatrician, a former assistant clinical director of a teaching hospital and a former director of pediatrics in a community hospital. I know and understand “Quality of Care” inside out: I taught it to residents and required it from staff.

    I certainly can state without hesitation that we were always treated with utmost courtesy and that our boy received outstanding care at the Royal Free. Thanks to Professor Murch, who was his doctor, the awful GI difficulties subsided gradually and never recurred. Sometimes Professor Walker Smith would see him in coverage and help us immensely. Both gentlemen were at all times caring, kind, courteous and as everyone knows most knowledgeable.

    I also met Dr. Wakefield at the time and was thoroughly impressed with his on-going research and his prior achievements. I have yet to find a single valid reason for his persecution.

    Our family was simply jubilant when our big boy was accepted in the “study” and we can attest that all his testing was justified, fully and clearly explained and expertly carried out. He was never hurt or injured in any way. In fact he looked forward to his trips to Hampstead.

    If after all this time we were asked to summarize in one word our Royal Free experience that word would be “SPECTACULAR”.

    Now if I had to describe in one word my perception of the GMC hearings, that word would have to be “OUTRAGEOUS”.

    What is happening to Professor Walker-Smith, Professor Simon Murch and Dr. Andrew Wakefield, three dedicated and wonderful physicians is unjust, unfair and unforgivable.

    Competing interests: Grandfather of a child with regressive autism” –

  177. #177 Science Mom
    March 6, 2010

    Dale @176, Just because you were personally pleased with your grandchild’s treatment by the GMC 3 and Royal Free, doesn’t mean that those doctors acted in the best interest of the children. It was proved that:
    1.) They performed numerous, invasive tests on some children that were not clinically indicated. Independent pathologists found no evidence of pathology in patients that Wakefield reported as having.
    2.) Wakefield subjected one child to an experimental, unauthorised drug.
    3.) Wakefield fabricated the data claiming that measles vaccine virus was found.
    4.) Wakefield did not have proper IRB approval prior to ‘accepting’ his first victims subjects.
    5.) Wakefield performed testing at the behest of parents, rather than what was clinically indicated.
    6.) Wakefield paid for and performed venipuncture on children at his son’s birthday party without any IRB approval.

    That is just a very brief synopsis Dale and the only thing that is outrageous about the GMC proceeding, is that it took so long. ‘But the parents didn’t complain’ is not only false but is a grotesque defence of a greedy, unethical predator.

  178. #178 Dale
    March 6, 2010

    Science Mom – I’m quoting a pediatrician who wrote to the Lancet. This is why I find it so hard to decide on this issue. Listening to his patients and then to the reports of his enemies like yourself is like travelling between parallel universes.

    Since the GMC v. Durrant-Peatfield I no longer take even “proven” GMC charges to be necessarily sound, which is why I request further information.

  179. #179 Chris
    March 6, 2010

    Dale, work on making sure you clarity that you are quoting, and include who and the source of the quote. From the other comment you made on the more recent on the Randi challenge and vagina, it seems you get your information from Natural News, Rense and whale.to. In that case Scopie’s Law applies.

  180. #180 Pablo
    March 6, 2010

    Last night before going to bed, my wife and I were watching a story on one of the networks about a woman who had been kidnapped when she was 11, and held captive by the guy and his wife for 18 years. In that time, she was forced to live in a shack in the back yard, and had two kids by the guy, who repeated raped her.

    There were excerpts from a secret diary that she was keeping. More than 10 years into her captivity, she was lamenting that she wanted a life of her own. Good for her. But here’s the most amazing part: She says, “I don’t want to hurt him, but how do I tell him that I want a life of my own?”

    A woman kidnapped and held captive for more than ten years “doesn’t want to hurt” the guy who is hold her captive???????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If it is possible to get so brainwashed as to not wish harm upon the guy who kidnaps and rapes you, I am not surprised that people will continue to support people who are providing useless treatment and treating your children unethically. That their patients still support them tells me nothing.

  181. #181 Todd W.
    March 6, 2010

    @Marc

    You might be interested in my vaccine resource page; the 1976 flu vaccine is discussed. Just click on my name to get there.

