Respectful Insolence

Antivaccine legislators are at it again

Here we go again.

The “Holy Grail” (well, a “holy grail”) of the antivaccine movement is to have a “vaccinated versus unvaccinated” study performed, or, as it’s frequently abbreviated a “vaxed verus unvaxed” study. They believe that such a study will confirm their fixed belief that vaccines are the root of nearly all health issues children suffer today, particularly autism and autism spectrum disorders. In particular, they believe that a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study would demonstrate once and for all that vaccines are the cause of the “autism epidemic.” Hilariously, a few years back, the antivaccine group Generation Rescue tried to do such a study. It was more an utterly incompetently administered and analyzed telephone survey than anything else, and, ironically, its results actually were just as consistent with the conclusions that vaccines protect against autism as that they predispose to autism. And don’t even get me started on an even more hilariously incompetent vaxed versus unvaxed study by a German antivaccine homeopath (but I repeat myself) that antivaccinationists were touting a while back. That took attempts to ape science to depressingly ridiculous extremes.

Meanwhile, other than silly incompetently performed studies by antivaccinationists (this one, for instance) many large, well-performed epidemiological studies hav failed to find even a whiff of a hint of a link between vaccines and autism or between mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in childhood vaccines, such that the Institute of Medicine reaffirmed this finding just this year. Yet, antivaccinationists remain undeterred. True, they seem to have accepted that doing a prospective randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which one group is vaccinated and another is not is considered highly unethical because it would intentionally leave one group of children unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases. (I say “considered” because antivaccinationists are so convinced of the harm done by vaccines that they do not accept that a randomized controlled trial of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children would be unethical in the extreme.) Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t stop them from demanding other forms of vaxed versus unvaxed studies, even though such a study would be difficult, bias-prone, and unlikely to provide a definitive result, as I explained in detail before. Indeed, it is so cute when antivaccinationists try to discuss epidemiology in the context of vaccines. Or it would be if the potential effect on public health weren’t so dire.

Well, they’re at it again. Antivaccinationists are trying to legislate where they have utterly failed to convince using science. It’s a standard tactic of cranks, but unfortunately there are nearly always credulous legislators who will be duped into going a long or who are cranks themselves and therefore go along. Remember Dan Burton? He was antivaccine to the core and used his position as a Representative from Indiana to cause a lot of mischief with hearings on vaccines. Fortunately, he’s retired now, but there are still Representatives who are either antivaccine themselves or easily duped into carrying antivaccinationist’s water.

Here’s what I mean. The other day, posted on the antivaccine crank blog, was a call for help by the antivaccine group SafeMinds to support a resolution by the House of Representatives, specifically HR 1757, The Vaccine Safety Study Act:

What is HR1757? – Also known as “The Vaccine Safety Study Act,” this bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct a retrospective study of health outcomes, including autism, of vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated children, and to determine whether exposure to vaccines or vaccine components is associated with autism spectrum disorders, chronic illnesses, or other neurological conditions.

Currently before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the bill, if implemented, “should bring an answer to this decades-long question,” Rep. Posey stated on the House floor.

No. It. Won’t. It would be expensive, and it would be highly unlikely to provide an answer, for the reasons I pointed out before. Moreover, contrary to the claims in the SafeMinds press release posted by AoA, there is no scientific rationale for such a study, no preclinical data or epidemiological observations that would mandate (or even justify) such a study from a scientific standpoint. Before such a study would be mandated, there would have to be compelling evidence of a problem with vaccine safety or indication that vaccines cause autism and chronic health problems. There is no such indication. Fevered dreams of antivaccinationists don’t count.

SafeMinds cites “findings” discovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request claiming that “risks of autism, ADD, sleep disorders and speech/language delay were consistently elevated in the more exposed group: Increased autism risk in one-month-old infants with the highest exposures ranged from 7.6 to 11.4 times higher than zero-exposure infants.” No links are provided, but my best guess is that SafeMinds is referring to Verstraeten et al, which is a very old gambit on the part of the antivaccine movement that has no validity but is frequently used to try to provide the impression of a conspiracy and government coverup. There wasn’t. It’s Simpsonwood all over again, eight years later. Safeminds then cites another study that claims that unvaccinated children had significantly lower emergency room visits. The implication is that unvaccinated children are healthier, but, as I explained a few months ago, the study shows nothing of the sort. Indeed, let’s look at what the investigators themselves said about this result:

These results suggest inherent health care–seeking behavioral differences between the 2 groups of parents. For example, published survey data31- 32 have shown that parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated are less likely to trust health care professionals and more likely to use complementary/alternative medicine providers than are parents who have their children fully vaccinated. It is therefore possible that parents who delay or refuse immunizations are less likely to use the traditional health care system when their children contract minor acute illnesses but will seek medical care when their children become seriously ill. Such differences could create a selection bias in studies that attempt to examine the risk of potential adverse events following vaccination.

