Respectful Insolence

Antivaccine warriors hate science because it does not support their fear and loathing of vaccines. At the same time, they want to use it to justify that very same fear and loathing of vaccines. However, as much as antivaccinationists hate scientific studies that fail to find a link between vaccines and autism or vaccine additives like the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal and autism, there’s a certain set of studies that they hate more than any other, and these are the so-called “Danish studies.” Indeed, I learned of this hatred a long time ago, when Kristjan Wager wrote a guest post about the Statens Serums Institut, which employed some of the investigators. In any case, one of these studies found no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism; the other found no link between the MMR and autism.

Of course, there’s a lot more evidence out there than just these two studies that there is no association between vaccines and autism. These two studies could disappear completely from the scientific literature or have never been done at all, and there would still be plenty of evidence that there is no association between either thimerosal or vaccines and autism. Yet the antivaccine movement keeps hammering away at them as though discrediting these studies would fulfill their fantasy of of vindication in which all the inconvenient science that shows that vaccines do not cause autism would be discredited and scientists would have to take them seriously again. This fantasy got a boost a couple of years ago when one of the co-investigators of the Danish studies, Poul Thorsen, was charged with fraud and misuse of federal grant money, given that the Danish studies were a collaboration between the CDC and Danish investigators. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. went crazy of the the story. So did the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism and antivaccinationists everywhere. They all went on the attack, as though proving Thorsen spent CDC grant money on expensive cars and other things it wasn’t meant to be spent on would discredit the entire study. It wouldn’t. Thorsen was not the lead author or senior author on either paper. He was in the middle of the pack of authors, meaning that he contributed to the studies but was not key. Yet, at every turn antivaccinationists tried to represent him as the principal investigator and driving force between the Danish studies.

They’re at it again, coupling the same old attacks on Thorsen with a confused reading of a new Danish study about autism that has nothing to do with vaccines. The result is a font of napalm-grade flaming stupid typical of antivaccinationists. First up at the antivaccine crank blog AoA is a rehash of the same ol’ same ol’ about Thorsen by F. Edward Yazbak MD entitled The CDC and Denmark: The Love Fest That Fizzled. It’s such a completely unoriginal regurgitation of the same sorts of nonsense RFK, Jr. and AoA were spewing three years ago that I’ll just say this: Read my three posts on the topic to understand why this is a complete non-issue. Don’t get me wrong, though. If Thorsen is guilty, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. My point is simply that his fraud, if he committed it, does not invalidate the science that vaccines do not cause autism.

Next up is an article by someone named John Gilmore, who wrote this howler of a headline 2003 Danish Study on Mercury Fabricated? New Study Completely Different Results. Now, I don’t know who John Gilmore is. At least, I didn’t. I Googled and learned that he is the Executive Director of the Autism Action Network and that he testified against requiring health care workers to be vaccinated with the flu vaccine. He also pops up in news stories about vaccines and autism, always arguing the antivaccine side. Remember what I said yesterday about headlines that are written in the form of a question? Usually, the answer to such questions is a resounding “No!” (Yes, I know that I’ve occasionally used such titles, but after this revelation I won’t do it nearly as often anymore. Except for the title of this post, where the question is intentionally constructed such that the answer is definitely no. End of meta blog navel gazing.)

Regarding the new study by Grønborg et al, before I discuss it, I think it’s important to point out that this study was done by different methods than the original study by Madsen et al. Madsen et al was designed to examine the question of whether thimerosal in vaccines was related to autism by examining the effect of removing thimerosal from vaccines, which was mandated in Denmark around 1992. The investigators asked a simple question: Was there any correlation between increases or decreases in autism incidence and the presence or absence of thimerosal in childhood vaccines. The study design was ecological, meaning that correlations weren’t assessed using individual patient-level data but incidence levels. The observation that they made was that the incidence of autism remained fairly constant during the period of time that thimerosal was used in Denmark and that the rise in incidence of autism beginning in 1991 continued even in the group of children born after the discontinuation of thimerosal. The authors noted that thimerosal-containing vaccines were gradually phased out, which means that a gradual decline in autism incidence would be expected if there were a causal link between thimerosal and autism; instead they observed autism incidence continuing to increase. All in all, given the tendency of ecological studies to produce false positives, that this particular ecological study was resoundingly negative. Notice, also, how the authors don’t say that thimerosal protects against autism (after all, autism incidence climbed after thimerosal was removed from vaccines in Demark); they simply said that the data do not support a positive correlation. It is, so to speak, negative ecological evidence.

Madsen et al was not a perfect study. By itself, it was good but not conclusive evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines are not associated with autism. Taken together, Madsen et al and all the other studies done since the 1990s that have failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism constitute very strong evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines almost certainly do not cause autism. So how on earth can Gilmore claim that Grønborg et al is evidence that suggests that the authors of Madsen et al falsified data? I’m half-tempted to say because he’s an ignoramus and leave it at that, but you, my readers, expect more, as satisfying as calling an AoA denizen an ignoramus can be. One thing that is a dead giveaway that this is pure antivaccine nonsense is that Gilmore refers to Madsen et al as the “Thorsen paper.” Any time you see Madsen et al referred to as the “Thorsen paper,” even though Thorsen was neither the first author nor the senior author, it’s a very good indication that antivaccine nonsense will follow.

