I’ve heard it said (actually, I’ve said it myself) that if you don’t have the science and evidence to back up your point of view, in order to persuade someone, make a movie. At least, this seems to be the philosophy of a number of cranks who have produced movies promoting pseudoscience over the last five years or so. The first one of these movies that really caught my attention was an anti-evolution, pro-“intelligent design” creationism documentary narrated by Ben Stein and released in 2008, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The movie was pure creationist propaganda, complete with Ben Stein visiting Auschwitz and Dachau, the better to try to link “Darwinism” to the Holocaust.

Movies promoting religious pseudoscience such as intelligent design creationism are not the only kinds of pseudoscience propaganda films that cranks make. Indeed, medicine is rife with them, and Wally Sampson has referred to this particularly pernicious genre of documentary as “medical propaganda films.” During the existence of this blog, we’ve reviewed a few such films (or at least written about what we could find out about them without paying for the DVD). For example, I’ve written about The Beautiful Truth, a paean to the Gerson protocol for cancer, complete with coffee enemas, and reviewed Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, a film dedicated to the claim that you can cure almost everything (including not just type II but type I diabetes) with a raw vegan diet. There’s even a film out now praising Stanley Burzynski and his highly dubious “antineoplaston” therapy that I’ve been meaning to review. I finally found a free copy of it to watch, and perhaps I’ll get to it before the end of the month. The problem, of course, is the neuronal damage I’m likely to suffer by sitting in front of my computer and watching the film.

In the meantime, I couldn’t help but notice that another medical propaganda film is making the rounds. Indeed, the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism is promoting a screening of this film that’s scheduled for tomorrow in New York. This documentary, The Greater Good, has been making the rounds of various film festivals and as of today has made it to New York, where it is opening at the IFC Film Center on Sixth Avenue. Now, I could simply say here that all you need to know about this movie are that Joe Mercola has hosted the movie streaming on his website in “celebration” (if you can call it that) of what he and Barbara Loe Fisher dubbed “Vaccine Awareness Week” and that one of our favorite bands of anti-vaccine cranks, the Center for Personal Rights, sponsors of a pathetic failed anti-vaccine rally in Grant Park in Chicago in 2010, is sponsoring two screenings tomorrow, one at 4:10 PM and one at 8:05 PM. After the films, audiences will then be treated to a panel discussion by anti-vaccine luminaries such as Louise Kuo Habakus, Mary Holland, and Kim Mack Rosenberg and also “special guest” Emily Tarsell, the last of whom is billed as the mother of a girl who died from the Gardasil vaccine and also, not coincidentally, is the Director of Gardasil Network Development for the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). I’m guessing there’ll be some really helpful medical information being passed around at these screenings.

Yes, that’s sarcasm. I realize it’s a bit obvious.

I’m going to tell you more, though, because I’ve actually managed to sit through the whole thing. The things I do for my readers! Fortunately, Orac, being a Tarial cell computer that is the most powerful and interconnected in the galaxy hidden in a cheesy Plexiglass box full of blinking multicolored lights, is able to withstand the waves of burning stupid that emanate from this film. It’s total anti-vaccine propaganda, manipulative to the core and full of misinformation confusing correlation with causation. To give you an idea of what you’re in for (in case the video is no longer available by the time that you read this), here’s the trailer:

The first thing I noticed about The Greater Good is that it’s slick and well produced–considerably better produced, I think, than Expelled! The only aspect of it that I found annoying (besides the sheer quantity of anti-vaccine misinformation, pseudoscience, talking points, and distortions, all of which were plenty annoying) was the little animated segments. (Well, the little animated segments and any segment featuring Dr. Bob Sears.) However, given the sheer mass of anti-vaccine propaganda contained within this documentary, quibbling about a stylistic element like that is rather like quibbling about the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The documentary is structured, as many documentaries are, around three families, the better to provide the human interest framework upon which to pile the pseudoscience. Interspersed with segments about each family are interviews with various experts. Perhaps I should say two experts arrayed against a whole lot of “experts,” because defending vaccines we have real experts like Dr. Paul Offit; Dr. Melinda Wharton of the CDC; Dr. Norman Baylor, who is Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review in the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research; and Dr. Mark B. Feinberg, Vice President for Medical Affairs and Policy for Merck Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Merck & Co., Inc. Arrayed against them we have a whole lot of anti-vaccine pseudoexperts, such as Barbara Loe Fisher, grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement and founder of the Orwellian-named National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC); Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician known for his non-science-based “alternative” vaccination schedule, who of late appears to have ceased mere flirting with the anti-vaccine movement and thrown his lot in with it; Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, a “wholistic” pediatrician; Dr. John Green III, who is described as a “specialist in clinical ecology and nutritional medicine“; and several trial lawyers known for representing parents suing for “vaccine injury,” lawyers such as Clifford Shoemaker, Kevin Conway, and Renee Gentry.

The Children and Their Families

Who are these families? All of them provide heart-wrenching stories of suffering, and one has suffered through the death of a baby. No one with an ounce of empathy could fail to be moved by at least two of these stories, if not all three. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the producers know that and use these sad tales intentionally to manipulate the emotions of the viewer. Early in the film we are introduced to Gabi Swank and her family. Gabi is a teen whose family, herself included, believes she was injured by the Gardasil vaccine. She is shown being a healthy, energetic cheerleader and then portrayed as having descended into a mass of medical problems, including seizures, neurological complaints, and many others, all as a result of the Gardasil vaccine. What’s rather interesting is that, nowhere in the film do they really state with much clarity exactly what it is that Gabi has, other than “vasculitis” and, more importantly, when her symptoms began relative to vaccination. I had to go searching, and I found that two years ago at the NVIC conference Barbara Loe Fisher and Gabi’s mother Shannon Schrag stated that Gabi was diagnosed with “central nervous system vasculitis and central nervous system lupus after receiving the third Gardasil injection.” I also found a YouTube video made about Gabi a while ago:

Throughout the film, Gabi is portrayed going to visits to doctors, going through all of her medications, looking ill. Perhaps the most heartbreaking segment of all portrays Gabi trying on various prom dresses, a huge smile on her face, only to develop severe back pain as she’s getting ready to actually go to the prom, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. Gabi laments during the car ride to the hospital how she has the “worst luck in the world,” and it’s hard not to agree. At the hospital, she is diagnosed with a kidney stone, which is presumed to be due to one of her medications. As a result, Gabi misses her prom and is devastated by it, saying to her mother that she is really sad that she has gone from being a princess to “look where I am now.” Who could help but feel for a girl in such a situation? Certainly not me. Later, as if things weren’t bad enough for Gabi, her mother is shown being forced to give up her house and describing how she’s getting a divorce, all because Gabi’s illness has left them with $100,000 in unpaid medical bills and placed so much stress on her marriage that her husband couldn’t take it anymore. The implication, of course, is that all of this is due to vaccines given to Gabi “for the greater good.”

Not surprisingly none of the questions over the timing of the development of Gabi’s symptoms are mentioned, which have been described in various news reports as beginning “within weeks” of her having received the third dose. Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but in Gabi’s case it’s hard not to note that even the correlation seems pretty darned weak. Heck, even by Gabi’s own story, it’s pretty close to looking nonexistent. None of this, of course, is mentioned in the movie; Gabi’s and her mother’s unwavering belief that Gardasil caused her illness is accepted as Gospel, and it is pointed out that Gabi’s neurologist Dr. Dwight Lindholm has stated publicly that Gabi’s illness is due to Gardasil. How did Dr. Lindhlom come to that conclusion? It’s never really explained in the movie (or anywhere else that I could find), and apparently the filmmakers are hoping that no one realizes that just because a neurologist thinks that the vaccine caused Gabi’s illness doesn’t make it so. I feel sorry for Gabi because she has horrible health problems. I really do. No one should have to have such horrible health problems at such a young age. However, I just don’t see any good evidence that her current health problems are due to Gardasil.

Next up is Jordan King. Jordan is a 12-year-old boy with autism that his parents blame on vaccination. Even more than that, Jordan’s was one of the test cases for the Autism Omnibus proceedings. Even under the looser rules of evidence of the Vaccine Court, the Special Masters rejected the Kings’ claims of causation of Jordan’s autism by vaccines and rejected it conclusively in a well-written, well-reasoned decision. Indeed, the Special Master concluded:

This case, however, is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories. The result of this case would be the same even if I totally ignored the epidemiologic evidence. The result would be the same if I restricted my consideration to the evidence originally filed into the record of this King case, disregarding the additional “general causation” evidence imported from the Dwyer case. The petitioners’ evidence has been unpersuasive on many different points, concerning virtually all aspects of their causation theories, with each such deficiency having been discussed in detail above. The petitioners have failed to persuade me that there is validity to any of their general causation arguments, and have also failed to persuade me that there is any likelihood that Jordan’s thimerosal-containing vaccines contributed in any way to the causation of Jordan’s own autism. To the contrary, based upon all the evidence that I have reviewed, I find that it is extremely unlikely that Jordan’s autism was in any way causally connected to his thimerosal-containing vaccines.

In short, this is a case in which the evidence is so one-sided that any nuances in the interpretation of the causation case law would make no difference to the outcome of the case.

The filmmakers, although they mention that the Kings lost their case, downplay just how badly they lost and portray their defeat as part of the “conspiracy” to cover up vaccine injuries. This is true even though the Special Master pointed out:

I have kept all of these points in mind in deciding this case. I have not required a level of proof greater than “more probable than not,” which has also been described as “50 percent plus a feather.” I understand fully that petitioners are not claiming that Jordan’s thimerosal-containing vaccines were the sole cause of his autism, but are alleging only that such vaccines contributed to the causation of his autism, allegedly in concert with an underlying genetic vulnerability. I have looked beyond the epidemiologic evidence to determine whether the overall evidence — i.e., medical opinion, circumstantial evidence, and other evidence considered as a whole — tips the balance even slightly in favor of a causation showing as to Jordan’s autism.

