Pharyngula

I know how much Orac dislikes the Huffington Post — I despise it myself as the doman of airheaded woo of the type represented by Deepak Chopra, and the only time I glance at it is to remind myself that the left can also sink into sloppy stupidity as deeply as the right. But poor Orac — his head might just explode into flames when he reads this simperingly stupid piece on vaccines from Jim Carrey.

The Huffpo is a little island of pampered fluff, where celebrities are asked to ‘blog’ (it really isn’t, though—they tend to drop these little turds of pseudo-wisdom, and then never hang around to interact with their readers) simply because they are celebrities, and we are expected to pay attention despite their lack of substantive authority. It’s the People magazine of the lefty blogosphere, and I’m really ashamed to see that as one of the showpieces of my political affiliation.

Comments

  1. #1 Newfie
    April 22, 2009

    PBS has some crap shows too. HuffPost has some good political columnists. I don’t read the celebrity garbage there. It’s like everything these days, you have to pick through the crap to find the good stuff sometimes.

  2. #2 the commenter formerly known as OM
    April 22, 2009

    but…
    but…

    Harry Shearer!

    and even better, Bill Maher

    Paul Krassner!!

  3. #3 Inky
    April 22, 2009

    Maybe it’s the low expectations I now have after years of Bush and IDiots, but I actually thought that Carrey’s piece wasn’t too bad, especially if you consider that he probably has little scientific training.

    If you don’t know what a legitimate scientific peer-reviewed study is, then the parameters outlining your standards for literature searches can be extremely loose.

    I’m not saying that celebrities should be hired as scientific consultants simply because their recognizable faces happen to voice an opinion, but I wouldn’t ditch Carrey solely on the basis of this essay.

    I’m also too lazy (and have better things to do) to go searching for other essays by Mr. Carrey. He could very well be a raving idiot. But, unlike the last president, Carrey’s opinions do not influence policy.

  4. #4 JD Stanford
    April 22, 2009

    Jim Carrey not only has little scientific training, but if memory serves, he’s a high school dropout.

  5. #5 tripwire
    April 22, 2009

    Jim Carrey should go back to making funny faces, and Jenny McCarthy should go back to whethever it was she was doing before.
    How can they claim authority on the subject matter? And worse, how come people grant them the authority?

    In the Netherlands, where I live, almost everyone is vaccinated. However, from time to time here are some small outbreaks of measles. These are due to Christian parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids (‘if God wants to kill our children, by all means let Him do it’), but these outbreaks are mostly contained in the Bible belt.

    If these celebrity boneheads succeed, they might have more blood on their hands than they’d like.

  6. #6 Inky
    April 22, 2009

    There’s a Bible Belt in the Netherlands??????

  7. #7 Cliff Hendroval
    April 22, 2009

    When you come right down to it, Arianna Huffington is one of those deeply silly rich women you used to see parodied in movies from the ’30s and ’40s. They were always blubbering about “the wisdom of the East” and getting their money swindled by phony fakirs and snake-oil salesmen.

  8. #8 Captain Mike
    April 22, 2009

    “These are due to Christian parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids (‘if God wants to kill our children, by all means let Him do it’)” – tripwire

    I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around this sort of thinking.

    Some Weird Fundie: We refuse to vaccinate our children as it could interfere with God’s ineffable plan.

    Me: Back up. You think the creator of the entire universe can be stopped with a flu shot? That wouldn’t stop the bad guy from 12 Monkeys, dammit!

  9. #9 Newfie
    April 22, 2009

    I was a high school drop out.

  10. #10 Todd Ferguson
    April 22, 2009

    I saw this earlier and spent a good hour replying to some of the more inane/insane comments.

  11. #11 Wes
    April 22, 2009

    Jim Carrey sputtered:

    If we are to believe that the ruling of the ‘vaccine court’ in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.

    Except that the Polling case did not find that vaccines cause autism…

  12. #12 RamblinDude
    April 22, 2009

    I was talking to someone recently who believes vaccines cause autism, and when I said, “Now we’re going to get children dying from preventable diseases because people are avoiding the vaccines,” she told me flat out “Well, then they should die.”

    Religion fucks people up.

  13. #13 Inky
    April 22, 2009

    Re: Newfie

    That may be, but were you paid to look stupid/silly for a living?

  14. #14 Qwerty
    April 22, 2009

    I am old enought to remember people cheering for the polio vaccine when it arrived.

    Anyhow, on a local note, I saw a Somali woman on local TPT channel 2 in Minneapolis on the Almanac show a few weeks ago. She was the head of a Minnesota Somali Autism group. Eric Escala asked her if she had any concerns about vaccination as being the cause of autism. No, she said she’d leave it to the experts of medical science to determine the cause. I am sure PZ would have approved of her answer.

  15. #15 amhovgaard
    April 22, 2009

    #11: exactly. The girl doesn’t have autism, AND the vaccine court’s ruling just means they didn’t consider it entirely inconceivable that the vaccine might have had something to do with her worsened condition.

  16. #16 Newfie
    April 22, 2009

    That may be, but were you paid to look stupid/silly for a living?

    Yes. I quit HS to play in a rock band, I make the weird funny guitar faces when I solo.
    That lasted for a few years, went to trade school, got my plumbing papers, worked at that and other contracting work for a few years, been in advertising sales for the last 13 years now. I may do something different in a few years, as I’ve acquired some computer knowledge. I pity the dentist, who does nothing but study to become a dentist, then become a dentist, and poke around in people’s mouths til retirement… I’d sooner shoot myself in the head. Dentists have/did have, the highest rate of suicide of any profession the last I checked.

  17. #17 Liveliest Crib
    April 22, 2009

    [T]he only time I glance at [the Huffington Post] is to remind myself that the left can also sink into sloppy stupidity as deeply as the right.

    Oh, indeed. The left’s embrace of all things alternative leads all too often to irrationality. As a long-time political activist and professional political operative on the left side side of the spectrum, it has frustrated me too.

    For anyone who might find the idea interesting, I thought I’d toss this out:

    I would love to build a political party that is at once civil libertarian, socially progressive, fiscally responsible, and dedicated to the text of the U.S. Constitution, comprehensive electoral reform, and science. I call it the Libeqrats’ Party — Libeqrat (pronounced LIB-uh-crat) being a hybrid of LIBerty, EQuality and RATionality. :)

    Feel free to find me at http://libeqrats.blogspot.com or shoot me an e-mail at liveliest DOT crib AT gmail DOT com, if interested.

    Thanks for indulging me. I hope I haven’t used the site improperly.

  18. #18 wagonjak
    April 22, 2009

    This is sooooo true!. HuffPo was the first site that gave me links to all the things that were happening. I always went first there to mommy before I went to visit my other friends…KOS, SadlyNo!, digby and others later….

    Little by little HuffPo went over to the dark side…it became the National Enquirer of the left…gossip links, entertainment links, and Nancy Grace crime stuff crowded out a lot of the political.

    And half the comments I left there were deleted as being too critical of the blogger or of another commentator…I think Arriana is worried more about her public image on Chris Matthews then how her site squashes dissent or complaints.

    Anyway, keep up the good work PZ…

  19. #19 Fred the Hun
    April 22, 2009

    http://immunize.org/catg.d/p4026.pdf

    In 2008, the number of articles published in peer-reviewed
    medical journals that refute a connection between MMR
    vaccine and autism totals more than 20; whereas the number
    of articles that suggest a connection between the vaccine
    and autism stands at 3.

    Any chance we could ask some of those researchers to critique a few of Jim Carrey’s performances…

  20. #20 JD Stanford
    April 22, 2009

    Newfie, no offense was meant, but I’d still trust a Doctor’s opinion over yours when it comes to a medical issue. I think the point I was trying to make in a snide, snarky way was anyone who’d make their medical decisions based on the ramblings of a High School drop-out just because they made some funny movies does not need to be breeding.

    Of course, I’d trust you over Jim Carrey ANYDAY. Especially when it comes to rocking….or snaking pipes.

  21. #21 Newfie
    April 22, 2009

    Newfie, no offense was meant

    non taken… just jumping on the weak argument… I crave knowledge, and if I had it to do over, I’d have went on to study more. Life can jump in the way sometimes, a degree does not make one smart. See: Don McLeroy.
    yup, you guessed it.. a dentist. :)

  22. #22 JD
    April 22, 2009

    I’ve heard Carrey on religion. He’s one of those “God is everywhere man, he’s in this chair and on your car’s console” type of tard.

  23. #23 littlejohn
    April 22, 2009

    Huffpo certainly has its share of dimwit celebrities, but it also provides links to a lot of interesting, useful stuff. It also is a good source for breaking news, a nice antidote to Faux News Channel.

  24. #24 CatBallou
    April 22, 2009

    I only started looking at the Huff recently, but when I realized that their only interest in Michelle Obama was focused on her appearance–Her Arms! Her Wardrobe!–I quickly became disenchanted.

  25. #25 Jessica
    April 22, 2009

    I thought it was a rather balanced piece actually. Not demonizing vaccines, but asking questions. As a parent of a child who fits several criteria for forgoing or slowing the vaccine schedule, I find the entire debate kind of terrifying. I’d like to see an end to the posturing and more honest looks at the potential for problems vs the potential for good. I’d like some more solid answers. I’d like to feel like I could make a decision on this issue and not live in fear that I have injected my child with a substance he will react to and be permanently impaired, or that I have skipped the vaccine that could have saved him. Right now there is no clear cut good decision.

