Thanks, Daily Kos.

Well, not really. You’ll see why in a minute, but first here’s the background. There’s a general impression out there that the political right is associated with the antiscience that includes anthropogenic global warming denialism, denial of evolution, and denial of aspects of reproductive biology that don’t jibe with their religious beliefs, and that consensus while the political left’s brand of antiscience includes antivaccine beliefs and fear mongering about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Of course, as I’ve discussed many times before, it’s more complicated than that, with there being no strong evidence, for instance, that antivaccinationism is more strongly associated with liberal political views than conservative political views, and there’s plenty of evidence of right-wing opposition to GMOs and to vaccines based on the same pseudoscience that launched nonsensical studies like those by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen and Judy Carman from the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Australia. It just tends to be the reasons that differ. For instance, antivaccinationists on the left tend to fear vaccines because they view them as somehow “unnatural” and products of big pharma, which they hate and fear, while antivaccinationists on the right tend to oppose not so much vaccines themselves, but any sort of vaccine mandate, as “big government” overreach. Indeed, there was an excellent example of this just the other day with Rush Limbaugh’s less talented and intelligent wannabe doppleganger, Sean Hannity, ranting against the recent school flu vaccine mandate by New York City as “forced vaccination”:


Note that it’s Hannity and the Republican strategist who are against this mandate, while the Democratic strategist is the voice of reason. And, of course, Sean Hannity has promoted “health freedom” with respect to cancer quackery in the past. Hannity also notes that other conservative “luminaries” like the ever-despicable Mark Levin are into “holistic” therapy as he defends the rights of homeopaths not to vaccinate.

But back to Kos. Earlier this week, there was a brain-numbingly stupid antivaccine screed by a Kos diarist with the ‘nym carolinewriter entitled Beef heart, human diploid tissue, air bags–I tie it all together .. The only reason I didn’t get to it earlier this week is because of rapid-fire developments in the case of Sarah Hershberger, Stanislaw Burzynski, and the Katie Couric show about HPV vaccines. This Kos article begins with one of the most brain dead of antivaccine arguments ever, one that I’ve heard time and time again in various forms:

If I witnessed my child get bruised and harmed immediately after he was hurt by an air bag, and a journalist reported on it so that we could make them safer, no one would accuse the journalist or me of being “anti-air bag” or try to reframe our argument that we were “against air bags” or “anti-science”. Instead, we would be applauded for trying to make the air bags as safe as possible. After all, I BOUGHT a car with an air bag, right? I was PRO-AIR BAG . But they didn’t work as expected. I want them to work better. I want my son’s suffering to prevent another child’s suffering. I want air bags to save children but at the same time, be designed in a way that hurts as few as possible. If the injury is not acknowledged, how can we make the air bag better? If I am silent, they will not continue to refine the air bags or test them or find out why my son was hurt –what was different about him– so that they can prevent future injury.

Only one source would try to make that bogus straw man argument. The car manufacturer, who did not want to go to the trouble to make the air bags safer. And agencies that actually think the populace is so stupid that if they knew air bags could harm some kids, they wouldn’t buy cars with air bags.

Be careful. There’s a black hole of stupidity embedded in this post so powerful that it’s likely to suck the intelligence embedded in even the hardiest collection of neurons past its event horizon into its massive ignorance. Yes, this is the same disingenuous “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine’; I’m pro-safe vaccine” argument beloved of antivaccinationists since time immemorial (or at least since before I started paying attention to the issue). Here’s the problem. These “injuries” that carolinewriter attributes to vaccines are not due to vaccines. They are, as antivaccinationists have an amazing propensity to latch onto, a classic example of confusing correlation with causation. It’s not as though these questions haven’t been studied time and time and time again. The result is always the same in studies that have been conducted rigorously with large numbers of subjects: There is no correlation between vaccination and autism, developmental delay, autoimmune disease, or any other of the conditions antivaccinationists frequently associate with vaccination.

But carolinewriter is all about the science, maaaan, so much so that she has to convince people with her bona fides as a science-loving liberal:

Katie Couric just got shamed into retracting a story that reported on vaccine injuries from the HPV vaccine. She was accused of being “anti-science”. Tell me. I have a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon. I am VERY far left life time liberal. I respect science. SO I know that nothing is 100% safe and if an industry is bullying us by demanding we say it is, or get shamed into silence, they are trying to hide something. This is not new to Pharma. They have done this with product after product. The only difference is that even the left has been duped by their accusation that any questioning of vaccine ingredients, policies, or side effects, is “anti-science”. How is it “anti science” to point out that no medical product is perfect, and that we need to make them as safe as possible? How is it “anti-science” to say, I witnessed this from my child, and there are MANY credible studies that explain why this could have happened, why it is plausible: http://www.fourteenstudies.org/…

Yes indeed. Given how cold it is in my neck of the woods these days, along with a threat of significant snow beginning tonight, I do so love a giant burning straw man that you can see from space. Maybe it’ll help keep me warm. Of course, no one is saying that it is “antiscience” to point out that all pharmaceutical products have a risk-benefit profile. That is not, however, what carolinewriter and her fellow antivaccinationists are doing. The are doing what I like to call “misinformed consent” in that they inflate the risks of vaccines and downplay their benefits, citing a website by a bunch of the most passionate antivaccinationists on the planet as her “evidence” to support her claims. These studies are either horrible studies or misrepresented. Either way, they do not show what the antivaccine group behind the website (Generation Rescue) claim that they show. Not at all, not now, not ever. In fact, carolinewriter, by citing those papers, pretty much invalidated any claim she might have to be “science-based.”

carolinewriter also can’t resist using an old antivaccine trope so hoary that she probably had to brush the fossilized dinosaur feces off of it before trotting it out, namely what I like to call the “toxins” gambit. I’ve written about it many, many times. For all her claims of being pro-science, carolinewriter appears not to understand something so basic as the concept of dose-response curves and the well-known medical maxim that the dose makes the poison. Instead she trots out the same old trope of scary-sounding ingredients in some vaccines:

The following ingredients are in the DTaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel) vaccine, just for example. This is from the CDC site. Is it not plausible that SOME infants might get a dangerous reaction from these? The package inserts on each vaccine, and on GARDISIL!, also mention that some patients may have allergic reactions, and worse, and if they do, you should stop vaccinating that patient with followup vaccines. Read this from the DTP 5-way shot:

aluminum phosphate, polysorbate 80, formaldehyde, gutaraldehyde, bovine serum albumin, 2-phenoxethanol, neomycin, polymyxin B sulfate, Mueller’s Growth Medium, Mueller-Miller casamino acid medium (without beef heart infusion), Stainer-Scholte medium (modified by the addition of casamino acids and dimethyl-beta-cyclodextrin), MRC-5 (human diploid) cells, CMRL 1969 medium (supplemented with calf serum).