Worse, in the documentary itself, the Kings describe how they took Jordan to a DAN! doctor, who did provoked urine heavy metal testing and claimed to find that Jordan’s mercury levels were very high. This doctor then told them that he was “mercury toxic” due to vaccines, an account that can also be found in the judgment.

The truth is that the Special Master went out of his way to be sympathetic to the Kings in his ruling, and it’s hard not to be sympathetic to them. They clearly love Jordan and have done the best they can to raise him, even with his autism and medical problems. In the documentary, they openly worry about what will become of Jordan after they die. Who will take care of him? What parent of a child with developmental disorders doesn’t wonder that? As loving and struggling as they are, though, the Kings are mistaken. They might believe that vaccines caused Jordan’s autism, but there is simply no evidence to support such a view.

Finally, the most difficult of all is the case of Dr. Stephanie Christner and her daughter Victoria Grace Boyd Christner, who died at five months of age. Again, it’s a horrible, horrible thing to lose a baby like this, one of the most horrible things in the world. However, as much as we might feel saddened by the story and sorry for the Christners, we have to stay as objective as possible when it comes to their claim of what killed their baby; i.e., vaccines. To put it simply, there just isn’t any evidence that vaccines led to the death of their child. Dr. Christner blames the death of her baby on a “slow reaction over time” to vaccines causing “chronic inflammation.” Christner tells a story of her child being vaccinated with “all the usual vaccines” at the age of two months and then “never being the same after that” within a week. Apparently, Victoria started to become more withdrawn, stop eating regularly, and ultimately had a seizure on December 15, 2008. From the obituary we can make some inferences. Victoria was born on August 22, 2008, meaning that her two month shots would have been administered in late October. So the seizure occurred nearly two months after vaccination. On December 23, Victoria received her next round of vaccinations, and then the movie jumps forward nearly two more months to the weekend of Valentine’s day, which is when Victoria, for unclear reasons, suddenly stopped breathing and died in what sounds rather like SIDS, although not enough information to know is presented.

This happened more than a month and a half after her last round of vaccines.

The scenes in which the Christners describe the death of their daughter are the most harrowing in the film. I almost cried while watching them describe the death of their daughter. However, that emotional reaction did not keep me from noticing that their story was also not particularly convincing even for a correlation between vaccination and the death of their baby, much less convincing for causation. We’re left with the Christners lamenting how they had “followed the rules” and ended up with a dead baby, interspersed with photos and home videos of a cherubic, happy baby, followed by Dr. Bob Sears claiming that a lot of doctors try to convince their patients that vaccines are 100% safe.

Truly, the cynicism of the filmmakers (and Dr. Sears) is beyond belief.

The “Experts” vs. the Experts

Interspersed between the vignettes from the families, we find the classic battle of “experts” versus experts; i.e., pseudoexperts versus real experts. On the real expert side, we have people like Dr. Paul Offit, who is, as I like to say, known among anti-vaccine activists as the Dark Lord of Vaccination; Dr. Melinda Wharton of the CDC, and others who valiantly try to promote the science-based view of vaccines. They are, unfortunately, overwhelmed by anti-vaccine propaganda. In fact, the film is a classic case of a “manufactroversy,” which is a favorite denialist technique to give the impression that there is a legitimate scientific controversy when in fact there is none. The questions about whether vaccines are safe and effective, whether vaccines cause autism, whether they cause all the neurological and developmental disorders attributed to them, and whether they cause asthma and other diseases related to the immune system are not controversial in science. They just aren’t, the attempts of antivaccine propagandists like this to assert otherwise notwithstanding. However, by pairing anti-vaccine doctors and one anti-vaccine scientist with scientists who support current science, the filmmakers, quite intentionally I believe, give the viewer the impression that there is a real scientific controversy over these issues, as much as Dr. Offit, Dr. Wharton, and others labor to try to explain that there is not. Add to that the nakedly emotionally manipulative use of Gabi Swank, Jordan King, and the Christners mourning their dead baby, and it is very clear what the filmmakers’ message is. It’s not a message based on good science, particularly given how often hoary old straw men are trotted out to be knocked down, strawmen like the complaint that “vaccines can’t be questioned,” which is utter nonsense that is easily debunked simply by pointing to the conflicting scientific literature on the efficacy flu vaccines in the elderly.

Indeed, the movie is could easily be described as an anti-vaccine talking points greatest hits. At various points in the movie, “experts” call for a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study, even a randomized study of vaccinated children versus those receiving placebos. I kid you not. No less a luminary than Dr. Sears himself called for this in the movie, but he was not alone. Many, but by no means all, of these anti-vaccine talking points come from a “holistic” pediatrician named Dr. Lawrence B. Palesky, whose website touts his “holistic advantage” and describes Dr. Palevsky thusly:

In using his “whole child” wellness philosophy, Dr. Palevsky recommends and incorporates the teachings and therapies of nutritional science, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, environmental medicine, homeopathy, and essential oils, along with natural healing modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, reflexology, and mindfulness.

Is it any surprise that Dr. Palevsky comes across in the movie very much as being “anti-vaccine”? Of course not. He even writes articles for the NVIC. It’s also no surprise that Dr. Palevsky spends much of his time on The Greater Good promoting a litany of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, including the “toxins” gambit, conspiracy mongering about pharmaceutical companies, and claims that vaccines aren’t adequately tested. Late in the movie, he’s even shown speaking to the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and using the most brain dead of anti-vaccine gambits, namely claiming that because mortality from various infectious diseases was falling before vaccines for those diseases were introduced it must mean that vaccines are useless. It’s the very same intellectually dishonest gambit that Raymond Obomsawin made himself famous for. Elsewhere in the film, Dr. Palevsky is shown speaking to a bunch of parents talking about how amazed he was to discover that there was mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, antibiotics, and preservatives in vaccines, all gambits that we’ve discussed many, many times on this blog.

In fact, if there are any remaining doubts that Dr. Sears has finally allied himself with the anti-vaccine camp (we gave him the benefit of the doubt when Dr. Snyder deconstructed his Vaccine Book a while back), this documentary should put them to rest, because right after the scene with Dr. Palevsky promoting the “toxin” gambit to parents we’re treated to Dr. Bob saying:

You would think that the FDA would take each of those ingredients and then study them in human infants to make sure that each of those ingredients is safe. Well, they haven’t done that. They’ve never taken vaccine quantities of each of those ingredients and done the safety testing to confirm that each one of those ingredients is safe.

Given that vaccines as a whole are extensively studied in infants and that we have longstanding historical evidence of vaccine safety, this “toxins” gambit is nothing more than a ploy that (1) appeals to the fear of chemicals with complicated, nasty-sounding names; (2) plays on the scientific ignorance of the American public, many of whom don’t understand the concept of dose-response and think that it’s possible to eliminate nasty chemicals completely; and (3) produces an intentionally impractical regulatory hurdle that vaccines must overcome, as each and every component, seemingly, must be studied individually in individual clinical trials, regardless of existing evidence. One wonders if Sears realizes the implication of his argument. Would we have to test the buffer solution that is used for safety, even though it’s usually something like phosphate-buffered normal saline? Or what about formaldehyde, which is a normal byproduct of metabolism and is present in vaccines at levels far below what is already in the infant’s body to begin with? Sears, whether he realizes it or not, is parroting a common anti-vaccine talking point that screams “vaccines contain ingredients known to cause cancer and death.”

Another doctor trotted out in this documentary as an “expert” is Dr. John Green III, who is described as having been “been in medical practice for 36 years with a background in emergency, family practice, environmental and holistic medicine and allergies.” He embarrasses himself by whining about how producers from FRONTLINE didn’t use any of the footage of his interview for The Vaccine War. In this, he sounds very much like Dr. Jay Gordon. In fact, one wonders why Dr. Jay didn’t show up as one of the anti-vaccine “experts” used by the filmmakers. Later, a neuroscientist named Christopher Shaw, who is apparently revered in anti-vaccine circles for doing experiments in mice that suggest that aluminum is toxic, is shown saying that we’re all living in a “toxic” soup and that vaccines are part of that soup, all overlaid with a cartoon, a couple of images from which I’ve captured as screen shots:



Other “experts” fall more into a gray area. For example, Diane Harper is well known in anti-vaccine circles. An investigator in the original clinical trials for Gardasil, she has apparently turned against the Gardasil vaccine. Although she was apparently misquoted in the past, as reported by Ben Goldacre, in this movie, the mask appears to drop, with Harper castigating Merck and speaking at the NVIC conference in 2009, telling the audience she will “show you the science.” Particularly annoying is how she is represented as the “lead researcher” for the Gardasil trials when in fact she was simply an investigator at one of the sites at which the original trials of Gardasil were conducted. There is a huge difference. Dr. Harper has also stated unequivocally in the past that “I fully support the HPV vaccines. I believe that in general they are safe in most women.” One can’t help but wonder whether she’s now changed her mind. At least, I wonder based on the segments of her interview that made the final cut, whether she still believes this, as her statements in the movie appear to go far beyond her previous mostly reasonable complaints that the vaccine has been “over-marketed” by Merck.

Finally, there’s Barbara Loe Fisher, the grande dame of anti-vaccinationism herself, who probably gets more screen time than just about anyone else. She tries to portray herself as being “moderate,” and I suppose that, compared to the more radical anti-vaccine zealots, she might be described that way, but that’s not saying much. As I’ve documented before, her website and her vaccine conferences are cesspools of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, and so is the vast majority of what she says in this documentary. Basically, she repeats the same anti-vaccine nonsense that she’s been repeating for nearly 30 years, all while laboring mightily to try to present herself as a “moderate” who is “attacked by both sides” and complaining that “advocates like myself” are “demonized.”

