Respectful Insolence

Two examples of “antivaccine”

In the process of laying down a little of the ol’ not-so-Respectful Insolence on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Barbara Loe Fisher, and Jenny McCarthy yesterday, I briefly discussed what the term “antivaccine” means. It’s a topic I’ve discussed at length before and that Steve Novella recently wrote about. The long version is in the links, but the short version is that, unlike the “pharma shill gambit” favored by antivaccine activists and others who aren’t too fond of science-based medicine (SBM), it’s not just a convenient label for supporters of SBM like me to use to demonize opponents. Rather, it’s an attempt to describe their mindset, which is most accurately described as being antivaccine. Hiding behind a veneer of being “vaccine safety activists,” They believe that vaccines are ineffective and harmful, blame them for autism and a host of other conditions, and cherry pick and distort the scientific evidence in order to cast vaccines in the most unfavorable light they can. To them, it’s first and foremost always about the vaccines. Always. One telling indication of this is, as I discussed yesterday and on other occasions, that if you ask an antivaccinationist what vaccines she would support including in the childhood vaccination schedule, you’ll get dissembling, dancing around the question, and self-pitying justifications–anything but a straight answer.

You’ll also see recycling of the same antivaccine talking points.

There were a couple of examples of all of this on display just this week. Regarding the first example, I can’t make up my mind whether this lazy regurgitation of a spectacularly stupid (and already refuted) talking points was due to contempt for his audience combined with the need to fill space between Christmas and New Years with a minimum of work or whether he forgot, but Joe Mercola is defoliating all of Kansas in order to gather together the raw materials to rebuild a massive straw man that I took a flamethrower to when Mike Adams first proposed it back in October. It’s no better when Joe Mercola is amazed to discover that New Study Exposes the “60% Effective” Flu Shot as 98.5% Useless. This would be an example of what I’ve described as trying to spin a study to put it in the most unfavorable light.

Like Mike Adams two months before, Joe Mercola is amazed–or pretends to be amazed–that there is a difference between absolute risk reduction and relative risk reduction. Like Adams, Mercola is shocked–shocked, I say!–to discover that the finding of a 60% reduction in the risk of getting the flu due to the flu vaccine doesn’t mean that the vaccine prevents the flu in 60 out of 100 people who get it. Seriously, Adams at least has the excuse that he’s not a scientist or physician. Mercola has a DO degree, and in the US DOs learn pretty much the same thing as physicians. Consequently, while Adams might genuinely (and ignorantly) think that he’s discovered some deep, dark secret about the flu vaccine, Mercola should know better. In fact, I strongly suspect he does and has so little respect for his readers that he thinks nothing of deceptively portraying this concept as some sort of great revelation that proves that flu vaccines don’t work.

In addition, Mercola goes on and on about how “most flu-like illnesses are not the flu.” Ya think? No one ever said that the flu vaccine protects against flu-like illnesses. It’s only designed to protect against influenza. What that does mean is that flu-like illnesses are a confounding factor that make the determination of the efficacy of flu vaccines more difficult than it is for most vaccines. Mercola also seems inordinately impressed with himself when he points out that the yearly flu vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of the flu. No kidding, Sherlock. Scientists never said that it did. To imply that is to construct a Burning Man-sized straw man argument, pour gasoline over it, and apply a lit match. Scientists try to figure out in advance which strains of influenza virus will be circulating each flu season and then design the vaccine to cover those strains. That’s part of the reason why the relative efficacy of the flu vaccine is only around 60%, which, by the way, is actually pretty darned good given the scientific and logistical problems producing the vaccine every year.

Next up is Mercola harping on a study that’s rather interesting. Basically, back in 2005 a group of investigators investigated whether there was bias in studies of the flu vaccine in the elderly. To do that, they tracked a cohort of over 72,000 people age 65 or over for eight years and looked at their risk of death from any cause as a function of time during that period. What they found was that the risk of death was decreased in the vaccinated seniors was decreased relative to the unvaccinated in all three time periods, before, during, and after flu season. Their conclusion was that this represents a “healthy user effect” in which healthier seniors tended to get vaccinated.

This study is all very well and interesting, but it has a number of problems, many acknowledged by the authors themselves. First, it’s an observational study. More importantly, it didn’t look at flu-specific outcomes. Mercola claims that you have to understand mathematics before you can understand the flu vaccine. Too bad he doesn’t apply that same principle to his own writing. As the authors of this study state:

It is important to note that, like other observational studies, we did not evaluate outcomes specifically due to influenza infection, because influenza infections are rarely documented by laboratory testing. The limitation of this approach is that prevention of influenza-related complications may have relatively little impact on the broader, non-specific study outcomes. This problem can be illustrated by considering the possible effect of influenza vaccination on the risk of all cause mortality. Assuming, for example, that influenza vaccine reduces the risk of fatal influenza infection by 58%, which is the level of efficacy against serologically confirmed influenza infection reported by a randomized trial of older adults, and that influenza infection accounts for 10% of all deaths during influenza season, then influenza vaccination would be expected to reduce all cause mortality during influenza season by 5.8%. The corresponding estimate of the relative risk of all cause mortality for vaccinated persons compared with unvaccinated persons, in the absence of bias, would be ∼0.94.

In other words, all-cause mortality is not a very sensitive outcome to use to determine whether the flu vaccine works in the elderly. As explained above, even if the flu vaccine were very effective at preventing death from the flu during flu season, one could expect to see a reduction in all-cause mortality of only around 6%, which could easily be missed if there were confounding factors not adequately accounted for in the study. This is probably at the high end. What if flu only caused 5% of all deaths in the over-65 age group during flu season? Then you’re looking at a reduction in all-cause mortality of only around 3%. For the reasons cited above, the authors of the study conclude:

For this reason, our finding that differences in health status between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups leads to bias in estimates of influenza vaccine effectiveness against all cause mortality and other non-specific outcomes does not mean that there is no effect of vaccination against serious complications of influenza infection. Our results do suggest, however, that other methods for evaluations of influenza vaccine effectiveness should be explored. These methods could include prospective ascertainment of influenza-specific outcomes, to improve study sensitivity to detect a true vaccine effect, as well as more accurate characterization of disease severity and functional status, to allow better adjustment for confounding. In future studies, assessment of the effect of adjustment in the before influenza period may assist in evaluating the degree to which influential differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons are controlled for in analyses of events during influenza season.

In other words, all this study suggests is that there’s a factor not being accounted for in observational studies. This factor could be obviated by concentrating more on flu-specific outcomes. Moreover, it’s not coincidental that Mercola picked a six-year-old study. Let’s look at a more recent study. Authors in this study tried to quantify the magnitude of biases and found that vaccinating the elderly against flu decreased all-cause mortality by 4.6%, which represents approximately a 47% decrease in risk from dying from the flu. This is actually also pretty good, and, given how safe the flu vaccine is, suggests that the risk-benefit ratio for flu vaccination in the elderly is strongly in favor of being vaccinated.

Mercola then demonstrates yet again that he only “understands” math when it suits his purpose with this truly mind-numbingly stupid section:

Vaccine effectiveness simply cannot be taken at face value, and this applies not only to the flu vaccine but also to other diseases, like measles. Measles cases have greatly increased in parts of Canada and the United States this year. Although unvaccinated children and teens are often blamed for driving the high numbers, a recent investigation into a measles outbreak in a high school found that about half of the cases were in teens who had received the recommended two doses of vaccine in childhood.

In other words, many of the cases were among those whom health authorities would have expected to have been protected from the measles virus. Conventional medical wisdom states that the measles vaccine should protect against measles infection about 99 percent of the time.

This is, of course, a common fallacy used by antivaccine advocates. Sheer numbers don’t tell us much, particularly in this report, because we need to know at the very minimum what percentage of the population was unvaccinated to estimate the effect of vaccination on this outbreak. To get a real estimate that’s worth hanging your hat on, we also need to know what percentage of the two groups, vaccinated and unvaccinated, caught the measles to be able to figure what the relative risk of getting the measles is depending on vaccination status. When studies are done correctly, they have consistently found that the risk of getting a disease is much, much higher in children who have not been vaccinated against that disease. An excellent example was a study from a couple of years ago that demonstrated that children not immunized against pertussis have a 23-fold increased risk of getting pertussis.

Even with these numbers, we can still make a quick and dirty estimate of what’s going on. 52 out of 98 teens who got the measles were reportedly “fully vaccinated,” which means that 53% of the students who got measles were “fully vaccinated” and 47% were presumably unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated. If vaccine uptake rates were 90% (a typical number), that would leave approximately 10% unvaccinated. If further the measles vaccine were actually completely ineffective, we would then expect that the cases of measles would be divided roughly evenly between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, or that roughly 90% of the cases would occur among the vaccinated and 10% among the unvaccinated. We don’t see that. Instead we see that 47% of cases occur among the 10% of the population that’s unvaccinated. If the number of unvaccinated is even lower, say, 5%, the disproportionate attack of measles among the unvaccinated (47% of the cases in 5% of the population) becomes more stark.

Of course, Mercola probably knows that.

Now, it could well be that MMR vaccine protection wanes in the teen years, but that would be easily remedied by adding a booster vaccine in that age group. It might well be that the relative risk of getting measles in vaccinated teens compared to unvaccinated teens has declined to too low a difference in Quebec. As epidemiologists point out, if that’s true, then it’s not evidence that the vaccine is ineffective. It’s evidence suggesting a reappraisal of how the MMR vaccine is given. In any case, the MMR is still pretty potent, based on the numbers cited by Mercola itself.

Mathematics, Joe. Mathematics.

Joe also seems to misunderstand herd immunity, which is not surprising, given that he relies on Barbara Loe Fisher as his information source. Read Mark Crislip, a real infectious disease specialist, instead. Barbara Loe Fisher lays down a swath of burning stupid, too, about how “natural immunity” is better:

“In most cases natural exposure to disease would give you a longer lasting, more robust, qualitatively superior immunity because it gives you both cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity,” Barbara explains. “Humoral is the antibody production. The way you measure vaccine-induced immunity is by how high the antibody titers are. (How many antibodies you have, basically.)

But the problem is that cell mediated immunity is very important as well. Most vaccines evade cell mediated immunity and go straight for the antibodies, which is only one part of immunity. That’s been the big problem with the production of vaccines.”

Sure, all you have to do to get that natural immunity against measles is to accept the risk of encephalitis and possible death. To get that “natural” immunity against pertussis, all you have to do is to get pertussis. If you’re a baby, you’ll suffer with coughing so severe that it causes pain and you can’t catch your breath, not to mention a distinct possibility of hospitalization, secondary pneumonia, or death. But, hey, “natural immunity” is worth it, right? It never ceases to amaze me that parents who insist that vaccines be absolutely, positively, 100% safe will blithely subject their children to the risk of serious complications and death in search of that “natural immunity” when the risk of vaccination is so incredibly low. It boggles the mind.