Here’s a hint. Think dose. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn’t do what our old bud Dr. Jay Gordon did and try to compare vaccine manufacturers to tobacco companies back in the day when tobacco companies were doing everything they could to deny the emerging science showing how harmful cigarette smoke is to human health.

I will admit, however, that it was a mildly clever ploy to try to link vaccines to other complaints about big business and big pharma. The woman knows her audience, and no one is saying that we should trust big business and big pharma unconditionally or that criticizing big pharma is “anti-science.” What is antiscience is making claims for harm from vaccines that are not only not supported by science but refuted by science and making them using pseudoscientific arguments from antivaccine activist groups. That’d do it. So would her referring to a study listed on PubMed as an “NIH study” just because, apparently, it is listed in PubMed, even though they are not actually NIH studies. In fact, the study she cites is from Brazil.

So would a passage like this:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving were not against cars or even drinking. They were for safer drinking. Nearly everyone I have ever known personally who fights for vaccine safety fight for vaccines to be SAFER not to eliminate vaccines. Yes, there are a few who are simply “against” vaccines with no coherent reason. But they are the straw men and they don’t represent parents who have seen serious harm come to their infants, who just happen to have different, more sensitive metabolisms. Their only motivation is to prevent others from suffering as their family did, to acknowledge this occurs so that we can treat it accordingly, to identify who is at risk, and to make vaccines safer for others. What other product on the face of the earth is purported to be one hundred per cent safe? It is anti science to suggest that Vaccines are perfectly safe! That is it acceptable to allow harm to some “for the greater good” without acknowledging it, trying to identify who might be at risk, or trying to prevent it.

Ah, more straw men set afire with flamethrowers of burning stupid. No one says anyone is simply “against” vaccines with no coherent reason. They are, however, against vaccines for reasons that seem coherent to them but are rooted in the cognitive quirks that all humans share that lead us to be too quick to confuse correlation with causation, along with a heaping helping of motivated reasoning. Also, no one who is pro-vaccine claims that vaccines are “perfectly safe.” We point out that the scientific evidence indicates that they are incredibly safe and that their risk-benefit ratio is incredibly favorable, but we do not claim that adverse reactions to vaccines never happen or that it is antiscience to question whether vaccines are “perfectly safe.” We do point out that it is antiscience to deny vaccine science, cherry pick studies, and promote misinformed consent by claiming vaccines cause adverse events that science shows they almost certainly don’t cause.

Finally, if you really want a reliable indicator of someone who is antiscience on an issue, it’s when that person tries to turn the “antiscience” charge around and falsely level it at her critics:

You cannot imagine my frustration as a lefty who has seen this happen with my own eyes and my own son, having my motives and experience attacked and misrepresented, by my fellow liberals. I know global warming happens and in fact, I equate vaccine injury deniers to global warming deniers. (The pharma industry flipped that analogy on its head and everybody bought it . . . . ) I think GMOs are dangerous. I campaigned for Obama. I love Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren. And my child WAS injured by a vaccine. A vaccine that is sold at great profit by a giant corporation that uses tobacco science tactics to silence those who have been harmed. Please start listening and stop attacking parents and vaccine injury victims. Support us in our quest for safer vaccines. For the good of your own future infant, or your teenager, so that his or her vaccines can be as safe as possible, just in case he or she has the metabolism that can’t process heavy metal adjuvants or other odd ingredients. This is not anti-science. It’s common sense. I know some of you will attack this. I am willing to pay that price in honor of my son’s struggle. I hope others will start to wake up. Thank you.

I find it amusing that carolinewriter tries to convince her readers that she’s not antiscience by claiming that she thinks GMOs are dangerous. Here’s a hint: That’s even more evidence that she’s probably antiscience. I bet she probably cites the same sort of pseudoscience and antiscience to justify her fear of GMOs, such as the studies I mentioned above. Of course, then she uses a tactic beloved of the antivaccine crowd over at AoA, to try to co-opt the term “denialism” to use against those who argue science by referring to them as “vaccine injury denialists” or “vaccine injury deniers.” Unfortunately, she chose one of the worst examples imaginable. The science showing that AGW is happening is very strong, consisting of studies from a wide variety of sources and disciplines all converging on the same conclusion: That human activity is a major contributor to global climate change. The “science” supporting vaccine injury, at least as viewed by antivaccinationists, consists of a flimsy patchwork of bad science, pseudoscience, and antiscience “studies.” There is no comparison.

All of us feel sympathy for a parent, like carolinewriter, who has a special needs child. That sympathy sometimes even causes us to hold back and sometimes even not to refute pseudoscience. It shouldn’t, particularly when one promotes dangerous pseudoscience. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Sean Hannity or carolinewriter promoting dangerous antivaccine pseudoscience. It needs to be countered.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @herr doktor bimler

    I did see you for a while now pretending to be that wise old sage, with your propensity for those Confuscious-like, one-line puns.

    Please identify yourself and state your purpose! You may begin by stating whether you believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the CDC’s childhood recommended vaccination schedule plays a causal role in autism. Please remember to provide just a one-word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. And, I suppose I need not remind you that Confucious never lied.

  2. #2 Krebiozen
    January 5, 2014

    And, I suppose I need not remind you that Confucious never lied.

    I don’t suppose he played stupid word games a toddler could see through either.

  3. #3 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 5, 2014

    @Greg,
    Safeminds? Safeminds??
    You lose, Greggles. I’m not up to deconstructing that, but I’d be very surprised if nobody here was able to do so.

