Respectful Insolence

There are times when I want to fall down on my knees and give thanks for certain cranks. I mean, where would my blogging material come from, were it not for antivaccine loons, quacks, cranks, creationists, and animal rights terrorists providing me with an unending stream of blog fodder? Were they all to disappear, I’d be reduced to blogging about puppies or music or something, and, trust me, you wouldn’t want that. Of course, my readership would flee me faster than a advocates of gay marriage flee the Republican Party; so I guess it wouldn’t matter. I know which side my bread is buttered on; you come for the Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, and hopefully you get some education about science, medicine, and critical thinking as a byproduct. Fortunately, my blogging proclivities based on what I like to write about line up rather well with what my readers seem to like read. I suppose there’s some circular logic in there somewhere.

Be that as it may, today I’m giving thanks for the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism and one of its bloggers, Julie Obradovic for giving me an utterly irresistable bit of material that I rather suspect you’ll find just as amusing as I did. Of course, what made her post so irresistible to me is the very reason she’s not going to be very happy with me if she sees this post. Not that I care much, I just find it amusing. You see, Julie Obradovic really, really, really doesn’t like being called “antivaccine,” as in hates it so much that she wrote a post bout how much she hates it and considers it a horrific injustice and wants to convince you that she and the merry band of antivaccine propagandists over at AoA aren’t anti-vaccine after all. Yes, it’s the old antivaccine trope, “I’m not ‘antivaccine'; I’m a vaccine safety advocate,” and it comes in the form of a post entitled The Trouble with the ANTI “Anti-Vaccine” Movement: How They Hijack the Issue; Distort the Facts; and Totally Miss the Point. Not content to turn the antivaccine whining up to “10,” Obradovic turns it up to “11” with 11 things she finds really, really wrong with those of us who stand up for vaccine science against the likes of AoA.

It’s truly hilarious reading. Well, hilarious and sad at the same time.

Let’s dig in, shall we? Here’s Obradovic’s first complaint, which I present in full. I won’t do this for all of them (after all, you can read the post at the link above if you want), but this trope is so common that I feel it needs to be repeated in full:

1. They believe there is an anti-vaccine movement.

This may surprise a lot of people, but there actually isn’t an “anti-vaccine movement”. Although there are definitely people who believe no vaccine is a good vaccine, the controversy has never been solely about whether or not vaccines are good or bad; it’s been about whether or not they are being used responsibly and have been properly investigated for their role in chronic health conditions.

The more appropriate term to describe people raising this important question would be consumer safety advocates, seeking informed consent, more research, product liability, and policy reform.

Only a few possibilities exist to explain why those who insist on using the “anti-vaccine” label anyway continue to do so: they erroneously assume anyone who questions a product’s safety is automatically against it; they believe vaccines already are being used as responsibly as they possibly can be and have been properly investigated; or they choose to use a red herring label like “anti-vaccine” to manipulate people.

Yes, you read it right. Obradovic is actually trying to claim that there is no such thing as an “antivaccine movement.” One wonders how a person can be that clueless, unobservant, or deluded, but, then, Obradovic is antivaccine. If anyone can be that clueless, ignorant, unobservant, or deluded, it’s someone like her. The fact is, of course, that antivaccine movements exist and they’ve existed since shortly after the development of vaccines by Edward Jenner. They were particularly prevalent in the 19th century in England. In fact, there were even groups called the Anti-Vaccination League (England) and the Anti-Vaccination League of New York City. Times may change, but antivaccine beliefs and many of the objections used by antivaccine zealots do not.

In actuality, antivaccine zealots must at some level know that being anti-vaccine is akin to being anti-child health. They’ll never admit it, but at some level they know that being antivaccine is something shameful, as well it should be. So antivaccinationists do everything they can to avoid the label “antivaccine,” including torturing language. The most common form that particular torture of the English language takes is for antivaccinationists to deny they are “antivaccine” and instead to labor mightily to recast themselves as vaccine safety advocates. Famously, Jenny McCarthy proclaimed herself to be “not ‘antivaccine’ but ‘pro-safe vaccine.'” It’s a lie, of course, and it’s a lie that’s easy to refute. All that’s necessary is to ask Obradovic (or any other anti-vaccine zealot), “If you are not ‘anti-vaccine,’ then, please, tell us which vaccines you would give your children.” In other words, make them get specific: Would you give your child the MMR? The Hib vaccine? Pertussis? Don’t let her waffle; don’t let her place all sorts of conditions on statements about whether specific vaccines are safe or not, which is another way antivaccinationists try to dodge the question. The questions should follow the form of “Do you think this vaccine is safe enough to give to your child, yes or no?” Be aware that this question may require some pushing to get an answer. Rarely am I able to get a definitive answer on the first try, because most anti-vaccine advocates are cleverer than that. They realize that I’m trying to get them to admit that they are anti-vaccine. Even so, if I ask something like, “If you had it to do all over again, would you vaccinate your child?” or “If you have another child, will you vaccinate that child?” I will usually get the candid response I’m looking for. The reason I try to make the question real now is because often antivaccine activists will retort that they vaccinated their child. That’s in the past and it’s a dodge. What matters is what they say now and what they would do now, not what they did or thought in the past.

As is often the case with propagandistic twisting of reality, there is a grain of truth in Obradovic’s viewpoint. In an earlier post, she wrote that the “overwhelming majority of parents foregoing vaccines are actually not anti-vaccinationists.” No one that I’m aware of disputes that, but it’s an irrelevant observation. Most parents who don’t vaccinate have been frightened by people like the bloggers at AoA claiming that vaccines cause autism and a wide variety of other chronic diseases, slamming vaccine scientists as corrupt, and touting any study that they can twist into fear mongering about vaccines. Because in the end, to the antivaccinationist it is about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines. They always find a way to make their health fears be all about vaccines.

That’s what I mean by “antivaccine.”

And there is an antivaccine movement, too. In fact, Obradovic’s very own blogging boss, J.B. Handley recently bragged about his organization Generation Rescue in a post entitled Tinderbox: U.S. Vaccine Fears up 700% in 7 years:

With less than a half-dozen full time activists, annual budgets of six figures or less, and umpteen thousand courageous, undaunted, and selfless volunteer parents, our community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.

Handley further bragged:

There is a solution to this mess. As Jenny said, the genie is not going back in the bottle. The fear of vaccines is going to rise. Our community is only getting stronger. Who will step in to broker a truce? I really don’t know, but, mark my words, the results from the next survey will show that the trust continues to erode. Keep fighting, parents, America is really listening.

At one point, Handley even congratulates his “community” by heartily urging it to “take a bow.”

So let’s see. We have a community represented by Generation Rescue, whose founder brags about “bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees” and how, thanks to its efforts, the fear of vaccines is rising and trust in medicine is continuing to erode. If that’s not an “antivaccine movement,” I don’t know what is. Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, the National Vaccine Information Center, the Australian Vaccination Network, the International Medical Council on Vaccination, and other similar groups are nothing if not the 21st century successors to the Anti-Vaccination League of the 19th century. Indeed, some of the commenters are even taking Obradovic to task for claiming that there is no “antivaccine movement.” For example, here’s someone named Shawn Siegel:

There are, however, those of us who think there is no responsible way to use vaccines.

And Benedetta:

As some one here said once – I am an antivaxer now *NOW*.

Ooops.

Finally, I can’t resist pointing out, that by allying herself with AoA, even going so far as to blog for it, Julie Obradovic is part of that movement, as much as she obviously doesn’t want to admit it. I realize I’ve taken a lot of verbiage to deal with that one point, but I think it’s important to hammer it home that these people are antivaccine. I refuse to let them hide behind the “vaccine safety advocate” label.

Obradovic is also very unhappy at the criticism:

2. Anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot.

If the first line of attack doesn’t work it will almost always be followed by an insult. Not only are people who disagree portrayed as dangerous lunatics who want to see the world explode in infectious disease, supposedly they are also “flat-earthers” who can’t accept the world is round. Certain journalists have gone so far as to suggest it’s no wonder their children have problems.

One is tempted to respond that anyone who disagrees with an antivaccinationist is automatically in the thrall of big pharma, a “pharma shill, even (the antivaccinationists’ favorite retort to skeptical scientists who deconstruct their pseudoscience). Oh, wait. I just did. But it’s true. To an antivaccinationist, someone like Paul Offit (or Orac, for that matter) can’t possibly think that vaccines are a good thing because we’ve examined the science and concluded that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh any conceivable risk and that vaccines have arguably saved more lives than any other medical intervention. Oh, no. It has to be because we’re in the thrall of big pharma. That’s not even counting the frequent harassment and intimidation antivaccine activists subject scientists and critics to. I refuse to cede the moral high ground here.

Particularly amusing is that Obradovic later opines that the “most common demographic of a person who questions vaccine safety or refuses them is a highly educated mother with a master’s degree.” No doubt. It’s also well known that those with a higher degree of education are more prone to the Dunning-Kruger effect (a.k.a. the arrogance of ignorance) when they wander outside of the discipline in which they got their degree. Literacy in one area of knowledge (or a broad but shallow knowledge of several areas of science) does not necessarily translate to expertise in a scientific discipline. In fact, the vast majority of the time, it does not. Also, counterintuitively, it is actually educated people who are less likely to recognize the limits of their knowledge than less highly educated people. They’re the ones with more confidence than is justified about their judgment in areas outside of their area of expertise. Or, as it is sometimes phrased, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” because a small amount of knowledge (these days, often gleaned from the University of Google) can easily mislead a person into thinking that she’s an expert. The reason for this phenomenon is that that “highly educated mother with a master’s degree” knows enough to be able to seek out evidence that bolsters her preconceived beliefs but doesn’t have the level of expertise necessary to realize why that cherry-picked evidence actually doesn’t show the scientific consensus to be wrong. She also don’t have the background knowledge (which takes a long time to obtain) to put such studies in their proper context or to assess the totality of the current scientific consensus.

Next up is a straw man:

3. They blame Dr. Wakefield for everything.

No, we don’t. We blame Andrew Wakefield, Mark and David Geier, Rashid Buttar, Harold Buttram, and scores of other cranks, quacks, and antivaccine-enabling physicians and scientists, all feeding an echo chamber of antivaccine activists led by the likes of J.B. Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, Joe Mercola, Mayer Eisenstein, and many others. They are to blame. It’s never been all about Wakefield. True, Wakefield is a convenient target because of the overwhelming evidence for his incompetence and scientific fraud. It’s sometimes too convenient a shorthand to point to Wakefield all the time, and I might even concede that we as skeptics should probably be a bit more careful about not making Wakefield the prime mover of the antivaccine movement. In fact, I sometimes wonder if certain segments of the antivaccine movement are the ones making it “all about Wakefield” with their rabid defenses of Wakefield and attacks against anyone who criticizes him.

The next few are just too easy. For example:

4. They just don’t get it.

Why? Because, according to Obradovic, they’ve “sold out to the pharmaceutical industry” (there’s that “pharma shill gambit” again!) and:

At this very moment, doctors still can’t agree on what Autism is, how to define it, when it started, if it’s a problem, who has it, if it’s treatable, how it’s treatable, or what to do about it. In fact, the only thing they feel completely confident telling the world about Autism is who didn’t cause it: them.

One’s tempted to point out that the only thing antivaccinationists feel completely confident telling the world about Autism is what they believe did cause it: Vaccines. Because that’s the world view of antivaccinationists like Obradovic. To them, it’s always the vaccines, even when the evidence overwhelmingly shows that it is not.

