Hey, where is everybody? The "CDC whistleblower" manufactroversy continues apace

vaccine(1)

Here it is, Tuesday already, and the antivaccine underground is still on full mental jacket alert over the biggest story the antivaccine movement has seen in a while. Fortunately, it’s a story that’s been largely ignored by the mainstream media, which tells me that maybe, just maybe, the mainstream media has figured out that it shouldn’t give undue credence to cranks. I’m referring, of course, to the claim that the CDC has for 13 years been covering up smoking gun evidence that the MMR vaccine when administered before 36 months causes autism in African-American males.

Ironically, as I pointed out when I first noted the emergence of this kerfuffle, the risibly incompetent “reanalysis” of the study (Destefano et al) by biochemical engineer Brian Hooker that failed to find an earlier age of first MMR vaccination in autistic children compared to neurotypical controls (hey, it was a case control study; so I have to be precise here in stating what it found) actually showed for all groups examined other than African-American males that there was no correlation between age of first MMR and autism, and, as I pointed out in both of my posts, it doesn’t even convincingly show such a relation. Given that most of the antivaccinationists glomming on to the study as “smoking gun” evidence of a CDC conspiracy are white, one can’t help but marvel how they oblivious they are to what Hooker’s “reanalysis” actually showed. None of that stopped Andrew Wakefield (and some of his supporters) from engaging in some truly despicable race baiting, comparing this CDC “coverup” to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

In any case, I hadn’t been planning on writing about this again right just now, having figured that two posts are enough, but the developments keep rolling in. so I can’t resist one more post. Besides, as we know from the countdown of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, “First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Unfortunately, I’m under no illusion that antivaccine nonsense shall “snuff it,” even though it is indeed naughty in the Lord’s sight, but here goes.

First up, after complaining about how long it’s taken the CDC to make a response to this kerfuffle, it finally did so yesterday afternoon:

CDC shares with parents and others great concern about the number of children with autism spectrum disorder.

CDC is committed to continuing to provide essential data on autism, search for factors that put children at risk for autism and look for possible causes. While doing so, we work to develop resources that help identify children with autism as early as possible so they can benefit from intervention services.

CDC’s study about age at first Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism, published in Pediatrics in 2004, included boys and girls from different ethnic groups, including black children. The manuscript presented the results on two sets of children:

  1. All children who were initially recruited for the study, and
  2. the subset of children who had a Georgia birth certificate.

Access to the information on the birth certificates allowed researchers to assess more complete information on race as well as other important characteristics, including possible risk factors for autism such as the child’s birth weight, mother’s age, and education. This information was not available for the children without birth certificates; hence CDC study did not present data by race on black, white, or other race children from the whole study sample. It presented the results on black and white/other race children from the group with birth certificates.

The study looked at different age groups: children vaccinated by 18 months, 24 months, and 36 months. The findings revealed that vaccination between 24 and 36 months was slightly more common among children with autism, and that association was strongest among children 3-5 years of age. The authors reported this finding was most likely a result of immunization requirements for preschool special education program attendance in children with autism.

The data CDC collected for this study continue to be available for analysis by others. CDC welcomes analysis by others that can be submitted for peer-review and publication. For more information on how to access this public-use dataset please go to the this webpage.

Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism.

Vaccines protect the health of children in the United States so well that most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences of diseases now stopped by vaccines.

However, our 2014 measles count is the highest number since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. We do not want to lose any opportunity to protect all of our children when we have the means to do so.

I’m actually rather torn by this statement. When I first saw it, it annoyed me. It was so milquetoast, so vague. It didn’t address the heart of the attempt at a manufactroversy, namely what on earth is going on with CDC senior scientist William Thompson, who was represented by Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker as having “confessed” to grave malfeasance and fraud with respect to this study using cherry picked sound bites with no context claimed to be by Thompson himself intermingled with Hooker making all sorts of claims of suppression of the “real” results. On the other hand, this antivaccine manufactroversy hasn’t hit the mainstream press much yet, other than a couple of outlets that I’ve seen. Thus far, it’s been confined to the antivaccine and quack crankosphere. So maybe it’s not a horrible idea not to mention Thompson, Hooker, or Wakefield. Certainly Hooker and Wakefield don’t deserve to be considered on the same level as someone like Thompson, even if he did somehow make the huge mistake of speaking with Hooker. Stick to the science. However, if this is all that the CDC was going to come out with, it boggles the mind that this statement wasn’t released on Friday, when the social media storm really erupted. In any case, it strikes me as too little, too late, but for what it is it does have some positives, particularly the statement that the data continue to be available for analysis and that the CDC welcomes such analyses by others that can be submitted for peer reviewed studies.

More interesting to me, and something I wanted to discuss a bit more yesterday but ran out of steam, is a letter from William Thompson to Julie Gerberding, the then head of the CDC published by Mike Adams. It’s dated February 2, 2004, and it strikes me as a bit odd. It doesn’t look like a letter, as it’s not signed and not on CDC letterhead, although it is a scanned image. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like an e-mail, either. There are no e-mail addresses, no headers, no nothing. Very odd. Right away, that makes me wonder about its authenticity. On the other hand, if you look at the text in more detail, it starts to look more authentic. Why? Because there’s nothing whatsoever there that suggests a conspiracy or coverup at all, Mike Adam’s hyperventilating otherwise. Here’s the whole text:

Dear Dr. Gerberding:

We’ve not met yet to discuss these matters, but I’m sure you’re aware of the Institute of Medicine Meeting regarding vaccines and autism that will take place on February 9th. I will be presenting the summary of our results from the Metropolitan Atlanta Autism Case-Control Study and I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism.

It’s my understanding that you are aware of several news articles published over the last two week suggesting that Representative David Weldon is still waiting for a response from you regarding two letters he sent you regarding issues surrounding the integrity of your scientists in the National Immunization Program. I’ve repeatedly asked individuals in the NIP Office of the Directors Office why you haven’t responded directly to the issues raised in those letters, and I’m very disappointed with the answers I’ve received to date. In addition, I’ve repeatedly told indivdiuals in the NIP OD over the last several years that they’re doing a very poor job representing immunization safety issues and that we’re losing the public relations war.

On Friday afternoon, January 30th, I presented the draft slides for IOM presentation to Dr. Steve Cochi and Dr. Melinda Wharton. The first thing I stated to both of them was my sincere concern regarding presenting this work to the Institute of Medicine if you had not replied to Representative Weldon’s letters. I have attached the draft slides for your review. I have been told that you have suggested that the science speak for itself. In general, I agree with that statement, but as you know, the science also needs advocates who can get the real scientific message to the public.

In contrast to NIP’s failure to be proactive in addressing immunization safety issues, you have done an amazingly effective job addressing the press on a wide range of controversial public health issues, including SARS, Monkey Pox, and Influenza. The CDC needs your leadership here because I may very well be presenting data before a hostile crowd of parents with autistic children who have been told not to trust the CDC. I believe it is your responsibility and duty to respond in writing to Representative Weldon’s letters before the Institute of Medicine meeting and make those letters public. Otherwise, you give the appearance of agreeing with what he has been suggested in those correspondences and you’re putting one of your own scientists in harms way.This is not the time for our leadership to act politically. It is a time for our leadership to stand by their scientists and do the right thing. Please assist me in this matter and respond to Representative Weldon’s concerns in writing prior to my presentation on February 9th.

Sincerely,

William W. Thompson, PhD
Epidemiologist
Immunization Safety Branch

Going along with this letter is this interview with Adams;

First off, dammit, can’t antivaccinationists understand that a 3.4-fold increased risk is NOT a 340% increased risk. It’s a 240% increased risk. These people are numerically illiterate; no wonder they’re impressed with Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis.” The rest of it is nothing new, nothing that I haven’t discussed before here and here (and, of course, in this very post). The only difference is more race-baiting despicableness added to Andrew Wakefield’s and Brian Hooker’s race-bating despicableness. Oh, and libeling Julie Gerberding. Adams charges that she definitely had been offered a quid pro quo for allegedly having quashed the finding that the MMR vaccine causes autism in African-American children. Oh, and totally misinterpreting Thompson’s letter.

Second, do you see a hint of a conspiracy or desire to cover up data here? I don’t, but then I’m not Mike Adams or an antivaccine conspiracy theorist flogging this latest conspiracy theory. Indeed, as I read this, all I could think of is: Is this the best Wakefield and Hooker have got? What I see in this letter is a scientist begging his boss to respond to a legislator’s rabble rousing. In fact, these letters from Rep. David Weldon, MD, to Julie Gerberding can be found online on various antivaccine websites. For instance, here is Weldon’s letter dated October 31, 2003. Here is the second letter, dated January 21, 2004.

If you read Weldon’s letters, you’ll note that they have nothing to do with Destefano et al. They’re both about the Verstraeten study, which is the study at the heart of what I called yesterday the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement (at least in the US) and deconstructed in detail earlier this year. Basically, Weldon, even though he’s a physician, fell for the Simpsonwood conference conspiracy theory, promoted a year and a half later by antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., hook, line, and sinker. The first letter basically regurgitates the “concerns” being promoted by the antivaccine movement at the time. The second letter turned up the heat, trying to persuade Gerberding to postpone the IOM conference until the “concern” about the Verstraeten study had been addressed. As we all know, the IOM conference did go on and the IOM report strongly stated that there was no correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism.

I can understand why Thompson, if this letter is genuine, was concerned. David Weldon was making hay with the antivaccine underground, which back in 2003 and 2004 hadn’t yet been completely revealed to be the total cranks they are, such that they could be safely ignored. Thompson sounds as though he were concerned that he was being thrown to the wolves without adequate backup. He sounds as though he were pleading for the CDC to come out more strongly on the science of vaccine safety, disagreeing that letting the science showing vaccines to be safe speak for itself is enough. He was right. Science and medicine communicators are needed, because the antivaccine movement will do everything in its power to make sure that the science doesn’t speak for itself.

As they are doing now with this manufactured controversy about a CDC “whistleblower.”

Fortunately, things don’t appear to be going quite the way that Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker had hoped. It’s gotten to the point where the Age of Autism’s “media editor” is crying out, “Where is the New York Times? Where is the Washington Post? Where is Fox News, CNN, CBS, and NBC? Where is the press? Anyone?” Meanwhile, we see antivaccinationists on Twitter lamenting:

And setting up a Twitter party tonight:

Far be it from me to suggest to interested Tweeple that, if they’re bored and in the mood for fun, they consider joining the party on Tuesday 8/26 from 7-10pm with the #CDCwhistleblower hashtag. To quote Andrew Wakefield’s characterization of what William Thompson allegedly said: Do what you think is best.

It’s gotten so bad that conspiracy loon John Rapaport relates:

I have it on good authority that over 200 mothers of autistic children are readying a class-action suit. They already have an attorney.

They will sue, at the very least, the authors of the 2004 DeStefano study that claimed there was no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

CDC whistleblower William Thompson, who was one of the authors of that study—and then exposed it as a fraud—should take notice.

He can become a witness for these mothers, or if he goes into seclusion and refuses to make a clear, complete, and definitive public statement, he could wind up being sued.

