Anger is an energy? Maybe, but it doesn't help you evaluate vaccine science

Anger is an energy, as a certain old punk sang back in the 1980s. It can even be a great motivator, such as when anger overtakes us for injustice or over crimes. Anger, however, is not a particularly good intellectual tool, nor does it help in analyzing science.

Which reminds me: J.B. Handley is back.

You have to be a bit of a long time reader—OK, a really long time reader—to remember that Mr. Handley's antics used to be a regular topic of this blog. After all, he and his wife were the founders of a long-standing antivaccine group, Generation Rescue. It was an antivaccine group founded on the idea that autism is a "misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning" and existed to promulgate the idea that the mercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines causes autism. Over time, Generation Rescue "expanded" its purview to believe that all vaccines (with, of course, mostly unnamed and vague environmental toxins) are the cause of autism and that "autism biomed" quackery is the cure, an evolution that happened around the time that Jenny McCarthy became Generation Rescue's president and was doing an antivaccine "Green Our Vaccines" march on Washington. During that time, Handley distinguished himself (if you can call it that) with his bullying, bull-in-a-china-shop demeanor, his misogyny, and his blatant anti-intellectualism, the latter of which was frequently manifested by his attacks on expertise, in particular scientists and physicians who told him that science doesn't support his antivaccine views. Sometimes the results are hilarious, such as when he mistook a blogger for Bonnie Offit and even made a bet about it that he lost.

Over the last few years, we haven't heard nearly as much from Mr. Handley. Yes, he still pops up from time to time but not nearly as often. Last week, though, he was back, as angry as ever, more full of the arrogance of ignorance, as I saw in his article entitled An Angry Father’s Guide to Vaccine-Autism Science (understanding “distracting research”). He begins with a furious broadside over a frequent statement made by vaccine defenders:

We autism parents are being browbeaten by a mantra from the mainstream media and health authorities spoken so loudly and repeated so often that it seems it simply must be true, namely:

“It’s been asked and answered, vaccines do not cause autism.”

The science has been done. Deal with it. Case closed

Personally, I like to start riffing on Monty Python's famous "Dead Parrot" sketch, in which a pet store owner tries to convince a dissatisfied customer who had just bought a dead parrot that the shopkeeper had told him was alive. The humor comes from John Cleese's (the customer's) increasingly histrionic and angry rants about how the parrot has "shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!" and how this is an "ex-parrot" and Michael Palin's (the shopkeeper) increasingly ridiculous excuses and explanations about how the parrot isn't really dead but resting and how he's "pining for the fjords" (because he's a Norwegian blue parrot). Basically, in my favorite analogy, the vaccine-autism hypothesis is dead, an ex-hypothesis that's "joined the bleedin' choir invisible," and antivaccinationists are the shopkeeper who keep telling people it's not really dead but "pining for the fjords."

The situation is, of course, slightly more complex than that. For instance, just the other day in the context of discussing an unethical study of the vaccine schedule using macaque monkeys, I pointed out that, as negative studies looking at a question pile up, there must ultimately come a time when the question has been answered as well as today's science can answer it. Basically, when a certain weight of negative studies builds up, the pre-study probability of a positive result looking at the same question becomes smaller and smaller, eventually reaching a point where further studies are so unlikely to provide a positive result and are thus no longer worth doing. It's Bayesian thinking, pure and simple. Barring new compelling evidence that resurrects the vaccine-autism hypothesis, it's a hypothesis every bit as dead as the parrot in the Dead Parrot Sketch. Of course, antivaccinationists like J.B. Handley won't understand and can't accept that. So we get rants like Mr. Handley's latest.

It's as though Handley isn't even trying. He starts out with a favorite antivaccine trope, comparing the vaccine defenders to the tobacco companies that denied the growing science in the 1950s through the 1980s that showed that cigarette smoking causes a lung cancer and a variety of other health problems. The tobacco companies, as you know, were some of the first truly sophisticated denialists, producing experts who sowed "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" about the growing body of science implicating smoking as a health risk, distorting the science, and producing its own studies as a distraction, quoting a 1954 Guardian article:

A 1954 article from The Guardian newspaper rings eerily reminiscent of what we are today experiencing with the autism epidemic. In 1953, a pair of scientists reported their findings that coating mice in tobacco tar had produced skin cancer in 44% of the mice. Importantly, the mice study produced the first alarm bells around the world that smoking may in fact be bad for one’s health, which triggered a forty-year campaign by the tobacco companies to obscure the truth with funded “science”. The Guardian article from 1954 also discusses a scientist from the American Cancer Society — Dr. Cuyler Hammond — who expressed deep cynicism about the initial findings of the smoking-cancer link from the mice study and other studies bubbling up implicating tobacco. From the article:

He has deep doubts about all the studies reported so far. He suspects that the interviewers of lung-cancer patients probably induce an emotional bias in their victims who will thereby be led to make suspicious confessionals of heavy smoking. He says that it is extremely difficult to find a control group with the matched characteristics, of age, social standing, occupational habits, and regional location, of any given sick group. He warns against the false premise which might be exposed to prove only that smokers produce earlier symptoms rather than more cancer. He suggests that even if there were no significant association between smoking and cancer in the general population, a telling one might be found in the hospital population. He is even sour about the claims of the filter-tipped cigarettes, remarking in his wry way that the carbon in tobacco smoke probably neutralises some toxic agents, and that if the filter removes those carbon particles ‘filter cigarettes would do more harm than good.’”

Sound familiar?

Why, yes. Yes it does. It sounds a lot like antivaccinationists denying the very solid science that's failed to find a hint of a whiff of a whisper of a correlation between vaccines (thimerosal-containing or otherwise). As I discussed when Dr. Jay Gordon invoked the same analogy, the comparison to tobacco companies fits the antivaccine contingent far more than it fits scientists and vaccine manufactures. Don't get me wrong. I don't hold up big pharma as some sort of paragon of scientific virtue, but in this case it is on the side of science. The question has been asked many times. None of this, of course, stops Handley from showing his historical ignorance and invoking Naomi Oresky and Erik Conway's book Merchants of Doubt.

After invoking his execrable 14 Studies website, in which ignorance of science was never so annoying, Handley then went on to write something that endangered my keyboard, as I was drinking coffee early this morning as I wrote this:

Three principles lead to understanding

biological plausibility: “refers to the proposal of a causal association — a relationship between a putative cause and an outcome — that is consistent with existing biological and medical knowledge”.

encephalopathy: “means disorder or disease of the brain. In modern usage, encephalopathy does not refer to a single disease, but rather to a syndrome of overall brain dysfunction; this syndrome can have many different organic and inorganic causes”.

wisdom of crowds: the notion that “large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant–better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.”

OK, that's not the part that nearly made me spray my laptop with hot coffee. This is:

Let’s pause: 1. biological plausibility, 2. encephalopathy, and 3. the wisdom of crowds. Learn it, know it, live it.

Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Oh, geez.