Emphasis mine. There was nothing in the study that claimed to show that unvaccinated children use the ER less because they are healthier.

So what about the bill itself? The introduction and background (called the “Findings”) in HR 1757 start out paying lip service to the importance of vaccines and then move on to a whole bunch of antivaccine tropes before getting to the “meat” of the bill. The bill itself is sponsored by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who appears to be vying to be Dan Burton’s successor as the most antivaccine member of Congress, so much so that he even participated in a “Congressional panel” at this year’s antivaccine quackfest Autism One in May.

But what about the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)? Well, it turns out that she’s very much into believing antivaccine pseudoscience as well. A quick Google search of her name plus the term “vaccines” brings up a plethora of embarrassment (from a scientific viewpoint, that is), much of it right on her very own website. For instance, here she touts Dan Olmsted’s incompetent and incomplete series of news stories claiming that the Amish don’t vaccinate and don’t get autism from back when he was actually a reporter (they do, and they do; it’s a myth that they don’t).

She has also been known to grill CDC officials about vaccines, as shown in this YouTube video:

The above video comes from a hearing held by by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). One notes that Darrell Issa is not exactly known for being a fan of science. Besides being an anthropogenic global climate change denialist, he’s prone to meddling in peer review and trying to micromanage the National Science Foundation. He’s also at the very least sympathetic to antivaccine views, holding a hearing about the “autism epidemic” and “environmental causes” (translation: it’s the vaccines) last November, a month before Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) retired. Dan Burton, the chair of the same committee in the 1990s and into the 2000s, used it for no end of antivaccine legislative mischief when he was in control, and Darrell Issa appears to be taking up the antivaccine mantle left behind now that Burton has retired.

In any case, Maloney begins by complementing Dan Burton for “doing such a fine job” back in the day. She then demands to know why autism prevalence has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88, dismissively saying that she “doesn’t want to hear that we have better detection” and claiming that detection would not account for a jump from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88. That is, of course, a straw man argument. As I’ve pointed out many times, screening programs, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, and better detection can easily account for huge increases in the prevalence of a condition. My favorite example is ductal carcinoma in situ, whose incidence increased 16-fold in 30 years just because of mammographic screening. Other examples include hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. In reality, autism prevalence is probably not higher (or at least nowhere as much higher as the antivaccine movement would like you to believe) than 30 years ago. When careful studies are done, it is found that autism prevalence is the same now as it was then. So, right off the bat, we know that Maloney doesn’t want to hear the science-based answer, namely that diagnostic substitution, broadening of the diagnostic criteria, and more intensive screening programs have led to a massive increase in autism prevalence without a real, biological increase. She’s convinced that the vaccine program or some other environmental factor is causing an “autism epidemic,” and she falls for the “too many too soon” trope beloved antivaccinationists. Unfortunately, Colleen Boyle, the hapless CDC official who had to answer, appears completely unprepared for the hectoring about vaccinations to which Maloney subjects her.

Rep. Maloney’s clearly the Democratic counterpart to the nutty antivaccine fringe represented by Rep. Posey and former Rep. Dan Burton and has been pushing the dubious vaxed versus unvaxed study resolution a long time. Indeed, she’s been doing this for years. I do give her props for making at least one change from previous versions of the bill, namely pointing out that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the conduct or support of any study in which an individual or population is encouraged or incentivized to remain unvaccinated.” One also notes a quack-friendly clause that “To facilitate further research by the Secretary or others, the Secretary shall ensure the preservation of all data, including all data sets, collected or used for purposes of the study under this section.” One wonders whom the “others” are, one does. Does anyone want to take any bets that this clause is designed to make sure that antivaccine groups like SafeMinds have access to the complete data set to use and abuse for their ideological purposes?

But what about this time around? Amusingly (if you can ignore the waste of taxpayer money and the antivaccine impetus behind HR 1757), the bill itself demands that the each investigator of the required study:

  1. is objective;
  2. is qualified to carry out such study, as evidenced by training experiences and demonstrated skill;
  3. is not currently employed by any Federal, State, or local public health agency;
  4. is not currently a member of a board, committee, or other entity responsible for formulating immunization policy on behalf of any Federal, State, or local public health agency or any component thereof;
  5. has no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy; and
  6. is not currently an employee of, or otherwise directly or indirectly receiving funds from, a pharmaceutical company or the Centers for Disease Control.

One notes that requirements #3 through #6 pretty much destroy any chance the NIH have of being able to find an investigator who meets requirement #2. As an aside, it’s also amusing to note a reaction to HR 1757 from our old buddy, now the antivaccine Robin to the crazed “health freedom” Batman (Patrick “Tim” Bolen) after having been the Boy Blunder at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism before he betrayed AoA and SafeMinds, Jake Crosby, who rants No More Federal Research Fraud – OPPOSE HR1757! His reason for opposing HR 1757 (other than because SafeMinds and AoA are for it)? Because he doesn’t trust the NIH:

In other words, this bill aims to mandate the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study of autism and other disorders before the NIH and other federal agencies are forced to clean up their act and stop engaging in the institutional research misconduct that causes the vaccine-autism cover-up to persist. Although the initiatives of congressional representatives like Bill Posey and Carolyn Maloney to investigate malfeasance by government agencies should be commended, HR1757 only helps to legitimize and facilitate federal research misconduct by agencies like NIH, while distracting from efforts to expose government corruption. Autism Investigated supports vaccinated versus unvaccinated research conducted by independent researchers at academic institutions, but not conducted by federal agencies that merely pursue predetermined results. NIH is one of those agencies.

Poor Jake. So ignorant. Back when he was in high school and maybe even college I could (sort of) forgive such ignorance, but he’s a graduate student now. Unfortunately, it’s utterly clear that he is utterly clueless about how the NIH works. Note that HR 1757 says that the NIH “shall conduct or support” such a study. That means the NIH, if so instructed, could simply issue an RFA (request for applications) for a grant to do a vaxed versus unvaxed study. In fact, that is almost certainly what would happen if this unscientific bill passed; the NIH almost certainly wouldn’t do the study itself; it’s not really well set up to do such a study, but, more importantly, by the very language of the bill it couldn’t. Indeed, perhaps the most amusing part of Jake’s tirade is the lack of insight into this very point. He clearly didn’t even bother to read the bill. Note the clause listed above that the investigators can’t be “currently employed by any Federal, State, or local public health agency.” Here’s a hint for Jake: The NIH is a federal agency. Seriously, I think that Jake’s just phoning it in these days.

I rather suspect that antivaccinationists are so deluded that they don’t realize that this bill actually is against their interests. What do I mean? Easy? Look at criteria #1, 2, and 5 required of any investigators recruited to do such a study. The bill states that any such investigator must (1) be objective; (2) be qualified; and (3) have “no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy.” These three criteria alone completely rule out any investigator that would be acceptable to SafeMinds, as none of their favored investigators fit any of those criteria! I’m also going to emulate Matt Carey the next time I see an antivaccine study and ask if the investigators have a history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy. I presume that I can just dismiss studies based on this reason alone; after all fair’s fair. That’s often the main reason why antivaccine groups dismiss the plethora of studies failing to find a link between vaccines and autism.

No, I’m all about the science; so I couldn’t do that.

Antivaccinationists have been trying to legislate science for a very long time now, and Rep. Maloney is just ignorant or antivaccine enough to be willing to be their contact person. Meanwhile, Bill Posey seems to be relatively new at the antivaccine game, but he’s clearly up and coming, and, given that the House is currently controlled by the Republican Party, he’s more likely to do more damage in the short term because he’s part of the majority party. Either way, although I realize that this bill has little chance of passing and that the lack of appropriations for the study suggest that even Reps. Maloney and Posey know it, skeptics and supporters of science-based medicine should still fight fire with fire, I say. I’m willing to bet that there are a lot more science-based people out there than antivaccine loons; so I’ll finish echoing exactly what AoA said. Only, do it from the science-based perspective:

  • First identify your own Representative in the House by clicking here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.
  • Call and schedule a meeting at their district office and urge them or their staff to oppose to this absolutely nonsensical bill.
  • If they will not commit, indicate you will call back in one week to check on progress.
  • After Labor Day confirm everything has happened and thank them for their opposing the bill..
  • Also, let SafeMinds know! Answer the few simple questions on our online survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HR1757

At the very least, write letters to your Representatives, real letters on real paper, and to Bill Posey and Carolyn Maloney as well. (E-mails are easier to ignore.) I plan on doing that much at least, even though I’m not a big fan of my current Representative (to say the least).

Finally, I’m serious about that last bullet point. After all, we’d like SafeMinds to know that they’ve inspired us to stand up for science, wouldn’t we?

Comments

  1. #1 Dangerous Bacon
    August 5, 2013

    Heck, that bill doesn’t go far enough. We need to make sure our Congressmen support legislation that takes care of evil vaccines once and for all:

    http://billiontoddlermarchforsurvival.blogspot.com/

    Here’s hoping our lawmakers handle this issue pronto and don’t get distracted with silliness like the budget, government shutdown, terrorism etc.

  2. #2 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    August 5, 2013

    I suppose the only ‘bright side’ to such a ludicrous proposal: their requirements also exclude any anti-vaccine proponents/researchers from being able to take part in the study.

    #5 has no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy;

  3. #3 Chris Hickie
    August 5, 2013

    Call and schedule a meeting at their district office and urge them or their staff to sign on to this absolutely critical bill.

    Maybe it’s just my 9-month old with the ear infection that cried all night along with the fox terrier that barked at the nighttime monsoon thunderstorms for 3 hours adding to rather little sleep, but are you wanting us to lobby our local rep to support HR1757, Orac?

    On another note, and thanks to Roy Benaroch, MD for this, the newest member of The View–Ms “green vaccine” herself –seems to think it’s fine to hawk e-cigs (http://pediatricinsider.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/jenny-mccarthy-continues-tireless-crusade-to-kill-us/).

    • #4 Orac
      August 5, 2013

      Actually, you’ll note that I said to take the science-based perspective. Obviously, it didn’t sink in that science-based means that you should oppose the bill; so I have altered the text slightly to make it absolutely 100% crystal clear, the better to prevent pedants from being snarky. And you do know how much Orac despises pedantry, don’t you? :-)

  4. #5 Eric Lund
    August 5, 2013

    although I realize that this bill has little chance of passing and that the lack of appropriations for the study suggest that even Reps. Maloney and Posey know it

    That merely means that, if this version of the bill passes, the necessary funds would have to come out of the NIH budget.

    In addition, while I don’t know for sure that NIH prohibits direct funding to researchers located outside the US (as NSF and NASA do), that is likely to be an issue here. Very few US researchers would simultaneously satisfy criteria 2, 3, 4, and 6. That’s before considering criteria 1 and 5 (which seem redundant to me, in that anyone excluded under criterion 5 would probably also be excluded under criterion 1).

  5. #6 Ren
    August 5, 2013

    “And you do know how much Orac despises pedantry, don’t you?”

    With the passion of a million yellow suns, from my own experience.

    Anyway, I was reading Jake’s blog post, and I think we must have attended GWU at incredibly different points in time. See, in my “design of studies” course, PubH 6247 (formerly PubH 247), they taught me about the different kinds of epidemiological studies. I know they taught me well because I haven’t made an ass of myself online or in my in-person presentations and what I learned is backed up by the literature.

    Not so for Jake, it seems. In his world (let’s call it “Jake’s Labyrinth”)…

    “In fact, there is no way one could argue a prospective study would be unethical as long as the study investigators have no control over the exposure.

    A prospective study would be more rigorous and possibly more feasible to conduct with the increasing numbers of unvaccinated patients. Yet there is data obtained through FOIA showing significant harm done by just one ingredient in vaccines coupled with the fact that the vaccine schedule as a whole has never been tested. So a randomized controlled trial would not only be ethical, but necessary and way overdue.”

    He goes from prospective cohort studies to randomized clinical trials, back and forth, throughout his post. It’s like he didn’t pay attention in class or just doesn’t get it. Or he had a really bad professor. (Still, with bad professors you just read the text.) It gives me a headache to think what the IRB at GW had to go through to approve his final project, which is yet to see the light of day. And that’s not including the fallacy of “the vaccine schedule as a whole has never been tested.” Well, neither has the combination of Corn Flakes and Goat’s milk. Maybe we should start there?

  6. #7 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2013

    Over @ Jake’s Labyrinth, a certain Ms Fisher drops by….

    Ren, I’ve been thinking, does a final project in epi have guidelines about subject matter ( i.e. which disease is studied)?

    There’s a way that the little creature might have his cake and eat it too: wrintg about illnesses that currently haven’t appropriate vaccines. In other words, he could write about mosquito netting or condoms.

  7. #8 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2013

    In other anti-vax news:

    it appears that Lisa Goes ,The Rev (sic), has returned to TMR and provides a “Truth Teller Template” for budding anti-vaccinationist activists’ usage in their communities ( yesterday, Ms Mamacita, a/k/a Cathy Jameson, via reprint, educated readers about the dangers have *vaccinated* kids present due to ‘shedding’ which occurs when children get their school shots)

    Right. Goes observes how people react nrgatively
    to her child in public places: her other child obseves that the “old people” seem to be aghast whilst youngsters are acceptant
    ( their “behaviorist” informs them that this is because younger people know more children with ASDs- not so in the past). Soon everyone will know someone with an ASD.

    The Rev as usual has a remedy: she is developping a method for educating the masses- including public servants and business people-
    which includes “sensitivity training” ( Yes. She actually said that).

    “Share the truth” by:
    informing management of stores she frequents about her
    child’s “iatrogenic metabolic disorder”- after she enlightens
    them about how much she likes the store
    and how much money she spends there
    -in a very long soliloquoy about ASDs and the meaning of life . Or suchlike.

    She is providing a public service ( perhaps she’d call it “Public Enlightenment”) because soon everyone will have to deal with autism.

  8. #9 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2013

    OT: but SRSLY, how could I resist low hanging fruit like this?

    @ Natural News, Mikey warns his followers about “fake gurus, fake films,,, fake donation scams”.

    Over @ PRN, the SBM *persona non grata* host
    similarly warns about how “psychopaths” are trying to get all of your money by selling you products or philosophies you don’t need.

    -btw- pardonez les typos above, I need computer glasses

  9. #10 Pareidolius
    From the "I wonder why?" files . . .
    August 5, 2013

    From the treasure trove of stupid over at The Billion Toddler March . . .

    “RUN FOR OFFICE YOURSELF! This is my 5th run. Due to an unfathomable amount of censorship during these efforts, each run has been effectively thwarted. What I now tell people to do while campaigning is this, “Write in the words ‘BAN VACCINES’ on the ballot when you go to the polls. When you do this, you will have voted for me.”

  10. #11 Ren
    August 5, 2013

    “Ren, I’ve been thinking, does a final project in epi have guidelines about subject matter ( i.e. which disease is studied)?”

    No, he can pick and choose what he wants to do. It could even be a report on his six months at a health department. What most students did when I was there was go get a dataset from NIH or wherever and find patterns in the noise. Me? I started a flu surveillance program in a rural town in PA. (Quite successful, thank you very much.)

    Who knows what Jake will come up with, but, a lot of the times, they publish the manuscripts or slide sets on their website for others to view.

    I’m on pins and needles. (No, I’m not.)

  11. #12 Archangl508
    August 5, 2013

    Opposition to vaccination and CAM practices are one area where the far left and the far right seem to act in a truly bi-partisan manner.

    Apparently, the political spectrum is not so much a line as it is a circle and the far left and far right evenutally meet together in an anti-vaccine/CAM zone on the spectrum. I believe Dana Ullman has a clinic set up there.

  12. #13 Matt Carey
    August 5, 2013

    “No, I’m all about the science; so I couldn’t do that.”

    These studies all have failed on the science. One doesn’t have to dismiss based on the bias of the authors. But pointing out the double standard has it’s own reward.

  13. #14 Pareidolius
    Drifiting between 9 and 6 on the continuum . . .
    August 5, 2013

    Yeah Arch,
    Ever since emerging from the blinders of magical-thinking, I’ve been describing our sociopolitical world as a continuum with rationality and critical thinking at 6PM, conservatism at 3 and liberalism at 9. Pass those points and it’s straight on to batsh•t crazy up at midnight with people getting crazier the further left or right they go. Our space on the continuum requires constant vigilance.

  14. #15 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 5, 2013

    Apparently, the political spectrum is not so much a line as it is a circle

    I prefer to think of it as a Klein bottle.

  15. #16 Alain
    August 5, 2013

    Apparently, the political spectrum is not so much a line as it is a circle

    I prefer to think of it as a Klein bottle.

    I like a good Venn diagram with the word insanity in the middle.

    Alain

  16. #17 Young CC Prof
    August 5, 2013

    I’m going to go with a political Riemann sphere. No matter which direction you head in, negative, positive, real, imaginary, the point at infinity is still the same place: Really, really weird.

  17. #18 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 5, 2013

    Alain – confusion will be my epitaph.

    Young CC Prof – I’m in a big fan of the analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifolds.

  18. #19 Julian Jones
    Wales, UK
    August 5, 2013

    Are you aware that after the dreadful scare caused by Andrew Wakefield the MMR vaccine was withdrawn in Japan. This gives us clear statistics on the effect of the MMR vaccine on rates of autism in the population. There was no change! MMR vaccination has no effect on the incidence of autism. Case closed!

  19. #20 Eric Lund
    August 5, 2013

    @MO’B: So has your friend of a friend of … a friend (you know, the guy in Dnepropetrovsk) solved the problem yet?

  20. #21 Alain
    not at home
    August 5, 2013

    I may need a cookie please :)

    Alain

  21. #22 Politicalguineapig
    August 6, 2013

    I’m preparing for a trip, but I hope someone in my congressional district sees this. Ellison’s pretty sensible.

