This week hasn’t been a particularly good week for science. It started out on Monday with news of the social media storm from over the weekend over a blatantly antivaccine screed published the Friday before by the director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Clinic. Then, towards the middle of the week, we learned that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, had met with an antivaccine loon of the worst variety, someone whose misinformation I’ve been dealing with since 2005, in order to discuss some sort of commission on vaccine safety—or autism (it’s not clear which). Whatever it was, there’s no way a President-Elect should have met with such a crank, much less seriously considered the possibility of having him chair a committee on vaccines or autism. It’s even a worse than that. I haven’t told you this yet, but—surprise! surprise!—apparently RFK Jr. has been discussing this commission or committee with Trump for over a month, although I take that with a grain of salt given that the only source is an e-mail from RFK Jr. to members of the Waterkeepers Alliance, which Kennedy leads, announcing that he would leave the environmental group if the commission actually comes to be:

Kennedy said Trump had “reached out to me through intermediaries” on Dec. 4, leading to detailed discussions with the transition team on the role and composition of the commission. After his meeting with Trump and staff, he agreed to chair the commission for a year, Kennedy said. However, he said he’s still waiting “to see the transition team’s detailed proposal before making my commitment final.”

Yes, there appears to have been more to this whole vaccine-autism commission than Trump’s team’s attempt to walk it back after RFK Jr. went public.

Finally, yesterday, we learned that the governor of Massachusetts signed a bill into law licensing naturopathic quackery.

As I said, it wasn’t a good week for science. So I figure I might as well finish it with a post about a pet peeve of mine that I noticed this week that drove me absolutely nuts by the time I had seen it. I’m referring to how so many of the news and commentary articles in the mainstream press referred to RFK Jr. as a “vaccine skeptic.” On more than one occasion, at least on Twitter, I had to point out that RFK Jr. is not a “vaccine skeptic.” He is antivaccine. He is a vaccine science denialist.

Just for yucks I Googled “vaccine skeptic” and “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.” to see what I found. Here are some headlines:

You get the idea.

Let me repeat myself before I explain why this trope irritates me so much. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not a “vaccine skeptic.” He is antivaccine. He is a vaccine science denialist. He is a crank. And so is Donald Trump, as I have documented so copiously over the years.

This is a problem that is not unique to the science of vaccines. For a great many science and history denialist movements, the mainstream press incorrectly labels them as “skeptics.” It’s something the press would never, ever consider doing for Holocaust deniers (although at times they fall for the Holocaust denial spin of referring to Holocaust denial as “Holocaust revisionism”), but they routinely do it for all manner of science. For instance, it was (and in some cases still is) a problem with climate science, where those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth is warming, causing potentially ruinous climate change, because of human activity were called “climate skeptics” or “global warming skeptics.” It still is, to some extent, but noticeably less so than in the past. Unfortunately, the AP style recommendation is not to refer to anthropogenic climate change denialists as “skeptics” or “deniers,” but rather to “doubters” or “those who reject mainstream climate science.” I much prefer the latter to the former, the clunkiness of the construct notwithstanding, but both are misleading regarding describing what climate change denialists actually do. Deniers are not skeptics.

The same is true for vaccine deniers. We have the same problem with antivaccine activists like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The mainstream press, in its all-encompassing fetish for “balance” and refusal to do anything that resembles making a judgment on anything, refers to RFK Jr. as a “vaccine skeptic.”

Let’s take a look at his “vaccine skepticism.” RFK Jr. is so “skeptical” of vaccines that he has compared “vaccine-induced autism” to the Holocaust on at least two occasions that I’m aware. He has referred to children with autism has having their brains be gone or having their brains be “imprisoned” like prisoners in Nazi death camps. Let’s unpack that (again) for a moment. Prisoners in Nazi death camps did not survive long. Death camps were referred to as death camps (as opposed to work camps or concentration camps) because most prisoners were there only a brief period of time before the Nazis killed them, usually by gas chamber. RFK Jr. thinks this is an appropriate metaphor for autism and vaccines. And if autism is like being imprisoned in a death camp, who are the people who imprisoned them? To RFK Jr., it’s pediatricians, big pharma, and the CDC.

That’s not all, though. RFK Jr. has written conspiracy mongering articles about how the CDC supposedly “covered” up evidence that vaccines cause autism. Why? Why do you think? To protect the pharmaceutical industry, of course! RFK Jr. is so “skeptical” of vaccines that he routinely cites horrible, horrible science by the likes of Mark Geier, Boyd Haley, and the like. He is so “skeptical” of vaccines that he published what is nothing more than a conspiracy theory that the CDC had a secret meeting in 2005 to cover up evidence that the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal that was in several childhood vaccines until 2002 caused autism. RFK Jr. is so “skeptical” of vaccines that he has harassed lawmakers on Capitol Hill, only to be ignored because he is obviously such a crank. As Laura Helmuth put it:

The short version of the vaccine conspiracy theory (if you are stuck on the phone with RFK Jr., you will be subjected to the long version) is that a vaccine preservative called thimerosal causes autism when injected into children. Government epidemiologists and other scientists, conspiring with the vaccine industry, have covered up data and lied about vaccine ingredients to hide this fact. Journalists are dupes of this powerful cabal that is intentionally poisoning children.

You’ll also learn that RFK, Jr. either lies or is deluded:

He spoke to one scientist (he named her but I won’t spread the defamation) who, he said, “was actually very honest. She said it’s not safe. She said we know it destroys their brains.”

