Respectful Insolence

As hard as it is to believe after the pile of poo that was 2010, the year 2011 is starting out rather promisingly, at least from the point of view of science-based medicine. Its beginning has been greeted with the release of two–count ‘em, two!–books taking a skeptical, science-based look at vaccines and, in particular, the anti-vaccine movement.

First off the mark (for me, at least) is a new book by a man whom the anti-vaccine movement views as the Dark Lord of Vaccination, Sauron himself sitting up in Barad-dûr (apparently the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) crossed with Lord Voldemort. He is a man utterly reviled by anti-vaccine quacks everywhere. I’m referring, of course, to Dr. Paul Offit, a man who has been bile and harrassment due to his simply standing up for the science behind vaccines. Indeed, almost exactly one year ago, I was writing about how the grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, had just filed a lawsuit against him, a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed with extreme prejudice. The book is entitled, appropriately enough, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. Also being released soon is a new book by Seth Mnookin entitled The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear. Mnookin is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and whose work has appeared in numerous publications. Because I got a copy of Deadly Choices before my copy of The Panic Virus arrived, I decided to review Deadly Choices first; after I’ve managed to read The Panic Virus, I’ll write a review of it as well. Both books are shotgun blasts at the heart of the pseudoscience and fear at the heart of the vaccine manufactroversy, but I can only handle one at a time. Unfortunately for Seth (sorry, dude), Dr. Offit’s book reached me first; so I read it first and reviewed it first. Fear not. I’ll get around to you as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I’ll just say that Deadly Choices is an excellent, well-researched book with which I have relatively few disagreements. It is a followup to Dr. Offit’s last book, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, which I reviewed back when it first came out. In contrast to Autism’s False Prophets, which concentrated primarily on the manufactroversy that promotes the false idea that vaccines are responsible for an “epidemic” of autism, Deadly Choices steps back to take a broader look at the anti-vaccine movement. Regular readers of this particular blog hardly need to be reminded how pervasive and dangerous the modern-day anti-vaccine movement has become. Indeed, it is a frequently discussed theme of this blog (and has been since 2005), given that the anti-vaccine movement is such a major force among the forces that deny the efficacy of scientific medicine and seek either to replace it with unscientific or pseudoscientific “alternatives” or to “integrate” pseudoscience into science-based medicine. Indeed, anti-vaccine sentiment infuses large swaths of what we refer to as “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), be it chiropractic, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, or a wide variety of other modalities and systems.

In examining the modern anti-vaccine movement, Dr. Offit structures his book into three major sections. First, beginning in a chapter entitled The Birth of Fear, Dr. Offit begins with a description of the birth of the modern anti-vaccine movement, which in the U.S. Dr. Offit traces, in large part, to the broadcast of an irresponsible and anecdote-driven news documentary about the diptheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccine in 1982, and in the U.K. to a scare about the DPT triggered by a presentation by Dr. John Wilson to the Royal Society of Medicine about horrific complications thought to be due to the pertussis vaccine in the DPT. Next, Dr. Offit goes back into history to describe the development of the anti-vaccine movement in the 1800s in England and notes parallels with the modern day anti-vaccine movement. Finally, the story shifts back to today, where he describes the situation now, how demands for vaccines turned into fear of vaccines, and what we might do about it.

1982: The birth of fear

Dr. Offit’s telling of the tale of how a documentary written and produced by Lea Thompson entitled DPT: Vaccine Roulette, which first aired on a local NBC affiliate in Washington DC on April 19, 1982, and then ultimately was aired nationally on The Today Show. This irresponsible bit of muck-raking used the very same technique that anti-vaccine activists have used since the very beginning. Indeed, a passage from Deadly Choices give you a flavor of how this documentary presented anecdotes designed to support the documentary’s thesis that the whole cell pertussis vaccine in use at the time resulted in brain injury:

POLLY GAUGERT, AGE 7, REACTION: FEVER, UNCONTROLLED SEIZURES, BRAIN DAMAGE. “I said that maybe she should not have had this shot because it seems to me that she was not quite herself,” recalled Polly’s mother. “And [the doctor] checked her all over and he said, ‘She looks okay to me,’ and then he gave her the shot. And the next morning when I was feeding her she went into a grand mal seizure…I didn’t know what was happening. I thought she was dying in my arms.”

Note how it appears that there was probably something wrong with Polly before she was given her vaccine, but this anecdote was presented as though her seizures were definitely due to the DPT. It’s the classic fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, namely the fallacy of assuming that because vaccination occurred before Polly had seizures then the vaccine must have caused the seizures. Sometimes a temporal relationship implies causation, often it does not. Multiple other anecdotes were served up similarly in support of a story that claimed that physicians knew about the problems with the DPT and had tried to cover it up. Highly dubious physicians like Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, whom I first encountered when I was in medical school and a friend gave me a copy of Mendelsohn’s book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic, which I remember as primarily a jeremiad against modern medicine that mixed reasonable criticisms of how modern medicine operated with rants that represented surgeons as bloodthirsty butchers who didn’t care if operations were necessary or not but were greed-heads who just wanted to cut. He was particularly harsh on obstetricians and gynecologists, whom he characterized as sacrificing women on the altar of surgery during childbirth. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Dr. Mendelsohn is anti-vaccine to the core, stating baldly that “while the myriad short-term hazards of most immunizations are known (but rarely explained), no one knows the long term consequences of injecting foreign proteins into the body of your child” and that “there is growing suspicion that immunization against relatively harm-less childhood diseases may be responsible for the dramatic increase in auto-immune diseases since mass inoculations were introduced.”

This birth of fear didn’t happen just because of one execrable bit of manipulative documentary magic. In describing how the anti-vaccine movement was reborn in the U.S. in the 1980s, Dr. Offit uses a slightly less explicit version of a technique he used to great effect in Autism’s False Prophets, wherein he describes the evidence for a link between the whole cell pertussis vaccine and neurological damage. In Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Offit listed a panoply of studies that appeared to indict mercury in the thimerosal preservative used in vaccines in the U.S. before 2001 as a cause or contributor to autism in such a way that evidence for a link seemed persuasive, only to be followed by a chapter deconstructing that evidence and showing why it was not scientifically sound or convincing at all. For instance, Dr. Offit describes a very influential study that was released in the early 1980s by Dr. David Miller, a professor of community medicine at the Central Middlesex Hospital in London that seemed to show a very strong link between DPT vaccination and seizures and other neurological problems. I must admit, at that point, early in the book, the evidence from that one study sounded convincing to me. At least, it sounded as though it definitely justified more investigation. Dr. Offit then followed up the description of this studies with a listing of studies that failed to find any link between DPT and neurological injury or dysfunction, as well as a highly revealing description of how Miller, in bending over backwards to deflect any criticism that he was downplaying a potential link between his DPT and neurological injury, actually had inadvertently rigged his study to vastly overstate the rate of neurological injury and set it up to find massive false positives. This was more subtly done in Deadly Choices than in Autism’s False Prophets, and this is to the good, because it gives insight how, in the 15 year period during which followup studies to Miller’s were being done, there was at least a shadow of real doubt over whether DPT caused neurological injury in some children.

It turns out, however, that the reason DPT: Vaccine Roulette takes such a prominent place in Deadly Choices is because it arguably was the spark that resulted in the big bang of the modern anti-vaccine movement. In particular, it launched the anti-vaccine career of someone whom I’ve discussed on numerous occasions before, namely Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and current president of the anti-vaccine group the National Vaccine Information Center. I’ve discussed Barbara Loe Fisher and the NVIC on multiple occasions before, most recently when I deconstructed its deceptive Vaccine Ingredient Calculator and wondering how we can battle the misinformed consent promoted by the NVIC. Before the rise of Generation Rescue and Jenny McCarthy, Fisher’s group was the undisputed champion of anti-vaccine movements. Charismatic and media-savvy, Fisher became the go-to woman for any story about vaccines. She even managed to infiltrate herself onto the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration, a position she held from 1999 to 2003. (Today, she sits on the Vaccine Safety Writing Group, National Vaccine Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.) Yes, Barbara Loe Fisher used to sit on the committee that decides which vaccines will be recommended for FDA approval. Fisher is also a bit of an odd bird in that she played a major role in promoting and passing the legislation that formed the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which, as Dr. Offit describes, arguably saved the vaccine program in the U.S. Before the VICP, vaccine manufacturers were abandoning vaccines in droves due to a tsunami of lawsuits. After the VICP, the federal government assumed first liability for vaccine injuries and created a relatively low threshold standard for compensating health problems attributed to vaccines. Fortunately, as Offit describes, its standards aren’t completely uncritical, as is best demonstrated by the failure of the Autism Omnibus. (I’ve written about the Autism Omnibus in detail.)

Perhaps the most devastating argument Dr. Offit uses against Barbara Loe Fisher and the anti-vaccine movement in general is to dismantle their claim that they are not “anti-vaccine,” but rather pro-safe vaccine. Barbara Loe Fisher was on an important FDA advisory committee for nearly five years and has been a prominent presence in the press whenever stories about vaccines occur since 1982. During that time, Dr. Offit observes, she has never spoken out in favor of a single new vaccine. Not one. The haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, a vaccine that has saved thousands of lives over the last two decades since it was introduced by preventing huge numbers of cases of Hib meningitis and other complications, reducing the incidence of a disease that was, when I was in medical school, one of the most feared scourges of young children? She opposed it. Hepatitis B vaccine? Fisher opposed it, promoting dubious science, since refuted, that the vaccine caused multiple sclerosis. After joining the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, Fisher’s very first vote was to oppose the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine, which was ultimately approved by a vote of 11-1. She also, not surprisingly opposed the introduction of the HPV vaccine. All the while, Fisher wrote about how she thought vaccines caused immune problems, neurological problems, and all manner of chronic health issues while decrying the concept of herd immunity and claiming that “natural” infections are better than vaccination. Dr. Offit then contrasts Fisher with a man named John Salomone, who identified a real problem with U.S. vaccination policy (the use of the oral polio vaccination, which, because it consisted of a weakened version of the polio virus, could on rare occasions reconstitute itself into a fully functional polio virus and thus cause polio) and advocated for a change to the inactivated polio vaccine. While Fisher did little but rail against doctors, label all vaccines as dangerous and equate physicians who opposed her to Nazi doctors, and try her best to prevent any new vaccines from being approved, Salomone brought about real improvement in how we vaccinate.

Offit is correct that real vaccine safety advocates work for changes that will bring about real improvements in vaccine safety. Anti-vaccine advocates work to label all vaccines as risky and to prevent as much vaccination as possible.

History

Noting that the “past is prologue” in a chapter, Dr. Offit next moves on to a discussion of the history of the anti-vaccine movement. While I think I understand why he chose to present the issue the way he did, I was disappointed in that he in essence traced the development of the first anti-vaccine movement to the middle of the 19th century in England, when in fact anti-vaccine movements sprung up far earlier. To read Offit in this respect, I got little sense of how the anti-vaccine movement of the mid-19th century was a direct descendent of the anti-variolation movements that arose more than a century earlier. Arthur Allen included in his book Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, a particularly good discussion of how anti-variolation activism ran rampant in Boston in 1721. There and then, Cotton Mather and a physician named Zabdiel Boylston were pilloried in the press and popular opinion for their promotion of variolation, a much less safe precursor to Edward Jenner’s cowpox vaccination in which smallpox puss was inoculated into the skin with a needle, resulting in a mild case of smallpox that would ultimately confer immunity. Ironically, Benjamin Franklin, who was 16 at the time and would later become a champion of variolation in Philadelphia, was part of the press that attacked Mather and Boylston.

Be that as it may, I’m sure the reason that Dr. Offit chose to place the origin of the anti-vaccine movement in the 1800s was because it is a cautionary tale of how government policy can inadvertently backfire. Although it’s not new news, in the context of tracing the origins of the modern anti-vaccine movement Dr. Offit convincingly demonstrates that one of the consequences of the Vaccination Act of 1853, which made vaccination against smallpox mandatory for infants. In 1867, 1871, and 1873, followup acts were passed that made vaccination compulsory. During this same time period, resistance to vaccination increased, with rallies, protests, and increasing civil disobedience.

In contrast, Dr. Offit convincingly argues that mandatory vaccination, which is what we have in the U.S., is far more effective. Mandatory, in contrast to compulsory vaccination, requires vaccination as a precondition for using certain public services, specifically the public schools. The message is that you don’t have to vaccinate you kids if you really don’t want to. No one from the government is going to come around and fine you or force you to vaccinate them, as what happened in England in the middle and latter parts of the 19th century. However, if you don’t vaccinate there’s a price to pay. If you don’t vaccinate, your kids can’t go to public school because they would then have the potential to bring disease there and serve as the nidus for epidemics. Since that policy was instituted, vaccination rates in the U.S. has skyrocket. In contrast, Dr. Offit points out that the proliferation of religious and philosophical exemptions is threatening our high levels of vaccination. He also points out (and I agree) that these exemptions are unlikely to be rolled back, using as his justification the argument that the law has a hard time touching faith healers and parents who choose prayer instead of effective medicine for their children, even when children die as a result. Unfortunately, I have a hard time arguing with Dr. Offit here. I also have a fairly hard time arguing too strongly against religious exemptions, given the primacy of the First Amendment. Philosophical exemptions, on the other hand, should be eliminated or made much harder to obtain.

Perhaps the most persuasive part of this section is a description of the parallels between the anti-vaccine movement of the mid- to late 1800s and the anti-vacine movement of today, which include the recurring themes and tactics of:

  1. Doctors are evil
  2. Public rallies
  3. Paranoia
  4. False claims of vaccine harm
  5. The claim that vaccines are somehow “unnatural”
  6. Rejection of the germ theory of infectious disease
  7. The lure of alternative medicine
  8. Fear of Science
  9. The argument that vaccines are an act against God
  10. Mass marketing

There are also some interesting contrasts, too. For instance, in the 1800s, anti-vaccine activism tended to occur among the poor and the working class, mainly because compulsory vaccination laws were explicitly targeted at the poor. In contrast, today the anti-vaccine movement is primarily a product of educated, affluent people living in highly affluent neighborhoods. Even so, the sameness of the arguments used 150 years ago with those used today is striking.

What to do?

Dr. Offit finishes with a discussion of the state of the anti-vaccine movement now. Included are deservedly unflattering portrayals of the usual suspects, including Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, J.B. Handley, Bill Maher, and the organizations involved in promoting anti-vaccine views, such as Generation Rescue. He also points out how a new element has entered the anti-vaccine repertoire, namely personal intimidation, an art at which J.B. Handley has demonstrated his skill through his misogynistic attacks on Amy Wallace and his tendency to try to threaten and bully journalists who have the temerity to criticize him or the anti-vaccine movement. (I myself have fallen victim to this sort of intimidation.)