  182. #182 Todd W.
    March 6, 2010

    @Dale

    Andrew Wakefield is a very slick fellow. From what I’ve read and videos I’ve seen, he comes across as very personable and charming. It is not surprising in the least that the parents and other family members of the children in his study would have nothing but good words to say of him.

    We hear accounts all the time of people who are taken in by conmen or cult leaders. Even though their finances are stolen from them and their lives are ruined, they have nothing but praise for the people who conned them. Take a look at Peter Popoff. The man bilked thousands from people, and yet they still thought he was a wonderful man of God.

  183. #183 Chris
    March 6, 2010

    Todd, I remember meeting one of those slick fellows over twenty years ago. I was on jury duty for a civil case, and the judge was a very nice, gregarious and funny guy. He knew everyone, and was very charming.

    After doing my six weeks of jury duty and going back to work, I gushed on how fun that judge was. He made it so the long process was not so onerous (we did not do jury duty on Fridays, those days I did have to go to my real job).

    So a few months later a co-worker pulled out the morning news and that judge was on the front page. He had brought in a gun into his office and committed suicide. The reason was that journalists had uncovered his abuse of young men at a local prep-school.

    Here is the story. In it is why we as jurors did not know about his past: “The Commission admonished Little for inappropriate contacts with three different juvenile offenders, but the report was kept secret as required by law.”

  184. #184 Chris
    March 6, 2010

    Oh, I just had a thought. I found out I was pregnant while on jury duty. My son had issues shortly after birth. Can I blame exposure to that judge for his disabilities? Or was it the disease he had a bit over a year after being born? Which would be the most obvious?

  185. #185 Todd W.
    March 6, 2010

    @Chris

    Clearly it was teh toxinz in teh jruy benchces!!one!!eleven!!!blaarrgh

  186. #186 Marc
    March 6, 2010

    @Todd W.: Thanks for the resource. It was very enlightening.

    @Dale: As pointed out earlier by Science Mom, the charges against Wakefield are fully justified and as pointed out by Todd W., charlatans tend to be very convincing, friendly and persuasive. Remember, an honest scientist with a bad attitude is better than a dishonest one with a huge smile on his face.

    @Chris: Therez 2 manee vaccinez!!11 A vaccine made u preggers and also gave ur son the disabilitiez. Its a conspiration by the elite lizard-men in the government (see David Icke).

  187. #187 Skeptico
    March 6, 2010

    JB Handley has to be astonishingly un-self aware.  Examples of this are numerous, but to keep it simple, just consider that JB Handley actually wrote this, above:

    You remain a twit. React to the substance of what I have said or move on.

    React to the substance of what I have said?  Astonishing.  The one thing Handley and his fellow travelers never do is react to the substance of what any of his critics say.  One example (out of many), consider Orac’s detailed explanation of why the monkey study was deeply flawed.  And from this Handley writes, above:

    Nitpick the actual study all you want…

    That’s Handley reacting to the substance of what Orac wrote.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t see any detailed rebuttals to Orac’s many specific criticisms in the phrase “Nitpick the actual study all you want.”  And “nitpick”?  Nickpick means “focusing on inconsequential details.”  You know, inconsequential details such as there were 13 monkeys in the “vaccine” group and only three in the control group.  No JB, I’m afraid you just ignored the substance of what Orac wrote.

    JB also ignores questions, such as this from Orac:

    Please specify what about the studies done on MMR and Hg is so poor. What are the specific flaws in the numerous studies that are so great as to invalidate them in your opinion?

    Question ignored by JB Handley.  He also ignored Brian Deer’s questions in this thread.

    And talking about lack of self awareness, he also wrote this:

    And, there it is again. What kind of scientist with even half a brain would generalize from “MMR” to “vaccines”

    YOU DO!  You, JB Handley, and the rest of the anti-vaccine crowd routinely generalize from MMR (or sometimes Thimerosal – it’s pretty flexible) to blame “vaccines,” somehow, for autism. You do it all the time. 

    And then on my blog he leaves a comment saying:

    My son had health problems beginning at about 2 months of age, largely related to GI issues, food allergies, and sleep. They were always with him from that point on, he was always sick.

    […]

    The story has always been the same, wordsmithing wont change what happened to Jamie…

    Health problems from age 2 months, always sick.  And yet, in that same blog post I linked to a newspaper report from 2005,

    “Jamie Handley was a happy, healthy baby who reached all his developmental milestones until he turned 18 months, his parents said.”