I asked the scientist about their conversation. She said there is in fact no evidence that thimerosal destroys children’s brains, and that she never said that it did.

He claims that it’s a huge conspiracy and that scientists are lying:

Kennedy claims that scientists admit to him in private that they are lying about the data. When he challenged one university scientist about the accuracy of studies showing that the presence of thimerosal in vaccines had no effect on autism diagnoses, “He folded like a house of cards. Three weeks later I heard him on the radio and he was saying the same things he said to me, which I knew he knew was lying.”

As I (and Steve Novella) have noted before, it’s funny how this is all in private and no reputable scientist will actually come out and admit that he or she thinks vaccines cause autism. It’s always the same old cranks, like Mark Geier, Christopher Shaw, Boyd Haley, and the like. Surely, if so many of them believed that we were poisoning our children with vaccines, as RFK Jr. claims, one of them would have come forward over the last 15 or 20 years since the initial concern about mercury in vaccines.

RFK Jr. also thinks that Paul Offit and all the “enablers” of the vaccine-autism “Holocaust” should be in jail:

The enablers may not belong in Nuremburg, but they do belong in jail, Bobby said. “I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all these good people behind bars,” he said, after listing Offit’s litany of lies and profit. Just to make sure people got the point, he returned to it in his speech. “Is it hyperbole to say they should be in jail? They should be in jail and the key should be thrown away.”

And here he is, ranting away at Jenny McCarthy’s “Green Our Vaccines” rally in 2008:

This basically confirms Helmuth’s description. It’s all a conspiracy! The CDC held its meeting at Simpsonwood to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests. (No, as I recall, a larger conference center was needed than what was at the CDC main campus.) “Someone” made a transcript anyway. (Yeah, that “someone” was the CDC itself, which ultimately published the transcript within a month of the meeting.) The paranoia goes on. Today, Episode #3 of Vaccines Revealed, a painfully long series of ten 1-2 hour episodes that is chock full of every chuck of antivaccine pseudoscience, paranoia, and conspiracy theories, all “revealed” through interviews with luminaries of the antivaccine movement conducted by a chiropractor named Patrick Gentempo. I signed up for short-term free access to the series, thinking I might blog about it, but I don’t know if I can manage. The first episode featured nearly an hour of Andrew Wakefield without interruption. The third episode, the link to which was just released early morning and will expire within 24 hours, features over 65 minutes of RFK, Jr. repeating “the long version” of his antivaccine conspiracy theories. I’m tough and dedicated, but even I had a hard time sitting through such concentrated crankery when I tried to watch the video very early this morning. I saved it for later, but I don’t know if I can do this. There are some things that are too much even for me, and watching over an hour of Wakefield and over an hour of RFK Jr. might be it.

The same sorts of considerations apply to RFK Jr.’s new best bud forever, Donald Trump. I’ve documented the long, sordid history of antivaccine pseudoscience emanating from our President-Elect. There is no doubt that Donald Trump buys fully into antivaccine pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Indeed, I often contrast how Trump has changed his positions on multiple occasions on issues like abortion to his seemingly unalterable belief that vaccines cause autism, a belief that he has held and articulated in public at least since 2007. As much as it pains me to have to do so and confront our President-Elects’ antivaccine views, I not infrequently point out that, compared to the flip-flops Trump has pulled off regarding beliefs in a variety of areas, Trump’s views on vaccines and autism have been remarkably consistent. He believes that vaccines cause autism and has repeatedly stated that he believes that vaccines cause autism since 2007 without doubt, equivocation, or change.

I realize that, as a blogger, I can write whatever I want, use whatever words I want to describe someone like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.—and, yes, Donald Trump. I don’t know if it’s part of the AP Style Manual or not to call such people “vaccine skeptics,” the way it used to be part of the AP Style Manual to refer to anthropogenic climate change denialists as climate science skeptics, but something needs to change. I don’t expect journalists to refer to RFK Jr., as I often do, as a “raving antivaccine crank, but he is not a “vaccine skeptic.” Skepticism implies questioning the data, yes, but it also involves ultimately accepting the science when the data support it, as is the case to an overwhelming degree when it comes to the idea that vaccines cause autism.

I once listed eight traits that define an antivaccine ideologue, suggesting that if someone has more than three or four of them he’s definitely antivaccine, his denials that he’s “pro-vaccine safety” (or, in the case of RFK Jr, even more risibly, “fiercely pro-vaccine”) notwithstanding:

  1. Claiming to be “pro-safe vaccine” while being unrelentingly critical about vaccines
  2. The “vaccines don’t work” gambit
  3. The “vaccines are dangerous” gambit
  4. Preferring anecdotes over science and epidemiology
  5. Cherry picking and misrepresenting the evidence
  6. The copious use of logical fallacies in arguing
  7. Conspiracy mongering
  8. Trying to silence criticism, rather than responding to it

RFK Jr ticks off at least seven of these eight traits. (To my knowledge, he doesn’t claim that vaccines don’t work, but I could be wrong about this one too.) In particular, he claims to be “pro-vaccine” but never says anything positive about vaccines other than occasionally conceding, almost as an afterthought, that they work in preventing disease. Donald Trump ticks off at least five or six of these traits. They are antivaccine, not “vaccine skeptics.” The press needs to start calling them that. I’d even settle for the awkward AP Style Manual construct ““those who reject mainstream vaccine science.” Almost anything would be better than giving antivaccine cranks undue status as anything more than cranks by calling them “skeptics.”

