Respectful Insolence

It has now been nearly two months since Andrew Wakefield was forced to resign from Thoughtful House in the wake of his being found guilty of research misconduct by the British General Medical Council (GMC), the withdrawal of Wakefield’s infamous 1998 Lancet paper, and the withdrawal of Wakefield’s last grab at scientific credibility, his infamous hepatitis B “monkey study.” After a period of silence, over the last week, Wakefield has started to pop up in the public eye again, most recently last week in an interview for an independent filmmaker that is getting wide play in the anti-vaccine underground but not much anywhere else. Unfortunately, without the seeming respectability of Thoughtful House to buoy him, I had predicted that Andrew Wakefield would be destined for even more disrepute. It turns out that I was quite correct.

Andrew Wakefield has been interviewed by Dr. Mercola, who has posted the interview on his website in an article entitled Why Medical Authorities Went to Such Extremes to Silence Dr. Andrew Wakefield. I wonder if Wakefield knows that being featured on Joe Mercola’s website is a mere step above being featured on the conspiracy website Whale.to, right next to the New World Order conspiracy theories, UFO stories, Ley lines, Chemtrails, and HIV/AIDS denialism. Oh wait, he’s already there. But, to be fair, he didn’t actually sit down with John Scudamore to do an interview, as he did with Mercola. Here is the first part of the interview:


A transcript of the interview can be found here, in case, like me, you can’t stand to watch Wakefield’s unctuous “poor, poor, pitiful me” whining and Joe Mercola’s chipper conspiracy mongering for the full hour-plus time to which the combined running time of all ten parts of the interview total. Because the interview is long and consists of a lot of the usual misinformation that Wakefield has been peddling for twelve years now, I’ll make like a CAM practitioner and cherry pick bits of the interview that interest me to comment on. For instance, Mercola starts out with lips planted firmly on Wakefield’s posterior:

Today, I‟m here with Dr. Andrew Wakefield and we‟re just delighted and privileged to have him. We‟re going to talk about some very exciting topics primarily related to the vaccines. There has been a progressive increase in the use of vaccines over the last 20 or 30 years and there is more on the way and the big issue of course is, first of all, do they work and then secondly and more importantly is, how safe are they? And one of the most prominent researchers in answering that question with respect to the safety and the adverse effects that could be caused would be Dr. Wakefield. We‟re going to discuss some of the studies he has done. He‟s really one of the pioneer and probably the most prominent researcher in this area that‟s why we‟re so excited to have him. This is literally a multi-billion dollar process of these vaccines and largely because of the patented drugs being decreased; the big focus of the drug companies is to be increasing these use of the vaccines. So this is really a central part of their role and they are mounting massive efforts at discrediting anyone especially a prominent researcher who is attempting to counter the benefits, the supposed benefits of vaccines.

In the accompanying commentary, Mercola opines:

One of the primary reasons for this interview was to discuss Dr. Wakefield’s recent media exposure, and allow him the opportunity to finally set the public record straight.

As you probably know, the scientific peer-review process is designed to ferret out the truth. But in some cases, such as the case of Dr. Wakefield, this process can become perverted by conflicts of interest.

There are tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars involved in the vaccine industry, and as a consequence there’s major pressure to suppress negative findings, such as the findings Dr. Wakefield uncovered.

In the last few months, he has been severely criticized in the media. Like every story there are always two sides and up until now he has not shared his due to advice he had received from his attorneys. That advice has now changed, and I wanted to provide him with the opportunity to tell his side of the story. In this interview, Dr. Wakefield opens up publicly for the first time.

Well, not exactly the first time. Mercola’s late by about a week.

Be that as it may, right from the beginning, it’s clear that the form of the interview will be to paint Andrew Wakefield as the Brave Maverick Doctor, a veritable Galileo of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, being suppressed/repressed by the medical establishment. Mercola even wonders if there’s a Nobel Prize down the road. Even if he was joking, which he appeared to be only partially, I laughed out loud when I heard that line, because I strongly suspect that Mercola really believes that Wakefield is worthy of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Not long after that, Wakefield goes on and on about how British authorities supposedly tried to shut him down before he ever published his 1998 Lancet paper, painting himself as the poor naif, who had no idea what he was getting into and was shocked that the British Department of Health might have been alarmed at his poor quality research, and the GMC’s ruling 13 years later confirms that the Department of Health was more than justified to be alarmed, even though it did not know at the time that Wakefield’s work was trial lawyer-funded to the tune of £435,643 in fees plus £3,910 in expenses or that his research involved subjecting autistic children to invasive medical procedures without good medical indications.

Self-serving blather by Andrew Wakefield and fawning drooling by Joe Mercola aside, though, what I really wanted to find out from this interview was a hint at what Wakefield planned on doing next. I once joked that Wakefield’s next position would be one of three things, either medical director or chief “scientist” of Generation Rescue, medical director or chief “scientist” at SafeMinds, or the medical director at a quack clinic in Ecuador, Costa Rica, or Tijuana (although I would point out that I don’t limit Wakefield’s options to those locales). First off, apparently he’s written a book, although its apparently imminent release date tells me (1) that he’s been working on it a while and (2) that it’s probably going to be self-published or published through a vanity press:

I‟ve written a book at the GMC I was accused of callous disregard for children suffering which rather extraordinary even to me having experienced what I‟ve experienced to be accused of callous disregard for children is a stretch. So the book is called Callous Disregard. There is just tinge of irony in that. And it‟s really about the circumstances that surrounded The Lancet paper and everything that flowed from it but also the whistle blower in the background and that behind the scenes action that I wasn‟t aware of at the time but was forced into the open by the disclosures at the General Medical Council. So it‟s a story that hasn‟t been told that needs to be told. The second part of it which I‟m writing at the moment will focus largely on the American experience and my involvement with Congressional testimony and that kind of thing and all the behind the scenes jiggery pokery that went on there. So that book will be coming out hopefully in time for Autism One here in Chicago in late May.

See what I mean? If he’s still writing it and expects it to be released at the annual anti-vaccine quackfest that’s coming up in six weeks, it’ll have to be vanity press. Maybe Generation Rescue is going to publish it. Of course, one can’t help but point out yet again that, if, as he claims, Wakefield has so much evidence that exonerates him of the charges recently found proved by the GMC, why didn’t he present it to the GMC? It’s not as though he hasn’t had two and a half years to present his case. Yet, here he’s been, both here and elswhere, claiming that he was done wrong and that he can “prove, with extensive documentary evidence, that this conclusion is false,” referring to the GMC’s conclusion that he and his collaborators had conducted research on autistic children without proper ethical approval. Wouldn’t the time to have presented that evidence have been during the GMC hearings?

But what are Wakefield’s future plans, aside from being a major speaker at the yearly autism and Generation Rescue’s anti-vaccine quackfest known as Autism One in Chicago? He hints at them near the end of his interview:

I’ve just been offered a new position which allows me to integrate the research efforts of a variety of autism organizations around the world and to focus on those issues that the Interagency Coordinating Committee (IACC) with all its money and all its power seems to loathe to do and that is to look directly at environmental causes included within that of course is vaccines. So, the IACC seems to be moving around that issue but the elephant in the room is clearly the vaccine. I don‟t want to look at it now. My concern is to rue it in or rue it out. If they‟re fine they‟re fine, if they‟re not, they‟re not. We need to know. The public need to know. The medical profession needs to know. So that we can make informed choices and give informed consent.

To “integrate” the “research efforts” of a variety of autism organizations? What does this mean? One wonders if a bunch of anti-vaccine autism quackery organizations decided to pool their money to hire Wakefield to be an autism quackery czar of some sort? After all, Wakefield’s salary at Thoughtful House was $270,000 a year, and, unless J.B. Handley were willing to bankroll that hefty sum every year, I doubt that there are too many other organizations that could afford Andy.

Actually, given his history of scientific misconduct, research incompetence, and questionable ethics, no autism organization can afford Andrew Wakefield at any salary. They just haven’t figured it out yet.

Comments

  1. #1 David N. Brown
    April 12, 2010

    These quotations are poking at the Possum’s eyeballs. Wakefield seems to be losing the ability even to put pseudoscience in grammatically well-constructed forms. “at the GMC I was accused of”? “which rather extraordinary”? “just tinge of irony”? “jiggery pokery”? GAH! I want my brain cells back!

  2. #2 David N. Brown
    April 12, 2010

    A couple more things that have crossed my mind:
    If GR is taking on Wakefield, that could be why Carrey punched out.
    Another thing I have been thinking about for a while is a line from Harry Harrison’s “The Stainless Steel Rat”: “Though fashions in crime and sentencing come and go, there is one crime that will always bring universal detestation. That is being a bungling doctor.”

  3. #3 Dan the Man
    April 12, 2010

    lol!

    “jiggery pokery”, WTF??? Wakefield has been practicing way too much woo, lol.

    THANKYOU Orac for your detailed slapdown of this interview. I would LOVE to see you debate Wakefield instead of Offit. That would be priceless…Wakefield would run away crying like a baby, lol. He makes me sick with his lies and woo. Why won’t he just disappear? Ugh!

