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.