One reason that Denmark is so attractive for epidemiological studies is because it has a national health database that tracks its citizens from birth until death, each citizen having a unique identifier number. So it’s not surprising that Grønborg et al would take advantage of this data source to ask a different question, namely what is the risk of autism or ASD in children who have an older sibling affected by autism/ASD. They examined all children born between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 2004, a total of 1.5 million children. In this case, the objectives were to estimate the relative recurrence risk for ASDs, including recurrence in full and half siblings, and to examine the time trends in ASDs. The main outcome was the hazard ratio for ASDs among children having an older sibling with ASDs compared to children not having an older sibling with ASDs. It’s a deceptively simple question, but it requires complex statistics to get the answer. It’s also a different design. Instead of an ecological design, it’s a cohort study looking at cohorts with and without older siblings with autism/ASD. You don’t need to understand the difference to understand that different study designs can produce different answers.

So what did the authors find? This:

The overall relative recurrence risk for ASDs was 6.9 (95% CI, 6.1-7.8), and it did not change significantly over time; similar risks were observed in maternal and paternal full-siblings. The relative recurrence risks were 2.4 (95% CI, 1.4-4.1) for maternal half-siblings and 1.5 (95% CI, 0.7-3.4) for paternal half-siblings.

In other words, in these cohorts, if a child has an older sibling with autism/ASD, he has an approximately seven-fold increased risk of developing autism/ASD himself. Moreover, this relative risk was pretty constant over the study period, suggesting a genetic predisposition rather than an environmental risk factor, as the authors put it:

The difference in the recurrence risk between full- and half-siblings supports the role of genetics in ASDs, while the significant recurrence risk in maternal half-siblings may support the role of factors associated with pregnancy and the maternal intrauterine environment in ASDs.

In other words, there isn’t a hint of a whiff of anything in this study that might lead one to think that an environmental factor after birth (for example, vaccines) has anything to do with autism. Of course, looking for such factors wasn’t the purpose of this study and therefore we can’t say for sure just based on this study that environmental factors don’t have a role in autism/ASD, but this study is certainly not evidence that there is a role for environmental factors.

None of this stops Gilmore from disingenuously claiming:

Obviously the autism rate was decreasing in the 1995-2000 period when Thorsen and colleagues claimed in was increasing. In 2003, when there was a great deal of urgency to show that mercury in vaccines had nothing to do with autism, the numbers went up. But in 2013, when the topic has nothing to do with vaccines, and Poul Thorsen was not involved, the numbers went down.

And:

In the 2003 Thorsen paper, the claim is made that there were only 956 children diagnosed with autism in Denmark between 1971 and 2000. Yet the 2013 study claims that from 1980 through 1999 there were 12,698 cases of autism spectrum disorders, with 2321 of those cases being full-syndrome autism. How a more than 1300% discrepancy could arise from researchers looking at the same data from the same database is difficult to imagine.

Let’s take the first point first. Actually, I don’t have to that (much) because Matt Carey addressed that question nearly a month ago, when Grønborg et al first published their study. In fact, he addressed the very canard that Gilmore brought up about the different numbers of diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders in the two studies. The first point that needs to be made is that Madsen et al studied autism incidence, not prevalence, and Grønborg et al studied prevalence, not incidence. Incidence is defined as the proportion of a population that is diagnosed with a condition in a given time period (usually a year). In the case of Madsen et al, what was studied was age-specific incidence; i.e., the proportions of the population diagnosed at different age ranges. Prevalence is defined as the proportion of a population that has a given condition. There are two kinds of prevalence: Point prevalence, defined prevalence at a specific point in time, and period prevalence, defined as the proportion of a population that has the condition at some time during a given period. What this means is that prevalence includes new diagnoses of a condition as well as all of the population diagnosed before. It’s not surprising that studies examining incidence and prevalence could come up with different numbers.

Another factor that could affect the numbers is followup time. Let’s look at the two time periods. First, Madsen et al looked at children diagnosed with autism between 1971 and 2000, while Grønborg et al studied children born from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2004. Grønborg et al also estimated the overall prevalence of autism as 0.3% for childhood autism (the more severe “classic” autism) and 1.2% for all ASDs. As Carey explains:

The current Denmark study included individuals diagnosed until the end of 2010. I.e. there were 10 more years of followup. In those 10 years a lot more people were diagnosed. Where there were 956 diagnosed with autism by 2000 (for birth years 1971 to 2000), 2321 were diagnosed by 2010. That’s an increase of 240%. And the new study focused on birth years 1980 to 1999. I.e. the entire 1970′s birth cohort is not included in this count, and they still found over twice as many autistics. Where were they in 2000, when the previous study was performed? Living in Denmark, not identified as autistic.

There are a few factors which are likely behind this increase, but here we have a great example of “increased awareness” affecting autism prevalence.

And, those numbers were for childhood autism. For ASD, the increase is even larger. 10,377 Danes had an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (for birth years 1980-1999) in the new study (the previous study included none). That’s a whopping 1080% increase. Again, there are a few reasons for this (including the increased awareness above), but here’s what “expanding the definition” does to autism.

