One of the best things about blogging is that I don’t feel obligated to cover a topic completely in one post because I know I can always write another one or revisit the topic later. It also allows me to look at what I like to call “variations on a theme” of various kinds of quackery (or anything else, for that matter). View this as a post looking at one such variation on a theme.

The theme this time is the tendency of antivaccine activists to demonstrate their utter cluelessness when it comes to designing clinical studies. This cluelessness virtually always manifests itself in the frequent call by antivaccine quacks for what they seem to view as the Holy Grail of evidence to “prove” that vaccines cause autism, other neurodevelopmental disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and just about any other chronic condition you can think of, namely the so-called “vaxed/unvaxed” study. The reason they seek such a study is because it is an article of faith among the antivaccine movement that vaccines are degrading the health of our children, making them the “sickest generation ever” and causing all the aforementioned conditions.

As I mentioned the last time I discussed this, years ago (and sometimes even now) antivaccinations would call for an actual randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled “vaxed versus unvaxed” clinical trial. Of course, as I mention every time this topic comes up, antivaccine activists appear to be completely ignorant of the concept of clinical equipoise, which renders such a trial completely unethical and therefore undoable, at least in developed countries with actual laws protecting the welfare of clinical trial subjects, particularly children. Remember: Clinical equipoise means that there must be genuine uncertainty over which group in a clinical trial is receiving the superior treatment, and there is no doubt that leaving one group of children unvaccinated leaves them susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases and thus does them harm. That’s why doing such a trial would be completely unethical and we have to rely on the accumulated knowledge from epidemiological studies to determine whether vaccines are causing adverse outcomes.

Some antivaccine activists have realized that there’s no way a randomized clinical “vaxed vs. unvaxed” trial will ever be done. Grudgingly (and I do mean grudgingly), they accept that virtually every other physician does; so they try to find evidence of vaccine harm that they so desperately seek in other ways. Most recently, it was a survey whose purpose was so incredibly obviously antivaccine that it was even more risibly pathetic than previous efforts, such as J.B. Handley’s vaxed versus unvaxed phone survey and a hilariously incompetent survey by a German homeopath named Andreas Bachmair for VaccineInjury.info, both of which were presented as showing that unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children and both of which showed nothing of the sort. This time around, it’s a “study” being promoted by the surprisingly honestly named Vaccine Resistance Movement (VRM) called the VRM Autism Study. Not surprisingly, this new antivaccine “study” follows the long, dishonorable tradition of horribly designed and outright incompetent “studies” done by antivaccinationists since time immemorial (at least to me).

I’ll show you what I mean.

Whenever a clinical trial is designed there are several important things that need to be prespecified. To put it simply, you need:

  • Hypothesis: What is the question being asked?
  • Inclusion criteria: What subjects will be included and why.
  • Exclusion criteria: Which subjects will be excluded and why.
  • Primary endpoints: What is/are the most important specific endpoint(s) you are comparing between the control group and the experimental group? How will it/they be measured and defined?
  • Secondary endpoints (optional): Additional things you want to compare.
  • Protocol: What specific treatments and procedures will subjects undergo? In the case of observational studies: What specific observations will be made on each group?
  • Sample size: How many subjects will you need in each group to have a reasonable chance of producing a statistically significant result?

Now, to be fair in the case of pilot observational studies, the need for a specific hypothesis can be somewhat less critical, as it can be quite possible to do such studies as a “hypothesis-generating” study. Even so, you have to have some. So does the VRM study specify these key variables? What do you think?

Let’s take a look at the VRM announcement of its study on its Facebook page:

The purpose of this worldwide study is to determine the incidence/rate of autism amongst those unvaccinated children & adults surveyed. We are also concurrently tracking the incidence/rate of autism amongst those vaccinated children & adults surveyed; cross-referencing dietary factors, pre-existing medical conditions/allergies, family health/vaccine history (multiple generations), breast/bottle feeding, We hope to gain new insights into the causality & manifestations of autism with an exhaustive, scientific approach.

“Scientific approach.” You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Elsewhere, VRM declares:

It is our goal, through this study, to determine an accurate percentage of those unvaccinated autistic children & adults vs. those unvaccinated children & adults who have not become autistic. Essentially what we are trying to identify is the healthy trend in unvaccinated children & adults.

OK, fair enough—on first glance. The devil, as always, is in the details. That’s something that’s true of any sort of science. How does VRM plan to measure these percentages? Well, that’s where the big problem is. As was the case with all the previous studies I’ve discussed, apparently VRM thinks that an Internet survey is a valid way to collect data that can be used to up with accurate estimates of the prevalence of autism:

Just to clarify this study is open to EVERYONE. The absence of autism in your family/household or the fact you haven’t vaccinated your children does not preclude you from taking part in the study. The control parameters are wide open this time. All the data we receive will be pertinent in determining the paths that lead to autism. VRM will be continuing to collect your invaluable data for as long as possible. That being said we still encourage everyone to enroll in the study while it’s openly available.