  4. #4 nostrum
    April 12, 2010

    @David: I suspect the Carrey split was because miss botox-at-37 couldn’t accept that she was dating a grandpa.

  5. #5 Anthony
    April 12, 2010

    @3 It would be fun to see such a debate. The trouble with a debate though is that it assumes there are two sides to each story. Facts don’t have two sides, so Wakefield really couldn’t do much arguing.

    Wakefield’s ideas certainly deserve to be ridiculed though.

  6. #6 Midwest Dad
    April 12, 2010

    This is rather off topic, but I thought this would be a good place to get some solid information.

    My wife has been trying for years to convince me that my son’s autism is caused by vaccines. Her latest two approaches are as follows:

    1. She’s making a big deal about the fact that vaccines “bypass the immune system’s first line of defense.” So my question: Is there any difference between the immune response elicited by a vaccine, as opposed to the immune response elicited by natural exposure to a disease?

    2. She’s also saying that “vaccines can cause brain damage, and the symptoms are identical to what we are now calling autism.” She says, “I challenge you to learn what vaccine damage can look like (e.g., reduced consciousness, lack of eye contact), and then tell me that some/much/most of the ‘autism spectrum’ we see today isn’t vaccine damage.” What would be a good response to this?

    Obviously, I’m not a scientist. Please help me formulate responses (in layman’s terms) to these claims. I appreciate any help anyone is willing to offer. Thanks.

  7. #7 Kristen
    April 12, 2010

    @5
    Anthony

    Facts don’t have two sides, so Wakefield really couldn’t do much arguing.

    I think you meant to say “Wakefield shouldn’t do much arguing. He is the last person to realize when he is beat. He is delightfully unaware of the utter lack of critical thinking skills he has shown simply by trying to ‘clear his name’. He should have just disappeared with his money and acted like none of this ever happened.

  8. #8 MI Dawn
    April 12, 2010

    @Midwest Dad: Vaccines MAY bypass “the immune system’s first line of defense” since some of them are given by injection. This simply means that the vaccines need much less of the disease entity (virus or bacteria) to provoke the immune response. So, your child is exposed to a much smaller dose of antigen than he/she would if they were exposed to someone with the disease. This also means your child is much less likely to CATCH the disease, since there is very little chance (in an immunologically healthy child)the antigen will overwhelm the immune system and actually cause the disease.

    Brain damage is NOTHING like autism. Remind your wife that autism is a developmental DELAY, not a developmental STASIS. Ask any health care professional who works with brain-damaged kids; there will come a time when those children have reached their maximum ability to improve. They will never get beyond that point. However, most children with autism who are not also mentally retarded (used in the medical sense, not perjoritively) will continue to learn and develop for the rest of their lives.

    I don’t know if your wife will respect the reports from the Vaccine Courts as authoritive, but if she will, Kathleen at Neurodiversity.com has good reviews of all the Special Masters’ findings, with links to the actual reports so anyone can follow them and find Kathleen did not “cherry pick” from them.

    I hope this helps. I tried to make things basic, for a layperson.

  9. #9 Jojo
    April 12, 2010

    behind the scenes jiggery pokery

    I have no idea what that means, but it sure does sound like fun!

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    April 12, 2010

    I’m sure that Andy is “making the rounds” of sympathetic chat shows/websites.Null now has his own “internet radio/TV network”,the Progressive Radio Network,”PRN”(so that it might be confused with NPR?- see website)where he hosts several shows(and has shows hosted by Mayer Eisenstein and Mike Adams)where Andy might show up(maybe as a host eventually?);he has already been on the radio show.(BTW-yesterday,while looking over maps for my next N.CA trip, I came across the “San Andreas Fault” zone- suddenly I realized that “San Andreas” is Spanish for “St. Andrew”!!!!how apropo!)

  11. #11 FreeSpeaker
    April 12, 2010

    Now Mercola is pimping for Wakefield. I cannot imagine what could be so sleazy that Mercola would not pimp.

  12. #12 Rene Najera
    April 12, 2010

    @FreeSpeaker Child prostitution? Then again, if someone said that having sex with a child cured a “vaccine injury” (and had some anecdote), I would not be surprised if even that was pimped.

    Yes, they’ll go that low.

  13. #13 Scott
    April 12, 2010

    @12:

    I think you’re overstating it. I doubt that even Wankerfield, Mercola, or McCarthy would do *that*.

  14. #14 Journal Checker
    April 12, 2010
  15. #15 Lycanthrope
    April 12, 2010

    “Jiggery pokery” is just a bit of British slang, meaning much the same thing as North American “hocus pocus”.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    April 12, 2010

    About Andy’s last statement:”to look directly at environmental causes included within that of course is vaccines”…so maybe he’ll be working with Deirdre Imus?

  17. #17 momkat
    April 12, 2010

    Let’s hope Dr. Wakefield’s editor introduces him to the comma. Does he always communicate in the stream-of-consciousness mode? If this is any indication of the quality of the text, it will be brain-damage inducing in it’s tediousness.
    “My concern is to rue it in or rue it out.”
    He should have rued the day he published his first word.

  18. #18 tl
    April 12, 2010

    @17:

    In fairness to Wakefield (not that he deserves any), the lack of commas and use of rue instead of rule are likely transcription issues. It’s unlikely he had anything to do with the transcription of his interview.

  19. #19 Party Cactus
    April 12, 2010

    I wonder if it has ever occurred to Wakefield that if you’re sitting down with a homeopathic quack (who is also a germ theory of disease denialist, correct?), something might be wrong. If I was a proponent of something the entire scientific community rejected, the last thing I’d want to do is associate myself with someone like that. It seems as if quackery, opposition to ‘mainstream science’ is an end in and of itself. Like those guys in high school who thought a band was cool because no one else liked them and popular ones were bad because they were popular.

  20. #20 Todd W.
    April 12, 2010

    @Party Cactus

    Interesting point. Wakefield promotes a germ-theory-based cause of autism (measles in the gut). Yet Mercola is supporting him. An example of the theory of crank magnetism, I guess. Although perhaps Wakefield is just moving toward a denial of germ theory, since one of the studies in which he was involved looked at thimerosal, rather than any antigens in the vaccines.

  21. #21 David N. Brown
    April 12, 2010

    @5: “She’s also saying that “vaccines can cause brain damage, and the symptoms are identical to what we are now calling autism.””
    Actual brain damage comes in many different forms and manifested symptoms, so it’s useless to discuss it as a single category. In any event, if there’s anything that can be said about the neurological basis of autism, it’s that it’s NOTHING LIKE gross trauma or defects.

  22. #22 Dangerous Bacon
    April 12, 2010

    “In fairness to Wakefield (not that he deserves any), the lack of commas and use of rue instead of rule are likely transcription issues.”

    In fairness to kids with autism and all who need immunization to stay healthy, what’s needed to punctuate Wakefield’s career is a period.

  23. #23 Prometheus
    April 12, 2010

    Now, if you had asked me a month ago if Andy Wakefield could sink any lower, I would have said “no”.

    Clearly, I was wrong.

    That he had to resort to Mercola to find a sympathetic audience speaks volumes about his imploding career. His repeated claims to have exculpatory evidence that will clear him of the GMC’s rebuke are reminiscent of Richard Kimble’s endless search for “the one-armed man” in the television series The Fugitive.

    As for his new job to “integrate the research efforts of a variety of autism organizations around the world”, my suspicion is that it will involve nothing more than regular contributions to “Age of Autism”.

    Andy Wakefield needs to face facts and make some tough decisions. His career as a scientist ended years ago; his career as a physician is about to end – he needs to take stock and salvage what he can.

    However, I think his extreme narcissism will force him onto the self-destructive path we have seen so often in the past. He seems unable to admit – even to himself – that he was wrong and that he made “poor choices”. By insisting that he did nothing wrong and is the victim of a conspiracy to silence “the truth” and (in his eyes) its chief proponent, he will commit the career equivalent of “CFIT” (“controlled flight into terrain” – aviation jargon for flying into a mountain).

    It will be an ugly spectacle and all the uglier for being so avoidable.

    Prometheus

  24. #24 Calli Arcale
    April 12, 2010

    Prometheus: I’d say it’s more reminiscent of O. J. Simpson’s quest to find his wife’s killer.

  25. #25 MI Dawn
    April 12, 2010

    @Prometheus: IIRC, the “one-armed man” really WAS the killer in The Fugitive.

    (Just checked Univ-Google…Wikipedia strikes again: “David Janssen starred as Richard Kimble, a doctor from the fictional town of Stafford, Indiana, who is falsely convicted of his wife’s murder and given the death penalty. En route to death row, Kimble’s train derails and crashes, allowing him to escape and begin a cross-country search for the real killer, a “one-armed man” (played by Bill Raisch). At the same time, Dr. Kimble is hounded by the authorities, most notably by Stafford Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard (Barry Morse).”

    So, Wakers is more like Lieutenant Gerard…sure he has the right man when he’s WAY off base.

  26. #26 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 12, 2010

    So, Wakers is more like Lieutenant Gerard…sure he has the right man when he’s WAY off base.