There might have been a time back in the 1980s when Barbara Loe Fisher was not truly anti-vaccine and really was a “vaccine safety advocate.” That day is long past. All it takes is a look at her website to demonstrate that. In fact, I’d love to ask Fisher personally what specific vaccines she recommends. If she were truly a “vaccine safety advocate,” she’d have ideas of which vaccines are safe and which ones aren’t. Never is heard from her, anymore anyway, anything other than attacks on each and every vaccine. None of them, apparently, are “safe enough” to earn the NVIC seal of approval and all of them, to the NVIC, cause horrific complications. Perhaps that’s why ambulance-chasing “vaccine injury” attorneys like Kevin Conway and Clifford Shoemaker are featured, the latter of whom is known for raking in money hand over fist from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and threatening bloggers who point out that he makes tons of money from the VICP.

Speaking of trial lawyers, they are also prominently featured in this movie. In fact, another particularly revealing scene takes place near the one hour mark in the movie. In this scene, several of the lawyers featured in the documentary are filmed in a restaurant discussing the VICP. The scene is preceded by complaints from various principals about how the VICP protects vaccine manufacturers from legal liability by forcing litigants to go through the Vaccine Court first, including a scene in which Fisher laments how vaccine manufacturers have “no accountability.” Then we see Kevin Conway holding court with his fellow trial lawyers, saying:

It just amazes me what the government does to protect the integrity of vaccines. It can be anything but the vaccine. They feel as though their job is to keep immunization rates up, and if you legitimize vaccine claims, then you’re saying, yeah, there are vaccine injuries, and they can never say that.

Of course, the very existence of the VICP is an admission that there are sometimes vaccine injuries, as is the existence of so-called “table injuries,” which, if a child demonstrates one of these conditions in close temporal association with vaccination, result in automatic compensation. To the lawyers, the problem is not that the government doesn’t concede that there are vaccine injuries. If that were the case, then the VICP wouldn’t exist and no one would ever receive compensation. The problem is that the government insists that complainants use a special court in which lawyers can’t go for huge contingency payoffs and, even worse to the lawyers, that there be some science behind claims of vaccine injury. These lawyers are in my opinion notorious for relying on bad science and pseudoscience to try to win their claims. None of this prevents Conway from stating baldly that he believes that it’s all a “conspiracy,” although he concedes that “it’s a conspiracy to do good” by keeping vaccination rates up.

Finally, if you want to see additional “experts,” the ones who apparently were responsible for the medical and scientific content of the film, all you have to do is to wait until the very end of the closing credits, where it is stated that “this film was vetted by Dr. Lawrence D. Rosen, MD, FAAP and Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD, FRCP for scientific and medical accuracy.”

This explains a lot.

Who is Dr. Rosen? He’s an “integrative” pediatrician who is chair-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UMDNJ/New Jersey Medical School (ack, my old stomping grounds!), and Chief of Pediatric Integrative Medicine at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, as well as medical advisor to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center. He also writes The Whole Child blog. All one has to do is to search his blog, and one will find that Dr. Rosen opposes vaccine mandates, in particular mandates for the flu vaccine and Gardasil and appears to believe that thimerosal causes autism (although he is very careful to be vague on this issue). Worse, he was a featured speaker at a notorious anti-vaccine conference in Jamaica in January, sharing the bill with the likes of fellow “experts” Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Palevsky, Dr. Russell Blaylock (who is an all purpose medical crank and, like many all purpose medical cranks, anti-vaccine), Dr. Shiv Chopra (who is anti-vaccine to the core), Dr. Richard Deth (who was an expert witness for the plaintiffs at the Autism Omnibus proceeding), Raymond Obamsawin (mentioned above), and, yes, Andrew Wakefield himself. It turns out that Dr. Yehuda Schoenfeld spoke at the very same conference with Dr. Rosen and has himself been involved in dubious vaccine-autism science, in particular involving Mark and David Geier in his journal.

It all makes sense now why this movie is so bad.

Whither autism?

For all its anti-vaccine talking points, The Greater Good does bring up an issue that I find rather curious and, quite frankly, amusing, and this issue comes from Barbara Loe Fisher herself. This most revealing statement from her comes twice, first early in the movie and then late in the movie, when she repeats it. Basically, Fisher argues that vaccine injury is “not just about autism” and late in the movie even goes so far as to say:

In the last decade, the conversation has shifted from one looking at the broad issues concerned with vaccine safety and vaccine policies to focusing on autism. And I believe it was an error that’s had serious consequences. The truth is, it’s become very easy to dismiss the entire vaccine safety issue by focusing on autism and vaccines.

While she says this, an image of Jenny McCarthy on Larry King Live! is briefly flashed on the screen coincident with the phrase “serious consequences.” Besides wondering if Barbara Loe Fisher is exhibiting a bit of envy over how McCarthy and Generation Rescue have grabbed the spotlight, I also wonder if Fisher realizes that she is implicitly admitting that vaccines do not cause autism. After all, if there were strong scientific, clinical, and epidemiological evidence in existence that vaccines do cause autism, then I fail to see how focusing on autism would make it “very easy” to dismiss the entire vaccine safety issue. In fact, if I were anti-vaccine and such evidence existed, I’d trumpet it to high heaven as my strongest argument that vaccines were harmful. Yet, here we have Fisher bemoaning how the vaccine/autism connection has taken over and made it easy to dismiss her and her fellow anti-vaccine activists as cranks. The amusing thing (to me, at least) is that Fisher apparently doesn’t recognize that her argument implicitly admits that the evidence that vaccines, or components of vaccines, cause autism is nonexistent or at best incredibly weak and that there is lots of evidence that they do not.

The Filmmaker

Finally, it’s interesting to take a look at the filmmaker, namely producer Leslie Manookian Bradshaw, who appears to have dropped the “Bradshaw” of late. It turns out that Bradshaw appears to be a homeopath, as I discovered when I first heard of this movie several months ago. At least, that’s what she lists her occupation as in her political campaign contributions. Interestingly, I distinctly remember that she used to have her training in homeopathy listed in her filmmaker bio page several months ago, but it’s not there anymore. Unfortunately, I didn’t save it. Whether she is a homeopath or not (it would be very coincidental if there were another Leslie Bradshaw in Ketchum, ID who just so happens to list her profession as a “self-employed homeopath, but you never know), Manookian has been known to show up at other blogs to post anti-vaccine views, as she did here and here. Perhaps RI will be fortunate enough for her to do the same here. Interestingly, now that the movie is out, Manookian appears to be trying to hide her previous activity. Gone are any references to homeopathy on her website. Gone in particular is the “take action” page, which is now no longer publicly accessible, but used to contain content like:

Take Action/Goals of the Film:

  1. Open the hearts and minds of individuals to the reality that vaccine injuries occur.
  2. Encourage parents to talk with doctors about vaccine safety before making informed decisions.
  3. Demand independent vaccine safety research before approval and licensure by the FDA.
  4. Hold pharmaceutical companies accountable when vaccines cause harm.
  5. Petition for philosophical exemptions from mandatory vaccinations in all 50 states.
  6. End the FDA’s fast-tracking of childhood vaccinations.


  • Mercola.com
  • Mothering.com
  • NVIC – National Vaccine Information Center
  • Pathways to Family Wellness
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • TheVaccineBook.com by Dr. Bob Sears
  • ACIP – Advisory Committee On Immunization Practices- Creates the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule and promotes the increased use of vaccines.
  • CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- Protects the public health, promotes vaccines and monitors safety of vaccines.
  • FDA – Food and Drug Administration- Regulates all pharmaceutical products including vaccines to protect public health.
  • NVICP – National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program- Compensates those injured or killed by a vaccines.
  • VAERS – Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System National vaccine safety surveillance program.

Yes, Manookian used to list Mercola.com as the very first source for vaccine information, along with Mothering.com. Now, its resource page lists the American Academy of Pediatrics first, but still lists Mercola.com, Mothering.com, and the NVIC website.

Unfortunately, The Greater Good, which could have been a provocative debate about current vaccine policy based on asking which vaccines are necessary and why, in the end opts to be nothing more than pure anti-vaccine propaganda of the lowest and most vile sort. It give the pretense of “balance” by including prominent pro-vaccine scientists, but in the end it is very clear where the message of the movie lies, particularly given the three main families profiled in the film. Worse, from correspondence with a couple of the pro-vaccine doctors interviewed in the movie, to me it appears that the resemblance between this movie and Expelled! is more than just its denialist tendencies in that the filmmakers apparently were less than straightforward with scientists about their viewpoint when interviewing them. All of this leads me to conclude that The Greater Good is to vaccines what Expelled! was to evolution: Science denialist propaganda of the most blatant sort. In fact, it’s so bad that even Orac’s Tarial cell was seriously strained to have to absorbe the content of the video.


  1. #1 Narad
    November 20, 2011

    Wow, Lurker really is turning into Th1Th2 Lite. Get MJD on board and y’all could start a band.

  2. #2 lilady
    November 20, 2011

    Lawrence, the paper in question was published 18 years ago. The Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program (PHBPP) was implemented in all State Health Departments in the United States in 1994. All County Health Departments in the United States have a PHBPP coordinator to provide intense case management to all hepatitis B chronic carriage pregnant woman throughout pregnancy, through delivery and to monitor the infant for the birth dose AND HBIG within 12 hours of birth, through completion of the vaccine series and post vaccination serology testing for immunity.

    All pregnant women MUST be screened for the presence of Hep B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) during their pregnancy, to avoid maternal transmission of the virus.

    Giving the “universal” birth dose of the vaccine to all infants DOES NOT lower the costs for blood testing of all pregnant women for the presence of hepatitis B chronic carriage…and to identify newborns who will require the vaccine and HBIG…within 12 hours of birth.

