CAM and scientific terms

One of the great things about this blog is the community that has built itself up over the last eight and a half years of this blog’s existence. It’s a truly amazing an humbling thing to me. I can’t believe that such an incredibly smart and talented bunch of advocates, gadflies, and quackbusters. True, I’ve also had my share of trolls, most frequently of the antivaccine variety, but you guys all take care of them so well that I only seldom feel the need to intervene myself. That’s why, from time to time, I like to try to intentionally (rather than unintentionally) spark a bit of conversation and then sit back and see what you guys come up with. Besides, you might come up with something that I can blatantly steal to use as blog fodder. This particular idea came to me while I was working on today’s post for my not-so-super-secret other blog.

An important fundamental difference between CAM and real medicine is that CAM practices are not rejected based on evidence. Unlike science-based medical treatments found to be ineffective, they never go away. Take homeopathy, for example. It’s the ultimate chameleon. Even 160 years ago, it was obvious from a scientific point of view that homeopathy was nonsense and that diluting something doesn’t make it stronger. When it became undeniable that this was the case, through the power of actually knowing Avogadro’s number, homeopaths were undeterred. They concocted amazing explanations of how homeopathy “works” by claiming that water has “memory.” It supposedly “remembers” the substances with which it’s been in contact and transmits that “information” to the patient. No one’s ever been able to explain to me why transmitting the “information” from a supposed memory of water is better than the information from the real drug or substance itself, but that’s just my old, nasty, dogmatic, reductionistic, scientific nature being old, nasty, dogmatic, reductionistic, and scientific. Then, of course, there’s the term “quantum,” which has been so widely abused by Deepak Chopra, his acolytes, and the CAM community in general, while the new CAM buzzword these days to explain why quackery “works” is epigenetics.

Basically, whenever a proponent of alternative medicine uses the word “epigenetics” or “quantum” to explain why an alternative medicine treatment “works,” what he really means is, “It’s magic.” This is a near-universal truth, and even the most superficial probing of such justifications will virtually always reveal magical thinking combined with an utter ignorance of the science of quantum mechanics or epigenetics.

This got me to thinking: What other scientific terms do quacks appropriate to “explain” how their woo works? To me, “epigenetics” and quantum mechanics are the big two. Another is surely “energy.” But I know there are others. Who knows? I might—ahem—appropriate your ideas for a post on the use and abuse of scientific terms.

Comments

  1. #1 Old Rockin' Dave
    July 31, 2013

    @Bad Poet: “Succussion” is also a legitimate medical term that refers to a method of physical diagnosis that involves shaking the patient in an attempt to hear the motion of free fluid in a body cavity. It’s an obsolescent skill, so I guess the woomeisters pretty much have a free run on using it.

  2. #2 Old Rockin' Dave
    In the dark of graveyard chatter, in the light of freedom's call, in the heat of any matter...
    July 31, 2013

    Greg(or Samsa) says:
    “How can someone named Old Rockin Dave
    despise me?” What does my nom de ‘net have to do with what my opinion of you? Does it have some secret subtle connotation that I am not aware of? And you left off the apostrophe.
    “You comment is really quite hurtful.” It was meant to sting. You are a nuisance and an ignoramus.
    “Seriously, I am a nice guy.” If you are such a nice guy why do you continue to talk down to so many educated and sophisticated individuals in these comments? Why are you so snide? Nice guy, my ass.
    “I can’t tell you how much people in the course my day stop me and tell me so.” I assume you mean “how many people”. I suspect the reason you can’t tell me “how much people’ is that the number is considerably less than one, especially if you speak to them as you do to us. Equally, it might be that they really do tell you that in order to avoid either a teary meltdown or a temper tantrum on your part.
    No sale.

  3. #3 Greg
    July 31, 2013

    Ok VCADOD Group,

    Repeatedly you have suggested that I have been giving pharma’s vaccine-autism studies a bad shake. You accuse me of valuing the parents’ anecdotal stories over everything.

    Guys, I have been quite clear and consistent about what I think of such studies. They are incomplete — mainly focussing only on thimerosal and MMR. Again, they do not tell us if vaccines as administered in their totality as recommended by the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule cause autism. The Cochrane Reviews say as much.

    Anyway, as I mentioned even if these studies were worth the paper they are printed on, or the storage space they take up as a file on a computer (and I don’t think they do), there is still the issue of resolving their discrepancies with the parents’ stories. We need to be shown where the parents are mistaken in believing vaccines changed their children.

    I mentioned the ‘bad remembering’ argument that has been put forth is inadequate. The claim is that some parents missed the signs that their kids were indeed showing signs of autism even before MMR. Yet, this is not sufficient in itself because there is no saying that prior vaccines were not causing an impact and an additional round of MMR tipped things over the edge. And, the very fact that MMR aggravated things so severely is further evidence that vaccines, and specifically MMR are to be blamed.

    Challenging the ‘bad remember’ claim are also the clear documented cases where children were indeed developing normally only to swiftly and dramatically descend into autism after a round of vaccines. These cases include many that were conceded in vaccine court such as the Poling case. And, with video footages supporting these stories the ‘bad remembering’ argument is essentially left in tatters.

    Realizing how weak the ‘bad rembering’ claim is pro-vaxxers sometimes tacitly concede the stories but only to chalk things up to coincidence. Autism and vaccines are said to occur within the same timeframe just out of sheer coincidence. Yet, again, the coincidental argument has repeatedly been shown to be lacking.

    Dissecting the coincidental claim, we see how the claim can be made that two events are coincidental and not causal when a third or more plausible events can be proposed as a casual factor. Let’s, for example, imagine a squirrel running across a road and getting hit by a car (event 1), and subsequently dying (event 2). The two events occurred within the same time frame and it’s reasonable to say that the car striking the squirrel caused the animal’s death. But, what if someone were to propose that the squirrel in that instant before the car struck it suffered a heart attach (event 3) and died from the heart attach, and the car striking it was merely coincidental with its death? Is this a plausible explanation? Actually, it’s not. We have to deal with the sheer unlikely chance that of all the possible times that the squirrel would have had a heart attach, it would occur just at the instant that it was about to get struck by the car. In fact, no other plausible event exists to explain the squirrel death other than being struck by the car.

    With vaccines (event1) and autistic behaviours (event2), we are told that they are merely coincidental because the behaviours are results of autism (even 3), with autism being a genetic condition. Yet, this genetic condition is entirely speculated. No one knows what it is exactly, and what causes it. Genes are speculated to give rise to it, but no genes have been conclusively identified as causing autism, nor is there a proposed mechanism for how these genes bring on the autistic condition. Essentially then, there is no real event 3. It is mere guesswork and therein the coincidental argument spectacularly fails.

    In a last ditch attempt to bury the anecdotal stories, pro-vaxxers sometimes resort to the desperate tactic of arguing that anecdotal evidence in their nature are unreliable. The implication being that they should be dismissed outright on this ground. Yet, this is utter connivance in abdicating their duty of challenging precisely the parents’ stories and showing them to be wrong.

    Antaeus (watch-me-make-another-earth-shattering-speech-that’s-going-to-make-anti-vaxxwes-shake-in-their-boots-and-heck-it-will-be-so-good-that-it-may-singlehandedly-reduce-the-autism-rate) Felder, gave the example of past generations belief in witchcraft, which was meant to show how unreliable anecdotal evidence is. Yes, we would not expect to find any scientific evidence supporting witchcraft. It violates the laws of nature. Likewise, we would also be inclined to dismiss a person who claimed that his plump, middle-aged female neighbour, who lives alone in cottage and has many cats cursed a townsfolk and indeed at the stroke at midnight the curse came true – the person turned red, came down with a violent stroke, and died.

    Still, what if that person has video footage showing the ‘witch’ cursing her neighbour and also showing exactly at the stroke at midnight the ‘cursed’ person turning red and dying in an instant? Would this anecdotal evidence not get us to think real hard about a plausible explanation for this apparent ‘real’ case of witchcraft? Would we not endeavour to re-examine the evidence and show precisely where it’s faulty?

    As I mentioned before, the Average Joe has no say in the scientific process and has no insurance that he is not being duped. He needs his common sense measuring stick to determine if the science he is being asked to swallow is legit. Asking him to abandon his common sense and trust science, without even being showing where his common sense evidence is wrong is extremely disingenuous. Who can blame him if he does not comply?

  4. #4 Lawrence
    July 31, 2013

    Anyone else see the irony in Greg relying on CDC & NIH numbers for the prevalence of autism yet rejecting the science (from the CDC & NIH) showing no link between autism and vaccinations?

    He has yet to comment on this series of studies as well:

    http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

    Also, notice that once again this “person” makes claims, yet provides no evidence (because, if events happened as claimed, there should be well-documented evidence, right?) The Omnibus Hearings – http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/5026 put a stake through the heart of the “regression” evidence, as it was shown to be false and the supposed “experts” to be laughable.