This one made me laugh:

5. They repeatedly distort or exaggerate the facts.

What has been a major theme of this blog over the last seven years? That’s right. It’s how the antivaccine movement repeatedly distorts the science to serve its agenda. I’ve written more posts on that very topic than I can remember (hundreds, probably), many of them well documented and explaining how the antivaccine movement distorts or misrepresents the results of scientific studies, which, ironically, Obradovic proceeds to do, repeating a whole bunch of tropes and then flaunts her ignorance:

In spite of these blatant conflicts of interest, the studies have been touted as conclusive evidence of a lack of correlation; this even though several studies have come to contradictory conclusions. Several, for example, show Thimerosal, a mercury-based neurotoxin, is beneficial to children’s health. One shows it has an indeterminable effect. One shows it possibly prevents Autism. Others show it causes tics, speech delay, and behavior delays.

This is, of course, a highly slanted view of the evidence, which is uniformly negative. But even if it weren’t, Obradovic clearly doesn’t understand that the sorts of results she describes would be most consistent with no relationship between thimerosal and autism. And don’t even get me started on her ranting about how there hasn’t been a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study. I’ve dealt with that one before.

Not that that stops Obradovic from lecturing skeptics:

6. They pretend to be the gatekeepers of science.

And antivaccine activists pretend to know what they’re talking about when it comes to science. They don’t.

Next up:

7. They fail to acknowledge the context of the controversy.

The context, apparently, according to Obradovic, is one massive conspiracy:

In the case of the Autism controversy, the problem is simple: consumers are accusing the government, pharmaceutical industry, and medical community of collectively causing Autism, yet the government, pharmaceutical industry and medical community are the only ones who have been allowed to investigate themselves to determine if they are guilty. Astonishingly, they keep coming up innocent.

Except that there is no Autism controversy. Really, there isn’t. Among scientists, it is not controversial at all; vaccines don’t cause autism. There’s no good evidence to support the contention that they do, and the most reasonable interpretation of existing evidence is that they do not, given the number of studies that have been done. The Autism-vaccine “controversy” is in reality a manufactroversy trumped up by activists.

But, then, what do I know? I’m just a scientist, and according to Obradovic:

8. They over-simplify the problem.

Ha.

Ha. Ha.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help it. It’s just too funny. On the one side, we have scientists looking at all the complexities of autism, including genetics, possible environmental influences, pathophysiology, neuroscience, and the like. On the other side, we have people like Obradovic accusing scientists of “oversimplifying” in the same article in which she blames autism on vaccines and “heavy metal poisoning.” Remember Generation Rescue’s message from around five years ago? Their message was that “childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.”

Now that’s oversimplification. Obradovic owes me a new irony meter. Two, actually. It’s also amusing that she seems to think that this is a valid criticism:

9. They have no hypothesis.

This is, of course, not true, but it’s instructive to see what Obradovic is thinking when she makes this criticism:

The hypothesis of those who believe Autism is primarily, but not exclusively, an iatrogenic disease is simple: heavy metals and toxins when coupled with microbes such as bacteria or viruses are able to penetrate the central nervous system and/or damage the immune system, thereby leading to systemic malfunctions that manifest as the symptoms of Autism and other health conditions in a susceptible person. Depending on the exposure, timing, and combination, the manifestations vary.

About which she says:

This is a reasonable and plausible hypothesis to explain the explosion in chronic disease we have documented in the industrialized nations of the world over the last 200 years. The chemical soup in which we now live is frightening. Everyone can agree on at least that.

Oh, noes! It’s teh chemicalz! I can only say: “Reasonable and plausible. You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”

Let’s put it this way. Even if it were true that scientists “have no hypothesis” for the cause of autism (it’s not; actually they have many competing hypotheses), a lack of a scientific hypothesis on the part of scientists does not automatically make a crank “hypothesis” a credible alternative by default, which is what Obradovic seems to assume. In other words, it’s better to have no hypothesis or a set of competing hypotheses, none of which yet has enough evidence to rise above all the others, than it is to have a hypothesis that is wrong. (Indeed, antivaccine zealots like Obradovic who believe that vaccines cause autism are a perfect example of H.L. Mencken’s maxim applied to autism, “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”) In fact, as I’ve said so many times before, as much as antivaccine zealots try to convince us that the “hypothesis” that vaccines cause autism is pinin’ for the fjords, it’s passed on! This hypothesis is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! It’s kicked the bucket, It’s shuffled off ‘this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-HYPOTHESIS!!

And so it shall remain, unless there is a large amount of vary high quality, convincing evidence to resurrect it, which at this point appears highly unlikely. Basically, Obradovic is dead wrong when she accuses us of having “no hypothesis. In reality, there are multiple hypotheses. Obradovic just doesn’t like them because they’re complicated and most of them involve a strong genetic contribution to autism. For whatever reason, she rejects that reality and substitutes her own.

Not that Obradovic doesn’t have a response to the lack of concordance between her reality and science:


10. They have an excuse for everything.

Perhaps Obradovic means the way AoA, David Kirby, and his ilk had so many excuses when, contrary to the clear prediction of the hypothesis that mercury in vaccines cause autism, the incidence of autism didn’t level off and start to decline when expected after thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines. Or how Sallie Bernard had an excuse when Thompson et al didn’t validate her idea that vaccines cause autism. I could go on, but I’m getting tired; so I’ll simply move on to the last objection:


11. They fail to recognize their tactics aren’t working

In which Obradovic cries “censorship”:

I have just thoroughly and thoughtfully laid out the position for why the vaccine controversy continues. I will continue to do so as long as I live, or until at which time it is no longer necessary. I am confident other parents like me will do the same. Calling us names, censoring our stories, or dismissing our concerns will not deter us.

Until then, it is simply not true to say there is nothing to debate. It is simply inexcusable to censor or stop the conversation. It is simply juvenile to use insults to describe those who refuse. And mark my words; it’s a waste of breath.

I suppose one could make the argument that “it’s a waste of breath” to argue with Obradovic because, no matter how much evidence and how many studies go against her fixed belief that vaccines cause autism, she will never change her mind. Nor is it “stopping” the conversation to acknowledge that vaccines don’t cause autism. It’s simply pruning an unproductive branch off of the discussion of autism science and what the causes of autism are, a branch that’s sprouted up and transformed into a giant weed that’s choking off productive conversation and debate, and people like Julie Obradovic and her fellow travelers at AoA are watering and feeding it with bile, paranoia, and pseudoscience. Science investigated the possibility that vaccines cause autism, found that line of investigation to be unfruitful, and moved on. Antivaccine zealots cling to a discredited hypothesis and refuse to move on, and it is the vaccine-autism hypothesis that has sucked the air out of the room with respect to autism research. One wonders how much money and scientific effort have been flushed down the toilet of endlessly investigating, re-investigating, and re-re-investigating the question of whether vaccines cause autism and what real breakthroughs could have been accomplished if that money and effort had been used to investigate more promising hypotheses once the vaccine-autism hypothesis had been roundly falsified.

For the antivaccine movement whose existence Julie Obradovic denies, unfortunately, that’s the same as it ever was. I just hope it’s not the same as it ever will be.

Comments

  1. #1 ConspicuousCarl
    February 9, 2012

    Number 9 is the religious thing*: believe the junk answer because admitting ignorance is just too uncomfortable. The creationists use this constantly. Science can’t tell me ___, but religion can!

    [*I wanted to call it a hallmark of religion, but I don't actually know what a hallmark is so I don't want to use it as a metaphor. I know what a "cornerstone" is, but it is an understatement. Maybe belief in junk over ignorance is the plastic loopy thing which holds soda cans together.]

  2. #2 HBB
    February 9, 2012

    “Julie Obradovic is part of that movement, as much as she obviously want to admit it”

    Methinks a “doesn’t” is needed here.

  3. #3 dt
    February 9, 2012

    “Respectful” as always!

    I note the Obradovic scrred is cross posted on the “canary party” website (another organization that is antivaccine but won’t admit it)
    http://www.canaryparty.org/

    PS @ Orac – Under section 9 you have put your own comment paragraph (“Let’s put it this way…”) in blockquotes, making it seem like you are quoting Obradovic.

  4. #4 dt
    February 9, 2012

    My irony meter exploded when I saw our old friend Jake Crosby turn up in the AoA comments wanting the name of the article changed to read “How they hijacked Public Health…”

  5. #5 Broken Link
    February 9, 2012

    Here’s another solid piece of evidence that AoA (yes, it’s an organization, a movement) is firmly antivaccination. They continuously flog stories of what they consider “vaccine injury”, such as girls falling ill months after gardasil vaccines, the whole Desiree Jennings story where they insisted that a flu vaccine caused an adult cheerleader to exhibit strange neurological symptoms, their recent coverage of the LeRoy story (more cheerleaders ;).

    Even if these were cases of vaccine injury, which they are almost certainly not, what can they possibly have to do with autism, which must have symptoms emerging before age 3? As our respected host says – it’s all about the vaccines, it’s always about the vaccines.

    Thank goodness for Kathy Blanco, who openly admits to being antivaccine, and is allowed free rein to comment of AoA. At least she’s honest, unlike Julie O.

  6. #6 Dangerous Bacon
    February 9, 2012

    I kind of miss the old anti-vaccination leagues.

    They had the virtue of honesty, and a less grotesque arsenal of lunacy and vicious slander with which to drive home their points.

    I have set the sensitivity on my irony meters down to 1 to the minus-11, but AoA keeps finding ways to explode them.

  7. #7 Lawrence
    February 9, 2012

    That they’ve adopted a stance to oppose vaccines, regardless of age, location (overseas vaccination programs), or disease targeted (malaria, for example), yet continue the “pro-safety” smokescreen is stupidly bad.

    Because they do pander to those elements that oppose vaccines 100%, they’ve painted themselves into a corner when they can’t come out with anything that could be construed as “pro-vaccine,” because it will affect their standing with those fringe groups & people. Hence their gravitation towards any story or situation that can be used to highlight their views that vaccines are BAD, BAD, BAD!

    I am all for weighing the evidence and making informed decisions, but their attempts to interject fear-mongering (without facts) does nothing to further their own stated agenda of reasonable discussion and public safety advocacy.

  8. #8 Renate
    February 9, 2012

    I suppose the real anti-vaccine are those who are opposed to vaccins for religious reasons, or perhaps for reasons, like child-diseases are good for the child. At least those people are honest. They don’t want vaccins, period.

  9. #9 Composer99
    February 9, 2012

    While Julie Obradovic is, strictly speaking, correct in saying:

    it is simply not true to say there is nothing to debate

    with regards to autism & vaccine safety, where she runs off the rails is in her assumption that the participation of her and her anti-vaccine fellow-travellers is of any value in any ongoing debate, discussion, & research over the etiology & treatment of autism or in improving the safety & efficacy of vaccines.

    IMO anti-vaccine activists & fellow-travellers, by asserting empirically unjustifiable claims and adopting ethically troubling or (in the case of, say, the shaken baby-vaccine damage claim) downright monstrous positions, are de-legitimizing themselves as participants in the ongoing research, policy-making and discussion on vaccines or autism.

    Sure, they can say what they want (within the restrictions of libel & slander – not, as far as I know, that they have restrained themselves on this account), but no one else is under any obligation whatsoever to take a word they say on the subject seriously. IMO, the more the anti-vaccine activists are ignored, the better.

  10. #10 Terrie
    February 9, 2012

    I recently ran into the strangest “vaccine moderate” position. The person claimed that it was true that vaccines didn’t cause autism, but that many kids develop “autistic-like” symptoms from vaccines, and those are the kids who respond to things like GFCF diets. The kids who don’t respond are the ones who have “real” autism. Also, in those cases where there is a known condition (Fragile X, for example), that’s not autism, that’s autistic-like. And if they out grow the label, that’s not autism, that’s autistic-like.