So does this, the second example of antivaccine idiocy on Mercola.com this week. It’s Barbara Loe Fisher speaking out against vaccines:

Get a load of some of the analogies she makes! She starts out by saying just how much compassion Americans have for those less fortunate than themselves, pointing to examples of relief efforts in Haiti, victims of hate crimes, children living in poverty, and victims of floods, violence, disease, and other disasters. To her, all of these are just like the “vaccine-injured,” except for this:

So it is sad to see what happens in America today when babies, children and adults react to vaccines and become permanently injured or even die. When healthy people suffer complications from infectious diseases, they are treated with compassion. But when healthy people suffer complications from vaccination, often they are not treated with compassion.21 22 Many times, vaccine victims are victimized all over again by those who deny the reality of what happened or use a utilitarian rationale to dismiss them as acceptable losses in the War on Infectious Disease.

Except that we do treat such children with compassion, to the point that our government set up a compensation fund, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, that bypasses the regular courts and has a lower standard of evidence for compensation. It even pays for the legal costs of claimants arguing for compensation! What we do not have so much compassion for are antivaccine activists like Barbara Loe Fisher and their fear mongering about vaccines based on bad science, cherry picked studies, and outright pseudoscience, particularly their tendency to advocate subjecting “vaccine-injured” children who are not vaccine-injured to various forms of quackery, up to and including stem cell quackery and beyond, all in order to try to “recover” or “cure” them of conditions that were not caused by vaccines. As I have said before,

I was going to march through each point Loe Fisher makes in this video, but a quick perusal demonstrates that I’ve addressed all of them before at one time or another. I’m more interested in Fisher’s attitude, which is exemplified by this passage:

When you enter the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., you see an inscription that says “The first to perish were the children…. From these a new dawn might have risen.”71

The loss of compassion and, then, freedom in any society always begins with people looking the other way when those in power justify exploiting a vulnerable minority for what they say is the benefit of the majority.

Yep, because vaccination and the issues of risk-benefit analyses for various vaccines are just like the Holocaust and vaccinating children is just like the Nazi T4 euthanasia program, which is what the inscription cited by Fisher is referring to. Yes, indeed. I’m surprised that Fisher restrained herself from explicitly likening vaccine manufacturers and doctors promoting vaccination to Hitler. Of course, that’s what she just implicitly did. In fact, it occurs to me: This video is excellent ammunition to use against the NVIC antivaccine ads in Times Square this New Year’s Eve. It’s also the “compassion gambit” writ large, in which any criticism of promoters of vaccine pseudoscience is spun as a lack of compassion for children with autism or other severe conditions that people like Fisher incorrectly attribute to “vaccine injury.”

Both of these examples from Mercola.com are also examples of what I mean by “antivaccine.” Mercola bobs and weaves, twisting the actual scientific evidence into pretzels in order to support his preexisting notion that vaccines are useless and harmful, while Fisher likens vaccination programs to the Nazi T4 euthanasia program. This particular Nazi atrocity, as you recall, was a precursor to the death camps and was intended to kill disabled and developmentally delayed children who were deemed “life unworthy of life.” In both cases, vaccines are viewed as evil, a plot designed to dominate and control, a means of making our children sick (although why the government would want to make our children sick is something I could never figure out). No matter what the scientific evidence says, to people like Mercola and Fisher, it’s first and foremost all about the vaccines. It’s always been all about the vaccines. No matter what new science is done, it will always be all about the vaccines.

Comments

  1. #1 OracisaQuack
    December 29, 2011

    But David, anti-vaccine (or anti-semetic, or anti-science) is what you call anyone you consider a heretic, i.e. anyone who disagrees with your religion.

    No use lying about. I know your arse-kissers all buy it, but the rest of us know this is true.

  2. #2 Denice Walter
    December 29, 2011

    Orac, thank you for writing about the flu vaccine’s effect on the elderly: I so often hear various woo-boosters pooh-pooh the vaccine as being “in-effective” for them. Going against medical advice and all reason. It makes me want to scream because people *listen* to these idiots.

    My father lived until a very advanced age with serious heart conditions: he didn’t die of the flu or pneumonia (for which he was vaccinated) but of *ventricular tachycardia* ( not preventable by vaccines) in 2001. My aunt died of the flu, unvaccinated, aged 90 in 2002.

  3. #3 DLC
    December 29, 2011

    Had a doctor’s appointment today. got a flu shot.
    So, when can I expect the first symptoms of Autism ? According to Jenny McCarthy (any relation to Charlie?)
    I should have immediately experienced mental deficit and social withdrawal. Must take longer in some victims.

  4. #4 LW
    December 29, 2011

    “although why the government would want to make our children sick is something I could never figure out”

    not just one government, either. Governments all over the planet, with all sorts of political, medical, and economic systems, all want to make children sick or kill them.

  5. #5 Shay
    December 29, 2011

    LW@4…the gummint wants to make our sojers sick too, that’s why all active duty personnel are required (no waivers for you, lance corporal) to follow a comprehensive schedule of vaccines. Including seasonal flu.

    Gotta be a plot by that atheist Nazi Kenyan mooslim and his New World Order masters to weaken the forces of democracy!

  6. #6 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Orac:

    It might well be that the relative risk of getting measles in vaccinated teens compared to unvaccinated teens has declined to too low a difference in Quebec. As epidemiologists point out, if that’s true, then it’s not evidence that the vaccine is ineffective. It’s evidence suggesting a reappraisal of how the MMR vaccine is given. In any case, the MMR is still pretty potent, based on the numbers cited by Mercola itself.

    I remember reading a news article that the outbreak was prompting an evaluation of the MMR schedule used by Quebec. The Health Canada Immunization Schedule has an option of getting both MMR vaccines before the age of two, very unlike the schedule south of its border. I am not Canadian, but I married into a Canadian family. Even I get tired of folks like Mercola thinking Canada is just a suburb of the USA and forget that there are some very significant differences especially with legal, political and health care policies.

  7. #7 Anj
    December 29, 2011

    Well, in my family’s case vaccines must have caused the ADHD in my side of the family and the spectrum symptoms on my husband’s side of the family. Apparently the vaccines only affected his siblings, his father and his father’s brother. His mother’s family was mercifully unaffected by The Evil Vaccines.

    I believe you can inherit a lot more than eye color and astigmatism. Spontaneous mutations also happen, as well as translocations and deletions.

    Genetics certainly make more sense than vaccines. I’d expect a fairly random distribution of autism if it was solely due to vaccines. The one mother who has three autistic girls – has anyone calculated the odds of that RANDOMLY happening if it was due to vaccines? One – could be. Two of three – wow the incidence of autism in females is low compared to males. Three of three – I think the odds are roughly one in one million IF autism was due to something completely random.

    I encounter a lot of things that make me go “hmm…..” in the anti vaccine world.

  8. #8 Krebiozen
    December 29, 2011

    I was amused back in October when Mike Adams complained that:

    most people think that “60% effectiveness” means that for every 100 people injected with the flu shot, 60 of them won’t get the flu.

    In fact almost 99 of 100 people getting the flu vaccine won’t get the flu, so by Adams’ standards it’s much more effective than the 60% figure implies! I find it even more amusing to see Joe Mercola getting his math in a similar twist over this (I don’t expect much of poor Mike Adams as he clearly isn’t very bright – remember that mouse study he thought proved astrology works?).

    Incidentally, the fact that only 3% of unvaccinated people got the flu in each season is interesting. That means that each of us can expect to get the flu only once every 33 years, on average. That goes a long way to explaining the anecdotes of people who tell us that they haven’t had the flu since they started taking [insert supplement, herb or magical substance of your choice] every day.

  9. #9 Zaerion
    December 29, 2011

    OracisaQuack@1:
    If you’re not anti-vaccine, which vaccines would you say are safe (including those in the childhood vaccination schedule)?

  10. #10 Angela
    December 29, 2011

    No seriously, vaccines are not 100% safe as you suggest. Reading the insert is a good idea and should be encouraged. I think all sides of the issue should encourage reading the insert. I get very sick every time I take a vaccine. Its not worth it. I’d rather just get the disease. I’m serious. Kudos to you for being so much better than me and not having any side effects. But its not like that for everyone and people should be informed of the harm a vaccine can cause.

    What Mike Adams is saying is that in a particular study 60% effective means it’ll prevent the flu in 1.5 persons out of a hundred. The other 98 people who took the shot will or will not get the flu regardless of the shot they took. There is certainly more to it than simply slapping a label saying it is 60% effective without explaining how the number was cooked up.

    He explains it very nicely. I don’t understand why you have a problem with that.

  11. #11 herr doktor bimler
    December 29, 2011

    Don’t stop there, Angela! There are so many other comment threads where you can spam the same commemt!

  12. #12 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Perhaps she should actually try reading the articles before the comments!

  13. #13 Anj
    December 29, 2011

    I haven’t gotten the flu because…

    I don’t get The Flu. I get a mild head cold, some sniffles and that’s it. The full body ache? No. Vomiting? Nope. Nausea? Nada. Diarrhea? Negative. Flat on my back in bed for days or weeks? Hasn’t happened in my lifetime.

    I blame my genetics. I asked my family this year: “When was the last time you were sick with the flu.”. The answers varied between “a long time ago” or “I can’t remember.”. None of us gets an annual flu vaccine regularly. I’ve had both children down with the hit-by-a-truck flu, presumably H1N1, while I was fully functional. Colds cause me more distress than The Flu.

    Maybe it’s my amazingly healthy diet? My daily exercise? The immune enhancing supplements I take? Meditation? Can’t be. My diet is mediocre, I get occasional exercise and I take no supplements. My daily meditation is “Gee, I should really get off my butt more.”.

    On the not so good side, this means that instead of staying holed up at home while I am “sick”, I am out in public possibly spreading flu where ever I go.

    I’m peeved my children apparently haven’t inherited this resistance.

    Some people don’t get the flu because they simply don’t get the same symptoms as everyone else. If I was prone to spending up to 2 weeks every year sick and barely functional, I’d probably rush to get the vaccine the week it was available. (Or if I still worked in a hospital where flu vaccines were free and convenient.)

  14. #14 Julio
    December 29, 2011

    Orac,

    I’d like to know what your background in math is. I have graduate degrees in mathematics and I don’t see anything wrong with anything I have read from Joseph Mercola nor Mike Adams. Perhaps you can explain how you are so qualified to criticize something that is perfectly sound to everyone else.

    Julio

  15. #15 Gray Falcon
    December 29, 2011

    Julio, do you have any details, or are you just here to beat us over the head with a degree?

  16. #16 Ren
    December 29, 2011

    @Julio

    “..perfectly sound to everyone else.”

    Speak for yourself, son. I have a graduate degree in epidemiology and biostatistics, and I can see bullsh*t all over the place in anti-vax screeds.

    How do you like them apples?

  17. #17 Roderick
    December 29, 2011

    If as you say, vaccines really work. Then save yourself the trouble of writing this article and arguing with people who disagree and just worry about your own damn vaccine!!

  18. #18 Heliantus
    December 29, 2011

    @ Julio

    I would like to know where you graduated in mathematics. Apparently, statistics and their interpretation were not a big part of your program.

  19. #19 Julio
    December 29, 2011

    The logic in the numbers are perfectly fine. I don’t see what bullsh*t you are referring to. There is nothing wrong with the calculations they made.