    Again, this is a very interesting psychological study, but at this point, the old troll is just a rehash of blatantly absurdest trash postings designed to be nothing more than attention-gatherings “look at me, I’m provocative!” posts. Now it is just ho-hum, been there, done that…..

  5. #5 Chris,
    July 31, 2013

    Greg, you made the claim that the vaccine cause seizures, and therefore that is part of causing autism. Now you made that claim, so you must support that claim with real evidence. It has nothing to do with the MMR or thimerosal, but the effects of the vaccine themselves.

    So where is that PubMed indexed research by competent researchers that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more seizures than the disease? You’ve had several months to come up with that evidence, why is it taking you so long?

  6. #6 AdamG
    August 1, 2013

    Genes are speculated to give rise to it, but no genes have been conclusively identified as causing autism, nor is there a proposed mechanism for how these genes bring on the autistic condition

    You’ve simply got no idea what you’re talking about. This is demonstrably false. Here’s a paper that does exactly that:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23727450

    There are many more examples of similar cases, but I won’t Gish Gallop you, because you probably won’t even bother to respond to this just like last time (remember the diabetes ‘article’ with no reported odds ratios?).

    Like others have said to you, just because you don’t read or understand the science doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  7. #7 AdamG
    August 1, 2013

    For anyone genuinely interested in the current state of autism genetics, this recent paper does a great job reviewing the current state of the field, including large-scale association studies, family-based sequencing studies, and various in vitro/vivo functional studies:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23875794

  8. #8 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    August 1, 2013

    Greg:

    there is still the issue of resolving their discrepancies with the parents’ stories. We need to be shown where the parents are mistaken in believing vaccines changed their children.

    You are worse than Tony “no unvaccinated autistics” Bateson. You have been told about Michelle Cedillo and about how Jenny McCarthy’s story has changed multiple times, and given a link to a study that showed how post Wakefield, parents of several autistic children edited their memories to fit the vaccine autism causation hypothesis. You are either lazy, too stupid to understand, or not acting in good faith and I’m leaning towards the last option.

    Yet, this is not sufficient in itself because there is no saying that prior vaccines were not causing an impact and an additional round of MMR tipped things over the edge. And, the very fact that MMR aggravated things so severely is further evidence that vaccines, and specifically MMR are to be blamed.

    Goalpost shift (“other vaccines”) and assuming facts not in evidence. Where is your proof that the MMR triggered or worsened autism? You haven’t given us any good evidence that it does.

    These cases include many that were conceded in vaccine court such as the Poling case.

    Hannah Poling had a mitochondrial disorder that the Special Masters conceded may have been worsened by her vaccines. THAT was why she was compensated, not for autism. As for your claims of many cases conceded, post the rulings of these cases. The OAP Test Cases were all refused, with the Special Masters tearing into the Petitioners’ “experts”.

    Still, what if that person has video footage showing the ‘witch’ cursing her neighbour and also showing exactly at the stroke at midnight the ‘cursed’ person turning red and dying in an instant?

    One problem with your analogy: the videotape evidence so far refutes the vaccine-autism causation hypothesis.

    As I mentioned before, the Average Joe has no say in the scientific process and has no insurance that he is not being duped.

    You are wrong. In the scientific process, other scientists look closely at the original research. Errors in data gathering and hypotheses not matching the data get found and the research gets torn apart. That’s an excellent guard against duping.

    He needs his common sense measuring stick to determine if the science he is being asked to swallow is legit. Asking him to abandon his common sense and trust science, without even being showing where his common sense evidence is wrong is extremely disingenuous.

    The disingenuous one here is you, Greg. We have given you examples of how common sense has been wrong in previous threads, including how to deal with a brush fire and if mental illness is affected by the moon. “Common Sense” can be affected by prejudice, and is often a shorthand for “it stands to reason”. As we know, things that seem reasonable are often wrong.

  9. #9 lilady
    August 1, 2013

    I nailed The Troll months ago, when he posted his drivel here, right after he posted that same drivel on AoA. Every time The Troll was questioned about his statements and asked for a citation, he immediately went back to the mother ship, for assistance. Imagine that! He, of course got no assistance from the brain trust at AoA.

    The Troll claims to be educated and employed as a “developmental specialist”…which does require a college degree, at a minimum, but usually an advance degree in developmental psychology.

    The Troll, so obviously is not a college graduate…more likely a high school dropout…just like Thingy who posted on mothering dot com, that she worked as a registered nurse in a hospital.

    ARD @ 175, posted a history of psychiatric centers that were built on Long Island to warehouse in custodial care, those with chronic psychiatric problems and those with old age dementias prior to the development and licensing of the psychotropic, anti-psychotic, major and minor tranquilizers, Lithium and anti-depressant medications. Those three psychiatric facilities (Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital Central Islip Psychiatric Hospistal and Pilgrim State Hospital were filled to capacity…and beyond capacity, in spite of Pilgrim State Hospital being the largest psychiatric hospital in the world, which housed 13,000 patients.

    Those three State-operated Psychiatric Hospitals are now closed and the former “inmates” who survived their experiences are now living in communities with appropriate medications or in group homes.

    The Long Island Developmental Center for the mentally retarded/developmentally disabled population, is also closed now:

    http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Long_Island_Developmental_Center

    As a result of a Federal Class Action Lawsuit and Consent Decree, those 3,000 plus former residents of the LIDC, are residing in community-based housing of various types (Independent, Supportive Living apartments, Group Homes and Intermediate Care Facilities for the most intellectually impaired/medically fragile.

    I’ve been in every one of those facilities, and fought to have them closed, so that the mentally disabled and developmentally disabled people could live out their lives with dignity…right at home, right in the community.

    Now we have The Troll and his pals at AoA, who put all their efforts into disrupting faith in our public health system, who waste their money on bogus *treatments/cures*, who actually donate money to keep Wakefield, Tommey and their clans in the lap of luxury in Texas…and who demand that we waste even more money for more studies about vaccines and the totally disproven link to the onset of autism.

    They b!tch and moan that private insurance won’t reimburse them for supplements, chelation and bleach enemies and have the expectation that day programs, vocational programs and appropriate residential spots will be there for their kids and adult children, once they age out of the protective environment of educational programs at age 21. It ain’t going to happen; there are tens of thousand of young adults who have been on waiting lists for years for all of those programs.

  10. #10 Delurked Lurker
    LOLing in orbit around a small unregarded yellow Sun
    August 1, 2013

    🙂 This just gets better

    It really has overestimated it’s abilities 🙂

  11. #11 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    Good Morning VCADOD Group!

    It’s another awesome day in our evolution as we exist in our cosmic world circling a giant fireball on a rock. And, what a specular advanced specimen we are! So intelligent — but with all this brain-trust why don’t we know better than not to poison our kids?

    Well VCADOD Group, I will only be with you one more day before I must depart again –my schedule is a little complicated in August. Let’s make the most of our day though.

    Looks like I did not receive much response to yesterday’s question of day of what the future holds for drugs for autism. Again, if we really want to learn from each other you will need to do a little better following through with my requests.

    Lots of talk though of how the ‘mentally retarded’ were indeed housed in institutions that are now closed. Still, would be interesting to review these cases and see how many of these institutions housing the ‘mentally retarded’ described those with classic autism — the head banging, the hand waving, the ritualistic bahaviour, and so on. Guys, nevertheless, I still don’t have my answer as to where are all the current day non-verbal, head banging, hand flapping, biting, screaming, and so on, autistics who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. With the institutions now closed surely they should be amongst us in droves. Anyway, here is to hoping for an answer.

    Well folks, I am sure we have wasted enough time, so let’s get on with our question of the day:

    With your frustrations dealing with anti-vaxxers do you sometimes find yourselves secretly wishing that vaccines did not cause autism so that you could do the definitive studies that would shut them up for good?

  12. #12 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    August 1, 2013

    Greg:

    Guys, nevertheless, I still don’t have my answer as to where are all the current day non-verbal, head banging, hand flapping, biting, screaming, and so on, autistics who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. With the institutions now closed surely they should be amongst us in droves.

    Right above you, lilady said in comment #209:

    State-operated Psychiatric Hospitals are now closed and the former “inmates” who survived their experiences are now living in communities with appropriate medications or in group homes.

    To quote the Joseph Ducreux meme, “Deceiver, deceiver, underwear aflame. Your proboscis is the length of a telephone cable.”

  13. #13 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    @Lilady

    I am still getting that warm, fuzzy feeling when you are talking about me and not really ‘ignoring’ me. You like me — you really, really like me! (hee hee hee).

  14. #14 sheepmilker
    August 1, 2013

    This just gets better

    It really has overestimated it’s abilities

    I dunno. I thinks its main function is to be all about Greg, all the time. It’s doing pretty well; since it reappeared, there have been 99 posts, Greg stars in 66 of them.

  15. #15 Gray Falcon
    August 1, 2013

    There is one place I can think of that would let Greg work around autistic people: The Judge Rotenburg Center.