  11. #11 Broken Link
    February 9, 2012

    @6
    Lawrence, It was very amusing to see what happened when AoA ran a piece by the people behind “SaneVax”, which is an org that does suggest that some vaccines are OK. The comments were virulently opposed to even opening the door a crack to vaccination.

  12. #12 Tacitus2
    February 9, 2012

    The anti vaccine folks are an interesting bunch. Mostly politically progressive (lets leave the Amish out for now) they are in some ways the isomer of anti-science conservatives. But are actually worse in the sense that real children die today because of their nonsense.
    The anti vaccine folks are also mostly wrong. There have been a few vaccines that had more side effects than they were worth. Swine flu and Lyme disease, early versions of rotavirus vacc. But even some of these are debatable regards societal cost/benefit ratio.
    And nobody really wants to discuss that aspect of things. Don’t get me wrong, childhood vaccinations greatly ease my task (ER doctor). But as a society the same resources are not available elsewhere. Are we saving more lives with chickenpox vacc. or zoster vacc. or HPV vacc. for males as opposed to hiring more highway patrolmen?
    These at least are rational questions, which of course do not get discussed. Irrational unscientific nonsense about autism gets front and center.
    Tacitus

  13. #13 MikeMa
    February 9, 2012

    Obradovic seems to have a nasty case of projection. She ought to have it looked at.

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    February 9, 2012

    When I read her *magnum opus* ( after laughing) I thought that an uninitiated observer might think that we and they are just throwing invective around like confetti, making the same claims & charges et al- *however* there is one great blaring difference: we have *data*- a body of evidence, we have research, we have serious scientists devoting their lives to understanding the intricacies of how the brain and human development *work*. This is criticised by itinerate legal eagles, ex-editors, spokes models, distraught parents, alt med providers and nutritionists- all of whom have something to gain from their beliefs. Their feverish attempts to tear consensus apart is based upon a piecemeal tortured comprehension of the material.

    The vaccine-autism “connection” is purely coincidental based on the timing of the vaccines ( esp MMR) and the emergence of *observable* differences- deficits in communication and social development- due to the fact infants don’t talk or socialise much. Evidence is emerging that shows *earlier* differences – genetic, brain wave, ‘physiognomic’ ( head size, facial proportion), brain wave and cell density (PFC) as well as social precursors like gaze. Actually, the sex ratio in itself should have been a big hint, don’t you think?

    To discard the entire fabric of evidence ( present and that which will be forthcoming) the anti-vaxxers must retreat into the nether world of conspiracy confabulation to rival Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson- who are ( were) novelists.

  15. #15 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    If there ever was any doubt that there is an anti-vax movement, a quick scanning (slumming) at AoA each morning, is proof positive that the movement exists.

    I myself find the comments to be more enlightening. All the usual suspects are there and they have a new commenter, whose ‘nym is “Cannabis for Autism”. Ironic, isn’t it Lawrence, that the pothead sock puppet is having an online conversation with “Stagmom”?

    Other comments that I see, are questioning reports of measles outbreaks…”How do we know that there actually are measles outbreaks”? We are back to the same theme here. Local health departments in cahoots with State health departments are reporting bogus outbreaks. Yes, that’s why press releases about a measles outbreak do not reveal the name(s) of cases. It’s not easy to come up with a plausible story of a bogus outbreak…it is accomplished by “committee” input with a secret fund to pay off the laboratory that confirms cases and to pay off local media outlets to “run” the story.

  16. #16 Lawrence
    February 9, 2012

    AoA also seems to conveniently ignore the fact that Autism is an umbrella diagnosis & related only by the spectrum of symptoms, which may have many different causes. What the evidence has shown us is that vaccines aren’t the culprit here – and it was the expansion of the DSM-IV defintions of autism that have resulted in the expansion of individuals that have been diagnosed.

    You see how much anger & vitriol has been spewed at AoA regarding the potential DSM-V changes, which would cut back on those labeled as “autistic.”

  17. #17 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    Denice Walters

    *however* there is one great blaring difference: we have *data*- a body of evidence

    Except Science Based Medicine is not a body of data. It is a movement. A psuedoskeptical godless cult which seeks to impart its philosophy on the world via the medical profession.

    A naive medical profession, which the bloggers here readily admit, doesn’t realize that a psychological propaganda war is being fought over their education and the education of their potential customers.

    Science without morals and ethics is a dangerous discipline. Medical History has shown this to be true. It is this area which Science Based Medicine hopes to conquer. They want THEIR ethics to be YOUR ethics and they want THEIR morals to be YOUR morals.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    February 9, 2012

    To discount the body of research *against* the vaccine-autism (lame and stumbling) hypothesis, anti-vaxxers and woo-apologists need resort to the idea of *truly independent* research: i.e. that which is not funded by pharma ( even in-directly), or under the auspices of a government or govermental agency ( -btw- I’m trying to figure out if anti-vaxxers currently hate the US or UK government more- but there’s always enough hate to go around… *and* there’s always Australia! )*and* also may avoid that done by universities because *we all know* how compromised they are- industry and government grants, chairs, tow-the-mark Orthodoxy etc.

    So who’s left? Outsiders, renegades, scienctific revolutionaries and brave mavericks, I guess.

  19. #19 Lawrence
    February 9, 2012

    AoA’s definition of an “independent researcher” is limited to only those that agree with their pet hypothesis.

  20. #20 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    *however* there is one great blaring difference: we have *data*-

    That is not the charge. The charge is that you have incomplete data, completely missing data, or in the case of conflict of interest, unreliable data.

  21. #21 Anton P. Nym
    February 9, 2012

    Science without morals and ethics is a dangerous discipline.

    Of course I would contend that SBM isn’t about “medicine without morals.” It’s about “medicine without superstition”, or perhaps “medicine without deception”. It’s about medicine proving to itself and bystanders that it’s safe and effective in as open and fair a manner as possible.

    I’d argue that it’s CAM that’s more likely to be “medicine without morals”, particularly given the proclivities of its greatest proponents.

    (Not that I think that I can convince Augie of this, as he has his bizzare raft of idees fixe. This is directed more at the lurkers and newcomers to RI.)

    — Steve

  22. #22 MI Dawn
    February 9, 2012

    Hmmmmm…OK. I have a MS so AOA can consider me “highly educated” I suppose. I had all my vaccines (for my day and am up to date at this time). I have 2 fully vaccinated children, one of whom graduated Magna Cum Laude (the other hasn’t graduated from college yet). Therefore, based on AOA mentality, fully vaccinated children graduate from college with high honors. AND, based on eldest’s experiences, Fully Vaccinated College Graduates plan to fully vaccinate THEIR children.

    Wait, what? AOA doesn’t believe things like that can happen? (And hey, where are my Big Pharma checks? I keep looking for them….)

    @lilady – PLEASE…you don’t really mean AOA is so ummmmm….unkind as to suggest the press actually NAME the CHILDREN with measles cases? Well, I suppose we COULD go back to the old Quarantine signs days, so people could know who they were without the newspaper publicity… (and no, I don’t doubt you. They ARE like that, and I admire your strength of mind in being able to go over there and read stuff).

  23. #23 Calli Arcale
    February 9, 2012

    ConspicuousCarl:

    I wanted to call it a hallmark of religion, but I don’t actually know what a hallmark is so I don’t want to use it as a metaphor.

    Formally, a hallmark is an official stamp or other mark applied to precious metal to indicate its content and purity in accordance with formal standards. It has also come to mean a distinguishing trait by which you can know to what category an item belongs, and since not many people these days deal directly in precious metals, you’re more likely to encounter this more casual definition. So if you use the phrase “hallmark of religion”, it’s not really a metaphor. That’s actually a legitimate use of the word.

  24. #24 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    The vaccine-autism “connection” is purely coincidental

    You speak as if medical science is some type of certainty machine dispensing out irrefutable truths.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    February 9, 2012

    -while I usually don’t respond to Augie-

    You have never studied science- let me clue you in- it’s all about data. You are assigned, prior to becoming a candidate – to read widely across different areas ( maybe 8) in your field to understand the research which you will then apply when you critique theories; in *each* area- e.g. developmental psych ( which is divided into cognitive and personality/ social ; and divided again into child/ adolescent; possibly life-span is included, aging)- one aspect might be ‘attachment/ separation’- amongst the books you are advised to read and know cold might be works that condense myriad small studies. I read and knew John Bowlby- all of his massive volumes. You have no idea what this means. This is one tiny part of one portion of a sub-section of an area in the whole universe of study. Consensus is not based on strident opinion by people who haved not done the prerequisite work.

    – that’s it- *Finito* I have work.

  26. #26 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    @ MI Dawn: When I worked in public health, we did have our “moments” when we indulged in some frivolity.

    After I received my smallpox vaccination at the State Department of Health and returned to my office, I was confronted with this attached to my office door:

    http://blogs.cantonrep.com/flashbacks/reliving-the-danger-of-smallpox-a-century-ago/

  27. #27 MikeMa
    February 9, 2012

    Augie, you mention conflicts of interests as an indication of untrusted data. I’m sure your conspiracy addled mind can generate a COI out of trash but what about Wakefield’s COI?

  28. #28 Todd W.
    February 9, 2012

    Her claim that there is no anti-vaccine movement is also rather ego-centric. Suppose for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that AoA and their crowd is not anti-vaccine (just go with me, here). What about movements in Australia (AVN) or religious objections and/or conspiracies in certain African countries? To say that there is no anti-vaccine movement at all displays an incredible lack of awareness of the world, even leaving aside AoA’s own anti-vaccine tendencies.

  29. #29 harold
    February 9, 2012

    In actuality, antivaccine zealots must at some level know that being anti-vaccine is akin to being anti-child health. They’ll never admit it, but at some level they know that being antivaccine is something shameful, as well it should be.

    This is a general and disturbing tendency in US society. I was exposed to Fox News while traveling and actually saw a segment arguing that Rick Santorum isn’t “anti-gay”. Creationists and climate denialists deny being “anti-science”.

    And of course, no comment by a white conservative can ever be “racist”, and in fact, it’s “racist” to point out racism.

    Maybe criminals should start using this in court – “Sure, I was in some other guy’s house removing his belongings, but I’m not a ‘burglar’…”

    Of course, you could simply ask her what evidence would ever convince her that vaccines are beneficial. She’s already answered that…

    I will continue to do so as long as I live, or until at which time it is no longer necessary.

  30. #30 ken
    February 9, 2012

    Saw the “Greater Good”- direct connection between autism and mercury in one
    of the children- there is no doubt in my mind that the current vaccine schedule is
    weeding out those that cannot tolerate it- a sort of “unnatural selection” since
    vaccine injuries cannot be denied.

  31. #31 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    “You have never studied science- let me clue you in- it’s all about data.”
    -Denice Walter, a blog reader, and confuser of “soft” sciences with the hard sciences.

    “Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.”

    “A very small cause which escapes our notice determines a considerable effect that we cannot fail to see, and then we say that the effect is due to chance.”

    -Henri Poincare,French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science

    Apparently you didn’t read 2, 4,5,6, and 8. You have a disconnect.

    “You have never studied science- let me clue you in- it’s all about data…”

    I don’t care to hear about your graduate coursework and how your personal opinion shapes scientific consensus. I’m not concerned with your need to feel superior and your personal self-esteem issues.

    Let me clue you in. It’s not all about the data. Science and data helps build a bomb. Dropping said bomb on 100,000 civilians to theoretically save millions isn’t science. Even if it’s a precise assasination. It’s still not science. It’s politics, honey.

