A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of fun with a position statement by the International Medical Council on Vaccination (IMCV), which I called, in my own inimitable fashion, The clueless cite the ignorant to argue against vaccines. That’s exactly what it was, too, some truly clueless anti-vaccinationists arguing against vaccines and bolstering their argument with a hilariously pathetic list of signatories, among which were noted anti-vaccine activists, chiropractors, homeopaths, and other dubious practitioners totaling only between 80-90. Among those signatories was a woman named Suzanne Humphries, MD. We’ve dealt with Dr. Humphries before when she expressed anger at being called a quack and warning us pharma shills and minions that the “revolution has begun.”

Oooh. Scary.

This time around, Dr. Humphries has decided to tell us A Few Things I Know. Unfortunately for her, those “few things” she knows are precious few, and they are all wrong. But before we can deal with what Dr. Humphries thinks she knows, we first have to deal with her naked assertion of her medical credentials. In essence, Dr. Humphries begins with an argument from authority:

I am a Medical Doctor with credentials in internal medicine and nephrology (kidneys). I received a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics in 1987 from Rutgers University. I mention the college degree in case any doubtful readers question my mental prowess. One can doubt my intellectual ability less if they first realize that I know how to figure out difficult things. I know how to look at something in depth for many hours or days until I understand the inner workings of it. This is what I learned to do in college. In fact the strenuous mind-bending exercise that was part of the physics curriculum made medical school easy. I found the study of the human body, chemistry and biology to be in comparison quite shallow, simple and easy to comprehend.

As someone who comes from a strong basic science background, having been a chemistry major (who graduated with honors–so, there!), I think I can see Dr. Humphries’ problem. First, she seems unduly proud of her science background, wielding it like a talisman against charges that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about (which she doesn’t). Unfortunately, as those of us in medicine know, what you did 25 or more years ago in college has little bearing on what you can or can’t understand now. I can also see a bit of arrogance there, too. Let’s put it this way. I took advanced physical chemistry, graduate level biochemistry, and upper level physics, but I didn’t find medical school easy at all. One reason was that medical school required a whole lot of memorization in addition to basic science. Unfortunately, having been used to learning general principles and then applying them to problems, I found the memorization required to be rather difficult. Another problem I encountered was that, unlike chemistry and biochemical assays, I had trouble dealing with the ambiguity of medicine, of synthesizing incomplete and sometimes ambiguous clinical information in the form of patient histories, physical examinations, lab values, and tests and then applying what I had learned about the science of medicine to them. “Shades of gray” would be a good term to describe it, and I was used to more black and white. It took a major change in mindset before I began to understand. That change in mindset wasn’t easy, and it didn’t take overnight. Dr. Humphries’ problem is that she sounds as though she never changed her mindset from physics to medicine–and is proud of it.

Next up, Dr. Humphries assures us that she spent two years working in a biochemistry laboratory as a head technician. I’ll go her one better, if that’s the direction she wants to go. Not only have I been a technician, but I have also been a graduate student in a translational research laborotory, a postoctoral fellow, and now a medical researcher for the last 12 years in his own laboratory. As such, I would guess that I probably know more about how research is done than Dr. Humphries. Even so, it’s also probably irrelvant, because it’s the quality of one’s arguments that should rule, and, quite frankly, Dr. Humphries has become a homeopath. To embrace homeopathy, as far as I’m concerned, means throwing away all that knowledge of physics that tells us that homeopathy is nothing more than pseudoscience based on a mixture of prescientific beliefs drawing from the principles of sympathetic magic. In any case, I find it instructive to look at Dr. Humphries’ “conversion story,” but first we have to listen to her tell us again how awesome she is and how open-minded, too:

I have spent four years teaching internal medicine and nephrology to medical students, residents and advanced fellows in training at a university hospital as an assistant professor. During that time, reading over and critiquing dozens of journal articles was a part of everyday life. Suffice it to say, my past experiences have put me in good standing to look into the problems with vaccines and make certain determinations. Like most doctors, I held a blind belief for many years, that vaccines were necessary, safe and effective. Like most doctors, I never lifted a page to seek out any other truth for myself. But unlike most doctors, I have no stake in upholding false paradigms and I am no longer indebted to the government for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unlike most doctors, I have the means to survive with or without my medical license because I have sought out another education to support myself in case of worst case scenario.

Do you get it? Dr. Humphries is a Seeker of The Truth, man! And don’t you forget it! She don’t need no stinkin’ pharmaceutical drugs, and she don’t need no “conventional medicine,” either! She spits on Lord Draconis Zeneca‘s scaly hide. (She will come to regret that, actually. Our benevolent scaly pharma overlord will make sure of it, I’m certain.) I also love how she refers to “the truth,” as in, “The Truth? You can’t handle The Truth?” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, science is not about the truth (or The Truth). It’s about evidence and data and what can be observed. It’s about models, explanations, and theories that explain current observations and make predictions. All “truths” in science are provisional. If the evidence doesn’t support a model anymore, scientists abandon it in favor of a model that better explains the existing evidence. But it’s all about The Truth to Dr. Humphries:

Up until 2 years ago I was content to work as a medical doctor caring for very sick people with kidney failure. Two years ago, everything changed. With several undeniable cases of kidney-associated vaccine injury in previously healthy people, I started to look deeper into the information that I had previously held as factual and not worthy of debate. I started to study vaccines, their components, and the science behind the statements of safety and effectiveness. From there an avalanche of truth collapsed upon me and I will never be the same. In fact, nothing I look at will ever be the same. Chronic degenerative diseases, kidney failure, autoimmune diseases and powers of authority will never look the same to me again. There are certain things that I can now say with no uncertainty.

