Respectful Insolence

Four days later, I still can’t figure it out. I really can’t.

Remember the other day when I said I was debating whether or not to respond to the latest excretion from one of the first hangers-on of the anti-vaccine movement I ever encountered after I started blogging. I’m referring, of course, to freelance journalist David Kirby, whose book Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Mystery, along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s unbelievably brain dead Deadly Immunity, helped ignite the anti-vaccine fear mongering about mercury in vaccines back in 2005. My experience with him goes all the way back then as wel, which actually blows my mind because it means I’m rapidly coming up on the sixth anniversary of my first encounter with him. Fortunately, at least on the vaccine front, David Kirby has been pretty silent for a while. I attribute this to his having turned his attention from the anti-vaccine movement for the moment to promote his book on factory farming, which means that Kirby hasn’t written about vaccines and autism since last April.

And there was much rejoicing among supporters of science-based medicine.

Unfortunately, last Friday, like the zombie who, thought to be safely buried in a steel coffin, somehow manages to claw his way back through the earth to the surface to feast on the brains fo his victims, David Kirby’s back, penning a typically unctuously disingenuous bit of pseudoscience entitled The Autism-Vaccine Debate: Why It Won’t Go Away. As I pointed out on Saturday, the short answer is because anti-vaccine loons like those at Age of Autism, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), SafeMinds, and other anti-vaccine groups won’t let this manufactroversy die. They rely on a constant stream of invective against vaccines, big pharma, and the government to keep the fear of vaccines stoked by their pseudoscience alive. Otherwise, science might have a chance to reassure those whose doubts about vaccines have been inflamed by the likes of David Kirby and his fellow travelers at Generation Rescue and Age of Autism. And David Kirby proceeds to begin to weave his slimily disingenuous web of arguments by patting anti-vaccinationists on the back for being so smart:

I have been speaking to young parents in my neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn lately about vaccines and autism, which science and the media have once again pronounced as completely debunked for what I believe is now the sixth or seventh time.

These are highly educated, affluent and politically progressive people — doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, writers and other successful professionals. And like half of the American population in one poll, many of my neighbors (though certainly not all) say that there is, or may be, an association between autism and the current U.S. vaccine schedule.

Although some Park Slope parents refuse to vaccinate their children at all – an unwise and dangerous choice in my opinion — the vast majority makes sure their kids get immunized; although many do so on a schedule worked out with their pediatrician.

Wow. I had wondered if Kirby still had the knack for pushing his nose so far up the anuses of his constituency that he makes them appear to have grown an extra set of nostrils emanating from their mouths. I needn’t have worried! The several months of his absence from the anti-vaccine scene haven’t faded the brownness of Kirby’s nose by even one shade. The self-congratulatory message is truly nauseating, too. Kirby is saying to his constituency, in essence, “You are so smart. You are so brilliant, and you have all the ‘right’ political attitudes as well. No wonder eschew vaccines!” Yes, it’s an idiotic argument. Being affluent and successful in one area does not mean you understand the basics of the science of vaccines. (J.B. Handley and Mark Blaxill, for instance, are excellent examples of this principle at work.) Sadly, this sometimes applies even if you are a doctor, our old friend Dr. Jay Gordon being a perfect example. Indeed, he caters to a population very similar to that in Park Slope. It’s just a continent away, but the affluent, politically progressive, crunchy vibe is much the same in Santa Monica as it is in Brooklyn. The two places are also apparently breeding grounds for the arrogance of ignorance, where, just because people are affluent and educated, they come to conclude that their education applies to different fields where they have no training, that they can just teach themselves whatever they need to know and that the knowledge they thus obtain is equal to any derived by those pointy-headed, uncool scientists and physicians who have dedicated their entire professional careers to studying vaccines or autism. Let’s not forget the enablers, like Dr. Jay, who are there to tell these parents just how smart they are and, above all, to give them whatever they want, lest they find someone else who will.

Then there’s the poll that Kirby cited. As I pointed out less than two weeks ago, that poll is not nearly as impressive as he makes it sound. As Kent Heckenlively did in that post, Kirby conveniently forgets that, compared to the 52% in the poll who responded that they don’t think vaccines cause autism, only 18% believe that vaccines cause autism; the other 30% aren’t sure. Even worse for Kirby, if you break it down more, only 2% believe that the idea that vaccines cause autism (I refuse to dignify it by calling it a “hypothesis”), while 16% think the idea is “probably true.” I also can’t resist pointing out yet again that the poll also found that 69% of respondents agree that schools should require all children to have “received the required shots” before they can attend school. To flagellate the proverbial deceased equine, this poll is not nearly as good for the anti-vaccine movement as it sounds on the surface. Not only do those who accept science outnumber those who believe that vaccines cause autism by roughly 3:1, but those who believe that the idea that vaccines cause autism is “certainly not true” outnumber those who believe it is “certainly true” by 10:1.

That would include the parents of Park Slope, apparently.

Not that any of this prevents Kirby from continuing on:

Why do so many educated, successful parents still believe that the current vaccine schedule can hurt a small percentage of susceptible kids, and that some of those injuries might result in an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Despite all of the population studies showing no link, high-profile court cases that went against parents, insistence of omniscience by health officials and the public mauling of Andrew Wakefield, I don’t think that many people around here have changed their minds.

That’s because evidence of a vaccine-autism link did not come to them via a 12-year-old study published in a British medical journal, nor from Hollywood celebrities: Not very many had heard of Wakefield until recently.

This is, of course, a straw man argument. Although Andrew Wakefield, through his fraudulent research, was undeniably a critical mover in fueling the fear of the MMR vaccine as a cause of autism in the U.K., Kirby is probably correct that he wasn’t such a factor in in stoking the flames of anti-vaccine fear here in the U.S. As I’ve pointed out before, in this most recent iteration of the anti-vaccine movement, U.K. and U.S. anti-vaccine advocates have different histories, and their movements developed differently. For a time, for instance, Jenny McCarthy was the most prominent voice of the anti-vaccine movement here in the U.S., although of late she appears to have perhaps realized that she was hurting her career and toned down the crazy about vaccines (although clearly not as much as she should). It is therefore not surprising that Andrew Wakefield was not as prominent a factor here in the U.S. That does not make him unimportant, although Kirby might have a germ of a point by implying that discrediting Wakefield isn’t going to make as big a difference here in the U.S., but actually from my perspective it appears to be having, if anything, more of an effect in the U.S. than in the U.K. I’ve heard quite a few Brits on various e-mail lists I’ve been on tell me that the reaction to the latest revelations about Wakefield were a big sigh and a snooze.