Exactly. Over the years, the definition of autism has been expanded to include autism spectrum disorders, and more attention has been paid to diagnosing autism and ASDs, not just in Denmark, but in the US and other developed countries as well. As I’ve pointed out time and time and time again, whenever you look for a condition more carefully (i.e., screen for it), you will always find a lot more of it than you thought there was before. Always. Widening the definition of a condition, as was done for ASDs, will only enhance the effect. In any case, with increased awareness and screening, subclinical cases are identified, and diagnostic substitution results in people who would before have been diagnosed as having some other condition having the condition being screened for. It happened with ductal carcinoma in situ when mammographic screening became common. It happened for hypertension. And it happened for ASDs. Seek, and you shall find. Since the mid-1990s increasingly we have been seeking autism and ASDs. We have found. Moreover, in the later study, we have found more because followup times for the latest birth cohort in the study have been longer. Given that ASDs tend to be diagnosed at older ages than childhood autism, longer followup times will guarantee that more of the children in the later part of the study period will be appropriately diagnosed and their diagnoses included in the study.

Matt also did a really interesting thing and graphed the numbers from Grønborg et al:

As you can see, Matt graphed the adjusted autism prevalence from birth years 1980 to 2004. As you can see, the prevalence started increasing in the 1980s. Childhood autism prevalence plateaued around 1996-1997. In other words, the prevalence of childhood autism, which was mainly what was looked at by Madsen et al, was flat from 1996 to 2004, which is not consistent with thimerosal having a causative role in autism. After all, childhood autism continued to rise after 1992 (when thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines) and then plateaued. As for ASDs, they peaked in 1994-1995 and then appear to have slowly decreased. One can’t help but note the deception involved in Gilmore’s graph, which begins at 1995 and only shows the decrease and not the increase before that. I tend to agree with Matt:

The prevalence of ASD’s do see a decline. That must be it! Evidence that thimerosal was causing autism in Denmark! But it isn’t. The prevalence of ASD in 2003-04 is the same as that in 1990-91, before thimerosal was removed. Why does the ASD prevalence go down? We can’t say for sure, but my strong suspicion is that it’s the same reason why the authors in 2003 were seeing a decrease: too few years of follow up. Autistic kids are typically diagnosed earlier than those with other ASD’s, but the average age was about 5 in Denmark in 2003 (as I recall). ASD kids can have an average age of diagnosis of 8. Recall that the recently released study followed kids up to the end of 2010. It’s no surprise to me that the estimated prevalence for ASD kids born in 2002 is lower than that for kids born in 2000 in this study. And this is consistent with the flat prevalence for kids with childhood autism diagnoses, as they are typically diagnosed earlier and 8-9 years would be enough to find the majority of the autistics in that population.

In other words, the short followup has a larger affect on ASD diagnoses than it does on childhood autism diagnoses.

Given that this study is over a month old, I’m rather surprised that the antivaccine movement took so long to respond to it. On the other hand, maybe it took the brain trust over at AoA nearly a month to come up with a way to link this study to Poul Thorsen and vaccines. Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better example of lying with statistics than what Gilmore did in his post for AoA. This new Danish study does not in any way invalidate the Danish studies from 10 years ago, nor is it evidence that there might be something to the now discredited notion that vaccines or thimerosal in vaccines can cause autism.

Comments

  1. #1 T.
    September 24, 2013

    Hi Orac! Wonderfully informative, thank you. But I think there is a small mistake here:
    “In other words, there isn’t a hint of a whiff of anything in this study that might lead one to think that an environmental factor after birth (for example, vaccines) has anything to do with vaccine. “<- I think you meant "anythingtto do with autism" :)

  2. #2 Ren
    September 24, 2013

    DIfferent studies, study types, methods, everything… What fool would compare these two studies?

    Don’t answer that.

    Unless you keep everything absolutely the same (case definition, methods of ascertainment, population proportions with regards to age/race/ethnicity), incidence and prevalence will always be in flux and different from one study to another. This is why we have peer review and discussion sections in papers. This is something that can’t seem to get past the “VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM” filter in so many people.

  3. #3 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 24, 2013

    @Ren

    Indeed. What’s more, they will probably see this criticism (“different designs, definitions, ascertainment, etc. means they can’t be used to answer the same question) and try to use it against us as some sort of “gotcha!”. “Well, if you say those two studies can’t be used for the same question because they had different designs, then you can’t use any of those other studies together to say that vaccines don’t cause autism, since they had different designs.”

    Of course, they’ll completely miss the oversimplification in that argument and that we have different questions supported by different sets of studies.

  4. #4 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 24, 2013

    The 2003 study, Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population-Based Data, was performed under the direction of Dr. Poul Thorsen, Ph. D., who was hired by the CDC to do a series of epidemiological studies in Denmark, several of which focused on the role of vaccines in autism. All the vaccine studies performed by Thorsen concluded there was no causal connection with autism.

    This is a quote from Gilmore; he goes on to mention the “Thorsen study” several times and even has a small graph which states “Thorsen 2003″. This isn’t ignorance, this is intentional deception and clearly Gilmore thinks highly of himself and not much of his target audience to pass this rubbish off as remotely factual. He even invokes Blaxill’s drek as PROOF! Typical AoA sleight of hand.

  5. #5 Woo Fighter
    September 24, 2013

    Slightly off-topic, but it is apropos vaccines and autism:

    After I switched my ‘nym to Woo Fighter, based partly on the band I have always enjoyed, Orac informed me about their HIV/AIDS denialism activism.

