An "open letter" on vaccines deconstructed

I’ve discovered an antivaccine loon I’ve never encountered before. At least, if I have encountered him, I don’t remember it. Basically, it happened this way. Not having found anything that fired me up to blog yet, I was perusing my usual collection of sites, both crank sites (as in antivaccine, quack, and pseudoscience) and medical/scientific sites, seeing if anything would grab my attention. Oddly enough, I happened upon the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism; even more oddly, for whatever reason, I haven’t really been paying much attention to AoA for the last few weeks. To be honest, AoA has become rather dull. It’s the same old voices and the same old nonsense over and over again. Indeed, I noted that Dan Olmsted is now up to part 12 (!) of his Age of Polio series, in which he tries to “prove” that the polio vaccine didn’t save us. There’s no sign he’s done yet. Seriously, he’s trying to give Andriana Gomondes a run for her money when it comes to verbose, multipart helpings of antivaccine crazy.

Be that as it may, just as I was despairing of finding something to distract myself during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, I came across a “gem” from an antivaccine activist of whom I’d never heard: Ted Kuntz. He’s apparently been an antivaccine activist for three decades and is on the board of directors of Vaccine Choice Canada, which was formerly known as VRAN (Vaccination Risk Awareness Network), which is described thusly on its website:

Vaccine Choice Canada (formerly VRAN) continues the work of the Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination, started by Ontario parents in 1982 in protest of the Immunization of School Pupils Act, which failed to include provisions for exemption from vaccines for reasons of conscience, or sincerely held beliefs.

Like most antivaccine groups, Vaccine Choice Canada believes in the discredited idea that vaccines cause autism, citing the usual collection of bad science, bad studies, and conspiracy mongering. You know they’re at the really nutty end of antivaccine groups because they also believe that vaccines are responsible for sudden infant death syndrome and that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury.

So I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Mr. Kuntz’s Dear Vaccine Proponents....A Letter from Vaccine Choice Canada did not begin well at all:

I begin with the assumption that you are well intended and, with the exception of trolls paid by the pharmaceutical industry, sincerely believe in your statements that vaccines are safe and effective.

Heheh. I wonder if he would consider me one of those pharma-funded trolls. Probably. Of course, my retort to that is to ask in a loud voice: Where is all my filthy pharma lucre? Mr. Kuntz tells me I should be being showered in filthy pharma lucre! Yet here I am, still scrambling for grants in this horrible funding environment, just like very other investigator. Sure, I make a comfortable living as an academic surgeon, but not as much as I could make in private practice. Hopefully, I can keep it up until I retire.

But enough of that aside. Let’s get to the “meat” of Mr. Kuntz’s attacks:

I also know that you are not well informed. Your rigid “everyone should be vaccinated” policy tells me that you have not ventured beyond the promotional advertisements of the pharmaceutical industry or the superficial journalism of today’s mainstream media.

Your position tells me that you haven’t read the research literature or considered the possibility that the medical industry is a for-profit business and has successfully lobbied (bought) politicians and captured the media with their advertising dollars. You assume the pharmaceutical industry is producing products in our best interest and that they wouldn’t be able to produce unsafe products.

Um, no. Our advocacy of vaccinating as many children as possible (i.e., children who don’t have medical contraindications to vaccination) is based on the science that tells us that that’s the best way to protect children from deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s called herd immunity or, more recently, community immunity, the principle that if the number of susceptible members of a population is kept low as possible, even if some are infected, outbreaks can’t turn into epidemics. The percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to induce herd immunity varies with disease and vaccine, but generally falls in the 90% range. Mr. Kuntz’s condescension is noted, though. I might have to respond in kind.

As for us believing that the pharmaceutical industry “wouldn’t be able to produce unsafe products,” all I want to ask Mr. Kuntz is: What the heck are you smoking? I don’t know of a single pro-vaccine advocate who doesn’t realize that pharmaceutical companies are for-profit businesses or who thinks that the pharmaceutical industry can’t produce unsafe products. What we do know is that vaccines are heavily regulated and rigorously tested, claims of antivaccinationists like Mr. Kuntz otherwise. Indeed, you can tell where he’s coming from when he uncritically repeats the claim that the medical industry kills around 250,000 people in the US every year and is the third leading cause of death. No, it isn’t.

Mr. Kuntz’s condescension continues:

But you consider vaccines a different kind of drug. Vaccines are like a ‘magic potion’ with none of the risks or adverse effects commonly associated with other pharmaceutical products. You believe this propaganda, not because you have read clinical evidence of safety and effectiveness, but because you want to believe that vaccines are safe and effective and will protect your child from “vaccine preventable illnesses”.

This is a delusion held by many antivaccinationists, that we pro-vaccine advocates ar guilty of magical thinking with respect to vaccines, that we think they can never cause harm and that they are magically 100% effective, that we’ve never read clinical evidence of safety and effectiveness. In reality, Mr. Kuntz is engaging in a massive case of projection. He and his fellow antivaccine travelers are like a “magic poison,” the cause of virtually all health ills suffered by our children. Not just children, actually. Adults too, as evidenced by one favorite antivaccine claim that the flu vaccine predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease. They do this not because they have read the actual clinical evidence supporting a link between vaccines and all the health issues Mr. Kuntz ant other antivaccine “warriors” attribute to vaccines, but because they want to believe that vaccines are dangerous and ineffective and are the cause of an “epidemic” of autism, diabetes, autoimmune disease, SIDS, and neurologic problems.

Because antivaccinationists like Mr. Kuntz believe that vaccines can do no right, they assume that pro-vaccine advocates believe that vaccines can do no wrong. In brief, they think that we think the way they do. It’s just not true. Heck, the Dark Lord of Vaccination himself (to antivaccinationists, anyway), Paul Offit, who is viewed by people like Mr. Kuntz as a combination between Sauron, Lord Voldemort, and Emperor Palpatine, wrote a book, The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis, which was about a disaster that occurred when 200,000 people were inadvertently injected with polio vaccine containing live, virulent virus. I myself have written posts about problems with the flu vaccine’s effectiveness and concerns about waning immunity from pertussis vaccines.