They are not. And science advocates and real skeptics are going to be in for a long four years.

Comments

  1. #1 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 1, 2017

    This is an especially trying week at work, so I don’t have the patience to explain at length to Purported Earthling Chris all the logical errors I can see in their argumentation. Frankly I can’t even figure out whether they are even sincere in their beliefs or simply a dedicated contrarian. Some people are seekers after truth; others are simply seekers after the pleasant sensation that comes with believing you have The Truth.

    If I believed PE Chris to be educable, the key point on which I would try to educate them would be that of the burden of proof. When a vaccine gets approved, it’s because it’s gone through clinical trials which demonstrate that it does what it’s meant to do, i.e., prevent people from getting the disease, which in turn reduces the spread of the disease. When that vaccine is then widely deployed, and in the areas where it’s widely deployed, the spread of the disease is reduced, the null hypothesis is that the vaccine is doing the very same thing in the large population that we already proved it to do in the trial groups! Anyone who wants to argue that some other cause is responsible, it’s incumbent upon them to meet the burden of proof. And frankly, if their idea of “proof” is to simply assert “yeah, you see that decline in morbidity? That would have continued even if no vaccines had come along. Trust me, it just would have,” then they’re going to fail that task.

  2. #2 Chris
    March 1, 2017

    Purported Earthling Chris could get seriously injured by his own hands with all of that bobbing, weaving and hand waving!

  3. #3 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 1, 2017

    “Think you want to have an iron lung?
    Want leg braces???”

    Yes, clearly.

    a) It turns out that for the vast majority of people poliomyelitis is a non-event. They don’t even know they caught it.

    2) Iron lungs never went away, they turned into respirators.

    iii) President Roosevlet caught Guillain-Barre Syndrome

    d) in 1955, a very creative re-definition of poliovirus infections was invented, to “cover” the fact that many cases of ”polio” paralysis had no poliovirus in their systems at all.

    v) Dr. Fred Klenner reported complete cures for 61 out of 61 cases of poliomyelitis during an epidemic in his town.

    • #4 Wzrd1
      March 1, 2017

      And Arthur C Clarke is still alive, cranking out books, right?
      Nope, died of post-polio syndrome, which in your land of lies, obviously doesn’t exist, so he’s undead, perhaps?

  4. #5 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 1, 2017

    Actually, as presented in post 177 and discussed extensively since, it did. At least according to US census data for measles. And for all diseases according to other public data.

    I presume you mean this from an non-expert source:

    “one totally ineffective type of vaccine was used, which made recipients susceptible to a worse form of measles, and the other vaccine was a live, semi-attenuated one which ‘gave’ people measles which was antidoted with gammaglobulin injected at the same time as the vaccine.

    There are a couple of problems here, one is that the vaccines were not “totally ineffective” and another is that reported cases fluctuated greatly since epi data began. What you see is a combination of a somewhat effective vaccine programme and a natural trough in disease prevalence.

    I have no reason to think that the non-reviewed book written by a so called “non-expert” (so called because she is a qualified nephrologist who, along with Bystrianyk, studied the matter thoroughly) has faked data in it. And we both know that any review by someone satisfactory to the vaccine religion could never be even slightly favourable.

    She is a nephrologist not an epidemiologist and reading some journal articles and websites doesn’t make one an expert. Her “data” are cherry-picked and grossly misconstrued to promote her own agenda. Please provide the original sources to demonstrate that you can read them and as a service to those of us who know how to parse them ourselves and not through the lens of cranks. As a courtesy, please change your username as the other Chris has been commenting here for years and it’s confusing in the comments feed.

  5. #6 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 1, 2017

    iii) President Roosevlet[sic] caught Guillain-Barre Syndrome

    One doesn’t “catch” GBS and President Roosevelt had polio.

    v) Dr. Fred Klenner reported complete cures for 61 out of 61 cases of poliomyelitis during an epidemic in his town.

    And this report is in the scientific literature where?

  6. #7 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 1, 2017

    ” the burden of proof”

    Very good point. Study of economics and ethics helps here. I am the customer. Some companies, aided by unpaid sales agents such as the many posters here, would like me to purchase their product.

    The claim is that this product will substantially lower my chances of getting a certain disease, and that there is low probability that it will hurt me.

    I find overwhelming evidence that their products do not do what they claim. For example see post 177 and the extensive detailed replies to “smart” Chris where I repeated the things it does not want to know. That was for measles, but similar findings for other diseases. The product could not have removed the diseases because the diseases were already gone.

    Then I find that nearly every study out there uses vaccines for the control in vaccine studies.

    Then I’ve found out that doctors who dared stray from the bounds of allowed thought have found that oxidative therapies, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), can cure just aboot any disease. See Dr. Klenner for example.

    And to top it off I read many many reports from parents reporting terrible hurt in their kids coincidentally immediately subsequent to vaccinations, and reports that their child “goes away.”

    So no, these companies have in no way convinced me to purchase their product. That’s how the burden works.

  7. #8 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 1, 2017

    “One doesn’t “catch” GBS”

    Thanks.

    “Roosevelt had polio.”

    Not according to this: Goldman.2003.”What was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s paralytic illness?” J Med Biog, 11:233-240.

    “this report is in the scientific literature where?”