    Today, I find out that Foo Fighter drummer Taylor Hawkins (the band member who embraced the HIV denialism most vocally) is taking part in an upcoming benefit concert for Generation Rescue. I suppose that makes him anti-vaccine too, or at least supportive of their position. Woo magnetism in action.

    I still like their music but am losing all respect for the individuals in the band.

  6. #6 Mu
    September 24, 2013

    I so which that someone would overlay these ASD diagnosis charts with data on “retarded” diagnosis like Prometheus’s now defunct five simple charts. For me that article settled the diagnostic substitution question.

  7. #7 Woo Fighter
    September 24, 2013

    More crackpot anti-vaccine woo magnetism to report today.

    Mike Adams announced he is officially endorsing the Canary Party:

    (NaturalNews) Today is a milestone day for Natural News because it is the first time we are officially endorsing the platform of a political party. However, the Canary Party is really more of an activism group right now with the aim of influencing elections. You are not likely to actually see Canary Party candidates any time in the very near future (although you might a few years out)…

  8. #8 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2013

    I’ve frequently joked that thimerisol might be protective..

    At any rate, today Dachel has seized hold of a meme currently being shed like a vaccine virus around woo-topia:

    those who oppose anti-vax are merely shills AND bots.

    This also illustrates her source:
    I listened to the entire ( load of crap) Alex Jones/ Mike Adams episode ( @ NN, yesterday, @ MIke’s post).

    She cites InfoWars as a source! It was such a looned-out, madly rancorous, hour long, collected edition of sequentially imploded inanity and insanity that I would imagine that even AMD would not fall for it. But she did. Or, she thought that her readers would.

    During the video, both Mike and Alex assert that they are now better news providers than the real ones.
    Like PRN, they present the news the mainstream media are afraid to report or are paid NOT to report. Or suchlike.

    Sometimes I think that this widespread game of capitalising on people’s fears and inciting rage is going to damage people and has already burned as hole in civility and meaningful communication across the English speaking world.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    September 24, 2013

    Dr. Poul Thorsen, Ph. D., who was hired by the CDC to do a series of epidemiological studies in Denmark

    I followed Orac’s link to the Madsen et al. paper and noticed that all of the co-authors, including Thorsen, were affiliated with departments or institutes in Aarhus, and nowhere else. I don’t know about CDC/NIH rules, but the federal funding agencies I have dealt with prohibit direct funding of co-investigators located outside the US. (You can pay for them to visit your US institute, or you can pay the costs of your visit to their institute.)

    Indeed, the paper acknowledges their funding sources, which are most definitely not the CDC:

    The activities of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and the National Centre for Register-Based Research are funded by a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation. This study was supported by the Stanley Medical Research Institute. No funding sources were involved in the study design.

    Thorsen may have moved to the US at a later date, but even if he did misuse CDC funds, that has nothing to do with this study.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2013

    @ Woo Fighter:

    For your enjoyment:
    Adams has a new Profile and History section up @ Health Ranger.com.

    Heh.

  11. #11 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 24, 2013

    @Eric Lund

    Dr. Thorsen received CDC money after the two “Danish studies” were completed. He was PI on some later studies for which he received the grants.

  12. #12 Shay
    September 24, 2013

    Ah, but it doesn’t matter! If he cheated once, he’s probably done it multiple times. NOTHING with his name on it can be trusted, doncherknaw.

  13. #13 lilady
    September 24, 2013

    The Autism Action Network is a PAC and involved with fundraising to raise money for A-Champ. It’s hard to figure out whether A-Champ still exists according to this website, but we do know that the Autism Action Network and its director John Gilmore are deeply involved in the “mercury as the cause of ASDs” crowd, as well as EBCALA, Brian Hooker, and the Geiers. I think the person in that video on their website is Gilmore.

    http://autismactionnetwork.org/

    So where is all that PAC money going to?

  14. #14 Edith Prickly
    September 24, 2013

    @Woo fighter:

    Mike Adams announced he is officially endorsing the Canary Party

    How much did Jennifer Larson pay him?

  15. #15 Matt Carey
    September 24, 2013

    Thanks for the good words, Orac.

    The new study is pretty clear evidence against the mercury hypothesis.

    Autism prevalence for birth cohorts in the 1990′s is the same in Denmar for years without thimerosal (about 1%) as in the US with thimerosal.

    ASD prevalence post thimerosal in Denmark is higher than pre thimerosal.

    Autistic disorder prevalence is higher post thimerosal than pre thimerosal.

    Autistic disorder prevalence is flat from 1996 onward.

    The press release is a good example of an attempt to mislead. It’s sad and damaging.

  16. #16 Edith Prickly
    September 24, 2013

    @DW

    @ Woo Fighter:

    For your enjoyment:
    Adams has a new Profile and History section up @ Health Ranger.com.

    Heh.

    If by “Profile” you mean a Gish Gallop of fictional/highly embellished accomplishments both large (spamware mogul) and small (occasionally shops at the Whole Foods in Austin )

    I loved this:

    He is known to have aced the English, Mathematics and Science sections of the SAT, earning numerous offers of scholarships from various universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (which he chose not to attend).

    Or possibly MIT “chose” not to admit him?