And:

In order to guarantee accuracy of the data acquired study participants must allow for access to family medical records (*Note: only in cases where autism has occurred). This disclosure will be entirely confidential in nature and at the discretion of the study organizers. Any shared information will be used strictly to confirm an autism diagnosis. No data beyond that which the family agrees to disclose shall be included in the study results.

All participants in this study will be designated a number to assure complete anonymity. Any sensitive information including family names, personal references, e-mail addresses etc will be inaccessible to the public. Only study administrators will be privy to access. Contact will remain exclusively confidential between participants & VRM. At any time a participant may withdraw from the study group; whereupon their data will be returned to them and/or destroyed.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the survey that VRM was using. As you can see if you take a look yourself, this “study” (such as it is), it’s yet another example of bad experimental design coupled with bad survey design. Take a look:

Category of Participant (choose one selection):

  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule of shots) between 0-7 years; also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule of shots) between 0-7 years; no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (partial schedule) between 0-7 years; also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (partial schedule of shots) between 0-7 years; no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule of shots); also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule of shots); no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder occurring
  • Received standard vaccinations (partial schedule of shots); also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (partial schedule of shots): no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder occurring
  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule) between 0-7 years; also suspect/unofficially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (partial) between 0-7 years; also suspect/unofficially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received standard vaccinations (full schedule of shots); also suspect/unofficially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever between 0-7 years; also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever between 0-7 years; no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder occurring
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever between 0-7 years; also suspect/unofficially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever; also officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever; no official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder occurring
  • Received no vaccinations whatsoever; also suspect/unofficially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

In clinical trials and observational studies, it is absolutely critical to define one’s terms. What does VRM mean by “partial schedule of shots”? It’s not defined. Then, later on, the survey lists the individual vaccines and when the person received them. Of course, anyone should be able to see another problem here. This survey includes “ALL AGES.” The vaccine schedule has changed significantly over the years, as new vaccines were added and the recommended timing was changed over the years. So what it means to receive a “partial schedule of shots” will be very different depending upon how hold the subject is.

That’s not all (of course). Later in the survey, the subjects are asked for “pre-existing medical conditions/genetic predisposition.” The list includes a veritable laundry list of conditions that antivaccinationists consider to be “predisposing” to autism, including mercury amalgams, “medicated childbirth” (e.g., induced labor), antibiotics, and more. Elsewhere, under dietary history, the subjects are asked, for example, if they:

  • dairy-rich diet
  • use margarine regularly
  • use Crisco regularly
  • eat junk food regularly
  • eat fast food regularly
  • avoid junk food
  • avoid fast food
  • use corn syrup regularly
  • use fructose regularly
  • avoid fructose
  • meat-eater
  • vegan
  • vegetarian
  • semi-vegetarian
  • eat strictly organic food
  • eat non-organic food
  • eat soy products
  • regular alcohol user
  • recreational drug user
  • heavy drug user
  • regular caffeine user
  • drink pop regularly
  • consume Aspartame containing products
  • avoid Aspartame containing products
  • drink from plastic containers
  • avoid using microwave in cooking
  • avoid Genetically Modified Foods/GMO
  • do not avoid Genetically Modified Foods
  • Sodium Fluoride in toothpaste/drinking water
  • frequent cell phone user
  • work in front of computer

There are more—oh, so many more—examples listed. I simply chose some of the sillier ones. Let’s just put it this way. The survey is so vague as to be meaningless. After all, most people don’t even know what is and isn’t a “genetically modified food,” and there’s no evidence that GMOs are associated with autism.

As with all these antivaccine vaccinated versus unvaccinated”studies,” the key problem (besides the undefined hypothesis and endpoints) is that the subjects are self-selected. More than that, they’re self-selected from people who tend to be antivaccine and learn about such surveys through antivaccine websites and Facebook pages. Add to that the multiple comparisons, and the “researchers” (and I do use that term very loosely) are virtually guaranteed to find all sorts of spurious associations. They’ll be meaningless, of course, because the methodology is so poor, so utterly lacking in anything resembling valid methods. None of this stops antivaccine groups, though. They forge boldly ahead into the depths of pseudoscience in search of “evidence,” no matter how risibly bad, that vaccines cause autism.

Seeing such perversions of science, I sometimes wonder if scientists should just do a large epidemiological study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, if only to shut antivaccinationists up and shut down studies like this, even though such a study would be expensive and require a lot of subjects. (Also, there are no compelling preliminary data to justify such a study.) Then I remember how antivaccine activists react to negative studies. They ignore them or attack them as fatally flawed, usually due to “bias” or—of course!—the influence of big pharma. Scientifically pandering to antivaccine loons achieves exactly nothing. Unfortunately, that means we’re likely to continue to see such epically silly self-selected Internet polls masquerading as research.

And don’t even get me started on where the Institutional Review Board approval is for this VRM “study,” given that it says that participants are giving the VRM permission to examine their medical records.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Preston
    December 21, 2015

    the “researchers” (and I do use that term very loosely) are virtually guaranteed to find all sorts of spurious associations

    They are even more likely now. I appear to be the parent of a completely unvaccinated autstic child, but I have done everything right. I am a vegan meat eater who avoids GMO food, margarine and Crisco, doesn’t cook food in a microwave. So what have I done wrong?

  2. #2 MikeMa
    December 21, 2015

    @Chris Preston,
    Unless there is a medical contraindication to vaccination, the mistake you made would be not vaccinating the kid.

  3. #3 Chris Hickie
    December 21, 2015

    And, from the State of Montana, with the highest rate of pertussis per 100,000 in the US (per the CDC for 2014), comes this *lovely* abomination of a science fair project–the results of a horrible survey process and failure to disclose that at least one parent of the child is an anti-vaccine chiroquacktor: https://www.facebook.com/nicolebulick/posts/10153102601215728

  4. #4 janet
    where it's raining when it should be snowing
    December 21, 2015

    @ Chris #3
    Many moons ago, when I was in graduate school, I was asked to judge a 5th grade science fair. To my surprise, there was a shining example of a well-planned, hypothesis-based epidemiological survey study, including very basic statistics. Granted, the study group was too small, but that’s a given considering the venue. The hypothesis was that babies who stayed home with mom (and had siblings in school) would have fewer ear infections requiring the use of antibiotics. She disproved her own hypothesis. I checked, and the parents were a banker and a stay-at-home mom who had been trained as an accountant. I always wondered what happened to that kid.

  5. #5 Meg
    December 21, 2015

    I participated in the survey. I told the truth. Family history of fully vaccinated, caffeine swilling, aluminum pot and microwave using (not together), take drugs as prescribed family of insanely healthy people. My parents lived to be 93 and 95 respectively. We do tend toward bad teeth despite fluoridated water so, yeah, lots of amalgam.

  6. #6 Denice Walter
    December 21, 2015

    Orac mentions Handley’s BS survey and the ((shudder)) German study but I think I have another anti-vaxxers’ study which hasn’t received insolence- respectful or not ( ‘not’ is probably more apropos)- as of yet and that is ( ahem!)-
    TMR’s Ion footbath de-tox study-
    in which they compared pre- and post- footbath ATEC scores as rated by mothers or suchlike.
    The TMs discussed results in their “recovery” panel at Autism One.
    I can’t seem to find ore about it at TMR- perhaps it’s hiding itself in shame.

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    December 21, 2015

    *Et voila!*
    it’s
    The Thinking Moms’ Revolution Study – IonCleanse by AMD Treatment Effectiveness for ASD
    July 17, 3915.

  8. #8 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    December 21, 2015

    As soon as I got to the “access medical records”, my first thought was, “Okay, so did this get IRB approval?” Orac confirmed by thoughts: “IRB approval? We don’t need no stinkin’ IRB approval!”

  9. #9 Orac
    December 21, 2015

    @Denice: Oh, I remember that one. I thought about blogging it , but there were other things that interested me more, even though it would have been fun to take a look at.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    December 21, 2015

    Right.
    I am trying to imagine by what mechanism they can so utterly *transforms* scores

    Clean feet lead to self-control?
    Less toxins lead to better communication?
    Less metal leads to more rhythm?

    -btw- please disregard the typos above .

  11. #11 KayMarie
    December 21, 2015

    I do wonder how they will get the medical records without IRB approved HIPPA waivers.

    I’ve worked on projects that collected medical records and most places are really particular about those forms. We had a number of catch 22 scenarios that would have been funny if they weren’t so painful. Too soon, too too soon, shudder.

  12. #12 Rich Woods
    Who can tell
    December 21, 2015

    work in front of computer

    I work in front of a couple of different computer screens during the average day, with the computers themselves generally within 2-4 feet of me but facing either towards me or 90 degrees away from me (not that the survey suggests which direction might be the most risky). Actually, the majority of computers I work on are separated from me by either half a town or two brick walls and multiple sacks of mildly EM-absorbent meat (otherwise known as my colleagues), and some computers are ones I even work from behind rather than in front of.

    It’s almost like the questioner doesn’t have a clue. What is the risk factor for computer work anyway? Bad posture?

  13. #13 Meg
    December 21, 2015

    It’s almost like the questioner doesn’t have a clue. What is the risk factor for computer work anyway? Bad posture?

    Radiation, of course!

    Actually, I never quite figured out why, when I was little, they used to tell us not to sit to close to the television. But, as it was the 60s, I’m going to stick with radiation.

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    December 21, 2015

    @ Rich Woods:

    Seriously. If the so-called risks cited by woo-meisters/ anti-vaxxers had any relation to reality, I’m sure that most of us would be long dead.

    A case in point, we’re always being told about how DEADLY dairy is- yet all of the long-lived members of my own families were dairy consumers as are the people who live in the Netherlands/ Norway who both seem to lack neither longevity nor height.

    Most of the products they fear are signs of technology and affluence which do influence health and longevity.

    But I believe that the major risk about computers is reading swill and crap about health risks.**

    ** although some of the loons I monitor go to great lengths to get their followers to avoid microwaved food, cell-phones, computer usage, wifi exposure, exposure to plugged in appliances during sleep etc etc etc.

  15. #15 Kiiri
    December 21, 2015

    As an epidemiologist just the description had me shaking in a froth of semi-coherent rage. Just the categorization of subjects alone was enough to make me break down. GIGO – garbage in garbage out. I’m going to drink my tea now and wait for cold medicine to kick in while pointedly not thinking about bad survey designs.