Be that as it may, that doesn’t excuse the burning stupid that emanates next from Kirby’s keyboard:

Some of these parents actually keep up with the science, including a new review of autism studies in the Journal of Immunotoxicology which concludes: “Documented causes of autism include genetic mutations and/or deletions, viral infections, and encephalitis following vaccination.”

You know, when I first saw AoA pimping that article nearly a week ago, I contemplated whether or not to do a detailed takedown. Then I actually read the article, and decided not to bother. It’s a greatest hits of crappy, long-debunked arguments, some of them so bad that even AoA doesn’t use them much anymore, as Kev points out. All you really need to know about this execrable review is that it cites it takes Mark and David Geier seriously enough to cite them not just once but numerous times. These are the father-son team of pseudoscientists who advocate chemical castration with Lupron to treat autism because they believe that testosterone somehow binds to mercury and keeps it from being removed from the brain with chelation agents. Seriously, you can’t make stuff like this up. At least I can’t, but unfortunately the Geiers can. Other luminaries of the anti-vaccine movement cited by the review’s author, Helen Ratajczak, include David Ayoub (who thinks that vaccines are part of a population control plot by the Illuminati, along with birth control, women’s rights, and all sorts of other nefarious plots by the government, all complete with black helicopters and everything); Sallie Bernard et al’s infamous Medical Hypotheses article; Dan Rossignol and Jeff Bradstreet; and several others. Ratajczak mixes these pseudoscientific references with references by real scientists, puts them in a blender, and then turns it on, mixing the nonsense with the science, the better to dilute the science. Unlike homeopathy, diluting the science this way does not make it stronger.

I do like the way Kirby shifts the goalposts, though:

It’s a fact that many children with ASD regressed following normal development just as they were receiving multiple vaccines at regular doctor visits. Health officials say the timing is entirely coincidental.

Regression usually occurs between 12 and 24 months, though one study found that some children show signs of autism as early as six months, but never before that age.

By six months of age, most U.S. children have received about 18 inoculations containing 24 vaccines against nine diseases. Over the next two years or so, they will receive another nine shots containing 14 vaccines against 12 diseases.

So whether a child regresses at six months, or 18 months, the tragedy happens during a period of intensive vaccination. In many cases, parents report that the child had an abnormal reaction after being vaccinated (seizures, spiking-fevers, diarrhea, lethargy, high-pitched screaming and/or other symptoms).

Yes indeed. No matter what, it’s all about the vaccines. Always. I bet that if new studies show that signs of autism are detectable at one month of age, Kirby will blame the birth dose of Hepatitis B vaccine. If it’s shown that signs of autism are detectable in utero, Kirby will find a way to blame the vaccines that the child’s mother received. That’s because, although he’s a lot more clever about it than most, Kirby’s all about casting fear and doubt on vaccines, and whenever he says “environmental causes” of autism, his audience knows what he really means: vaccines. Kirby’s right about one thing, though. Scientific evidence doesn’t matter to the anti-vaccine movement, except how it can be distorted and cherry picked to support predetermined conclusions. Unfortunately, it is a very human cognitive failing that we do tend to value anecdotes and testimonials over scientific evidence, and that’s a bias that is exceedingly difficult to overcome.

The rest of Kirby’s article is, like Ratajczak’s review article, a “greatest hits” of the anti-vaccine movement. He cites scientists who have suggested there might be an environmental cause. He even cites Bernadine Healy, who has become the darling of the anti-vaccine movement for her foolishness with regards to the vaccine-autism manufactroversy. As always, the reason he does that is to imply that that “environmental cause” is vaccines, regardless of whether that’s what the people quoted meant. Remember, in anti-vaccine-speak, “environmental causes” of autism is a code word for vaccines. Never forget that. Kirby also lists several favorite anti-vaccine talking points from years past, including confusing correlation with causation, claiming that there is an “autism epidemic” and that it can’t be due to broadening of diagnostic criteria or diagnostic substitution; invoking the “pharma shill” gambit; giving a nod to J.B. Handley-like claims that there haven’t been enough studies; and a number of plausible-sounding but ultimately fatuous arguments, so many that even with my logorrheic tendencies I don’t feel inclined to address each and every one of them, as it would probably cause this post to balloon up to 5,000 to 10,000 words. Besides, I’ve addressed most, if not all, of the nonsense that Kirby lays down in his post before.

Basically, Kirby’s post boils down to a huge whine that, really and truly, he and his peeps aren’t the “lunatic fringe.” Oh, no! They’re educated and affluent, the implication being that they are better, that they couldn’t possibly be as prone to unscientific thinking, normal human cognitive biases, and conspiracy mongering as “lesser people.” At the same time, Kirby perpetuates the nastiest descriptions of autistic children routinely used by the “vaccines cause autism” crowd. Indeed, Kirby even calls them “toxic.” Worse, he promises a part 2 to this article.

I can only speculate about the reason that, after nearly a year away, Kirby has now decided to return to vaccine/autism pseudoscience. Maybe his book on factory farming has run its course. Maybe environmentalists didn’t show him as much love as the anti-vaccine movement. Maybe he’s laying the groundwork for another book blaming vaccines for autism. Who knows?

What I do know is that Kirby’s choice of writing venue demonstrates one thing. The sale of The Huffington Post to AOL hasn’t affected the stream of anti-vaccine idiocy rolling forth from HuffPo’s servers one iota. In fact, Kirby’s post, at roughly 3,800 words, is remarkable in its Orac-ian length because HuffPo normally tends to discourage posts longer than about 1,000 words and certainly anything over 2,000 words is “right out.” (I know this because HuffPo once briefly tried to woo me, perhaps to blunt the charges of pseudoscience.) This dispensation for such a long post by Kirby suggests a special commitment on HuffPo’s part to the sort of nonsense that In fact, Huffington Post’s Senior Health Editor, Alana B. Elias Kornfeld has not only assured Matthew Herper that Kirby’s post went through HuffPo’s vetting process for medical articles, but also said:

Kirby’s piece doesn’t say that there is an autism link for sure, but rather that the jury’s still out. His opinion on the matter is clear: “I know that many people will say the vaccine issue has been thoroughly investigated and debunked. I honestly wish that were the case, but it simply is not true.”