    Are these guys stupid? Wait, we know they are. But I don’t see how they can overlook the fact that most E.R. or urgent care visits are for injuries. Unless their little angelfish don’t get injuries which seems unlikely.

  22. #23 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    August 6, 2013

    Julian Jones: yes, we ARE aware of that. But then again, Orac and most of his readers are science-, evidence- and reality-based. :)

  23. #24 Narad
    August 6, 2013

    From the treasure trove of stupid over at The Billion Toddler March . . .

    Cool Photoshop, bro.

  24. #25 Bill Price
    Back at the cookie jar
    August 6, 2013

    Please.

  25. #26 Chris
    where we put the "fun" into dysfunctional..
    August 6, 2013

    Dr. H:

    the nighttime monsoon thunderstorms for 3 hours adding to rather little sleep,

    Yes, those were special. I am presently just southwest of you where the rain gauges measured over an inch a rain schools were flooded, ATT thinks I am in Mexico (ten miles north of border), and my elderly parent has Fox news on every waking moment.

    It has been an interesting week.

  26. #27 Chris
    ... where sibings insist on talking...
    August 6, 2013

    “rain schools were flooded,” should be “of rain, schools were closed due to flooding.”

  27. #28 Denice Walter
    August 6, 2013

    For a glimpse into the mind of anti-vaccinationist:

    At Jake’s place, Cherry Sperlin MIsra opines
    (that the)
    “prospective study would be clearly unethical. Not because of the unvaccinated kids, but because of the vaccinated. What kind of scientist, doing this study, would be able to watch kids vaccinated with two mercury-containing flu vaccines at age 6 months and not say to the parent, ‘ You know,.. if you were a toxicologist, you would assault that nurse rather than let her give your child a mercury-laden vaccine’”.

    This mind shattering statement illustrates the outer orbit of reality that these people occupy, how far from the beaten path of reasonability they tread and how blithely unaware they are of how SBM functions.

    Breath-takingly inexpert and unaware.

  28. #29 Tim Farley
    United States
    August 6, 2013

    This might be a good time to remind people there are some great electronic tools to track stuff like this. You can go to govtrack.us, create an account, and use the TRACK features to add this bill. The site can email you every time action is taken on the bill.

    Sunlight Foundation has a similar function on their web tool Scout. Go here: https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/item/bill/hr1757-113/vaccine-safety-study-act and click the button that says Create Alert and they will update you on the bill by email when something happens.

    If you have a smartphone, I recommend the free app Congress also by the Sunlight Foundation. You can track both bills like this and your legislators (whom it will identify for you automatically, of course).

    Finally, right now this bill is in the Energy & Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Health. You can see the members of this committee here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/subcommittees/health (click Members below the first paragraph of text). THOSE representatives are the most important to reach right now, because they decide what happens next to this bill.

  29. #30 Tim Farley
    Atlanta, Georgia
    August 6, 2013

    Here’s a perhaps easier place to see the current members of the Subcommittee on Health, with hyperlinks to more data about each representative:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Energy_Subcommittee_on_Health

  30. #31 lilady
    August 6, 2013

    @ Ren: So Jake would have spent some time in a County health department, eh?

    When I worked as a public health nurse, we had many MPH degree students assigned to the Division of Communicable Disease Control and the MPH students were involved in investigating individual cases, clusters and outbreaks of communicable diseases…some were actually V-P-Ds:

    http://www.health.ny.gov/forms/instructions/doh-389_instructions.pdf

    The director of our division was in touch with the MPH student’s school and Jake’s assignment at a local health department might not have been successful.

    Even if Jake received a passing grade, is there any indication that he submitted, a non-controversial topic such as childhood obesity or asthma, for his thesis? If you look at the topics (people) that Jake has blogged about (slimed, libeled and stalked), during his tenure at AoA, do you see any indication that Jake has a clue about epidemiology?

    http://www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby/

  31. #32 Denice Walter
    August 6, 2013

    @ lilady:

    Believe it or not, there are NO non-controversial topics for this crowd- vaccines cause everything! Asthma and obesity are amongst the complaints of alt media, TMR, the Canaries et al.

    {OK, sometimes vaccines are enabled by diet and antibiotics ( see Alison MacNeil esp for the latter)}.

    “Modern Living has visited a plague upon us ! Woe! Woe!”, they cry…

    As I said previously, Jake may have to stick to mosquito netting and condoms… I can see it now, ” Battling malaria in suburban Washington”. Etc.

  32. #33 Chemmomo
    Not near the Potomac
    August 6, 2013

    Denice @32

    Battling malaria in suburban Washington

    That would have been a good topic a couple of centuries ago. There’s a reason why the district where GWU is located is known as Foggy Bottom.