    Journal of Applied Nutrition Vol. 23, No’s 3 & 4, Winter 1971

    • #9 Wzrd1
      March 1, 2017

      I’m familiar with the theory that FDR suffered from GBS. Unfortunately, the argument isn’t extremely well supported and FDR became ill during a polio outbreak.
      That is more indicative that he suffered from paralytic polio than GBS.

  8. #10 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 1, 2017

    “presume you mean this from an non-expert source”

    As can be seen by reading what I wrote, I mean the census data plus the “non-expert” comments on data manipulation after vaccine introduction.

    “the vaccines were not “totally ineffective””

    The authors never said the vaccines were “totally ineffective.” They said one of them was.

    “What you see is a combination of a somewhat effective vaccine programme and a natural trough in disease prevalence.”

    What _I_ see is measles cases declining substantially in the 21 years prior to vaccine introduction, and Humphries and Bystrianyk reporting that vaccine induced measles cases were not counted. Is Science Mom saying that vaccine measles cases was and/or are counted? If so she should report that to Humphries and Bystrianyk because I’m sure they would like to correct the error.

    “reading some journal articles and websites”
    You’re implying that that is the extent of the work Humphries and Bystrianyk put into their research?

    ““data” are cherry-picked and grossly misconstrued to promote her own agenda”

    What is misconstrued and cherry picked about the USA measles census data? Is the census data wrong? If measles cases were not declining prior to vaccine introduction would we not expect to see the peaks remain high? What is their agenda? I think their agenda is an honest desire to help people.

    “Please provide the original sources to demonstrate that you can read them”

    At least this one asks nicely. Still an authoritarian tone. I’ve read enough original sources, including some provided in the comments above, to see that vaccines are always used as controls.

    “through the lens of cranks”

    Yes, if the conclusion is not in line with the orthodox beliefs then we shall call them names and dismiss them. You are aware, aren’t you, that not too long ago a couple of examples of orthodox beliefs were that cigarettes are good for your health and black people can’t care for themselves?

  9. #11 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 2, 2017

    “more indicative that he suffered from paralytic polio than GBS.”

    According to Dr. Humphries, here: http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2011/11/17/smoke-mirrors-and-the-disappearance-of-polio/

    Prior to 1954,
    “Included under the umbrella term “Acute Flaccid Paralysis” are Poliomyelitis, Transverse Myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, enteroviral encephalopathy, traumatic neuritis, Reye’s syndrome etc.”

    • #12 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      According to Dr. Humphries, here:

      Therein lies your problem. Google Scholar has medical textbooks dating from 1954 and before that you could reference and find that she’s full of crap.

  10. #13 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 2, 2017

    “Roosevelt had polio.”

    Not according to this: Goldman.2003.”What was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s paralytic illness?” J Med Biog, 11:233-240.

    Free-wheeling association with no hard data to support this. Please point me to compelling, replicated verification of your claim.

    Journal of Applied Nutrition Vol. 23, No’s 3 & 4, Winter 1971

    The only mention of poliomyelitis in that article was this:

    Case History: Poliomyelitis

    Although we were able to cure many cases of polio with massive doses of ascorbic acid, one single instance demonstrates the value of vitamin C. Two brothers were sick with poliomyelitis. These two boys were given 10 and 12 grams of ascorbic acid, according to weight, intravenously with a 50 c.c. syringe, every eight hours for 4 times and then every 12 hours for 4 times. They also were given one gram every two hours by mouth around the clock. They made complete recovery and both were athletic stars in high school and college. A third child, a neighbor, under the care of another physician received no ascorbic acid. This child also lived. The young lady is still wearing braces.

    There appears to be considerable discrepancy between what your Humpries cites and what is in the literature. If you can find what you claim, great. I would caution you to vet your sources more carefully on you own rather than believe what someone with an agenda feeds you. It may be easier and massages your own biases but that’s not the way to acquire knowledge.

  11. #14 Narad
    March 2, 2017

    I find overwhelming evidence that their products do not do what they claim.

    Why don’t you just test it out? Hep A and yellow fever should be straightforward enough, just off the top of my head. Leptospirosis if you can wrangle something in Cuba. Hell, maybe tetanus is on the table. Get cracking.

  12. #15 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 2, 2017

    “Free-wheeling association with no hard data to support this.”

    Isn’t that also the extent of the hard data to support the claim that Roosevelt had poliomyelitis? Especially if it is true, as Dr. Humphries claims, that prior to 1954 lots of things were called polio?

    “your Humpries”

    Sounds condescending. I don’t know if Dr. Humphries cites Dr. Klenner, I may have found him through other means. My mistake on the Klenner cite above. Try this one: https://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/194x/klenner-fr-southern_med_surg-1949-v111-n7-p209.htm

    The Treatment of Poliomyelitis and Other Virus Diseases with Vitamin C
    Fred R. Klenner, M.D., Reidsville, North Carolina

    Aboot half way through it talks about the 60 cases he treated during the one epidemic (again my mistake about 61.) It says “every patient of this series recovered uneventfully within three to five days.”

    “vet your sources more carefully on you own rather than believe what someone with an agenda feeds you. It may be easier and massages your own biases but that’s not the way to acquire knowledge.”

    Definitely condescending. What is Dr. Humphries’ and Mr. Bystrianyk’s agenda?

    Also, I notice that there is no response to the USA measles census data. If morbidity was not declining in the years prior to vaccine introduction, would we not expect the disease peaks to remain high? Does the census bureau have an agenda?