Which has been Kirby’s M.O. since the very beginning. He’s a master of saying, “I’m just sayin’, ya know.” That’s how his propaganda works. That’s how he spreads fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. I have no idea whether Kirby really believes that vaccines cause autism, but he does know which side his bread is buttered on, and the anti-vaccine movement has been very good to him. That’s probably why he doesn’t come out and say that vaccines cause autism. Unlike some of the clueless wonders at AoA, he’s too clever for that. Instead, he just cherry picks studies and quotes and uses them to falsely claim that there’s far more of a question about whether vaccines cause autism than there really is. It’s a classic technique of manufactroversy, making a scientific issue that is not controversial among scientists into something that seems controversial among the lay public. Again, think evolution. Think HIV/AIDS denialism. Think anthropogenic global warming.

Think the “vaccines cause autism” claim.

It’s all of a piece with the previous four. Indeed, Kirby’s use of “the jury’s still out” as a means of spreading uncertainty about the science that spectacularly fails to suggest a link between vaccines and autism is also very much of a piece with how tobacco companies would argue that “the jury’s still out” about whether smoking causes lung cancer and still argue that “the jury’s still out” with regards to secondhand smoke.

In the end, what when it comes to medicine, and in particular vaccines, David Kirby has just shown us that HuffPo remains a wretched hive of scum and quackery–nauseatingly smug and self-congratulatory scum and quackery, actually. Advocates of science-based medicine are right to be concerned that HuffPo’s virus of pseudoscience and quackery will infect the rest of AOL.

Comments

  1. #1 Autism and Oughtisms
    February 14, 2011

    I want to share some good news first – in my neck of the woods, childhood immunisation is now at a record high: http://health.msn.co.nz/blog.aspx?blogentryid=783146&showcomments=true :)

    Now onto the icky stuff.

    That was the first time I’ve heard about anyone advocating chemical castration of autistic people. Made me feel sick to my stomach. It shows how one little piece of woo can build up into a woo-storm that splatters down in all sorts of crazy, crapping all over innocent children. Adding to their suffering and indignity. I’ll add that to my list which includes fecal transplants, and packing.

    It’s because of the anti-vax zombies that it is so important to not let-up, and keep fighting the good fight. They’re like some of the diseases vaccines are trying to wipe out: You can’t just sit back and congratulate yourself when it looks like you’re winning the battle, all it takes is them to get a foot-hold in the minds of desperate and uninformed parents, and off it goes again.

  2. #2 sharon
    February 14, 2011

    I, like many other parents, noticed symptoms in my son when he was only a couple of months old. Most notably avoidance of eye contact. He was most certainly born ASD, and has never experienced regression of any kind to date(and is fully immunised). You are right Orac that some seek to fit the etiology of ASD into their preconceived notions. Seems incredibly arrogant to me.

  3. #3 Matthew Cline
    February 15, 2011

    These are the father-son team of pseudoscientists who advocate chemical castration with Lupron to treat autism because they believe that testosterone somehow binds to mercury and keeps it from being removed from the brain with chelation agents.

    The real mind-boggling thing about that is that their sole piece of evidence that mercury and testosterone form up into sheets is an article about x-ray crystallography, where the crystals were formed by dissolving mercuric chloride and testosterone in hot benzene(see here). It didn’t seem to bother the Geiers that the human body is not at all like hot benzene, nor that the human body has the conditions necessary to crystallize it.

  4. #4 a-non
    February 15, 2011

    Mr. Kirby, the reason your affluent buddies don’t need to vaccinate their kids is because the rest of the unwashed masses outside their gated communities already have. You’re welcome.

  5. #5 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 15, 2011

    A pity Kirby wrote about factory farming. There are many important issues there that need to be dealt with. Having someone with Kirby’s track record of misunderstanding and poor grasp of science is going to undermine any legitimate points in his farm book. Even if his book was highly accurate, I’d be tempted to say, Thank you but please don’t help.

  6. #6 brian
    February 15, 2011

    The earlier you look for signs of ASD, the earlier you can find them: “At 1 month, children with ASD but not control children had persistent neurobehavioral abnormalities and higher incidences of asymmetric visual tracking and arm tone deficits.”

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2009-2680v1

  7. #7 Broken Link
    February 15, 2011

    For a time, for instance, Jenny McCarthy was the most prominent voice of the anti-vaccine movement here in the U.S., although of late she appears to have perhaps realized that she was hurting her career and toned down the crazy about vaccines (although clearly not as much as she should).

    Jenny McCarthy had been presenting her son as “recovered”. Yet, she recently tweeted that he had had a serious seizure and had been taken to the emergency room, see link on my ‘nym.

    Recovered kids aren’t supposed to have seizures, so it may be that she has lost faith in the biomed movement.

  8. #8 JohnV
    February 15, 2011

    I wonder if Dr. Gordon has spoken to Mr. Kirby about the need to move on from the vaccine-autism non link.

  9. #9 bensmyson
    February 15, 2011

    “18% believe that vaccines cause autism”

    You can make light of it all you want but with numbers like that, herd immunity will be a thing of the past. These are hardcore folk. I mean I cant say with certainty that vaccines caused my son’s autism. I can say vaccines cause a brain injury that presents characteristics of autism in some children. I can say vaccines trigger functional changes that cause autism. The same way I guess you could say lead boots cause drowning.

  10. #10 Paul Mitchell MD FAAP
    February 15, 2011

    Orac,

    Thank you again for another wonderful blog about the nonsense that is the anti-vaccine movement. I have been reading your blog for awhile and wanted to let you know how much it is appreciated. Unlike Dr. Jay I try to practice evidence-based medicine. We deal with this every single day and it is usually the college educated folks with a poor science background who are the most resistant to vaccines. The fact that all 16 pediatricians in our group vaccinate our own children on time and fully is usually the single biggest reassurance that parents respond to. Unfortunately there are always a few conspiracy nuts who think we are part of some vast government coverup or must be blind to have missed all the vaccine/autism links.

  11. #11 Orac
    February 15, 2011

    I wonder if Dr. Gordon has spoken to Mr. Kirby about the need to move on from the vaccine-autism non link.

    I don’t know why, but for some reason, I doubt it. :-)

  12. #12 Beamup
    February 15, 2011

    I can say vaccines cause a brain injury that presents characteristics of autism in some children. I can say vaccines trigger functional changes that cause autism.

    I find this choice of words quite revealing. Not “vaccines cause” or “vaccines trigger” as statements, but “I can say…” Facts apparently don’t matter, only what claims can be made.

    I can say that Catholicism causes autism. My saying it doesn’t make it true.

  13. #13 augustine
    February 15, 2011

    Paul Mitchell

    The fact that all 16 pediatricians in our group vaccinate our own children on time and fully is usually the single biggest reassurance that parents respond to.

    Not only does your group over prescribe antibiotics they also over vaccinate their kids. There is no reassurance in that advice.