CDC whistleblower Thompson has a lawyer, Rick Morgan of Morgan Verkamp LLC (LinkedIn profile here).

Like any lawyer, Morgan has one and only one objective: protect his client.

This is Morgan’s current position: His client Thompson is satisfied that, with accurate data on the 2004 study now finally available, the scientific community will be able to assess it and come to a conclusion about it…and Thompson has no plans to make a public statement or enter into a discussion on these matters.

We’ll see if this remains true.

Anyone who thinks “the scientific community” will expose the true dangers of the MMR vaccine and tie it to autism is dreaming.

If Thompson isn’t going to step before cameras and say, “Here I am, I’m William Thompson, I was part of a massive fraud, here’s what we did, here’s how we did it, here is who knew about it…” then he could end up as a defendant in a class-action suit.

Yes, it sounds as though, having failed to get Thompson to come forward and publicly accuse the CDC of a coverup, the antivaccine movement is reduced to applying pressure through legal threats of a class action suit. It’s probably an empty threat, but, as I’m reminded any time someone makes vacuous threats to sue me for libel, people can sue anybody for any reason. Even if the lawsuit is baseless, it takes time, effort, and, above all, money to defend. Even if the suit is quickly dismissed at an early stage, it’s still damned expensive to retain legal counsel even for that, and the early proceedings can easily drag one’s reputation through the mud if the plaintiff wants to do some dragging.

You know, regardless of what really happened, I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Thompson now. If he had what he thought to be innocent correspondence and later conversations with Hooker, I bet he had no idea how fast the antivaccine movement would turn on him if their plan to manufacture a “whistleblower” controversy alleging that the CDC had engaged in a massive coverup failed to generate much coverage in the mainstream press and he didn’t give them what they wanted: A face of a senior scientist from the CDC to put on their charges. He’s basically screwed, regardless of what he actually did or what his motives for doing it were.

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Okay, so this study was published 10 years ago, using data from even earlier than that....here's where I have a problem - one that the anti-vax screwheads seem to consistently miss....

1) If there is a 240% (not 340% - as Orac posted above) increased risk for African-American boys to get autism from the MMR & the MMR uptake (universally here in the US & even abroad) is extremely high - then why aren't we seeing significant increases in autism in that specific population over other populations?

It should be easy to extrapolate the case study information using autism numbers nationwide (roughly) to be able to get a sense of whether or not there is any veracity to what Hooker has presented, right?

Yet, I'm not seeing it. Is anyone else?

The fact that these numbers, based on Hooker's "data" don't actually correspond to reality (not even close - based on current autism diagnostic numbers), shows how convoluted and incorrect his findings are.....if you torture the data long enough, you may get the results you want, but like real torture, the answers you get probably aren't going to be real.

Am I wrong people?

It is that letter that makes me realize I live on a different planet than anti-vaxxers. I read it and see nothing damning, no conspiracy, nothing being hidden. They read it and see hidden meanings everywhere.

The only thing that happens is I wonder if I am becoming a conspiracy theorist for the reasons Orac mentioned- it is not signed and not on CDC letterhead.

I, too see nothing at all odd about Thompson's letter, and not a whiff of a hint of a scintilla of anything to suggest that he thinks the CDC was covering up a vaccine-safety issue. If anything, it's the opposite -- "I'm going to have to present this in front of a bunch of lunatics! Please tell me you've got my back!"

About the lack of headers: It's easy to edit out the headers from an email. He says something about slides being "attached", which strongly suggests it was an email.

By palindrom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Even assuming it was hard copy, it is not common in many organizations to use letterhead for this sort of internal correspondence.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@palindrom - if it was an email, that would explain a number of things, though I would love to see the attached slides....

Very curious that we still don't have a direct statement from the "whistleblower."

1)

You created a list of one item? There are those that say a list should have at least three items, and some say two is sufficient. But one?

You loose one of the points you earned for giving The Kid's followers such a hard time.

This shouldn't even rise to the level of annoying squall in a teapot, let alone tempest-level.

Damn my formatting issues!!!!

And thank you Johnny :-p

@ palindrom: “I’m going to have to present this in front of a bunch of lunatics! Please tell me you’ve got my back!”

That's exactly how I read it, too.

This letter looks like a file copy - back in the day you signed the original, which was on the letterhead. The file copy looked like this. Until everyone started photocopying the original and putting it in the file. This could just be a file copy produced by CDC under a FOIA request.

Antivaxers' best hope now seems to be getting one of their few allies in Congress to hold a press conference and stamp his feet about the CDC "coverup".

Then there'd have to be some major media coverage (although probably not anywhere near what antivaxers want), and the CDC and Thompson's co-authors would have to respond more directly and thoroughly. One obvious idea is getting independent epidemiologists and statisticians to go over the data to see if Hooker's claims have any justification. And if they don't want to do this, make that data available to any party on request to do a reanalysis.

Simply saying that they stand behind the study isn't going to be enough to quell the conspiracy-shouters.

How bizarre (but not unexpected) that Thompson is now facing not-so-subtle threats from at least one presumed antivax ally. Given the history of venomous behavior by antivaxers toward supposed whistleblowers (listen to the applause in the video provided by Brian Deer when Wakefield discusses exposing the person who allegedly "confessed" to him), it's a wonder that they expect anyone to willingly come forward to support their cause.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Anne - good point. "I'm going to present this to a bunch of people who don't understand statistics & will attempt to find any little thing to latch on to," sounds about right based on the tone.

He really does seem more concerned that the CDC isn't taking a harder line against anti-vaxers, not exactly someone who seems to be in their court.

RT, the Kremlin-owned "news" network, aired "The Greater Good" about four days ago. Apart from its Putin apologism, the network is known for giving airtime to lunatic conspiracy theories, including anti-vaxxerism. Mike Adams, Jon Rappaport, Leslie Manookian, and others have been guests. This is the kind of crap they put out there as "mainstream" news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e6Q6n1ZHuw

At least one of RT's "anchors," Abby Martin, is a fluoride-phobe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgKXLae8v9U

If I had money to bet, it'd be that the anti-vaxxers will be approached by RT. They would sink so low as to resort to using a Russian propaganda station.

By Sebastian (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Dangerous Bacon

One obvious idea is getting independent epidemiologists and statisticians to go over the data to see if Hooker’s claims have any justification.

I'm getting tired of everyone else having to pay to correct the bad science and delusional claims of anti-vaxxers. Especially when they'll just ignore the corrected result anyway.

Actually, I have an idea. How about the CDC and Hooker/Wakefield both put the money to pay for the study into escrow. If Hooker's analysis is validated, the CDC pays. If it isn't, Hooker and Wakefield pay. Seems fairer than anti-vaxxers being able to waste public money on demand every time they come up with another implausible theory.

By The Grouchybeast (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Mikey seems to hesitate much too frequently whilst reciting his 'inside information' about what 'zactly went on within the CDC and as he confabulates Dr G's supposed career moves.
I wonder why that is?

Also he looks somewhat pale for a fellow who supposedly works outside daily on his Austin ranch, clearig brush and such.
Must be too much lab time.

Interestingly enough, Handley both writes a post about the CDC turncoat @ AoA and comments @ Jake's saying that the youngster has been "childish" and divisive within their community. One of the reasons he's stayed away for the past year and a half, he says.

I imagine that Thompson NOT speaking up publicly fuels the anti-vax fantasy machine which should be amped up past 11 by now:
expect much hilarity to ensue.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Anne: I realize that government sometimes lags the rest of the world, but by 2004 both photocopiers and e-mail were commonplace. That the slides were "attached", rather than "enclosed", indicates that this was an e-mail.

I also agree with palindrom's reading of the letter. The letter makes several mentions of inquiries by then-Rep. David Weldon. According to Wikipedia, Weldon was a Republican congressman from Florida (1994-2008) and a physician (he lives in Indiatlantic, in east central Florida, where he may or may not be practicing medicine). Wikipedia doesn't say anything about his views on vaccination (pro or contra), but he did involve himself in the Terri Schiavo brouhaha, in a way which tells me all I need to know about his ability as a physician. That of course came after this letter, but Thompson sounds like he was nervous about having to deal with Weldon.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Lawrence @ 5: Probably Thompson is talking to lawyers right now, who have told him to not talk to the press or the public.

Re. conspiracy loon John Rapaport: 'If Thompson isn’t going to step before cameras and say, “Here I am, I’m William Thompson, I was part of a massive fraud, here’s what we did, here’s how we did it, here is who knew about it…” then he could end up as a defendant in a class-action suit. '

In other words, 'If Thompson doesn't say what we want him to say, we're going to sue him.' Nice of them to say so. Someone should try to make sure Thompson sees that statement: chances are it won't scare him but instead it will piss him off right good.

What I think happened:

Thompson pleaded with his boss for backup in dealing with 'thinking mums' and the like, and received no support or guidance. Then when the loons rang him up he tried to set them straight. Lot of good that did, as we now see. In all probability he is now bloody pissed and looking forward to the day he can have his say in public.

We can't quite say the race-baiting is over yet, these kinds of memes have an incubation period during which time they are still contagious. So it's important to reach out to the black community, not only via their doctors, but via their churches and other important community groups.

I detect a certain hysteria coming from the FB pages of the anti-vax contingent. Here's a gem from LJ Goes last night:

"YYYYYYYYYYYYYYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! HOLD TIGHT angry mamas and papas! HOOOOOOOOOOOOLD TIGHT! We are on the cusp. Do not awfulize. Do not freak. Do not thirst for blood (I know it's tough when you look into the faces of your precious suffering bebes). But....REALLY REALLY! GOOD GOOD GOOD STUFF COMING. Sit tight. Be ready. CHANGE TRUTH VINDICATION! HOLD ON. Pray, fast meditate for strength and patience. Love on your kiddos extra. Cultivate a forgiving heart and foster an attitude of acceptance. I KNOW what I sound like. Just do it. REALLY. REALLY."
__
And later in the thread, lots of the anti-vax illuminary chime in:
__
"Ashli Nicole: On my knees. Heavenly Father, help us save our children, prevent harm and heal our babies.
2 hours ago · Like · 6

Colleen Mitchell: I want blood!
about an hour ago · Like · 1

Kristal Davenport Shaff: Yes... like a rough time estimate? Hours? Days?
about an hour ago · Like · 1

Patricia Neuenschwander: I so hope for some good SOON!!!!!!
about an hour ago · Like

Gabrielle Darvassy: Yes
about an hour ago · Like

Lisa Joyce Goes: No blood. NO BLOOD. Nope. We are above that. Let it sink in. We are pulling together affecting change. The LOVE we have for our children is the powerful conduit. I want to give estimates, but, as is the case with all of these issues...many many people have to fall in line, in order and agree to make sacrifices for each other so our children's truth can be exposed. Please be patient. I realize what I am asking. Make a punching bag with my face on it and punch away. PRAY hard, do not stop believing and when you are feeling like you are going to go off the deep end go support your friend who is worse off than you. I KNOW. I KNOW. Please. trying so hard so many no interest other than the truth. Please believe
about an hour ago · Like · 14

Lisa Joyce Goes: Becky Howell-Adams you are your family are on my heart every night. For you I believe this will happen. I do.
about an hour ago · Like · 1

Kristal Davenport Shaff: Not even a little blood? **blinks innocently**
about an hour ago · Like · 7

Jade Pryce Better yet... A punching bag with prOffits face on it.
about an hour ago · Like · 4

Kay Rohrbaugh Baldwin: Lord Have Mercy.....I need a drink.....a great Big Straight Bourbon !!!!!
about an hour ago · Like · 2

Jacqueline Hannaford Murphy: Just give them enough of their own rope....and sit tight...they will take care of the rest.
about an hour ago · Like · 4

Mike Tara McMillan: cant wait to kick butt
about an hour ago · Like

Carol Fruscella: Any news... just asking?
about an hour ago · Like

Timothy Welsh: It is so tough waiting two decades - @TannersDad
about an hour ago · Like · 4

Kathy Blanco: truth will always surface...
about an hour ago · Like · 2"

By Broken Link (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Altho' I sort of knew the figures in advance- because I've seen them often enough- I did a quick search for estimated prevalence of autism by race at the CDC-
e.g. Surveillance Summaries 61 ( SS03)/ March 2012

combined estimated prevalence across 14 sites
non-hispanic white 12 per 1000
non-hispanic black 10 per 1000
hispanic 7.9 per 1000
by site figures are available as well

Hasn't race been tracked already? A huge disparity such as that being broadcast from the rooftops by Hooker might conceivable have shown up by now.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@ Broken Link:

LJ Goes is known as "the Rev" at TMR.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Denice - sounds like she might have been a "drinking mom" last night.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Please. trying so hard so many no interest other than the truth. Please believe

That's more than a bit sad. The truth? Hah!