  16. #16 Krebiozen
    Still curious to see if Greg can be educated
    August 1, 2013

    Greg,

    We need to be shown where the parents are mistaken in believing vaccines changed their children.

    A certain number of cases of regressive autism will occur within a few days of vaccination by pure chance. What we need to do is to see if there are more cases of regressive autism within a few days of vaccination than we would expect by chance.

    Average age of regression in children with autism is 18 months. Let’s say for the sake of argument it occurs between 12 and 24 months. There are 365 days between those two ages, and three well-child visits to the doctor, during which vaccinations will be given, are recommended during that period.

    What are the odds of regression occurring within, for example, 3 days after vaccination? With 3 different vaccination dates there are 9 days that would be 3 days or fewer after vaccination. If regression happened on a random day within the 12 month period, there would be a 9 in 365 or 1 in 41 chance of it happening within 3 days after vaccination.

    Assuming that 1 in 50 children are autistic, and that 41% regress, since there are approximately 4.3 million births in the US each year, we would expect 86,000 autistic children, of which 35,260 would have regressive autism, each year. Of these, we would expect approximately 1 in 41, that is 860 children to show regression within 3 days after vaccination (and 155 to experience regression within 1 day) by pure chance, each and every year.

    What do we find if we look at VAERS? Between 2003 and 2012 inclusive, there were 143 reports of children developing autism or an ASD within 3 days after vaccination, which is an average of 14.3 per year.

    Even assuming that only 10% of cases of regressive autism due to vaccines were reported to VAERS, this is still very much lower than you would expect from chance alone, in fact it is less than 2% of the numbers we would expect merely from chance. The numbers are almost 2 orders of magnitude off what you would expect if your hypothesis was correct.

    Wouldn’t we expect to see more reports of regression after vaccination than we would expect by pure chance, if vaccines were really to blame, not fewer?

  17. #17 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    @Julian

    “State-operated Psychiatric Hospitals are now closed and the former “inmates” who survived their experiences are now living in communities with appropriate medications or in group homes.”

    Head banging, non-verbal, hand flapping, screaming autistics in their 30s, 40s, 50s and all ‘living in communities with appropriate medications or in group homes’? Really Julian?

    Julian, I live in a very large city. During the course of my work, I routinely meet my autistic clients at the largest recreational and fitness institution for the disabled within my city (guys you may want to suspend your disbelief that I work with autistics and humour me here). Anyway Julian, now you would expect to find all the disabled at this institution, including the non-verbal, head banging, screaming autistics in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Do you know what you find at this institution, Julian? The disabled individuals over 30 yrs of age are usually the ones that fit the traditional ‘mentally retarded’ label — some are physically disabled and many just appear ‘slow’ without displaying any of the typical ‘stimming’ autistic traits. And, Julian, for the others under 30 yrs of age, including a significant amount of kids who are under 18 yrs, you will find them at this institution sticking their hands in their ears, hand flapping, screaming, and displaying all the classic signs of autism.

    If you don’t believe me, Julian, I challenge you to search out such a fitness and recreation institution for the disabled in a large NA city, and see for yourself if what I described is untrue.

  18. #18 Krebiozen
    August 1, 2013

    Oops. There are two working links, one at the beginning, one at the end of the mess in the middle.

  19. #19 Julian Frost
    August 1, 2013

    Greg,
    I don’t follow your logic.

  20. #20 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 1, 2013

    Guys, I have been quite clear and consistent about what I think of such studies. They are incomplete — mainly focussing only on thimerosal and MMR. Again, they do not tell us if vaccines as administered in their totality as recommended by the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule cause autism. The Cochrane Reviews say as much.

    Except, as we’ve pointed out to Greg and others over and over, if vaccines caused anywhere near the ‘massive explosion’ of autism he and like-minded folk claim, it would have produced a very visible correlation in the epidemiological studies. I believe the last figure Greg cited (not from any source that had a clue, obviously) was 1 in 25. Epidemiological studies have successfully detected side-effects on the order of 1 in 100,000. If any component of any vaccine in the vaccine schedule was causing the effect the antivaxxers claim, there is no way it could be missed — no matter whether the component was thimerosal, something only contained in the MMR, polysorbate-80, heavy water accidentally used instead of regular water for mixing the vaccine, it doesn’t matter. If “vaccines as administered in their totality as recommended by the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule” caused autism, then we would see a different rate of autism between children vaccinated on that schedule and children not vaccinated on that schedule; we have looked for exactly that difference in rate, and it is not there.

    If you claim that an elephant walked through the soft mud in your garden, people are naturally going to ask where the footprints it left are. If you say “Well, there are no footprints, the mud isn’t disturbed at all, there are no big depressions such as a big heavy elephant moving through mud would have left, but it doesn’t change the fact that the elephant went through, and those creatures are terrible, because they leave footprints in 1 out of 25 gardens and so you have to do something about it!!!” people are going to conclude quickly that you have some sort of mental malfunction.

  21. #21 Krebiozen
    August 1, 2013

    Greg,
    Why do you assume that individuals with autism (which as you well know is developmental delay not stasis) do not either grow out of these behaviors, or find ways to control them as they get older?

    When I volunteered at a hospital for the ‘mentally handicapped’ in the late 70s and early 80s, there were lots of younger residents who exhibited the behaviors you describe, but I don’t remember older residents who did, apart from rocking when distressed or anxious, but I know neurotypical people who do that.

  22. #22 Krebiozen
    August 1, 2013

    Antaeus,
    Strangely I wrote something very similar to your elephant analogy earlier, about evidence for an elephant having been in my back yard last night, but decided against posting it. I think it’s a good way of explaining that often when a scientific study says, “there is no evidence to support X hypothesis”, it means “we have looked long and hard for evidence we would expect to see if X were true, and it isn’t there, so X is very probably not true”. I think sometimes science is too conservative for its own good, and people either misunderstand, or attempt to take advantage of perceived wriggle-room that isn’t really there.

  23. #23 Krebiozen
    August 1, 2013

    BTW, in my experience it is half-eaten buns that give the previous presence of elephants away.

  24. #24 Old Rockin' Dave
    In a fantasy world, where Greg actually gets it (Which "it" I'm not saying.).
    August 1, 2013

    Gregger, two things.
    One, let me tell you a story about the state of mental health diagnosis. My mother witnessed this when she was taking her MS in special education. In one of the institutions she was working at, there was a boy of about nine years who had come in at the age of three. He lived with the rest of the general population and behaved like them. He made inarticulate noises, ate with his hands, all the things you might expect. One of the staffers noticed something different about him. New testing was done, and he was found not to have ever been retarded as diagnosed. He was profoundly deaf. No one had ever checked for something as simple as that. Having had only the general population of the institution to model himself on, he acted just like them. I don’t know precisely what became of him but I know his family intended to get him more appropriate care.
    This leads into the second part. As you probably don’t know, autists, no matter how deeply autistic they are, aren’t completely cut off from the world. When my mom was working in these settings, she was part of a project trying something that had never been studied systematically in those settings: operant conditioning. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s the use of rewards to encourage desirable behavior in place of the undesirable. Short story: it works. That’s one reason why a lot of the stuff you are voyeuristically so hot to see is gone.
    See, Gregor Samsa, there is no substitute for actual knowledge.

  25. #25 Edith Prickly
    August 1, 2013

    ORD@224

    One of the staffers noticed something different about him. New testing was done, and he was found not to have ever been retarded as diagnosed. He was profoundly deaf. No one had ever checked for something as simple as that.

    The DD treatment centre I worked at did a study on their adult clients that included hearing tests and discovered that a significant percentage of them (sorry, can’t recall the exact number) had undiagnosed hearing loss. Had this been discovered and corrected when they were children, most of them would not have been labeled developmentally disabled. After that, hearing tests became a mandatory for all new clients. Science, ain’t it grand?

    Dreggles the cockroach would no doubt blame vaccines.

  26. #26 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    @Antaeus,

    Very well then, if the Epidemiological studies clearly do not show such a link, what’s then with all the hesitation to due the decisive studies which undoubtedly (insert sarcasm) will also not show a link, but will shut-up the anti-vaxxers for good?

  27. #27 Gray Falcon
    August 1, 2013

    Greg, sny hypothesis save for the null hypothesis is automatically assumed to be false. We don’t have to prove you wrong, you have to prove you’re right. Simple as that.

  28. #28 Bronze Dog
    August 1, 2013

    I was wondering why this thread was getting so many comments. Scrolled up to find Dreg trying to whitewash the historical treatment of the mentally ill with his willful ignorance. Denying the past and believing life used to be a perfect, cheerful black and white sitcom before X came around is convenient propaganda for so many kinds of deceitful people.

    I know I’ve had a privileged childhood, but I’ve seen some shows that depicted the horrors of insane asylums and other institutions of yesteryear. Knowing what I know, I’m pretty damn confident even those were probably sanitized for audiences. Movie and broadcast standards and practices aside, a lot of people probably weren’t ready to swallow the whole bitter pill.