An “avalanche of truth”? Wow! Is that like a “tsunami of autism”? Still, I have no doubt that Dr. Humphries will never be the same. She has, after all, become a homeopath. If she used to practice science-based medicine before she turned to woo, then, yes, her life has changed, and she will never be the same. That’s not always a good thing. In Dr. Humphrie’s case, it certainly is not. Still, I’m curious about these cases of “kidney-associated vaccine injury.” She doesn’t elaborate, and, quite frankly, I didn’t have time to watch this video last night, where she apparently makes the same claim. Oh, never mind, it’s close to the beginning of the video. Dr. Humphries states that back in the winter of 2009 she saw several cases of fulminant kidney failure in patients who had had their seasonal flu vaccine and their H1N1 vaccine. In some cases these cases were up to six weeks after vaccination.

Six weeks? Gee. With millions of people being vaccinated against H1N1, what do you think the odds are of seeing a few cases of patients in fulminant kidney failure that began sometime within the six weeks after they had been vaccinated? Pretty high, I’d guess. Probably pretty close to 100%, given the frequency of vaccination against the flu, particularly among the elderly, who are more prone to kidney failure, and the incidence of kidney failure. It’s a perfect example of confusing correlation with causation. She even goes so far as to say that she thinks “idiopathic” cases of kidney failure are really due to vaccines.

That’s because, to the anti-vaccine loon, it’s always about the vaccines. Always. Maybe later this week I’ll have a chance to go through the whole video. Or maybe not.

So, what are the “few things” (the very few things) that Dr. Humphries knows? Let’s take a look:

Vaccines did not save humanity and never will.

No one ever said they did, but they sure have reduced the rates of infectious disease and saved millions upon millions of lives.

Next up:

Vaccines have never been proven truly safe except for perhaps the parameters of immediate death or some specific adverse events within up to 4 weeks.

So let me get this straight. Vaccines have never been tested for long term complications? What about all those studies the looked for and failed to find links between vaccines and autism, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and many other conditions? Oh, wait. Dr. Humphries put the word “truly” in there. So she’s conceding that vaccines are safe based on the science thus far. She just thinks they aren’t “truly” safe, whatever that means. (Note also how she’s simply using a variant of the word “truth”; she’s clearly all about The Truth–big T–than she is about science.) Actually, I rather suspect the word “truly” means whatever Humphries wants to mean, the better to shift goalposts as more studies verifying the safety of vaccines roll in.

And then Humphries pulls out a “thing she knows” about smallpox:

Smallpox was not eradicated by vaccines as many doctors readily say it was. They say this out of conditioning rather than out of understanding the history or science.

This is, of course, a straw man. The eradication of smallpox was multifactorial, including improved sanitation. However, that does not mean the smallpox vaccine was not instrumental in finally eradicating the disease once (and hopefully) for all. Thanks to vaccines, we were on the verge of eradicating polio; that is, until rumors that vaccines were a plot to sterilize Muslim men took hold and depressed vaccination rates, setting back the timetable for the eradication of polio.

And a “thing she knows” about polio, too:

Polio virus was not responsible for the paralysis in the first part of the 20th century. Polio vaccine research, development, testing and distribution has committed atrocities upon primates and humanity. Bill Gates is not a humanitarian.

Funny. Tell all the people in iron lungs 60 and 70 years ago that polio wasn’t responsible.

Finally, here’s the one thing Humphries “knows” about vaccines in general:

Vaccines are dangerous and should never be injected into anyone for any reason. They are not the answer to infectious diseases. There are many more sustainable and benevolent solutions than vaccines.

But it’s not as though Dr. Humphries is anti-vacccine or anything. She’s really pro-safe vaccine, right? Oh, wait. She is antivaccine. She just said so. She just told us that vaccines are dangerous and should never be injected into anyone for any reason. If that’s not anti-vaccine, I don’t know what is.

Just like the IMCV, which is clearly anti-vaccine to the core.


  1. #1 AnthonyK
    February 17, 2011

    You could learn as much from me as I learn from you.

    And what, pray, have you taught us? I’ve learnt a lot from RI since I’ve been here….but your posts are consistently weak: I have no idea why you post here, except vanity. You seem more like a drive-by troll than a serious health professional. More selfish than substantial, less authority than author.

    All I’ve seen so far is a remarkably needy, presumably wealthy, Californian doctor to the stars, who’s frequently appeared in anti-vax media outlets, and yet who appears here seeking something you’ll never get: scientific, medical credibility.

    We’ll think you’ve changed, Dr Jay, when you confirm here and on your website, that you recommend proper vaccinations for your young patients.

    Until then: bullshit, Jay.


  2. #2 Beamup
    February 17, 2011

    Science is not a monolithic entity consisting only of double blind randomized control research. It can also consist of the aggregated wisdom and experience of researchers, doctors and others.

