I’ve been at this blogging thing for well over 12 years now. I know, I know. Sometimes it amazes even me that I been doing this so long. I also know that I’ve been mentioning just how long I’ve been blogging more frequently. Sometimes I worry that the blog will turn into nothing more than posts counting down the days since I started this whole crazy thing. Of course, the main reason I mention this is not so much out of a desire for repetition but as a way of expressing amazement when I find something new and/for bizarre that I don’t recall having heard before.

So it was when I came across an article on a website called Vaxxter, which bills itself as the “ultimate guide to vaccine news and anti-pharma news, and more” entitled DNA vaccines and Transhumanism. It’s written by, hilariously (or it’s written hilariously by) Sherri Tenpenny, who likes to append her DO after her name plus a whole bunch of woo letters, like ABIHM (which stands for the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and indicates that she’s “board-certified” in that specialty) and AOBNMM (which stands for the American Osteopathic Board of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine, which certifies DOs in the remaining part of their specialty—in the US, at least—that is still woo-based, the “manipulative,” chiropractic-like aspect of their specialty). Now, to be clear, this is not the first time I’ve seen vaccines likened to transhumanism. Sayer Ji did that at least five years ago Well, I have, but not quite this explicitly. Sayer Ji did mention the fear of DNA contaminants somehow “converting our living tissue into ‘vaccine-making factories’ through the use of DNA and Recombinant Vector Vaccines,” but he didn’t go as far into the crazy as Tenpenny.

First, she starts out describing what transhumanism is, describing it as a “futuristic concept where man and technology blend, resulting in soulless intelligent machines.” That isn’t quite accurate, of course, and Tenpenny’s judgment is showing in her use of the word “soulless.” She then goes on to describe transhumanists as assuming “that humanity will only be enhanced by machines.” That, of course, is a bit closer to the mark; from my reading it does appear to be true that advocates of transhumanism seem to assume that the coming “singularity” when humans and machines merge will only be for the good, never for the bad.

Before she gets to the real business of fear mongering about vaccines, Tenpenny has to do a bit of fear mongering about a scientific initiative first, the better to set the stage:

In former-president Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address, he announced his plan to invest in brain mapping technologies. In April of that year, a $100+ million initiative was launched called BRAIN, which stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. Multiple public-private partnerships were funded, including the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the Kavli Foundation and Institutes. Our tax dollars also funded this project; the government allocations included:

  • $20 million to the National Science Foundation to study how Big Data could be used to understand the ability of the brain to generate thoughts, emotions, and memories;
  • $40 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop training tools and resources to support the BRAIN initiative; and
  • $50 million was given to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop tools to capture and process dynamic neural and synaptic activities.

Using those funds – and more – DARPA announced in 2016 it would develop the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program. Touted as the next-level brain-computer interface (BCI), the NESD system is designed to turn brain activity into a binary code, allowing humans to engage with machines wirelessly, by simply thinking.

Got that? The BRAIN Initiative is in reality a plan that lays the groundwork for the singularity, whether it was intended that way or not, whether the researchers working on projects funded by the initiative believe that’s the case or not. Tenpenny asserts, menacingly, that while great medical advances could come from such research, such as brain-activated prosthetic limbs, “it takes very little imagination to see how this research could quickly turn dark.” Fortunately, very little imagination is exactly what Tenpenny has. Not that that stops her from going dark.

Of course, with Tenpenny, it is, first and foremost and above all, about the vaccines. Whatever evil there is in the world of health, particularly children’s health, it must have been the vaccines that done it. In this, she is, if nothing else, veyr predictable, and she doesn’t deviate from the script. What bothers her is DNA vaccines. DNA vaccination is a technique in which genetically engineered DNA, usually a sequence coding for an antigen, sometimes with a viral peptide sequence tacked on in order to provoke an immune response, is injected. Cells take up the DNA and, using the DNA as a template, directly produce an antigen, resulting in a protective immunological response. DNA vaccines are currently a major area of research, particularly in cancer.

DNA vaccines came about as the result of observations that the injection of plasmid DNA into muscle could result in the muscle cells taking up the DNA and expressing the protein for which the DNA codes. Indeed, a graduate student in the lab where I did my PhD thesis research worked on studying gene expression due to plasmids injected into embryonic chicken muscle and showed that the regulatory elements that controlled expression of the protein coded for by the DNA controlled that expression in living muscle the same way it did in cultured muscle cells. Our lab wasn’t working on DNA vaccines, but that graduate student’s work included experiments that could be used to guide the development of DNA vaccines.

In any case, the first generation of DNA vaccines produced a lot of excitement. Cell culture studies, animal studies, and clinical trials were done in rapid succession. Unfortunately:

The first of several of phase I trials, conducted almost 2 decades ago, evaluated the efficacy of a DNA vaccine targeting human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) for therapeutic and prophylactic applications [5]. Other studies shortly followed that targeted cancer or other HIV-1 antigens, influenza, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis, and malaria. However, the results of these early clinical trials were disappointing. The DNA vaccines were safe and well tolerated, but they proved to be poorly immunogenic. The induced antibody titers were very low or nonexistent, CD8+ T-cell responses were sporadic, and CD4+ T-cell responses were of low frequency. However, these studies provided proof of concept that DNA vaccines could safely induce immune responses (albeit low-level responses) in humans.

