My first big splash in the blogosphere will have occurred five years ago in June, when I first discovered the utter wingnuttery that is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. It was then that I wrote a little bit of that not-so-Respectful Insolence that you’ve come to know and love entitled Salon.com flushes its credibility down the toilet, a perfect description of an article by RFK, Jr. published in Salon.com and simultaneously in Rolling Stone entitled Deadly Immunity. As I look back, I realize that, as widely linked to and discussed as it was at the time, that post, arguably more than any other, was the one that established me as one of the go-to bloggers when it came to vaccines. Of course, it may also have been the gloriously Orac-ian verbiage I employed. As longtime readers may (or may not) recall, at the time, I referred to RFK’s article as the “biggest, steamingest, drippiest turd I’ve ever seen it [Salon.com] publish, an article so mindnumbingly one-sided and uncritical that in my eyes it utterly destroys nearly all credibility Salon.com has had as a source of reliable news and comment.” Nothing in the five years since then has changed my assessment of RFK, Jr.’s investigative prowess. Indeed, if anything, he’s gotten worse, such as the time he tried to out-crank CBS News’ resident antivaccine propagandist Sharyl Attkisson (who has been in bed with someone at Age of Autism to coordinate counterattacks on its enemies) or the time he teamed up with David Kirby and Generation Rescue to cube the stupidity.

That was over a year ago, and since then RFK, Jr. has been fairly quiet, at least on the vaccine front. Maybe it had something to do with his being ignored by the then-new Obama administration when his supporters lobbied very hard to get him appointed to head the EPA. Or maybe it was embarrassment at having so successfully cubed the stupid. Who knows?

Whatever the reason for his year-long disappearance from the anti-vaccine fray, it would appear that he’s been pulled out of storage, dusted off, and sent once again to tilt at mercury windmills. It feels like 2005 all over again. That’s because RFK, Jr. has laid yet another one of his steamy, drippy, corn-textured turds on the blogosphere as only he can in the one place where such a stench of bad arguments and pseudoscience can go completely unnoticed among all the other turds that routinely drip from it. That’s right, RFK, Jr. has reappeared on that bastion of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, The Huffington Post, and the title of his latest turd is Central Figure in CDC Vaccine Cover-Up Absconds With $2M. In what appears to be an obviously coordinated attack, Generation Rescue’s anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism is promoting RFK, Jr.’s article and adding a few of its own with titles such as Poul Thorsen’s Mutating Resume by the not-so-dynamic duo of fact-challenged anti-vaccine propagandists Mark “Not a Doctor, Not a Scientist” Blaxill and Dan “Why can’t I find those autistic Amish?” Olmsted and NBC 11 Atlanta Reports: Vaccine Researcher Flees with $2M, featuring this news report:


Looks like the mercury militia got to another reporter. There’s Lyn Redwood spewing misinformation and nonsense hither, thither, and yon.

So what’s going on here? Let’s look at RFK’s article and how he starts it:

A central figure behind the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) claims disputing the link between vaccines and autism and other neurological disorders has disappeared after officials discovered massive fraud involving the theft of millions in taxpayer dollars. Danish police are investigating Dr. Poul Thorsen, who has vanished along with almost $2 million that he had supposedly spent on research.

Thorsen was a leading member of a Danish research group that wrote several key studies supporting CDC’s claims that the MMR vaccine and mercury-laden vaccines were safe for children. Thorsen’s 2003 Danish study reported a 20-fold increase in autism in Denmark after that country banned mercury based preservatives in its vaccines. His study concluded that mercury could therefore not be the culprit behind the autism epidemic.

You know, either heaven shines on them or the anti-vaccine movement must be the luckiest bunch of pseudoscientists in the world. Here it is, a mere couple of weeks after Andrew Wakefield’s fall was complete, after he had, in rapid succession, been found guilty of research misconduct by the General Medical Council in the U.K.; had his pride and joy retracted from the scientific literature, his 1998 Lancet paper claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and “autistic enterocolitis,” a paper that, with the help of Wakefield himself and the credulous, scandal mongering U.K. press, sparked a fear of the MMR vaccine that persists 12 years later and has resulted in MMR uptake rates plummeting; had his most recent pride and joy, an unethical bit of bad science in which he subjected baby Macaque monkeys to experimentation all in the name of “proving” that the hepatitis B vaccine causes autism and/or neurological damage withdrawn from the literature; and been ignominiously forced to resign from Thoughtful House by, of all people, Jane Johnson, heiress to the J&J pharmaceutical fortune. The result has been some truly tinfoil hat worthy conspiracy mongering from Age of Autism and Jenny McCarthy herself. And what happens? There’s a vaccine scientist who appears as though he may have absconded with as much as $2 million dollars, giving Generation Rescue and the anti-vaccine crankosphere an opportunity to go full mental jacket putting a face to vaccine scientists that they could attack. As Paul Offit knows, that’s what the anti-vaccine movement does best. (Certainly it’s not science that it does best.)

But was Thorsen really the driving force behind the Danish vaccine-autism studies that the anti-vaccine movement hates so much? I’ve been paying close attention to the vaccine-mercury-autism manufactroversy for nearly five years now, and I’ve never heard of him, although I had heard of one of his coauthors. If Thorsen was so important to the pro-vaccine movement, you wouldn’t know it from the two studies that the mercury militia is hoping to discredit by turning up its propaganda machine to 11 about Thorsen’s possible criminal behavior. Those papers are:

It is the Pediatrics paper that the mercury militia appears to be concentrating mostly on because it directly deals with thimerosal in vaccines. But look at the citations above for both papers anyway. Do you notice something? Look where Thorsen’s name is in the list of authors in both studies. Notice that it is not first, nor is it last. This is important because author order matters in scientific and medical studies. In straight science studies, the two most important authors are usually the first author and the last author. The last author is usually the senior author in whose laboratory the work was done, while the first author is the person whose project the work represents and who was the primary author of the manuscript. In medical papers, as in Pediatrics or NEJM, the author list usually signifies the relative contribution of each author to the article, the first being the most important and the last being the least important. In both types of articles, there is always designated one author who is the corresponding author. In scientific papers, the corresponding author is almost always the last author; in medical papers it is usually the first author. The corresponding author is responsible for answering inquiries about the study and, way back in the age before PDF files, used to be the author to contact to request reprints. Not only that, the corresponding author is generally considered to be the primary author for the paper.

Notice something else?

That’s right. Poul Thorsen is not the first author for either of these studies. He is not the last author, either. He is not the corresponding author; that would be Kreesten M. Madsen, MD, who was corresponding author on both the NEJM and Pediatrics papers. As it turns out, Thorsen is safely ensconced in the middle of the pack of co-authors. That’s why, when RFK, Jr. refers to the Pediatrics study as “Thorsen’s study,” he is either grossly ignorant or outright lying. (Take your pick.) Anyone who knows anything about how the scientific literature works would be able to spot that immediately just by looking at the abstracts of these articles. Trust me, if studies this large really were Thorsen’s babies his name would not have been relegated to fourth or sixth on the list of authors. Basically, Thorsen’s position in the author lists of these two papers indicates that, whatever leadership position he may have held at Aarhus University and in its vaccine studies group, he clearly was not the primary contributor for these studies, and they were not his studies primarily.

Not that that stops the mercury militia from going out of its way to paint him as such, referring to him as a “central figure.” I have to tip my hat to RFK, Jr. his language throughout his article is truly Orwellian, a propaganda masterpiece of prestidigitation of language and innuendo. Here are just a few examples of perfectly loaded phrases sprinkled throughout the article, all designed to suggest concealment and conspiracy:

  • …”built a research empire…”
  • “…failed to disclose…”
  • “…has disappeared…”
  • “…damning e-mails surfaced…”
  • “…culprit behind…”
  • “…leading independent scientists have accused CDC of concealing the clear link between the dramatic increases in mercury-laced child vaccinations.”
  • “…safe to inject young children with mercury…”
  • “…CDC officials intent on fraudulently cherry picking…”

RFK, Jr. also parrots anti-vaccine lies about the study that were hoary back when David Kirby first published the mercury militia Bible, Evidence of Harm, lies like:

His study has long been criticized as fraudulent since it failed to disclose that the increase was an artifact of new mandates requiring, for the first time, that autism cases be reported on the national registry. This new law and the opening of a clinic dedicated to autism treatment in Copenhagen accounted for the sudden rise in reported cases rather than, as Thorsen seemed to suggest, the removal of mercury from vaccines. Despite this obvious chicanery, CDC has long touted the study as the principal proof that mercury-laced vaccines are safe for infants and young children. Mainstream media, particularly the New York Times, has relied on this study as the basis for its public assurances that it is safe to inject young children with mercury — a potent neurotoxin — at concentrations hundreds of times over the U.S. safety limits.

Notice how RFK Jr. really, really wants you to believe that the Danish studies are the primary foundation upon which the science exonerating MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines as a cause of autism rests, the be-all and end-all of the epidemiology studying thimerosal-containing vaccines, when in fact there are multiple studies and lines of evidence, of which the Danish studies are but a part. Also notice how he conflates a study’s being weak with its being fraudulent. The two are entirely different concepts, and it is entirely possible for a study to be poorly designed and executed without even a whiff of fraud. (In fact, fraud is almost certainly far less common than that.) Be that as it may, the Danish studies, although they have weaknesses inherent in a retrospective design, are actually pretty darned good studies. As I said before, RFK’s whine in the passage above is the parroting of a hoary criticism of the Danish studies cribbed straight from anti-vaccine sites. The criticism goes like this. Anti-vaccine propagandists argue that because, beginning in 1994, outpatient records were used in addition to inpatient records for case ascertainment in Denmark for purposes of these studies, the whole set of studies must be crap. As Steve Novella points out, this change was not chicanery, and in fact Madsen et al tried to test whether the change in case reporting by doing this was significant. Here is a quote from Madsen et al:

In additional analyses we examined data using inpatients only. This was done to elucidate the contribution of the outpatient registration to the change in incidence. The same trend with an increase in the incidence rates from 1990 until the end of the study period was seen.

In other words, Madsen et al considered the possibility that adding outpatient records to inpatient records beginning in 1994 might change the results. They tested for that possibility and determined that the addition of outpatient cases did not change the trend of increasing autism diagnoses. Again, RFK, Jr. is either grossly ignorant of the facts or lying through his. (Take your pick–again.) The same is true of J.B. Handley when he repeats the same misinformation time and time again, particularly on his Fourteen Studies website, and and of Ginger Taylor when she in her arrogance of ignorance parrots the same lie. Come to think of it, so is SafeMinds when it touts the fact that many of the study authors are employed by Statens Serum Institut (SSI), claiming that it is a conflict of interest because as a “government-owned vaccine manufacturer,” supposedly SSI makes a lot of money off of vaccines and would be liable legally if thimerosal in vaccines were found to cause autism. Believe it or not, this distortion was dealt with by a guest blogger Kristjan Wager (whose regular blog is here) way back in 2006. Not surprisingly, it’s utter nonsense born of a misunderstanding (either unwitting or deliberate) of the medical and legal systems in Denmark. Unfortunately, anti-vaccine lies never die; like a certain undead dictator, they always rise again.

Meanwhile, Not A Doctor, Not A Scientist (Mark Blaxill, in case you forgot), along with No Longer a Journalist (Dan Olmsted) lay down flaming stupid like this:

Thorsen, of course, is pre-eminently one of those leading scientists and was a co-author of a New England Journal of Medicine study on the MMR. Thorsen and Aarhus, as we’ve reported for years, made important contributions to some of the most influential autism-vaccine mercury (thimerosal) studies – studies disputed as poorly done and unconvincing by critics that over the years have grown to include the head of a panel mandated by Congress to study the issue. But based on five studies, three of which included Aarhus – and one of which Thorsen co-authored — the U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded in 2004 that “the evidence now favors rejection of a relationship between thimerosal and autism.”

Here’s what’s going on. In the wake of debacle the implosion of Andrew Wakefield represented, the anti-vaccine movement needed a distraction badly, and they needed it fast. It would be even better if the distraction were one that they could spin to make it look as though there were some dark corruption at the heart of the vaccine science that has exonerated vaccines as a cause of the “autism epidemic.” Like manna from heaven, Dr. Thorsen’s case dropped seemingly from the sky. I’m going to admit right now that I have no idea of Dr. Thorsen is actually guilty of absconding with $2 million in grant money. He may well have, and if he did justice needs to be done. He needs to be caught and tried. But here’s the rub.

It makes absolutely no difference to the science exonerating vaccines or thimerosal in vaccines as a cause of autism whether Thorsen is a criminal and thief or not.

As one of my readers pointed out, trying to argue that because Thorsen may have fled with stolen money is akin to arguing that if the fourth co-author of one of Einstein’s papers describing the Theory of Relativity ran off with $2 million it would somehow invalidate the Theory of Relativity. Maybe J.B. Handley, No Longer a Journalist, RFK Jr., or Not a Doctor Not a Scientist can help me out here. Was there an allegation against Poul Thorsen of actual scientific–rather than financial–fraud of which I wasn’t aware? Was there an allegation that somehow this alleged financial fraud had anything whatsoever to do with the design or excecution of Danish studies that failed to find a link between either MMR or thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism? Is there any evidence anywhere that Poul Thorsen committed scientific misconduct on the order of what Andrew Wakefield did? Seriously. I don’t see anything in any of the number of vicious attacks on Poul Thorsen (who may or may not be a criminal), the SSI (which doesn’t deserve them), or Aarhus University in Denmark (which also doesn’t deserve them). It’s a pure smear against these latter two institutions, guilt by association.

In other words, it’s very typical of the anti-vaccine movement. The bottom line is that this is not a scientific scandal. It is a financial scandal that happens to involve a scientist.

Here’s the other thing to remember. Even if RFK, Jr., Mark Blaxill, J.B. Handley, Dan Olmsted, and the rest of the merry band of anti-vaccine loons currently attacking these institutions were completely correct and the Danish studies were actually hopelessly tainted by Thorsen’s alleged criminality–even if both studies were completely expunged from the medical literature–it would not change the scientific conclusion that neither MMR nor thimerosal-containing vaccines. That’s because of a little pesky thing known as reproducibility. The Danish studies are not the only studies exonerating thimerosal as a cause of autism. There are Canadian, U.K., and U.S. studies whose results are concordant with those of Madsen et al.

For the anti-vaccine movement, the problem with the idea that thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism was always that it makes a testable hypothesis. Remove the thimerosal from vaccines, and autism rates should plummet. This experiment has been tried in at least three countries, and the results have always been the same. Autism rates continued to rise after thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines. Indeed, thimerosal exposure from the vaccine schedule in the U.S. is currently lower than it was in the 1980s (there is still trace thimerosal in some childhood vaccines, and the flu vaccine still has thimerosal), but there has not been a decline in autism prevalence to what it was in the 1980s. The hypothesis that thimerosal causes autism has been roundly falsified, not just by the Danish studies but by several other studies.

In the end, anti-vaccine propagandists are very much like creationists and other cranks. They focus on the person more than the science, and they labor under the delusion that there is a single study (or tiny handful of studies) that are the whole support for the scientific conclusions they despise and that, if destroyed, would lead to the edifice of the science they hate collapsing. That’s why they prefer to attack persons rather than use evidence and reason to argue ideas. It’s also why they are always seeking that one study that they can tear down and thus “prove” that evolution didn’t happen, vaccines cause autism, the moon landing never happened, or the Mossad and the Bush administration were beind 9/11.

ADDENDUM: Further confirming that Thorsen was not a major player in the Pediatrics and NEJM publications reporting the Danish studies is this article at Philly.com:

In 2002, Thorsen was the sixth named author of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that analyzed whether where is a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism by examining 537,303 children born in Denmark from 1991 through 1998.

The researchers concluded that their data provided “strong evidence” that there is no link.

“Poul Thorsen had absolutely no influence on the conclusions regarding this paper,” wrote Mads Melbye, head of the division of epidemiology at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen and senior author of the study, in response to e-mailed questions.

“Thorsen was not actively involved in the analysis and interpretation of the results of this paper,” Melbye said.

The second study, published in Pediatrics in 2003, examined 956 Danish children diagnosed with autism from 1971 to 2000. It concluded the incidence of autism increased in Denmark after thimerosal was removed from vaccines.

Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, the lead author, said Thorsen played a minor role.

“Dr. Thorsen was not in a position to change or compromise the data,” Madsen wrote. “Dr. Thorsen was part of the review cycle, but never very active in giving input. Dr. Thorsen never had access to the raw data nor the analysis of the data.”

Which is pretty much what I would have expected based on his position in the list of co-authors. Of course, this makes me wonder why his name was on either paper at all. Ah, well, that’s academia; you can sometimes get your name on papers for which you did very little work.

In the meantime, the comments after the Philly.com article make baby Jesus cry, so full of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, misinformation, and outright lies are they. The anti-vaccine contingent is there in full force, polluting the discussion thread with their ignorance. Come to think of it, they’re there in the comments of RFK Jr.’s HuffPo article, too.

