Truth

Here we go again.

If there’s anything that ignites the fevered brains (such as they are) of antivaccine activists, it’s a good seeming conspiracy. Indeed, as we’ve seen before, if they can’t find a legitimate one, they’ll either exaggerate one or make one up out of whole cloth. This week, an “alleged” conspiracy has been brewing. It’s really the damnedest thing in that it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on. Whatever is going on, though, I would recommend extreme skepticism because two people are involved whose word you would be very foolish to trust on any scientific matter relating to vaccines: Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker. It began with a paper published in yet another journal I’ve never heard of, Translational Neurodegeneration, and accelerated last night with the release of a video that claims to name a former high ranking CDC official as a “whistleblower” for the finding that the CDC has been “covering up” (of course!) the “truth” that the MMR vaccine causes autism. This is one that might require multiple posts as information dribbles out and people figure out exactly what is really going on. In the meantime, let’s start with the video, released by Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel, the same “channel” that tried to make antivaccine hay over the murder of an autistic boy. Here’s the video, which is now also on YouTube:

(Note that I’ve downloaded a copy in case it changes, as apparently it has before.)

A partial transcript can be found at—where else?—that wretched hive of antivaccine scum and quackery, Age of Autism.

The first thing one notices about the video is how intentionally inflammatory it is. The “malfeasance” (if such it is) being discovered is compared unfavorably—yes, unfavorably—to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, complete with lurid pictures patients suffering from advanced syphilis and the introduction of Peter Buxton, the Public Health Service investigator who blew the whistle on the experiment, because, apparently, to Wakefield and Hooker autism is just like end stage syphilis. (Yes, there is another “whistleblower” in this video.) The “malfeasance” being claimed is that the CDC supposedly covered up the link between MMR and autism in African American boys, hence the puffed up rhetoric about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Before I go into that more, there is one thing that bears mentioning here. The video even concludes with the sheer Godwin-y goodness (from an entertainment standpoint) of references to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, because, I guess, autism is just like the mass murder of millions, at least in the minds of Wakefield supporters.

Of course, the key finding in Brian Hooker’s paper is that Wakefield was wrong. Indeed, in this video, Wakefield even admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. Let that sink in again. He admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. OK, he says we were “partially right,” but the flip side of that is that he must have been mostly wrong. What do I mean? I’ll explain.

The claims being put forward in the video is that earlier MMR vaccination is associated with an increased risk of autism in African-American boys and that the CDC has spent the last 13 years covering this linkage up. These charges are based the result of a “reanalysis” by Brian Hooker in Translational Neurodegeneration entitled Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data. The study which has been “reanalyzed” is from a study by DeStefano et al in 2004 published in Pediatrics entitled Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan Atlanta. That study was a case-control study in which age at first MMR vaccination was compared between autistic “cases” and neurotypical controls. Vaccination data were abstracted from immunization forms required for school entry, and records of children who were born in Georgia were linked to Georgia birth certificates for information on maternal and birth factors. Basically, no significant associations were found between the age cutoffs examined and the risk of autism. I note that, even in this “reanalysis” by Brian Hooker, there still isn’t any such correlation for children who are not African American boys.

I’ll get into the issues with this study a bit more later, but I’ll admit up front that it’s hard to go too deeply into this study without a statistician and access to the actual restricted data set from the CDC used. Not having access to the data set, I have no way of knowing if the analyses Hooker used were appropriate. However, for purposes of this post, let’s just, for a thought experiment, assume Hooker’s study comes to a valid conclusion (which is, given that it’s Hooker, highly unlikely, but stay with me for a moment). If that were the case, these results are no reassurance whatsoever to the vast majority of antivaccinationists supporting Wakefield. This study says nothing whatsoever about, for instance, Jenny McCarthy and her son’s autism, other than that there is no link between MMR and autism for children like him. Remember, the most vocal antivaccinationists jumping all over this are not African-American but instead tend to be UMC or even highly affluent Caucasians. There’s absolutely nothing in even Hooker’s ham-fisted “reanalysis” of this data to tell them that the MMR vaccine caused their children’s autism.

All there is left is a chance to hype up the conspiracy mongering machine against the hated CDC, because even Hooker’s reanalysis doesn’t support an increased risk of autism with earlier MMR vaccination in white babies. Zero. Nada. Zip. This leads to a bunch of “Tuskegee” handwaving to hide that finding, that even taking his best shot at it the most Hooker could come up with after he tortured the data was a correlation between age of MMR vaccination and autism in African Americans babies—and not just African-American babies, but African-American male babies. Even taken at face value, Hooker et al is a disaster for the vast majority of antivaccine activists. This can’t be repeated often enough. But does the study support an increased risk for African American males, as claimed?

There are a couple of things you have to remember whenever looking at a study that is billed as a “reanalysis” of an existing data set that’s already been published. The first is that no one—I mean no one—”reanalyzes” such a dataset unless he has an ax to grind and disagrees with the results of the original analysis so strongly that he is willing to go through the trouble of getting institutional review board (IRB) approval, as Hooker did from Simpson University, going to the CDC to get this dataset, and then analyzing it. Think, for instance, the infamous “reanalysis” by homeopaths of the meta-analysis of Shang et al that concluded that the effects of homeopathy are placebo effects. The reanalysis did not refute the original meta-analysis. The second thing you have to remember is that it’s pretty uncommon for such a “reanalysis” to refute the original analysis. Certainly, antivaccine “researchers” like Hooker try to do this all the time. Occasionally they get their results published in a bottom-feeding peer-reviewed journal (Translational Neurodegeneration doesn’t even appear to have an impact factor yet), as Hooker has. It means little.

So what about the paper itself? First, one has to go back to Destefano et al 2004. Basically, this was a case-control study in which 624 case children were identified from multiple sources and matched to 1,824 control children on age, gender, and school. In case control studies, researchers look at (usually) two groups of people, cases (those with the condition under study) and controls (those without) and tries to match them as closely as possible to every other confounding factor except for the risk factor being studied, in this case, the age of receiving first MMR vaccination. Porta’s Dictionary of Epidemiology defines the case-control study as: “an observational epidemiological study of persons with the disease (or another outcome variable) of interest and a suitable control group of persons without the disease (comparison group, reference group). The potential relationship of a suspected risk factor or an attribute to the disease is examined by comparing the diseased and nondiseased subjects with regard to how frequently the factor or attribute is present (or, if quantitative, the levels of the attribute) in each of the groups (diseased and nondiseased).” They then see if that risk factor is higher in the case population than it is in the control population. This is in comparison to cohort studies, in which researchers look at groups of people who vary in exposure to a given putative risk factor (for instance, vaccines), each controlled for every other potential risk factor that the authors can control for, and then determine if the condition for which that putative risk factor is suspected to be a risk factor for. A cohort study can be retrospective (looking at existing data) or prospective (the cohorts determined in advance and then followed over time), while case control studies are retrospective.

It’s also not uncommon for epidemiologists to choose more controls than cases in case-control studies. In any case, one thing Destefano et al did was to perform a case control study of children in metropolitan Atlanta looking at age at first MMR vaccination (0-11 months; 12-17 months; 18-23 months; 24-29 months; 30-35 months; and 36+ months). They found no statistically significant correlations. They also looked at a subgroup of the groups, children for whom a Georgia birth certificate could be located, in order to test correlations for other traits:

We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.

There was no significant correlation noted in various groups based on race, maternal age, maternal education, and birth weight. It’s all pretty straightforward, at least a straightforward as a epidemiological study can be. The only hint of a whiff of anything in it helpful to antivaccinationists was this:

Vaccination before 36 months was more common among case children than control children, especially among children 3 to 5 years of age, likely reflecting immunization requirements for enrollment in early intervention programs.

In other words, it’s a result that is likely not due to an actual effect.

Fast forward to Brian Hooker’s study. The first thing I noticed reading it was that it contains a lot of the usual red flags of antivaccine papers. Hooker cites several Mark Geier papers as evidence of a correlation between vaccines and autism, to try to make it seem as though there is an actual scientific controversy. He even cites a Wakefield paper.

Then there is the methods section. It’s really not very clear exactly what Hooker did with this dataset, other than muck around with it using SAS® software. He keeps referring to “cohorts,” which made me wonder right away whether he was not doing the same sort of analysis as Destefano. Instead of doing a case control study, it looks as though he did a cohort study:

The Pearson’s chi -squared test contained in the SAS® software was utilized for current statistical analyses, and a two-sided p-value <  0.05 was considered statistically significant. This is in contrast to the original Destefano et al. [14] (CDC) study, where a case–control study design was used, where 3 control children were matched to each case child, and analyzed using conditional logistic regression dichotomized for the three age cut-offs at 18, 24 and 36 months...In the present study, frequencies of cases were determined for first MMR ages of less than versus greater than 18 months, 24 months and 36 months in each separate analysis.

Yep, he did a cohort study. Basically, he looked at the risk of an autism diagnosis in the groups first exposed to MMR at different age ranges. Remember, case control = comparing risk factor frequency in people with a condition compared to controls; cohort = examining risk of condition in people with different exposures.

There’s an old saying in epidemiology (and in science in general) that says that if you torture data enough, eventually they will confess. With this in mind, it’s hard not to think of Brian Hooker as the Spanish Inquisition. I find it very telling that Hooker couldn’t find (or didn’t bother to look for) coauthor who is an actual epidemiologist or statistician. Heck, Jake Crosby wasn’t available? He might not be an epidemiologist, but he does have a degree in epidemiology and is in graduate school. What training in epidemiology or statistics does Brian Hooker have that qualifies him to do a retrospective cohort study like this? None that I can see. My first rule of thumb doing anything involving anything more complicated than the rudimentary statistics that I use to analyze laboratory experiments (such as even a “simple” clinical trial) is to find a statistician. While it’s true that Hooker used to lead a high throughput biology team, which likely required some statistical expertise, that’s a different sort of statistics and experimental design than epidemiology. Basically, if you’re going to do epidemiology, you should find an epidemiologist to collaborate with, and if you’re going to do something that requires some heavy statistical lifting you really need to get a statistician on board as well before you start the study.

So is Hooker’s result valid? Was there really a 3.36-fold increased risk for autism in African-American males who received MMR vaccination before the age of 36 months in this dataset? Who knows? Hooker analyzed a dataset collected to be analyzed by a case-control method using a cohort design. Then he did multiple subset analyses, which, of course, are prone to false positives. As we also say, if you slice and dice the evidence more and more finely, eventually you will find apparent correlations that might or might not be real. In this case, I doubt Hooker’s correlation is real. More importantly, even if his statistics were correctly done, his changing the design is highly suspect, particularly when coupled with claims being promulgated by our good buddy Jake Crosby that the CDC intentionally left out subjects in order to hide this correlation:

According to Dr. Hooker, the CDC whistleblower informant — who wishes to remain anonymous — guided him to evidence that a statistically significant relationship between the age the MMR vaccine was first given and autism incidence in African-American boys was hidden by CDC researchers. After data were gathered on 2,583 children living in Atlanta, Georgia who were born between 1986 and 1993, CDC researchers excluded children that did not have a valid State of Georgia birth certificate — reducing the sample size being studied by 41%. Hooker explains that by introducing this arbitrary criteria into the analysis, the cohort size was sharply reduced, eliminating the statistical power of the findings and negating the strong MMR-autism link in African American boys.

This is an accusation neither Hooker’s study nor anything any antivaccinationist has published thus far provides any tangible evidence for. Requiring the birth certificate was not an “arbitrary” criterion, either. It allowed investigators to account for known confounders related to autism risk, such as birth weight, at least in this subset of the case and control groups. I also can’t help but think there is likely to be a confounder that is unaccounted for in this study, particularly given how there increase in risk is found in only one group. In fact, as Reuben at The Poxes Blog explains, there almost certainly was just such a confounder:

Next come the statistics. Hooker uses Pearson’s chi squared test to see if there is a significant association between MMR and autism in children at different ages. DeStefano et al used conditional logistic regression. For the non-biostatisticians out there, the technique that DeStefano et al used accounts for confounders and effect modifiers, different traits in their population that could skew the results. Hooker’s technique doesn’t really do that, unless you stratify results and use very, very large datasets. Hooker’s approach is more “conservative,” meaning that it will detect small effects and amplify them, and those effects can come from anything.