  14. #14 superdave
    February 15, 2011

    I want to point out that Park Slope is no gated community and sits in the middle of neighborhoods with much cultural and economic diversity.

  15. #15 Vicki
    February 15, 2011

    Ben’s parent, I don’t quite get your analogy. I could wear lead boots all year and not drown, because I’m not going swimming, I’m not in a boat, and my area isn’t prone to flooding. I could also easily drown without them, if I went out to the beach and simply walked, stark naked, away from shore.

    Now suppose I was wearing my normal winter boots, clothes, etc., with coins and keys and cell phone and such in my pockets, and carrying a backpack with a spare pair of socks, a couple of books, a flashlight, and a combination lock. (That’s what’s in there right now.) Suppose I was somehow swept away by a flash flood, or kidnapped and thrown off the Staten Island Ferry. Nobody would be likely to say the cause of my death was boots or the backpack.

    So, by your analogy, vaccines do not cause autism. Children who have been vaccinated sometimes develop autism, because most children are vaccinated. (It’s like arguing that vaccination causes a fondness for rap music.)

    Now that we’ve gotten this far, you could just drop the whole question of what causes autism, because it’s irrelevant to your actual situation. Ben doesn’t need a theory of causes. He needs attention, and appropriate interventions. Whether it turns out that the cause is genetic, a prenatal infection, the nefarious deeds of aliens from Zeta Reticuli, or some combination.

  16. #16 Jay Gordon
    February 15, 2011

    “I wonder if Dr. Gordon has spoken to Mr. Kirby about the need to move on from the vaccine-autism non link.
    I don’t know why, but for some reason, I doubt it. :-)”

    That is a great question and, in the interests of intellectual honest, I really should broach the topic with David Kirby. I will. Thanks.

    Best,

    Jay

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    February 15, 2011

    I read Kirby’s oozing** dreck the other day and felt very sad indeed: “Park Slope” was the (post war) home of my suffragist grandmother, my political wonk aunt, my gay uncle( who had a brownstone *with a garden* and summerhouse there), my dress designer cousin, my musician/ green engineer cousin, and my brilliant uncle who lived there until he died a few years ago. Please don’t judge PS based on a few *Auslanders* who come in and make trouble.

    ** re usage: I have been noticing that Orac and others ( myself included) often describe woo and its promoters as being slippery, slimey, unctuous, oily, dripping, oozing ( I’ll spare you the references to cesspools and K-Y), as something that would be hard to clean off of your hands if you accidentally touched it, as being formless and able to seep into any unsecured area. Metaphor/analogy choices speak volumes, don’t they?

  18. #18 Scott Cunningham
    February 15, 2011

    For those who have faith, no evidence is necessary

    That’s why the vaccine-autism question won’t go away. The facts don’t matter. They count for nothing in this argument. It’s like trying to argue with someone who insists wind is trees sneezing. They’re wrong because they aren’t interested in correcting their bizarre fantasies, and they’re never going to shut up.

  19. #19 wfjag
    February 15, 2011

    On the other hand, there’s a good review of Dr. Paul Offit’s book, Deadly Choices, in City Journal:

    Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, The Virus of Hysteria: Paul Offit’s new book chronicles the destructive impact of the anti-vaccination movement, City Journal (1 Feb. 2011), on-line at http://www.city-journal.org/2011/bc0201td.html

    And, I really like the opening paragraph:

    “From experience I know that it is best, when reviewing a book about the vaccine question, to declare a financial interest, or in my case, a lack of one. As far as I know I own no shares in vaccine companies, except perhaps through mutual funds whose holdings I haven’t examined closely. I don’t think, therefore, that my economic future depends to any great extent on the sale of vaccines. In view of what I am about to say, conspiracy theorists will have difficulty believing this, but it’s true.”

  20. #20 jen
    February 15, 2011

    well Orac, you “pat the backs for being so smart” any idiot who doesn’t question, or even worse, backs up stupid studies like Fombonne’s, Tozzi’s or Madsens so I wouldn’t talk if I were you. And this “manufactroversy” as you call it involves alot of people from the science/medicine/research camp, so what does that tell you?

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    February 15, 2011

    @ Scott Cunningham: Who needs evidence when you can confabulate or novelise?

  22. #22 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    jen:

    well Orac, you “pat the backs for being so smart” any idiot who doesn’t question, or even worse, backs up stupid studies like Fombonne’s, Tozzi’s or Madsens

    Please provide the links to the well considered criticisms of those papers. Please tell us how the reviewer was qualified (which none of them by Handley). Thank you.

  23. #23 Science Mom
    February 15, 2011

    well Orac, you “pat the backs for being so smart” any idiot who doesn’t question, or even worse, backs up stupid studies like Fombonne’s, Tozzi’s or Madsens so I wouldn’t talk if I were you.

    jen, something rather crucial you fail to acknowledge is that while yes, each of these studies have limitations, they are hardly “stupid”, except for the fact that they don’t support what you believe. And, we are not considering any one study but the totality of the many studies that simply don’t support an “autism epidemic” caused by vaccines. Your own camp can’t even keep their claims straight, vacillating between a “tsunami of autism” caused by vaccines and “just a small subset of children are affected” but that “small subset” is most children with autism. What do you have that would even begin to support your position that most autisms are caused by vaccines?

    And this “manufactroversy” as you call it involves alot of people from the science/medicine/research camp, so what does that tell you?

    Like who?

  24. #24 Eyeteeth
    February 15, 2011

    I know it’s been said before, but possibly what boggles my mind most about the anti-vax crowd is its tendency to refer to actual people with autism spectrum conditions as if they were less than human. Even if any of the anti-vax claims had merit, to oppose vaccination across the board you’d still have to believe that it’s better for children to die of preventable diseases than to become autistic. How extraordinarily offensive — and painful, too, for any poor kid on the spectrum whose parents hold that belief.

  25. #25 brian
    February 15, 2011

    @jen,

    Could you please post your criticisms of Fombonne’s recent paper, in which he demonstrates, e.g., that children who were born years after thimerosal was removed from the pediatric vaccination schedule, and thus received their vaccines six to eight years after exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines was dramatically reduced, show a higher prevalence of ASD than do children born when thimerosal use peaked? Thanks.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21070699

  26. #26 Pablo
    February 15, 2011

    Could you please post your criticisms of Fombonne’s recent paper,

    Jeez, people, even I know the answer to this one:

    “He claimed the children were in Montreal. They were actually in Quebec City.”

    That means it is all wrong.