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Simply saying that they stand behind the study isn’t going to be enough to quell the conspiracy-shouters.

Would anything? Anything short of admission that "yes, we ate baby autistic Jesus for teh evulz" will probably be taken as further coverup by the true believers.

(It's neat, isn't? If you admit, you prove the CTs right, if you deny, you're trying to maintain the masquerade, which also proves the CTs right. Presence and absence of evidence are both proof.)

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Why won't the mainstream media pick this up? Well let's see. The anti-vaxxers have an inflammatory, demonstrably false video done by one of the greatest science frauds, a hack scientist rife with conflicts of interest and zero qualifications in epidemiology and biostatistics producing a demonstrably false study which requires competence in biostatistics and epidemiology, not to mention basic writing skills and a so-called whistleblower who is only heard to utter how ashamed he is. He could have easily been referring to double-dipping the queso at the last company xmas party for chrisssakes. And lastly, an email sent by the so-called whistleblower which is essentially begging Gerberding to stop being a politician and start defending her scientists and effectively communicating their work.

Nope, can't see why no legitimate media outlet will touch this one.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@ Broken Link, "awfulize" really?! Goes sounds really well put together...cha.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Lurking on another vaccine forum and saw this.

"More CDC lies exposed. "I called the Georgia office of vital records and confirmed that they do not include, nor do they even collect, information like maternal education, and gestation age. I was told that if researchers wanted that information they would have to go to the hospital where the child was born." ~Ginger Taylor

I KNOW what I sound like.

Ms. Goes doesn't seem to realize just how appropriate that statement is. She sounds like someone who is arguing with herself, and losing. (And that's the charitable version.)

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Snopes.com, which does a great job debunking various myths and internet stories, has linked back here relating to this story....good to see more reality-based reporting.

@ Annie, Ginger Taylor is not exactly what you'd call an accurate reporter of anything. The DeStefano study states:

For all case and control children, we obtained demographic information, including date of birth, gender, race, and birth state, from the birth certificate or registration form that is kept in each child’s permanent school record. We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.

Emphasis mine. The hospitals have detailed worksheets that are filled out and kept on file that contain all of that information and more. So guess what "additional information" means and where the PIs got it? Ginger Taylor is just another too incompetent and/or too unethical to read the freakin study and do some fact-finding.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@SM - sounds like Ginger is getting a bit desperate....

Out of curiosity, does anyone know whether Thompson did in fact wind up presenting at the IOM meeting in question?

I was trying to find the slides that could have been attached to the letter, and was able to find all the presentation slides given on that day on the IOM site (http://www.iom.edu/Activities/PublicHealth/ImmunizationSafety/2004-FEB-… -- under "Other Meeting Resources"), but I see nothing there from Thompson and nothing regarding the DeStefano study from any other CDC scientist.

Did Thompson's presentation get pulled from the agenda or did he refuse to present because of Weldon? (I also don't see an agenda posted for this meeting the way it's posted for the previous meetings so I can't even tell if it's a matter of just missing docs or if it was removed from the agenda altogether). From his letter (if it's actually his), Thompson did seem to believe that there were "several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism". Would be interesting to see the slides....

Out of curiosity, does anyone know whether Thompson did in fact wind up presenting at the IOM meeting in question?

I was trying to find the slides that could have been attached to the letter, and was able to find all the presentation slides given on that day on the IOM site (http://www.iom.edu/Activities/PublicHealth/ImmunizationSafety/2004-FEB-… -- under "Other Meeting Resources"), but I see nothing there from Thompson and nothing regarding the DeStefano study from any other CDC scientist.

Did Thompson's presentation get pulled from the agenda or did he refuse to present because of Weldon? (I also don't see an agenda posted for this meeting the way it's posted for the previous meetings so I can't even tell if it's a matter of just missing docs or if it was removed from the agenda altogether). From his letter (if it's actually his), Thompson did seem to believe that there were "several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism". Would be interesting to see the slides....

@Lawrence

Yeah, sounds like it. It seems to be the newest conspiracy making the rounds now...

I think this community is overlooking the significance of some of William Thompson's comments (assuming he actually made them), and thus understating the gravity of this situation. Obviously the antivaxxers are poor scientists, by and large. But my understanding is that Thompson has (had?) a good reputation. While most of the letter to Gerberding is unexceptional, the second sentence certainly calls for some amplification: "I will be presenting the summary of our results from the Metropolitan Atlanta Autism Case-Control Study and I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism." Now it is entirely possible that the "problematic results" had an innocent explanation (perhaps he's referring to the increased rate of vaccinations in the 3-5 year old case group), but it did seem to be a concern to him at the time he wrote the letter.

More troubling, if the audio clips in the Wakefield video are authentic and in context, Thompson seems to be supporting the view that something untoward was done in the Destefano study. This community is committed to being objective and fact-based. If a senior CDC scientist is really concerned that there were improprieties in the study, that's a very important fact for the science-based community to understand. Most of these blog posts appear to be ignoring the possibility that Thompson really did speak to Hooker and raise issues about the study.

A number of people have already made the point that even if the Destafano study is flawed, its conclusions are supported by numerous others. But Thompson's silence is extremely troubling--if his views are being misrepresented, he would have every incentive and plenty of opportunity to correct the record. If it is correct that Fred Morgan is Thompson's lawyer, it should be noted that his core practice is pharma whistleblower cases. If Morgan is really saying that Thompson will have no public comment and that the scientific community will evaluate the data, that is a bizarrely weak response to the current controversy, leading one to think that Thompson really did speak to Hooker.

Again, even if there were problems with the Destafano study, it doesn't mean vaccines cause autism--the evidence is extremely strong that they don't. But if Thompson is really a whistleblower, it seems to me like this story could be of lasting significance.

"I called the Georgia office of vital records and confirmed that they do not include, nor do they even collect, information like maternal education, and gestation age. I was told that if researchers wanted that information they would have to go to the hospital where the child was born"

These stats are included in the standardized birth certificates.

And, should she be correct and one has to go to the hospital, that would make it even harder for the researchers to include data from those born outside the area. The researchers would have had to go to dozens if not hundreds of hospitals around the country to get the information. Then they'd have to get information on control kids from the same hospitals.

So, if she wants to say, "here's why they limited themselves to Atlanta", that's fine. Doesn't really help their "they are disenfranchising African Americans"

Ginger Taylor is the media representative for groups promoting vaccines causing autism. A position that is paid during times they have the money. She made that clear too, didn't she? Given how important disclosing conflicts of interest are to her.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

if the audio clips in the Wakefield video are authentic and in context.

Knowing the anti-vaxxers, and particularly Wakefiled, like we do, I can confidently say that's a gargantuan "if".

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

I think this community is overlooking the significance of some of William Thompson’s comments (assuming he actually made them), and thus understating the gravity of this situation.

Fred, no one is overlooking Dr. Thompson's comments. But what are they exactly? All we have are a couple of highly-edited sound bites, not even in context of the full conversation. He was recorded obviously, why not play the conversations in full? So, prudence is warranted and until more information from accurate sources are rendered don't you think?

“I will be presenting the summary of our results from the Metropolitan Atlanta Autism Case-Control Study and I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism.” Now it is entirely possible that the “problematic results” had an innocent explanation (perhaps he’s referring to the increased rate of vaccinations in the 3-5 year old case group), but it did seem to be a concern to him at the time he wrote the letter.

Now I see this in a different light. He is complaining that he is presenting to "autism mothers" who have a distrust of the CDC and he is going to go in there to present data that there were no differences between cases and controls of MMR-vaccinated children hence the "problematic results". They weren't what the audience were there to hear. But again, Gerberding and Thompson are really the only ones who can fully clarify that.

If a senior CDC scientist is really concerned that there were improprieties in the study, that’s a very important fact for the science-based community to understand. Most of these blog posts appear to be ignoring the possibility that Thompson really did speak to Hooker and raise issues about the study.

Sure it's possible, that's not ignored at all. In fact we have stated that we don't doubt that Dr. Thompson spoke with Hooker and Wakefield, we just don't know about what and their atrocious video doesn't clarify. Ask yourself why such a high-level scientist from the CDC would go to charlatans like Hooker and Wakefield when there are numerous legitimate journalists who would have protected him and reported his story if there was one?

But if Thompson is really a whistleblower, it seems to me like this story could be of lasting significance.

I guess we shall see and the responsible thing to do is to wait for adequate information to roll in. To paraphrase Dorit Reiss on the matter, so far this is the biggest non-scandal.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

That's the documentation they have? That's it? There has to be more. Something from Thompson that is actually on topic. I could easily see him recording his objection to the general consensus to go ahead with the paper as written.

That said--perhaps mainstream media outlets did reach out on this story. They were then shown this document as a smoking gun and given the "opportunity" to interview known fraud (yes, that's my opinion too) Andrew Wakefield. Maybe they took the "opportunity" and heard him rant and rave about Tuskegee.

Perhaps Mr. Wakefield should be happy that no one has taken up his story.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

"Ask yourself why such a high-level scientist from the CDC would go to charlatans like Hooker and Wakefield when there are numerous legitimate journalists who would have protected him and reported his story if there was one?"

It's not like either of these gentleman is unknown. Nor difficult to google.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

You know, another thought has occurred to me. In the Wakefield video, we get snippets of what is presumably Thompson's voice, I guess during a phone call with Hooker. Another thing that we do not know about that is whether or not Hooker got Thompson's consent to record the conversation.