  20. #20 Ren
    December 29, 2011

    @Roderick

    We also worry about the people who will be misinformed by anti-vaccine propaganda, those who will choose not to vaccinate and pay dearly for it. Just look at the Somali community in Minnesota. They were told by antivaxers that they shouldn’t vaccinate and they had a measles outbreak that was sizeable and costly. That’s why we fight the misinformation.

    Contrary to what you may believe, it’s nothing personal.

  21. #21 Ren
    December 29, 2011

    @Julio

    Then we have nothing to talk about. Good day, sir.

    Next question…

  22. #22 Orac
    December 29, 2011

    “Angela,” “Julio,” and “Roderick” are sockpuppets. Sockpuppetry is one of the few reasons I ever ban anyone. This is the only warning there will be.

  23. #23 BA
    December 29, 2011

    Glad to see Julio acknowledging his failure to learn while earning a degree in mathematics.

  24. #24 Roderick
    December 29, 2011

    @Ren

    All that NVIC is suggesting is to get informed about benefits and risks of vaccines. If through the process someone decides vaccines is not for them, then it is un-American to force someone to do so otherwise. Taking away alternate means of information is also un-American. Ren, I know you want to rule the world because you know so much better than all the rest of us and we are all so damn stupid. The word is respect. Respect other people capability and right to make their own decisions.

    We were told a decade ago that Hormone Replacement was perfectly safe. Now we are told its a different story and that it carries a significant risk of breast cancer. No matter how much you believe in whatever anyone is saying. It may end up not being true in the end. People should to make their own decision on whether to inject aluminum, mercury, MSG, and aborted fetal tissue into their bodies especially in a time when pharmaceutical facilities keep coming up with larger and larger court decision against them for negligence and failure to adhere to regulatory procedures resulting in questionable product given to the consumer. Even if vaccines are perfect, the risk associated with its manufacturing appears to be getting greater and greater. I should be allowed to choose whether I want to take the risk.

    Not you, not anyone else, should make that choice for them.

  25. #25 Ren
    December 29, 2011

    Let’s play with numbers, shall we?

    Let’s say that we had 98 cases of measles in a school, and that 52 (53%) of those cases were immunized. That means that 46 (47%) of those cases were no immunized. So the vaccine doesn’t work, right? Well, it’s all about proportions.

    See, the 52 immunized cases are a subset of the 90% who are immunized. The 46 non-immunized cases are a subset of the 10% who are not immunized.

    We don’t know what X (the total number of kids in the population) is, but we can replace any number and the difference in proportions will still be the same. So let’s say that there were 1,000 students. That means 900 are immunized and 100 are not immunized.

    So which is bigger, 52/900 or 46/100? Don’t strain yourself (Julio), 46/100 is .46 while 52/900 is 0.06. In this theoretical population (based on an actual outbreak), children with measles are 7.6 times more likely to be un-immunized (if we do a case-control study). You can replace any number, really…

    500? 52/450 is bigger than 46/50… Seven-point-six times bigger.

    So, take the vaccine and be seven times less likely to get measles, or don’t take it and be seven times more likely to get it.

    *Drops the chalk and walks away.*

  26. #26 Anj
    December 29, 2011

    Not that I LIKE statistics, but I feel that a few courses in that field would help me decipher studies faster and better.

    On the other hand, I don’t believe every number someone presents. I spent years reading political blogs where various factions cherry picked data to compare, analyze and use to support their particular narratives.

    My first focus is on The Narrative. Then I look for data manipulation, misinterpretation and so on. The more someone has to massage the available data to fit The Narrative, the less I believe it. The more someone insists that a study unconditionally supports a claim, the less I believe it. I may not know much about statistics, but I know what a Margin Of Error is.

    Translation: Nothing is 100% certain.

    Science says “This is how much we know, and THIS is how much we don’t know.”
    Zealots say “This we know and we know this with complete and utter certainty! There is NO DOUBT!”.

  27. #27 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Orac:

    “Angela,” “Julio,” and “Roderick” are sockpuppets.

    It also shows that person’s level of honesty. I suspect the graduate degree in mathematics is from the University of Google.

  28. #28 Lyr
    December 29, 2011

    If vaccines caused autism, we’d see similar symptoms in the domestic animals we vaccinate.

    We don’t.

  29. #29 Th1Th2
    December 29, 2011

    Joe also seems to misunderstand herd immunity, which is not surprising, given that he relies on Barbara Loe Fisher as his information source. Read Mark Crislip, a real infectious disease specialist, instead. Barbara Loe Fisher lays down a swath of burning stupid, too, about how “natural immunity” is better:

    Ahh…Mark Crislip…he’s far too busy looking for herd immunity of smallpox between 1971 and 1980. How about your own understanding of herd immunity, Orac? Let’s find out, shall we?

    Sure, all you have to do to get that natural immunity against measles is to accept the risk of encephalitis and possible death.

    Herd immunity for those who survived, no?

    To get that “natural” immunity against pertussis, all you have to do is to get pertussis. If you’re a baby, you’ll suffer with coughing so severe that it causes pain and you can’t catch your breath, not to mention a distinct possibility of hospitalization, secondary pneumonia, or death.

    Which will result to herd immunity for the survivors, no?

    But, hey, “natural immunity” is worth it, right? It never ceases to amaze me that parents who insist that vaccines be absolutely, positively, 100% safe will blithely subject their children to the risk of serious complications and death in search of that “natural immunity” when the risk of vaccination is so incredibly low. It boggles the mind.

    Well, it boggles my mind as well as you don’t have any established definition of herd immunity, Orac. Well? No hyperlink means $#!+.

  30. #30 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 29, 2011

    If vaccines caused autism, we’d see similar symptoms in the domestic animals we vaccinate.

    I don’t know…I’ve seen some pretty strange cow behaviour…

    …but we can probably blame that on genetics (i.e. the genes that code for being a cow in the first place). :)

    As an aside, what is it with cranks and their linking of mainstream science to the Nazis? Is there an internet rule about this, like Godwin_Plus?

  31. #31 Th1Th2bot
    December 29, 2011

    Well, it boggles my mind as well as you don’t have any established definition of herd immunity, Orac. Well? No hyperlink means $#!+.

    Where are the time goes to avoiding getting itty bitty bits for them into from the virus not fit in the deaths for the whine?

  32. #32 JustaTech
    December 29, 2011

    Here’s the thing that gets me about “natural immunity”: what about those diseases where you only get one go-round? Let’s take Hep B as an example. You get it, you’ve got it. Period. You never “get over” it, so it isn’t protecting you, it’s making you sick.

    Or herpes. (Chickenpox! Shingles!) Yes, you don’t get chickenpox again, but the virus is still there, hanging out in your nerves.

    Or tetnus? I mean, you might survive a mild case with good, modern supportive care, but you might not.

    Or rabies? How many known cases are there where the patient survived without prophylatic IgG?

    These “natural immunity” folks have an unhealthy attachment to the idea “that which does not kill me makes me stronger,” and to hell with everyone it does kill.

  33. #33 Dangerous Bacon
    December 29, 2011

    “”Angela,” “Julio,” and “Roderick” are sockpuppets.”

    Dangit, just when I was starting to believe in a race of “extremely intelligent” antivaxers, jammed full of advanced degrees in math, education etc. yet unaccountably prone to lapses in critical thinking, not to mention susceptibility to horrifically bad grammar and punctuation.

  34. #34 Anj
    December 29, 2011

    Count me OUT for “natural immunity” to rabies and tetanus.

    Both diseases are horrible and usually fatal. Surviving them requires prompt diagnosis and intensive medical intervention.

    I’m not particularly interested in acquiring “natural immunity” to other vaccine preventable diseases. Covered in pox or a head to toe rash, or worse yet acquiring rubella while pregnant…I want NO part of that.

    I keep wondering how many unvaccinated girls will reach child bearing age without gaining “natural immunity” to rubella. A potentially asymptomatic viral infection that can lead to stillborn or badly damaged infants? No thank you, no thank you, NO THANK YOU!

    Have Ob-Gyns encountered pregnant women with no immunity to rubella?

  35. #35 Ralph R
    December 29, 2011

    @JustaTech

    Actually, there is evidence to indicate that since the Chickenpox vaccine is a live virus vaccine, it can actually cause more cases of shingles than not getting the vaccine.

    Here’s the link:

    http://drtenpenny.com/chickenpox_elderly.aspx

    And here’s a quote from the link:

    “The researchers worked out a mathematical model that predicts that eliminating chickenpox in a country the size of the United States would prevent 186 million cases of the disease and 5,000 deaths over 50 years. However they said it could also result in 21 million more cases of shingles and 5,000 deaths.”

    I have never heard anyone in the informed consent campaign suggesting that people who want to get vaccinated to not do so. In fact, all I have seen is people suggesting that others be informed. I don’t have a problem if you want to get vaccinated even though vaccine shedding is a real risk of infection from vaccinated people to unvaccinated people. I trust enough in eating healthy and other healthful means that I don’t worry about this sort of thing. That’s my choice. I have better things to do than impose on others’ choice. I am simply here to defend my right to choose which is a freedom that we are at risk of losing. All vaccines carry a risk. All pharmaceutical products carry a risk. With pharmaceutical products being at the height of manufacturing malpractice, even if vaccines were as safe as they are made out to be, there is a real risk of manufacturing defect that this country cannot seem to keep control over. I don’t see how anyone should enforce on me a vaccine with such a questionable outcome…But if you want to take the vaccine, go ahead. I believe it is a choice for the individual as is encouraged by everyone else in the informed consent campaign.

  36. #36 Rebecca
    December 29, 2011

    Anj – I never had rubella as a child, and there wasn’t a vaccine when I was growing up, but I went ahead and got the vaccine a couple of years ago so that I couldn’t spread it to pregnant women. It seems to me that sometimes we should get vaccines to protect other people as well as ourselves.

  37. #37 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Ralph R, do try something that is not Sherri Tenpenny. You are going to have to debate with real science from researchers who know what they are doing.

    Plus, you are using the Nirvana Fallacy: nothing is 100% safe. But the data show that the vaccines are much safer than the diseases. If you have evidence to the contrary then please post the actual scientific documentation (an example in included in this comment, try to find it).

    Justatech, apparently there is no such thing as “naturally acquired” immunity from tetanus. It is just like the strep bacteria, it hides from the immune system.

    Also, another bacterial infection, pertussis, does not confer permanent immunity after you spend three months trying to cough up your lungs:
    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2005 May;24(5 Suppl):S58-61.
    Duration of immunity against pertussis after natural infection or vaccination.

    Which says:

    A review of the published data on duration of immunity reveals estimates that infection-acquired immunity against pertussis disease wanes after 4-20 years and protective immunity after vaccination wanes after 4-12 years.

  38. #38 Ren
    December 29, 2011

    Dr. Tennpeny as a citation? Mmmmm… Nope. How about you try again with, say, a verifiable source?

  39. #39 Anj
    December 29, 2011

    @Lyr

    I have to say that I have seen autistic-like behavior in dogs, but I usually attribute that to not breeding for proper temperament. They sell Anxiety Wrap vests for dogs to help calm anxiety prone dogs. I saw that and thought “Gee, that’s exactly what they use for ASD children.”.