    Happy healthy baby.  Funnily enough, Handley was right for once.  Wordsmithing wont change what happened to his son – Handley’s words contradicting himself are there for all to read, no matter how much wordsmithing Handley does on it.

    Handley has now scuttled off back to his Age of Autism blog where he can write more of his nonsense in his “safe environment” – safe from anyone calling him on his nonsense or asking him awkward questions.  Pathetic loser.

  188. #188 dt
    March 6, 2010

    @Dale
    I wonder why you only quote certain BMJ electronic letters, and not others?

    By the way, the word is that all the parents are delighted with Wakefield and his unit – well only those who have chosen to support him have spoken out in his defense.

    There are other parents whose children did undergo “torture” and suffered pemanent harm at the hands of his unit.

    Here is the story of Jack Piper, a little boy whose bowel was perforated in more than 12 places during an irrelevant research-driven procedure. He ended up in ITU and suffers long term damage.
    His parents complained, and obtained £482,000 in damages, with future costs likely to exceed £1 million.

    High Court papers alleged that the colonoscopy procedure performed on Jack in 1998 was ‘not clinically indicated or justified’. They also claimed the ‘principal reason’ for the surgery was to further research into links between autism and bowel conditions rather than Jack’s clinical needs.

    The documents also claimed that Jack’s parents were not warned of the risks of the procedure or the ‘controversial and uncertain’ link between autism and bowel conditions. This meant the surgery was performed ‘without lawful consent’ and was an ‘assault’ on Jack.

    The hospital accepted these allegations as true and agreed damages.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-500611/500-000-boy-left-fighting-life-used-MMR-guinea-pig.html

  189. #189 dt
    March 6, 2010

    I recently attended a lecture on “Medical murderers” – you know, Crippen and other doctors who killed people, including mass murderers like Shipman and John Bodkin Adams.

    A common theme was how likeable, plausible and trusted these narcissistic individuals were, how they manipulated patients and their relatives with their personality and charm, and how even when allegations and evidence of wrong doing surfaced, most people refused to believe that they would be capable of such horrors because they were so loved and respected. In Adams case, his reputation enabled him to get away with murder, literally.

  190. #190 dedicated lurker
    March 6, 2010

    *sings*

    Brave Sir JB Handley ran away…

  191. #191 Science Mom
    March 6, 2010

    Dale @178, It is very bad form to impersonate and plagiarise. So, in the future, please source and credit your statements when they are not your own.

    You don’t need to read here or AoA or any other source to obtain information, although I highly recommend
    Brian Deer’s site
    because he has provided an impeccable example of thorough, substantiated investigative journalism. You will also want to read, for yourself, the
    GMC rulings
    and a link to the full report is provided. Also read the
    Omnibus Autism Proceedings,
    particularly Dr.s Chadwick and Bustin’s testimonies; Wakefield falsified the measles results and reported them as positive when they were negative. There is also here and here.

    We are not enemies of Wakefield, he is an enemy all unto himself. You seriously cannot make this stuff up. Also ask yourself, if he was innocent as he claimed, how could Thoughtful House, which he helped begin, toss him out?

  192. #192 Dedj
    March 6, 2010

    The most curious thing about the letter that Dale has qouted is this:

    it repeatedly makes reference to the quality of care provided at the Royal Free (which was as good as the Royal Frees’ reputation would indicate). Not a bit of it makes any effective reference to whether the child was pre-included in the study, nor to legimitacy of the referal process, nor to whether the treatment was ‘justified’ in the context of the study or whether the child was one of the ‘pre-included’ children.

    It seems odd that such an alledgedly qualified and respected clinician (or retired clinician) should choose to write a letter in defence of Wakefield, yet somehow manage to leave out anything that actually addresses the charges.

    Indeed, unless the child in question was one of the ones Wakefield is charged with unethically researching upon, then it makes the grandparents support moot. Simply because Wakefield may have acted within boundaries on some of the children, it does not make the accusations in other cases factually false.

    Also, none of the parents testimony counts one whit towards the charges that have nothing to do with client contact. Wakefield was charged with more than just clinical misbehaviour.