  27. #27 Chuck Larlham
    February 15, 2011

    I had all those childhood diseases. I assure everyone, I’m not autistic. And, yes, I know… anecdotal individual cases don’t truly repre… what, you think they do? Look at WHO? Jenny McCarthy? Why? Just ’cause she got on Oprah’s show and lied to you?

    Folks, I’ve been blogging this for at least two years, and I reckon I’ll keep on keepin’ on for a while yet. Problem is, vaccines actually WORK. They keep kids from dyin’ by the hundreds of thousands (oh yes, by the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS). They prevent the lung damage I suffered from pertussis. They prevent Fetal Rubella Syndrome, with damage that ranges from mild to death.

    We need more enforcement of “No vaccine? No school!” and less, kowtowing to weepy Mommies who don’t want their little snowflakes jabbed.

  28. #28 Dangerous Bacon
    February 15, 2011

    jen: “And this “manufactroversy” as you call it involves alot of people from the science/medicine/research camp, so what does that tell you?”

    It tells me that if challenged to cite such people, you’ll produce a list of chiropractors, naturopaths, dentists, academicians from fields unrelated to medicine and immunology, “brave maverick pediatricians” and so on, all of whom put together wouldn’t amount to more than a miniscule fraction of those with some sort of health/science credentials, not to mention being a nearly invisible percentage of people knowledgeable about battling infectious disease.

    Being able to cite a list of goofballs and cranks who are antivax is meaningless. One could similarly demonstrate lists of people who are vehemently anti-fluoridation, think guzzling colloidal silver is a cure-all or believe chemtrails are a New World Order depopulation conspiracy.

    “Lots” of people are foolishly gullible in this way. It doesn’t validate their screwy beliefs.

  29. #29 Sid Offit
    February 15, 2011

    @a-non

    …the reason your affluent buddies don’t need to vaccinate their kids is because the rest of the unwashed masses outside their gated communities already have. You’re welcome

    And don’t think we don’t appreciate it.

  30. #30 Dianne
    February 15, 2011

    I can say vaccines cause a brain injury that presents characteristics of autism in some children.

    You can say that, certainly. And I can say, “What’s your evidence for that claim?” Can you respond?

  31. #31 Sid Offit
    February 15, 2011

    @Chuck

    They keep kids from dyin’ by the hundreds of thousands (oh yes, by the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS)

    This isn’t happening in the developed world is it?

  32. #32 dedicated lurker
    February 15, 2011

    Yeah, those brown people don’t matter, do they Sid?

  33. #33 Sid Offit
    February 15, 2011

    That’s a Pavlovian response with this group, isn’t it?

  34. #34 Lynxreign
    February 15, 2011

    @31 Sid the ignorant

    They keep kids from dyin’ by the hundreds of thousands (oh yes, by the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS)

    This isn’t happening in the developed world is it?

    It absolutely is.

  35. #35 Mu
    February 15, 2011

    This isn’t happening in the developed world is it?
    No Sid, it’s not. Because people in the developed world – despite your best efforts – still vaccinate.

  36. #36 Sid Offit
    February 15, 2011

    Documentation please. As in how do you come to those numbers.

  37. #37 dedicated lurker
    February 15, 2011

    Sid: Nope, because it’s a conscious reaction.

    And if you don’t want people to say that, don’t dismiss people dying in the non-developed world.

  38. #38 jen
    February 15, 2011

    Science mom and Chris, you know there are many many researchers who think vaccines present a problem (Dr.’s Dunbar, Shaw, etc. etc. etc.). My naming them or not doesn’t change the fact that they exist. And Chris, I will not provide you with any “considered criticisms” of those papers. Can’t you deconstruct them for yourself and see what their limitations are? You are always just so eager to support Orac’s positions. I hope your paid blogging gig is working well for you.

  39. #39 Sid Offit
    February 15, 2011

    I really don’t care what people say or think.

    don’t dismiss people dying in the non-developed world

    They should be dismissed, not on human terms, but in terms of their relevance regarding my risk/reward calculation. They should also be dismissed when it comes to determining how dangerous a specific infectious agant is because virulence is a product of both agent and environment. And I don’t share the environment of those living in the 3rd world.

  40. #40 Lynxreign
    February 15, 2011

    @35 Mu

    The quote Sid mentioned is that vaccines keep kids from dying by the hundreds of thousands. And they keep kids from dying in the developed world. Just wanted to be clear on why I said it is happening. Sid isn’t the clearest of creatures, so I can see how people would interpret his statement in different ways.

  41. #41 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    jen:

    My naming them or not doesn’t change the fact that they exist.

    Actually, they may exist, but because they only come from Handley or figments of your imagination means they are worthless.

  42. #42 Science Mom
    February 15, 2011

    Science mom and Chris, you know there are many many researchers who think vaccines present a problem (Dr.’s Dunbar, Shaw, etc. etc. etc.). My naming them or not doesn’t change the fact that they exist. And Chris, I will not provide you with any “considered criticisms” of those papers. Can’t you deconstruct them for yourself and see what their limitations are? You are always just so eager to support Orac’s positions. I hope your paid blogging gig is working well for you.

    Two? That’s many? Adding etceteras doesn’t make your argument. But let’s look at just those two; Dunbar doesn’t have any actual research and Shaw has produced two, sad little studies on mice that are methodologically piss-poor. I have read all of the papers that you have a problem with and they are not ‘stupid’ so you may wish to qualify your statement with your own observations instead of parroting a scientifically-illiterate knuckle-dragger like Handley. You opened that can of worms here, not he; defend it.

  43. #43 brian
    February 15, 2011

    @Pablo,

    Although the claim “they were in Quebec City!” may be the best that jen and her antivaxx friends can do to critize Fombonne’ previous effort, it doesn’t apply to this November, 2010 paper, which compares the prevalence of ASD in 1991 through 2002 birth cohorts within a single Montreal school district–thus spanning the 1996 elimination of thimerosal from the pediatric vaccines schedule in Montreal. The prevalence of ASD in each cohort born in or after the year that thimerosal was removed from the vaccine schedule was consistently higher than in cohorts born before thimerosal was removed. Jen may have trouble with that–and, indeed, this doesn’t seem to be much discussed at the antivax crank sites.

  44. #44 Dangerous Bacon
    February 15, 2011

    Sid said: “And I don’t share the environment of those living in the 3rd world.”

    Come offit, Sid. We have this thing now called “airline travel”. People fly into the U.S. and other developed countries from Third World Nations all the time. And that includes people incubating infectious diseases. Whether or not you care about the fate of people living in those countries (obviously you don’t), we share some of the risks.

    You need to wise up.