In other words, Hooker used a method prone to false positives. Then:

The nail in the coffin for the Hooker paper is that autism is usually diagnosed by the time a child is three years old. There was no increased risk at 18 months, higher but not by a whole lot at 24, and then the three-fold increase at 36 months. Gee, was it the MMR vaccine, mister? No, the effect is being modified by age. It’s as if I asked you if your shoe size was bigger at 36 months because you drank milk vs because you were 36 months. It’s age. It’s the way that autism is diagnosed. You’re going to have more children diagnosed as autistic at 36 months than you will at 18 months or at 24 months. Using the chi square test doesn’t tease this out, Dr. Hooker! That’s more than likely why DeStefano et al used conditional logistic regression, to take age into account in the analysis.

So why did we not see this in the other ethnic groups or in girls? The answer here is simple, again. Hooker had a limited dataset to work with when he boiled it down to African-American baby boys. In this table, for example, he tells us that he had to modify the analysis to 31 months instead of 36 because he had less than 5 children in that group. It’s the same goddamned mistake that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield wanted to pass off as legitimate science. You cannot, and must not use small numbers to make big assertions…

Quite right. I should have seen that right off the bat.

And, of course, there’s no biologically plausible reason why there would be an effect observed in African-Americans but no other race and, more specifically than that, in African-American males. In the discussion, Hooker does a bunch of handwaving about lower vitamin D levels and the like in African American boys, but there really isn’t a biologically plausible mechanism to account for his observation, suggesting that it’s probably spurious. Finally, even if Destefano et al is thrown out, it’s just one study. There are multiple other studies, many much larger than this one, that failed to find a correlation between MMR and autism. Even if Hooker succeeded in “knocking out” Destefano et al, it doesn’t invalidate all that other evidence.

Hooker’s “reanalysis” aside, somehow, some way, a senior CDC scientist has made the massive mistake of speaking with Brian Hooker. That CDC scientist is William Thompson, well-respected (until, possibly, now) scientist and co-author of Destefano et al, as well as first author on a widely cited NEJM study showing no correlation between thimerosal in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, among other studies. The first thing I noticed listening to Thompson in Wakefield’s video is just how little he is quoted. Instead he’s paraphrased by Hooker, who portrays himself as Thompson’s “confessor” to whom Thompson is “confessing.” The parts with Thompson’s voice appear highly edited, brief sound bites. They sound, at least the way they are presented, highly damning on first listen. It seems very odd on first listen. Heck, it sounds very odd on second listen. So what really happened? Again, who knows? You’ll excuse me if I reserve judgment until more information comes in from sources other than Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker because I suspect that what we’re seeing is a highly one-sided presentation of cherry picked information. It is, after all, Wakefield and Hooker we’re talking about.

In the meantime, remember this. Even if Hooker is “right,” he has just undermined the MMR-autism hypothesis and proven Wakefield wrong, with the possible (and unlikely) exception of a single group, African American males. Given the dubiousness of his analysis and background, he hasn’t even demonstrated it for them, either, particularly given the copious other studies that have failed to find a correlation between MMR and autism. What he has done, apparently, is found grist for a perfect conspiracy theory to demonize the CDC, play the race card in a truly despicable fashion, and cast fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the CDC vaccination program, knowing that most of the white antivaccine activists who support hate the CDC so much that they won’t notice that even Hooker’s reanalysis doesn’t support their belief that vaccines caused the autism in their children.

ADDENDUM:

Whoa. The beat goes on and on and on. Our “buddy” Jake Crosby is now claiming that Andrew Wakefield betrayed William Thompson by identifying him in the video without Thompson’s permission:

Andrew Wakefield has betrayed the CDC whistleblower by releasing his name without his consent. On the Autism Media Channel website, a video hosted by Wakefield is up announcing the whistleblower’s name and playing recordings of his voice. In the video is scientist and parent Dr. Brian Hooker, who had been in discussions with the whistleblower and made the catastrophic mistake of sharing his identity with Wakefield. Complicit in the betrayal is Age of Autism, which is promoting Wakefield’s video while repeating the whistleblower’s name.

In commentary to a small group of people later relayed to Autism Investigated, attorney Robert Krakow commented:

“I am very familiar with the information [whistleblower] offered. Disclosure of [whistleblower]’s existence and identity at this point in time is a colossal blunder and an inexplicable error in judgment that damages irreparably the opportunity to use [whistleblower]’s very valuable information and testimony effectively. I know that Brian Hooker did not make the disclosure.”

It remains truly ironic that Andrew Wakefield – a man betrayed by the Lancet editor a decade ago – would turn around and betray the trust of someone who has come forward with valuable information about the fraud committed in a federal agency. Also ironic is that Wakefield similarly betrayed the trust of Dr. Brian Hooker, whose congressional activities have been repeatedly undermined by groups associated with Age of Autism.

Given Jake’s past reliability, take this with a grain of salt. It does have plausibility in that, given Wakefield’s history I could totally see him betraying a “whistleblower” like that. However, I don’t for a moment believe that, if it’s true that Wakefield “outed” Thompson without his permission, Hooker didn’t know about it and at least acquiesce, if not actually approve. I mean, seriously. Hooker spent a lot of time in front of the camera bragging about how he had become William Thompson’s “confessor” and relating what Thompson had said to him, and he didn’t think Wakefield would use that footage? He’s either complicit or a irredeemably stupid and gullible. Take your pick. Of course, Jake is Brian Hooker’s best bud these days and admires him far out of proportion to any reason there might be to admire Hooker; my guess is that he wants to protect Hooker from this allegation, and that’s why he made the claim that Hooker knew nothing.

ADDENDUM #2:

Well, well, well. Andy Wakefield jumps in:

Jake, in light of your serious allegation that I “betrayed” the whistleblower by disclosing his name without permission, I asked you how you knew this. You replied “my sources”. There are no sources other than the whistleblower himself that would know whether or not this was the case since this matter was discussed between the two of us, in several of our conversations. I did, as a matter of fact, have his full knowledge and his permission to do what “I felt best” with the uncensored video.

Although it is a moot point, I remain perplexed as to quite why a man who participated in a prolonged scientific fraud – one that likely resulted in harm to many children – should merit anonymity on his terms. The misinformation you have put out has spread through an already divided community. Your reporting on this matter does you no credit.

So that’s Wakefield’s story, is it? That Thompson gave him permission to “do what he felt best,” but that Thompson doesn’t deserve anonymity on his terms. Why is it that I don’t believe Wakefield’s first claim in light of his attitude expressed in the second part of his comment?

Comments

  1. #1 Chris
    August 24, 2014

    Also, Mr. Schecter, it would have no impact on your own family since it does not include African American males, since they are the only demographic that showed a connection between the MMR and autism (despite other confounding variables… in other words: very badly done statistics).

    Unless you have lied about your child’s gender. Is she now a an African American male?

  2. […] there are issues that come to my attention that need more than just one blog post to cover. One such issue popped up last week, and it’s one that’s kept you all very engaged, with the comment count on the […]

  3. #3 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    August 25, 2014

    @Narad — OK. I was thinking of the investigators asking the parents of autistic children a little more about their histories, or going into the case files to look for this kind of information. This might include the referral to a treatment program, and then a later record of immunizations. I’m not suggesting that this is easy to do, or that the investigators should have thought of it in advance, but if it’s the explanation for an observed effect, then shouldn’t you try to look for the relevant information before going to press? Maybe this is considered out of bounds in epidemiological studies because you are supposed to define your end points in advance, or something? In molecular biology, it would be normal.

  4. #4 lilady
    August 25, 2014

    We are one person shy to have a full boat of anti-vaccine conspiracists.

    Has Donald Trump weighed in yet?

    Has the singing canary told Wakefield and Hooker where Judge Crater’s and Jimmy Hoffa’s bodies are buried, Offal?

  5. #5 Reader
    August 25, 2014

    @Narad,
    I counted 4 posters harshly blasting Dr. Lewis and simply countered with his CV, including that he is “Senior Science Advisor to the National Whistleblowers Center and a member of its Board of Directors.”
    I found it notable that a number of the whistleblowers among the 35 listed were extremely high profile and that, “As a young attorney President Obama worked on Dr. Chandler’s case. The Supreme Court upheld Dr. Chandler’s lawsuit,” although I’ve never heard of her.
    Attacks on Dr. Lewis and efforts to discredit him appear unwarranted, IMO. Please don’t misconstrue the post.

    http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=71&Itemid=108

    http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=74

  6. #6 Andreas Johansson
    August 25, 2014

    Bob G wrote:

    I mean, if autism is already there at birth, or certainly at 6 months of age, then looking at vaccination ages many months later is kind of irrelevant, no?

    You’re indulging in industrialized European conceptions of linear time.

  7. #7 Reader
    August 25, 2014

    OVERLOOKED FACTS (with embedded links at the original):

    http://www.autisminvestigated.com/lancet-wakefield-retracted/
    Lancet Keeps Wakefield et al. Retracted in Contempt of Court
    By Jake Crosby
    MAY 11, 2014 9:58 PM

    Findings of the UK General Medical Council against the Wakefield et al. paper were overturned by the High Court, yet the Lancet still keeps that paper retracted – citing those overturned findings. Previous attempts have been made to persuade Lancet editor Richard Horton and the previous Lancet ombudsman Charles Warlow to restore “Ileal-Lymphoid-Nodular-Hyperplasia, Non-specific Colitis and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children” by Wakefield et al. Horton flatly refused, while Warlow denied having any responsibility for reconsidering the status of the paper…

  8. #8 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    August 25, 2014

    @Reader:

    Findings of the UK General Medical Council against the Wakefield et al. paper were overturned by the High Court.

    That is at best a distortion and at worst an outright lie. The only things the High Court overturned were the findings and sanction against John Walker-Smith. Walker-Smith’s appeal was based on his claim that he had been misled by Wakefield (which the court accepted), and his own lawyer declared that the Lancet Paper and the MMR-Vaccine causation hypothesis was dead as a dodo.

  9. #9 lilady
    August 25, 2014

    Julian Frost: IMO, it would be best if we just ignore that poster. He’s got several agendas including the derailing of Orac’s topic and the promotion of Wakefield.

    Anyone who uses Jake Crosby’s statements to prove a point is a fool.

  10. #10 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    I’m not suggesting that this is easy to do, or that the investigators should have thought of it in advance, but if it’s the explanation for an observed effect, then shouldn’t you try to look for the relevant information before going to press?

    The point was to evaluate whether there was a relationship between when the MMR was received and an ASD diagnosis. (There isn’t, unless one throws reason to the wind and accepts that administering MMR between 24 and 36 months of age increased risk for children born from 1991 to 1993.)

    It was a response to the 2001 IOM MMR Immunization Safety Review. The question then is what you have to work with in the first place:

    DeStefano and colleagues (2004) conducted a case-control study in the metropolitan Atlanta area comparing ages at first MMR vaccination of a population-based sample of children with autism and school-matched controls who did not have autism. The authors stated that implicit in the exposure comparison was the assumption that if MMR vaccination increases the risk of autism (typical onset is 24 months), children who receive the vaccine at earlier ages would have a higher risk of developing autism. The researchers chose this study design because they did not have full information on onset of initial parental concern, date of first diagnosis of autism, or onset of regression.

  11. #11 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    @Narad,
    I counted 4 posters harshly blasting Dr. Lewis and simply countered with his CV

    Answer the question about the False Claims Act or put a sock in it, Cutsy-Pasty.

  12. #12 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    ^ The following bit needs correction:

    It was a response to the 2001 IOM MMR Immunization Safety Review.

    This describes the clinical subgroup part (PDF).