Seriously, Mr. Handley wouldn't know biological plausibility if it were to bite him on the posterior, latch on to his rectum, and insinuate itself into his colon like one of those bleach enemas touted by certain bloggers at Age of Autism. In the meantime, he trots out familiar antivaccine misinformation, distortions, tropes, and lies. He confuses correlation with causation, which is mandatory among antivaccine activists. He invokes the "wisdom of crowds" in terms of all the anecdotes from parents about how their children regressed after vaccination. Of course, this is why, when it comes to inferring causation from correlation, the "wisdom of crowds" is not so wise at all. In fact, when it comes to medical questions, such as whether vaccines are correlated with the onset of autism, crowds are often much less "wise" than science. Memories are imperfect and selective. We are pattern-seeking mammals; when something happens, we are very quick to latch on to something that happened before, whether that something has anything to do with causing what happened or not. Add the emotional overlay of love for your children, and these spurious "correlations" become very hard to shake. That's why science is needed. That's why epidemiology is needed. They are needed precisely because, when inferring medical causation, crowds aren't wise. They're often downright clueless. It's human nature and the way all human beings think, and it's very hard to overcome. Worse, he conflates autism with encephalopathy (the two are not the same thing) and frequently describes autism as:

It would be enough, frankly, that brain damage is known to be a side-effect of vaccines in some children to assert how biologically plausible the vaccine-autism connection is It would be enough, frankly, that brain damage is known to be a side-effect of vaccines in some children to assert how biologically plausible the vaccine-autism connection is, but the argument is bolstered by two additional points...

Later, Handley writes:

I don’t really have to use that many of my IQ points to think that there may be a correlation between a product that causes brain damage (vaccines) and my son’s brain damage!

Handley has IQ points? You wouldn't know it from the quality of his arguments.

Of course, autism is not brain damage. It's just not. More importantly, encephalopathy due to vaccines is quite rare. That it rarely happens does not lend biological plausibility to the idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea might have had some plausibility back in the 1990s, before all the more recent epidemiological studies had been done, but in light of studies since then that biological plausibility. This leads h

In any case, his view of autistic children as hopelessly brain-damaged because of vaccines aside, it is because Mr. Handley latched on to the idea that vaccines caused his son's autism and he loves his son, Mr. Handley, however smart he might be, finds it very hard to let go of the idea in the face of mountains of disconfirming evidence. Instead, he goes on the attack. Couple that with the Dunning-Kruger effect, the tendency of people not expert in a field to vastly overestimate their competence and you get the same tired references to Brian Hooker's bogus "reanalysis" of a famous paper that failed to find a link between MMR and autism, his claim that the financial fraud of an investigator named Poul Thorson, who was a middle author on two papers on MMR and autism a dozen years ago, somehow invalidates all CDC research on vaccines and autism (hint: it doesn't), and a hilarious denial of the recent macaque monkey study by Laura Hewitson that failed to find a correlation between vaccines and neurodevelopmental problems or changes in brain structure in the monkeys in favor of the smaller preliminary studies that showed what he wanted them to show. He lashes out at studies that failed to find a correlation between vaccines and autism or thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, using the same tired old antivaccine cliches against studies like Tozzi et al, Thompson et al (never mind that no scientist claims this study shows thimerosal doesn't cause autism, just other neurodevelopmental problems); Verstraeten et al (antivaccinationists' favorite bugaboo and subject of the infamous Simpsonwood conspiracy theory). (Links lead to discussions of the studies and often explanations why antivaccine attacks on the studies—like Handley's—ar ignorant loads of fetid dingo's kidneys.)

So what studies does Handley like? Take a guess. He like's Mady Hornig's "rain mouse" study (of course). He also likes Burbacher's monkey study, which isn't all that convincing but is nonetheless frequently cited by antivaccine activists.

Handley ends by imploring "honest scientists" to have a come-to-Jesus moment, or maybe a road-to-Damascus conversion. (Antivaccinationism is so much like a religion that such analogies seem appropriate.) He writes:

Remember that guy, Dr. Cuyler Hammond, from the American Cancer Society back in 1954, the guy throwing skepticism all over the tobacco-lung cancer hypothesis? Turns out Dr. Hammond ended up being an honest man and an honest scientists, and when presented with overwhelming data supporting the tobacco-cancer link, he changed his tune and quit smoking, and his obituary makes him out to be a hero:

“Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond, the biologist and epidemiologist who did early research showing that cigarette smokers had a high risk of death from lung cancer, heart disease and other causes, died yesterday at his Manhattan apartment…Dr. Hammond’s findings were often controversial, drawing criticism from the Tobacco Industry Research Committee and from other quarters. Dr. Hammond said in 1970 that he doubted the tobacco industry ‘would ever develop a cigarette that doesn’t do some damage to a smoker’s health.’”

I beg each of you to correct every misstatement you hear. Read the studies for yourself. (Most can be found at 14studies.org) Ask skeptical friends of yours to read this article and respond. Be loud and proud when you say that the other side’s mantra is simply a lie, because it is.

Is there an honest person left on the mainstream side of this debate who will correct the lies and make sure the research actually gets done?

Of course, this is a massive case of projection, because, if anything, it is the antivaccine side that far more resembles the tobacco industry in the sorts of scientific arguments it makes, how it twists data, how it cherry picks studies the way J.B. Handley did. The reason there aren't scientists undergoing the conversion Handley desperately wants to see can be shown by repeating one phrase in Handley's screed, "When presented with overwhelming data supporting the tobacco-cancer link, he changed his tune and quit smoking." Note the words, "overwhelming data." There's the difference between the situation surrounding the question debated in the US between the 1940s and the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on smoking of whether smoking tobacco products caused lung cancer and the situation now surrounding the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In the former case, there was a relentless accumulation of evidence to the point where it became undeniable that smoking caused lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and other cancers. In contrast, the more scientists look at the question of whether vaccines cause autism, the less they find. Correlations in preliminary studies disappear in larger, better-designed studies. Over time, the weight of the evidence has gone in exactly the opposite direction from the case for tobacco. As time goes on, from a strictly scientific standpoint, evidence linking vaccines and autism has become less, not more, convincing.

Anger is indeed an energy of sorts, and there is no doubt J.B. Handley is an angry man. Over the years, as documented by myself and lots of other bloggers, he has frequently let his anger get the better of him and lashed out at his perceived enemies whom he believes to be responsible (incorrectly) for his son's autism, such as scientists at the CDC and those whom he views as defending the scientifically corrupt enterprise that in his view failed to protect his son from those evil, poisonous vaccines and now deny that vaccines cause autism. Of course, the problem with righteous anger is that, unless held in check by a reflective intellect, it feeds on itself and resists any disconfirming evidence that the enemies at which it's directed are not targets deserving of such rage. Certainly, anger is not a useful tool to analyze science, but that's just what J.B. Handley has always used it for.

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I don’t really have to use that many of my IQ points to think that there may be a correlation between a product that causes brain damage (vaccines) and my son’s brain damage!

Note Handley's explicit assumption that vaccines cause brain damage. That has not actually been shown, despite the claims of the anti-vax crowd. (The vaccine court accepts claims that would not be considered proven in any other legal forum or in the scientific world.) On the contrary, some of the diseases that vaccines are intended to prevent do cause brain damage.

These folks also have a habit of not thinking their analogies through. I saw where Orac was going with this--that Handley et al. are in the role of the tobacco companies here--several paragraphs before Orac went there. But that's what projection is for: attribute your faults to your opponents.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I'd suggest that Mr. Handley avoid sticking his handy hands into the innards of oldschool tube televisions. From the photo it looks as if he tried changing a tube and got a hefty dose of capacitive discharge instead. Speaking of "energy."