  3. #3 Krebiozen
    November 20, 2011

    I hope no one (insane trolls excepted) is suggesting that babies of hepatitis B positive mothers should not be vaccinated. That would be criminally negligent. Obviously only babies who are going to be accidentally exposed to hepatitis B virus at some point in their future should be given the vaccine. All we need to do is find a reliable way of predicting which babies those are. Any ideas Lurker? Sick Sauce?

    Bear in mind that a skinned knee plus a nosebleed at kindergarten can lead to hepatitis B infection. Horizontal transmission of hepatitis B in infants (i.e. not from the mother) doesn’t happen frequently, but certainly more frequently than serious adverse events from the vaccine.

    Contrary to popular opinion it’s not only IV drug users and prostitutes who contract hepatitis B, and even if it was, how can you possibly reliably predict which infants those are? No one expects their baby to grow up to get hepatitis B, yet in the USA around 730,000 have done.

    Since the vaccine is so remarkably safe (it’s not even a dead virus, it’s a protein made out of yeast), it makes much more sense to give it to all infants. As there is no animal reservoir that frequently infects humans (only other primates as I recall) we could eliminate the virus completely in a couple of generations.

  4. #4 Hinterlander
    November 20, 2011

    DW @ 171

    This lurker (not to be confused with a certain other lurker) has been thinking along similar lines lately. I’d like to discuss this further, without derailing the thread. Is there some other more appropriate venue where this sort of thing is discussed? Or perhaps I could set up a temporary email address where we could then swap our “real” emails?

  5. #5 palindrom
    November 20, 2011

    DW @171 and Hinterlander @198 I’ve been thinking along much the same lines.

    I’ve dealt with a fair number of cranks and I wonder what it is about their mental equipment that makes them prone to such especially weird ideation. It doesn’t strike me as a mental illness in the same class as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia (say), but there’s something not quite right about these folks. I’ve done some desultory web searches for discussions of this phenomenon, but not being familiar with the literature in psychology and psychiatry I haven’t found anything really interesting — though there certainly are good descriptions of cranky behavior out there.

    I’ve half-articulated an idea — Basically, doing science correctly (or, more generally, forming accurate ideas about the world) requires a capacity of self-doubt and self-correction. Anyone who’s advanced a ways in science can no doubt remember occasions in their education in which a misconception, held either lightly or more strongly, has finally yielded to a new conception that suddenly brought real understanding. This occurs because one is constantly cross-checking one’s understanding against the evidence and the received wisdom (which is usually right — sorry).

    Cranks seem to lack any capacity for this kind of cross-checking. This is coupled with a strong ego-driven compulsion to see oneself as an “unrecognized genius”.

    Well, that’s what I’ve come up with, anyway. Cheers!

  6. #6 lurker
    November 20, 2011

    “Currently, only 19 states require HBsAg screening of pregnant women in the U.S.”


  7. #7 Denice Walter
    November 20, 2011

    @ Hinterlander:
    Oh we have to stop meeting like this! Actually, I like it!

    But seriously, what I’m talking about is intrinsic to understanding woo and its adherents – I usually mention things in passing (executive function, formal ops, meta-cognition, attributions) that touch on where I’m going.

    What are the variables that make people vulnerable to the manipulative hard sell and what “immunises” others against it? We have the ability to fool ourselves quite easily *but* we are also equipped to check ourselves and attempt to eliminate this tendency through methodology.

    Right now I find myself awash in good feelings about recent developments but also realise that we’re to face a deluge of anti-vax( and other altmed) sentiment propelled at the speed of light throughout cyberspace via social media in interaction with the age cohort effect( younger people question vaccines more- NPR poll Sept’11)…

    At any rate, it’s coming at all lurkers. And I am your self-appointed patroness alerting you.

  8. #8 lurker
    November 20, 2011

    If you want to see a “hard sell” see the promotion and marketing of Gardasil
    on MTV.

  9. #9 Hinterlander
    November 20, 2011

    palindrom @ 199 & DW @ 201

    Thanks for your replies. I confess I’m coming from a bit of a selfish place, in that my “sceptic” stance has created quite a rift between me and a close family member. I have recently been wondering that if I understand a bit more of the psychology behind the adherents of woo, then perhaps we can communicate better…

    palindrom, your thoughts on self-doubt are really interesting. It is this quality (and some basic science study) that caused me to cross to the other side of the divide. The person I’ve fallen out with doesn’t seem to possess this. Anecdotal, I know, but interesting.

  10. #10 Mrs Woo
    November 20, 2011

    @Hinterlander – I married Mr Woo (believing that something as simple as humoring his love of vitamins, etc., would never be a big deal, then got a chronic illness), so I can understand what you want to understand.

    Sadly, I think there are very different personalities attracted to woo, so though there might be similarities, it doesn’t mean that every proponent of alternative theories will be polite. In my case, Mr Woo is also an avid conspiracy theorist, etc. It makes it very hard to have a rational conversation about any of this because anything I use to refute is argument is “just what they want you to believe.”

    Best of luck on that!

    Mrs Woo

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    November 20, 2011

    @ palindrom:

    I think that although many people may already have a basic capacity for looking at these topics realistically emotional “interference” may disrupt it: an emotional plea or incitement of fear by a woo-meister or being in a situation of distress and worry ( e.g. care of a disabled child, having cancer) may shake the foundations of realism.

    I often muse about why anyone would believe a salesman who spins tales of pharma corruption and greed then sells you an alternative remedy at a profit. Do not customers “hear” the apparent COI as I do? Then I consider the antics of one AJW and find it hard to believe that he’d have any supporters left… but he does.

    If we explore these issues people may be able to develop these skills and better arm themselves.

  12. #12 palindrom
    November 20, 2011

    Mrs Woo, Hinterlander, DW — My experience has mostly been with borderline delusional cranks who think they have a revolutionary theory in my field (physics and astronomy), rather than people who have swallowed strange ideas in the health field, so my observations may not be particularly applicable.

    Physics cranks tend to be fairly solitary, though occasionally they form little crank communities, such as the “thunderbolts of the gods” folks and their kissin’ cousins, the plasma cosmologists. Any competent space physicist or astronomer who stumbles on their sites will first stare at them in slack-jawed wonderment, and then start giggling.

    Fortunately, no one’s lives are at stake, so the comedy is all good clean fun. Unlike in some other fields I could name, where the consequences are much more serious.

  13. #13 Narad
    November 20, 2011

    I have recently been wondering that if I understand a bit more of the psychology behind the adherents of woo, then perhaps we can communicate better…

    Might as well start with The Interpretation of Dreams. Repression of the uncontrollable goes a long way.

  14. #14 MD1970
    November 20, 2011

    My favorite wack-a-doo

    John Mack M.D. Harvard


  15. #15 Hinterlander
    November 20, 2011

    Mrs Woo @ 204

    Mr Woo is lucky to have such a patient Mrs! What’s your strategy, do you just not “go there”?

    palindrom/DW/Mrs Woo
    I wish critical thinking was a fundamental subject in the education system from primary school level. Some kids have this instilled in them through their upbringing, but many others don’t, to their disadvantage.

    Narad – thanks

  16. #16 lilady
    November 20, 2011

    “”Currently, only 19 states require HBsAg screening of pregnant women in the U.S.”


    Posted by: lurker | November 20, 2011 8:44 PM

    For the names/contact numbers of all 50 State Health Department’s Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program Coordinators and PHBPP Coordinators In the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Commonwealth of the North Marianas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (current as November 9, 2011), see the CDC-Division of Vaccine-Preventable Disease website at:

    Vaccines:VPD-VAC/Hep B/Perinatal Hepatitis B Coordinator List

    You can look up the Public Health Law in each State to find the specific law that applies to reporting requirements by attending physicians, licensed midwives, and licensed laboratories that perform tests for Hepatitis B…or look up Regulations of the Department of Health (regulations from the State Health Departments which have the full force and effect of the law.

  17. #17 Dianne
    November 21, 2011

    Thingy @179 links to an article claiming to show a 12.5 fold increase in ITP after the hep B vaccination was started. However, I don’t think thingy understood the article or its limitations properly. One simple problem pretty much negates the whole claim: the article compares diagnoses of ITP in Iran between 1982-92 and 1993-2002. Think about what life was like in Iran in 1982, shortly after the fundamentalist government took power, versus 1993, when things had calmed down a bit. What are the chances that every case of ITP was discovered, properly diagnosed, and properly recorded in 1982? What are the chances in 2002? This problem comes into play even in stable countries without recent revolutions: for example, data from a cancer registry with more than 10% of cases diagnosed by autopsy or death certificate is considered unreliable.

    Most likely, all this article really demonstrated is that health care in Iran is improving and more people are taking sick children to the hospital rather than keeping them home and hoping for the best. This statement is supported by data from various governmental agencies and NGOs that track childhood mortality. The authors of the paper in question would do well to study epidemiology in Europe or the US so that they don’t make this sort of mistake again.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    November 21, 2011

    @ hinterlander, palindrom, Mrs Woo:

    Thanks for your responses. If you’re dealing with woo-advocates face-to-face it’s sometimes difficult to bring up studies and detail information. I find that the woo-meisters I survey recently have been using “citations” ( usually of poorly done or unrelated studies) to bolster their own position. One of the problems of actually having had studied formally is that you have systematic material and the consensus- a *body* of intricately inter-related research, that would need a great deal of time to explain. Also you are often dealing with issues of faith- in a belief system or person- and emotionality. Often it may not even be about data but about a person who advocates a position that they already believe ( AJW).

    It’s important to remember that many of our opponents are self-taught “experts”: which means that their information is self-selected and interpretted- plus it’s usually acquired in a piecemeal fashion. More formal study has greater sweep and distance vision. I believe that when you listen to or read pseudo-science mavens this comes across loud and clear. I also like to ask, ” What does the woo-meister have to gain from all of this?”