    Nobody here says otherwise. What YOU claim is that your own personal experience trumps not only the personal experience of all other researchers, doctors, and others, but careful clinical and epidemiological research. Which is utterly nonsensical.

    You really do give the impression of believing that you’re God and completely infallible.

  3. #3 Matthew Cline
    February 17, 2011

    @Jay Gordon:

    It can also consist of the aggregated wisdom and experience of researchers, doctors and others.

    Can it? For centuries clinical experience led doctors to think that bloodletting worked. What’s changed such that now clinical experience can be relied upon?

  4. #4 augustine
    February 17, 2011


    And looking at the numbers, according to the WHO there were 164,000 death from measles in 2008 alone. Mengele was really an amateur compared to the anti-vaxers.

    A few questions. Which individual is responsible for 164,000 deaths? Does Jenny McCarthy speak Swahili? Medicine kills 200,000 each year in the U.S. alone. Does Mengele look like amateurish compared to modern day doctors?

    Are you implying that these are all vaccine preventable? Are you certain of the accuracy of the diagnosis and reporting? Do you think nutrition alone may be a big factor?

    How did you assess which of these 164,000 were vaccinated or not? For the non vaccinated, how did you assess the reasoning why, so as to correctly place blame?

    This type of emotion based accusations makes sciencebloggers look sloppy.

  5. #5 Pablo
    February 17, 2011

    What are scientic studies if NOT the aggragated wisdom and experience of doctors and others? The difference with science and what gordon is doing is that science works hard to separate the observations, wisdom, and experience from biases that we know are brought to the table any time people perception is involved.

    When perception contradicts reality, the wise person questions their perception, recognizing that they have the potential to deceive themselves. Only the idiot insists they cannot be deceived, and then deny reality.

  6. #6 prn
    February 17, 2011

    @brainzzz, Matthew Cline
    Thanks. The petty officaldom, in CYA mode or simple distrust, are going to hammer parents for vaccines when clearly inappropriate by objective criteria. I’m not blaming the Drs.

    Not sure what average pit stop costs, but if $125-150 per dr visit, the average American is not going to have the necessary history and contraindications paperwork done if it takes 1-2 trips to get the paperwork “right” for school.

    Basically, the MD (Prince George Co, Maryland) “chicksh–” episode is saying to moms, is that in the future, if the kid doesn’t have a Dr signature on the kid’s previous chickpox episode, the kid is required to have the vaccine. Ditto, if the kid had an adverse reaction. Many little people are not set up to handle that much procedural detail and cost without problems.

  7. #7 Happy Camper
    February 17, 2011


    I’m a long time lurker and sometimes poster here. I have read all the comments and have come to one conclusion and that is the tone you complain about here was created by you. With your snarky, sarcastic and condescending remarks. I really don’t know just why you post here. You make remarks without any reliable sources and question other people who answer your questions but you are unable to answer theirs. In my opinion that is being a dishonest broker and just pure lazy on your part. The bottom line is you dug the hole you are in now and it is time for you to put down the shovel.

    AND this post was not about you but Suzanne Humphries.
    Thanks for the derail……Troll

  8. #8 LW
    February 17, 2011

    “I’m going to let you in on a secret while throwing you more red meat: You could learn as much from me as I learn from you.”

    Dr. Gordon, you are so right. I remember learning from you that “Tetanus is not ‘everywhere.’ It’s in Africa and other parts of the globe while we in the USA have a few dozen cases/year.” Well, under pressure from other commenters, you did ultimately acknowledge that tetanus does indeed exist in the USA and, actually, everywhere. But you continue to contend that Americans should not be vaccinated against it. I guess you might change your mind when the mortality from tetanus in the U.S. gets to a satisfactorily high level.

    This is fun. I can find lots more that I learned from Dr. Gordon.

  9. #9 lilady
    February 17, 2011

    Dr. Jay Gordon continues to post about how he has learned from posters on this site…yet his web site confirms that he still supports Wakefield and he still has Kennedy’s “Deadly Immunity” article posted prominently. He has added a link to Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Regret Sparks Controversy” which is a dead end site. So….Dr. Gordon, why don’t you eliminate Kennedy’s report from your web site?

    Dr. Gordon still has his article entitled “Shame on PBS Frontline The Vaccine War” along with his letter to the Producer Kate McMahon, complaining that his interview for the documentary was “edited out”, along with other “experts” on the vaccine causing autism debate.

    Wasn’t Orac’s original blog about the woo medicine practitioner Suzanne Humphries? I did a little research about her specialty (nephrology) and her hospital affiliation. She is licensed in the state of Maine, I found an affiliation at St. Joseph’s Healthcare hospital in Bangor, Maine. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, there isn’t a nephrology department, but Humphries is listed on their “specialty” list. Humprhries originally received certification in Internal Medicine from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). At the ABIM site, I checked on her certification status, and she no longer is certified in Internal Medicine (her certification lapsed on December 31, 2006). She is certified in nephrology by the ABIM. I invite posters to visit their site for the “strict” criteria they use, including self-examination criteria and open book tests, for certifying a practitioner in nephrology.

