Respectful Insolence

There are quite a few reasons why I blog. After all, to crank out between 500 and 3,000 words a day, with an average of somewhere around 1,500 by my reckoning) takes quite a commitment. One of the main reasons that I do this is to combat the irrationality that permeates the world, and, since I know medicine, I tend to concentrate mostly on medicine, although I certainly do not limit myself to medicine. Still, over the last seven years I’ve noticed myself writing less and less about other topics and more and more about medicine. It’s been quite a while, for instance, since I’ve written about evolution and creationism, anthropogenic global warming, the paranormal, or other topics that skeptics like to discuss. I’ve also noticed that at least one-quarter, probably more, of my blogging seems to be taken up combatting the lies of the antivaccine movement. I suppose this is appropriate, given that, among all the forms of quackery, antiscience, pseudoscience, and just plain nonsense that exist in medicine, antivaccinationism arguably has the potential to do the most harm to the most people, reversing literally hundreds of years of progress in preventing infectious diseases. For vaccines are arguably the medical intervention that has saved more lives and prevented more death and suffering than any other.

Still, sometimes I feel as though I’ve drifted into a bit of a blogging rut. Every so often the antivaccine world pukes up a story or a rapid succession of stories that occupy my blog space for several days in a row, and it certainly seems that we’re in one of those periods, albeit after a fairly long hiatus away from antivaccine issues (at last a long hiatus by the standards of this blog). Consequently, I had been looking for other topics to blog about other than vaccines for a while. Heck, maybe it could be like the good old days, and I could have some fun with our favorite creationist neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor. Now those were some fun times! However, sometimes dealing with antivaccine nonsense can be pretty fun too. In fact, sometimes the nonsense is so ridiculous that it requests–nay, demands!–a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence, and Orac is just the Plexiglass box of blinking multicolored lights to provide it, too! If it’s camel’s milk as a treatment for autistic symptoms, I’m there.

At least until I saw an article by Harold Buttram over at the Orwellian-named Vaccine Truth website entitled The Ultimate Gamble: Do Childhood Vaccines Result in Genetic Hybridization from Alien Human and Animal DNA Contents? That’s right! If we’re to believe Buttram, those evil vaccines are turning your baby into some sort of animal-human hybrid; that is, if the horrific toxins don’t fry their brains and making them autistic first!

As you might imagine, Orac cannot resist such a–shall we say?–target-rich environment. Nor would you, his readers, want him to.

Harold Buttram, if you will remember, is a particularly vile antivaccinationist in that he is one of the people most responsible for spreading the lie that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for vaccine-induced brain injury. Seriously, that’s what he claims. Apparently now he’s moved on to other pseudoscientific claims about vaccines (or just added them to his preexisting claims).

You know, if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about cranks, it’s that they have memes that spread through the crankosphere very rapidly. It hasn’t been all that long since the anti-Gardasil crank group SaneVax tried to gin up a fear campaign over finding tiny amounts of HPV DNA in Gardasil. That was in September 2011. Just last month, a SaneVax became enamored of another crank scientists, a guy named Dr. Hanan Polansky, who approximately eight years ago came up with the concept of “microcompetition,” which is a process hypothesized by Polansky whereby foreign DNA from viruses could compete with cellular DNA for transcription factors and the transcriptional machinery of the cell and cause disease. As I described in my usual inimitably detailed fashion, it was a rather interesting hypothesis eight years ago, but since then there hasn’t been much in the way of evidence to support it as a mechanism of disease, and, besides, the genomics revolution has passed Polansky by, to the point where his hypothesis seems rather quaint in 2012. None of this stopped Polansky from claiming to SaneVax that the infinitesimally tiny amount of HPV DNA in Gardasil could somehow induce microcompetition and cause autism and a variety of other conditions.

It’s utter poppycock, of course, but it’s a meme that’s going around the antivaccine crankosphere. Not content with Gardasil, Polansky surfaced a couple of days ago, issuing a press release that claims that microcompetition from measles DNA in the MMR vaccine causes all sorts of diseases:

The CBCD believes that the current purification processes cannot completely filter all foreign DNA plasmids used in the process of manufacturing the MMR II vaccine. Therefore, some foreign DNA fragments end up being injected into infants.

In support of this belief, Dr. Helen Ratajczak, Ph.D. who published two papers on the subject in the Journal of Immunotoxicology, says “The MMR II vaccine is contaminated with human DNA from the cell line in which the rubella virus is grown. This human DNA could be the cause of the spikes in incidence. An additional increased spike in incidence of autism occurred in 1995 when the chicken pox vaccine was grown in human fetal tissue.” (Merck and Co., Inc., 2001; Breuer, 2003).