Comments

  1. #1 triskelethecat
    March 31, 2010

    @susie: did you bother to read Orac’s discussion of the study? He discussed many of the issues with the study.

    As for your 30%!!!!11eleventyone!! lost to study… Garbage.

    Even reading the extract, it says clearly:
    PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 2 February 2009, pp. 475-482

    “Children who were enrolled in an efficacy trial of pertussis vaccines in 1992–1993 were contacted in 2003. Two groups of children were identified, according to thimerosal content in vaccines assigned randomly in the first year of life (cumulative ethylmercury intake of 62.5 or 137.5 µg), and were compared with respect to neuropsychological outcomes….RESULTS. Nearly 70% of the invited subjects participated in the neuropsychological assessment (N = 1403).”

    So your “missing 30%” were simply parents who didn’t respond to the invitation or declined for whatever reason to have their child tested. They were NOT lost to follow up.

    Try again, and this time, try to get something that supports your beliefs. This one won’t do it…oh wait.

    You are claiming the study is invalid because a “30% drop out rate”. But your 30% “drop out rate” is inaccurate. A drop-out rate involves the families who began in the study then dropped out. That is totally inaccurate for this study. In THIS study, they invited the families who were in the pertussis study to have their children tested. 30% declined, so never BEGAN the study. That is NOT a 30% drop out rate. You can say that 30% of those invited to participate declined, but not that the study had a 30% drop out rate. (And, to be honest, IRRC, getting 70% of a group to participate in ANY study is pretty darn good).

  2. #2 susie
    March 31, 2010

    Triskel:
    30% drop out / non-participation rate when you are looking at developmental delays invalidates the study. We will not agree on this, so move on.

  3. #3 Todd W.
    March 31, 2010

    @triskelethecat

    Thanks for actually providing the study points specifically addressing susie’s concern re: the 30%.

  4. #4 JohnV
    March 31, 2010

    What’s the basis for non-participation invalidating a study?

  5. #5 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 31, 2010

    @susie:

    By your logic, I’m a drop out from Harvard.

  6. #6 Todd W.
    March 31, 2010

    @susie

    30% drop out / non-participation rate when you are looking at developmental delays invalidates the study. We will not agree on this, so move on.

    Please explain your reasoning. How does the fact that 30% of those invited to participate declined invalidate the study? Note, declining to participate is not equal to dropping out once enrolled.

  7. #7 triskelethecat
    March 31, 2010

    @Todd W. you’re welcome. 🙂

    @JohnV: Well, John, I guess in susie’s world, the 30% who didn’t participate all have autism so the results are skewed. Personally, I think she needs to take a job as a mall surveyor. When I did that job, we figured a 10-20% participation rate was pretty decent. (yes, I WAS one of those annoying people at the mall who ask if you are willing to answer “a few questions” and finally release you 3 hours later…lol)

    @T.Bruce…me too. And many other colleges/universities, too.

  8. #8 Zetetic
    March 31, 2010

    susie @ #765:

    The studies that were done on thimerasol were all epidemiological studies that were done by people with extensive ties to vaccine manufacturers and they were flawed to the point of proving nothing. So, we cannot rule out thimerasol’s role in the development of autism.

    Untrue. You see susie this is why you are getting called anti-vax. First of all there have been several studies from around the world by various governments testing Thimerosal. It was just one study there have been lots of studies involving different parties from countries with different medical systems, they all say the same thing “No Connection”. But again you can’t point out what is wrong with the studies, but since it doesn’t correspond to your preconceptions you just brush it off as “they must be biased”.
    Why? Because they reached a conclusion that don’t agree with your preconceptions.

    Tell us susie why then hasn’t autism rates dropped in the USA since removing Thiomersal from the childhood vaccines? It should have, but it didn’t why not? Is everyone in the USA on the take from big pharma and hiding it from everyone else? That makes no sense. Tell us susie exactly what study testing Thiomersal would you accept, if it said that Thiomersal wasn’t to blame for autism?
    Studies when it was removed from the vaccine? Already done.
    Studies where children were given higher than normal doses? Already done.
    Studies from countries with socialized medicine? Already done.

    The problem is that no matter what studies are done (or how ever many are done, or who does them) that apparently nothing will ever convince you that it’s not the Thiomersal. Refusing to accept evidence that is contrary to your preconceptions is what make you “anti-vax”. Because no amount of evidence against you position will ever get you to stop blaming the vaccines, you just ignore the data for no other reason than it’s not what you want to hear. Even removing it from the vaccines isn’t enough to convince you that it’s not the Thiomersal.

    No matter what is done you always blame the vaccines and refuse to accept any notion that you’re wrong. You can’t be for vaccines, as you claim, when no amount of evidence will ever be able to convince you that they are not what is causing autism. That is why you are being called anti-vax susie. Because you will always be opposed to vaccines no matter what, since you can’t accept that you might be wrong about them.

    BTW some studies have been done on Thiomersal in infants, unlike methyl-mercury the ethyl-mercury produced has a half life in the body of just a few days (3.4 days IIRC) for infants.

    Lastly, and unfortunately, because vaccine manufacturers are running around claiming tht thimerasol is “settled science”, they are actually putting in into more vaccines and its in a lot of them anyway because its used in manufacturing, so it doesn’t have to be listed on the insert as an ingredient if its used in the manufacturing process. So, when people say the thimerasol has been taken out of vaccines, and autism rates keep rising, they are either misinformed or being dishonest.

    As other have already asked evidence please…not just more assertions. The fact of the matter is that an increasing number of vaccines are being made without the Thiomersal. The H1N1 flu inhaler for example has 0 (zero) micrograms of Thiomersal in it.

    Again this is why you are being called anti-vax, you just make baseless assertions against vaccines that promote fear-mongering. Do you just make this stuff up, or to you just parrot what the anti-vax groups tell you (without ever questioning it) since they tell you what you want to hear?

    ———————————————————————————————–

    susie @ #766:

    Since it is not true that I am 100% anti-vax, and you are not anti-infomred consent, I will make a deal with you:
    If you stop calling me the PR-Firm manufactured label of “anti-vax”, I’ll stop calling you “Anti-Informed-Consent”.

    False comparison since nobody here has spoken out again informed consent, but you repeatedly speak out against vaccines and refuse to accept any contrary evidence. Anti-Vax isn’t a PR label….It’s a description made by the scientific medicine/skeptical community to describe someone that frequently claims they don’t want to encourage disease, but blames vaccines for things were science has shown no link and where they refuse to accept opposing evidence on the grounds that it contradicts there preconceptions. So far that fits you pretty well susie. Time and time again you just refuse to accept any thing that opposes your preconceptions.

    Think I’m being unfair?
    When Jen pointed out that her child got autism, but didn’t get a vaccination, what was your response?
    That the hospital slipped her child a vaccine without Jen knowing it.

    We point out that studies have been done around the world and they show no connection between Thiomersal and autism.

    Your response?
    That they’re all in the pocket of big pharma (without ever showing such a link) and that the studies are all flawed (without showing any such flaws). In other words you just ignored it.

    We point out that Thiomersal has been removed from childhood vaccines.
    Your response?
    Oh, well they’re just sneaking it all back again.
    Again no evidence of your assertion, and absolutely no logic behind it either. Just deny what doesn’t fit you preconceptions. Tell us susie what would big pharma have to gain by going through the expense of putting Thiomersal back into vaccines that they already spent money getting it out of? Did you ever think of that? Tell us susie why then didn’t we still show a drop in autism rates after it was removed, but before (as you claim) it was put back in? Did you ever think that through?

    Again and again….deny, deny, deny. But no evidence.
    See the pattern here yet?

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    Please tell us susie, just to show us that you’re not anti-vax, what reasonable test can you think of by a government agency (since the anti-vax groups are unwilling to do it themselves) that would ever convince you that vaccines (or even just Thiomersal for that matter) isn’t what is causing autism?
    I’m serious…What reasonable test by any modern government would convince you that your wrong, even just about Thiomersal?

    I’m betting nothing will. Please prove me wrong.

    That’s the big difference between us and you susie…
    We keep asking you to prove us wrong. You just need to provide a good case for your position, which you haven’t yet.
    You, on the other hand, seem to refuse to accept even the possibility that you might be wrong.

  9. #9 Travis
    March 31, 2010

    @susie, 790

    Triskel:
    30% drop out / non-participation rate when you are looking at developmental delays invalidates the study. We will not agree on this, so move on.

    No, you should drop it unless you can actually say why it invalidates anything. triskelethecat’s post shows why it is not even a drop out rate. It would be a lot more honest to simply admit you were mistaken about what the study indicated in regards to this. Not to shift to drop-out/declined which is still disingenuous.

  10. #10 Pablo
    March 31, 2010

    The problem is that no matter what studies are done (or how ever many are done, or who does them) that apparently nothing will ever convince you that it’s not the Thiomersal.

    Wasn’t there a famous anti-vaxxer back the early 2000s who said something like (about the removal of thimerasol from childhood vaccines), if the autism rate doesn’t drop by 2005 (or so), then the thimerasol link is dead?

  11. #11 Mu
    March 31, 2010

    Zetetic, you haven’t listened to the authorities (aka AoA) where the head mom, asked why her third (unvaccinated, thimerosal-free) kid was autistic too decided it was due to the stuff in her (the mom’s) body. Autism rates due to thimerosal won’t drop for another generation, just wait for Kirby’s next book.

  12. #12 JohnV
    March 31, 2010

    Yeah pablo that was Dave Kirby himself. He was called on this many times on huffpo (shockingly the censors there permitted the question to be asked on occasion).

    No response from him, the anti-vax peanut gallery typically chimed in with the entirely predictable “omg big pharma is lying about thimersol then”

  13. #13 susie
    March 31, 2010

    Zet:

    So, are you saying all the thimerasol has been removed? You know that is untrue. And, I think I said on the first post to I made on this thread that mercury is not the only problem with vaccines.

    The study that needs to be done is vaccinated vs unvaccinated.

    Pablo: I think this has previously been addressed. Mercury has not been removed from all the vaccines.

  14. #14 JohnV
    March 31, 2010

    as if on cue…

  15. #15 Pablo
    March 31, 2010

    I think this has previously been addressed. Mercury has not been removed from all the vaccines.

    None of the vaccines on the regular schedule of childhood vaccinations has thimerasol in them. Multi-batch flu vaccines will have some, but that is not part of the normal schedule.

    More to the point, I wasn’t the one who made the claim. As JohnV points out, that was one of your anti-vax crusaders who said it. It’s very clear – at the time, HE thought that thimerasol was sufficiently removed to prevent any problems that it supposedly was causing. HE was the one who predicted that the autism rates would drop. HE was the one who said that if they didn’t drop, then the autism/thimerasol link was dead.

    If you got a problem with that, take it up with him.

    Of course, the fact that he was hoisted on his own petard means nothing to him, and only goes to illustrate the point that nothing can change the mind of an anti-vaxxer.

    So are you ever going to explain the difference between shark squalene and human squalene? Or you are just going to continue letting yourself be paraded around as a punchline and the poster child of the arrogance of ignorance?

  16. #16 susie
    March 31, 2010

    Pablo: Is this is you quote at #695:

    695
    MSG: What the hell? This doesn’t even show up in vaccines.
    Maybe it’s in Chinese vaccines?

    Now that someone else on here (not me) confirmed that YES, MSG is in a vaccine, you will probably defend it til you drop too.

    Re Squalene, we don’t know what we don’t know about these experimental ingredients, but squalene causes a lot of autoimmune diseases in animals, so that should be a huge concern for vaccine safety, shouldn’t it?

  17. #17 Todd W.
    March 31, 2010

    @susie

    Re Squalene, we don’t know what we don’t know about these experimental ingredients, but squalene causes a lot of autoimmune diseases in animals, so that should be a huge concern for vaccine safety, shouldn’t it?

    Do you have citations to the animals studies? Thanks.

    Now, if squalene causes more autoimmune diseases, then we should see more autoimmune diseases in Europe than in the U.S., since squalene has been used for at least a decade in Europe but has not been used in the U.S.

  18. #18 Rob
    March 31, 2010

    @susie

    Once again, you lie. The Italian study of thimerasol did NOT have a 30% dropout rate.

    I quote: “Telephone interviews were conducted for the remaining 1704 families [from the 1979 who were invited to participate]. We detected, through the telephone interviews with parents and reviews of medical charts, 1 case of autism among the 856 children in the lower thimerosal intake group and no cases among the 848 children in the higher thimerasol intake group”

    Susie, for your edification 856 + 848 = 1704. The remainder of the 1979 families either declined to participate (114), were not contactable (160), or the child had died (1). If you add those numbers up (use a calculator), you will find that 1704 + 114 + 160 + 1 = 1979.

    These workers went on the examine the children by neuropsychological evaluation. A total of 301 families declined to participate, and 1403 accepted. This left a near perfect distribution of 697 children in the lower intake group and 706 in the higher intake group. These workers set a target of 1400 children in order to obtain a statistically significant result.

    I quote: “The characteristics of…the two groups were similar in terms of sociodemographic characteristics, clinical characteristics, and parents’ educational level, whereas birthweight was slightly lower in the higher intake group.”

    So far, a perfect population to study dose dependent effects of thimerasol.

    After a thorough series of tests, too detailed for me to replicate, the authors concluded, using a statistical analysis, that “an association between thimerasol exposure through vaccination in infancy and neuropsychological deficits is unlikely or clinically negligible.”

    Read the damn paper before you start quoting results. It’s available for free.

  19. #19 Gray Falcon
    March 31, 2010

    MSG: What the hell? This doesn’t even show up in vaccines.
    Maybe it’s in Chinese vaccines?

    Now that someone else on here (not me) confirmed that YES, MSG is in a vaccine, you will probably defend it til you drop too.

    Anyone else would have recognized the joke about Asian cooking. This is the problem with you, Susie, you’re so obsessed with being right, you latch onto anything you think will confirm your beliefs, even if basic common sense proves otherwise.

    Re Squalene, we don’t know what we don’t know about these experimental ingredients, but squalene causes a lot of autoimmune diseases in animals, so that should be a huge concern for vaccine safety, shouldn’t it?

    Do you have a source for that claim? We aren’t just going to take some random stranger’s word that it’s the truth. And don’t claim that we’re taking the word of the large corporations, we’re really going on the words of several independent people, most of whom have conflicting interests.

  20. #20 Gray Falcon
    March 31, 2010

    Slight blockquote error in 807, the second paragraph was also supposed to be susie’s.

  21. #21 Mu
    March 31, 2010

    Since squalene is added as an adjuvant to lessen the amount of antigen needed it’s a good thing, isn’t it? You know, the too many too fast thing?

  22. #22 Rob
    March 31, 2010

    @susie

    BTW, in a retrospective study, you cannot have “drop-outs.” Damn, you are truly ignorant of the science you purport to know.

    Also, BTW, there is no chemical difference between squalene in vaccines and the squalene that your body synthesizes to make cholesterol and all of the sex hormones. Shark liver oil is used as a dietary supplement, and it contains boatloads of squalene. It is in olive oil and has been proposed as a chemopreventive agent. Truly, truly, you need to learn some science before you spout your nonsense. It’s like a vomit of words.

  23. #23 susie
    March 31, 2010

    Gray:
    here’s a start for you.
    Squalene Induces Autoimmune Disease in Animals

    1. Whitehouse MW, Orr KJ, Beck FW, Pearson CM [Division of Rheumatology, De­partment of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California], “Freund’s Adjuvants: Relationship of Arthritogenicity and Adjuvanticity in Rats to Vehicle Composition,” Immunology, (1974) Aug;27(2)311-30.

    2. Beck FW, Whitehouse MW, Pearson CM [Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California], “Improvements for consistently inducing experimental allergic encelphalomyelitis (EAE) in rats: I. without using mycobacterium. II. inoculating encephalitogen into the ear,” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, (1976) Mar; 151 (3):615-22.

    3. Kohashi 0, Pearson CM [Division 6f Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Uni­versity of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California], “Arthritogenicity of Mycobacterium smegmatis subfractions, related to different oil vehicle and dif­ferent composition,” International Archives of Allergy Applied Immunology, (1976);51(4):462-70.

    4. Beck FW, Whitehouse MW [Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California and Depart­ment of Experimental Pathology, John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra A.CT. 2600, Australia], “Modifications in the Establishment of Allergic Encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Rats; an Improved Assay for Immunosuppressant Drugs,” Agents Actions, (1976) July;6(4):460-7.

    5. Zamma T [Department of Oral Surgery, School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Showa-Ku, Nagoya, 466 Japan], “Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis in the Temporomandibu­lar Joint of Rats,” Infection and Immunity, March 1983;39(3), pg. 1291-1299.

    6. Johnston BA, Eisen H, Fry D [Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington], “An Evaluation of Several Adjuvant Emulsion Regimens for the Pro­duction of Polyclonal Antisera in Rabbits,” Laboratory Animal Science, (1991) Jan;41 (1): 15-21.