Perhaps the most useful chapter in the entire book is Dr. Offit’s chapter analyzing the claims of Dr. Bob Sears, whose “alternate vaccine schedule” has tortured pediatricians everywhere, with its “spreading out” of vaccines and Sears’ recommendation to exclude certain vaccines as not sufficiently safe. Dr. Offit makes the convincing case that “Dr. Bob,” if not a full-fledged anti-vaccinationist, is at the very least an anti-vaccine sympathizer, given that he regurgitates these anti-vaccine talking points, all of which are exaggerated or false:

  • Vaccines have a high rate of serious side effects.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that bad.
  • Vaccines contain dangerous ingredients. (Yes, it’s the dreaded “toxins” gambit!)

As an added bonus, Dr. Offit spends a bit of time taking on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s misstatements about vaccines (some of which I’ve also criticized) and a lot more time indulging in a richly deserved skewering of Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the NIH, who was named Age of Autism’s Person of the Year in 2008 and has put herself back in the news by “questioning” the current vaccine schedule using talking points cribbed from the anti-vaccine movement. (Hint: If you want to be viewed as scientifically credible, being named AoA’s Person of the Year is not the way to do it. I don’t care if you were former director of the NIH.)

In the final chapter, Dr. Offit correctly identifies the problem as a lack of trust between parents and health officials, pointing out that it’s easy to come up with conspiracy theories about, for example, pharmaceutical companies because they are to most people faceless institutions with profits as their primary motive. To try to combat this impression, he introduces us to scientists from Merck who work on vaccines, their dedication, and their passion. That’s good. What’s not so good is that Dr. Offit fails to acknowledge adequately that there is good reason why many people distrust pharmaceutical companies. I’ve written about some of those very reasons myself, including pharma ghostwriting, seeding trials, and conflicts of interest. Let’s just put it this way. I like Dr. Offit, and I wanted to like this book, but even to me this argument fell flat because it more or less dismissed the contention that not all distrust of pharmaceutical companies is unreasonable or overblown. Even if his contention that there has never been a proven case of a pharmaceutical company manipulating data to obtain approval for a vaccine (and I have no reason to doubt Dr. Offit on this score), it’s irrelevant. Big pharma has enough of a history of malfeasance that it can’t be so easily compartmentalized because the public doesn’t compartmentalize the vaccine divisions of pharmaceutical companies from the rest of the company. The taint of Vioxx, for instance, doesn’t distinguish between vaccines and other pharmaceutical company products. Far better is Dr. Offit’s pointing out that parents whose children have been injured or killed by vaccine-preventable diseases represent an underutilized resource for countering the misinformation of the anti-vaccine movement.

Finally, one other problem with the book that I had is that, given his extreme prominence in the anti-vaccine movement and how much damage his shoddy, litigation-funded science did to herd immunity in the U.K., Andrew Wakefield is only mentioned relatively briefly when arguably he should have a whole chapter devoted to him. True, Wakefield featured prominently in Autism’s False Prophets, but that does not justify giving him such short shrift in Deadly Choices. He is simply too seminal a figure in the anti-vaccine movement of the last 12 years. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be repeated enough times just how badly Wakefield violated medical ethics and utterly and thoroughly discredited his work is.

Those complaints aside, though, Deadly Choices is a timely and important book that serves to counter the misinformation promulgated by the anti-vaccine movement. In particular, Dr. Offit writes:

…far from being unwilling to study whether parents’ concerns about mercury were real, public health officials and academic investigators had performed many studies to determine whether mercury in vaccines caused autism or other problems. It didn’t. And those studies cost tens of millions of dollars to perform.

The same statement could apply to all the studies of the MMR vaccine and autism as well. In fact, the same could be said of all the research inspired by fears stoked by the anti-vaccine movement. More’s the pity, and Dr. Offit’s book reminds us just how much time, effort, and money have been wasted chasing fanciful hypotheses of vaccine injury, thanks to the anti-vaccine movement. Relatively minor deficiencies aside, it’s a primer on the anti-vaccine movement that I heartily recommend.

And, Seth, don’t worry. I will get around to your book.

Comments

  1. #1 Giliell
    January 3, 2011

    I really, really, really want to punch people who say that “childhood diseases aren’t that bad”. Being from a place and time where and when people followed that line of thought and considered childhood diseases as something you had to go through like bruised knees and loss of milk teeth, I had to make it through whomping cough and measles (I was hiding in my parents cupboard for days because I became so light sensitive). Not to forget the chicken pox I got at age 21 from an unvaccinated child.
    Even if my cases were the worst that could happen I would always want to spare my kids that experience.
    And then those people have the nerve to tell me “yeah, but you survived them, so what’s the problem?”

    Problem is that those who didn’t survive aren’t here to tell their story.

  2. #2 Mandrake
    January 3, 2011

    Dr. Offit’s telling of the tale of how a documentary written and produced by Lea Thompson entitled DPT: Vaccine Roulette, which first aired on a local NBC affiliate in Washington DC on April 19, 1982

    Heheh. My father would refer to Lea Thompson as the mach hamavet (sp?), Hebrew for the Angel of Death. She was the consumer reporter whose stories always seemed to reveal how some very commonly used product or commodity–water, toothpaste, medicine, car, etc.–was killing you and/or your children. Details at 11:00.

  3. #3 David N. Brown
    January 3, 2011

    Something I don’t see mentioned here is Arthur Allen’s accounts of actual complaints over whole-cell DTP from among vaccine researchers. My understanding from Allen’s research is that DTP was a “clunker” of a product, which knowledgable people recommended replacing long before it was a subject of controversy, and that the manufacturers refused simply on the grounds that the acellular version was more expensive. In these terms, I think a fair argument could be made for faulting manufacturers as irresponsible, regardless of how much actual damage was done

  4. #4 Michael
    January 3, 2011

    About the DPT-brain injury controversy- I’ve heard two versions of what was eventually determined. One is that DPT doesn’t cause brain injury. The other is that if DPT DOES cause brain injury, it’s very rare. Which of these is closer to the truth?

  5. #5 Harold L Doherty
    January 3, 2011

    Dr. “Orac”

    Do you think that public health authorities and blogs like yours actually contribute to the skepticism about vaccine effectiveness and safety … particularly by resorting to childish name calling and similar offensive tactics?

    And if the Offit offensive, and your own angry rhetoric, have failed so far to counteract the efforts of those you disagree with [and demonize] how rational is it for you to continue with this angry, childish name calling?

    Harold L Doherty
    Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

    [For those of the "scientists" that visit your site both of my children have received all required and recommended vaccinations to date. I have never attributed my young son's Autistic Disorder to vaccines, have never made a claim that vaccines cause autism and I have acknowledged the important role of vaccines as public health tools in preventing and controlling dangerous diseases. I do however keep an open mind on these issues, as did Dr. Bernadine Healey and Dr. Julie Gerberding]

  6. #6 MikeMa
    January 3, 2011

    @Harold L Doherty,
    An open mind is okay but care must be taken that nothing falls out as a result.

    Also, I believe the angry rhetoric is a response in kind and well placed.

  7. #7 Lawrence
    January 3, 2011

    Seriously – given what comes out from the other side, anything said here is extremely tame and rational.

  8. #8 Roberto
    January 3, 2011

    Could I translate some parts of your post to write them in my blogs simultaneously?(Medicine: Medtropoli.net & Science http://ciencia.medtropoli.net)I want make a copy of yours (like a abstract) obviously with a link and a cite of yours!

  9. #9 wfjag
    January 3, 2011

    There were other (perhaps unintended, but undoubtedly more serious and widespread) consequences of the “Vaccine Panic”:

    New Antibiotics, Stat! (National Review Online)

    The vaccine makers are in a bind — and public health is in danger. By Jonathan (Josh) Bloom, Ph.D., Gilbert Ross, M.D.

    EDITORIAL
    Publication Date: December 20, 2010

    The development of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle, just when we need them most. As drug-resistant bacteria are on the rampage worldwide, we find ourselves in a most precarious situation — one not unlike the one we faced in the pre-antibiotic era, before penicillin, when staphylococcal and pneumococcal infections were the dominant pathogens. Now MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) kills more people than AIDS every year, and other multiple-drug-resistant organisms have appeared, leaving doctors with few therapeutic weapons for treating a number of prevalent infections.

    How did this happen? Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the FDA.

    In the mid-1990s, the FDA tightened up rules for approval of new antibiotics, requiring companies to provide evidence that not only was a new drug candidate effective and safe, but it was also more effective than existing antibiotics. Bad move. The drug regulators also began requiring that more patients be enrolled in clinical trials, increasing the cost of drug development. The results were predictable — drug companies dropped out of antibiotic research en masse.

    [See rest of the editorial at http://www.acsh.org/news/newsID.1924/news_detail.asp ]

  10. #10 Harold L Doherty
    January 3, 2011

    Thank you MikeMa and Lawrence. You both missed the point.

    If name calling and angry rhetoric do not persuade more people that vaccines are effective and safe why continue to use these tactics?

    Why do the same thing over and over, day in, day out, year after year, and expect a different result?

    Why not reevaluate and try something different?

  11. #11 Gray Falcon
    January 3, 2011

    This is, to put it bluntly, a matter of life and death. Anger is entirely appropriate for this situation.

    Also, the principle of “remove the board from your own eye first” still applies.

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2011

    About Sears’ “talking points”- exaggerating negative effects of vaccines, downplaying the seriousness of illnesses, and misassignment of *amounts* seem to boil down to an inability to understand risk/benefits, i.e. over-focusing on one aspect of the situation without taking compensatory aspects into account ( developmental psych looks at how kids develop the ability to *overcome* this tendency to achieve “formal operations” in both academic and social thought)- whether this is based on the propagandizer’s own personal “style” or what they perceive to be that of their intended audience is not known, however it bears an uncanny resemblence to the techniques used by web woo-meisters: a case in point, they often brag about their own exercise experiences ( since to them, exercise *is* panacaea)- running marathons, being “world-class competitors”, working out “12 hours a week”, for “over 30 years”, ad nauseum. I have never *once* heard or read one report about sports injuries, or failures to win, achieve, or otherwise dominate. I am led to believe that although cognitive limitations are quite likely, lying is also involved. Active people get hurt, in the *real* world, that is. Herbs and supplement are “sold” in similar fashion.

    About Philadelphia: Barad Dur? Must be near the UPenn Museum of Archeo/ Anthro. Good to know!( And *I* thought the highlight was the Masonic Temple near City Hall).

  13. #13 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 3, 2011

    @Harold L Doherty,

    I do not speak for Orac. I find his blog combines real information with an irreverent style that both informs me and presents the attached emotions (emotions are not the sole purview the anti-vax crowd). It often confronts and occasionally mocks prominent anti-vaxers, though not excessively in my view.

    There are multiple science blogs and other science commentators out there that address this issue with different styles. Presumably different styles appeal to different people.

    I have no date to say whether Orac’s style is more or less effective (generates conversation with a larger group of readers) than others’.

    If this were the only style being used in the discussion of vaccinations, I might agree with you on the need to change. As it is one of a mixture of styles, I don’t see that you have a point.

  14. #14 Anonymous Coward
    January 3, 2011

    @Harold L Doherty @10:

    Why do the same thing over and over, day in, day out, year after year, and expect a different result?

    Why not reevaluate and try something different?

    Simple human nature and frustration. Read back through the history and some of the vicious attacks launched by the other side.

    Or, to go all biblical, we’ve got a *speck* in our eye(s), they’ve got *beams* in theirs.

  15. #15 jay.sweet
    January 3, 2011

    “I said that maybe she should not have had this shot because it seems to me that she was not quite herself,” recalled Polly’s mother.

    We can’t know the situation — maybe this was someone whom it was very difficult to get into the doctor’s office, or maybe the mother is just remembering things the way she wants to — but all other things being equal, I would figure leaning towards that if a parent is concerned about a kid getting a particular vaccine right now, because of them not seeming to feel well or whatever, a “Why don’t you schedule an appointment next week then” would be alright.

    This is of course a complete side-note to the main point, though…

  16. #16 MikeMa
    January 3, 2011

    @jay.sweet,
    The idea of rescheduling a doctor’s visit for an ‘off’ child is not a bad thing but I remember the preparation for doctor’s office visits (toys, books, food, bottles, blankets, diapers, wipes, stroller) when my kids were little and I wouldn’t want to do that too often. A second child seemed to quadruple the amount of prep. If we knew there was a chance of not getting it all done in one visit, we’d cancel and reschedule beforehand.

    We also tried to avoid extra trips to the germ and illness breeding grounds disguised as doctor’s waiting rooms.

  17. #17 Broken Link
    January 3, 2011

    Harold,

    I’d highly recommend you read the book being reviewed. It is written very politely – you aren’t going to find angry rhetoric there. But if you are looking for angry rhetoric, why not visit your friends at the Age of Autism, a few of the thousands of examples below, complete with spelling mistakes and bad grammar:

    ___

    Who did publish this propoganda (book)? We should all bombard them with calls and emails.
    Offit is an idiot! He’s just stupid enough to be the spokesperson for pharma’s propoganda. They will most definetly turn on him when the stuff finally hits the fan…………and it will!!

    ___

    Offit “fogot to mention” the Hanna Poling case in his new book ??? Truly beyond f-amazing.

    ___

    Here’s another great photo of Paul Offit with his head up his ass:

    ___

    Every time I see this photo of Dr. All Profit it just makes me feel SICK. This man (or should I say monster) is leading the charge to destroy the minds and health of 40,000 children who will be diagnosed this year and every year with autism, which I believe by the EVIDENCE to be caused by vaccines. Additionally he will perform his job to the end result of many children also dying from vaccine reactions. Here is a photo of him from the Shafer Autism Report as the “Grim Reaper”, the perfect symbol for all that he stands for:

    (link removed)

    Scroll down to this article: “40 UK Deaths Linked To Child Vaccines
    Over Seven Years”

    He should wear his black hooded cloak and carry his sickle when he recieves this award for “Monster of the Decade” from Age of Autism [OOPS I meant “Denialist”)

    ___

    The only man I can compare Dr. Offit to in my memory is “Baghdad Bob” .. who was once Saddam Hussien’s “prime minister of information”.