    I don’t buy into paradise lost myths. The bad things people complain about in new generations are typically things that have always been around. It’s practically a null hypothesis. The major differences I usually see are:

    1) We’re better informed about the horrors of the world than we were in the allegedly golden days.

    2) Nostalgia tends to apply whitewash by way of childhood ignorance: Adults pay attention to things in the present that they were ignorant of or even shielded from when they were children in the past.

    3) We have a lot more people willing to openly talk about these issues. This one probably sticks in the craw of paradise lost believers the most, since many love hiding their favorite era’s dirty laundry behind “polite company” taboos. That’s part of how they erected the nostalgic facade in the first place.

  29. #29 Denice Walter
    August 1, 2013

    @ Bronze Dog:

    Just the other day, MIkey rhapsodied about the 1950s. Things were great; people were smart and healthy; ad nauseum.
    Take a look.

    Usually, the Golden Age glorified by woo-meisters existed shortly prior to 1900: no pollution, natural whole foods, no pharmatocracy…. Right

    Anyone ever see either the UK or US show, “1890s House”?
    Or read your ancestors’ musings or see newspapers?

  30. #30 Bronze Dog
    August 1, 2013

    To clarify on null hypotheses: We assume the null hypothesis (non-causation in this case) is true until the evidence falsifies the null hypothesis. The burden of proof is on the person arguing for causation.

    It’s kind of similar to the presumption of innocence in a court of law. In principle, the defense doesn’t have to prove innocence. The prosecution has to prove guilt. If the prosecution doesn’t make their case, the defense shouldn’t need to do anything, though it’s useful to point out the sloppiness of the evidence or logical fallacies for the sake of reasonable doubt.

    To cover one other thing: “Anecdotal evidence” is about as sloppy as you can get in science. Basing scientific claims of this magnitude on anecdotes requires ignoring everything we know about humanity’s cognitive biases.

  31. #31 Old Rockin' Dave
    In the present, tense.
    August 1, 2013

    Denice and Bronze Dog, you both are so right about life in the 50s and 60s. Though my age was in single digits, I remember the 50s very well. I remember the things we rebelled against in the 60s, and the things we learned then about the 50s. Anyone who thinks those were halcyon days is probably white and male, to begin with. An anecdote that captures a small part of the flavor of the times: At age 15 I applied for an after-school job at the public library. One of the forms I had to fill out was a notarized affidavit that I had never been a member of the Communist party or any other subversive organization at any time since a date twenty years before I was born. It was okay to be a member of the American Nazi Party or the KKK, but if you were much to the left of Goldwater or Nixon, you were suspect.

  32. #32 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 1, 2013

    Very well then, if the Epidemiological studies clearly do not show such a link, what’s then with all the hesitation to due the decisive studies which undoubtedly (insert sarcasm) will also not show a link, but will shut-up the anti-vaxxers for good?

    If Greg is talking about the prospective vax-vs.-unvax studies that anti-vaxxers have been clamoring for since forever, then it’s wrong to say there’s “hesitation”. “Hesitation” is when you at least might do something, but instead of going ahead and doing it, you delay. Prospective vax-vs.-unvax studies are not going to be done, period – and any anti-vaccine parent who understood what the study would really mean wouldn’t want the study done either.

    There are two kinds of studies, retrospective and prospective, and each one has different issues. The kind that produces stronger, more decisive data is prospective studies.

    What makes a study prospective instead of retrospective is that you take control of the variables. If you want to do a prospective study to answer the question “does a shattered rib cage disrupt a student’s ability to learn?”, for instance, then you’d get two groups of students, alike as you can get them, and you’d methodically make sure the rib cage of each student in one chosen group was shattered. Then you’d sit them down for a quick classroom lesson, with a pop quiz to follow to test how well each group had learned the material.

    If your reaction is “Wait, wait, what the f***, you can’t just go shatter people’s rib cages for a study like it’s no big deal!” then you should be commended, because you get it. You can’t just go doing any damn thing you please to people, and justify it by saying “Oh, it’s for science”.

    If the things you intend to do to people, to test what the effects are, have even a reasonable potential to bring harm to the subjects, that means there are big questions of right and wrong in play. Does the chance that an experiment will give us good, useful scientific data that will benefit everyone going forward, justify us doing something dangerous to these people, here, before us now? Sometimes the answer in a particular instance might be “yes” – if we really need that data; if we can’t get it any other way; if we keep a close eye on the trial so that we don’t continue exposing the subjects to unneeded risk once the answer is clear – then the moral course may indeed be to go ahead.

    But see, those circumstances in which a dangerous prospective study might possibly be justified are nothing like the circumstances in which the antivaxxers keep calling for a prospective vax-vs.-unvax study. “Do vaccines cause autism?” is not a question that we can’t answer any other way; it’s a question where we already got the answer, and antivaxxers want to go ahead with a study that endangers its participants purely because they don’t like that answer!

    And make no mistake, the prospective vax-vs.-unvax study that antivaxxers propose is one that endangers its subjects, no matter which result you believe it would come out with. If you’re reality-based, you realize that the group which gets deprived of their vaccinations in such a study would be left vulnerable to diseases that could maim and kill them. If you’re anti-vaccine, however, and you believe that the vaccines have a much higher chance than the diseases to inflict harm, you believe that a significant number of the children in the study are going to be subjected to exactly that risk of harm. Even those who believe with all their heart that a prospective vax-vs.-unvax study would, unlike all other studies on the matter, indicate a link between vaccines and autism, believe that doing the study will harm children – it is, in fact, no exaggeration to say that they are counting on it.

    And finally, in brutal honesty, that part about “will shut the anti-vaxxers up for good”? Nope. That wouldn’t happen no matter what the study showed. We’ve seen it before. “Autism is caused by thimerosal! There’s no question about it! We know for a fact what’s going to happen! When thimerosal is taken out of the vaccines, autism rates are going to plummet!” When thimerosal was taken out and rates didn’t plummet, it was bizarre special pleading – “well, sure, thimerosal may have been taken out of the vaccines, but, see, there’s mercury floating over the ocean from Chinese power plants, and coming from cremations of people who had dental amalgams, and that’s somehow happening to exactly compensate for the mercury that came out of the vaccines!” – and accusations of skulduggery – “sure, thimerosal-containing vaccines may be so hard to find now that we have to put out a special call to try and find anyone who still has some, but if we can find one vaccine that might be gotten by children, no matter how obscure it is, that means that thimerosal hasn’t really been taken out of vaccines after all!” – the one thing we didn’t get was “It looks like all our sureness about thimerosal being the cause of autism was wrong,” or any reasonable variant thereof.

  33. #33 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    @Bronze Dog

    Oh yes — the ‘burden of proof’ defense! Imagine that our brave, maverick scientiest would abandon their thirst for truth and now cower under such a defense like some sad felon desperate to save his a$$? Are these not the same ‘inquisitive minds’ that will so eagerly blast rockets into space on the mere suspicion that it harbours life? Yet, look how they now show no such zeal in investigating a product that is suspected of harming kids in epidemic numbers. Even a car manufacturer does not stoop to the ‘burden of proof’ defense (nor are they allowed to) when safety concerns fall on their veichles. They, instead, will exhaust all safety tests until the problem is solved. Pity that our ‘esteemed’ scientists do not treat our kids with similar respect and care.

  34. #34 Krebiozen
    August 1, 2013

    Yet, look how they now show no such zeal in investigating a product that is suspected of harming kids in epidemic numbers.

    That’s because the truth is that no sensible, educated people who have looked at the evidence with an open mind seriously suspect any such thing.

    Thimerosal was taken out of vaccines, and many studies looking at the alleged link between thimerosal or MMR and autism were carried out, wasting millions of dollars that could have been spent on something worthwhile, like supporting the families of severely autistic individuals you are so concerned about. Why would anyone want to throw good money after bad, especially when the vast majority of parents fully vaccinate their children.

    The scientific questions have been answered and there is already plenty of scientific evidence to win the PR war, such as it is.

  35. #35 AdamG
    August 1, 2013

    Even a car manufacturer does not stoop to the ‘burden of proof’ defense (nor are they allowed to) when safety concerns fall on their veichles.

    Yet again, another claim by Greg that’s demonstrably false:

    If NHTSA makes a final decision, can the manufacturer challenge that decision?
    Yes. Once the agency has made a final decision of a safety-related defect and ordered a manufacturer to recall, the manufacturer may challenge that order in a Federal District Court. The agency can also go to court to compel a manufacturer to comply with its order. Once a case is in court, the burden of proof lies with the agency. In other words, the agency’s evidence that a defect exists and that it is safety-related must be sufficient in the opinion of the court to outweigh evidence to the contrary presented by the manufacturer.

    Whoosh! Down the memory hole this’ll go too, like every other time people have proven you wrong.