Next up:

You also believe that vaccines are responsible for the decline in polio and small pox and the decrease in mortality of measles, though there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. The vaccine industry denies a relationship between injury and death following a vaccination and claim that, “a temporal relationship does not mean a causal relationship”. Yet the vaccine industry is more than willing to claim a causal relationship between vaccines and the decline in infectious diseases by pointing to the temporal relationship between the introduction of vaccines and the decline of many diseases. The fact these diseases declined as much as 99%, before the introduction of the vaccine is not considered relevant.

This is the common intellectually dishonest antivaccine trope that “vaccines didn’t save us.” Notice the part about mortality from MMR. Antivaccinationists will point to graphs that show that mortality from measles was decreasing before the MMR, which is true. Medical care was improving; fewer children died of complications of MMR. If you look at incidence graphs, however, there was no decline until after the vaccine was introduced. As for smallpox and polio, it is, quite simply, a steaming, stinking pile of bullshit to claim that the polio vaccine wasn’t responsible for the decline in polio and the smallpox vaccine wasn’t responsible for the decline in smallpox. One notes that it was a massive, worldwide vaccination campaign against polio that has brought polio to the brink of eradication and that the only times polio comes back is when vaccination rates fall, such as when religious fundamentalists spread rumors that the polio vaccine is a Western plot to sterilize their children. Smallpox was eradicated using a combination of focused surveillance and “ring vaccination”; i..e, vaccinating anyone who could have been in contact with patients identified.

Particularly silly is Mr. Kuntz’s trying to turn the “a temporal relationship does not mean a causal relationship” around on us. For one thing, the correct way of saying it is that “a temporal relationship does not necessarily mean a causal relationship.” One could point out that he’s contradicting himself in that he’s first claiming that the vaccine had nothing to do with declining disease rates then claiming that a temporal relationship doesn’t mean causation, implying that there was actually a correlation. Be that as it may, he misses the essence of the point. Correlation might imply causation, but often does not. To determine if correlation is a result of causation, we have to look at other evidence, and there is copious other evidence to support the hypothesis that the decline in incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases is due to vaccination.


And there is no concern that no research exists to prove that vaccines are safe in the real world way in which they are administered with children receiving multiple vaccines at once. You assume that governments are doing their own independent research on vaccine safety rather than relying on the claims of the pharmaceutical industry. (They don’t.) And you likely are unaware that in the United States vaccine manufacturers are the only industry, other than the nuclear industry, not legally liable for the safety of their product. Congress gave the vaccine industry a “free pass” in 1986 following substantial lawsuits were filed against the vaccine industry.

This is, of course, a whole series of lies. Vaccination schedules in developed countries are evidence-based. Vaccines are rigorously tested. Amusingly, commenters on AoA pointed out that Mr. Kuntz is mistaken that, like the nuclear industry, the pharmaceutical industry is not legally liable for the safety of its product, pointing out that the nuclear industry does foot part of the bill and that there are a lot of other industries that have some degree of legal protection from liability. In any case, the whole purpose of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was set up to make it easier for the families of children with true vaccine injury to receive compensation.

Back to the condescension:

I understand your enthusiasm for vaccinations. It’s comforting to believe in “miracles” and everyone knows that vaccinations are a “miracle of modern medicine”. You trust your Doctor when he or she says vaccines are safe and effective. You assume your Doctor has thoroughly researched the vaccine safety literature and would be able to diagnose and treat vaccine injury if it occurred.

I understand your intense desire to blame vaccines for autism. It’s comforting to believe in a discernable external cause for autism that is not genetic. You trust your alternative medicine doctor when he or she says vaccines are dangerous and that your child’s autism was caused by them. You assume that your naturopath has thorough researched vaccine safety litrature when in fact he or she is pulling pseudoscience out of his or her nether regions to demonize vaccines.

Mr. Kuntz concludes by, again condescendingly, warning “pro-vaccine” advocates that you are “one shot away from learning your Doctor knows very little about vaccine injury and even less of how to treat the injury” and that you are “one step closer to becoming one of us – a quack, crank, tin foil hatter, Luddite, dumb, ignorant and irresponsible parent who should have our kids taken away from us for questioning vaccine theology.”

No, we are not, because we know science and Mr. Kuntz does not.


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By reasonable hank (not verified) on 21 Jul 2016 #permalink

From article: Mr. Kuntz’s condescension continues

Ha. There was a kid in middle school that we called Mr. Kuntz, except that we spelled it with a "C".

By Fendlesworth (not verified) on 21 Jul 2016 #permalink

I'll just add, about the vaccine injury program, that while liability protections are substantial, they are not absolute. You can sue for manufacturing or warning defect after having gone through NVICP, though as Narad has pointed out, a warning defect claim against manufacturers would run into FDA labeling. But you can sue the provider for that where appropriate.

Also, Canada. where Mr. Kuntz apparently hails from, does not have similar limits. Where are all the successful suits against manufacturers there? As you point out, NVICP is an easier system. In fact, a product liability claim against a vaccine manufacturer today would be incredibly difficult. That's probably partly why there are calls in Canada, Australia and other places that don't have no-fault systems to create them.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

These open letters always say more about the writer than their intended target.

What we see here is that Mr. Kuntz believes a large number of things which have been shown many times not to be true, rejects many things which have been repeatedly shown to be accurate, and projects his own conspiracist mindset onto the reality-based community because it simply does not occur to him that there could be any other way of thinking.

A classic antivaxer, in fact. His mechanism for telling truth from fiction is fundamentally broken, and messrs. Dunning and Kruger tell us why that's unlikely to change.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

“a temporal relationship does not mean a causal relationship”.