The problem, of course, is that the injection of plasmid DNA into muscle is not a very efficient way of producing expression of an antigen. Delivery was inefficient. Expression in the cells was inefficient. Newer techniques are being developed to address these deficiencies, including new delivery approaches, molecular adjuvants, and better antigen design, but for the most part the promise of DNA vaccines remains unrealized. Of course, that reality doesn’t deter Tenpenny from going full mental jacket on DNA vaccines, portraying them as incipient transhumanism:

This process is not without problems.

  • The DNA snip can be incorporated into the host’s DNA, leading to chromosome instability. The mutagenic affect can turn on oncogenes and turn off tumor suppressor genes, leading to cancer.
  • Genetic expression is the process where genes create proteins. Genetic over-expression is when the process “goes rogue” and produces massive amounts of foreign protein, destroying human tissues via both acute and chronic inflammation.
  • Often the plasmid used is resistant to antibiotics; the same antibiotic resistance can be transferred to the host.
  • The plasmid DNA can appear very similar to the vaccine recipient’s DNA. The anti-DNA antibodies can attack human organs with similar DNA sequences. The result is autoimmunity, clearly identified as the cause of nearly 100 different diseases and suspected to be the cause at least 40 more chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions.

I find it amusing that Tenpenny references a review article that’s 11 years old and a PowerPoint presentation that looks as though it were a lecture done for a class, the date unclear. For instance, there’s no evidence that the first concern really is much of a concern. Antivaxers frequently cite fear of DNA from such vaccines (and even just tiny amounts of DNA contamination in, say, the HPV vaccine), attributing to them almost magical powers to recombine with the host’s DNA and corrupt it…somehow.

The problem for Tenpenny is that there’s no good evidence that this is a major concern. From a more recent review:

The DNA platform is conceptually safer and more stable than are conventional vaccine approaches. Plasmids are nonlive and nonreplicating, which leaves little risk for reversion to a disease-causing state or secondary infection. The original concerns associated with the DNA platform were the potential for genomic integration and development of anti-DNA immune responses. Exhaustive research has found little evidence of integration, and the risk for integration appears to be significantly lower than that associated with naturally occurring mutations [28–30]. Induction of anti-DNA immune responses after DNA vaccination has been monitored in multiple NHP studies and clinical trials, but evidence of increased production of such responses or changes in other clinical markers of autoimmunity have not been reported [31]. Overall, multiple studies have reported the DNA platform to be well tolerated and to have an enviable safety record.

That’s science. Tenpenny is promoting pseudoscience and going full bore conspiracy theory, bordering on Mike Adams territory:

This level of genetic manipulation makes DNA vaccines a dreamy tool of the transhumanists. With a host of companies working on biotic human body parts and DARPA working to build killer robots, designing DNA vaccines to enhance human DNA is only a step away. In fact, Editas Medicine, a US-based company, announced in November 2015 that the trials with the first humans to have their DNA genetically modified were well underway.

If robots could think, feel and have a conscience, would that make them human? Or, would the lack of genetic material always render it as non-human? Using the combination of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and DNA vaccines to insert human genes and human characteristics into machines is no longer just for the movies. At what point are humans no longer humans?

As vaccine recommendations become mandates – and 30 states are now pushing for mandatory vaccines, will you retain your right to refuse?

Notice how she waxes lyrical about “killer robots” and designing DNA vaccines to enhance human DNA. Clearly, she hasn’t been paying much attention. Not only is it very difficult to make DNA vaccines that get into cells and actually express the protein product of their DNA—not to mention to have the cells excrete it rather than simply build it up in the cells—thus far there hasn’t been a method of DNA vaccination that would integrate foreign DNA into human cells at anywhere near the level needed to do anything resembling what Tenpenny described. I must admit that I laughed when she expressed fear about genetic overexpression “going rogue” and producing “massive amounts of foreign protein, destroying human tissues via both acute and chronic inflammation,” given how difficult it has been even to get DNA vaccines to produce enough protein to provoke an adequate immune response to produce actual immunity to what is being vaccinated against.

I’ve said many times that one of the driving forces behind the antivaccine movement is, at its core, the ancient fear of bodily contamination. Vaccines are viewed as something that endangers the body’s “purity of essence,” or the purity of their “precious bodily fluids” (word choice intentional). There’s a frequent theme in the deeper, darker recesses of the antivaccine movement that sometimes even bubbles up to the less darker recesses, that vaccines somehow corrupt our DNA and make us less human. This whole invocation of “transhumanism” is just a more extreme version of that fear.

Comments

  1. #1 Graham
    April 28, 2017

    This sounds like something the Australian Greens came up with in the early days of the Anti-GMO movement, which was the claim that if you ate genetically modified food, it would cause you to become genetically modified. This is what I call comic book science, because that is the only place it would work.

  2. #2 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    April 28, 2017

    As I am not a proponent of dualism, I think that Ms Tenpenny has missed the boat. Humans are soulless intelligent machines. We just run off of chemical reactions and electrical impulses. Our machinery has evolved to its current level of imperfection over ~6 million years of evolution for our ancestors and 200,000 years for us. Science has found innumerable ways to improve our quality and quantity of life.
    The remainder of her screed is pants on head stupid, but at least she got something almost right.