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

And if he does want to call on the wisdom of crowds, what does the fact that most autism parents don't believe the vaccine connection, as Matt Carey demonstrated, do?

And that the AoA crowd, like it or not, are an extreme but tiny minority group?

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

It is amazing that people like Handley who have spawned a child who happens to have autism, seem to be so insecure about it that they have to blame a very common and necessary procedure, such as having a vaccine is the causation of the child's problem. Is it because these people believe that they could not be maybe partially to blame. It is very reminiscent of those men who blamed their wives for spawning a child who has an intellectual disability.

As I understand it, the "wisdom of the crowds" works for things like politics (and general knowledge questions) where the people can hold referendums on bills, and which seems to work fairly well in Switzerland. It seems to break down when it has to deal with items which require specialized knowledge (like most science and medical related items), and as you mentioned in confusing causation and correlation; And breaks down due to our many cognitive "software" glitches, which magicians exploit for entertainment (and charlatans for profit and control).

A local retired lawyer, Richard Tafel, has published a book (You Can Control Your Government) in which he uses the wisdom of the crowds as an argument for a different style of government. In talks, he essentially agrees that it may not work in specialized fields, but says the need to deal with specialized fields in a political arena are so infrequent it isn't really a valid argument against using wisdom of crowds.

I've had several discussions with him where I point out that, depending on whether we're talking federal, provincial/state or municipal level, rejection of evidence-based medicine (e.g. vaccinations) would happen if the "wisdom" of the crowds prevailed. And I've pointed out that our society is more dependent on technology and science than before and even one poor choice by the crowd can have wide-ranging consequences (increase in disease for example).

I think the Carl Sagan quote is apt when considering wisdom of the crowds: “We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@harobed:

Is it because these people believe that they could not be maybe partially to blame? It is very reminiscent of those men who blamed their wives for spawning a child who has an intellectual disability.

Exactly. Their perfect, perfect genes could not possibly have caused their child to become autistic. They don't want to believe it, so they try to find a scapegoat.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

If Mr Handley is so desperate to see a resoundingly positive study for a change, how about one that correlates steamingly pathological personality types against the utter inability ever to accept or admit one's mistakes? Bound to be a total slam-dunk with that bunch of clowns as subjects; no macaque torturing required.

Surely anger fuels the anti-vax movement as well as it does alt media empires.

I think that it is a simple way to engage other participants who may have similar beliefs , clouding their thinking even more so that your half-baked arguments will sound as though they could hold water ( deliberate mixed metaphor- since we're talking about bad writers anyway).

As someone who is fond of attribution, getting your readers to become angry at malfeasance by whomever allows them to cast blame outside themselves which preserves self-esteem- the problem is not YOUR fault ( for having bad genes, bad luck or merely taking the child to a doctor for a vaccine). The only positive I can discern is that it protects the child from the parent's anger. The is child is then seen as a victim of Evil Designs by Big Business not as a failure.

So many of the people I read - both alt med and anti-vax- seem to run on anger. Aren't the anti-vaxxers planning a protest at the CDC in a few weeks? So much of what I read at Natural News or hear on the Progressive Radio Network involves starting activist movements.- protests and internet campaigns against something. Age of Autism has already started a few groups- the Canary Party and Health Choice Whatever. Hearings are called for and jail terms are suggested. Interestingly, only their side seems to have been in legal trouble ( Andy, the Geiers, Bradstreet etc).

AoA certainly has its share of angry parents:
Handley, Heckenlively and Stagliano stand out. I often wonder how much their rants are influenced by other angry factions such as the alt med movement or right wing politics?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Denice #9: Don't know much about J. B. Handley's politics, except that he considers himself a single-issue voter (guess) and that he endorsed Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump for their anti-vax views.

Incidentally, Ginger Taylor and Jennifer Larson were delegates at the last Republican convention.

By Sebastian L. J… (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ has:

You might have something there.

If you think about it, these partisans use writing both as a coping mechanism and a way to attract followers. Although some psychologists suggest writing as a tool for self-understanding, I don't see a lot of that going on here.

Instead, they look to examine OTHERS' purported motivations rather than their own. Whilst they may portray themselves as dedicated, martyred parents, observers outside of their charmed circle might view opportunistic self-promoters and career seekers instead. **

AND although I never diagnose anyone on the net, I wouldn't be at all surprised if quite a few of them had "issues".

** an awful lot of them have become authors through the enabling publisher, Skyhorse.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

harobed@5: You think much too small. JB Handley blames the entire fecking universe for not giving him the incomparably perfect child to which he is so rightfully entitled. And no wonder he's upset, for a less-than-transcendent offspring reflects terribly upon Him.

Of course, if Handley ever did have the perfect child, he'd still be miserable because then He'd no longer be the most perfect person ever to exist. Russell's paradox must be absolute hell on his ego.

(Rinse and repeat for every other movement antivaxxer, of course.)

@ Sebastian Jackson:

I thin that there's a mix of political views at AoA/ TMR
( Olmsted and MacNeil are liberals) but perhaps the strong anti-vax stance displayed by libertarians/ republicans recently might push some of the more moderate towards that camp as one-issue voters.

Mikey and Gary certainly decry liberal publications' position on vaccines.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ #3 Gray Squirrel- just for clarity, that picture is of Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, not Mr Handley. (Fun video by PIL, "Rise")

By Grant Meisenholder (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Denice #14: I think Orac is right to say that the anti-vaccine movement is a big tent politically and that there is are a large number of both liberals and conservatives in there. But I would add that there seems to be an ideological center of gravity in the movement that seems to shift over time. The anti-vaxxers have been trying to appeal to conservatives and libertarians ever since Barack Obama was elected. Before that, during Bush, it was popular among left-wingers. Seems to me that anti-vaxxers change their political tastes (or try to appeal to whoever is politically marginalized at the moment) depending on who is in office.

By Sebastian L. J… (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I think the crowd could well make the call on vaccines because they do now. But for the blind following crowd I think all it would take is to see the effects of diseases they haven't witnessed because of being insulated from them by vaccines. I hope they are reached before it comes to them having to see it personally but for many I predict that's what it would take.

And the anger. Looks like that's what is driving the hit and run commenters here. They say they want discussion but just they rant and accuse before ditching the conversation when called out.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Sebastian Jackson:

That makes sense.
Interestingly, the "us against the world" mentality is precisely what the alt media honchos spout all the time:
" We are a tiny beleaguered minority which is ahead of the curve, harbingers of paradigm shift".
Null says 5% 'get it'.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@Gray Squirrel #3:

I've no idea what JB Handley looks like, but I'm pretty sure that photo is of Johnny Rotten, circa 1985.

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

or try to appeal to whoever is politically marginalized at the moment

I agree that there is an element of "sticking it to the Man" in the anti-vax movement, but considering which party is nominally in control of Congress, I wouldn't call conservative[1] or libertarian views marginalized. The views of Ayn Rand and John Birch are quite well represented in Congress, and in state legislatures as well.

[1]Meaning conservative by US standards, let alone standards anywhere else. I recently had a conversation with a man from Norway, a member of that country's Conservative party, who pointed out that in Norway Bernie Sanders would be a mainstream Conservative. That's in line with comments I have heard from other Europeans.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I would be angry if I had *anergy*.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

We are a tiny beleaguered minority which is ahead of the curve, harbingers of paradigm shift

They laughed at Galileo. They laughed at Einstein. They laughed at Bozo the clown.