  36. #36 Agashem
    Close to the North Dakota border
    August 1, 2013

    Greg, you still haven’t answered my question about masturbating in public. You also haven’t proven my theory wrong about mangoes causing my daughter’s autism. Stop bullspitting around and defend yourself, you ignorant slut.

  37. #37 Stu
    August 1, 2013

    I haven’t made it all the way through yet. I just had to respond to this first.

    I’ve actually pointed out greg’s post to a few of my friends at work and where I volunteer at a local hospital. Everyone who has seen his posts have said that the ignorance that greg posts reeks of stupidity, would put children at risk, and none of them would take him seriously. A doctor when I pointed out his/her/its posts to him, said that he didn’t think that greg actually had a psych degree.

    Who claimed that he had one? Did Greg himself claim that?

    I will put down $100, cash, of my own money, right now, to call bullshit on that. Only caveat: the degree has to be from an accredited institution. I’m not going to pay $100 to cover a bullpuckey $29.99 diploma mill “degree”.

  38. #38 Denice Walter
    August 1, 2013

    @ Stu:

    Actually I think he said that he “studied” psych- which can mean anything just like many call themselves “autism researchers”.
    On my planet, ‘study’ usually leads to degrees from accredited universties and ‘research’ should be published in credible journals.

  39. #39 Bronze Dog
    August 1, 2013

    @Dreg: Do you read what you type? Heck, did you read what I typed, or did you just produce a script based off of keywords like a madlibs spambot?

    Scientists do experiments precisely because they’re trying to prove their own hypotheses that contradict a null hypothesis. If you have an idea that conflicts with the consensus, you get out there and do the research and work so that you have something to say when skeptics ask the necessary, probing questions designed to poke holes in your human biases.

    Heck, part of being a scientist is humbly questioning yourself before you even write the grant requests. You think through your experimental design so that they know you won’t be wasting their money on a sloppy exercise that can’t give a clear answer. The scientific community is there to think of the critical questions you don’t, hence we have peer review to find holes and tell you how to plug them up with better protocols.

    They may have laughed at Galileo and the Wright Brothers, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. As skeptics, we’ve taken up the often thankless job to sort out the rare Galileos from the endless hordes of cookie-cutter Bozos who think they’re something new and unique. If we find a Galileo with verifiable orbital charts proving the accuracy of his solar system model over the consensus model, we get to eat delicious, delicious humble pie with a side order of exciting new questions to devise experiments around. The scientific consensus changes to include the new, proven hypothesis. Don’t let Hollywood tell you it’s done differently.

    There are evidential and logical hurdles to overcome to change our minds, and that’s what the burden of proof is. You don’t get to demand a free pass when you make a positive claim. Science isn’t easy, and we try to make sure claimants do the hard work to prove that they haven’t fallen into the same old traps so many gullible and arrogant people have fallen into before. Dreaming up new ideas is a good thing, but sooner or later, you have to do something to sort out the good, accurate ideas from the bad ones.

    Science works because the community is made to cultivate synergy between skepticism and imagination. The adversarial approach works infinitely better than the yes-man approach.

  40. #40 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    @Stu

    “I will put down $100, cash, of my own money, right now, to call bullshit on that. Only caveat: the degree has to be from an accredited institution. I’m not going to pay $100 to cover a bullpuckey $29.99 diploma mill “degree”.”

    Stu, how did we get off to such a bad start? You are angry — very angry! You must control it. It will do nasty things to you. And yes, save your $100 — it’s from an accredited university.

    Anyway, please understand my reservation in playing the intellectual elitism game. If you ask me what one thing that has gotten us into this autism mess, I would say it’s precisely that.

    Seriously, how many decades now have the ‘stupid’, ‘uneducated’ parents been telling the ‘smart’ doctors with advanced degrees that vaccines are destroying their children. Yet they just refuse to listen.

    But one would think that with all this brain-power surely we should have more answers to explain autism. Over a billion dollars spent on genetic research and we still have nothing. Nothing!

    Stu, sometimes ignorance has its benefits.

  41. #41 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    VCADOD Group,

    I just posted a comment and for some reason it’s in moderation. Maybe I am finally banned. Remember Orac whenever you do indeed ban me to publicly announce it.

  42. #42 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    Oh Geezz,

    I did not get banned after all. Let’s see then about re-posting my earlier post to Stu…..

    @Stu

    “I will put down $100, cash, of my own money, right now, to call bullshit on that. Only caveat: the degree has to be from an accredited institution. I’m not going to pay $100 to cover a bullpuckey $29.99 diploma mill “degree”.”

    Stu, how did we get off to such a bad start? You are angry — very angry! You must control it. It will do nasty things to you. And yes, save your $100 — it’s from an accredited university.

    Anyway, please understand my reservation in playing the intellectual elitism game. If you ask me what one thing that has gotten us into this autism mess, I would say it’s precisely that.

    Seriously, how many decades now have the ‘stupid’, ‘uneducated’ parents been telling the ‘smart’ doctors with advanced degrees that vaccines are destroying their children. Yet they just refuse to listen.

    But one would think that with all this brain-power surely we should have more answers to explain autism. Over a billion dollars spent on genetic research and we still have nothing. Nothing!

    Stu, sometimes ignorance has its benefits.

  43. #43 ChrisP
    August 1, 2013

    Greg, I think it is at least 4 months now that we have been asking you for data to support your claim that vaccines cause more seizures than the diseases they are used against. Are you going to provide this data? Or was the claim just another elaborate lie of yours?

  44. #44 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 1, 2013

    Greg’s latest comments on “burden of proof” invite (and reflect) significant amount of confusion. The root of the confusion is that there are actually two separate and distinct meanings of “burden of proof” – for each of two systems that are themselves separate and distinct.

    Comments about a “‘burden of proof’ defense”, and about whether car manufacturers are “allowed to” make observations about where the burden of proof lies, are clearly based on the “burden of proof” of the legal system. Who bears the legal burden of proof in a given situation, and how much of a burden, is of course highly dependent on which legal system we are talking about, and it can fluctuate deeply based on the decisions of legislative bodies, and judicial precedents. The most obviously relevant example is that when the United States government instituted what’s commonly called the ‘Vaccine Court’, they made the decision that petitioners alleging damage caused by vaccines would face less of a burden of proof in that court than they would face bringing the same allegations in a more standard court. They could do that because Vaccine Court, like every court in the land, like every law whose application those courts adjudicate, is a wholly human-created system, which can be tinkered with to fit human needs.

    But science is not really a human-created system at all. We don’t get to say “We want this kind of evidence to be strong evidence”, or “We want the answers to never be too tricky to get right”, because the universe doesn’t care what we want. We did not create the principles of scientific discovery, such as all the rules which determine where the burden of proof lies; they were already inherent in the system, and we simply discovered them. And they stay the same, whether they benefit “one side” or another “side”, whether they are pleasing to us or intensely frustrating at a given moment, because they are what they are: the best process yet discovered by humans for figuring out what is true about this world of ours and what isn’t.

    So far, this is the state of the evidence: there is no good evidence to indicate that vaccines cause autism, and substantial evidence to indicate that they do not.

    Is it a possibility that, despite the state of the evidence described immediately above, vaccines do cause autism after all?

    Yes, it is a possibility.

    But we cannot base our ideas on what is on “is it what I want to believe, and is it at least possible? Okay, then I’ll believe it.” That’s just asking to get fooled by your own biases.

    We do not have a reason to start believing that vaccines cause autism until someone can significantly change the state of the evidence: make the weight of evidence that indicates vaccines cause autism not just non-zero, but even stronger than the weight of the evidence that indicates they don’t cause autism. If you can’t produce the evidence that supports your idea, that’s very likely because your idea isn’t true, and trying to figure out what’s true is what science is all about.

  45. #45 Greg
    August 1, 2013

    VCADOD Group,

    Let’s have our day’s recap:

    It looks like you guys did not respond to the question of the day of whether sometimes you secretly wish that vaccines did not cause autism so that you could provide the definitive evidence that would shut the anti-vaxxers up for good. Anyway, continue to think about the question and respond at your choosing.

    Also, sheepmilker wrote this…

    “I dunno. I thinks its main function is to be all about Greg, all the time. It’s doing pretty well; since it reappeared, there have been 99 posts, Greg stars in 66 of them.”

    Sheepmilker, what possessed you to actually count all the posts directed at me? Really — such a strange thing to do.

    For some reason I was also thinking about Old Rockin’ Dave and Autism Mom. Some of you get peeved at me for obvious reason, but I have to ponder why others do.

    ORD and Autism Mom, I want to ask you guys a personal question but I won’t hold you to a response. I won’t hold you to a response because MOB accused me of being a bully and I definitely take issues with this characterization.

    Anyway, are you guys petrified that the house of denial the you’ve built to deal with your personal situations, and which provides you with comfort (and even if that comfort is a false one) will someday come spectacularly crashing down?

    Finally guys, for tomorrow’s program I won’t have our question of the day. I will re-posts all the previous questions before going off on another hiatus.