  13. #16 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 2, 2017

    “Why don’t you just test it out?”

    I am, of course. Not letting religious cultists persuade me to violate Hippocrates maxim to first do no harm, by sticking their junk into me. Go ahead and go to Cuba if you want.

  14. #17 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 2, 2017

    What _I_ see is measles cases declining substantially in the 21 years prior to vaccine introduction, and Humphries and Bystrianyk reporting that vaccine induced measles cases were not counted. Is Science Mom saying that vaccine measles cases was and/or are counted? If so she should report that to Humphries and Bystrianyk because I’m sure they would like to correct the error.

    I don’t know where you are getting 21 years prior from. Measles case reporting never captured the actual number of cases and there were fluctuations in cases throughout reporting history. Given the reproductive rate of measles virus and serology, nearly all children were infected by the age of 12 which translates to an entire birth cohort infected each year. But reported cases are an order of magnitude less than actual cases.

    The first Rubeovax (actually Moraten) was introduced in 1963, it was only after that did the number of reported cases fall consistently. You can see in this graph how reported cases wildly fluctuated since reporting began: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1619577/pdf/amjph00684-0032.pdf Given the relatively low attenuation of the Moraten strain (as compared to the current Edmonston strain), it is entirely possible that those cases were reported.

    You’re implying that that is the extent of the work Humphries and Bystrianyk put into their research?

    Without question. They have conducted no original research of their own with regards to disease epidemiology nor vaccinology.

    What is misconstrued and cherry picked about the USA measles census data? Is the census data wrong? If measles cases were not declining prior to vaccine introduction would we not expect to see the peaks remain high? What is their agenda? I think their agenda is an honest desire to help people.

    Please, it’s not census data; it’s reportable diseases. The data aren’t wrong; the interpretation of those data are wrong. If reporting was consistent then you wouldn’t see such fluctuations to begin with but if you look at all the years you see swings from one year to the next that are more than 4-fold. Numerous events can and do affect disease reporting statistics. That’s the beast of epidemiology and non-experts like Humphries show their lack of expertise by not considering these factors. She just hunts out trends that support her agenda. She may have started out with the desire to help people but has descended into something quite antithetical to that goal. The why is something else entirely.

    Yes, if the conclusion is not in line with the orthodox beliefs then we shall call them names and dismiss them. You are aware, aren’t you, that not too long ago a couple of examples of orthodox beliefs were that cigarettes are good for your health and black people can’t care for themselves?

    Using tobacco industry “research” and ancient racist “research” are hardly comparable to the data available on vaccines we have conducted by thousands of scientists from scores of countries.

  15. #18 Narad
    March 2, 2017

    “Why don’t you just test it out?”

    I am, of course.

    How? Go give yourself tetanus a few times. It’s perfectly straightforward. Then get a tetanus vaccine and repeat the exercise.

  16. #19 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 2, 2017

    Isn’t that also the extent of the hard data to support the claim that Roosevelt had poliomyelitis? Especially if it is true, as Dr. Humphries claims, that prior to 1954 lots of things were called polio?

    Unfortunately no tests were available to confirm a polio diagnosis however his illness, age and symptoms were consistent with poliomyelitis. “Lots of things” weren’t called polio then. Severe GBS could resemble poliomyelitis but it’s extremely rare. While the possibility exists that he did have GBS, it’s hubris to claim he unequivocally did.

    Aboot half way through it talks about the 60 cases he treated during the one epidemic (again my mistake about 61.) It says “every patient of this series recovered uneventfully within three to five days.”

    Instead of me talking at you, can you spot the problems with this report? Is it well-conducted? Do the results support the claim? Why or why not?

    • #20 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      Unfortunately no tests were available to confirm a polio diagnosis however his illness, age and symptoms were consistent with poliomyelitis. “Lots of things” weren’t called polio then. Severe GBS could resemble poliomyelitis but it’s extremely rare. While the possibility exists that he did have GBS, it’s hubris to claim he unequivocally did.

      Indeed, what writings I’ve reviewed considered polio vs GBS and found that, as FDR’s paralysis occurred during an active polio outbreak in his area, GBS occurs 3 – 6 weeks after a viral illness has been cleared. That tended to make every other reviewer on the planet consider it unlikely that FDR had GBS, but had indeed polio.
      GBS also tends to have a wider impact, such as with vision, than polio has.

      @Narad, stop suggesting tetanus as a good example organism! Rabies is far better an example and the idiot can infect himself to his heart’s content with rabies and try vitamin C as a treatment.

  17. #21 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 2, 2017

    “I don’t know where you are getting 21 years prior from.”

    According to the census data repeatedly cited by “smart” Chris, from the peak in 1941 to the peak in 1962 was a 60% decrease in reported, as you pointed out, measles cases. To me that sounds consistent with a disease that is gradually disappearing. Of course I understand that all the cases wouldn’t be reported, but I bet that the trend in reported is indicative of something actually happening.

    So if nearly every kid was infected by age 12, and disease mortality and morbidity rates were on the decline, how does that mean we all have to get the vaccine shot? Especially given the reports from doctors and parents that measles wasn’t a big deal and that the kids were the better for it after.

    “They have conducted no original research of their own”

    I see. I did not think they had. I’ll let you have it your way, but I have a hard time believing that the good doctor gave up her well paying job and that her and Bystrianyk were not able to read and understand the research of others when they took the time to produce a well written and documented book on it.