Irony metre blown. This is exactly what Kuntz and his fellow travellers do with regard to vaccines and autism.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

"I begin with the assumption that you are well intended"

"I also know that you are not well informed."

"Your position tells me that you haven’t read "

What is it with these people and their raging assumptions? I wonder how they function in business, if they just go around assuming all the time.

Would that we could test the genomes of these true believers, find out if there is a faulty gene that makes them so prone to jumping to assumptions.

Very true, most of the antivaccine nonsense comes from a silly belief that a parent can control the environment to protect their child from all harm. It is a refusal to realize that much of the danger that exists on this planet is subject to total chaos. Rather than admit that child is the result of pure random chance - find a cause you can point to and blame.

Not including Wakefield and others who follow along for profit, that is.

The brains of anti-vaxxers burn with the brilliance of a 4 watt night lite on hour 999 of its 1000-hour rating. Their ability to reason rivals that of someone who thinks the earth is flat simply because they fell of the curb. The odds of reasoning with them are less that that of winning the lottery.

And I'm being optimistic here.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

Dammit. So many irony meters, so little time. Anyone know if I can write these off on my taxes?


Unfortunately, Congress banned reimbursements and write-offs for irony meters since so many are instantly reduced to goop every time a politician opens their mouth.

However, I do know of several all-natural, totally organic products that will keep your irony meter safe and shining like new. Just send me $29.99 in just three monthly installments.

Science Mom@5

This is exactly what Kuntz and his fellow travellers do with regard to vaccines and autism.

More black and white thinking from AVers. Either correlation always equals causation (which makes him right) or our never does (which makes is wrong). Science illiteracy at its finest.

If you kept the receipts Big Pharma will compensate you. Email reimbursements[at]big pharma[dot]com.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

I had a brief look around the VCC website. I looked at the "alternatives" section, wherein the abstract for a paper on use of magnesium as first line treatment for tetanus is cited. I see several possible (inclusive OR'd) conclusions: they don't read what they cite, they aren't sufficiently informed to understand what they read , they cherry pick or they lie (i.e. they have bad intentions).

The paper evaluated large doses of intravenous magnesium for control of spasms in tetanus. Of course this means that tetanus has already progressed to the symptomatic stage, which might very well have been prevented entirely through vaccination. Magnesium does have advantages over heavy sedation and paralytics because it makes managing the acutely ill patient easier. But the fools at ACC would seem to like people to believe that a little magnesium will fix that little booboo right up.

Here's my cherry picked quotation from the paper:

Tracheostomy and frequent tracheal suction were necessary in all patients due to increased bronchial secretions and ineffective cough.

Sure, just a little magnesium and you'll be good to go. Never mind about that hole in your neck.

I've was keeping a bit of a mental count and it seems most of the real shady CAM and anti-vac Canadians had moved to the USA. I guess the pure nutbars remained. Blast
I am sure Ted cannot quite figure out what this means:
An estimated 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio between 1949 and 1954. The disease peaked in 1953 with nearly 9,000 cases and 500 deaths — the most serious national epidemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic. The last major polio epidemic in Canada occurred in 1959, with nearly 2,000 paralytic cases.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

At the risk of sounding like Old Rockin' Johnny-One-Note, I will once again bring up the second disease eradicated by vaccination, namely rinderpest.
There is just no way to argue that it disappeared due to improvements in sanitation, nutrition, or medical care.
I would love to know what the pro-infectious-disease crowd has to say about it.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

You know, the phrase "straw man" gets thrown around a lot, but this is the platonic form that should be framed and preserved for posterity. Congratulations, Mr. Kuntz - you thoroughly demolished a figment of your own imagination. Let us know when and if you manage to scrape up the guts to engage actual vaccine proponents and their actual arguments.

" AoA has become rather dull" said Orac.

Right. I too have been bored to tears and it takes a lot to bore me ( Dan hasn't the near-hallucinatory collaging skills of Gamondes: no one has. Fortunately.)

Today Kent Heckenlively flaunts his ( supposed) legal eagle-osity to explain why the California law is so lawless. he does so in great detail. And predicts what comes next ( vaccines for adults as a condition of employment).

On another front, Stagliano has written about her eldest daughter's experience at an adult day programme. What! An article vaguely related to reality?
Can't last too long I'll venture.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

Dorit brought it up and I am going to run with it. There is no national vaccine injury compensation program in Canada and Quebec is the only provincial one. With most medical care paid for by the government, the costs of the program are fairly minimal, only a little over $5 million since 1988.…

In the rest of Canada I know of only one successful case in the normal case system and that was because the judge elected to reduce the standard of evidence to that similar to the American VICP. I do not know if the judgement was appealed.

By Harriet Huestis (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

In other news...

Mikey must be greatly perturbed by the heat because he again rants obsessively and perseverates upon our gracious and magnanimous host: again he spreads lies like high grade manure at an organic farm. After evacuating tonnage of dreck, he then hopes for Orac's healing.

He needs professional help IMNSHO.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

Oh - I almost forgot:
he'd like to have Orac meet with Del Bigtree!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink


I would like to see at least hep A vaccine requirement for food workers. There have been a number of foodborne illness outbreaks that have resulted from a hep A infected food worker passing along the disease.

Food facilities would be money ahead if they would pay for the hep A vaccine for new employees. A Baskins-Robbins in Hawaii is probably going to close because they had a hep A positive employee during the current outbreak.

in the United States vaccine manufacturers are the only industry, other than the nuclear industry, not legally liable for the safety of their product

Once again, the Federal Railroad Safety Act and Boiler Inspection Act get no respect.

( Ooops! The bit about Del was a commenter)

@ Rich Bly:

Sure. And various vaccines for health care workers as well.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

I must run but...

see @ deer brian
about CInema Libre, VAXXED!, Fiona O'Leary, threats

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

That’s probably partly why there are calls in Canada, Australia and other places that don’t have no-fault systems to create them.