What's with this habit so many Americans have of resorting to persecution complexes? (Anti-vaxers aren't the only people in the US who do this--certain self-described Christians come to mind.) It's as if they have to feel that the Truth is being suppressed--even when it's neither true nor being suppressed.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Eric Lund:

In addition, they continuously express how their movement is GROWING by leaps and bounds. Notice how Mike prominently displays his numbers and multiple sites/ columns at Natural News. The other idiot brags about his network's spread AROUND THE GLOBE and how searches for his films number into the millions! Soon alt media will overtake the mainstream !

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Denice

” We are a tiny beleaguered minority which is ahead of the curve, harbingers of paradigm shift”.
Null says 5% ‘get it’.

Putting this next to the "wisdom of the crowd" argument, it leads to a nice black hole of logic...
Unless of course you separate the universe into the great unwashed sheeple group and the deserving, smart people group, put yourself into the appropriate group, and states that only the later group's opinion is worth of the "wisdom of the crowd" quality...
At the risk of Godwining the thread, this view of humanity is very elitist and a first step toward authoritarian politics*.

* OT: on another blog, the question of "scientism" and putting scientists in charge of society was risen, and I realized that, for all I would prefer politicians to listen more often to experts presenting the scientific consensus, I don't want scientists to be directly in charge. Each to his/her job.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

In any case, his view of autistic children as hopelessly brain-damaged because of vaccines aside,

As horribly offensive a belief as ever. Is it really so hard to love your child as he is?

Also, since when is encephalopathy a principle?

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Helianthus:

I know!
AND they scream about all of us elitists from fancy, schmantzy universities where they didn't study because they are 'of The People"- yeah, right!
but then they say "Seneff of MIT" and So-and-so of Oxford or Harvard.
Consistency is not their strong suit.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter@9: That's an easy one.

The True Woo is a paranoid narcissist, ignorant and impotent, raging against a world she does not understand and cannot control.

As Bacon once said: Knowledge Itself is Power. He did not, however, say it had to be right.

Indeed, to the True Woo, real knowlege is effectively worthless: extensive, difficult, imperfect, and incomplete, demanding a huge amount of effort to accummulate, yet available to all and sundry entirely for free. In comparison, their Knowledge is precious beyond measure: jealously hoarded, tightly guarded; a unique, priceless, and incomparably prestigious property, worthy only of the most Truly Enlightened, and no-one else.

Her ego, her social status, her entire identity and purpose in life; everything that she is is built atop that. And therein lies the harshes rub: for it is not our rationalist tendency to reduce her True Knowledge to rubble that frustrates her (that alone would merely confirm our jealousy), but her simple practical observation that we do not covet it ourselves.

A tiny, inescapable, pinprick of actual knowledge, unceasingly burning at her butt like the fires of a billion suns. Angry? Hell, you'd be too if you went through as many chairs.

has @29

Applause, Applause, Applause.

I am SO going to steal that - with full attribution, of course.

fusilier
James 2:24

Wisdom of Crowds?

Robert Heinlein stated (I don't know if he was the first) that: 1. Most people seldom if ever think: 2. Some people think most of the of the time but not always: 3. Very few people think all the time.

I believe Heinlein's view is correct. If the above is true; most of the people in a crowd are not thinking so wisdom would be improbable.

Bradley boasts of his massive intellect (like Trump confusing wealth accumulation with intelligence) yet chelated his kid for over two years with no improvement. Bradley even boasts of having his wife chelated prior to getting pregnant with their second child. Bradley has subjected his autistic child to countless abusive "autism treatments" over the years and has been bleaching the poor child for at least several months now. Yea, real brilliant Bradley is and quite the humanitarian too.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

fusilier@29: Ahem. Seeing as how my filthy pHARMa checks still haven't come through, I am definitely charging y'all for that one.

(Albeit with a 10% discount to whoever finds my stupid spelling error first. Curse you, uneditable SB comments.)

Love the first couple of PIL albums.Public Image and Metal Box are still my favorites.
have original pressing vinyl of both.Not a fan of the later,more dance-rock oriented stuff.

Metal Box would have been the first album that would come to mind when I think of the antivaxers,especially a track like Albatross.

Anyone care to speculate what the next Safe Minds funded study will be?They seem to get more and more bizarre and sociopathic in nature each time.Maybe a certain Republican presidential candidate will kick in he funds for it.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@has#29 --

I had to read that aloud to get the full, Shakespearean swing of it. The post actually reminded me of Sonnet 129 -

lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad...

has@33
accumulate not accummulate. That 10% discount is mine!

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Re. Johnny Rotten: Bad me; and I was involved in the punk rock scene back in the day.... So much for reacting to first impressions & pictures without reading the article first or bothering to think. OTOH there have been plenty of wacky looking cranks pictured around here lately (e.g. the guy with the photoshopped lightning bolts emanating energetically from his powerfully healing hands, etc.). (Rebecca @ 21: Aha, so there he is. Not much better. Looks like he's posing for the "before" part of a laxative ad.)

Sebastian @ 16: oppositional politics:

Good observation, and I think it is likely correct: anti-vaxers appeal to whichever party is out of power at the moment. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because, whether they know it or not, "like attracts like" as far as emotions are concerned, so they gravitate toward whoever shares their underlying emotions, and then the mutual feedback amplifies the dynamic.

Trump is a confounder because he's one himself, and it remains to be seen if he'll change his views on that (or anything) if he gets into office. The prospect of an antivaxer in office ought to be enough to motivate all of us to make sure everyone we know votes next year, and to do some volunteering for any candidate who is science-based.

Denice @ 25: "growth":

Years ago I recall reading something about religious cults that discussed their growth curves. For many cults, early growth is rapid and is touted as meaning that the group is headed to become a mainstream religion or majority religion. Then their curve eventually levels off and goes flat, and the groups in question remain more or less static. It would be interesting to see the actual curve for the growth of antivaxer attitudes and behaviors: I'm inclined to think it's similar to the curve for cults.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

but then they say “Seneff of MIT” and So-and-so of Oxford or Harvard.
Consistency is not their strong suit

When it suits them, they will respect the letters Ph.D. after somebody's name, as if that gives the person credibility on the subject. Academic jokes aside[1], the Ph.D. is awarded (at least in principle) for a specific body of original research in a narrow specialty. That doesn't mean the degree holder is an expert in some other field. Senneff has a Ph.D., as do I, but neither of us earned the degree in epidemiology or any field closely related to epidemiology. The difference is that I am aware of this limitation in my expertise, and Senneff seems not to be.

It's not just ant-vax people who do this, either. Global warming denialists are notorious for trotting out lists of "scientists" who supposedly support the denialist position. The majority of these "scientists" will turn out to be engineers, and the number of such who actually have a background in atmospheric science is so small that exceptions stand out.

[1]In case any of the regular commentariat haven't heard it: You know what B.S. stands for. M.S. means "More of the Same", and Ph.D. means "Piled Higher and Deeper".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ Eric Lund:

Sure, I am reminded of the list of 2000 "scientists"** who questioned the connection between hiv and aids.

One of the most hilarious examples of two-facedness:
the woo cites a study from the "prestigious BMJ' but has, on occasion, said its editor, Dr Godlee, was totally compromised by pharma ads.