    And yes, I understand that there are lots of experts who swear up and down that vaccines are the saviours of mankind, but I’ve also noticed that typically state in the abstract assertions to that effect, almost as if to make sure to not be attacked by the hgh priests of vaccine. I’ve also noticed that none of them conduct placebo controlled randomised double blind studies. I know everyone will howl that that is unethical, but that is begging the question. You can only think it is unethical if you already think you know the outcome of the study, which you can’t without doing the study.

    “the interpretation of those data are wrong.”

    The “smart” Chris is misinterpreting? He’s the one stuck on the one version of the census data that is missing many years.

    “she just hunts out trends that support her agenda.”

    What is her/their agenda? (Humphries and Bystrianyk) In Dissolving Illusions they present many plots of historical, reported data as you point out, that all show disease and mortality rates decreasing substantially across the board prior to vaccine introductions. You’re saying that data shouldn’t be intrepreted to understand that the pre-vaccine trend mortality was down, nearly to zero?

    “tobacco industry “research” and ancient racist “research” are hardly comparable”

    Yes I understand that of course. You have to remember, though, that the refrain that “we” “know better now” is always the story, no matter the time and place. In 50 years people will be looking down their noses at us.

  18. #22 Chris
    Planet Earth
    March 2, 2017

    “can you spot the problems with this report?”

    I understand that it is considered anecdotal (I assume that’s what you’re implying). I also know that Dr. Klenner published many papers reporting the same thing over many years, and I’ve read stories reporting that his patients called him Saint Klenner, and the nurses at the hospital referred to the babies he delivered as “vitamin C” babies because they were invariably healthy. I’ve also read other literature consistent with the vitamin C stories, including what Humphries and Bystrianyk reported, and including what Dr. Thomas Levy reported in “Curing the Incurable”, which is about half citations and I’ll confess right now that I followed none of them. The problem I have is persuading myself that they are just making this up, or are flat wrong. What problems do you see with Dr. Klenner’s report?

    • #23 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      Dr. Coulehan’s first study was done on 641 Navajo Indian children, half of whom received a placebo while the rest received 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily. A complicated system of judging the severity of head, throat and chest symptoms was used. The Coulehan team reported in 1974 that the vitamin C group had less severe colds, but other scientists who reviewed the study criticized the method of judging the severity of symptoms.

      Sounds good, right? Trouble in paradise, as when he adjusted some errors in his original work (to include those receiving vitamin C were essentially isolated in the research center, while those not receiving supplementation were returned home).

      So in 1976 the Coulehan team repeated their study with 868 Navajo children but used a better system of scoring severity. The children receiving vitamin C averaged 0.38 colds per person while the placebo group averaged 0.37. The average duration of the colds was 5.5 days in the vitamin group and 5.8 in the placebo group. Thus, in this test, vitamin C neither prevented colds nor shortened their duration [13]. In 1979, Dr. Coulehan published his analysis of vitamin C versus the common cold and concluded that extra vitamin C is not worth taking [14].

      Thanks for the help, quackwatch dot org! I remembered the study and the second study, the results, but not the researcher’s name.
      http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/colds.html

      Meanwhile, dozens of studies that have been replicated, have shown that Vitamin C is useless against viral, fungal or bacterial infections.
      That said, there was a 12% lower incidence of viral infections in those who did supplement (note that I don’t say megadose, like Klenner and his peers do), with vitamin D, of which many to most white US citizens tend to be deficient in chronically. So, there may be a modest benefit there for vitamin D.
      The only thing I’d recommend vitamin C to cure is scurvy.

  19. #24 Lawrence
    March 2, 2017

    Again, Measles outbreaks were cyclical – some years, cases were lower & in other years, they were higher…heck, even the year to year numbers provided show that cases were lower in some earlier years than in the 50s & early 60s.

    How much of that is reflected in the ways the data was collected? Probably more than a bit – especially since methods of communication weren’t instantaneous or as complete as we can make them today.

    Do we know that just about everyone eventually got measles by the age of 16? Yes, we do.

    Your assertions about measles being “benign” ignores recent evidence that shows that the disease may, in fact, “reset” the immune system & make children more vulnerable to other diseases down the road.

    There is no “benefit” to getting sick – there is merely the hoping and praying that your child isn’t one of the unlucky ones.

    When these vaccines first became available, parents waited for hours in long lines to get their kids vaccinated…this wasn’t done because of propaganda – this was done because these parents knew first-hand how dangerous these diseases were.

    Your reliance on the faulty logic and faulty evidence of Humphries, in fact ignoring that she’s no expect in immunology or epidemiology, that you ignore science from individuals and organizations which have spent decades doing real research, just shows your bias…you only see what you want to see.

    You have yet to prove or offer any tangible evidence on “why” exactly, there would be this “supposed” decline in measles cases….you wave your hands & claim “nutrition and sanitation.”

    Okay genius, please point to the specific change-points – what occurred, specifically – when and where, that brought about these changes that you claim happened.

    Surely you can make specific points, right?

    Because we can point, specifically, to the release of the measles vaccine & the drop in cases of measles.

    You should be able to do the same – I mean, didn’t Humphries bother to find specifics? Or did she just make blatant assertions without evidence?

    • #25 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      You have yet to prove or offer any tangible evidence on “why” exactly, there would be this “supposed” decline in measles cases….you wave your hands & claim “nutrition and sanitation.”