  4. #4 Krebiozen
    January 5, 2014

    Oh please, not the mind-numbingly moronic Safe Minds drivel, written by people who very obviously have not the faintest clue about interpreting epidemiological or any other scientific evidence.

    For example Mark Blaxill offers his word of wisdom about the Madsen MMR study that we have looked at here in some detail:

    He argued that “there is no really good reason (and the authors offer none) to consider duration of the disorder as opposed to its presence. Autism is generally considered a lifelong disorder, so the effect is the same among two year olds as it is among eight year olds.

    He apparently did not notice that the study does not look at duration of the disorder, since diagnosis with autism is one of the endpoints of the study, and follow-up of a child diagnosed with autism ended at the point of diagnosis. To quote the study:

    Follow-up for the diagnosis of autistic disorder or another autistic-spectrum disorder began for all children on the day they reached one year of age and continued until the diagnosis of autism or an associated condition (the fragile X syndrome, Angelman’s syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or congenital rubella), emigration, death, or the end of follow-up, on December 31, 1999, whichever occurred first.

    “Duration of the disorder” was not measured, and was not part of the study. Maybe that’s why they didn’t feel the need to offer an explanation for why they included it: they didn’t.

    Like that dingbat from AoA, Blaxill also calculates the incidence of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated children without controlling for age, which is a blindingly obvious confounder:

    The actual prevalence of autism in the 440,655 children who received MMR vaccinations in Denmark was 6.1 per 10,000 as compared to the rate of 4.9 per 10,000 in the 96,648 unvaccinated children. At the population level, the risk of autism was therefore 26% higher in the group vaccinated with MMR, a calculation the authors never reported.

    As we have discussed here ad nauseam, of course the prevalence of autism was higher in the vaccinated children, since the vaccinated children were older than the unvaccinated ones. The likelihood of both having had MMR and of being diagnosed with autism increase with age. I find it hard to express just how idiotic it is to ignore that in this way.

    Blaxill also argues that children who developed autism or ASD before they were given MMR should be included in the vaccinated with autism group, more evidence that he doesn’t understand that these children were not followed in the study after their autism/ASD diagnosis. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe anyone could be so clueless, but he really does argue exactly that. In his own words:

    The authors determined that six of the children diagnosed with autism and seven of those diagnosed with other autistic spectrum disorders had such an early onset of the symptoms that the disorder was diagnosed before the MMR vaccine was administered. They decided that this reversed sequence of events argued against a causal role for MMR in autism, so they placed these vaccinated children in the group they called “unvaccinated” even though they had clearly received MMR vaccine.

    In moving autistic children into the unvaccinated group, the authors increased the pool of unvaccinated children by 13% and reduced the pool of vaccinated children by 2%.

    It seems that in Blaxill’s world, causality can work both ways, and MMR can cause a child to become autistic even before they receive the vaccine. Anything is possible, as long as it points to the conclusion that vaccines cause autism, it seems.

    There is more, much, much more, but after a display of burning stupidity so intense, I am dropping the Safe Minds article into a safe idiocy-proof receptacle.

    I will merely additionally note that they provide no evidence to support their hypothesis, they merely nit-pick at 16 studies that, despite any real or invented short-comings, all fail to provide the evidence one would expect to see if their hypothesis were correct.

  5. #5 Lawrence
    January 5, 2014

    @Kreb – so Blaxill is complaining that children that were diagnosed as “autistic” before they received the MMR, but were vaccinated later, should be included in the “vaccinated & autistic group?”

    That logic alone shows why he is a gigantic fail – though the recent evidence that he has thrown the Geiers under the bus (and early on even, if only in private) shows that he’s not entirely wedded to cranks….only willing to use them as long as they are useful for placating the lunatic fringe (and that’s saying something, given the typical AoAer) but giving him plausible deniability later on, when their Science is exposed for the fraud it is….

  6. #6 Agashem
    My own private Idaho
    January 5, 2014

    OK, I will try again. My child was born in 1993 and has autism. Diagnosed at age 3.5 or so. We thought she was normal. Come to find out respective grandmothers both had suspicions she was not neurotypical. I posit that along with the mangoes in the grocery store and the two dogs we owned and the fact we were living on the edge of a dead river valley in a very cold part of the world, near a whole bunch of dinosaur fossils, all contributed to her condition (which by the way, she would not change even if she were given the opportunity to because she likes the way she is. Temple Grandin says the same thing). So, to all antivaxxers out there, prove that my daughter’s austism was caused by vaccines rather than the above. And we love her the way she is and wouldn’t change a hair on her head (although we would like it if she stopped trying to mimic Eric Idle in Life of Brian because she does the WORST cockney accent you have ever heard and she delights in annoying us with it.)

  7. #7 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 5, 2014

    I have to believe that Greg made a simple copy and paste error when he posted that link. After all, the correct way to respond to the question “Which Cochrane reviews support your statements” would be a link to the Cochrane site, PubMed, or some other location that contained the paper or linked to it. If one were really trying to make the point, he would include an excerpt from that paper that proves the point. Something like:

    “If you look at the Cochrane Summary titled “Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella” , available at http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004407/using-the-combined-vaccine-for-protection-of-children-against-measles-mumps-and-rubella, it says

    We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Crohn’s disease, demyelinating diseases, or bacterial or viral infections. The methodological quality of many of the included studies made it difficult to generalise their results.

    This clearly shows that the Cochrane Collaboration has determined that vaccines may cause autism.”

  8. #8 Krebiozen
    January 5, 2014

    M.O’B.,

    I have to believe that Greg made a simple copy and paste error when he posted that link.

    I don’t think so. In amongst the other drivel that SafeMinds article does regurgitate from Cochrane some of the weaknesses of the studies that fail to find a shadow of a hint of link between vaccines and autism. None of those weaknesses are enough to throw those studies out, and some of the weaknesses would make it more likely they would find a non-existent link (a Type 1 error), rather than not find a real one (A Type 2 error).

  9. #9 Krebiozen
    January 5, 2014

    Lawrence,

    @Kreb – so Blaxill is complaining that children that were diagnosed as “autistic” before they received the MMR, but were vaccinated later, should be included in the “vaccinated & autistic group?”