    On a lighter note: Mike Adams has been a subject here @ RI- he rants and raves @ NaturalNews expanding his base of supporters: his articles were frequent and increasingly vorciferous, rebuking SBM, the government,and the media- none worthy of our trust- “Turn to the alternative media” ( i.e. him), he cries. Today his articles are few and far between *but* now, for a mere $24 a month,you can get Mikey writing and streaming when you become a member of his “Inner Circle”. I rest my case.

  19. #19 Edith Prickly
    November 21, 2011

    Continuing the thoughts about woo psychology, I spend a lot of time thinking about this too. Once upon a time I would have been one of the people who shows up here arguing “western medicine can’t treat everything, so there should be a place for alternative medicine.” I went to chiropractors, got acupuncture (at the chiro’s instigation) took supplements, even bought a homeopathic treatment for bladder issues — it did temporary relieve pain, although I suspect that was due to the alcohol in the tincture base rather than the alleged active ingredients.

    But at the same time, I still went to doctors for treatment of serious illness and I never got taken in by the anti-vax people. I worked part- time in a long-term care facility for several years while I was in university and saw firsthand what an outbreak of flu can do to the elderly. (BTW I was not any sort of clinician, I worked on the housekeeping staff.)

    I got out of woo during a period of unemployment when I had to cut all non-essential spending. After that I started my pregnancy adventures and did not take anything that wasn’t doctor-recommended. Until I started spending a lot of time at RI I was a “shruggie” – now I know better. šŸ™‚

    What I notice most about alt-med devotees is what Orac has noted before, their need to feel that they are in ‘control’ of their health – which seems to go along with a rigid mindset that doesn’t like to question or doubt itself. Most of the people I know who use woo are “lifestyle” woo-ists – they get acupuncture to help stop smoking, get “immune-boosting” vitamin shots from a naturopath, etc. but still see doctors.

    The two truly woo-infatuated people I know are my husband’s aunt (who used to be a public health nurse, more’s the pity)and her chiropractor daughter. The aunt embraces every silly alt-med fad that comes down the pike – chelation therapy to prevent atherosclerosis, essential oils, Essiac tea, scaremongering about vaccines, and so on. When my son was born she sent me an e-mail with links to a bunch of quack sites raving about thimerosal in vaccines “so I could make an informed decision.” I read them, and did some more reading about places like England and Australia where measles and pertussis were on the rise again because vaccination rates were dropping, and made my decision. (She also sent some “natural” baby care products full of highly irritating essential oils, which I quietly threw away.)

    As for her own health, I think she is one of the people who won the genetic lottery and never had any serious health problems, so it reinforces her belief that all her woo is working.

  20. #20 lilady
    November 21, 2011

    @ Krebiozen: Thanks for that link to an interesting study of horizontal transmission in Turkey, of the hepatitis B virus.

    There have been reports of infants, who were NOT exposed to a hepatitis B carrier mother at birth, yet were infected by a household member.

    Certain Asian cultures introduce food to the infant when the caregiver “pre-chews” the food before offering it to the infant. The stability of the hepatitis B virus on toys, tooth brushes and razors may put infants at risk.

    I was the coordinator of the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program in my County’s Department of Health. It is a highly intensive surveillance program.

    Contact with a pregnant woman is made as soon as the OB reports her hepatitis B positive surface antigen status. (Laboratories which perform these tests are also mandated by State law to report these test results to the health department.) A home visit is often scheduled to discuss the treatment that the infant will require…Hep B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) shots…within 12 hours of birth.

    During the home visit or on the telephone, the names and immunization status of all household contacts are requested from the pregnant woman. Where there is no evidence of immunizations, pre-immunization testing, vaccinating with the 3-dose series of vaccine and post immunization testing is recommended. In the case of contacts who have no health insurance coverage, a referral is made to a public clinic for these services.

    The pregnant woman is questioned about any past exposure to the virus and her family history of the disease…including treatments for fulminant hepatic disease and liver cancer.

    Complete information about the course of hepatitis B infection is provided to the expectant mother and her partner and educational material is provided as well. I found that the majority of women were truthful with their responses and very much interested in information I provided to them. We also discussed the need to notify all their physicians about their chronic hepatitis B status, and to check with their doctors before they took OTC medicines or “supplements”. The need to eliminate ETOH or to strictly limit intake was stressed as well. These young woman wanted to stay healthy to care for their babies.

    Six weeks prior to the mother’s due date, the birthing hospital is notified about the mother’s status and the protocol to follow for immunizations after the infant’s birth. The hospital’s nursery staff is required to report the birth and the prophylactic immunizations immediately to the County health department PHBPP coordinator.

    Hospital delivery rooms also have many protocols in place…including check lists and maternal blood test results that indicate her hepatitis B status. OBs are required to send these records to the delivery suite six weeks before the woman’s due date.

    After the birth, the PHMPP coordinator contacts the mother for the name of the child’s pediatrician and then letters are sent to that doctor and the mother reminding them when the 2nd and 3rd shot were due and to remind them to test the baby for immunity 3 months after completion of the 3-dose series.

    When I retired from public health in 2005, the PHBPP had provided case management to more than 900 cases of pregnant hepatitis B carriers…and an extraordinary success rate of only three infants who were infected with the virus at birth.

  21. #21 squirrelelite
    November 21, 2011

    I noticed this picture on a website my wife was looking at and thought I would post it for the benefit of our favorite trolls šŸ˜‰


  22. #22 herr doktor bimler
    November 21, 2011


    If Orac tires of the “burning flamethrower of Stupid” metaphor for describing new outbreaks of woo, there is now the “weaponised capsaicin spray of Stupid” metaphor.

  23. #23 Mrs Woo
    November 21, 2011

    @Hinterlander – sometimes I bring up some things. It really depends on the what and the when. There are times when it “just isn’t worth the trouble.” When it comes to new “cures” for me, I often go on line and research them and, if I’m lucky and he hasn’t purchased them yet, can find a few reasons why they aren’t a good idea for me or don’t actually address what is supposed to be wrong.

    In the case with Mr. Woo it really depends on which type of woo it is. Some he actually remains skeptical of. The big thing that he is completely immovable on is cancer cures. I’m not sure why that one has won him over so well, but any alternative cure, no matter how disproven, is just “suppressed” because “the drug companies” want to make millions keeping you sick and a cure would cut into their profits. It is frustrating. I cringe every time a friend of family member gets a cancer diagnosis, because I know Mr Woo will very helpfully bring them a Hulda Clark zapper, order them hundreds of dollars worth of mushroom supplements, etc., and assure them that they should ignore every word that comes out of their oncologist’s mouth.

    It’s probably one of the reasons I have lurked in this blog most of all. When a friend or family member is diagnosed with any cancer I also check the latest research studies, etc., in hopes of being sure they cover all bases (and quietly tell them that they should check with their oncologist before trying any supplement, usually when Mr Woo is out of earshot). I’m hoping one day to find the right words to gently remove his interest in cancer woo and encourage him to maybe believe, just a little, that the people who invested a large chunk of their lifetime into battling cancer did it for the purpose of attempting to save as many lives as possible, rather than the conspiracy of joining the “Big Pharma” to poison as many as possible while making “millions in kickbacks.”

  24. #24 adelady
    November 21, 2011

    “I have recently been wondering that if I understand a bit more of the psychology behind the adherents of woo, then perhaps we can communicate better… ”

    For the most part it _is_ a communication issue. The big problem arises when we’re faced with people who express views or describe facts that are seriously disconnected from reality. Our instinctive response is to dismiss, laugh, ridicule, or try to convince or dissuade them. These techniques can backfire spectacularly … strengthening rather than weakening the person’s adherence to their initial position.

    There’s a neat 6 part series at http://www.skepticalscience.com/Debunking-Handbook-Part-1-first-myth-about-debunking.html on debunking any non-factual position.

    Worth a try.

  25. #25 Sick sauce
    November 21, 2011

    Krebiozen: I would not have a problem with vaccinating infants whose mothers are hep b positive with hep b vaccine, of course I can’t speak for all trolls. How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion that horizontal transmission is worse than hep b vaccine side effects?? VAERS is passive surveillance “system” and there has not been thorough enough safety testing to say what the side effects may be for all children. Children’s brains are rapidly developing at birth and in the first few months. Most infants simply don’t need this vaccine and it is a perfect example of why the vaccination agenda is failing.

  26. #26 Narad
    November 21, 2011

    How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion that horizontal transmission Hep b is worse than hep b vaccine side effects??


  27. #27 Guy McCardle
    November 21, 2011

    You are right, the production values are pretty slick. It seems the film is designed to tug at the heartstrings as well to win viewers over to their point of view. Just in that short clip you have on your site there are a number of logical fallacies in use.

    Your readers might enjoy visiting my new skeptical themed site, The Inconvenient Truth.

  28. #28 Heliantus
    November 21, 2011

    How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion that horizontal transmission is worse than hep b vaccine side effects?

    Because there are more documented cases of horizontal transmission than of debilitating and/or lethal side effects?

    Children’s brains are rapidly developing at birth and in the first few months.

    Actually, human brains keep developing until you get into your 20s. And even there, they keep morphing.
    Seriously, do you have any evidence of vaccines destroying baby brains? Or are you just crying wolf?

  29. #29 Sick sauce
    November 21, 2011

    o.k.” Hep b is worse than hep b vaccine adverse events/side-effects.” Again, how on earth would you know that? Indeed human brains do keep developing throughout life.

  30. #30 Sick sauce
    November 21, 2011

    Which is why, Heliantus, the Courchesne study is so flaming stupid.

  31. #31 Hinterlander
    November 21, 2011

    Edith Prickly

    What I notice most about alt-med devotees is what Orac has noted before, their need to feel that they are in ‘control’ of their health – which seems to go along with a rigid mindset that doesn’t like to question or doubt itself.