** not really- not all scientists, not relevant fields, people who wanted to be off that list remained etc.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Eric Lund #22: It would be difficult to know if the views of John Birch are represented by anyone in American politics since by the time the John Birch Society was named for him he was safely dead. As well, he had spent a very large part of his life outside the United States. Gen. Doolittle, a wartime acquaintance, doubted that John Birch would have approved of the views advanced over his name.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_%28missionary%29

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Anyone who is certain of the wisdom of crowds has probably not been caught up in a panicky or even overenthusiastic crowd, as witness recent events in Mecca.
I would also refer all those crowd-wisdom-partisans to the Iranian crowds shouting "Death to America!" I fail to see much wisdom there. I could even go full frontal Godwin and point to the much used films of crowds saluting their Fuhrer and chanting "Sieg heil".
Ambrose Bierce summed it up quite nicely:
"Multitude, n. A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," saith the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere - as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.""

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Orac writes,

As time goes on, from a strictly scientific standpoint, evidence linking vaccines and autism has become less, not more, convincing.

MJD says,

It appears with this statement you (Orac) acknowledge that previous evidence linking vaccines and autism existed.

Did you mean to say hypotheses instead of "evidence"?

If you stand by your original statement please enlighten us.

What was the evidence?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Silly man. Of course there was "evidence" linking vaccines to autism. It was just crappy evidence, at best preliminary, and in comparison to the wealth of better quality evidence that has superseded it, has faded into the background as not convincing. Which is as it should be.

He like’s Mady Hornig’s “rain mouse” study

So he doesn't mention Hewitson's casual dismissal of Hornig's results as being artefacts of experimenter incompetence?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Orac says (#43),

Silly man.

MJD says,

The word "evidence" is used as a noun in your statement (#42).

Synonyms of the word "evidence" when used as a noun include proof, confirmation, and verification.

So, did you mean to use the phrase evidenced-by-data instead of evidence?

Is this what you meant to write:

Evidenced by data, from a strictly scientific standpoint, a vaccines and autism connection has become less, not more, convincing.

Does anyone proof read your stuff which is often quite good?

I'm available if you need a RI editor.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

shay@35: The Bard could indeed pull a fine turn of phrase. Spel rite tu.

capnkrunch@36: Oh damn you, now it's 20%. Perhaps instead of a filthy pHARMa check I should ask for an Oxford English instead?

I’m curious about the number of articles about vaccines here and with the numerous comments they generate.

With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on vaccines?

Can someone here describe AND QUANTIFY the top one or two harms to humanity inflicted by these anti-vax people?

By See Noevo (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Screw off, attention whore.

Mr. Handley wouldn’t know biological plausibility if it were to bite him on the posterior, latch on to his rectum, and insinuate itself into his colon

Mr Handley, meet Tyrannobdella rex>i>, the Amazonian mucosal leech. Or perhaps it's biological plausibility! Can you tell the difference?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on vaccines?

Start your own blog, then, asshole.

I spent a couple of weeks posting on the FB page for what is probably the most inaccurately named site on the internet "The Thinking Mom's Revolution". I'd say that you are right about the religious nature of anti-vaccine-ism. A few things I noticed....before I was blocked.

1) Weird Pantheism - TMR possesses one of the most magical views of science I have ever witnessed. If a doctor somewhere claims that they have concluded a child is vaccine damaged. It is paraded around like a win. You ask "So what do you imagine was the differential there and what diagnostics would the doctor have ordered up to make that diagnosis" and you get blank stares. Or if a immunologist on a talk show makes a 2s mention that allergies are somehow related to vaccination. It's again, a triumph for The Truth but if you point out this researcher has published nothing on this and in fact there's nothing but a few speculative papers even remotely related. All you hear are crickets chirping (or people simply telling you that the person in question is an immunologist and you should believe them). Or when a presidential candidate who is a retired neurologist says something in line with their ideas...etc... Clearly it's the PEOPLE that mater here, NOT the science they do.

2) Intuition worship - Jenny M. was speaking somewhere and they cited her as saying "Trust your gut". It was almost impossible to get anyone to understand that this was the exact opposite of *thinking*.

3) Acceptance of anything as long as it is anti-vaccine - People cite things which are factually incorrect. Nobody cares. People have clearly mutually exclusive ideas on the origin of autism but somehow that doesn't matter. There are even people there blaming homosexuality on vaccines and nobody says one word.

4) Faith in the existence of support - This is kind of interesting. There are all sorts of websites which purport to host some number of studies supporting some anti-vaccine link. Yet if you ask ANY of those folk: "Which one of those studies makes the strongest argument statistically speaking?" all you get is silence. Why because probably nobody has read them - or at least beyond their abstracts. It's almost like the studies themselves are fetishized beyond their actual contents.

As an ex-Creationist I can tell you how all of these ideas resonate with the kind of religious education I grew up with (and eventually shook off).

By Jonathan Graham (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Narad only says (#48),

Screw off, attention whore.

@Orac,

Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

Narad's makes no reference to who or what the inappropriate language is directed at.

Please consider placing Narad on RI probation.

@Narad, can you add any substance to your soft porn language? Remember were discussing vaccine science.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Anti-vax may not be an exclusively conservative/libertarian tent, but IMHO it's just wrong to say it has a significant 'Left-wing' component. (I think I posted to this effect somewhere recently, but maybe I just intended to and didn't follow through...). By which I mean the stereotypical Marin-county 'granola cruncher' (GC) anti-vax types are not Leftists. To be on the Left is, first of all, to be overtly political, and engage in the political process. It is, furthermore, to take political positions in favor of government intervention in social welfare for the common good, including re-distribution of wealth, if only in the form of progressive taxation.

It's common for people to see other folks who stand outside their groups norms as a sort of undifferentiated mass, when in fact the outsiders may have equal or greater differences among themselves. That GCs get identified as 'the Left' goes back to the 1960s, where youthful diversion from mainstream America took two fundamentally different forms. 1) The New Left, exemplified by the Port Huron Statement SDS, coming out of support for the Civil Rights movement, seeking to build a movement for broad radical change toward "participatory democracy" via activist reform of government policy, finding it's defining issue in organized opposition to the Vietnam War; 2) the Hippie counter-culture which sought not to change the system, but rather to 'drop-out,' separate themselves from the 'straight' world, and start 'their own thing' on rural communes, or the Haight-Ashberry, or wherever. True, some folks, and some influential individuals moved from one camp to another (most notably Rennie Davis). But the ethos of the two camps was VERY different. The Lefties generally had little use for the Hippies, who they saw as spoiled and self-indulgent, and the Hippies basically just ignored the Left, as they'd simply quit that whole bummer scene, man!

Yet to the Silent Majority, all the long-haired kids looked the same, and merged into one cultural panic fantasy combining the most unseemly seeming characteristics of both. Now, people who are too young to have 'been there' are influenced by mainstream versions of received history the reproduce the distortions.

In short, I wouldn't dispute that there are some anti-vaxers who actually have 'left' ideals, just not very many. AV-ers will co-opt ANY rhetoric they can to bolster their First Principle ('the vaccines damaged my special snowflake baby!), so if Olmstead sometimes sounds like 'a liberal' I'd point out he used to be employed by an arm of The Unification Church (Moonies) a notorious cryto-fascist cult of personality and anything but 'Left-wing'. The thing is, anti-vax views are fundamentally a poor fit with the tenets of the actual (political) Left.