  16. #16 Orac
    December 21, 2015

    As an epidemiologist just the description had me shaking in a froth of semi-coherent rage.

    Sorry about that… 🙂

  17. #17 sadmar
    Endless rain...
    December 21, 2015

    To be fair, the kind of undefined terms terms in this survey are typical of just about every survey I ever run across – mostly market research stuff, some public opinion…. ‘Social science’ surveys are only sometimes slightly better, often just as bad. The ‘researchers’ need to have response categories they can measure, and can only create these categories as abstractions that inevitably distort the complex nature of reality.

    What strikes me about the survey items Orac included in the OP are the number of possible responses. If these are typical of the survey as a whole, that would make completing it a fair bit of a chore. Combine the effort involved, plus the need to disclose medical records, with the self-selection and the means by which the participants are being recruited, and imho that obviously skews the ‘sample’ big-time. Sample validity is not just a matter of size: even if a survey is presented to randomly selected subjects, and a ‘statistically significant’ number of responses are gathered, there’s the possibility that the subjects who fail to complete the survey would have given very different responses from those that do. So who is going to have enough interest in vaccines-and-autism to bother with taking the the time to fill this out? Parents of unvaxed healthy kids, yes. Parents of vaxed ASD kids, yes. Everybody else, not so much. Obviously, I can’t say the study designers had this in mind, but regardless of how the questions are phrased, it appears the very length of the thing all but guarantees the VRM of getting what they want – a much higher percentage of unvaxed ‘healthy’ vs. vaxed ‘damaged’.

  18. #18 perodatrent
    Italy
    December 21, 2015

    AntiVaxxers push for the usual fishing expedition, casting impossible wide nets. The results will predictably be other cases of insignificant correlations.
    If I can dissent from Orac’s opinion, I am sure that a well conducted survey will show that unvaxed children are healthier than vaxed ones. But not for the reasons Antivaxxers like to believe.
    The real reasons are the social class differences : children of rich families are healthier than children belonging to poor families.
    http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-primary-care-policy-center/publications_pdfs/d59.pdf

    And Antivaxxers concentrate in wealthy classes, as Orac showed some time ago. In USA as well as in Italy: a study in Verona area showed the same trend.
    http://prevenzione.ulss20.verona.it/indagine_scelta_vaccinale.html

  19. #19 rs
    December 21, 2015

    “Actually, I never quite figured out why, when I was little, they used to tell us not to sit to close to the television. But, as it was the 60s, I’m going to stick with radiation.”

    I was going to write a response to this, then decided to do a search first. It seems the FDA already answered the question, quite nicely IMO.

    http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/ResourcesforYouRadiationEmittingProducts/ucm252764.htm

    Hopefully that URL comes through okay.

  20. #20 Chris Preston
    December 21, 2015

    I participated in the survey. I told the truth.

    I considered doing that, but felt that including healthy, fully-vaccinated children in the survey was going to mess with their data less than a fictitious unvaccinated, autistic child.

    This is a pre-emptive strike for when the results of the survey get touted around.

  21. #21 herr doktor bimler
    December 21, 2015

    avoid microwaved food, cell-phones

    I have never microwaved a cellphone but now I want to try.

  22. #22 Maddy
    December 21, 2015

    “The control parameters are wide open”
    Lol.

  23. #23 shay simmons
    December 21, 2015

    It is our goal, through this study, to determine an accurate percentage

    Oh, my sainted aunt. This bunch wouldn’t know accurate if it bit them in the assets.

  24. #24 MarkN
    December 21, 2015

    does everyone get a gold star for participating?
    it’s usually a mandatory req for every chronic lyme fatigued soccer mom’s little genetically predisposed but vaccine injured autistic superstar!

  25. #25 MarkN
    December 21, 2015

    sorry…scotch on

  26. #26 Captian_A
    December 21, 2015

    RE: Chris @ #3

    More proof that half vaccinated children are sicker than fully vaccinated.

    It appears the child learned statistics and epidemiology the same way as his father the chiropractor (as in not at all). I want so badly to post on that facebook page. I stopped myself realizing it is pointless.

    And in what town does someone actually know of 18 fully unvaccinated children who aren’t infants………..wait a second! Where in the data is average age?

    Capt

  27. #27 capnkrunch
    December 21, 2015

    @Chris Preston
    Have you heard anything from them asking about medical records? I’m super curious what their procedure is for confirming autism diagnoses through medical records.

    This disclosure will be entirely confidential in nature and at the discretion of the study organizers. [emphasis mine]

    What are the chances only unvaccinated autistic children need confirmation?

    VRM’s site is registered in the US. Depending on how disclosure is handled couldn’t HIPAA violations make this whole thing quite illegal? Are there formal research ethics laws that require IRB oversight in the US and how would one report such misconduct?

  28. #28 titmouse
    December 21, 2015

    No wonder these antivax people feel entitled to dismiss research that contradicts their position. They seem to think research means cooking the books.