    7. Lipman NS, Trudel LJ, Murphy JC, Sahali Y [Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139], “Comparison of Immune Response Potentiation and In Vivo Inflammatory Effects of Freund’s and Ribi Adjuvants in Mice,” Laboratory Animal Science, (1992) April;42(2): 193-7.

    8. Leenaars PP, Hendriksen CF, Angulo AF, Koedam MA, Claasen E [National Insti­tute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), PO. Box 1,3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands], “Evaluation of several adjuvants as alternatives to the use of Freund’s adjuvant in rabbits” Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, (1994) Mar;40(3):225-41.

    9. Leenaars M, Koedam MA, Hendriksen CF, Claassen E [National Institute of Pub­lic Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands], “Immune responses and side effects of five different oil-based adjuvants in mice,” Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, (1998) Feb 27;61(2-4):291-304.

    10. Leenaars PP, Koedam MA, Ester PW, Baumans V, Claassen E, Hendriksen CF [National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands], “Assessment of side effects induced by injection of different adjuvant/antigen combinations in rabbits and mice,” Labo­ratoryAnimals (1998) Oct;32(4):387-406.

    11. Kleinau S, Erlandsson H, Klareskog L [Department of Clinical Immunology, Uni­versity Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden], “Percutaneous exposure of adjuvant oil causes arthritis in DA rats,” Clinical Experimental Immunology, (1994) May;96(2):281-4. (“Refers to olive oil, which contains squalene).

    12. Yoshino S, Yoshino J [Rheumatology Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA5000, Australia], “Recruitment of pathogenic T cells to synovial tissues of rats in­jected intraarticularly with nonspecific agents,” Cellular Immunology, (1994) Octo­ber 15;158(2):305-13.

    13. Smialek M, Gajkowska B, Ostrowski RP, Piotrowski P [Department of Neuropathol­ogy and Laboratory of the Ultrastructure of the Nervous System, Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa, Poland], “Experimental squalene encephaloneuropathy in the rat,” Folia Neuropathologica, (1997);35(4):262-4.

    1 4. Gajkowska B, Smialek M, Ostrowski RP, Piotrowski P, Frontczak-Baniewicz M

    [The Laboratory of the Ultrastructure of the Nervous System, Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences,S Pawinskiego Street, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland], ‘The experimental squalene encephaloneuropathy in the rat,” Experimen­tal and Toxicologic Pathology, (1999) January; 5:75-80.

    15. Lorentzen JC [Department of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden],” Identification of arthritogenic adjuvants of self and foreign origin,” Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, (1999) Jan;49( 1 ):45-50.

    16. Carlson BC, ]annson AM, Larsson A, Bucht A, Lorentzen]C [Department of Med­icinee, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden], “The endogenous adjuvant squa­

    lene can induce a chronic T-cell-mediated arthritis in rats,” American Journal of Pathology: (2000) ]un: 156(6):2057-65.

    17. Holm BC, Zu HW, ]acobsson L, Larson A, Luthman H, Lorentzen]C [Center for Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Unit of Rheumatology, Karolinska Institutet, S-17176 Stockholm, Sweden], “Rats made congenic for Oia3 on chromo­some 10 become susceptible to squalene-induced arthritis,” Human Molecular Ge­netics, (.2001) Mar 215;10(6):565-72.

    18. Holmdahl R, Lorentzen]C, Lu S, Olofsson P, Wester L., Holmberg], Pettersson U, [Section of Medical Inflammation Research, Lund University, Sweden]. “Arthritis induced in rats with nonimmunogenic adjuvants as models for rheumatoid arthritis” Immunological Reviews, (2001) Dec;184:184-202.

    19. Holm BC, Svelander L, Bucht A, Lorentzen ]C [Department of Medicine, Unit of Rheumatology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and Department of Medical Coun­termeasures, Division of NBC Defense, Defense Research Agency, Umea, Swe­den], ‘The arthritogenic adjuvant squalene does not accumulate in joints, but gives rise to pathogenic cells in both draining and non-draining lymph nodes,” Clinical and Experimental Immunology, (2002) Mar;127(3):430-5.

    20. Whitehouse MW, Beck FW], Matsumoto G [Department of Medicine, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland, Australia; Wayne States University Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.], “Squalene is an Auto Toxi­cant Inducing Polyarthritis in Rats and Immunopathies in Man, Abstract,” The Aus­tralian Health and Medical Congress, 2002, no. 1143.

    21. Gherardi RK [Groupe Nerf-Muscle, Departement de Pathologie, Hopital Henri Mondor, Creteil], “Lessons from macrophagic myofasciitis: towards definition of a vaccine adjuvant-related syndrome,” Revue Neurologique (Paris), (2003) Feb; 159(2): 162-4.

    22. Backdahl L, Ribbihammar U, Lorentzen ]C [Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm], “Mapping and functional characterization of rat chromosome 4 regions that regulate arthritis models and phenotypes in congenic strains,” Arthritis and Rheumatism, (2003) Feb;48(2):551-9.

    23. Satoh M, Kuroda Y, Yoshida H, Behney KM, Mizutani A, Akaogi], Nacionales DC, Lorenson TD, Rosenbauer R], Reeves WH [Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville], “Induc­tion of lupus autoantibodies by adjuvants,” Journal of Autoimmunity, (2003) Aug;21(l):1-9.

    24. Kuroda Y, Akaogi ], Nacionales DC, Wasdo SC, Szabo N], Reeves WH, Satoh M [Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville], “Distinctive Patterns of Autoimmune Response Induced by Different Types of Mineral Oil,” Toxicological Sciences, (2004) Apr;78(2):222-8.

    25. Kuroda Y, Nacionales DC, Akaogi J, Reeves WH, Satoh M [Division of Rheumatol. ogy and Clinical Immuryology, Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville], “Autoimmunity induced by adjuvant hydrocarbon oil components of vaccine,” Biomedicine & Pharmflcotherapy, (2004), Jun;(5S)5:325.37.

    26. Holm BC, Lorentzen JC, Bucht A [Diabetes Research, Immunology Unit, Depart. ment of Endocrinology, Lund University, Malmo University Hospital, Stockholm], “Adjuvant oil induces waves of arthritogenic lymph node cells prior to arthritis on. set,” Clinical and Experimental Immunology, (2004) Jul;137(1):59.64.

    Adverse Reactions in Humans to Experimental Vaccines Containing Squalene

    27. Keitel W, Couch R, Bond N., Adair S, Van Nest G, Dekker C [Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, One Baylor Plaza, Hous. ton, Texas 77030], “Pilot evaluation of influenza virus vaccine (IW) combined with adjuvant,” Vaccine, (1993);11(9):909.913; “[See also Nos. 27 & 31);

    Squalene Stimulates the Immune System

    28. Ott G, Barchfield GL, Chernoff D, Radhakrishnan R, van Hoogevest P, Van Nest G

    [Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California 9460S], “MF59. Design and evaluation of a safe and potent adjuvant for human vaccines,” Pharm Biotechnol, (1995);6:277. 96.

    29. Ott G, Barchfield GL, Chernoff D, Radhakrishnan R, van Hoogevest P, Van Nest G [Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, CA 9460S], “MF59. Design and Evaluation of a Safe and Potent Adjuvant for Human Vaccines,” Vaccine Design: The Subunit and Adjuvant Approach (Monograph), (1995) Chapter 1 0:277 .311.

    30. Ou G, Barchfield GL, Van Nest G [Chiron Corporation, EmeryvilIe, CA 9460S], “Enhancement of humoral response against human influenza vaccine with the simple submicron oil/water emulsion adjuvant MF59,” Vaccine, (1995) Nov; 13(16): 1557.62.

    31. O’Hagan DT, Ott GS, Van Nest G [Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, CA 94704], “Recent advances in vaccine adjuvants: the development of MF59 emulsion and polymeric microparticles,” Molecular Medicine Today, (1997) Feb; 3(2):69-75.

    32. Allison AC [Suromed Corporation, 1060 East Meadow Circle, Palo Alto, California 94303], “Squalene and squalane emulsions as adjuvants,” Methods (1999) Sept; 19( 1 ):S7 .93.

    How the Immune System Processes Squalene

    33. Depuis M, MurphyTJ, Higgins D, Ugozzoli M, Van Nest G, Ott G, McDonald DM

    [Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143], “Dendritic cells internalize vaccine adjuvant after intramuscular injection,” Cellular Immunology, (1998) May 25; 186(1): 18-27.

    34. Depuis M, McDonald OM, Ott G [Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143], “Distribution of adjuvant MF59 and antigen gD2 after intramuscular injection in mice,” Vaccine, (1999) Oct 14; 18(5­6):434-9.

    35. Depuis M, Denis-Mize K, LaBarbaraA, Peters W, Charo IF, McDonald OM, Ott G [Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143], “Immunization with the adjuvant MF59 induces macrophage trafficking and apoptosis,” European Journal of Immunology, (2001) Oct;31(10):291O-8.

    Specificity of Antibody Response to Squalene

    36. Asa PB, Cao Y, Garry RF [Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane Medical School, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112], “Antibodies to Squalene in Gulf War Syndrome,” Experimental and Molecular Pathology (2000) Feb;68(1):55-64.

    37. Matyas GR, Wasseff NM, Rao M, Alving CR [Department of Membrane ~iochem­istry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 20910-7500, Silver Spring, MD], “Induction and detection of antibodies to squalene,” Journal of Immunological Methods (2000) Nov 1;245(1-2):1-14.

    38. Alving CR, Grabenstein JD [Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program Office], “RE: Antibodies to squalene in Gulf War Syndrome,” Experimental and Molecular Pathology (2000) Jun;68(3): 196-8.

    39. Asa PB, Cao Y, Garry RF [Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane Medical School, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112], “Reply,” Experimental and Molecular Pathology (2000) Jun;68(3): 197-8.

    40. Asa PB, Wilson RB, Garry RF [Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tu­lane Medical School, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112], “Anti­bodies to Squalene in recipients of anthrax vaccine,” Experimental and Molecular Pathology (2002) Aug;73(1): 19-27.

    41. Matyas G, Rao M, Alving C [Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 503 Robert Grant Avenue, 20910-7500, Silver Spring,

    MD, USA], “Induction and detection of antibodies to squalene. II. Optimization of

    the assay for murine antibodies,” Journal of Immunological Methods (2002) Sep 15; 267(2):119.

    42. Matyas GR, Rao M, Pittman PR, Burge R, Robbins IE, Wassef NM, Thivierge B, Alving CR [Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research], “Detection of antibodies to squalene: III. Naturally occurring antibodies to squalene in humans and mice,” Journal of Immunological Methods, (2004) Mar;286(102):47-67.

    Ingested Squalene Is Processed Differently from Injected Squalene

    43. Tilvis RS, Miettinen TA [Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland], “Absorption and metabolic fate of dietary 3H-squalene in the rat,” Lipids, (1983) Mar;18(3):233-8.

    44. Gylling H, Miettinen TA [Second Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland], “Postabsorptive metabolism of dietary squalene,” Atherosclerosis, (1994) April; 106(2): 169-78.

    45. Relas H, Gylling H, Miettinen TA [Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland], “Effect of stanol ester on postabsorptive squalene and retinyl palmitate,” Metabolism, (2000) April;49(4):473-8.

  24. #24 susie
    March 31, 2010

    Gray Falcon:

    Will you be interpreting all of Pablo’s posts for him in the future? Are you now his official spokesperson? I’m just curious.

  25. #25 Gray Falcon
    March 31, 2010

    Now you’re trying for the “Drown your opponent in information” tactic. It looks impressive, but you’ll note that most people here only bother with one or two articles. That’s because that’s all the information that’s needed. Also, there are plenty of words, but no substance: No abstracts, no quotes, for all we know, they could be saying the exact opposite of what you’re claiming. (That actually happened to someone here once.)

    Also, I’m not Pablo’s spokesman, I was just stating what was obvious to most people.

  26. #26 Travis
    March 31, 2010

    Susie, will you ever acknowledge your mistake about the drop-outs in that paper or justify your statement that the people declining to participate invalidates the paper or do you plan to simply move on and try to talk about other topics, ignoring what was said as you appear to be doing?

    Rob’s post has a nice little discussion about how the groups were in fact quite good populations for such a study. Can you address those statements?

  27. #27 nsib
    March 31, 2010

    susie,

    Pablo: Is this is you quote at #695:

    695
    MSG: What the hell? This doesn’t even show up in vaccines.
    Maybe it’s in Chinese vaccines?

    Now that someone else on here (not me) confirmed that YES, MSG is in a vaccine, you will probably defend it til you drop too.

    It’s in FluMist,a frikkin intranasal vaccine. It’s administered to the nasal cavity. From there it’ll end up in the stomach, just like the MSG from chinese food. Are you seriously arguing that chinese food causes autism?

  28. #28 Militant Agnostic
    March 31, 2010

    Gray Falcon @813

    they could be saying the exact opposite of what you’re claiming. (That actually happened to someone here once.)

    Only happened once eh 🙂

  29. #29 Travis
    March 31, 2010

    So, I notice that list of papers is basically directly lifted from a document I found at http://www.vaclib.org

    More of what Gray Falcon said. drown the opponent. Who knows whether any of those really support anything you are saying.

  30. #30 Mu
    March 31, 2010

    Also noticeable, while the list contains 45 articles, only one, nr. 27, is actually on adverse reactions in humans, and that’s a report on a pilot in 1999. The black helicopters must have been very efficient in suppressing any further research on that matter.

  31. #31 anon
    March 31, 2010

    @ Todd W

    It’s rare to find someone against vaccines (in part or in whole) who are not simply echoing key talking points from places like AoA.

    I disagree.

    is that the only decent autism models we have are genetic models, and so do not represent the vaccine conjecture. Simply injecting animals with vaccines and noting what, if any, changes occur does not necessarily translate to autism in humans.

    I’m not talking about autism. The only time I have even mentioned it, was when discussing vaxxed and unvaxxed populations.

    As the others requested, please provide some examples of goalpost shifting on the pro-vaccine side.

    You’re doing it now, by using my observation of human development in the first two years of life and the possible problems encountered by having antigens and adjuvants injected into them and equating that to “autism”. I’d probably consider it a strawman, nonetheless, it’s distracting. In the course of debate, this usually ends in calling the person a parasite or some similar term to describe their delusional caution about vaccines forcing them to defend someone elses discriminatory behavior.

    Do you have some citations for this [hep b], for my own curiosity?

    The 1991 ACIP recommendation.

    You appear to be asserting that because babies change a lot in their early years, vaccines are plausibly connected to the development of autism. Your conjecture is not what I asked for. I asked for data showing that there is a causal connection.

    I did not assert that, and not even in this context (another strawman you are demanding that I defend). You said that antivaxxers have not put forth a plausible explanation as to how “too many too soon” could relate to autism. How on Earth could I show you data when there is none? There isn’t a single study that reflects the recommended schedule and the combinations in which it is given. Odd that people dismiss the possibility of perturbing the immune system from this aggressive schedule, and then tell me to prove it causes harm when anyone that is paying attention knows the research has not been done. That said, you are left to my conjecture.

    First, for those reading this, it should be stated again that an allergic reaction cannot occur unless a person has been exposed to the allergen at least once or twice before. That out of the way, if an allergic reaction to an injected substance is plausible, then allergic reactions, in general, should also be plausible and, therefore, investigated with just as much energy as vaccines.

    I’m not sure I follow your disagreement of my statement. Indeed, allergic reactions tend to escalate if they exist at all. Obviously, they will vary in degree depending on numerous variables. Perhaps we agree, it’s just that since you consider me antivaccine, you are finding the need to correct me.

    then we should also be studying many, many other things with just as much energy as vaccines have been examined: pollution, diet, frequency of doctor visits, socioeconomic status…basically anything that might possibly affect development.

    Diet, absolutely. BUT, none of the possibilities mention actually pierce the skin and deliver antigens and adjuvants into the muscles.

    Other than your “just asking questions” attitude, you have not provided plausible reasons why vaccines, specifically, should be investigated beyond what has already been done. Provide some quality evidence that suggests vaccines cause autism.

    This is another strawman, since I didn’t make that assertion. The assertions I’ve made (skin scraping and injections are different, efficacy and safety blurred lines) I DID support. My conjecture that irritated you dealt with the “too many too soon” slogan that YOU previously posted.

  32. #32 Dan Weber
    March 31, 2010

    Travis, she wants us to drop the 30% drop-out issue.

    I would want people to drop it, too, if I posted bullshit and was caught on it.

    I like the “30% drop out / non-participation rate.” Joining two different things together so you can pretend they are the same. Classic.

    I’m gonna go home and do a study of children under 10 / astronauts.

  33. #33 Dan Weber
    March 31, 2010

    Are you seriously arguing that chinese food causes autism?

    I’m just asking questions. Where is the chinese-food versus non-chinese-food study? Why is Big General Tso so afraid to do the study? Is it because it will show that they really didn’t remove MSG from the pu pu platter?