    I think that purebred dogs are a fantastic resource for genetic research because they have so very many documented genetic disorders. Look up autoimmune disorders of Tolling Retrievers for an excellent example.

    If there is an incidence of autistic-like symptoms in purebred dogs, we should be investigate it! It’s likely that we could find genetic causes for a disorder in a closed gene pool. Whether this information will have any use in similar disorders for humans remains to be seen.

    (Yes there are anti-vaxxers among pet owners. Despite the real risks of diseases like parvo, distemper and rabies, Natural Rearing insists that dogs do not need vaccines to protect them.)

  40. #40 Ralph R
    December 29, 2011

    @Rebecca

    FYI: You may be doing more harm than good depending on the vaccine that you are taking. There is such a thing as vaccine shedding that will cause a vaccinated person to spread the virus to unvaccinated people.

    Here is a link to the article:

    http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/2008/02/24/secondary-transmission-%EF%BB%BFthe-short-and-sweet-about-live-virus-vaccine-shedding/

    Here is a quote from the article:

    “Shedding is when the live virus that is injected via vaccine, moves through the human body and comes back out in the feces, droplets from the nose, or saliva from the mouth. Anyone who takes care of the child could potentially contract the disease for some time after that child has received certain live vaccines. This was a huge problem with the oral polio vaccine, and was one of the reasons why it was taken off the market in the US.”

  41. #41 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Ralph R:

    There is such a thing as vaccine shedding that will cause a vaccinated person to spread the virus to unvaccinated people.

    No, sorry, not a good reference. Do show post the title, journal and title of the study indexed in PubMed that shows that the current MMR vaccine sheds and causes illness in others.

    And before you post again, please read the advice Liz Ditz posted: Pablo’s First Law of Internet Discussion. Basically, this is a science blog, so you should actually respond with real science as evidence.

  42. #42 AdamG
    December 29, 2011

    RalphR @39

    That article you ‘cited’ is one of the most disingenuous pieces of garbage I have read in quite a while. I laughed. Then I cried.

    None of the points raised by that article, nor any of its twisting of the journal articles cited therein, is new to any of us.

    We’ve seen it all here before, and dealt with these very points on numerous occasions. You are dealing with real scientists here. We know how to critically analyze research and come to reasonable conclusions, rather than copy and paste from an article we read. You’d best give up while your mythos remains intact.

  43. #43 Narad
    December 29, 2011

    Have Ob-Gyns encountered pregnant women with no immunity to rubella?

    Is that rhetorical?

  44. #44 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    AdamG, Inside Vaccines is a site that is notorious for cherry picking and misrepresentations (Deetee sometimes comments here).

    (I see you are local to me, do you go to the local Skeptics Meetup? I need to start going again, but a set evening thing kept me away for a while.)

  45. #45 Gabe
    December 29, 2011

    Oh. My. God. I just figured it out. The antivaxxers and the provaxxers are on the same side! It’s like pro wrestling! Their shared goal is to create an environment so hostile and distrustful that there will never be any way for the average person to know what to believe! What I hear from all you folks is “Look at the facts!” “They’re lying!” “They’re injuring children!” “Oh, gawd, we’ve got to stop them by any means necessary! Let’s just say whatever the f*** we feel like it!” Antivaxxers and provaxxers sound exactly alike to me and many other parents I’ve talked to. Keep it up. You will ensure that people remain confused. My guess is that vaccination rates will continue to drop. I’m being sarcastic (just to fit in here), but truly you seem much more interested in entertaining yourselves than educating or facilitating debate. (cue attack on me and finger pointing) A pox on both your houses.

  46. #46 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Gabe, do you have a point?

    What is wrong for asking for data? I want to know what evidence the newbies here are using, yet I have seen very little produced. What I have seen are random blog posts, a forum posting and one paper that did not say what the person thought it said.

    So, really, what is wrong with asking for the evidence?

  47. #47 The Christian Cynic
    December 29, 2011

    Gabe:

    Antivaxxers and provaxxers sound exactly alike to me and many other parents I’ve talked to.

    While we’re sharing anecdotes, here’s mine. When I was first married (almost nine years ago), I frequented a message board that had a few “mother warrior” types (and a few other credulous members) who tried to insist that vaccinations were very, very bad and that thimerosal was causing autism, etc. I had no strong opinion of vaccines – they were something I basically took for granted – but what they said just didn’t sound right. It took very little research from reputable sources to confirm my suspicions and demonstrate that vaccines are in fact quite safe and not responsible for any of the conditions that anti-vaxxers blame them for. That was how, even before my wife and I began thinking about having children, we decided that we were not going to withhold vaccines from our children simply because some people had unwarranted fears about them.

    But you know what one of the biggest differences was between the anti-vax members and others who perhaps could be called “pro-vax”? The former always countered my skepticism with “Well, you need to do more research,” while the latter helped find credible sources of information on the topic. It was very clear to me that the two sides were not equivalent.

    And even though there are some commenters here who like to have a little fun at the expense of rabid anti-vaxers who come in and spew the same talking points that have been refuted over and over, I think it is also quite clear to any fair-minded individual that the anti-vaxers who drop in and the regular RI commenters who counter them are not simply two extreme sides of the same coin. From one side, you get vast conspiracies and claims of intentional harm, and from the other side, you get peer-reviewed research and expert opinions. This is simply a false equivalence.

  48. #48 Jen
    December 29, 2011

    Chris, people feet really tired, generally speaking of you/science bloggers’ admission that “vaccines have risks, side effects” but you have very little to say about those risks and quite frankly that’s because most of the studies you and people like Offit refer to are bad science. Really. Like looking at vaccination uptake in one city and incidence of autism spectrum disorders in another (Fombonne). Like adding in outpatient diagnosis of autism later in a study so it looks like thimerosal removal actually causes problems! (Madsen). You can say all you want that there are ethical problems with doing a vaccinated VS unvaccinated study but people are starting to notice that funny, any study such as Hewitsen’s showing some problems with vaccinating primates gets pulled from a pharma journal. Wakefield gets skewered in a way that people like Thorsen never will be even though he has been indicted for fraud and done fraudulent studies. It would all be comical if it wasn’t so sad. Also, forget about the whole “vaccines aren’t money-makers’ gambit. They are a huge growth market. My parents are being pestered to take statins lately by their doc and they are feeling frustrated by that even though they do not fall into the group who would clearly benefit from them and they have done just fine at 81 and 84. People are sick of the crap.

  49. #49 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    Jen, do you have a point?

    First let me just point out the entire fallacy of your whining by asking you if you think John Salamone was more or less effective than Barbara Loe Fisher.

    Also, you have still not pointed a critique of any of those studies from a qualified source. When are you going to post a review indexed in PubMed from someone who is not a journalist or venture capitalist? (oh, and Hewitson had a conflict of interest)

    Like good all good little AoA sheeple, you just parrot what they write and don’t look any further.

  50. #50 Todd W.
    December 29, 2011

    @Jen

    It would be refreshing if you happened to, I dunno, go out and learn a thing or two about science. Instead of spouting the same tired points over and over, being shown how you are wrong and asked for original opinions of your own, rather than simply regurgitating what you’ve read at Age of Autism, try bringing something new to the table.

  51. #51 Da Robb
    December 29, 2011

    Gabe
    I’m assuming you’re new. I’m a lurker who has watched these threads unfold for some time and learn something nearly very thread. Sit back. Relax. TAKE IT IN!!!
    If you really think both sides are confusing you, go back up to the top of the thread and reread it. If that doesn’t help, I’m sorry for you.
    Da Robb

  52. #52 LW
    December 29, 2011

    “Also, forget about the whole ‘vaccines aren’t money-makers’ gambit. They are a huge growth market. My parents are being pestered to take statins lately by their doc and they are feeling frustrated by that…”

    Statins are vaccines? I learn something new every day on Respectful Insolence.

    Or possibly Jen is just throwing out random sentences that have nothing to do with each other.

  53. #53 LW
    December 29, 2011

    “Wakefield gets skewered in a way that people like Thorsen never will be even though he has been indicted for fraud and done fraudulent studies.”

    What is the basis for your claim that Thorsen has “done fraudulent studies”? Citation needed, if you please. “My friends and I don’t like the results” does not constitute a valid basis for this claim.

  54. #54 Chris
    December 29, 2011

    The last time someone mentioned a “Thorsen” study I asked which ones he was the first or last author of… the reply was reminiscent of the silence being broken by the faint sound of crickets chirping.

  55. #55 brian
    December 29, 2011

    Ralph R wrote:

    Here is a quote from the article:

    “Shedding is when the live virus that is injected via vaccine, moves through the human body and comes back out in the feces, droplets from the nose, or saliva from the mouth. Anyone who takes care of the child could potentially contract the disease for some time after that child has received certain live vaccines.

    My middle-school kid was able to understand that exposure to (via shedding of) the attenuated viruses that are contained in the few live-virus vaccines included in today’s pediatric vaccine schedule should enhance immunity without causing serious cases of the diseases that are associated with more virulent wild-type viruses. Why are you unable to grasp that obvious point? Do your parents know that you are using their computer?

  56. #56 Krebiozen
    December 29, 2011

    Jen,
    I patiently explained to you back in February that you were mistaken about the Madsen study, that the addition of outpatients didn’t affect the results and that it is explicitly stated in the study that the rates increase with or without the outpatient data. Have you forgotten, is there some reason you disagree with what I explained before, or would you like me to explain it all again?

  57. #57 SillyPutty
    December 29, 2011

    There is an undeniable correlation between the administration of vaccines and death.
    Do a mathematical correlation between the administration of vaccine and the onset of death after only 50 years.
    It’s frightening. It’s even worse if you go out to 60 years.

  58. #58 stuv.myopenid.com
    December 29, 2011

    Krebiozen, I’ll take “I really hoped that nobody would remember and leave that chestnut unchallenged” for $200.

  59. #59 stuv.myopenid.com
    December 29, 2011

    SillyPutty, can I play? Can we narrow the set down to those under 8 years of age?

    Can I?

  60. #60 palindrom
    December 29, 2011

    SillyPutty@57 — If you consider the vaccines given in infancy, the really alarming effects on the death rate don’t cut in until you get out to, oh, 70 or 80 years. And by the time you get to 100 years, well, I don’t even want to think about it.

  61. #61 herr doktor bimler
    December 29, 2011

    Also, forget about the whole ‘vaccines aren’t money-makers’ gambit. They are a huge growth market. My parents are being pestered to take statins lately

    There are enough non-secateurs here to fill an entire non-garden shed.

    LW:
    What is the basis for your claim that Thorsen has “done fraudulent studies”? Citation needed, if you please. “My friends and I don’t like the results” does not constitute a valid basis for this claim.

    You (and Chris, and Krebiozen) evidently do not understand that as soon as Jen used the magical word ‘Thorsen’, she automatically won the argument. No further details were required. The name has apotropaic powers, apparently.

  62. #62 Sauceress
    December 29, 2011

    Do a mathematical correlation between the administration of vaccine and the onset of death after only 50 years.
    It’s frightening. It’s even worse if you go out to 60 years.

    Hehehehehe…
    How about:
    Do a mathematical correlation between the year of birth and the onset of death after only 50 years.
    It’s frightening. It’s even worse if you go out to 60 years.!!111!!!

  63. #63 Gabe
    December 29, 2011

    Chris, I didn’t mean for it to look like I was replying specifically to you.

    Christian Cynic, well, yes, my comments about my experience are anecdotal. But i don’t think it is a false equivalency. You are free, of course, to disagree. People always think that they’re right, and that that makes the way they communicate their information irrelevant. But I just don’t think that’s a realistic way to look at how people seek out and process information. You and your wife made a certain decision based on how you interpreted the information you found. Other people do the same thing, but come to different conclusions than you do. It’s been my experience that antivaxxers also, and frequently, tell people to do more research. The word sheep gets thrown around a lot no matter who’s talking. The one thing I’m trying to address here is the atmosphere that’s being created. What I’m saying is that in this atmosphere, where people can’t turn anywhere for information without watching a mudfight, it becomes less and less important who is right because no one can trust anyone. For instance, you couldn’t resist using the word “credulous” to describe other parents. Antivaxxers use that sort of language, too. I’ve also seen people been told to do more research, then when they did, been criticized for not having the credentials to understand science! Most of us aren’t scientists. We have to rely on people we trust. Most people find it harder to know whom to trust in the midst of a shitstorm. The reason for that is that, I think, (warning! Opinion!) people who do have the truth on their side don’t have to resort to nastiness. Being “right” doesn’t give anyone license to be an incredibly bad communicator. I still say all of you are at cross purposes with yourselves. You are squandering the opportunity to do some good, if you really are as right as you
    say. Of course, if your purpose is to scream at people you will never convince and strive for the applause of people who already agree with you, you’re doing a great job.

  64. #64 Gabe
    December 29, 2011

    Chris, I didn’t mean for it to look like I was replying specifically to you.

    Christian Cynic, well, yes, my comments about my experience are anecdotal. But i don’t think it is a false equivalency. You are free, of course, to disagree. People always think that they’re right, and that that makes the way they communicate their information irrelevant. But I just don’t think that’s a realistic way to look at how people seek out and process information. You and your wife made a certain decision based on how you interpreted the information you found. Other people do the same thing, but come to different conclusions than you do. It’s been my experience that antivaxxers also, and frequently, tell people to do more research. The word sheep gets thrown around a lot no matter who’s talking. The one thing I’m trying to address here is the atmosphere that’s being created. What I’m saying is that in this atmosphere, where people can’t turn anywhere for information without watching a mudfight, it becomes less and less important who is right because no one can trust anyone. For instance, you couldn’t resist using the word “credulous” to describe other parents. Antivaxxers use that sort of language, too. I’ve also seen people been told to do more research, then when they did, been criticized for not having the credentials to understand science! Most of us aren’t scientists. We have to rely on people we trust. Most people find it harder to know whom to trust in the midst of a shitstorm. The reason for that is that, I think, (warning! Opinion!) people who do have the truth on their side don’t have to resort to nastiness. Being “right” doesn’t give anyone license to be an incredibly bad communicator. I still say all of you are at cross purposes with yourselves. You are squandering the opportunity to do some good, if you really are as right as you
    say. Of course, if your purpose is to scream at people you will never convince and strive for the applause of people who already agree with you, you’re doing a great job.

  65. #65 Composer99
    December 29, 2011

    Gabe:

    On the one hand we have an aggregate of people who support their claims with evidence provided by (inter)-national public health agencies and the body of epidemiological literature.

    On the other hand, we have an aggregate of people who support their claims with garbage studies (eg. Wakefield et al 1998), misrepresentations of the evidence, outright fabrications, and patently ridiculous allegations of vast globe-spanning conspiracies.

    So insisting that there exists some kind of false balance between the two on account of similarities in tone (although I defy you to find any mainstream science-based vaccine advocacy blog with the same kind of overall tone, as, say, Age of Autism) strikes me as entirely inappropriate.

  66. #66 Liz Ditz
    December 29, 2011

    Anj @34:

    Have Ob-Gyns encountered pregnant women with no immunity to rubella?

    Yes. Case in Sweden reported earlier this week. This one wasn’t due to anti-vaccination hysteria, just an woman’s bad luck to be born in a country where vaccination was rare, emigrated to Sweden, returned to country of origin and acquired the infection early in pregnancy. Actually, it’s her infant’s bad luck….

    According to Medscape, a 2004 review found about 91% of the US population is immune.

    The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report is the best source. For 2009: (the last year reported)

    Two CRS cases were reported in the United States in 2009. Both infants were born during 2008 and officially reported to CDC after investigations of the cases were completed in 2009. The first case was in an infant born to a U.S. resident with a travel history to India and China during time of conception and early in her first trimester of pregnancy. The infant, with a syndrome clinically compatible with CRS, tested positive at birth for infection with rubella genotype 2B virus. The source of infection for the second CRS case reported in 2009 is unknown. This infant was born to a U.S. resident who reported no international travel during her pregnancy. The case was diagnosed by PCR testing at a commercial laboratory; however, specimens were not available for confirmation and genotyping at CDC. Neither an epidemiologic nor virologic link to an importation could be established (CDC, unpublished data).

    As more undervaccinated women reach childbearing age, I imagine the incidence will go up, unless of course the undervaccinated women come to their senses and have the vaccine before attempting pregnancy.

  67. #67 Narad
    December 29, 2011

    The word sheep gets thrown around a lot no matter who’s talking.

    No, it doesn’t.

  68. #68 ian
    December 30, 2011

    It can become very frustrating for contributors to this blog with backgrounds in medicine, epidemiology, statistics or other sciences where critical appraisal of evidence is essential see other contributors just not “get it”. The truly aggravating thing is when they seem to have no idea of their lack of understanding of basic principles of scientific study. For the lay public these principles can be hard to grasp. So lets look at this in a different manner. For the anti-vaccers to be right you have to assume that 1000s of our brightest and well trained medical scientists are either willfully choosing to disregard their “evidence” or are not just bright enough to see their wisdom. Then you have to assume that virtually all governments have chosen the same path and just can’t see the light. Now if this isn’t enough you then have to accept that the most successful investor in history, Warren Buffett, who has only got where he is by critical analysis, and one of the most successful businessmen in history, Bill Gates, have also been taken in and foolishly invested their philanthropic fortunes into vaccination programs for the developping world. Forget the science for a moment and just step back and look at the big picture.

  69. #69 Dangerous Bacon
    December 30, 2011

    Gabe: “Oh. My. God. I just figured it out. The antivaxxers and the provaxxers are on the same side! It’s like pro wrestling! Their shared goal is to create an environment so hostile and distrustful that there will never be any way for the average person to know what to believe! What I hear from all you folks is “Look at the facts!” “They’re lying!” “They’re injuring children!” “Oh, gawd, we’ve got to stop them by any means necessary! Let’s just say whatever the f*** we feel like it!”

    I dunno, Gabe. I figure that if a visitor who really is undecided or has serious unanswered questions reads Orac’s detailed and well-referenced articles, then visits the comments and takes advantage of similarly detailed, thoughtful and well-referenced answers, they’ll have an excellent opportunity to be convinced of the value of immunization.

    On the other hand, if they are so hung up on tone that they ignore all the good and valuable information here in order to focus on sarcastic/snarky remarks, they likely are unable to get much out of a site like this and should instead visit straightforward info sites like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia vaccine info section, or read good books like Arthur Allen’s “Vaccine”.
    It’s possible that the freely expressed views here occasionally turn off an honest inquirer, but more often it seems that Offended Visitors are actually tone trolls with antivax sympathies, who couldn’t be convinced even if everyone bent over backwards to be polite 100% of the time.

  70. #70 Narad
    December 30, 2011

    Perhaps I was too terse in my response to Anj above. I was under the impression that prenatal screening for rubella immunity status was routine.

  71. #71 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    Gabe, I have a wife? What!? Wait until my husband finds out! I could really use one since I really really hate folding laundry.

    I know you were not replying specifically to me, but it was a way to point out that you were generalizing.

    For one thing, I am only an engineer and a mother of a kid who need herd immunity for pertussis when our county was having an outbreak (he has a few health issues, which is why I had to quit work). So my credentials are okay, but not stellar. In fact you can occasionally bemoan how clueless some engineers are (Gary Goldman of Medical Veritas, Andy Cutler of the Autism/Mercury Yahoo group and Amy Lansky who claimed to cure her kid from autism with homeopathy, despite the child never being formally diagnosed).

    What I do insist on is a certain level of credentials in the scientists who do the research. So I will not accept medical research from a journalist or business administrator, nor someone who pretends to be a doctor. Many people here who are not scientists have learned how to look at science and are able to determine its merits, including at least one composer, a specialist in reading disorders and others.

    The biggest difference is that we have open minds and are willing to learn. Would you like me to list the books I have read (some with the help of the local children’s hospital resource center) as I attempted to learn about my son’s seizures, speech/language disorders, psychological challenges, nuances of special education policies, and genetic cardiac issues? Be assured that absolutely none of the books were written by someone who acted on any stage.

  72. #72 The Christian Cynic
    December 30, 2011

    Chris, I think the wife comment was directed at me, not you.

    Gabe, most of your complaints are about tone, which I get but don’t find very compelling. You took me to task for using the word “credulous,” but that word accurately describes the people in question. For one, not all were parents, and the others I mentioned were also truthers – if that doesn’t clearly qualify, then we’re just getting too hung up on the word. It wasn’t a pejorative, but you took it that way on an assumption. That seems to cut against your supposed dispassionate attitude toward the topic.

    But to the larger point: this is a polarizing issue. Emotions tend to run high. But when one side censors opposing views, tries to shout down reasoned arguments, and appeals to hidden conspiracies – while the other responds with at worst mockery and disdain for ridiculous and easily disproven arguments – then it should be obvious which side is more credible. There is no screaming from this side, and I don’t know where you got that. The equivalence is false, period.

  73. #73 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    Ooop, you are right, Christian Cynic. Well, it was a bit of fun, and my excuse is being tired. Though I did point out that the vaccine issue is very real for us.

  74. #74 lilady
    December 30, 2011

    “Perhaps I was too terse in my response to Anj above. I was under the impression that prenatal screening for rubella immunity status was routine.”

    Testing for immunities against rubella and varicella are done during the first trimester, as is testing for HIV. Vaginal and rectal swabs are done ~ 36 weeks gestation to test for Group B strep colonization and if there is a positive culture for the bacterium, the woman will require IV antibiotics at the time of delivery.

    When the pregnant woman is found to not have immunity against rubella and/or varicella, the vaccine(s) should be administered prior to leaving the birthing hospital…to protect any infant born subsequently from contracting the diseases in utero and being born with congenital rubella syndrome and/or congenital varicella syndrome.

  75. #75 alison
    December 30, 2011

    Anj @ 34 (& Liz Ditz later): I received all available childhood vaccines; my mother was big on them having had polio herself. Before we decided to try for a baby (I was in my early 30s at the time) I was checked for rubella immunity – had none! So was revaccinated. Three years later (before trying for child #2) another check found – again – that I lacked any immunity to rubella, so was given another booster shot. I guess for whatever reason my immune system simply doesn’t respond particularly well to rubella antigen…

  76. #76 TyrannosaurusRex
    December 30, 2011

    Many of you have covered what I would have said far better than I have regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Bravo! It’s sickening how many people are choosing not to vaccinate their children. I have just a few questions for anti-vaccine people:

    a) Do you agree with Fisher’s comparison of the Nazi euthanisia program to childhood vaccines? A yes or no would suffice. I’ve noticed that the majority of anti-vaccine people posting here (and on the earlier post) cry the vague “big pharma” when confronted with scientific evidence regarding vaccine efficacy, but refuse to denounce the actual demagoguery of their own people.

    b) For those of you who use “mandates” as a reason to oppose vaccination schedules, how do you feel about car insurance mandates for drivers? Is that mandate OK with you? If so, why not vaccination mandates for kids entering schools?

    c) How was smallpox eradicated? From the comments here and elsewhere, I get the sense that many anti-vaccine people believe in good nutrition and good sanitation as the means to protect themselves from all diseases. How do you then explain how smallpox is no longer present ANYWHERE in the world – including in impoverished countries with starving people and bad sanitation?

    d) For those of you who say “wait wait, I just want BOTH sides of the story and I’m not against vaccines, I just want INFORMATION” – what vaccines are you OK with? Seriously, list them.

    e) What is causing recurrent measles outbreaks? Why are people who, presumably, eat well and have access to clean water (see: US, England, most of Europe) getting sick?

    Feel free to answer any and all of these questions :) I honestly feel that those of us who understand the science of vaccines are often at a disadvantage because those of you who clearly don’t get mad when we trust in vaccines (apparently faith in that respect is bad) but then when we cite papers, etc. you don’t bother to really read them and choose to believe the very small minority of doctors (and Jenny McCarthy). As an immunology graduate student (please note that I don’t work for big pharma), it’s incredibly frustrating to hear things like “I’d rather my baby get measles than the measles vaccine.” But when your people (such as Fisher) reduce themselves to baseless Nazi comparisons, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  77. #77 warthog
    December 30, 2011

    Th1Th2:

    None of those scenarios lead to herd immunity. The survivors will have some level of resistance possibly ranging to some level of immunity, with enough variety that as soon as someone’s immune system drops the disease has a stronger foothold in the population and perpetuates to the next generation.

    Even if we could get herd immunity by basically agreeing to sacrifice certain people, how would that be morally superior to vaccinating?

  78. #78 progjohn
    December 30, 2011

    Gabe, it can be hard for us non-experts to tell who to trust here, but there are some useful indicators:
    1) Some people back up factual claims with links to articles published on pubmed, others refer to other web pages but not to research published in reputable peer-reviewed journals.
    2) Some posts explain points in more detail, often with examples, whilst others just repeat the same thing.
    For me, I will always place my trust in someone who is open about their sources and provides explanations over people who simply state things as facts and refuse to respond to any questions.
    I suggest you scan through the comments again and see if either side of this debate tends to fall mainly on the “open and explained” side of the line. You should now be able to judge who knows what they are talking about and who is bullshitting.

  79. #79 Interrobang
    December 30, 2011

    Speaking as someone whose advanced degree is in rhetoric, tone arguments are the first refuge of the rhetorical scoundrel. If all you’ve got to say about someone’s argument is “It hurt my feeeeelings,” you’ve got nothing.

    Particularly in this case. Gabe, do you honestly think Orac and everybody should be nicer to people who are, actually literally pro-disease? Do you honestly think that anybody can reason somebody out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into? (Being antivaccine is not, despite all the protestations, a rational position, unless you really like being sick.)

    Or are you just whining and JAQing off?

    For what it’s worth, I do have a reasonable background in statistics, too. Understanding basic probability is hardly even “math”; it should be more like basic survival skills. If a dyscalculic liberal-arts major like me can do it, anybody can.

    That said, while we’re on the subject, I’d like to point out something that the sockpuppet said that kind of got overlooked while everyone else was critiquing the math, just for the benefit of the lurkers. Even with statistics, it doesn’t much matter if the calculations are correct, if the premises and assumptions that inform those calculations are garbage. If you start from a set of flawed/bad/misleading premises, your math can be brilliant, but your conclusions are still going to be bullshit. Don’t forget that, while you’re checking the equations.

  80. #80 Jane Harper
    December 30, 2011

    The stupidity and lack of education of the pro vaccine crowd will truly never cease to amaze me. Keep shooting yourselves and your kids up, sheeple.

  81. #81 lilady
    December 30, 2011

    “The stupidity and lack of education of the pro vaccine crowd will truly never cease to amaze me. Keep shooting yourselves and your kids up, sheeple.”

    The stupidity and lack of education of the ANTI vaccine crowd will truly never cease to amaze me. Keep EXPOSING yourselves and your kids TO VACCINE-PREVENTABLE DISEASES, sheeple.

    -FTFY Jane

  82. #82 Jane Harper
    December 30, 2011

    @lilady — gee THAT was original … just demonstrating what I said, you are a sheeple (a follower, someone who cannot think for themselves and who needs others to do that for them). As evidenced by the fact that you copied my words. LOL.

  83. #83 Composer99
    December 30, 2011

    Well, I for one am glad Jane Harper’s around to set us all straight with a two-sentence comment accurately summarizing the entire body of carefully-gathered scientific evidence overturning the current body of knowledge surrounding communicable diseases, the immune system, and vaccines.

    Jane: I promise we will review your comment and respond to it with all the consideration and thoroughness it deserves.

  84. #84 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    Jane Harper:

    The stupidity and lack of education of the pro vaccine crowd will truly never cease to amaze me.

    Yay!!! Finally there is someone here to educate us. Woo hoo!

    Ms. Harper please help us get out of our deep well of stupidity, and answer some questions that no else seems to be capable of. I would really appreciate it:

    1. Could you please post the title, journal and date of the papers that Wakefield used to determine that there was an issue with some version of the MMR before he started his research? He had to have something to base his suggestion that parents use only single vaccines in his press announce of a paper that did not have that evidence.

    2. Could you also provide the title, journal and dates between 1971 and 1997 that show there was an increase of autism due to the MMR vaccine in the USA? That would be helpful to find the genesis of Wakefield’s research.

    3. Could you please tell us which MMR vaccine Wakefield based his study of a dozen children on? Before 1992 the UK had at least three different MMR vaccines (two with the Urabe strain of mumps), an then only ones without the Urabe mumps strain afterwards. The one American child would have had an MMR vaccine with the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps.

    4. Could you please post the title, journal and date of the studies that show the DTaP vaccine (not the DTP or DTwP) has more risk of injury than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis?

    5. The following is American census data, it shows the incidence (morbidity) of measles in the USA starting a century ago and into the late 1990s. Can you please tell us why the rate of measles plummeted 90% between 1960 and 1970 (only for that decade, and only for the USA … others answering the question seem to think Wales and England are in the USA, isn’t that odd?). Thank you.
    From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
    Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
    1912 . . . 310.0
    1920 . . . 480.5
    1925 . . . 194.3
    1930 . . . 340.8
    1935 . . . 584.6
    1940 . . . 220.7
    1945 . . . 110.2
    1950 . . . 210.1
    1955 . . . 337.9
    1960 . . . 245.4
    1965 . . . 135.1
    1970 . . . . 23.2
    1975 . . . . 11.3
    1980 . . . . . 5.9
    1985 . . . . . 1.2
    1990 . . . . .11.2
    1991 . . . . . .3.8
    1992 . . . . . .0.9
    1993 . . . . . .0.1
    1994 . . . . . .0.4
    1995 . . . . . .0.1
    1996 . . . . . .0.2
    1997 . . . . . . 0.1

  85. #85 Jane Harper
    December 30, 2011

    Sure I can! As soon as you can provide me with the studies evidencing that vaccines do NOT cause cancer (oh wait, the inserts say that they actually might), or as soon as you can show me a study conducted by the GOVERNMENT comparing the vaccinated population to the unvaccinated population and indicating that the unvaccinated kids are less healthy. Uhm, sorry, that might be hard since NONE exist.

    Keep doing what your doing – it’s obviously working for you, but not really because I can pretty much guarantee you that all of your kids have had an ear infection, or have some sort of allergy, or have been sick numerous times during their first year of life.

    Guess what? My child has not ever been sick or had an ear infection and is allergic to — guess what? NOTHING! LOL

  86. #86 Todd W.
    December 30, 2011

    @Jane Harper

    as soon as you can show me a study conducted by the GOVERNMENT comparing the vaccinated population to the unvaccinated population and indicating that the unvaccinated kids are less healthy

    Read this four-part series.

  87. #87 lilady
    December 30, 2011

    No Jane, I meant to post that way deliberately. Come to think of it:

    * What is your educational background?

    ** What are your professional licenses?

    Where are you employed in a health care field doing research, laboratory testing or as a clinician in a health care setting?

    Why do you resort to the labeling of people educated in the sciences as “sheeple”? You do know that particular pejorative terminology is a buzz word for conspiracists of all flavors, don’t you?

    *Google University doesn’t count

    **Hunting, fishing and licenses for your pets in your name.. do not count

  88. #88 Julian Frost
    December 30, 2011

    @Jane Harper:

    the studies evidencing that vaccines do NOT cause cancer (oh wait, the inserts say that they actually might)

    As others have said before, the insert are cover your arse disclaimers written by lawyers. Oh, and there’s a big difference between “might” and “does”.

    Guess what? My child has not ever been sick or had an ear infection and is allergic to — guess what? NOTHING!

    Anecdote is not data. And your child’s been lucky so far. He or she might not be so lucky later.

  89. #89 Edith Prickly
    December 30, 2011

    Keep doing what your doing – it’s obviously working for you, but not really because I can pretty much guarantee you that all of your kids have had an ear infection, or have some sort of allergy, or have been sick numerous times during their first year of life.

    Oooh, a challenge! with a guarantee, even. I’m game. I have one child, now 5, who was given all the vaccines on the provincial schedule.

    Was he sick numerous times during the first year of life? Nope. The first serious illness I recall was a nasty bout of tonsillitis when he was just over a year old. Since then he gets it about once a year, which is fairly typical.

    His worst illness to date was something the pediatrician though was mononucleosis, but looked much more like H1N1 when mom and dad both caught it too. And no, we didn’t get flu shots, we all got sick before the vaccine was available.

    Ear infections? once or twice in 5 years.

    Allergies? sort of. He developed serum sickness after being given penicillin for an infection (just like several members of my extended family), and has mild allergies to dust and molds (just like mom.) No chance that genetics have anything to do with it, is there?

    Now here are the serious illnesses he hasn’t had: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, chicken pox, Hep B, meningitis, HIB and pneumoccal disease. Hmmm, I wonder why?

    And you know what else? Everything I’ve told you is meaningless, just as meaningless as your belief that not vaccinating your child has protected him/her from infections and allergies. Those are anecdotes and magical thinking my dear, not scientific data.