The contamination of MMR II with foreign DNA fragments, discussed by Dr. Ratajczak, combined with Microcompetition, discovered by Dr. Polansky is the missing link between MMR II and Autism.

Remember Dr. Helen Ratajczak? I do. She’s about as clueless as it gets with regards to molecular biology, her PhD notwithstanding. In fact, she’s about as clueless as Dr. Polansky, except that her idea of how the dreaded DNA from vaccines supposedly poison our precious children is that it somehow gets across the blood-brain barrier, gets taken up by neurons in the central nervous system, and then undergo homologous recombination with the DNA in the neuron, resulting in the expression of altered proteins that lead to the immune system recognizing them as foreign and attacking them. This idea is every bit as scientifically ignorant and ridiculous as Polansky’s idea, as I explained when she first published it. No, actually it’s even more so. Polansky’s hypothesis, at least when it was proposed, had a modicum of plausibility back then. Today, not so much, and it is to Polansky’s discredit that he never changed course. He continues to cling to his idea with the tightness of any crank.

Clearly, Buttram has been tuned in to the latest ideas floating around the antivaccine crankosphere, because he latches on to the idea that DNA in vaccines is to be feared, but he decides that he’s going to one-up Dr. Polansky and even Dr. Ratajczak, both of whom are apparently not crazy enough for Buttram. Of course, he is one of the guys who invented the concept that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury; so it’s obvious that he will brook no challengers in the crazy hypothesis department.

So how does he do it? Easy. First, he sets the stage by referring to research, both old and new, that show how bacteria, maize, and other organisms can trade genetic material. He also notes that there are similarities between proteins made by some viruses during infection, resulting in post-infection immunological reactions that can result in encephalitis. This leads him to cite someone named Howard B. Urnovitz:

Urnovitz and his colleagues have been studying the implications of vaccines in cancer, Persian Gulf War Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Urnovitz, who holds doctorates in Immunology and Microbiology from the University of Michigan where he studied vaccines, has become one of the most vocal proponents for scientists to become aware of vaccine-associated genetic mutations. [7]

His work in this area has supported the concepts that:

  • Our bodies have a “genetic memory” of foreign substances it encounters, including vaccines.
  • There is a limit on how much foreign material our bodies can handle before genetic damage occurs and/or progresses into a chronic illness.
  • Each person has their own unique genetic blueprint which responds to foreign substances differently.

Comment: Although Urnovitz did not elaborate further on the subject of “genetic memory,” his reference to it can be interpreted as an inference that the genetic blueprints we inherit from our parents are influenced and potentially changed in adaptation to environmental exposures throughout our lifetimes.

One notes that the reference listed is not a publication in the peer-reviewed literature, but rather testimony before the Committee of Government Reform and Oversight. Oddly enough, I had never heard of Urnovitz before; so I did what I always do when I come across such a person. I Googled him. What struck me immediately was that the super-crank site Whale.to seems to really, really like Urnovitz in that he is featured multiple times on the Whale.to website. It seems that he is a proponent of the Gulf War Syndrome, which he appears to blame on the anthrax vaccine given to our troops before the first Gulf war. For example, both Whale.to and an antivaccine site quotes Urnovitz’s testimony in full. Particularly remarkable is that Urnovitz appears to be an HIV/AIDS denialist, calling the Durban Declaration a “more flagrant medical ethics violation” than the use of the anthrax vaccine and declared himself to be “outraged” at the authors of the declaration for simply stating the scientific consensus that HIV causes AIDS as being “totally at odds with the scientific method” because, according to him, it declared the debate closed.

In any case, does Urnovitz’ idea of “genetic memory” sound a bit like the “memory of water” that homeopaths proclaim? At the very least this sounds like one of the principles of sympathetic magic known as the Law of Contagion, whereby objects and organisms retain a “memory” of everything they’ve been in contact with. Urnovitz repeats a lot of these ideas here, but adds in a heapin’ helpin’ of antivaccine tropes, harping on the possibility of SV40 contamination of polio vaccines in the late 1950s, a problem that hasn’t been an issue for at least 50 years, given that 50 years ago scientists took measures to prevent such contamination.

In any case, Buttram doesn’t just cite Urnovitz’s dubious assertions. He goes whole hog repeating practically every antivaccine trope on the planet. He spends a section on the “toxins” gambit, including referring to formaldehyde in vaccines as a chemical used to embalm corpses, which is true but deceptive in that the amount of formaldehyde in vaccines is minuscule, far less than we make in a day from normal metabolism. He blames mercury and aluminum in vaccines for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, referring to them as “potent neurotoxins.” He then flogs the “toxins” gambit some more. He even cites the truly incompetent Generation Rescue survey that claimed to have found that unvaccinated children supposedly had fewer health problems. That survey actually showed nothing of the sort, for reasons that I enumerated a long time ago. (I applaud Buttram for his “restraint” in not mentioning an even more incompetent and useless survey done by a German homeopath.) Particularly amusing is how Buttram cites Generation Rescue and Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted’s Age of Autism as legitimate sources of scientific information.