On the other handfinds much more fertile soil in the counter-culture mind, and if we consider that todays GCs are are sort of neo-pseudo-faux hippies, that makes the turf all the more accomodating. Far from really dropping-out, the GCs pick and choose little symbolic practices to keep some illusion of counter-culturalness alive: driving an (expensive as hell) Prius, shopping at (corporate) Whole Foods, charging everything on a Wells Fargo bank card (you know, instead of fire-bombing the capitalist pig f***ing bank...)

The word 'liberal' has a variety of meanings, and I wouldn't dispute that GCs are 'culturally liberal' at least. In my experience, they tend not to be politically active though, and often not vote at all, but if they do, I can't imagine they ever vote Republican. I suppose you could consider that makes them nominally 'liberal' ideologically, but they're a far cry from New Dealers.

If I see a common thread in the anti-vax activists it's a fear-of and/or anger-at loss of class privilege. They seem to individuals or part of a couple with high ambitions for professional success in corporate America, and all the attendant perks of "doing well", who find those ambitions derailed by having to care for a 'special needs' child (or are scared poopless by the thought). Thus: mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore! And that anger is about as far from the Left -- in which I would include the anger of Johnny Rotten / John Lydon, Joe Strummer, Zack de la Rocha, not to mention the anger of Black Lives Matter -- as you can get. When Zack screams, "Your anger is a gift!", the 'you' he's referring to does not include J. B. Handley.

"With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on vaccines?"

I shall answer not for Noevo, but for anyone who has wandered in here innocently and way be wondering something similar, in a non-rhetorical question kind of way.

1) It's called division of labor. This is a medical science blog. Preventing epidemics of infectious disease are what the writers here know and care about. Fixing Ferguson or ISIS is not in their area of expertise.

2) Just because someone devotes attention to the wrongs that are germane to a particular defined forum, doesn't mean they're neglecting any of the other many and mammoth wrongs in this world. They may just be doing that in, you know, the places set-up to discuss those things.

3) With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world we can't seem to do much about, it might be a good idea for medical scientists to try to ward off possibilities of an epidemiological disaster BEFORE the harms reach a certain level of quantification, yes?

4) The harms are described here:
http://web.texaschildrens.org/multimedia/flipbook/vaccine-book/

"Wisdom of Crowds"
This statement immediately makes me think of the phrase "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." It also makes me think of the more encouraging quote by Thoreau: "Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already."

By Dr. Chim Richalds (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

 Dr. Cuyler Hammond — who expressed deep cynicism about the initial findings of the smoking-cancer link from the mice study and other studies

I grieve to report that Handler is gravely misrepresenting the content of the 1954 Guardian article (where "misrepresent" is a term of art meaning "lying").

Dr Hammond was not denying the possibility of a smoking / cancer link; he was suggesting that some of the research was not sufficiently rigorous; his reason for making that suggestion becomes clear in the very next paragraph of Alistair Cooke's article, which explains that Hammond

happens to be conducting, on behalf of the American Cancer Society, the most exhaustive study yet attempted. He began in January 1952, composing a staff of interviewers who will study the life histories of 204,000 healthy white men between the ages of 50 and 69, who together form a statistical sample of the American white male population.

In other words, Hammond already accepted the likelihood of a link enough to invest in a large, expensive study to test it, but he wants people to wait a few more months for his conclusive proof, so he gets full credit.

To describe Hammond as a late, reluctant convert --

Dr. Hammond ended up being an honest man and an honest scientists, and when presented with overwhelming data supporting the tobacco-cancer link, he changed his tune

-- Handley requires a state-of-the-art ultracentrifuge to spin the facts fast enough.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

I have no pearls and I must clutch.
Now I must hie me to my fainting-couch, for a fit of the vapours is impending. Carstairs, being the smelling salts!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Intuition worship

Especially if you have managed to give birth. Maternity trumps science every time, to the mommy warrior-wannabes.

Please consider placing Narad on RI probation.

Except, of course, that SN *is* an attention whore.

Herr Doktor: genau. Dochniak ist selbstverstaendlich kein ehemaliges Militaer.

Oh, Orac fights against many evils other than the antivaccine nonsense that risks the life and health of children. For example, he fights against neo-Naziism in all its forms (racism, Holocaust denial, creationism), and against abusive "alternative" treatments.

herr doktor bimler: Note that Handley's favorite doctor Bernadine Healey worked for the cigarette company think tank - and she got to be an Age of Autism person of the year (while Jenny McCarthy does e-cig advertisements currently). I guess lying about cigarettes is okay if you're antivax enough.

Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

Seriously, this sounds like an invitation to Narad (or Rebecca, or Elburto, or other unnamed commentors) to determine the limit with empirical tests, and you probably don't want that.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ #52

If I'm upset by the tone or language on a blog, I just leave.

I imagine most reasonably intelligent people do the same.

Well....
I have gone very far indeed ( as well as in RL) but I might mention that automatic moderation kicks in if you uncrypt
F@CK, sh!t, b@st@rd, b!tch whilst medical terms for genitalia/ sexual activities seem to be acceptable

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink
Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

Seriously, this sounds like an invitation to Narad (or Rebecca, or Elburto, or other unnamed commentors) to determine the limit with empirical tests, and you probably don’t want that.

Based on the recently, locally restored "Recent Insolence Returned" pane, this is MJD, yes? And he's bitching about my telling S.N. to reserve his fondness for sad attempts at threadjacking to his pants, where it belongs?

Please consider placing Narad on RI probation.

Hell, I have been placed on "RI probation," but I doubt that some sort of whiny demand based on inconveniencing MJD's ideas of reference is going to cut it.

And if he does want to call on the wisdom of crowds, what does the fact that most autism parents don’t believe the vaccine connection

Handley seems to be assuring his readership of their ultimate victory and vindication because
(a) They are a silent majority, the tip of the groundswell, the grassroots of the iceberg; AND
(b) They are "we few, we lucky few", an indomitable band of freedom fighters supported by the White Council of wizards and elite scientists like Seneff.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

The wisdom of crowds is why we never have market bubbles and crashes. It's also why if you ask enough fundamentalists how old the Earth is you'll come within 5 or 6 orders of magnitude of the actual answer.

What Dangerous Bacon said at #2.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

You don't really want to find out do you?

Narad’s makes no reference to who or what the inappropriate language is directed at.
Please consider placing Narad on RI probation.

And just who the fսck do you think you are?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

To sadmar #54:

Me: “Can someone here describe AND QUANTIFY the top one or two harms to humanity inflicted by these anti-vax people?”

You: “... Preventing epidemics of infectious disease are what the writers here know and care about… a good idea for medical scientists to try to ward off possibilities of an epidemiological disaster BEFORE the harms reach a certain level of quantification, yes?”

What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?

What is the forecast of the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. for the next 50 years or so?

By See Noevo (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

1.MJD says,
The word “evidence” is used as a noun in your statement (#42).
Synonyms of the word “evidence” when used as a noun include proof, confirmation, and verification.

I am glad to have my knowledge base increased. I never knew that evidence equaled proof, confirmation or verification. Really !!!!

The sun circles the earth. The evidence is the sun rises and sets each day. I guess we have proven the sun circles the earth.