    For those who think a proposition is valid because “lots” of people believe in it, here’s a petition to Congress from over 7,000 people who are terribly worried about CHEMTRAILS constituting BIOLOGICAL WARFARE which must be STOPPED. Obviously that makes the Chemtrails Conspiracy real, right jen?

  45. #45 Jen
    February 15, 2011

    Chris, I don’t even know what you’re saying in post 41. Science mom, it’s well past two researchers who are concerned about vaccines and in a related field. I still think it’s telling that Orac doesn’t take on the Handley review of the studies.

  46. #46 Science Mom
    February 15, 2011

    Science mom, it’s well past two researchers who are concerned about vaccines and in a related field.

    Well then who? Surely you can produce a list of these movers and shakers. You started off with two, one of whom doesn’t even have any research in the field and the other, who writes papers on par with an undergraduate research proposal. Yours is an appeal to popularity and authority which, you should know, is a logical fallacy and not support of your position at all.

    I still think it’s telling that Orac doesn’t take on the Handley review of the studies.

    What? Next time, do a little Googling. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/04/generation_rescue_and_fourteen_studies.php

    and by ‘his friend’ on SBM: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=451

  47. #47 dedicated lurker
    February 15, 2011
  48. #48 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    I am saying that you are either parroting Handley or just making stuff up. I am not going to go by your word until you list those criticisms from qualified reviewers.

  49. #49 JohnV
    February 15, 2011

    @jen

    “I hope your paid blogging gig is working well for you.”

    Which sinister malthusian entity pays you to comment on blogs in an attempt to dissuade people vaccination in order to bring on a new age of rampant death from infectious disease?

    I know its true, I have sources who I am not going to name because as you so wisely noted, it doesn’t matter if I name them or not.

  50. #50 NJ
    February 15, 2011

    jen @ 38:

    there are many many researchers who think vaccines present a problem

    Answers In Genesis

    some of the most influential scientists past and present have been and are creationists

    The song remains the same…

  51. #51 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    JohnV, I have figured that jen is working for “Big Hospital Supply”, since she is so intent to see kids on respirators in hospital beds.

    Of course, she does not post the criticisms from qualified reviewers because they do no exist! They are either from Handley, or figments of her fevered imagination. She knows what we think of Handley, and I already found out that one review was just a rapid response letter in BMJ from some random guy claiming to be an MD.

  52. #52 Orac
    February 15, 2011

    I still think it’s telling that Orac doesn’t take on the Handley review of the studies.

    Telling of what? That I wasn’t in the mood to debunk idiocy that I’ve debunked many times before? Type “fourteen studies” or “14 studies” into the search box on this blog. I suppose I could take Handley’s moronicity on again, but I have to be in the right mood.

  53. #53 Chris
    February 15, 2011
  54. #54 dedicated lurker
    February 15, 2011

    Well, she said Orac, and Orac’s friend is close enough…

  55. #55 Forbidden Snowflake
    February 15, 2011

    Jen

    I hope your paid blogging gig is working well for you.

    Hey, did you know that anti-vaccine people actually increase Big Pharma’s earnings from vaccines?
    For example, after smallpox was eradicated, children stopped getting smallpox vaccines, and nobody could make money making them anymore.

    If the measles would be eradicated (by having high vaccination rates), they could discontinue measles vaccination as well. Of course, the anti-vax movement won’t have any of that.

  56. #56 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    Forbidden Snowflake, you will appreciate this article: “Moron” why anti-vaccine groups are in bed with Big Pharma. Though I still think jen works for “Big Hospital Supply.”

  57. #57 Roadstergal
    February 15, 2011

    And Chris, I will not provide you with any “considered criticisms” of those papers. Can’t you deconstruct them for yourself and see what their limitations are?

    Oh, that’s good. ‘Can’t you do my work for me?’

    Don’t worry, dear, we already knew your grasp of science was not enough to properly evaluate a fifth grader’s science fair project.

  58. #58 Forbidden Snowflake
    February 15, 2011

    Thanks, Chris. I could play this game all night.

    Let’s see:
    Big Pharma wants people to be sick
    Big Placebo wants people to be sick AND gullible
    Big Insurance wants people to live long and be healthy
    Big Toys wants children to survive past the 0-3 interval Big Food wants people to be alive and fat
    Big Flowers wants… Well, I’m not sure.

    So many conflicting interests!

  59. #59 phantomreader42
    February 15, 2011

    bensmyson @ #9:

    I can say vaccines cause a brain injury that presents characteristics of autism in some children. I can say vaccines trigger functional changes that cause autism. The same way I guess you could say lead boots cause drowning.

    I can say that poor Ben’s parents are just fattening him up so they can kill and eat him. And I have exactly as much evidence to back that up as Ben’s (cannibal) parents have for their idiotic claims.

  60. #60 DrWonderful
    February 15, 2011

    Off topic (as usual for me) but here’s some late breaking news about chiropractic…

    http://bit.ly/eDPdMa

    btw @Orac thanks for differentiating between musculoskeletal based chiropractic and the less evidenced based stuff yesterday. Seriously, good to see the effort.

  61. #61 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    February 15, 2011

    Sid,

    I’d like to know where you live that deaths in the developing world are irrelevant to your risk/benefit calculations. In my part of the first world, there’s a chance someone will get off a plane with cholera. Or polio. Or leprosy.

    The other problem with your thinking is that Americans figured that cholera in Latin America wasn’t a problem. Latin America includes Mexico. Mexico is right next door to South Texas. Microbes don’t have to show passports.

  62. #62 JayK
    February 15, 2011

    As a grad school psych major, I find it interesting the SBM people take the autism tag and build massive databases and argue over percentages when the diagnosis of ASD is only a gross approximation.

    The spectrum itself should make people wary of trying to deal with the fuzzy numbers.

    I am curious, though, can anyone pinpoint when vaccines became the main target of blame? It doesn’t seem to be Barbie Low Class, so who was the first one to open this door and play the game?

  63. #63 Dicty
    February 15, 2011

    @62

    can anyone pinpoint when vaccines became the main target of blame? It doesn’t seem to be Barbie Low Class, so who was the first one to open this door and play the game?

    Rimland. He toppled Bettleheim’s edifice of pseudoscience and misogyny and replaced it with his own.

  64. #64 Stacy
    February 15, 2011

    I grew up in Brooklyn. Slopies have long been known for by many other Brooklynites for their pretentious dilitantism and devotion to the fad of the moment. I am not shocked to see they haven’t changed.

  65. #65 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    February 15, 2011

    @61 – having explored this before with Sid, what I think he’s saying is that the number of people who contract polio, travel to the US, and come into contact with his children to the extent that they could be infected is vanishingly small. Naturally, this risk grows if people stop vaccinating for polio in largish numbers, but Sid does not believe this is a real danger in the developed world.