  13. #13 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    This has probably been mentioned already, but I just noticed that Hooker fails to keep straight what an odds ratio is:

    Relative risks for males in general and African American males were 1.69 (p=0.0138) and 3.36 (p=0.0019), respectively. Additionally, African American males showed an odds ratio of 1.73 (p=0.0200) for autism cases in children receiving their first MMR vaccine prior to 24 months of age versus 24 months of age and thereafter….

    When looking specifically at African American children (Table 2), the relationship between MMR timing and autism incidence became more profound (RR = 2.30, 95% CI: 1.25-4.22, p = 0.0060) at 36 months of age. Again, this result was exclusively found in boys who showed statistically significant effects at both 24 months (RR = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.09-2.77, p = 0.0200) and 36 months (RR = 3.36, 95% CI: 1.50-7.51, p = 0.0019) of age.

    Like, big time:

    Destefano et al. [14] found a statistically significant relative risk of 1.49 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04 – 2.14) at the 36 month cutoff (i.e., in a comparison of children receiving the MMR before versus after 36 months).

    DeStefano were reporting ORs. I get the RR as 1.35 for this one. That’s just sad.

  14. #14 Krebiozen
    August 25, 2014

    Bob G,

    To the extent that it was true, wouldn’t those patients be the non-immunized but autistic group that the anti-vax people are always challenging us to demonstrate? I know that there are lots of other data on this precise point, but it seems germane to this study.

    You might think so, but they aren’t fully unvaccinated, they may have had other vaccines such hepatitis B and DTaP. If you do try to follow the antivax train of logic, the goalposts slide about in a most bewildering way (forgive my mixed metaphor), with MMR, or thimerosal, or hepatitis B, or just “too many too soon” being blamed, depending on what the evidence can be tortured into appearing to support.

    The original case control study was looking at prevalence, not incidence, so age at diagnosis was not relevant i.e. cases are either diagnosed autistic or not. I can’t imagine Hooker has the resources to go back to the original patient records and extract date of diagnosis, especially since De Stefano et al apparently did not. This is extremely time-consuming and takes a lot of researchers a long time to do – I have spent enough time hunting for and attempting to decipher patient hospital notes to know what fun it can be.

  15. #15 Krebiozen
    August 25, 2014

    This has probably been mentioned already, but I just noticed that Hooker fails to keep straight what an odds ratio is:

    Since the temporal sequence is unknown we can only calculate an odds ratio, not a relative risk, as I understand it (groping through dust and cobwebs to recall my training in statistics, admittedly).

    I did notice that in the video (at around 6:24) Wakefield claims a ‘relative risk’ of 3.45 is “a 340% increased risk of autism”. I suppose he thinks a RR of 1.00 means a 100% increased risk.

    Statistics and epidemiology aren’t these clowns’ strong suits, are they?

  16. #16 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    I suppose he thinks a RR of 1.00 means a 100% increased risk.

    Wakefraud was also an early repeater of Seneff’s brain-dead “1 in 2 by 2025” routine (courtesy of Billy DeMoss), which subsequently morphed from this into this.

  17. #17 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 25, 2014

    Attacks on Dr. Lewis and efforts to discredit him appear unwarranted, IMO. Please don’t misconstrue the post.

    @ Reader, Lewis isn’t being “attacked” nor “discredited” as you have failed to provide anything that remotely establishes his cred as an “international expert in whistleblowing and science fraud detection”. We are pointing this fact out to you along with his actual credentials which are neither in the realm of scientific fraud detection nor vaccines and autism.

    OVERLOOKED FACTS (with embedded links at the original):

    http://www.autisminvestigated.com/lancet-wakefield-retracted/
    Lancet Keeps Wakefield et al. Retracted in Contempt of Court
    By Jake Crosby
    MAY 11, 2014 9:58 PM

    I fail to see what Walker-Smith’s successful appeal has to do with Wakefield and with retracting the Lancet retracted study. The study was rife with fraud and reporting established by both the GMC and Brian Deer’s investigation as reported in the BMJ series. Your reliance upon Jake Crosby to accurately report much of anything is probably not particularly wise.

  18. #18 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 25, 2014

    I did notice that in the video (at around 6:24) Wakefield claims a ‘relative risk’ of 3.45 is “a 340% increased risk of autism”. I suppose he thinks a RR of 1.00 means a 100% increased risk.

    Wait What? I wondered where they came up with 340% but as they make up so much of everything they say, didn’t hurt myself there. But you think they derived it from their RR?

  19. #19 David's Daddy
    United States
    August 25, 2014

    LOL. I love how deep in the hungry lie you are. It’s going to be just incredible to see the truth come out. I should make sure I get this very entertaining newsletter.
    Saying “partially right” only means they were not entirely right. 99% is partially right. You are like a child who clumsily tries to wordsmith his way into getting “some” ice cream for having cleaned “some” of his room.
    All these posts are just so pathetic. Where is DiStefano to say he did no wrong? We are in the real world now and you cannot weasel out of this one. Social media is unstoppable. Congress is home and Boyle lied to them. I assure you they will have had many parents take their autistic kids to visit their office.
    I am enjoying this immensely because so many have hung their reputation on the CDC studies and now it’s all crumbling.
    Get ready guys.
    Partially? LOL!!

  20. #20 Curious
    August 25, 2014

    OK, I’m no statistician. Far from it. But let’s just assume for a moment that there is actually a threefold increase in autism risk for African American boys who have the vaccine early. If the study as a whole finds no link, does that mean that in other groups, there would actually have a lowered risk in order to show no risk for everyone?

  21. #21 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 25, 2014

    @David’s Daddy,

    Social media is unstoppable.

    That’s true enough – there are things that fly around social media for years, and they don’t need to rely on the mainstream media, government authority, or facts.

    If you have any data to share besides innuendo, please do.

  22. #22 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 25, 2014

    I am enjoying this immensely because so many have hung their reputation on the CDC studies and now it’s all crumbling.
    Get ready guys.
    Partially? LOL!!

    Right because social media should be the arbiter of science. I’m afraid David’s Daddy that you appear to be just another bitter conspiracy nutter with twisted revenge fantasies. No wonder this rubbish just keeps gurgling back up to the top.

  23. #23 Lawrence
    August 25, 2014

    @Curious – that’s what the anti-vax folks don’t seem to get.

    If they accept the data as “legitimate” then there is no increased risk for any other group besides African American males.

    If the data is “illegitimate” then none of the results can be viewed as valid (whether Hooker made them or not).

    Either way, they don’t really understand the methodology or even the terminology used in the original study…and just assume that Hooker did something different.

    None of this is actually confirmed – other than at first glance, seeing Hooker applying brute force to massage the results in the way he wants.

  24. #24 Anders Gustafsson
    Finland
    August 25, 2014

    “Social media is unstoppable”

    Yes. See: https://sv-se.facebook.com/HastarFinnsInte

    A very popular Swedish facebook page that claim that Horses do not exist and are fruit to boot… 🙂

  25. #25 David's Daddy
    August 25, 2014

    @all you clowns.
    You like to play that childish circular logic game and avoid the epic events that are unfolding.
    You embrace the “partially right” comment as representing 100% wrong. Clearly in this instance “partially right” means 0%>lancet paper>100% right.
    But given the “partially right” refers to the MMR/Autism outcome is determined by the age of vaccination, I would say that’s all one needs to show that the MMR DOES affect an autism outcome.
    You conceded the slipperiest slope to being wrong.
    Let me help you…
    What you should say is that the Whistleblower had faked the claim because he had a disagreement with the CDC regarding his payroll taxes. And so he decided to completely ruin his career to get back at the CDC. Yeah! that’s the ticket!
    The best part is knowing that you are all going to continue to vaccinate. That’s what makes this debate so fun.
    So please make sure you get the flu shot this year. I hear 30,000 people die of the flu each year….

  26. #26 Brian Deer
    August 25, 2014

    Reader:

    David Lewis is a kind of Walter Mitty character, with a long history of granting himself titles and opining on matters in which he lacks professional credentials, as if he were an expert. He, and a church he owns, are now on the anti-vax payroll.

    Although, like Wakefield, he threatens critics with vexatious lawsuits, he believes he is entitled to smear and besmirch whosoever he likes with crank abuse.

    For example, he has repeatedly maintained that my journalism is of such a high professional standard that I must be corrupt. Yes, you read that right. My work is so good, it’s bad.

    Believe me not? See it with your own eyes, and then wake up:

    http://briandeer.com/solved/david-lewis-true.htm

  27. #27 AdamG
    August 25, 2014

    But given the “partially right” refers to the MMR/Autism outcome is determined by the age of vaccination, I would say that’s all one needs to show that the MMR DOES affect an autism outcome.

    Really? Because I would say you’re barely coherent and clearly don’t understand the grave statistical errors made by Hooker, errors which invalidate his claims of an MMR/autism link in a single subpopulation. Can you explain, in your own words, the difference between a cohort study and a case-control study?

  28. #28 JD
    August 25, 2014

    “Since the temporal sequence is unknown we can only calculate an odds ratio, not a relative risk, as I understand it.”

    Conceptualization of this is pretty variable among statisticians and epidemiologists (a battle which rages inside me daily), but my take is pretty specific.

    I would call what Hooker has reported unadjusted risk ratios (simply ratios of outcome probabilities). In the Destefano study, these are conditional odds ratios (meaning a ratio of probability/1-probability, conditional on the matching variables). The goal in epidemiological studies is to obtain an accurate estimate of an extremely vague concept known as the relative risk. It is generally thought that he best estimate of relative risk can be obtained from a true cohort study (which Hooker did not perform) in which confounding and bias have been appropriately addressed.

    The accuracy of approximation to the relative risk is more tenuous in a case-control study (which Hooker performed). The reasons you can’t (or shouldn’t) calculate a risk ratio in this framework are that temporality is questionable (as you mentioned) and because a couple of the marginal totals (number of cases and controls) are fixed by design. We use a cute little trick (that the exposure odds ratio = outcome odds ratio in a 2×2 table) to handle this problem.

    Now, in a well-conducted case-control study we can be fairly confident that the estimate we obtain will provide an approximation to the relative risk, in the situation where the outcome is not too common. This is an epidemiological construct, though, as from a statistician’s point of view, there is no problem reporting odds ratios in any situation, as long as this is appropriately interpreted as a ratio of odds, not a risk ratio. This is important, because the techniques one would use to model risk ratios either don’t converge or are pretty intense theoretically. I assume this is why the good Dr. Hooker didn’t bother to model his erroneously-calculated risk ratios.

    TLDR – you can report an odds ratio in a cohort study with no problem, but you can’t report a risk ratio from a case-control study (as Hooker has). And to interpret these as relative risks is yet another gaping flaw.

    And I love seeing that 340% increase reported (just a testament to the incompetence and ignorance which abounds this story), you need to subtract one from the RR or OR before multiplying by 100 for a direct (>1) association.

  29. #29 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 25, 2014

    You embrace the “partially right” comment as representing 100% wrong. Clearly in this instance “partially right” means 0%>lancet paper>100% right.
    But given the “partially right” refers to the MMR/Autism outcome is determined by the age of vaccination, I would say that’s all one needs to show that the MMR DOES affect an autism outcome.
    You conceded the slipperiest slope to being wrong.

    Uh no. Apparently, the irony of those statements are completely lost on you. I’m not shocked. Even with Hooker’s execrable ham-fisted statistical analysis, he only managed to find a single subset with statistical significance that doesn’t remotely resemble Wakefield’s claims at all. That is with taking Hooker’s results at face value when in reality, he didn’t find any statistical significance because he did the wrong tests.

    What you should say is that the Whistleblower had faked the claim because he had a disagreement with the CDC regarding his payroll taxes. And so he decided to completely ruin his career to get back at the CDC. Yeah! that’s the ticket!
    The best part is knowing that you are all going to continue to vaccinate. That’s what makes this debate so fun.