Buttram even repeats his vile lie that shaken baby syndrome is in reality vaccine injury.

He then takes this stew of antivaccine lies, tropes, misinformation, dubious studies, cherry-picked data, and crank testimony and stirs it liberally, adding his own crankery for seasoning and confusing correlation with causation to blame mass vaccination programs for an “epidemic” of autism. The final result, according to Buttram will be this dire fate if we don’t stop vaccinating:

It has been demonstrated that a sharp and persisting rise in childhood autism commenced following the 1978 introduction of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) in the U.S.A, [31] a time when mercury-laced Hepatitis B and Hemophilus influenza type b vaccines were also introduced. In a bulletin sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, January, 2004 entitled AUTISM A.L.A.R.M., it was announced that 1 in 6 American children were diagnosed with a learning disability and/or significant behavioral disorder. As described and documented by Dr. Kenneth Bock, approximately one-third of America’s children are afflicted by the 4-A disorders: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, Allergies. [32] It is entirely possible or even probable, based on present knowledge, that each of these conditions is associated with underlying genetic changes.

Of all the benefits provided by God and nature for the human species, human genetics must be considered the greatest and most indispensable. Are we a nation of people incapable of recognizing imminent danger signs in the health, welfare, and genetics of our children, and in recognizing these dangers to take corrective actions in their behalf? I think we are capable of taking such actions, but time may be running out. At some unknown future time this process will reach a point-of-no-return in terms of vaccine-induced genetic hybridization that will become incompatible with human reproduction. Mass extinctions are already taking place in plant and animal species, largely due to human encroachments and interventions. [33] Are we soon to follow suit? [34-36]

It is “entirely possible or even probable” that these conditions are “associated” with underlying genetic changes? I suppose so. Autism, for example, has a major genetic component. I suppose it’s possible, but what Buttram is really saying is that vaccine did it. In fact, to him vaccines more than “did it.” His claim is that vaccines are corrupting our very genetic code–is that anything like Communists sapping and impurifying our precious bodily fluids–and rendering us sterile to the point where we are looking at the mass extinction of the human race. I kid you not. That’s what Buttram is saying.

In a way, I suppose I should be grateful to Buttram. It’s rare for me to see so many antivaccine canards concentrated into one place so densely, like a black hole of pseudoscience. His post is also instructive, and I urge you to pay attention. Antivaccine views, at their core, really do boil down to a vitalistic view that there’s something about vaccines that contaminates one’s vital essence, ruining one’s health. It’s magical thinking, pure and simple. It’s good to be reminded of just how delusional antivaccinationists can be.

Comments

  1. #1 Militant Agnostic
    March 14, 2012

    Somewhat off topic

    Proof that NASA is controlled by the Alluminati

    Am I a bad person for wanting to inform the chemtrails crowd about this?

  2. #2 Militant Agnostic
    March 14, 2012

    Mass extinctions are already taking place in plant and animal species, largely due to human encroachments and interventions. [33] Are we soon to follow suit? [34-36]

    Given the former, the latter may not be such a bad thing. I once heard an interview of a human extinctionist. He sounded quite reasonable and made a good case for us to simply stop having children. Eccentric perhaps and definitely at the far end of Deep Ecology, but nowhere near as crazy as the anti-vaccine crowd.

  3. #3 jrkrideau
    March 14, 2012

    @2 Militant Agnostic

    Alluminati? NASA has taken over a match factory?

    Oops, bad translation from French.

  4. #4 Staceyjw
    March 14, 2012

    I have another topic I would LOVE to see you write more about- “Natural” childbirth (NCB), home birth (HB), and HB “midwife” woo. Few people take this topic on, and I think there needs to be a greater effort to show the dangers involved. It needs to be on the radar of the skeptical and anti woo movements. Right now NCB is plastered all over websites, magazines, books- and goes virtually unchallenged!

    It is a serious issue, as it not only kills/disables babies and moms needlessly, it also influences the mainstream and interferes with proper treatment, even for those who have zero interest in it.

    On the less damaging end of the spectrum, its a bad mind trip, an over reliance on what they see as “natural”. For example, the NCB movement convinces women that they aren’t “authentic/true women” if they want pain relief during labor. If mom is “weak” and “gives in” and asks for an epidural/narcotics, it will forever damage their babies, and ruin bonding and breast feeding forever.