      But, washing one’s hands and good sanitation washes droplets carrying infectious viruses from the air!
      Or something. 😉

      I imagine that lower instances or rabies would also be attributed to hand washing and good sanitation, rather than people remaining inside and away from rabid animals.

  20. #26 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    March 2, 2017

    According to the census data repeatedly cited by “smart” Chris, from the peak in 1941 to the peak in 1962 was a 60% decrease in reported, as you pointed out, measles cases. To me that sounds consistent with a disease that is gradually disappearing. Of course I understand that all the cases wouldn’t be reported, but I bet that the trend in reported is indicative of something actually happening.

    You are cherry-picking a trend you want to see. You can’t make that claim given the extreme fluctuation in cases since reporting began. Why don’t you change your username so you don’t have to be a churlish whiner?

    So if nearly every kid was infected by age 12, and disease mortality and morbidity rates were on the decline, how does that mean we all have to get the vaccine shot? Especially given the reports from doctors and parents that measles wasn’t a big deal and that the kids were the better for it after.

    Mortality had two significant drops which were due to antibiotics/ventilators then again after vaccine introduction. It remained static at 1-3 deaths/1000 cases after the first drop and only declined because people were getting vaccinated. Morbidity did not decline until the vaccine. That’s just what you want to believe. But the problem is, is that you can’t have a decline in one of the most infectious diseases without a significant change to that pathogen and there wasn’t any. The “decline” you see is purely administrative.

    I see. I did not think they had. I’ll let you have it your way, but I have a hard time believing that the good doctor gave up her well paying job and that her and Bystrianyk were not able to read and understand the research of others when they took the time to produce a well written and documented book on it.

    What makes you think she gave up her job? It sounds to me she wasn’t particularly welcome at her job when she went anti-vaxx crank. She’s very dodgy on the issue. She wrote a freakin book whoop-de-doo. That’s not original research and she has zero training in anything related to vaccinology but here you are touting her as an expert and ignoring the real experts. You’re not exactly original there.

    What is her/their agenda? (Humphries and Bystrianyk) In Dissolving Illusions they present many plots of historical, reported data as you point out, that all show disease and mortality rates decreasing substantially across the board prior to vaccine introductions. You’re saying that data shouldn’t be intrepreted to understand that the pre-vaccine trend mortality was down, nearly to zero?

    Pre-vaccine mortality wasn’t nearly down to zero; your sources are just not correct and don’t jive with the actual evidence. Retrospective studies demonstrate that once again mortality remained at 1-3 deaths/1000 cases as recently as the 1989-1991 outbreak: https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/189/Supplement_1/S69/2082538/Acute-Measles-Mortality-in-the-United-States-1987 Again you are relying upon Humphries non-expert interpretation of data; she doesn’t know how to parse epi data and it’s that simple.

    Yes I understand that of course. You have to remember, though, that the refrain that “we” “know better now” is always the story, no matter the time and place. In 50 years people will be looking down their noses at us.

    What you fail to see is that we have so many good quality studies that have been replicated by different people in different countries that don’t suffer from the biases in your examples. Just because you don’t want to accept this doesn’t make it so.

    I understand that it is considered anecdotal (I assume that’s what you’re implying). I also know that Dr. Klenner published many papers reporting the same thing over many years, and I’ve read stories reporting that his patients called him Saint Klenner,

    You’re sure that’s the only problem? Publishing the same story repeatedly isn’t replication you know. Here are the glaring problems; first there was no disease confirmation in all subjects, then no control groups and finally most poliomyelitis patients will spontaneously remit with no intervention. So even if all 60 patients did have poliomyelitis, it wouldn’t be at all unusual for the disease to run it’s course without progressing to paralysis. Can you see why relying upon such weak data is a problem?

    • #27 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      Publishing the same story repeatedly isn’t replication you know.

      I’m reminded of a physicist who published a paper that he had achieved cold fusion in his lab. He subsequently replicated it. Unfortunately, nobody else could replicate it.
      So, he invited other researchers to his lab. Even then, only he could replicate the work, using the same lab and equipment.
      Yeah.

      But then, in biology, it’s not uncommon, say with culturing an organism for the first time, for replication to fail until other researchers learn each and every precise step followed, as one minor step might be accidentally omitted in the paper. Indeed, on some occasions, a single TA might have results, when others used a similar, but not same method and nuanced differences in practice yielded results.

      However, in the argued points from idiot, this isn’t the problem. Well, perhaps, save for the first example; fraud.
      But then, people are still running around screaming about how cold fusion is real and it’s being suppressed by the space aliens (or whoever their paranoia is triggered by).

  21. #28 Narad
    March 2, 2017

    According to the census data repeatedly cited by “smart” Chris, from the peak in 1941 to the peak in 1962 was a 60% decrease in reported, as you pointed out, measles cases. To me that sounds consistent with a disease that is gradually disappearing. Of course I understand that all the cases wouldn’t be reported, but I bet that the trend in reported is indicative of something actually happening.

    So if nearly every kid was infected by age 12 . . . .

    Prompt self-contradiction is not a very persuasive rhetorical technique.

    • #29 Wzrd1
      March 4, 2017

      Prompt self-contradiction is not a very persuasive rhetorical technique.

      I dunno, it’s been working well for Trump and the alt-right…
      (ducking)

  22. […] and his having met with Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., antivaxers believe they have one of their own in the White House now (with good reason) and have been doing their damnedest to get the administration’s attention […]

  23. #31 Chris
    March 2, 2017
  24. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    March 2, 2017

    I found an interesting graph on the website of Roman Bystrianyk (Suzanne Humphries’ antivax illusions co-author). It doesn’t quite illustrate that measles deaths were a non-factor before the measles vaccine was introduced:

    http://healthsentinel.com/joomla/images/stories/graphs/us-measles-1900-1987-log.jpg

    (Bystrianyk is unhappy with this graph because it uses a logarithmic scale on the y-axis , but more importantly because it plays havoc with his contention that measles was unimportant by the time the vaccine was introduced).

    I guess we should listen to him though – who better to get advice on keeping our kids healthy than a guy who has a software degree and runs a quackery-promoting website?

  25. #33 Chris
    March 2, 2017

    A related pair of articles on the effect of measles vaccination during the mid-1960s in Los Angeles County. The effect was dramatic, and even surprising since the vaccination levels were not terribly high;

    Mass measles immunization in Los Angeles County

    Measles epidemiology and vaccine use in Los Angeles County, 1963 and 1966

    It was results like this that prompted more access to measles vaccines.

  26. #34 Chris
    March 2, 2017

    The effect of measles vaccination was noted to be very beneficial:
    The Benefits From 10 Years of Measles Immunization in the United States

    And the dangers of measles was known a century ago:
    A STATISTICAL STUDY OF MEASLES (1914)

  27. #35 Lawrence
    March 2, 2017

    http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/

    Interesting for our other Chris to note that there was a 79% reduction in measles deaths (worldwide) between 2000 & 2015.

    Please tell us by which miracle of “sanitation and nutrition” that this might have occurred?

  28. #36 doug
    March 2, 2017

    “a guy who has a software degree” really should be able to do what I did several years ago and write a graph reader. I got tired of trying to read graphs with weird scales, inadequate subdivisions of axes, etc. & whipped up some code to spit out a table of values that can then be replotted or stuffed up some other program.

  29. #37 Chris
    March 2, 2017

    In the last thirty years there were times when measles vaccination lagged, with real death and injury.

    First in the USA, going back to California data, and not the cost to the state’s Medicaid program:
    Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.

    And then there was Japan, with is own special brand of anti-vaccine zealots and vaccines policies based on politics instead of science:
    Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan

    Which says:

    In 1993, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) withdrew the domestically produced MMR vaccine [9]. As of 1994, an amendment to the Immunization Law made vaccination voluntary and not mandatory. According to the present law, a single dose of measles vaccine is recommended for children over one year of age. Children are eligible to receive measles vaccination after 12 months following birth but not beyond 90 months. Until January 2004, adminisiration of measles vaccine was recommended between 12 and 24 months of age, instead of between 12 and 15 months when children have the greatest risk of contracting measles [10]. In Japan, measles vaccine coverage has remained low, and either small or moderate outbreaks have occurred repeatedly in communities. According to an infectious disease surveillance (2000), total measles cases were estimated to be from 180,000 to 210,000, and total deaths were estimated to be 88 [11,12]. Measles cases are most frequently observed among non-immunized children, particularly between 12 to 24 months.

  30. #38 Chris
    March 2, 2017

    Here is a legal opinion of expertise of Bystrianyk and Humphries:
    http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2015/2015onsc2201/2015onsc2201.html

    Judge’s view:

    Many of the assertions as set out above were backed up by citations from individuals who were advocates of no vaccinations. Dr. Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystianyk’s web site and articles on “Dissolving Illusions” amounted to much of the corroborating literature cited by Ms. Willem. I find that the data relied on by those offered as experts by the mother amounted to a cherry picking of resources derived from anti vaccination advocates. This form of evidence offered as expert evidence does not amount to evidence from a person with special skills who can assist the court in drawing a conclusion that it could not otherwise make.

    Note that other than the above Canadian legal ruling, all of the cites I posted were PubMed indexed papers by reputable qualified researchers. I am still waiting for Other Chris to provide evidence of like quality to show why the incidence of reported measles in the USA dropped 90% between 1960 and 1970.

  31. #39 herr doktor bimler
    March 2, 2017

    I’ve read stories reporting that his patients called him Saint Klenner, and the nurses at the hospital referred to the babies he delivered as “vitamin C” babies because they were invariably healthy.

    I realise that this is asking a lot, but did anyone record the actual names and testimonies of these loquatious patients and nurses? Otherwise it’s all in the realms of firend-of-a-friend.

  32. #40 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 2, 2017

    To Planet Earth Chris,

    I have a small reading assignment for you (hopefully your reading level is actually high enough): The section on Measles in Control of Communicable Diseases of Man manual. Page numbers will vary depending on which edition you find. I have the 17th edition so the pages are 333 to 335.

    You may actual learn something of value if read real science.

  33. #41 Denice Walter
    March 2, 2017

    I hope that I am not being too demanding by declaring that we are sorely in need of higher quality trolls at RI:
    we will get rusty without the necessary shoot downs.

  34. #42 Chris
    March 2, 2017

    Yeah, this is one is now just stomping his little feet crying “Humphries! Klenner! Waah!”

  35. […] (and the autism that he believes to be caused by them) to the Holocaust, not just once, but several times. So it was with great interest that I discovered an article in a magazine called Natural Mother […]

  36. […] has since moved on to The Mercury Project and vaccines. His claims about mercury and vaccines are not supported by scientific consensus. He is lately becoming famous for his choice of […]