And just who the fսck do you think you are?

It's been so long that I can't even remember what MJD's idée fixe is. Is he the latex crank?

What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?

Oh, great, S.N. is so desperate to try to change the subject that he's gone straight for the antivax playbook.

You mean like the mommy in this 53 second video?

Toldja.

May the road rise with you, See. Hopefully soon.

Narad, you said the "l" word.

@24 - lumping Copernicus, Einstein, and Bozo the Clown together almost made me lose the proverbial keyboard.

And as for this quote from Handley:
wisdom of crowds: the notion that “large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant–better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.”

Well, the first time I saw a reference to mob IQ was from John D. MacDonald - 'The IQ of a mob can be calculated by dividing the lowest IQ present by the number of people in the mob.' I have seen variations on that from Terry Pratchett and other authors. It is clear that for any discipline involving specialized knowledge there is no possible way the 'crowd' can have wisdom. Unfortunately this seems to be a difficult concept to embrace.

Hell, I have been placed on “RI probation,” but I doubt that some sort of whiny demand based on inconveniencing MJD’s ideas of reference is going to cut it.

I am having a fun time imagining just how far you must have gone, and in what direction, to obtain this result.

Well, the first time I saw a reference to mob IQ was from John D. MacDonald – ‘The IQ of a mob can be calculated by dividing the lowest IQ present by the number of people in the mob.’ I have seen variations on that from Terry Pratchett and other authors. It is clear that for any discipline involving specialized knowledge there is no possible way the ‘crowd’ can have wisdom. Unfortunately this seems to be a difficult concept to embrace.

I have in fact read about or heard about studies that bear this out; I forget what the exact results were, though, but I'm pretty sure that individuals were generally more efficient or smarter or something than groups, at least large groups. I am sadly unable to find the study I'm thinking of at the moment. I do keep coming across one which shows that small groups (3, 5), are better at solving problems than individuals. Perhaps there is a point of diminishing returns.

SN is anti-vax as well as anti-contraception and anti-evolution?

Well, you can't say he/she isn't consistent.

JP@79

I do keep coming across one which shows that small groups (3, 5), are better at solving problems than individuals. Perhaps there is a point of diminishing returns.

Tangentially related is Brooks' law.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

@Orac,

Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?

Narad’s makes no reference to who or what the inappropriate language is directed at.

Please consider placing Narad on RI probation.

@Narad, can you add any substance to your soft porn language? Remember were discussing vaccine science.

Pretty vacant.

Tangentially related is Brooks’ law.

Indeed, the study I was thinking of was on the productivity of software engineers.

I actually came across it via this NYT op-ed, it turns out.* It's a quick and interesting read, but I do wish the author provided more links and citations to the actual research which she claims exists, but does not always explicitly reference.

*Note the date; I must have read this 3 years ago, and somehow it stuck in my memory. I do have sort of a fly-trap memory in general, I suppose, but I probably also remembered it because it gave me a feeling of validation, as I have always detested the largely pointless "group work" that was pushed on us constantly in school, including sometimes in college. I generally found that the less talented or conscientious members of the group would typically sit back and let certain other people do all the work, plus it was just obnoxious and energy-consuming to work in a group period. Or I'm just a control freak, whatever.

JP@79, 83
I think the law of diminishing returns can be restated in this instance to the law of increasing volume. It seems that those willing to state their 'knowledge' (otherwise known as 'opinions'') in the loudest voices - while tending to sway the crowd the most - are the least suited people to be leaders on complicated subjects.

I find this to be a common phenomenon. I also find that bullies are the biggest crybabies. Linked, maybe?

JP@83
Glad I could help. Mentioned in that article and two hops away from Brooks' law is groupthink. Here's a review of literature (pdf) that I haven't fully made my way through. How real it is seems to be contested but I'd like to see Handley's evidence for the "wisdom of the group". As a counterpoint, the evidence behind groupthink seems stronger.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Oh, great, S.N. is so desperate to try to change the subject that he’s gone straight for the antivax playbook.

He tried the same tactic on the thread where he asked to be provided with stats on the number of people affected by cancers treated by Burzynski.

He just wants a figure he can use for a threadjacking comparison to the only subject he cares about.

That's why "QUANTIFY" was in ALL CAPS.

MDK@84
It's like the Bertrand Russell quote:

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

It’s been so long that I can’t even remember what MJD’s idée fixe is. Is he the latex crank?

Ayup.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

To ann #86:

“[See Noevo] tried the same tactic [changing the subject] on the thread where he asked to be provided with stats on the number of people affected by cancers treated by Burzynski.”

How am I changing the topic on a blog about anti-vax by asking about the impact of vaccines?

I’ll ask my questions again, since no one, including you, has responded substantively:

1)What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?

2)What is the forecast of the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. for the next 50 years or so?
................

P.S.
I’m not against vaccines, myself. I’m pretty sure I got all the recommended vaccines as a child.
(While it may be considered a different topic, I stopped doing the flu shot thing years ago, to no ill effect.)

By See Noevo (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

1) What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?

2) What is the forecast of the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. for the next 50 years or so?

Look them up yourself. Seriously asking us to do the groundwork for your stupid questions is about as lazy and sloppy as it gets. Given how you think that the answers are probably close to zero then you're in for a fine education.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I stopped doing the flu shot thing years ago, to no ill effectfor me.

FTFY

I'm not getting the whole crowd reference by Handley except as an appeal to emotion. The "crowd" as society in the U.S. is decidedly in favor of vaccinations.

In regards to moderation, I find Orac to be one of the most tolerant admins I've run across.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I'm trying to figure out what the anti-vaccine movement is trying to do, saying, "Very few people have died from something A was created to prevent after A was created, therefore, A is unnecessary." Do they not understand cause and effect?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

’m trying to figure out what the anti-vaccine movement is trying to do, saying, “Very few people have died from something A was created to prevent after A was created, therefore, A is unnecessary.” Do they not understand cause and effect?

1. those diseases were dying off before vaccines
2. A didn't kill them, B C and or D did
3. better nutrition/WASH
4. only brown people/sluts/twinkie eaters get those diseases
5. the gubmint.

Look them up yourself.

Yah, that didn't pan out the last time around.

My best guess (which might give him too much credit) is that years without female companionship have allowed S.N. to devolve into an preadolescent state where impulse control is concerned. Greg Laden doesn't post his comments immediately? Put them here and whine about it! Mutatis mutandis his Disqustink droppings. Gimme gimme! S.N. want right now!

Let's see:

How am I changing the topic [sic] on a blog about anti-vax [sic] by asking about the impact of vaccines?

Note the clumsy attempt to rewrite the actual replies and ignore the post itself, which S.N. very likely hasn't bothered to read (something that he occasionally prefaces his "comments" with). The obvious response, given that he's only once feigned the slightest interest in, is Why do you "ask"?

^ "slightest interest in the subject"

Interestingly, See Noevo is failing to respond (meaningfully at least) over at Pharyngula where it actually is his topic of choice. Whether it's because there's not enough traffic on that thread to satisfy his need for attention or that he finds it too troublesome to respond I don't know. I suspect a combination of both.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

While it may be considered a different topic, I stopped doing the flu shot thing years ago, to no ill effect.

I invite one and all to take a step back and really let the stupidity of this utterance sink in. "Effect"? This is the same moron who's happy to invoke punishment after death. "Hey, I stopped doing the confession thing years ago, to no ill effect."