    I believe people in the US are not routinely immunized for cholera and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no immunization for leprosy – so those appear to be straw individuals of uncertain gender. But I could be wrong.

    This does not mean I agree with Sid’s position on vaccination. I believe he’s putting his children at risk, though the risk may be relatively small if they don’t travel and if they stay away from sick (even not obviously sick) people. I also see it as somewhat selfish and anti-social. But if we’re going to argue against him, we should argue on his real position.

  66. #66 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    February 15, 2011

    Big Flowers wants… Well, I’m not sure.

    Big Flowers gets a kickback from Big Allergy Medicine. If you sneeze, they win. If you don’t sneeze, they still win.

  67. #67 lilady
    February 15, 2011

    I get it now, we have all been snookered by “Jen”, who started commenting as a naif feigning interest in science and who is now a totally committed troll.

    Truth be told, as the parent of a multiply handicapped child and a public health nurse, I too, wondered what rogue genes expressed themselves in my precious child. He received all his childhood immunizations in a timely manner and had some fevers which were treated to avoid some of his nasty grand mal seizures. He was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at age two…and just before he died six years ago, many of the “rogue” genes were identified. I financially supported the foundation that funded grants to the NIH for this research, just as people who have an interest in autism research support “Autism Speaks.org”

    Autism Speaks.org is a group that was founded by the grandparents of a youngster with autism. It receives funding from parents and others who know that this group has done some excellent work in advocacy and as a portal for the latest research. Also on their site is information about therapies that work to ameliorate some of the behaviors associated with autism and to develop children’s social and language skills. Legal issues and services for children who are “aging out” (past age 21) of educational services are also addressed at this site.

    “Applied Behavior Analysis”…known as “behavior modification”… back in the day when I was working with my youngster to development my child’s minimal skills is a very intensive program. “Autism Speaks” has some excellent articles about this therapy and it is the major therapy that works for children who have “SIB” (self-injurious behavior) and to develop fine motor and “ADL” (activities of daily living) skills.

    I know only too well the frustration associated with having a children with developmental disabilities but…move on parents and stop looking for cures from Jenny McCarthy and stop wasting your monetary and emotional support on quack journalists, nutritionists and practitioners who have preyed on you.

  68. #68 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 15, 2011

    On the other hand, there’s a good review of Dr. Paul Offit’s book, Deadly Choices, in City Journal:

    I’m glad to see a good book getting good press but I was taken a bit aback when I encountered this part: “It was an error of judgment on the part of the medical journal The Lancet to have published this research in the first place. The experimental group was completely without a control group.” The first part is manifestly true, but I would have thought that Dalrymple would understand what a case series is and that it does not have experimental groups and control groups.

    As a grad school psych major, I find it interesting the SBM people take the autism tag and build massive databases and argue over percentages when the diagnosis of ASD is only a gross approximation.

    The spectrum itself should make people wary of trying to deal with the fuzzy numbers.

    It definitely would be easier to research ASDs if the definition was more clear-cut. The fact that an obstacle exists, however, doesn’t automatically mean that the research is impossible to do, or that it’s not worth the effort. As you observe, we have to be wary of possible error resulting from the ambiguity of the condition, but if the SBMers and EBMers don’t do their best to ascertain the truth under those circumstances, it means the field will be left only to those with agendas and those without the competence to realize that the difficulty is even there to contend with.

  69. #69 Caro
    February 15, 2011

    Orac,

    I was wondering how you felt about alternative vaccine scheduling. For instance delaying Hep B vaccine, until the child is older. I think that we should have a much greater respect for the possibility of sub clinical negative impact. You don’t have to be a coocoo to have respect for the complexity of the human body and the limits of our knowledge . . .

  70. #70 the bug guy
    February 15, 2011

    @62
    I wouldn’t get that excited, even the abstract isn’t a ringing endorsement when it says:

    However, the evaluated RCTs had many methodological shortcomings. Therefore, any firm conclusion will require future, well-conducted RCTs on manual therapies for migraine.

    There were only seven RCTs examined in the review. On a scale of 0-100 score for methodology quality, none ranked above 59. Five had less than 100 total participants. Four of the seven did not have controls. Only one of the chiropractic studies had a control group.

  71. #71 Chris
    February 15, 2011

    Caro, try this and this. The latter being from folks who know about HepB:

    PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) started in 1996 when some parents couldn’t find babysitters, playmates, or even many relatives willing to spend time with their children. Fear and ignorance of hepatitis B and C and HIV make people do such things.

    .

  72. #72 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 15, 2011

    I think that we should have a much greater respect for the possibility of sub clinical negative impact. You don’t have to be a coocoo to have respect for the complexity of the human body and the limits of our knowledge . . .

    The problem with this formulation, Caro, is that it gives more weight to a theoretical risk that vaccines have some sort of “sub clinical negative impact” than it does to the very concrete risk that a child whose vaccinations are being delayed by some “alternative schedule” will be infected with the disease in the wild before the vaccination occurs.

    Let me offer an analogy: You are walking with a companion across a large field when suddenly, a violent thunderstorm rolls in. You point to a house in the distance, as the lightning starts forking across the sky. “Look! There’s a house! Let’s run to it and take shelter there!” you say. “Oh, no!” says your companion. “That’s far too dangerous! There might be a gas leak in that house that’s within moments of causing a huge explosion! We wouldn’t want to be near an explosion like that! Let’s proceed very slowly across the field while this thunderstorm is going on!”

    Doesn’t your companion’s suggestion sound silly? That you should expose yourself longer to a fairly high risk of being struck by lightning, in order to delay the extremely low risk of the house just happening to have a gas leak at that particular time? Well, you’re right, it is silly.

    But at least we have evidence that gas leaks can happen. By contrast, we have absolutely no evidence to support the anti-vax talking point that the standard vaccination schedule contains “too many vaccines too soon,” which is the purely theoretical danger driving most “alternative schedules”.

  73. #73 lilady
    February 16, 2011

    Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all children,prior to leaving the hospital after birth. While it is true that all pregnant women are tested early in their pregnancy for the presence of Hepatitis surface antigen to determine carrier status and babies exposed at birth are given the vaccine along hepatitis B immune globulin, there are documented cases of children acquiring the disease as newborns once they are in the family home. When a woman is surface antigen negative in the earlier part of her pregnancy and the test results are in her chart, she may have become infected in the interim, through unprotected sexual relations. In some cultures, the mother or a close family member traditionally “pre-chew” food for the infant and the infant becomes infected. As discussed here on other blogs, infants have a very immature immune system and infected infants will have a greater than 90 % chance of permanent hepatitis B carrier status for life.