  3. #3 gijoel
    Mobile command bunker
    April 28, 2017

    Ah the rapture of the nerds. When neckbeards around the world will plug into the Matrix. Where leather pants will actually look good on use, not like we lost an argument with an inner tube.

    Unfortunately a lot of it is a pipe dream, that we map our fears and desires on to. Much as Tenpenny has.

  4. #4 Mentifex (Arthur T. Murray)
    Seattle WA USA
    April 28, 2017

    The above blog-post by Orac is grist for all my mills. Orac says “I’ve been at this blogging thing for well over 12 years now.” So, you just arrived on-scene, huh? Something of a parvenu, aren’t you? Welcome to the scene, Monsieur L’Arriviste. Then Orac says that Tenpenny (is that a cousin of Ms. Moneypenny, Mr. Bond?) “likes to append her DO after her name plus a whole bunch of woo letters”. OK, I give up — what are “woo” letters? And what does “woo-based” mean? Then we get into laying “the groundwork for the singularity.” You rang? http://ai.neocities.org/maintainer.html — “AI Mind Maintainer” — is Singularity Ground Zero. Oh, am I “going full mental jacket” now, like Orac attributes to Ms. Tenpenny? When she is “going full bore conspiracy theory, bordering on Mike Adams territory” — that’s a cartoonist, right? One final warning — if Orac keeps making fun about concern for our “precious bodily fluids”, then Orac will have to answer to the Coca-Cola Corporation.

  5. #5 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    April 28, 2017

    Dear Mr Murray,

    Yes. You’re going full mental jacket. Please wipe your dribble up on the way out and go and see your local medical professional. You clearly need help.

    Kind regards,

    Becky.

  6. #6 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    April 28, 2017

    Dear all,

    Please see the Arthur T. Murray FAQ…

    http://www.nothingisreal.com/mentifex_faq.html

  7. #7 Chris Hickie
    April 28, 2017

    Tenpenny is so far behind the flat earth curve. Any real ‘spiracy theorist is citing CRISPR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SeDBLw64gg

  8. #8 Orac
    April 28, 2017

    Excellent point. Combine CRISPR with DNA vaccines, and the potential to reprogram humanity to serve our lizard overlords unquestioningly will be unstoppable! 🙂

  9. #9 Dangerous Bacon
    April 28, 2017

    Tenpenny is missing the boat. The prospect of killer humechanistic robots is one thing, but where are the warnings of the real threat from DNA vaccines?

    Autistic Killer Robots! Aieeee!

  10. #10 Orac
    April 28, 2017

    Please see the Arthur T. Murray FAQ…,

    I suppose I should be “honored” to have such an esteemed crank show up in the comments of my blog. He must have Google searches for anything having to do with AI or transhumanism. 🙂

  11. #11 Panacea
    April 28, 2017

    Don’t feed this particular troll. He’s worse than Travis.

  12. #12 Zach
    April 28, 2017

    Tenpenny’s argument only makes sense if you don’t think being a cyborg is awesome. Seriously I want superpowers!

  13. #13 LouV
    France
    April 28, 2017

    Using the combination of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and DNA vaccines to insert human genes and human characteristics into machines

    I think I just had a Blue Screen of Death reading this.
    There are research on DNA vaccines in humans to immunize against diseases
    … therefore they will for sure be used in machines to insert human characteristics in them ?

    Just…

    WAT

  14. #14 LouV
    France
    April 28, 2017

    With a host of companies working on biotic human body parts and DARPA working to build killer robots, designing DNA vaccines to enhance human DNA is only a step away. In fact, Editas Medicine, a US-based company, announced in November 2015 that the trials with the first humans to have their DNA genetically modified were well underway.

    Of course, she conveniently omits the fact that this society isn’t working on “enhancing” humans, but on curing severe diseases, like blindness. How dastardly of them.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/first-genetically-modified-humans-could-exist-within-two-years/
    http://www.editasmedicine.com/pipeline
    While I agree that any technology that could serve transhumanist purposes should be examined very closely and critically, Tenpenny is clearly not a credible critic…

  15. #15 Panacea
    April 28, 2017

    She’s watched too many Borg episodes on STNG, Lou.

  16. #16 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    April 28, 2017

    @14 LouV,
    But that contravenes someone or others master plan. It’s good to have people born that have life limiting conditions, or terminal diseases that could be avoided by genetic manipulation. They get rewarded after they die or in the next life or something. These are the same yahoos that piss and moan about stem cell research being the EVIL. The line of good manipulation and bad manipulation is as fuzzy as the line between homo sapiens and homo erectus. They are distinct species, but on the path from one to the other, there is no clear delineation. If I was planning to have a child, I would happily subject the eggs, sperm and resulting fetus to genetic manipulation to ensure that my family’s defects die with my generation, or at least are greatly minimized.

  17. #17 Eric Lund
    April 28, 2017

    Seriously I want superpowers!

    I have done some thinking about this, as it happens, and concluded that while having a superpower would be awesome in some ways, there would be a strong temptation to abuse it. For instance, being able to put conference speakers who overrun their allotted time in a Darth Vader-style Force chokehold would be useful, but there would be the temptation to use it in other, more inappropriate situations (“I find your lack of faith disturbing, Dr. Fulano”). Not to mention that other people with superpowers might be tempted to use them against me, whether or not I “deserve” it.

  18. #18 Politicalguineapig
    April 28, 2017

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Orac been on the ‘net since there was a net?
    Also, lol, who uses Geocities anymore?

  19. #19 Chris Hickie
    April 28, 2017

    @ Eric Lund #17: Doc Vader has tried using his super powers on hospital admins–apparently they are immune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHfan71zHKk

  20. #20 Christine Rose
    April 28, 2017

    Okay, I have a question about this which is only about 49% joke.

    I orally ingested a fair amount of DNA a few minutes ago. Does this put me in danger? I mean, if the vaccines put me in danger, wouldn’t the rye bread be just as scary?

  21. #21 Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    April 28, 2017

    If she believes DNA in vaccines can affect human DNA, what about the DNA and RNA from the natural microbes? Of course, the answer is neither; but if any could, it would most certainly be the full-blown wild type microbes rather than the severely attenuated or killed ones in vaccines.

  22. #22 Edward
    United States
    April 28, 2017

    “…one of the driving forces behind the antivaccine movement is, at its core, the ancient fear of bodily contamination.” Yep. Right from the beginning when people objected to Jenner’s vaccines. Far better to die of smallpox than contaminate God’s sacred vessels.

  23. #23 Dorit Reiss
    April 28, 2017

    Is vaccines turning us into robots better or worse than them turning us into cows, on the horror film scale?

  24. #24 sadmar
    joking, maybe... ?
    April 28, 2017

    Public health advocates should thank Ms. Tenpenny, because with vaccines now linked to trans-humanism, the MMR uptake rate at the Silicon Valley Waldorf School will soon be up to over 95%.

  25. #25 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 28, 2017

    Dangerous Bacon (#9) writes,

    Autistic Killer Robots!

    MJD says,

    Autistic Savant-Angel Robots!

    Do no harm MUST always be the prime directive for the trans-humanism collective.

    Thereafter, the Science Blog Respectful-Insolence will be obsolete and Orac will be a wax sculpture in Ripley’s believe-it-or-not museum.

  26. #26 Sebastian
    On a bus
    April 28, 2017

    “Often the plasmid used is resistant to antibiotics; the same antibiotic resistance can be transferred to the host.”

    She does realise humans are supposed to be ‘resistant’ to antibiotics right? ….right?!

    • #27 Edward
      United States
      April 28, 2017

      No.

  27. #28 Rich Woods
    Under the lidar
    April 28, 2017

    @Zach #12:

    Tenpenny’s argument only makes sense if you don’t think being a cyborg is awesome. Seriously I want superpowers!

    Unfortunately, one of the inevitable side-effects is having your genitals replaced with a silvery groin plate.

  28. #29 Roger Kulp
    April 28, 2017

    Tenpenny forgot the brain eating nanobots.

  29. #30 doug
    April 28, 2017

    … humans are supposed to be ‘resistant’ to antibiotics right?

    No, no, no. Making humans antibiotic-susceptible is part of the new world order depopulation strategy – make us all susceptible, then, under guise of developing new agents for treating disease develop extra-strength Depopamen and spread it in chem trails.

  30. #31 Denice Walter
    April 28, 2017

    In other anti-vax ( non) news…

    AoA today reveals Orac’s interaction with Shatner.

    Oh my, that Kim is quick!

  31. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    April 28, 2017

    Nimrod News was late off the mark on that breaking story as well.

  32. #33 Eric Lund
    April 28, 2017

    Also of interest to RI readers: I haven’t seen a confirming link for this yet, but I am hearing that Alex Jones of Infowars has lost custody of his children. Cue the World’s Tiniest Violin. Jones’ lawyers had claimed that what he was doing was performance art. I don’t think they were entirely wrong, but Jones is a seriously messed-up dude.

  33. #34 TBruce
    April 28, 2017

    @Eric Lund:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/27/infowars-alex-jones-loses-custody-case-ex-wife-wins-right-to-decide-where-children-live
    Here is your confirming link. Interestingly, here is what Jones’ ex testified on Tuesday:

    Alex “doesn’t believe in traditional medicine” and refuses to vaccinate his children

    Probably didn’t help his case.

  34. #35 JustaTech
    April 28, 2017

    LouV @14: Long ago I worked at a place that was manufacturing adenovirus for a gene therapy for some kind of terrible degenerative eye disease. I don’t remember the name of the disease, but I do remember that the clinical trials were very promising. I wonder if it’s related to Editas?
    Good on them!

  35. #36 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    April 28, 2017

    Regarding Alex Jones’ case, the judge had also ruled clips from his show as inadmissable. But the jury still agreed with his wife that he’s a nut. Judge had to keep telling him off for shaking his head angrily at inconvenient testimony, and when pressed on the stand to name one good thing about his ex-wife, he refused, saying he didn’t want to perjure himself becuase there is nothing good about her. Also, although clips from his show weren’t allowed, his brag about sleeping with 150 women by age 16 (which ran just recently on his show) was admitted. Given that his son is 14, yeah, I can see why she’s worried about this man being the kid’s primary male role model.

    Also, because of having just read about the case, I read the title of this post in Alex Jones’ voice…..

  36. #37 herr doktor bimler
    April 28, 2017

    I mean, if the vaccines put me in danger, wouldn’t the rye bread be just as scary?

    You are what you eat. Which is why I am really a 60-kg semi-sentient black pudding.

  37. #38 sirhcton
    Where's that damn singularity?
    April 28, 2017

    I, for one, eagerly await the arrival of our DNA-enhanced killer robot overlords. Hold it. Wait one minute. Wouldn’t they then be human-contaminated killer robots? And about that “singularity;” I thought it was when our computers achieved sentience, and being so much better and faster thinkers than us, just sent themselves off to another part of the multiverse. I am so confused.

  38. #39 Old Rockin' Dave
    AKA Seven Come Eleven of Borg
    April 28, 2017

    I can hear it now, the metallic high-pitched screech:
    “Ex. Term. Inate. Exterminate! You are the Doc-tor. You must be exterminated.”
    Orac, don’t share research with any Doctor named Davros.

  39. #40 Gilbert
    remote sensing the depths and breadth of the coming singularity with its attendant machine elves.
    April 28, 2017

    Y’all are just ignorant. So is Tenpenny.

    There’s a whole bunch of entities waiting on the other side, saying “How wonderful that you’re here! You come so rarely! We’re so delighted to see you!” They’re like jewelled self-dribbling basketballs and there are many of them and they come pounding toward you and they will stop in front of you and vibrate, but then they do a very disconcerting thing, which is they jump into your body and then they jump back out again and the whole thing is going on in a high-speed mode where you’re being presented with thousands of details per second and you can’t get ahold on [them …] and these things are saying “Don’t give in to astonishment”, which is exactly what you want to do. You want to go nuts with how crazy this is, and they say “Don’t do that. Pay attention to what we’re doing”. What they’re doing is making objects with their voices, singing structures into existence. They offer things to you, saying “Look at this! Look at this!” and as your attention goes towards these objects you realise that what you’re being shown is impossible. It’s not simply intricate, beautiful and hard to manufacture, it’s impossible to make these things. The nearest analogy would be the Fabergé eggs, but these things are like the toys that are scattered around the nursery inside a U.F.O., celestial toys, and the toys themselves appear to be somehow alive and can sing other objects into existence, so what’s happening is this proliferation of elf gifts, which are moving around singing, and they are saying “Do what we are doing” and they are very insistent, and they say “Do it! Do it! Do it!” and you feel like a bubble inside your body beginning to move up toward your mouth, and when it comes out it isn’t sound, it’s vision. You discover that you can pump “stuff” out of your mouth by singing, and they’re urging you to do this. They say “That’s it!

    — Terence McKenna

  40. #41 Eric Lund
    April 28, 2017

    his brag about sleeping with 150 women by age 16

    Which is almost certainly a brag, unless one of his parents was actually an accomplice. Assuming this was over a three year period (which would have been starting at or shortly after puberty), that’s an average of one a week. Parents of that era may have been permissive, but (IIRC Jones is within a few years of my age) they usually weren’t that permissive.

    Then again, given how Jones turned out as an adult, he may well have had parents who were either incompetent or outright enabling him.

  41. #42 Jane Ostentatious
    Canada
    April 28, 2017

    I firmly believe he did sleep with 150 women by the time he was 16. They were between the pages of his dad’s old porno mags Jones hid underneath his bed.

  42. #43 Diana MacPherson
    April 28, 2017

    I think Tenpenny just may be Sarah Connor.

  43. #44 Alison
    Hiding under the bed for the next 3 yr 265 days
    April 29, 2017

    Exposing kids to hate-filled rhetoric really should be considered a form of child abuse, although such a provison would be impossible to enforce, of course, since one parent’s hateful rhetoric is another parent’s brave truth…. Imagine how stressful it must be for a child to grow up seeing the world as such a scary, dangerous, conspiracy-filled place, where traditional authorities and institutions are out to get you!

    As a parent, I find it hard to balance teaching my kids how dangerous certain ways of looking at life can be with the necessity of teaching them to show respect and consideration for people who hold those dangerous viewpoints. Regardless of whether their teacher is an anti-vaccine crackpot, my kids still have to show her respect and obey her in class. However, it is hard to explain to a six-year-old that Mr or Mrs Teacher is to be believed about math and spelling but not about his or her crazy nutrition or social beliefs.
    I realized with dismay that our area is not as progressive as we hoped, when my daughter came home last week from school upset, because some of the other kids on the bus were teasing the substitute bus driver for having an accent, saying he should go back to Africa where he belongs (even though, as best I can tell, he is actually from Southeast Asia originally).
    I also realized I may be setting my kids up for getting the snot beat out of them when my kindergarten-age son went to the anti-bullying assembly earlier this year. When the principal asked for examples of bullying from the kids, Stinker apparently piped up with “Trump is a big bully”. I got a call from the principal that very afternoon, after which Stinker and I had a loooong discussion about appropriate times to share political opinions. Apparently his comment was not appreciated by some of the other kids… Who knew kindergarteners were politically aware? At that age, the biggest issues in my school were who peed in the sandbox during recess or who still sucked her thumb during naptime! With the current climate, though, even young kids seem to be aware of politics in a way I never was at that age.

    We actually signed up for Tae Kwon Do lessons this year as a family, not so the kids could get in playground fights, but to give them confidence they could defend themselves if necessary!

  44. #45 Jane Ostentatious
    April 29, 2017

    Allison, you sound like a wonderful mother. This too, shall pass.
    Don’t hide under the bed – the world needs you and your moral and ethical kids.

  45. #46 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 29, 2017

    his brag about sleeping with 150 women by age 16

    Which is almost certainly a brag, unless one of his parents was actually an accomplice.

    Yep. The ones who brag the most about all the pussy they’re getting are the ones getting little or none.

  46. #47 Can't remember my 'nym
    Or where I am.
    April 29, 2017

    My overwhelming response to this was – why can’t I make a living just ranting about whatever nonsense I choose to make up?! Beats working for a living.

    Of course, my conscience and sense of ethical duty to my fellow humans make me a less than ideal candidate for that role.

  47. #48 Panacea
    April 29, 2017

    Allison: Sounds to me like Stinker will be OK. You guys should enjoy TKD. I’ve been doing it for years and I love it. We have quite a few families who take classes together; it can be a bonding experience for the whole family. Bully for you!

    CRMN: Yes, if the woosters, cranks, and quacks had any moral or ethical sensibilities we would not have as many discussions about woo as we do, and Orac would be spending all his time on his cancer patients and research.

  48. #49 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake (the bottom end that is)
    April 29, 2017

    # 44 Allison

    We actually signed up for Tae Kwon Do lessons this year as a family, not so the kids could get in playground fights, but to give them confidence they could defend themselves if necessary!

    Bravo!

  49. #50 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 29, 2017

    We actually signed up for Tae Kwon Do lessons this year as a family

    Why that instead of Ti Kwan Leep or Ecky-Thump?

  50. #51 Mrs Grimble
    April 29, 2017

    I’ve said many times that one of the driving forces behind the antivaccine movement is, at its core, the ancient fear of bodily contamination.

    That’s also behind the unwarranted fears over GMOs; that the “alien DNA” in GM foods will infect our bodies and do bad stuff.
    It explains the market for non-GMO salt, for example. The ‘non-GMO’ bit relates to the minute amount of cornstarch stabiliser added to the salt; it doesn’t matter to the buyers that processed cornstarch (whatever its origins) has no DNA material, the important thing is that no part of the product has had any prior contact with GM.

  51. #52 Rich Woods
    April 29, 2017

    @Mephistopheles O’Brien #50:

    Why that instead of Ti Kwan Leep or Ecky-Thump?

    Because Herr Doktor Bimler (#37) ate all the black pudding.

  52. #53 Gilbert
    April 29, 2017

    Allison, you sound like a wonderful mother. This too, shall pass.

    Umm… perhaps:

    the physics by which feces are discharged remain poorly understood. In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the defecation of mammals from cats to elephants using the dimensions of large intestines and feces, videography at Zoo Atlanta, cone-on-plate rheological measurements of feces and mucus, and a mathematical model of defecation.

    http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2017/SM/C6SM02795D

    Your 12 ± 7 seconds of fame.

  53. #54 aairfccha
    April 29, 2017

    If only DNA modification were so easy…

    http://freefall.purrsia.com

  54. #55 aairfccha
    April 29, 2017

    @28: Schlock Mercenary?

  55. #56 Gilbert
    April 29, 2017

    @Roger Kulp

    Tenpenny forgot the brain eating nanobots.

    It is a shame that the powers that be will use it in this manner when the ‘phages’ could be a force for good.

    a treatment that uses bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/phage-therapy-1.4090666

  56. #57 keokil
    April 29, 2017

    Vaccines are viewed as something that endangers the body’s “purity of essence,” or the purity of their “precious bodily fluids”

    …which is why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol.

  57. #58 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 29, 2017

    This is a anti-vax post by our host, so this isn’t entirely off topic, but check out Jake’s latest.

    I think mommy and daddy need to buy him something other than another degree. The kid is becoming obsessed.

  58. #59 Alison
    Still under the bed
    April 29, 2017

    Thanks for the encouragement! I never thought Trump would actually get elected, so I probably went way overboard on criticizing his policies and personal conduct in front of the kids. Now the dilemma is I have always told the kids they should show respect for the office, even if we disapprove of the current officeholder. But I just can’t bring myself to be anything other than vastly disrespectful of him, so the kids have noticed I am a giant flaming hypocrite!

  59. #60 Alison
    Still hiding
    April 29, 2017

    @50 Mesptophiles – Sorry, I guess I am being a bit dense and don’t get it 🙁 . We did pick the particular school because the instructor was willing to work around my health issues so I could participate as much as possible.

  60. #61 squirrelelite
    April 29, 2017

    Alison,

    It helps if you are a Dr Demento fan.

    Check out this video for the reference.

    https://youtu.be/Z8VD4JXUozM

  61. #62 Lawrence
    April 29, 2017

    Johnny, young Mr. Crosby is just upset he can’t get date.

    Of course, any prospects would just google him. That should be enough to guarantee life-long celibacy.

  62. #63 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 29, 2017

    Sure, I agree with you. It just seems to me that he’s becoming more unhinged lately.

    Maybe it’s just my aged sensibilities. I was in the military back in the day, and locker room talk doesn’t offend me. But to come right out and declare to the world you are looking for a zipless ‘encounter’ right out loud, effectively in front of you own mother, never mind the entire female population and future employers, suggest a level of cluelessness I don’t remember from his earlier brain droppings.

  63. #64 Alison
    Still under the bed
    April 30, 2017

    Allison, you sound like a wonderful mother. This too, shall pass.

    Umm… perhaps:

    @53 Gilbert
    I think my kids would certainly agree with you and even go so far as to at that I am most certainly a horribly mean mother!

    @60 squirrel
    Ah, that makes more sense now, thanks! You may have to revoke my nerd credentials for not getting it, though. (I won the Biggest Nerd contest with my husband, a longtime D&D dungeonmaster as a kid, by having my mother confirm to him that my My Little Ponies had a constitutional monarchy, tricameral legislature, and base 11 number system…)

  64. #65 Narad
    April 30, 2017

    check out Jake’s latest

    The preceding one, in which he demands a retraction yet again, is even more distressing to me, in that JAMA Pediatrics appears to have nonchalantly published a letter containing the, ah, phrase “vaccination flogosis.” (There’s a glaring typo in fn. 2 as well; I may have to get somebody on the blower.)

  65. #66 Narad
    April 30, 2017

    ^ Oh, and Hooker’s UPS-store mailbox number is “Suite 404.” Nice touch.

  66. #67 squirrelelite
    Quarter horse central
    April 30, 2017

    Good for you, Alison.

    My kids were more into Dragon Ball Z than the ponies.

    So I wasn’t aware of those details.
    Base 11 math must get interesting!

  67. #68 Narad
    April 30, 2017

    ^^ And Hooker’s pretty much just plagiarizing Janet Kern’s comment at Pubmed Commons. Moreover, Jakeroo fails to note Zerbo et al.’s response in the same issue (“a less-conservative adjustment for multiple testing, accounting for the dependence of the entire pregnancy, would still yield a P value of .07 or higher”).

  68. #69 Narad
    April 30, 2017

    ^^^ “dependence of the entire pregnancy on the trimesters”

  69. #70 brian
    April 30, 2017

    In line with BS Hooker’s attempted criticism of the Zerbo paper, Jacob L. Crosby, MPH, now seems to blame the increasing prevalence of ASD in this country on vaccination of pregnant women with thimerosal-containing influenza vaccines; apparently in Crosby’s Labyrinth the thimerosal in multi-dose influenza vaccine vials accounts for the obvious failure of anti-vaxxers’ prediction that the prevalence of ASD would plummet when thimerosal-containing vaccines were removed from the pediatric vaccine schedule.

    Moreover, to support his position, Crosby suggests that the prevalence of ASD decreased dramatically in Denmark following removal of thimerosal-containing vaccines from the pediatric schedule there [1], but in fact the prevalence of ASD in that country (1 in 67 in 2011) is comparable to the condition’s prevalence here, although in Denmark influenza vaccination is not recommended for children, pregnant women, or indeed anyone under the age of 65 years.

    On a more positive note, it’s nice to see that Jake acknowledges that ASD begins to develop early in gestation, months or years before the administration of the postnatal vaccines that he and his fellow travelers have long blamed for ASD. That’s progress.

    1. BTW, it’s quite funny that the authors of the paper that Crosby cites in his blog post concluded: “Our results demonstrate no time trend in the ASDs recurrence risk as seen in the ASDs prevalence.” Yes, as in ‘there is no autism epidemic.’

  70. #71 Panacea
    April 30, 2017

    brian: I got news for Jake. OBGYN practices don’t carry the multidose influenza vials. They carry single dose. Which doesn’t contain thimerosol.

    Johnny and Narad: you’ve piqued my curiosity about “Jake’s latest.” Do you have a link? I’d love to see just how bad it is.

  71. #72 Narad
    April 30, 2017

    Johnny and Narad: you’ve piqued my curiosity about “Jake’s latest.” Do you have a link?

    He’s autisminvestigated.com.

  72. #73 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 30, 2017

    I’d post a link, but there is profanity in the link, and that would unnecessarily add to our host’s workload. It’s the 29 April post at http://www.autisminvestigated.com/ Given the profanity, it’s probably not safe for work.

    And maybe it is just me. I’m reasonably sure Jake’s mom reads his blog (no doubt she pays his hosting fees), and I just can’t imagine putting something like that, under my name, out where my mom would see it.

    Of course, I can’t imagine “thinking” like Jake does, so that’s probably part of it, too.

  73. #74 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 30, 2017

    And friend Narad sneaks in while I’m typing.

  74. #75 Panacea
    April 30, 2017

    Wow. Thanks for the link guys. Just read it. Wow. The cray cray . . . it made my sides split from laughter.

    Jake, got news for you. You can’t get a girl to sleep with you not because you’re a virile stud of a man (because your post makes it clear you are not), but because you’re a misogynistic a$$#0!e.

    I concur with brian and Narad’s analysis. I can only concluse that JAMA Pediatrics publishes Hooker’s LTE’s to make an otherwise dry journal entertaining reading.

  75. #76 Panacea
    April 30, 2017

    conclude. Ack! Darn typos.

  76. #77 Eric Lund
    April 30, 2017

    When the principal asked for examples of bullying from the kids, Stinker apparently piped up with “Trump is a big bully”.

    Your son is quite observant, Alison. Trump is a bully. Not so much physically as financially: he has a reputation for not paying his contractors, and daring them to take him to court. When they do, he tries to drag out the process as long as he can, hoping that the contractor will run out of lawyer money before the case gets to court. Even if the contractor wins a judgment in court, Trump will often find an excuse to appeal the judgment, again hoping the contractor will run out of lawyer money.