    I haven’t seen her CV…I wonder if she did any post-doctoral fellowships in nephrology or renal medicine. Anyone here find any PubMed articles written by her in her specialty?

    I also checked the Maine Department of Health for any reports of untoward reactions, including kidney failure, associated with the H1N1 vaccine; none found.

  10. #10 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 17, 2011

    The original quote is accurate.

    “Tetanus is not “everywhere.” It’s in Africa and other parts of the globe while we in the USA have a few dozen cases/year. I would like to see more effective tetanus vaccination there.”

    This week’s MMWR is the best source.

    Happy Camper: No. You’re wrong.

    Matthew Cline: Medicine changes. HRT, statin therapy, surgical techniques and efficacy and more. Someday we’ll view our current vaccine schedule the way Dr. Halsey and others taught us to view the use of thimerosal as a preservative: Not the safest way to do things.

    The above post, by the way, like virtually all posts on RI, devolves into a discussion of “anti-vaccine loons.” My comments are germane to the topic. (No irony intended.)


  11. #11 Matthew Cline
    February 17, 2011

    @Jay Gordon:

    Medicine changes. HRT, statin therapy, surgical techniques and efficacy and more.

    I’d said (basically) “clinical experience wasn’t reliable centuries ago, so why is clinical experience reliable now?”. So your above reply seems like a total non-sequitur.

  12. #12 LW
    February 17, 2011


    I can only quote daedalus2u from the original thread:

    Dr Jay, are you that completely ignorant about tetanus? Tetanus is not a communicable disease. There is no herd immunity to tetanus because the organism that causes tetanus is very widespread in the environment. People catch it when they have a wound that is infected by dirt, not from other people.

    The spores are everywhere. Americans have died from pricking a finger while gardening. The only reason more Americans don’t die is because so many of us are vaccinated, and we have really good medical care if we get it anyway. But personally I’d prefer not to require intensive medical care.

    So I guess Dr. Gordon is still of the opinion that Americans should not be vaccinated against tetanus because we need to get our mortality back up to where it belongs.

  13. #13 Dangerous Bacon
    February 17, 2011

    Jay: “Medicine changes. HRT, statin therapy, surgical techniques and efficacy and more.”

    Which one of those cited examples (or changes in any other facet of medicine) came about because of anecdotes and Internet-fueled fears in direct opposition to scientific evidence, Jay?

  14. #14 Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP
    February 17, 2011

    Initially, Bacon, all of them. “Scientific evidence” can fall apart under greater scrutiny.


  15. #15 DW
    February 17, 2011

    @ Orac:

    I believe that you are being visited by a representative of a major league woo entrepreneur ( I’ll not name either for I realize that you are as perspicacious as you are perspicuous) however all of the “markings” are there- certain vocabulary choices, particular views points on alt med vs. SBM/ Pharma, preferences for natural substances, a recognizable style of derision, similar description of background, parallels to other information citing you, perhaps even a barely disguised reference to the organization as well.

    All this and Dr. Jay and Jake, too. BTW, I despair about Jake. College students are so vulnerable. Open your eyes, young man. Question your beliefs a bit. Is it not possible that you could be wrong? Young people often make rash choices that they regret later. It’s a part of growing up. Everyone does it. No shame in that.

  16. #16 Gray Falcon
    February 17, 2011

    Initially, Bacon, all of them. “Scientific evidence” can fall apart under greater scrutiny.

    Do you have any evidence of this? Seriously, science advances because of evidence, not in spite of it.

    Still, we’ve learned quite a bit from each other. I’ve learned more about the depths of dishonesty and arrogance which a person can sink, and you’ve learned not everyone’s fooled by the right-pitched words.

  17. #17 Enkidu
    February 17, 2011

    Dr. Jay, if medicine changes, why not just throw up our hands and not trust any of it? Does ALL medicine change, or just those therapies/ techniques that you personally disagree with? Heck, why believe you or anyone else if it’s all just going to go 180 degrees in x amount of years?

    Do you even LOOK at data? What data leads you to believe that the current vaccine schedule is so awful and backwards? I know there has been at least one study I can remember off the top of my head, comparing “delayed” vaxers to “on-schedule” vaxers, and it showed no difference.

    Wait, that’s right, it’s your experience that we just have to blindly trust. Sorry I can’t trust your “spidey sense” without something tangible to back it up.


  18. #18 Dinah Everett Snyder
    February 17, 2011

    okay, now THIS has been fun!
    and : Science is not a monolithic entity consisting only of double blind randomized control research It can also consist of the aggregated wisdom and experience of researchers, doctors and others”.

    and “Just relentless, anti-intellectual, mind numbing nastiness”.

    I’d like to add ” a preponderance of peer pressure bullying and ridicule, designed to keep dissenters firmly in check, with ever caustic reminders of what happened to MR WAKEFIELD should any cautious doctor with moral or ethical questions or concerns DARE to question the meaning behind
    the relativity of “there is no “I” in team mentality”…”

    Thank you everyone. Just for that you can have your quarter back, this one is on the house!

    Dinah Everett Snyder.

  19. #19 Dangerous Bacon
    February 17, 2011

    Jay don’t need no steenkin’ evidence. And the point whooshed right on past him, which is what happens when you have your fingers in your ears, chanting “They wuz wrong before!”