  46. #46 Orac
    August 1, 2013

    No, you won’t.

  47. #47 Old Rockin' Dave
    Apparently in Gregger's fantasy world...
    August 2, 2013

    Greg, little dung beetle, let me make clear why I despise you. Let me count the ways.
    1) You posit your questions, have them shot down by facts, and return over and over to the same ones with the “yes, but what about?” persistence of an OCD’er.
    2) You make statements as if they were facts and when challenged, cite no sources, or cite ones that are dubious, to say the least. Then you keep on posting the same ones.
    3) You make claims about posters here that are not factual, nor based on anything but your own desire to needle.
    4) Worst, to you, autists are counters, pawns, in your mind games; things you use to try to score points; hand-flapping feces-flingers; anything but real people, with real emotions, real needs, real suffering. You spout on about the causes of autism (and try to hammer home a point with a paper mallet), but you show no understanding of what autism is and is not. One thing I know it is not is Gregger’s hobbyhorse.
    Go find something productive to do with your time and don’t worry your silly childish mind over my situation. I am handling mine pretty well, and I am sure the rest of us here who have been been dealing with autism spectrum conditions either of our own or our loved ones can say the same, because we are dealing with reality and facts. You are not.

  48. #48 Old Rockin' Dave
    Back in reality.
    August 2, 2013

    @Bronze Dog: The old chestnut about how they laughed at Galileo is plain wrong. They (the Vatican) were terrified of him; they put him on trial, threatened him with torture, and placed him under house arrest. They didn’t laugh, and for one reason – he had the goods. He was right and they knew it, and he could replicate his findings and did so, time and again. Get that, Gregger the noisemaker? He delivered. Your “heroes” don’t.
    Wakefield? McCarthy? Doctor Whatsisname in the pirate outfit? They got nothin’ but their cult followers.

  49. #49 ChrisP
    August 2, 2013

    Greg, any chance of presenting the data to support your claim that vaccines cause more seizures than the diseases they are used against? Or are you going to just post more lies?

  50. #50 Greg
    August 2, 2013

    VCADOD Group,

    Perhaps then we should end our program now and don’t start fresh tomorrow. I will be off on another extended break. Please review all my questions of the day and perhaps when I return we may take them up. Goodbye for now.

  51. #51 Alain
    August 2, 2013

    You know, tonight, I was researching the diagnostic criteria of dementia praecox as described by Eugen Bleuler and found plenty of paper on its successor, childhood schizophrenia which is an interesting diagnostic in itself because of its similarity of an autism diagnose and on that subject, I’d recommend the case history of Polatin & Hoch, 1947:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20287650

    In which you can email me for a copy (alain.toussaint at securivm.ca). The age range of these schizophrenic are ranging from 14 years old to 38 years old and they don’t have the same prognosis as usual adult schizophrenic. As informed guess, I’d say that the subject mentioned in the papers are mostly asperger syndrome or HFA.

    Oh, btw, did you know why the DSM came into being? to help doctors fill out census data in 1910 which required diagnostic of patients but in that time, each hospital had its own diagnostic code.

    Alain

  52. #52 lilady
    August 2, 2013

    Alain, there is no one online except us chickens. I’m waiting for a pain pill to kick in…what’s your excuse?

    The DSM was first published in 1952, for the purpose of a psychiatrists to reach a consensus about mental disorders.

    The terminology “dementia praecox” has an interesting history; I believe it was used to describe early onset degenerative (and incurable) neurological disorders…which looking back at the primitiveness of medical diagnostics (no CT, no MRI scans, poorly diagnostic pneumoencephalograms), could have been caused by a variety of physical disorders, caused by viruses, bacteria, prions and genetic degenerative disorders.

    I recall reading some of my mother’s old medical texts from the 1930s where dementia praecox patients were “hopeless cases”…as opposed to waxing and waning disorders such as schizophrenia and dysthmias. Those old texts may be available to you in large medical school libraries…perhaps in their entirety in volumes in storage or on microfilms.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dementia_praecox

    I’m saying goodnight now, Alain.

  53. #53 Delurked Lurker
    In a Universe where time is an illusion....Lunchtime doubly so
    August 2, 2013

    The Troll is becoming boring and has shown his true colors.

    Time for it to be exterminated 😉

  54. #54 Krebiozen
    August 2, 2013

    Greg,

    Why do you persist, in the face of all reason, in this charade? When you first posted here I thought you were well-meaning but misled, but we have shown you good evidence that contradicts your claims, and you have presented literally nothing but the same unsupported claims, with no arguments against the evidence we have shown you, and anecdotes (no evidence, I notice) of “countless” parents who have witnessed their children regress into autism after vaccination.

    Not only that, but you seem to enjoy playing a weird game of pretending that we are all so dumb that we secretly disbelieve the powerfully persuasive evidence we have shown you. Why would we do that?

    What opinion would you form of someone who behaved in the way you have?

    Anyway, I wanted to address the “countless” parents you repeatedly mention. Let’s see if we can estimate how many there might be, using VAERS, the go to data source for antivaxxers of all persuasions.

    Between 2003 and 2012 inclusive, for all ages, all vaccines, all dates, all nationalities, 989 cases of autism or ASD associated with vaccination were reported to VAERS, fewer than 100 each year.

    As I pointed out above, we would expect 86,000 autistic children to be born each year (in the US alone, though I included VAERS reports from all countries), of which 35,260 would have regressive autism. Yet despite the greatest efforts of the antivaccine movement to encourage people to report their children’s autism as a vaccine reaction*, fewer than 0.3% report this “obvious” vaccine reaction to VAERS.

    Even if we accept the claim that “only 10% of adverse reactions are reported”, that still means that 97% of parents of autistic children are not sufficiently convinced that their child’s autism was caused by vaccination to report it as such.

    * There are 409 links to the VAERS database, mostly with instructions on how to report a vaccine reaction on the SaneVax website, and 463 links to VAERS on the Age of Autism website.

  55. #55 janerella
    Cookieland
    August 2, 2013

    Leaky gut syndrome is a big catchcry in the equine world too. Oh, right, diarrhoea. And apparently apple cider vinegar is the equine elixir of health, along with equine Bowen practitioners, and my favourite, the animal shamans. I regularly kill threads on horse forums with the help of Google Scholar.

    And don’t get me started on the anti-Hendra vaxxers. People reading of anedotes of vague symptoms in someone their friend’s brother’s sister knows….aaargh. The latest was the reports of masses of deformed foals being born – FFS, the vaccine hasn’t been around as long as an average mare’s gestation period.

  56. #56 Krebiozen
    August 2, 2013

    That should really read, “97% of parents of children with regressive autism are not sufficiently convinced that their child’s autism was caused by vaccination to report it as such.”

    If you include all autism and ASD the percentage is almost 99% (again assuming that only 10% report to VAERS).

  57. #57 lilady
    August 2, 2013

    @ Krebiozen: Who first made that statement that only “10 % of adverse events are reported”? That may have been the case, years ago…but I’m finding that difficult to believe. We now have all those crank anti-vaccine blogs/websites that reach out to parents and urge them to report events that took place far removed in time from a vaccination…and still those report of autism onset, ADHD, allergies that supposedly appeared after a vaccine.

    Ruben, recently reported on his blog a self-styled “expert”/parent who is self-educated in vaccines (and diabetes), who adamantly claims his child’s Type I diabetes, was caused by a vaccine….three years after the child received the vaccine.

  58. #58 Krebiozen
    August 2, 2013

    lilady,

    Who first made that statement that only “10 % of adverse events are reported”? That may have been the case, years ago…but I’m finding that difficult to believe.

    I don’t know where that figure came from, but I seriously doubt it too, especially with serious adverse events. My point was that even if we accept that figure, the number of reports of autism after vaccination on VAERS is far, far smaller than the “countless” numbers Greg and his cronies endlessly repeat.

  59. #59 Alain
    August 2, 2013

    Alain, there is no one online except us chickens. I’m waiting for a pain pill to kick in…what’s your excuse?

    I did not go to sleep until I finished my research about dementia praecox and childhood schizophrenia. I even went ahead and bought (on amazon) the DSM-I.

    Alain

  60. #60 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 2, 2013

    Who first made that statement that only “10 % of adverse events are reported”?

    It emanated from the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Safety/MedWatch/UCM168505.pdf
    See “Underreporting”. It is of course routinely abused by anti-vaxxers and they always leave off the fact that autism-chasing attorneys have padded VAERS.

  61. #61 Shay
    August 2, 2013

    Oh, janerella — I have a friend with a cranky mare (I think it’s PMS but what do I know). She’s started her on acupuncture, at her veterinarian’s recommendation.

    GAAAH!!!!

  62. #62 Shay
    August 2, 2013

    Perhaps then we should end our program now and don’t start fresh tomorrow.

    Resident troll is suffering from Brave Sir Robin syndrome, I see.