    I have read and reread what he wrote several times, and can come to no other understanding. Can anyone else? Greg perhaps?

    It annoys me very greatly that people so grossly incompetent that they can’t understand a fairly simple study design, or even even understand that causes generally precede effects, feel they are somehow qualified to criticize and challenge competent scientists in such a dangerous way.

  10. #10 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 5, 2014

    Krebiozen – Well, I was unwilling to believe that he would knowingly answer the question with a link to a site that was not a valid source for the statement he intended to back up and gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, I stand corrected. And somewhat disillusioned. My impression of human integrity has been diminished by a small fraction.

    Sigh.

  11. #11 Politicalguineapig
    January 5, 2014

    Mewens: Thank you, glad you liked it.

  12. #12 Lawrence
    January 5, 2014

    @Kreb – why pay attention to all of those pesky researchers and scientists that have spent decades investigating and publishing….

    I mean, we should only rely on eye-witness testimony…right? I mean, it isn’t like Science has proven that eye-witness accounts are one of the worst forms of evidence…..

    Oh yeah, it has…as evidenced by hundreds of people being freed from prison after being wrongly convicted by eye-witness testimony.

  13. #13 MI Dawn
    January 5, 2014

    That’s precisely WHY I posted the question. I sincerely doubt Greg can read and understand a Cochrane Review, link to it, and give an honest analysis of the findings. The fact that he linked to SafeMinds, which twists results to suit their needs, tells me how dishonest he is.

    I’m personally not good with statistics. But I can certainly understand that in the Madson study the assessment of the child ended either when a) the child was diagnosed with autism or an ASD or b) when the study ended.

    Can anyone tell me WTF Blaxill was thinking when he tried to include children who were diagnosed as autistic before they received the MMR in the ‘vaccinated and autistic’ category? Besides lying about the results and CYA, of course.

  14. #14 Vicki
    January 5, 2014

    In that entirely made up evil eye example, I would assume that “Tom” either broke the child’s arm himself, or got a friend or hireling to do it. That’s a fairly simple explanation, which fits with the postulated facts that Tom is the sort of person who wants others to believe that he has the evil eye and is willing to use it on a random child just to prove he can. We also know (prior to this hypothetical) that there are adults who will break someone’s arm–even a child’s arm–on purpose, not by accident or in self defense.

  15. #15 Stu
    January 5, 2014

    Just to pile on, Greg:

    thinking your are missing the full details of my argument of how to proceed when science is in conflict with observable evidence, be they anecdotal.

    Category error. Anecdotes are by definition not evidence because it is not observable. It’s a contradiction in terms. If anecdotes are classified as “observable evidence”, i.e. in the same neighborhood as the results from proper trials, observed incidence and the likes… we should IMMEDIATELY start massive research into Lizard People. There are oodles of “observable evidence” presented by David Icke that we should look into toute suite!

    Of course, Greg, that’s not what you’re saying. Those people are obviously nuts. What you’re saying is that YOU can decide which anecdotes — sorry, pieces of “observable evidence” — are worthy of research and better than actual science that contradicts it.

    This is the arrogance of ignorance. You do not have clue one about how science works, but feel justified in dismissing it when it contradicts a viewpoint you hold. The problem is that you are too damned stupid, uneducated and arrogant to even hold a substantiated view on this.

    The issue is one of effort. We must make every effort to resolve the dispute, whether it involves trying our darnedest to come up with a plausible explanation of why the anecdotal evidence is wrong

    Bullsh*t. You’re advocating this “maybe all the science is wrong” on one issue only. Or are you saying you would support massive research into debunking the Flat Earth Society’s viewpoints?

    What, there’s already sufficient evidence to call them kooks?

    Same goes for vaccines. You’ve been slapped in the face with it here for weeks and you STILL hang on to your lunacy.

    or, failing that, rechecking and rechecking the science to see if we did indeed get it right.

    So you’re openly admitting now that no research proving no autism-vaccine link will EVER be enough for you. Ever. We just need to keep re-checking it until something says you’re right. Please point me to your same support for re-checking heliocentrism, Greg. If you do not, you’ve admitted to being nothing but yet another ignorant, arrogant, bottom-feeding hypocrite.

  16. #16 Stu
    January 5, 2014

    Oh, okay:

    You may begin by stating whether you believe that vaccines as administered in their totality according to the CDC’s childhood recommended vaccination schedule plays a causal role in autism.

    No. If you believe otherwise, please provide credible research.

  17. #17 Stu
    January 5, 2014

    This is just for Agashem:

  18. #18 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 5, 2014

    “The fact is that coincidence is always a possible explanation. Always. Always. Always.

    Indeed it may be a possible explanation Antaeus, but the issue is whether it is always plausible. Perhaps this example may best illustrate the point:

    What Earthly good could it do to discuss that utterly unrealistic hypothetical scenario, when it bears absolutely no relation to the real-world situation?

    In the hypothetical scenario, those who believe in the power of the Evil Eye can support their position by making extremely specific predictions about events that have not yet happened, predictions that then come true.

    In the real world, not only can antivaxxers not make specific predictions that subsequently come true about the harm that will befall a specific named child as a result of vaccines (their ‘Evil Eye’) they don’t even do very well accurately describing things that have already happened which they ascribe to vaccines!

    We’re getting a first-hand look at that right now, of course, with Gerg showing himself unable to grasp the concept that “autism-like symptoms” is not a synonym for “autism”.

    But we have even better proof than that; the Autism Omnibus trial was supposed to select, out of all these supposedly “countless” examples of children given autism by vaccines, the six that were absolutely the clearest examples. We can safely presume, I believe, that the best abilities of the antivax brigade were bent to this task, so if there was anyone in the antivax camp who possessed that near-miraculous ability to predict “Bobby will suffer the autism-equivalent of a broken right arm, and it will be the fault of those Evil Eye-like vaccines!!” it would have been child’s play for them to select the six cases in which it was most clear that said damage had already been done. In reality, of course, the best minds of the antivax brigade could not even select six cases where in each case the development of an ASD came after the supposed cause of that ASD.

    tl;dr: Anyone can make up imaginary friends. Demanding that the most unbelievable propositions be taken seriously in reality, because you can make up stories about your imaginary friends where they happen, marks you as ridiculous.