  34. #34 Travis
    March 31, 2010

    I actually regret posting about those papers. I think that is how these people can cause threads to go on this long, we let them change topics when they are confronted with problems. I would love it if everyone kept on an issue, pushing, and pushing.

    I was wondering if that “30% drop out / non-participation rate.” would eventually become “non-participation rate” after a few more posts, erasing the error.

  35. #35 Luna_the_cat
    March 31, 2010

    Right, I apologise in advance if this isn’t as coherent as it should be, it has been a very long day.

    @susie: Ok, you know what, I am perfectly willing to accept that insurance companies class autism as a mental illness. I will further enthusiastically endorse any opinion to the effect that American health insurance companies are evil bastards which fail autistic kids and their families miserably.

    Moving on — well, responding to your comment just above, deliberate injections of large doses of squalene has been used to induce immediate autoimmune symptoms in rodents, yes. Not only were the objective quantities considerably larger than what is in any vaccine, the amount per kg bodyweight was way out of proportion in the rodents. The other interesting thing was that the reaction was immediately visible, too. It wasn’t something that developed weeks later. It’s not a good comparison for a variety of reasons.

    Everyone in the world produces squalene in their bodies. And between 90%-100% of the humans tested, in a wide variety of populations, even those who have never recieved a vaccine in their lives, also have antibodies to squalene. It is something that happens, but cannot be linked to an illness. (I will see if I can dig up citations for this, I did have them.)

    Second, as has already been pointed out repeatedly (thank you triskele, you beat me to it), the Italian study did not have a 30% dropout rate, 30% of invited families did not enter the study. People decline to enter studies for a lot of reasons, and generally one of the major ones is “We don’t want to commit to having to keep records and/or keep checking in with people, it’s too much bother.” Please explain how you think this makes it a bad study…and bear in mind that everyone who has done medical or populational studies is aware that a 70% participation rate actually IS very good.

    Now, regarding the paper you referenced at post 730, “Thimerosal Neurotoxicity is Associated with Glutathione Depletion” —

    1. They claim that all the childhood vaccinations together amounted to “up to 200 μg/kg cumulative dose” of thiomersal. Then they used an amount of thiomersal in mmol/liter which they claimed was equivalent. Problem: it has been shown experimentally that ethyl mercury is cleared out of the body in less than 4 days, and they are using an entire amount which would have been spread over 18 months as a single administration. How is this equal?
    2. They did not even test cells in vivo, in a living body; they used cultured cells in an artificial medium, bathed in fetal bovine serum and penicillin/streptomycin, and then bathed these cells in thiomersal solution. Problem: cells in the highly artificial environment of a culture very frequently do not behave like cells in a body. This is why all those “miracle cures” you hear about for cancer, which are oh-so-promising in test tubes, simply disappear — because over 90% of the time when the things which behave one way in a test tube or cell culture are tested in a body, something entirely different happens.

    Without going into the paper in more depth (and there are plenty of depths to go to), these two issues right there tell me that this study would need to be replicated under better matching conditions and in a more realistic environment to have any meaning.

    However, big thing, following up one of your other postings: yes, thiomersal/thimerosal HAS been removed from almost every vaccine, and it hasn’t made any difference. You claim it isn’t gone; first off, ALL ingredients MUST be listed on the inserts, even if they are in undetectable trace amounts — if you are claiming that the vaccine manufacturers are committing such an illegal act as putting thiomersal back in and not declaring it, then you need to produce evidence of that and then the manufacturers can be heavily fined for that. Your evidence?

    Secondly, though, that “trace amounts” issue? When thiomersal is used during the manufacturing and then removed, the vaccine insert will declare the maximum amount which can remain. I do not believe there is a single vaccine other than flu which can contain >1μg. This is hugely less than used to be used. Again, if this had any influence on “vulnerable” children, this change in amount should have made a difference. It hasn’t. Period.

    Regarding the rest of it…well. I suppose your doctor was suposedly looking at cytochrome P450 1B1 cytochromes are involved in drug metabolisation? If not, then why? And what, precisely, were you being told that it had to do with autism? I would like to know how this was sold to you. And on another note, “at one point he was sensitive to over 60 foods”, and this was determined how? And why is he (apparently) not sensitive any more? Genuine food sensitivities tend to be persistent.

    See, the problem I have here is that what you are referring to is not particularly credible to anyone with a background in biology, because it just doesn’t fit with things we already genuinely know to work certain ways.

    Now…
    @anon post 733 — that link you provided, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM137168.pdf. You claimed, I quote,

    Industry in general also has a tendency to misconstrue efficacy data as safety data.

    No. That is a completely false characterisation of what is done, and your own link demonstrates this clearly. Safety is examined in efficacy studies, but it is clearly handled and discussed as a separate issue, as the next 14 pages of discussion of specifically safety and not efficacy methodology and data attests! A study can track both safety AND efficacy, and this does not make the safety data invalid, nor an afterthought; it’s the fact that we need to get as much data out of every study as possible. The idea that safety data is not good, is only an afterthought, if it is looked at in the same study as efficacy, that’s just…insane. Or ignorant. Or both.

    You don’t like my using the term “bullshit” — I can assure you, no matter how polite the language, the thing to which I refer would still stink. I just don’t see the need to be polite about it, just now. Bullshit is bullshit.

    There is also the issue, which I have not seen you address (I’m not holding my breath) that historically, infant exposure to environmental toxins and pathogens has been FAR higher than it is now. In fact, a major issue with vaccines is to ensure that they are strong enough to provoke an immune response, because the amount of antigen in them is so tiny that it tends to get cleared away too quickly. There is, in fact, quite a lot of discussion of this in papers on vaccine development, should you ever check PubMed and read instead of skim titles.

    From the 18th Century, household furnishings and cleansers, patent medicines, popular remedies, and even drinks and clothing tended to contain very high amounts of antimony, lead, mercury, and other such toxic heavy metals. This was not without consequence — in fact, a lot of illnesses and deaths were undoubtedly a direct consequence. If this kind of toxicity were anything to do with autism, though, where was the 19th century plague of autistic children? Why on earth didn’t the prevalence of autism drop as the harmfulness of these substances was recognised and they were phased out of things like teething powders? That just happened in the 1950s, after all.

  36. #36 Luna_the_cat
    March 31, 2010

    @anon, wait. There isn’t a single study that reflects the recommended schedule and the combinations in which it is given.

    Again, bullshit. Most vaccine studies involve a new vaccine given as an addition to the existing schedule!

    @susie — yes, let me just reiterate. In order for a human to receive a proportional amount of the squalene injected into those unfortunate rodents, I believe we would have to injected with about 50 grams of the stuff. Inducing an autoimmune reaction with massively disproportionate amounts of a natural substance in the body, is not even vaguely like what might happen with the tiny amount in a vaccine, given that what is in the vaccine is itself a tiny fraction of what is already in the body. Do you understand that?

  37. #37 Gray Falcon
    March 31, 2010

    Only happened once eh 🙂

    Okay, nearly every time. I was thinking of insane Dawn and her six-hundred page legal document.

  38. #38 Militant Agnostic
    March 31, 2010

    Luna the cat asks

    Inducing an autoimmune reaction with massively disproportionate amounts of a natural substance in the body, is not even vaguely like what might happen with the tiny amount in a vaccine, given that what is in the vaccine is itself a tiny fraction of what is already in the body. Do you understand that?

    I think the answer to your question is No.

  39. #39 anon
    March 31, 2010

    Luna: A study can track both safety AND efficacy, and this does not make the safety data invalid, nor an afterthought;

    LOL. Okay. And data points that are set after a study is done is the perfect way to inject bias into the results. Just like using an experimental vaccine as the control does… both of which are demonstrated with Prevnar 7.

    You don’t like my using the term “bullshit” — I can assure you, no matter how polite the language, the thing to which I refer would still stink. I just don’t see the need to be polite about it, just now. Bullshit is bullshit.

    Since when is anyone polite on this blog? I’m afraid I’d be setting the bar a little high this place. It reduces the discussion to bar room antics that most people could care less about. Maybe that’s the point.

    which I have not seen you address (I’m not holding my breath)infant exposure to environmental toxins and pathogens has been FAR higher than it is now. In fact, a major issue with vaccines is to ensure that they are strong enough to provoke an immune response, because the amount of antigen in them is so tiny that it tends to get cleared away too quickly.

    Why do I need to support or address your assertion?

    If this kind of toxicity were anything to do with autism, though, where was the 19th century plague of autistic children?

    You are free to continue talking to yourself and Todd W. about autism and saying bullshit all the while. Please direct me to my assertions regarding autism and teh ebil toxins… and please, do say bullshit some more.

    Most vaccine studies involve a new vaccine given as an addition to the existing schedule!

    Bullshit, of the stinkiest kind. My fork says this thread is done.

  40. #40 Gray Falcon
    March 31, 2010

    which I have not seen you address (I’m not holding my breath)infant exposure to environmental toxins and pathogens has been FAR higher than it is now. In fact, a major issue with vaccines is to ensure that they are strong enough to provoke an immune response, because the amount of antigen in them is so tiny that it tends to get cleared away too quickly.

    Why do I need to support or address your assertion?

    Because if you don’t, it would be an admission of defeat. You see, let premise A be: “Mercury causes autism.” Premise B is “Mercury was in extremely common use in the late 19th century.” If both A and B were true, then the following would be true: “There was a massive surge of autism in the late 19th century.” Since that one is false, either A or B, or both, must be false. B is true, we have physical evidence of mercury in teething powders from the time. Therefore, A is false. QED.

  41. #41 Zetetic
    March 31, 2010

    susie @ #801:

    So, are you saying all the thimerasol has been removed? You know that is untrue.

    EXACTLY the response I knew you’d make! Thanks for proving my point again for me susie!

    Notice that I never said “all vaccines”, rather I said the “childhood vaccines”. I know because I was careful to make that point (repeatedly and in more than one post), to differentiate the childhood vaccines that you believe are causing autism (HepB, MMR,etc) from the non-childhood vaccines that typically aren’t given until after autism can be diagnosed. You know the childhood vaccines that just earlier you stated that pharma companies were trying to put the Thiomersal back into. Please go back and read my earlier posts if you don’t believe me.

    I’m still waiting for you to answer my question.
    What reasonable study would convince you that just Thiomersal isn’t was causes autism?

    A vax/unvax study isn’t reasonable as was earlier discussed. Such a study would result in preventable death/injury beyond the current standard of care. A true vax/unvax study will also endangers the members of the public that aren’t a part of the test. That’s not acceptable. I even made a link to an article about why it’s not reasonable and suggested in the post that you read it (at #761 when I was responding to calli). I even pointed out why a vax/unvax study isn’t even needed to rule out some components from the list of suspects. Again, it was a point that I have made repeatedly on this thread.

    ————————————————————————————————–

    susie @ #811:

    Gray:
    here’s a start for you.
    Squalene Induces Autoimmune Disease in Animals

    Yes…so a chemical used to increase immune response when given in high enough doses (relative to the size of the organism, species may also be a factor) can induce an auto-immune disorder. Not at all surprising, but that says nothing about the levels in vaccines, let alone autism. If you inject someone with enough Thiomersal (about ten thousand times [10,000] times the normal dose) it will poison them and can kill them, that says that you can’t give someone too much but it has nothing to do with the much smaller (1/10,000th of lethal) levels administered in a typical vaccine.

    Hell, susie, even too much water or oxygen can kill you. Should we fear them too? Maybe it’s the dreaded Dihydrogen Monoxide that needs to be removed from vaccines.

    —————————————————————————————————–

    susie:
    A true skeptic or scientist can answer what it would take to prove that vaccines cause autism, and wouldn’t insist on a test that would knowingly endanger the public. The dogmatist, on the other hand, has trouble answering that question.

    Please answer my very simple question….
    What reasonable study would convince you that just Thiomersal isn’t was causes autism?

    ———————————————————————————————————

    anon @ #819:

    You’re doing it now, by using my observation of human development in the first two years of life and the possible problems encountered by having antigens and adjuvants injected into them and equating that to “autism”. I’d probably consider it a strawman, nonetheless, it’s distracting. In the course of debate, this usually ends in calling the person a parasite or some similar term to describe their delusional caution about vaccines forcing them to defend someone elses discriminatory behavior.

    With all due respect I think that again (as with myself earlier) that this a case of misunderstanding your intention in your posts. In fact, unless you’re a different “anon” I think we had this discussion before on another thread several months back.

    In all fairness, when you tend to critique only one side (the pro-vax side) and you are making points that are peripherally related to the main subject of conversation, it tends to lead to misunderstandings of your intent/point.

    Please note I’m not claiming that is in any way your intent, but it’s any easy mistake to make. I made such a mistake in misunderstanding your intent earlier in this thread. I believe I mentioned (in the other much older thread) that balancing your critiques and being more careful to clarify the ultimate point you are trying to make may help to prevent such misunderstandings.

    IMO Todd wasn’t likely engaging in goalpost shifting so much as misunderstanding the ultimate thrust of your point. If you and he were openly debating neurological damage in general and then he changed it to autism, then yes I would have to agree that it was goalpost shifting, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

    I hope that helps to straighten things out.

  42. #42 young sketpic
    April 1, 2010

    “Bullshit, of the stinkiest kind. My fork says this thread is done.”

    Yes please, leave. The fewer conspiracy nuts on this blog the more enjoyment I might get out of it. Now please actually follow through and never return. Your lot adds nothing to these discussions but get offended from the slightest nick. You are hypocrites, poor thinkers and a general nuisance.

  43. #43 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 1, 2010

    My fork says this thread is done.

    Then kindly fork off.

  44. #44 triskelethecat
    April 1, 2010

    @T. Bruce McNeely: re:

    Then kindly fork off.

    What does a MD prescribe for causing coffee to be snorted through the nose?

    Thanks for my morning laugh!

  45. #45 skeptiquette
    April 1, 2010

    Prometheus:

    “Having made a statement that there is a “valid reason to scientifically debate” autism and vaccines, it behooves her/him to support that statement rather than rely on everybody else to explain all the reasons this may or may not be so”

    Good call, should have started out differently. Just wanted to get a feel for the knowledge base to help tailor a response.

    So, my opinion on “immune dysfunction” and autism, in a nutshell, is that we should continue to allocate funds to research into the neuro-immune paradigm of autism. I think by incorporating the body of research (and this body is growing rapidly)which interrogates the neuro-immune etiology of autism only strengthens ones understanding of the etiology of autism. Integrating this knowledge does not mean that you have to preclude any other research, including the large body of research into the genetics of autism. In fact, understanding the ‘genetics’ of a multigenic disorder such as autism, and I am pretty sure I am agreeing with those here, is a prerequisite to any useful scientific discourse.

    Luna writes:

    Genetically, a suite of about 15-16 genes have been identified as playing into autism, and although work is still in the early stages, so far they mostly appear to influence things like cell-surface proteins which help regulate cell adhesion and between-cell signalling. How this plays into brain development is being actively investigated.

    I am not sure if you are trying to dumb this down for me, but, it is rather devoid of much meaning or insight into ‘genetic’ basis of autism. It is also not a very accurate description of the nature of a multigenic disorder, which follows a model of genetics X environment X development X sex. At the very least It would facilitate discussion if you could identify those genes and their putative role in normal physiology. It would also be helpful if you had a strong enough understanding of the risk alleles to describe possible epistatic interactions, which would increase susceptibility to altered neurodevelopment. Lastly, it would be a bonus if you could comment on how the interplay of these particular risk alleles with the environment during sensitive periods of brain development impacts the progression of altered neurodevelopment. Like I said I don’t want to make any assumptions as to your overall knowledge on the “genetics of autism” but what you have written above indicates you may not have the basic conceptual framework necessary to accurately interrogate these issues.

    I would be comfortable saying that there is a scientific consensus that Autism is a multigenic disorder, where numerous risk alleles combine with environmental, and developmental factors to produce the particular phenotype observed. Furthermore, this type of model also supports the notion that Autism is heterogenous both phenotypically, and genotypically, an observation borne out of many lines of research. These facts have become established based on the evidence available and IMHO would be difficult to falsify.

    Would you find it acceptable, to posit that the etiology of autism follows this particular model of G x E x D x S?

    Let’s move on to what I initially had asked about, and I will try to substantiate why I think it is imperative to continue allocating funding to neuro-immunological research into autism.

    Let’s look at a series of gene expression profiling studies which interrogate, through different methodologies, the differential expression of genes in autistic tissue samples or cell lines (LCL’s) and controls.

    The results may become evident based on the title of this study, but it makes sense to highlight some of the findings and discuss whether the methodology was sound. The Article entitled “Immune transcriptome alterations in the temporal cortex of subjects with autism” [1] provides evidence that there is a altered gene expression profile in the temporal cortex of subjects with autism compared to controls, indicating a commonality of “immune system dysfunction” amongst the cases compared to controls.

    I am going to excerpt some sections of text that are relevant to immune system dysfunction (you should probably read the whole study, I think this one is free access)

    First, just to reinforce what I stated above, the authors also opine:

    The exact etiology of autism is unknown, although it is believed to result from a complex
    combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors (Persico and Bourgeron,2006).

    While this is not news to me, it may help persuade some of you to actually become interested enough to start reading literature related to the neuro-immunology of autism. The study I am quoting, used a two-pronged approach to help validate findings, and a multi-faceted statistical analysis of the data (four different stat analyses). The initial research used a microarray analysis to identify differential genetic expression between brain tissue samples from autistic cases and healthy controls, the second prong, was a qPCR analysis to validate the microarray findings. Both the microarray dataset and the qPCR dataset were subject to four different statistical analyses for the following reason:

    We felt that such a multifaceted analysis strategy was essential to maximize the true discovery
    and minimize the putative confounds arising from a limited sample size and cohort diversity.

    Further analysis using a literature based research to classify the dysregulated genes based on biological function and GSEA (gene set enrichment analysis) helps elucidate the biological consequences of the observed dysregulation.

    We subjected these transcripts to an extensive literature search and observed that 72 out of 193 (37.3%) annotated and differentially expressed transcripts were either immune system related or cytokine responsive transcripts(Supplemental Material 2). Following this first classification, we were able to more precisely sub-classify these 72 annotated genes into three major functional subcategories, which overlap to a different degree; 1) cell communication and motility, 2) cell fate and differentiation, and 3) chaperones (Figure 3). The deregulation of these gene pathways might indicate that the profound molecular differences observed in the temporal cortex of autistic subjects possiblyoriginate from an inability to attenuate a cytokine activation signal.

    As I stated above understanding the biological consequence of the altered transcription or genetic risk allele has a fairly obvious utility, which is why I suggested that doing so would facilitate discussion and also why the authors decided to subject the transcripts to an extensive literature search. However, this method of analysis has a limitation due to subjectivity and therefore further GSEA was performed… I hope that it should be obvious that integrating neuro-immune research with any existing knowledge is not going to be detrimental to your overall understanding, but rather will augment any existing understanding you have.

    Two statistical parameters were calculated; a nominal p value for each gene set, estimating the
    statistical significance of the NES, and a q value, estimating the probability for NES to represent
    false discovery for a gene set. Using p is les than 0.01 and q is less than 0.05, we identified 31 BioCarta gene sets that were differentially expressed between AUT and CONT samples (Table 2 and Supplemental Material 3). Interestingly, 19 out of the 31 gene sets were involved in immune system function. More specifically, these groups were related to antigen-specific immune response (TOLL, TNFR2, HIVNEF, DC, IL2R pathway), inflammation (NFKB,IL1R, INFLAM, GSK3, P38MAPK, IL6, NTHI, and TH1TH2 pathway), cell death (NFKB,TNFR2, P38MAPK, TID, 41BB, CASPASE, and FAS pathway), autoimmune diseases (NFKB, TOB1, FAS pathway), migration (MCALPAIN pathway) and targeting of the immune
    response to specific cells (NKT pathway). Thus, the data obtained using a pre-defined gene set were strongly supportive of our findings that resulted from a knowledge-based assessment.

    These results support the contention that immune system dysregulation is a central feature of autism, with an emphasis on cytokine signaling pathways, inflammation and innate immune dysfunction. While the results definitively show a trend towards immune system abnormalities, I don’t think that we can categorically infer an etiological consequence from these immune differences without further research. In order to understand how immune system dysfunction can contribute to the autism phenotype, one has to explore the exciting field of neuroimmunology and how the immune system functions in normal physiological processes of higher brain function and normal brain development. Basically, it is a paradigm shift and there really is no way around it… the immune system is integral to normal brain function and development. This avenue of research is central to understanding how immune system dysfunction translates into a neurodevelopmental disorder, but at the same time is an expansive and highly complex topic. Accordingly, I will just briefly introduce this topic after we parse through the gene expression profiling studies.(in a subsequent post) Lastly, I would like to leave you with a longer excerpt from the discussion which should help stimulate some critical thinking.

    The most prominent expression changes in our dataset are clearly related to neuroimmune disturbances in the cortical tissue of autistic subjects. The idea of brain inflammatory changes in autism is not novel; epidemiological, (DeLong et al., 1981; Yamashita et al., 2003; Libbey et al., 2005) serological studies (Vargas et al., 2005; Ashwood et al., 2006) and postmortem
    studies (Pardo et al., 2005; Vargas et al., 2005; Korkmaz et al., 2006) over the last 10 years have provided compelling evidence that immune system response is an essential contributor to the pathophysiology of this disorder (Ashwood et al. 2006). Finally, converging post-mortem assessments and measurements of cytokines in the CSF of autistic children (Vargas et al.,2005), may indicating an ongoing immunological process involving multiple brain regions. Altered immune system genes are often observed across various brain disorders, albeit there are notable differences between the observed transcriptome patterns. The majority of neuroimmune genes found activated in the autistic brains overlap with mouse genes that are
    activated during the late recovery or “repair” phase in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (Baranzini et al., 2005). This suggests a presence of an innate immune
    response in autism. However, the altered IL2RB, TH1TH2, and FAS pathways suggest a simultaneously occurring, T cell-mediated acquired immune response. Based on these
    combined findings we propose that the expression pattern in the autistic brains resembles a late stage autoimmune event rather than an acute autoimmune response or a non-specific immune activation seen in neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, the presence of an acquired immune component could conceivably point toward a potential viral trigger for an early-onset chronic autoimmune process leading to altered neurodevelopment and to persistent immune
    activation in the brain. Interestingly, recently obtained gene expression signatures of subjects with schizophrenia (Arion et al., 2007) show a partial, but important overlap with the altered neuroimmune genes found here in autism. These commonly observed immune changes may represent a long-lasting consequence of a shared, early life immune challenge, perhaps occurring at different developmental stages and thus affecting different brain regions, or
    yielding distinct clinical phenotypes due to different underlying premorbid genetic backgrounds.

    Next, I would like to present the results from another independently performed genome wide expression profiling study that further replicates these findings.

    The article, “Gene expression profiling of lymphoblastoid cell lines from monozygotic twins discordant in severity of autism reveals differential regulation of neurologically relevant genes” [2], and the research results, also suggest a role for immune system dysfunction in the etiopathogenisis of autism.

    In this study the objective was to tease out important patterns of gene expression which may contribute to the degree of the autism phenotype in genetically identical subjects (monozygotic twins) where one of the twins was clinically diagnosed with autism and the other with a diagnosis of “not quite autistic.” The results indicated that genes relevant to the immune system show the most important differences

    Of particular note is the gene network that is derived from pathway analysis of the mean expression values (with log2 ratio ≥ ± 0.58) across 3 sets of discordant twins which shows that the majority of significantly differentially expressed genes are part of an extended network centered on TNF and other inflammatory mediators…

    Once again, pathway analysis of the differentially expressed significant genes revealed an extended network centered on TNF and other cytokines (including IL1B, IL4, and IL6, which was highly expressed in the brain tissues of autistic individuals [34]), connecting a number of neurologically relevant genes (Fig. 2)…

    One of the strikingresults of the pathway analyses is that a relatively largenumber of the differentially expressed, neurologically relevantgenes are linked in networks that are centered on genes involved in inflammation…

    The network genes with reported neurological functions include the proteins ASS, ALOX5AP (FLAP), CD44, CHL1,
    DAPK1, EGR2, F13A1, FLT1, IL6ST, NAGLU, PTGS2, and ROBO1 (See Table 3). The protein ASS regulates the ratelimiting step involved in nitric oxide (NO) production through regeneration of arginine from citrulline, a byproduct of the nitric oxide synthetase (NOS) reaction [31]. Since NO is a major signaling molecule in the brain that has been implicated in several psychiatric disorders, including autism [32], the increased expression of ASS may be of potential relevance to the autistic phenotype. ASS has also been shown to be induced in a rat model of brain inflammation [33], which would be consistent with the hypothesis that neural inflammation may play a role
    in autism [34]. DAPK1, a cell death-associated serine/threonine kinase which is involved in suppression of integrin activity and disruption of matrix survival signals [35], is also induced by inflammation [36]. Interestingly, the expression of FLT1 (VEGF receptor 1) is also regulated by inflammatory cytokines as well as by NO [37]. Furthermore, the fact that IL6ST (gp130) is increased in LCL from the more severely affected twin, may complement previous observations that IL-6 is the most elevated inflammatory cytokine in the middle frontal gyrus and anterior cingulate gyrus of brain autopsy tissue from autistic individuals [34]. While upregulation of ASS, DAPK1, FLT1,and IL6ST may be responses to inflammation, ALOX5AP (FLAP) and PTGS2 (COX-2) mediate inflammation through the production of leukotrienes [38] and prostaglandins [39]. Interestingly, 5-lipoxygenase, the target of FLAP activation, has been implicated in aging and neurodegenerative diseases [40], as well as other psychiatric disorders [41], including anxiety and depression, which are frequently co-morbid conditions of autism, while a COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, has been shown to have therapeutic effects in major depression [42], further suggesting a role for inflammatory processes in psychiatric disease. Collectively, the potential involvement of these specific genes that are associated with neurological function and disease and their presence in pathways regulated by inflammatory mediators lend further support to the neural inflammation model for autism [34], which may be also manifested by immune dysfunctions commonly observed in autism [43].

    The reason I qouted this larger paragraph is because it demonstrates a crucial context to understanding multigenic disorders. For example, here you can see that inflammation (pro-inflammatory cytokine signaling) can have divergent effects on a wide range of biological processes including, as Luna pointed out earlier as one of the putative causes of autism, cell adhesion processes. So, maybe one particular individual may have an SNP related to integrin activity resulting in a transcriptional repression (this could also arise from an alteration in a non coding region of DNA, an alteration in genetic structural variation (CNV) related to integrin, affecting gene dosage and/or an epigenomic alteration such as a hyper/hypo methylated promoter region or abnormal miRNA .) This particular individual may also have an altered “genetic” (genetic in parentheses, because it encompasses much more than just a sequence mutation) component related to an inflammatory pathway, which results in an increase transcription of inflammatory mediators, resulting in an epistatic interaction between the DAPK1 risk allele, the inflammatory mediator risk allele and the integrin risk allele, culminating in a substantial suppresion of integrin activity. This is just represents the genes part of G x E x D x S, once you start entering in the environmental context the understanding progresses. For example, what if this individual experienced a prolonged immune insult due to infection, how would this affect the cell adhesion molecule integrin and the overall developmental trajectory? Of course, this is just a hypothetical situation, but it serves well to illustrate how gene gene interactions and gene environment interactions can alter the penetrance of risk alleles.

    Ok, onto the next one this article entitled “Gene Expression Profiling Differentiates Autism Case–Controls and Phenotypic Variants of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Evidence for Circadian Rhythm Dysfunction in Severe Autism”[3] this study was generated by the same research lab as the previous study, so the results wouldn’t be considered “independently replicated”, but nevertheless, they provide a interesting insight into the etiology of autism and the potential contribution of neural immune interactions. Let’s take a look.

    Particularly noteworthy are the 15 genes that are involved in the regulation of circadian rhythm, which also affect many of the neurological functions and disorders commonly associated with ASD, such as synaptic
    plasticity, learning, memory, inflammation, cytokine production, and digestion The Venn diagram in Figure 4 summarizes the number of overlapping differentially expressed genes among the three ASD subgroups, with the largest overlap occurring between the severe(L) and mild (M) subgroups. Among the major functions associated with this set of overlapping genes are apoptosis and inflammation, as well as many neurological and metabolic processes commonly associated with ASD, such as central nervous system development, synaptic transmission, brain function, neuronal death, protein ubiquitination, RNA splicing, and oxidative stress (Supplemental Fig. 2).

    The results further validate their earlier findings, which illustrated a central tendency towards immune dysfunction in the cases compared to controls. Moreover, the finding that there exists a circadian rhythm dysfunction is quite intriguing based on the growing body of evidence which implicates the immune system as a central component of, not only sleep related disorders, but normal circadian rhythm function and normal sleep patterns.

    The journal article entitled “Neuroimmunology of the circadian clock” [4] does a good job summarizing the current research and knowledge associated with the immune system and the circadian clock. An interesting tid bit of information from the research is that the communication between the immune system and the circadian clock is bi-directional. For example, the peripheral immune system can influence the regulation of circadian genes and sleep patterns through various pathways which alter cytokine levels in the brain. On the other hand, lack of sleep can alter the genetic expression of cytokines in peripheral immune cells. The end result of this type of bi-directional communication is a feed forward cycle that may contribute to some of the immune system irregularities seen in Autism. In fact, there have been quite a few studies investigating sleep disturbance prevelance in autism in the recent literature that I have come across.

    “Gene Expression Profiling of Lymphoblasts from Autistic and Nonaffected Sib Pairs: Altered Pathways in Neuronal Development and Steroid Biosynthesis” [5] is another study produced by Hu et al. from George Washington school of Medicine (same lab as last two studies) which validates previous findings of altered immunes system transcriptomics in autistic cases compared to controls. I am not going to go through all of the results but here is an excerpt from their conclusion:

    In summary, gene expression profiling of LCL from autistic and nonautistic siblings reveals alteration of genes involved in both metabolic and signaling pathways in ASD that is consistent with the known pathophysiology of autism which includes inflammation as well as disturbances in axon guidance, neuronal survival, and differentiation, biological themes also implicated in our earlier study
    on monozygotic twins discordant in diagnosis and severity of autism [43]. The involvement of genes affecting both the immune and nervous systems, coupled with the pleiotropic effects of dysregulated steroid hormone biosynthesis, may further explain some of the systemic disorders associated with autism.

    Not only are there several genome wide expression profiling studies which point toward a common underlying theme of immune system abormalites, both innate and adaptive, in those with autism, but there are also several lines of clinical and experimental evidence which further substantiate the genetic evidence that the immune system is dysregulated. Moreover, most of the literature recognizes this line of research as contributory to the overall knowledge base. For example, this recent text pertaining to the genetics of Autism entitled: “Pathogenesis of autism: a patchwork of genetic causes”[6] authored by Elena L Grigorenko from the Child Study Center, Department of Psychology, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Yale University, has this to say about the immune system and autism:

    The association between immunological deficiencies and ASDs has been present in the
    literature for some time [78], although the etiology of this connection is not clear. Early reports
    contain evidence of a high frequency of autoimmune diseases among family members of probands with ASDs [79] when compared with control families [80,81]. Similarly, when
    compared with groups of typically developing individuals, probands with ASDs demonstrate elevations in indicators of chronic neuroinflammation in the brain [82–85], blood and urine [86–89]. Searching for the mechanisms underlying these differences, researchers have registered, in probands with ASDs, abnormal cellular immune responses [90–94], especially in the brain tissue [95] and other autoimmune abnormalities [96,97]. In addition, there have
    been ASD studies investigating allelic association and genetic linkage in the region of the MHC; however, the results of these studies are mixed, with some pointing to the presence of the association [98,99] and others excluding linkage [100]. There is also some evidence of the
    involvement of innate neuroimmune genetic mechanisms in the foundation of ASDs [101]. In summary, the literature on the presence of immune problems in probands with ASDs and
    their families contains a critical mass of information sufficient to generate a hypothesis regarding the involvement of autoimmune genes in the pathogenesis of ASDs. However, at present, views of possible immune dysfunction in ASDs range from proposals that it may
    contribute to manifestations of the disorder in some patients [86] to hypotheses that neuroimmunopathogenic responses play a fundamental role in ASDs [102]. It is also important to note that studies indicate that innate rather than adaptive neuroimmune responses contribute
    to the pathogenesis of ASDs [103]. One active hypothesis in the field is that, given the complex model of inheritance in ASDs, one possible etiopathic mechanism might involve an
    immunologic insult to the CNS in individuals with a susceptible genetic background [101].

    How exactly are you guys going to tell me that there is no rational basis to examining immune system abnormalities in those who have Autism?

    Do you really think that you are smarter or more well informed than all the researchers in the field of neuroimmunology studying their respective field in the context of Autism? Sorry guys, Orac isn’t omniscient, he is only huma…. A blinking box of lights or whatever and is fallible.

    I have to wonder if the “arrogance of ignorance” doesn’t also affect some of you, or most of you for that matter. Have you reviewed all the literature pertaining to the immune system and Autism? I doubt it, it seems more likely that most if not all of you haven’t a clue about neuroimmunology or its connection to autism, but at the same time are steadfast in your determination that the autism and the immune system are mutually exclusive.

    I call this “arrogance of ignorance.”

    What do you call it?

    What I have written is really just a teaser, just a start to unraveling the complexities of autism and immune involvement. I think I will stop here and let this soak in before I address all of the other lines of evidence which support the premise that immune system dysfunction is a central component of Autism.

    References:

    [1] Garbett K. et al. Immune transcriptome alterations in the temporal cortex of subjects with autism. Neurobiol Dis. 2008 June ; 30(3): 303–311

    [2] Hu VW, et al. Gene expression profiling of lymphoblastoid cell lines from monozygotic twins discordant in severity of autism reveals differential regulation of neurologically relevant genes. BMC Genomics 2006, 7:118

    [3] Hu VW, et al. Gene Expression Profiling Differentiates Autism Case–Controls and Phenotypic Variants of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Evidence for Circadian Rhythm Dysfunction in Severe Autism. Autism Res. 2009 April ; 2(2): 78–97.

    [4] Coogan AN, et al. Neuroimmunology of the Circadian Clock. Brain Research.2008;1232. p104-112

    [5] Hu VW, et al. Gene Expression Profiling of Lymphoblasts from Autistic and Nonaffected Sib Pairs: Altered Pathways in Neuronal Development and Steroid Biosynthesis. PLoS ONE; June 2009 . Volume 4. Issue 6.

    [6] Grigorenko E. Pathogenesis of autism: a patchwork of genetic causes. Future Neurol. 2009 ; 4(5): 591–599.

  46. #46 Luna_the_cat
    April 1, 2010

    Wow, skeptiquette, good snobbery you’ve got going there. It flavours the strawmen nicely.

    First, yes, I was dumbing it down for you…in your first request, you didn’t give a lot of indication you had any real idea of what the research was or what your level of understanding of biology in general might be. I’m still not sure what level of real understanding you have, only that you are capable of copy&paste from real research. Being able to use large words doesn’t mean you actually know what you are talking about or that you understand how it fits together; on the contrary, what I have found is that the people who tend to use the biggest words in informal discussion of research are the ones who are trying to baffle with bullshit, and the people who understand it and are trying to get other people to really understand it try to find ways to put it into plain English. Just a thought, you know.

    Second, no-one has claimed that autism and the immune system or neuroimmunology are completely separate and cannot possibly have any connection to each other. You state it seems more likely that most if not all of you haven’t a clue about neuroimmunology or its connection to autism, but at the same time are steadfast in your determination that the autism and the immune system are mutually exclusive. — but this comes purely out of your head, not out of what other people have written here. If you actually read what people WRITE, here, you might note that multiple people have pointed out that there is no evidence whatsoever of a link between vaccination and autism, and the idea that people might not be metabolising the TOXINZZ in vaccine shots is nonsense. That still stands.

    I will pick apart your references and strawmen further later, but I’m at work right now so it will have to wait a few hours.

  47. #47 JohnV
    April 1, 2010

    @susie

    I picked one of those papers at random and read through the materials and methods. They injected a single time with 200-300 ul of 99.8% pure squalene at 0.86 g / ml. That means the rats were injected with between 0.17 g and 0.235 g of squalene.

    I’m having issues finding a good average mass for these rats, but a number around 300 g looks to be close. If that’s the case, these rats were getting anywhere from 0.05% to 0.08% of their body mass worth of squalene injected.

    For human boys at 3 months I see a mass range of 5 kg to 8 kg, so we’ll use 6500 g as an average. That means for this to be comparable to whats included in a vaccine, the shot would have to contain between 325 g and 520 g of squalene. TO CAUSE ARTHRITIS.

    Now lets take a look at the rat strain they used. DA rats are an inbred line (F77) which are genetically sensitive to the development of arthritis from injections of a number of compounds, including squalene and the ever dangerous collagen. This does not happen in most rat strains. (http://rgd.mcw.edu/tools/strains/strains_view.cgi?id=60997 )

    So I picked one paper from your list at random and discovered the following: if you give a genetically susceptible inbred rat an injection of pure squalene several orders of magnitude higher in terms of body mass ratios than a human baby gets during a vaccination it (the rat) develops acute arthritis.

    So what was the point again?

  48. #48 skeptiquette
    April 1, 2010

    Wow, skeptiquette, good snobbery you’ve got going there. It flavours the strawmen nicely.,/blockquote>

    Sorry, Ididn’t intend to be snobby, I’ll try not to let it happen again 🙂

    First, yes, I was dumbing it down for you…in your first request, you didn’t give a lot of indication you had any real idea of what the research was or what your level of understanding of biology in general might be.

    Fair enough.

    I’m still not sure what level of real understanding you have, only that you are capable of copy&paste from real research.

    Yes, I did copy/paste, I thought you might be more amenable if you heard it “from the horses mouth” rather than some random person on the internet.

    Being able to use large words doesn’t mean you actually know what you are talking about or that you understand how it fits together; on the contrary, what I have found is that the people who tend to use the biggest words in informal discussion of research are the ones who are trying to baffle with bullshit, and the people who understand it and are trying to get other people to really understand it try to find ways to put it into plain English. Just a thought, you know.

    Well, sure, that is a good thought. At the same time it takes a balance of making it easier to understand, while simultaneously relaying a lot of very complex topics. If mine was too complex because I used too many “big words”, then what you had to say was a bit too simple for my liking. Seeing as this is a “ Science Blog” I figured the use of appropriate terminology would be acceptable. But I see your point that there are a lot of people with varying backgrounds reading this, it is just hard to cater to everybody while still making a point. You can rest assured I have the background to understand these topics, so feel free to get as technical as you want with me personally, I don’t mind big words:)

    I did try to simplify the basic idea of a multigenic disorder to facilitate understanding and discussion, though. Did this help anybody?

    Second, no-one has claimed that autism and the immune system or neuroimmunology are completely separate and cannot possibly have any connection to each other. You state it seems more likely that most if not all of you haven’t a clue about neuroimmunology or its connection to autism, but at the same time are steadfast in your determination that the autism and the immune system are mutually exclusive. — but this comes purely out of your head, not out of what other people have written here. If you actually read what people WRITE,

    What about the first couple responses after my initial inquiry?

    Vicki: post 668

    My opinion is that there is no evidence for a link between immune system dysfunction and autism, despite people looking.

    Luna the cat: post 667

    The simple fact of the matter is, there is no support in reputable primary research (and by “reputable” I specifically mean: 1. methodologically sound, 2. independently replicable, and 3. performed by people with no financial stake in a specific outcome) for a link between autism, immune disfunction, or vaccination

    Sorry Luna, those two little words that you wrote between autism,——- ——-, or vaccination aren’t going away anytime soon.

    I got the distinct sense from what people have been writing, and I’ve provided two examples, that the general consensus at RI is there is no connection between immune dysfunction and autism, and therefore no reason to continue research efforts into this “hypothetical connection”

    Prometheus, is the exception to this, as I figured he would be, and provided some links to interesting research, which I would highly recommend reading also.

    It may have been a misinterpretation on my part, but that is why I initially just asked people’s opinions on the matter, to get an idea as to the general level of knowledge on this subject.

    you might note that multiple people have pointed out that there is no evidence whatsoever of a link between vaccination and autism, and the idea that people might not be metabolising the TOXINZZ in vaccine shots is nonsense. That still stands.

    Thanks for exemplifying “moving the goal posts”, notice how you cleverly removed immune system dysfunction and revert back to vaccination and autism.

    I will pick apart your references and strawmen further later, but I’m at work right now so it will have to wait a few hours.

    Great, I will look forward to reading your sensible analysis. Take your time, I have plenty of patience and I am quite busy myself.

  49. #49 Todd W.
    April 1, 2010

    @anon

    It’s rare to find someone against vaccines (in part or in whole) who are not simply echoing key talking points from places like AoA.

    I disagree.

    Just pointing out my experience. The majority of people that I run into who are against vaccines are merely repeating the same talking points that AoA and similar groups put out.

    I’m not talking about autism. The only time I have even mentioned it, was when discussing vaxxed and unvaxxed populations.

    Right. And you were responding to my comment about a vax vs. unvax study. I was talking about autism. You admit here that when discussing the vaxed/unvaxed populations you were talking about autism. Your comment regarding animal studies could therefore be construed as being about (animal models of) autism. As Zetetic said, you were unclear. Whether that was intentionally so or not, I can’t say.

    You’re doing it now, by using my observation of human development in the first two years of life and the possible problems encountered by having antigens and adjuvants injected into them and equating that to “autism”.

    Here is what I said, in the context of the “vaccines cause autism” issue:

    Well, it would be nice if those against vaccines could provide some plausible reason to examine vaccines further. There is zero data from well-designed and conducted studies that show any reason to suspect vaccines.

    It would appear, then, that once more, your lack of clarity and, indeed, your changing of the subject, leads to misunderstanding. I was continuing on my same thread of questioning when, unknown to me, you decided to head off on a side tack. The failure is therefore yours for not staying on topic.

    I did not assert that, and not even in this context (another strawman you are demanding that I defend). You said that antivaxxers have not put forth a plausible explanation as to how “too many too soon” could relate to autism. How on Earth could I show you data when there is none?

    As I said, it appeared that that was what you were saying. I was not creating a strawman, but trying to interpret your comment as best as I was able. As to a lack of data, I was a bit unclear myself in demanding data showing a causal connection. I should have said that data should be shown that suggests a plausible causal connection. In the absence of such, there is little justification that vaccines should be the primary focus of research into the cause(s) of autism.

    There isn’t a single study that reflects the recommended schedule and the combinations in which it is given.

    And later, you said:

    Most vaccine studies involve a new vaccine given as an addition to the existing schedule!

    Bullshit, of the stinkiest kind. My fork says this thread is done.

    The original commenter was correct, in a fashion. When a new vaccine is developed, the clinical trials performed test the vaccine in conjunction with other vaccines that are likely to be administered at or around the same time. This is following FDA guidelines that products should be tested along with other products that are likely to be used concurrently. The reason for this is to determine if the products interact in a manner that would decrease the efficacy of one or more of the concomittant products or whether the concomitant use would result in a decrease in safety for the patient. If you take a look at package inserts for vaccines, you will typically see a section that discusses the vaccine’s use with other vaccines.

    Now, it is possible that you meant that there are no single studies investigating the totality of the vaccination schedule. Once again, clarity would probably have helped here. I would agree that there are not, to my knowledge, any individual studies examining the entirety of the vaccine schedule, though there are studies that examine the safety and efficacy of parts of the vaccine schedule.

    I’m not sure I follow your disagreement of my statement. Indeed, allergic reactions tend to escalate if they exist at all. Obviously, they will vary in degree depending on numerous variables. Perhaps we agree, it’s just that since you consider me antivaccine, you are finding the need to correct me.

    I was not necessarily disagreeing, but rather expanding on your thought. If an allergice reaction that happens to be caused by a vaccine ingredient is implicated in causing autism, then it stands to reason that all allergic reactions would be implicated as possible causes, since the mechanism of action of an allergic reaction does not necessarily depend on the route of exposure. In other words, if allergic reactions are a possible cause, then investigation should not be limited solely to vaccines, and this line of argumentation is, therefore, not a condemnation of vaccines.

    Diet, absolutely. BUT, none of the possibilities mention actually pierce the skin and deliver antigens and adjuvants into the muscles.

    Again, I was extending your thought. If you are arguing that the injection of antigens and adjuvants is a plausible cause of autism (again, as I’ve been from the beginning, I am sticking to the topic) because it interferes with the development of a baby, then anything that can affect the physical development of a baby is a plausible cause. So why vaccines specifically? Babies breathe in polluted air, which can have a physiologic effect on their development. Infrequent doctor visits can have an impact because things which might have been found and corrected by regular visits may affect physical development. Socioeconomic status can play a role due to either lack of resources, leading to deficiencies in nutrition or other factors, and affluence may introduce products to the home that contain chemicals which cause damage to the developing child. There are many, many other factors that can also affect the physical development of a baby. So again, why a specific focus on vaccines?

    This is another strawman, since I didn’t make that assertion. The assertions I’ve made (skin scraping and injections are different, efficacy and safety blurred lines) I DID support. My conjecture that irritated you dealt with the “too many too soon” slogan that YOU previously posted.

    I was talking about plausible reasons to focus on vaccines in the context of “vaccines cause autism”. You responded with some stuff about how babies are developing. In fact, you said:

    There are multiple reasons to consider the vigorous fashion with which we vaccinate, and how that may be harming children.

    I took that in the context of the thread, namely the idea that vaccines cause autism. Now, if you are just concerned that vaccines cause harm beyond the risks already known, and not solely autism, then feel free to provide some evidence to support that idea. It isn’t enough to just say “Maybe the vaccine schedule is harming children.” There needs to be some reason to suspect that. I could just as easily say “Maybe the global decline in piracy is harming our children.” Should I be taken seriously without presenting some reason for my statement?

    To be clear, my comments in this thread have all been within the context of the idea that vaccines cause autism. I have asked for evidence that supports such an idea or that suggests that further research into the idea is warranted beyond what has been done already. You have made comments that appear to be within that context, but then later you claim that you were talking about something else. So my question to you is this: Are you being intentionally vague so that you can extricate yourself later, or are you simply unable to stay on topic?

    And on a final note:

    Since when is anyone polite on this blog?

    I’d like to think that I am pretty polite. I generally refrain from name-calling and ad hominems, preferring to stick to the arguments that people are making. There are others who also are generally polite, sticking to the arguments rather than vilifying the person making those arguments. I and others also typically refrain from swearing. So yeah, people are polite on this blog.

  50. #50 Rob
    April 1, 2010

    skeptiquette @ 836 typifies a polite response. I am impressed, seriously. Thanks for helping keep this civil.

  51. #51 Rob
    April 1, 2010

    @susie

    How’s that 30% drop-out rate working for you? Care to comment on how participants/subjects are enrolled in a retrospective study?

    Have you pointed out to your anti-vax friends over at AoA, et al., that this criticism of the Italian study is so stupid that it is not even wrong?

  52. #52 Pablo
    April 1, 2010

    Susie is a great example of the well-recognized problem of how clueless people are too clueless to realize they are clueless. For example, even if any of her list of references about squalene had any significance at all (which they don’t, but who cares), they would not address the lunacy of her implication that shark liver squalene is bad but human liver squalene is not. So why did she post it? My interpretation is that she doesn’t understand what we are criticizing in the first place, and all she is doing is cutting-and-pasting from a standard anti-vax site (come on, Susie, tell us where you found that list)

    In terms of the MSG in vaccines, I don’t know why she responded to me. Someone else asked if MSG was even in vaccines, and all I said was maybe it is in Chinese vaccines. I can’t imagine that joke was too subtle, was it? Unless you don’t actually know what MSG is and how it is normally used (maybe I should have added the part that I left out about, how if you get a Chinese vaccine, you need to to come back and get another an hour later?)

    But back to squalene. I remember when I first heard about squalene (from anti-vaxxers), my initial response was, “man, if this wasn’t a component in vaccines, how many of these loons would be claiming it was a great natural supplement?” Sure enough, it is indeed marketed and sold as a supplement. I’m sure Susie has been a vocal opponent and gone after Big Suppla, right?

    (oddly enough, the dosages that people would be ingesting in supplement tablets is actually not far off of those applied in the rat studies described above)

  53. #53 Todd W.
    April 1, 2010

    I wonder if anon is the same anon that posted this recently over at AoA:

    Quote: “Just because an animal isn’t keeling over and dying doesn’t mean it isn’t being affected,” notes Tony Scheuhammer,”

    Hallelujah. Yet we require overt adverse effects in order for anyone to even believe you when you state your child was affected, and never the same after receiving TCVs. And then out of the other side of their mouths they’ll spout nonsensical epi studies to show that other populations (receiving less thimerosal, and changing criteria half-way through their study) is not affected!? And I’M scientifically illiterate? Wake up and smell the denial people.

    When you step back and look at what’s happened over the last 25 years, the corruption and disinformation campaigns are almost blinding. Maybe there’s a vaccine for that?

  54. #54 Rob
    April 1, 2010

    @Pablo,

    It was a subtle joke, and understanding subtleties is not a strong suit of susie. Actually, understanding is not a strong suit of susie.

    The “hour later” part is a bad joke. Glad you left it out.

    @Todd W.

    Don’t you love the extrapolation? Overt adverse effects from keeling over and dying? What a perfect example of stupidity. Yes, we do require some measurable effect to detect causation.

  55. #55 Pablo
    April 1, 2010

    @Pablo,

    It was a subtle joke, and understanding subtleties is not a strong suit of susie. Actually, understanding is not a strong suit of susie.

    Was it really that subtle though? I can’t be the only one who immediately thought of Chinese food when she brought up MSG.

    The “hour later” part is a bad joke. Glad you left it out.

    No argument there, which is why I left it out in the first place…:-)

  56. #56 passionlessdrone
    April 1, 2010

    Hi Skeptiquette –

    Very nicely done. For all practical purposes, the immune component of autism is the Rodney Dangerfield of autism research; giving it any respect is problematic, because at the end of the day, we haven’t studied vaccination so much as one vaccine ingredient, and one particular vaccine.

    I’ve read all of the papers you have posted. I appreciate very much your post.

    – pD

  57. #57 Rob
    April 1, 2010

    I didn’t make the Chinese food/MSG connection because raising MSG in the first place is incredibly ignorant. FFS, it is a salt of glutamic acid, a natural amino acid. It’s present in tiny amounts, and is rapidly absorbed and metabolized.

    Next, susie is going to be telling us the dipotassium phosphate in vaccines is harmful.

  58. #58 v.rosenzweig
    April 1, 2010

    Skeptiquette–

    You asked what our reaction would be if someone asked, without providing evidence in any direction, whether we thought immune dysfunction had a role in autism. We answered. Basically, what I was saying is, if you come in with a hypothesis and no data, my reaction is going to be “where’s your data?” I’m not going to start trying to prove your idea. That’s your job.

    You didn’t ask for reactions to specific evidence or studies in favor of such a hypothesis. That might get a different answer.

  59. #59 Dan Weber
    April 1, 2010

    Next, susie is going to be telling us the dipotassium phosphate in vaccines is harmful.

    Well, we don’t really know for sure, do we?

    If the pro-vaccine people would just do a dipotassium-phosphated-versus-undipotassium-phosphated study, that would settle the issue once and for all.

  60. #60 passionlessdrone
    April 1, 2010

    Hi Prometheus –

    Even if the indirect measures of “immune dysfunction” [there are studies alleging both hypo- [1] and hyper-normal [2,3] immune responses in autism] are correct and some autistic children have “immune dysfunction”, how would their immune system response to a vaccine-strain or an inactivated pathogen be more deleterious than the response to the real thing?

    Good question. I have some ideas on why this is a big over simplification and some studies that may point a direction.

    This analogy allows no room for a time sensitive component. The biggest increase in our shot schedule has occurred in at the earliest time frames, the two, four, and six month well visits. This is an area with absolutely zero research on vacccination, only thimerosal presence or absence. It also happens, as pointed out by Stephen Novella, it is the timeframe when many children with autism begin a developmental regression; though a subtle loss of skills, as opposed to a drastic deterioration.

    While a child that got one of the diseases we vaccinate against earlier than six months would face a dire situation, that is no reason to ignore a time sensitive component to our analysis.

    In Postnatal Inflammation Increases Seizure Susceptibility in Adult Rats, Galic showed that a single, transientory inflammatory increase in tnf-alpha could dispose rodents to be more seizure prone into adulthood, and that this effect was time dependent. From Galic:

    The most exciting finding of the present study is that a mild inflammatory response evoked by LPS during a critical period of development causes a long-lasting increase in hippocampal excitability in vitro, and enhanced seizure susceptibility to the convulsants LI-PILO, KA, and PTZ in vivo. The latter effect was observed over a range of mildly inflammatory doses of LPS and was only evident if administered during the second postnatal week (P7 and P14), and not before (P1) or after (P20) this time. Importantly, inactivation of the proinflammatory cytokine TNF with an intracerebroventricular TNF antibody blocked the long-term changes to seizure susceptibility induced by LPS, whereas intracerebroventricular administration of rrTNF alone mimicked the effect of LPS on seizure susceptibility. These novel results indicate that a single transient inflammatory episode during development can modify the brain through a TNF-dependant mechanism, making it more susceptible to generate seizures in adulthood

    Another study, Early-life immune challenge: defining a critical window for effects on adult responses to immune challenge, by Spencer, reported:

    Adult febrile and cyclooxygenase-2 responses to LPS were attenuated in rats given LPS at P14 and P21, but not in those treated at P7 or P28, while P7-LPS rats displayed lower adult body weights than those treated at other times. P28-LPS rats also tended to display enhanced anxiety in the elevated plus maze. In further experiments, we examined maternal-pup interactions, looking at the mothers’ preference in two pup-retrieval tasks, and found no differences in maternal attention to LPS-treated pups. We therefore demonstrate a ‘critical window’ for the effects of a neonatal immune challenge on adult febrile responses to inflammation and suggest that there are other critical time points during development for the programming of adult physiology.

    There are several other studies involvin difficult to predict behavioral, and immune changes as a result of early life activation of the innate immune response. A good review of many of these is Early-Life Programming of Later-Life Brain and Behavior: A Critical Role for the Immune System, by Bilbo 2009, that speculates on mechanisms by which early life infection can have long term effects.

    We have several studies telling us that people with autism have an exaggerated innate immune response compared to their peers without that diagnosis. Excepting Enstrom 2009, wherein a particular TLR (TLR9) showed a reduced innate immune response, I’m not sure of other hypo-responsive papers regarding an inflammatory response. Regarding hypo-responsiveness, I understand correctly, (?) the Enstrom 2009 paper you referenced indicated a reduced cytotoxic capacity in children with autism, which is a bit different than the type of thing I’m describing above.

    Secondly, we are beginning to understand that when we evaluate the robustness of the innate immune response to a single bacterial or viral pathogen, versus several pathgoens simultaenously, the resulting cytokine profile increases synergistically, as opposed to additively. For an example, see, “Toll-like receptor ligands synergize through distinct dendritic cell pathways to induce T cell responses: Implications for vaccines” (Zhu, 2008). Todays vaccine schedule goes to a lot of trouble to toggle a lot of TLRs all at once, and because of this, it seems a bit of an over simplification to compare the Hib-Hep-B-Polio-DTP shot schedule at two months with catching one of these diseases at that time. One thing is for certain, we don’t have any measurements of the robustness of the innate immune response for today’s schedule in a pediatric population; the assumption has always been that a challenge without actual virulence of the pathgoen was harmless, excepting the immediately obvious signs such as seizures, and death.

    We have taken a set of children predisposed to create exaggerated innate immune responses and gradually increased the number, and strengths, of immune challenges they experience at the earliest stages of life. This is a big, big change in how we have evolved.

    – pD

  61. #61 passionlessDrone
    April 1, 2010

    Hi Skeptiquette –

    Your post on Garbett and Hu got me thinking to something that struck me when I read those papers; I’d be interested in your thoughts on it. (or anyones).

    It looked to me that on a numerical basis, Hu and Garbett had opposite findings in terms of how many genes were overexpressed in the groups; i.e., Garbett found more genes that were overexpressed in autism, and Hu found fewer genes overexpressed in autism. The two studies, were, of course, using peripheral versus CNS tissue samples, and I’m not nearly up to speed sufficiently to understand if sample choices could have been a factor here. It is salient to this discussion, I think, that in both cases, genes involving inflammation were overexpressed.

    Anyways, do you have any ideas on this?

    Thanks.

    – pD

  62. #62 Kristen
    April 2, 2010

    @843
    Pablo

    Was it really that subtle though? I can’t be the only one who immediately thought of Chinese food when she brought up MSG.

    No, your weren’t. 🙂

    @836
    Skeptiquette

    I appreciated your post. I am really curious (of course) about the subject. I am going to try to look through the studies cited today.

    Since when is anyone polite on this blog?

    I try to be polite, I really do. And I don’t usually comment when there is something that seems plausible to me (like your comment) until I find more information.

    I know why parents of autistic children seeking information are so easily fooled, because I am one. When something is worded well, and feeds into my emotions, it is natural inclination to want to believe it. The reason I am here is because this site, and most of those who comment here give me the explanations I seek. The best part is that the points are “dumbed down” just enough for me to understand, but not so much as to make me feel stupid (I have some knowledge).

    When the subject turns to autistic children being “sick”, “damaged”, “destroyed” or otherwise not good enough, I get angry. I am not welcomed into most online support groups because I doubt their message, and I don’t agree that my son is not good enough because he is different. So I have a very emotional response to these same people coming here and injecting their rhetoric into the discussion.

    I have said things on past posts that I regret, I am learning every day, but isn’t that’s the point of science, one needs to recognize being wrong; adapt, grow and learn.

  63. #63 Luna_the_cat
    April 2, 2010

    …just a very fast note to say I have not deserted this thread….

    Sorry about not getting back in here last night. Working my way through some papers and gene databases — glad to see the conversation continues to be interesting, the bad part is that this means there’s more to catch up on. 🙁

    Skeptiquette, a few thoughts.
    In post 666, you said,

    Susie made some points regarding immune system dysfunction, toxic insult during development, reduced detox capacity, ect that didn’t seem to be adequately addressed. I have personally never been to either AoA or Generation rescue websites, I have however, been to Pubmed on numerous occasions and have accessed a lot of literature that from my perception indicates there is a valid reason to scientifically debate vaccines and autism in the context of immune dysfunction.

    First, you are right, I did specifically say “no link between autism, immune disfunction, or vaccination” — let me clarify, I meant that (and I apologise if I left out this vital clarification in the first instance, and merely assumed it), I do not see a causal link between immune disfunction and autism, although I suppose the possibility exists that there is a coincident link. It is entirely possible that the genetics which cause autism can also have effects in the immune system; rather than “A causes B”, where A is immune system disfunction and B is autism, this would be more “both A and B are caused by C”, where C is a genetic condition.

    Nor, since you were specifically referring to points of susie’s and stating that we needed to discuss a possible role of vaccines, have I seen any indication in primary literature that immune disfunction is such that vaccines pose a danger to these kids, or increase their risk of autism.

    I’m not moving goal posts, I was responding very specifically to your implication — what appeared to me to be your CLEAR implication — that immune system meant that vaccines were injuring children causing autism. IF that isn’t what you meant, then please clarify it now.

    Then, you stated that WE are claiming — and these are your exact words — your determination that the autism and the immune system are mutually exclusive.

    Nobody said that autism and the immune system are “mutually exclusive.” That can’t be determined. But refer back to “no causal link” again, please. Once again, no matter what you think of the biology, there are issues which make the implication of vaccines extremely unlikely — to wit, the fact that fully vaccinated populations are statistically absolutely no more likely to develop autism than unvaccinated or less vaccinated ones. However, as noted, there still might be abnormalities of the immune system. This situation is possible even though vaccinated/unvaccinated makes no difference, because the “assault” of vaccines on the immune system is genuinely far smaller and less traumatic than the assault of illness. So either the vaccines are not enough to cause permanent physiological damage in autistic children with compromised immune systems (if autistic children do indeed have compromised immune systems), or else the damage caused by normal childhood illnesses even or especially in unvaccinated children swamps any signal that vaccines might have. Either of those is more likely than the idea that vaccines cause more damage than not vaccinated, given genuine prevalence rates of autism in different populations.

    As a side note, If mine was too complex because I used too many “big words” — no, no, feel free to use big words with me too if you really feel like it. What I was trying to get at was simply that using big words was not necessarily an indication of understanding (or of correct interpretation, for that matter), and that it isn’t an automatic indication of knowledge. If you “get” what I was getting at, fine.

    Right,
    Autism is heterogenous both phenotypically, and genotypically

    …I think this falls into the “no SHIT, Sherlock” category. Really.

    genetics X environment X development X sex

    In general, possibly to probably — the open question is to what, if any, degree does “environment” and “development” contribute to the etiology. Autism is very obviously sex-skewed, and the point is that we are finding genetic alleles strongly linked with autism, but what hasn’t been identified are particular aspects of environment which either probably or definitely contribute (except in those cases where another disease’s progression has damaged neurobiology), or how. Also, perhaps it would be useful if you could clarify exactly what you mean by “development” as a contributing factor. I mean this seriously: in the context of autism, what do you mean by “development” as a contributing factor to the aetiology, as opposed to “this disorder affects development”?

    if [I] had a strong enough understanding of the risk alleles to describe possible epistatic interactions

    F*** me, you don’t want much, do you — this is not so much a blog comment you’re asking for as a thesis project. Or a full-blown fully-funded 5-10 year lab project, complete with grad students to do the scutwork. This is just about the most wide-open part of the genetic investigation going on. As it stands, I can make a few comments, but the research on it the gene interactions is really just getting started and there is quite a lot not done yet, and environmental interactions are second even to that — and I kind of think it’s a problem that you’re giving us the impression that you want DEFINITE ANSWERS, NOW, OR WE CAN’T BE CONSIDERED EDUCATED ABOUT IT. Maybe you don’t actually mean to implicate vaccines, either, in which case I apologise, but that is kind of how this comes across — as the argument that because we don’t know everything we can’t know anything, again, and cannot possibly eliminate the involvement of vaccines…or perhaps it’s just that you are trying to impress us that you know SO MUCH MORE than we all do. Heh. Am I misconstruing your statement that we are so obviously not up on neuroimmunology?

    Anyway, I got sucked into looking at gene databases when I started looking again at the EIF4E gene last night, and this IS taking me a while. I would like to come back with something substantial on that side, but I would also like to be correct and I don’t necessarily trust my memory with this.

  64. #64 passionlessDrone
    April 2, 2010

    Hi Luna the Cat –

    Can I hop in?

    I do not see a causal link between immune disfunction and autism, although I suppose the possibility exists that there is a coincident link. It is entirely possible that the genetics which cause autism can also have effects in the immune system; rather than “A causes B”, where A is immune system disfunction and B is autism, this would be more “both A and B are caused by C”, where C is a genetic condition.

    I’d be curious on your thoughts regarding the variety of studies that show correlations between autism behavioral severity and measures of immune function; specifically, a propensity towards either inflammation, or propensity towards problems controlling inflammation and more severe autistic behaviors.

    Specifically, in “Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor and Autism Spectrum Disorders” (Grigorenko, 2008) found that as plasma levels of MIF increased, so did autism severity. From Grigorenko:

    Thus, the central hypothesis underlying this research was that a genetic predisposition to a particular level of MIF production may lead to a proinflammatory profile of cell activation that, if present during a neurodevelopmentally sensitive period, might contribute to the etiopathogenesis of autism.

    Note that importance of a time sensitive component to the hypothesis and consider how this may relate to my posting above regarding critical windows during which innate immune system disturbances can have long lasting effects.

    Collectively, these data identify MIF as a potential ASD susceptibility gene and support earlier suggestions of a role for innate immunity in the etiopathogenesis of this disease. The strongest results associated the CATT6 with a particular facet of ASD, stereotypical behaviors, as captured by a multivariate trait; this association was registered in both the discovery (US) and the confirmation (Dutch) samples.

    The authors aren’t proclaiming that there is necessarily a link between innate immunity, but they do think that it is a reasonable question with supporting evidence. Maybe you don’t feel this way. (?)

    Recently, a paper from Italy also found correlations between autism severity and innate immune system factors, specfically HMGB1, “Increased serum levels of high mobility group box 1 protein in patients with autistic disorder” (Emanuele, 2010). Though a relatively short paper when compared to Grigorenko, it still found that as plasma levels of HMGB1 increased, so did autistic behavioral severity.

    If we look in the other direction, cytokines responsible for controlling inflammation, we can see an inverse relationship, the less we have, the more severe the autistic behaviors, “Decreased transforming growth factor beta1 in autism: A potential link between
    immune dysregulation and impairment in clinical behavioral outcomes” (Ashwood, 2008).

    Plasma levels of active TGFβ1 were evaluated in 75 children with ASD compared with 68 controls. Children with ASD had significantly lower plasma TGFβ1 levels compared with typically developing controls (p=0.0017) and compared with children with developmental disabilities other than ASD (p=0.0037), after adjusting for age and gender. In addition, there were significant correlations between psychological measures and TGFβ1 levels, such that lower TGFβ1 levels were associated with lower adaptive behaviors and worse behavioral symptoms. The data suggest that immune responses in autism may be inappropriately regulated due to reductions in TGFβ1. Such immune dysregulation may predispose to the development of possible autoimmune responses and/or adverse neuroimmune interactions during critical windows in development.

    Again, we have references to critical windows of development, and in this case, data implicating reduced ability to regulate an immune response with autism severity.

    Now, I’d admit that this isn’t enough to prove a causal link, but to my mind, it raises a lot of questions. We can probably theorize on mechanisms by which there are coincidental means allow us to find phantom relationships in both directions of an immune response in terms of autism severity, but shouldn’t we have better reasons that the expediency of not asking tough questions as reasons to do so?

    This situation is possible even though vaccinated/unvaccinated makes no difference, because the “assault” of vaccines on the immune system is genuinely far smaller and less traumatic than the assault of illness.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts concerning time dependent effects of some of the studies I posted above; very, very few children would get even a single vaccine preventable disease before two months, but they are vaccinated against a great number of them at that age. I’m not sure we can perform apples to apples comparisons between the two and reach conclusions with any certainty. In an extremely complicated system like the developing immune system, it confuses me how over simplifications like this, or alternatively, antigen counting, have become useful metrics of anything. Do you believe that the time of an infection is important in this type of discussion?

    Once again, no matter what you think of the biology, there are issues which make the implication of vaccines extremely unlikely — to wit, the fact that fully vaccinated populations are statistically absolutely no more likely to develop autism than unvaccinated or less vaccinated ones.

    Either of those is more likely than the idea that vaccines cause more damage than not vaccinated, given genuine prevalence rates of autism in different populations.

    Can you provide a reference for an unvaccinated population which has had autism rates measured? Can you provide any references except the MMR?

    – pD

  65. #65 Vicki
    April 2, 2010

    Passionlessdrone–

    The point here isn’t that correlation is not causation. It’s that, in this case, even if there’s a correlation between immune problems and autism, that doesn’t mean immune problems cause autism. It could be that autism somehow causes immune problems. Or that they are both caused by the same thing.

    For example, there is a correlation between lung cancer rates and stroke rates. That doesn’t mean that lung cancer causes strokes, or vice versa. It’s because cigarette smoking can cause both of these problems.

    It may be that the genes that cause/predispose to autism also cause immune problems. Or they might be located close enough to genes for immune function that they tend to turn up in the same people.

  66. #66 Travis
    April 2, 2010

    I am kind of sad susie has not come back to address the points that were raised. I guess I am just a sadist who enjoys seeing someone getting eviscerated a little bit too much.

  67. #67 Pablo
    April 2, 2010

    Does anyone know where she got her list of “the evils of squalene” references? I am pretty confident she didn’t come up with them herself.

  68. #68 JohnV
    April 2, 2010

    No doubt she’s furiously looking for differences between shark and human squalene. That’s ok, once she does that I’ll ask about plant-derived squalene which is being touted as a replacement since it doesn’t require harvesting shark livers.

  69. #69 Todd W.
    April 2, 2010

    @Pablo

    Travis noted further upthread that the list appears to be from a document at vaclib.org. Just highlight part of the list and do a google search of it in quotes.

  70. #70 Pablo
    April 2, 2010

    Sorry, I missed Travis’s note. It’s been a long thread.

  71. #71 Zetetic
    April 2, 2010

    As Viki already pointed out in regards to the autism/immune dysfunction hypothesis, changes in gene expression that effects one trait often has other effects on other traits that aren’t immediately obvious. For example the genetic changes that make cave fish blind also causes that an increase in their mid-line sensory organs. In the case of the cave fish it happens to be a beneficial change (for fish that live exclusively in the dark), but other changes in gene expression can have multiple negative effects.

    Therefore even with the assumption (for the sake of argument) that autism is caused solely by genetics, it in no way would rule out an accompanying immune dysfunction.

    Without further research evidence we are left with deciding against protecting against a known and measurable risk (protecting against disease), versus an assumed and unmeasured risk (the vague possibility that vaccines might somehow be triggering autism) when there are other possible (and arguably more likely) causes.

    ——————————————————————————————————

    @ Travis:
    The three most likely possibilities:
    1) susie is too busy.
    2) susie lost interest after realising that just preaching the holy word of Jenny McCarthy and J.B. Handley isn’t effective at converting a group of people that practice skepticism towards her talking points.
    3) susie is still waiting on the forums of AoA and GenRes for what to say next.

  72. #72 Rob
    April 2, 2010

    …or susie got tired of getting her a$$ kicked on a repeated and frequent basis.

  73. #73 Militant Agnostic
    April 2, 2010

    Todd W.

    Maybe the global decline in piracy is harming our children.

    Do you have a citation for your assertion that there is a global decline in piracy? My impression is that has been increasing lately which could pose problems for the Pastafarian beliefs about global warming.

  74. #74 passionlessDrone
    April 2, 2010

    Hi Vicki –

    The point here isn’t that correlation is not causation. It’s that, in this case, even if there’s a correlation between immune problems and autism, that doesn’t mean immune problems cause autism. It could be that autism somehow causes immune problems. Or that they are both caused by the same thing.

    Thank you for pointing this out to me. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it is very useful in the context of this discussion. We don’t really know what causes the overwhelming majority of autism cases.

    For example, consider the Grigorenko paper, “Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor And Autism Spectrum Disorders” that I referenced above. In this study there were over 1000 participants, and it included behavorial diagnosis, genotyping, and plasma measurements. That’s a big study, and one that cost a lot of time, and dollars to complete. It was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health. Here was their hypothesis:

    Thus, the central hypothesis underlying this research was that a genetic predisposition to a particular level of MIF production may lead to a proinflammatory profile of cell activation that, if present during a neurodevelopmentally sensitive period, might contribute to the etiopathogenesis of autism.

    They were looking for a genetic predisposition that led to a specific immunological profile that contributed to autism. Now we have to ask ourselves, do the researchers from America, Russia, and the Netherlands understand the concept of correlation and causation? Do the people that funded this study understand this concept? One option is that they do not, and even though there was nothing to learn from a study like this, no one involved with the study realized that their effort was futile. The other option is that they do understand correlation and causation, and that because we really don’t know what casues autism, there was sufficient reason to perform this very time consuming and expensive experiement, the premise of which was looking for an immunological profile. Which do you feel is more likely?

    Likewise, the Vargas paper, “Neuroglial Activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brains of Patients with Autism” used a lot of very difficult to obtain resources, brains from deceased people with autism, and again received partial funding from the NIH.

    This was their hypothesis:

    To investigate whether immune-mediated mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of autism, we used immunocytochemistry, cytokine protein arrays, and enzymelinked immunosorbent assays to study brain tissues and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from autistic patients and determined the magnitude of neuroglial and inflammatory reactions and their cytokine expression profiles.

    Why spend all the effort involved with this paper if there wasn’t something to be learned? Why have nearly 300 other papers cited Vargas its findings are so tainted by a simple correlation versus causation problem? How much of the autism researcher community should we really believe fails to understand the concepts of correlation and causation?

    A few months ago, researchers found that among children with Fragile-X, those with autism and those without had distinct immunological profiles. “Plasma cytokine profiles in Fragile X subjects: Is there a role for cytokines in the pathogenesis?” (Ashwood, 2010) Here we have one of the most widely accepted genetic causes of autism, and we find that, perhaps by coincidence, those children have immunological biomarkers that identify autism and fragile-x, and fragile-x without autism.

    I certainly believe it is possible that the findings of abnormal immune function in autism are coincidental, but the fact that some things are coincidental isn’t enough of a reason to start discounting our available evidence. I am treating the question of immunological causation as an open question with a lot of evidence to support the idea, are you?

    – pD

  75. #75 nsib
    April 3, 2010

    passionlessDrone,

    I would suggest actually reading Vargas et al., rather than just the abstract. Their conclusions are a lot more nuanced and conditional than you’ve presented. They readily state that their study doesn’t address whether the signs of inflammation they found are a contributing cause to autism or whether they are instead caused by autism.

    Also, I wish they had given their data in a less “processed” form, considering that 13 of their 15 autistic brain tissue samples came from subjects who also had mental retardation. It would have been interesting to see if the subjects without mental retardation differed from the others. Also, since many disorders of the CNS involve neuroinflammation, it’s not really surprising that people with autism and comorbid CNS disorders show neuroinflammation.

  76. #76 passionlessDrone
    April 3, 2010

    Hi nsrib –

    I’ve read Vargas, but I do appreciate your message, and I don’t have any problem with nuance. I am no stranger to the argument that it is possible that neuroinflammation is a coincident, or, that in fact, there is a possibility that the neuroinflammation is, at least in part, benificial.

    I’ve got to say, however, considering what we are learning about innate immune participation in seizures, which are highly co-morbid with an autism diagnosis, a strictly benificial component of neuroinflammation is a difficult case to defend.

    But the bigger problem with this argument is that our immunological findings in autism are a lot bigger than just Vargas. Not only do we need to find a mechanism by which the neuroinflammation observed in Vargas is caused by autism, but we also need to find a way that more MIF is caused by autism (and, along the way, that having the MIF promoter allele is caused by autism), and that having less TGF-B1 is caused by autism, and that having autism casues your to respond in an exaggerated fashion to agonists for TLR2 and TLR4. While all of these things are possible, the fact that graphs of pirate attacks inversely correspond to global warming isn’t necessarily a good reason to assume that they are. I’m treating this as an open question.

    Your thoughts concerning mental retardation are a good one, and in fact, I was very surprised to find that I simply could not find anything in the literature regarding even looking for an immune component in the CNS of people with MR. I think this would be interesting information to evaluate. What are your thoughts on the Fragile-X study I referenced above? Fragile-X is the most common pathway to mental retardation, and yet, it seems to have a different immunological profile than Fragile-X and autism, though, of course, CNS measurements were not available.

    As far as the widespread presence of neuroinflammation in a variety of CNS disorders, I think that speaks directly towards a participatory role of the immune system in these disorders. The alternative is that many of our CNS disorders have disparate causes that somehow, coincidentally, create a state of neuroinflammation.

    – pD

  77. #77 Todd W.
    April 3, 2010

    @Militant Agnostic

    Do you have a citation for your assertion that there is a global decline in piracy? My impression is that has been increasing lately which could pose problems for the Pastafarian beliefs about global warming.

    I’m just asking questions. Maybe it’s the decline in Caribbean piracy. Or too many pirates, too soon in the Somali area. Or that they use automatic weapons. Or that their boats contain antifreeze!

  78. #78 Zetetic
    April 4, 2010

    @ Todd W:
    No! It’s the dangerous levels of both Sodium Chloride and Dihydrogen Monoxide (dangerous chemicals both) in the sea water! Don’t forget that there are fetal cells in the ocean too!

    To protect the environment something must be done about these dangerous substances in the ocean!

    😉

  79. #79 Rrr
    April 26, 2010

    Enough of this. Save your stories of chelations gone wrong and Lupron and the rise in measles and McCarthy for someone who cares.

    Thank you for finally coming clean that you don’t actually care about the children being harmed and killed by anti-vax propaganda and snake-oil salesmen.

    I find it rather telling how anti-vaxers will often acknowledge that their policies will harm and kill people, but they just don’t care. There’s always seems to be an undercurrent that everything revolves around them and their feelings/ego. The attitude is often one of “Me, me, me, screw everyone else”. The arrogance and self-absorption in much of the anti-vax community is astounding.

    Posted by: Zetetic | March 16, 2010 4:39 AM

    Ah. Herein lies, perhaps, one part of the key to the puzzle of autism: heredity. As the more fervent anti-vaxers seem to find themselves somewhere on that scale, at least to this layman, maybe some of them also are closet autists, unwilling to admit the possibility of having given their kid the same or worse genetic setup.

    Sorry for the late response to this monster debate. I only now got to #279 or wherever that bright spot was.

  80. #80 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  81. #81 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  82. #82 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  83. #83 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  84. #84 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  85. #85 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  86. #86 Tony Bateson
    June 16, 2010

    Really all this clever stuff in this blog but I have taken note of some of your previous comments and I have checked and rechecked and brought my data up to date etc., and I more convinced than ever that causation and association are not the same thing but I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?

    The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case. Many US mothers told me their kids were not vaccinated but then admitted that they thought I was only referring to the MMR.

    Some kids may be damaged by Rhogam and even dental amalgams but I will take a bet that vaccination per se is the problem.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  87. #87 Chris
    June 16, 2010

    You are an idiot. You’ve been told about several children, including Kim Stagliano’s youngest, who have never had any vaccines and are autistic. Don’t try to back up and say “oh, they only thought it was the MMR”!

    Seriously, dude, it is like you have the same memory as water.

  88. #88 Calli Arcale
    June 16, 2010

    Yes, I’m pretty sure that Kim Stagliano wasn’t just confused and thought only the MMR was a vaccine. The infamous Generation Rescue phone survey also turned up a number of unvaccinated autistics; it is curious, then, that Bateson would call people who generally agree with him either idiots or liars, though curiously, that is what many others would call them, for entirely different reasons.

    On the other hand, it just shows that Bateson is a typical anti-vaxxer, in that he’s willing to throw anybody under the bus if they happen to present an inconvenient bit of evidence.

    “Allow me to congratulate you, sir. You have the most totally closed mind I have ever encountered.”
    — the 3rd Doctor

  89. #89 Militant Agnostic
    June 16, 2010

    Seriously, dude, it is like you have the same memory as water.

    I am definitely stealing that(although it is ineffective against homeopaths).

  90. #90 Chris
    June 16, 2010

    Take note that in this discussion, Bateson was told:

    Tony, for 5 years neither of my sons were vaccinated with ANYTHING. My second is severely autistic with sld, ocd, pda and other co-morbidities.

    So his claim about what he was been told is either a lie, or he may be suffering from some kind of persistent memory loss disorder. I vote that he is a clueless git.

  91. #91 Orange Lantern
    June 16, 2010

    From what I gather from his posts on other blogs, particularly LBRB, Bateson will not accept anyone as unvaccinated and autistic unless he has confirmed it by seeing their medical records.

    Why anyone would want to do this, I have no idea.

    Firstly, why would anyone want to show their personal medical records to a stranger with no medical credentials? Secondly, if you did not vaccinate your child, you probably do not have a strong desire to prove to the world that unvaccinated children can still get autism.

    In addition, he has stated that unvaccinated children born to parents with dental amalgams (or, apparently, mothers who got Rhogam) don’t coun’t either.

    It has been pointed out to Mr. Bateson that the number of unvaccinated individuals in a population would be exceedingly small by chance alone, approximately .003% (~0.3% of children being unvaccinated x 1% chance of being autistic – do correct me if my calculations are off) of the population.

    He has countered by arguing that he has it on some kind of authority through a personal contact that the completely unvaccinated population in England is much higher, though I have not seen any evidence.

    Factor in the dental amalgams and the lack of desire to hand over medical records, and it is not at all surprising that Mr. Bateson has never personally met a qualifying autistic child.

    I think I will copy this to a text file and just post it up every time I come across his drivel.

  92. #92 Scott
    June 16, 2010

    I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all!

    There are also people who believe the purple furry spiders are eating their skin. Their belief is, unfortunately, less ludicrous than yours.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Tony is either a deliberate liar, or profoundly mentally ill.

  93. #93 Vicki
    June 16, 2010

    “Tony Bateson” @868:

    You know, I don’t believe that your name is really Tony (or Anthony or Antonia or Antonio) or Bateson, or that you’ve ever lived within 10 kilometers of Oxford. I suspect you of being one of the reptilian extraterrestrials.

    “I don’t believe that” isn’t a scientific argument, especially when it requires you to accuse just about everyone of lying, and forget evidence as soon as it’s presented to you. It’s not even a good approach in most day-to-day business: if you assume most people are lying most of the time, sooner or later you’ll be hit by a bus because you ignored the sign that warned of traffic, or die because you treated healthy food as poison or vice versa. When a B-movie actor advised us to “trust, but verify,” the point was that verification is possible, not that everything you hear or know is false.

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    June 16, 2010

    Slightly whimsical observation: though that certain B-movie actor turned politician heavily popularized the expression in the West, it actually originated among his adversaries. It’s actually an old Russian proverb.

  95. #95 David N. Brown
    June 16, 2010

    “I do not believe that there are any unvaccinated autistic people at all! So what should I make of that?… The disappearance of Poul Thorsen and the recent disclosure that in some no-link studies that kids who seemed to be autistic before getting the MMR were counted as unvaccinated simply strengthens my case.”

    The only report of Thorsen “disappearing” stated specifically that he “vanished IN MARCH 2009.” The reporter who made that claim was Jane Burgemeister, who apparently corresponds with the notorious conspiracy theorists Len Horowitz and David Icke. Other investigators easily documented his public activities long after that time; I personally documented that twenty papers had been published in his name up to a year after his alleged “disappearance”. In any event, Thorsen’s resignation of several positions AFTER it was claimed he was missing was sufficient to refute that claim.

    As for unvaccinated autistics, even Dan Olmsted’s highly questionable “Amish Anomaly” story acknowledged some such individuals. What is your justification for not believing HIM?

  96. #96 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 16, 2010

    This blog post went up on March 12, 2010.

    The discussion went on for quite a long time but finally petered out in April, regular commenting ending on April 4 with one straggler comment showing up on April 26.

    Absolutely nothing happened on this thread in May.

    So, why does Tony “Don’t Bother Me With Facts” Bateson wait until halfway through June to post on this thread the tiresome canard he posts everywhere about there supposedly being no unvaccinated autistic persons?? A month and a half at the minimum after everyone else is done commenting here?

    I think the answer is that Tony Bateson was afraid of encountering exactly what he did encounter: people who could demolish his ridiculous claims and could point out how often he has been notified of the counter-examples to the claims he makes everywhere, which makes him a liar to keep making those claims.

    He’s like the guy who sneaks into a stadium after hours, gets up on the pitcher’s mound, hurls baseball after baseball until three of them chance to go over the very empty home plate – and then he tells people “Oh, yeah, I pitched a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium!!” In just the same way Tony Bateson traipses around the Internet claiming “I have never seen any evidence that anyone unvaccinated has autism!” “Well, Mr. Bateson, perhaps I can show you –” “OH HEY I JUST REMEMBERED A REALLY IMPORTANT APPOINTMENT LET ME RUN THIS WAY IT IS A COINCIDENCE THAT MY HANDS ARE OVER MY EARS”

  97. #97 Wildbird
    June 20, 2010

    Robert Kennedy Jr is just another spoiled kennedy brat he uses oil and fuel while berating everybody over this oil spill what he needs isa swift kick in his spoiled little kennedy backside

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