  26. #26 Kerlyssa
    April 22, 2009

    Early lump vaccination in the US is due largely to the lack of ongoing care for children. Better to get them all done at once than to have children not get vaccinated. Stagger them like the euros do and you’ll run a bit less risk. Of course, you might run the risk of not having medical access farther down the line, too. Yay, america.

  27. #27 James Sweet
    April 22, 2009

    Funny vaccines should come up on Pharyngula just now… today I celebrated a great personal victory over the forces of blind faith and lazy thinking.

    I have a 7-week-old son. My wife is on some mailing lists having to do with progressive parenting, because *some* of the ideas these folks profess are actually useful and in some cases even backed up with data. Unfortunately, these folks also tend to be anti-vaccinationists (which I am now convinced is essentially a religion, btw)

    My wife got of course quite worried, but she is at core an extremely rational person, though she lacks some of the science background that can help her navigate the info that is out there about vaccination.

    For about two days, she quizzed the anti-vaccine people on their reasons, and forwarded their replies to me — which I was able to systematically pick apart with a really depressingly small amount of online-only research (at one point I thought I was going to have to actually go to the library.. but it turned out I just needed to go to the 3rd or 4th page of Google results to find the answer I sought. Seriously, it was that easy to debunk this bs!)

    She is now convinced her anti-vaccine acquaintances are batshit crazy, and is planning on having a serious talk with a couple of her friends who have been seduced by the dark side.

    @Jessica — My wife felt basically the same as you two days ago. She still plans on delaying vaccination a little bit, which I’m not crazy about, but it is a reasonable compromise. But I’m telling you, the data is there, and the uncertainties the anti-vaccine people point to are ludicrously exaggerated, and in any case pale in comparison to the certainties regarding the purpose of vaccination.

    @Jessica again — Even if you aren’t convinced about the risk/benefit tradeoff for your child, think about your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We *know* that vaccines are capable of eradicating a disease altogether (see also smallpox, and would be polio too if it weren’t for Islamic anti-vaccination propaganda in Africa), so if everybody could just pitch in and do their part, your descendants won’t even have to make this choice…

  28. #28 Omphaloskepsis
    April 22, 2009

    Just commented over on Pal on this topic. I wish people wouldn’t act like autism is the next best thing to a death sentence. I’m autistic, I didn’t have any therapy or any other kind of help. I was much more symptomatic as a child, but a lot of us high functioning types do actually learn to compensate for our problems. I think parents of kids with the autism spectrum diagnosis should meet with more people like myself and show them that they don’t have to resort to these horrible extremes, skipping vaccinations (I was exposed to measeles as a high schooler, what would have happened if I hadn’t been vaccinated?) and tortoruous, unproven so-called treatments.

  29. #29 James Sweet
    April 22, 2009

    @Vaccine skeptics: Whenever an anti-vaccinationist complains about a particular ingredient in vaccines, ask them if they know *why* that ingredient is contained in the vaccine. I found out a fascinating thing over the last few days: THEY DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW. How can you even comment on the cost/benefit of a particular vaccine ingredient if you don’t know why it is used???

  30. #30 Anonymous
    April 22, 2009

    Fear not. I have seen the mindboggling stupidity that is Fire Marshall Bill–I mean Jim Carrey. A takedown has been written. It will appear sometime overnight. When, exactly, I won’t say. But it is coming.

    While you’re at it, you might want to send Steve Novella some tactical air support. Age of Autism has trashed him:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/04/dr-steven-novella-why-is-this-so-hard-to-understand.html

    And he has eviscerated J.B. Handley in return:

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=523

  31. #31 Orac
    April 22, 2009

    That anonymous comment, by the way, was me. I don’t know what happened.

  32. #32 jsclary
    April 22, 2009

    Agh, this makes my brain hurt. It’s 2009. They stopped using thimerosal in children’s vaccines and the last batches that contained it expired in early 2003 yet the rise in autism continues unabated and people keep talking about thimerosal.

  33. #33 Newfie
    April 22, 2009

    That anonymous comment, by the way, was me. I don’t know what happened.

    I noticed that, the random internet fart that is scienceblogs… methinks they should entice a few computer scientists? ;)

  34. #34 Bryson Brown
    April 22, 2009

    Jessica: That’s exactly how Carrey’s rhetorical exercise is meant to work. It’s carefully selective skepticism, where all the evidence accumulated from trials and widespread use of vaccines in large populations is dismissed as inconclusive in the light of a few anecdotal concerns, while the suspicions of a few individuals, grounded in nothing more than a few anecdotes, are treated as equally weighty. It’s impossible to prove that any procedure is completely safe– but the success of vaccines in preventing many serious illnesses, and the absence of real evidence showing that they are dangerous (and causes of autism in particular) is pretty striking. If we demand absolute mathematical proof showing that X is safe before we accept X for our children, we’re in real trouble, because nothing is provably safe: no matter how hard it is to accept, there simply are no guarantees. But any substantial risk is effectively certain to show up in the statistics (as it does in the case of common childhood illnesses that can be vaccinated against). As for balance, Mr. Carrey’s comparison of vaccination to cigarettes is particularly egregious (in the case of cigarettes, the scientific literature made the link to cancer absolutely clear long ago). So is his reading of the court decision in the Polling case as saying that a vaccine caused autism– that was not what the court concluded at all. This is not a case of ‘evidence on one side, and similar evidence on the other’. It’s a case of overwhelming evidence on one side, and a long list of anecdotes and one or two isolated and discredited studies on the other.

  35. #35 Smidgy
    April 22, 2009

    You know, this whole ‘vaccinations can cause autism’ thing is really mind-blowing to me. Even if I wasn’t aware of how much bullshit and hysteria this was based on, I would simply boil it down to a simple risk vs reward assessment – the risk of the slight possibility of my child getting one debilitating condition, autism, through vaccines versus the reward of my child being safely vaccinated against a dozen or so debilitating or even fatal diseases.

  36. #36 plum grenville
    April 22, 2009

    Jessica, the safety of vaccines is NOT an open question. The scientific consensus that vaccines are safe (and don’t cause autism) is comparable to the scientific consensus that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

    There are a large number of excellent scientific studies showing that vaccines do not cause autism and a small number of poorly done or discredited studies which support the opposite view.

    I suggest that you read some of the critiques of anti-vax arguments written by scientists. I appreciate that anti-vax claims can be very convincing when you don’t know enough about the subject to see their flaws.

    There are some excellent posts dissecting anti-vax claims on the “Science Based Medicine” website and on a website called “Respectful Insolence.” Just google the website name to get the web address and once you’re at the site, do a search for “vaccine” or “jenny mccarthy” or “autism.”

    You could also ask your pediatrician what he/she thinks. I’m pretty confident about what the answer will be.

    This list of characteristics of children who should not receive normal vaccinations – where does it come from? If you got it from an anti-vax source, it’s probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.

  37. #37 Sean Micheal
    April 22, 2009

    Jessica: It wasn’t a “debate” until anti-vaccine cronies popped up. Scientists have looked at “the potential for problems vs. the potential for good”, and they have “solid answers”: the MMR vaccine (the only one that’s ever been in any serious doubt) is, and has been, and will be, safe. Talk to any doctor, and I assure you, they will all tell you the same thing.

  38. #38 bob
    April 22, 2009

    That Age of Autism link is little short of frightening. The comments there are unbelievable. The MOST REASONABLE ones are suggesting that they’ll only DIS-believe the vaccine-autism link after a vaccinated-unvaccinated study is done. You read me right … these people have already made up their minds (based on zero good evidence, by the way), and will only change it after a wildly unethical decade-long study is conducted.

    Of course, per their ceaseless and clueless bitching about mercury, I’m sure even that monstrous study wouldn’t convince most of them. Scary.

  39. #39 kamaka
    April 22, 2009

    I would simply boil it down to a simple risk vs reward assessment

    I was of the first generation who received the polio vaccine. So I knew kids afflicted by polio, and it was ugly, not that there’s anything wrong with wheelchairs, per se.

    Salk was a savior.

  40. #40 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 22, 2009

    On the anonymous comments, I have a theory. The Type/Key/Pad sign in is only good for a certain length of time. If we start to type a post and all looks fine, but the time runs out while we are typing, the e-mail address is still there, but our name goes away, and the default becomes anonymous. My two cents.

  41. #41 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 22, 2009

    Manufactroversy, vaccine style.

  42. #42 seokso
    April 22, 2009

    The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered.

    As a teacher, I have been witness to thousands of otherwise cheerful children become quiet, depressed and withdrawn almost immediately upon beginning an exam. The anecdotal evidence cannot be ignored!

  43. #43 Angela
    April 22, 2009

    I teach Abnormal Psychology at the college level and students are assigned a literature review paper in the course (some very good, some not so much). Every semester at least one student decides to “show the link between autism and vaccines”. After reminding them of the literature standard (scientific journal articles, not websites), objective viewpoint etc, I let them have at it and in maybe 10 years, no student has been able to support this theory.

  44. #44 Jello
    April 22, 2009

    Eh, Jim Carrey has been talking out of his ass since 1994, the only difference now is that no one is laughing.