  63. #63 zet150
    August 2, 2013

    Huge, the pseudoskeptiks and the scientism (No science).
    Hahaha, James Randi the fraud magician:

    http://www.homeopathic.com/Articles/Media_reports/The_Protocol_Used_by_the_BBCs_Horizon_Progra.html

    Let us, Randi is a Quackpetic idol.

  64. #64 Stu
    August 2, 2013

    In case some of our younger ‘uns don’t catch Shay’s reference (and if you don’t, shame on your parents):

  65. #65 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 2, 2013

    Based on Orac’s comment 246, I suspect that Greg may have been persuaded not to re-post all his questions of the day by direct means.

  66. #66 Old Rockin' Dave
    August 2, 2013

    @janerella: That’s all well and good, but how many horses have become autistic from vaccination?
    Please tell before Gregger comes up with a fact-free “statistic”.

  67. #67 Alain
    August 2, 2013

    @ Everyone here,

    I think, by Orac’s comment, that it is safe to assume that Gregger has received the ban hammer.

    Alain

  68. #68 Khani
    August 2, 2013

    Good. He keeps dragging threads totally off-topic, and I for one am sick of it. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of threads on which he could post that would have been on topic, but instead he decided to clog the entire site with his contemptuous ableist crap.

  69. #69 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 3, 2013

    Alain, I don’t think Greg got banned. It’s not that Greg doesn’t deserve it, it’s that Orac tends to hold off on banning people until they’ve gone way beyond what responsible adults trying to have intelligent civilized discussion can tolerate.

    I know, I know, the obvious question is “how can Greg not already be there, especially as he’s almost certainly trying for exactly that?”

    But if Greg didn’t get banned for his disgusting comments of about a month ago, comparing autistic people who come to their own conclusions about what causes autism instead of falling in line with his ideas to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis, I doubt that merely saying he’s going to repeat all the stupid questions he’s asked before which meaninglessly hinge upon our belief in something we don’t believe would bring down the ban hammer.

    Plus, Orac does not fool around with bans. If Orac’s “No you won’t” comment was his way of announcing the ban, Greg wouldn’t have been able to post after that.

    Greg, if you’re reading this, and I know you are, take a lesson from this: real adults try to figure out what is true. Only the immature waste all their time trying to live in a fantasy world of “I wish this was true.” You contribute absolutely nothing to the conversation here, and won’t be missed when you’re gone, but the fact that it would be nice if you were banned doesn’t mean we can conclude that it’s so.

    If only you had the brains to turn your own questions around on yourself, and ask yourself, how will you feel when even you realize that vaccines don’t cause or contribute to autism and all the time and effort you put into being an asshole to those who wouldn’t “admit” the “truth” was actually just your deranged stalking of innocent people who knew the truth before you did?

  70. #70 Orac
    August 3, 2013

    No, Greggy hasn’t been banned. I was merely warning him that he could get put double secret probation (i.e., automatic moderation of all of his posts) if he carried through and started reposting stuff he’s already posted. Just getting that nonsense once from him gets old in a hurry. He’s been skating on the edge for a very long time; so I have little patience with him.

  71. #71 Liz Ditz
    August 3, 2013

    For nonUSians, and those too young to have reveled in the divine Animal House, here’s a clip

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0cF2piwjYQ

    Backstory:

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/National_Lampoon's_Animal_House

  72. #72 lilady
    August 3, 2013

    @ Alain & Khani: The Troll has not been banned (Orac’s blog, Orac’s rules).

    Stop feeding the attention-craving, ignorant Troll. Just talk around him, as we have done with other Trolls.

  73. #73 Old Rockin' Dave
    Off on a comet...
    August 3, 2013

    I was just joking when I asked about autism in vaccinated horses, but on reflection, there might be a serious question hiding in there.
    Horses, dogs, and cattle are all very social animals, that relate to their own kind and to humans in fairly predictable ways. Domesticated individuals of those species are usually vaccinated very young, and many are raised under controlled and monitored conditions. So, is there any evidence that vaccines affect their ability to socialize with humans or their own species in ways analogous to autism? It could be an interesting study, and it would probably not be unethical to have the unvaccinated controls the antivaxers want, provided they could be kept safe from the relevant infections.
    Done well and replicated, it might make a useful contribution to the issue.

  74. #74 Denice Walter
    August 3, 2013

    @ ORD:

    Dave, it’s interesting because pets are often selected for their ‘friendliness’ ( communication skills) to humans: you may pick out a cat or dog because it reacted to you, seemed to like you, looked at you imploringly as if to say, “Choose me!”: I know I have.

    Now wouldn’t it be revealing if pet owners reported anecdotally that the “light went out or his eyes” or ” she regressed and stopped responding to her name” after receiving vaccinations? So far I haven’t ever heard this.

  75. #75 Old Rockin' Dave
    Down at the Sunset Grill...
    August 3, 2013

    @Denice:
    Besides selection for friendliness or tractability, dogs and horses have thousands of years of selective breeding for those traits and others. I think if there was anything to the idea then vets, breeders, trainers, handlers, etc., would be weighing in to the discussion. Maybe it’s time to ask them.
    I also wonder if the Gregger will now be asking where all the paw-flapping, headbanging dogs went.

  76. #76 LW
    August 3, 2013

    @Denice Walter:

    Now wouldn’t it be revealing if pet owners reported anecdotally that the “light went out or his eyes” or ” she regressed and stopped responding to her name” after receiving vaccinations? So far I haven’t ever heard this.

    But now that you’ve put the idea in their heads…

  77. #77 Julian Frost
    August 3, 2013

    Comments of mine in moderation.

  78. #78 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 3, 2013

    Oh Denice, it’s been done already: http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/2010/03/dogs-and-autism-human-sanity-concerns-over-canine-health-concern/

    Yup, regressive, vaccine-induced autism in dogs.

  79. #79 Joseph Hertzlinger
    August 3, 2013

    While we’re at it… I have a question: What the do New Age loons mean by “energy”? Do they think it’s the same thing as subjectivity? Do they think it means “We can believe whatever we want?” Can their version of energy be measured in kilowatt hours?

  80. #80 Shay
    August 3, 2013

    According the sister of mine who is a charge nurse with the VA system, exercise, diet, massage therapy, etc, all fall under the heading of CAM because they are non-intrusive.

    In the interests of peace I had to bite my tongue.

  81. #81 Shay
    who needs her chrystals looked at, or something
    August 3, 2013

    M. Hertzlinger, it’s like chakra. If you have to ask, you can’t possibly understand.

  82. #82 Krebiozen
    August 4, 2013

    Joseph Hertzlinger,

    What the do New Age loons mean by “energy”?

    It’s a reification of subjective somatic sensations and/or affect.

    Few of them agree on what it actually means. Some talk of positive and negative energy that they clearly believe can be passed from one person to another, sometimes across large distances, to heal for example, or that can linger in a place. Others talk of resonance in connection with healing, the idea being that a healer with higher vibrations can increase the lowered vibrations of a sick person through physical proximity, “raising their vibrations” and thus healing them.

    There are some attempts to be more specific; orgone, for example, which (allegedly) has measurable physical effects, and which has different forms, such as DOR (deadly orgone radiation).

    I have also seen biophotons, infrasound, ultrasound and infrared posited as physical explanations for these subjective effects; I’m pretty certain this is all tooth fairy science.

  83. #83 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 4, 2013

    to zet150: just because the notorious Dana Ullman can blather doesn’t mean his blather is correct.

  84. #84 Denice Walter
    August 4, 2013

    @ Joseph Hertzlinger:

    While I agree with Kreb about the somatic aspects, we also have to consider how it is linked to more psychological experiences like “will” and “intention”.Although alt med presents a gobblydegook of writings upon the subject, it seems as though energy can often be controlled by the correct actions or thoughts. e.g. ” Direct your energy on…”

    There’s an essay on “Psychic Energy” by Jung which relates primitive humans’ experiences of “power” like ruach, mana, prana or chi to what those of his generation called “libido” or life energy.

    So perhaps it’s the sum total of what people experience from sensations of physical power ( muscular strength) to vague spiritual feelings that they call their own.

    LIke the early humans, they may also link that energy to other worldy/ transpersonal sources – a deity or the universe itself- which can be ‘tapped into’ as an ever-present reservoir there for the asking.

    Thus whenever a woo-meister runs out of convenient physiological concepts to bend to his or her will, “spirit” or ‘soul” can always be inserted to cover the gaps.

    Truthfully, I have a great more but am rather exhausted and I have errands to do. Let’s just say that woo-meisters link this to personal actions and intent.

  85. #85 Militant Agnostic
    Orbiting the Sun
    August 4, 2013

    @ORD

    The old chestnut about how they laughed at Galileo is plain wrong.

    I prefer to think of Greg as the Robert Goddard of douche rockets.