    Changes in standard medical practice come about, Jay, because evidence makes the need for them obvious. In no case do we alter practice because of superstition, ungrounded fears and malice in the face of extensive investigation that validates the safety and efficacy of the practice (as is the case with vaccination).

    Jay says that “someday” he’ll be proven right. It’s amazing how long some people insist on waiting for “someday”. For instance, homeopathy has been around for over 200 years. It was idiotic when Hahnemann first espoused it, its concepts remain ludicrous and it’s never been validated as therapy more effective than placebo. Yet Jay Gordon uses homeopathy to treat patients.

    When does that magical someday arrive when you give up homeopathy, or colloidal silver as an “immune booster”, or any other bogus medicine that you promote, Jay?

  20. #20 Happy Camper
    February 17, 2011

    “Just relentless, anti-intellectual, mind numbing nastiness”

    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And again this is about Suzanne Humphries. My advice for the crank trolls and their two cents is just quit while your behind! You look like fools.

  21. #21 Phila
    February 17, 2011

    Here’s one more vote for Dr. Jay Gordon to put a little more effort into forming coherent, evidence-based arguments, and a little less into staging quasi-Victorian attacks of the vapors.

    Most of us did not come down with yesterday’s rain, and are well aware that tone-trolling is most common among a) people who are losing or have lost an argument; b) passive-aggressive narcissists whose hostility is not nearly as submerged or “dignified” as they like to imagine.

    In short, give it a fucking rest, already.

  22. #22 Pareidolius
    February 17, 2011

    ” a preponderance of peer pressure bullying and ridicule, designed to keep dissenters firmly in check, with ever caustic reminders of what happened to MR WAKEFIELD should any cautious doctor with moral or ethical questions or concerns DARE to question the meaning behind
    the relativity of “there is no “I” in team mentality”…”

    I used to hear this exact same argument from the HIV denialists back in the 90s. Just substitute “Professor Duesberg” for “MR WAKEFIELD.” And there is an “i” in team mentality (as well as a “me”) or were you attempting to be ironic? There’s a reason why we get so caustic about this brew of medical fraud, fear mongering and magical-thinking nonsense. It kills people.

  23. #23 Old Rockin' Dave
    February 17, 2011

    Edgar, you say, “We have committed genocide against the small pox virus and you want to similarly commit genocide against the polio and measles viruses!”
    You can’t commit genocide against a virus. The word derives from Greek roots literally meaning the killing of a tribe. Measles and smallpox viruses are in no way members of a tribe, race, nation or ethnic group, and are not even universally considered organisms. My hand is up for causing their extinction everywhere but in a high-security deep freeze, and that last only until we can reliably recreate them from scratch if for some unimaginable reason they become relevant.

  24. #24 JohnV
    February 18, 2011

    @Dr. Gordon

    “”Tetanus is not “everywhere.” It’s in Africa and other parts of the globe while we in the USA have a few dozen cases/year. I would like to see more effective tetanus vaccination there.””

    I realize that microbiology isn’t your specialty but since it is mine I’d like to let you know that Clostridium tetani is everywhere. It’s a spore forming bacterium that resides in soil, fresh water sediment and the gi tracts of some mammals.

    Since the microbe is everywhere the disease could be everywhere unless it has been restricted via vaccination or behaviorally (people going outside less). As opposed to our troll Sid Offit, C. tetani doesn’t hate Africans and does not specifically target them.

    Here’s a good review should you find yourself bored. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2404569

  25. #25 Lazer Epilasyon Adana
    February 18, 2011

    The word derives from Greek roots literally meaning the killing of a tribe. Measles and smallpox viruses are in no way members of a tribe, race, nation or ethnic group, and are not even universally considered organisms. My hand is up for causing their extinction everywhere but in a high-security deep freeze, and that last only until we can reliably recreate them from scratch if for some unimaginable reason they become relevant.

  26. #26 LW
    February 18, 2011

    Old Rockin’ Dave, Edgar was making fun of Dr. Gordon’s solicitude for the virus.

  27. #27 LW
    February 18, 2011

    Another thing to learn from Dr. Gordon: the CDC is infallible when declaring a disease wiped out in the U.S. (though of course they lie through their teeth when declaring vaccination to be safer than getting the disease). As evidenced by this:

    To address LW first: I vaccinate none of my patients against rubella unless they have very unusual travel plans. Rubella no longer poses a threat to American women and children. The CDC declared this over five years ago.


    See, once the CDC declares a disease to be wiped out in the U.S., that declaration, all by itself, will protect us all forever, no matter how much we travel to areas where rubella remains endemic nor how many of us are unvaccinated. Once the CDC has spoken, no rubella virus would ever dare replicate itself in an American on American soil!

    And so, if one of Dr. Gordon’s female former patients gets pregnant — on American soil — and is exposed to someone who visited a country where rubella is endemic and caught it there, congenital rubella syndrome is out of the question, because the CDC has spoken!

  28. #28 Lawrence
    February 18, 2011

    Jay – sorry to go back to asking some hypotheticals, but given that you did say that some of your opinions have changed I did want to see what you would do if:

    1) You find out that one of your patients is travelling to a country where certain diseases are endemic & vaccines are available (and the patient / child isn’t currently up to date on his/her vaccines) – do you recommend the vaccines before the trip?