  19. #19 herr doktor bimler
    January 5, 2014

    In the hypothetical scenario, those who believe in the power of the Evil Eye can support their position by making extremely specific predictions about events that have not yet happened, predictions that then come true.

    It is somehow satisfying to see an example of the Begging-the-Question fallacy in its original form.

  20. #20 Denice Walter
    January 5, 2014

    @ Stu:
    ” You’ve been slapped in the face with it here for weeks and STILL you hang on to your lunacy”
    Perhaps S&M?
    Hey, Orac’s place costs less than calllng up Mistress Desiree for her afternoon chargecard special.

    Of course, I’m joking. Heh.

  21. #21 Stu
    January 5, 2014

    Of course you are! /snirk

  22. #22 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @Vicki

    Thank you Vicki for responding to my Evil Eye example. Indeed you demonstrated what science should be all about. First, you did not dismiss the observable evidence of Tom’s apparent Evil Eye skills by simply asserting that it is conflict with science, so we should reject it. You made a reasonable effort to come up with a plausible explanation for the dispute.

    And Lurkers here who may be following this discussion, be not mistaken about what some VCADODers here are proposing about how we should proceed when anecdotal, or direct observable evidence, is in conflict with science. Some are indeed saying that we should flat-out reject such evidence because they are in conflict with science.

    Also Vicki, seeing the sense in resolving the dispute you pursued a plausible explanation. I imagine you were well aware of the weakness in advancing the ‘coincidence’ argument to account for Bobby’s broken harm, and after Tom made clear that would be the harm that he would inflict on Bobby. Indeed it’s possible that Tom may have broken Bobby’s arm.

    And Lurkers, again, be not confused about what others VCADODers are saying about how should act when we find an explanation that in some cases may settle the dispute between anecdotal evidence and science. They are suggesting that such explanations — be it the ‘coincidence argument’– are applicable for all cases without exception.

    Thank you Vicki for doing your part in exposing the ludicrousness of these arguments, and in so doing, reaffirming science.

  23. #23 Narad
    January 5, 2014

    @Narad
    @Greg: Last I checked, the Cochrane Reviews agree with me

    Oh really? Which Cochrane Reviews?
    —————————————————————————–
    […]safeminds.org/research/library/SafeMinds%20Epidemiological%20Rebuttal.pdf

    Truly a bounty of riches, although I was off on one item: I thought Gerg was going to demonstrate not having understood the 2012 version. But he did get the quote attribution wrong, so there’s that.

    It is nice that they invoke Carol Stott, though. It’s too bad they didn’t go all Yazbak/Melanie Phillips on the operation and simply claim that large epidemiological studies are no good for detecting tiny signals because they’re just too gosh-darn big.

    I did see you for a while now pretending to be that wise old sage, with your propensity for those Confuscious-like, one-line puns.

    Gerg, I am not familiar with the pithiness of Confuscious. On the other hand, Confucius (as hagiographically reconstructed by his disciples and their disciples) was not exactly known for making puns. In fact, he seems to have been something of a repetitive gasbag.

  24. #24 Stu
    January 5, 2014

    Confucius say: When wind in bag get bigger, so does bag. Wind in bag therefore same as bag, and bag same as wind.

  25. #25 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @MI Dawn

    “I sincerely doubt Greg can read and understand a Cochrane Review, link to it, and give an honest analysis of the findings. The fact that he linked to SafeMinds, which twists results to suit their needs, tells me how dishonest he is.”

    Actually MI Dawn, I was well aware of the citation that MOB provided. I came across it on several occasions during my online research of the vaccine-autism issue. When you requested it, I had problems finding it , so I provided the Safeminds link offering interesting commentaries on the vaccine studies, as well as relaying their Cochrane Reviews’ assessments. Indeed I need to brush up on my citation skills.

    As for being unable to understand a Cochrane Review and giving an honest analysis, perhaps you should reflect on this: Initially I was curious about the Danish study so I approached Kreb about it. Not at first understanding that it was a retrospective study, I did commit some blunders which Kreb have subsequently pointed out on several occasions. Anyway, after settling down and having Kreb explain the study fully, I concluded that the main fault of the study is that it included kids that were too young for autism to be detected in them.

    And MI Dawn. quoting the Safemind link again, they reported the Cochrane Review as stating…

    Follow up on medical records terminated just one year after the last day of admission to the cohort. “Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, the Cochrane
    reviewers felt it became ‘… increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis

    MI Dawn, does the fact that I arrived at the very same assessment of the Cochrane Review, without even initially being aware of this precise criticism, not undermine your argument, even a little, that I am wholly ill equipped to understand such reviews? (Hee hee hee.)

    @Kreb
    You probably won’t believe me when I say that I honestly flubbed with the ‘life-years’ thing in my report to AoA. I seriously meant ‘person-years

  26. #26 herr doktor bimler
    January 5, 2014

    In fact, he seems to have been something of a repetitive gasbag.
    Confustian, as it were.

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    January 5, 2014

    Mao’s short-lived “Let a hundred flowers blossom” policy was Confuschian.

  28. #28 herr doktor bimler
    January 5, 2014

    Spoiled the flower joke. Should read “Confuchsian”.

  29. #29 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 5, 2014

    Follow up on medical records terminated just one year after the last day of admission to the cohort. “Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, the Cochrane
    reviewers felt it became ‘… increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis

    MI Dawn, does the fact that I arrived at the very same assessment of the Cochrane Review, without even initially being aware of this precise criticism, not undermine your argument, even a little, that I am wholly ill equipped to understand such reviews? (Hee hee hee.)

    But you didn’t come to the same conclusion as the Cochrane reviewers you twit:

    “No credible evidence of an involvement of MMR with either autism or Crohn’s disease was found.”

    You also don’t seem to understand that in a retrospective population study, at some point the investigators have to set a cut-off date. Given how many they were able to include and no association between ASD diagnoses and MMR vaccination were found, there is only one reasonable and honest conclusion yet you boneheads would continue to whinge mindlessly even if the study cut-off was three, five or 7 years after. Go choke on your awkward adolescent tittering now.