  17. #17 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 24, 2013

    Today, I find out that Foo Fighter drummer Taylor Hawkins (the band member who embraced the HIV denialism most vocally) is taking part in an upcoming benefit concert for Generation Rescue. I suppose that makes him anti-vaccine too, or at least supportive of their position. Woo magnetism in action.

    @ Woo Fighter, while Mr. Hawkins isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree given his HIV denialism, bear in mind that Generation Rescue does a good job of keeping their craxxy under the lid for PR purposes and Mr. Hawkins wouldn’t be the first person to believe they are performing for Generation Rescue without knowing about their slimy underpinnings.

  18. #18 rork
    September 24, 2013

    “He was in the middle of the pack of authors, meaning that he contributed to the studies but was not key. ”

    That’s offensive to many scientists, but we did get your point there.

  19. #19 ruthq
    beside a stack of unfolded laundry
    September 24, 2013

    I don’t understand how AoA can simultaneously claim that autism rates are going down (implicating thimerosal) and going up, up, up. (“OMG, it’s now 1 in x!!! Why isn’t anyone listening???) Unfortunately, anyone who can hold fast to those two beliefs at the same time doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to parse the distinction between incidence and prevalence.

  20. #20 Alain
    September 24, 2013

    @Mu

    I so which that someone would overlay these ASD diagnosis charts with data on “retarded” diagnosis

    I’d do it but I’m waist deep into code and can’t find the time to find the data (any member from the collective here can look it up?)

    Alain

  21. #21 AnObservingParty
    September 24, 2013

    @ Science Mom,

    Unfortunately, anybody who nowadays signs on with Generation Rescue should know about how they cray-cray and madly antivax just based on their entire Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Rescue

    The sad thing is that this is the nonsense that pulls in well-meaning, but not scientifically literate, people who would otherwise not question the safety of vaccination and can’t discern why the study has absolutely no bearing on whether the numbers from 2003 are accurate or not.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2013

    @ ruthq:

    I also wonder. But then studying both clinical and cognitive psych has also allowed me the luxury of speculating about how people are able to simultaneously think ( or behave) in mutually contradictory directions.

    This allows woo-meisters to teach followers that stress is unhealthy whilst they ramp up fear and anxiety about unlikely health and societal scenarios.

    And that corporations will do and say anything for a profit and doctors are greedy money grubbers
    while they do and say anything for a profit and slander/ libel doctors as they do worse indeed ( offering expensive treatments that don’t work).

    They speak about natural food products and sell artificially manufactured supplements.

    They scoff at standard news services whilst broadcasting largely fictional nonsense.

    And Mikey turned down MIT and instead educated himself.

    BUT people can do this when they are so motivated:

    e.g. a smoker knows about lung cancer but continues because quitting would cause discomfort.
    Woo-meisters do this because it is part of their advert blitz campaign to sell either products or ideas. The problem lies with the audience. I’ll venture that they disregard the obvious contradictions because they believe that their gurus’ motives are truly admirable and that ultimately, benefit will come to them because of the guru.

    Whe people change their attitude ( e.g.politics) it may be via a process of accumulation of doubts that eventually flower into a rejection of the original position and adoption of a new one.

    That’s why we’re here.

  23. #23 Eric Lund
    September 24, 2013

    Edith @16: MIT does not offer merit-based scholarships, so the statement you quoted is at minimum an embellishment. I also found the passive voice construction telling: known to whom? His SAT scores should be known only to him, ETS, and people/organizations to whom he has specifically released them, so it sounds as if he accidentally on purpose released his scores to the general public. Furthermore, if a university offered admission but he turned it down, we would have no way of independently verifying the offer, only that he did not attend that university.

  24. #24 palindrom
    September 24, 2013

    rork@18 — I don’t find it at all “offensive” to suggest that someone who’s in the middle of the author list probably didn’t make key contributions.

    Different fields have different conventions for author lists — in mine, it’s mostly in rough order of how important the people’s contributions were, sometimes with the Big Kahuna PI tacked on at the end to acknowledge that their grant-wriiting ability made it all possible. In other fields it’s strictly alphabetical — with a zillion authors, the first author is named something like “Aardvark”. I suspect the by-order-of-importance convention is somewhat more widespread.

  25. #25 Woo Fighter
    September 24, 2013

    RE Taylor Hawkins benefit concert: I looked at the poster again and the Age Of Autism logo is in one corner, the Generation Rescue logo is in the other corner. It appears to be a joint benefit.

    It behooves any celebrity to thoroughly check out any cause they intend to support or lend their name to. It’s not hard these days, as AOP points out. Five minutes on Google is all that is needed. I suspect Hawkins is fully aware of what he is endorsing.

    RE MIke Adams: There’s also a new blurb about him at the end of all his posts (“About The Author”) with a new photo where he appears to sport a paramilitary-style buzzcut. That blurb mentions his charity work and the fact that he is a musician who has written and performed “10 popular songs” with links to the videos.

    Today Mike is selling equipment to do “cupping” at home, for about $40. It’s an ancient healing art that is similar to deep tissue massage at a fraction of the price, so says he.