  29. #29 Narad
    December 21, 2015

    Depending on how disclosure is handled couldn’t HIPAA violations make this whole thing quite illegal?

    HIPAA prevents other people from disclosing one’s information, not oneself. The question becomes who has the ability to disclose the records of one’s child, but I’m going to go ahead and guess – without research – that there’s no real legal issue regarding this specific link in the chain.

    Of course, a parent would have to be out of his or her fυcking mind to hand over PHI to some random cranks, and there could be downstream legal consequences that may inure to the child, but that’s rank speculation by comparison with the guess.

  30. #30 THEO
    December 21, 2015

    It does not change the fact that we will never ever have conclusive evidence on how the vaccines impact the human body.long term until it’s actually done. It will always be a mystery. No matter how much you want to spin this. Epidemiological studies are weak.

    That’s not science based medicine. That’s faith based

    Sorry folks

  31. #31 Chris
    December 21, 2015

    THEO: “It does not change the fact that we will never ever have conclusive evidence on how the vaccines impact the human body.long term until it’s actually done.”

    So no one has figured out the detrimental affects after two hundred years of vaccine use? Wow, that is so horrible. It must be so terrible that so much fewer people do not get pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, measles and polio!

    It is like someone has never looked into the changes during the twentieth century.

  32. #32 Narad
    December 21, 2015

    Epidemiological studies are weak.

    That’s not science based medicine. That’s faith based

    Sorry folks

    This is quite ironic coming from a supplement peddler.

  33. #33 Vicki
    Puget Sound Lowlands
    December 21, 2015

    I vaguely recall that I was told not to sit too close to the TV to avoid eyestrain. How common that idea was, I don’t know, but I had reading glasses when I was eight, so my parents may have been more worried about my eyes than the parents of children with better vision.

  34. #34 laikaphonehome
    SLC Utah
    December 21, 2015
  35. #35 THEO
    December 21, 2015

    So no one has figured out the detrimental affects after two hundred years of vaccine use?
    Chris

    Of course we have thats why they are being rejected by a growing movement of people and physicians all around the world. Suspicion has been growing for a long time, now the science is proving they do harm.

    Look no matter how you approach this issue there is no control group to compare too in the scientific literature anywhere!
    How can science be conclusive without the placebo control?

    It cant. for that reason it will always remains suspect. and to accept this as science is cognitive dissonance and intellectual cowardice.

    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/vaccine-hesitancy-persists-among-canadian-parents-of-young-children-ottawa-survey-suggests

  36. #36 Chris Preston
    Australia
    December 21, 2015

    Have you heard anything from them asking about medical records? I’m super curious what their procedure is for confirming autism diagnoses through medical records.

    Well I don’t know for sure, but the material on the website seemed to indicate that they will ask the parents to provide the records – by contacting them through e-mail.

    No they don’t have an IRB, which means that the data will be nonpunishable due to ethical reasons.

  37. #37 Chris
    December 21, 2015

    THEO, my JAMA article beats your newspaper online survey article. Your appeal to popularity fails because “one in four” is not a majority, especially when it is a specific demographic in one province of a developed country with a good public health system.

    Please explain why an average lifespan of almost 80 years is worse that an average lifespan almost 50 years. Could you provide something a little more scientific than an online newspaper survey?

  38. #38 Meg
    December 22, 2015

    @rs #19

    The link came through fine:

    It should be emphasized that most TV sets have not been found to give off any measurable level of radiation, and there is no evidence that radiation from TV sets has resulted in human injury.

  39. #39 capnkrunch
    December 22, 2015

    Narad@29

    HIPAA prevents other people from disclosing one’s information, not oneself.

    I thought HIPAA included requirements that organizations must meet (i.e. having a privacy officer). I was just looking at this HHS site though and it doesn’t look like they would be a covered entity.

  40. #40 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    December 22, 2015

    It should be emphasized that most TV sets have not been found to give off any measurable level of radiation, and there is no evidence that radiation from TV sets has resulted in human injury.

    Part of this statement is false. Televisions give off very measurable amounts of radiation. It’s called ‘light’.

    The part about no evidence of harm to humans is correct, as far as I know.

  41. #41 herr doktor bimler
    December 22, 2015

    The part about no evidence of harm to humans is correct, as far as I know.

    There is mental damage from that visible radiation, though.

  42. #42 Narad
    December 22, 2015

    The part about no evidence of harm to humans is correct, as far as I know.

    That reminds me of a story. I think it was my third year in college, and I had a roommate in a two-room double. The front room contained an old console TV that basically required somebody to sit behind and adjust the gun controls on the fly if anybody else wanted to watch a movie.

    At some point, I naively came up with the idea of turning it into a fish tank, which was met with general approval. This of course necessitated the removal of the CRT faceplate. Which, in retrospect, turned out to be bonded.

    There were three of us – me, my roommate, and one decidedly amazing senior who was also a physics major.* So we pulled the tube and put it on a folding lawn recliner. In the same room.

    The only obstacle seemed to be the metal band “holding on” the faceplate.** Slowly but surely, this was pried off. The tiny bits of glass occasionally coming with it seemed irrelevant to the goal of obtaining the front for the tank, because after all, they were coming from the side and it really was almost nothing. I was wielding the pliers.

    It held until about a third of the way around. After the inevitable, my roommate was inexplicably found in the closet (I mean, implosions happen rather quickly), I was unharmed, and the senior only needed a butterfly on his right temple.

    The only explanation I can come up with for the minimal injuries is that the thing was face-down. But it was in 1/16 inch pieces and under.

    Good times.

    * I’d give my bottom dollar for the pillowcase he decorated early on in a graduate GR class.
    ** Yes, the tension band.

  43. #43 Chris Preston
    Australia
    December 22, 2015

    Over at the other side (yes I have been slumming at AoA again), there is a mad, mad post about the so-called No jab, No pay laws in Australa. Apparently, these are all due to the fact that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation did not front the Senate public hearings where their conflicts of interest could be exposed (never minding the fact that the conflict of interest declarations are on a public register).

    Somehow this means the same laws are going to pass in the US.

    For those still attempting to follow, Australia has a famiy tax rebate that is paid as an incentive to vaccinate. Those with medical exemptions to vaccination can get the rebate, but the new laws will forbid those with personal objections from receiving it if their children are not vaccinated. So far as I am aware, there is no comparable scheme in the US, so the Australian law cannot flow over to the US.

    This demonstrates once again that logic has no place in the world of anti-vaxxers.

  44. #44 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    December 22, 2015

    Orac writes,

    I sometimes wonder if scientists should just do a large epidemiological study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children…

    MJD says,

    More specific to regressive autism, a proteomic investigation of B-Lymphocytes in vaccinated verses unvaccinated children with an autism spectrum disorder.

    We can seek funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after forming a non-profit. organization named Caro.

    You interested Orac?

  45. #45 Helianthus
    December 22, 2015

    @ Vicki #33

    I vaguely recall that I was told not to sit too close to the TV to avoid eyestrain.

    Me and my sister were told as much, and ditto we were both already wearing prescription glasses. The minimal distance was supposed to be about 3 times the screen’s size.
    We had the old type of low-res, cathodic TV screen by then; there may be some basis in the warning, but it may not hold true for modern plasma screens.

  46. #46 Roger Kulp
    Starting to understand why our host chose the name ORAC.
    December 22, 2015

    @ MJD,
    Frankly I don’t know why our esteemed blog host here continues to put up with your senseless drivel.All I can think of is that you amuse him.Much the same way a dead cockroach will amuse a cat for a few minutes.But it does get old and wear thin.I really need to learn how to use killfile here.

    Antivaxers like MJD pretty much have built in firewalls that would make most computer security experts jealous.Firewalls that successfully filter out anything that contradicts their preconceived world view,and makes them incapable of learning anything new.I for one am sick of it.But I am going to make one last attempt with MJD,as he has brought up b-lymphocytes.Something I know a good bit about,having been diagnosed with a primary immune deficiency that involves both b and t-lymphocyte deficiency.

    Regressive autism is usually either immune based, mitochondrial,or some of both,like I have.Meaning a primary immune disease,with secondary mitochondrial dysfunction.Or the other way around.Both types of diseases are inherited,specifically from the mother.I am not talking about a simple genetic predisposition here.I am talking about children who slide out of the womb already sick with serious diseases.Children who would suffer far more damage,or even death, from diseases like measles or chicken pox than they could from any vaccine.

    I would not have even posted a reply to MJD,had I not just found this little blog.This is on the web site of a lab that is developing immunological screening tests for women who wish to become pregnant.It provides very straightforward,simplified explanations of how immune based forms of autism are passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.Please share.Note the entry on folate receptor autoantibodies,which I have lots of,and both kinds.Also note the post debunking Wakefield and vaccines.We are entering a real revolution as far as understanding inherited causes of syndromic and regressive autism.The last thing we need is a bunch of confused antivaxers spreading scientifically addled half-truths and outright lies.

  47. #47 THEO
    December 22, 2015

    Please explain why an average lifespan of almost 80 years is worse that an average lifespan almost 50 years. Could you provide something a little more scientific than an online newspaper survey?

    Chris

    I agree vaccines played a role in life extension. But not nearly as much has plumbing, sanitation, access to doctors, abundant food supply and refrigeration.

    Do you really think Vaccines were the only reason? Not even close.

    My question for you is how can you have so much confidence when there are no control groups ? Why is that unreasonable? and Why are 25% of canadiens still on the fence? Something is not right in the whole story. And if you cant see it thats your problem not OURS. Its called lack of judgement and enough information.

    http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/how-plumbing-not-vaccines-eradicated-disease

  48. #48 Ren
    December 22, 2015

    Do you really think Vaccines were the only reason? Not even close.

    Ah, but plumbing and sanitation WERE the only reason, right? Not even close.

    No amount of plumbing and sanitation can prevent measles, rubella (German measles), pertussis, etc. They’re called airborne for a reason. Unless you’re lumping air scrubbers and bio suits into “plumbing and sanitation,” there’s no way that those diseases would come under control without vaccines.
    Or, what, you can wash the air? (Measles virus stay suspended in mid air for up to eight hours.)