    Except that outside his fanatically held faith in Kimble’s guilt, Gerard was in all other ways intensely competent, and completely honorable. You’d never catch Gerard paying children for their blood at a birthday party, or taking money to generate evidence favorable to some party’s lawsuit, even if he happened to believe that that party was in the right.

    (Sorry, Fugitive fan here; couldn’t resist the chance to burble about the show…)

  27. #27 jackrabbit
    April 12, 2010

    What the hell is that pink grapefruit “jiggery pokery” stuff in the bowl on the table beside Weasel Boy? Crystals? Why is Snakefield’s head so small compared to the rest of his body? Did you see the size of those hands? The better to (colono)scope you with, my dear! You know what they say about big hands…there’s usually a delusional ego to match.

  28. #28 Prometheus
    April 12, 2010

    I retract my comparison of Wakefield to Richard Kimble. And a comparison to OJ Simpson doesn’t work for because I think that Wakefield really believes that he’s right.

    Maybe it’s the Pollyanna in me, but I think that Wakefield really does believe that he’s right and the scientific community is conspiring against him. In one way, that makes Wakefield seem less of a slimeball – he thinks he is right and that any “shortcuts” he took were justified (and balanced out) by the “good work” he’s done.

    On the other hand, it would mean that he’s gone ’round the twist.

    I, for one, can’t wait until Wakefield reveals the “extensive documentary evidence” he has that will (in his imagination) exonerate him and his colleagues. I imagine that it will be like the final scene in The Shining, where Jack’s wife finds page after page covered with “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

    Let’s hope Andy doesn’t show up at the door with an axe.

    “Heeere’s Andy!”

    Prometheus

  29. #29 Becky
    April 12, 2010

    Dr. Wakefield claims to be a GI surgeon but he clearly doesn’t understand that liver disease causes elevated ammonia levels that cause encephalopathy. It isn’t anything wrong with the patient’s gut. Yes, the treatment is related to decreasing the ammonia level by working on digestion but that doesn’t mean there is a malfunction of the gut. If he doesn’t understand hepatic encephalopathy then I don’t have much faith in his understanding morbidity outside his area of “expertise”.

  30. #30 tony bateson
    April 13, 2010

    I have rarely read such bile. It would be interesting to see where these correspondents are coming from. But they do have a distinctive charateristic that gives me a clue. They are long winded but they don’t say anything.

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA – I have seen nothing anywhere to rebut that. The proponents of the Danish autism studies the main plank of vaccines don’t cause autism proposition are seen to be crooks (Poul Thoresen & Kristeen Madsen, one took off with $2 millions whilst the other cosied up to the CDC and was willing to fiddle the books) whilst the others were employees of the Danish State Serum Institute or the CDC. Really unbelievable that a government body could pile so much money into the Aarhus University project that $2 millions was left sloshing around for Thoresen to make off with. Unbelievable too that Aarhus could imagine that a respectable piece of research could be produced by such a bunch of potentially corrupt people. When Thoresen is found I think the whole shoddy truth may come out.

    In Britain Dr Brent Taylor who conducted the North Thames Study, another vaccines/autism rebuttal, won’t release his papers it being argued that the work was being done for the government. Well that qualifies it for the Freedom of Information Act this too may soon come into the public domain.

    Lastly Dr Paul Offitt the high priest of the vaccines industry says ‘science is not a democracy’ well, fancy that because he agrees with me. Autism and vaccines is a totalitarian state headquartered in Texas and protected by exactly the same sort of tactics employed in an earlier age by the goons who erected the Berlin Wall. In time, not much longer now, it will collapse around them. Then we will see that Andrew Wakefield was a prophet not a cheat!

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  31. #31 Orac
    April 13, 2010

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine

    Bullshit. Prove it.

  32. #32 attack laurel
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest Dad @6: Brain Injury is my field (researcher), and brain damage, even congenital brain damage, is *nothing* like autism. Brain damage, as its name suggests, causes permanent catastrophic physical damage in the brain that will mildly or severely affect physical and cognitive processes. It isn’t quite static, but the progress of brain damage is different from developmental delay like autism.

    One of the diseases that can cause brain damage in children is meningitis(a vaccine preventable disease). Your child has a much higher chance of permanent brain or physical injury or death from being unvaccinated.

    The CDC has a nice page that explains in layman’s terms how vaccines work.

  33. #33 ababa
    April 13, 2010

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA – I have seen nothing anywhere to rebut that.

    Then you simply are not looking. For example, there is an extremely lengthy thread on mothering.com (a very popular forum for antivax mothers) with many mothers at their wits end because they were led to believe that if they didn’t vax then their children could not become autistic. Several of them were frantic and felt obviously betrayed by people that repeat lies like you are doing. The diehards were going to extreme lengths trying to explain it away that would make anyone that hasn’t drunk the Kool-Aid facepalm so hard their ears would bleed.

    I feel sorry for parents that aren’t able to see the harm people like you are causing, Tony. Andrew Wakefield is a con man, and the increasing depths he is going to in order to keep the gravy train running on his one claim to fame proves it.

  34. #34 Science Mom
    April 13, 2010

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA – I have seen nothing anywhere to rebut that.

    @30, you can repeat yourself all you like, doesn’t make it true. When your observations make it into a legitimate, peer-reviewed journal, then you can bring it, until then, you are barking at the moon. The rest of your post is silly, little conspiracy rubbish, heavily embellished because the truth is so much more mundane and does not, at all, diminish the validity of those studies.

  35. #35 Midwest Dad
    April 13, 2010

    Thanks to all who have responded to my query. Even more responses would be welcome. I deeply appreciate it! The more solid explanations I can provide to my wife, the better off (maybe) everyone in my home will be.

    #33 ababa: Could you link to that discussion you referenced on mothering.com? I’d like to show it to my wife.

  36. #36 JohnV
    April 13, 2010

    @tony bateson

    The last time you made this claim was a week ago (April 6th 2010 verified by the magic of google). At that time not only were you given anecdotal accounts of unvaccinated autistic people but a commenter linked to 2 published studies that had statistics on unvaccinated autistic people.

    Have you not had time to read the papers? Unable to access them? Read them but can’t comprehend what they say? A liar?

  37. #37 Todd W.
    April 13, 2010

    @Tony Bateson

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA

    First, as Orac said, prove it. Second, in the USA, you may have heard of a woman named Kim Stagliano. Her youngest child is unvaccinated and has autism.

  38. #38 Todd W.
    April 13, 2010

    @Midwest Dad

    Another resource you might find handy is antiantivax.flurf.net. There are a lot of additional links there to even more information.

  39. #39 Tanja
    April 13, 2010

    @JohnV
    Could You be so kind and post a link to that discussion, I’m not apparently as skilled “googler” and didn’t find it – but I have heard that same argument before and would like to read published studies about the subject.
    Thanks!

  40. #40 jen
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest dad: Trust your wife. Selectively vaccinate. Dr. OFfit will now be (hopefully) feeling pretty stupid about monkey virus contamination in his rotateq vaccine. Yeah, cause you know babies really need that.
    I do sympathize with you. Now that they’ve taken away illnesses such as chicken pox and mumps (that are pretty much benign in childhood but worse to get as adults) we are in a bit of a pickle. I would try to expose my kid to chicken pox naturally and maybe get one MMR but when the kid is around 3. They’ve played God, pushed the concept too far and fucked up.

  41. #41 Joseph
    April 13, 2010

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA.

    If we were to believe GR’s phone survey results, about 6% of all completely unvaccinated children have an ASD diagnosis.

    Because of methodological biases in the survey, that might not be right, but a rate much higher than 1% is to be expected because of genetics.

  42. #42 ababa
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest Dad:
    http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=1077468

    A word of warning though, it gets waist deep in there. The forum in general does not allow debate and the moderators regularly silence anyone that questions the anti-vax party line. The ironic thing is that they have a big disclaimer post at the top of the forum telling people to:

    “Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking care because of something you have read here.”

    then practically every other post is handing out medical advice and telling people to ignore doctors and ways to skirt vaccination laws. They even post examples of how to post their “information” in order to avoid liability.

    Also, Todd W. is right – Kim Stagliano of AoA does have three autistic daughters and at least one if not two are completely un-vaccinated. For a group that loves anecdotes, one would think that would make people wonder.

  43. #43 trrll
    April 13, 2010

    She’s making a big deal about the fact that vaccines “bypass the immune system’s first line of defense.” So my question: Is there any difference between the immune response elicited by a vaccine, as opposed to the immune response elicited by natural exposure to a disease?

    This really makes no sense at all, because for a disease to evoke an immune response (indeed, to contract the disease at all), the disease organism must already have gotten past the body’s “first line of defense.” In many cases, the immune response provoked by the actual disease is more intense than that provoked by a vaccine. Yet none of the diseases that we routinely vaccinate against–even those that are capable of producing brain damage, like measles–produce a syndrome that resembles typical autism.

  44. #44 Denice Walter
    April 13, 2010

    @ ababa:it appears that at least *some* anti-vaxxers explain unvaccinated children’s autism as being due to their *mothers’* vaccinations.