    2) Same patient – but they ask you first if the vaccines are necessary, how do you advise them?

    Now a quesiton regarding homeopathy:

    1) Do you believe that homeopathy is an effective treatment, even though for it to work as presented by people by Dr. Humphries it would violate major laws of physics?

    And back to disease eradication:

    1) If polio & measles could be completely eradicated worldwide (meaning those vaccines could be discontinued) – why shouldn’t we do it?

    2) Are you in favor of disease eradication at all?

    And finally, over the course of your time here, you’ve at least presented arguments & some evidence (though not good evidence) related to your core beliefs on the issues with the current medical establishment in general & vaccines in particular. And you’ve complained about tone here as well – pointed at some of our more prolific posters (who I can see do get frustrated having to debunk the same tired old arguments from trolls over and over and over again).

    You seem to have no problem getting upset at your opponents here when the conversation gets a little heated, but I’d like to see you address some of the more moronic members of your own side – especially when their continued use of vitriol and downright nastiness does nothing to advance the conversation. You have the perfect forum here to continue to have a more civilized discussion – especially at the times when you do seem open to re-examining the evidence presented – so I’ve love to see you take some of your own to task for not putting forth coherent, rational, or other type of positive arguments (even if they are wrong or misguided, lol).

  29. #29 Mu
    February 18, 2011

    Augustine, unwillingly you’ve brought a very interesting point there. Menegele is a name to throw up as “responsible”, but Mengele was not like the guy in Tucson, a lone gun man killing people. He had orderlies who tied down his victims, there were guards on the towers, there were train engineers who delivered the prisoners, police men who organized the traffic at collection etc.
    And you have Jenny, but you also have the people at AoA and HuffPo who give her a forum, people who buy tickets to the fund raisers, people who repeat the nonsense in 100 of forums etc.
    Where does responsibility stop?

  30. #30 Sid Offit
    February 18, 2011


    C. tetani doesn’t hate Africans and does not specifically target them

    It just hates people who use dirty farm implements to cut umbilical cords. And if it were everywhere, why was it so exceedingly rare even before vaccination?

  31. #31 triskelethecat
    February 18, 2011

    @ silly Sid:

    It just hates people who use dirty farm implements to cut umbilical cords.

    Besides being bigoted, you are wrong.

    CDC MMWR statistics (the most recent I could find a documentary of; I’m sure there are more recent but work blocks sites). Bolding is mine.


    During 1998–2000, an average of 43 cases of tetanus was reported annually; the average annual incidence was 0.16 cases/million population. The highest average annual incidence of reported tetanus was among persons aged >60 years (0.35 cases/million population), persons of Hispanic ethnicity (0.37 cases/million population), and older adults known to have diabetes (0.70 cases/million population). Fifteen percent of the cases were among injection-drug users. The case-fatality ratio was 18% among 113 patients with known outcome; 75% of the deaths were among patients aged >60 years. No deaths occurred among those who were up-to-date with tetanus toxoid vaccination. Seventy-three percent of 129 cases with known injury information available reported an acute injury; of these, only 37% sought medical care for the acute injury, and only 63% of those eligible received tetanus toxoid for wound prophylaxis.

    No umbilical cords with dirty farm implements there. INJURIES that broke the skin. Here in the USA, with our wonderful sanitation, healthcare, nutrition. An 18% death rate.

    Wanna try again without the bigotry?

  32. #32 Sid Offit
    February 18, 2011


    despite being asked on multiple occasions why docs giving six vaccines at one time are idiots, you have never actually responded with anything.

  33. #33 Sid Offit
    February 18, 2011

    The comment I was referring to was talking about Africa, and in Africa/third world, neonatal tetanus kills 13 times more children under five than does non-neonatal tetanus; the farm implements reference was directed towards that form of the disease. Perhaps I should have made that clear but anyone familiar with tetanus in Africa knows the neonatal variety is dominant.

    C. tetani doesn’t hate Africans and does not specifically target them

    and from emedicine:
    Worldwide, most reported cases of tetanus are the neonatal type

  34. #34 Sid Offit
    February 18, 2011

    So why 1 million cases in the third world and 40 in the USA?

    Wiki – Tetanus
    It [neonatal tetanus]usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument

    Where’s the bigotry in that?

  35. #35 lilady
    February 19, 2011

    @ triskeletthecat: Final number of cases of tetanus for calendar year 2009 in the United States is eighteen as reported on the website “CDC: Notice to Readers: Final 2009 Reports of Nationally Notifiable Infectious Diseases”

    (I working on my techie mate for a tutorial to link sites to my postings–apology)

    The 2010 data for Notifiable Infectious Diseases will not be available until summer, 2011.

  36. #36 JohnV
    February 19, 2011


    “And if it were everywhere, why was it so exceedingly rare even before vaccination?”

    I guess you are suggesting that Clostridium tetani is not a ubiquitous soil bacterium but found primarily in Africa? Presumably you have some bacterial ecology reference to support that and aren’t inferring it from reported incidence of disease? Every source I can come across suggests a global distribution of the microbe.