Astonishingly, Kuntz actually complains about this in his immediately preceding AoA entry:

"Fact #18: Canada is the only G7 nation without a national no-fault vaccine injury compensation program. 20 21 Provincial (except Quebec) and Federal governments have no duty of care if you are injured by a vaccine. 26 You are on your own."

"But you consider vaccines a different kind of drug."

Interestingly, the man actually tells a truth here -- almost the only one, from what I can see. Yes, vaccines are a "different" kind of drug -- actually, were it not for the adjuvant, vaccines could be considered not to be drugs at all in the pharmaceutical sense:
- Most vaccine ingredients are explicitly not meant to do anything in the body. The purpose of most vaccine ingredients is to prevent the vaccine from spoiling or becoming less effective. Drugs, on the other hand, are supposed to have a particular biochemical effect.
- All vaccines can be considered identical, apart from the antigen payload. All vaccines are based on a selection of perhaps a few dozen ingredients in all, most of which have a safety track record dating back decades. Many ingredients are also used extensively in other pharmaceuticals and even the food industry -- without any problem whatsoever.

So yes, vaccines are indeed quite different from regular drugs, and yes, their properties makes them generically more safe than regular drugs. That's one of the major reasons why we can give them to healthy children with almost no risk at all.

@ Doug (#13), that actually seems somewhat plausible. I had IV mag twice during labor (pre-eclampsia) to potentially avert any seizures due to high blood pressure. If it is effective in treating that, then it's plausible it would work on spasms as well. I'm not a medical professional though, so I'll leave it to them to sort out how effective it would be. :)

And you likely are unaware that in the United States vaccine manufacturers are the only industry, other than the nuclear industry, not legally liable for the safety of their product.

Vaccine manufacturers can be held liable if their conduct is sufficiently egregious. They are at least as liable as gun manufacturers and dealers, who are protected from civil liability resulting from "misuse" of their products, but can be sued for negligence if they had reason to know the product was to be used in a crime.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

All vaccines can be considered identical, apart from the antigen payload.

Only in an extremely simplistic fashion. There's quite a bit of difference between LAVs, toxoid vaccines, and polysaccharide vaccines that need protein conjugates to hork up a germinal center response.

see @ deer brian
about CInema Libre, VAXXED!, Fiona O’Leary, threats

Philippe Diaz has become a contender for Ken White's "Censorious Asshat 2016" award, by issuing vague and bumptious legal threats against Fiona O'Leary. Accusing her of"defaming" a film.…

But the antivaxxers are the underdogs!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink


About the only item of semi-interest in the perseverating loon barrage to which you alluded, is the comment about alleged faking of positive patient reviews.

It makes one wonder about the negative reviews that apparently popped up around the time this whole fandango was getting started, and who might have been behind them.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

Another industry that is immune to liability (except manufacturer defect) is the car industry. You can sue them if they use bad parts but not if your friend runs you over with a car.

I don't dispute that magnesium can be effective in controlling the spasms, with advantages over other drugs (some can control the spasms but require that the patient be mechanically ventilated for the duration of the treatment). The issue that I see is that it is treatment that would never be necessary if the people had been vaccinated against tetanus prior to exposure.

The AVers seem to be OK with someone spending a long time in hospital receiving pretty intensive treatment as an alternative to the very very low risk of bad outcome as a result of vaccination against tetanus.

Just a quick note to inform that Mozambique has just been declared polio-free because of the national vaccination program.

By Armando Sá (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

@30, @31
Yes, my remark was somewhat oversimplistic -- my bad. Indeed, no two vaccines are identical; what I meant is that there is a large overlap in the ingredients of many vaccines, and that all vaccines basically do the same thing: trigger the immune system (albeit not always in the same way). And I still think one can say that there's a fundamental difference between vaccines and other medicines.

Here's a link to a meta-analysis that concludes use of magnesium in tetanus is dubious, based on the limited good quality data that is available, in overall outcome. The analysis is ten years newer than the paper cited by the AVers.

The AVers would like go into spasm at the very first sentence in the meta-analysis:

Effective vaccination has reduced the annual worldwide incidence of tetanus from approximately 110 000 cases in 1980 to around 9600 in 2010.

Rich Bly @21: Speaking of hepA, I had a very funny conversation with my doctor once:
Me: "... a whole half liter of blood!"
3 minutes later
Me: "I'd like to get the Hep A vaccine."
Doc: "Well, you only really need that if you work in food service or with human blood."
Me: "Like that half liter of blood I was just talking about?"
Doc: "... Yes, like that. I'll have the nurse get your first dose."

By JustaTech (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink


I think your Doc was wrong; everyone possible should have hep A vaccine. Hep A virus is a fecal oral transmission virus and survives well outside of the body. Because hep A survives well outside the body; you never know if you touch a surface that you might not be picking up hep A.

Two fun facts for the weekend:

In China you can buy Virgin Boy Eggs. These are eggs that have been boiled in urine from virgin boys.

Gilbert will probably be moving to Hugo, CO where they found THC in the drinking (at least they sink so).

Rich: I did think it was an odd thing to say, since one of my co-workers mentioned that her 3-year-old had gotten the Hep A series, and he certainly wasn't working food service or human blood.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

Daycares tend to become a hotspot for hep A outbreaks because of the kids not washing their hands well and workers not washing or not washing well enough after changing diapers.

Gilbert will probably be moving to Hugo, CO where they found THC in the drinking

That observation is problematic, Rich Bly #39, as THC is not water soluble


I know THC is not water soluble, you know that. THC is not something that is every looked for in drinking water tests. How during normal testing they came up with THC, I have no idea. A lab (probably Mikey's) didn't know what they were doing and found THC.

A carboxylated metabolite of THC forms a bond with glucuronic acid. The chemical conjugate is water soluble.