    This grandparent has likly sat in, or at least been made aware of and updated on the GMC hearings. Yet their entire defence of Wakefield rests on the quality of care recieved [u]and none of the actual charges[/u]. That, by itself, is an indication that the grandparent does not have a sufficient grasp of the issue, or is being deliberately dismissive.

  193. #193 reasonablehank
    March 6, 2010

    Hang on. I’m a little late.

    Is the Wakefield that Blaxill is saying is the new Dr Needleman, for showing that vaccines are evil, the same Wakefield that the other screed endowed fantasticalists are shouting never showed that MMR caused Autism, or even inferred it, in the 1998 paper, or the subsequent press conferences?

    I am, again, confuddled by their confusculation.

  194. #194 Katharine
    March 7, 2010

    Dale, your status as relative of autistic children gives you no cachet unless you also bring a sense of reason.

  195. #195 Marc
    March 7, 2010

    Comment #195! This thread is never going to end! It’s incredible how many anti-vaxxers keep coming out of the woodwork on Orac’s blog. It’s really an infestation! And here’s an interesting explanation of how viruses hijack the host’s cells to reproduce:

    http://www.fungasmcomic.com/comic/images/infestation.jpg

  196. #196 Rogue Medic
    March 7, 2010

    How can a scientific study simply vanish? This paper had cleared every hurdle for entry into the public scientific record: it had passed peer review at a prestigious journal, yada, yada

    Retraction happens when something about the paper really stinks. Retraction only indicates that the paper should never have been approved. If there is any political pressure, apparently it was to get the inappropriate paper published.

    The problem with the peer review of the Wakefield papers appears to be the peers. The subjects of the study may be the ones best described as the true peers of Wakefield – the monkeys. Having opposable big toes does not enhance one’s ability to review a paper.

  197. #197 Dale
    March 7, 2010

    “Dale, work on making sure you clarity that you are quoting, and include who and the source of the quote.”

    Ok fair enough.

    “From the other comment you made on the more recent on the Randi challenge and vagina, it seems you get your information from Natural News, Rense and whale.to. In that case Scopie’s Law applies.”

    You’re joking I presume…. Whale.to occasionally, not natural news or Rense.

    “Andrew Wakefield is a very slick fellow. From what I’ve read and videos I’ve seen, he comes across as very personable and charming. It is not surprising in the least that the parents and other family members of the children in his study would have nothing but good words to say of him.”

    Very charming yes… I’m still not convinced he could fake concern for the children *and* convince the parents their children had improved when the kids were actually experiencing placebo. But I don’t know.

    “Here is the story of Jack Piper, a little boy whose bowel was perforated in more than 12 places during an irrelevant research-driven procedure. He ended up in ITU and suffers long term damage.
    His parents complained, and obtained £482,000 in damages, with future costs likely to exceed £1 million.

    High Court papers alleged that the colonoscopy procedure performed on Jack in 1998 was ‘not clinically indicated or justified’. They also claimed the ‘principal reason’ for the surgery was to further research into links between autism and bowel conditions rather than Jack’s clinical needs.
    The documents also claimed that Jack’s parents were not warned of the risks of the procedure or the ‘controversial and uncertain’ link between autism and bowel conditions. This meant the surgery was performed ‘without lawful consent’ and was an ‘assault’ on Jack.”

    That’s interesting… did Jack’s parents give any interviews?

    “Dale @178, It is very bad form to impersonate and plagiarise. So, in the future, please source and credit your statements when they are not your own.”

    Sorry Science Mom – it was not intentional. I thought I’d written “Grandfather of autistic child” at the end.

  198. #198 Kristen
    March 7, 2010

    @Dale (197)

    You sound like you are willing to listen to reasonable answers, and not just here to argue. Please understand, you have been misguided on this issue.

    Please do more searching and make your own conclusions, go to and read the links from Todd W. He has amassed an amazing collection of facts about vaccines, and it is very well written and easy to understand. You can also get lots of useful information from the links on the left of this page.

    One thing to make sure of is to source anything you quote from elsewhere and only make claims you can substantiate with evidence.

  199. #199 Chris
    March 7, 2010

    Dale:

    You’re joking I presume…. Whale.to occasionally, not natural news or Rense.

    With whale.to, it is definitely not a joke. That is the worst place to get real information. Read about it and its owner here:
    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Scopie%27s_Law

    John Scudamore actually posted on Usenet on how to protect oneself from satanic ley lines, and even claimed he burned by one!