  32. #32 Liz Ditz
    February 9, 2012

    2007 Backstory on Obradovic from Julie Deardorff

    For almost four years, no one could explain to Julie Obradovic why her daughter Eve (left) was suffering from “non-stop ear and bronchial infections, bladder infections, severe constipation that would leak out in water, eczema, loss of skin coloring (inability to burn or tan), chronic yeast infections, insomnia, seizures and staring spells.”

    But when Obradovic, of Homer Glen, Ill., discovered Eve had been exposed to mercury and the symptoms were signs of mercury posioning, she decided to investigate….

    after exhaustive research, I was able to confirm that almost every single symptom of what was wrong with her was a symptom of mercury poisoning….

    Sure enough, medical testing revealed she was clinically (and severely) mercury poisoned. Finding a doctor who specialized in the treatment of toxicity in children like her afforded us the opportunity to realize just how much it was hurting her…

    … by properly treating her for the underlying cause (and giving supportive therapies for the other physical problems it had caused), she recovered her health, and subsequently her developmental abilities. Within one year, she was fully verbal, even though she still has a slight delay. She went from an intensive needs all day preschool setting to being a mainstreamed kindergartener without an aide. Today, she is thriving socially and academically….

    This experience has taught me several things. First, there is no symptom without cause. Second, autism is a whole body medical disease, not a hopeless genetic mental disorder. Genetics do play a role in making children susceptible, but the environmental insults of toxins, antibiotics, bacteria, fungi, and viruses must be introduced to cause the disease.

    It is my deepest belief that all children on the spectrum are medically ill. And it is my deepest hope that some day we will all finally realize that.

    2009 Blurb from “US Autism Conference

    Julie Obradovic is the mother of 3 beautiful children, one of whom was affected by and recovered from autism. Julie is a Contributing Editor for the Age of Autism blog and the Education Outreach Coordinator for Generation Rescue… Julie is presenting the studies that dismiss a link between vaccines and autism, challenging their accuracy, bias, and relevance.

    On her daughter’s 2011 IEP

    “It says here that Eve was evaluated in 2007,” she paused now looking at me again, “and that they consider her 95% recovered from Autism?”

    “Yes,”…. “There are two schools of thought when it comes to Autism.” … “One school says it is a genetic condition that you are born with and die with.” … “But there’s another that says it’s a disorder, an illness in our case, that is not only treatable, but preventable and entirely reversible.”…”All evidence points to the later, so we treated her, and she got better….
    I remembered all of the dreams I had for her as we welcomed her in our lives. Doctor? Lawyer? Teacher? Astronaut? Performer? Athlete? Model?

    I didn’t know what she would be, but I had no doubt, it would be anything she wanted. Between her father and I, she was destined for great things. …This was her destiny ten years later? She’ll be a good worker.

    It angered me the more I thought about it, and it concerned me greatly that those responsible for her education seemed to think this was a high enough expectation.

    In my mind, Obradovic and other “autism is vaccine injury” parents just can’t accept that their child is disabled. They’re stuck in the same place of rage and grief as they first heard the diagnosis.

    I want to point out that Obradovic is in the very small minority of autism parents. Most accept that vaccines didn’t cause their child’s autism.

  33. #33 Ren
    February 9, 2012

    @Ken

    If we go with your theory, then vaccines are “unnaturally selecting”, what, 1 in a million, if that? While the actual disease would “naturally select” many more by orders of magnitude, including those who’d be hurt by vaccines. Pretty dumb strategy, if you believe it.

    Also, “Greater Good”… Not exactly a source of credible information. Orac deconstructed it thoroughly and with, dare I say, panache.

  34. #34 rob
    February 9, 2012

    scientist: Are you suggesting microbes and heavy metals migrate across the blood brain barrier?
    antivaxxer: Not at all, they could be carried.
    scientist: What — a microbe carrying a heavy metal?
    antivaxxer: It could grip it by the husk!
    scientist: It’s not a question of where the microbe grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A 10 attogram virus could not carry a 1 microgram chunk of mercury!

  35. #35 missmayinga
    February 9, 2012

    @ken

    Saw the “Greater Good”- direct connection between autism and mercury in one of the children- there is no doubt in my mind that the current vaccine schedule is weeding out those that cannot tolerate it- a sort of “unnatural selection” since vaccine injuries cannot be denied.

    I haven’t had the chance to see “The Greater Good”, so please enlighten me. What, exactly, was the nature of the “direct connection” between autism and mercury?

  36. #36 dt
    February 9, 2012

    ken@29
    I guess that if vaccines have been so ruthlessley efficient that they have weeded out all those who can’t tolerate them, that you have to conclude that there are actually only a tiny number of children who “can’t tolerate” vaccines.
    How else do you explain why only 4 children in 1000 infants die today in infancy (yet in the prevaccine era 4 children in 10 died)?

  37. #37 missmayinga
    February 9, 2012

    @dt
    Right. And anyway, wouldn’t the children’s inability to tolerate the vaccines be the actual problem at hand, then? Peanuts may cause some kids’ throats to swell up, but I don’t see anyone arguing that we ban peanut butter until we can make it safer.

  38. #38 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    ken: Why don’t you toddle on over to Orac’s “movie review” of “The Greater Good”?

    What is the name of the child with autism in that movie, who, in your expert opinion…proves your theory of a “direct connection between autism and mercury”?

  39. #39 Cynical Pediatrician
    February 9, 2012

    missmayinga @35–
    That’s only because they’ve all been bought out by Big Peanut.

  40. #40 ken
    February 9, 2012

    @dt-
    There were many causes of infant mortality. Vaccines played a small part.
    Better pre-natal, post-natal care, sanitation, anti-biotics etc- SBM w/o vaccines.
    If you look at the # of women that died in childbirth I’m sure the figures would be as high as the infant mortality rate.
    The increase in peanut allergies are correlated with vaccines.

  41. #41 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    I don’t see anyone arguing that we ban peanut butter until we can make it safer.

    Strawman fallacy. Who’s arguing that we ban vaccines? Sloppy logic is how psuedoskepticism sneeks in.

    Now if “Big Peanut” colluded with govnt, demand that taxpayers buy peanuts and everyone must eat them by mandating laws that you have to eat peanuts before you can go to school….And if Big Peanut performed all of the “safety data” and downplayed the risks of peanut allergies and passed that “data” onto it’s pediatric farmers… And then the local farmers “educated” the community using Big peanut’s studies… And then taught risk vs. benefit education such as “well, you haven’t seen someone die from malnutrition. That’s why I got into Peanut farming”….

  42. #42 ken
    February 9, 2012

    Read about the childbirth figures-

    h-ttp://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/childbirth.cfm

  43. #43 Terrie
    February 9, 2012

    @38 And the house market is correlated with the number of babies named “Ava” each year. So what?

  44. #44 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    ken:

    The increase in peanut allergies are correlated with vaccines.

    Citation needed.

    direct connection between autism and mercury in one of the children-

    Citation needed.

    Also, which pediatric vaccine is only available with thimerosal? Do not answer with “influenza”, because at least four have no thimerosal.

    In addition to ken’s little bits of bad grammar and logic, I have to wonder about AoA’s Pharma Shill Gambit. I have lately been asking these folks how treating measles is more cost effective than paying for two MMR doses. So far no one has actually answered with anything remotely resembling reality.

  45. #45 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    ken…and the name of the child whose autism was caused by vaccines, in the Greater Good movie, is…?

  46. #46 ken
    February 9, 2012

    @lilady-see the movie.

  47. #47 Becca Stareyes
    February 9, 2012

    ken @ 38

    The increase in peanut allergies are correlated with vaccines.

    And average ice cream consumption is correlated with hours of sunlight per day. One has to do more than note that two facts appear to be correlated to prove that one has anything to do with one another.

  48. #48 Beamup
    February 9, 2012

    Strawman fallacy. Who’s arguing that we ban vaccines? Sloppy logic is how psuedoskepticism sneeks in.

    AoA is so arguing. Not a straw man in the least.

  49. #49 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    Baglady

    I have lately been asking these folks how treating measles is more cost effective than paying for two MMR doses.

    That is an oversimplification if I’ve ever seen one.

  50. #50 ken
    February 9, 2012

    The increase in peanut allergies has been caused by the adjuvant in vaccines.

  51. #51 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    Baglady=Lilady=Chris

  52. #52 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    ken…you made the allegation and offered up your expertise on the vaccine-autism link after viewing the movie, so why are you unwilling to provide the name of the child?

    Have you toddled on over to Orac’s movie review where we analyzed each case of the children in the movie, whose parents claim vaccine injury?

    Why don’t you just admit that you are full of it?

  53. #53 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    ken:

    @lilady-see the movie.

    Actually, she does not have to. The name of the child is listed in Orac’s review of the movie that was posted last November 11 with the title “Anti-vaccine propaganda lands in New York City this weekend.” The child’s name is Jordan King.

    Now, ken, perhaps you should read the ruling in the King Autism Omnibus case. The conclusion includes (italics in original):

    After studying the extensive evidence in this case for many months, I am convinced that the opinions provided by the petitioners’ experts in this case, advising the King family that there is a causal connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines and Jordan’s autism, have been quite wrong.

    Then, ken, you should read where the King’s expert witness is denied compensation for writing an article, and is generally taken down (though he did get paid for some hours): Costs, Fees, etc.

    Oh, and ken continues with:

    The increase in peanut allergies has been caused by the adjuvant in vaccines.

    Citation needed. By the way, not all vaccines have an adjuvant.

  54. #54 Science Mom
    February 9, 2012

    The increase in peanut allergies has been caused by the adjuvant in vaccines.

    Repeating an unqualified statement, even with slight modifications is still an unqualified statement. Please do enlighten us as to what adjuvant has caused peanut allergies and the mechanism. Gosh, I had no idea that no one unvaccinated couldn’t be allergic to peanuts.

  55. #55 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    Whoa! My longish comment with two links did not go into moderation. The ways of the ScienceBlogs mod-software are indeed mysterious.

  56. #56 dedicated lurker
    February 9, 2012

    Okay auggie, what is wrong with the current data (not who obtained it; why the data is flawed) and what amount of data would you consider sufficent to show a possible vaccine-autism link is coincidental if at all?

    Let me clue you in. It’s not all about the data. Science and data helps build a bomb. Dropping said bomb on 100,000 civilians to theoretically save millions isn’t science. Even if it’s a precise assasination. It’s still not science. It’s politics, honey.

    I assume here you’re talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What is the problem with the theoretical base that says more civilians would have died in a ground invasion than in the two bombings? If there’s a third option that would prevent those deaths and end the Pacific war, please elaborate.

  57. #57 JGC
    February 9, 2012

    Augustine @ 16

    Please tell me that’s a Poe.

  58. #58 dedicated lurker
    February 9, 2012

    That is an oversimplification if I’ve ever seen one.

    It is not your position, but it is a position some take. As I recall, your position is that since no one can know 100% whether a person who gets a vaccine would have not survived the disease itself, vaccination is useless. You have also argued this about cancer treatments.

  59. #59 lilady
    February 9, 2012

    ken…is Jordan King whose parents tried to get compensation from the vaccine court, the child you referred to?

    I suggest that “ken” read the links that Chris provided. (I especially like the link that denied “expert witness” fees to the Geiers).

  60. #60 Anton P. Nym
    February 9, 2012

    Okay, is the cold medication making me hallucinate or did I just read Augie equate immunisation to nuclear warfare and thereby prove that coming down from the trees was all a big mistake?

    (And did ken just pull the non-sequitur of the century out of his, er, thin air with that adjuvants make children fear Mr. Peanut post?)