    You lose. Please refund me the time I spent reading and responding to your silly rant. And I believe Chris has posted some questions for you to answer.

  90. #90 Narad
    December 30, 2011

    “A sheeple”? I guess the original barbarous neologism just wasn’t primitive enough.

  91. #91 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    Jane Harper:

    Sure I can! As soon as you can provide me with the studies

    I’m sorry it does not work that way. You claimed we were stupid and uneducated, so it is up to you to educate us. You can start by answering our questions.

    Besides, why would you believe what I wrote if you think I have neither the intelligence nor education that you find satisfactory.

    Though you do bring up another question: please post the title, journal and dates of the papers that show cancer specifically tied to a vaccine (oh, like the presently used IPV for polio) is more common and dangerous than polio. Please stick to vaccines used in the present pediatric schedule, not ones from the 1950s.

    I don’t wish to be a “sheeple.” This is why I try to rely on the scientific literature, and not random websites of other people’s opinions (which is actually the definition of “sheeple”, example: the followers of Ron Paul are “sheeple”). But is seems that I missed some crucial scientific findings, and all I am doing is for you to fill up those gaps with your superior science. Thank you in advance.

  92. #92 lilady
    December 30, 2011

    Hey Jane: When are you going to answer my questions about your *education, professional licensing and **work experience in any science-related field?

    * attending and graduating from “Hamburger U” does not count

    ** flipping hamburgers on the grill or “manning” the french fryer do not count

    Oh, and Jane…read Chris’ post carefully and make certain that you do not come up the Hep B and HPV vaccines which PREVENT liver and cervical cancers respectively.

  93. #93 Matthew Cline
    December 30, 2011

    @Ralph R:

    Actually, there is evidence to indicate that since the Chickenpox vaccine is a live virus vaccine, it can actually cause more cases of shingles than not getting the vaccine.

    The chicken pox vaccine is indeed leading to an increase in shingles among those adults who have never taken that vaccine. However, this is not because it sheds, but because it doesn’t shed enough. Before there was a chicken pox vaccine, children with chicken pox would shed the virus onto adults, and this exposure to the virus would boost the adults’ immunity to the virus, like an all-natural booster vaccine. Now that the incidence of childhood chickenpox has decreased so much due to the vaccine, adults rarely have the virus shed upon them, which means they aren’t getting the immune boosts they used to, which means they’re more vulnerable to the shingles.

    Shedding is when the live virus that is injected via vaccine, moves through the human body and comes back out in the feces, droplets from the nose, or saliva from the mouth. Anyone who takes care of the child could potentially contract the disease for some time after that child has received certain live vaccines. This was a huge problem with the oral polio vaccine, and was one of the reasons why it was taken off the market in the US.

    The problem with the attenuated oral polio vaccine wasn’t other people having the attenuated virus shed on them. The problem was that the attenuated virus could mutate back into the wild-type (full-blown) non-attenuated version, which could then cause paralytic polio. And the reason that the attenuated vaccine is no longer used in the U.S. is because the risk/benefit ratio changed when there was no longer anyone in the country who had the wild-type polio, and the only risk of catching the wild-type was via travel to and from other countries.

    @Jen:

    Chris, people feet really tired, generally speaking of you/science bloggers’ admission that “vaccines have risks, side effects” but you have very little to say about those risks

    I’m not exactly sure what there is to say beyond 1) it sucks for whoever suffers from the risks, and 2) what the risk/benefit ratio of the vaccine is.

    Wakefield gets skewered in a way that people like Thorsen never will be even though he has been indicted for fraud and done fraudulent studies.

    1) Wakefield was the chief researcher in the study he did, while Thorsen wasn’t even a primary researcher in the Danish autism study, let alone the chief researcher.

    2) Wakefield committed scientific fraud, while Thorsen committed financial fraud. While financial fraud is bad, it’s never going to get scientists as riled up as scientific fraud.

    3) Wait, “done fraudulent studies”? Are you saying that the Danish study wasn’t just wrong, but fraudulent? How so? Also, what other studies was Thorsen involved with that you claim are fraudulent?

  94. #94 Jen
    December 30, 2011

    Wakefield didn’t commit scientific fraud. Who pays Brian Deer? (since some of you are so good at looking up other people’s identity)

  95. #95 novalox
    December 30, 2011

    @jen

    Regaling us with more of your blind stupidity?

  96. #96 Jen
    December 30, 2011

    Also Ralph, it really continues to be a problem that the safety studies aren’t thorough enough. Extended phase 4 toxicology type studies where they really look at brain structures, changes, blood and other bio markers, gut changes (I am admittedly not a scientist so I can’t design the specifics) and all this compared to primates/humans who don’t get any vaccines. Until this happens people aren’t going away on this issue. Then we’ll know real risk/benefits to vaccines besides what are currently just risk/benefits for the pharma shareholders.
    Personally, I have decided to not have my kids vaccinated with every vaccine recommended and they have done just fine. In fact I am sure that my daughter did get whooping cough after being fully vacced for dates anyway for pertussis when she was 1&1/2. The doc doesn’t usually culture for it anyways but felt she probably did have it. It was a waste of time/resources.

  97. #97 Matthew Cline
    December 30, 2011

    @Jen:

    Who pays Brian Deer? (since some of you are so good at looking up other people’s identity)

    I would think that the newspapers, magazines and journals that publish his work pay him for it, just like for any other investigative journalist. Do you have any evidence to suggest that Deer spends more money than you’d expect a journalist like him to make? Or are you presuming him to be guilty of being a shill until he’s proven innocent?

  98. #98 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    Jen:

    Who pays Brian Deer? (since some of you are so good at looking up other people’s identity)

    Sometimes the Times of London. As an independent investigative journalist he gets paid for his articles by those who publish them, including the television versions. He might get an honorarium for speaking at a conference. Why do you have to ask?

    How are Dan Olmsted and David Kirby paid? (remember David Kirby was not directly employed by the New York Times, he sold that paper his travel writings, until he was hired to write Epidemic of Harm)

    Why have you never responded to the articles I posted by others who questioned Wakefield in 1999 through 2003? Have you forgotten? Or are they not addressed by your handlers at Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, etc? When, Jen, are you going to learn to think for yourself and not be a sheeple?

    Extended phase 4 toxicology type studies where they really look at brain structures, changes, blood and other bio markers, gut changes (I am admittedly not a scientist so I can’t design the specifics) and all this compared to primates/humans who don’t get any vaccines.

    [citation needed]

  99. #99 Phoenix Woman
    December 30, 2011

    Hey, gang, I’ve got a new game for us to play!

    As you all know, this blog attracts two (2) types of trolls:

    1) The drive-by troll (of which “Gabe” seem to be one) who is not interested in even faking actual give-and-take discussion, but just drops a rhetorical stinkbomb and flees

    2) The don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts troll, who asks what he/she thinks is a clever question, then gets embarrassed when it is answered readily, then runs off when asked to provide evidence for a statement — only to come back sometime later, when he/she thinks we’ve all forgot about his/her running away.

    Here’s what we can do:

    – Whenever one of the regular #2 trollies shows up, use Google or the search method of your choice to hunt down the last comments made by said troll, and the responses thereto.

    – Copy the responses that acted like garlic to a vampire and made the troll skedaddle without even pretending to answer them.

    – Repost them in the new thread along these lines: “Hey, [name of troll]! Remember when you said [piece of unsupportable bullshit] and [I or somebody else used unassailable facts and cites to show you were spewing bullshit]? Why did you run off rather than answer that?”

    Poof! Watch the troll disappear faster than egg rolls at a buffet steam table.

    Repeat each time the troll appears. After about the third application, the troll will probably stay away for at least a week, if not longer.

  100. #100 Jen
    December 30, 2011

    I don’t need to give a citation for an idea, Chris. You can not like it all you want but obviously the public wants more reassurance about vaccine safety than is currently the standard.

  101. #101 herr doktor bimler
    December 30, 2011

    Jen, while you’re here, can you go into more detail on your accusation that “Thorsen [has] done fraudulent studies”? TIA.

  102. #102 Chris
    December 30, 2011

    So when asked for details, Jen does a Brave Sir Robin and runs away! Again.

  103. #103 Jen
    December 31, 2011

    Odd, isn’t it Chris that the CDC has redacted so much of Madsen’s emails? Funny how some of her earlier Danish study was rejected. I guess they needed to massage the statistics more.

  104. #104 Jen
    December 31, 2011

    Or at least omit the 2001 incidence data so it looked like an upward trend.

  105. #105 herr doktor bimler
    December 31, 2011

    Jen evidently understands that “scientific fraudulence” is a serious accusation, since she came here to defend Wakefield against the charge, even on this comment thread where neither Wakefield nor the accusations against him had previously been mentioned. But then she levels the same charges against Thorsen!

    Now most people have low opinions of anonymous poison-pen writers, regarding them as absolute trash, scum of the earth. So I think it is important to invite Jen to either substantiate her accusations, or withdraw them. This being the fourth or fifth invitation.

  106. #106 Chris
    December 31, 2011

    Jen:

    Odd, isn’t it Chris that the CDC has redacted so much of Madsen’s emails?

    Again, citation needed.

  107. #107 herr doktor bimler
    December 31, 2011

    Again, citation needed.
    Not to mention ‘relevance needed’.

  108. #108 Chris
    December 31, 2011

    herr dokter bimler: okay, that too!

  109. #109 Jen
    December 31, 2011

    Herr doctor and Chris. You really want this to be about Thorsen not Madsen. Easier target, I guess. See some of the documents, I think in the Bolen report. I suppose if you are with the CDC they tend to back you and not push things, what with their conflicts of interest and all. I think they even have the child/animal abuser back on the payroll. Nice. Have a Happy New Year and do try to keep honest with your “science.”

  110. #110 Lawrence
    December 31, 2011

    That’s the best you can do Jen? I’m sure if we dig deep enough, we can find plenty of anti-vax people & personages that have either criminal records, substance abuse problems / histories, etc – so I guess we need to invalidate everything on both sides, right?

    And since Wakefield was found guilty of malfeasance – I am assuming you’ll accept full nullification of everything that has resulted from his falsehoods too, right?

    Because what is good for the goose should be good for the gander too…..

  111. #111 Bronze Dog
    December 31, 2011

    Because what is good for the goose should be good for the gander too…..

    As most of us have probably concluded after dealing with antivaxxers for years: It doesn’t work that way with them.

    Spin doctoring is a well-practiced art, as is the subjectivism and tribalism of their Red Team/Blue Team morality. If someone on Red Team does something, it’s automatically good, and if Blue Team does something, it’s automatically bad. Any Red Team member who dares to criticize one of their own has only revealed himself to be an accursed Blue in disguise.

  112. #112 Krebiozen
    December 31, 2011

    Jen,
    I’m always happy to discuss Madsen. That heavily redacted email has been discussed here already. It isn’t at all clear what it shows, if anything. The Madsen article published in 2003 found an increase in autism incidence for all age groups between 1990 and 1999. Looking at Fig 1 incidence in 5-9 year-olds fell between 1999 and 2000, but continued to increase in younger children. The email presumably refers to the older children, as it says “the incidence and prevalence are still decreasing in 2001″.