Now, where everybody was during that phone call makes a big difference. Thompson was probably in Georgia, while Hooker was most likely in California. Georgia is a "one-party consent" law state, meaning that only one party to the conversation has to give permission, so other people involved don't need to be told that their conversation is being recorded. California, however, is a "two-party consent" law state, meaning that all parties must give permission to the recording.

So, did Hooker get Thompson's permission to record the call?

I've seen people other than Ginger Taylor--this includes Brian Hooker--say that birth certificates don't have the data as stated in the paper.

Mr. Hooker is showing his ignorance. A bad thing given the extraordinary claims he makes.

Here's a document showing the procedure for someone to obtain a birth certificate after a home birth. One is supposed to include parental education, age, etc.. And after submitting the packet to the county, the county forwards information to the state. If, somehow, the stats pages are not part of what is required to be forwarded to the state, either the county or the state has these records.

http://www.celebratedouglascounty.com/view/global/viewdownload/&docid=3…

But, in many ways, this is just a smoke screen. What did Mr. Hooker say?

Despite your assertions and the assertions of Destefano, Birth Certificates do not contain the information on the covariates you cite: birth weight, maternal age, maternal education, parity, etc. If you had read my paper, you would see that I repeated the analyses of the CDC and obtained the same results that they obtained in both what was published originally and what was withheld. Also, the birth certificate restriction was NOT applied to other race categories outside of African Americans.

They most certainly do collect that data. Wherever it ends up (I'm still going with the state), I think the CDC can find it.

As to the "it wasn't applied to other races". Why, then, are there 333 white autistic kids in the “total sample” and 199 in the “birth certificate sample”?

Hooker talks like someone who hasn't read the paper. I.e. like Ginger Taylor.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

"So, did Hooker get Thompson’s permission to record the call?"

I'd like to see proof of that as well. Especially given California's very strict law on the subject.

Also, did Wakefield get permission to out Thompson? Wakefield wrote somewhere that he got a "do what you think is best" or some such from Thompson. In what context? In "On advice of my attorney I can no longer speak with you. Do what you think is best"?

Or, how about, "Well, since you basically told them everything they needed to hear to figure out it was me, do what you think is best".

Seriously, Wakefield was basically begging us to figure out it was Thompson. I considered calling Thompson myself before the outing.

Why did Thompson stay anonymous for *months* and then in a couple of days after posting his video, Wakefield just changes the video? Like, "Oh, it's no big deal".

And--why record the video with Thompson's name and then censor it? Really, if you are taking live video in the field, that's one thing. But both Wakefield and Hooker could have scripted this without naming Thompson.

This suggests to me that it was always Wakefield's intent to out Thompson.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Another email from Thompson (supposedly) released on this subject -- http://www.naturalnews.com/images/CDC-DOJ-Investigation-MMR-Vaccine-Aut…
The article that accompanies it isn't particularly useful, but if this is an authentic document, it does point to the "problematic" results issue as being real, at least in Thompson's mind ("...sensitive results we have been struggling with..."). According to this, Thompson was concerned enough at that point in time to retain his own lawyer.

Zobor,
Re: the meeting Thompson was referring to in the leaked letter or email. It seems clear to me that Orac is right in thinking that Thompson was going to speak about the first version of the Verstraeten retrospective paper looking at thimerosal exposure in vaccines and neurodevelopmental problems. As I recall one single sub-group, one single dose of thimerosal as I recall (no time to go and check), showed increased autism, with other sub-groups showing lower rates being ignored, of course. The antivaxxers seized upon this single sub-group, and are still unconvinced by the final later versions of the paper that more thoroughly corrected for confounders and found no link.

I see one of the Geiers was speaking at that meeting, as well as someone called Jeff Bradstreet MD, presenting a paper titled, Biological Evidence of Significant Vaccine Related Side-effects Resulting in Neurodevelopmental
Disorders".

Thompson was walking into a den of antixvax loons. No wonder he was looking for support from Gerberding!

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Zobor,
Re: the meeting Thompson was referring to in the leaked letter or email. It seems clear to me that Orac is right in thinking that Thompson was going to speak about the first version of the Verstraeten retrospective paper looking at thimerosal exposure in vaccines and neurodevelopmental problems. As I recall one single sub-group, one single dose of thimerosal as I recall (no time to go and check), showed increased autism, with other sub-groups showing lower rates being ignored, of course. The antivaxxers seized upon this single sub-group, and are still unconvinced by the final later versions of the paper that more thoroughly corrected for confounders and found no link.

I see one of the Geiers was speaking at that meeting, as well as someone called Jeff Bradstreet MD, presenting a paper titled, Biological Evidence of Significant Vaccine Related Side-effects Resulting in Neurodevelopmental
Disorders".

Thompson was walking into a den of antixvax loons. No wonder he was looking for support from Gerberding!

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Oops. Sorry.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Ginger Taylor is just another too incompetent and/or too unethical to read the freakin study and do some fact-finding.

You mean like this? Georgia was definitely using the 2003 revision by 2012, so "I called the Georgia office of vital records and confirmed that they do not include, nor do they even collect, information like maternal education, and gestation age" seems to involve a novel sense of the word "confirm."

All this was in the 1989 revision, as well. I'm not going to bother going back further just now.

The article that accompanies it isn’t particularly useful, but if this is an authentic document, it does point to the “problematic” results issue as being real, at least in Thompson’s mind

He was referring to Verstraeten (2003). I wonder if his telephone comments were about the same study. It would make sense.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Krebiozen,
Thompson mentions he would be presenting on the MMR specifically, which never contained thimerosal: "I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism."

It's entirely possible MMR/Autism results he was planning to present were preliminary and there were explanations for the problematic results. It's also possible that he was being overly cautious in viewing the results as being problematic given the audience he was about to face. Nevertheless, it does seem that an MMR/Autism presentation was supposed to be given -- so either the email/letter isn't right, or the presentation docs are missing, or something changed after that email/letter was sent.

Despite your assertions and the assertions of Destefano, Birth Certificates do not contain the information on the covariates you cite: birth weight, maternal age, maternal education, parity, etc.

Um, mine does.

We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.

I can think of a good reason why the state of Georgia would not give out that information to just anybody: high potential for HIPAA violations. There will be many instances where that information, together with the date of birth, would uniquely identify somebody in the study, which is a major no-no. You should have to demonstrate a good reason, such as a study with protocols approved by your IRB, to have access to that data.

Narad, above, indicates that this information was collected in the 1989 version of Georgia's birth certificate, which would be the relevant version for the kids in this study.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

According to this, Thompson was concerned enough at that point in time to retain his own lawyer.

And that he's something of a ding-a-ling: He was "more" (and "further") concerned that a CDC lawyer would be telling the CDC how to comply with a DOJ document request?

@Krebiozen - once again the Verstraten (2003) study could not have been related to that second email because the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) MMR/Autism study is referred to explicitly in that email. No mention of thimerosal.

Who knows if these emails are authentic, but if they are -- we can't discount them without considering that Thompson may have had serious enough concerns at that point to want to remove his name from the study altogether.

Narad, above, indicates that this information was collected in the 1989 version of Georgia’s birth certificate, which would be the relevant version for the kids in this study.

Don't leap to that conclusion; the states don't always adopt the latest revision immediately. In any event, there were children born in 1986–1988 in the sample as well.

I don't know where they are going with the birth certificate argument--other than to try to counter the damage done when Mr. Hooker showed he doesn't know what he's talking about.

So how did the conversations between Hooker and Thompson go down?

Hey Brian. You should know that we made up all that stuff in birth certificates. They don't have that data. And, well, we only got birth certificates from whites. Because, well, if we are going to make up data, let's only make it up for whites. Got that? So, ignore all that for now. It's totally minor. Instead, here's how to do an analysis that will give a high relative risk in African American boys. Go with that. Don't bring up the made up birth data. Save that for comments on AoA. "

Make sense to anyone?

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Are Hooker/Wakefield "new birthers"?

By chris hickie (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

And, like, there's only 900 or so papers on pubmed that specifically use the term "birth certificate" in the abstract and/or title?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=%22birth+certificate%22

Let's get those papers recalled. Like this one
Race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and pregnancy complications in New York City women with pre-existing diabetes.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24354778

They can't get educational attainment. Birth certificate data don't have that. It's MASSIVE fraud! All these researchers claiming to have birth certificate data are LYING.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Here's another thing about how to *not* get main stream media attention.

Don't dribble the news out. Don't say, "here's our big news. We have a whistleblower who wants to remain anonymous". Then a few days later, "Oh, here's his name". Then "and here's a boring document about him". Then a day later, "and here's another. Not as boring. Check back tomorrow".

Who wants to work with that story?

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Just got this in my inbox....STAHP

Twitter Party Guide
#CDCwhistleblower
Tonight, from 7-10 p.m. EST, we are gathering for a twitter party to push #CDCwhistleblower into “trending” status in response to the revelations by a senior CDC insider of a systematic cover-up of evidence that the MMR vaccine does indeed cause autism. We will share a variety of links, photos, memes, etc. over the course of the three hours. These will be uniform and follow “tweeting points”, which are outlined below. First, though…we need some ground rules:
Ground Rules -
Use #CDCwhistleblower ONLY. In order to ensure the most saturation, we need to focus on this hashtag ONLY. And it must look just like that – hashtag, CDC in all caps, whistleblower in all lower case.
Retweeting, favoriting, and replying are key. Do not repeat a statement once you’ve used it; instead, retweet, favorite and reply to others’ tweets. When replying, put a period in front of the @...ex/ when replying to @ThinkerMichelle’s tweet, use .@ThinkerMichelle in order to reach all of ThinkerMichelle’s followers and not just the people in the tweet thread.
Do not use profanity, defamatory language, or make lewd comments.
DO NOT engage with nay-sayers, pro-vax people or pharma trolls. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH…DO NOT ARGUE. If you feel the need to reply to them, simply repeat #CDCwhistleblower with no other wording. DO NOT ARGUE.
Do not refer to lawsuits, personal or class action. That talk is way too premature.
Do not express negativity toward William Thompson. Just don’t.
Do not exceed 116 original tweets in an hour or your account will be suspended. Do not go to individual users’ profiles and tweet them directly.
“Tweeting Points” COPY AND PASTE
#CDCwhistleblower vaccine-autism link is Tuskegee revisited. “REAL STORY OF REAL FRAUD” http://tinyurl.com/oqrhezc
#CDCwhistleblower says former boss & current Merck head Gerberding complicit in cover-up http://tinyurl.com/nubcyef
#CDCwhistleblower in letter to Gerberding: “problematic” findings linking MMR timing to autism http://tinyurl.com/keb8ymu
Fraud study cited in 344 subsequent papers – all relying on lies & house of cards should fall #CDCwhistleblower http://tinyurl.com/jvo93z2
#CDCwhistleblower helps researcher with real data, showing 3-fold higher risk of autism in African-American boys who get MMR http://tinyurl.com/omujczd
Tell @AmerAcadPeds to retract fraud study #CDCwhistleblower http://tinyurl.com/nh9fsnn
@CDCgov responds to #CDCwhistleblower claims by blaming parents for following CDC vax schedule, doesn’t deny fraud http://tinyurl.com/mwrv3cb
@CNN investigate #CDCwhistleblower story & end media blackout. 150K hits for ireport http://tinyurl.com/n53kzbq
@CNN taking down ireports over & over in media blackout of #CDCwhistleblower story http://tinyurl.com/k74jy5z
What happens when #CDCwhistleblower reveals federal agency fraud of taxpayer funded study…nothing http://tinyurl.com/plxj252
@CNN complicit in media cover-up of #CDCwhistleblower story http://tinyurl.com/pc2766g
@RobSchneider stands by parents & facts asking @JerryBrownGov to address #CDCwhistleblower revelations http://tinyurl.com/nrbe75j
Now we want investigations for perjury & fraud. now we want apologies for negligence & harm #CDCwhistleblower http://tinyurl.com/ld7bmo8
#CDCwhistleblower Send CDC whistleblower an email message asking him to come forward publicly: http://bit.ly/1nqEsG3
@thinkingmomsrev #CDCwhistleblower fraud claims prove MOMS WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG http://tinyurl.com/mp6r94d
At this point, I encourage people to continue sharing their stories of vaccine injury, whether MMR-related or not. Please include photos if you are comfortable and tag @RobSchneider, asking him to Pls RT (please retweet).
Please share with friends and family and share of social networks such as Facebook.