    I have no idea where you came up with that gem but accuracy isn’t the anti-vaxxers’ strong suit. Thompson made no claim; the only statement uttered was about his shame for something. Hooker and Wakefield certainly make a bunch of claims but with no evidence whatsoever. So you see, there is no reason to say that Thompson’s claim was faked because there isn’t any claim of malfeasance on his part to refute.

    I have no doubt that people like you really believe that this is some sort of “gotcha” but falls miserably short of that. The Hooker study is easily refuted and Wakefield’s wank video is so over-the-top it is more likely to backfire when viewed by rational people.

    And yes, sensible people will continue to vaccinate and in fact, the reprehensible behaviour of anti-vaxx groups will only serve to demonstrate how dishonest and unhinged they are.

  30. […] community with a good laugh. It even comes with the conspiracy quacks turning on each other! Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism ? Respectful Insolence An analysis of the…uhh..scenario. Reply With […]

  31. […] pro-vaccine website Science Blogs features a long contrary explanation ridiculing all parties involved in the CDC whistleblower scandal. The blog post questions why a […]

  32. #32 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 25, 2014

    The best part is knowing that you are all going to continue to vaccinate. That’s what makes this debate so fun.
    So please make sure you get the flu shot this year. I hear 30,000 people die of the flu each year….

    Why, yes, in the absence of evidence that vaccinating causes more of a hazard than not vaccinating, the wise thing would be to vaccinate. Thanks for noticing! i hope you get your influenza shots as well, since I’d hate to think you’d catch the flu and spread it to others who might get seriously ill.

  33. #33 Krebiozen
    August 25, 2014

    ScienceMom,

    I wondered where they came up with 340% but as they make up so much of everything they say, didn’t hurt myself there. But you think they derived it from their RR?

    I’m pretty sure of it, as the table of supposed RRs is being displayed during Wakefield’s voiceover.

  34. #34 Curious
    August 25, 2014

    It’s funny “David’s Daddy,” but as the actual parent of a real autistic child, I’ve met a bunch of other parents of autistic children, at hospitals, schools, and in the neighborhood – yet I’ve never met one that believes that vaccines cause autism. Maybe I don’t go to the cocktail parties or beachside “conferences” that the antivax set talk about – I’m way too busy with a real child’s needs. But I’ll make time to write to my Congressfolks again, and let them know what I think. Thanks for the reminder.

  35. #35 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 25, 2014

    @David’s Daddy

    That’s what makes this debate so fun.

    Please do let us know when you want to start a debate. I’m sure several people here would be thrilled to participate.

  36. #36 Krebiozen
    August 25, 2014

    David’s Daddy,

    You like to play that childish circular logic game

    I must have missed the circular logic, please explain.

    and avoid the epic events that are unfolding.

    As far as I can see the only epic thing unfolding is a widespread exposure of Brian Hooker’s embarrassing ignorance about epidemiology and statistics.

    You embrace the “partially right” comment as representing 100% wrong.

    Wakefield claimed that MMR causes autism in all children, not just African American children in Georgia. His study was of British children (apart from one American, as I recall), and included no African American children at all. How can his study have been correct when it didn’t include any of the only group in which Hooker’s joke of a reanalysis found any difference?

    Given that Hooker made a complete mess of his reanalysis, your point would be wrong even if it made any sense, which it doesn’t.

    Clearly in this instance “partially right” means 0%>lancet paper>100% right.

    How could the Lancet paper be more than 100% right? Or did you intend less than signs? Since Wakefield’s malfeasance in accruing subjects, massaging the patient records and inventing an imaginary gut disease is quite clear, it isn’t right at all, which is why his study remains, and will always remain, retracted.

    But given the “partially right” refers to the MMR/Autism outcome is determined by the age of vaccination, I would say that’s all one needs to show that the MMR DOES affect an autism outcome.
    You conceded the slipperiest slope to being wrong.
    Let me help you…

    Have you somehow missed the extensive discussion above of precisely why neither Wakefield nor Hooker are anything remotely resembling “right”?

    The best part is knowing that you are all going to continue to vaccinate. That’s what makes this debate so fun.

    Too right I’m going to continue vaccinating. I watched my son fighting for breath in the hospital from whooping cough contracted thanks to a vaccine scare that turned out to be unfounded. He was lucky, but dozens of other children died. You think infectious diseases are fun?

    So please make sure you get the flu shot this year. I hear 30,000 people die of the flu each year….

    Pneumonia is a common complication of influenza, and in the vulnerable pneumonia causes a lot of deaths. I’m in Europe, where the CDC has no powers, yet a recent study found:

    Out of approximately 180 million Europeans for whom influenza vaccination is recommended, only about 80 million persons are vaccinated. Seasonal influenza vaccination currently prevents an annual average of between 1.6 million and 2.1 million cases of influenza, 45,300 to 65,600 hospitalizations, and 25,200 to 37,200 deaths.

    I would like to see vaccination prevent a lot more cases, hospitalizations and deaths, wouldn’t you? Or did you believe the nonsense about vaccines peddled by AoA and other scientifically challenged internet “experts”?

    I’ll get my flu and other shots, if only to to keep up the herd immunity that has been eroded by idiots.

  37. #37 Dangerous Bacon
    August 25, 2014

    “The best part is knowing that you are all going to continue to vaccinate.”

    Yes. In fact, I just got my shingles vaccination a couple of weeks ago. It makes sense to me to markedly lower my odds of contracting that painful and highly unpleasant ailment. And I’ll get my flu shot again this year, to protect myself and those around me.

    I could say that the best part of getting those immunizations is knowing that smug, uninformed antivaxers are taking unnecessary risks by avoiding them. But I wouldn’t wish those diseases on antivaxers, or on their vulnerable relatives and contacts.

  38. #38 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 25, 2014

    I’m pretty sure of it, as the table of supposed RRs is being displayed during Wakefield’s voiceover.

    Oh my. All of these problems with the Hooker study and how much of the anti-vaxxers identity and need for vindication are tied up in it leads me to believe that they are going to become more shrill and unhinged as media outlets et al. just slam the door on them.

  39. #39 Suvine
    August 25, 2014

    You guys can shoot yourselves up with germs. Leave my arms and butt alone.

  40. #40 Suvine
    August 25, 2014

    You guys can shoot yourselves up with germs. Leave my arms and butt alone.

  41. #41 Reader
    August 25, 2014

    @Narad
    What in G-d’s name could the False Claims Act have to do with anything here…
    I applaud your insight and prescience. Maybe everything?
    I don’t know personally, but an unverified online rumor I just read claims a high-powered law firm with expertise in the field has Dr. Thompson as a client. Time will tell.

  42. #42 Narad
    August 25, 2014
    What in G-d’s name could the False Claims Act have to do with anything here…

    I applaud your insight and prescience. Maybe everything? I don’t know personally, but an unverified online rumor I just read claims a high-powered law firm with expertise in the field has Dr. Thompson as a client. Time will tell what the False Claims Act is.

    FTFY.

  43. #43 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    ^ Well, except for the part about not closing the <del> after “tell.”

  44. #44 Lawrence
    August 25, 2014

    @Reader – given Wakefield’s & Hooker’s records, I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in “unverified online rumors.”

    Operative word being “unverified.”

  45. #45 Shay
    An isolated outpost of reason, maybe
    August 25, 2014

    I think I will start an unverified online rumor that Ebola is being deliberately imported to the US at the bidding of Pres. Obama’s Muslim overlords to kill off the white population.

    Wait…that one already exists. See how easy it is, “Reader?”

  46. #46 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 25, 2014

    but … but.. there are documented cases of people with Ebola being taken to US hospitals…

  47. #47 squirrelelite
    August 25, 2014

    Just FWIW,

    I finally decided to watch or at least skim the video. As far as I can tell, all it has is audio clips of a recording, presumably of Dr Thompson. Has anyone confirmed that is in fact his voice?

    Although it is probably him, without confirmation, it is at least technically possible that someone else was talking on the phone. And, of course without the full recording we don’t know what he said and in what context.

    But it only takes a glimpse at the still photos used in the countdown intro to guess this isn’t going to be a dispassionate explanation of the underlying data and their analysis.

  48. #48 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    Since the temporal sequence is unknown we can only calculate an odds ratio, not a relative risk

    Well, you can calculate one [as I trivially did from numbers of cases and controls: (583/2235)/(41/213) = 1.35], but it doesn’t mean anything. The fact that Hooker couldn’t even keep straight* what he was claiming to report might make one wonder what he actually did, given that he skipped the whole “here are the numbers” bit.

    * I kind of suspect that he decided somewhere along the way – in proofs, for all anyone knows – that it was magically going to turn into a “cohort study” and forgot to completely clean up afterward.

  49. #49 BooRadley
    August 25, 2014

    “Has anyone confirmed that is in fact his voice?”

    Nope.

  50. #50 Narad
    August 25, 2014

    Leave my arms and butt alone.

    I should think that goes without saying. There’s no telling where they’ve been.

  51. #51 pmk1981
    Texas
    August 25, 2014

    So let me get this straight, I’m a whistleblower and instead of going to reputable sources I go to 2 men have been discredited for their junk science? Yep makes sense to me, I mean the entire scientific community is going to eat their words when these guys have a whistleblower

  52. […] as I pointed out when I first noted the emergence of this kerfuffle, the risibly incompetent “reanalysis” of the study (Destefano et al) by biochemical engineer […]

  53. #53 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    I mean the entire scientific community is going to eat their words say France when these guys have a whistleblower

    That reminds me of something’d.

  54. #54 ebohlman
    http://turnipsandpotatoes.wordpress.com
    August 26, 2014

    So let me get this straight, I’m a whistleblower and instead of going to reputable sources I go to 2 men have been discredited for their junk science?

    A couple weeks ago I got a spam e-mail titled (capitalization and punctuation reproduced exactly) “Jailed doctor Reveals cure to Most Diseases, & conditions”. Now when I hear “jailed doctor” the differential starts with stuff like “illegally prescribing narcotics”, “sexually assaulting patients”, and “fraudulent insurance billing” but to a certain personality type the automatic first conclusion is “political prisoner”.

  55. #55 Bitterbonker
    United States
    August 26, 2014

    @ JD

    > because this is a frequency-matched case-control study, one needs to take both age and school into account, at minimum

    However, age and school are not known to be significant predictors of autism risk. Adjusting for these can lead to OVER-matching, which can actually disguise an association. I will quote some papers from mainstream literature to demonstrate this is not just me saying this:

    “Generally, matching will increase the efficiency of the study
    when the matching variable is a strong outcome determinant, but will actually reduce it
    when the matching variable is strongly related to the exposure variable (over-matching).”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18375456

    “If the exposure itself leads to the confounder or has equal status with it, then stratifying by the confounder will also stratify by the exposure, and the relation of the exposure to
    the disease will be obscured…

    “The general decline in median dose shows that dose and time are associated. The situation seems to be one where dose is partially ‘explained’ by date of entry, both being related to time… this seems to have had the effect that workers in the same matched set have broadly similar recorded doses. The apparent over-matching on date of entry has distorted the parameter estimate of the risk of leukemia on cumulative dose by introducing matching (at least partially) on dose.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123834/

    Catherine DeSoto explains how another DeStefano study (Prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal from vac‐
    cines and immunoglobulins and risk of autism, 2010) contains over-matching based on age. As such, it’s design is not adequate to test whether there is a dose-response relationship between thimerosal and autism:

    “Controlling for Birth Year is overmatching due to the overlap with Amount of Exposure; similar to the radiation risk for leukemia written about by Marsh, controlling for time is (at least partly) controlling for exposure, which
    varies with birth year. The matching on birth year is matching on the exposure. This seems to have had the effect that
    children in the same matched set have similar recorded exposures to thimerosal, removing much of the variance
    Price et al. matched out both of these variations in exposure. This has the effect of ensuring
    that the control group is nearly identical with the case group on the risk factor, which prevents its effect from being accurately measured. Considering cumulative exposure for the
    first 7 months of life, the overall mean for the full data set is 102.88 micrograms/Hg and a
    standard deviation of 42.2. The means for the cases and matched controls is 100.0 and 103.2
    micrograms of Hg: this similarity (less than one tenth of the standard deviation) is forced by
    the matching on the variables that define exposure. Birth year dictates which vaccine sched‐
    ule a child is born under as well as which batch brands and formulations are available on
    the market at a given time. Doctors within a practice will be using the same manufacturer
    across children (vaccines are ordered in large batches room a given manufacturer; the Vac‐
    cine Data Set used by Price et al. documents that the same providers use the same manufac‐
    ture. Thus, this is a text book case of overmatching: variables were matched on that
    essentially define exposure. It is well known that matching on a variable that is associated
    only with exposure, not with disease, reduces statistical efficiency (Zondervan et al, 2002;
    Rubenfeld et al., 1999; Day, Byar, & Green, 1980) and that care needs to be taken to avoid
    this in a case-control research design.
    Across the different years, the average cumulative exposure varies from 42.3 micrograms to
    125.46 micrograms; while within the birth year stratas, the mean exposures do not vary by
    more than 15 micrograms. Birth year is a variable that defines exposure due to changes in
    recommendations regarding the vaccine schedule and changes in vaccine formulas that occurred at different times.”