    As a result of global distribution, how can there be a disparity in incidence of disease? Well, as we have both indicated, certain behaviors significantly increase the chances of infection.

    On the topic of it specifically targeting 1 ethnicity over another, the tetanus toxin targets synaptobrevin II (I think), so unless Africans have a different synaptobreven II than Europeans the microbe isn’t directing its action specifically towards one group or the other.

    I’m happy to admit that I don’t know anything about various synaptobrevin II alleles so it is always possible that there’s something going on with that.

  37. #37 carol
    June 16, 2011

    Does anybody have any idea what “International Medical Council on Vaccination” is? It is a site that has been developed by a complete nut in his dumpy looking house in Racine, Wis. This nut, Nicholas Haas-Burkhardt, calls himself the “president” of International Medical Council on Vaccination” but there is no corporation. Screw ball Haas-Burkhardt has had restraining orders taken out against him in Wisconsin when he wouldn’t stop harassing an animal shelter there. So, “International Medical Council on Vaccination” is nothing more than a pathetic goof ball sitting on a computer in his dumpy little house. He has absolutely not one single credential to do anything medical and sits in a cube and makes sales calls all day long.

  38. #38 Orac
    February 11, 2012

    Kirk did make me laugh sufficiently that I sent him a private e-mail pointing out how silly his criticism is. 🙂

  39. #39 Kirk King
    February 11, 2012

    This is pretty serious stuff for me as a concerned parent trying to get information. I must say I would feel a lot more secure if this article was not written by someone who goes by the pseudonym “Orac”. At least Dr. Humphries states her name. I’m an educated person myself, pursuing my PhD this year; I would put my name behind anything I write. Why won’t you? If you are willing to do that, please send me an email as I would like to ask a few questions. Thank you.

  40. #40 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    King King, Orac’s identity is the worst kept secret on the Internets. It works as a test to see how well people like you do your research when you come up with comments like this. Especially since many of his articles can be found under his actual name elsewhere.

    I suggest you work a wee bit harder, and do check out the websites listed on the left hand side of this page under the title of “Medicine” for other sources of information. I would also suggest you look for the CDC Pink Book.

  41. #41 Lawrence
    February 11, 2012

    @KK – Orac’s identity is a rather poorly-kept secret. He also does publish a parallel blog under his own name (google is your friend). We find this blog to be a good place for a certain type of discussion (I believe Orac’s description of it above is well-served).

  42. #42 Science Mom
    February 11, 2012

    I must say I would feel a lot more secure if this article was not written by someone who goes by the pseudonym “Orac”. At least Dr. Humphries states her name.

    Posting an actual name is a more reliable metric for information rather than content and verifiability? What’s your PhD in, poetry?

  43. #43 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    Oops, I misread his first name.

  44. #44 Kirk King
    February 11, 2012

    I’m glad you all find this so amusing. I wonder if any of you, like me, have infant children going for vaccination shots in a few days? I just wanted to get some reliable information, and all I got in return was rudeness and aggression by both the author of this article, and some of the above respondents. Has the internet killed all civility? I’ll copy my correspondence with “Orac” below and that should answer your questions as to my overlooking his real name, my intentions in posting at all, and yes, even my area of study. I’ve learned, however, that I won’t get any help here, and I dare say our Mr Orac is rude and perhaps even a little bit insecure. You won’t be hearing from me again, so have fun amongst yourselves. Picking up from Orac’s comment above (the one where he “had a good laugh at me”)…

    [E-mail deleted]

    Hey, now hang on just a minute. Is this how you respond to people who have read your articles? Don’t you think that is just a little rude?

    I did read your link, in fact, as I try to find out the background information of all people whose opinions I read on the net. Wouldn’t you? My baby girl is due for shots in a few days, so I’m just trying to get some good, solid info. Can’t you understand my concern about information sources?

    I have no intention whatsover of “refuting your arguments”, and in fact I very much want to agree with you. Therefore I think it’s a little unfair to say I am “pulling the old pseudonym whine”. I understand that certainly a lot of people must do just that, and hence you are a little sensitive. I’m sorry if my reaction to your article came off a little strong, but I still think it’s a fair comment, and at least it was not insulting.
    Kirk King

    [Two e-mails deleted]

    Mr [name deleted here],
    I apologize for not reading your name properly on your description. I don’t have much free time, and it’s 4:10 a.m. on a Saturday night and I’ve been up trying to get info as my baby is getting shots on Tuesday. In my tired state, I overlooked your name. If you want to copy this email to your blog, please feel free to do so as evidence of my error.

    Of course I did not realize I was coming across as an “antivaccinationist”. What the heck do I know? I’m an ethnomusicologist for goodness’ sake. Like I said, JUST trying to get some information. Sheesh.
    Yours respectfully,
    Kirk King

  45. #45 Kirk King
    February 11, 2012

    I don’t understand, I just posted a response here. Why has it not appeared? Has it been censored? I didn’t use any foul language.

  46. #46 Calli Arcale
    February 11, 2012

    Kirk — there’s a spam-bucket that affects all of scienceblogs. I’m not sure on what criteria it uses to flag a post for moderation; sometimes it’s length (I’m verbose, so I run into that a lot), sometimes it’s keywords that someone, somewhere has decided are associated with advertising, sometimes it’s frequency of posting . . . the only one I’ve consistently seen is that if you post more than a couple of links, it will always go into moderation. Orac will have to review the post and take it out of moderation. He gets to them eventually, usually within a few hours. It’s a weekend, though; he might not be online as much.