OK, here we go. The previous revision was in 1978. Guess what? Yup (PDF).

It's necessary to read the last section of Freedman et al. (which isn't adequately detailed for this purpose) regarding how states had implemented the 1978 version. There's likely paydirt in reference 4, Floyd et al., but unless there's an MAG member in the house to peruse their archives, somebody would have to dig it up.

P.S. I was wrong about my birth certificate including parity; I was mixed up about the term.

@sadasd,

comes across as "be a good thinker and do exactly as we tell you"

No irony there.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

There's a limited but better breakdown of state reporting as of August 1982 in Exhibit 1b here (PDF).

Education was included by 49 reporting areas, birth weight by all 52, and parity by all 52.

BTW, do DeStefano et al. even use gestational age? It's not mentioned the 2004 IOM slides – the birth-certificate data cited are maternal age and education, birth weight, multiplicity, and parity.

Tonight, from 7-10 p.m. [sic] EST [sic], we are gathering for a twitter party to push #CDCwhistleblower into “trending” status

Oh, how humiliating.

As to the “it wasn’t applied to other races”. Why, then, are there 333 white autistic kids in the “total sample” and 199 in the “birth certificate sample”?

Jesus, he's melting into a puddle of goo.

So what exactly will be accomplished if they reach trend status?

It will be all over the television news?
The Times** will report on it?
World leaders will stop in their tracks and forget what's happening in the Middle East to take this up?
The Market*** will drop hundreds of points immediately?

What's wrong with these people?

** whichever Times you like
*** whichever market is currently open

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Narad,

from DeStefano et al.:

We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

What did I say the Magic Word or something?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Matt

Ginger Taylor is the media representative for groups promoting vaccines causing autism. A position that is paid during times they have the money.

I don't imagine that she's ever explained what's going on with the autismpolicy-dot-org "IU Webmaster redirect" to a domain that she doesn't own.

which will be briefly available

That's some seriously bollixed PDF. Acrobat Pro won't even OCR it to make a searchable version.

Narad - I'm able to search it fine with the free Acrobat Reader.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

I lied - the first word I tried was vaccination, which found a few entries. But only at the beginning and end - the middle seems to be unselectable and unsearchable.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

I posted a comment about the 2007 State of Georgia Birth Certificate Worksheet, which contains extra information about the birth mother's pregnancy, para/gravida information, birth weight and type of delivery:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/08/22/brian-hooker-proves-andrew…

(Yeah, I'm fixated on what is contained on birth certificates and what the anti-vaxxers are claiming is contained on their children's birth certificates)

I have my son's original State Birth Registration, which was mailed to me at home:

It was issued by the Village (where the birthing hospital in located).

The Certificate of Birth Registration has my son’s given name, his sex, his DOB and time of birth at (the village).

His Fathers first, middle and last name is on the Registration along with the “Maiden name of mother” (my first, middle and maiden name)

The filing date is 6 days after his DOB in 1976 and the date issued is almost two months past his DOB, 1976.

The official who signed the certificate is the Registrar of Vital Statistics, for the village where the birthing hospital is located.

There is no other data…no birth weight, no birth length, no para/gravida, no hospital release date and no info about prenatal care, type of delivery, complications at birth, etc.

I've got the complete DeStefano, et al study from Brian Deer's link.

Quick (and dumb question). Can I bookmark the study and retrieve it...or will it go poof?

Zobor,

“I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism.”

You're quite right, my mistake.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Denice Walter wrote: "I imagine that Thompson NOT speaking up publicly fuels the anti-vax fantasy machine which should be amped up past 11 by now:"

Well, the fantasy knobs are spinning round-and-round, not stopping at 11, but not so publicly as the Blinking Box notes. Nobody outside the already-fantasy-fueled is paying much attention, which is why Mike and Jake and Brian and Deuce Bigalow are all screaming, "Why aren't you paying attention, sheeple! We have the smoking gun!" We know there ain't no gun, but a response from Thompson, or a non-milquetoast statement from CDC would be 'smoke.' They would get news coverage.

(Actually, referring to the CDC statement as 'milquetoast' is understatement. It makes no reference to Hooker, Thompson or anything else referencing the supposed scandal It reads as if it was composed back when the 2004 study was completed, and has been on the site ever since. And its scientistic language is such that general readers probably won't get beyond the second sentence.)

News coverage would not help. It would all be framed as 'controversy' and some mom's with new-born kids who only have the whole anti-vax thing on the periphery of their consciousness would start paying more attention and wind up clicking on AoA or NN for the first time.

And I shouldn't need to note how any reactions from Thompson or CDC would be viewed within the 'crankosphere' bubble: Denials are Proof of The Conspiracy!!!

Such it is with all irrational faiths, every 'debunking' just brings more of them out of the woodwork, gets them more worked up, leads to even more doubling down. Was mas nicht umbricht macht mich mehr Tweets geposten.

Some of you may be familar with 'Moon Hoax Not' the YoutTube video by S.G. Collins debunking the Apollo Hoax 'theories' from the standpoint of film/video technology. It has 1,703,696 views on YT, and has been featured on a host of popular pro-science, anti-bs websites. Being an old filmie, I wrote Collins an email recently about a fine point in one of his arguments in a follow-up video that's a little muddled, with the thought that some clarity might help him fend off a few further irrational attacks. He was kind enough to reply. He noted he was no concerned to polish his arguments any further, as he'd come to the conclusion it didn't make a difference:

"the thing i realized, after i'd already stepped on the land mine, was that this thing is a religion with them. it functions just like a religion. it's about belonging, refuting anything that doesn't fit, and throwing so much good belief after bad that you become trapped in the dogma."

If a savvy PR consultant or the Spacey character from House of Cards were advising CDC and Thompson they would council exactly what's happening now: they'd tell the vulnerable central figures to lay low, avoid adding any fuel to the fire, and delegate counter-attacks to surrogates with a distance of 'plausible-deniability.' Which is to say that if the SBM blog wasn't already on the case, the PR guys would be recruiting Drs. Gorski and Novella to the cause. (They'd probably even suggest the good doctors should criticize the CDC for lack of proper reaction, as that would ad cred to the distance.) This pretty much SOP for every political hot-button topic...

So, I don't think I'm 'giving away the farm' here. My purpose is first, to reassure skeptics that this is no great crisis, and they shouldn't really be upset about the official lack-of-response because that's actually a GOOD thing. On the other hand, counter-attacks from OUTSIDE of officialdom do have some function, and if some pranksters staged what amounted to a DOS attack by spamming the anti-vax Twitter feed, I think some folks in Atlanta would be smiling.

Finally, if skeptics truly want to stem the spread of woo, they need to understand that science-denial can't be countered by science. This is a political struggle. A campaign for the hearts-and-minds of The Great Middle, the lay people who are not yet converts to the anti-vax faith, but also neither knowledgeable about scientific research, nor to think the way scientists think. The crucial arguments are the ones directed at the fence-sitters and the so-far mostly apathetic. The RI and SBM blogs have a role to play, but they are nowhere near enough.

the middle seems to be unselectable and unsearchable

It was created with PrimoPDF. I'll put it up on Freakshare if I can fix it.

Funny how Ginger Taylor went silent after being called out on her porkies. Perhaps sharpening her nails in preparation for her "Twitter Party"?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@Narad
"That’s some seriously bollixed PDF. Acrobat Pro won’t even OCR it to make a searchable version."

Acrobat's OCR is really pretty bad, and it's not going to parse small text in columns with lots of superscripts and sub-scripts and table etc. for beans. If you want to OCR it, try some version of ABBY Finereader. Reconstructing the tables is still likely to be a pain, though.

"That’s some seriously bollixed PDF"
It looks like the characters have been converted from normal font vectors to "general-purpose" vectors. Compare dots on i's. This may be a fudge used by the primopdf creator used to get around the need to embed fonts.
It might OCR if you could go through the perverse process of converting it to a bitmaps then stuffing that into an OCR program.

@lilady: the form you have is the birth certificate that parents receive. However, the form the hospitals fill out (and I did enough of them!) has a lot more information for statistical purposes. It does ask for most of the information used. While not going back to 1978, I was doing them by 1984 and they asked for most if not all the information used in the study (I don't recall educational levels....or if there, it was ranges - didn't complete HS, completed HS, etc).

Also need to add: never did a form for Georgia, but I can speak for Michigan, Virginia and New Jersey. Pretty much all the same.

Acrobat’s OCR is really pretty bad, and it’s not going to parse small text in columns with lots of superscripts and sub-scripts and table etc. for beans. If you want to OCR it, try some version of ABBY Finereader. Reconstructing the tables is still likely to be a pain, though.

The problem has exactly nothing to do with Acrobat Pro's OCR.

MI Dawn -- you must be referring to the "long form" birth certificate. You know, the only one that proves you weren't born in Kenya.

By palindrom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Thanks MI Dawn.

That's the reason why (White and Black) children who did not have a Georgia State Birth Certificate/Worksheet which DeStefano et al could not access were not part of their Study...doh.

here’s a version that’s been on the web for some time

Well, that would have saved me an absurd amount of time if I had noticed it earlier, although I did manage to brute-force the other one in the end.

@doug:

It might OCR if you could go through the perverse process of converting it to a bitmaps then stuffing that into an OCR program.

I did indeed resort to PDF -> TIFF -> PDF;, but I'm dead certain there was a better way. I just don't have to resort to the really heavy-duty production tools that often, so brute force wound up being the order of the day.

On the other hand, counter-attacks from OUTSIDE of officialdom do have some function, and if some pranksters staged what amounted to a DOS attack by spamming the anti-vax Twitter feed, I think some folks in Atlanta would be smiling.

No, that would simply improve the "trending" status of the hashtag.

Heh, Ginger Taylor et al. have now changed their claim to "3-fold". Oops still.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Over @ TMR facebook, the TMs report 12K tweets per hour.