    Source: (Recent Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2013)

    See also: critique of another DeStefano study with over-matching: http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(13)00662-8/fulltext

  56. #56 Marsha
    August 26, 2014

    Lol. Grasp them straws children. Cat’s out of the bag & not going back in.

  57. #57 Lawrence
    August 26, 2014

    @Marsha – exactly….not like you’ve been able to produce any actual evidence of wrong-doing, have you?

  58. #58 novalox
    August 26, 2014

    @marsha

    Considering your histronic postings on FB, I wouldn’t take your threat seriously, child.

  59. […] And Surgeon/Scientist Orac takes on the study and more here: Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism […]

  60. #60 ebrillblaiddes
    August 26, 2014

    I don’t think anyone else already mentioned this, but, even if the reanalysis is right, wouldn’t that mean, at most, that boys of African descent ought to start their MMR series after the vulnerable period, like age 4 or so, but since it’s safe for everyone else, they should roll up their sleeves to keep herd immunity going so that we don’t end up with a bunch of dead little black boys?

  61. #61 Phillip
    August 26, 2014

    When your child convulses in the doctors office or on the way home, there is little doubt.

    The only thing that will convince any of you is if your own child was vaccine damaged. Hope that never happens to you.

    Ironically, I was one of you pro-vaxer, the system is just fine for all children, dolts.. 10 years ago..

    Boy, I wish I had someone (like me) that could have talked some sense into me. My God the heartache I would have spared myself if I had just listened.

    Now my child is handicapped at the hands of an incompetent clueless pediatrician that gave him the flu show with thimerosal at 18 months old.

    Shame on all of you.

  62. #62 Phillip
    August 26, 2014

    When your child convulses in the doctors office or on the way home, there is little doubt.

    The only thing that will convince any of you is if your own child was vaccine damaged. Hope that never happens to you.

    Ironically, I was one of you pro-vaxer, the system is just fine for all children, dolts.. 10 years ago..

    Boy, I wish I had someone (like me) that could have talked some sense into me. My God the heartache I would have spared myself if I had just listened.

    Now my child is handicapped at the hands of an incompetent clueless pediatrician that gave him the flu show with thimerosal at 18 months old.

    Shame on all of you.

  63. #63 Chris
    August 26, 2014

    “When your child convulses in the doctors office or on the way home, there is little doubt.”

    That should make it easy to get compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program if it was a table injury. I hope that your experience with the Vaccine Court went well.

    “The only thing that will convince any of you is if your own child was vaccine damaged. Hope that never happens to you. ”

    My son had seizures from a disease before the vaccine was available, and is still disabled. Unfortunately there is no “National Disease Injury Compensation Program.”

    Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more seizures than the disease.

  64. #64 JD
    August 26, 2014

    “However, age and school are not known to be significant predictors of autism risk. Adjusting for these can lead to OVER-matching, which can actually disguise an association.”

    You have missed my point entirely. We can debate all day long about whether or not age should be matched on in the Destefano studies (which it should be), but it doesn’t make one lick of difference to the argument at hand, because age, gender, and school WERE matched on. You can’t just ignore features of the study design because you want to, this doesn’t fix the problem that you are referencing. Instead of possibly attenuating an association, you are introducing ass loads of bias because the study design has created artificial relationships that have not been addressed.

    I actually feel sorry for the guy if Hooker really thought that his half-baked attempts to fix this “over-matching” were legitimate. If this is one of the problems, why not perform your own study on different data? You would need to do a whole lot of legwork to convince me that any study on this topic not accounting for age is valid though.

    You must have graduated with honors from the B Hooker school of misunderstanding study design. For the Destefano study, age and school are likely to be strong confounders (warranting being matched on) between time of vaccine receipt and DIAGNOSIS+IDENTIFICATION of autism. This terrible argument hinges on proving that these factors are not associated with the outcome. Because of how the data is collected, by gathering cases among a pretty wide age group across a large number of schools in metro Atlanta, it is very likely that age and school would greatly impact ascertainment of autism cases. Think what ages we would be looking more closely for autism or about a school which has a lot of specialist support available.

    So, matching on these factors is valid as long as (conceptually) they can be considered confounders, which they pretty easily can. I think we can also be pretty confident that Hooker would be jumping all over this study if they had not accounted for these factors and pointing this out just as vehemently as his baseless “overmatching” critiques. This is just another instance of anti-vaxxers trying to find a place to grind their axes.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Z3vjT9ALxHUC&pg=PA179&lpg=PA179&dq=rothman+overmatching&source=bl&ots=aQFM6PTP3U&sig=cA4RJ_82CazR5aJ5XNo6MQIughY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gxj9U8jFG6a7igKZxoG4Dw&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=rothman%20overmatching&f=false

  65. #65 Shameonyou
    USA
    August 26, 2014

    Shame on all of you, seems like no one really cares anymore, Have all been brainwashed by the govt. media and have lost all empathy for what could be. Maybe if your child and or grandchild would be affected, or probably maybe not from all your comments, you would be willing to have some compassion on humanity, but you are all the guilty ones for trusting the govt. with your children and allowing them to be guinea pigs, as if nothing like this has never happened before. All you smart scientists forgive us all for being human and putting our own brains and taking control of our children than giving them over to the state and the infamous CDC with anthrax. Hah !! You do with your kids what you choose and we will do what we choose NOT what you robots believe we should do. We care about our children and our communities and no science pseudo quack is going to mess with us anymore. Take all your children and vaccinate them, medicate them and do all of this live in the public eye is we could watch you apes and heartless robots just look without any emotion. Sorry to express myself as such but you need God, He loves you all unless of course you are scientifically made up humans. Peace and Grace

  66. #66 Allyn
    August 26, 2014

    Phillip: Actually, I have a child with autism; that’s why I’m annoyed at people who try to tell me they know what the caused it.

    “Hope that never happens to you. ”

    Careful – Remember what J.B. Handley said that caring about the well-being of other people’s children is a sure sign that you’re not really the parent of a child with autism (tells you something about him, doesn’t it?)

  67. #67 Nat
    August 26, 2014

    It was also posted in pubmed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25114790

  68. #68 Allyn
    August 26, 2014

    Allyn,

    Sure does. I can’t wait until the debate is over on this issue. MLK said that the truth will set you free. I sincerely believe that eventually, this will all come out. Thimerosal will be banned in ALL vaccines including the flu shot and tetanus, the MMR will be split into 3 visits, and the schedule slowed to a conservative pace.

    I know in my heart that if I had just done the above ^, I wouldn’t have an autistic child today.

  69. #69 Phillip
    August 26, 2014

    And Chris.. No it didn’t go well (the vaccine injury court). The only cases that win are when the child suffers mitochondrial DNA damage induced by the vaccine. This is due to previous rulings that vaccines aren’t the cause of autism.

    Ironic isn’t it? The only court that has already handed out 3 billion dollars in settlements is basically trapped by it’s own b.s. legal rulings.

    We ran a DNA check. My son’s was perfect.
    We were screwed and told to have a nice life.

  70. #70 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    All you smart scientists forgive us all for being human and putting our own brains….

    Where?

  71. #71 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    However, age and school are not known to be significant predictors of autism risk.

    This fail-bomb pretty much lays waste to everything that follows, but could you perhaps try to keep it together enough to stick to a single pseudonym? The Phillip/Shameonyou noise is more than enough, although I realize in this case that such endeavors are considered to be signs of witty creativeness at AoA.

  72. #72 herr doktor bimler
    August 26, 2014

    Philip / Allyn / Shameonyou:
    MLK said that the truth will set you free
    Did he now.

    The multiple identities pretending to agree with one another might be slightly less unconvincing if you could remember to keep them all straight, and not answer yourself directly< as in #268.

  73. #73 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    No it didn’t go well (the vaccine injury court). The only cases that win are when the child suffers mitochondrial DNA damage induced by the vaccine.

    Fantastic, you don’t even understand your own attempted point. Well played.

  74. #74 Chris
    August 26, 2014

    Phillip: “And Chris.. No it didn’t go well (the vaccine injury court). The only cases that win are when the child suffers mitochondrial DNA damage induced by the vaccine. This is due to previous rulings that vaccines aren’t the cause of autism. ”

    That is very untrue. You would have known that if you had clicked the link I provided to the table of injuries that are almost automatically compensated. They have nothing to do with mitochondrial disorder, but timing of reaction.

    “Ironic isn’t it? The only court that has already handed out 3 billion dollars in settlements is basically trapped by it’s own b.s. legal rulings”

    Along with working on learning how to click and read links, you might try some basic arithmetic. Look at this table of the NVICP compensations since 2006. You will see at the bottom of the page since then there have been only 1300 cases compensated out of almost two billion vaccine doses. That amount of money does not see so high compared to how few were compensated compared to total number of doses.

    Now a couple of other interesting things from your first post:

    “10 years ago.. ”

    “gave him the flu show with thimerosal at 18 months old.”

    As I remember there were thimerosal free flu shots then, but it was also very difficult to get influenza vaccines for children in 2004.

    Between the mitochondrial claims, not trying for an NVICP table injury claim, and the fact that you blame an influenza vaccine when they were scarce, I think I really need you to answer my actual question:

    Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more seizures than the disease.

  75. #75 herr doktor bimler
    August 26, 2014

    We ran a DNA check. My son’s was perfect.
    I was previously unaware of any service offering to rate DNA on a scale of perfection.

  76. #76 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    Sorry to express myself as such but you need [G-d], He loves you all unless of course you are scientifically made up humans.

    I’m unaware of any Abrahamic religion that endorses any such position. Could you be more specific about which god is needed, or at least cough up some source for your specific theological pronouncement about “scientifically made up humans”? All I’ve got here is a variation of the usual (Roman) assertion that animals don’t have souls (which you should either explicitly concede or contest).

    I mean, you’ve got a giant mess to try to Pendaflex even within monotheistic bands.

    Please try to reply thoroughly and promptly.

  77. #77 Krebiozen
    August 26, 2014

    We care about our children and our communities and no science pseudo quack is going to mess with us anymore.

    Says one of the people who leave their children vulnerable to infectious diseases, permanent disabilities and death because they believe what idiotic “science pseudo quacks” have told them. The irony….

  78. #78 Phillip
    August 26, 2014

    Chris..
    How dare you.
    Did you talk to the attorney? No you didn’t. I did..
    Here is an idea..call one, they’ll tell you exactly what I just did.

    I have had to live with my blind trust of people like you that share the ‘vaccines can do no wrong’ misconception..and worse, my son has had to deal with the consquences.

    Serious…Eat a thermometer for all I care.

  79. #79 AdamG
    August 26, 2014

    We ran a DNA check. My son’s was perfect.

    It matters quite a bit what the DNA check actually was. resequencing a single gene? genotyping SNPs via microarray? Exome or Genome sequencing?

    A check of a single gene being ‘perfect’ means a whole different thing than a ‘perfect’ genome.