By Lord Windemere (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

#18 Harriet Huestis

Thanks for that link.

The Québec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada also indicated that no one had committed any fault but that the moral suasion exercised on the public did not make vaccination compulsory, and in such a case there could be no liability without proven fault.

The Supreme Court reached a decision to award compensation independent of any fault in April 1985.

There's times you gotta love the Court.

During that year, the Government of Québec introduced the Compensation for victims of vaccination program

And the Government of Québec. Usually sound social legislation and compared to my current province, slightly to the west, competent implementation.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

A carboxylated metabolite of THC forms a bond with glucuronic acid

So, it's pee??? You're harshing my buzz Lord Windemere #44.

This girl wanted me to experience something I'd never experienced. She tried three times to get me high. Finally it worked, and I had the most incredible sex I'd ever had.

The only dead bodies from marijuana are in the prisons and at the hands of the police. This is ridiculous.

--Melania Trump

What BS! Kuntz isn't a Luddite. The Luddites were cool. Kuntz is a kuntz.

@herr doktor bimler #32:

I hear that Philippe Diaz and the Cinema Libre Studio have just signed up a new star - a Ms Barbra Streisand, I believe.

By Mrs Pointer (not verified) on 22 Jul 2016 #permalink

@Rich #34

There's a bit of a difference. Car manufacturers are insulated from such lawsuits by common sense - it would be incredibly difficult to find a judge who would entertain such a lawsuit for very long after filing.

Vaccine manufacturers, on the other hand, are statutorily immune from a certain class of lawsuits, meaning that judges are specifically empowered by law to dismiss suits that meet certain criteria.

I guess it's the difference between being de facto immune and de jure immune.

Nuclear power is actually somewhere in between. It's patently false to say that nuclear plants are immune to liability lawsuits. What the Price-Anderson Act actually does is place a cap on liability for nuclear power plants, a cap that is occasionally adjusted by congress. If actual damages from a nuclear accident exceeds the liability cap, the US government foots the remaining bill, at the discretion of congress.

Well, you can buy it in Vinyl record format so it must be good.

@ herr dokto bimler:

So Diaz *et compagnie*, variously located in the US, want to sue someone in the Republic of Ireland?

Didn't Andy learn anything from his suit in Texas?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

@Denice: opposite situation. Texas was inappropriate because the defendants had no link. Ireland is appropriate because the defendant has a link. The Texas rejection was because it's unfair to defendants to let Wakefield drag them there, but this would work the other way here.

He can also sue in Texas, I think, because she was petitioning the Texas AG.

The issue here won't be jurisdiction, if they do sue.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Denice Walter (not verified)

I guess in the US they would sue for restraint of trade, since libel is dead in the water due to obvious truth, the fact that Wakefield is a public person and his reputation is toast anyway, and this is commercial speech.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Dorit Reiss (not verified)

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I find it interesting that whenever Mikey writes about our fearless ( and peerless ) leader, he gets rather low numbers on his posts ( see NN for comparisons) .
Usually it takes a full- Endtimes/ Purge scenario for him to get good numbers.

He must be really obsessed with Dr G.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

@ Dorit:

Unfortunately, maybe they ARE learning.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

Or are just lucky. I don't know that there was much thinking behind this move.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Denice Walter (not verified)

Rich Bly #44,

Officials have declared a local emergency in Hugo, Colo. after discovering that its tap water contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana...

The problem surfaced after a local company conducted a routine employee drug test, but unexpectedly got a positive THC result when testing a water sample, which was supposed to act as a control to ensure the validity of the employee’s results...

Upon investigation, authorities saw signs that someone had tampered with one of the Hugo’s wells, which it has since cut off from the rest of the water supply.

Those test strips are notorious for going positive at homeopathic levels of metabolite(not THC)--Some douche canoe got ripped and took a leak into the 720-soul, puritanical little town's well. Ha. Ha.

Residents were told not even to let their pets drink the water...

“The one thing that bothers me about this story from a scientific perspective is that THC is so insoluble in water,” Evans said. “I can’t imagine, I can’t even fathom the idea that THC would be in water at any type of solubility to create any kind of health hazard.”

What utter dumb hype.

Here's the text of the letter:

[on Cinema Libre letterhead]

July 21, 2016

Fiona O'leary
Autistic Rights Together

via email:

Re: "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe"

Mrs O'leary,

I am the CEO of Cinema Libre Studio, distributor of the above-referenced film.

It came to my attention that you have initiated a defamation campaign against the film and its filmmakers. Moreover, you are attempting to prevent the film from being exhibited, which is a clear effort to harm our business.

Your comments regarding the film are defamatory and with regard to the filmmakers are libelous per se. Demand is made that you immediately cease and desist from interfering with the distribution of the film as well from making any statement to any person with regard to the film, Cinema Libre Studio and/or Autism Media Channel, its agents, representatives and/or employees, including Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey.

In the event that you do not comply with this demand, we intend to file an action against you. We will ask for punitive damages and financial compensation for all losses to our business directly resulting from your actions.

Accordingly, we advise that you hand this letter over to your legal counsel. I am copying ours to this litter.

Nothing contained herin should be construed as a full recitation of all applicable facts or a waiver of any rights we may have, either at law or in equity; all such rights are expressly reserved herein.


Philippe Diaz

cc: Jay Statman, Esq.

Note that it's not from an attorney but Diaz.

Now what is interesting is that Cinema Libre also distributes Todd Drezner's excellent documentary, Loving Lampposts. That documentary included a passage on

the vaccine controversy as well showing, very simply, that Dr. Wakefield's study was the only one to ever find a link between vaccines and autism, and that one study has been retracted and completely and utterly refuted.

So shouldn't Cinema Libre sue themselves for defamation?

More on Loving Lampposts:…

...and with regard to the filmmakers are libelous per se.