  33. #34 Denice Walter
    August 6, 2013

    @ Chemomo:

    Sure. That was one of the major problems for L’Enfant, wasn’t it ? Having workers ( probably slaves) not being ill.

    At any rate, I HAD to say that because I didn’t want to go into great detail with the other prospect…. use your imagination.

  34. #35 JGC
    August 6, 2013

    What kind of scientist, doing this study, would be able to watch kids vaccinated with two mercury-containing flu vaccines at age 6 months and not say to the parent, ‘ You know,.. if you were a toxicologist, you would assault that nurse rather than let her give your child a mercury-laden vaccine’”.

    The kind that understands there’s difference between inorganic mercury, methyl mercury, and ethyl mercury that results in very, very different toxic profiles.

  35. #36 I. Rony Meter
    August 6, 2013

    “You know,.. if you were a toxicologist, you would assault that nurse rather than let her give your child a mercury-laden vaccine’”

    Because there are so many accounts of toxicologists not vaccinating their kids and/or assaulting nurses?

  36. #37 Liz Ditz
    August 6, 2013

    Thanks Tim Farley, prodded me into action.

  37. #38 Bronze Dog
    August 6, 2013

    On political geometry, I’ve pretty much given up on the line model. I’ve also given up on that diamond with libertarians as dorsal wing and authoritarians as ventral wing. Way too many politicians seem to require Lovecraftian geometry and the set of all sets that don’t contain themselves.

    The kind that understands there’s difference between inorganic mercury, methyl mercury, and ethyl mercury that results in very, very different toxic profiles.

    And understands the concept of dose-response curves.

  38. #39 lilady
    August 6, 2013

    Meanwhile, One of Jake’s admirers has posed a question to Jake on his blog:

    “Cherry Sperlin Misra on August 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm said:

    Hey Jake, I would love to hear what Tim Bolen would have to say about the proposed study. Could you ask him to do an article for your website? Sometimes one needs some light relief from the insanity of poisoning little children . sort of joking here, but it would be nice.

    Jake’s reply:

    “Jake Crosby on August 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm said:

    Tim Bolen only writes for his own website, although Autism Investigated has publicized material that originally ran on the Bolen Report. Why don’t you ask him?”

  39. #40 Denice Walter
    August 6, 2013

    Now PLEASE don’t get angry at me-
    I don’t wish to offend any fans ( and I am aware that our most esteemed, illustrious and gracious host is amongst them)**

    but it has just dawned upon me ( tyro that I am) that the various principals of anti-vaxx world, their relationships and exploits remind me of a real life Game of Thrones*** because of the:

    infinite jockeying for position
    myriad plot twists
    excess of kings and queens
    betrayals galore
    mismatched loyalties
    dramatic upheavals of fortune
    plots, manoeuvrings, dramatics, intrigue, schemes
    secret alliances
    civil wars
    fantasy-based MOs
    characters seeking power and followers at any cost
    frequent torture on public view
    only a slight relationship to real life
    AND you need a scorecard ( and a map) to keep things straight.

    AND I am NOT entirely joking

    ** I have only recently been introduced to the tapes because someone I know who is quite hooked and is reading the books
    *** but of course, much more poorly written-
    And the costumes on the show are much better than reality

  40. #41 lilady
    August 6, 2013

    Denice Walters for today Internetz award!!!

  41. #42 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 6, 2013

    Denice Walter – if you’re talking about the TV series, you left out the Nudity While Explaining The Plot, which I’m told is called sexposition.

  42. #43 Denice Walter
    August 6, 2013

    @ Mephistopheles:

    Fortunately for us, that part of the analogy doesn’t hold.
    Although there is castration in both ( see Geiers).

  43. #44 Ren
    August 6, 2013

    I don’t think Jake went to any local health department in Maryland. I would have known because, you know, I have my methods. I have a very good friend who works at DC DOH, and he hasn’t mentioned it. Trust me, he would mention it. We’d be reading about it on his blog. *cough* The Poxes *cough*

    He wouldn’t have gone to Fairfax DOH, because I have people there and would have heard about it. Maybe some other place?

    As we all know, there are some researchers at GW who have produced some interesting studies about mercury and autism, studies which have been dissected by the proper members of the “Science Mob.”

    So God only knows what the heck he did, or is doing, or will do. I have a sneaking suspicion that he went the safe route and decided to do a dataset-datamining study. But, as we have all seen, he has a hard time with that whole causality thing.

    I do wish him the best, though. Why wouldn’t I? I don’t harbor any hard feelings over the things he’s tried to do to me and my friends. He’s misguided, lost, vulnerable. He needs a good epidemiologist to take him under their wing and show him that the monsters under the bed are things like whooping cough and measles and not thimerosal.