    Yes, good point. It’s an incredibly myopic mindset. Even in my most woo-heady days I knew my own limitations.

    The aunt embraces every silly alt-med fad that comes down the pike – chelation therapy to prevent atherosclerosis, essential oils, Essiac tea, scaremongering about vaccines, and so on. When my son was born she sent me an e-mail with links to a bunch of quack sites raving about thimerosal in vaccines “so I could make an informed decision.”

    This is similar to our experiences. Unfortunately it didn’t stop with one email. There were many of them which became more intense with every reply we sent saying “thanks, but please respect that these are our decisions to make as parents”. We were even given a book on how to care for children with autism (at the time I was about 4 months pregnant), which I promptly returned to sender.

    Mrs Woo

    You have the patience of a saint! Isn’t it great to have places like this to visit for an antidote. I tried avoiding the whole topic of healthcare in general with our woo-believer, which is hard when the main topic of conversation revolves around my toddler. Unfortunately our initial debates have undermined our relationship to the degree that even discussing the most basic of day to day things like diet will generate a sniffy response.


    Thanks for the reference. I’ve read as far as Part Two and finding it very interesting!

  32. #32 lilady
    November 21, 2011

    @ Sicko: Have you ever seen someone with fulminant liver disease or primary liver cancer? Do you know that chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus is the cause of 80 % of primary liver cancer. Are you aware that infants and young children who are exposed and infected with the virus, do not have a mature immune system and that ~ 90 % of these children will be infected for life?

    Adopted babies from foreign countries, may not have had the benefit of our public health system and some of these children are chronically infected with the virus. When parents “opt out” of this particular vaccine for their children, because they believe anti-vax pseudo-science, they put their children at risk because they may attend day care with other children who are infected.

    Why don’t you visit the PKIDs.org (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) website and view the videos of children who are chronically infected with hepatitis B?

  33. #33 lilady
    November 21, 2011

    @ Sicko….and that’s why you are an anti-vax troll whose only source of knowledge about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, is from the pseudoscience crap contained on anti-vax websites.

  34. #34 Chris
    November 22, 2011


    Which is why, Heliantus, the Courchesne study is so flaming stupid.


    It would help if you provided some actual science, but I know you won’t provide any.

  35. #35 Narad
    November 22, 2011

    o.k.” Hep b is worse than hep b vaccine adverse events/side-effects.” Again, how on earth would you know that?

    Feel free to test it out.

  36. #36 Chris
    November 22, 2011

    Well, the real answer has to do with epidemiology. But SS would not understand that.

  37. #37 lilady
    November 22, 2011

    For some reason, I don’t think the troll is able to locate any justification for not immunizing a child against hepatitis B.

    I have a close friend whose paternal aunt died of liver failure because of a blood transfusion she received years ago…before tests were developed to test blood donations for the presence of the virus.

    While the incidence of chronic hepatitis B carriage is considerably higher in those who were born in countries of high endemicity, others who have no “risk factors” for the disease, also are carriers. In some families, the virus has been passed vertically for several generations. With the implementation of mandatory testing of all pregnant women for the presence of the virus, timely and complete hepatitis B immunization of all infants starting with the “birth dose” and the post-exposure HBIG shot to infants born of hepatitis B carriers…the chain of vertical transmission is stopped.

    The ACIP made its recommendations for the “birth dose” in December 2005 for very specific reasons:

    In order to protect infants who were not at risk for vertical transmission at birth, but might be at risk from household members/caregivers who are chronic hepatitis B carriers.

    To protect infants whose mothers are chronic carriers of the virus and because of physician error were not tested for the correct serological marker…or through hospital staff error…did not receive HBIG and immunization against the virus.

  38. #38 Krebiozen
    November 22, 2011

    Sick sauce,

    How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion that horizontal transmission is worse than hep b vaccine side effects??

    I didn’t say it was worse, I said it was more frequent, even in infants. I am not aware of any serious adverse events that have been unequivocally demonstrated to be due to hepatitis B vaccine. There have been many documented cases of horizontal transmission of hepatitis B in infants. (ITP is easily treated and has no lifelong sequelae, unlike hepatitis B, so I wouldn’t describe it as a serious adverse event.)

  39. #39 lilady
    November 22, 2011

    @ Sicko: I am the one who stated that horizontal transmission of the hepatitis B virus is far worse than any mild, transient side effects of immunization. (See my postings above)

    80-90 % of newborns who are infected (vertical transmission) and 20-50 % of children ages 1-5 years old, who are infected (horizontal transmission), will become lifelong carriers of the hepatitis B virus. Read the entire article on the web:

    (Source: “Hepatitis B infection: understanding its epidemiology, course and diagnosis” – Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, December 8, 2008)

  40. #40 Broken Link
    November 30, 2011

    Slightly off topic, but a poll is being crashed by the anti-vaxers. See the link on my ‘nym.

    Do you think it’s OK for parents to opt out of vaccines for their kids?

    Yes, parents should decide what’s best for their children.
    No, they’re putting their own children and others at risk.

    Total Votes: 21709

  41. #41 Todd W.
    November 30, 2011

    @Broken Link

    Very poorly worded question. It should include something about opting out for non-medical reasons.

  42. #42 oracIsGod
    December 1, 2011

    Vaccines are great. They make more Autistic kids, and frankly, we all love to laugh at them.

  43. #43 Antaeus Feldspar
    December 1, 2011

    OIG, you do know that just throwing up straw man arguments on every vaccine-related post you can find is not actually going to convince anyome, not even someone who’s otherwise on the fence? I’m just wondering why you bother.

  44. #44 Cherie
    March 24, 2012

    Woah this blog writer clearly has a bee in their bonnet, no shortage of nasty name calling and vitriol here. But what’s ironic is that while this writer has the gall to call certain doctors and researchers ‘pseudo scientists’, he/she cites no studies whatsoever to back up his/her argument. Hmmm I think I know who the real pseudo-wanna-be-scientist is, and it’s not Bob Sears.

  45. #45 Gray Falcon
    March 24, 2012

    Cherie, I suggest you read this page more carefully. You’ll find there are a) Several sources supporting Orac’s position, and b) More recent and relevant articles. Such carelessness on your part does not support your side well.

  46. #46 Chris
    March 24, 2012

    Dear Necrmancer Cherie, if you have specific criticisms please cite the appropriate studies that you would have included. I suggest that you actually click on the text in blue, because they are “hyperlinks” (websites that discuss studies and pertinent legal decisions). Though keep in mind this is a review of a movie, so the links are to information about the persons presented.

    I would also suggest that you post your learned observations on more recent blog articles by Orac (oh, and you might want to read the bit on the upper left corner marked “Who (or what) is Orac?”, also be sure to click on the blue letters). We would love to have you explain to us exactly the errors you find in the article, but be sure to provide real scientific evidence to support your statements.

    Thank you.

  47. #47 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 24, 2012

    Did you check out Cherie’s website? Typical ill-informed, outdated hysterical anti-vax propaganda. You know she’s full of it when she references whale.to to help her “prove” aluminum is hazardous in vaccines.

    She also tries to rebut a journalist about vaccinations, where she states:

    “In the real world ā€˜decades of scienceā€™ show there is a clear link to Autism, and unlike Mia (the journalist) I have the studies to prove it…”

    Oh really? Not studies from whale.to, are they?

    She also advocates breastfeeding up to six years of age, but that’s another story.

    She IS good looking, however…see, I can say something nice!

  48. #48 Chris
    March 24, 2012

    No, I did not bother to check her website. Oh, goody, she cites whale.to. I wonder if she also believes in satanic ley lines, like the ones that burned whale.to’s John Scudamore’s bum.

  49. #49 lilady
    March 24, 2012

    @ Cherie: I see that you are fixated on the hepatitis B vaccine and I posted several times on this blog about the vaccine. Please feel free to pose any questions that you might have, after reading my posts.

  50. #50 Cherie
    March 25, 2012

    I’m not going to dredge through this post again, but here’s one example of statements made that have no citing studies:
    “The questions about whether vaccines are safe and effective, whether vaccines cause autism, whether they cause all the neurological and developmental disorders attributed to them, and whether they cause asthma and other diseases related to the immune system are not controversial in science. They don’t.”

    The arrogance of this blog post is kind of sickening, it gets very old, very quickly. I get being passionate about something, but honestly the author just sounds like a giant cock.

  51. #51 Chris
    March 25, 2012

    Brave Dame Cherie runs away, runs away!

    Do try to grow a backbone, and come back and post your comments on a more recent thread. Have something a little bit more substantial than school yard insults. Be sure to have some real scientific documentation for your claims, and they are not to be from whale.to.

  52. #52 novalox
    March 25, 2012


    I’ve looked at your blog, and it was all I could do not to laugh at your stupidity.

    Seriously, using whale.to as evidence. Talk about invoking Scopie’s Law right there.

  53. #53 lilady
    March 25, 2012

    She actually used whale.to? Oh, but she breast feeds! Everyone *knows* babies are protected and do not need any vaccines.

    Me thinks, *someone* is lining up the troops to post here. I just finished posting at another citationless necromancer on another thread. What a jerk!

  54. #54 Orac
    March 25, 2012

    The arrogance of this blog post is kind of sickening, it gets very old, very quickly. I get being passionate about something, but honestly the author just sounds like a giant cock.

    One notes that you are unable to point to a single specific statement in this post that is incorrect and provide evidence to demonstrate that it is incorrect.

  55. #55 Scottynuke
    March 25, 2012

    Talk about inability to comprehend —

    Cherie, Orac is very clearly a plexiglas box of blinking lights, not a prize-winning rooster.

  56. #56 Cherie
    March 25, 2012

    Hahaha look I got you all riled up!