  47. #47 Kirk King
    February 11, 2012

    I’m glad you are all so very amused. I wonder if any of you, like me, have babies scheduled for vaccinations this coming week? I tried to get reliable information here, and all I got in return was aggression and rudeness. Has the internet killed all civility? I will repost below my email exchange with “Orac”; that will answer your questions about my intentions, my thoughts on pseudonyms, my error in overlooking his name, and even my area of study (which is not poetry, incidentally, though in fact I think that is a wonderful area of scholarship).

  48. #48 Kirk King
    February 11, 2012

    Fine, so be it. I just think it’s inappropriate to be so disrespectful, as the transcription of our email dialogue will clearly show, if the author has the courage to show my comments here. I’ll just let it go. But I will say this, a lot of you, more than vaccinations, should have acquired manners at a young age.

  49. #49 Lawrence
    February 11, 2012

    @KK – I believe we have been nothing more than “respectfully insolent.”

    See what I did there????

  50. #50 Orac
    February 11, 2012


    Look, people come around here aggressively challenging me on my pseudonym all the time. 99 out of 100 times (at least) they’re antivaccinationists. So maybe I jumped to a conclusion. On the other hand, you sounded and acted just like many of the antivaccinationists who wander through here and try to challenge me (and my commenters), and it wasn’t just I who thought so. So I think it was an understandable mistake.

    Be that as it may, I would point out that it’s very uncool to post private e-mails on a public forum the way you did. Harsh rhetoric is tolerable; people throw it at me all the time. They call me every name in the book, claim I’m in the pay of big pharma, or just a very, very bad man. Water off a duck’s back. However, publishing private e-mails is generally seriously frowned upon by pretty much every blogger and commenter, as well it should be. If I had wanted to communicate with you publicly, I would have posted what I said in the comments. Think of it this way. What if you had e-mailed me privately and I had posted your e-mail all over my blog?

    I’d be willing to bet money that you would have been very, very unhappy.

    So I hope you’ll understand why I removed the e-mail exchange from your comment and left everything else intact.

    If you want to reboot, fine. There will be no more sarcasm, at least not from me. If you don’t, then I suggest that this blog is not the place for you. Information on vaccines can be found in many places. My favorite:


  51. #51 Science Mom
    February 11, 2012

    I’m glad you are all so very amused. I wonder if any of you, like me, have babies scheduled for vaccinations this coming week? I tried to get reliable information here, and all I got in return was aggression and rudeness. Has the internet killed all civility?

    Mr. King, please go back and re-read your initial entry at # 240. You did not ask for any information regarding vaccinating your infant; you came out swinging and made a stink about the host’s pseudonym, which isn’t at all pseudononymous. If you have actual questions, then post them, then perhaps people won’t take your aggression as well, aggression and nitpicking.

  52. #52 Thomas
    February 11, 2012

    Dinah Everett Snyder

    In your fantasies of oppression, why does Orac allow you to post here? Do you think that Orac doesn’t know how to delete posts, or do you think that Orac doesn’t realize how devastating your arguments are? Surely, if you were as convincing as you seem to think you are, Orac would be forced by his big Pharma bosses to delete your brutal dissections of his evidence, no?

    On a related note, why do the pro-disease sites like AOA boast of censoring posts?

  53. #53 Hinterlander
    February 11, 2012

    Hi Kirk

    I hope you do stick around as this is a great place to find excellent quality, referenced information on vaccines. Not so long ago I was in the same situation as you with the added baggage of antivax family dishing up all sorts of scare tactics in an attempt to stop me vaccinating my daughter. I found that the search function here was an excellent place to start, as Orac has refuted a vast amount of myths spouted by antivax groups and individuals.

    I really do empathise with your situation. New parent anxieties can really play havoc with your head and heart. My daughter was premature and so I clocked up many hours pouring over this site and repeatedly calling our vaccine information centre, GP, Plunket, etc to put my mind at ease. Being raised in an antivax family, I had to unlearn a great deal of biases, etc.

    Of course, my daughter was fine and now a very strong and healthy 20 month old who’s reaching her milestones perfectly.

    Again, I hope you stick around. You may even come to enjoy Orac’s insolent style – I certainly do! I wish you all the best in your search for information.

  54. #54 Chris
    February 12, 2012

    Mr. King, could you not find the CDC Pink Book? It is here. It should provide all of the information you need.

    My children are old enough to have gotten some of the diseases covered by vaccines. Trust me it is not fun. Especially since my oldest has several health concerns.

  55. #55 Chris
    February 12, 2012

    Science Mom:

    If you have actual questions, then post them, then perhaps people won’t take your aggression as well, aggression and nitpicking.

    And he did it on an article that is a year old! He might have also received a more nuanced response if he had posted on a recent vaccine thread, and well, actually asked a question. Though I did point out the CDC Pink Book, was that no sufficient?

    I hope he was not expecting a timely response, since it is Saturday and I spent most of the say at a gardening show, plus we went out to dinner.

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