Libelous per se? Does that mean that it is not libelous in the legal sense, but only in a general sense of the word?

The odd thing here is that Philippe Diaz has *not* directed his bumptious, vexatious barratry in the direction of Orac, or any of the other people who gave VAXXED bad reviews and pointed out its dishonesty, only at Ms O'Leary. Does he (or another failed litigant behind him) somehow imagine her to be an easy target? Or is it that autism and aspergers mean more to her than being a resource to exploit and a source of human shields?

The attack does not foster the impression that Diaz cares two-thirds of feck-all about autists.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

I guess in the US they would sue for restraint of trade

The Wakefield-Diaz case might be stronger if it had occurred to Diaz to make that actual allegation in his letter to Fiona O'Leary, rather than complaining vaguely about butt-hurt.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

The Wakefield-Diaz case might be stronger if it had occurred to Diaz to make that actual allegation in his letter to Fiona O’Leary there were one

FTFY. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the U.S. term of art would be "tortious interference" (PDF),* a narrow subset of restraint of trade as compared with antitrust law in general.

This seems to be rather difficult for a lone person** in Ireland to effectively carry out, and given the burden on the plantiffs, I sorely doubt that Jay Statman would touch it with a windowpole.

* The ligatures are absent for me.
** As written; maybe it will become... civil RICO!!1!

civil RICO!!1!

That would be catnip for Ken White.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

That letter was a paper tiger IMO.

That letter was a paper tiger IMO

I don't disagree. That doesn't make it any less chilling. I am still interested in what basis they could use for any lawsuit. I find it hard to believe that any foreseeable claim would survive a motion for summary dismissal, but I am very not a lawyer.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Lanka (not verified)

( Dan hasn’t the near-hallucinatory collaging skills of Gamondes: no one has. Fortunately.)

I dunno, I have always been entertained. Perhaps I should give collage a try.

@Doug #13

IV magnesium infusion is great for severe tetanus!
Don't assume everything that sounds unusual is medically unjustified.

JP, let me add a "welcome back."

By shay simmons (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

I find it hard to believe that any foreseeable claim would survive a motion for summary dismissal

Unfortunately, it can take a lot of time and money even to get to that point. I'm sticking with knowingly meritless thuggery until shown otherwise.

Fiona O'Leary is not really a suitable target for Wakefield's usual litigation-as-fundraising grift. "Here is this Irish Autism advocate who disagrees with my portrayal of autists as medical disasters and subhuman monsters, please send money to fund my lawsuit against her."

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

Perhaps I should give collage a try.

I went over to the produce store (which has gotten even more cramped in terms of layout now that the liquor license is paying dividends) this afternoon, and the till guy was coloring pieces of heavy paper and cutting them out. In my nearsightedness, I asked whether he was making a collage.

He's a very affable fellow and only laughed and said something like "Yes! A collage of little signs that say 'fresh herbs' and 'avocados ($1)'."

Now, as it happens, a fixture of my childhood was the presence of "Modge Podge," as my mom was very arts'n'craftsy.*

I interpret this synchronicity** as cautionary.

* Link for explanatory rather than descriptive or Freudian purposes.
** Jesus, people, if you must, it's "lattice."

Libelous per se? Does that mean that it is not libelous in the legal sense, but only in a general sense of the word?

Are you going to argue that the social definition of libellous is not applicable because there is a legal definition of libel? Just because the social definition of libel is not always equivalent to the legal definition of libel doesn't mean it's not libel.


No, “libel per se” has a specific legal meaning.

Not... exactly. Depends on venue.

Oh, right:

Libelous per se? Does that mean that it is not libelous in the legal sense, but only in a general sense of the word?

I almost made a verysimilar comment earlier, in the sense that Diaz likely was just throwing around jargon that he neither understood nor tried to understand (such as the notion of "defaming" a film).

You're not going to find the two magic words in the relevant sections of the California Civil Code while you're digesting the fact that "libel" and "slander" are qualitatively different there, for example.

"That letter was a paper tiger IMO."

I wouldn't be so certain. Junk science purveyors have been using litigation to further their aims for many years now. Sometimes they simply want to silence criticism, but often there are other objectives such as gaining publicity or raising funds, either of which could apply here. Some of the more paranoid among them believe there are elaborate conspiracies to be cracked using court-sanctioned discovery. Again, there is plenty of this kind of thinking among the anti-vax set.

Some such actions allege defamation, but other similar gambits allege tortious business interference or even copyright infringement. While such actions would be unlikely to succeed in the US, junk science purveyors are looking to more plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions - such as Ireland.

In practice, the outcome of such cases has little to do with the rights and wrongs of the case, but with who has the most money and who can hire the best lawyers (or secure them pro bono). They can be very expensive even if you win. There is often serious money behind the plaintiffs in these actions.

This threat should be taken very seriously IMO. Most cases brought by junk science purveyors have failed so far, but they are learning from their mistakes. And yes, they appear to have chosen this particular target very deliberately.

By Mrs Pointer (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

This threat should be taken very seriously IMO.

Incoherent "legal" "threats" from random people should be taken in precisely the spirit in which they're offered. The sad part is that Diaz left off the "govern yourself accordingly."

This move is bigger than I had thought.

Andrew Wakefield is on the IMDB.

I hope you are right about that, Narad. But when it comes to anti-science nutjobs it is a mistake to underestimate their maliciousness, their financial backing, and their obsessive desire to agitate their viewpoints in whatever venue they can.

By Mrs Pointer (not verified) on 23 Jul 2016 #permalink

"... decline in polio and smallpox"...
Yeah, no cases of smallpox since 1977 (in Somalia) worldwide, that most certainly is a significant decline.
As in, extinct in the wild.
Resulting in only certain groups (military, epidemic response teams, etc) now receiving our most dangerous of all of our vaccines

Now, if we could only crush polio as well. Alas, the Luddites want to bring that disease back as a common childhood illness.