    Everyone here has sympathy for what your son has gone through. Many of us, including myself, have a relative on the spectrum. However, what I don’t have sympathy for is your attitude that somehow autism has taken your otherwise ‘perfect’ child.

    I often wish parents like you could have a heart to heart with parents of children with Down’s syndrome or other genetic disorders. No doctor gave their children an extra chromosome, the children are perfect just the way they are. You could learn a lot from these folks.

  80. #80 novalox
    August 26, 2014

    @phillip

    Considering that you haven’t answered the questions posed of you by Chris and instead resorted to unfounded insults, we can assume that you have nothing of actual substance to post here.

    Also, your attitude of autism of stealing your “perfect” child is rather sickening. I’ve worked with families who have had children with mile to severe developmental disorders, yet many of these families still loved their children the same. The ones who viewed their children as flawed and imperfect, not deserving of their love ended up having their children having major issues, both mental and physical, due to their parent’s neglect. Your implied hatred of your child because he or she wasn’t born perfect is both sickening and scary.

  81. #81 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    Did you talk to the attorney? No you didn’t. I did..
    Here is an idea..call one, they’ll tell you exactly what I just did.

    Would it help if I repeatedly phone some random “attorney” using different names? It’s not as though I don’t know enough lawyers, none of whom would know what the fυck you’re babbling about as though it were some well-known principle of the Court of Federal Claims rather than just being some astonishingly stupid piece of idiocy that you picked up somewhere and decided to parade around like an untreated case of the clap.

    Are you simply confused about where you are and the likelihood of success of dumbass bluffing based on what you mistakenly think to be esotericism?

  82. #82 lilady
    August 27, 2014

    Did I just read that phillip contacted an attorney who is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Federal Claims (Vaccine Court)…and that attorney refused to take on his case for his child’s vaccine injury?

    Phillip must have some p!ss poor evidence for such an attorney to refuse his child’s case.

  83. #83 Chris
    August 27, 2014

    Philip: “Did you talk to the attorney? No you didn’t. I did..”

    Why? There is no “National Disease Injury Compensation Program.”

    You stated that your child had a seizure after getting an influenza vaccine with thimerosal during a year it was extremely difficult to get an influenza vaccine, and when there were thimerosal free influenza vaccines. Sorry it was not a table injury.

    But it still stands that you need to provide the real verifiable evidence that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more seizures than the diseases. Until you provide those PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers, we will assume you either mistaken or just making stuff up.

    Oh, and about the DNA testing. One of my kids has a severe genetic heart condition where there are eighteen known genetic sequences (some mitochondrial) that cause it. He had none of them… yet the abnormal heart muscle growth was very evident on the X-ray, MRI and echocardiogram.

    There is no such thing as a “perfect DNA scan”, because they still have not found all of the sequences that cause issues.

  84. #84 herr doktor bimler
    August 27, 2014

    Phillip must have some p!ss poor evidence for such an attorney to refuse his child’s case.
    Or he could be making the whole story up, along with the autistic child and the multiple names.

  85. #85 lilady
    August 27, 2014

    I’d like to know how phillip’s child had a seizure (immediately) after receiving a flu vaccine in the doctor’s office or in the car.

    My kiddo had seizures in the doctor’s office, in the car, on his play mat, in his wheelchair….but he had a diagnosed grand mal seizure disorder starting at 20 hours old.

    The anti-vaxxers want to have the right to go through the civil courts. How many cases would be filed by attorneys in those civil courts, when the attorney’s fees are based on a sliding scale…based on the amount you are awarded? You lose and the attorney gets zilch, nada, zero. You lose in Vaccine Court and the attorney representing you, still gets paid.

    So yeah, Phillip must have some p!ss poor evidence for such an attorney to refuse his child’s case.

  86. […] reason being an observation last night of just how desperate the antivaccine movement is to have Brian Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis” of a ten year old vaccine safety study and Andrew Wake… video gain traction in the mainstream media. The failure of this conspiracy theory to do so is […]

  87. #87 Don
    August 27, 2014

    “scienceblogs” is hardly science. It does not argue facts, but right from the get-go pummels readers with derogatory comments about the group it’s attacking– in this case the “anti-vaxers.” This is called ad hominem. Scienceblogs is really emotional claptrap pretending to be science. If it actually were about science, it would refrain from all name-calling and argue the plain facts. It would not care whether the source was Jenny McCarthy or Wakefield or God himself; it would just present a reasoned argument. But that, apparently, is way beyond the capability of this type of “science.”

  88. #88 Lawrence
    August 27, 2014

    @Don – I guess you missed the part where the Science is broken down and discussed time after time after time, yet the anti-vax screwheads refuse to listen to facts and reason.

    Perhaps that’s why we get a little testy….

  89. #89 novalox
    August 27, 2014

    @don

    I don’t hear you complaining about antivaxxers eith their libelous language against doctors and scientists, as well as trying to get people fired from their jobs.

    Hypocrite much?

  90. #90 JGC
    August 27, 2014

    If it actually were about science, it would refrain from all name-calling and argue the plain facts.

    Happy to oblige, don. Here’s the bottom line scientific fact: Brian Hooker’s re-analysis of the DeStefano data set does not support the existence of a causal association between MMR vaccination and autism spectrum disorders in African American boys, due to the fact his analysis commits multiple, obvious and elementary statistical errors–inapropriately treating a case control data set as if it were a cohort study dataset; applying the wrong methods of statistical anaylsis (Pearson’s chi-squared versus conditional logistic regression), failing to reduce p-values as a consequence of performing multiple comparisons, etc.

  91. #91 Chris
    August 27, 2014

    Don: ““scienceblogs” is hardly science. It does not argue facts, but right from the get-go pummels readers with derogatory comments about the group it’s attacking– in this case the “anti-vaxers.””

    Then enlighten us with some actual science. Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule causes more seizures than the disease.

  92. #92 Brian Deer
    August 27, 2014

    JGC: A mere journalist like myself would skip all that and say: “One author paper? Probably dodgy. Move on.”

    I like our simple life.

  93. #93 Brian Deer
    August 27, 2014

    Oh, sorry: “And in a Chinese journal”.

  94. #94 Orac
    August 27, 2014

    A mere journalist like myself would skip all that and say: “One author paper? Probably dodgy. Move on.”

    Well, I happen to have a single author paper in the pipeline about integrative oncology. Does that mean my paper will be “dodgy”?

  95. #95 Brian Deer
    August 27, 2014

    Even though you are an oncologist, as a journalist I would disregard it, unless it made extravagant claims on a matter of public interest, in which case I might learn how to read it. Research of probable note is almost always from a team, in my view

    As for an anti-vax chemist with an epidemiological reanalysis in a Chinese journal of a CDC study in Pediatrics: I wouldn’t even try to understand it, and I don’t think any medically-orientated journalist would.

    If Hooker knew anything much about anything, he would have found a co-author who was a statistician or epidemiologist.

  96. #96 Shay
    August 27, 2014

    If Hooker knew anything much about anything, he wouldn’t be the Hooker we know and love.

  97. #97 Brian Deer
    August 27, 2014

    What the crazies don’t appreciate is that media story selection is all about exclusion. News desks would look at the Wakefield allegations and go “Wakefield? In the trash.” If the day is slow, they might go: “What does Thompson say? Nothing yet? In the trash.” And on it goes.

    So unless you have a cure for breast cancer in a 15 author paper, plus the Oncology Working Group of the Western World, it goes in the trash.

    There’s no cover up here. There’s still no story.

  98. […] And Surgeon/Scientist Orac takes on the study and more here: Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism […]

  99. #99 Bitterbonker
    United States
    August 27, 2014

    @ JD

    “Instead of possibly attenuating an association, you are introducing ass loads of bias because the study design has created artificial relationships that have not been addressed.”

    I understand your point, that younger kids are less likely to be diagnosed with autism, hence adjusting for age. And that they are more or less likely to be vaccinated based on school requirements among other things, hence adjusting for school.

    But there is just as much a threat from stratifying too finely as too coarsely. Again, from a mainstream scientific paper:

    “matching variables are chosen a priori on the belief that they confound the relationship between exposure and disease.”

    This indicates that the bias of the researchers affects the confounders chosen and thus the outcome. This is why it is essential to allow research from people with many different points of view, and be open to different research methods.

    “If the matching variable is along the causal pathway between disease and exposure then matching will contribute bias that cannot be removed in the analysis (Vandenbroucke et al., 2007).”

    This indicates that matching can introduce bias based on whether the researchers believe that vaccines are causally related to the disease or not. This applies to DeStefano et al. just as much as it applies to Hooker.

    “Variables for matching should therefore be selected very carefully, and only those that are *known* to be associated with both exposure and disease should be considered. *The number of matching variables should also be reduced to as few as possible*. As the number of matching variables grows, *the cases and controls will become increasingly similar with respect to the exposure of interest*, and the study may produce a spurious result or provide no information (Breslow and Day, 1980).”

    Emphasis mine.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2827892/

  100. #100 Lawrence
    August 27, 2014

    @Bitter – but, allowing somebody like Hooker – who went in with major COIs and dead set on finding exactly what he wanted to find, is okay with you?

  101. #101 ChrisP
    Australia
    August 27, 2014

    Ha ha ha. Looks like Translational Neurodegeneration has pulled Hooker’s article http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/16/abstract

    “This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions.”

    Who would have guessed the conclusions were invalid?

  102. […] Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism […]

  103. […] well, more like manufactroversy. Excellent commentary has already been published here, here, and here so I’m not exactly adding much in the way of new analysis to the situation.  But hopefully, […]

  104. #104 Shay
    August 27, 2014

    No, Chris — who would have guessed that Lord Draconis had the time to read an article in a journal called “Translational Nurodegeneration?”

  105. #105 JD
    August 27, 2014

    I guess my various snarky responses were a little uncalled for, so I apologize and will be more to the point. Once again the problem with the Hooker study is that the data was collected as a matched case-control study and was not analysed in line with this. This is invalid, case closed.

    “This indicates that the bias of the researchers affects the confounders chosen and thus the outcome.”

    In real life epidemiological research, there are lengthy debates over what constitutes a confounder in a given analysis and how to handle it. It does not work as you suggest, with researchers controlling results by deciding this, mostly because it’s actually pretty hard to anticipate what will happen and really hard to get away with it. Adjusting of stratifying on something without merit is an obvious red flag that will undoubtedly be brought up on legitimate peer review (like that which is done for Pediatrics). In general, avoiding ridicule by our peers keeps us in line.

    We can’t really see what happened without seeing the editorial reviews for Destefano. My guess though, is that it has more to do with the data set used than anything else. We have data sets set up for case-control studies like this (not on vaccines) where you have to match (as opposed to including as a covariate in a model) because of issues with case ascertainment and how the data was originally collected. These are truly strong confounding factors. We can’t tell something like this without having been involved in the original study.

    “This is why it is essential to allow research from people with many different points of view, and be open to different research methods.”

    As for being open to different methods, I agree, but they have to be valid. In this case, that means conducting an independent study, outside of the matched design. You can’t just re-purpose data to some end as Hooker has.

  106. #106 Non-science major
    August 27, 2014

    I think I’ve read all of the comments, but I didn’t come across a reference to this:
    http://www.rescuepost.com/.a/6a00d8357f3f2969e201b8d05e4614970c-pi

  107. #107 Orac
    August 27, 2014

    Patience. Some of us have a demanding day job that, although it allows us to comment occasionally during the day, does not provide breaks of sufficient length to put together a blog post. I guarantee you that I’ve known about this longer than you have, having received it as it was released. Come back in a few hours, and there will be commentary.

  108. #108 Scott Lemoine
    United States
    August 27, 2014

    Americans are the most drug addicted society in existence, by far. No one seems to have a problem with this, in fact, pharmaecutical drugs ads are increasing. From what I’ve been told over the years by ‘intelligent’ people, there’s no reason to question the science. Obviously turning Americans into sick ‘crack babies’ was the goal all along… if so.. Mission Accomplished!!!