    They say pain relief guarantees a CS (the dreaded, imaginary, “cascade of interventions”) which is seen as such a failure of motherhood they refuse to say you gave birth! They promote the lie that painless- even orgasmic!- vaginal births can be had by anyone, if they will commit to a certain “healthy life style”, think positively, read lots of happy birth stories, get “educated” and never use an OB, only a MW. To say NCB is based on woo is an understatement of epic proportions.

    Worse yet is the more destructive end of the spectrum, where moms are convinced that birth is safe when it’s totally “natural, unhindered”, and not treated as a medical event. SBM is routinely ignored as a tool of the patriarchy/ lies of big pharma/ etc, in favor of “natural” remedies/ CAM, and the MWs and moms intuition, aka “secret knowledge”. Without use of evidence based standards, its easy to believe that all manner of complications and fetal presentations are “variations of normal”- like breech babies, VBAC, The hospital is said to be the actual cause of birth complications, along with doctors who have never seen a “normal” birth, and want to “slice moms up” so they can make their golf game/ get rich. (Ironically, modern obstetrics are used as a back up plan to convince naysayers/ moms HB is safe: “hospital is only 3 min away” …)

    To avoid the hospital and OBs, NCB moms choose to skip most prenatal tests, and then labor at home, alone, or with a HB MW* (rarely, a CNM**). The most desired and revered are the so called “hands off midwives”; these “MWs” actually advertise that they will do nothing but “sit on their hands” (exact quote!), knitting in another room, unless specifically asked by mom to assist.

    The end result? Too often, totally avoidable events that cause: grave physical damage requiring surgery, loss of fertility/internal organs, severe lifelong disability, and DEATH! (add on: PTSD/PPD for survivors).

    Let me repeat this- DEATH and severe disability, in rates much higher than normal, result from misguided beliefs in NCB. These deaths are also unusual because of who they happen to- healthy moms, healthy full term babies.

  5. #5 MI Dawn
    March 14, 2012

    You know, Buttram sounds a LOT like It-who-must-not-be-named in his quackery and precious bodily fluids mentality. I wonder if he also believes toddlers will always stay on the sidewalk? Maybe if we put the two of them in one room, the quackery will cause a black hole of insanity and suck all the anti-vax people into it forever….

  6. #6 Staceyjw
    March 14, 2012

    I have another topic I would LOVE to see you write more about- “Natural” childbirth (NCB), home birth (HB), and HB “midwife” woo. Few people take this topic on, and I think there needs to be a greater effort to show the dangers involved. It needs to be on the radar of the skeptical and anti woo movements. Right now NCB is plastered all over websites, magazines, books- and goes virtually unchallenged!

    It is a serious issue, as it not only kills/disables babies and moms needlessly, it also influences the mainstream and interferes with proper treatment, even for those who have zero interest in it.

    On the less damaging end of the spectrum, its a bad mind trip, an over reliance on what they see as “natural”. For example, the NCB movement convinces women that they aren’t “authentic/true women” if they want pain relief during labor. If mom is “weak” and “gives in” and asks for an epidural/narcotics, it will forever damage their babies, and ruin bonding and breast feeding forever.

    They say pain relief guarantees a CS (the dreaded, imaginary, “cascade of interventions”) which is seen as such a failure of motherhood they refuse to say you gave birth! They promote the lie that painless- even orgasmic!- vaginal births can be had by anyone, if they will commit to a certain “healthy life style”, think positively, read lots of happy birth stories, get “educated” and never use an OB, only a MW. To say NCB is based on woo is an understatement of epic proportions.

    Worse yet is the more destructive end of the spectrum, where moms are convinced that birth is “as safe as life gets” when it’s totally “natural, unhindered”, and not treated as a medical event. SBM is routinely ignored as a tool of the patriarchy/ lies of big pharma/ etc, in favor of “natural” remedies/ CAM, and the MWs and moms intuition, aka “secret knowledge”. Without use of evidence based standards, its easy to believe that all manner of complications and fetal presentations are “variations of normal”- like breech babies, VBAMC, etc- which increases the risk of a deadly outcome.

    The hospital is said to be the actual cause of birth complications, along with doctors who have never seen a “normal” birth, and want to “slice moms up” so they can make their golf game/ get rich. Tests (GD, GBS), interventions (pitocin augmentation), and procedures (continuous monitoring) are also seen as ways to make money and exploit the mom, while causing more problems to crop up. Many simple, harmless, solutions to serious problems are considered dangerous (antibiotics for GBS) and CAM is substituted (garlic suppositories!) with dire results. (Ironically, modern obstetrics are used as a back up plan to convince naysayers/ moms HB is safe: “hospital is only 3 min away”)

    To avoid the hospital and OBs, and the interventions/testing that goes with it, NCB moms choose to skip many to all prenatal tests, and then deliver at home, alone, or with a HB MW* (rarely, a CNM**). The most desired and revered are the so called “hands off midwives”; these “MWs” actually advertise that they will do nothing but “sit on their hands” (exact quote!), knitting in another room, unless specifically asked by mom to assist.