I was wondering when there will be an HIV vaccine?

This would be huge. They already have a test for measuring HIV antibodies, so you think that they would be halfway there.

If Salk could make a vaccine in the 50's, then they could make one now easier? This could save millions of gays and Africans.

Polio and measles are trivially easy compared to many retroviruses. That's especially true with HIV, where the envelope changes incessantly and viral RNA mutates rapidly.
HIV has several methods of entering a cell, all via specific receptors on the cell membrane that are valid messenger channels used by the body. React to those, destroy the immune system and a couple of other major cellular and body systems. Hence, the need to identify something tightly conserved on the viral surface, but not found in the human body.
So, it's hellishly complex to create a vaccine against HIV.

BTW, it isn't only gays and Africans. Every human who enjoys sexual activity, receives organs or blood is open to infection. It's a humanity wide risk that creates the need for a vaccine.
Alas, the virus has thus far defeated all attempts.

One problem is, a retrovirus alters the host cell's very DNA, stitching itself into the cellular DNA in the nucleus. The cell's membrane is a major component of the viral envelope.
Hence, making the entire thing an ungodly complicated mess to try to figure out.
Complicated enough that, given a race for cold fusion and an HIV vaccine, my money's on cold fusion.
Which is about as likely as finding natural antigravity.

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 24 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Pheobe C (not verified)

You are all a bunch of Kuntz!


Just one more word for the Woo Lexicon.

Honestly, I was thinking, "One is what one eats".
Having said that, knowing my luck, dinner will be rump roast...

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 24 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Lanka (not verified)

Phoebe C @84 -- I am far from expert on vaccines -- others here can comment more authoritatively -- but it's my understanding that it's extremely difficult to come up with vaccines for retroviruses such as HIV, for reasons that are well-understood by others (but not by me). It's been intensively researched for decades now.

By palindrom (not verified) on 24 Jul 2016 #permalink

It should be noted that one of the consensus great names in major league baseball history belongs to Rusty Kuntz, who had a modest playing career but has become a widely respected first base coach for the K.C. Royals.

And then there's old-time baseball:

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 24 Jul 2016 #permalink

@Orac and Wzrd1

Oh, don't drag the Luddites into this. They were actually profiting from an absence of technology, so it was rational in a selfish way.

The antivaxxers could at least try to find a scam that doesn't involve hurting children.

The antivaxxers could at least try to find a scam that doesn’t involve hurting children.

Like selling them apples with razor-blades inside!

....wait....never mind....

@ JP:

Collages are often employed by those who can't draw to save their own lives ( which you can- I saw that cat!- I also). I once took a class and needed to produce one so I drew/ painted something and then pasted on detailed magazine print photos.

I've let my skills lapse but do some photos occasionally.

I'm glad to hear that you're amongst us again.

Whilst I am currently occupied with a *project* for someone I try to appear here and traipse around the 'net searching for Awful Woo & Other Tripe.

e.g. AoA today has an article on faecal transplants ( insert joke HERE)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

Todd W ( Harpocrates Speaks) writes about O'Leary et al.

I've always found it intriguing that alt med advocates/ woo-meisters- who often have difficulty ascertaining reality from fantasy- like to sue when someone critiques their work.

Rather than show data.

Gentlemen ( and I use the term very loosely) like P.Timmy Bolan and Gary Null have wasted courts' time in this manner.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

To be more precise, Bolen doesn't actually sue people himself IIRC

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

I love this:

“I begin with the assumption that you are well intended” - Duh

“I also know that you are not well informed.” - As opposed to someone with a degree from Google-U

“Your position tells me that you haven’t read ” - Actually, I would lend more credence to people like Paul Offitt, Orac, Bill Nye, etc. when they actually have education to back up their claims and the claims that vaccines are safe. When you put forward a doctor, an actual doctor, with an MD, that is published and respected as opposed to someone with a doctorate in anthropology, computer science, or a playboy model, then maybe I'll believe you.

Wzrd1: BTW, it isn’t only gays and Africans. Every human who enjoys sexual activity, receives organs or blood is open to infection. It’s a humanity wide risk that creates the need for a vaccine.

The problem is that HIV isn't seen as a humanity wide problem. Like Pheobe says, it's seen as a problem for only certain (politically disposable) groups- and that right there is the main reason a vaccine will never be developed, regardless of the scientific problems. Kinda the same reason the Congo will never stop being at war with itself.

I should mention, that at least in the states, the risk of developing HIV from donated blood or organs has been *vastly* reduced, thanks to screening.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

Collage is like photography. Anyone can do it, but it takes genuine artistic ability to do it well. Most of the great collage artists were people who could draw, but just chose not to. (Similar to Pollack, who had skills as a figurative painter, etc.) That said, I can't draw for beans, and am pretty good with both collage and photography.

I'm with JP in that on the rare occasions where I've been to AoA and seen Gamondes collages, I've found like kind of interesting. "Near-hallucinatory" is mostly a good thing in collage art, and bat-poop barking mad is necessarily a bad quality in an artist. Think Henry Darger or Howard Finster. They're both 'outsider' artists - obsessive loonies who pursued their strange visions outside the 'art world' or maybe 'outside reality'. The American Museum of Visionary Art (AVAM) is a must-see if you're ever in or near Baltimore.

Not that all collage artists were nutters. John Heartfield was one righteous dude.…

I should mention, that at least in the states, the risk of developing HIV from donated blood or organs has been *vastly* reduced, thanks to screening.

And not just 'screening' but new processing of the blood products --Bayer coughed up $600,000,000 for just the infected US hemophiliacs. As the 'Cutter documents' reveal, there was a financial decision to continue to sell off the old lot of factor VIII-- partly to fullfil oversees price-fixed contracts

A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs -- medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS -- to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980's while selling a new, safer product in the West...

Federal regulators helped keep the overseas sales out of the public eye, the documents indicate. ...