  86. #86 Bronze Dog
    August 4, 2013

    To some extent, I think energy is favored because it’s sciencey-sounding while being vague and/or abstract in its other uses. Soft science fiction also loves to invent special kinds of energy with whatever plot-relevant properties they want, which probably feeds the woo meme. There’s also a thing woos seem to like in those tropes since they’ll often talk about energy being Off the Scales and/or Invisible to Normals. In real life, energy is quite measurable, with physicists and engineers essentially being energy accountants who can calculate where all the joules are going.

    Thinking about it, it’s like the earlier points where woo appropriated electricity, atomic power, quantum mechanics, and such for the language. We had some big leaps in how we produce and use energy in the 20th century, so there’s an implied trend that we’ll continue learning new energy tricks beyond improved efficiency and collection.

    We’re still doing weird physics experiments, so we’ll continue to produce buzzwords for woos as we expand the frontiers of our detection ability. They hide their stuff with the frontier language because 1) we know a lot about the older stuff and can empirically call BS on them by measuring their energy, 2) it makes them sound like they’re pushing the cutting edge, even though they’re riding the coattails of real scientists, and 3) it makes it sound like they’re right on the edge of a scientific revolution, rather than looking like stodgy old mystics refusing to accept that they’ve failed and that science has marched on.

  87. #87 Denice Walter
    August 4, 2013

    @ Bronze Dog:

    Wait until alties start using the concept of ‘strings’ to explain their woo.

  88. #88 zet150
    August 4, 2013

    Antaeus Feldspar:

    Nope, Ms. Ennis gave me confirmation of the BBC Horizon fraude.

    P.D. Firm the change petition:

    https://www.change.org/es-LA/peticiones/cient%C3%ADficos-ingenieros-m%C3%A9dicos-p%C3%BAblico-en-general-que-se-acuse-a-james-randi-por-fraude-cient%C3%ADfico

  89. #89 zet150
    August 4, 2013

    Correction:

    @ Antaeus Feldspar:

    Nope, Ms. Ennis gave me confirmation of the BBC Horizon fraud. Mr. Bland recognizes that it is a replication, but Ennis nope.

    P.D. Firm the change petition:

    https://www.change.org/es-LA/peticiones/cient%C3%ADficos-ingenieros-m%C3%A9dicos-p%C3%BAblico-en-general-que-se-acuse-a-james-randi-por-fraude-cient%C3%ADfico

  90. #90 Bronze Dog
    August 4, 2013

    @ Bronze Dog:

    Wait until alties start using the concept of ‘strings’ to explain their woo.

    You mean they haven’t? 😉

    I don’t know any examples, but there’s probably some by now.

  91. #91 Narad
    August 5, 2013

    I prefer to think of Greg as the Robert Goddard of douche rockets

    “You’d be walking on the street, in bed just dozing off suddenly here comes this farting sound over the rooftops….”

  92. #92 Narad
    August 5, 2013

    I don’t know any examples, but there’s probably some by now.

    By now“?

  93. #93 herr doktor bimler
    August 5, 2013

    You’d be walking on the street, in bed just dozing off

    A squeaking comes across the sky…

  94. #94 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 5, 2013

    Nope, Ms. Ennis gave me confirmation of the BBC Horizon fraud. Mr. Bland recognizes that it is a replication, but Ennis nope.

    *rolls eyes* Oh, well, that setlles it. I mean, if the person who made the original allegation isn’t a reliable independent source for confirming that the allegation is more than just the whine of a self-deluded woo-ster who lost a challenge and doesn’t want to face reality, who is, amirite?

  95. #95 JGC
    Tis years award for completely missing the forest for the trees goes to...
    August 5, 2013

    May we have the envelope, please?

    Again, they do not tell us if vaccines as administered in their totality as recommended by the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule cause autism.

    But that isn’t the relevant question, is it?

    The relevant question isn’t “What evidence proves routine childhood immunization does not cause autism” but instead “Does any evidence suggest routine childhood immunization does cause autism?”

    And Greg has already conceded he’s unaware of any evidence supporting such a causal link.

  96. #96 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2013

    @ Narad:

    OMFG! She mentions strings- HOWEVER I am truly disappointed that she didn’t proceed into great rigamarole in search of analogies concerning vibrating strings, violins, symphonic harmonies et al..

  97. #97 zet150
    August 6, 2013

    OMFG! James Randi is a huge fraud!

    The “ghost” of Marcello Truzzi and Jacques Benveniste chase a “Comitte for Skeptikal Investigation”.

  98. #98 Narad
    August 6, 2013

    Huge, the pseudoskeptiks and the scientism (No science).

    I’ve got 50 quatloos on Benneth.

  99. #99 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 6, 2013

    zet is going away! zet is going away and annoying someone else!

    (well, zet seems to think that if you repeat something you wish was true enough times, it becomes true. I’m just testing the principle…)

  100. #100 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 6, 2013

    I wanted to flesh out a comment I made a few days ago, on the burden of proof and how it relates to anti-vaccine claims; I hope that someone finds it helpful and no one who already knows this stuff minds me covering it again.

    The scientific burden of proof consists mostly of just two rules:

    1) When evidence has been collected, and it’s pointing towards one conclusion, that conclusion becomes our default, and anyone who thinks we should be drawing a different conclusion bears the burden of proof.

    The reason for this is pretty obvious; I don’t need to belabor this point. Complaining because that’s how science works is like whining about the fact that you can only become the holder of a world record by out-doing the previous record; what other way of doing things would make any sense??

    2) When the evidence collected is insufficient or ambiguous, the conclusion we take as default is the one that represents us making the least claims to knowledge. This conclusion is also known as the “null hypothesis”. Anyone who thinks we should be drawing a different conclusion from that default, again, is the party that bears the burden of proof.

    An illustration of how this works, which also emphasizes the fact that everybody who does science operates under this standard:

    Right now, the evidence points to autism having a strong genetic factor. If someone comes along and says “I don’t think that should be our conclusion; I think our conclusion should be that there isn’t a strong genetic factor to autism”, the burden of proof is on them to provide evidence for the no-genetics conclusion, enough to outweigh all the evidence for the yes-genetics conclusion. That’s rule 1 in operation.

    But suppose a researcher pops his head up and says, “Hey, we think we know which gene it is that causes all these cases of autism, it’s the gene A5B51, which no one’s really paid attention to before now.” So which conclusion becomes our default: that A5B51 is a key gene in autism, or it isn’t? Just knowing that there’s a strong genetic factor doesn’t tell us whether A5B51 is a key gene; it only gives the idea some prior plausibility.

    That’s where rule 2 comes in. If you say “A5B51 is a key gene in autism,” you’re claiming to know much more than if you say “A5B51 doesn’t have any real connection to autism.” That makes the latter statement – “A5B51 doesn’t have any real connection to autism” – the null hypothesis, the default. If our researcher wants us to instead accept the conclusion that A5B51 is a key gene, he is going to have to provide the evidence which convinces us that conclusion is better supported than the null hypothesis. That’s rule 2 in operation.

    There are more complications to “burden of proof” than just those two rules, but they form the majority of the system. So let’s look at some typical antivaccine claims and see how they relate to rules 1 and 2.

    The first is the “vaccine-caused autism epidemic” claim. Well, as already explained, the epidemiological studies that would detect a large number of children who developed autism because they got vaccinated, do not. Epidemics are what epidemiological studies detect. The conclusion “there is no vaccine-caused autism epidemic” is far better supported by the evidence, and by rule 1, stands as our default conclusion.

    Some antivaccine activists understand the importance of the epidemiological data (some don’t) and those that do have proposed a second idea that seems, to them, to get around that inconvenient data. “Okay, so the epidemiology shows that in the vast majority of children that get vaccinated and develop autism, the autism isn’t caused by the vaccination. But suppose there’s at least some cases where it is?? Suppose there’s an extremely rare genetic pre-condition, so rare that epidemiology studies can’t detect it, which, when a child with that pre-condition gets vaccinated, the vaccines act as a trigger, and so in that child, vaccines do cause autism!”

    In our previous example, of the researcher hypothesizing a key role for A5B51, we arrived at a situation where there was a lack of evidence for or against because no one had studied that specific gene before. Here, we arrive at a similar situation because it’s specified that this hypothesized genetic pre-condition is rare enough that previous studies could have missed it.*

    But in both cases, a lack of sufficient specific evidence for or against means that rule 2 rather than rule 1 applies. Rule 2 says that our default conclusion is the one that represents the least claim to knowledge. Claiming “there is a genetic pre-condition which can lead to autism, and furthermore the specific trigger which determines whether it does or doesn’t cause autism is vaccination, in some form” is definitely a larger claim to knowledge than “whatever genetic factors are involved in autism are not triggered by vaccines.” The latter stands as our default conclusion unless and until those who want the “vaccines-trigger-a-genetic-precondition” hypothesis to be true can produce actual evidence to establish that conclusion.

    * In accordance with the principle of charity, we’re going to ignore the all-too-numerous putzes who then go on to say “And there’s clearly an epidemic of autism, caused by vaccines triggering this pre-condition so rare that it’s avoided the very studies that detect epidemics!”

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