    The end result? Too often, totally avoidable events that cause: grave physical damage requiring surgery, loss of fertility/internal organs, severe lifelong disability, and DEATH! (add PTSD/PPD for survivors). All current data show increases in mortality during HBs, a quick and easy way to see this trend is to view state data in places where it’s collected- CA, CO, WI, MI are a few.

    Let me repeat this- *DEATH* and severe disability, in rates much higher than normal, result from misguided beliefs in NCB/HB. These deaths are also unusual because of who they happen to- healthy moms, healthy full term babies.

    HB/NCB advocates deny that HB is more dangerous, hide their data (MAMA stats?), attack parents who speak out about their loss, and malign docs and hospitals. They disingenuously use data from other countries with strict regulations to prove safety. The woo they sell is powerful because it gives the false belief that labor and delivery can be controlled, painless, and safe.
    PLEASE help stop them!

  7. #7 palindrom
    March 14, 2012

    Thanks for linking the Dr. Strangelove clip. It never gets old (unlike me). Sterling Hayden’s performance is simply magnificent.

  8. #8 Calli Arcale
    March 14, 2012

    jrkrideau: It’s a joke based on the fact that the sounding rockets will be releasing some sort of aluminum compound into the atmosphere. It’s meant as a visual marker — the intent is to study the jet streams in the upper atmosphere (not the ones that we’re used to hearing about on the weather report, but much higher up and less well studied). They’ll observe the clouds to see how they move. And, of course, give us autism so we’ll be more susceptible to the mind-controlling chemicals distributed by the secret tanks at the backs of airliners. :-P

    As to the OP — well, all I can say is CUCKOO! CUCKOO! Seriously. The guy is *nuts*. “There is a limit on how much foreign material our bodies can handle before genetic damage occurs and/or progresses into a chronic illness.” It’s a wonder the average human life expectancy exceeds 10 years!

  9. #9 qetzal
    March 14, 2012

    Mass extinctions are already taking place in plant and animal species, largely due to human encroachments and interventions.

    Yep. Specifically, it’s from all the vaccinations we’ve been giving all the plants and animals. All those times you saw Marlin Perkins and Jim on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, shooting animals with “tranquilizer darts?” Those were really vaccines. All part of Big Vax’s secret conspiracy to vaccinate all plants and animals. Then, taking a lesson from the Underwear Gnomes, they move to Step 2: ??? And finally, Step 3: Profit!

    Obvious, no?

  10. #10 tehdarwinator
    March 14, 2012

    “Genetic memory?” Giving the benefit of the doubt that anyone Buttram references has EVER encountered a scientific concept, it sounds like someone might have heard something in passing about epigenetics, and whoosh, we’re back to full-on Lamarkism. And what is the pro-vaccine agenda, really, except a sinister attempt to destroy the genetic destiny of the human species?

    @quetzal: You hit it perfectly! In order for us evil scientists to achieve our sinister agenda, we will have to develop a Step 2.

  11. #11 tehdarwinator
    March 14, 2012

    “Genetic memory?” Giving the benefit of the doubt that anyone Buttram references has EVER encountered a scientific concept, it sounds like someone might have heard something in passing about epigenetics, and whoosh, we’re back to full-on Lamarkism. And what is the pro-vaccine agenda, really, except a sinister attempt to destroy the genetic destiny of the human species?

    @quetzal: You hit it perfectly! In order for us evil scientists to achieve our sinister agenda, we will have to develop a Step 2. Now if I could just figure out where to store my giant pile of underpants…

  12. #12 dt
    March 14, 2012

    Re “The Aluminati”

    I claim this as the trendy new buzz word for the “aluminum is poison” brigade. This follows similar nicknames for vociferous campaign groups in favour of breastfeeding (“The Breastapo”) and the like.

  13. #13 dt
    March 14, 2012

    Wot, no “recombinaltion tiniker”?

    I feel cheated.

  14. #14 Squillo
    March 14, 2012

    That Polansky press release is a hoot, even leaving aside the science.

    I’ve seen many a terrible press release in my time, but that one is among the top (bottom) ten.

    Whoever is in charge of PR and marketing for the book (I think that’s what the press release is about, but it’s almost impossible to tell) has obviously had his or her DNA scrambled by exposure to toxic stupidity.