  49. #49 Lawrence
    December 22, 2015

    How exactly does “plumbing” have any affect on airborne diseases?

  50. #50 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    December 22, 2015

    Roger Kulp says (#45),

    We are entering a real revolution as far as understanding inherited causes of syndromic and regressive autism.

    MJD says,

    A spectrum disorder such as autism may contain subgroups having dissimilar etiology.

    In the absence of a definitive etiology based on genetics, environmental factors that may adversely affect the progression of regressive autism need to be researched. (e.g., forced immunity)

  51. #51 Krebiozen
    December 22, 2015

    Do you really think Vaccines were the only reason? Not even close.

    Where did anyone claim that vaccines are the only useful public health intervention? Of course they are not. Better sanitation (to large extent) reduced infant mortality from more than 30% before 1900 to 3% in 1950, better medical care, including vaccinations, reduced it further to 0.6% as it is today (in the developed world). Would you really be happy if 3 out of 100 children still died in infancy?

  52. #52 Kiiri
    December 22, 2015

    Yeah THEO I am calling BS. All of you anti-vax types seem to think you are so much healthier. I wonder how you explain countries like India where the sanitation is highly suspect but still they have seen many gains in life expectancy from vaccination. I want to know how these guys are counting ‘healthier’. I imagine all of these parents are saying their snowflakes are definitely healthier, they eat all organic non-GMO food, no vaccines, no antibiotics, lots of exercise, boatloads of supplements, they are fantastic! I wonder what the kids will say. We just saw anti-vax mom who let all three of her kids suffer for 3-4 months with whooping cough (coughing until the vomited and turned blue, not sleeping through the night) while she forces them to continue their daily activities. But they got through with no evil medicines! Of course I wonder what these kids will think when they find out they didn’t have to suffer like that. Or suffer through chickenpox. I’ve had it. Not fun. 2+ weeks of misery I spared my child from with the vaccine. Also had shingles. Not fun. Pain that I rank up there with childbirth which I’ve done twice. Something else I would spare my child from. We’ve seen kids raised anti-vax say the same thing over and over. How sick they were. How awful it was. But the parents would rate them as healthy. Wonder what the kids think about it. I for one will go on sparing my child pain, misery, and possible death thank you very much.

  53. #53 MNight
    December 22, 2015

    I couldn’t resist answering the study although I was honest. I have a digustingly healthy kid who received all his vaccinations as did his parents and none of us have any serious health problems. We live where there is not flouridation and we couldn’t afford a microwave when he was young. I concur that the study is meaningless. Not to mention no informed consent, no purpose except for the pretty obvious one of “proving” that vaccines are wrong/unnecessary. I sit on an IRB. This would never get through, which of course is the point. Not to mention that a self-reported, non purposive sampling would never provide accurate results.

  54. #54 shay simmons
    December 22, 2015

    I thought HIPAA included requirements that organizations must meet

    Based on recent experience, no IRB* will green-light human subject research that is not able to demonstrate a couple of layers of data protection, starting with CITI training for everyone involved in conducting the study.

    *no IRB that’s at all interested in doing it’s job properly, that is.

  55. #55 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 22, 2015

    I’ve decided I agree with THEO. If more than 20% of Canadians are uneasy about any statement (as measured by a poll), then that statement is necessarily false. Anyone who says otherwise suffers from lack of judgement and enough information.

  56. #56 capnkrunch
    December 22, 2015

    THEO@46

    But not nearly as much has plumbing, sanitation, access to doctors, abundant food supply and refrigeration.

    Because in the fifties people ate rocks and drank mud and emptied their bedpans right onto the dirt streets? This always struck me as either one of the dumbest or most dishonest antivax arguments. Then again, most antivax strike me as the dumbest or most dishonest so…

  57. #57 Chris Preston
    December 22, 2015

    I’ve decided I agree with THEO. If more than 20% of Canadians are uneasy about any statement (as measured by a poll), then that statement is necessarily false. Anyone who says otherwise suffers from lack of judgement and enough information.

    In addition, articles in Organic Lifestyle Magazine written by college students are more accurate than the academic medical literature with regard to the causes of infectious diseases.

  58. #58 Chris
    December 22, 2015

    THEO: “Do you really think Vaccines were the only reason? Not even close.”

    Where did I say that? Perhaps you should try getting someone to explain the article I posted to you. Perhaps they can explain to you words like “dysentery” and “syphilis.”

    “My question for you is how can you have so much confidence when there are no control groups ?”

    Control groups for what? Like the ones they used for vaccine studies at institutions like Willowbrook?

    “Why is that unreasonable? and Why are 25% of canadiens still on the fence? Something is not right in the whole story.”

    R..i..g…h…t. Here is what is not right about that whole story, it is in the paragraph of that article you posted: “Results of the online randomized survey of 1,000 Canadian parents of children under five…”

    Wow, a thousand people that speak for all of Canada. And it was an online survey.

    Then there is some clarification later: “The survey was led by Josh Greenberg, director of Carleton University’s school of journalism and communications.”

    So the problem that is being identified is one of communication. Unfortunately a minority of parents seem to be confused when reading idiocy like the stuff you post.