    Every time I see Dr. Offit speak on television .. I remember clearly the image of Baghdad Bob .. earnestly reassuring the people of Baghdad that Saddam’s Revolutionary Guard forces had badly defeated and killed thousands of infidel American troops .. even as the people of Baghdad were seeing American tanks .. unchallenged .. roll by their living room windows as Baghdad Bob was speaking.

    ___

    Kiss my ass Paul Offit. Parents are alot smarter than you will ever realize, and your students and those who go to your lectures are nothing but a bunch of tools who can’t think for themselves.

    I can’t wait for the day you are realized to be what you really are. A selfish, greedy bastard.

    ___

    Paul Offit and one other doctor was offering a class for physicians regarding vaccinations in the late ninety’s. The class received continual medical education credits.

    The whole idea of the class was to teach physicians how to make a parent “feel” they were making an “informed decision”, even though “they weren’t.”

    The class should have been called, “How to Pull a Successful Vaccination Con…..bunko, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle or bamboozle.”

    Offit is teaching them how to exploit the human characteristics to trust and obey.

    ___

    But, Paul Offit is a lying jerk and offends our entire community, so I wanted to bring you along for the ride.

    ___

    The lack of humanity, the lack of interest in recovering children, is this guy really a doctor? It would be like the Marlboro man shitting on a non-traditional treatment for lung cancer, because the treatment uses natural substances to pull tobacco tar out of people’s lungs. It’s horrible, repugnant, and so profoundly disrespectful of parents who ARE seeing recovery through biomedical treatment, I really don’t have the words to castigate Offit to the proper degree.

  18. #18 Sid Offit
    January 3, 2011

    The claim that vaccines are somehow “unnatural”

    Correct. Saying vaccines are unnatural is simply anti-vaxxer propaganda and misinformation. Vaccines are quite natural. As a matter of fact needles and syringes have been recovered from numerous Homo ergaster burial sites dating back 1-2 million years.

  19. #19 Orac
    January 3, 2011

    I find it rather amusing that Mr. Doherty is so angry because he perceives this post (of all posts) as being so nasty, particularly given that this post is in reality a fairly mild, straightforward book review. I mean, seriously, there really wasn’t any name-calling here, and, although I did use blunt terminology in referring to anti-vaccine activists like J.B. Handley and his propensity to intimidate, smear, and insult those with whom he disagrees, this particular post is actually pretty calm compared to when I’m really worked up.

    Come to think of it, I’d take Harold’s pearl-clutching a bit more seriously–but just a bit–if I ever saw him criticize J.B. for his nasty, bull-in-a-China-shop antics. I’d be more than happy to supply copious examples of J.B.’s viciousness, if Harold is somehow unfamiliar with his history (which I doubt). Heck, that doesn’t even count the rest of the AoA collective, as documented in the comments above. Indeed, one wonders if Harold said anything back when AoA Photoshopped the heads of Steve Novella, Trine Tsouderos, Amy Wallace, and other “enemies” onto the bodies of people preparing for a Thanksgiving feast of dead baby?

    The bottom line is that Harold attacks me for rhetoric that would be the height of calm on most anti-vaccine sites, which is why I feel pretty safe in concluding that he’s doing nothing here but concern trolling. Either that, or the mere mention of Dr. Offit’s name seems to drive Mr. Doherty to lose his sense of perspective.

  20. #20 jay.sweet
    January 3, 2011

    I also have a fairly hard time arguing too strongly against religious exemptions, given the primacy of the First Amendment. Philosophical exemptions, on the other hand, should be eliminated or made much harder to obtain.

    Funny, I never interpreted the First Amendment as saying, “If you purport to have reasoned objections to a particular government policy, too bad, you must obey. Yet if you don’t even claim to have a reason, if you just say that some magical ghost told you so, then have at it!”

    IMO, the opt-out by not going to public school fully covers the First Amendment requirements. You don’t automatically get a religious exemption to a law just because the law conflicts with your religion — only laws that are specifically tailored to conflict with a particular religion(s) are constitutionally prohibited.

    My religion says it is a sin to pay taxes, one must always drive 75mph on the freeway, and ownership of property by people who are not members of my religion (of which I and my family are the only members, of course) is prohibited. Prove it’s not as valid a belief as the virgin birth!

  21. #21 Travis
    January 3, 2011

    I am sitting here at my parents home in Fredericton and it makes me sad to see that Harold is also here in town. I just asked my father if he knows the name, apparently he is quite familiar with Mr. Doherty from his letters to the editor and coments on other blogs. Hearing about this comment was not surprising.

    I would agree with what Orac said about this. If you think this is a vicious and offensive post, or what Offit writes is so nasty then you are obviously not paying attention to the anti-vaxers. Compared to them this post is so soft and cuddly. If you are also criticizing them I would see you as being a bit more honest but at this point it just seems like concern trolling.

    I also disagree about Harold’s contention that this type of attitude does not work. It might not work on some people, like those who are entrenched and hardcore anti-vaxers but in my experience this type of insolence can have a great effect on those who are confused and in the middle. I would love to hear any stories from readers here that may have been fence sitters or more at one point but found Orac’s style and writing changed their minds. This same type of argument comes up in the creation debates all of the time. Reading over at PZs blog and elsewhere I have seen many stories of people who changed their thinking only after they were confronted in a serious, adult way, where they were criticized and not coddled. Sometimes a kick in the pants is a wonderful thing. Of course there are multiple ways to approach the problem. Not everyone will be convinced by the same strategy, some people do get a bunker mentality when criticized and will probably complain about how mean Orac and others but this does not mean the stategy is not worth pursuing.

  22. #22 augustine
    January 3, 2011

    jay.sweet

    IMO, the opt-out by not going to public school fully covers the First Amendment requirements.

    Yes and blacks sitting at the back of the bus fully covered their First Amendment rights according to your elitist civil rights policy. They could sit on the back of the bus or they could “opt-out” and not ride the bus at all. But they still have to pay taxes.

    Rationalizations must make you feel better about it.

  23. #23 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 3, 2011

    Sometimes a kick in the pants is a wonderful thing.

    May I keep this for my own use? It’s a gem.

  24. #24 Sid Offit
    January 3, 2011

    Mandatory, in contrast to compulsory vaccination

    It’s the same thing

    Definitions of mandatory on the Web

    mandatorily – compulsorily: in a manner that cannot be evaded;

    ————-

    Definitions of compulsory on the Web:
    Compelled; mandated by legal process or by statute.
    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury/glossary.htm

  25. #25 Dangerous Bacon
    January 3, 2011

    Harold said: “Why do the same thing over and over, day in, day out, year after year, and expect a different result?

    Why not reevaluate and try something different?”

    Well, that’s the nature of fanaticism. People who are convinced that vaccines cause autism and other diseases are infinitely willing to disregard evidence, stage virulent personal attacks on opponents and make triumphant pronouncements that history will vindicate them. Evidence in their favor continually eludes them, yet they keep trying day in and day out, expecting a magical outcome that reasonable folks would have given up on long ago.

    You were referring to antivaxers, right?

  26. #26 Travis
    January 3, 2011

    @T. Bruce McNeely
    Enjoy my not so original thought. Though I have been known to come up with some rather interesting and sometimes tortured ways of saying something.

  27. #27 Roadstergal
    January 3, 2011

    I… I simply never get it. I didn’t get it when I first came across an anti-vaxx loon (in my own family, and on the family side of my microbiologist mother, too). I remember being an undecided college student when I heard Jenner’s story, which pulled me immediately towards MCB and immunology. Vaccines are a triumph of science; the concept of using the pathogen itself to confer immunity is so beautifully simple and straightforward.

    Honestly, what could be more natural? Other than getting the disease, which, sorry, NO.

    When I started at my new workplace, I was offered the HepB vaccine – and looking at the risk/benefit, I signed up for that puppy in a heartbeat. I get my flu shot every year – not for me, but there are a lot of folk around my work with young children, and I’m sure some older relatives that they visit, too, and I don’t want to make anybody’s life harder or shorter than it should be.

    If there had been a chicken pox vax when I was young, and if I hadn’t gotten it, I would have been pissed. Chicken pox sucked.

    Being a little accident-prone (I’ve been known to step on a rusty nail or cut my hand on an old fence now and then), I am grateful for the tetanus vaccine.

    It’s the old canard. Ounce of prevention vs. pound of cure.

  28. #28 Roadstergal
    January 3, 2011

    BTW, I am very much in agreement with jay.sweet. Why should a person be able to send an unvaccinated child to a public school and pose a public health risk just because they say their version of a sky fairy says so? The religious exemption subverts the First Amendment.

  29. #29 wfjag
    January 3, 2011

    So, Orac, getting attacked (again) when doing a book review on a book that (again) debunks the pseudoscientific claim that vaccines cause autism — a myth so debunked that even the courts are now fairly uniformly disallowing alleged “expert” testimony on the subject.

    I can hardly wait to see the comments when you do a book review of “Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family” by Devra Davis, PhD. But, for those who can’t wait on Orac and wish to vent spleen on a book reviewer who calls pseudoscience exactly that, see, “A Disconnect between cell phone fears and science” by Lorne Trottier (Book Review) at http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9407

  30. #30 lilady
    January 3, 2011

    Just as a side issue. This is a site where even the most preposterous rants posted by anti-vaccination trolls are not edited and are posted. Trying to get any posts that debate the questionable pseudo-science featured in the “popular” news web sites is an exercise in futility; they might lose the big-time money generated by advertisements for voodoo supplements and other alternative medicine remedies.

    Thank you Orac for journalistic integrity and this cogent review of Dr. Offit’s new book.

  31. #31 Vicki
    January 3, 2011

    If vaccination is “unnatural,” so are soap, dentistry, and stone tools.

    When people start talking about “unnatural,” they’re drawing lines between familiar and unfamiliar technology (how often do you hear people define building a house or making a pot of soup as “unnatural”?) or looking for a more sophisticated way of saying “I don’t like it, so nobody should do it” (which is what complaints about “unnatural acts” come down to).

  32. #32 amphiox
    January 3, 2011

    Mr. Doherty,

    What anger? What name-calling? Because I don’t see any in this post. Show some examples, please.

    A give us some evidence for your claim that Orac’s and Dr. Offit’s activites have not been effective, or that a more accommodationist approach would somehow be more effective.

    Because your entire argument stands and falls on this point entirely. And you have provided no evidence for it. Not one datum.

  33. #33 JohnV
    January 3, 2011

    @Sid Offit,

    As an aside, the bacterial type 3 secretion apparatus looks (and functions to a lesser extent) amusingly similar to a needle and syringe.

    http://www.med.yale.edu/micropath/galan/Pages/galan_figure2.html

  34. #34 BA
    January 3, 2011

    I love the LOR analogy here and if, like me, you’ve spent a few years at CHOP/UPENN, you’d realize how on target Barad-dur is relative to West Philly. I also think the anti-vaccinationists would see Offit as more the voice of Sauron rather than Sauron himself (we know who pulls the puppet’s strings). As to the rest of us, perhaps Offit is Aragorn at the gates distracting Sauron while Frodo and Sam (researchers) deliver the ring (A-V hypotheses) to Mount Doom (systematic investigation.

  35. #35 Vicki
    January 3, 2011

    The problem with saying that “religious” exemptions are valid but “philosophical” ones are not is that to enforce it, the government would need to come up with a definition of religion that a court would accept. Sure, if you claim a religious exemption and say you belong to certain religions with top-down organization and known doctrine, it’s checkable. But what are they to do if someone says “I’m part of the Third Reformed Church of the Nazarene Covenant, and we believe that God doesn’t want us to be vaccinated?” Or “My rabbi teaches…”

    I suspect it would be a lot harder to convince the general public that people had adequate reason to lie about this, than it was to limit draft exemptions based on religious claims to conscientious objector status in the past. A lot of people would get as far as “maybe s/he doesn’t really believe that God wants that” and then go to “but who does it harm” because they don’t get the idea of herd immunity, or that parents don’t have unlimited rights to risk their children’s well-being. With the draft, there’s a certain amount of “if he gets an undeserved exception, that increases the chance that I/my friend/my brother will have to go to war.”

    I don’t know what the answer is here. I’m an atheist, and freedom from religion matters to me, but so does other people’s rights to practice their religion. And the idea of the government making some kind of list of “real” churches bothers me. That way lies theocracy; the next step after “only these churches count” is “you must join one of these religions.”

  36. #36 jay.sweet
    January 3, 2011

    I also have a fairly hard time arguing too strongly against religious exemptions, given the primacy of the First Amendment. Philosophical exemptions, on the other hand, should be eliminated or made much harder to obtain.

    Funny, I never interpreted the First Amendment as saying, “If you purport to have reasoned objections to a particular government policy, too bad, you must obey. Yet if you don’t even claim to have a reason, if you just say that some magical ghost told you so, then have at it!”

    IMO, the opt-out by not going to public school fully covers the First Amendment requirements. You don’t automatically get a religious exemption to a law just because the law conflicts with your religion — only laws that are specifically tailored to conflict with a particular religion(s) are constitutionally prohibited.

    My religion says it is a sin to pay taxes, one must always drive 75mph on the freeway, and ownership of property by people who are not members of my religion (of which I and my family are the only members, of course) is prohibited. Prove it’s not as valid a belief as the virgin birth!

  37. #37 laursaurus
    January 3, 2011

    I have very encouraging news that is hopefully on topic! As a resident in the great state of California, sometimes I’d swear we are in a contest with Florida for the wackiest state. This year, however, I am proud of our state.
    For most of the population, Pertussis is rarely serious. OTOH, it is potentially fatal for babies less than 1 year old. Herd immunity is crucial to protect infants who are too young to be fully immunized.
    http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR10-100.aspx

  38. #38 Scott
    January 3, 2011

    On the First Amendment point, I’d also note that there’s a clear distinction between something an adult does for themselves based on said adult’s religion, and something a parent does for their child based on the parent’s religion.

  39. #39 Dedj
    January 3, 2011

    “Why not reevaluate and try something different?”

    Indeed. So, why don’t you re-evaluate your tactics of labelling anything you don’t agree with as ‘angry rhetoric’?

    Perhaps you might, maybe, if you ever get around to feeling like it, possibly, on a good day, with a run up, if someone holds your hand, actually get around to addressing the substance of a post you are replying to?

    You know, unlike your recent LBRB post, which had very little connection to the article it was a ‘response’ to.

    Feigned concern and weak attempts at Socratic questioning are not substitutes for actual debate.

  40. #40 JayK
    January 3, 2011

    Somehow I get the idea that Mr. Doherty is a concern troll. Why this particular concern, I have no clue, however.