  45. #45 Chris
    April 13, 2010

    jen:

    Selectively vaccinate. Dr. OFfit will now be (hopefully) feeling pretty stupid about monkey virus contamination in his rotateq vaccine.

    It is now obvious you are just making things up! How does a deep scan of RotaRix that found porcine circovirus 1 DNA get turned into RotaTeq having monkey virus?

  46. #46 Pablo
    April 13, 2010

    re: ababa’s link

    Yeah, ababa has posted that before, and it is an older thread, but still pretty telling.

    Those are some pretty serious whackos. As Denice notes, they do blame the mothers’ vaccinations, among other random “toxins” that are always present, apparently. Mercury around the house, it seems.

    The most important thing to notice: the entire discussion is premised on the idea that autism must be caused by “toxins.” If it’s not vaccines, it’s the mother’s vaccines, or other toxins around. No one ever comes up and asks, “Maybe it’s just one of those things that happens?”

  47. #47 ababa
    April 13, 2010

    Yeah, I’ve posted it a couple times. It’s an excellent example of the damage anti-vaxers cause by practically promising good results from avoiding vaccinations. They shun people who have experiences that don’t reinforce their belief system, and either delete references or twist into crazy pretzels trying to justify their beliefs. For a group that claims to exist solely for support, try seeing how much “support” you get if your story doesn’t match theirs.

    The whole mothering forum is filled with “crunchy” mommies that are convinced they are capable of controlling every variable through some easy to follow plan of being “natural”. They never realize that everything was “natural” a hundred years ago when the average lifespan was a great deal less. Those that do are fond of attributing it all to “clean water”.

    They seem to update their Disclaimers fairly regularly. I’m sure the whole forum gives their lawyers seizures.

    On the mercury thing, I saw one mom on a local forum go apeshit insane because she broke on of those energy CFC lightbulbs. She was ready to call out the Hazmat team for cleanup and move to a motel for a week. It turned into a big discussion about whether saving energy was “worth the risk”.

    The Internet is a great benefit to society, but in the hands of stay at home parents with too much time on their hands it is a terrible weapon.

  48. #48 Poogles
    April 13, 2010

    Another theory popular on MDC threads about unvaccinated autistic children is that it was the mother’s fillings, with the evil mercury, that caused it.

  49. #49 JohnV
    April 13, 2010

    @Tanja

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/04/someone_didnt_nail_the_coffin_shut_andre.php#comment-2406825

    Starting with comment 50 or 52 or so. The third comment after Mr. Bateson’s links to some studies.

  50. #50 Visitor
    April 13, 2010

    The thing about this Bateson character is that his sole apparent involvement in anything is to creep around the web making his little allegation. He knows it’s false. He knows about Ms Stagliano, and the studies which have been done. He knows about the parents who protest whenever he makes his claim.

    But he carries on. Because his sole aim is to do what he does: to creep around the web causing others confusion and distress. That’s how he gets off. That’s where he finds his sense of self-importance. Pitiful really.

    This is not a guy with one shred of continuing concern about autism, vaccine safety or children’s health.

    He’s just a creep.

  51. #51 Midwest Dad
    April 13, 2010

    Not surprisingly, once the “vaccines bypass the immune system” argument got shot down, she’s now playing the additive card:

    “The vaccines contain fewer antigens but they also contain mercury, aluminum and other adjuvants, whose purpose is to boost the immune response to the fewer antigens. These things are known to be harmful.”

    My guess is that although “these things are known to be harmful,” they are not harmful in the amounts used in vaccines. Yes?

  52. #52 Todd W.
    April 13, 2010

    @Midwest Dad

    My guess is that although “these things are known to be harmful,” they are not harmful in the amounts used in vaccines. Yes?

    That is correct. Also to note, in the U.S., the only vaccines that contain mercury are the flu vaccine and meningococcal vaccine, though mercury-free versions of both are available.

  53. #53 Tanja
    April 13, 2010

    Thank You JohnV!
    Those who believe that there are no autism in non-vaccinated kids – is it really so that there were no autism before (MMR) vaccines? Pretty hilarious thought – in my humble opinnion.

  54. #54 Science Mom
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest dad: Trust your wife. Selectively vaccinate. Dr. OFfit will now be (hopefully) feeling pretty stupid about monkey virus contamination in his rotateq vaccine. Yeah, cause you know babies really need that.

    It wasn’t monkey virus contamination Einstein, it was DNA retroviral fragments, most likely emanating from host cells that had been integrated. http://www.virology.ws/2010/03/29/deep-sequencing-reveals-viral-vaccine-contaminants/#comments

  55. #55 Todd W.
    April 13, 2010

    @Science Mom

    Go easy on jen. She still doesn’t get the difference between a credible, scientific source of information and a festering pile of conspiracy and fear mongeringthe NVIC.

  56. #56 trrll
    April 13, 2010

    The vaccines contain fewer antigens but they also contain mercury, aluminum and other adjuvants, whose purpose is to boost the immune response to the fewer antigens. These things are known to be harmful.

    Mercury is not an adjuvant, but a preservative that has been used to prevent bacterial contamination of multidose vaccine bottles. It has been removed from all standard childhood vaccines, but it is not in fact known to be harmful at the very tiny amounts involved. The symptoms of mercury toxicity are very well known due to some instances of environmental poisoning with mercury (at much larger doses and in a more dangerous chemical form), and have never been observed with vaccination. Aluminum is an adjuvant used to insure a strong immune response to a very small does of antigen, but the amount is very small and we take in much larger amounts from dietary sources. No substance used as an adjuvant is known to be harmful in the very small amounts used.

  57. #57 historygeek
    April 13, 2010

    after reading all this i can not understand how on earth anyone can say that there is no autism in the unvacnated so if that where true when did it apear. always wondered about that. makes feel like i steped down the rabbit hole into an differant reality

    also i read historical bios all day the child mortality is shocking compared to today. it is a rare family that all there children make it to adualthood. these are poeple who did things worthy of being wirten about so they are not always coming from the slums of london we are so damn lucky and don’t even know or appraite it.

    and orac for some really depressing reading try the smallpox outbreak in stockhome sweeden in 1871 it will piss u off but it is educational

  58. #58 Pablo
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest Dad

    Not surprisingly, once the “vaccines bypass the immune system” argument got shot down, she’s now playing the additive card:

    “The vaccines contain fewer antigens but they also contain mercury, aluminum and other adjuvants, whose purpose is to boost the immune response to the fewer antigens. These things are known to be harmful.”

    I know you have to tread carefully here, but you have a problem. Your wife, it appears, is not arguing in good faith. She is basically throwing shit against the wall and hoping some of it sticks. It goes like

    Make claim A
    Explain why A is incorrect
    “Well, that may be so, but what about B?”
    Explain why B is incorrect
    “Oh well, that doesn’t matter because of C”
    Explain why C is incorrect
    .
    .
    .
    continue through the alphabet and On Beyond Zebra

    You have to make her put it out there – what would have to be true for her to accept that vaccines are safe? As it is right now, she is starting with the premise that vaccines are bad and she is just looking for reasons to justify that position.

    I fear that if you press her on it, you will discover that there is nothing you can say that will get her to change her mind, which means that your discussion is a waste of time.

    BTW, be willing and able to answer the question in reverse. You should be able to know exactly what you could find that would convince you that vaccines were dangerous.

  59. #59 Pablo
    April 13, 2010

    historygeek

    after reading all this i can not understand how on earth anyone can say that there is no autism in the unvaccinated

    One would think, yeah, but never underestimate the level of dishonesty that some people will sink to.

  60. #60 Midwest Dad
    April 13, 2010

    @Pablo: Yeah, you’re right. When I point out that the additives in vaccines are not harmful at their small doses, she says “well, they’re harmful for SOME, including me and your son.”

    You can’t really argue with someone like that . . .

  61. #61 Pablo
    April 13, 2010

    When I point out that the additives in vaccines are not harmful at their small doses, she says “well, they’re harmful for SOME, including me and your son.”

    Ah, so she is even begging the question, great.

    “What evidence do you have that they have been harmful?”
    “Well, he has autism, and he was vaccinated.”
    “But why do you think the vaccines caused his autism?”
    “Because he is vaccinated, and has autism.”
    “But there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism.”
    “Well, they caused his.”
    “Why do you think that?”
    “Because he has autism.”

    etc

    What makes her claim the additives in vaccines are harmful to her?

  62. #62 maydijo
    April 13, 2010

    Midwest Dad – I’m very sorry your son has autism. But surely what matters now isn’t how he got it, but what you’re going to do about it?

    I don’t believe your wife is going to be interested in any argument you can find against her set belief that autism is caused by vaccines. You are probably wasting your time and your breath trying to convince her differently; because (and I say this as someone who considers herself religious) anti-vaxxers are a bit like religious nutters – “I know I’m right because I know I’m right.”