  45. #45 Andrew
    April 22, 2009

    I thought people might be interested in knowing that Canadian Inuit get all the standard vaccines that children in most Western countries get:
    2 months DPT, IPV, Hib, PNEU, MENI
    4 months DPT, IPV, Hib, PNEU, MENI
    6 months DPT, IPV Hib, PNEU, MENI
    12 months MMR,VAR,PNEU
    18 months DPT, IPV, Hib, MMR
    4-6 years DPT and IPV, (MMR second dose may be given at this age).

    There has not been a documented case of autism in an Inuk child.

  46. #46 Zar
    April 22, 2009

    I can’t help but think a lot of this comes down to the fact that some of the parents wish their autistic kids were dead. I really do. To hear them go on an on about the horrible, insufferable burden oh the pain the pain the agony of having an autistic kid is a little sad; I know it’s hard, but it sounds like these people really resent their kids and view them as semi-hopeless, and they’d rather the kids have died of measels or something than live with autism. (Of course, taking care of a kid with polio is much worse than taking care of an autistic child…)

    In the old days, they would probably have thought their child’s behavior meant the kid was actually a changeling. Anything but confront the reality and fucking deal with it.

  47. #47 bob
    April 22, 2009

    Also, I’d like to echo Orac’s call to swamp the AoA site. It’s unlikely that any rational comment will make it through their screening, but at the very least we’ll annoy them. That’s much less than they deserve, as they’re actively encouraging the preventable deaths of innocent children.

  48. #48 Anonymous
    April 22, 2009

    The MOST REASONABLE ones are suggesting that they’ll only DIS-believe the vaccine-autism link after a vaccinated-unvaccinated study is done.

    Except that’s a lie. They won’t. No amount of evidence will convince them.

  49. #49 J Dubb
    April 22, 2009

    The bad parts definitely outweighs anything worthwhile at Huffington Post. Kos is usually much more reality-based.

  50. #50 Alex
    April 22, 2009

    It seems like he’s just asking for more independent research because of this: “The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered.”
    I don’t know too much about the subject, so can someone explain what’s wrong with him asking for this?

  51. #51 Trumpeter
    April 22, 2009

    PZ I disagree with your broad assessment of Huffington Post. It’s one of many sources I use to judge the state of U.S. politics. I find it refreshing after my mandatory visits to right wing sites. It also clearly has the attention of left and left leaning centrist readers.
    People tend to listen to celebrity.
    HuffPo posts items from celebrities.
    You PZ are something of a celebrity.
    Your credentials and editorial prowess are well known.
    If you have something to say regarding this topic why not submit to HuffPo in direct response to the Carey article?
    Certainly you’re more qualified than Carey, and if you don’t feel up to it, perhaps you could convince someone you deem to be a more qualified peer to respond.
    If such a submission is rejected by Huffington, let us know and then the Huffington blog would drop significantly in my esteem.
    Simply disqualifying a celebrity’s viewpoint on the basis they are a celebrity doesn’t meet the simplest standards of debate.
    HuffPo is a popular polital blog not a scientific forum.
    Answer the points raised in the forum they were presented and in a form acceptable to the audience.
    If it’s a battle worth winning you need to go to the front not assault from the rear.

  52. #52 Orson Zedd
    April 22, 2009

    Sounds like Jim Carrey is a Lahoooze-aher.

  53. #53 raven
    April 22, 2009

    Didn’t read all the comments, too busy. But we already damn well know what causes autism. It has a high genetic component, similar to SZ. There are probably many genes involved, each with small contributions and interacting with the environment as well

    I used to post abstracts from NLM but no one ever read them so am not going to bother. Anyone who is interested go to pubmed.com and type in a few keywords.

  54. #54 shamwow
    April 22, 2009

    It hurts me to see Jim Carrey seduced into idiocy by some woman. I’m going to give him a pass on this because I understand the power of the penis.

  55. #55 wheatdogg
    April 22, 2009

    Not only that, the adverse reactions appear to be chronic, and can last well into adulthood.

  56. #56 raven
    April 22, 2009

    “The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered.”

    I don’t know too much about the subject, so can someone explain what’s wrong with him asking for this?

    Other than being an outright lie, nothing. That millions is more like a few dozen. Or maybe one or two.

    Autism starts showing symptoms about the time children are being vaccinated. This is correlation not causation.

    The anti-vaccers used to say it was the mercury (thimerosol) in vaccines that caused autism. Another correlation. So they took the mercury preservative out. Didn’t make any difference.

  57. #57 Rorschach
    April 22, 2009

    Post from work:Just admitted an unvaccinated 2yo kid to Hospital with a chest infection.recently in my area alone they have been 35 or so measles cases,a number not seen for 30 years.
    These people(and I agree with the poster above who called it a religion)have no idea how much harm they are doing.

  58. #58 wheatdogg
    April 22, 2009

    Sorry, that last remark was responding to seokso #42.

  59. #59 raven
    April 22, 2009

    Arguing over whether vaccination causes autism is a bit like a debate over whether Zeus or Thor causes thunder and lightening. Meanwhile another group known as “meteorologists” are studying gas phase physics and chemistry and getting the idea that it might be something to do with clouds and electromagnetics.

    There is a lot of research being done into the causes, molecular basis, and treatment of Autism spectrum disorders. They just don’t happen to be TV and movie actors.

    Neuromolecular Med. 2006;8(4):451-60. Links
    The genetics of autism spectrum disorders.Grice DE, Buxbaum JD.
    Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ/New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.

    Epidemiological twin studies demonstrate that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) represent genetic disorders. Subsequent analyses indicate that the causes of ASDs include less common single-gene mutations and chromosomal abnormalities, as well as ASDs caused by multiple interacting genes of weak effect. Genome-wide linkage analysis has identified several susceptibility loci for the ASDs, and positional and functional candidate genes have been identified that appear to represent susceptibility genes for the ASDs. Analysis of additional larger samples and the use of genome-wide association and high-throughput variant detection will lead to the identification of further genes for ASDs.

  60. #60 James F
    April 22, 2009

    I would like to hear Carrey’s thoughts on cootie autism.

  61. #61 tmaxPA
    April 22, 2009

    On the subject of Huffington Post, PZ misjudges them. Yes, it is a grab-bag, but it is a diverse grab-bag. Yes, they tend towards the California Spiritual Woo mentality. But Mr. Carrey’s post generated so many thousands of comments (most compatible with rational thought to a startling degree) so quickly that you just can’t help but give credit to the forum.

    So I’m sure they’re not too terribly miffed that they deservedly receive the opprobrium of The PZ Myers of Pharyngula. ;-)

    On the other hand, I see comments like Raven@53 (“we already damn well know what causes autism”) and I begin to see the occasional justification for the other side of the debate.

    We haven’t hardly got the first clue what causes autism (either from a biological or epidemiological perspective), and saying ‘a high genetic component’ as if that explains anything is about as empty a statement as you could possibly make. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if parents of autistic children stopped listening to ‘experts’ entirely when some of them say pointedly worthless crap like that about an issue of such monumental personal importance.

    Abstracts of work being done may or may not be illuminating, but just because work is being done doesn’t mean anything has been accomplished.

  62. #62 Jessica
    April 22, 2009

    @ pretty much everyone who responded to me

    We do know that some children are harmed by vaccines. That is a fact. The autism link is, at this point, unsubstantiated, but the vaccine inserts themselves list possible side effects, up to and including death.

    We also know that some children are more at risk for adverse reactions.

    So what I do is look at each disease, and each vaccine, and make a choice. I know that my child is at greater risk. I look at the chances of him even contracting each disease in the first place, and then the risk of harm from the disease, and then the efficacy of the vaccine, and the risks of the vaccine. This all comes from the CDC and vaccine manufacturer inserts, not scare sites or Jenny McCarthy interviews.

    What I am frustrated with in this whole climate of debate is that most doctors won’t even hear me out. They are so busy being condescending and assuming that I am some crazy illiterate hippie vegan that they won’t even listen to my concerns about my child while I am paying astronomical rates to see them for all of five minutes. Additionally, the information they give me doesn’t even match up with the research I have done, destroying my trust in their approach to vaccination.

    Which leaves me on my own, with an imperfect solution, and the internet to bounce my ideas around. I’d like to speak with a doctor who doesn’t resort to scare tactics and will hear me out and give me a well reasoned opinion instead of, “DEAR GOD YOU SKIPPED A VACCINE WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR BABY TO DIIIIIEEEEEEE???!?!?!”

    In the meantime, I am researching the MMR right now, so if anyone has any current information to share, I’d love to have it. It’s been years since I seriously studied this stuff and as my child approaches puberty, I am going over everything again.

  63. #63 raven
    April 22, 2009

    We haven’t hardly got the first clue what causes autism (either from a biological or epidemiological perspective), and saying ‘a high genetic component’ as if that explains anything is about as empty a statement as you could possibly make. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if parents of autistic children stopped listening to ‘experts’ entirely when some of them say pointedly worthless crap like that about an issue of such monumental personal importance.

    Abstracts of work being done may or may not be illuminating, but just because work is being done doesn’t mean anything has been accomplished

    Total bullshit.

    You have no idea what science or medicine is or does. Nor could you even read and understand the abstract which is one of many picked for the simple English useage.

    “My guess as a high school graduate is as good as fleets of scientists and MDs with 10 years higher education each in a relevant field and a few decades of research on the subject.”

  64. #64 raven
    April 22, 2009

    But poor Orac ? his head might just explode into flames when he reads this

    Not the only one. 2 or 3 children per thousand who get measles will just end up dying of the disease.

    Polio was a bit before my time but not by much. I’ve known several people who had it and recovered with partial disability. They limp mostly. It gets worse with age. They can end up in a wheel chair eventually, post polio syndrome.

  65. #65 Ryan
    April 22, 2009

    I have tried to post a comment at Huffington Post about Jim Carrey’s vaccine delusion, but it never shows up. I have tried three times and have gone back to thoroughly check becuse comments there are moderated. So I will just post that same comment here:

    Why is Huffington Post giving this anti-intellectual, pseudoscience believing idiot a platform. Vaccines causing Autism is right up there with Global Warming deniers, believers of a secret U.N. world order, and people who believe in abiotic oil. Actually yes, the jury is in on vaccines and they do not cause Autism. We all know Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy’s science expertise is vast, oh wait a minute, do they even possess a basic college degree let alone an advanced degree or medical expertise? No they do not; their so called facts are limited to the often wrong and unsupported popular and conspiratorial folk knowledge. I understand that he is writing a blog and not a news article, but Huffington Post should not be featuring him as it lends his position credibility.

  66. #66 amhovgaard
    April 22, 2009

    #46 – Zar:
    I think you’re right. Many of the woo “treatments” for autism remind me of the recommended method for getting rid of a changeling: torturing it until the hidden people return your real child.

  67. #67 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    @ 62,

    In the meantime, I am researching the MMR right now

    There is no reason for you to “research” the MMR,if you feel that as a “concerned parent” you need to research a vaccine that has been given to millions of children over 40 years with hardly any serious side effects and after extensive research by professionals(and Im not counting a mild fever,grumpiness or a rash as side effects),then you are mistaken.
    And your doctor will advise you to vaccinate your children,because childhood illnesses do and will kill them occasionally,which is totally avoidable and unnecessary.And dont forget,not vaccinating your child lessens the cover for every other kid out there.

  68. #68 Kel
    April 23, 2009

    The autism link is, at this point, unsubstantiated

    Unsubstantiated is being too kind, there’s not even correlation between the vaccines and autism – let alone grounds for causation. The hypothesis of a link between MMR and autism has been discredited and it’s been demonstrated time and time again that there is no link. It’s wrong, it’s very wrong – it’s like thinking that eventually they’ll find a human skull in amongst dinosaur bones, the link is an absurdity!

  69. #69 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    @ 67

    How helpful. Way to totally miss the point of everything I said.

  70. #70 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    What I am frustrated with in this whole climate of debate is that most doctors won’t even hear me out.

    Hear you out, or patronize you? You see, the problem is, you are discussing the wrong problem. The conflict with vaccines and their potential harm is not will your kid get sick or be harmed. It is will other kids get sick. Period. We vaccinate children to protect society; the benefit to the individual is almost incidental.

    Now, the reason there is still this ‘debate’ going on is simply that nobody is willing to admit this. We still want to think that vaccinations are voluntary and provide rewards greater than the risks. The truth is, it is only voluntary as long as enough people continue to volunteer. If too many opt out, it can and must be made explicit that this is a PUBLIC health issue, not a private health issue.

    Or, we could just stop living in an advanced society.

  71. #71 Kel
    April 23, 2009

    The fact that some children cannot take vaccines because they have a bad reaction makes it even more vital that those parents who can vaccinate their children do so. I remember hearing one story about a boy in Australia who was diagnosed with polio! It didn’t matter so much about not getting the vaccination while he was in Australia, but his parents took him to India where the individual is not protected by lack of exposure.

    Ben Goldacre makes a great case against those who don’t vaccinate in Bad Science – it’s well worth the read.

  72. #72 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    jessica @ 69,

    How did I miss the point exactly?
    You wrote:

    I look at the chances of him even contracting each disease in the first place, and then the risk of harm from the disease, and then the efficacy of the vaccine, and the risks of the vaccine.

    The thing is,you are not qualified to make a judgment about efficacy or risks of any particular vaccine,there are professionals out there to make that call for you.
    And you endanger other children by not vaccinating yours.
    I really cant be kind about this,I see too many sick kids at work whose parents for all kinds of rationalizations didnt vaccinate their children.

    And btw,I see much more children with peanut allergy than kids with adverse effects from vaccinations.

  73. #73 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    Raven:

    You have no idea what science or medicine is or does. Nor could you even read and understand the abstract which is one of many picked for the simple English useage.

    You are entirely wrong, and pathetically insulting, but I forgive you. No Biggie.

    I do indeed understand much of what I read. Apparently you do not, because I never said “My guess as a high school graduate is as good as fleets of scientists and MDs with 10 years higher education each in a relevant field and a few decades of research on the subject.”

    Find me one actual scientist willing to say we know what causes autism. Go do that. I’ll wait.

    Thanks for your time. Hope it helps.

  74. #74 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    Find me one actual scientist willing to say we know what causes autism

    Maybe for the sake of this particular discussion we can agree that we at least know what doesnt cause autism,namely vaccinations.

  75. #75 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    Wow, all these responses full of information and references regarding the MMR vaccine and the associated diseases sure are helpful! I’ll run right out and get my high-risk kid shot up because some anonymous folks on the internet said it was a good idea!

    If anyone actually has information to share instead of internet scolding feel free to email it over.

    heraldofserra@gmail.com

  76. #76 Kel
    April 23, 2009

    If anyone actually has information to share instead of internet scolding feel free to email it over.

    I recommended a book for you to read that has a good critique of the whole MMR autism scare. But if you would prefer to believe that people are insulting you instead of providing you with relevant information, I can see why doctors wouldn’t give your opinions the time of day.

    If you want a good blog to start with, try here.

  77. #77 Wowbagger, OM
    April 23, 2009

    Jessica,

    Rorschach’s a doctor*. You got what you asked for.

    *Albeit one here in Australia, where they treat most things by giving you a stern look and saying ‘harden the fuck up’…

  78. #78 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    Jessica,

    official CDC website on the MMR with link to relevant studies:
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/mmr_vaccine.htm

    Common vaccine components and their side effects:
    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/184_04_200206/eld10500_fm.html

  79. #79 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    Maybe for the sake of this particular discussion we can agree that we at least know what doesnt cause autism,namely vaccinations.

    That was never in the slightest dispute, as far as I am concerned. My point was simply that one of the reasons it is so hard to get through to anxious parents about that is because supposedly super-rational but not very reasonable people say things like Raven said, that ‘we know what causes autism’.

    Because we don’t. These parents are blowing the statistics completely out of proportion in fear, but, hey, I’m only an uncle and the thought that my nephew might one day not be zipping along developmentally is old-school terrifying. Paranoia is the rule of the day in the modern USA – letting kids skateboard without a helmet constitutes child abuse.

    We can’t predict it. We can’t prevent it. We can’t cure it. We can’t even treat it. We are barely past the point of knowing what it is, which is to say simply being able to say which kids are or are not medically “autistic”, and what that means. When a layperson hears someone (who is supposedly knowledgeable having read journal articles and everything) say we know what causes it, you have to realize the problems you’re causing in their understanding of what you’re saying. The kind of “know what causes it” Raven is talking about means we may be able to accurately diagnose and characterize it. But predict it, prevent it, cure it, or even treat it?

    Words like “cause”, words like “is”, these can mean very different things to any two people in a particular context. The first step to dealing with the problems this causes is being able to recognize and admit that yours ISN’T a privileged usage outside of peer reviewed journals.

    And it is really important to do that. We won’t EVER convince the True Believers that their delusions are dangerous or even mistaken, whether they’re religionists or vaccine-deniers or Fox News teabagging slack-jawed goobers. That’s OK, we don’t need to. We need to be able to convince the poor befuddled shmucks who make up the other 87% of the population.

    So, no, vaccines don’t cause autism. But we still don’t know what does.

  80. #80 bob
    April 23, 2009

    Well, Jessica, I was going to thank you for the kind response, but I see that you’ve degraded into snark and sarcasm since I stepped away from my computer. Oh well.

    Your long comment (62) sounds well and good, but it’s all hot air. Yes, vaccines have side-effects that may be worse for select populations. What does that have to do with autism? You then admit that the autism link is “unsubstantiated.” Uh, it is AT BEST correlation without causation, and even that is being far too generous. Even their fallacious reasoning is based on shoddy evidence and anecdotes. It’s about as substantiated as astrology.

    Beyond that, it sounds all well and good that you’re claiming to evaluate the risks yourself and decide on which vaccines to give and not give. But, frankly that seems like a lot of hot air to me. What diseases would you prefer to let your child have, rather than risk the minuscule chance of vaccine injury? It sounds like you’re not too worried about measles; after all, what’s a little rash? That is, unless you’re one of the millions of children who died from measles in Africa in the last decade.

    There’s also the matter of public health that someone mentioned. I don’t want your unvaccinated child at the same schools as my child. There’s a chance my child’s vaccine didn’t “take” (they aren’t 100% effective), so I don’t want extra willingly disease susceptible children running around the playground. Your unwarranted concern endangers many people, as destroying herd immunity threatens infants, the infirm, the immuno-compromised, and people for whom the vaccine didn’t take.

  81. #81 Kel
    April 23, 2009

    Isn’t the issue though that these people think there is a causal link between vaccinations and autism? So in that context it would make sense to point out that vaccines do not cause autism, that there isn’t even correlation let alone causation, that the initial data pushing for a link was faked and that supsequent studies have shown no link at all. Even if it’s obvious to us, it’s important to argue that MMR vaccines are a failed hypothesis in explaining autism.

  82. #82 Vicky
    April 23, 2009

    I can’t believe I managed to read the whole thing. It gave me a headache. And not the “my brain cannot handle the stupid!” kind of headache; the “I’m so frightened for the human race. How can we allow poisonous idiocy like this gain public support?” kind. It’s an angry/sad/helpless-feeling headache.

    If anti-vaccinationists actually cared about helping children with Autism, they would lend their voices to raise money for research. All they really want is something to blame for their children’s unfortunate situation.

  83. #83 Kel
    April 23, 2009

    If anti-vaccinationists actually cared about helping children with Autism, they would lend their voices to raise money for research. All they really want is something to blame for their children’s unfortunate situation.

    Well said.

  84. #84 Psychodigger
    April 23, 2009

    @ #6

    Well, it’s obviously relatively small since it’s in the Netherlands, but there is a Bible Belt, also dubbed the Polio Belt, exactly because of the refusal of the natives to vaccinate their children. And granted, we do not see as many stark raving lunatics in the media and policital lobbies as you appear to have in the US, but our little Bible Belt is also inhabited by evolution-denying YEC’s.

    Although, having said that bit about the political lobbies, one of the parties in our elected government is called the Christen Unie (I’m sure I don’t need to translate that into English), and they are trying to push their vile political agenda to the fore. Luckily, our government is making a huge pig’s ear out of things, so with any luck it will topple and we will have election soon.

  85. #85 Badger3k
    April 23, 2009

    #18 – I gave up on commenting after several of my comments, critical of David Kirby if I recall correctly, never made it to be seen. I gave up on them politically during the last election, when they went so far partisan that it was a bit disgusting (I decided not to stay to see the money shot, but I’m sure it happened). Arianna just reminds me of Zsa Zsa Gabor, especially her character in Green Acres.

  86. #86 jo5ef
    April 23, 2009

    Easy does it PZ! I admit to a bit of a HuffPo addiction- yes it has a lot of crap but they cover political stuff well generally, break stories fast, and have a great format, if i could find a right wing site half as good (I’m looking at you Drudge Report) I’d use it as well.
    The fatuous Carrey piece did get me frothing at the mouth a bit, not even the article so much but the plethora of vacuous comments (and no mine hasn’t been published yet either). However you can just about guarantee that a well worded rebuttal will be published pretty soon.

  87. #87 gdlchmst
    April 23, 2009

    What exactly do the antivaxers want? I mean other than the monetary compensation from the oh-so-evil “big pharma.” They can’t serious want to go back to before vaccines were invent.

  88. #88 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    I find this debate incredibly frustrating, especially int his particular context where I would expect more intelligent discourse and less “bash the guy who did something weird”.

    My particular child has a family history of neuro issues and has been diagnosed with neuro issues that make vaccines particularly dangerous for him. The paperwork HIS DOCTOR gave me to sign before the first round of vaccines raised these concerns, and others. His doctor wanted me to sign and get the shots anyway, and refused to discuss why his own paperwork warned me that my child was contraindicated for some vaccinations.

    I tried talking to other doctors who started railing on about how HE COULD DIE without the shots. Never mind that it was the medical paperwork I got FROM THE DOCTORS that raised my concerns in the first place.

    So now I research on my own. We choose to get some vaccines because the long term risk/benefit weighs in on that side while it doesn’t for other vaccines.

    I have no agenda here other than the health of my kid. Show me evidence that says that the vaccine warnings and the medical paperwork suggesting that my child is at increased risk are wrong, and I will consider more vaccines, in particular, the MMR. The diseases in that case become more complicated as my child ages and that is why I am reexamining the issue.

  89. #89 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    @ 78

    Thanks for the mja link. I haven’t come across it before and it certainly has a ton of info in an accessible format. I will definitely share this link with others as well.

  90. #90 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    Jessica,

    its hard to make a judgement over the net without knowing the exact “issues” with your child.

    The contraindications for the MMR are viewable here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/vac-admin/contraindications-vacc.htm

    In my experience it happens very rarely that a child cant be vaccinated,some kids will have to be hospitalized to do this if they are deemed to be at risk of serious adverse effects.it is still worth doing.And if your child really has one of the few very rare contraindications,then that does not reflect on the paediatric population in general.
    Good luck with it !

  91. #91 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    Thanks for the link. That’s one I hadn’t seen yet, as well. I usually look at manufacturer inserts for contraindications.

    Also, I wanted to say that my concerns about vaccines are not “all vaccination is bad no one should”. Really I think that vaccines need more study, especially the varying schedules in developed countries, and that each family needs to examine their own history and make a conscious decision. I find no fault with a family who examines the recommendations and chooses to go ahead with all shots on schedule. I do think its unwise to assume every kid should have all those shots on the same schedule – people are different! I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to forgo vaccines totally without any real thought because someone on the net or on TV said vaccines might be a bad idea.

    I’m all about parenting consciously. Making real choices, not just going with the default because the crowd is pointed in that direction.

  92. #92 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    I do think its unwise to assume every kid should have all those shots on the same schedule

    You’re wrong.

  93. #93 Drosera
    April 23, 2009

    The Bible belt in the Netherlands is not a single area but more like a small archipelago of stupidity. It is somewhat ironic that the most recent major disaster that took place in the Netherlands, the North Sea flood of 1953 that killed some 1800 people, hit a part of the country that has a relatively large population of fundamentalist Christians. By their logic the flood was probably a punishment from God. It certainly hasn’t made this part of the country (Zeeland Province*) more enlightened, as far as I can tell.

    * For the kiwis among you, the name of your country is derived from it.

  94. #94 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    @92

    Even every kid with an egg allergy? Every kid with epilepsy? Every preemie? Every kid with cancer? Every kid with HIV? Every kid with a gelatin allergy?

    The problem with acting like every kid is the same and everybody has to get the shots at the exact same time is that the typical person isn’t aware that there are exceptions. And then the kid has a serious reaction that could have been avoided or lessened through careful attention, a modified schedule, or selective vaccination.

    Or, the typical person finds out about the contraindications, and remembers that her doctor told her to get the shots ANYWAY, and loses all trust in the medical establishment and goes on to refuse something like the Tetanus vaccine, which from my research has a fantastic record paired with a very, very serious disease with a high likelihood of serious complications.

    tl;dr… treating everyone the same invites mistakes and engenders distrust

  95. #95 Joe Pavlo
    April 23, 2009

    Jim Carrey isn’t funny anymore.

  96. #96 Matt Snodgrass
    April 23, 2009

    I had a good experience not long ago, at a doctor’s office. A lady was bringing in her little daughter for a vaccine and she mentioned something about it in the elevator, going up to the pediatricians’ offices. I asked if she’d seen the relatively recent article in Time, on vaccines, and she said, “yes” and that her mother-in-law was fully in the vaccine/autism camp. She added that she’d always thought the in-law was a nutcase, and that her strident attempts at stopping the grand daughter from getting any vaccines got her (the mother-in-law) told off by both parents once the mother had helped to educate the father on vaccines and reality. It’s always nice to see a little mockery of those who still take their scientific views from actors and random fruitcakes.

  97. #97 Walton
    April 23, 2009

    I would love to build a political party that is at once civil libertarian, socially progressive, fiscally responsible, and dedicated to the text of the U.S. Constitution, comprehensive electoral reform, and science.

    I might support that, depending on what you mean by “socially progressive”. A few of my ideas for America:

    *Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and encourage more states to recognise same-sex marriages.
    *Maintain Roe v Wade and the woman’s right to choose.
    *Privatise Social Security and Medicare as individual savings accounts, giving people the right to invest and spend their money however they choose.
    *Comprehensive welfare reform, to get people off welfare and into work.
    *No more bailouts for failing corporations. The money will instead be spent on helping those put out of work by corporate failure.
    *No more massive deficit spending; too much of it has been endured under Bush, and Obama is making it worse. Enact a Balanced Budget Act and force Congress to live within its means.
    *Remove federal criminal penalties for the use of marijuana.
    *Allow citizens to use drugs not yet approved by the FDA, should they so choose. (To clarify, I’d keep the FDA and all labelling laws; but if a patient is dying of a terminal illness and wants to take the risk of trying an unapproved drug, s/he should be able to.)
    *Stand firmly in favour of the separation of church and state. No religious indoctrination in schools.
    *Introduce tighter auditing regulations for 501(c) tax exempt organisations, to stop megachurches and dodgy charities getting rich off donors.

  98. #98 Scott Little
    April 23, 2009

    I won’t even dignify Carrey’s crap nor HuffPo’s banality by visiting the site and giving them more traffic.

  99. #99 nothing's sacred
    April 23, 2009

    This post is an example of the sort of horrid cherry picking that PZ is sometimes prone to. I saw that Jim Carrey piece today and the thing that stood out about it is how it stood out; it is not at all typical of HuffPost fare.

  100. #100 nothing's sacred
    April 23, 2009

    Arianna just reminds me of Zsa Zsa Gabor, especially her character in Green Acres.

    That’s an incredibly stupid xenophobic comment, made all the worse by the fact that Zsa Zsa Gabor wasn’t in Green Acres (it was her sister Eva).

  101. #101 SC, OM
    April 23, 2009

    This post is an example of the sort of horrid cherry picking that PZ is sometimes prone to. I saw that Jim Carrey piece today and the thing that stood out about it is how it stood out; it is not at all typical of HuffPost fare.

    Huh. I don’t read it, but Orac’s had several posts about antivaccine pieces there, and often calls it names along the lines of “that bastion of all things antivaccine.” He may have a bias against it for whatever reason, but I believe he’s pointed to numerous concrete examples in the past.

  102. #102 Peter Ashby
    April 23, 2009

    We have a friend who had childhood polio and my mother tells of nursing people in iron lungs in the ’50s because of polio. I’m only 43. it’s true, those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

    It was reported recently that the UK has been responsible for exporting measles to Northern South America, a region that was previously free of it. All due to the MMR ‘controversy’. We need new memorials in addition to those who fell in the wars, to all those who fell prior to vaccines and antibiotics. Didn’t Eric Arthur Blair die of TB? he wasn’t the only one.

  103. #103 c-law
    April 23, 2009

    i personally love how they rant about “toxins!”

    here’s a “toxin” for you that’s an irritant, an herbicide, can emit toxic fumes if burned, can mix with other things to evolve chlorine gas or form explosive nitrogen trichloride. it is correlated with osteoperosis, ulcers, hypertension… even death from overdose!
    AND YET EVERY YEAR WE EXPOSE OUR CHILDREN TO IT!
    WHY DOESN’T THE GOVERNMENT DO SOMETHING?!!
    IT’S A CONSPIRACY BECAUSE MANUFACTURING THIS SUBSTANCE IS BIG BUSINESS!

    PEOPLE, PLEASE PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELVES FROM THE HAZARD OF…

    table salt. (seriously, the msds sheet on it is kinda funny)

  104. #104 Marc Abian
    April 23, 2009

    So now I research on my own

    If you really want to research properly, it must be from peer-reviewed scientific journal articles..

    Google providesa search engine that only gives back such reliable papers. It’s called google scholar.

    http://scholar.google.com

    Good luck.

  105. #105 Anonymous
    April 23, 2009

    Here’s the only response Carrey’s nonsense warrants:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/04/fire_marshall_bill_discusses_vaccines.php

  106. #106 Orac
    April 23, 2009

    Gah! For some reason my TypeKey identity keeps showing up as “Anonymous.”

  107. #107 Ranson
    April 23, 2009

    @ Jessica

    Several points:

    One, I work in pharma, though not injectables like vaccines. I can tell you that package inserts are designed to do two things: comply with the law, and limit liability. Along those lines, they tend to be exceptionally paranoid little documents. Anything that happened to a patient during a trial can potentially be listed as an adverse effect, even if it only happened to one person in 10,000 and can’t be directly linked to the product. A physician is usually the better source on what the real risks of any drug are.

    As for your physician pushing vaccines that you say were directly contraindicated, it sounds like he either ignored the risks (very bad on his part), or did a very bad job explaining the real risks, as above (bad, but not quite as bad on his part). If it’s the latter, which I have no way of knowing, I can have some sympathy to the doctor’s perspective. It’s your job to steer people to healthy lifesyles and choices. Over the past five years, dozens of parents in your practice have raised frivolous objections to childhood vaccines, a couple even screaming at you for trying to “poison” their kids. Here comes someone else, asking about the literature and issues, and you’re tired of it and just tell them to sign the damned forms.

    That’s a bad scenario for both parties, foremost because it’s the doc’s job to address your concerns in detail, and because you, Jessica, don’t get what you need to make an informed decision. The thing is, vaccine schedules are changed for different patients, particularly when there are contraindications. No sane doc is likely to adhere to normal protocols with a HIV-postitive child without serious consideration. Immunosuppressed kids often don’t get vaccines at all (which is why herd immunity is important). Thing is, it’s the doc’s job to weigh those risks. The current schedule is in place because of where the establishment in our country feels the risks are highest. If your doc did a horrible job in explaining the risk assessments, or even just made a bad call on them, I apologize for your experience.

    My question becomes, did you get a second opinion from another qualified pediatrician? If they disagree, you have a legit beef with the first doc. If they agree, the risks might not be what you think they are.

    As for references, I don’t have a good list in front of me, but I can recommed the Scienceblog Respectful Insolence. Orac is one of the best when it comes to evidence on the issues, and a quick search there will likely bring up the best evidence out there from either side of the issue. Even better, if he doesn’t have it, he usually tells you who does.

  108. #108 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    @ 105,
    Orac,from the link provided,once more going off the deep end :

    Besides, I sometimes think that the twit who created HuffPo, Arianna Huffington, likes the attention that turds dropped onto her blog by quackery boosters of the like of Kim Evans. Certainly, the HuffPo editors seem utterly untroubled that, among physicians and medical scientists, HuffPo is viewed with utter contempt and ridicule

    Physician here,and Im not viewing HuffPo with either contempt or ridicule.I also dont think that calling people one disagrees with “twit” without making any actual argument is making one look particularly nice or someone we need to take overly serious.

    Jim Carrey is a dangerous ignoramus who has no idea what he is talking about,but posts like this by Orac are not helping.

  109. #109 Damien Calgione
    April 23, 2009

    @108

    So calling an idiot an idiot is now out of bounds? Sorry, but derision and ridicule are two of the most potent defenses society has against fools.

    Not every argument made needs to be a point-by-point counter argument, sometimes simply referencing those arguments and then reminding people of the idiocy of an opponent are enough. This isn’t a debate club, this is a full-contact fight with children’s lives at state. And no, that’s not hyperbolic in the least, it’s the damn truth.

    Oh no, I said “damn”…

  110. #110 Militant Agnostic
    April 23, 2009

    @nothing’s sacred.

    HuffPo is the home of nunerous anti-vaccination whackaloons like Kennedy jr and David Kirby. These people are shouting fire in a crowded theater with their attempts to preserve endangered infectious diseases.

    Deepcrap Chopra also blogs there – he is an ID proponent and an opponent of science and reason in general.

    Many of Orac’s regulars have complained about having comments censored there.

  111. #111 Ichthyic
    April 23, 2009

    without making any actual argument

    it’s a long standing affair AFAICT, and given the length and depth of Orac’s current article addressing the strawman army employed by Carrey, I’m sure he felt it wasn’t worth going into yet again.

    I’ve also heard Ariana say some really, really wooish stuff during various interviews on NPR over the years, for whatever that’s worth.

    sometimes things DO deserve contempt and ridicule, and since HuffPo has supported posting this nonsense without commentary in the past, it leaves itself open to such.

    as to whether it’s “helping” or not…

    do look at the vast bulk of his critcism, and tell us whether you think it doesn’t help sort out Carrey’s misinformation and strawmen.

    I rather thought it a useful analysis. Maybe even TOO detailed.

  112. #112 Rorschach
    April 23, 2009

    Damien lacking basic reading comprehension @ 109,

    So calling an idiot an idiot is now out of bounds? Sorry, but derision and ridicule are two of the most potent defenses society has against fools.
    Not every argument made needs to be a point-by-point counter argument

    Please read what I said.He did call AH a “twit”,there was no argument here,just the insult.Calling Jim Carrey an idiot is by all accounts fair enough from what I hear and read from the guy,and I would wholeheartedly agree.
    Derision and ridicule are fine with me,if directed to people that are obviously insane or liars or both,like most creationists,or anti-vaccers,but if you want to dismiss someone who is not any of the former,like AH,who I really do not think of as a beacon of critical journalism,then you damn better make an effort to make a convincing argument,or youre no better than them.
    Reminding people of the idiocy of an opponent is enough?So who determines whats idiocy,you?
    Maybe thats enough for you and Orac.Around here,we believe in arguments.

  113. #113 dNorrisM
    April 23, 2009

    OTP, but I love Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union

    She impersonates Arianna Huffington, among many others.

  114. #114 IST
    April 23, 2009

    nothing’s sacred> I’m not at all familiar with HuffPost, I did however read Jim Carrey’s diatribe, and the man needs to stick to acting. While I’m unlikely to deride an entire source as crap due to one entry (otherwise I’d have to do the same to Wikipedia), it is somewhat telling that an editor allows that to go through at all. The article wasn’t under opinion, or editorial, but under the Living section, as if it has some credibility. I’m not about to argue about the cherrypicking though.

  115. #115 Hank Roberts
    April 23, 2009

    People who say Huffpoo has ‘a lot of good stuff’
    miss the point — it’s like a baited hook, hidden.

  116. #116 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 23, 2009

    I’m not at all familiar with HuffPost, I did however read Jim Carrey’s diatribe, and the man needs to stick to acting.

    Have you seen him act?

    I’m thinking a third career choice is due.

  117. #117 SquidBrandon
    April 23, 2009

    Walton @97

    *Allow citizens to use drugs not yet approved by the FDA, should they so choose. (To clarify, I’d keep the FDA and all labelling laws; but if a patient is dying of a terminal illness and wants to take the risk of trying an unapproved drug, s/he should be able to.)

    Oftentimes these patients are able to do so through single patient investigational new drug applications/compassionate use programs (see: FDA’s page on the subject). Many chemotherapy drugs are given to patients this way for terminal cancers. Posaconazole, an antifungal that is now approved, was available for patients dying from invasive zygomycosis (which depending on the site of infection can have >90% mortality) not responding to conventional treatment before it was eventually approved.

  118. #118 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 23, 2009

    Rorschach,
    The HuffPo has printed multiple idiotic antivax articles by all of the major players of the Infectious Disease Promotion Movement (Kirby, RFK Jr, Imus etc) I think AH has more than proven herself to be a dangerous ignoramus by her editorial bias regarding this issue. Read some of Orac’s recent blog entries. You will get plenty of arguments, if that’s what you want. Frankly, I believe ridicule and scorn definitely help the cause. Now that websites like Gawker and Fark are starting to treat McCarthy and Carrey like the idiots that they are, I’m hopeful that this opinion will spread.
    After all, didn’t H L Mencken say “One horselaugh is worth a thousand syllogisms”?

  119. #119 Jessica
    April 23, 2009

    Thanks for the links! :D

  120. #120 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 23, 2009

    *Allow citizens to use drugs not yet approved by the FDA, should they so choose. (To clarify, I’d keep the FDA and all labelling laws; but if a patient is dying of a terminal illness and wants to take the risk of trying an unapproved drug, s/he should be able to.)

    What a terrible idea. You think health care costs are bad now? (waits for the libertarian wank on universal health care is BAD)

  121. #121 bob
    April 23, 2009

    Rorschach, did you click the link at the beginning of the paragraph in which Orac dared to call Huffington a mean name? Apparently not, because if you had you would’ve gone to a page that had links to MANY articles Orac has written about HuffPo being full of utter nonsense.

    Might want to, you know, take the effort to look at what’s been said before claiming that there’s no “actual argument.” Just sayin’.

  122. #122 IST
    April 23, 2009

    Rev> There are a number of people I’d suggest leave acting before Carrey (and yes, I’ve seen him), starting with all the people that play the same character in every film… wait that does include him too. And here I was about to slam Keanu Reeves, because it’s hard to skip an opportunity to do that.

  123. #123 Paul
    April 23, 2009

    The antivax vitriol towards Huffington Post is well warranted. They regularly feature antivax writers while heavily censoring comments that call for any sort of rationality or point out that they are citing scientific studies with fake data. Whereas I’ve seen only one pro-vaccination post, and the amount of abuse they allowed in the comments by the antivax brigade was sickening.

    Antivax writer: Comments are heavily censored for content. No matter how politely worded.

    Pro-vax writer: No antivax comments are censored, no matter how abusive.

  124. #124 Stu
    April 23, 2009

    So who determines whats idiocy,you?

    No, reality does.

  125. #125 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    Jessica@88: Thank you for your comments. I admire your initiative, and your calm reasoning. Here’s the thing: the reason you aren’t getting satisfactory responses from your research is that you are researching the wrong thing. Instead of researching vaccines and diseases and such, you need to research basic statistics. This is why we have problems with people like Jim and Jenny and Kennedy Jr. These are people who know too much about medicine for their own good, because they don’t know enough about the science that medicine is based on.

    Here’s the point. Say the inserts said something like your child’s risk from the vaccines is DOUBLE what an ‘average’ kid has. There are two things your brain will do at that moment in time. The incorrect response is fear and worry. The correct response is to think “double what?” Like ‘statistics’ against second hand smoke, and a wide range of other toxins and carcinogens, we are routinely told how much some activity or circumstance INCREASES our risk, often with startlingly huge percentages attached. But if you never stop to ask what the actual risk is, you never have a chance to consider those numbers rationally.

    If I have a one in twenty thousand chance of getting some disease, to be honest, I’m not terribly concerned about doubling it, or even quadrupling it. Until the odds get to less than one in a hundred, I figure, it is, from my perspective, a random occurrence, regardless.

  126. #126 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 23, 2009

    Rev> There are a number of people I’d suggest leave acting before Carrey (and yes, I’ve seen him), starting with all the people that play the same character in every film… wait that does include him too. And here I was about to slam Keanu Reeves, because it’s hard to skip an opportunity to do that.

    This could become a very very long list.

    Keanu Reeves, Carrey, Nicholas Cage (nothing good since Raising AZ), etc..

  127. #127 Stu
    April 23, 2009

    Nicholas Cage (nothing good since Raising AZ)

    I rather liked him in Matchstick Men, actually.

  128. #128 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    Hank@115: On ‘HuffPo is a baited hook’.

    I agree. But the bait is the celebrity blogs, and the hook is the reasoned debate.

    Do you want to stop climate change? Then you have to make peace with people more tolerant of eco-woo than you are. Do you want to stop suicide bombings? Then you have to find common ground with people more tolerant of religious woo than you are. Do you want to stop vaccine deniers? Then you have to work with people more tolerant of ‘alternative therapies’ than you are.

    We must never compromise the science. But we must approach debates about public policy with humility, regardless of how concrete our data.

  129. #129 Pablo
    April 23, 2009

    The fact that some children cannot take vaccines because they have a bad reaction makes it even more vital that those parents who can vaccinate their children do so.

    Of course, this is the problem. If you read enough of the anti-vax crap, you figure it out pretty quick: it is all about them.

    They don’t care about anyone else’s kids. They don’t care that they put my child at risk. They only care about themselves.

  130. #130 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 23, 2009

    I rather liked him in Matchstick Men, actually.

    Humm. Yeah I missed that. I should probably revise my assertion above.

    Nothing I’ve seen him in since Raising AZ…

  131. #131 tmaxPA
    April 23, 2009

    Paul; given that there were more than two thousand comments on Carrey’s piece within a couple hours of its posting, and that I have commented on several antivax articles on HuffPo without a problem, I think the charges of censorship are bullcrap.

    There has never been a platform more supportive of (as close to) reasoned debate (as humans get). I’m even happy that it has a ‘left wing bias’ reputation, because that is what pulls in enough right wing nuts to keep the comments lively.

    I’m not terribly surprised there are a lot of people here and with Orac that find it unpalatable. It far too closely represents the actual population, and most Pharyngulites tend more towards the intellectual elitists venues. If there is any truth to the ‘censorship’ whining, it is no doubt because their moderators don’t have the stomach for some of the opprobrium expressed too freely by people more interested in denouncing than debating.

    Lots of woo? Hell yea; this is America. HuffPo is still more rational than the New York Times. ;-)

  132. #132 Rusty Shackleford
    April 23, 2009

    The HuffPo piece was way funnier than Yes Man.

  133. #133 Stu
    April 23, 2009

    tmaxPA: The entire point and problem is that the time for reasoned debate over vaccines is over. Has been over. Anti-vaxers simply are not willing to accept reality, and no amount of “reasoned debate” will change that.

  134. #134 Broken Link
    April 23, 2009

    If you want let Jim Carey know that you don’t agree with him, you could send him this letter:

    http://autism.change.org/actions/view/tell_jim_carrey_that_hes_wrong_about_vaccines_and_autism

  135. #135 Liz Ditz
    April 23, 2009

    Tell Jim Carrey that hw is wrong about vaccines and autism from Autism.Change.Org:

    All the publicity surrounding the claims of a vaccine-autism link has diverted attention and energy away from focusing on issues of pressing importance to individuals on the autism spectrum including education and schools, services, employment, and housing.

    Ask Jim Carrey to reconsider his statements about vaccines and autism and, if he wishes to advocate for autism, to rather direct his energies to support services and education for individuals on the autism spectrum.

    The suggested text of the letter. Feel free to compose your own message and post it at the Change.org link, above:

    Dear Mr. Carrey,


    I have read your recent article in The Huffington Post, “The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???” in which you assert that “We don’t know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe” and that further research about a possible vaccine-autism link is necessary. Further research has and is being done, and the scientific evidence refuting this hypothetical link is steadily accruing. Nonetheless, this issue continues to hold the attention of the public and of parents who have become fearful of vaccinating their young children.


    It is unfortunate that, due to your celebrity, many people will listen to your statements about vaccines and even decide not to have their children receive the vaccines that are important for their health. Please reconsider your statements about vaccines and autism and please rather direct your energies to supporting services and education for individuals on the autism spectrum.

  136. #136 Broken Link
    April 23, 2009

    If you want let Jim Carey know that you don’t agree with him, you could send him this letter:

    http://autism.change.org/actions/view/tell_jim_carrey_that_hes_wrong_about_vaccines_and_autism

  137. #137 nothing's sacred
    April 23, 2009

    HuffPo is the home of nunerous anti-vaccination whackaloons like Kennedy jr and David Kirby. These people are shouting fire in a crowded theater with their attempts to preserve endangered infectious diseases.

    I don’t disagree (except for the hyperbole about “numerous”), but this misses my point. Those are a tiny fraction of all the articles posted at HuffPo, so it’s a mistake to characterize it as “the People magazine of the lefty blogosphere” based on such a selective sampling of articles. When I referred to cherry picking, I wasn’t saying that PZ or Orac are misrepresenting HuffPo’s take on vaccination — for all I know, every article there on the subject is as ill-informed and ill-reasoned as Jim Carrey’s — but rather that PZ is characterizing the site based solely on vac articles, or on articles authored by celebrities, when HuffPo is much broader than that. The vast majority of their articles are quite sensible and informative political pieces by intelligent progressives; that is why it is “one of the showpieces of [PZ's] political affiliation”.

  138. #138 SC, OM
    April 23, 2009

    I wasn’t saying that PZ or Orac are misrepresenting HuffPo’s take on vaccination — for all I know, every article there on the subject is as ill-informed and ill-reasoned as Jim Carrey’s — but rather that PZ is characterizing the site based solely on vac articles, or on articles authored by celebrities, when HuffPo is much broader than that. The vast majority of their articles are quite sensible and informative political pieces by intelligent progressives;

    Ah. I was understanding his comments as referring to HuffPo on medicine and perhaps science more generally, but you’re right that his comments could be read more broadly. (For those in the know, how’s their other science stuff? I know Orac’s posted about some other woo there, but I don’t know how representative it is.) In any event,

    I saw that Jim Carrey piece today and the thing that stood out about it is how it stood out; it is not at all typical of HuffPost fare.

    needed, I think, to be clarified. It is, it appears, entirely typical of their vaccination-related fare.

  139. #139 SC, OM
    April 23, 2009

    [Venn diagrams not needed but wished for nonetheless.]

  140. #140 nothing's sacred
    April 23, 2009

    Antivax writer: Comments are heavily censored for content. No matter how politely worded.

    Pro-vax writer: No antivax comments are censored, no matter how abusive.

    You destroy your credibility by employing such ridiculous hyperbole. The only comments that you can be sure are censored are your own, and the only ones you can be sure aren’t censored are the ones that are posted … and an examination of the latter makes it clear that you’re full of crap. Here is the very first comment. And take a look at the intelligent responses to the second (fallacious) comment. So stop lying … it doesn’t help the cause of science.

  141. #141 nothing's sacred
    April 23, 2009

    Hmm … I seem to have screwed up the first link. Here it is:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-carrey/the-judgment-on-vaccines_b_189777.html?show_comment_id=23372579#comment_23372579

    In any case, there are many many comments there that call for rationality and correct the mistakes of the antivac crowd.

  142. #142 'Tis Himself
    April 23, 2009

    Like a couple of others on this thread, I remember when the Salk polio vaccine came out. Every single kid in my school was vaccinated on the same day. Parental permission was required and not a single parent refused to have their kid vaccinated. Polio was recognized as a crippler and a killer. Everyone was relieved that an effective vaccine had been developed.

  143. #143 HCN
    April 23, 2009

    Jessica,

    I actually understand your concerns. Forty-eight hours after my son was born he started to have seizures. First they were little shivers, and then they got stronger longer and more frequent. While I was still in the hospital recovering from being ripped from “stem to stern”, he was transported to the Infant Intensive Care Ward of the local Children’s hospital.

    When I was released from the hospital I got to visit him in the the less dire “Infant Intermediate Care Ward.” His seizures were stopped with phenobarbitol, a medication he was on for his first year of life.

    Due to this history of seizures (more than one!), he was only vaccinated with the DT. He had no protection from pertussis.

    Now here is the kicker: at that time our county was going through a epidemic of pertussis. To give you a time line, it was also the same time period that over 120 Americans died from measles (and no, I will not tell when that was, it is a heavy duty hint for you to find that out yourself).

    I spent his first year of life making sure he never got in contact with anyone who coughed, and I actually asked other parents the vaccine status of their children. It was at a meeting of a group of moms who were obnoxious about it, with one saying that her doctor said her kids were fine with the vaccines… I am amazed that these women managed to navigate the world with their noses held so high (despite their attitude, I still breastfed my children until almost two years of age, by the way that is a hint of who they were — another is that their initials are one letter off of KKK).

    Of course, he could not be totally isolated from the community and contracted a rotavirus. After a week of diarrhea we thought he was recovering, even though he would not drink the pediolyte stuff… but he was dehydrated and that caused him to have a Grand Mal seizure. So another trip to the hospital via ambulance.

    Fortunately rotavirus is now vaccine preventable.

    My point, Jessica, is that if you have a child who has a real medical contraindication from vaccination you really really need to be pushing for everyone else to vaccinate! Even Dr. Sears tells parents who delay to encourage other parents to vaccinate on time, to maintain herd immunity! Though he tried to push it away as a fit of humor! From:
    http://www.askdrsears.com/thevaccinebook/labels/Vaccine%20News.asp … “My comment on ?not sharing your fears with your neighbors? was an attempt at humor, while trying to teach a very important point.”

    Your child will need robust herd immunity from those vaccines that need to be delayed, or skipped entirely as was the case of my son! Despite Dr. Sears comment, herd immunity is not a joke if your child has health issues. As an young teenager my son was diagnosed with a very severe genetic heart condition, one where the more common diagnosis in young adults is after “sudden cardiac death.” This means he is first in line when there is a shortage of influenza vaccine, and finally after several years he has been vaccinated against pertussis with the Tdap as a young adult.

    Remember herd immunity would have prevented this:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    Parents who have children with medical issues need to really push for a herd immunity!!!

  144. #144 Rorschach
    April 24, 2009

    If Jessica takes one thing from this thread,then hopefully that this is not an issue about her child alone,but about herd immunity for the whole of society,in particular the many “weak” members of society,the immunocompromised,chronically ill,the very young,and very old.

  145. #145 Colin
    April 24, 2009

    HuffPo sucks broadly and comprehensively. Even the serious commenters are boring and turgid. It’s Drudge for lefties. Big headlines, naked people, movie stars.

  146. #146 Marc Abian
    April 24, 2009

    Do you want to stop climate change? Then you have to make peace with people more tolerant of eco-woo than you are.

    No, you have to hound them like you hound the deniers. Eco-woo is a waste of time, when there are meaningful acts to do.

  147. #147 freal
    April 24, 2009

    No, you have to hound them like you hound the deniers. Eco-woo is a waste of time, when there are meaningful acts to do.

    Perhaps you didn’t understand the point.

    It’s likely that it will take a couple hundred years to stomp out eco-woo, such as Gaia.

    We do not have a couple hundred years.

    It is almost too late already.

    If we do not assemble a functional majority to reverse global warming Real Soon Now, then human civilization is over.

    I will not say for certain that the human species is over, but even that is not unlikely. For certain, your great great grandchildren will know only pre-agricultural life.

    Unless you can learn to work with the eco-woo people.

    Not without critiquing them. Nobody said you couldn’t critique them. The point is you’ll have to learn to make peace with them when they don’t give a shit about your critiques (and they won’t). Because saving human civilization is more important than convincing them to give up Gaia. And in the near future, we can’t do both.

  148. #148 SAWells
    April 24, 2009

    Um, are the “eco-woo” people actually sufficiently numerous and influential that they’re _needed_ to form an effective response? Are they even relevant? I’m sure they’re heavily over-represented in earnest and badly printed newsletters, but I’m not sure they have anything to do with, say, the development of the technologies we’ll actually need to solve the problem.

  149. #149 freal
    April 24, 2009

    but I’m not sure they have anything to do with, say, the development of the technologies we’ll actually need to solve the problem.

    Your question is based upon a sci-fi fantasy premise.

    Do you think global warming is going to be reversed purely by market forces driving technological innovation and adoption?

    That’s the childlike naivety of right wing libertarians.

    Preventing further damage will be expensive. Undoing the damage already done will be expensive. Markets seek the lowest prices, and under the current legal paradigm, externalities artificially lower the price of environmental damage. This legal status quo cannot be changed without legislative or judicial intervention.

    No serious climate scientists believe that global warming can be reversed without regulation. That regulation could come from any branch of government, but not without the political support of the population behind it.

    Where do you think such a political consensus is going to come from?

    Well over 90% of the world’s population believes in woo. At least 85% of the US population believes in woo. Do the math. It is impossible to build a political consensus without them. Or did you never notice that there’s no Atheist Environmental Party on the ballot?

  150. #150 Chuck
    April 24, 2009

    There are likely many factors, including genetic factors, linked to the rise in autism spectrum disorders in the last thirty years. Diet is almost certainly a large part of the equation. Another huge factor is likely the age of the parents. Older parents seem to have a greater risk of having autistic children. These trends (increased consumption of processed food and increased parental age) correlate much better with the rise in ASD than use of vaccines, which predate the rise in autism by twenty years. Perhaps parental exposure to vaccines could play a part, but there is no evidence that autism is directly linked to receiving a vaccine. The causes are likely quite complex, and if we ended all vaccines tomorrow, there would be far more challenges to public health for a likely extremely insignificant reduction in autism.

  151. #151 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    A recent paper links autism to antibodies from the mother. Jenny McCarthy my only have herself to blame.

  152. #152 Ichthyic
    April 24, 2009

    The point is you’ll have to learn to make peace with them when they don’t give a shit about your critiques (and they won’t).

    Well, if they don’t give a shit about rational critique, and your’re right, just like creationists, they don’t.

    Why hold back?

  153. #153 Eric Paulsen
    April 25, 2009

    So, PZ, how about you give them a run for their money? Instead of several individual science blogs how about consolidating them all onto one site like HuffPo but with the difference being an editorial board devoted to facts, not fluff. I am sure that you could draw an even larger following (not that it isn’t already impressive) by delivering an alternative to the infotainment that passes for conventional wisdom these days.

    There is a definite need for a fact based mega site or the rest of us. I am sure with all of your contacts that you wil be able to get guest commenters from SEVERAL disciplines.

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