    I’m sure Mr. Doherty also writes a considerable amount of letters to the editor about the possibilities of black humor in an emergency room or ambulance where they could possibly be overheard, because no one should ever use black humor, right?

  41. #41 Calli Arcale
    January 3, 2011

    I have mixed feelings about the religious exemptions. On the one hand, while religion isn’t genetic, it’s inculcated into a person at such an early age that it almost might as well be. It’s tied up in matters of cultural identity, which is of course why people get so hot and bothered about it, and why it so often follows ethnic lines. Discrimination against a particular religious practice has, historically, been used to subjugate various ethnic groups and subcultures, and that was something which the Founding Fathers would certainly have been aware of. We don’t ban veils in public schools, because that could in practice mean forbidding observant Muslim girls from attending public school. But veils are pretty harmless to public safety, for the most part. Vaccination is a public health issue, so there’s a strong argument for not allowing a religious exemption. But how much of a health issue? On the one hand, allowing the exemption opens a loophole for abuse, and at present is only tolerated because nearly all religions are perfectly fine with vaccination. On the other hand, removing the exemption could threaten other religious exemptions, and is it right to deny a child an education on the basis of their parents being misguided? In the end, I see the religious exemption as a compromise, and one which I am willing to accept for now, but I remain uneasy about it — from both directions.

  42. #42 wfjag
    January 3, 2011

    “The bottom line is that Harold attacks me for rhetoric that would be the height of calm on most anti-vaccine sites, which is why I feel pretty safe in concluding that he’s doing nothing here but concern trolling.”

    Actually, Orac, in Mr. Doherty’s defense, he appears to at least be walking the walk. He is also a blogger — see, Articles in Facing Autism In New Brunswick, http://www.ufollow.com/sources/facing.autism.in.new.brunswick/

    Certain caveats on that: 1. I don’t know what his comment screening policy is, since I haven’t read his blogs or their comments; 2. I don’t know how snarky he is when addressing persons and points of view he disagrees with; & 3. Except for being the parent of an autistic child, I do not know what his credentials or areas of expertise may be or claimed to be. His site did receive two 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards, those being a First Place in the Health & Wellness category and a Third Place in the Ecology & Social Justice category. I am not familiar with the criteria for these awards.

    Still, should he read regularly sites such as yours, Dr. Steve Novella’s and Prometheus (A Photon in the Darkness), he likely will learn a great deal.

  43. #43 Orac
    January 3, 2011

    I’m quite aware of Mr. Doherty’s blog, as I have been featured on it. Just because Mr. Doherty writes a blog does not mean he is not concern trolling here. The two are separate issues.

    Besides, if you take some time to peruse Mr. Doherty’s blog and look at the sorts of things he says about people who advocate for neurodiversity, you will also see that he is a hypocrite when he criticizes me for a strident tone.

  44. #44 Giliell
    January 3, 2011

    I have a hard time making any excemptions except medical excemptions.
    Some of you say that religious folks don’t have the right to endanger other people’s kids by not vaccinating them and therefore it’s ok that they can’t visit public school.
    But why should they have the right to endanger their own children’s lives? Those kids are people, too and they deserve protection from horrible diseases, too. It’s not their fault their were born into a family of lunatics.

  45. #45 PennyBright
    January 3, 2011

    I believe that the only permissible exceptions to vaccination laws should be medical exemptions. I grew up in a religious household and was denied vaccination until I got old enough to pitch an effective fit about it (at 15). Being sick severely ill every year was *horrible*. Listen to my parents whisper about what to do if I died was *horrible*. Lying awake nights listening to my baby brother hack and cough his way through to daybreak, wondering what I would do if he died was *horrible*.

    Some people who use their religion to justify medical neglect are lucky – their kids don’t get sick or injured. But most of us do, and it’s painful and confusing and frightening. And if our parents won’t help us, and the adults in the community around us don’t help us, who’s left?

  46. #46 wfjag
    January 3, 2011

    I apologize. I was unaware that you were familiar with his blog (or that he’d ever referred to you in his blog). I’m not familiar with his blog, and, given that all I did was look at article titles (and didn’t see any topics of interest), didn’t read further (see my caveats). As Travis (comment 21) is the only one on this thread who indicates any familiarity with Mr. Doherty (although several of your regular readers responded to his comments), I found it surprising that he has a blog, and also, that it apparently has won some awards in Canada (again, see my caveats as I have no idea what the criteria are for the awards). You knew more than your response to him revealed.

  47. #47 Liz Ditz
    January 3, 2011

    I’m ambivalent about religious exemptions from vaccine mandates. On the one hand, while I’m an atheist, I will vigorously defend your right to practice your religion. On the other hand, some religious practices have endangered or even killed children (see religious child abuse).

    On October 13 2010, San Francisco area PBS station, KQED published this report: Health Officials to Consider Tightening Vaccine Exemptions

    Here’s a portion of that article, with emphasis added

    California is one of 20 states that allow parents to opt out from providing proof that their children have received mandatory vaccinations by stating that they are philosophically opposed to their child being vaccinated.

    All states except for Mississippi and West Virginia allow parents to opt out because of their religious beliefs. And every state allows for children who have a medical reason to opt out.

    California’s vaccine exemption system is among the easiest in the country, said Dr. Saad Omer, of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University in Atlanta, who has compared exemptions around the country. California law requires only that a parent sign a form called a personal belief affidavit – also known as a personal belief exemption – stating that immunizations are contrary to his or her beliefs.

    Omer found that in states where getting an exemption is easy, such as in California, the rate of whooping cough was at least 50 percent higher than in states that made it more difficult for parents to opt out.

    “It’s not just an abstract legal requirement,” Omer said. “It has an impact on disease rates.”

    [snip]

    “I think it is very easy for parents to sign the waiver,” said [Ross Valley School Ditrict nurse] Laurel Yrun…

    Yrun said most of the parents who are signing exemptions in her district are doing so because they have opted not to give their children a particular vaccine. Only a minority of parents are opting out of vaccines altogether, she said. The most popular vaccine to skip in her district is the hepatitis B, followed by polio and the measles-mumps-rubella, she said. The whooping cough vaccine was the least likely to be skipped in her district, she said….

    …research by Omer and his colleagues in Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri and Washington confirms Yrun’s experience. They found that only 25 percent of exempted children didn’t receive any vaccines at all.

    [Dr. Robert Benjamin, public health officer of Alameda County] said he would like to change the exemption’s wording so that it makes parents reflect on the impact their decision might have on the community. Or he would like to make it more difficult to obtain.

    After studying personal belief exemptions around the country, Emory University’s Omer has come up with a guideline for those designing exemptions.

    “It shouldn’t be easier to have your child exempted than to have your child immunized,” he said.

    Omer has found that replacing a pre-printed form with a letter crafted by the parents in which they explain why they want the exemption could be an effective way to curtail the number of exemptions. Some states even require the letter to be notarized. A counseling session, viewing a video, or visiting the health department are some of the educational measures that have also been effective, he said. His team didn’t study the language of the exemptions in detail, he said. So he said he couldn’t comment on whether adding new wording to California’s form might help.

    I urge readers to also study the anti-vaccine comments to the article as well as those opposing any greater difficulty in obtaining a “personal belief exemption”. The comments are revealing.

  48. #48 lilady
    January 3, 2011

    Medical exemptions are very rare and can include physician-documented allergy to the “foreign” protein in eggs and severe immune system disorders which may put an individual at risk to receive a live attenuated antigen-based immunization.

    Now, religion-based objections to receiving vaccines, are another story. One need only cruise the internet to locate a site that provides information about the proper wording of a statement provided to a school district, to exempt your children from childhood immunizations. Such parents count on the effects of herd immunity to protect their children. But, if a community is populated with many children whose parents “cop out” with religious and philosophical objections, herd immunity that drops below 90% will result in major outbreaks of childhood diseases… and invariably deaths of infants who are too young to have received a full course of immunizations to protect them.

    Last year, I contracted pertussis, possibly from waning immunity and contended with six weeks of a chest-wracking cough. Parents with very young infants need to get active and educated, so that their not-fully-immunized babies don’t die needlessly from this easily preventable disease.

  49. #49 Harold L Doherty
    January 3, 2011

    The childish name calling on this site demonizing anyone who questions the safety of vaccines appears to be, if anything, counterproductive. Parents with vaccine safety concerns have not been persuaded by these school yard antics.

    Is it rational to continue with this tactic day in, day out, year after year and hope for a different result … to hope that people will be more likely to accept your views on vaccine safety and therefore to vaccinate their children when the tactic has failed for so long?

    Put another way what does that say about the scientific acumen of this group of distinguished “science” bloggers that you would run the same experiment over and over again for several thousand days getting the same result but hoping someday for a different result?

    As for my blog it is about autism disorders. I have advocated with some success in my home province for evidence based autism preschool interventions, education and learning environment accommodation in our schools. I take autism just as seriously on my blog.

    Grow up people.

  50. #50 prn
    January 3, 2011

    As a child, one of the kids in my band class died of diptheria, apparently the parents didn’t believe in antibiotics either. However, one friend who was vaccinated for smallpox from a bad batch spent two weeks in the hospital.

    Two issues peek out to me. One is the natural commercial tendency to overstate benefits, understate risks, and deny/hide losses. The vaccine makers are increasingly documented on this but striking examples go back to the beginning.

    Second is the failure to address the others’ plans. Modern research suggests that the “sky deity” IS relevant to some vaccine risk/benefit analyses. Of course, I am talking about flu, Sol, vitamin D and unintelligent design at IOM. Also recklessly, long unaddressed are the observations and proposed studies of toxins and viral infections with IV vitamin C of the super-Jungeblut range, say 25-150 grams total in a day.

    Although I volunteered for one of the last (old) US civilian smallpox vaccinations ca 1980, I do prefer to stand in the back of the line, and see others’ experience for a few years first, before deciding on new products and to avoid untested fads, like in 1976. I also have corporate experiences that seriously caution me. So at some level, I do see a need for the informed right to choose, with responsibility.

  51. #51 a-non
    January 3, 2011

    [For those of the "scientists" that visit your site both of my children have received all required and recommended vaccinations to date. I have never attributed my young son's Autistic Disorder to vaccines, have never made a claim that vaccines cause autism and I have acknowledged the important role of vaccines as public health tools in preventing and controlling dangerous diseases. I do however keep an open mind on these issues, as did Dr. Bernadine Healey and Dr. Julie Gerberding]

    Harold, your blog is at the very minimum credulous, if not outright sympathetic, to the theory that vaccines cause autism – despite the fact that there are few credible studies that suggest that to be the case. So please do not insult anyone’s intelligence by casting yourself as an advocate for vaccines or a skeptic when it comes their links to autism. You’re in the wrong place for that.

  52. #52 Chance Gearheart, AAS, NREMT-P
    January 3, 2011

    @wfjag – Orac blogs a bit more “professionally” (that is, without the passion demonstrated here towards the Anti-Vaxx movement) over at Science Based Medicine. If you don’t read it, I highly recommend it, as it’s a great read. I’ve got it favorited on my iPhone.

    In Orac’s defense, I honestly can’t blame him for being more than a little nasty with the anti-vaccine and Autism-Vaccine crowd. What they’ve done definately constitutes a crossing of the moral event horizion, including photoshopping him into a picture of a group eating a dead baby, harassing him IRL, and even attempting to get him fired from his job by harassing his superiors where he works.

  53. #53 Chris
    January 3, 2011

    prn, you need to prove two contentions in your word salad:

    1) Where do the vaccine companies and others underestimate the risks and overstate the benefits? Links please.

    2) And exactly what are you even talking about in your third paragraph? A “sky deity” is relevant and IV vitamin C?

  54. #54 adelady
    January 3, 2011

    Having grown up in the mostly unvaccinated 50s, the school closures during polio outbreaks were terrifying for parents – and for children who understood what was happening.

    Now 50+ years later, some of my friends aged 60+ are advocating for refusing, reducing or “spreading” vaccinations for their grandchildren. I’m horrified. And my daughter is now a nurse at our children’s hospital, which had a babe in arms die of pertussis a few months ago.

    My feeling is that it mostly boils down to ignorance of
    a) germ theory and b)the related herd immunity. I would like to see notices in all children’s and maternity hospital entrances warning people that if they or their children’s vaccinations are not up to date, they should seriously reconsider their visit within the wards.

    This would reaffirm people’s understanding of their own reasons for vaccination and give some cause to pause for those who focus only on their own uninformed feelings about refusing or selecting certain vaccinations and boosters.

    I will certainly not allow some friends (in fact some of my closest friends) to bring their grandchildren to visit when my as-yet-unborn grandchildren are visiting me.

  55. #55 Mrs.Big
    January 3, 2011

    @Harold

    The humour and tone of this blog is what brings me back to this site. It is not counterproductive at all. It’s ingenious. I’m a certified geek (read aerospace engineer)who finds the dry facts of medical studies and their analysis godawefully boring (no offence fellow geeks). When I was first suggested this blog during the swine flu debate, I’m not sure how I would have made it past the first paragraph without Orac’s certain je ne sais quoi. But I didn’t have to, and all the better for me. So, to summarize…I think you’re jealous.

  56. #56 Pablo
    January 3, 2011

    Re: Harold Doherty’s comments

    There is only one response: it’s all bullshit.

    Where is the “childish name calling” to which he refers? Oh, he can’t provide any examples. As others (including Orac) have noted, all Harold is doing is trying to “poison the well” as it were. The problem is, it is bluffing.

    BTW, for when Harold responds, notice that I didn’t call anyone any names. I called his COMMENTS bullshit, but they are.

  57. #57 Chance Gearheart, AAS, NREMT-P
    January 3, 2011

    @54, Adelady

    I completely agree with you. I work transport for a Childrens Hospital, so unfortunately we get the children with VPD after they’ve gotten critically ill. It’s expecially frustrating because some of the patients we serve are very well off, and in talking with their parents during transports we sometimes find that they eskewed their vaccines because of some reason – even very rarely getting a horrified look when we ask them if their vaccines are up to date. Last year I had the misfortune of being involved in the transport of a child who had actually fractured several ribs from pertussus – one who hadn’t been vaccinated, and ended up with an ICU admission after being paralyzed and intubated because of the respiratory distress. It’s utterly heartbreaking to see.

    I do agree that people seem uneducated on the topic. Several days ago there was an article about how Tennessee has one of the highest uptake rate of childhood vaccinations in the nation from our local newspaper’s website. There were a number of comments ranging from “Vaccines are not necessary and are money makers for big Pharma” to “vaccines cause autism” and “vaccines cause mercury poisoning.” What was funny was many of these commenters had never actually seen anything other than the websites they had been referred to by friends, and didn’t understand the concepts of herd immunity. It was quite satisfying to see one even say that she had read the websites (this one, antiantivax and several others) and would do futher research on it.