    — Steve

  61. #61 Composer99
    February 9, 2012

    Ugh troll’s ignorance of history, logic & science are pretty well established. His conflation of science (a process to gather knowledge about the world) and military or political decision-making (e.g. who to bomb, with what, and when, that sort of thing) is a classic part of his rather limited repertoire (the other being wielding common logical terms as magical talismans without any apparent understanding of their meaning or use).

    Asking him to enlighten us on any subject will not generate any useful reply and he has yet to substantiate an assertion or caricature with anything other than misrepresentations of the data: two plus years of his slime here at RI can attest to that.

  62. #62 rw23
    February 9, 2012

    @Dangerous Bacon #5:

    I have set the sensitivity on my irony meters down to 1 to the minus-11, but AoA keeps finding ways to explode them.

    I think you’ll find that the problem there is that you still have them set to a sensitivity of 1.

  63. #63 rw23
    February 9, 2012

    Ugh troll is ugh. Obviously.

  64. #64 Michelle
    February 9, 2012

    And the anti-science folks keep bringing the crazy. Time to pull out one of my favorite rejoinders, courtesy of that wise old sage Bugs Bunny:

    Oh Margaret. What a dope.

    Fortunately, the good guys are getting the word out more every day. I was very pleased to see this pro-vaccine op-ed people in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning:

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/guest-commentary-childhood-vaccines/article_984d864e-e05a-5f26-8df8-828ed035215d.html

  65. #65 Michelle
    February 9, 2012

    Um, that would be “op-ed piece,” not “op-ed people.”

  66. #66 Dangerous Bacon
    February 9, 2012

    By the way, the Julie Obradovic “story” on Julie Deardorff’s Chicago Tribune blog is the one that generated the following hilarious remark from Deardorff in the comments section:

    “…in this blog, citations aren’t required when someone is giving an opinion. Her story is clearly her own opinion.”

    Translation: I can get away with dropping all pretense to being a journalist by writing a blog.

    Commentary from Orac on the Obradovic “story” and Deardorff’s loss of journalistic integrity* here:

    ht_p://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/10/julie_deardoff_and_the_mercury_militia_d.php

    *I know, this implies there was a degree of integrity to lose in the first place.

  67. #67 stripey_cat
    February 9, 2012

    Putting on the Classical Historian Hat, I’ll point out that anaphylaxis was observed in the ancient world. The examples I can think of are adult deaths in response to relatively rare stimuli (eg bee stings). I really, really doubt that they were vaccinating on a modern schedule.

    I’ve not read all the relevant medical texts in detail, so I can’t say for sure that they don’t mention child deaths from anaphylaxis, but I will note that even if they’re silent on the subject, they’re generally not as concerned with young children as with adults (because of the high infant and child mortality rates, there was an assumption that paediatrics was pissing on a forest fire: you did what you could, but you didn’t bust a gut). If you were allergic to a common food-stuff, you would likely die soon after weaning, so people with severe food allergies would be unlikely to survive long enough to come to the attention of the medical profession of the period.

  68. #68 Ken
    February 9, 2012

    The ken up above isn’t me. I realize that it probably doesn’t matter to anyone else (as I’m not all that regular a contributor), but it’s creeping the hell out of me for some reason – like suddenly finding you have an evil twin brother.

  69. #69 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    Ken, it is the price you pay when you post under a common first name. There is another “Chris” who occasionally posts here that actually sounds just like me. Then there is a “Chris” on Bad Astronomy who is similar, but not me.

    I have noticed that sometimes a “chris” will post, who is in no way like myself.

    I can tell you from the other “ken” by the fact you actually use real English grammar.

  70. #70 Denice Walter
    February 9, 2012

    @ dedicated lurker:
    @ Anton P. Nym:
    @ Composer 99:

    Now am I reading this correctly or is it possible that suddenly: *I am become Oppenheimer, destroyer of worlds*?
    Holy crap, that’s awesome! Thank you, Augie, you made my day but you still have no comprehension of what Orac, I or most others here are discussing. Take a course or two in the life sciences. Oh and statistics while you’re there.

  71. #71 dt
    February 9, 2012

    But there will only ever be one “HCN”!

  72. #72 Composer99
    February 9, 2012

    Denice:

    Yep, ugh troll’s argument was, as near as I can make it out:

    Physics provided the basis for the atomic bomb to be constructed → Science must be wrong about vaccines.

    To be fair, he didn’t outright state this (far be it for the ugh troll to construct a clear logical argument, even if upon curory review it is nonsensical. What he said was:

    “It’s not all about the data. Science and data helps build a bomb. Dropping said bomb on 100,000 civilians to theoretically save millions isn’t science.”

    However, that entire post makes no sense whatsoever, making it difficult to reconstruct a logical argument that the troll might have been trying to make. Certainly, it does not serve as any useful rebuttal to your comments.

    Between that boring non sequitur and the tedious argument-by-celebrity-quote, I stand by my conclusion that the ugh troll doesn’t know logic from a hole in the ground.

    Of course, trying to elide science with policy-making & politics is a common tactic to denialists of all stripes, from anti-vaxxers to blog trolls to AGW denialists.

  73. #73 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    dt, :p

  74. #74 meg
    February 9, 2012

    @stripey_cat #65

    It reminds me of ‘leprosy’ that seems endemic in the Bible. Most biblical scholars I’ve known/read theorise that it probably refers to numerous diseases that resulted in some kind of skin disfiguration, eg – Chicken Pox. The ancient world didn’t have the capacity to differentiate diseases on a cellular lever, so things were lumped in together.

    Oh, and I hate to engage the troll, but this one annoys me (and members of SAVN will be familiar with me saying this). We are not all atheists! There are many religious (myself being Catholic) who accept science – we believe God gave us brains, reason, logic, etc, in order to use them for the benefit of others. And vaccines are a major part of that.

  75. #75 ken
    February 9, 2012

    Re: Peanut allergies
    vactruth.com/2010/07/15/non-disclosed-hyper-allergenic-vaccine-adjuvant/

  76. #76 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    ken, that is not a valid citation, just check out Orac’s article on Jan 31st. Just post the title, journal and date of the PubMed indexed paper that supports your statement.

  77. #77 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2012

    As far as I could tell from a swift inspection of ken’s link, Drs Frompovich and Buttram are telling juries that infants who allegedly died from parental abuse actually died from an allergic reaction to the peanut oil that is secretly used in vaccines; and they *know* that there is peanut oil present in the vaccines because how else would those infants have died?

  78. #78 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2012

    ken, that is not a valid citation

    It may not be an indexed peer-reviewed paper, but if ken wants to associate himself with the infanticide-denialist crowd, then let him go for it.

  79. #79 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    herr doktor bimler, well isn’t that special?

    I wonder why ken would think anything written by those two would be respected here, especially after Orac’s article on how vile it is to blame child abuse on vaccines.

  80. #80 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2012

    I am impressed by the *creativity* of Frompovich and Buttram, and the rest of that network, as they generate an ever-changing array of alternative mechanisms to explain a phenomenon — vaccines causing the appearance of fatal head trauma — for which they have no evidence that it even exists.

    In 1999, defending the Yurko case, Buttram was worried about the Thimserosal in vaccines. In 2004, he was arguing that “Free Iron in the Brain Interact[s] with Vaccines to Trigger Lipid Peroxidation and Hemorrhagic Encephalopathy”. Perhaps that purported mechanism was too complicated to explain to juries in the infanticide cases he specialises in defending, for in ken’s 2010 link, Buttram is blaming it on hidden adjuvants in the vaccines causing a form of allergenic shock hitherto unknown to pediatric science.

    Meanwhile Clemetson has a theory that the proteins in vaccines increase blood histamine, which depletes vitamin-C levels and leads to cerebral bleeding through overnight Scurvy (“Barlow’s disease”).

    Of course there’s nothing wrong with having rival explanations for some phenomenon, but evidence for the phenomenon’s existence usually comes first.

  81. #81 ken
    February 9, 2012

    Re: Shaken Baby Syndrome
    h-ttp://www.nvic.org/Doctors-Corner/Shaken-Baby-Syndrome.aspx

  82. #82 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    ken, what was the last grade you attended in school? Do you know that community colleges have Adult Basic Education classes? I suggest you enroll in one.

    Really, why do you think we care about what Yazbak has to say? Did you not read and understand the article here on blaming vaccines for child abuse, which included mention of Alan Yurko.

  83. #83 Chris
    February 9, 2012

    ken, go back and read The vilest antivaccine lie that won’t die: Shaken baby syndrome as “vaccine injury”. Ask someone to help you understand what it says.

  84. #84 Science Mom
    February 9, 2012

    Re: Peanut allergies
    vactruth.com/2010/07/15/non-disclosed-hyper-allergenic-vaccine-adjuvant/

    Oh how convenient, a non-supported hidden peanut adjuvant. So much for truth on that site. No ken, there is no peanut anything used in vaccines, nor has there ever been. An experimental adjuvant containing peanut proteins was in development in the 1960s but never saw the light of commercial production. The actual truth is so much more mundane isn’t it? Now, tell me where you see anything even remotely resembling peanuts here: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/b/excipient-table-2.pdf

    Try some more reputable sources next time ken.

  85. #85 Dangerous Bacon
    February 9, 2012

    Further demonstrating the irony of Obradovic’s point #5 (“They repeatedly distort or exaggerate the facts”), there’s currently an uproar on various antivax and loon websites over a January article in the AMA’s Virtual Mentor ethics journal which floats the idea of a mandatory opt-out for participation in clinical vaccine trials. The author’s idea (a bad one in my view) suggests a law requiring people to declare their refusal or consent to participation in such trials, the idea being that this would create a large pool of willing participants to solve the problem of declining participation in vaccine trials.

    ht_p://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/2012/01/pfor1-1201.html

    For prime distortion and exaggeration of this proposal, it’s hard to beat the Orwellian-named site vactruth, which declares that the article “Suggests Forcing Your Children Into Vaccine Trials” and that everyone would be in a database that would have to be shared with pharmaceutical companies (no such suggestion is made in the paper).

    A commenter compares the idea to the experiments of Dr. Mengele.

    ht_p://vactruth.com/2012/01/24/force-children-vaccine-trials/

    Nah, no distortion or exaggeration there. It’s those Evil Pro-Vaccine Pharma Shills who bend the truth, mmm-hmm.

  86. #86 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2012

    I have a comment in moderation about the impressive and ever-changing range of explanations proposed by Buttram et al. to explain how vaccinations might cause the symptoms of child abuse; as if multiple theories made up for the absence of any empirical link between vaccinations and cerebral bleeding.
    Perhaps they are hunting around for the one that juries find most convincing.

  87. #87 augustine
    February 9, 2012

    Meg

    Oh, and I hate to engage the troll, but this one annoys me (and members of SAVN will be familiar with me saying this). We are not all atheists! There are many religious (myself being Catholic) who accept science

    Believing in a fairy tale god while simultaneously holding skeptic worldviews is insanity and self contradictory. The metaphysics of both are diametrically opposed.

    If you claim to be a catholic AND a skeptic then you need an exorcism performed.

    Not all atheists are skeptics. But all skeptics are atheists.

  88. #88 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2012

    Still on the subject of the shotgun-blast abundance of vaccine / SBS theories: ken links to an undated “Shaken-Baby-Syndrome.aspx” article. In it, Yazbak puts the blame on aluminium adjuvants, so we can add that to the list.
    If nothing else, Yazbak is adept at trimming his sails to match the prevailing winds.