But but but
I thought each person can tweet much more than once and don't they have just THOUSANDS of followers

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Well, I guess you guys have it all figured out. No need to change your minds with controversy. I'm glad I came here to reassure myself that all vaccines are benign and to remain a drone of scientism encircling the throne of corporate socialism.

Well, I guess you guys have it all figured out. No need to change your minds with controversy.

I think you mean manufactroversy. I'm not seeing any actual controversy.

I’m glad I came here to reassure myself that all vaccines are benign...

Strawman, no one says vaccines are completely harmless, they just don't cause autism or the myriad of illnesses that the Thinking Shrews purport them to.

...and to remain a drone of scientism encircling the throne of corporate socialism.

Betcha thought you sound quite clever with that bit of post-modernism detritus. And why do anti-vaxxers often give themselves such lofty and tell tale names?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

@advocate

Ah, the old pharma shill gambit, a sure sign that you have no argument or facts to speak of.

I’m glad I came here to reassure myself that all vaccines are benign and to remain a drone of scientism encircling the throne of corporate socialism.

Charitably interpreted, this is the most badly bungled attempt at a deliberately mixed metaphor that I can recall.

Uncharitably interpreted, you've at least managed ironically to napalm a decent swath of the Chomskian innate jungle.

Thank you all (well, maybe not advocate).
I come late to the party today, but was cheered to see Orac's first sentence include "full mental jacket" - and it has only gotten better from there, though I was hoping for an appearance by Jack Nicholson in dress blues as a follow-up to Krebiozen (#21) "The truth."
My gast is truly flabbered at how much a bunch of loons (from Rappoport to Adams and so on down) has been able to make something of nothing in their own minds - but Orac is right, the mainstream media does seem to have ignored it, and for that we should all be grateful as I'm not sure we could count on them to get it right.

By Derek Freyberg (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

Not sure "Manufactroversy" works all that well. It's a rather awkward portmanteau. I'd rely on your core argument of repeating anti-vaxxer, Jenny McCarthy and conspiracy theory over and over and over.

By Sid Offit (not verified) on 26 Aug 2014 #permalink

'Advocate' wants to call RI commenters "drone[s] of scientism encircling the throne of corporate socialism," which shows that {s}he has no clue what the critique of 'scientism' actually is, and is probably parroting some woefully woo-ful mis-use of lingo that would make Sokal and Bricmont dyspeptic enough to write another book if they knew anything about the Humanities.

Science Mom: 'Advocate's comment would only be PoMo if {s}he was intentionally yanking everyone's chain by purposefully constructing a mixed metaphor as a performative speech act aimed at 'napalming' Chomskian linguistics, and having no genuine reference whatsoever to vaccines. To that, call me 'iskeptical'.

The actual critique of 'scientism' is a thoroughly Modernist concept antedating PoMo by several decades, and most commonly rooted in the work of German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who has never been anything but an ultra-rationalist, and was known in the '80s for his _critique_ of postmodernism. As Wikipedia (accurately!) puts it, "Habermas refuses to give up on the possibility of a rational, 'scientific' understanding of the life-world."

'Scientism' (per the tradition of Critical Theory exemplified by Habermas) roughly defined, speaks not to the veracity of scientific inquiry, but to an ideology of 'instrumental rationailty' that seeks to use that very veracity to justify the deployment of technologies in service of authoritarian structures of power by obscuring the social relations embodied in those technologies and their use.

As Habermas's academic writing is rendered in prose that is utterly impenetrable to normal human beings (e.g. me), I'd recommend Kurt Vonnegut's dystopian novel Player Piano as a creative expression of themes echoing the Frankfurt School critique of 'scientism', for anyone interested in getting the general idea without having your head go full David Cronenberg.

I see all the searching for what a birth certificate may contain.
It wasn't on the birth certificate. They wrote

"We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education."

"which allowed us to obtain additional information"
means having the certificates gave them enough information to be able to TRACK BACK to the hospitals for the other data. Various privacy laws notwithstanding, the hospital would give them this data (not access to the actual records) for a legitimate study. Also possibly they had permission in writing from the mothers, too.

While defending the subject study, the following two statements are directly conflicting within the CDC explanation:

"The findings revealed that vaccination between 24 and 36 months was slightly more common among children with autism, and that association was strongest among children 3-5 years of age."

"Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism."

So is the CDC acknowledging that the questionable study of autism in relation to vaccinating is flawed or are the just addressing the MMR vaccine while promoting its safety?

Besides MMR, what other vaccines were the autistic children given between the ages of zero to five?

Has the CDC verified the safety of giving multiple vaccines to children ages zero to five? If so, how have they proven this?

By Sharon Kramer (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

Did W. Thompson break ranks? It's a good thing I'm too stupid to understand science...it helps one to see the politics. I know I don't speak your language, but I am not the opposition, either.

I'd never heard of Thompson, but two things came across my radar...http://www.cdc.gov/media/transcripts/2007/t070926.htm where "tics" are implicated. Then...in the woosphere, I hear this: http://vimeo.com/104141199

I imagine you will want to clean out your cookies when you are done. Still...is that Thompson?

By usethebrainsgo… (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

Sharon Kramer,

So is the CDC acknowledging that the questionable study of autism in relation to vaccinating is flawed

How does their statement in any way suggest that DeStefano's study was flawed? The only questionable study here is Hooker's. In any case, as DeStefano pointed out, their finding that "vaccination between 24 and 36 months was slightly more common among children with autism" is probably due to children diagnosed with autism being offered places on early intervention programs which insist on full vaccination in Georgia. Autism first, MMR later seems to be the way it goes anyway, if you look at all the evidence that autism can be detected well before MMR is given.

or are the just addressing the MMR vaccine while promoting its safety?

They are pointing out that there is plenty of other evidence that the MMR vaccine is safe. What else could they be expected to do?

Besides MMR, what other vaccines were the autistic children given between the ages of zero to five?

What has that to do with whether MMR causes autism?

Has the CDC verified the safety of giving multiple vaccines to children ages zero to five? If so, how have they proven this?

You should familiarize yourself with the various ways the CDC assures vaccines safety, including the Vaccine Safety Datalink which follows more than seven million Americans, including about half a million children from birth to age age six years, which is 2% of the U.S. population in this age group.

What other safety measures could the CDC possibly bring in, especially when you consider the overwhelming evidence for the safety and efficacy of vaccines? That's not even considering the agencies in other countries that monitor vaccine safety just as carefully, and withdraw them if there is a hint of a problem.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

usethebrainsgodgiveyou,
Did you notice the following paragraph:

So we would predict by chance alone that 19 of the first 378 individual statistical tests that we ran would be abnormal just because of this chance situation. And, in fact, we found 19 individual tests or just exactly five percent of the very large number of tests that were abnormal.

What that means is that the results obtained were consistent with thimerosal not having anything at all to do with any of the neurodevelopmental problems they looked at. If you are going to claim that the positive association with tics is of any significance, you should also accept that, "with boys increasing thimerosal was associated with increased performance IQ", as Dr. Thompson pointed out. I don't believe that thimerosal in vaccines increases IQ in boys any more than I believe it causes tics or autism. These results are what you would expect from random chance.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

Hello. I am looking for a couple answers to some questions that I have. I am not a scientist, dr, blogger, or even that well educated. I am, however a mother. I try to do right by my kids and like to understand big decisions that affect my children. Please ignore my typos and try to be understanding
I am asking for your help in explaining and/or helping me to find the answers to some questions:
1. Why would a study be altered after results were made? (Why did they (whoever) decide to add in the birth certificate thing after the study had been concluded?) is this common practice?
2. What information did the researchers use in the study that was obtained from the birth certificates? (From what I understand they just cut the sample size to those that had the ga certificate and those that did not? What does age of mother, weight if baby at birth, etc have to do with autism?)

I have other questions, but have to tend to children at the moment. I thank you for your help.

While defending the subject study, the following two statements are directly conflicting within the CDC explanation:

“The findings revealed that vaccination between 24 and 36 months was slightly more common among children with autism, and that association was strongest among children 3-5 years of age.”

“Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism.”

*sigh* No, there is no "direct conflict" between those statements. There is a conflict between what you have read into those statements, but no one is responsible for your careless misreadings except you.

"An association" means one thing: it means that the associated things had some sort of proximity. That is it. There was a temporal association between the start of the ad campaign for a satellite radio service and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Does that association mean there was a connection between the two? No, it does not. It doesn't mean that one caused the other, or even that they were both caused by some third, hidden, variable.

If you think that scientists look to find associations, and then when they find an association, they leap straight into "Zounds! This one caused that one!!" then you have no idea how science is done. They might find an association, and they might hypothesize that one causes the other, but here's the important thing - they look for more evidence. If the other evidence, which should exist if there is a cause-and-effect relationship, does not exist, then they conclude that even though an association exists, a cause-effect relationship does not.

How much more does this need to be spelled out? Are you capable of comprehending an analogy? If so, try this one: "Police looked at the husband as a suspect, but determined that he could not have done it." Are those two 'directly conflicting'? Is there some law of the universe that no one ever becomes a suspect unless they really are guilty?

All your blather about "the questionable study" is laughably arrogant - you can't understand a simple concept like "an association is not proof of causation" but you think you're qualified to judge the solidity of the scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. Perhaps your time would be better spent asking politely for people to explain to you the things that you do not understand, which are clearly many.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

On birth certificates, all states collect (and save) the data mentioned (mother's education, parity, etc.) on what is usually called by vital records staff the 'long form'. the birth certificate you get when you request a copy is just the 'short form' with the basic information on it (child's name, parent names, sex, birth date). To see the long form you have to request a copy specifically. You can get one of your own (or your child's) by request. You will have to pay for it and usually the wait time is longer as the information usually has to be retrieved from storage (unless the birth was recent). From folks I know at vital records it used to be common (lo many moons ago) to automatically give out the long form when copies of the birth certificate were requested however, the birth certificate long form also lists the marital status of the parents and the word 'illegitimate' was used if parents were unmarried. This turned out to cause social problems for the children on enrolling in school (back in the day) and also it is much cheaper in paper to print the short form plus that is all people are really looking for generally speaking. All states in general use the same forms shortly after the federal government comes out with them. Unlike in other areas, vital registration data is collected fairly uniformly across the country with minimal state level idiosyncrasies.

Perhaps I missed it, and I am not a statistician, but I'm wondering what the original data would have
said if included (it's been years since I read that paper, and I was a measly undergrad freshman when I did). Clearly if Hooker doesn't know the difference between Fisher's Exact or a Pearson test, so his stats are bunk (and have no real-world plausibility), but perhaps it wasn't included for a reason. If the samples were small, would it have been too difficult to explain away a bad confidence interval and Type 2 error?

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

Mother4,
I think most people have moved on to other threads on this subject, but I'll do my best to answer your questions.

1. Why would a study be altered after results were made? (Why did they (whoever) decide to add in the birth certificate thing after the study had been concluded?) is this common practice?

I don't think the "birth certificate thing" was added after the study had been concluded, it appears to have been part of the study design. To quote the study itself:

For all case and control children, we obtained demographic information, including date of birth, gender, race, and birth state, from the birth certificate or registration form that is kept in each child’s permanent school record. We matched 355 (56%) case and 1020 (56%) control children to Georgia state birth certificate records, which allowed us to obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.