  30. #30 Narad
    January 5, 2014

    Actually MI Dawn, I was well aware of the citation that MOB provided. I came across it on several occasions during my online research of the vaccine-autism issue. When you requested it, I had problems finding it

    Uh-huh.

    And MI Dawn. quoting the Safemind link again, they reported the Cochrane Review as stating…

    Follow up on medical records terminated just one year after the last day of admission to the cohort. “Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, the Cochrane
    reviewers felt it became ‘… increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis

    MI Dawn, does the fact that I arrived at the very same assessment of the Cochrane Review<b?, without even initially being aware of this precise criticism, not undermine your argument, even a little, that I am wholly ill equipped to understand such reviews? (Hee hee hee.)

    Gerg, please describe the Madsen entry in Table 3 of the 2005 review or Table 9 of the 2012 one.

  31. #31 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 5, 2014

    Thank you Vicki for responding to my Evil Eye example. Indeed you demonstrated what science should be all about. First, you did not dismiss the observable evidence of Tom’s apparent Evil Eye skills by simply asserting that it is conflict with science, so we should reject it. You made a reasonable effort to come up with a plausible explanation for the dispute.

    Of course, we do in fact have the most reasonable grounds to reject it, since it is not observable evidence; it is a fantasy cooked up in the deluded noggin of an individual who wants to co-opt the authority of “science” without following its rules (or even comprehending them.)

    And Lurkers here who may be following this discussion, be not mistaken about what some VCADODers here are proposing about how we should proceed when anecdotal, or direct observable evidence, is in conflict with science. Some are indeed saying that we should flat-out reject such evidence because they are in conflict with science.

    Lurkers who are wondering if Gerg’s claims here have some substance, or are merely a tissue of lies, be aware that Gerg has admitted lying to serve his cause more than once (such as when he claimed to have a study design that would completely resolve all question over vaccines and autism, and the only reason anyone could possibly oppose the study was if they feared the results; later, he admitted that he had no idea how such a study design could deal with the difficult ethical concerns.)

    Can he come up with even one actual instance of any of the people here he is smearing (the ones he tars as “VCADODers”) have suggested “we should flat-out reject such evidence because they are in conflict with science”? Or, if he were finally backed into a corner and pressured into disclosing the statements he was characterizing, would they turn out to be people simply rejecting his preposterous made-up hypothetical scenarios, and quite rightly refusing to count the antics of his imaginary friends as “observable evidence”?

    Also Vicki, seeing the sense in resolving the dispute you pursued a plausible explanation. I imagine you were well aware of the weakness in advancing the ‘coincidence’ argument to account for Bobby’s broken harm, and after Tom made clear that would be the harm that he would inflict on Bobby. Indeed it’s possible that Tom may have broken Bobby’s arm.

    Yet it’s hard to imagine what relevance that would have to the current situation, since in the contrived imaginary scenario Gerg offers, the person who is accused of having the Evil Eye and the person who is making astoundingly accurate predictions about what the Evil Eye can do and the person who is doing the accusation of “He’s got the Evil Eye!!!” are all the same person. That is in stark contrast to the real-world situation, where the role of accuser and accused belong to two vastly different groups – and the role of “backing up those lurid, outrageous accusations with something other than bull ca-ca” belongs to no one.

    If we had any reason to take Gerg’s fantasy story seriously, and seek a reasonable in-universe explanation for the events involved, the most reasonable resolution would be that the party who is deeply committed to proving that the malign power of the Evil Eye actually exists is the only one with a motivation to break little Bobby’s arm and try and make people think that the Evil Eye was responsible. That party would correspond to the antivaxxers.

    And Lurkers, again, be not confused about what others VCADODers are saying about how should act when we find an explanation that in some cases may settle the dispute between anecdotal evidence and science. They are suggesting that such explanations — be it the ‘coincidence argument’– are applicable for all cases without exception.

    Lurkers, I would gladly point out for you the fallacies in the statements Gerg is making here, except that I can’t really even figure out what he thinks he’s saying. He seems to have gotten himself befuddled, trying to imitate turns of English phrasing (“be it the ‘coincidence argument'”) that he doesn’t truly understand.

    My best guess to what he’s trying to assert is that it’s something like the following: “They will tell you that because ‘coincidence’ is an adequate explanation for some cases where anecdotal evidence appears to conflict with the results of careful scientific study, it’s an adequate explanation for all such cases! It isn’t! You shouldn’t believe what they say! You should, instead, believe what I say! Because, well, because I say so!”

    But why on Earth would you take Gerg’s word for what the rest of us say, rather than finding out from us what we say? Certainly not because he’s got any sort of a reputation for integrity! Remember that this is the same Gerg who thought it was perfectly fine that the Madsen study (which Gerg didn’t even realize at first was a retrospective study, despite it studying nearly every single child born in Denmark over a period of seven years) included children from 6-12 months, when he thought that you could compare 6-month-olds to 6-year-olds and attribute any differences between the groups to vaccination status. When the explanation finally sunk into his skull that no, you can’t get meaningful information on the effect of vaccines if you’re not controlling for age and other confounders, he suddenly started referring to it as “a fast one” that that age group had been included.

    Thank you Vicki for doing your part in exposing the ludicrousness of these arguments, and in so doing, reaffirming science.

    The ludicrousness of Gerg’s argument is in thinking it has any applicability to the real world.

  32. #32 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @Kreb

    Hey Kreb, did you read what I explained to MI Dawn. There I was today reviewing the Safemind link that I sent you, and it reported that the Cochrane Review had the same criticism that some subjects in the Danish study were too young for autism diagnosis. Kreb, when I gave this assessment in our discussion a few months back you told me I was grasping at straws. Yet, there is the Cochrane Review confirming the same criticism. HAAA!!!!

    How awesome is that?? Damn — maybe I will try a second career as a scientist. Seriously — how hard could it be? All I will have to do is wait for someone to say something and then ask for citation. Kreb, even you are showing how statistics is becoming all automated.