    I don’t envy anyone who is the parent of a small child in these times. Trump is the antithesis of everything we were taught in school about honesty and fair play. And kids, being keen observers, will see that those lessons don’t apply in the real world.

  77. #78 brian
    April 30, 2017

    Jacob L. Crosby’s apparent inability to grasp anything out of the reach of his right hand seems to have blinded him:

    Zerbo et al. state that even with less conservative corrections for multiple tests the relationship of first trimester vaccination with autism is still not significant; however, even if their result was actually true–that influenza vaccinations in the first trimester increase the risk of ASD–it would still be true that such vaccinations would save the lives of more children than would be tipped over into ASD by vaccination.

    https://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0737

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914461

  78. #79 Panacea
    April 30, 2017

    Good point brian. It’s easy to over look the risks vs benefits equation.

    Not that there’s much risk here, and the risks of influenza in pregnant women are very well known.

  79. #80 Alain
    April 30, 2017

    Apparently, there is no longer any individuals named Jacob Crosby in the department of epidemiology or any other departments at University of Texas as shown by the directory search:

    https://directory.utexas.edu/index.php?q=Jacob+Crosby&scope=all&submit=Search

    Alain

  80. #81 Chris Preston
    Australia
    April 30, 2017

    Apparently, there is no longer any individuals named Jacob Crosby in the department of epidemiology or any other departments at University of Texas as shown by the directory search

    Apparently Jake Finished up in 2015 or at least Melissa Harrell ceased being his advisor.

  81. #82 Alison
    Fighting a losing battle against the dust bunnies
    April 30, 2017

    Gah, Crosby might want to consider that making ridiculous statements like “men vastly outnumber women in above-average intelligence” may have a lot more to do with his romantic difficulties than autism does. Furthermore, anyone who cites Brietbart and Milo Y as a source for any research just put himself in the “not even to save humanity” category for a lot of people…

  82. #83 Alison
    The dust bunnies have overrun my position
    April 30, 2017

    @77 Eric Lund,
    Indeed, I see so many bully traits in him, for example how he says ghastly, rude lies about everyone else but then cries foul when anyone says anything even the slightest bit negative (no matter how true!) about him. How many times have he and his staff whined about the “unprecedented” nastiness of someone pointing out his lies or even reminding him of something he himself said earlier?

    Like a playground bully, he can dish it out but can’t take it!

  83. #84 Narad
    May 1, 2017

    Apparently Jake Finished up in 2015 or at least Melissa Harrell ceased being his advisor.

    I take it that “finished up” here is some sort of regionalism for what people call “washed out” in my neck of the woods.

  84. #85 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 1, 2017

    I take it that “finished up” here is some sort of regionalism for what people call “washed out” in my neck of the woods.

    Considering his parents are rich, I’m assuming it means “failed upwards”.

  85. #86 Narad
    May 1, 2017

    OK, the only other one-year entry is Yasas Tang[u]turi. It is not unreasonable to infer that he decided to get an M.D. instead for whatever reason.

    Of the three-year students, Nicole Nicksic appears to be a postdoc, and José Medina also got his DrPH.

    Then again, it might have been simpler to merely note the L—In entry that pops right up.

  86. #87 herr doktor bimler
    May 1, 2017

    I concur with brian and Narad’s analysis. I can only concluse that JAMA Pediatrics publishes Hooker’s LTE’s to make an otherwise dry journal entertaining reading.

    1. Brian Feckin Hooker is lecturing Lisa Croen on epidemiological statistics. This was enough to make even my Siamese cat face-palm.

    2. Hooker argues that Zerbo et al. should have predicted in advance that a maternal flu vaccination in the first trimester would have more effect, so they should have focussed on comparing that particular subgroup to the control group, rather than bringing in second- and third-trimester vaccinations, as if (he implies) to conceal their findings. This backseat-driving is rather rich, coming from a dude who has built his entire career on the claim that the causes of autism are all post-natal.

    3. The Italian anti-vaxxers (with the “vaccination flogosis”) put forward the same argument. Purely coincidental.

    4. If “maternal inflammatory response to an immune challenge during first trimester of pregnancy” were a cause of autism, there would be a strong season-of-conception variation in autism incidence from the late-winter lurgis. There is a variation, but it’s small. Best not to catch flu.

  87. #88 Robert Blew
    United States
    May 1, 2017

    Saw that at least one commenter made the connection to the early GMO arguement that it would change our genes. One can actually go back to the even earlier anti-vax belief that vaccination by cowpox turned people into cows [Cartoon] {https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/94/d4/05/94d40529ebbe621195e5b95ef6ccfbb9.jpg]. This is an update of that belief. As pointed out before that there have been no new anti-vax arguements since its beginning.

  88. #89 DLC
    Somehwere near Burbleson AFB
    May 6, 2017

    So, vaccines with DNA in them will bring about either the Daleks, Terminators or Robocop ?
    Daleks would be a bit of a pain until The Doctor got here to shoo them away. Terminators would be a bother but they might learn to get along with us. But Robocop . . . I could live with that, just so long as he didn’t get it in his head to shoot me for a parking violation.

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