  26. #26 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 24, 2013

    Unfortunately, anybody who nowadays signs on with Generation Rescue should know about how they cray-cray and madly antivax just based on their entire Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Rescue

    @ AOP, yes they should but that requires a modicum of effort on their part and we are dealing with “celebrities” however minor. Very few are savvy enough to look under the lid; all they see is “autism charity” and want to do their part to help.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2013

    @ Woo Fighter:

    I’ve never seen Mikey with anything but very short hair- HOWEVER he does appear to being going grey -
    Hmm, I should think that a high intake of B vitamins and a raw, high ORAC diet would fix that like it does for Null- no grey to be seen there.

    The new HR bio is laugh out loud hilarious:
    what he says, ANYONE can say:
    ” I have an ultra-high IQ, I did so great at school, I got a degree at some U and offered thus-and-so @ that place, I got the highest grades on tests”- it’s meaningless if he doesn’t show a degree, a record, a result.

    What we can see though, is his writing – which is public. I doubt that he got spectacular grades in English. From his acceptance of a person like Null, I wouldn’t say much for his acumen in science or logic either. As for music, you can listen to his material yourself.

  28. #28 Khani
    September 24, 2013

    #25 … wait, cupping is similar to *deep tissue massage*?

    Massage involves *fire* now? Darnit, I went into the wrong profession.

  29. #29 TBruce
    September 24, 2013

    Hmm, I should think that a high intake of B vitamins and a raw, high ORAC diet would fix that like it does for Null- no grey to be seen there.

    Does that happen to be a formula that came from Greece?

  30. #30 brian
    September 24, 2013

    One can’t help but note the deception involved in Gilmore’s graph, which begins at 1995 and only shows the decrease and not the increase before that.

    That was what jumped out at me when I read the article yesterday: Obviously, since the prevalence of ASD was higher after thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines than it had been when the exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines was at its peak, it’s absolutely clear that the author intentionally misinformed his scientifically-illiterate audience by lying by omission.

  31. #31 Woo Fighter
    September 24, 2013

    Khani,

    The cups he’s selling don’t require the fire. They’re silicone cups, essentially large suction cups that the user squeezes to create the vacuum.

  32. #32 Khani
    September 24, 2013

    Well where’s the fun in that?

  33. #33 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2013

    @ TBruce:

    More likely it’s an entirely natural herbal henna product from Amin’s in Chennai. Trust me, I know these things.

  34. #34 ruthq
    September 24, 2013

    Kind of OT. Don’t look now, but Wakefiled is trying to raise 200K on indiegogo to produce his “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” documentary. Sleazeball.

  35. #35 herr doktor bimler
    September 24, 2013

    trying to raise 200K on indiegogo

    He may be interested in my new fundraising platform, Prickstarter.

  36. #36 ebrillblaiddes
    September 25, 2013

    Obviously further research is needed. The series of Danish studies cannot be called complete without a rigorous comparison of cheese, cherry, and apple. I volunteer to take one for the team since it’s for science.

  37. #37 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 25, 2013

    @ebrillblaiddes, I volunteer for either the cheese or apple arm of the study. I have the cyanide tasting facility and cherry, marzipan and fake cherry taste revolting to me.

  38. #38 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    September 25, 2013

    I’ve already seen numerous av’ers try to use this study to claim “OMG AUTISM and VACCINES!”

    The whole concept of ‘this study doesn’t examine vaccines – it examines autism prevalence’ simply eludes them.

    And as far as the average age of ASD being diagnosed in DK (aged 5) – that’s most likely because of the daycare (børnehaven) -> folkeskole set up.

    Daycare employees actually study to be pedagoger – so they have some training in working with speech, etc with the kids – and there’s a speech/hearing evaluation for the kids there, as well.

    Kids can start school (kindergarten) in 0. klasse the year they turn 6 – so if they’re a winter baby, they’re actually 5 when they start. That’s mandated – so there’s no ‘redshirting’ or ‘starting early’.

  39. #39 Broken Link
    September 25, 2013

    “prickstarter”! LOL!

    Andy, himself, in the comments states that it is really starting to get rolling. But it’s only at $4K out of $200K needed. I expect he pictures himself rolling in the dough.

  40. #40 Narad
    September 25, 2013

    His SAT scores should be known only to him

    Moreover, the SAT that Adams would have taken only had two scoring categories, math and verbal.

    He is known to have aced the English, Mathematics and Science sections of the SAT, earning numerous offers of scholarships from various universities

    And unlike the ASVAB, nobody comes a-knockin’ just for being in the 99.5+ percentiles, in my experience.

  41. #41 Nick Theodorakis
    September 25, 2013

    Pfft. Who cares about your old SAT scores. I got an 11 on my APGAR!

  42. #42 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 25, 2013

    @herr doktor bimler – I just went to prickstarter.com and my eyes still burn. I didn’t think some of those things were possible or worth doing …

  43. #43 Denice Walter
    September 25, 2013

    @ Mephistopheles:

    But can you imagine what a real con-artist could do at that site?
    Oh wait, Andy’s already there.

  44. #44 herr doktor bimler
    September 25, 2013

    I got an 11 on my APGAR!
    Now I will spend the day looking for an opportunity to boast that “Our APGARs go up to 11!”

  45. #45 herr doktor bimler
    September 25, 2013

    trying to raise 200K on indiegogo

    In similar news, the makers of the “Atlas Shrugged” movies — promoting the virtues of selfishness — are asking for donations to help advertise their Part-3 production.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/09/24/there-is-no-contradiction/

  46. #46 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 25, 2013

    I just went to prickstarter.com and my eyes still burn.