Taken together, the documents provide an inside view of Cutter's bottom-line strategizing and efforts to manage the flow of information amid growing public anxiety about the safety of its product....

The new product, meanwhile, was selling briskly, leaving Cutter with a problem: ''There is excess nonheated inventory,'' the company noted in minutes of a meeting on Nov. 15, 1984.

''They needed to get the return for what they invested,''...

Bayer, which is based in Germany, said in its statement that an overall plasma shortage in 1985 had kept Cutter from making more heated medicine. But Cutter may actually have contributed to that shortage -- by using some its limited plasma supplies to continue making the old product...

In one case, records show, Cutter officials even discussed trying to delay Japan's approval of heated concentrate so the company could shed stocks of the older product....

the three other American-based companies that continued to sell unheated concentrate -- Armour Pharmaceutical, Baxter International and Alpha Therapeutic -- either declined to be interviewed or denied wrongdoing, in some cases citing the same reasons Bayer did for its decisions....

Infected with a terrible and still mysterious disease, hemophiliacs were often shunned by family, friends and employers.

...''It was the immoral drug company that caused some families to fall apart,'' she said. ''They blamed and tortured each other. It was better to die than to live.''…

How mighty white of them.

I've tangled with that Canadian loon before, on another message board, with a different name, mind you. He's a nasty piece of work. He always asks for peer-reviewed studies from pro-vaxers, but his group thinks Whale is a great source.

@Gilbert How mighty white of them

That was racist 🍉

Racist enough to put me back on moderated or banned, I take it.

Is that icon a slice of watermellon? And with seeds? Very naughty, Pheobe C.

Pheobe C: As someone who spent 4 years working on an HIV vaccine - there are a lot of very smart, very dedicated people working on HIV vaccines. It's really, really hard, and there have been major set backs. But at least around where I am it's very high on the list of "things people are working on", and generally is well funded.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

@ JustaTech

I just had a thought. Why are they even trying to make an HIV vaccine when antibodies confer no immunity?

It is well known that HIV+ cases are diagnosed based on a high level of HIV antibodies. If HIV antibodies offered protection, then nobody would get AIDS.

Pheobe C @104; Actually there are two ways to diagnose HIV infection: anti-HIV antibodies (also known as sero-conversion) and by PCR, which measure the amount of virus in your blood. It is possible to sero-convert without becoming infected (if you work in vaccines).

Protective antibodies are trickier: some do protect, but it is very hard to predict which ones and for how long. And since the virus mutates so much, you wold need tons of different antibodies. Which is why some groups have concentrated on creating neutralizing antibodies to the parts of the outside of the HIV that don't mutate much.
However! Vaccines work through more mechanisms than just inducing protective antibodies. All the vaccines for HIV I worked on looked at creating a T-cell response that would kill infected T-cells before the HIV could take hold. (Ours didn't work, but that doesn't mean that this method can't work.)

By JustaTech (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

AoA today has an article on faecal transplants ( insert joke HERE)

Conrick's apparent unfamiliarity* with the actual story of Awakenings is really all the humor that's needed.

* Or stubborn insistence on a bad analogy, whatever.

Just released report concluding vaccination should not be compulsory:
Title: Compulsory Vaccination
Report of a Public Meeting, held in the Marylebone Vestry Hall, London
Author: Charles T. Pearce
Release Date: July 25, 2016

By j a higginbotham (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

@"j a higginbotham" #108


That is a delightful indication of the well known fact that while the purported rational changes, the bogeyman never does. It is all about the vaccines, it always was, and it always will be.

Precious bodily fluids, and all that.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 28 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by j a higginbotham (not verified)

It is a bit out of copyright, which is why it can be at that website: "WEDNESDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 19, 1870."

Sorry, that is not terribly current.


I think this could be the resurrection of Fendlesworth.

The sockpuppetry will never end..

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 25 Jul 2016 #permalink

And from Narad's link at 110 we can see the dangers of using homeopathy to treat serious illness...

A few really great points. Both in the article and through the comments section. I have passed this around where I work and everyone has said what a great bit of writing this is.

By Elisa Kits (not verified) on 26 Jul 2016 #permalink

I think this could be the resurrection of Fendlesworth.

It does not appear to be. This has been a sporadic commenter since 2010.


HIV antibodies don't confer immunity after infection, but that's doesn't imply they don't confer protection before exposure. The body will raise antibodies against plenty of viruses it can't actually eliminate, but can still be blocked by vaccination.

Then again, it's not guaranteed that antibodies will confer protection.

@Bob, totally OT, but it is a goal of mine to eventually explore how and why varicella gets rendered innocuous and later, may or may not arise somewhat altered.
Honestly, it'll take a few years before I could arrive at that point of exploration, due to some issues in life and conditions.
Still, it's something I honestly want to comprehend.
Having had chickenpox as a child, then a few years ago as a mild case of shingles, that only deepens my want of comprehension.

That all said, varicella isn't a retrovirus, for those who don't know that.
A retrovirus changes the very genome of the cell that it infects.
While, not all retroviral changes are bad (see placental implantation for a hint), many, many are.

I'll be honest, I'm at polio, measles and rubella becoming extinct, then HIV.
And honestly, I've rarely championed the case for causing any creature or organism to become extinct.

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 26 Jul 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Wzrd1: I wholeheartedly agree, and would add the mosquito Aedes aejypties to the list. It wouldn't fix everything, but it sure would make some progress, and cut out a lot of suffering.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 26 Jul 2016 #permalink

Justatech: I live in a state where the mosquito is practically the state bird, so I can get behind an extinction effort. Or at least an effort to make them non-bitey. We have a new species up here now; I don't know what they are, but the bite *stings.* At least it's not so bad where I am right now, thanks to the nighthawks, the swallows, the swifts and the bats, though I'm still going through repellant like you wouldn't believe.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 26 Jul 2016 #permalink