  89. #89 Denice Walter
    February 9, 2012

    @ Composer 99:

    Exactly. I venture a guess that select trolls are not especially fond of RI’s ladies- and oh lord almighty do they froth when we display our abilities, expertise or *social power*- that last one *really* gets to them! I think that viewing women who think and act independently and have careers based on formal study (in medicine, counselling, engineering, teaching) must be threatening- altho’ I don’t understand that- for if you feel good about yourself what *difference* does anyone else’s success make? I always say,”The more the merrier!” – better than reading about someone’s miseries in grinding poverty, cast off by society, dependent solely upon charity or suchlike. I can’t fathom why self-confidence- in a woman- is frightening. Maybe they would’ve been happier if I used my original idea for my surname-based ‘nym ( Walter ‘Howard’ or ‘Howard’ Walter)** then what I have to say might be less disturbing to them.

    ** doesn’t *he* sound deliciously white bread?

  90. #90 Squillo
    February 9, 2012

    I was particularly amused by the accusation in point #8, “They oversimplify everything” followed, as it was, by point #9 “…The hypothesis of those who believe Autism is primarily, but not exclusively, an iatrogenic disease is simple…”

    Where’s that pesky editor when you need her?

  91. #91 herr doktor bimler
    February 10, 2012

    viewing women who think and act independently and have careers based on formal study (in medicine, counselling, engineering, teaching) must be threatening

    I was surprised by augustine’s attempt to patronise at #30. Normally he has more class; or at least a more realistic view of his capacity to annoy.

  92. #92 DLC
    February 10, 2012

    First: for the Mercury Militia : http://www.epa.gov/hg/effects.htm there’s the known effects of mercury poisoning.
    Second, the level of mercury matters!
    a few micrograms/kg of body weight is nothing. you’ve got that much in your bloodstream right now.
    Ask any Toxicologist : the dose makes the poison!
    Finally: go and read Orac’s other articles on “the greater good” movie (blech) and on the SBS. No, Abusive trauma syndrome is not the result of being injected with a vaccine.
    It’s the result of a consistent pattern of abuse which all too often culminates in the death of a helpless baby.

  93. #93 Boot
    February 10, 2012

    @Augustine
    i know i’m wasting my time with this but…
    the difference IS the data.
    in terms of knowledge structures, it isn’t the hypotheses, or the mechanisms that hold science together, it’s the fact that those elements predict what the qualitative or quantitative outcome of some experiment will be. Those outcomes without context are pure data. with the context given by the design of the experiment data becomes knowledge.
    pursodoscience has all of the hypotheses and the mechanisms available to it, but without any data from an experiment (or a prediction of a future occurrence)it fails to be useful.
    BTW – your puerile comment about the bomb… there is such thing as evidence based policy :-)

  94. #94 Lawrence
    February 10, 2012

    I am also confused as to where these “vast” amounts of mercury are supposedly coming from…..it isn’t like mercury is replicating in the bloodstream – you’d have to be chowing down on lead paint or ingesting mercury thermometers directly to lead to some of the supposed “mercury levels” that are claimed by the “mercury militia.”

  95. #95 Denice Walter
    February 10, 2012

    @ herr doktor bimler:

    *Mein Herr*: I really seem to ruffle his feathers! Oh, I suppose we ladies should just withdraw and leave the serious talk to the gentlemen: I’d be interested in your thoughts about the causation of this trollish attitude.( Actually, the infamous Blackie had a little more tolerance, didn’t he?)

  96. #96 Phila
    February 10, 2012

    UTHealth research: Both maternal and paternal age linked to autism.

    Clearly, vaccines are to blame. If it weren’t for them, some of these parents wouldn’t have lived long enough to increase their risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

    Furthermore: Hitler! Eugenics! Peanuts! Aluminum!

    I rest my case.

  97. #97 lilman
    February 10, 2012

    @Lawrence @ 93:

    “I am also confused as to where these “vast” amounts of mercury are supposedly coming from…..it isn’t like mercury is replicating in the bloodstream”

    Actually, mercury (which turns into methylmercury) has the ability to bioaccumulate. Methylmercury is lipid soluble so it resides (and accumulates with each subsequent exposure) in the fat tissues of your cells. It never gets broken down.

  98. #98 lilman
    February 10, 2012

    *fat cells of your tissue

  99. #99 Beamup
    February 10, 2012

    @ lilman:

    That doesn’t address Lawrence’s point, which is about the quantity rather than location. It’s also false that mercury turns into methylmercury in the body. And methylmercury has no relevance to the subject at hand, since it’s not the form previously found in vaccines.

  100. #100 Ren
    February 10, 2012

    Ethyl mercury is in thiomersal. Ethyl mercury does NOT bioaccumulate like methyl mercury does. Ethyl mercury is secreted in the gut and has a half-life of less than a week, compared to methyl mercury’s 1.5 months.

    Citation: h_ttp://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/topics/thiomersal/statement_jul2006/en/

  101. #101 JGC
    February 10, 2012

    Thimerosal rapidly dissociates to form ethyl (not methyl) mercury following injection and israther than accumulating is efficiently eliminated from the body, primarily by fecal excretion.

    In infants ethyl mercury has a half-life of less than 4 days, and blood mercury levels return to pre-vaccination levels by 30 days after vaccination. (see Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants After Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines, Pichichero et al, Pediatrics Vol. 121 No. 2 February 1, 2008 pp. e208 -e214)

  102. #102 herr doktor bimler
    February 10, 2012

    Methylmercury is lipid soluble so it resides (and accumulates with each subsequent exposure) in the fat tissues of your cells. It never gets broken down.

    Methyl mercury is indeed metabolised, and excreted, though about 10 times more slowly than the ethyl form.

  103. #103 herr doktor bimler
    February 10, 2012

    Denice Walter @94:
    I’d be interested in your thoughts about the causation of this trollish attitude.

    I guess it’s a hobby. Arguably there’s not a great difference between spending one’s time on the WWW trying to annoy anonymous strangers and spending one’s time exchanging ideas with them.
    I’m happy to score trolls on performance… how well they learn which strategies are most annoying, whether they adopt ripostes and arguments that have worked for non-trolls… that sort of thing. Trying to guess their motivation is above my pay-grade.
    Augustine seems to favour the “let’s you and him fight” strategy.

  104. #104 herr doktor bimler
    February 10, 2012

    Whoops, I forgot that theological discussion of St. Aug…..e triggers the moderation filter.

  105. #105 demandabanana
    February 10, 2012

    Re #30, I take issue with this (and I apologize for not knowing how to do anything but put quote marks around this):

    ‘”You have never studied science- let me clue you in- it’s all about data.”
    -Denice Walter, a blog reader, and confuser of “soft” sciences with the hard sciences.

    “Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.”

    “A very small cause which escapes our notice determines a considerable effect that we cannot fail to see, and then we say that the effect is due to chance.”

    -Henri Poincare,French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science’

    That’s entirely misinterpreted. The point is, science is a process, a dance, not a collection of facts. And that’s actually one of biggest failings of science education in this country: not understanding that. Per the second part, we fail to see until we come up with the means of seeing. Science is dynamic. You go where it takes you. If you latch onto a notion, you’ll waste most of your time torturing yourself into pretzels (and looking like a fool doing it) rather than being a scientist. I love a provocative hypothesis, but one that’s based on preliminary data. But the fail rate is high with provocative research. If it isn’t, something’s rotten.

    Anyway, hi. I read a ton and never post.

  106. #106 Denice Walter
    February 10, 2012

    @ demandabanana:

    And here’s a banana for you! Thanks for speaking up!
    Oh, the augerer just doesn’t get it! I usually don’t respond to his blithering blather *but* we do have lurkers. Formal study places data in the context of theory- usually within a historical perspective: people who study seriously have a vast overview of an entire field based on research.

    *However* I did get a laugh because I think he called me Oppenheimer**… whereas, I’ve only previously been called James Joyce: I think that that’s a promotion! Maybe not.

    ** truth is stranger than fiction: my relative’s present 80-something boss *worked* for Oppenheimer.

  107. #107 meg
    February 10, 2012

    @augie

    Sorry, where did I say I was a sceptic?

    I said I accept the science. After all, the proof is there. It is possible to look at, study and accept science whilst believing in God.

    And the Catholic Church is on record supporting vaccinations.

    Mind you, I find it fascinating that augie logs back in, and rather than commenting on any of the science-based comments, he decides to attack the one comment on religion . . . .

  108. #108 Joe Bloggs
    February 10, 2012

    i just want to add in a manner Obradovic and Co use: every time you claim, that autism is caused by vaccines you steal money from scientists, which thеy could use to make a breakthrough in incurable desease treatment.
    Thereby, every time you clam so, you kill a chil with cancer.
    And it is terribly ridiculous to blame doctors for autism beginning

  109. #109 lilady
    February 10, 2012

    @ meg: It may not have been your remark about religion that set off the troll…more likely than not, it is your gender.

    The troll has a *history* of misogynism. And, for someone who pretends to be a *good* Christian, troll has a deplorable lack of knowledge of Catholicism…and every other religious belief.

  110. #110 meg
    February 10, 2012

    @lilady – yes, I have noticed that with him. Just fascinating that will all those other responses to him, it’s my comment about my personal faith that he attacks. Not any of the science others have posted.

    Hmm, finally been attacked my a troll – do I get my big pharma payment now?

  111. #111 Ren
    February 10, 2012

    @lilady
    Don’t forget that name he called me when he got all frustrated at me for not answering his question a few months ago. I’m still waiting for an apology from him and will not engage him until he apologizes.

  112. #112 DFeinberg
    February 10, 2012

    blah blah blah blah blah…same stupid crap over and over for years now. Get a life guys!

  113. #113 lilady
    February 10, 2012

    @ meg: The misogynist cannot conceive in his narrow mind that an intelligent female is respected on this blog. Troll pulls that same sh** with every new intelligent female poster. Rest assured your name will be submitted to the Big Pharma Compensation Committee (the RI ladies have got your back).

    @ Ren: Who could ever forget that remark. And, troll claims to be a *good* Christian. I still have filthy-mouthed “good* Christian’s remark to me “bookmarked”, on my laptop.

  114. #114 TBruce
    February 10, 2012

    DFeinberg:

    You are free, of course, to go forth and multiply.

  115. #115 Chris
    February 10, 2012

    TBruce:

    You are free, of course, to go forth and multiply.

    I don’t think Mr. Feinberg is someone we want to be multiplying.

  116. #116 DFeinberg
    February 10, 2012

    Chris, I should have know you were still around. Still spewing all your same stupid crap. Most everything out of your mouth was and still is ignorance, not insolence. Anyway, just stopped by for a peak, but nothing new. I’ll stop by again sometime. Oh, and Chris…I have 5 amazing children.

  117. #117 Chris
    February 10, 2012

    I have no idea who you were. I did a search for your name, but it must have been something else (another morphing troll?). But all I can say is “your poor kids!”

    So please post the links to my ignorance. I wish to be educated, and am willing to read constructive criticism. Must like you should appreciate that you have been screwed by your spellchecker, the term for quickly looking at something is spelled “peek.”

  118. #118 dedicated lurker
    February 10, 2012

    Anyway, just stopped by for a peak

    I hear the Rocky Mountains are really good for that.

  119. #119 lilady
    February 10, 2012

    @ dedicated lurker: The language mangling, spelling challenged stalker is a sock puppet

  120. #120 DFeinberg
    February 10, 2012

    I guess that is what you have to do to make yourself feel better. Sad, jealous person. Like I said, you have been doing that same thing with your malicious comments for years. You go back and look. You are like a broken record. And yes, I do believe the name listed before was my title vs my name. You are a strange one to go searching something like that. Spellchecker is a waste of time. Especially when it is so much fun to get your goat. On purpose. Why do I let you suck me in. I literally meant it, same old blah blah blah.
    au revoir.

  121. #121 lilady
    February 11, 2012

    Still…language mangling, still spelling challenged and still morphing…yawn.