    Wait, that’s a real site? I thought y’all were joking around. I’ll have to look, and… Dayum, is that a puppy or a blender?

  47. #47 Jon Hewitt
    Auburn, N.Y.
    September 29, 2013

    Hi Orac,
    Good article. Please help me to understand something. I have carefully studied the 2013 Danish publication. Having done so it makes sense on the surface. The authors of the study state CA accounts for approximately 30% of all cases, and is the most severe form of ASD.
    In the graph illustrated by Matt Carey, and the authors of the study, the classification of CA is independent of ASD’s. Why is that? Shouldn’t the total cases of ASD’s be inclusive of CA as well. For example, looking at 1994-1995 there are two separate columns representing 1864 cases of ASD, and 436 CA cases respectively. Am I to surmise there were a total of 2300 cases altogether? In the ICD-10 for Childhood Autism there are six sub-classes. There is a distinct differentiation of symptoms for each subclass. However, all sub-classes fall under one heading, “Childhood Autism.” Maybe I’m wrong . But looking at 94-95, it would make more sense out of 1864 cases, 30% of those were considered most severe or CA.
    If it were the other way around, shouldn’t we have more columns for each year, for Asperger’s, Atypical Autism, OPPD and PDD unspecified. Or are these considered ASD’s, and CA is a separate category. Please help me get this right. CA accounts for 30% of all cases, right, or no? If I calculate 30% of all cases for the 24 years of tracking, then I come up with a number pretty close to the 3494 total CA cases as listed independent of all ASD’s, and that would make more sense.
    So if I were to superimpose the two columns, that would also make more sense. Took me a while to get there. That said, then there truly is a steady decline in the total ASD’s from 1995 forward, with a relatively flat line of the most severe cases from 1997 forward. The study neither looked for, nor was designed to show an association between thimerosal and autism.
    The authors also stated, the reported prevalence of ASD has increased during the last two decades. They also say ASD is a rare disorder. Even Matt Carey agrees there’s an environmental factor. I won’t even bring up conflicts of interest in this study or the 2003 study, suffice it to say they do exist.
    Expanding the definition, broadening the definition, and diagnostic substitution are not consistent with the facts, sorry. I can easily substantiate why, and upon request I shall. None of those explanations hold water here in the U.S., none of them!
    I do however agree, Poul Thorsen should be held accountable. If your gonna call him a bad guy under one breath, and defend his science under the other, then why not call Wakefield a bad gut and defend his science as well. He correctly associated the MMR with autistic entrocolitis. The difference is he never broke the law in doing so. I can certainly substantiate that as well upon request.
    You say there’s no association between thimerosal or vaccines , and autism. You’re right, as far as you know. I can tell you for a fact there is an association, and can easily substantiate that as well. Please, don’t even tell me the polio vaccine is responsible for the eradication of polio. Polio had virtually disappeared entirely from the U.S. before the Sabine vaccine was introduced in 1962.
    Better awareness? Is that what you call it? An argument can in fact be made, and substantiated, once again, that we’re all more aware of ASD’s because there are substantially more of them in record numbers. DSM IV released in 1994, expanded the class of PDD to included Asperger’s and Rett’s as subclasses with AD, and CDD (as spelled out in DSM-III-R). Thus the definition of AS was theoretically expanded. But, the central definition fell more in line to Kanner’s 1943 description. There’s nothing new here. It’s not seek and you shall find. They’re there alright, and there’s a lot more of them.
    Denmark’s a nice place been there, done that. But it’s relatively small. What applies there doesn’t translate well here. We have a much larger problem. And almost 675,000 autistic children, 1:50 ASD prevalence. No they weren’t there all along. I suppose you’re gonna tell me there’s no epidemic either. If they were there all along, then where are all the tens of thousands of autistic adults we missed before? There aren’t any Orac, they weren’t there to begin with.
    It’s easy for me to poorly design any study I don’t want to find specific results for. We’ve been doing it for years, to think otherwise would be naive. To claim that mercury/thimerosal has no effect in neurological conditions(autism) requires practical experience without reference to scientific priciples, or a “null theory.” This is in fact logically impossible, and would require testing, and ruling out all the possible ways, and all the possible situations that thimerosal might cause neurological development disorders. Once a single contrary hypothesis has been established to disprove a null hypothesis, then there’s no going back. Yet that’s what our government has done and continues to do.
    Scientific study is based on anecdotal information. There’s to much verbal evidence, testimonies, and Supreme Court awards. Epidemiological facts are based on people, not statistics. If my kid got autism from a vaccination, that would be all the evidence I need to establish and void the null hypothesis. Vioxx single handed killed more people than the Vietnam war. Now it’s safe again! But I digress.
    Kanner only needed 11 children, Wakefield 12 children, to eventually establish scientific fact. How many more children do we need to establish a roll in the “old vaccine/autism” argument. We still use thimerosal. Even if we got rid of it, autism could continue to climb. 49shots/126 antigens-vaccines, before six years of age. No safety studies. And, the flu shot has only killed an average of 1,348 people a year since 1979 (their statistics, not mine). Of course all this information will probably fall on deaf ears anyway, it usually does, but not always. More and more people are starting to wake up. It might take a while, but years from now I think you’ll see that it all makes a lot of sense.