    Honestly, I blame the secondary schools on this matter. This kind of stuff – immune response and basic metabolism – is middle and high school biology/anatomy that people should be learning. Instead, we allow children to take classes in “Earth Science” (Dumbed down basic science course for vocational graduates).

  58. #58 Gopiballava
    January 3, 2011

    Harold: Can you please point out the specific examples of inaccurate name calling that bother you?

    This post is about a topic that includes some people who publicly advocate for ignorant and demonstrably false ideas that have objectively resulted in death. Because of this, there may be some statements that come across as negative.

    As to whether this strategy works or not: this strategy helps remind people such as myself about the significance of this topic, about the impact that it has on peoples’ lives, and the importance of advocating for science-based decision making.

    Do you propose that Orac and others look at weekly vaccination rates, and have some rainbows-and-puppy dogs scale for how nice their posts are, and adjust the niceness up and down to achieve the maximum vaccination rate? Orac’s strategy is to tell the truth. He is not a politician working on ratings.

  59. #59 Chris
    January 3, 2011

    I just finished reading Tabloid Medicine. It is about how the internet has undermined health, and has quite a bit on the anti-vax stuff (much of it gathered from Autism’s False Prophets and some websites like this one).

    It was okay. It had some very interesting hints on how to look at a webpage to see if the information is valid. Things like revealing who they are, to be wary if there products being sold and if there are links to the original sources. What was detracting was the author cheerleading for the pharmaceutical companies. So I looked him up.

    Yup, Robert Goldberg’s doctorate is in politics (not even political science), and his organization, the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, has very strong pharmaceutical company ties. Jake Crosby, if you are reading this: Robert Goldberg is from Brandeis, so by your criteria you, young man, are now a Big Pharma Shill! It must be true since you both attend/attended Brandeis.

    So, I have now placed on hold at the library a book from the other side: White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine. So between those two books I’ll see what is common between them, and that most likely is the most truthful.

    By the way, Scienceblogs got a mention and Orac was quoted! He did say nice things about science and medical blogs, and I kind of hope that this quote from page 261 was about many of us:

    A thriving science and medicine blogosphere has developed, drawing on researchers and scientists from just about every specialty and area. While some blogs cater to those with scientific or medical training and a deep interest in the topics covered, most are intended for the public, albeit a fairly educated and engaged segment of it.

    Orac is directly quoted on page 268. So, I am guessing that Robert Goldberg, PhD is lurking out there. Hi! I did like your book, but you do need to dial back the drug cheerleading (though I do applaud the research into genetics and drug interaction). Oh, and can I suggest that you checkout the blog network started by Ben Goldacre in the UK? I am at my two URL limit, so it is the badscienceblogs network, and they have several criticisms of the NHS and NICE — which is also reflected in the many entertaining podcasts (like “Pod Delusion”, which has at least one medical doctor as a contributor).

  60. #60 David N. Brown
    January 4, 2011

    @47:
    Based on my research, there are few if any religions or sects in which “mainstream” opinion opposes vaccination. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who reject blood transfusion) allowed that members could receive vaccines by ca. 1950. The only obvious quarters from which religious opposition to vaccines come are Christian Science, which effecctively rejects all conventional medicine, and various outgrowths of “New Age” belief. The conclusion I would draw from this is that there is no compelling reason to have “personal belief exemptions” at all.

  61. #61 David N. Brown
    January 4, 2011

    @47:
    Based on my research, there are few if any religions or sects in which “mainstream” opinion opposes vaccination. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who reject blood transfusion) allowed that members could receive vaccines by ca. 1950. The only obvious quarters from which religious opposition to vaccines come are Christian Science, which effecctively rejects all conventional medicine, and various outgrowths of “New Age” belief. The conclusion I would draw from this is that there is no compelling reason to have “personal belief exemptions” at all.

  62. #62 Pareidolius
    January 4, 2011

    Harold honey,

    Take it from me, I was total a new age nutcase when it came to Alternaive Medicine™. I was totally medi-phobic . . . until there was something actually wrong with me. Then I was all up in that big Western medical pharmacopeia in a hurry. It turned out that actual pain and death suck. So when I finally left Wooville (I had to check all my conspiracy theories at the Wooville/Reality border) and came out the other side as a bona fide skeptic/atheist/critical-thinker where did I head? Right into the arms of our transparent, blinky-lighted master, Orac.

    His insolence was most refreshing and well reasoned as opposed to my former bile-laced invective which (out of abject fear) I used to hurl at Allopathic Medicine and Cold, Greedy Doctors and anybody who was clearly in thall to their eeeeeevil paymasters in Big Pharma. I can tell you that in my case, there was nothing, NOTHING that would have reached me in my magical-thinking haze. Not accommodtaing cooing, not strident acid-laced snark. It took illness and surgery to wake my worried-well ass up. So don’t get all judgemental on me because once I awoke, I chose to hang out with the smartest, coolest, funnest kids. Don’t tell Orac how to run a terrifically successful blog or tell me to grow up, because he already does, and I already have you humorless, ossified, boreal husk.

  63. #63 prn
    January 4, 2011

    @53, Chris
    “prn, you need to prove two contentions in your word salad”
    g-o-o-g-l-e…

    1) “Where do the vaccine companies and others underestimate the risks and overstate the benefits?…”
    The 1976 swine flu episode might jog a few memories, mismatched flu vaccine years especially after the paper about residual (in)efficacy effects and antigenic distance, and vaccines withdrawn slowly or “late”(e.g. DPT too long after DaPT was introduced) seem clear enough examples.

    2) You missed the point about alternate health algorithms. Perhaps I should have broken the two sentence paragraph about “others’ [flu preparation and response] plans,” concerning vitamins C (IV) and D3, into two paragraphs at the risk of a disconnected subject. “sky deity” refers to sunshine driven vitamin D3 production on our skins.

    Some vitamin D3 researchers already infer a population shift in winter D3 levels would be superior to current flu vaccine programs. IV C is perhaps a little more obscure to the average 99.9% public on a widely misunderstood subject.

  64. #64 Gopiballava
    January 4, 2011

    prn:

    Google has not yet shown me where the vaccine companies were responsible for risk/benefit under/over-statement. Perhaps you could share rather than expecting others to find evidence for your arguments?

    Regarding flu vaccine mis-match: Can you provide evidence that the companies involved were negligent? Or are we just dealing with the problems caused by the long lead times in flu vaccine production?

  65. #65 prn
    January 4, 2011

    clarify @63 above: …perhaps should have broken the paragraph with two sentences on two different vitamins, about “others’ [flu preparation and response] plans, into two paragraphs concerning vitamins C (IV) and D3.

  66. #66 prn
    January 4, 2011

    Commonplace commentary on corporate behaviors, “…the natural commercial tendency to overstate benefits, understate risks, and deny/hide losses.”

    2010′s corporate poster child was BP, similar has been written about many incidents with cigarette and drug companies. I am not writing a dissertation here, if you disagree, that’s fine. We may be from different planets.

    Re: “mismatched vaccines…negligent” You’re putting words in my mouth about legal issues, my reference simply demonstrates an understatement of risk and shrinkage of assumed benefits, irrespective of intent. Long known, inherent risk managment problems just got more difficult. The authors would probably like a series of multimillion dollar grants and projects to tackle them (one interview just about all but put the collection plate out).

  67. #67 Matthew Cline
    January 4, 2011

    All the while, Fisher wrote about how she thought vaccines caused immune problems, neurological problems, and all manner of chronic health issues while decrying the concept of herd immunity and claiming that “natural” infections are better than vaccination.

    Why was she allowed onto that commission? It’s as if they let someone who thinks everyone should live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle onto an agricultural commission.

  68. #68 Dedj
    January 4, 2011

    “The childish name calling on this site”

    Provide examples, if you can.

    “Grow up people.”

    Address the content of the article, if you can.

    Your repeated habit of criticing people without providing either a) any examples to support yourself, and b) any workable alternatives, all the while flinging about accusations of ignorance, incompetance and immaturity have earned you a laughable reputation across several sectors of the autism community.

    If you want people to stop childish name calling then you can set the example by shutting up until you’re capable of respecting your opponents yourself.

  69. #69 augustine
    January 4, 2011

    David N. Brown

    Based on my research, there are few if any religions or sects in which “mainstream” opinion opposes vaccination.

    According to your assumed projections and personal research, which religions opposed slavery in 1800? By opposed, I mean actively demonstrated and practiced what they believe not just empty talk and idle tolerance? Were these mainstream or just a small “cultish” sect?

  70. #70 augustine
    January 4, 2011

    I just finished reading Tabloid Medicine. It is about how the internet has undermined health, and has quite a bit on the anti-vax stuff (much of it gathered from Autism’s False Prophets and some websites like this one).

    If you like those type of books then you should watch “Toxic Sludge is Good For You”. It shows how government and corporations use PR campaigns to mold and shape what they want the public to think. It mainly talks about the selling of war but don’t think the CDC doesn’t already use the propaganda with it’s war on microbes

    http://www.cdc.gov/healthmarketing/entertainment_education/index.htm

    The CDC recognizes the power of popular entertainment in shaping the perceptions and practices of its viewers. Television shows, movies, and music not only command the attention of their audiences, but also reinforce existing behavior, demonstrate new behavior, and affect audience emotions. The CDC often partners with Hollywood executives and academic, public health, and advocacy organizations to share information with writers and producers about the nation’s pressing health issues.

    Popular entertainment provides an ideal outlet for sharing health information and affecting behavior.

    Affecting behavior = getting the public to do what we want them to do whether they realize it or not.

    http://www.cdc.gov/healthmarketing/ehm/blogs.html

    Considering the dramatic metrics of both blogs and blog readership and the personal connection the blogosphere provides, we’ve reached out to blog writers to share information, messages and communication techniques to prevent and control flu and in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy

    Bold is mine. Communications techniques = fear tactics and emotional ploys to get compliance for what we want people to do, whether they realize it or not.

    CDC recently hosted a webinar for “mommy bloggers.”CDC health communication specialists and seasonal flu subject matter experts met online with mommy bloggers to discuss basic information on seasonal flu and share research on key messages that have been proven to motivate people to get vaccinated. In participating in this exercise, CDC hoped to educate and empower mommy bloggers to spread the word, not the flu.

    Bold is mine. key messages = incite fear and arouse emotion to get people to comply with our wishes whether they realize it or not. They know people don’t simply change behavior on “research”. They know emotion is what drives behavior change. Fear and anger are the two best.

    Studies show most people love a little propaganda with their science. LOL!

  71. #71 Matthew Cline
    January 4, 2011

    @augustine:

    According to your assumed projections and personal research, which religions opposed slavery in 1800? By opposed, I mean actively demonstrated and practiced what they believe not just empty talk and idle tolerance? Were these mainstream or just a small “cultish” sect?

    *tilts head*

    So…. As time goes by, more and more religions will oppose vaccination?

  72. #72 Dangerous Bacon
    January 4, 2011

    A casual look at some of Mr. Doherty’s comments on various blogs/websites indicates that he’s fond of demonizing opponents with claims that they’re engaged in name-calling (like a response here in which he indicates that scientists who do not accept a vaccine-autism connection are “insulting” parents).

    It has also been noted that Mr. Doherty does not like to allow differing views to be expressed in comments on his blog, unlike the policy on Orac’s blog. If he truly believes in respecting the opinions of others, that’d be a good place to start.

  73. #73 Matthew Cline
    January 4, 2011

    like a response here in which he indicates that scientists who do not accept a vaccine-autism connection are “insulting” parents

    I was previously unaware that there was any connection between epistemology and good manners.

  74. #74 wfjag
    January 4, 2011

    @Chance Gearheart:
    I know. There Orac blogs to scientists/doctors. This site is directed at the layperson level. Different target audience and different tone.
    What surprised me about Orac’s reaction is that I can’t recall him calling anyone a “troll” in the about 3 years I’ve been reading this blog. Considering some of the personal attacks he’s been subject to — including some by name that (at least) walk the line of defamation (assuming he is a public figure and so must show “actual malice”), and his more even-tempered responses to those (and ignoring of most other personal attacks), his response to Doherty was surprising. Doherty had only made a couple of comments in this thread and (unlike, say Sid Offit or Dr. Jay) isn’t a regular. I didn’t read Doherty’s blogs since the titles look like a routine concerned parent site, of which there are hundreds. Accordingly, I was unaware of Orac having any history of dealing with Doherty. My mistake. My apology.

  75. #75 Triskelethecat
    January 4, 2011

    @little augie: “According to your assumed projections and personal research, which religions opposed slavery in 1800?”

    The Quakers. That was simple. Now, find something you can actually post facts about or run and play, the grownups are talking.

  76. #76 Triskelethecat
    January 4, 2011

    @wfjag: Harold trolls various blogs, always saying the same things. He’s a hit-or-miss type though, so you may not have seen his postings in the past. So, Orac’s response is expected. And the fact you’ve missed him in the past..just consider yourself lucky. :)

  77. #77 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “Dr. Paul Offit, a man who has been bile and harrassment due to his simply standing up for the science behind vaccines.”

    I believe that (Pr)Offit overplays the “harrassment” card… He’s a crybaby. For you to say that he is “simply standing up for the science behind vaccines” is crazytalk. What is “scientific” about stating that babies could “theoretically” have 10,000 vaccines? He’s also been known to thrown parents of children with autism under the bus and ignores valid information…. That’s why he’s “harrassed” if you can call it that. (Pr)Offit’s a clown… anyone with a few braincells know this. Scam artist is the term I would use for him…

  78. #78 Scott
    January 4, 2011

    I believe that (Pr)Offit overplays the “harrassment” card… He’s a crybaby.

    Oh yes, because having people threaten his children’s lives should just be ignored. Normal back-and-forth, right?

    What is “scientific” about stating that babies could “theoretically” have 10,000 vaccines?

    He didn’t. He said that the immune system could handle the antigen load of 10,000 vaccines, which is a much more targeted statement. And one he backed up with solid numbers. If you want to claim it’s not “scientific”, please demonstrate how those numbers were wrong.

    He’s also been known to thrown parents of children with autism under the bus and ignores valid information….

    Detailed examples, please.

    That’s why he’s “harrassed” if you can call it that. (Pr)Offit’s a clown… anyone with a few braincells know this. Scam artist is the term I would use for him…

    Now, if only you could support any of those accusations…

  79. #79 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “Oh yes, because having people threaten his children’s lives should just be ignored. Normal back-and-forth, right?”