    Hepatitis B is a very stable virus in the environment…at least 7 days. There is a wealth of information about Hepatitis B infected babies at Immunize.org and PKIDs sites.

    Anyone here ever heard of “airport malaria”? Cases of malaria have been diagnosed in small geographic areas surrounding airports in the United States as a result of infected mosquitoes hitching rides aboard international flights.

    Cholera, which is now a major problem in Haiti, has come to the United States. (See NYC Health Department press release.) It was contracted in the Dominican Republican, by Americans traveling there for a family wedding.

    Typhoid, prevalent in undeveloped nations, has been diagnosed in the United States. Americans who traveled to these areas, end up in our hospitals and some do not survive.

    A case of Measles in a nine month old, with recent travel to Asia, was diagnosed In Nassau County, New York. The infected baby had recently been at a large department store for eight hours and exposed many people to Measles. The baby could have received (temporary) immunity with the MMR vaccine. Infants at least six months of age, but younger than 12 months should receive the immunization, prior to travel to endemic areas. Once an infant is past one year old, then parents need to have their child immunized following the CDC recommendations.

    Americans just don’t vacation in the United States anymore. They opt for vacations in Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Asia. People contemplated trips to these areas of the world should go to the internet to find travel advisories and to find “Travel Clinics” for immunizations and prophylactic medicine to keep themselves healthy.

  74. #74 maydijo
    February 16, 2011

    OT but maybe someone will know the answer – Is there an effective vaccine for cholera? About 15 yeas ago when I was going through a spate of vaccinations for travel to a risky area I was told that the cholera vaccine was only about 50% effective and had some really miserable side-effects that made it not worth the risk of taking it. Was I given the wrong information, or was I given the right information for that time but a better vaccine has been developed?

  75. #75 lilady
    February 16, 2011

    @ maydijo: Presently the CDC does not recommend Cholera vaccine for travelers. If you key in “Traveler’s Health CDC”, you will reach a great website for updates on the cholera epidemic in Haiti. CDC is intently monitoring this outbreak and outbreaks of other infectious diseases. The site also provides access to find travel medicine specialists and travel medicine clinics.

  76. #76 lilady
    February 16, 2011

    @ maydijo: Oops too late for me to be up! There is no cholera vaccine available in the U.S. Please key in:

    CDC Chapter 5 Cholera 2010 Yellow Book

    The Yellow Book is available on line—I believe with a subscription fee—but we have our methods to get it for free.

  77. #77 Chris
    February 16, 2011

    maydijo, my 1950s era shot record has a table for cholera vaccine, but it is empty. I believe since it was not very good it was abandoned in favor of more effective means of prevention, and treatment.

    There is a CDC Yellow Book webpage on cholera:
    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-5/cholera.aspx

  78. #78 Lazer Epilasyon Adana
    February 16, 2011

    And I’m afraid while I’m happy to keep the discussion going, I cannot answer any legal queries either, I’m revising at the moment and don’t have time to wade through what I suspect will be lots of legal-written material. As Skloot said, the ACLU suit is probably your best line of contact for further information about that.

  79. #79 Lazer Epilasyon Adana
    February 16, 2011

    And I’m afraid while I’m happy to keep the discussion going, I cannot answer any legal queries either, I’m revising at the moment and don’t have time to wade through what I suspect will be lots of legal-written material. As Skloot said, the ACLU suit is probably your best line of contact for further information about that.

  80. #80 wfjag
    February 16, 2011

    @Antaeus Feldspar:
    “It definitely would be easier to research ASDs if the definition was more clear-cut.”

    That’s because it’s a clinical diagnosis, which includes very different on-set conditions and behaviorial manifestations (not all of which have to be present) without any testing or treatments that can be used to base a differntial diagnosis. The trusim is true — when you’ve met one autistic, you’ve met one autistic.

    PETs and fMRI studies have found that in the brains of babies, each neuron has around 2500 synapses. This increases to around 15,000 at age 3, when a “pruning” occurs. This is about the onset age for most ASD diagnoses. Interestingly, another huge surge in synapses connections occurs right before adolescense, which is also followed by a “pruning” — which seems to coincide with the on-set of certain psychoses. A comparison of PETs and fMRIs for autistics and neuro-typicals between age 2 and, say, age 6, could explain a lot — not only the amount of prunings, but also where in the brain they occur, so that the before and after neuro-pathways are examined.

  81. #81 Roger Kulp
    February 17, 2011

    Broken Link said @ #7

    Recovered kids aren’t supposed to have seizures, so it may be that she has lost faith in the biomed movement.

    This gets to something I don’t believe can be stressed enough. There are many causes of “autism”,and many diseases that an cause “features of autism”.A large number of these are metabolic in nature.Not only mitohondrial,but folate metabolism disorders, organic acidemias,and a number of other such diseases.Metabolic diseases like this,are often treated with many of the same supplements the biomed woo-meisters use.When treated,the “autism”,or features of autism often do go away,but the underlying medical problems,like seizures,do not.Young master McCarthy may well have an undiagnosed metabolic oondition.

    Chuck Larlham said @ #27

    We need more enforcement of “No vaccine? No school!” and less, kowtowing to weepy Mommies who don’t want their little snowflakes jabbed.

    That doesn’t work.A lot of the more extreme antivax parents also home school.

    Posted by:

  82. #82 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    February 17, 2011

    Cholera is a real issue: the same mindset that says we don’t need to worry about vaccines for third-world diseases says that we can relax about sanitation because those diseases aren’t here anymore. (I threw in leprosy mostly as an example of “anything can turn up here”; as noted, there is no vaccine, and transmission modes are uncertain but almost certainly slow, from the known epidemiology.)

    That cholera outbreak in Haiti is only indirectly the fault of last year’s earthquake: the disease was imported by UN troops who were sent in as peacekeepers. Aid workers can spread disease too. In both directions. Anyone want to bet that nobody in any of the well-meaning American church groups that are going to Haiti to help out and/or preach will drink contaminated water and bring the microbes back to their suburb?

  83. #83 Narad
    February 17, 2011

    That doesn’t work.A lot of the more extreme antivax parents also home school.

    So what if some are homeschoolers? Plenty also file easy “philosophical” exemptions or wholly fraudulent religious ones, and I’ve heard tell of casting around for a DAN! doctor to magically turn up a medical exemption when neither of the above works.

  84. #84 maydijo
    February 21, 2011

    Just popping in to say thank you for answering my question.

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