  48. #48 Lawrence
    September 29, 2013

    @Jon – rather than play coy, why don’t you post your “evidence?”

    Also, these series of studies seem to negate pretty much everything you’ve stated anyway:

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

  49. #49 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 29, 2013

    What in Hades is with these scientifically-illiterate types and their aversion of the return key? I suppose in a way it is a shortcut to identify their ignorant rants.

  50. #50 Chris
    September 29, 2013

    Jon Hewitt: “Kanner only needed 11 children, Wakefield 12 children, to eventually establish scientific fact.”

    Um, no. Wakefield lied. He did not establish any fact.

  51. #51 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 29, 2013

    <blockquoteExpanding the definition, broadening the definition, and diagnostic substitution are not consistent with the facts, sorry. I can easily substantiate why, and upon request I shall. Consider the request made. Please be sure to provide links to credible sources for your data. Also please be sure to discuss whether these play no part in the statistics or only a partial role. Thanks in advance.

  52. #52 TBruce
    September 29, 2013

    @jon:
    The reason that polio had almost disappeared when the Sabin ( not Sabine) vaccine was introduced in 1962 was that the Salk vaccine was in near- universal use since its introduction in the mid-fifties.

    Everything else in your stream of dimwittery is equally wrong.

  53. #53 Denice Walter
    September 29, 2013

    Now I haven’t read this stuff in 30 years- but I read a lot of it-

    but I distinctly recall Freud describing a condition wherein children fail to progress through the psychosexual stages and remain in the earliest egocentrism which he attributes – along with other severe mental illnesses- to problems with the “germ plasm”-
    they don’t form attachments to people, they remain in their “own world”, they don’t communicate, there is no way to “reach them” et al.

    He never called it autism though.
    Freud died in 1939.
    There’s also material by Anna Freud that suggests that she was aware of conditions like ASDs.

    Those who study attachment, primarily Bowlby, note this.

  54. #54 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 29, 2013

    @Jon Hewitt:

    then why not call Wakefield a bad gut and defend his science as well. He correctly associated the MMR with autistic entrocolitis.

    False. The data pointed away from a correlation, so Wakefield cooked it.

    The difference is he never broke the law in doing so. I can certainly substantiate that as well upon request.

    False, and you can’t. He subjected 12 children to needless medical tests. He ordered those medical tests desopite not haveing the quthority to do so. He drew blood from children at a birthday party. He was found guilty of multiple breaches at his hearing. Wakefield broke the law repeatedly and you can’t prove otherwise.

  55. #55 Khani
    September 29, 2013

    “Expanding the definition, broadening the definition, and diagnostic substitution are not consistent with the facts, sorry. I can easily substantiate why, and upon request I shall.”

    Do.

  56. #56 Khani
    September 29, 2013

    “I can tell you for a fact there is an association, and can easily substantiate that as well.”

    Do.

  57. #57 Khani
    September 29, 2013

    “No they weren’t there all along.”

    While you’re at it, you can back that one up too, along with all the rest of your unsupported assertions.

    Any evidence?

  58. #58 herr doktor bimler
    September 29, 2013

    You say there’s no association between thimerosal or vaccines , and autism. You’re right, as far as you know. I can tell you for a fact there is an association, and can easily substantiate that as well. Please, don’t even tell me the polio vaccine is responsible for the eradication of polio

    A sequitur. Can I offer you one?

  59. #59 herr doktor bimler
    September 29, 2013

    If your gonna call [Thorsen] a bad guy under one breath, and defend his science under the other

    What part of Madsen, Lauritsen, Pedersen, Thorsen, Plesner, Andersen & Mortensen is so hard to understand?

    What part of “If Thorsen is guilty” is so hard to understand? Danish tax-evasion charges were thrown out by the High Court. US charges remain as accusations and no-one seems to be pursuing them very hard.

  60. #60 Bill Price
    Nowhere, according to Jon
    September 29, 2013

    Last night I saw upon the stair
    A little man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    Oh, how I wish he’d go away
    —Hughes Mearns, 1899

    #47 Jon Hewitt, Auburn, N.Y.,September 29, 2013

    If they were there all along, then where are all the tens of thousands of autistic adults we missed before? There aren’t any Orac, they weren’t there to begin with.

    With your vast (or half vast, as it were) expertise in the area, would you be so kind as to explain to my kids and grandkids that their septuagenarian father and grandfather doesn’t exist, that I “[wasn't] there to begin with”? While you’re explaining it to then, mayhap you’ll explain it to the rest of us.
    Thinking about it, my not being “there to begin with” goes a long way to explaining certain difficulties I’ve experienced over my years of non-existence. þ

  61. #61 novalox
    September 29, 2013

    @jon Hewitt

    Speaking as someone who had worked with MR/DD individuals at a center, I can say to you that there always have been autistic adults, but they have been labeled historically with other people with developmental disabilities. I know this because the center that I worked at had individuals who today would be classified as autistic based on their symptoms but back then were labeled as “dumb”, “idiotic”, and “simpletons”.

    So yes, your analogy falls flat in the face of historical evidence.

  62. #62 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 30, 2013

    And jon hewitt turns out to be another Brave Sir Robin when his assertions are challenged.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.