    I think if I’ve ever linked Whale it was because they were hosting a study I was referring to. I don’t usually link to other blogs or articles when it comes to vaccination. I link to studies – which the author of this article still hasn’t done. Remember this line:

    “The questions about whether vaccines are safe and effective, whether vaccines cause autism, whether they cause all the neurological and developmental disorders attributed to them, and whether they cause asthma and other diseases related to the immune system are not controversial in science. They don’t.”

    Yeah well there’s no citing studies here to back that up (and if you provide one make sure it’s not funded by the drug industry).

    This post was linked to from another shoddy post I was reading (the one I responded to on my blog). I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I’d never usually read any writing that spews this much arrogant vitriol and no citing studies.

  57. #57 Gray Falcon
    March 25, 2012

    Cherie, of course we’re riled up. People have died from vaccine-preventable diseases. Your advice could kill people. Merely being angry with you is merciful.

  58. #58 Cherie
    March 25, 2012

    I could say exactly the same about your stance Grey Falcon. It’s a matter of evidence, and there’s none here. Atleast I HAVE studies on my side, and I’m not talking ‘whale evidence’, I mean scientific studies of children who developed Autism as a direct result of the mercury and aluminum found in vaccines. Not correlation, DIRECT causation.

  59. #59 Chris
    March 25, 2012


    I mean scientific studies of children who developed Autism as a direct result of the mercury and aluminum found in vaccines.

    Oh, really? The provide them to us on a more recent blog article (like the ones Orac posted last week). Though, a wee bit of advice, check to see if any have been discussed on this blog by using the search box on the left side of this page. You should be warned that you will be laughed at if you post anything by the Geiers (both of whom are being investigated by the Maryland Board of Physician).

  60. #60 Denice Walter
    March 25, 2012

    @ Cherie:

    Could you please list the studies to which you refer? We’d like to see them. It’s also possible that our esteemed host may have already discussed them ( you may check via the handy dandy search box). If you can’t link to them directly, an author’s name, date, journal ( 2 of 3 would work) would be sufficient. Thanks in advance.

  61. #61 Chris
    March 25, 2012

    I also suggest you lurk on the blog a bit more. Orac did not have to post the cites to prove that paragraph because many of those studies have been discussed in his articles. You might try perusing the these articles which often start with “Another bad day for the anti-vaccine.”

  62. #62 Cherie
    March 25, 2012

    Here’s a list of studies I suggest anyone investigating vaccines should read. There’s a couple from Geiers in there, but unless you can provide some evidence that the particular studies themselves are invalid, they stand as correct. Also unless citing studies are listed clearly on this site I won’t bother sifting through hundreds of articles to possibly find nothing. Enjoy!

    Relationships Between Authors of Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Pharmaceutical Industry, JAMA, 287: 612-617.
    Choudhry, N.K., Stelfox, H.T., Detsky, A.S., 2002:

    Just how tainted has medicine become?
    The Lancet, Volume 359, Issue 9313, Page 1167, 6 April 2002

    Lexchin, J., Bero, L., Djulbegovic, B. and Clark, O., 2003: Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review British Medical Journal, 326:1167-1170
    Joel Lexchin, associate professor, Lisa A Bero, professor, Benjamin Djulbegovic, associate professor, Otavio Clark, chief of clinical oncology section

    Tungaraza, T, and Poole, R., 2007: Influence of drug company authorship and sponsorship on drug trial outcomes, The British Journal of Psychiatry (2007) 191: 82-83.

    Boutron I, et al, 2009: Spinā€™ in reports of randomized controlled trials with nonstatistically significant primary outcomes, International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication.
    By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

    NHIS 1997ā€“2002
    Carolyn M. Gallagher, Melody S. Goodman
    http://www.vaccinesafetyfirst.com/pdf/Hep b & neonatesGallagher.pdf

    A positive association found between Autism prevalence and childhood vaccination uptake across the U.S. population
    Gayle DeLong
    http://www.theoneclickgroup.co.uk/documents/vaccines/Vaccine and Autism correlation US 2011 J Tox Env Health.pdf

    Biomarkers of environmental toxicity and susceptibility in autism
    David A. Geier, Janet K. Kern, Carolyn R. Garver, James B. Adams, Tapan Audhya, Robert Nataf, Mark R. Geier

    A comprehensive review of mercury provoked autism
    D.A. Geier, P.G. King, L.K. Sykes & M.R. Geier

    A Case Series of Children with Apparent Mercury Toxic Encephalopathies Manifesting with Clinical Symptoms of Regressive Autistic Disorders
    David A. Geier, Mark R. Geier

    Carolyn Gallagher and Melody Goodman

    Autism: A Unique Type of Mercury Poisoning
    S. Bernard, A. Enayati, L. Redwood, H. Roger, T. Binstock
    ARC Research, Cranford, New Jersey, USA

    Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?
    Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry
    Lucija Tomljenovic, Christopher A. Shaw

    Risk of neurological and renal impairment associated with thimerosal containing vaccines
    Center for Disease Control (CDC)

    Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
    Since 1990, the U.S. Government has collected reports of adverse health events that follow the administration of vaccinations. This database, called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is available for anyone to search or download.

    ‘ASIA’ – autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants.
    Journal of Autoimmunity
    Yehuda Shoenfeld, Nancy Agmon-Levin

    HPV Vaccine Policy: At Odds With Evidence-Based Medicine?

    Effects of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis or tetanus vaccination on allergies and allergy-related respiratory symptoms among children and adolescents in the United States.
    Journal of Manipulative Physical Therapy
    Hurwitz EL, Morgenstern H.

    Early childhood infection and atopic disorder
    THORAX: An International Journal of Respiratory Medicine
    I Farooqi and J. Hopkin

    A case-control study of risk factors for asthma in New Zealand children.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
    Wickens K, Crane J, Kemp T, Lewis S, D’Souza W, Sawyer G, Stone L, Tohill S, Kennedy J, Slater T, Rains N, Pearce N.

    Atopy in children of families with an anthroposophic lifestyle.
    The Lancet
    Alm JS, Swartz J, Lilja G, Scheynius A, Pershagen G.

    Pertussis vaccination and asthma: is there a link?
    Odent MR, Culpin EE, Kimmel T.

    Vaccination and Allergic Disease: A Birth Cohort Study
    American Journal of Public Health
    Tricia M. McKeever, PhD, Sarah A. Lewis, PhD, Chris Smith, BA, and Richard Hubbard, DM, Msc

    Childhood Vaccinations and Risk of Asthma: Discussion

    Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are they Safe?
    L. Tomljenovic, and C.A. Shaw

    Vaccine adjuvants: Current state and future trends
    Nikolai Petrovsky and Julio CĆ©sar Aguilar

  63. #63 Cherie
    March 25, 2012

    I’ve posted a list of studies, but the comment is awaiting moderation.

  64. #64 Chris
    March 25, 2012

    What part of posting on a more recent article did you fail to understand? Did you not understand this sentence (oops, notice missing letter): “The(n) provide them to us on a more recent blog article (like the ones Orac posted last week). “

  65. #65 Chemmomo
    March 25, 2012

    Did you notice that when you quoted Orac, the word “questions” is in the plural? It would be simply impossible to cite every single study on vaccine safety, the lack of correlation between vaccines and vaccine ingredients with autism and other disorders in every single post because there are simply too many of them. That’s what Orac meant by “the questions . . . are not controversial.”

    At the left hand side of the blog, under “Who or what is Orac” and above “Recent Posts” is a search button.

    Try it.

    You might have to read a few more posts.

    In the interest of making your search a little easier, I’ll send you straight to this post from last August on the IOM Report on Adverse Events on Vaccines: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/08/yet_another_bad_day_for_the_anti-vaccine_1.php


  66. #66 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    LOL! Those “studies” are hilarious! The first five are only poisoning the well bits on pharmaceuticals and studies.

    “HEPATITIS B VACCINATION OF MALE NEONATES AND AUTISM DIAGNOSIS, NHIS 1997ā€“2002” is a badly done student paper of thirty three kids that included those born before the HepB vaccine was given at birth.

    Cherie does not seem to read very well. Didn’t I mention that she should check if a paper was discussed on the blog first? And yet, there it is: A positive association found between Autism prevalence and childhood vaccination uptake across the U.S. population. A paper that was discussed here on June 8, 2011. It is the one where a professor in business school has decided that every child who has received speech and language therapy is autistic. This will be a big surprise to my daughter’s friend who is hearing impaired.

    Anything done by the Geiers can be tossed. They were discredited long before they dreamed up chemically castrating autistic children. There are several court documents listing their deficiencies as “expert” witnesses (see http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/).

    “HEPATITIS B TRIPLE SERIES VACCINE AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY IN US CHILDREN AGED 1-9 YEARS” is not indexed in PubMed, but it is done by the same students who included kids born in 1980 of a previously mentioned study.

    “Autism: A Unique Type of Mercury Poisoning”… you put that in as a joke, right? It was published in “Medical Hypotheses.” Go find a dictionary and look up what “hypotheses” means (also check how that journal is treated on this blog with the search feature).

    “Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?” What part of making sure the paper was not already discussed did you not understand? Orac mocked this on December 8, 2011 in an article titled “And global warming is caused by the decrease in the number of pirates or: Why an inorganic chemistry journal should not publish a vaccine epidemiology paper.”

    “Risk of neurological and renal impairment associated with thimerosal containing”, cute how you take an older CDC paper that has been revised and only post a link to a SafeMinds version. That is called cherry picking.

    “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)”, that is just the NVIC portal to the VAERS database. It skips a crucial bit you need to read at the actual VAERS website, http://vaers.hhs.gov/data/index. It has to do with why these words are there: “I have read and understand the preceding statement.”

    I’ll leave the rest to others. Though I notice many letters and editorials in the remainder.

    You must be noob. We’ve gone over much if this stuff before. You really should have lurked on this blog a bit before you decided to educate us. Of course, you could not follow simple instructions like not including the Geiers, to actually check if a paper was discussed… or even post on a more recent article.