  122. #122 MsGuthrie
    February 11, 2012

    @118 lilady. Where is your punctuation? Do you know how to write a complete sentence? You are a sock puppet. All you do is regurgitate the comments from other posters.

  123. #123 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    DFeinberg:

    You are like a broken record. And yes, I do believe the name listed before was my title vs my name.

    Okay… not that I care. I asked you to post the links to my “ignorance.” So, are you prepared to educate me, or are you going to just run away?

    Please tell me why I should care about your opinions, but use full sentences. I hate to tell you this, but those grammatical fragments are neither enlightening nor indicative of any real intelligence.

    I am not asking for the names you may have previously posted with, I am just asking for the links to where I totally erred. I want to learn. But how can I learn if you refuse to help me?

    You don’t even have to tell me the posts, just cut and paste the bits where I made a terrible mistake and tell me why it was wrong, with real references. Surely that is easy to do.

  124. #124 Narad
    February 11, 2012

    truth is stranger than fiction: my relative’s present 80-something boss *worked* for Oppenheimer.

    I have it on very good word that Chandra was spotted emerging from a bathroom stall with his Nobel medal hanging out of his shirt well away from Stockholm.

  125. #125 Narad
    February 11, 2012

    Wait, is that Rob Hood paying homage to the late queer author David Feinberg?

  126. #126 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    Narad, even Rod Hood, also known as Sir Robin Wingnut, is more grammatically coherent than “DFeinberg.” The sentence structure just does not match. Hood actually writes in full sentences, DFeinberg… not so much.

  127. #127 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    DFeinberg, or you can just tell us “my title vs my name” so we can figure out why my comments stress you so much.

  128. #128 lilady
    February 11, 2012

    @Chris & Narad: And, what about MsGuthrie? It’s a first for that particular sock puppet to morph into a “Ms”.

    I get my sock puppets confused. Which one stated he had five sons? Perhaps the sons are posting or Rob Hood is using his son’s computer.

  129. #129 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    MsGuthrie just posted once with random insults. I would have ignored DFeinberg, but I thought of an amusing reply to TBruce. They are probably the same person. Though even if they were two separate persons, neither posted anything more than inane grammar or tone comments.

    All I know is that I got under the skin of one by replying to TBruce.

  130. #130 Steelclaws
    February 11, 2012

    @ ken #49 There is some evidence that early exposure to peanuts may lessen peanut allergy incidence – and you still haven’t even provided valid evidence that peanuts are used in vaccines, btw.

    “RESULTS: The prevalence of PA [peanut allergy] in the UK was 1.85%, and the prevalence in Israel was 0.17%. Despite accounting for atopy, the adjusted risk ratio for PA between countries was 9.8 (95% CI, 3.1-30.5) in primary school children. Peanut is introduced earlier and is eaten more frequently and in larger quantities in Israel than in the UK. The median monthly consumption of peanut in Israeli infants aged 8 to 14 months is 7.1 g of peanut protein, and it is 0 g in the UK. The median number of times peanut is eaten per month was 8 in Israel and 0 in the UK.

    CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that Jewish children in the UK have a prevalence of PA that is 10-fold higher than that of Jewish children in Israel. This difference is not accounted for by differences in atopy, social class, genetic background, or peanut allergenicity. Israeli infants consume peanut in high quantities in the first year of life, whereas UK infants avoid peanuts. These findings raise the question of whether early introduction of peanut during infancy, rather than avoidance, will prevent the development of PA.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000582

  131. #131 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 11, 2012

    There’s an old joke where a bunch of people are in barracks (army, POWs, whatever) and a new-comer joins them. At night a person calls out a number and everyone laughs. Another number is called out and more laughter. The new-comer asks about this and is told they’ve all been together for so long that they know all the jokes so they’ve numbered them and now just call out the number of the joke instead of reciting them.

    There’s more to the joke but the point is we could do something similar with this article.

    # 8!! (that one had me laughing too)

  132. #132 rachel
    February 11, 2012

    why are these people so crazy? do they not see that with vaccines we have been able to get rid of diseases in the U.S. such as polio? without them kids would be getting sick left and right with the way these diseases that we vaccinate them from due to the ability for these illnesses to spread! I know several parents who have chosen to not vaccinate their children and they’re kids end up either seriously ill or they keep their kids locked up in their homes to keep them from getting sick- not a very fun alternative to getting a simple shot that has been proven to work and proven to be safe rather than being able to go out and play.

  133. #133 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 11, 2012

    There’s an old joke where a bunch of people are in barracks (army, POWs, whatever) and a new-comer joins them. At night a person calls out a number and everyone laughs. Another number is called out and more laughter. The new-comer asks about this and is told they’ve all been together for so long that they know all the jokes so they’ve numbered them and now just call out the number of the joke instead of reciting them.

    There’s more to the joke but the point is we could do something similar with this article.

    Well, we used to have those all the time in the Usenet days; just about every newsgroup had its FAQ. I’d love to do something similar, but there are all the usual questions about who maintains it, how it gets updated, et cetera. Not that those aren’t solvable questions, of course! It just needs the right people who can step up and say “Sure, I’ll do that!” Anyone who does will have my help trying to fill it with content.

  134. #134 Krebiozen
    February 11, 2012

    @rachel,

    they keep their kids locked up in their homes to keep them from getting sick

    I don’t think these people have really thought this through. What happens when their children are adults? They will still have no immunity to all these diseases, many of which are even nastier if you get them as an adult. Do they expect them to avoid anyone who has recently traveled to Europe, or anywhere these diseases are still common? Do they expect them to never travel the world? I sometimes wonder about the thousands of non-immune adults there will be in the US (and other countries) in 20 years time.

  135. #135 dedicated lurker
    February 12, 2012

    And, for someone who pretends to be a *good* Christian,

    He also claims to be a Randroid, which means he’s somehow a Christian who’s hero said that all religion is garbage, if not in those exact words.

  136. #136 Mark M
    February 12, 2012

    What pisses me off more than ANYTHING about anti-vaxxers is that loads of them are not actually *sure* – but that’s enough to persuade them to put their kids at risk by avoiding vaccines.

    They do know, for certain, that the diseases themselves vary between unpleasant to horrific to fatal.

    They also know that vaccines work to prevent those diseases (otherwise, my God, how we’d hear about it).

    And yet, they throw all that aside because they’re “not sure” if the vaccines have some downsides.

    What if they do? What are your odds? Are the risks of having vaccines anywhere NEAR the risks of NOT having vaccines? Are the world’s doctors and pharma executives routinely not vaccinating their kids?

    Provably, no.

    The anti-vaxxers are a child-killing bunch of dicks.

  137. #137 dt
    February 12, 2012

    Very good piece about vaccines here on Aljazeera. Sorry if it is a bit off topic.
    http://aje.me/wQVAOj

  138. #138 V. infernalis
    February 12, 2012

    If I may steal a page from the religionists: “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

  139. #139 Th1Th2
    February 12, 2012

    The anti-vaxxers are a child-killing bunch of dicks.

    OK, so this is coming from an infection promoter. I see.

  140. #140 Narad
    February 12, 2012

    OK, so this is coming from an infection promoter. I see.

    Groundhog Day was the week before last.

  141. #141 Thom Denick
    February 13, 2012

    I’m fairly certain someone could program a bot in about five minutes that would offer more intriguing, rational, and coherent arguments than this th1 idiot. Call it a child-killer and it just repeats the same line its repeated a dozen times in the last two weeks. There’s something wrong with its code.

  142. #142 Th1Th2bot Reunion Tour
    February 13, 2012

    Yawn, next. You follow the can-do and come again, and have you is not correlation; times when you guys are still early in humans. No actual AFP cases, since she also call something to claim: that used antigen gambit gambit, and water as being prevented, by any infectious living creature, in dirt; when you’re saying that the doctor only for shingles later is the unvaccinated and enhance the perpetrator! In oil tactic.

    Again, you guys are like this, then there are designed for shingles later in Gangta’s paradise. Do you possibly explain make your Modern Medicine when you keep this is not tell Medicine: Is that polio, vaccine word to a lipstick is the CDC, knows this, aseptic state of The disease, pathogens to a regular and enhance the disease however you’ve fallaciously compared to the choices needle and provide immunity?

  143. #143 ken
    February 13, 2012

    @Steelclaws-@129
    Merck patent U.S. Pat. U.S. Pat. No. 3,149,036 used as an adjuvant in vaccines-EXAMPLE 5
    Preparation of Peanut oil adjuvant using pure isomannide monooleate at 10, 6, 4 and 2% and pure aluminum monostearate at 4%

  144. #144 Chris
    February 13, 2012

    Now, ken, just prove to us that it was actually used.

  145. #145 ken
    February 13, 2012

    @129 http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/p/pedvax_hib/pedvax_pi.pdf
    Liquid PedvaxHIB®
    [Haemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine
    (Meningococcal Protein Conjugate)]
    Haemophilus influenzae type b and Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B are grown in complex fermentation media. [Peanut meal is used in fermentation media....-bfg]strong> The PRP is purified from the culture broth by purification procedures which include ethanol fractionation, enzyme digestion, phenol extraction and diafiltration. The OMPC from Neisseria meningitidis is purified by detergent extraction, ultracentrifugation, diafiltration and sterile filtration.

  146. #146 ken
    February 13, 2012

    Comment in moderation-
    h_ttp://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/p/pedvax_hib/pedvax_pi.pdf

  147. #147 Travis
    February 13, 2012

    Hooray, more silly stuff about peanut oil. Didn’t this get discussed to death over a year ago? It would be nice to see some evidence that peanut oil is actually being used, especially if it is not labeled, rather than bringing up the fact that someone has looked into it, which is fairly boring and probably not all that surprising.

  148. #148 Chris
    February 13, 2012

    Umm, so what? It had an aluminum adjuvant, not the oil version.

    And it works? Do you have a point to make, ken. If you do, could you somehow manage to actually use full sentences. That would go a long way to figure out what you are trying to say.

  149. #149 herr doktor bimler
    February 13, 2012

    The document about pedvax-HIB would be the perfect smoking gun to prove the use of peanut oil in vaccines except for the absence of any smoke, and indeed of any gun.
    The absence of the words “peanut” and “oil” in the document should be a hint that the vaccine does not contain peanut oil…

  150. #150 dt
    February 13, 2012

    In addition, a P RP-OMPC-containing product, COMVAX [Ha e mophilus b Conjug a te (Me n ingococcal Protein Conj u gate) and Hepatitis B (Recombinan t ) Vaccine], was given concomitantly with a bo o ster dose of DTaP [d i phtheria, tetanus, ace l lular pertussis] at approximately 15 months of age, using separate sites and syringes for injectable vaccines.

    In your face, vaxxers!

  151. #151 Lawrence
    February 13, 2012

    Ken likes his “drive-by” link spam, doesn’t he?

  152. #152 herr doktor bimler
    February 13, 2012

    So when ken @145 says “comment in moderation”, it would be more accurate to say “complete pack of lies cut-and-pasted from barbfeick.com as comment 144 in moderation”.

    Really ken, have you thought of making up your own lies rather than plagiarising someone else’s?

  153. #153 demandabanana
    February 13, 2012

    @118. Seriously? The you’re-just-jealous attack? Lame, lame, lame. Not quite Godwin’s Law, but close.

  154. #154 Science Mom
    February 13, 2012

    Merck patent U.S. Pat. U.S. Pat. No. 3,149,036 used as an adjuvant in vaccines-EXAMPLE 5
    Preparation of Peanut oil adjuvant using pure isomannide monooleate at 10, 6, 4 and 2% and pure aluminum monostearate at 4%

    Ah ken? Care to show what vaccine this was ever used in? I told you a peanut oil emulsion was tested but never commercially produced. Did you just uncover this damning evidence of nothing?