  200. #200 Dedj
    March 7, 2010

    “Very charming yes… I’m still not convinced he could fake concern for the children *and* convince the parents their children had improved when the kids were actually experiencing placebo. But I don’t know”

    I’m not aware – except for the issue with the use of the transfer factor – of anywhere Wakefield and co are accused of using placebo or non-orthodox treatments for the children who did have GI issues.

    If these children were receiving standard treatment alongside the research component, then they may have seen an improvement in their GI conditions.

  201. #201 storkdok
    March 7, 2010

    “Because that’s how Orac rolls, take it or leave it, baby.”

    Best line EVER!

    I love it when you write something that so irritates JB that he can’t help himself and MUST post here. Is he the 2009 JB, or the 2005 JB? I can hardly wait for the 2010 JB!

    The post is great, the comments are awesome!

    As a parent of an autistic child, thanks from the bottom of my heart for taking on the autism pseudoscience! That’s for all of you!

  202. #202 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 7, 2010

    “From the other comment you made on the more recent on the Randi challenge and vagina, it seems you get your information from Natural News, Rense and whale.to. In that case Scopie’s Law applies.”

    You’re joking I presume…. Whale.to occasionally, not natural news or Rense.

    What do you presume we’re joking about? That if you say you get your information about what’s true, from a website which presents the infamous anti-Semitic plagiarism and forgery “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” as true, that people will put very little faith in any information you get from that source? Do you, yourself, believe that “The Protocols” are a true document, despite it being public knowledge since 1921 that nearly the whole text of the document was plagiarized from a 1864 French political satire aimed not at the Jews but at Napoleon III? If you accept that “The Protocols” are a vicious falsehood, why are you trusting anything else coming from a website that presents you with “The Protocols” and tells you they’re true?

    Very charming yes… I’m still not convinced he could fake concern for the children *and* convince the parents their children had improved when the kids were actually experiencing placebo. But I don’t know.

    Well, please consider that the only reason we even talk about placebo is that that’s exactly what placebo does. The placebo effect convinces people that the patients are showing some improvement due to some specific intervention, when the improvement perceived is either in the mind of the observer, or due to some other cause, or a combination of the two. It is in fact particularly easy for parents of autistic children to be misled by the placebo effect. Why? Is it because they’re especially gullible? Not in the least. It’s because they see their children missing the developmental milestones that other children are progressing past, and they jump to the incorrect conclusion “my child will never pass these developmental milestones unless some pill/cream/diet/hyperbaric chamber treats the autism.” But autism is a disorder of developmental delay, not statis; it is simply not true that if an autistic child finally passes an important developmental milestone, then something must have treated the child’s autism.

    Parents wait two years for their child to begin speaking; they get desperate and they try something like the gluten-free diet; after the child’s on the diet for a year, he finally starts using comprehensible words and the parents think “Oh wow! The gluten-free diet must have worked because we saw a change!” But they have no way of knowing of whether the child simply needed three years to make that milestone – or whether the gluten-free diet gave them such hope that something might change with the child that they gave the child special attention they didn’t give during the time that they were despairing, telling themselves “maybe he’ll never make that milestone!”

    The parents of the Lancet children might have been completely correct in perceiving that their children improved – but in no way does that mean it was anything Wakefield did that achieved that improvement!

  203. #203 Jason
    September 21, 2010

    What drives me nuts is when people like you simply lie and assert that the evidence shows vaccines do not cause autism.
    And this whole time I thought it was a chemical imbalance in your brain, or a Handley Family history of sociopathy. Thanks for clearing that up

  204. #204 Julian Frost
    September 21, 2010

    Umm, Jason, the evidence does show that vaccines do not cause autism. If you have evidence that shows otherwise, please paste it here. Oh, and cites from whale.to don’t count.

  205. #205 Todd W.
    September 21, 2010

    I would also recommend that Jason post on a more recent thread.

  206. It would be interesting to have placed evidence to the contrary, because I know that vaccines do not cause autism.
    Sergio.

  207. #207 Calli Arcale
    May 17, 2012

    Is there something that makes this thread popular for annual postings from spammers for anger management websites? (Purported anger management websites. I wasn’t going to follow the links to find out.)

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