  15. #15 lilady
    March 14, 2012

    @ Staceyjw: Orac has blogged about home births and births attended by midwifes or “naturapathic obstetricians”:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/10/naturopathic_obstetrics.php

    “As described and documented by Dr. Kenneth Bock, approximately one-third of America’s children are afflicted by the 4-A disorders: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, Allergies. [32] It is entirely possible or even probable, based on present knowledge, that each of these conditions is associated with underlying genetic changes.”

    And, the other two-thirds of American children are probably afflicted by chronic Lyme disease…according to Kenneth Bock:

    http://www.rhinebeckhealth.com/rhc/bio_kbock.php

    This guy has parlayed his notoriety as a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) into his “specialty” of treating all sorts of “chronic diseases”. Note, the location of his office in Rhinebeck New York (Dutchess County), does provide him with a slew of townies who actually have Lyme disease…but he sees patients from out of the area, who seek treatment for “chronic” Lyme disease and a slew of other dubious diagnoses…treating them with nutritional supplement, chelation, etc., etc.

    (Not so) O/T, Offal is the guest journalist at AoA. He’s doing his usual libertarian shtick about pending legislation in Vermont to eliminate the vaccine philosophical exemption:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/03/vermont-seeks-to-terminate-parental-vaccination-rights-.html

  16. #16 KAL
    March 14, 2012

    You said, “He’s a proponent of Gulf War Syndrome.” What an interesting word choice – a propronent.

    So, because he’s a crank the implication seems to be that GWI doesn’t exist – because this guy is a crank. That’s rather like saying AIDS doesn’t exist because of the non-HIV vodoo baloney. All kinds of cranks in the autism/vaccine debates, but it doesn’t mean autism isn’t real.

    Cranks inject themselves into just about any medical disease and condition you can name, not to mention more than a few political debates as well, but it doesn’t negate the legitimate peer-reviewed research that’s done.

    You might wish to differentiate.

  17. #17 Chris
    March 14, 2012

    dt:

    I claim this as the trendy new buzz word for the “aluminum is poison” brigade.

    New? Not so fast! ;-p

  18. #18 Sauceress
    March 14, 2012

    Our bodies have a “genetic memory” of foreign substances it encounters, including vaccines.

    So our bodies remember diseases like the Black Plague, Small Pox, Leprosy ect.?
    Shame our bodies didn’t pass the memory of diseases like smallpox onto our immune system!

    There is a limit on how much foreign material our bodies can handle before genetic damage occurs and/or progresses into a chronic illness.

    Come to think of it…I might just have a couple of sequences of Black Plague and Leprosy DNA tucked away somehwere in amongst all my other “junk” DNA.

  19. #19 lilady
    March 14, 2012

    I have a comment stuck in moderation…too many links?

    @ dt: “recombinaltion tiniker” = tinnitus

  20. #20 Liz Ditz
    March 14, 2012

    @Staceyjw

    I have another topic I would LOVE to see you write more about- “Natural” childbirth (NCB), home birth (HB), and HB “midwife” woo. Few people take this topic on, and I think there needs to be a greater effort to show the dangers involved.

    I feel that Amy Tuteur, the skeptical ob, covers this in sufficient detail:

    http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    March 14, 2012

    KAL:

    You said, “He’s a proponent of Gulf War Syndrome.” What an interesting word choice – a propronent. So, because he’s a crank the implication seems to be that GWI doesn’t exist – because this guy is a crank.

    Actually, I think Orac meant it the other way around — because he’s a proponent of a dubious and largely discredited hypothesis, he may be a crank.

    Look. A lot of our men and women in uniform have been coming back with terrible problems. But Gulf War Syndrome does not appear to be a real thing. They have lots of conditions that are producing these symptoms, but it’s not exposure to depleted uranium, it’s not Iraqi dust, it’s not bites from camel spiders, it’s not the vaccines they were given. As more and more research comes in, it becomes increasingly clear that it’s a combination of two main causes: post-traumatic stress disorder and a form of very real brain damage that wasn’t previously possible to diagnose but is much more common than anyone had dreamed possible. And some of them came home with genuine illnesses. But Gulf War Syndrome as a whole is not a diagnostic entity, and is promoted mostly by cranks who refuse to acknowledge that it could be something as prosaic (and common to other wars) as minute brain damage caused by exposure to lots of explosions and firing artillery pieces and such.

  22. #22 Orac
    March 14, 2012

    I might take lumps from being perhaps a bit less precise than I might have been, but there’s plenty of evidence that Gulf War Syndrome per se is not a distinct clinical entity.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2935806.stm

    None of this means that some veterans aren’t suffering from chronic health problems, but one thing’s for sure. The version of GWS promoted by Urbanovitz is a crank version. There’s no good evidence that the anthrax vaccine causes such symptoms. Ditto depleted uranium or the other “toxins” he blames it on. If GWS is a separate syndrome (and it probably isn’t), Urbanovitz would still be a crank.