    Proof? I don’t believe it.

    “He didn’t.”

    Yes, he did. If he didn’t approve of the way the title of the article/commentary was phrased (ie about vaccinations), he should have sent out a clarification for all to see. As it stands, doctors have used that commentary as “proof” to give their patients in regards to VACCINES (not antigens).

    “Detailed examples, please.”

    Belittles parents’ evidence of vaccine damage. He’s a clown… deal with it.

  80. #80 ababa
    January 4, 2011

    What is “scientific” about stating that babies could “theoretically” have 10,000 vaccines?

    Way to prove you only read headlines. If you happened to look into that particular claim you would realize he didn’t say that, as Scott pointed out. I guess we can’t depend on you antivaxers to read or research. Go with the gut cause it is never wrong, right? Why don’t you apply that logic to some other areas of your life, such as car repair or electrical work and see how far it gets you.

    It’s people like this that frustrate me. They depend on shock value. I was reading recently a local area antivaxer telling someone that their friends kids who weren’t vaxed was a good thing because they would have probably have “died or been severely damaged” if they were vaxed. This is from someone that claims to have “researched vaccines extensively” for over 15 years. Have the antivaxers gotten to the point where they are so overwhelmed with evidence to the contrary that they have stopped even trying to be believable?

  81. #81 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    Why…are altie…and antivax…trolls…so…fond of…random…ellipsis…?

    He’s also been known to thrown parents of children with autism under the bus

    Is this before or after he eats the children? My, he’s a busy man!

  82. #82 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “If you happened to look into that particular claim you would realize he didn’t say that, as Scott pointed out. I guess we can’t depend on you antivaxers to read or research.”

    Why are some of you so blatantly ignorant? What is the title of the commentary by Paul (Pr)Offit? Let me help you there. It is:

    “Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?”

    See VACCINES… dopes. I have stated before… if (Pr)Offit would offer up some sort of added commentary about the misleading title on the paper or whatever… I may give him a bit of leeway… until that happens… he is a lying sack of crap. End of story. Get over it, you are siding with a clown. Deal.

  83. #83 novalox
    January 4, 2011

    @82

    So instead of answering the question, you respond with an ad homienem attack and more bile.

    Why am I not surprised.

  84. #84 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “So instead of answering the question, you respond with an ad homienem attack and more bile.”

    Which question? I made a point about (Pr)Offit and the question in regards to antigens/vaccines? If you are interested in an answer to a specific question… feel free to ask again… I don’t read minds.

  85. #85 ababa
    January 4, 2011

    Getting angry are we “Say What?”? That’s always a sign of people that have evidence on their side! Are you upset that we don’t just see things your way because you said so? Are you upset that we actually read beyond the title and saw what he actually said, unlike yourself?

    You don’t get to just paraphrase a title and combine it with a random passage and then call it a valid statement. In fact, why don’t you quote specifically the statement where he used the 10,000 number, including the pre-ceeding and succeeding contextual sentences.

    By the way, while we are at it – is this your new pseudonym or should we still refer to you as “Smarter Than You”? Did you have to change it because your “slam dunk” evidence was just made up and you don’t want to be called on it?

  86. #86 novalox
    January 4, 2011

    @84

    Since you were so busy throwing ad hominem attacks, here is the question again:

    See post #78
    Where is your evidence of Dr. Offit is a “clown” (in your words). Show some hard evidence, not hearsay nor insinuation. (although in your case, that’s all you have given here so far).

    And another thing, parent’s testimonies do not equal scientific evidence.

  87. #87 Todd W.
    January 4, 2011

    @Say What?

    Here is the full text of the article you referenced by Dr. Offit. He does actually write “10 000 vaccines”. However, you need to read it in context. Here’s the context (emphasis added):

    Infants Have the Capacity to Respond to an Enormous Number of Antigens
    Studies on the diversity of antigen receptors indicate that the immune system has the capacity to respond to extremely large numbers of antigens. Current data suggest that the theoretical capacity determined by diversity of antibody variable gene regions would allow for as many as 109 to 1011 different antibody specificities.38 But this prediction is limited by the number of circulating B cells and the likely redundancy of antibodies generated by an individual.

    A more practical way to determine the diversity of the immune response would be to estimate the number of vaccines to which a child could respond at one time. If we assume that 1) approximately 10 ng/mL of antibody is likely to be an effective concentration of antibody per epitope (an immunologically distinct region of a protein or polysaccharide),39 2) generation of 10 ng/mL requires approximately 103 B-cells per mL,39 3) a single B-cell clone takes about 1 week to reach the 103 progeny B-cells required to secrete 10 ng/mL of antibody39 (therefore, vaccine-epitope-specific immune responses found about 1 week after immunization can be generated initially from a single B-cell clone per mL), 4) each vaccine contains approximately 100 antigens and 10 epitopes per antigen (ie, 103 epitopes), and 5) approximately 107 B cells are present per mL of circulating blood,39 then each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 107 B cells per mL by 103 epitopes per vaccine).

    Of course, most vaccines contain far fewer than 100 antigens (for example, the hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines each contain 1 antigen), so the estimated number of vaccines to which a child could respond is conservative. But using this estimate, we would predict that if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be “used up.”

    However, because naive B- and T-cells are constantly replenished, a vaccine never really “uses up” a fraction of the immune system. For example, studies of T-cell population dynamics in HIV-infected patients indicate that the human T-cell compartment is highly productive. Specifically, the immune system has the ability to replenish about 2 billion CD4+ T lymphocytes each day. Although this replacement activity is most likely much higher than needed for the normal (and as yet unknown) CD4+ T-cell turnover rate, it illustrates the enormous capacity of the immune system to generate lymphocytes as needed.

    Now, tell us what was not scientific about his comments? He is not saying that children definitively can receive 10,000 vaccines (at once or over a period of time). He is merely addressing the claim that vaccines somehow put too much of a burden on the immune system. Clearly, they do not.

  88. #88 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “Getting angry are we “Say What?”?”

    Nope. I wouldn’t waste anger on you guys or Paul (for profit) Offit. Just pointing out the ridiculousness of you guys defending the point that of course (Pr)Offit was only talking about antigens when the title of the commentary mentions vaccines. When he sends a clarification… I’ll let you go with that point… until that time, he is trying (on purpose or otherwise) to confuse the issue with the parents/doctors who read his crap.

  89. #89 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “Where is your evidence of Dr. Offit is a “clown” (in your words).”

    That’s the question that you want answered? That’s hilarious. I thought that I had missed a really important question… you guys never fail to make me laugh.

  90. #90 JohnV
    January 4, 2011

    Why should Dr. Offit worry about sending a clarification to you anti-vax idiots? As you’ve demonstrated, you’re only borderline literate so I doubt that you’d understand it anyway, most of you who come here to post appear to be sorely lacking in functional neurons, and you’d just continue to lie about it regardless of what he said or did.

  91. #91 Todd W.
    January 4, 2011

    @STY

    As to Dr. Offit receiving threats, here’s a google search I did for “paul offit death threat”. Happy reading.

    Oh…and where’s that bombshell that was supposed to come out in November or, at the latest, December of last year?

  92. #92 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “Why should Dr. Offit worry about sending a clarification to you anti-vax idiots?”

    No, silly… The clarification isn’t for the “anti-vax idiots”. The clarification is for the poor parents who actually believe his nonsense about VACCINES not suppressing the immune system. People shouldn’t be misled by this clown. He should clarify so that regular parents don’t get fooled by his crazy writing.

    ps. I LOVE the fact that Paulie (Pr)Offit has to write books like these. Clearly it proves that people are smartening up to the nonsense that the mainstream medical world has been spouting over the years. It’s a good thing. :)

  93. #93 JohnV
    January 4, 2011

    You repeatedly demanded clarification from him (because you’re not smart enough to read what he actually wrote the first time). You are an anti-vax idiot. Thusly, he’d be providing clarification to anti-vax idiots.

  94. #94 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “As to Dr. Offit receiving threats, here’s a google search I did for “paul offit death threat”. Happy reading.”

    Stop the presses… Paulie (Pr)Offit claims that people give him death threats. Proof, please?

  95. #95 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “Thusly, he’d be providing clarification to anti-vax idiots”.

    Nah, the clarification is for the poor innocent parents who would actually read his nonsense and believe it… he should clarify for them…. If he was honest, he wouldn’t have a problem with that… that should tell you something right there.

  96. #96 Lawrence
    January 4, 2011

    STY – why the need to use multiple aliases? That kind of sock-puppetting is frowned upon.

    Oh, and again, where is the bombshell you promised?

  97. #97 Todd W.
    January 4, 2011

    @STY

    the clarification is for the poor innocent parents who would actually read his nonsense and believe it

    Perhaps you could show where/how he is mistaken. Show your work.

  98. #98 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    Using the “10,000 vaccines” canard is a bit like asking “Well if the world is round, why aren’t the people in China hanging off the ground?” That point has been refuted more times than you can count, but you still seem to cling on to it.

    Accusations require proof. For example the accusations of death threats against Offit can be proved by looking in the comments sections of Age of Autism, among other places. An intelligent person condemns such actions, a fool denies them.

    Now, you say Dr. Offit “threw several parents under the bus”, can you give specific examples?

    Also, where is that breakthrough you promised two months ago? We’re still waiting…

  99. #99 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    January 4, 2011

    Telling people they are mistaken is not “throwing them under the bus.” Telling someone “we don’t care if your kid dies” might be. And letting children die in order to calm or quiet adults who have nothing actual to worry about almost certainly counts.

    Funny, that’s what the anti-vaccination side is doing: dismissing real cases of pertussis and other serious diseases because of already-disproven worries about autism. Autism is a real thing. Lying about its causes will help nobody. (Hell, I could argue that wasting valuable resources on attacking vaccinations instead of on programs for actual human beings with autism is throwing those people under the bus.)

  100. #100 Travis
    January 4, 2011

    I have been looking forward to that bombshell for a while. When was it promised again? I thought we were supposed to have this amazing new evidence a month or two ago. Or will it just be an example of intellectual vapourwarre?

  101. #101 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “Perhaps you could show where/how he is mistaken. Show your work.”

    Wow. Thick as a brick. I’ve just spent a few minutes of my time (that I can never get back, btw…), showing you that he is mistaken in allowing the title of his stupid commentary to be about VACCINES if it is supposedly only about “antigens”. That pretty much sums it up. So, basically, we still have no idea how “vaccines” affect the immune system and yet, Paulie (Pr)Offit would say that we do… somehow? Again, he’s a clown.

  102. #102 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “Also, where is that breakthrough you promised two months ago? We’re still waiting…”

    WTF are you talking about? I didn’t promise you squat…. Keep waiting sunshine… :)

  103. #103 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    Now, you just look like a complete fool. If you’re going to discuss vaccination, at least learn what an antigen is. That’s a bit like trying to discuss aerospace engineering without knowing what a “wing” is.

  104. #104 Todd W.
    January 4, 2011

    @STY

    The following is from STY. And, I quote (emphasis added):

    @All Dumbasses responding to me…I have no association with Blaxill or Wakefield or anyone you know trust me…and no it’s not the monkey study, and no it’s not some paper that claims mercury causes autism…in fact it’s not a study or experiment or literature at all. I know I sound kind of like a jackass because I do have a lot of anger toward people who are ignorant to this subject and those who are very uneducated about the subject trying to prove or disprove anything related to it like ORAC and Kevin Leitch attempt to do. I used to be very open minded about this subject until I researched it nonstop for 6 years and traveled directly to the sources of the Science themselves. If you knew everything I did, you too would be extremely upset with those who are at fault here, and those that continue to pretend nothing is wrong here. I expect you to laugh at my words, but the funny thing is, I’m not joking. Something has been in the making since 2004 that is going to make many dead people roll over in their graves. It will be completed by about October/November 2010, but it may be a little bit after that when you all become very familiar with it. But once you do, you will all finally see where you went wrong, because you most certainly have, and even the worst of the worst of them, such as Paul Offit, will even finally acknowledge just how wrong he was once and for all. Don’t get me wrong here though, I’m not saying vaccines are the culprit. And why do I withhold this from the rest of society? Because until it is complete people such as yourselves could not possibly understand it.

    Posted by: Smarter Than You | March 17, 2010 5:40 PM

    So, where’s this bombshell? Quite a bit overdue.

    As to the 10,000 vaccines bit, you have not shown that Dr. Offit is mistaken in his calculations.

  105. #105 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “Now, you just look like a complete fool. If you’re going to discuss vaccination, at least learn what an antigen is. That’s a bit like trying to discuss aerospace engineering without knowing what a “wing” is.”

    I know what an antigen is… What makes you think that I don’t? So odd….

  106. #106 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    I’ve just spent a few minutes of my time (that I can never get back, btw…), showing you that he is mistaken in allowing the title of his stupid commentary to be about VACCINES if it is supposedly only about “antigens”.

    A vaccine is pretty much composed entirely of antigens.

  107. #107 Amenhotepstein
    January 4, 2011

    I’ve just spent a few minutes of my time (that I can never get back, btw…)

    Well, Say What?, if that’s a few minutes you won’t be spewing your baby-killing antivax crap on the interwebz, I’d consider it time well spent.

  108. #108 JohnV
    January 4, 2011

    “showing you that he is mistaken in allowing the title of his stupid commentary to be about VACCINES if it is supposedly only about “antigens”.”

    wow. just wow.

  109. #109 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    So the Mighty Morphin Pissant Ranger figures he’s won, oh, because he says so. It doesn’t change the fact that a child’s immune system could easily handle the antigenic equivalent of 10 000 vaccines, and that vaccines don’t “suppress” the immune system (or is it that we “still have no idea” how they affect the immune system? Because we do.)

    It also doesn’t change the fact that we were promised a Bombshell that’s getting kind of overdue. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are in for a long wait.

  110. #110 Chris
    January 4, 2011

    And you remind you STY: And just another reminder…almost complete…you are all about to have your tails between your legs very soon :)

    So where is this great research you have been working on?

  111. #111 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    I know what an antigen is… What makes you think that I don’t? So odd….

    Pretty much everything you say, Morphboi.

    BTW, I’ve reported you to Punctuation Protective Services for abuse of ellipsis.

  112. #112 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “So, where’s this bombshell? Quite a bit overdue.”

    LMAO!!! This is hilarious. That’s not me… that’s another Smarter Than You. You guys are such tools. Ha Ha!

  113. #113 Chris
    January 4, 2011

    STY, not only to you share the troll’s name, but also the style. So now you are backing away from that claim?