  44. #45 Lara Lohne
    August 6, 2013

    After reading the wording of this bill, it almost seems as though anti-vaccinationists who probably helped to write it, did so knowing it would fail, or be impossible to be performed to their specifications and that being the case, they remain safe in their delusion that vaccines cause autism because their hallmark vaxxed vs. unvaxxed study has never been performed. They set it up for failure from the beginning so they can maintain their victim/martyr roles which they have gotten so used to. After all, this isn’t the first time they’ve proposed this exact bill, but under a different name. And this bill has significantly less support then their previous incarnations of the same bill. This must be a huge wake up call to them that their numbers are few and as the public has seen the resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases over the past five to ten years, more and more people are away ow dangerous these diseases can be, and thus how necessary vaccines are. Not only that, but with the neurodiversity movement, more and more autistics, including non-verbal ones, are finally being heard and people, I think, are realizing the anti-vaccine people really aren’t raising ‘soulless children’ as they have been claiming for so long and anything wrong with those children, is because of lack of understanding, support and acceptance of those children and that is on the parents, not their children. It isn’t the parents who are victims, but they are victimizing their children for their own gain, be that monetary or fame. And that is much more repulsive and ridiculous to people then vaccines causing autism, particularly after so much evidence now shows us that is also not true.

  45. #46 Narad
    August 6, 2013

    This mind shattering statement illustrates the outer orbit of reality that these people occupy

    It strikes me as the most obvious thing in the world. Why Jake didn’t figure it out in the first place is another question. It’s not as though the point hasn’t been made from the other side of the yawning chasm.

  46. #47 Shay
    August 6, 2013

    @Denise: The food’s better in Game of Thrones.

  47. #48 Grant
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/
    August 7, 2013

    Off Topic, for those that feel the need for another long read involving Wakefield and anti-vaccine groups, you could try,-

    Wakefield has not been vindicated and the courts do not think MMR causes autism

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/diplomaticimmunity/2013/08/07/wakefield-has-not-been-vindicated-and-the-courts-do-not-think-mmr-causes-autism/

    (The author is specialist in vaccines at University of Auckland.)

  48. #49 Narad
    August 7, 2013

    Wakefield has not been vindicated and the courts do not think MMR causes autism

    Speaking of which, “in 2011, the Third Court of Appeals based in Austin, had an average of 7.9 months between the time the case was filed and it was disposed.”

    The Wakefield appeal was filed just three weeks’ shy of one year ago. Figure in the two 30 day extensions, and she should be comin’ round the mountain before too long.

  49. #50 Narad
    August 7, 2013

    (And the delay in getting the reporters’ paperwork.)

  50. #51 lilady
    August 7, 2013

    @ Grant Jacobs: Great link to a great blog at SciBlogs…I just left a comment for the blogger.

    BTW, the bot is on the move again at the Ho-Po…some of my comments are still in moderation:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arshya-vahabzadeh/autism-causes_b_3652527.html

  51. #52 lilady
    August 7, 2013

    Hmmm, about Jake’s MPH degree in Epidemiology & Statistics; shouldn’t he have submitted his Masters thesis to a designated professor at GWU…for approval of the topic and his study’s design and methodology?

    I’ve met plenty of MPH-Epidemiologists who had an undergrad degree in the hard sciences or who attended university for the dual MD/MPH-Epidemiology degrees. Every last one of them did rotations in a local or State health department.

    Jake himself admits that he is still attending GWU-School of Public Health. Whether or not the epi-wannabe eventually is awarded that degree, he will never be an epidemiologist.

  52. #53 Broken Link
    August 7, 2013

    lilady, I wonder if Jake is taking a reduced load of courses (maybe claiming a disability) and thus is not ready to graduate on schedule?

  53. #54 elburto
    August 8, 2013

    @Broken Link – Did you send an email to an address I use, by any chance?

  54. #55 Broken Link
    August 8, 2013

    @elburto – yes.

  55. #56 Lawrence
    August 11, 2013

    I wonder if the folks over at AoA have ever taken the time to ask the actual Amish how they feel about this – or even taken time to consider how the various known genetic issues inherent in a fairly homogeneous population (as are known to exist within the Amish community) would impact the accuracy of such a study?

    They seem to latch on to any little scrap of information (accurate or otherwise) to justify their agenda, regardless of whether or not it actual supports what they believe or have any sort of scientific backing whatsoever.

    The anti-vax cultists will continue to marginalize themselves by having to resort to more and more convoluted and contorted conspiracy theories to attempt to support their original hypothesis – as more and more studies come out debunking the vaccine myths and pointing to the true origins of Autism.

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