    Yes — a second career as a scientist. But Kreb, are there any jobs outside of being a paid shill? Seriously — I couldn’t do what you guys are doing. My conscience wouldn’t allow it.

  33. #33 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @MOB#607

    (hushed voice)
    Thanks again dear old friend for the citation. You did cover your tracks well, so I don’t think they are on to you. But MOB, please be careful! If they catch you they will do unimaginable things to you. They are absolutely ruthless.

    Anyway, your friends in the rebel alliance send you kind regards. They are greatly appreciative of your espionage work. They would also like to share the good news that the tide is starting to turn in our favour on the the front lines. Already some of the enemy are starting with concessional talk, such as autism occurring postnatal. Hell — some are even saying that vaccines can cause autism in exceptional cases! I came face to face with one of their sergeant, a fellow by the name of Krebiozen, who said this very thing.

    Share the good news my friend with others like you who have infiltrated their ranks. Godspeed and stay safe!

  34. #34 Khani
    January 5, 2014

    #628 And all we ended up with was confusion!

  35. #35 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    VCADODers,

    I would like to wrapthings up re this discussion of anecdotal evidence coming into conflict with science (indeed I even feel bad using the term ‘science’ when considering the gunk that you guys are trying to pass off as such). In way of a recap, anecdotal or directly observed evidence is a part of science. Throughout the history of science, such evidence on countless occasions have facilitated the greatest scientific discoveries. Hence, considering there importance, we should not treat it as a trifling matter when such evidence comes in conflict with science.

    We must always resolve the dispute. We simply cannot accuse one of being right or wrong solely on the basis that there is a conflict. Neither should we settle on any explanation that may resolve the dispute in one case, and consider that this explanation will suffice for all other cases. We must always take things case by case.

    In all folks, there are no exceptions to these guidelines. Indeed they are what the scientific process is all about.

    Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the national autism rate. Up thread I gave a link to a Somali study reporting Somali and white kids have 1 in 32, and 1 in 36 autism rates, respectively. I also had a suspicion that the national rate was worse than the reported 1 in 50 one. Anyway guys, do you share my belief that the autism rate may actually be worse than1 in 50, and may even be closer to 1 in 35?

  36. #36 Greg
    January 5, 2014

    @635
    ‘considering (their) importance…’

  37. #37 Alain
    January 5, 2014

    From the full text of http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004407.pub3/abstract

    This is all the text found about Madsen 2002 in the systematic review. There is no other text beside a citation to the publication. Generation Rescue are LIAR

    Moderate/unknown risk of bias: three studies (DeStefano 2002; Hviid 2008; Madsen 2002).

    The study by Madsen 2002 was conducted in Denmark and included all Danish children born between January 1991 and December 1998. The authors linked vaccination data reported in the National Board of Health with a diagnosis of autism ( Table 9) from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register. After adjustment for confounders, the RR for autism is 0.92 (95% CI 0.68 to 1.24) and 0.83 (95% CI 0.65 to 1.07) for other autistic spectrum disorders. No association between age at vaccination, time since vaccination or date of vaccination and development of autism was found.

  38. #38 Alain
    January 5, 2014

    Correction, Safeminds are also LIAR.

    Alain

  39. #39 Narad
    January 6, 2014

    This is all the text found about Madsen 2002 in the systematic review.

    Well, SafeMinds was yammering about the 2005 review, but in the one you’re looking at, it’s on page 57.

  40. #40 Narad
    January 6, 2014

    There I was today reviewing the Safemind link that I sent you, and it reported that the Cochrane Review had the same criticism that some subjects in the Danish study were too young for autism diagnosis.

    What else were they too young for, Gerg? It’s as though nothing ever penetrates your skull. Are you going to tell me what the external validity was rated as, Gerg? Gerg, you have read it, haven’t you, Gerg?

  41. #41 Alain
    January 6, 2014

    @Narad,

    I’m knee deep into Dr. Henry Markram’s publications record because I’ll be doing my master and PhD in his lab (Dr. Casanova want to introduce me to him).

    I’ll read the 2005 review tomorrow but in the meantime, do you have a link?

    Alain

  42. #42 Narad
    January 6, 2014

    I’ll read the 2005 review tomorrow but in the meantime, do you have a link?

    Somebody left the 2012 lying around here. The 2005 is available at Scudamore’s joint.

  43. #43 Julian Frost
    January 6, 2014

    @Alain:
    Ah, Henry Markram. He’s the PhD who came up with the “intense World” hypothesis of autism. He was born in South Africa. His son Kai is autistic. Also, I believe Henry is himself autistic.

  44. #44 Chuff
    January 6, 2014

    Greg, you seem to think that parents anecdotes are being ignored. I’m puzzled (again), what do you think the Danish study IS? Do you think that all that time and money would be spent on a random study subject? This study, and others, ARE a direct result of parental anecdotes, a scientific effort to find out if what various parents have said caused autism actually does cause autism. However, no study so far has been able to corroborate any parental theories. How many more studies should be done? If you and your anti-vax colleagues are sincere in your beliefs then raise the money required and pay a reputable university or medical establishment to carry out a trial yourself. Be aware though, bias will be obvious.

  45. #45 Narad
    January 6, 2014

    Now that we have that out of the way

    Nothing is “out of the way,” you’re trying, as usual, to change the subject.

    let’s talk about the national autism rate. Up thread I gave a link to a Somali study reporting Somali and white kids have 1 in 32, and 1 in 36 autism rates, respectively.

    Excellent, you already have one of the numbers wrong by virtue of relying on a wire story.

    I also had a suspicion that the national rate was worse than the reported 1 in 50 one. Anyway guys, do you share my belief that the autism rate may actually be worse than1 in 50, and may even be closer to 1 in 35?

    When the prevalence in Minneapolis is 1 in 48? No, not especially. First, you still need to figure out the difference between prevalence and incidence, which you have repeatedly demonstrated a total lack of awareness of.

    Next, you need to describe what Utah and New Jersey have in common, and what they have in contradistinction on this front. What happens when you aggressively look for something, Gerg? I’ll give you a hint: It has something to do with the previous question that you failed to answer.