The idea was that for at least some of the children this additional information could be gathered and examined to see if these factors differed in children who were vaccinated earlier or later. If there were differences these factors could affect the results of the study i.e. they might be confounders.

2. What information did the researchers use in the study that was obtained from the birth certificates?

The child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity (number of previous pregnancies), age, race, and education, as stated in the study.

(From what I understand they just cut the sample size to those that had the ga certificate and those that did not?

I don't understand what you mean. They carried out a statistical analysis of all the children's results. They then looked at the additional information to see if any of those factors affected the results, and where they did they corrected for these confounding factors in the main analysis.

Some autistic children were excluded from the study for various reasons, as explained in the paper. These included children whose records were incomplete or for whom matching controls could not be found, for example.

What does age of mother, weight if baby at birth, etc have to do with autism?)

Maybe nothing, but it was sensible to take into account the possibility that these factors affected the results. If, for example, low weight babies were much more likely to develop autism than normal weight babies, and were also likely to be vaccinated later, that would lead to a spurious negative correlation between vaccination and autism i.e. it would look as if vaccination prevented autism even though there was no causation involved. The same goes for the other additional factors examined.

I have other questions, but have to tend to children at the moment. I thank you for your help.

Please ask away. It's nice to have someone just asking sensible questions, for a change.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

Mother4,
I meant to mention the fact that maternal age does have an effect on autism risk, as you can see in this study. So, if older mothers were more likely to get their children vaccinated on time (maybe because they were more likely to have seen vaccine-preventable diseases), that would mean autistic children were vaccinated earlier than neurotypical children. If such a correlation was found, DeStefano would have had to correct for this to avoid spurious results.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

August 27, 2014 Press Release, “Statement of William W. Thompson, Ph.D., Regarding the 2004 Article Examining the Possibility of a Relationship Between MMR Vaccine and Autism”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-AUGUST 27,2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph.D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his beliefthat CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days.
I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, www.morganverkamp.com.
Source: http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-…

The story is that there is something that appears from the data when you've carefully picked over it and include children without a Georgia birth certificate looking at race.

I would have expected that the decision on whether or not a birth certificate was required for some statistical tests would have been determined in advance of getting the data otherwise you're doing data mining which is pretty illegitimate.

Is that what we're seeing here? Perhaps DeStefano can answer this question.

By sheldon101 (not verified) on 27 Aug 2014 #permalink

sheldon101,
What is it you think "appears from the data", and why do you think using a subgroup of children with birth certificates to look for possible confounders was some sort of afterthought? The study itself doesn't give that impression, and looking for possible confounders is standard procedure for studies like this.

Hooker's study was carried out incompetently (analyzing case control data as if it was cohort data is almost guaranteed to give spurious results), and as a result his results are not valid.

I don't think there's a story here at all.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 28 Aug 2014 #permalink

My opinion but it doesn't appear any data was omitted from the study--the entire data set (including that of African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months) was collected and analyzed.

Thompson instead appears to disagree with his co-authors' consensus that the data supports an increased risk of ASD's in African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.

It's important to note that such an increased risk in African American males has not been demonstrated--Hooker tried to, of couurse, but committed so many basic statistical errors in trying to force the data to yield his preferred conclusion that the journal which published it has withdrawn the paper due to questionable validity, and will likely retract it in the near future.

Even if this entire story were true, it hinges on accepting the comments of a scientist who contributed to the alleged cover-up and an author who secretly taped the conversation.

I'm pretty gullible about these things, and even I'm not interested.

Good analysis, David.

By Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP (not verified) on 28 Aug 2014 #permalink

I'm impressed by the confidence some people here have that Dr. Thompson is lying. He was there, you weren't. He's a Dr., the opinion of whom until yesterday you revered, but now your sure he's lying when he says they, he, deliberately hid a black-autism-timing connection.
But what else we learn from this affair is that the media is so censored that they won't cover anything bad about vaccine safety, even if it comes from an authoritative source. And that people here cheer that too! How can you possibly know what else you haven't heard?

I haven't looked personally into the MMR vaccine connection. But this isn't the first study where Drs have chosen the study in a contrived way to present biased results. In the paper linked below I discuss alternative analysis of multiple papers' data that would likely have shown disaster, vs the contrived ones they presented to avoid it.
The animal literature, btw, also supports exactly the kind of critical period behavior that seems to be alleged here, where getting the vaccination at an age or time when the brain was going through some critical development phase would be disastrous.

http://whyarethingsthisway.com/2014/03/08/example-1-pediatrician-belief…

By natphilosopher (not verified) on 28 Aug 2014 #permalink

The truth is coming out. If you haven't watched the video/s and heard William Thompson's own words, you need to. Quite a wake up call. Take a deep breath and try to actually find out what is in the best interest of our kids---not in the best interest of big pharma's bank account. Better health for our next generation is around the corner. Right now 1 in 6 kids today have developmental issues. (Among many, many, many other health challenges, including unnecessary deaths.) We can change that by doing what's right for our kids.

I’m impressed by the confidence some people here have that Dr. Thompson is lying.

Who said he was lying about anything?

He’s a Dr., the opinion of whom until yesterday you revered

He's a guy with a Ph.D. in psychology. Ph.D.'s get raked over the coals all the time hereabouts.

but now your sure he’s lying when he says they, he, deliberately hid a black-autism-timing connection.

Or badly confused about why the purported signal doesn't make any sense, whatever.

Susan,

So if kids die from whooping cough and measles those are necessary deaths, because going back to the 1800's wasn't exactly a golden age of healthy kids who survived to adulthood.

Those totally preventable deaths don't count as unnecessary?

Really?

You really want kids crippled with polio or deaf and blind when they didn't have to be??

Susan: " Quite a wake up call. Take a deep breath and try to actually find out what is in the best interest of our kids—not in the best interest of big pharma’s bank account."

How is treating measles pneumonia more cost effective than preventing measles? Please give us that financial data, since pneumonia occurs in about one in twenty to one in ten measles cases.

Kaymarie: You really want kids crippled with polio or deaf and blind when they didn’t have to be?

For some reason, anti-vaxxers don't really like actual kids much.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 28 Aug 2014 #permalink

He was there, you weren’t. He’s a Dr., the opinion of whom until yesterday you revered, but now your sure he’s lying when he says they, he, deliberately hid a black-autism-timing connection.

Susan, I'm not aware that Dr. Thompson has claimed that he and his co-authors deliberately hid any black=autism=timing connection. (Certainly the out of context excerpts from the secretly recorded telephone conversation in the video don't constitute such an allegation/admission.

Where exactly do you believe he's done so? Direct quotation, please, with attribution.

Sorry, susan--that post should have been directed to natphilospher.

Better health for our next generation is around the corner.

Do you have a more detailed timetable? I'd hate to miss anything.

I haven’t looked personally into the MMR vaccine connection.

Well, f*ck, then I guess we're not going to get anything specific about how it connects to Gustav [sic] Le Bon.

natphilosopher,

In the paper linked below I discuss alternative analysis of multiple papers’ data that would likely have shown disaster, vs the contrived ones they presented to avoid it.

I took a look at your "paper", and it is abundantly clear to me that you have no training in any kind of medical science, statistics or epidemiology. You appear to have scoured the literature, ignoring anything that does not support your prejudices about vaccines, and distorting various studies to agree with you. It is painful to read.

Just one example: you cite PMID: 22001122 and PMID: 12184359 as evidence that aluminum in vaccines is toxic to recipients, stating:

Both papers concur that infants receive hundreds as times as much aluminum in their blood from vaccines as from diet.

This is blatantly untrue. Nowhere in either of those papers does it say any such thing. Mitkus (a href="http://www.medstat.hu/vakcina/Mitkus2011.pdf">full text PDF) gives these figures for daily absorption of aluminum:

The following dietary exposures of infants to aluminum, published previously by Keith et al. and adjusted for 0.78% oral absorption, were utilized in our model: (1) age 0–6 months: 0.03 mg (breast milk) and 0.15 mg (formula); (2) age >6 months: 0.7 mg (breast milk or formula)

So a breast milk fed child absorbs 0.03 x 180 = 5.4 mg aluminum over the first six months of its life. If a child absorbed "hundreds as times as much aluminum in their blood from vaccines as from diet" vaccines given over the first six months would have to contain at least 540 mg aluminum. This is clearly nonsense, as the vaccines given over the first year of life contain a maximum of 4.225 mg, as stated in Mitkus, less than the amount of aluminum absorbed from breast milk in the first six months.

The amount of aluminum absorbed from food is approximately the same as that slowly absorbed from the insoluble aluminum adjuvants injected IM, as you can see clearly in Table 1 of this paper looking at aluminum toxicokinetics (PDF). You might note that a person taking aluminum antacids may absorb over 1,000 times as much aluminum as a child gets in vaccines every day.

The first paper you cite concludes:

Using these updated parameters we found that the body burden of aluminum from vaccines and diet throughout an infant's first year of life is significantly less than the corresponding safe body burden of aluminum modeled using the regulatory MRL. We conclude that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.

The second paper concludes:

The calculated body burden of aluminum from vaccinations exceeds that from dietary sources, however, it is below the minimal risk level equivalent curve after the brief period following injection.

How can you possibly conclude from this that aluminum adjuvants are dangerous?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 29 Aug 2014 #permalink

First off, dammit, can’t antivaccinationists understand that a 3.4-fold increased risk is NOT a 340% increased risk. It’s a 240% increased risk. These people are numerically illiterate; no wonder they’re impressed with Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis.”. WOW David, your arrogance is astonishing and part of the reason no one can get to the bottom of WHAT is ACTUALLY going on with our kids. It saddens me that instead of further pursuing results that show a need for more studies. You spend all your time name calling or shaming people who do question the facts. Calling people "Anti-vaccer's, Anti-Science, or worse mentally ill is disgusting and doesn't help the children and families affected by this epidemic- which is certainly a fact, and it is disastrous. And your more concerned with your witty condescending writing than using your background to help . What's that saying? "If your not part of the solution, your part of the problem" Use your education for good. That means not talking down to us "little people" who don't understand the complexities of science, but instead help to support with transparency and help to understand and make sense of the complexity of the situation. Science is about asking questions. To bully people when ever they do is irresponsible and adds nothing to the subject but noise. You are a lousy person. This issue hasn't been disproven and certainly something is happening that we all need to figure out for the sake of our children and grandchildren. I think the CDC and the people who love to shame and dismiss the "anti-vaccers" deserve the same amount of scrutiny. I know you want your blogs to be popular but you lose credibility when you focus so much on your ego and sounding witty or smart and condescending. Stick to the data and facts. Because a 240% increase risk is STILL just as bad as a 340% risk to us "numerically illiterate". I'm no scientist, but I would say that based on that study, some sort of correlation can be found if we keep our minds open and work until we find out why. To foolishly laugh at people that question authority when they are telling us we MUST comply with their guidelines is so small minded . It's like pfft.... your so stupid if you can't show a cause for autism in one study then anything less is just motivation to be an extremist "Anti-vaccer". It's so bad that it hinders researchers from being associated with the topic because it's a career killer for them. It kind of baffles me, and don't get why if your just a regular scientist who isn't paid by big pharma why you wouldn't have open honest dialogue based on facts and not this made up drama of conspiracy on either side? What a waste of time.