    “And if you cant see it thats your problem not OURS. Its called lack of judgement and enough information.”

    Oh, the irony. You clearly could not read the JAMA article I posted with any kind of comprehension, and throw out credulous news articles like they actually reflect reality.

  59. #59 THEO
    December 22, 2015

    The thrust of the argument is that vaccines are only compared to themselves in scientific studies. Only this medical procedure gets a pass? Becuae its child abuse and immoral to not vaccinate? That is not science that’s bullshit and all of you know it no matter how much spinning you want to do. You will never know what the real side effects were. Which kids were sensitive and which ones were not. Seriously what a crap shoot playing with people’s children like that. Of course we have a good idea and plenty of science to back us up and we will gladly band together and refuse your needles. And spread the message you don’t need to polute your kids with this crap. Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism. Just think about it for a second exactly how is your delicate immune system system being reprogrammed from infancy with this onslaught? I said it here before sure a few vaccines I would be ok with but this schedule is ludacris and we don’t understand poly pharmacy or polyvaccine. Ina world where we are trying to avoid toxins the medical authority is happy to pump you up as soon as you get out of the womb. It’s disgusting. Proud anti vaxxer

  60. #60 Chris
    December 23, 2015

    THEO: “The thrust of the argument is that vaccines are only compared to themselves in scientific studies”

    Well then, if you don’t like the studies that have been done, including the massively huge one done with placebos for polio in the 1950s, then do it yourself.

    Sit yourself down and design the vaccine study to end all vaccine studies. Make sure it complies with the Belmont Report and gets approved by an IRB. Then write a grant to submit to SafeMinds, the Dwoskin Family Foundation, Generation Rescue, Autism Speaks, etc. Then go do it!

    “Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism.”

    Oh, do tell us your proven method of avoiding the assault to the immune system by measles. An article a while ago on this blog discussed how a measles infection suppresses the immune system for years, making it more probable that a child will succumb to some other infection.

    “Just think about it for a second exactly how is your delicate immune system system being reprogrammed from infancy with this onslaught?”

    Do you children live in a sterile bubble? How do the small number of antigens in the vaccines compare to the cloud of microbes you encounter every moment of every day? That argument is just about as bad as thinking “one in four” is a good argument from popularity.

  61. #61 Krebiozen
    December 23, 2015

    Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism.

    But only in the presence of adequate plumbing, apparently…

  62. #62 novalox
    Break time
    December 23, 2015

    @theo

    Why should we believe a known liar and someone with a clear COI like you? You’d profit from peddling your worthless cures to sick children, why should anyone believe you?

    Also, how’d that innate immune system work for the native Americans when the European explorers got here?

  63. #63 capnkrunch
    December 23, 2015

    THEO@58
    Backing off from the vaccines didn’t save us lie, are you?

    The thrust of the argument is that vaccines are only compared to themselves in scientific studies.

    Untrue. Heck, even the Francis Field Trial of the Salk vaccine was placebo controlled. Despite what you hear in your echo chambers, vaccines go through the same approval process as other drugs.

    Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism.

    No no no. No. What is so magical about natural immunity? There’s not seperate immune systems for vaccines and diseases. You mount the same response for both. That’s kind of the point.

    Plus natural immunity doesn’t help much if the disease kills you. You want to talk about delicate immune systems? Measels does a much better job wreaking havoc on them than MMR.

  64. #64 Narad
    December 23, 2015

    Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism.

    Tossing aside the adaptive immune system, eh? Shades of Phildo.

    Just think about it for a second exactly how is your delicate immune system system being reprogrammed from infancy with this onslaught?

    “Delicate”? Do go on.

  65. #65 capnkrunch
    December 23, 2015

    Narad@63

    Shades of Phildo.

    IIRC, THEO is something of a Phillip Hills fanboy, no?

    To THEO’s credit, he seems to have fixed the problem with the capslock key his computer was having a while back. Maybe next he can get the Enter key fixed and give paragraphs a try.

  66. #66 Gray Falcon
    December 23, 2015

    THEO- If we didn’t trust our innate immune system, we wouldn’t use vaccines. Learn what vaccines are before you comment on them.

  67. #67 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    December 23, 2015

    Lawrence says (#48),

    How exactly does “plumbing” have any affect on airborne diseases?

    MJD says,

    If you have flatulence keep your pants on. 🙂

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/seriouslyscience/2014/08/27/farts-carry-germs-depends-wearing-pants/#.VnrDmrYrLIU

  68. #68 shay simmons
    December 23, 2015

    Trust your innate immune system its superior to pharmaceutical mysticism

    Gee, our inferior immune systems must have been the reason why, in a clean, prosperous, white collar suburb of Detroit in the 1950’s and 1960’s, my family of well-nourished, active brothers and sisters — not to mention all of their friends and classmates — came down with measles, mumps, and chicken pox.

    Unfortunately, Theo’s SWAG doesn’t explain why none of their children, all of whom are fully vaccinated, ever suffered from the same diseases.

    (possibly because three of the seven of us siblings are healthcare professionals, or maybe because none of us are kooks, all of my nieces and nephews are vaccinated).

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