  46. #46 dingo199
    January 6, 2014

    Greg,
    Perhaps I can help you understand.
    Seriously. I am trying to help you here.

    “Anecdotes” form a part of hypothesis generation.
    “Science” is the process of hypothesis testing.

  47. #47 Krebiozen
    January 6, 2014

    Greg,

    Hey Kreb, did you read what I explained to MI Dawn. There I was today reviewing the Safemind link that I sent you, and it reported that the Cochrane Review had the same criticism that some subjects in the Danish study were too young for autism diagnosis. Kreb, when I gave this assessment in our discussion a few months back you told me I was grasping at straws. Yet, there is the Cochrane Review confirming the same criticism. HAAA!!!!

    I saw that SafeMinds had reported that, and was puzzled because I’m very familiar with that Cochrane review, and didn’t remember seeing that particular criticism. So I went back and looked through it again. It does appear in both versions of the Cochrane review as an observation in the notes section of the table giving the characteristics of the different studies, not as a criticism of the study, just an observation.

    As Science Mom has pointed out, you have to end a retrospective study at some point. It doesn’t in any way invalidate the study, it just means you can’t use the whole cohort to calculate the statistical power of the study, as we have discussed before. In any case, Madsen carried out the relevant statistics on that study both including and omitting those younger children, as we have discussed before. As Cochrane reports:

    No association between age at vaccination, time since vaccination or date of vaccination and development of autism was found.

    Given the size of the study, this is an important piece of evidence that MMR has nothing whatsoever to do with autism.

    How awesome is that?? Damn — maybe I will try a second career as a scientist. Seriously — how hard could it be?

    Clearly you have simply regurgitated a factoid picked up by SafeMinds and imbued by both of you with a significance it does not merit. This reflects badly on both you and SafeMinds.

    But Kreb, are there any jobs outside of being a paid shill? Seriously — I couldn’t do what you guys are doing. My conscience wouldn’t allow it.

    You, actually seeking the truth and displaying some honesty and integrity? I can’t see that happening, as you really don’t seem to even understand the concept.

  48. #48 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 6, 2014

    herr doktor bimler – according to King Crimson, Confuchsian will be my epitaph.

  49. #49 Krebiozen
    January 6, 2014

    Let me get this straight Greg. You’re saying that if careful scientific study doesn’t support your idée fixe, we should throw out the scientific method and accept instead a garbled version you just pulled out of your backside?

  50. #50 Lawrence
    January 6, 2014

    @Kreb – no, I believe he’s actually saying that we should continue to roll the scientific dice, over and over again, to see if we can get 13……

  51. #51 Krebiozen
    January 6, 2014

    @Lawrence – maybe, though statistics tells us how often we will have to repeat an experiment before we get a particular wrong result by chance, which is what Greg appears to be pursuing.

    Greg’s explanation of, “what the scientific process is all about”, at #635 is pretty much the opposite of what I was taught about science. Ignore the signal, pay attention to the noise and the outliers? I don’t think so.

  52. #52 JGC
    January 6, 2014

    We must always resolve te dispute.

    With respect to the porposed existence of a causal association between routine chipdhood immunization and dvelopment of an autism spectrum disorder the dispute has been resolved: several decades of scientific study, by mutliple independent investigators in mutiple nations, have falisifed the proposed exsitence of causal associaton which was initially suggested by the anecdotal accounts of parents of autistic children. Quite simply, their belief vaccines caused their children’s autism has been shown by a large body of scientific evidence to be mistaken.

    isn’t it time, then, to stop wasting resources trying to find evidence for something we have already shown not to be the case, and instead invest it in research and assistance programs that might actually benefit those parents and children?

  53. #53 Denice Walter
    January 6, 2014

    As a talented sciblogs commenter once exclaimed:
    ‘it’s beating a dead horse until only the outlines remain’,
    and I added:
    ‘And then re-painting the outlines back in, after they’re worn down, so that the beating can continue’ …

    Perhaps our visitor only wants to be friends with such an intelligent, entertaining bunch as we are- just hang out, talk and joke- hasn’t he already made overtures ( in slightly different ways) to several of Orac’s prized minions? Kreb, lilady, PGP, Narad, moi?

    But then he keeps on insulting us and calling us -basically- criminals who harm children for money. Without any evidence to back that up**. It’s quite self-defeating to behave in such a manner. I doubt that it would be tolerated at Mark’s or at Jake’s place.

    So why go to a place where you argue and lose?- not a good way to make friends or to feel better about yourself -btw-.There are books/ courses that teach alternative ways to accomplish these goals- try Dale Carnegie.

    ** oddly enough, probably very few of us have anything to do with vaccinations other than getting them ourselves or saying that they’re useful.

  54. #54 JGC
    January 6, 2014

    “It only looks to skeptics like you that I’m beating nothing at all. You’re denying the evidence from hundreds of parents who report their children were injured by the live horse standing here.”

  55. #55 Shay
    January 6, 2014
  56. #56 MI Dawn
    January 6, 2014

    Gee, I missed all the fun of replying to Greg. Thanks, all, for saying what I would have, if I could comment from work (I can read RI but can’t comment).

    So Greg can’t figure out why the kids too young to have a diagnosis weren’t included in some of the cohorts and ratios? I thought Narad, HDB, and others did such a good job of explaining how to do statistics right and how to do a proper study.

    I guess Greg would have had problems with my study, done for my M.S., since I didn’t follow ALL the pregnant women until they delivered and then for years afterwards. But our end point was 6 weeks after the ultrasound. (We were studying the effect of various amounts of oral intake prior to the ultrasound, and how much was *optimum* for most women to obtain a successful view). We didn’t follow all the women until delivery, or for years afterwards to see if the ultrasounds caused cancer, autism, diabetes, or anything! I guess we were in the pay of “Big Water”….)

  57. #57 lilady
    January 6, 2014

    Matt Carey has a new post up on his blog about Jenny McCarthy.

    Jake Crosby wandered over to post a few b!tchy comments in defense of McCarthy and to complain that he was nominated for the IACC, but not appointed. I asked him for information about the topic of his MPH-Epidemiology thesis and his mentor Mark Geier. He hasn’t replied. I wonder why.

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