  23. #23 Bryan Feir
    March 14, 2012

    @Orac, regarding the blogging ‘rut’:

    The thing is, there are several other people out there already blogging on AGW, creationism, the paranormal, and the like, including some with significant expertise in the relevant fields.

    Your ‘significant expertise’ is in the field of medicine, which means you can do far more detailed take-downs and explanations of the problems with medical quackery than most other people could. While I can understand the worries about a ‘rut’, there’s nothing wrong with focusing for a time on what you’re best at, and leaving related topics to those who are more focused on them.

    (I’m reminded of the Asimov vs. Velikovsky story, where after Asimov had done a takedown of Velikovsky’s work based on the impossibility of his orbital dynamics, some of Velikovsky’s supporters pointed out that Asimov wasn’t an expert in such and shouldn’t be commenting. To which Asimov responded by pointing out portions of Velikovsky’s work that indicated he had confused hydrocarbons and carbohydrates… and pointing out Asimov’s Ph.D. in biochemistry, which did make him an expert in that.)

  24. #24 Scott Cunningham
    March 14, 2012

    This conclusion was ridiculous.

    At some unknown future time this process will reach a point-of-no-return in terms of vaccine-induced genetic hybridization that will become incompatible with human reproduction.

    Oh get real! I am an undergrad, I have only ever genetically modified bacteria all of once, and even I know you have to genetically modify animals as blastocysts in order to change the germ line. Even if we very generously ignore his eggregrious errors and ignorance of the rudimentary basics of making GMOs, the vaccines come too late for changes to be heritable or make gametes incompatible. (What? The vaccine is changing chromosome numbers now?)

    Good grief Charlie Brown.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    March 14, 2012

    Sometimes I ask why I’m doing this myself.
    About 12 years ago, the universe ( or fate or probability itself) conspired against me: while watching the chyrons and graphics flash by as I monitored daily prices, I heard frighteningly bad medical advice on the radio. But why me? Well, I have been fortunate to receive a first-rate, kick-@ss education; I’ve always been relatively well-off and had a supportive family and friends. I’ve been encouraged to speak out and have done interesting work- including a stint as a *propagandist*. My mentor used to say that I had a way of “getting through to people” that he envied.

    Often the muse himself tries to beguile me into writing morose poetry: but how useful would that be? Aren’t there *already* enough depressed people milling about without me adding to their numbers? Or making them feel even worse?

    There is a vast audience of adults who are hungry for information about issues that affect their daily lives – health, emotional and relationship concerns and natural science applied to lifestyles and the environment… this need may be filled opportunistically by pseudo-scientists and altmed providers who, using all the tricks the advertising and PR trade, rope in the unsuspecting and spoon feed them woo. To their own financial advantage and the customers’ detriment, I might add.

    Science is not easy: learning how to critique studies takes years and understanding of statistical analysis- which most people don’t have. The idiots I survey rely on the general public’s lack of expertise and then ramp up mis-trust of institutions and experts who *do* offer reasonable advice. Therapists can assist people in casting off un-realistic beliefs that work against their best interest: sceptics work along the same lines- helping others to stop wasting time, effort and money on idle nonsense that isn’t always harmless.

  26. #26 papango
    March 14, 2012

    I think what we might all be overlooking here is just how adorbable a human-animal-alien hybrid would be. I don’t have kids of my own, but I’m going to ring my brother right now and make sure his daughter is getting all her shots. This is so exciting, I hope she gets a tail and maybe soft bunny fur.

  27. #27 Lawrence
    March 14, 2012

    (typical evening in the Hybrid household) –

    “Hey hon, did you fill out any school applications for the kids? A Dr. Charles Xavier is here to talk to us about a school for ‘gifted’ youngsters….”

  28. #28 herr doktor bimler
    March 14, 2012

    Buttram’s latest expression for his fear of vaccines — the idea that they will transgress inter-species barriers and swamp human identity in a wave of hybridisation — surely it has been around since Jenner and the cow-pock vaccine.
    He’s recycling the oldest phobia of them all.

  29. #29 Darwy
    March 14, 2012

    “Genetic Memory” eh?

    What ever will they think of next?

    Wait… you know what, I really don’t want to go there. I don’t even want to pack for that trip.

  30. #30 Ken
    March 14, 2012

    @papango: President GW Bush called for a ban on human-animal hybrids in the 2006 State of the Union addresses. It came as something of a surprise to the scientists in those fields, who hadn’t actually been planning anything like what he described.