  109. […] PhD, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC. I told the tale over the course of four posts. In the first installment, I described how vile Wakefield’s video was and how incompetent Hooker’s reanalysis was. I also […]

  110. #110 novalox
    August 28, 2014

    @scott

    First of all, [citation needed], since your comments goes against actual science and observed trends. You do know that the average lifespan for Americans has steadily gone up, right?

    Second of all, your denigration of children who actually suffered from drug-addicted mothers is very disgusting. Speaking as a person who has worked with a individual whose mother was an abuser, your flippant comment is disrespectful to those who actually suffer from drug abuse.

  111. #111 S Davenport
    UK
    August 28, 2014

    Well done, a fundamentally ad-hominem argument claiming the scientific high-ground – FAIL!

    Why not do what any proper scientist would do – seek to understand further before declaring what is the truth?

  112. #112 Narad
    August 28, 2014

    Oh, sorry: “And in a Chinese journal”.

    Argh, it seems like it was just was just yesterday that I was having something like this conversation with Jaime Teixeira.

    Translational Neurodegeneration is not a “Chinese journal.” It’s in the BMC stable, viz., a Springer title. I think reflexively dousing the EIC and/or editorial board with Calgon or something is, ah, premature.

    Separately, I’ve also seen assertions in other and otherwise respectable places that the journal is “bottom feeding,” with no particular defense of the claim. I find this, prima facie, to be irritatingly stupid noise, and no, I’m not going to evaluate the extant corpus for you, so maybe y’all should consider the ROI on getting your sh*t together first.

  113. #113 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    August 28, 2014

    @S Davenport, given that Orac and the commenters here have shown that Hooker used incorrect methods to analyse the data and that his conclusions are thus invalid, I don’t see what you’re getting at.

  114. […] tells us here, here, here and here about the whole goddamned thing. In fact, his latest post wraps it all up very […]

  115. #115 JD
    August 28, 2014

    @ Narad

    Yeah, my bad on the whole bottom-feeding open access thing. I didn’t see that it was a BMC journal at first. I just kind of assumed based on their recent track record:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24354891
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23925007

    Someone seems to have pulled the peer review goalie.

  116. #116 AB
    August 29, 2014

    The error in the paper is really quite simple – you should not calculate relative risk using case-control data as you do not know how many people are in the population from which the cases were drawn (you really do not have an estimate of “risk”). Instead, odds ratios should be calculated. No descriptive statistics were included in the paper (such as a simple table with the counts in each cell) so it is impossible to verify his calculations or compare to what he might have gotten had he used the appropriate statistic. The paper is complete rubbish.

  117. #117 Lawrence
    August 29, 2014

    @AB – I’m sure the journal is going to have a statistician look at the data, which will probably result in huge amount of laughter, punctuated by stunned disbelief…..

  118. #118 ChrisP
    August 29, 2014

    Actually, I couldn’t reasonably second guess the journal over this. Clearly, someone has written to the editor about the paper pointing out the methodological flaws and the editor, to their credit, have taken another look at it. This may be new reviewers, it may be done by one of the editors, or they might ask a specialist in statistics.

    I am wondering whether they are going to look again at Hooker’s other paper in the same journal.

  119. […] […]

  120. #120 Braingirl
    US
    August 29, 2014

    Hooker’s analysis reminds me of a comment made by one of my professors once “He uses statistics like a drunk uses a lamp-post–for support rather than illumination”.

  121. #121 Lawrence
    August 29, 2014

    @ChrisP – I’m sure laughter will still be involved….

  122. […] August 22, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence:  Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism […]

  123. […] this business with Hooker reanalyzing the data comes to the mainstream public through release of a video by, none other than Andrew Wakefield.  Apparently, Hooker had been in some sort of contact with Dr. Thompson.  He decided to record a […]

  124. #124 Eric Odgaard
    Tampa
    September 1, 2014

    Re: the original decision to leave out children with no birth certificate … there is nothing arbitrary about that. When you’re conducting a large-scale analysis using as many control variables as possible – especially when you believe age may be a confound – you MUST have some confirmation of the age of each subject (child). Birth certificates can be manipulated, and can contain fraudulent information … but they still serve as at least some attempt to confirm age, rather than just accept the word of whomever completed the file for the child.

  125. #125 Narad
    September 2, 2014

    Susan “I’m Not Anti-Technology” Greefield takes umbrage at being likened to Wakefield:

    In the past she has said “I point to the increase in autism and I point to internet use. That’s all.” It is all, I say to her, reminiscent of Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who, on the basis of a fragile correlation, suggested – wrongly and damagingly – that the MMR vaccine causes autism. He, of course, was a fraud, and there is no suggestion at all that Greenfield is, but she is open to the charge of autism scaremongering.

    She responds hotly: “I slightly get insulted by that parallel. I could draw similar parallels with smoking and lung cancer, and say that in the Forties and Fifties lots of people said it was just a correlation.” It’s hard to draw a causal connection in brain science, she says. But it seems irresponsible, to me, to “point to” simple correlations about something so worrying as autism in children.

  126. […] ago that allegedly showed that there was an increased risk of autism in African-American males. It didn’t. For all his trouble Thompson was “outed” as the “CDC whistleblower” by Andrew Wakefield in […]

  127. #127 A
    September 19, 2014

    “The chief, if not the sole, cause of the monstrous increase in cancer has been vaccination”
    – Dr. Robert Bell, fmr VP International Society for Cancer Research at the British Cancer Hospital

    (Truthstream Media.com)
    The public was kept in the dark for decades about tens of millions of polio vaccines laced with SV40, and its implications for the widespread epidemic of cancer.

  128. #128 A
    September 19, 2014

    “The chief, if not the sole, cause of the monstrous increase in cancer has been vaccination”
    – Dr. Robert Bell, fmr VP International Society for Cancer Research at the British Cancer Hospital

    (Truthstream Media.com)
    The public was kept in the dark for decades about tens of millions of polio vaccines laced with SV40, and its implications for the widespread epidemic of cancer.

  129. #129 Narad
    September 19, 2014

    The public was kept in the dark for decades about tens of millions of polio vaccines laced with SV40, and its implications for the widespread epidemic of cancer.

    You lose.

    HTH. HAND.

  130. #130 herr doktor bimler
    September 19, 2014

    Dr. Robert Bell, fmr VP International Society for Cancer Research at the British Cancer Hospital

    Since there is no such thing as the “British Cancer Hospital” (let me Google that for you), and no such thing as the “International Society for Cancer Research” at this non-existent hospital or anywhere else for “Dr Robert Bell” to have once been Vice President of, you would expect A to wonder whether the purported quotation is equally fictitious.

  131. #131 Krebiozen
    September 19, 2014

    The crude techniques used to make and purify vaccines over half a century ago led to some vaccines being contaminated by a virus that turned out to be harmless to humans, luckily. What possible relevance does this have to vaccines today?

    It’s a bit like me pointing to groundless concerns about car brake safety in 1963 as evidence that driving cars today is dangerous.

  132. #132 Narad
    September 19, 2014

    you would expect A to wonder whether the purported quotation is equally fictitious

    But, but, he was mentioned in the NYT in 1915.

  133. #133 herr doktor bimler
    September 19, 2014

    Ah, so Reobert Bell was a crank from a century ago who claimed in his dotage to have practiced at Battersea Hospital and to have been VP of a Berlin-based organisation with a name that translates as “International Society for Cancer Research”.

    Google has indexed his books but is unable to trace his putative words.

  134. #134 Lawrence
    September 19, 2014

    Okay, someone from a century ago, before we even had a modern vaccination program?

    Yeah, that’s a source I’d trust. 😉

  135. #135 herr doktor bimler
    September 19, 2014

    Bell’s cancer crankery did focus on ant-vaccination rants, but he specifically meant variolation. He admitted that variolation does provide some short-term protection from smallpox, but reckoned that “smallpox is a disease due to filth” so only dirty people caught it so it wasn’t really a problem.

    He also reckoned that the other main cause of cancer was eating meat — “the consumption of the carcases of dead animals” — i.e. a food crank in addition to his other delusions. For some reason, “A” and all the other antivax loons who bruit about Bell’s alleged words — don’t mention that aspect.

  136. #136 herr doktor bimler
    September 20, 2014

    Dr. Robert Bell, fmr VP International Society for Cancer Research at the British Cancer Hospital

    The two points here that continue to boggle my mind are:
    (a) Some nimrod took the actual Robert Bell who claimed to have practiced at Battersea Hospital, and fabricated or twisted or maybe even found a particular anti-vax claim from him, but changed his affiliation to “British Cancer Hospital”. The only way to make that name more absurd is to stick “Zoolander” in front of it. That nimrod also decided that this implausible medical institution should house an “International Society for Cancer Research”.

    (b) Thousands of numpties and eedjits have subsequently copy-pasted the whole passage onto their own alt-reality websites and blogs and FB pages, without the 5 seconds of reflection required to see the unlikelihood of Britain having one specific hospital dealing with cancer.

    Because the bee-in-the-bonnet hive-mind mentality does not lend itself to “attributions” or “crediting the work of others”, it’s hard to work out precisely who was Nimrod Zero. The earliest I came across was from 2009. One source was a S. Edmonson who strung together a piece on vaccine contamination and pimped it to various outlets, most notably Salem-News.com, but that was in late 2011.

  137. #137 Narad
    September 20, 2014

    Sadly, it’s nothing more than a straight cut and paste from the pathetically styled “Thor Odinson.”

  138. #138 Narad
    September 20, 2014

    Even worse, it’s a rehash. This appears to be the source of the “fmr” construction.

  139. #139 herr doktor bimler
    September 20, 2014

    Well, the 2009 occurrence has Robert Bell as “vice president of the International Society for Cancer Research at the British Cancer Hospital” in present tense. Someone at Rense had the nous to change that to “once VP”, and S. Edmonson follows that particular textual variant.
    I am happy to credit “Thor Odinson” with the originality of changing it to “fmr”.

  140. #140 Narad
    September 20, 2014

    The earliest I came across was from 2009.

    I’ve got one for 2005.

  141. #141 Narad
    September 20, 2014

    BTW, this is a nice flourish.

  142. #142 Narad
    September 20, 2014

    2001.

  143. #143 herr doktor bimler
    September 20, 2014

    Derples all the way down.

  144. #144 ann
    September 21, 2014

    Moreover, there hasn’t been a monstrous increase in cancer:

    Age-specific cancer mortality rates have been steadily declining in the United States since the early 1950s, beginning with children and young adults and now including all age groups. During the second half of the 20th century, each successive decade of births from 1925 to 1995 experienced a lower risk of cancer death than its predecessor at virtually every age for which such a comparison can be made. A major decline in cancer mortality has been occurring in the United States for the past 50 years, affecting birth cohorts born as long as 80 years ago. Excepting lung cancer, much of this decline has occurred despite relatively stable cancer incidence.

    According to this:

    http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/69/16/6500.long

    So I guess we’re back to just having the huge decline in vaccine-preventable diseases as a result of vaccination.

  145. #145 ChrisP
    Australia
    September 21, 2014

    While on the subject of Andrew Wakefield, we have a result in his defamation suit against the BMJ, Godlee and Deer

    It could happen to a nicer guy.

  146. #146 Politicalguineapig
    September 22, 2014

    I’ll have to make some popcorn. Come Monday, that comment thread’s gonna be hopping.

  147. #147 Denice Walter
    September 22, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Although It is somewhat quiet @ the Statesman site, John Stone put his 6-degree conspiracies forward @ AoA stirring up the usual ruckus including speculation about our own Lawrence ( aka Brian).

  148. #148 Politicalguineapig
    September 22, 2014

    DW: Lawrence is Brian Deer now?

  149. #149 Lawrence
    September 22, 2014

    @PGP – evidently, I’ve always been Brian Deer…..

  150. #150 Denice Walter
    September 22, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Actually, they’ve thought this for quite a while**. Rebecca may be BD also. They undertake hilarious mentation in order to connect *people they don’t like* (PTDL) to OTHER PTDLs *a la* Jake.