    Oh, and Orac can see if you are both in the same general area.

  114. #114 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “A vaccine is pretty much composed entirely of antigens.”

    Ok. So, here’s a question for you. Answer it carefully. Can an infant withstand 10,000 vaccines (not antigens) safely at any given time (at once)? By safely, it would have to be that say 99.9% of babies could do this safely without serious side effects.

    Go ahead… answer that….

  115. #115 JohnV
    January 4, 2011

    Oooooh there’s another anti-vax smarter than you who comments here.

    Look that gem indicates you’re not smarter than us. You’re probably not smarter than the Burkholderia thailandensis cultures on my bench.

  116. #116 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “STY, not only to you share the troll’s name, but also the style. So now you are backing away from that claim?

    Oh, and Orac can see if you are both in the same general area.”

    LOL! So funny…. I guess there’s at two of us who are Smarter Than You. In fact, I’m guessing that there are hundreds of thousands of us. That isn’t saying much though.

    You guys are so easily confused.

  117. #117 Todd W.
    January 4, 2011

    Hmm…so STY is either a bunch of sock puppets (a bannable offense) or it’s suffering from dissociative disorder. Tell me, Sybil, who are we talking to now?

  118. #118 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    I guess it’s just a coincidence that Say What?, STY v.1 and STY v.2 all have the same style, (including Ellipsis Abuse) or did you all learn it in AntiVax Troll School?

  119. #119 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    STY, learn some basic reading comprehension. The passage said “theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time”, referring solely to the body’s ability to withstand antigens, nothing else. Pretending it means something else is dishonest.

  120. #120 Militant Agnostic
    January 4, 2011

    Pretending it means something else is dishonest.

    But that is just what anti-vaxers do – would you expect anything different.

  121. #121 David N. Brown
    January 4, 2011

    @69,
    As it happens, by ca. 1800 religious opposition to slavery was very strong, and being expressed in activism for either legal abolition of slavery, or voluntary emancipation by slave owners. In any event, at that time, slavery was a major controversy, which is NOT readily comparable to religious opposition to vaccination currently.

  122. #122 Troll School Grad
    January 4, 2011

    “STY, learn some basic reading comprehension. The passage said “theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time”, referring solely to the body’s ability to withstand antigens, nothing else. Pretending it means something else is dishonest.”

    Nope. What is dishonest is using a title to attempt to calm parents/pediatricians fears about vaccines when, in fact, the commentary is not about vaccines but is instead about antigens. Be honest about it. Paulie (Pr)Offit’s commentary has nothing to do with the safety of vaccines. Period. End of story. Why does he pretend that it does? If you disagree then I guess you believe that babies would be ok (theoretically) after being injected with 10,000 vaccines? Of course, we all know, those babies would be either dead or seriously injured….

  123. #123 Sid Offit
    January 4, 2011

    @Scott

    He didn’t. He said that the immune system could handle the antigen load of 10,000 vaccines, which is a much more targeted statement

    http://www.aap.org/immunization/families/overwhelm.pdf
    “each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time”

    ————

    For those on west coast time, I understand Respectful Insolence fan favorite Dr. Jay Gordon will be appearing at 1pm on CBS’ The Talk

  124. #124 TechSkeptic
    January 4, 2011

    lol gray falcon,

    I was just thinking of a proper response to #105, and you did it by responding to a different post.

    talking to STY/SW? is like toalkng at a TV. (s)he doesnt hear you. The actual context of the 10,000 antigen quotee was posted and not responded to, just tiresome refering to a title of an article. Perhaps he expect the entire abstract to be in the title. I have no idea.

    but, contrary to harold doherty’s position, this is exactly why I like these blogs and the way they are written. Both sides are presented, and whatever the tone, the references and data is in there for me to read. Say What keeps yammering on about nothing, the rest of you provide exact quotes, links, and data.

    Its very easy for thinking fence sitters to see who really comes out on top. The closed minded anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and religiots rarely look good.

    I hope both sides never change their tactics.

  125. #125 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    Again, Dr. Offit was talking about the body’s ability to withstand antigens, not the actual physical vaccines. Learn what an “analogy” is before you comment. And splitting hairs about “vaccines” and “antigens” only makes you look like an arrogant fool, the kind who thinks that because one’s name was printed in capital letters on the court summons, it doesn’t really apply to him.

  126. #126 Scott
    January 4, 2011

    Nope. What is dishonest is using a title to attempt to calm parents/pediatricians fears about vaccines when, in fact, the commentary is not about vaccines but is instead about antigens. Be honest about it. Paulie (Pr)Offit’s commentary has nothing to do with the safety of vaccines. Period. End of story. Why does he pretend that it does?

    It is specifically about the common anti-vax-idiot claim that vaccines “overload the immune system.”

    If you disagree then I guess you believe that babies would be ok (theoretically) after being injected with 10,000 vaccines? Of course, we all know, those babies would be either dead or seriously injured….

    I’m curious. How do you manage to post on a blog without even the most basic level of reading comprehension skills? Seriously; this claim seems to prove functional illiteracy as far as I can tell.

  127. #127 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “It is specifically about the common anti-vax-idiot claim that vaccines “overload the immune system.”

    And as we can clearly see, Paulie (Pr)Offit was unable to come close to answering the question about whether vaccines overload the immune system. So, basically, his commentary means nothing in respect to vaccines and the immune system. Great….

  128. #128 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    And as we can clearly see, Paulie (Pr)Offit was unable to come close to answering the question about whether vaccines overload the immune system. So, basically, his commentary means nothing in respect to vaccines and the immune system. Great….

    Please explain why you say this. Because here’s Dr. Offit’s logic as I understand it: Vaccines only expose the body to a small fraction of the number of antigens the human body gets exposed to on a daily basis, therefore, concerns about overloading the immune system are unfounded.

  129. #129 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “Please explain why you say this. Because here’s Dr. Offit’s logic as I understand it: Vaccines only expose the body to a small fraction of the number of antigens the human body gets exposed to on a daily basis, therefore, concerns about overloading the immune system are unfounded.”

    No, because along with the antigens there is the other crap in vaccines (preservatives, aluminum, etc. etc…). I have tried to give you the analogy. Let me try again. Paulie (Pr)Offit is saying that a baby could theoretically handle x amount of vaccines at a time… Then, everyone starts talking about what he means (ie the number of antigens in the vaccines). But that doesn’t answer the question about vaccines (which is the important question). So, a baby may theoretically be able to handle x amount of antigens contained in a vaccine but how many vaccines is safe? We still don’t know. Ok, let’s say they can easily handle 10,000 antigens, can they easily handle 10,000 vaccines? Of course not. Big difference between the two. Right??

  130. #130 Gray Falcon
    January 4, 2011

    The other chemicals are all in trace amounts, not enough to have a real effect. If the human body was a tenth as sensitive to foreign chemicals as alternative medicine “experts” would have us believe, we’d all be dead now.

  131. #131 Michael Ralston
    January 4, 2011

    STY, the difference has nothing to do with the immune system. 10,000 vaccines would not overwhelm the immune system, it would instead overwhelm the circulatory system.

    But that’s okay, because the actual amounts of vaccines given don’t come close to doing so, and we’re not going to claim that IV drips cause autism, are we?

  132. #132 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “The other chemicals are all in trace amounts, not enough to have a real effect. If the human body was a tenth as sensitive to foreign chemicals as alternative medicine “experts” would have us believe, we’d all be dead now.”

    I don’t want to misinterpret what you are saying but are you suggesting that a baby could in fact (theoretically) be ok after being injected with 10,000 vaccines?

    ps. I hope not ‘cuz that would be ridiculous. :)

  133. #133 Chris
    January 4, 2011

    The ever morphing troll:

    I don’t want to misinterpret what you are saying but are you suggesting that a baby could in fact (theoretically) be ok after being injected with 10,000 vaccines?

    No, you idiot. It means that a baby can tolerate the same number of antigens that would be contained in that number of vaccines. Not all of the fluids contained in them.

  134. #134 Smarter Than You
    January 4, 2011

    “But that’s okay, because the actual amounts of vaccines given don’t come close to doing so, and we’re not going to claim that IV drips cause autism, are we?”

    The last time I checked, we don’t know what causes autism… But of course there’s no way it could be the sh*t we inject into babies. lol….

  135. #135 augustine
    January 4, 2011

    Babies cannot handle 10,000 vaccines! If anyone wants to provide the evidence based peer review that shows they can, then be my guest.

    There is zero evidence and the theory is wrong. Offit Apologists are defending ideology, not science.

  136. #136 PassingThroughLurker
    January 4, 2011

    Todd W. @91:

    “As to Dr. Offit receiving threats, here’s a google search I did for “paul offit death threat”. Happy reading.”

    I hate to side with STY and Say What here, but the google search you provided are all links to anecdotes. All we have to go on Dr. Offit’s word, and that is just hear-say.

  137. #137 Pablo
    January 4, 2011

    Hmmm, where is Harold Doherty to chastise STY for “childish namecalling”? Suddenly very quiet…

  138. #138 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    All we have to go on Dr. Offit’s word, and that is just hear-say

    Actually, this is not hearsay. Dr. Offit is describing threats made to himself, not second hand reports by others. There also appears to be corroborating evidence. In one account I skimmed, the threat was made in an e-mail.

  139. #139 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “No, you idiot. It means that a baby can tolerate the same number of antigens that would be contained in that number of vaccines. Not all of the fluids contained in them.”

    Exactly my point. Sigh. Paulie (Pr)Offit likes to confuse the issue by pretending that his commentary says something about vaccines… when obviously it doesn’t. Dope.

  140. #140 PassingThroughLurker
    January 4, 2011

    #137

    “Actually, this is not hearsay. Dr. Offit is describing threats made to himself, not second hand reports by others. There also appears to be corroborating evidence. In one account I skimmed, the threat was made in an e-mail.”

    Did you actually read the email threats? Or, are you going off of what Dr. Offit says was in the emails?

    Look, I’m not defending Say What and STY. All I am saying as that without the actual threats, AKA evidence, these are just anecdotes.

    On the other hand, from what I’ve read of police policy about terroristic threats, it could be that Dr. Offit cannot discuss specifics. Forgive me for not perusing Todd W.’s search more thoroughly, but did Dr. Offit provide specifics?

  141. #141 ababa
    January 4, 2011

    It’s fairly obvious that STY is nothing more than a troll. He isn’t even making a point, just arguing semantics, obviously just trying to get a rise out of people. Add in the constant name changing (I would assume because he is posting from a couple different computers, maybe phone and work), probably because he wants to keep the fire hot. He also made laughably bad arguments like “that was another person named the exact same thing as me!”. He doesn’t even seem to have a variety of antivax knowledge, just keeps repeating the same thing over and over.

    At this point I would wonder if he is even antivax. He doesn’t seem to have the talking points or vocabulary of a typical antivaxer. Is a die hard antivaxer really all that concerned with Dr. Offitt’s choice of title? Most of the antivaxers I’ve seen pretty much wholesale dismiss every single thing Offitt says – they could care less what title he puts on it. STY seems to have just realized that the 10,000 thing is of particular irritation to the pro-science folks because it is so easily shown to be a valid comment. Acting daft is just a show.

  142. #142 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    @PTL:

    Given what I know of antivaxers and Dr. Offitt, I have no problem taking his word that he received death threats. No, I did not read his email. For one thing, I don’t have easy access to his computer. I did, however, see the article mention that an email sent to Dr. Offitt suggested that he be hanged. This stuff about “Did you actually read the email threats?” reminds me of calls for the long-form Obama birth certificate. I really have to question whether you “hate to side” with the Morphboi.

  143. #143 MI Dawn
    January 4, 2011

    @PTL: although Dr Offitt could have been making up the threats, it is highly doubtful that he would have had the FBI investigating them, and police escorts for a while, if the FBI and police did not find the information (and the threats) creditable. Grandstanding is usually not something the police/FBI put up with. So, I find the story of the threats believable. I would certainly imagine that Dr Offitt has been advised not to discuss specifics.

  144. #144 Say What?
    January 4, 2011

    “although Dr Offitt could have been making up the threats, it is highly doubtful that he would have had the FBI investigating them, and police escorts for a while, if the FBI and police did not find the information (and the threats) creditable.”

    Paulie (Pr)Offit is such a clown that I wouldn’t put it past him to consider something like: “Dr. Offit should be injected with 10,000 vaccines” as a “threat”. lol…

  145. #145 Chris
    January 4, 2011

    It would be nice if the trolls got a new shtick. This one is getting really old. Perhaps they should try something like data and evidence, that would be new.

  146. #146 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 4, 2011

    The almost surrealistically mismonikered “Smarter Than You” reminds me of a joke:

    A man goes to the doctor with a sprained finger. As the doctor is treating the sprain, the man asks, “Doctor, will I able to play piano once my finger heals?”

    “Why, sure,” the doctor says. “You’ll want to wait a good long time to make sure your finger’s really better, but once it is, you should be able to play piano without trouble.”

    “Wow, that’s amazing,” the man says. “I was never able to play piano before.”

    Why is this a joke? What’s funny about it? What’s funny about it is the man making a ridiculous assumption. In order to play the piano, one needs to have a) the manual dexterity to hit the keys of the piano, and b) the knowledge of how and when to hit the keys. The man’s ridiculous assumption is that the doctor must be answering his question “will I be able to play piano” in reference to factors other than a). The context makes it perfectly clear that the question “will I be able to play the piano?” should be read as identical to “will I have the manual dexterity to play the piano?” — and the humor of the joke comes from how ridiculous the man is to place his alternate interpretation upon it.

    Now, antivaxxers, in their infinite imagination and very finite wisdom, have come up with approximately eighteen zillion … hypothetical scenarios, I suppose we could call them … in which vaccines are hazardous. (For most of them, it overdignifies the situation to call them ‘hypotheses’, as those are usually based to at least some degree on evidence.) One of these hypothetical scenarios is that the number of antigens in vaccines, as given according to modern schedules, would be “too much” for a child’s immune system, would “overwhelm its capacity.”

    When Paul Offit wrote about the theoretical capacity of an infant’s immune system, he was clearly responding to that one hypothetical scenario. That’s what makes it completely ridiculous for “Smarter Than You” to suddenly pull in every one of the other eighteen zillion hypothetical scenarios that antivaxxers have ever generated. According to STY, Dr. Offit “didn’t say anything” about vaccines … because he answered one of the hypothetical scenarios antivaxxers have concocted, instead of all of them at once! Clearly, if Offit had responded to some other antivaxxer objection (perhaps the ever-popular, never-factual ‘antifreeze’ gambit) STY would have declared that Dr. Offit had “said nothing” about vaccines because he didn’t address the possibility of them overwhelming the immune system’s capacity.