    You know she’s wrong. But if you continue trying to convince her that she’s wrong, you may end up with a wife who digs her heels in. You may end damaging your marriage, and heaven knows it’s already going through enough stress with the autism diagnosis. So, let it go, and instead focus on finding therapies that work. If she wants to try something that is proven to be dangerous to your child (chelation, etc.) that’s when you put up the good fight. If you have other children and she doesn’t want to vaccinate them, that’s when you put up the good fight. But for this child, how it happened isn’t as important as what comes next.

  63. #63 Midwest Dad
    April 13, 2010

    @maydijo: I’d be happy to drop the subject and focus on how best to help my son, except that wife’s views on vaccines have morphed into a burning hatred of the government, doctors, and modern medicine itself, which she rails against continually; she’s already trying to brainwash my girls into not vaxing their kids; she refuses further vaccinations for my children; she tells the kids she’d be “ashamed” if they entered the medical profession (except maybe if they became chiropractors or homeopaths); she wants to pursue treatments predicated on autism as vaccine injury; she refers to my son as “brain damaged” and “broken”; and she calls me vile names (“bad father” is the most printable) because I don’t share her views. I could go on and on but this isn’t a marriage counseling session.

    So . . . I’d be glad to let this whole vaccine thing go. But it’s thrown in my face almost every day.

    Another legacy of the antivaccine movement. I wonder how many other relationships it’s damaged.

  64. #64 maydijo
    April 13, 2010

    I’m sorry, Midwest Dad, for speaking out of turn. I can understand the desire to blame something or someone; I hope she is able to move past that and to focus on the beautiful person that I have no doubt your son still is.

  65. #65 David N. Brown
    April 13, 2010

    I suggest, if you can swing it constructively, a “media quarantine”. Also see if you can identify any source of stress. Without reinforcement and underlying problems which may feed this sort of thinking, she may at least become willing to discuss issues respectfully.

  66. #66 Prometheus
    April 14, 2010

    Mr. Bateson perseverates:

    “At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA – I have seen nothing anywhere to rebut that.”

    At the risk of repeating myself, Mr. Bateson has been informed – by me and several others – that there are unvaccinated autistic people in the USA and also in the UK.

    Repeating the same incorrect assertion is not the same as having data, Mr. Bateson, as you have been repeatedly told.

    Prometheus

  67. #67 Militant Agnostic
    April 14, 2010

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

    Is this an argument from geographical authority?

  68. #68 Chris
    April 14, 2010

    I enjoyed this response to one of Mr. Bateson’s posts here:

    Hi, i’m just over from England. We have a village missing an idiot. He answers to the name of Tony. If you see him, can you give him a nice cup of cocoa and send him back please. Be kind, he scares easily.

  69. #69 Journal Checker
    April 14, 2010

    The link in 37, to Kim Stagliano’s blog, gives us this:

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    Kim Stagliano said…

    I am asking if vaccine schedules are a contributing factor to the current epidemic of neurological illnesses including autism. I’m not asking if they are the one and only cause. Nor am I implying it’s all about the mercury. My youngest had a traumatic inutero injury with birth related oxygen issues and inherited a mercury/toxin load from me. You know, the genetics part.

    8:22 AM

    Then later that day:

    Kim Stagliano said…

    Nurse – I thought I was not vaccinating my third – but I forgot the vitamin K at birth. I had a sign in her Isolette NO HEP B! But neglected to say No Vitamin K! We know more about giving our kids Tylenol or Motrin than we do about what the hospital puts into a newborn. I’ll bet new Moms read the Motrin dosage EVERY TIME they give it – the fetus, the 6 month old and the 75 year old get the same flu vaccine dosage…..
    5:00 PM

    I’m not quite sure how toxin load relates to genetics – nor where Vit K fits in vaccination theology.

  70. #70 ebohlman
    April 14, 2010

    Kim’s referring to Vitamin K as a “vaccine” lends credence to the notion that the antivaxers are simply afraid of needles; apparently a “vaccine” is simply anything that gets injected into a kid, with the fact that it’s injected being the Bad Part.

  71. #71 Chris
    April 14, 2010

    ebohlman:

    apparently a “vaccine” is simply anything that gets injected into a kid, with the fact that it’s injected being the Bad Part

    If that was true, then they should have no problem with rotavirus vaccines, since they are oral and not injected.

  72. #72 Pablo
    April 14, 2010

    If that was true, then they should have no problem with rotavirus vaccines, since they are oral and not injected.

    Well, as we saw yesterday, their (ok, HER) approach on that is just to say it is injected.

    It’s not like reality matters all that much in an anti-vax crusade.

  73. #73 Calli Arcale
    April 14, 2010

    Journal Checker — wow. She thinks vitamin K is a vaccine. And that it is less well understood than, say, ibuprofen. *shakes head* I thought anti-vaxxers were supposed to be all happy about vitamins and supplements and things? Maybe in addition to the whole “injected” part, she can’t get her head around the idea of *doctors* and *nurses* recommending a *vitamin*?

    On the other hand, I guess now her “you know, the genetics part” (in reference to hypothetical fetal toxin exposure) doesn’t seem quite so peculiar. Obviously she has only a passing familiarity with these words.

  74. #74 a-non
    April 14, 2010

    Nurse – I thought I was not vaccinating my third – but I forgot the vitamin K at birth. I had a sign in her Isolette NO HEP B! But neglected to say No Vitamin K! We know more about giving our kids Tylenol or Motrin than we do about what the hospital puts into a newborn. I’ll bet new Moms read the Motrin dosage EVERY TIME they give it – the fetus, the 6 month old and the 75 year old get the same flu vaccine dosage…..

    Yeah, it’s a really bad idea to prevent a newborn from contracting a hemorrhagic disease.

  75. #75 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 14, 2010

    At the risk of repeating myself – there are no unvaccinated autistic people in the UK as far as a substantial level of enquiry can determine – I believe it is very likely that the same is true in the USA – I have seen nothing anywhere to rebut that.

    And this is where Tony Bateson reveals that he is nothing but a miserable monkeyfightin’ liar, because on other sites where he has made this ridiculous “no unvaccinated autistic people” claim I personally made known to him Generation Rescue’s own phone survey which reported numerous such people.

  76. #76 Visitor
    April 15, 2010

    “And this is where Tony Bateson reveals that he is nothing but a miserable monkeyfightin’ liar, because on other sites where he has made this ridiculous “no unvaccinated autistic people” claim I personally made known to him Generation Rescue’s own phone survey which reported numerous such people.”

    And he will be creaming himself with delight over your obvious frustration. He’ll be really wallowing in it.

  77. #77 MI Dawn
    April 15, 2010

    @a-non: missed it before, but when you blockquoted it I noticed this:

    I’ll bet new Moms read the Motrin dosage EVERY TIME they give it – the fetus,…

    Personally, I’ve never given Motrin to a fetus nor known anyone who has had the ability to do so…Kim S. must be very clever to be able to do so (and JeninTx, I know about maternal-fetal transfer of drugs but I don’t think that’s what Kim is referring to here! (smile))

  78. #78 ebohlman
    April 15, 2010

    MI Dawn: Kim wasn’t talking about giving Motrin to a fetus; she was talking about giving flu vaccines to a fetus. That’s even harder to do, especially considering that the vaccine isn’t injected “into the bloodstream.”

  79. #79 Calli Arcale
    April 15, 2010

    Maybe it’s a really long needle? :-P

    Actually, even once removing the absurd “fetus” from her list, it’s still a falsehood, and she has no excuse for perpetuating it. The 6 month old and the 75 year old do not receive the same flu vaccine dose. The dose for children under 3 is 0.25 mL. The dose for everybody else is 0.5 mL (so 75 year olds receive double the dose than 6 month olds do).

  80. #80 Orange Lantern
    April 15, 2010

    And she (deliberatley) forgets the fact that in the world of other medicines, things are only weight dependent up to a point. You give, say 50 mg/kg of IM Rocephin up until about a gram. Above 20 kilos (say, a 3 year old) everyone gets the same dose, with exceptions based on the disease, etc.

    Your kidneys, liver, etc. do not always care how big you are.

  81. #81 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 15, 2010

    And he will be creaming himself with delight over your obvious frustration. He’ll be really wallowing in it.

    More fool he, then. Before, the worst that I could say about him was that he was a poor researcher (being unable to find any unvaccinated austistic people by himself) and sneaky (sometimes hedging his claim with “in the UK,” as if vaccination could be The Sole Cause of autism but only within the boundaries of certain lines on a map).

    Now whenever he spouts off this ignorant nonsense, those of us who have witnessed Mr. Bateson proving himself to be a liar can make sure his audience knows that, not only is his claim about “no unvaccinated autistic people” false, he knew it was false when he chose to tell it to them.

  82. #82 ababa
    April 15, 2010

    Tony Bateson is also a fire-and-forget poster. He wanders into a thread, posts the exact same lie then moves on, probably never even looking at responses. He has done it on several posts already, including another one on here today. This way he can continue to claim never to have seen a case, because he never looks for one!

    It’s akin to rolling a grenade in a room then running. It’s also a trademark activity of a troll.

  83. #83 Tellin it like it is
    April 16, 2010

    I see that Wakers couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Paul Offit again, and uses the “100,000 vaccines in one day” tactic to do so (yawn). He states that to date there is not a single doctor in the world who is willing to back up the 100,000 vaccines statement. Errr…he has obviously never heard of Orac! I’m sure there are plenty of other Docs here on science blogs who would also be willing to back it up.

    Wakefield is a lying loon.

  84. #84 ababa
    April 16, 2010

    To start with, that quote is wrong. He didn’t say 100,000 vaccines. He was responding to the claim that 3 or 4 vaccines in a day overwhelm a child’s immune system. He stated that a child’s immune system could easily handle 100,000 challenges more than those 3 or 4 vaccines. Not that one could inject 100,000 vaccines in someone and they would be fine.

    It was poorly worded, yes, but anytime someone brings that up as a valid point against Offitt you already know they aren’t dealing with you honestly. It’s like anytime you hear the word “Amish” in a vaccine discussion, expect to be jumping down an endless rabbithole of insanity with someone that is lmore interested in shock value than fact.

  85. #85 Prometheus
    April 16, 2010

    I wonder if some of the folks at GR/AoA even grasp the concept of an antigen?

    A small virus – like poliovirus – can have as few as 10 – 15 antigens (if you restrict yourself to considering intact proteins only), while a large virus – like herpes zoster – can have over one hundred. That’s just viruses.

    A single bacterium has tens of thousands of antigens – even more, if you consider variation in glycosylation and other modifications. So, to reach an exposure of 100,000 unique and different antigens would require being exposed to about ten different bacterial species.

    A sample of soil taken from a field, park or suburban lawn (i.e. not unusually dry or hot soil environments) will have at least ten million bacteria per gram and will have somewhere between one hundred and several thousand different bacterial species.

    So, if your child scrapes their knee in the playground or in your back yard, they will be exposed to (“injected” with) somewhere between several hundred thousand to several million different and unique bacterial antigens.

    And that doesn’t include the dozens of microscopic eukaryotic species (with tens of thousands of unique antigens per species) and thousands of viral species they are also exposed to.

    If a child’s immune system could be overwhelmed by 100,000 antigens – or even 100,000,000 antigens – they would not survive the first few days of life.

    And if you want to restrict the discussion to only antigens that are “injected” (i.e. that penetrate the skin), the average toddler would be dead of “immune system overload” long before they outgrew their first pair of shoes. Scrapes, cuts, etc. happen to children all the time – none that I know have ever escaped them. Yet, I’ve never heard of a child who developed autism (or “immune system overload”) after scraping their knee or getting a splinter.

    Think about it – if we, as a species, were so vulnerable to foreign antigens, how would we have ever survived the Middle Ages, let alone the Paleolithic, Neolithic, etc?

    Of course, that’s what all of the “immune system overload” people fail to do: think.

    Prometheus

  86. #86 Notborn Yesterday
    April 17, 2010

    #1 “GAH! I want my brain cells back!”??

    #2 “Stainless Steel Rat…”??

    #3:, You call Wakefield out for using the term “jiggery pokery”, and then follow it up with language like “WTF???” ???

    I honestly don’t know the truth about the Wakefield allegations but you’ve convinced me already that all I’ll find here is silly gossip from a group of immature teenage girl-like people with a pack-mentality trying to impress and outdo each other with their “clever” insults. Do you pull hair and scratch eyes out too?

    I do want to know the truth, so I’ll waste no more time here. I’m going to look for an adult venue where the truth, rather than personality is the criteria.

  87. #87 Notborn Yesterday
    April 17, 2010

    By the way, Orac, you commented, “Well, not exactly the first time. Mercola’s late by about a week.”

    If you can tell me how I too can grow hair as fast as you suggest Wakefield did I’ll be very greatful, because mine’s definitely thinning.

    Mm?

  88. #88 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 17, 2010

    I honestly don’t know the truth about the Wakefield allegations but you’ve convinced me already that all I’ll find here is silly gossip from a group of immature teenage girl-like people with a pack-mentality trying to impress and outdo each other with their “clever” insults.

    That’s an interesting attitude for you to take. Have you ever considered that that attitude leaves you vulnerable? If you pass a black-and-white judgment on the content of someone’s speech (“… you’ve convinced me already that all I’ll find here …”) based not on the content but on whether the manner of delivering it is pleasing to your aesthetic sense, then you are naturally going to be hearing a great deal more from the silver-tongued liars of the world than you will from those who speak the truth without bothering to sugar-coat it.

    You say you “do want to know the truth,” but it seems to me that, for you, that isn’t a realistic goal. A requirement of the search for the truth is to follow the truth where it leads. If you can be dissuaded so easily – if you can seriously be convinced that there is no truth anywhere where people mention famous science-fiction books and say “WTF?” then you are like a man who complains about the exertion involved in walking to the bus stop claiming he wants to run a marathon.

  89. #89 Notborn Yesterday
    April 19, 2010

    Antaeus, thanks for your well-thought reply that just slightly – well no, not so slightly – misses the point.

    (By the way, I came back in to see if there was clarification on how Wakefield was able to grow his hair so quickly in a week. Not yet.)

    “Silver-tongued” and “immature” are not two opposite ends of the same continuum, Antaeus. Try instead “mature” and “immature”; “objective” and “biased”; “straight-talking” and “silver-tongued”; “well-mannered” and “rude”. You must be beginning to see my point.

    Can you see then how the same continuum may have all those words at its extremes? How Mature, objective, straight-talking and polite are at the opposite end to Immature, biased and, according to that bias either silver-tongued or outright rude?

    It should follow to you that where both an article and those who respond to it engage … no, “indulge” themselves at the latter end of that spectrum, they cannot be trusted to offer unbiased and objective comment.

    I will personally admit a bias here, not on a personal level re: Wakefield, but from personal knowledge of customers who have autistic children who were undeniably so as a result of the MMR. I am familiar with such partial admissions as made by the doctor of one them: “The MMR triggered your child’s autism, but it didn’t cause it”.

    So yes, I have a bias, but I am still open-minded to discover the truth of the matter re: Wakefield. So I shall just have to locate and wade through as much original source material as I need to and can find on the matter. If you wish to assist me here with some URLs (I have no paid subscriptions to medical journals) I would be appreciative. I have Deer’s report and Wakefield’s response (complaint to the media council – not sure of its proper name right now) and the transcript of the Mercola interview.

    I am waiting hopefully for Deer to respond to Wakefields invitation to a debate at Deer’s own choice of time and place, and am quite puzzled as to why he has apparently, to this point rejected that invitation. It is relatively easy to respond and refute tit-for-tat in written statements. Not so easy to do so face to face, and the high ground would appear to be with the person who knows he can publicly and spontaneously support his position.

    Does Deer have this confidence? I don’t know.

    There are other questions I’d like answered. I don’t know how a GMC hearing goes. Does the “defence” have the benefit of knowing well in advance what the charges AND EVIDENCE against them will be? Could that answer why Wakefield was unable to produce the documentary evidence he claims to have at the trial? Again, I don’t know. If you know, tell me. If you (or others) don’t, then you (or others) shouldn’t assassinate a character on that basis.

    Can we assume that a guilty verdict is true and just? Well, are you old enough to remember the Azaria Chamberlain case here in Australia? I followed it closely at the time, and I can tell you that the corruption and bad science that sent a woman to prison was a travesty; a damnation of the ability of a judicial system to pursue and find justice. Eventually the truth came out, but not in time to prevent an unjust prison sentence, a broken marriage and children being put through torture daily by their peers. Yet, in this case there weren’t even vested interests of hundreds or thousands of millions of dollars at stake!

    So please don’t tell me that because Wakefield was found guilty that settles it.

  90. #90 Brian Deer
    April 19, 2010

    Notbornyesterday:

    I think you are unwittingly spreading misinformation. I have received no invitation from Wakefield to debate him, whether at a time and place of my choosing or otherwise. He has, for more than six years avoided ever being exposed to questions from me, and I can’t believe he has changed his mind. Ironically, had he been interviewed by me in 2003/4, he might well have got away with it all, since at the time I lacked the technical knowledge necessary to unravel his conduct, and we probably would have run a magazine piece which nobody much would have read.

    I’m aware that Wakefield has offered to debate Paul Offit. However, I’m sure that isn’t going to happen, because Dr Offit is a respected paediatrician of very high reputation, and Wakefield has been found guilty by the General Medical Council of some three dozen charges, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children. His research has been found to be both dishonest and unethical. No doubt he would wish to be taken seriously by Dr Offit, and to bamboozle an audience with claims that his research has been replicated. I suspect, though, that Dr Offit has other plans.

    I should also say that, after I revealed last year that Wakefield had rigged his research, an internet petition was got up against me, demanding an “inquiry”. I said I would welcome an inquiry into my findings, and would cooperate with any responsibly-constituted initiative. I heard nothing.

    On your last point – “So please don’t tell me that because Wakefield was found guilty that settles it” – I’m afraid you’re wide of the mark. Unless Wakefield can overturn the GMC’s findings in the High Court as “clearly wrong” or manifestly unfair (in which case the GMC would almost certainly hold the hearing again), the findings of the statutory tribunal do settle it. Wakefield will never practise medicine, and will never secure publication of research in any reputable journal. In short, the consequences of his conduct is that he is finished.

  91. #91 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    There are other questions I’d like answered. I don’t know how a GMC hearing goes. Does the “defence” have the benefit of knowing well in advance what the charges AND EVIDENCE against them will be

    Others can correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Wakefield request a hearing, so that he could address the evidence that Brian Deer had uncovered in a formal setting?

    Although I say, you sure make a lot of accusations despite you “don’t know how a GMC hearing goes.”

  92. #92 Todd W.
    April 19, 2010

    @Pablo

    You are correct. Wakefield said:

    It has been proposed that my role in this matter should be investigated by the GMC. I not only welcome this, I insist on it and I will be making contact with the GMC personally.

    Sullivan discusses this over at left brain/right brain.

  93. #93 Brian Deer
    April 19, 2010

    “There are other questions I’d like answered. I don’t know how a GMC hearing goes. Does the “defence” have the benefit of knowing well in advance what the charges AND EVIDENCE against them will be? Could that answer why Wakefield was unable to produce the documentary evidence he claims to have at the trial?”

    Sorry, I should have answered that one while I have a day off. Wakefield was supplied with all documentation from the prosecution, months and years in advance of the hearing. He has produced all of his evidence, and every single point he has raised subsequently in internet posts and suchlike, was put before the tribunal hearing the case, and assessed against the criminal standard of proof.

    He has no further evidence, and none would be admissible in any judicial review. He was allowed to present any material he required, and to call any witnesses. He called no witnesses whatsoever, and when Dr David Salisbury, the UK vaccine supremo was called, Wakefield asked no questions of him. None whatsoever.

  94. #94 Chris
    April 19, 2010

    notborn yesterday:

    but from personal knowledge of customers who have autistic children who were undeniably so as a result of the MMR. I am familiar with such partial admissions as made by the doctor of one them: “The MMR triggered your child’s autism, but it didn’t cause it”.

    Exactly how do you know that the MMR caused the autism? What tests were done? Who were they done by? What documentation points to the MMR causing the autism?

    What scientific evidence supports that the MMR can cause autism?

    And (this is important) which particular MMR vaccine?

    The twelve children in the Lancet children had been given at least two different MMR vaccines. The one American child would have been give the MMR vaccine with the Jeryl Lynn mumps component, as would some of the younger UK children. The older UK would have been give the MMR with the Urabe strain of mumps.

    And that does not even account for the manufacturer. One parent had to refile their legal complaint because she sued the wrong company!

    Also, you bring up red flags with the comment that that these are children of your customers. Are you a lawyer or are you someone who has made claims to “curing” their children?

  95. #95 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    One of the things I always find fascinating are the stories of how “he was perfectly fine, got the shot, and immediately changed,” particularly when we have the wherewith-all to probe into them. For example, with the Wakefield study, because the records are released, we can learn about some of those “sudden onsets” of autism. For example, the kids that had had cat scans and hearing tests before 1 year of age. Regardless of whether these can definitely be construed as “pre-autistic indications” (although the hearing test almost seems like it most certainly was – why would anyone do a hearing test? Perhaps because the child did not respond normally to audio cues? Yeah, that could be a hearing problem, OR maybe it was autistic-like behavior?), it is certainly not “perfectly normal” to be doing these types of tests on pre-1 year olds (one of our friend’s daughter did have a hearing test, but that was because she was suffering chronic ear infections which seemed to affect her hearing; sure enough, she was having fluid problems so they inserted tubes, and she is showing progress)

    I just wonder who/what is responsible for these parents who are either fooling or lying to themselves or something to assert after all this that their child was still “perfectly normal but suddenly changed”? I think they really believe that, but even aside from the “early videos of Evan show pre-autistic signs,” we are talking about kids who were brought in/treated for atypical medical problems! Yet they can convince themselves that everything was normal.

  96. #96 Kristen
    April 19, 2010

    I just wonder who/what is responsible for these parents who are either fooling or lying to themselves or something to assert after all this that their child was still “perfectly normal but suddenly changed”?

    Pablo,
    I know, at least for me, it is hard to be honest with myself when it comes to my child. Often I find myself thinking “maybe they were wrong, he is doing so much better”. But I always come back to reality when I honestly compare him to a “normal” child.

    I think we all have a tenancy to believe what we want to believe. For me it is occasional denial, for others, I suppose, it is looking for someone/thing to blame. But I find it reprehensible to think your “real” child was replaced with a “damaged” one.

  97. #97 Scott
    April 19, 2010

    The part I find really interesting about all the “instant regression” stories is how versatile they are. Yesterday, it’s instant regression after MMR. Today, it’s after rotavirus. Tomorrow flu? All with the claim that it’s so sudden and obvious that nobody could possibly make any mistake about it.

    Logically consistent, they are not.

  98. #98 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    The part I find really interesting about all the “instant regression” stories is how versatile they are.

    There is that part of it, too.

    The biggest problem for me is the time window for instant regression. How many months are allowed? Because through 21 months, they don’t go more than 3 months without some shot of some sort.

    I’ve even heard people say that, “It does some strange, that autism appears to show up so quickly after vaccination. It’s like, get a shot and 3 months later they have autism.”

  99. #99 Scott
    April 19, 2010

    Yes, but those aren’t the ones I’m referring to. I’m talking specifically about “the needle went in and the light disappeared from his eyes” type of stories.

  100. #100 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    Yes, but those aren’t the ones I’m referring to. I’m talking specifically about “the needle went in and the light disappeared from his eyes” type of stories.

    That may be said, but how often does it really happen that way? Not near as often as is said, methinks. And it is because of what I said – how soon is the “instant” in instant regression?

    Looking back 3 years after the fact, 2 months after the shot is pretty immediate.

  101. #101 Scott
    April 19, 2010

    That may be said, but how often does it really happen that way? Not near as often as is said, methinks.

    Never, I’d say. All evidence indicates that autistic regression is a gradual process, always. IMO it’s a case of parents’ memories being, like everyone’s, fallible and prone to adjusting prior events to fit with current conceptions.

    The funny thing is, the fact that it’s gradual actually plays into it. Odds are excellent that *something* happened in *some* modestly close proximity to a vaccination (say, a month or even a week). So it’s not so much that nothing happened at that time, as what DID happen coincidentally close to the vaccination getting blown out of proportion.

    I’m always tempted to ask, when somebody asserts a sudden regression, “so you were in the hospital for the entire next week, right?” Oddly, that never seems to actually be the case. It’s almost as if they didn’t note anything of significance at the time, and only once fallible human memory gets involved does it take on drastic import.

    Actually, scratch that “almost”. It’s EXACTLY like that.

  102. #102 Prometheus
    April 19, 2010

    “Notborn Yesterday” (“NbY”) comments that he/she has:

    “….personal knowledge of customers who have autistic children who were undeniably so as a result of the MMR. I am familiar with such partial admissions as made by the doctor of one them: ‘The MMR triggered your child’s autism, but it didn’t cause it’. “

    I question the “undeniably” part of the claim, as there is no data showing that. If “NbY” has such data, I challenge him/her to produce it.

    Secondly, even if a doctor said, “The MMR triggered your child’s autism, but it didn’t cause it.”, that would be irrelevant. Since there is no data showing that the MMR can “cause” or “trigger” autism, that doctor’s statement would simply be wrong.

    However, I can imagine a situation where a doctor, badgered by parents who are convinced that their child’s autism was caused by the MMR, would say such a thing just to get them to move off the subject.

    Conversely, if a doctor said, “The MMR neither triggered nor caused your child’s autism.”, would that be sufficient for “NbY” to admit that the MMR has not been linked to autism?

    I think not.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

    Prometheus

  103. #103 Joseph
    April 19, 2010

    It is relatively easy to respond and refute tit-for-tat in written statements. Not so easy to do so face to face, and the high ground would appear to be with the person who knows he can publicly and spontaneously support his position.

    Brain Deer would be at a great disadvantage in such a format, as is the case when any honest person debates a crank. The crank is not bound by considerations of intellectual honesty, and simply makes shit up. The honest individual typically has no resources at hand to verify that the crank has just made shit up.

  104. #104 Notborn Yesterday
    April 20, 2010

    Brian,

    Please accept my sincere apologies if I have confused the invitation to debate between yourself and Dr Offit. In that case my comments apply to Dr Offit, and the answer that (basically) he would refuse due to lack of credibility of the invitor is unconvincing, given that Dr Offit has apparently given written refutations or denials of Wakefield’s claims. That being faced with “shit” is also unconvincing as an excuse. An expert in his field could pretty quickly expose …”shit”… for what it is. But in my mind, it isn’t theory but its the facts – the events of the case that warrant open debate.

    I commented concerning the Chamberlain case. A whole different scene I know, but it serves to illustrate that the judicial system can “get it wrong” – very, very wrong. So no, I hold to my position that simply because he was found “guilty” doesn’t intrinsically mean the matter is settled. It was settled for years against the Chamberlains. Lindy went to gaol, but later on, MUCH later on the corruption that produced that result was uncovered. Just as Lindy went to gaol, Wakefield’s career has apparently been destroyed. Maybe justifiably – maybe not. I don’t know.

    Chris, you are understandably curious at my reference to “customers”. If I were a lawyer theterm “clients” would apply ;-). I own a mixed business (do you use that term in England? You might call it a “corner shop”). Being a small business that I have owned for many years I have a number of customers who are personal friends and I have known the families and their struggles for many years. I have watched the struggle of the mother of an 18 year old daughter with an 18 month old mind and almost “superhuman strength”. The daughter disdains clothes and, in particular, feminine hygiene products (use your imagination). The mother applied recently for a hysterectomy for her daughter for these reasons and against the possibility of pregnancy from rape but the authorities denied the application on the basis that the daughter’s rights would be breached. Yes, I know that has nothing to do with the discussion, but it does show some of the human side. These children are more than statistics. When you are an onlooker at a distance, and after-the-fact, it is understandable that you want…”documents” to demonstrate a vaccine/autism connection. When you’re the parent, the document is meaningless trivia. If a child is vaccinated and leaves the surgery crying, and that crying turns to uncontrollable screaming the same day, and that screaming turns to diahorrhea and other events in an unbroken pattern, and those events are followed by personality change and regression in speech, Mum doesn’t NEED a document to know what has just happened. Understandably though, the drug company with a billion dollar cash-flow at stake will fight tooth and nail to disprove such a connection, and the medical establishment – tied as it is to the pharmaceuticals “by the silver cord” will, shall we say, “take a lot of convincing”.

    It becomes understandable then that such denialism is evidenced by “ostrich head in the sand” comments like this one,

    “the part I find really interesting about all the “instant regression” stories is how versatile they are. Yesterday, it’s instant regression after MMR. Today, it’s after rotavirus. Tomorrow flu? All with the claim that it’s so sudden and obvious that nobody could possibly make any mistake about it.”

    Scott, is it really so hard to believe that more than one kind of vaccine and more than one type of illness may cause brain damage leading to regression? And why do you find it necessary to pour scorn on parental accounts of suddenness? What exactly is your interest in this?

    Pablo, you said, “you sure make a lot of accusations despite you “don’t know how a GMC hearing goes.” Sorry, what were the accusations to which you refer?

    Prometheus: “…there is no data showing that the MMR can “cause” or “trigger” autism”. Where have you been over the last few months? Your knowledge is certainly out of date. You go on to say,

    “I can imagine a situation where a doctor, badgered by parents who are convinced that their child’s autism was caused by the MMR, would say such a thing just to get them to move off the subject.” How could you possibly imagine such an admission getting them off the subject”. All it would do would be to confirm what the parents know. If a doctor did have such an unethical motive, he would simply keep mouthing that “there is no evidence to show a connection…”.

    And then, “Conversely, if a doctor said, “The MMR neither triggered nor caused your child’s autism.”, would that be sufficient for “NbY” to admit that the MMR has not been linked to autism?” What?? One doctors assertion? What kind of a question is that??? Plenty of doctors are asserting that, even although the MMR HAS been linked irrefutably recently – at law – to autism, albeit in somewhat confusing terms.

    Re: Wakefield, I’m still no closer to knowing whether in fact he’s a knight in shining armour, a crook, or indeed something in between. My suspicions re: the Chamberlain fiasco at the time were, years later proven 100% correct. I’ll not be surprised if they prove to be correct in the Wakefield case.

  105. #105 Prometheus
    April 20, 2010

    “Notborn Yesterday” (“NbY”) comments:

    “…there is no data showing that the MMR can “cause” or “trigger” autism”. Where have you been over the last few months? Your knowledge is certainly out of date.

    Perhaps I missed the study to which you are referring, NbY. Would you be so kind as to provide a citation? I like to think that I keep abreast of the latest developments, but it is always possible to miss something important.

    Prometheus

  106. #106 Chris
    April 20, 2010

    NbY, you seem to be relying on anecdotes. The plural of anecdote is “anecdotes” not data.

    What I take from your response is that you have absolutely no clue on the science pertaining to autism, vaccines or anything else. From the looks of it, you are just a shop keeper who has a sympathetic ear to the ramblings of some parents.

    You obviously do not have the educational background and/or experience to critique those ramblings.

    Thank you for being honest.

    I wonder how you would respond if your customer had a child like mine who suffered seizures from a now vaccine preventable disease, and is now permanently disabled. Would you be just as sympathetic?

  107. #107 Broken Link
    April 20, 2010

    NBY,
    If you are still reading this, you might suggest this to the mother who wanted the hysterectomy for her daughter. A continuous dose of birth control pills (every week, not 3 weeks on, one week off) is used by many people to completely prevent both periods and pregnancy. I understand that is considered safe, and this would be a much better solution for this young woman’s issues than a hysterectomy.

  108. #108 Todd W.
    April 20, 2010

    @Broken Link

    I’d just add that regular checkups should also be followed, to catch and prevent rare cardiovascular problems.

  109. #109 Chris
    April 20, 2010

    What Broken Link said… especially since a hysterectomy can cause all sorts of hormonal issues. It is a major surgery with other complications and is not the first line defense against pregnancy. There are other surgical ways.

    Though the story makes my doubt NbY even more. It reeks of some kind of sob story that has gone through the game of “Telephone” where some data is dropped, and other bits are embellished.

  110. #110 Joseph
    April 20, 2010

    An expert in his field could pretty quickly expose …”shit”… for what it is.

    That’s not true. Even an expert can be taken by surprise if the made-up claims are plausible-sounding. This gets cleared up after the debate, but it’s too late by then. Here’s an example from a recent AGW debate.

  111. #111 Joseph
    April 20, 2010

    Yes, I know that has nothing to do with the discussion, but it does show some of the human side. These children are more than statistics. When you are an onlooker at a distance, and after-the-fact, it is understandable that you want…”documents” to demonstrate a vaccine/autism connection.

    @Notborn: Hint for you. At least 50% of recent commenters in this thread are parents of disabled children.

  112. #112 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 20, 2010

    In that case my comments apply to Dr Offit, and the answer that (basically) he would refuse due to lack of credibility of the invitor is unconvincing, given that Dr Offit has apparently given written refutations or denials of Wakefield’s claims.

    Then why bother having a debate?

  113. #113 Scott
    April 20, 2010

    Scott, is it really so hard to believe that more than one kind of vaccine and more than one type of illness may cause brain damage leading to regression? And why do you find it necessary to pour scorn on parental accounts of suddenness? What exactly is your interest in this?

    Taking the last question first, my interest is in not letting the loons of the world kill millions of children, potentially including mine. And make no mistake, that’s what’s at stake here. Wankerfield and McCarthy and Handley and the rest are, ethically, attempted mass murderers.

    And such stories are impossible to believe and deserve nothing but scorn because they are so grossly inconsistent. Remember, in many cases it’s THE SAME CHILD being discussed. A sudden regression after MMR will be claimed, evidence of prior developmental abnormality will be noted, and all of a sudden the sudden regression happened six months earlier. But it’s still “so obvious nobody could possibly make a mistake.”

    Not to mention the fact that ALL accounts of sudden regression are grossly inconsistent not only with every single scrap of knowledge of autism, but with the actions of the people telling the tales!

    I should also note that:

    even although the MMR HAS been linked irrefutably recently – at law – to autism, albeit in somewhat confusing terms.

    is false. I defy you to produce actual evidence of such.

  114. #114 Dedj
    April 20, 2010

    One can be certain that a high profile person such as Dr Offitt is invited to a lot more engagements than can be feasibly attended.

    Why, therefore, would he debate someone who has:

    either no training, qualifications, credibility, or experience in the multiple fields that Offitt is a widely regarded expert in

    and:

    who has little credibility left within his own field of study?

  115. #115 Dan Weber
    April 20, 2010

    What is gained by debating a known scoundrel and liar?

    The honest man can say “that’s a lie” to each known lie, but if the liar makes up some completely new bullshit, the honest man can’t say “that’s a lie.”

    Wakefield can’t even state true facts within the headlines of his own rejoinder to Deer’s BMJ article. Is he going to suddenly become more careful and measured in his words speaking before a crowd?

  116. #116 Dedj
    April 20, 2010

    Of course, Wakefield may also fall back on the old trick of saying something that is true and relevent to the discussion, yet which doesn’t actually back up his contentious arguements.

    Wakefield could drone on about gut pathology in people with autism (which no doubt occurs) and simply nudge-nudge wink-wink it to mean ultra-extra-special gut pathology in people with autism (which is much more in doubt).

    Offits response could be to dismiss the connection implied by the arguement. As this would be both 100% factually and logically true, it should score a point for Offitt. Yet, as he hasn’t disproved the ‘facts’ laid out by Wakefield, it would come across as a win for Wakefield.

  117. #117 monado
    April 25, 2010

    Midwest Dad, if you are still around take a look at some of the short articles on my blog about Vaccines. There’s a good short video and a graph showing that your child’s vaccines contain have about 4% of the “toxins” that were used in the 1960s – 1980s. Enjoy.

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