    Since thimerosal was removed from Danish vaccines in 1992 this means that some of these older children were exposed to thimerosal, but none of the younger ones were. This email suggests that autism continued to increase only in those children who did not receive vaccines with thimerosal.

    Does that honest science help?

  113. #113 herr doktor bimler
    December 31, 2011

    Herr doctor and Chris. You really want this to be about Thorsen not Madsen.

    You were the one who mentioned him. Pressed for details on that allegation, your only response has been to move quickly on to other allegations against someone else. If we tagged along after you and discussed your claims against Madsen, would you then move on to smearing some third person?

    This is all very odd, coming from someone who hates slanderous allegations:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/12/young_antivaccine_propagandist_develop.php#comment-6204065

  114. #114 Chris
    December 31, 2011

    Jen:

    You really want this to be about Thorsen not Madsen. Easier target, I guess. See some of the documents, I think in the Bolen report.

    Tell us again what papers Thorsen is listed first and last that have to do with vaccines.

    End why do you gripe so much about those, when there are plenty of other papers that show thimerosal has nothing to do with autism? Like:

    Pediatrics. 2010 Sep 13.
    Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism.

    Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82
    Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines

    Or is that all you learn from your keepers at AoA? I see you are still afraid, or unable to do any independent reading on your own.

    Perhaps you can tell us why you are so anxious about an ingredient that was removed from pediatric vaccines a decade ago. Do tell us which vaccine on the pediatric schedule is still only available with thimerosal.

  115. #115 Jen
    December 31, 2011

    Krebiozen, did you read in the Discussion section that they said “…this may have exaggerated incidence rates??” Heavily redacted just sets off alarm bells.

  116. #116 herr doktor bimler
    December 31, 2011

    Jen, your initial comment on this thread was to defend Andrew Wakefield against accusations of scientific fraud. Evidently you dislike such accusations, even when the accusers use their own names and have evidence. What would you say about someone making an accusation of scientific fraud from behind the cover of anonymity, and who presents no supporting evidence even after repeated requests? Wouldn’t that person be an absolute scuzzbag?

  117. #117 Krebiozen
    December 31, 2011

    Jen,

    Krebiozen, did you read in the Discussion section that they said “…this may have exaggerated incidence rates??” Heavily redacted just sets off alarm bells.

    “Exaggerated incidence” doesn’t mean “turn an upward trend into a downward trend”. From 1995 outpatient data was included, which may have exaggerated the incidence in that year compared to previous years. However, the incidence still increased over each of the next 4 years for older and the next 5 years for younger children.

    You can see what the redacted text is here (though I hate to link to anything connected with that despicable Bolen character). I don’t understand why the CDC redacted it in the first place, as it doesn’t seem to contain anything confidential, or sensitive. Here’s the full text of the email:

    Dear Poul, Kreesten and Diane Schendel, Attached I send you the short and long manuscript about Thimerosal and autism in Denmark. The long manuscript has been submitted to JAMA and includes both data on the incidence and prevalence of autism. The shorter version includes only incidence data and has been submitted to Lancet. Unfortunately, both manuscript have been rejected. I need to tell you that the figures in the manuscripts do not include the latest data
    from 2001. I only have these figures as a paper version and they are at work while I am working at home these days. But the incidence and prevalence are still decreasing in 2001. Also, the manuscript submitted to JAMA do not cite some of the latest papers on the prevalence of autism which I will do in case it should be submitted again.

    I honestly don’t see anything of interest here, or in the other emails in that PDF. I would expect incidence of autism to level off at some point, as it looks likely that it is mostly (if not all) due to increased awareness and diagnostic substitution. Madsen found increasing autism rates in children who had never had vaccines containing thimerosal, so increasing autism rates, at least in Denmark, cannot possibly be due to thimerosal. Manuscripts submitted to journals are rejected all the time, and it in no way suggests there is anything wrong with them or that anything is being hushed up.

    I think all the fuss about redacted emails and outpatient figures is just an attempt to muddy what look like pretty clear waters to me.

  118. #118 Krebiozen
    December 31, 2011

    Jen,
    In addition to what has just gone into moderation and will appear above at Orac’s convenience, notice where it says:

    In additional analyses we examined data using inpatients only. This was done to elucidate the contribution of the outpatient registration to the change in incidence. The same trend with an increase in the incidence rates from 1990 until the end of the study period was seen (data not shown).

  119. #119 Chris
    December 31, 2011

    Jen has ignored my question on the relative effective in changing vaccine policies between John Salamone and Barbara Loe Fisher. Apparently, Ms. Fisher’s son is doing okay now, but Mr. Salamone’s son is still disabled. So who really helped change vaccine policy for the better?

  120. #120 Th1Th2
    December 31, 2011

    Matthew Cline,

    The chicken pox vaccine is indeed leading to an increase in shingles among those adults who have never taken that vaccine. However, this is not because it sheds, but because it doesn’t shed enough. Before there was a chicken pox vaccine, children with chicken pox would shed the virus onto adults, and this exposure to the virus would boost the adults’ immunity to the virus, like an all-natural booster vaccine.

    Hahaha the mysticism never stops here in RI. First, the unvaccinated will never have to suffer from shingles for as long as they remain uninfected with VZV either from the chicken pox vaccine or natural infection. Second, viral shedding will not change the outcome of shingles to those people who have had primary VZV infection either from the vaccine or natural infection since shingles is NOT caused by subsequent exposure to VZV or re-infection. Having said that, viral shedding will only promote infection transmission to the uninfected or another attack of chicken pox to those who had had primary varicella infection.

    Now that the incidence of childhood chickenpox has decreased so much due to the vaccine, adults rarely have the virus shed upon them, which means they aren’t getting the immune boosts they used to, which means they’re more vulnerable to the shingles.

    Adults were already destined to develop shingles from the moment they had acquired VZV either from the vaccine or natural infection. Since CMI is greatly affected by aging, reactivation of the dormant VZV is common among adults and the elderly. And since your infection-promoting agenda of inoculating children with VZV usually would start as early as the age of one year, you are certainly investing for their future shingles. Nice.

    The problem with the attenuated oral polio vaccine wasn’t other people having the attenuated virus shed on them. The problem was that the attenuated virus could mutate back into the wild-type (full-blown) non-attenuated version, which could then cause paralytic polio.

    Here’s another myth. First off, the OPV does not mutate back into wild-type form. In fact, the OPV, in and of itself, can cause paralytic poliomyeltis without gross divergence from the original parental virus (more than 99% sequence homology) It’s called OPV-like virus or vaccine-related poliovirus. Whereas, if the virus is a revertant poliovirus (1—15% sequence divergence), it is classified as VDPV. These two viruses are genetically different from wild-type poliovirus (more than 15% sequence divergence).

    And the reason that the attenuated vaccine is no longer used in the U.S. is because the risk/benefit ratio changed when there was no longer anyone in the country who had the wild-type polio, and the only risk of catching the wild-type was via travel to and from other countries.

    The real reason is that the polio vaccine has been debilitating the people since the early human trials in the 1930′s. Just look at India. That would have been America’s future had they not stopped vaccinating.

  121. #121 Narad
    December 31, 2011

    How’s that repeating the same thing over and over again working out for you, Th1Th2? Any takers yet?

  122. #122 Agashem
    December 31, 2011

    America has stopped vaccinating? Wow, when did that happen? We are so far behind in Canada, really……

  123. #123 Narad
    December 31, 2011

    America has stopped vaccinating? Wow, when did that happen?

    Well, remember, all are one:

    The real reason is that the polio vaccine has been debilitating the people since the early human trials in the 1930′s.

    Except when they are many. Not that it matters, you infection promoter, you.

  124. #124 john
    December 31, 2011

    I’ve read a few of your posts. Often share your frustration with the “non-scientific. However,I read today a Wired Magazine article by Jonah Lerer, “Trials & Errors: Why Science is Failing Us”. He was introducing a new book on Creativity, “How Creativity Works” He presented moutains data regarding how often Medical Research comes up wrong, i.e. the Pfizer “torcetrapib” story. His insights, I thought, landed a pretty good jab on the face of reductionism, your seeming “holy grail” Perhaps rather than pointing out more examples of stupid thoughts, words, and deeds flowing generously from the worlds stupid people; you might address Lerer’s premise from your well trained and impassioned “good science” perspective. I imagine that I would enjoy it very much.

  125. #125 Krebiozen
    January 1, 2012

    John,

    I just read Lehrer’s article and wasn’t surprised to find it’s a piece of rank post-modernism. Science is complicated, and often we learn new things at the expense of what we thought we knew before. I see this as progress. Lehrer claims that this shows that causality is a hallucination, and that the world is “an impregnable tangle of causes and effects”. He picks on a couple of areas where a scientific model has proven to be less useful than expected (Torcetrapib and lower back pain), and claims that it is clean water and improved sanitation that has improved our health, not medical science (now where have I heard that before?), but he ignores hundreds of areas where medical (and non-medical) science has been spectacularly successful.

    How about chemotherapy for childhood leukemia, immunosuppressant drugs for transplants, anticoagulants for clotting disorders, anti-inflammatories that have transformed the lives of people with arthritis, hormone replacement for hypothyroidism, insulin for diabetics to mention just a few pharmaceutical breakthroughs off the top of my head? Is causality a hallucination in a diabetic who would die without insulin? Or in a liver transplant patient who relies on cyclosporin to prevent her body from rejecting her new liver? That’s just in the area of pharmaceuticals and medicine. Does causality and reductionism fail in developing new surgical techniques that allow limbs to be reattached, or new technologies that have revolutionized medical imaging, like MRIs? What about computer technology, mobile phones, digital television and satellites? Are these all evidence that reductionist science is a failure? I sometimes wonder if some people live in the same planet as me.

  126. #126 Gabe
    January 7, 2012

    Well, this is late, but this is the first chance I’ve had to reply to some of the comments about me. Frankly, I’m surprised to have irritated so many, but anyway:

    Phoenix woman, I didn’t flee, I just have a life and a child with some severe problems, you know how that goes. Fleeing might have been an appropriate response, though, as in toward a forum more worthy of my time.

    Composer99: I respectfully disagree.

    Ian: thanks for your response

    Dangerous Bacon: you may be right. I doubt there are many honest inquirers who will stay here long, which may be why it’s so hard for so many to believe there are any at all.

    Chris: I think we’re talking past each other.

    Interrobang: No one hurt my feelings.
    “Nice” is not the same thing as “persuasive.” You missed my point.
    I didn’t ask a question. Check your paranoia.

    Well, this was kinda fun, but not all that much. I’m not sure whether you all think you are doing much good, but you do seem to be having fun, and we all need that. I continue to believe that you’re kidding yourselves if you think you’re educating on any kind of larger scale, but hey, I could be wrong, I certainly don’t have any studies to back up that assertion. I apologize for misinterpreting the function of this forum and will gladly go my own way, I don’t learn or play the way you do; that’s not pouting, just a fact. You may want to consider that there could be more like me, but that’s up to you. Have fun. We all deserve some.

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