    I think it was one of the Republican base causes-of-the-day back then. Ah, for the good old days when all they wanted to ban was stuff people weren’t actually doing…

  31. #31 M. Night Andday
    March 14, 2012

    Alluminati?….I call band name!
    OK, some Truth in Television: We, all of us, “poisoned”by vaccine or no, have retroviral genomes in our very DNA. Endogenous retroviruses make up (Belshaw et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 April 6; 101(14): 4894–4899). I know! scary, right?
    Those came from somewhere, so there is viral/human spit swapping going on somewhere, but to then make the leap that contaminant DNA, unpackaged, is going to take the magic trip into our cells, into the specific neurons who would be responsible for expression of autism, into the specific sequences of “autismogenic” proteins, and then make functional proteins that cause autism…far-far-fetched. But let’s assume that happens. How is it going to happen commonly enough to affect enough of our children to push the prevalence of autism to 1% of our children? Can’t do it.

  32. #32 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 14, 2012

    a ban on human-animal hybrids Ah, the fabled Moreau amendment.

  33. #33 Zach Miller
    March 14, 2012

    Somebody already beat me to the X-Men joke. I was going to specify Angel, Beast, or Wasp.

  34. #34 Autismum
    March 14, 2012

    #24
    @Orac -blogging rut
    Please don’t stop letting everyone know how AoA and others lie about my son and how the likes of Buttram think nothing of using an infant’s too short life of suffering and abuse to further their own preposterous notions upon which their careers are built. There are warrior moms out there saying “my child is my science” well, I’m as feisty as they and my Pwdin is my science, my life and my joy. It’s good to have you in our corner.

  35. #35 g724
    March 14, 2012

    Orac, someone left out a critical comma or two here: “….Vaccine Truth website entitled [sic: should be "titled"] …Do Childhood Vaccines Result in Genetic Hybridization from Alien Human and Animal DNA Contents?…”

    That should be: ” from Alien, Human, and Animal DNA Contents”

    Notice what happens when you put the commas in the right places?

    So, where do the evil vaccine makers get “alien DNA” from?

    Could it be that Obama is in cahoots with the Grays?

    And could it also be that Obama secretly called upon a Gray space ship to take out Breitbart with a quick zap of the ol’ Death Ray?

    Maybe Obama is secretly a Gray himself! That would explain a lot of things, wouldn’t it?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  36. #36 Narad
    March 14, 2012

    Notice what happens when you put the commas in the right places?

    Yes. You misquote the title of the actual source because you were too much of a busybody to actually check it first.

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    March 14, 2012

    @ g724:

    Actually, I always thought than he was kind of a *tan* or *bronze* but OK, “black” plus white= *grey* plus he’s definitely an “alien”. I think you’ve got it!

    Have you ever considered writing for Natural News or hosting a show on the Progressive Radio Network? Seriously. You could probably pull it off if you could manage controlling your laughter.

  38. #38 DLC
    March 16, 2012

    : g724 @36

    Could it be that Obama is in cahoots with the Grays?

    Grays ? are you nuts, they can’t play basketball!
    they must be http://ufopedia.csignal.org/ufopedia/Ethereal.html Ethereals !

  39. #39 DLC
    March 16, 2012

    Personally, an alien reptillian-human hybrid, I’d like to say, David Icke is fulla crap. We’re actually only here long enough to build an interstellar bypass.

  40. #40 DLC
    March 16, 2012

    Finally: let me suggest : http://youtu.be/N1KvgtEnABY

    Dr. Strangelove – Precious Bodily Fluids

  41. #41 g724
    March 17, 2012

    Denise, if I had the right contacts I might go for it, particularly radio.

    DLC, you’re right: no basketball for the grays; that falsifies the hypothesis as far as I’m concerned, but try telling it to the rightwing conspiracy theorists who promote that stuff.

    Narad, try replacing the batteries in your snark detector.

  42. #42 V. infernalis
    March 18, 2012

    Orac,

    FYI, Mia Freedman has an excellent editorial (online and in print) on the Daily Telegraph regarding the anti-vaccination movement. The anti-vax nutters are already showing in droves. Opening paragraph quoted here:

    There isn’t enough room on this website to list all the things I don’t know.

    There’s not even enough room in Wikipedia, which – if it were an actual book – would take you 123 years to read.

    Recently, though, there’s been an explosion of people with a wildly inflated sense of their own intelligence. Suddenly, everyone’s an expert.

    Me, not so much. I understand how little I know about lots of things. For example, I know less about science than scientists. I know less about medicine than doctors. I know less about tax than my accountant, less about cooking than Donna Hay and less about animals than Bondi Vet.

    There’s no shortage of genuine experts who have degrees, qualifications and years of experience in their fields. Having access to Google does not make you an expert, nor does having a website or watching a YouTube video. These things simply make you someone with an internet connection.

  43. #43 Lizard queen
    Canada
    May 27, 2012

    I love your passion and brains. Keep it up. The world needs you.

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