    Alright let me see:
    I have investments in both GSK and Murdoch’s company ( thru mutual funds), am related to another Mr Lawrence, my name is like that of a famous newspaper scion of centuries past and I attended elitist universities/ have connections in two political entirties where AJW lost in court.
    I must be the Devil’s Daughter or suchlike At least.

    ** and it is illustrative of their thinking ( actually, free associative) process..

  151. #151 Denice Walter
    September 22, 2014

    Ooops! Scratch that ‘scion’- say entrepreneur- I have trouble with that word ( I reverse it) and ‘namesake’ ( I use the latter for both parties). Go figure.

  152. #152 Lawrence
    September 22, 2014

    The power of social media – Rob Schneider’s State Farm Commercial has been dropped….

    http://www.prweek.com/article/1313589/state-farm-drops-ad-starring-rob-schneider-anti-vaccine-views

    Score one for the good guys!

  153. #153 lilady
    September 22, 2014

    Brian Deer have you been posting comments on AoA using a pseudonym?

    Yeah, score one for science.

  154. #154 Lawrence
    September 22, 2014

    @lilady – Ancient Chinese Secret…..

  155. #155 herr doktor bimler
    September 22, 2014

    Moreover, there hasn’t been a monstrous increase in cancer:

    There was the impression of a monstrous increase back at the end of the 1900s, when Bell was agitated about cowpox and meat-eating. Better diagnostics had a lot to do with it; doctors started writing “cancer” on death certificates rather than “inanition” or “cachexia” (e.g. no diagnoses of leukemia before 1845). And I wouldn’t be surprised if industrial pollution was contributing.

    But when someone parrots that claim as a description of the situation today… well, there are not enough face-palms and eye-rolls to fit.

  156. #156 Denice Walter
    September 22, 2014

    Has everyone seen the Pharma Shill ™ ad being discussed on Stone’s AoA comments:
    be a social media wh0re for big money.

  157. #157 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 22, 2014

    …evidently, I’ve always been Brian Deer…..

    Wait – I thought you were Bonnie Offitt.

  158. #158 Lawrence
    September 22, 2014

    Could be multiple personality disorder, but both Brian & Bonnie seem to disagree……

    @Denise – god forbid that major corporations hire people for their social media presence (someone has to write the tweets & update facebook pages)….

    Sounds like an incredibly boring job, actually.

  159. #159 Thomas
    September 22, 2014

    @Lawrence “evidently, I’ve always been Brian Deer…..”

    I was always sure you were Jacob Lawrence Crosby, though I also thought you might be Lawrence of Arabia (and I was afraid you were really Larry from “Three’s Company” or Larry from “Hello, Larry”).

  160. #160 Denice Walter
    September 22, 2014

    @ Lawrence:

    They seem to think that SBM/ vaccine advocates- like us – who comment here and around the ‘net are being paid to do so by pharma whereas the job actually is probably much like that which you describe- FB and twitter-for companies

    Oh wait- aren’t several of them paid to update FB and twitter for AoA, the Canary Party, etc?

  161. #161 ChrisP
    September 22, 2014

    Has everyone seen the Pharma Shill ™ ad being discussed on Stone’s AoA comments:
    be a social media wh0re for big money.

    According to John Stone, I am already doing this.

    But I must have hit a nerve, because he is deleting my comments – he didn’t like having parts of the judgement quoted.

  162. #162 brook
    September 22, 2014

    It’s well known that Lawrence’s grandfather is D.H. Although some circles are convinced he’s Larry Bird and they think he’s Big Bird’s little brother

  163. #163 Politicalguineapig
    September 22, 2014

    DW: Conspiracy theorists are always kinda fun to poke, aren’t they? Someone there figured that my user name meant I was a doctor, because obviously, I take pleasure in having human ‘guinea pigs.’ (Really, it’s just because I used my pet’s names online, prefer a more gender-neutral nym, and am a political junkie)

    Lawrence: Heh. For all we know, you could be a dog.

  164. #164 Politicalguineapig
    September 22, 2014

    Forgot to add: probably a handsome and very intelligent dog.

  165. #165 herr doktor bimler
    September 23, 2014

    You can’t be Sirius.

  166. #166 LW
    September 23, 2014

    @Politicalguineapig: “Someone there figured that my user name meant I was a doctor, because obviously, I take pleasure in having human ‘guinea pigs.”

    That’s a curious reading of your ‘nym. I always thought it meant *you* were the guinea pig for politicians.

  167. #167 Dangerous Bacon
    September 23, 2014

    I didn’t see the Pharma Shill ad on AoA (why did I ever go there?). But there’s a nice bit of irony on their front page.

    There are at least two articles whining about vaccine promotion (including one that talks about “selling vaccines like soap”). Just below them is a sales promotion by a supplement dealer offering four lucky people free bottles of a curcumin supplement: “The treatment category is sponsored by Lee Silsby, the leader in quality compounded medications for autism.”

    So it’s dreadful to encourage use of vaccines that prevent serious diseases, but just fine to promote a supplement dealer’s products that have not been shown to prevent or ameliorate autism.

    In the category of worthy but futile causes, I’ve heard there’s a petition at whitehouse.gov to revoke NVIC’s tax-exempt status. Should be good for a bout of faux outrage in antivaxer circles.

  168. #168 Lawrence
    September 23, 2014

    Large Corporations, and many small ones too, hire social media consultants and employees to monitor what is being said about the company, plus maintain twitter feeds and update Facebook pages and LinkedIn sites…..who do the Anti-Vax folks think do this for companies?

  169. #169 Lawrence
    September 23, 2014

    And what idiot thinks that vast international conspiracies post their job openings in public, online?

  170. #170 Denice Walter
    September 23, 2014

    No, no, oh Dangerous One! It wasn’t an ad posted THERE:
    AoA commenters discussed an ad for a social media expert/ writer for a pharma company which Stone, I believe, brought up in a comment on his own post about the recent strike off of AJW’s case- the one with the Union Jack Texas map – he didn’t link to the actual ad/ job description so I have no idea where it originated.

    You bring up an interesting point though:
    SBM is – to them- merely a way to make money ( not a way help people) ] whereas their own agenda is a MISSION, a service, a vocation or suchlike.

    Truly, they sell ads and write in support of products and services so advertised. Like woo-meisters they disparage readers from visiting the competetion ( i.e reality and SBM) by producing diatribe upon diatribe about how unredeemably evil the Establishment remains.

    I noticed that all of the sites I monitor regularly** have something to sell: products/ services of their own, products/ sevices of their clients via adverts, *charities* (Team TMR, Mikey’s especial project, NIA), PRN has a new Donate button so listeners can contribute monthly, Mike sells premium content services. AoA advertises their editors’ books prominently as well.

    Thus they can’t comprehend why some of us might write as a hobby which expresses our beliefs and as a means of supporting ideas that ultimately benefit society at large.

    ** with the exception of Jake’s who is merely selling himself and his peculiar perspective

  171. #171 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 23, 2014
  172. #172 Denice Walter
    September 23, 2014

    @ Rebecca:

    You’re right: now I even recall her name.

    The AoA crowd seems to think that we’re in the employ of pharmaceutical companies and they post as evidence the FACT that some people are paid to maintain industry-based sites.

  173. #173 Politicalguineapig
    September 23, 2014

    LW: I use the nym because I’m a political junkie and I like guinea pigs. It also matches up with an internet tradition- I’ve been using my pet’s names as nyms for as long as I’ve been on the ‘net.

  174. #174 Shay
    September 23, 2014

    I belong to an online needlework forum. Unfortunately we have members of the knit your own sandals crowd who eagerly tout “all natural, chemical-free!”* products that they either make or buy. According to them Big Bad Pharma is only in it for the money, but its perfectly ok for purveyors of alternative cures to charge ridiculous prices for their nostrums because obviously, they are trying to help people.

    (*yeah, called them on that one. They got huffy).

  175. […] you don’t, he’s the guy who decided to publicize his paper with a race-baiting YouTube video claiming that a scientific disagreement among CDC researchers amounts to a new Tuskegee experiment? […]

  176. […] Holocaust. It’s the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s Auschwitz. It’s Stalin. It’s the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. It’s a tsunami washing away everything before […]

  177. […] African American boys by more than three-fold, when in reality he had done nothing more than provide more evidence that Andrew Wakefield was wrong. None of that stopped the ever-intrepid Drinking Thinking Drinking Moms from organizing […]

  178. #178 marion delgado
    October 5, 2014

    Hooker’s entire effort was data-mining. Did he state any hypotheses beforehand? Even if you say it was, de facto, that the DeStefano conclusions were wrong, that didn’t pan out. you could easily have a subgroup show an effect but not the overall group, which is what they said. The reason you can’t poke around in data AFTER THE FACT and look for patterns and correlations is the same reason Bible Codes aren’t real, even though they reliably provide information. Because your pattern-seeking mind is providing the information.

  179. […] with Hooker’s “statistical” analysis, at least not in detail. If you want the details, I provided them a month and a half ago. In brief, the biggest foul-up Hooker did was to analyze case control data as a cohort study. That […]

  180. […] comprato in open access per ipotizzare una correlazione tra vaccino trivalente e autismo senza riuscire a trovarla, è stato ritrattato da Translational Neurodegeneration  there were undeclared competing […]

  181. #181 Simwaves1
    October 12, 2014

    ” The nail in the coffin for the Hooker paper is that autism is usually diagnosed by the time a child is three years old. There was no increased risk at 18 months, higher but not by a whole lot at 24, and then the three-fold increase at 36 months. Gee, was it the MMR vaccine, mister? No, the effect is being modified by age. It’s as if I asked you if your shoe size was bigger at 36 months because you drank milk vs because you were 36 months. It’s age. It’s the way that autism is diagnosed. You’re going to have more children diagnosed as autistic at 36 months than you will at 18 months or at 24 months.”

    Orec, I don’t think Reuben understands what the Hooker data is showing here. He isn’t comparing the rates of autism at these different ages, but rather a later diagnosis of autism when first MMR is given before vs. after these ages. Can you please respond to this?

  182. #182 Lawrence
    October 12, 2014

    @Sim – I don’t even think Hooker understands what he did…he ran a bunch of numbers through a computer & one set came out the way he wanted. Not a real mystery there.

  183. #183 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 12, 2014

    Orec, I don’t think Reuben understands what the Hooker data is showing here. He isn’t comparing the rates of autism at these different ages, but rather a later diagnosis of autism when first MMR is given before vs. after these ages. Can you please respond to this?

    Pretty much what Lawrence said but more specifically, Hooker didn’t have the age of diagnosis for an ASD for the study groups so that couldn’t be compared. He merely looked at (retrospectively) age at MMR vs. ASD or not. Which renders his analysis completely void.

  184. […] Why did this even happen? Data reanalysis sounds perfectly benign but belies serious motivation. As one astute blogger writing on Respectful Insolence writes about this instance in particular but rean…: […]

  185. #185 Narad
    October 16, 2014

    Regarding the pingback, why am I not surprised that Kent Anderson somehow manages to barf up this as a tie-in?

    This example of reanalysis shows some of the serious risks associated with an imprudent embrace of open data initiatives….

    What? I don’t even want to know how the hell he manages to drag BICEP2 into it. G-d have mercy on the AAAS for this one.

  186. […] MMR vaccination and risk of autism in a case control study. Basically, his “re-analysis” proved Andrew Wakefield wrong in that it found no increased risk of autism attributable to MMR vaccination in all but a very […]

  187. […] a study, recently retracted, that basically provided strong evidence that Andrew Wakefield was wrong about the MMR vaccine being associated with autism. When I first saw Hooker’s study, even I recognized how utterly incompetently it was carried out, […]

  188. […] I pointed out at the time, in reality what Hooker had done was to confirm that Andrew Wakefield was wrong in claiming that MMR could cause autism. It was further revealed that Brian Hooker had been […]

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