  155. #155 MikeMa
    February 13, 2012

    @Daniel J Andrews #130,
    I think the end of that joke goes something like:

    The new guy yells #14 and nobody laughed. He asks the guy who told him about the numbered jokes and he says, They didn’t like the way you told it.

    And I agree we should have a list of responses that can be referred to by number. Orac did put together a list of things but they weren’t numbered IIRC.

  156. #156 lilady
    February 13, 2012

    I’m so glad I purchased my ticket early and have a front row seat for the Th1Th2bot Reunion Tour.

    ken…if you continue to find (non) smoking guns and continue to defend child abusers/murderers…we “may” draw the conclusion that you are totally anti-vax and totally “full of it”.

  157. #157 Chris
    February 13, 2012

    ken:

    [Peanut meal is used in fermentation media....-bfg]

    And exactly where in the document were those words?

  158. #158 herr doktor bimler
    February 13, 2012

    And exactly where in the document were those words?

    That interpolation appears in the edited version of the pedvax-HIB PDF at barbfeick.com, from where ken cut-&-pasted. That website is even crankier than most. Convinced that vaccine manufacturers insert peanut allergens everywhere they can, the author relies on the leprechauns in her underpants to tell her which ingredient in each case is a codeword for “peanut”.

    In this case, because peanut meal is used in *some* culture media for selective purposes, ‘bfg’ is convinced that it *must* be used to culture “Haemophilus influenzae type b and Neisseria meningitidis”. Never mind that both bacteria are fussy little buggers with their own very special culture requirements, and there is no record anywhere of these requirements including ‘peanut meal’.

  159. #159 herr doktor bimler
    February 13, 2012

    I should express my gratitude to ken for calling my attention to a divertingly-crazy corner of the WWW hitherto unknown to me, i.e. the Arachiphobia / Vaccine cross-over crowd, and their conviction that vaccination is responsible for a purported Peanut Allergy Epidemic.

    Travis @146 links to an earlier RI discussion of this corner, but I was distracted by RL at the time. Apparently there are laws allowing vaccine manufacturers to conceal some of the ingredients they use as adjuvants. In fact the laws *actively suppress* the presence of peanut products. In fact these laws are so secretive that their very existence is suppressed (the fact that Big Pharma goes to such lengths to conceal the truth proves that they are up to something).

    I’m not quite sure *why* Big Pharma are so determined to insert peanut allergens into vaccines… I suppose if they are determined to contaminate the population’s Bodily Essences, they don’t really need any other reason.

  160. #160 Travis
    February 13, 2012

    herr doktor bimler,
    Sorry for screwing up a perfectly good link. I am glad it still works but the formatting was screwed up so badly. I should not post at 02:30 after having a bottle of wine.

  161. #161 Travis
    February 13, 2012

    BTW: herr doktor bimler, I always chuckle a bit when I see your nickname, it always make me think about National Bocialists.

  162. #162 Prometheus
    February 13, 2012

    From Herr Doktor Bimler, relating material seen in a peanut allergy CTW [conspiracy theory website] (#158):

    “Apparently there are laws allowing vaccine manufacturers to conceal some of the ingredients they use as adjuvants. In fact the laws *actively suppress* the presence of peanut products. In fact these laws are so secretive that their very existence is suppressed…”

    Wow. I had no idea that “Big Pharma” was so powerful. They have not only silenced doctors and scientists, but also legislators and beaurocrats. I’d imagine that silencing the legislators who voted on these measures – including those who voted against them – would be especially difficult, given politicians’ natural inclinations.

    Of course, the logical, rational part of my brain wonders, if the very existence of the laws suppressing the publication of peanut products is, in turn, also suppressed, how are we to be sure of anything?

    Seriously, though. Given the fact that there is no evidence that these alleged laws suppressing the presence of peanut (and non-peanut) “adjuvants” in vaccines ever existed, why would anyone in their right mind think that would indicate that the existence of the laws has been “suppressed”? The key phrase, many of you will have noticed, is “in their right mind”.

    This sort of thinking is eerily similar to the sort of confabulation seen when delusional people are confronted with evidence that their delusions are…well, delusions and not reality.

    This sort of “hermetically sealed” thinking is also characteristic of many anti-vaccine groups. They establish their own “truths” and then dismiss all data to the contrary as being “part of the conspiracy to suppress THE TRUTH”. It’s a neat little loop of illogic:

    [1] We know THE TRUTH.
    [2] Therefore, anything that contradicts THE TRUTH is automatically FALSE.
    [3] GOTO [1]

    Prometheus

  163. #163 MikeMa
    February 14, 2012

    @Prometheus,
    No one uses GOTO statements anymore.

    while (we know the TRUTH)
    anything that contradicts THE TRUTH is FALSE
    end while

    :)

  164. #164 KathyH
    February 14, 2012

    Skipping all the comments all together, I want to thank you, Orac, for yet another insightful and entertaining post. You always do such a great job in your writing.

    Are you familiar with the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network? http://www.stopavn.com/vaccination-saves-lives/

    Why don’t we in the USA have an anti antivaccination movement like this one? Someone needs to start one! (not me)

  165. #165 Chris
    February 14, 2012

    KathyH:

    Someone needs to start one! (not me)

    Le sigh. Those last two words say it all.

    Though there are ways you can help. You can do what the StopAVN group does and participate where the anti-vaxers do comment. You can comment on your local local news articles, or you can comment on the blog for the “Every Child by Two” group, http://shotofprevention.com/.

    You can also look for action alerts at Skepchick from http://hugmeimvaccinated.org/ .

    Those are just small things. Which is all I can do for now. Even though I participate in my local Skeptic meetup, we are not as well organized as the Australians.

    One of the reasons I cannot be as active as I like is that my son has some serious health issues. Because of those issues I found out the gift shop of the hospital he was in was selling “Autism File”, a magazine that includes Andrew Wakefield as an editorial “expert.” I wrote a letter of complaint to the hospital, and it was removed.

  166. #166 Chris
    February 14, 2012

    I should mention, while the AVN is not the only anti-vax group in Australia, it is the most prominent one. Here, we have the NVIC, SafeMinds and Generation Rescue, and to an extent: Autism Speaks. They are all fairly well funded and larger than the AVN (though NVIC needed Mercola’s help). There are also many smaller groups like NAA, TACA, ThinkTwice, etc.

    It can turn into a game of whack-a-mole. You just have to be willing to whack at them sometimes.

  167. #167 Chris
    February 15, 2012

    I should mention that the whacking is going to take a long time. Not only are some fixated on an ingredient that was removed from pediatric vaccines a decade ago (thimerosal), some are still have issues with SV40 virus that was taken care of fifty years ago!

  168. #168 lilady
    February 15, 2012

    @ Chris: I’ve just posted my first comment on Left Brain/Right Brain…regarding Professor Walker-Smiths court hearing to restore his medical license.

  169. #169 Chemmomo
    February 15, 2012

    @lilady:
    your concluding paragraph over on LB/RB: well said!
    But as far as I can tell the people (with a few already demonstrated exceptions) who need to hear that aren’t ever going to take their fingers out of their ears.

  170. #170 Sauceress
    February 15, 2012

    re the Professor Walker-Smith court hearing thread at LB/RB…

    Does that “dr treg” over at LB/RB remind the regulars here of a particularly deceitful and insidious troll? One whose pretence of knowledge has been shown up here on occasion by RI poster, T-reg? One whose rhetoric echos a characteristic pomposity when it pretends to have in -depth medical training, knowledge and experience?

    A few quotes from “dr treg”

    (aka affectionately as JAWS on the blood request forms)

    I’ve seen this little factoid mentioned a number of times in posts around the blogs. What was dr treg’s reason for trotting out it out. Attempt to convince of a familiarity shared by work colleagues?

    Then..

    He seemed to have gained the Professorship by research into celiac disease. I don`t know for sure but he may have been one of the early doctors to biopsy the small intestine to confirm the inflammatory changes related to gluten intake.

    They both seem to have moved to the Royal Free Hospital when Barts joined up with the less fashionable London Hospital.

    It seems that the Prof engaged in research into the possibility that MMR caused g-i symptoms and autistic-like behavior in children.

    [my emphasis]

    Not a lot of familiarity with the basic facts by someone who has supposedly “been trained by and worked with Professor J.A. Walker-Smith”

    Then there was the wiki quote.

    Just sayin..

  171. #171 Science Mom
    February 15, 2012

    @ Sauceress, T-reg is not a troll at all, perhaps you have him confused with one of the others like Blackheart, a pompous Wakefield apologist? The ‘nyms do bear a striking resemblance; I think that’s coincidence.

  172. #172 Beamup
    February 15, 2012

    I think Sauceress is suggesting that “dr treg” selected that ‘nym after being smacked down by T-reg.

  173. #173 Sauceress
    February 15, 2012

    T-reg is not a troll at all

    No T-reg is not at all a troll!
    What I said was..
    “One whose pretence of knowledge has been shown up here on occasion by RI poster, T-reg?”

    My thinking was that maybe “dr treg” got the idea for its name from RI “T-reg”.

  174. #174 Sauceress
    February 15, 2012

    @Beamup
    Precisely!

  175. #175 lilady
    February 15, 2012

    @ Chemmomo: You’re very kind to compliment me on my “debut” posting at LB/RB.

    Still, can anyone tell me why some of my comments on LB/RB have a faint line drawn them?

    Our “friends” at AoA seem to think that Walker-Smith’s appeal if it is successful, will in some small way exonerate Wakefield…it won’t. And, if Walker-Smith doesn’t prevail…it only shows the corruptness of the judicial system.

  176. #176 Krebiozen
    February 15, 2012

    lilady,
    The text with the line through it is strikethrough text. It has an invisible HTML tag at the beginning and end of it like this [del]this text would be strikethrough[/del] where instead of square brackets they are less than and greater than signs – this only works on some blogs, like LBRB. Whether you added these tags or they were mysteriously added after you posted, I don’t know. BTW if you want to use strikethrough on this blog, use [s] and [/s] again replacing square brackets with less than and greater than signs to get strikethrough text.

  177. #177 lilady
    February 15, 2012

    Thanks for the explanation, Krebiozen.

    Somehow, someway…and in spite of my brilliant and extraordinary computer technical skills [sarcasm]…I “done did it” to my own comments.

  178. #178 Science Mom
    February 15, 2012

    My bad Sauceress; I re-read your post and I can see that now.

  179. #179 dt
    February 15, 2012

    Sciencemom – I take it your Huffpo avatar is the green squidgy octopus thingy?

  180. #180 Science Mom
    February 15, 2012

    @ dt, you mean virus dude/dudette? Yes, me.

  181. #181 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2012

    Still, can anyone tell me why some of my comments on LB/RB have a faint line drawn them?

    Immag guessing that LB/RB also interprets a pair of hyphens as a strikethrough marker. So the offending sections in the comment all started with a hyphen serving to mark off each paragraph as a bullet point, and ran until another hyphen within the text.

  182. #182 lilady
    February 15, 2012

    @ herr doktor bimler: Thanks to you too, for explaining how my comments at LB/RB ended up with lines through them.

    In case you hadn’t noticed…I am admittedly, totally devoid of technical skills. I have only recently figured out how to “link”…and no one except “Chris” noticed.

  183. #183 Julian Frost
    February 21, 2012

    Apologies for the OT posting, but here’s some blog fodder for you, Orac.
    A comparison was done on the Urinary Mecury levels of autistic and non autistic children. Surprise, surprise, no difference. The study is on the PLoS ONE Website at h_tp://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0029547.
    Also, how goes it with the Geiers?

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