  67. #67 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    I just checked, “Risk of neurological and renal impairment associated with thimerosal containing” is not indexed at PubMed, which is very suspicious. This is a more recent study by the same author: Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases.

    Also, Cherie, aren’t you delving into ancient history with the thimerosal hysterics? Thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines at least ten years ago! Really, what vaccine on the American pediatric schedule is not available without thimerosal? The influenza vaccine has four thimerosal free versions, so don’t mention it.

    Even Sallie Bernard had trouble finding a DTaP with thimerosal for one of their studies over ten years ago:

    # Subject: Thimerosal DTaP Needed
    # From: Sally Bernard
    # Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:01:50 -0400
    # Yahoo! Message Number: 27456

    Hi all:

    A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

    Thank you.

    Sallie Bernard
    Executive Director
    Safe Minds

  68. #68 Narad
    March 26, 2012

    I’ll leave the rest to others. Though I notice many letters and editorials in the remainder.

    The inclusion of yet another Tomljenovic & Shaw retread in this compost bucket is a standout. Still comes with free Gulf War Syndrome in every box.

  69. #69 Chemmomo
    March 26, 2012

    Chris: thank you! My own brain imploded only part way down her list.

  70. #70 Cherie
    March 26, 2012

    Oh man is that all you’ve got… hmm you’ve got nothing, literally. You toss aside anything study or author you don’t like, who threatens your opinion, without any real critique of the actual study. Sure a study may be small but that doesn’t discredit it completely, it simply means larger scale studies need to be done.

    I can’t believe this post is on a site called ‘science blogs’.

    Also, I already said I’m not going to dredge through a this site, probably wading through mountains of arrogant rants only to find there is no real evidence anywhere to be found.

    I don’t want to read lame arrogant rants! Or a post of Orac “moking a study”, I want actual evidence, or maybe that’s beyond you.

  71. #71 Narad
    March 26, 2012

    You toss aside anything study or author you don’t like, who threatens your opinion, without any real critique of the actual study.

    Perhaps you’d like to provide, in your own words, explanations of what you think the relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of these studies are, as opposed to just barfing up a bunch of titles and pitching a fit when it’s even glanced at.

  72. #72 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 26, 2012

    Cherie @ 256:

    Yeah well there’s no citing studies here to back that up (and if you provide one make sure it’s not funded by the drug industry).

    Chris @ 259:

    You should be warned that you will be laughed at if you post anything by the Geiers (both of whom are being investigated by the Maryland Board of Physician).

    Cherie @ 262:

    There’s a couple from Geiers in there, but unless you can provide some evidence that the particular studies themselves are invalid, they stand as correct.

    It seems Cherie has a little problem with double standards. She feels herself entitled to dismiss any study, without having to provide evidence that the studies themselves are invalid, without having to point to even a single indicator that the researchers slipped up in any way, solely on the basis of who funded the research. And yet she tells us we can’t dismiss the work of one pair of researchers whose history is littered with wrongdoing – rigging an IRB made up of their relatives and business partners?? directly selling to desperate parents expensive “treatments” whose clinical rationale is based on a chemical interaction even the researchers themselves have never verified in anything but test tubes under high temperatures??

    Cherie, do yourself a favor. Don’t bother repeating your claim that “my studies indicating that mercury and aluminum in vaccines cause autism are more convincing than your studies indicating that no, they really don’t” until you can truthfully add “when both sets of studies are judged by a single standard of evidence” to the end of it.

  73. #73 Krebiozen
    March 26, 2012


    Oh man is that all you’ve got… hmm you’ve got nothing, literally. You toss aside anything study or author you don’t like, who threatens your opinion, without any real critique of the actual study. Sure a study may be small but that doesn’t discredit it completely, it simply means larger scale studies need to be done.

    You really need to spend a bit more time looking at this subject with a more critical eye. If and when you do you will notice that some studies in this area have been very carefully designed to answer a specific question, to eliminate possible confounding factors as much as possible and to avoid any biases. Other studies appear to have been designed to produce a specific answer, and torture the data to do so. It really isn’t a matter of drug company sponsored studies manipulating the data to make it show one thing and honest independent researchers finding another, as you have been told. The studies you have cited are in many cases spectacularly badly designed and the authors have often had to go to ridiculous lengths to make their studies agree with their prejudices.

    The first study you mention looked at boys born between 1985 and 1998, when autism rates were rising. Hepatitis B vaccine for neonates was introduced to the vaccination schedule in 1991, and most neonates were being given this vaccine by 1996. The study found a correlation between neonatal vaccination with hepatitis B and autism. Of course it did, it couldn’t have found anything else, since we know both these variables were increasing over that period. I also wonder why they excluded female autistic children from this study. Data was collected on them but for some reason omitted from the final analysis. Perhaps it was because of the “paradoxically protective effect among girls” the authors mention.

    The second study you mention confuses specific language impairment with speech/language impairment. It falls for the ecological fallcy, and makes ridiculously bungled attempts to correct for confounders by using state level data. I think Orac’s description of this study as “craptacular” is quite justified.

    The other studies you mention are similarly flawed.

    Here’s a link to a blog post discussing the quality of some other studies in this area. I recommend you read it, as I get the impression you have been badly misled by your previous reading on this subject.

  74. #74 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    Cherie, I told you to check to see if the studies were already discussed on this blog. What is laughable is that you go on about pharmaceutical funded studies when you pull one by a members of SafeMinds’ board: DeLong and Bernard.

    I even even explained that DeLong made a major error in assuming that any child who received Speech/Language Intervention is autistic, when that is clearly not true.

    Now answer this question: Which vaccines on the American pediatric schedule are only available with thimerosal?

  75. #75 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    Cherie, and why did you include NVIC’s portal to the VAERS database that does not have you read and understand the limitations of the data?

    Cherie, what you need to read and understand before you use the official database at http://vaers.hhs.gov/data/index?

  76. #76 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    About the Geiers and their special interests: They have a business based on being expert witnesses in vaccine litigation. They actually create studies that they use to support their testimony, and have even asked the Vaccine Court to pay for those studies.

    You should read how they are discussed in this ruling:

    As to the former point, I am simply not persuaded by the suggestion that the article was not litigation-driven. Beginning with the inception of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding in 2002, the PSC lawyers were in the process of attempting to find evidentiary support for their clientsā€™ theory that thimerosal-containing vaccines can contribute to the causation of autism. And, as will be discussed in detail at pp. 17-19 below, prior to producing this article, the Geiers already had a long track record of producing data analyses and articles supportive of the theory that vaccines can contribute to causing autism. The mere fact that the PSC lawyers contributed or promised monetary support for another article co-authored by the Geiers, concerning the topic of whether thimerosal-containing vaccines can cause autism, is itself strong evidence that the article was litigation-driven.

    And about the quality of that litigation driven “research”:

    Perhaps the strongest factor leading to my result here is my conclusion that the Young-Geier article itself did not add any value to the petitionersā€™ causation presentation in this case. Two epidemiologic experts, both of them testifying for respondent, testified at the trial in this case concerning the merits of the Young-Geier article, and both testified that the article was deeply flawed.

    Even the folks testifying for the parents thought the Geier “research” was shoddy:

    And, very significantly, none of the petitionersā€™ five medical experts who testified at the trial offered any testimony in support of the validity of the Young-Geier article. It is especially striking that among petitionersā€™ experts was an expert who has excellent credentials in epidemiology, Dr. Sander Greenland. Dr. Greenland in fact testified negatively about the Geiersā€™ prior epidemiologic articles concerning the vaccine-autism controversy, describing those studies as ā€œdeficient in methodology.ā€

    Cherie, is that sufficient evidence that the Geier papers should be dismissed?

  77. #77 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    Cherie, be sure to read Orac’s take on the Fourteen Studies:

  78. #78 taylormattd
    March 26, 2012

    If unvaccinated children die of a disease, it is almost always iatrogenic.

    Hey, Th1Th2, a tip for you: using words skimmed from an online medical dictionary does not make you any less stupid or crazy.

  79. #79 lilady
    March 26, 2012

    @ taylormattd: Here is where SFB Thingy Troll used the word “iatrogenic” to describe the death of an infant in Australia from pertussis:


    You might want to “start” at my comment # 42, directed at the Th1Th2…just to see the tactics of this nasty, delusional, ignorant, health-care-professional-wannabe, SFB Troll.

  80. #80 dedicated lurker
    March 26, 2012

    But they’ve still gotten their precious bodily fluids contaminated, right? I mean, if they got the disease they obviously didn’t exercize your “due digilance” because no one gets sick if they do that.

  81. #81 Liv
    May 19, 2012

    The film was spot on. There are too many vaccines being pumped into our babies systems at one time. It has to have an effect on an already genetically predisposed (unknown to the parent) susceptible child as Dr. Sears notes. He is brilliant by the way.

  82. #82 novalox
    May 19, 2012

    Got any evidence for your little fact-free comment, necromancer?

  83. #83 Chris
    May 19, 2012

    Thank you Liv for your evidence free comment. Did it take you six months to write it?

    By the way, how much more fun is pertussis and measles compared to to the MMR and DTaP? Kindly tell us how a child who is genetically susceptible to those vaccines would do better by actually contracting those diseases, which are presently circulating in the USA.

  84. #84 Antaeus Feldspar
    May 20, 2012

    Liv, did you know that some people are genetically predisposed to win the lottery? It’s true! Some people buy tickets but they don’t win; some people buy tickets and they do win! The only logical explanation is a genetic predisposition!

    Does that seem silly? It’s almost as silly as your insistence that the difference between children who develop autism, and children who do not develop autism, is the combination of a “genetic predisposition” that no one ever tries to specify and exposure to vaccines (even when the parents are unwisely keeping the children from getting those vaccines, so there is no exposure.)

New comments have been disabled.