    I wish I could say that Smarter Than You is being as funny in his ridiculousness as the man with the question about his piano playing. Sadly he’s just being dishonest and ridiculous.

  147. #147 Pareidolius
    January 5, 2011

    STY
    10K x ∞
    STFU

  148. #148 novalox
    January 5, 2011

    Ah, the utter ignorance of the two trolls posting here (STY and SW?) never fails to make me laugh.

  149. #149 Say What?
    January 5, 2011

    “One of these hypothetical scenarios is that the number of antigens in vaccines, as given according to modern schedules, would be “too much” for a child’s immune system, would “overwhelm its capacity.”

    The question that is asked by many parents is…. “Are we giving our babies too many VACCINES in their infancy/young childhood”. That’s the question that I hear. The problem is Paulie (Pr)Offit attempts to answer a question in regards to “antigens” but he allows the water to be muddied by using a title suggesting that his commentary relates to vaccines. It doesn’t. I know that and you know that. Sadly, I have seen and heard well established doctors promoting (Pr)Offit’s work about antigens/immune system as an answer to the question about VACCINES. The commentary doesn’t prove anything about the number of VACCINES that we can safely give to babies… Sorry, he’s a clown….

  150. #150 Triskelethecat
    January 5, 2011

    @Say What?: And you’re obnoxious.

    You are fixated on the title of the article (and it’s possible Dr Offitt did not create the title) rather than the content. You are the type who would look at National Enquirer and believe the story about the aliens who landed because of the big headline.

    You are obviously anti-vax because you can’t give Dr Paul Offitt the courtesy of using his name correctly, or you are just an obnoxious person all around, unpleasant and rude.

    How many vaccines can we safely give babies? Do you mean all at once? In one day? In a week, spread out one daily? What is your time period? In Europe, there are some vaccines that have 6 or 7 disease components in 1 vaccine. Is that one vaccine or 6/7? Detail matters. Be specific and polite, and maybe you can get your question answered.

  151. #151 Todd W.
    January 5, 2011

    @SW/STY

    Anyone who actually reads Offit’s 2002 paper can see what questions he is responding to. Only the illiterate will read it and be confused. Oh, here’s another excerpt:

    Children Respond to Multiple Vaccines Given at the Same Time in a Manner Similar to Individual Vaccines
    If vaccines overwhelmed or weakened the immune system, then one would expect lesser immune responses when vaccines are given at the same time as compared with when they are given at different times.41,42 However, the following vaccines induce similar humoral immune responses when given at the same or different times: 1) MMR and varicella,43,44 2) MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), and OPV,45 3) hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus, and OPV,46 4) influenza and pneumococcus,47 5) MMR, DTP-Hib, and varicella,48 6) MMR and Hib,49 and 7) DTP and Hib.49

    Achieving similar immune responses by giving vaccines at the same time at different sites may be more easily accomplished than by combining vaccines in the same syringe. Challenges to giving many vaccines in a single injection are based partly on incompatibilities of agents used to buffer or stabilize individual vaccines.50

    And, if you are arguing that it’s all the other stuff besides the antigens that puts a strain on the immune system, then you actually need to show that the immune system actually interacts with those substances. Ball’s in your court. And remember, show your work.

  152. #152 Say What?
    January 5, 2011

    “And, if you are arguing that it’s all the other stuff besides the antigens that puts a strain on the immune system, then you actually need to show that the immune system actually interacts with those substances.”

    I couldn’t tell you if it’s the antigens or the other “stuff” that puts a strain on the immune system. All I know is that very often babies do have adverse reactions to vaccines (whether it’s seizures, high temps, etc. etc….). We may argue on the possible reactions – I believe SIDS, autism, etc. are also side effects of vaccines. I don’t know what the actual cause is but I know it’s happening to thousands of babies. I can’t tell you how many stories that I have heard about perfectly healthy babies getting very sick post vaccination and these aren’t even anti-vaxx people… these are people in my real life (everyday parents who know nothing about vaccines). As for showing work… why don’t you show your work on the safety of aluminum and thimerosal in vaccines….?

    Some of you have had one too many flu shots over the years. Please continue with the flu shots…

  153. #153 Smarter Than You
    January 5, 2011

    “How many vaccines can we safely give babies?”

    There lies the problem… no one knows! It is likely different for each child. This isn’t hard to figure out…. Some babies may have a bad reaction to Tylenol or peanuts or whatever the case may be… You clowns would have us try to believe that reactions to vaccines don’t happen and the schedule is safe for all babies, etc…. Some of you are just dumb as stumps!

  154. #154 Todd W.
    January 5, 2011

    @SW

    I couldn’t tell you if it’s the antigens or the other “stuff” that puts a strain on the immune system. All I know is that very often babies do have adverse reactions to vaccines (whether it’s seizures, high temps, etc. etc….). We may argue on the possible reactions – I believe SIDS, autism, etc. are also side effects of vaccines. I don’t know what the actual cause is but I know it’s happening to thousands of babies. I can’t tell you how many stories that I have heard about perfectly healthy babies getting very sick post vaccination and these aren’t even anti-vaxx people… these are people in my real life (everyday parents who know nothing about vaccines). As for showing work… why don’t you show your work on the safety of aluminum and thimerosal in vaccines….?

    So you don’t have anything other than gut feelings and stories. No hard data. No actual evidence to back yourself up. Gotcha.

    And then we have the ol’ “You show your work first!” You, my dear friend, are making the claim. You need to back up your claim. You claim that X is bad. Why? What’s the evidence?

    I hope you don’t use this style of writing on school papers.

  155. #155 Calli Arcale
    January 5, 2011

    There lies the problem… no one knows! It is likely different for each child.

    True, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be confident that the current number is safe. One child might be able to tolerate the equivalent of 100 (ignoring for the moment the actual needle sticks, which nobody likes). Another might be able to tolerate 500. If we’re just talking antigens and not everything that’s in the vaccines (which, like all injectables, are mostly water after all), then one child might tolerate the antigen load of 10,000 vaccines put into one shot, while another might tolerate 20,000. It’s not important — the actual number is so vastly lower that quibbling about the maximum is pointless.

    Consider this. There is a maximum number of mice that could be supported by a given bridge. One bridge might support a million mice. Another might only support 200,000. Would you seriously argue that not knowing the mice-bearing capacity of a particular bridge would mean you can’t decide which bridge to use when bringing a new pet mouse home from the shop?

  156. #156 Chris
    January 5, 2011

    STY/SW is just repeating himself. So far he has proved he is illiterate, boring, obnoxious, and has absolutely nothing new. Time to ignore.

  157. #157 JohnV
    January 5, 2011

    “You clowns would have us try to believe that reactions to vaccines don’t happen”

    Except you anti-vaccine morons no one says this, you stupid piece of shit.

  158. #158 Pablo
    January 5, 2011

    Except you anti-vaccine morons no one says this, you stupid piece of shit.

    In fact, as far as I can tell, only someone who has never been present at a vaccination could ever honestly make that claim. Because anyone who has ever had a vaccination, or had their child vaccinated knows very well that you get a pile paperwork explaining all the adverse reactions that are known to occur with the vaccine, and the frequency with which they do occur.

  159. #159 Roadstergal
    January 5, 2011

    I believe SIDS, autism, etc. are also side effects of vaccines.

    I believe I am protected from disease by a magic pony. I’m willing to support this belief with exclamation points and insutls, if necessary, so it must be true.

  160. #160 Scott
    January 5, 2011

    Because anyone who has ever had a vaccination, or had their child vaccinated knows very well that you get a pile paperwork explaining all the adverse reactions that are known to occur with the vaccine, and the frequency with which they do occur.

    Not always. I never get any paperwork (or even verbal mention) with my flu shots, nor did I get anything with my most recent TDaP booster.

    No personal experience with childhood vaccinations, though.

  161. #161 Calli Arcale
    January 5, 2011

    Scott,

    I suspect the requirements vary by state, and possibly also by clinic. I have always received, at minimum, a two-page document in plain English discussing the reason for the vaccination, the adverse effects that may occur, what to do about them (including when to go to the ER and when to just call your doctor), and even discussing VAERS. The format is the same for all of them, regardless of the manufacturer, and regardless of the clinic I get the shot at; I suspect they’re actually from my state’s epidemiologists, but haven’t taken the time to find out. (Mostly, I’m just satisfied that I get them.) It does not list the manufacturer or specific brand or lot numbers or anything; just the category. (E.g. “inactivated influenza, >6mos.” for my daughter’s last flu shot.)

  162. #162 Composer99
    January 5, 2011

    On a related note to the OP (if not the comment thread as it presently stands) I found it rather telling that Loe Fisher’s NVIC, as of November past, retains her 1980s book on the old DTP vaccine as a resource for people reviewing pertussis even though that vaccine is no longer in use.

    Just checked… it’s still there.

    30-year old, obsolete fear-mongering: the gift that keeps on giving.

  163. #163 Todd W.
    January 5, 2011

    @Scott and Calli,

    These are the sheets that doctors are supposed to give out to patients when they get a vaccine. Not all doctors do it, but they’re supposed to.

  164. #164 Chemmomo
    January 5, 2011

    In CA, not only do they hand out the CDC sheets, for the flu shot you have to check off a page that indicates you’re not allergic to eggs or thimerosal, never had Guillan-Barre, and are not pregnant (and I have to do this for my children, too, since they don’t seem to have a separate form for the pre-pubescent).

    If you’re not aware of the risks after that, I suggest taking a remedial course emphasizing reading comprehension.

  165. #165 Giliell
    January 5, 2011

    Living on a different continent, I got a booklet explaining all the different diseases, vaccinations, risks and usual adverse effects in detail about 4 weeks prior to the first vaccination of my children. I had to sign a sheet saying I had read the booklet.
    The doc also told me again about usual reactions like temperatures and I got medication to lower it.
    I can’t remember getting information the last time I got my booster shots, but that’s really been a long time since.
    No, pro-vaccination people don’t say “there are no adverse reactions”. We know they’re there, we know that sometimes the worst can happen, but only in very, very rare cases. The trip by car to the doctor is a much higher risk than the actual vaccination.

  166. #166 Chris
    January 5, 2011

    Morphing troll:

    I believe SIDS, autism, etc. are also side effects of vaccines. I don’t know what the actual cause is but I know it’s happening to thousands of babies.

    And that is why you should be ignored. It is not based on belief, but what the data shows. Actually there are several studies showing that SIDS is prevented with vaccines (why bother posting them, you will just ignore them), and several studies that have been discussed on this blog over the past several years showing there is no real connection between vaccines and autism.

    So if you wish to be taken seriously then do something completely different than your constant obnoxious whining and actually post some evidence. Some annoying troll sharing one of your morphing names promised he would post his great information including interviews with Offit and others in late 2010. Well it is now 2011, and there has been no sign of that great evidence.

    So put up, or shut up.

  167. #167 Scientizzle
    January 5, 2011

    I’ll just leave this here for Orac and everyone…

    Breaking News: Landmark autism study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was “an elaborate fraud”

    Kathleen and Eliot will talk with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, and JB Handley, the father of an autistic child and founder of Generation Rescue, tonight on “Parker Spitzer” at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CNN about the following breaking story

  168. #168 Militant Agnostic
    January 5, 2011

    @167 – In other “Breaking News”, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank – where have those people been for the past year. Except for JB Handley, who we know has been in an alternate reality.

  169. #169 SC (Salty Current)
    January 5, 2011

    Finally, one other problem with the book that I had is that, given his extreme prominence in the anti-vaccine movement and how much damage his shoddy, litigation-funded science did to herd immunity in the U.K., Andrew Wakefield is only mentioned relatively briefly when arguably he should have a whole chapter devoted to him.

    The BMJ article was written up by the AP and is showing up everywhere over the past hour or so, with titles like “Autism-Vaccine Link a Fraud”!

  170. #170 SC (Salty Current)
    January 5, 2011

    O. Scientizzle got there first. :)

  171. #171 Lawrence
    January 5, 2011

    I can’t wait to see the AoA folks try to spin this one – since this “FRAUD” has been the basis for their entire stance on vaccines over the past decade!

  172. #172 novalox
    January 5, 2011

    @171

    You just know that the aoa folks will try to spin it off as another “Big Pharma” conspiracy against Andrew Wakefield, no matter how more and more ridiculous their claims sounds.

    It probably will be an exercise in hilarity as they try to stumble over themselves over this.

  173. #173 David N. Brown
    January 6, 2011

    @155:
    As I have already mentioned, I suspect that injuries actually caused by vaccines are greatly outnumbered by injuries from various problems with how vaccines are injected. This is a striking example of where the “anti-vax” movement is working against effective vaccine safety: Where the non-trivial problems associated with injections would present a strong argument for “combination” vaccines, anti-vaxxers tend to direct particularly harsh rhetoric against such vaccines.

    @171: Unfortunately, AoA, GR, etc. has already been doing that for years, by rotating between various vaccines and vaccine ingredients as scapegoats of choice. They seem to think that the multitude of “theories” blaming different things for the same phenomenon strengthen each other, rather than canceling each other out in mutual contradictions.

  174. #174 Monado, FCD
    January 13, 2011

    “Dr. Paul Offit, a man who has been [subjected to] bile and harassment due to his simply standing up for the science behind vaccines.”

    Sorry, somehow my bolding didn’t turn off.

  175. #175 Monado, FCD
    January 14, 2011

    Interesting that you should mention tales of the bad old days. My mother lost a sibling (1 out of 5 kids died) and a woman I met recently said that her mother had lost two brothers, to childhood diseases. A cousin was permanently crippled by polio. And I remind people why Alexander Graham Bell and others taught at schools for the deaf–the fallout from childhood measles infection.

  176. #176 Monado, FCD
    January 14, 2011

    Maybe it was DPT that had the whole-cell preparation, which has been replaced? The antigen load from vaccines is about 4% of what it was in 1980 (graph here)—Dr. Offit’s figures from a research paper about antigen load.

  177. #177 dsichel
    January 14, 2011

    I was reading this post when the CBC morning news featured a ‘shocking report’ on the truth about homeopathy.

    (Spoiler: they’re just sugar pills with no active ingredients!)

    And then they mentioned that homeopathy is nonetheless widespread — there are even homeopathic vaccines.

    This is…. I just…

    well. They certainly don’t contain any thimerosal or formaldehyde, I’ll give them that much.

    *heavy sigh*

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