Forget Hookers study....Forget Wakefield...I wish I could...

WHY would a presently employed CDC vaccine researcher give information he believed would open up a can of worms for their cause? He is either insane...or he feels very guilty, and may be privy to information that even the all knowing, all seeing Orac does not know.

By usethebrainsgo… (not verified) on 29 Aug 2014 #permalink

@dnews - the 340% / 240% number is bogus anyway, no matter which way you slice it, because Hooker's analysis is nothing but garbage.

We get a little tired of people who not only don't understand the basics of Science (like baseline biology, for instance), but only refuse to be educated by actual experts, and then come here vomit anti-vax talking points with no consideration to the actual validity of their statements.

Sorry, we're mean - but kids are getting infected (and in some cases dying - see SSPE for instance: http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2014/08/sadly-another-aliana-has-sspe.ht…) of diseases that can easily be prevented by vaccines.

Take your pity party somewhere else....

@Use - perhaps he had no idea what Hooker was going to do with the information he provided & was taken completely by surprise by the garbage science it led to....he may be guilty all right, guilty of putting any faith in someone like Hooker or Wakefield.

WHY would a presently employed CDC vaccine researcher give information he believed would open up a can of worms for their cause? He is either insane…or he feels very guilty,
Or, you know, maybe he was speaking in confidence to a person who was secretly recording him, only to be outed against his will. Thompson didn't open this can.

@usethebrainsgodgiveyou

He is either insane…or he feels very guilty, and may be privy to information that even the all knowing, all seeing Orac does not know.

I suppose it's possible. In that case he should make that information known, including all data needed to support it. Otherwise we're left with what is currently known (that there is no good evidence to point to vaccination causing autism). Anything else is, frankly, rank speculation.

Someone going by the 'nym Cancerkiller has been saying that he knows one simple exercise that will make you immune to all diseases, make you resistant to cold, and cause you to live a very long life. Why would he say something like that if he didn't know something we didn't know?

Now, I'm certainly not comparing Dr. Thompson to Cancerkiller. However, the fact that someone says one thing does not necessarily mean he has proof of either it or of something else.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 29 Aug 2014 #permalink

calling or shaming people who do question the facts

When people question facts, shaming them and pointing out their stupidity seems the least they deserve.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2014 #permalink

I wonder how much of this was Thompson making friendly noises at Hooker. I have certainly made sympathetic noises at people who recommend acupuncture or whatever, even to the extent of saying things I don't really believe, just out of politeness (see 'Storm' by Tim Minchin).

Maybe Thompson was feeling lonely, and wanted a friend. Maybe alcohol was involved. He wouldn't be the first person to say (email, text or tweet) something they later came to regret.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 29 Aug 2014 #permalink

It looks to me that Orac, Ren, Reuben and a slew of posters on their blogs actually did use the brains g-d gave them...because the journal where Hooker's study was published removed it from their website.

Use your education for good. That means not talking down to us “little people” who don’t understand the complexities of science paragraphs

FTFY.

While none of these revelations give the anti-vaccination advocates proof that vaccines are bad, it does point out the lack of transparency at the CDC. Based on the letters from Thompson to his superiors in 2004, his recorded statements (that he is was upset to find had been recorded), and the actions taken by the CDC to change the outcome of the study by removing certain elements in drawing their conclusions, it is reasonable to assess that the CDC's actions were agenda driven and less than truly scientific. Love vaccines or hate'm, the CDC has a fiduciary responsibility to the American people to present clear and unadulterated truth. In this instance they seem to have failed. I, for one, am sick of being lied to by our institutions, and find it difficult to believe anything I hear from authorities. If the CDC cooked the books this time, can you know that they haven't done it in the past, or maybe that they do it all the time.

Does anyone have info on a lawsuit?

By Amanda Thornell (not verified) on 02 Sep 2014 #permalink

It would be nice if Dr. Thompson filed suit against those that recorded him without permission....at this point, given who he has retained, it also appears that he's covering his "professional" behind just in case of repercussions at the CDC - though his statement, praising the CDC and talking about his review and even award, leads me to believe that he's just CYA all the way around.

"I, for one, am sick of being lied to by our institutions, and find it difficult to believe anything I hear from authorities."

Durn right! If Ebola ever breaks out here, I'm heading off to the homeopath toot sweet.

Jus say'm.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 02 Sep 2014 #permalink

Jus'ayin,

While none of these revelations give the anti-vaccination advocates proof that vaccines are bad, it does point out the lack of transparency at the CDC.

>
I don't agree. What haven't they been transparent about?

Based on the letters from Thompson to his superiors in 2004, his recorded statements (that he is was upset to find had been recorded),

You are aware it wasn't the CDC that did that?

and the actions taken by the CDC to change the outcome of the study by removing certain elements in drawing their conclusions, it is reasonable to assess that the CDC’s actions were agenda driven and less than truly scientific.

What actions? The study outcome wasn't changed and no elements were removed in drawing their conclusions. They used the best quality data they had access to to get the most reliable results they possibly could. That is about as scientific as it gets.

Love vaccines or hate’m, the CDC has a fiduciary responsibility to the American people to present clear and unadulterated truth. In this instance they seem to have failed.

No they haven't. Some unscrupulous people have cobbled together something out of nothing to try to convince people that the CDC have done wrong. Don't be one of the gullible people who have fallen for this. I'm not even in the US, I have no association with the CDC (though they were very helpful to me a decade or two ago when I sought advice about a patient with possible lead poisoning), I get no money from them, and have no motivation to support them.

>I, for one, am sick of being lied to by our institutions, and find it difficult to believe anything I hear from authorities. If the CDC cooked the books this time, can you know that they haven’t done it in the past, or maybe that they do it all the time.

I don't know about the past or other areas, but I don't see any wrongdoing here. I see a scientist who doesn't have a firm grasp of statistics who has been torturing himself because he covered up something when it seems clear the truth is that "something" is merely a chance finding or due to confounding factors.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 02 Sep 2014 #permalink

@Krebiozen
Thanks for serious comments.The first answer to you is you are reading it wrong. I can't put my hands on Mitkus at the moment, but its clear in Keith that that figure you are quoting for breast milk is not a per day figure. That's the total exposure. Thus its like 100 times less than the total exposure from vaccines. If you look at the figures for exposure, Figure 1 in both papers I think, you'll see that both papers concur that the total integrated aluminum introduction into the blood is many tens or hundreds of times as high from vaccines as from diet. Note these are on log scales.

Both those papers compare the injected aluminum to an MRL and argue for safety, you are right about that. However, the MRL is based on dietary aluminum in adult rats: its 1/30th of the dose that makes an adult rat sick. These papers are not informed in any way about the toxicity of injected aluminum, let alone the toxicity of injected aluminum in neo-nates.

Moreover, both these papers assume that the blood aluminum is quickly eliminated in the urine. That appears to be a false assumption for vaccine aluminum, which is often AlOH bound up with antigens, as discussed by the citations in my paper that you looked at.

Also, both these papers are models. Neither one of them measured a single thing. They are theories. I am unaware of any paper in the peer reviewed literature that performed any empirical measurements on the toxicity of the aluminum in the vaccine series that didn't conclude it is dangerous, and I'm aware of quite a number of results that indicate it is dangerous.

http://whyarethingsthisway.com/2014/03/08/example-1-pediatrician-belief…

By Nat Philosopher (not verified) on 08 Sep 2014 #permalink

Oh, I forgot to mention, Mitkus and Keith also use the .78% dietary absorption figure, that they essentially made up. There's empirical evidence arguing the correct figure is closer to .25%, so that's another factor of 3.

By Nat Philosopher (not verified) on 08 Sep 2014 #permalink

See also:
@Krebiozen
Here's a paper that actually did measurements I think:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...
"Exclusively, breastfed infants (in Brazil) receiving a full recommended schedule of immunizations showed an exceedingly high exposure of Al (225 to 1750 μg per dose) when compared with estimated levels absorbed from breast milk (2.0 μg)."

By Nat Philosopher (not verified) on 08 Sep 2014 #permalink

I love the Pro Vaxxers eating crow, or their own shiite as it were.

All of their posturing, their snide comments, when we as parents KNEW something terribly wrong happened to our children when they were taken to the doctors at 2 healthy as can be and leave the doctors office as zombies hours later.

If you dont like the message attack the messenger.
And they try to attack the messenger, a tried and true Marxist tactic, but it will not work. The genie is out of the bottle and the fun is just getting started.

You smug gate keepers now wallow and have to eat your own crap. We were right all along. We can gloat now and we are. Thank you for the chuckles. :)

I'm sure every autistic person reading this really appreciates being called a zombie. Insensitive piece of sh!t...

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

All of their posturing, their snide comments, when we as parents KNEW something terribly wrong happened to our children when they were taken to the doctors at 2 healthy as can be and leave the doctors office as zombies hours later.

Except you as parents don't know that whatever injuries/harm you believe happened to your children were causally associated with that visit to their doctors, do you AT? You instead believe that's the case, on no basis other than a post hoc ergo procter hoc logical fallacy.

I'll note also that it isn't the messengers that are being attacked--it's the actions they've engaged in (such as Wakefield concealing conflicts of interest, falsifying medical histories and subjecting children to invasive medical procedures without cause and contrary to their clinical interests), their deliberate and repeated false statements regarding vaccines and vaccine safety (such as the frequent but utterly false claim that the NVICP has ever awarded compensation to a child for developing autism as a consequence of vaccination), etc., that are being attacked and rebutted.

We were right all along. We can gloat now and we are.

You can gloat as soon as you provide a credible body of evidence demonstrating the existence of a causal association between routine childhood vaccination and autism spectrum disorders.

So...got any?

Mr Lawrence and other Pro Vacc shills wont comment of the 27 dead children in Syria, who died due TO vaccines received.
They walked in to see the doctor and were carried out, in boxes.

Nope, just be a good sheep and obey Propoganda.

Science backing my claims up and doctors quoting on deaths after vaccinations, I quote the following professionals:

Dr Viera Scheibner http://www.vierascheibner.org/...

Dr Russel Blaylock http://therefusers.com/refuser...

Dr Harold Buttram http://www.whale.to/v/buttram6...

Dr Rebecca Carley http://www.drcarley.com/

Dr Tim O;Shea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Dr Ali Al Bayati http://www.thebyteshow.com/Dr....

I could go on and on but as this was not the purpose of my article I will stop at this point.

All of their posturing, their snide comments, when we as parents KNEW something terribly wrong happened to our children when they were taken to the doctors at 2 healthy as can be and leave the doctors office as zombies hours later.

So you all have Black male children who received the MMR between 24 and 36 months? Because that's the only part where Hooker's attempt at data analysis diverged from DeStefano et al.

{engage sarcasm coupling} I don't believe AT needs proof. AT must be rolling in all the compensation money from the NVCIP. You know, the one that's compensated all those autism cases. With such a clear cut case there is no way AT could have failed that claim.{disengage sarcasm coupling}

By NumberWang (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink