White Coat Underground

Deirdre Imus—dangerous, stupid, or both?

It seems the same questions keep coming up when looking at the cult leaders of the infectious disease promotion movement. When you listen to them preach or read their liturgy you can’t help thinking, “dumb, evil, or both?” I think I’m going to vote for “both” when it comes to Deirdre Imus. Her sermon last week in the Huffington Post was so far over the top that my nose is still bleeding from climbing her tower of intellectual excrement.

Her title advises health consumers, “On Vaccinations: Consider the Source and Follow the Money.”

I don’t know what that means, but Deirdre explains, “When presented with conflicting information on a critically important health issue I generally follow two simple rules…educate myself on the issue and ‘follow the money.'”

I followe a less loquacious rule: follow the medical evidence. This is a very different kind of investigation. Whatever “follow the money” means, it doesn’t mean anything about how valid an intervention is. When evaluating a single study, one of the factors to look at is funding and support—along with study design, statistics, etc.. No one factor is dominant. If a study appears to have valid results, then the funding source, while interesting, is less important. If they study is repeated and the results aren’t replicated, it might be interesting to see what the funding sources were for the original study and whether these influenced the results. For example, the original Wakefield MMR study published in The Lancet seemed to show an association between MMR, colon disease, and autism. The study design was rather crappy, with only 12 subjects, but still the results were interesting. However, when other groups tried to replicate the study, Wakefield’s findings were not replicated. Was this because of his crappy study design or some other more nefarious reason? It turns out that Wakefield had a financial stake in his results being positive. His financial stake does not itself invalidate his study–its crappy design and his falsifying of data is what makes it invalid. The financial stake simply helps to explain “why”.

Imus follows the money straight to Paul Offit, a vaccine expert who’s great toe contains more medical knowledge than Imus’s brain. She makes all sorts of implications regarding behind-the-scenes shenanigans (emphasis mine):

Dr. Offit has been on a very aggressive crusade in defense of vaccines for years. With what appears to be unlimited resources, Offit is routinely granted ample unchallenged opportunities to mount his campaign in newspapers around the country.

This is a logical fallacy sometimes known as “circumstantial ad hominem“, in which the messenger is smeared in hopes that people will be fooled into believing that this somehow invalidates the messenger’s argument.

Imus has not only failed by focusing on the red herring of “the money”; she has also failed in “educating herself”, the second half of her admonition. She chastises vaccine experts for not understanding the “risks” (sic) associated with vaccines, and feels that her google-fu is better than Dr. Offit’s professional credentials:

Since we have Dr. Offit’s Huffington piece, let’s look at the credibility of his professional opinion and see if he is really providing parents with good advice.

According to a 2008 study, it is Dr. Offit who might be “mistaken” when he claims vaccines don’t cause diabetes. Vaccine Induced Inflammation Linked to Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, published in the Open Endocrinolgy Journal.

[…]

Multiple studies suggest Dr. Offit might also be “mistaken” when he says vaccines don’t cause asthma or allergies. One by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health published in 2000, examined the effects of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DPT) and tetanus vaccines and found an asthma and allergy association in vaccinated children compared to unvaccinated children.

These two examples of Offit’s supposed idiocy, and Imus’s alleged genius are instructive. Neither comes from a well-recognized journal. The first article comes from a journal who’s goal is “rapid publication”; the “study” is an execrable exercise in speculation without any real data, and is basically a long-winded sample of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

The second reference is from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. What is this journal that Imus feels knows a lot about the dangers of vaccination?

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) is dedicated to the advancement of chiropractic health care. It provides the latest information on current developments in therapeutics, as well as reviews of clinically oriented research and practical information for use in clinical settings.

Let’s review briefly. Imus tells us to “consider the source and follow the money” when evaluating vaccination practices. As we’ve seen, following the money is a red herring—it says nothing about the evidence itself. And I completely agree with her about considering the source. Imus, an dissembling satchel of excrement with a degree from Google U, cites a chiropractic journal as a legitimate source for vaccine information.

The stupid, it burns—but the irony is rather sweet.

Comments

  1. #1 Danimal
    February 19, 2009

    Imus follows the money straight to Paul Offit, a vaccine expert who’s great toe contains more medical knowledge than Imus’s brain.

    I think you crediting Imus with more knowledge that she deserves or crediting Offit with to little knowledge.

  2. #2 dean
    February 19, 2009

    I’ve long wondered on what authority Ms. Imus makes these claims. I’ve never heard what type of degree(s) she has, and quite honestly have never tried to check. I’m still not sure whether she’s simply deranged, and not competent to comment on the things she does (she’s far more than anti-vaccine: homeopathy, crystals, all sorts of mindless shit) or whether she is simply a congenital liar.

    She’s also big on natural links on cancer, and has made comments about how “statisticians design large studies to avoid finding the cancer to environmental links we know are there.”

    I’m not sure how she reconciles her claimed concern for children with the increased risk avoiding vaccinations and other medications puts them at.

    I would ask: Dangerous, dishonest. stupid, or all three?

  3. #3 catgirl
    February 19, 2009

    I’m not an expert in pharmaceutical finances, but I thought that vaccines are actually one of the least profitable products of pharmaceutical companies. Does anyone know more about this?

  4. #4 Denice Walter
    February 19, 2009

    @ dean:I’ve searched and I’ve searched, but I’ve never been able to find *any* degrees listed for either Deirdre or Don Imus.He had a successful radio show here in the NYC area(WFAN), which was terminated when he *misspoke*.Through that show, he raised money from his fans,local pro athletes, and local businesses for a kids’ cancer center (at HUMC,Bergen County,NJ),later getting his name added to the center’s original name(“Tomorrow’s Children”). Deirdre got an environmental “research” center named after *her*,at the same hospital,where she’s hosted anti-vax conferences.This connection to an actual hospital enables the Imus’ to cloak themselves in apparent respectability.I have no idea how much of the money put into these projects was from the Imus’ themselves.Any guesses?

  5. #5 Orac
    February 19, 2009

    Deirdre Imus—dangerous, stupid, or both?

    Both.

  6. #6 jay
    February 19, 2009

    Follow the money.

    Look at who is writing the anti-vax articles and who involved in the lawsuits. Coincidence?

  7. #7 MikeMa
    February 19, 2009

    dean,
    Dangerous, stupid and can we add criminal if too many more kids die of preventable measles and the like?

    Offit sure has taken heat for being right in the face of stupid people. Ms Imus is really the embodiment of a fanatic – a person who redoubles their efforts when they have forgotten their aim. Mercury, too many, too soon, big pharma, aluminum, heavy metals, so many enemies, so little evidence.

  8. #8 Badger3k
    February 20, 2009

    Damn, Orac got here and posted links already, since he’s dealt with her idiocy before. The stupid doesn’t burn – it sears to the bone!

  9. #9 DLC
    February 20, 2009

    Deirdre Imus, proof that minutes of google does not trump years of formal training and experience.

  10. #10 dean
    February 20, 2009

    Denice;
    Yes, I used to watch Imus on msnbc before his incident. I have to admit I initially liked the “nothing sacred” attitude of most of the humor, until the marriage.
    Didn’t she also have some scam in which she was “greening” hospitals and other businesses?

    When I watched the show they would mention that she had graduated from some school on the east coast, but never (as far as I know) was the degree mentioned.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    February 20, 2009

    Dean: Yes,it’s called (I don’t know if I can *actually* type the words…I’ll take a deep breath, and…)”Green the Clean”, which was also initiated at said HUMC.She sells books and products to enable others to learn and incorporate her bizzarre *idees fixees* into their daily lives.

  12. #12 Brian X
    February 20, 2009

    Bob Park’s Voodoo Science gives another example of “follow the money” going horribly wrong — Paul Brodeur’s crusade against microwaves. Brodeur’s distrust of military research and ignorance of the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation lead to years of lawsuits over microwave ovens, power lines, and cellular phones as well as the invention of spurious technobabble like “WiFi smog”. The paranoia Brodeur created still hasn’t completely gone away.

  13. #13 Jeanruss
    February 20, 2009

    Bravo to deirdre for laying out the truth. The medical profession is a disgrace and has sold out the public for money. I have written a book about the dishonesty and corruption in our medical establishment and government. She is absolutely correct. The truth will never come from those who profit from the current system and have learned their craft from medical schools funded by pharmaceutical corporations.

  14. #14 Chris
    February 20, 2009

    Jeanruss wrote “I have written a book about the dishonesty and corruption in our medical establishment and government.”

    How can you write a book when you obviously could not read what this blog post was about?

    If you want to read about the horrible taking of money by torturing children with absolute quackery, wander over here and see how one father was taken for a ride by some of these guys:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/mercury_in_vaccines_as_a_cause_of_autism.php#comment-1415957

    and here:
    http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/184

  15. #15 Chevy
    February 2, 2010

    I had to laugh when I recently took Deirda advice and followed the money.

    Before I get to that last week on her husband’s morning show or perhaps the week prior she was talking about her vagina on national TV. Can she possibly be anymore disgusting? I can only hope that hospital in Jersey she works for takes appropriate action and remove this disgusting pig from representing them.

    How many children were hurt due to her crusade against vaccines? Is NBC and now ABC complicit in what has been proven to be a scam in order to bring class action law-suits against the pharmaceutical companies? I wonder if this opens the opportunity to sue Deirdra Imus and her ilk for crusading against vaccinating.

    On 28 January 2010, a panel of the UK General Medical Council handed down rulings on Wakefield’s conduct, following an unprecedented 197-day inquiry, arising from Brian Deer’s investigation. The inquiry was the longest-ever by the medical regulator. The panel, of three doctors and two lay members, branded Wakefield “dishonest”, “unethical”, “irresponsible” and “callous”. His 1998 Lancet research was found to be dishonestly described and performed on developmentally-disordered children without ethical approval. Five days later, The Lancet formally retracted the paper from the scientific literature. After further proceedings, Wakefield’s license to practice medicine is expected to be revoked.

  16. #16 MonkeyPox
    February 2, 2010

    The only part of that i disagree with is the part where you think talking about her vagina in public is a bad thing. Why is that? Is there something shameful about it?

  17. #17 truthteller
    March 22, 2010

    Ms Imus went to Villanova where she supposedly studied languages.On a good day,she was a B level actress who never made it till she married the geezer.She has zero qualifications to be speaking on the topic,and yes,not only is she stupid,but she is exceedingly dangerous.

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