It's not even worth the effort to re-Zee the joint for this communiqué from the Person's Republic of You're Not the Boss of Me.

"Exactly how far can an Orac-minion go with their senseless vulgarity on this blog?"
Senseless?
It looks pretty sensible to me.
BTW, I like that "Orac-minion" thing. Can I get that on a t-shirt?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Narad, you said the “l” word.

I've never objected to the unconstrained deployment of the first-person singular, if that's what you're referring to. Otherwise, I'm missing something.

I’ve never objected to the unconstrained deployment of the first-person singular, if that’s what you’re referring to. Otherwise, I’m missing something.

Latex, I think.

1. those diseases were dying off before vaccines
2. . . .

I'd like to see 'em explain the reduction in rabies in wildlife and feral dogs in places where oral rabies vaccine is being used (by means of tasty baits laced with vaccine).

^ Oh, I get it now, 'ell'. All hail Arial, or something.

^^ Hey, do you want to see me try a magic trick? I only just got hipped to this at Jason's:

Oh, I get it now, ‘ell’ $latex \ell$.

^^^ Dammit. Context dependent? $latex \ell$

^^^^ Turned off, perhaps. $latex \LaTeX$.

All hail Arial, or something.

It was once somehow decided, somewhat drunkenly at a certain type of party, that my Jewish name, if I were to have one, would be Ariel.

Ariel Bold, surely.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Or Ariel Bald, I suppose.

Michael J. Dochniak@45:

I’m available if you need a RI editor.

"Rubber Insulation"?

"I’d like to see ’em explain the reduction in rabies in wildlife and feral dogs in places where oral rabies vaccine is being used (by means of tasty baits laced with vaccine)."

Easy to explain. There's just as much rabies now as there ever was, but veterinarians and wildlife experts have conspired to change the diagnostic criteria and call it something else, so they can pretend their vaccine worked.*

*This is an actual argument antivaxers use to explain precipitous drops in polio and other diseases after the corresponding vaccines were introduced.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

There are approximately 69,000 deaths a year caused by rabies worldwide. Most of these deaths occur because people either can't pay for the vaccine or do not have access to the vaccine.

I am sure the anti-vaxers would find some reason that you shouldn't get the rabies vaccine. Maybe protection of the herd is enough.

Orac-minion?
If we drop the hyphen, we get a name for an exciting new pharmaceutical product:

( voiceover)
Do you often feel angry and disgusted when searching the internet? Are you constantly laughing at the ingrained idiocy which disguises itself as political repartee on television? Do you ardently wish that news media could correct its own misinformation, malapropisms and spelling errors WITHOUT your valuable assistance?

Ask your physician for Oracminion so that you can relax and enjoy SIWOTI without bothersome worries that you are the one with the problem. You aren't.
The stupid really burns (tm).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

an exciting new pharmaceutical product: Ask your physician for Oracminion so that you can relax and enjoy SIWOTI without bothersome worries that you are the one with the problem.

Hah! Just like Big Pharma always does! Treat the symptom instead of eliminating the disease! Did you know Pfizer and DARPA developed a cure for 'burning stupid' back in the '70s, but it's been locked away in a secret vault since? DoD knew what would happen to their appropriations if it got out. In the '80s somebody leaked to the Reagan administration, but of course that guy got disappeared by a joint CIA-BiigPharma hit squad and the remedy got buried even deeper, now known only to the most inner circle of the Illuminatti, (and the shape-shifting reptilian ETs).

Damnit, I will not pump by body full of some chemical sh!t that makes me relax and enjoy the fact that EVERYONE Is Wrong On The Internet (except me, of course)! We must eliminate the problem, not narcotize ourselves into acceptance of it with some expensive prescription we need to refill every week – you just know Turing Pharmaceuticals is going to acquire the patent and the pols aren't going to let it be covered under the ACA.

Which is OK by me, since, of course, Oracminion will be preserved with thimerisal, and also contain azodicarbonamide, frankenstein GMO ingredients contaminated with glysophate, and trace amounts of latex!

I mean, I expect pharma shilling here on RI, but this is a new low.

Denice Walter@117:

Ask your physician for Oracminion so that you can relax and enjoy SIWOTI without bothersome worries that you are the one with the problem.

WANTS!!!

Oracminion? I'll have to try some after it's approved. It may be a good alternative to Fuckitall. I've developed a tolerance to that and it doesn't work near as good as it used to. Besides that, my health insurance never wanted to pay for it anyway. It was always out of pocket.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

There are approximately 69,000 deaths a year caused by rabies worldwide. Most of these deaths occur because people either can’t pay for the vaccine or do not have access to the vaccine.

I am sure the anti-vaxers would find some reason that you shouldn’t get the rabies vaccine. Maybe protection of the herd is enough.

The overwhelming majority of those 69,000 humans per year who die from rabies are Not Like Us, so per the anti-vaxxers, f*ck 'em.

Rich Bly says (#113),

There are approximately 69,000 deaths a year caused by rabies worldwide.

I am sure the anti-vaxers would find some reason that you shouldn’t get the rabies vaccine

MJD says,

According to the CDC, the number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990's.

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/

I'm sure glad everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity to receive a rabies vaccine, if desired, but let's not have it added to the CDCs recommended list of vaccines at the moment.

Orac's minions are foolishly vaccine happy.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

I’m not getting the whole crowd reference by Handley except as an appeal to emotion.

Isn't that enough?
Handley seems to be trying to string together as many Worship Words together as possible, joined by a bare minimum of connective tissue. It would save a lot of space if he prepared a numbered list of talking points -- then he could simply list the numbers in the current sequence.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

"1)What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?"

So allow me to rephrase: "What was the number of bad things that happened in the last fifty years by something we widely spend significant time on money preventing"

Let's say the answer is "5", doesn't that mean we did a very good job preventing bad things from happening? Especially if the number prior to having the preventative measures was many times greater than 5?

By Jonathan Graham (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

If you have an erection lasting more than four hours after taking Oracminion, immediately contact your doctor.

By Sebastian L. J… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

MJD @124: Just to clarify for other readers, it is more likely that the use of the flu vaccine reduces the incidence of pneumonia by reducing the incidence of the flu, given that pneumonia is a common complication of influenza.

There are separate vaccines for some of the bacterial causes of pneumonia.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

my Jewish name, if I were to have one, would be Ariel.

If "Arielohim" is not the plural version, don't tell me.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

If “Arielohim” is not the plural version, don’t tell me.

It's the equivalent of oy gevalt. "Ariel? Oh, him!"

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dave @ 101

I would suggest this as a meme/ design for your T-shirt.Minions and LEGO people are both cute little yellow fellas.Just print "ORAC's Minions" over the top of the picture.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

If you have an erection lasting more than four hours after taking Oracminion, immediately contact your doctor.

Or brag about it on Facebook. Whatever.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

Some day, some day, some day, Oracminion

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ sadmar:

You should chill- after all, don't you live right next door to Pacifica?- home of laid-back middle-aged surfer dudes in wet suits- they are certainly chill.

At any rate, it's true that we must treat symptoms because treating the 'disease 'itself would involve a massive effort by the entire English-speaking world ( even NZ!) utilising
a significant portion of their combined GDPs in re-vamping the educational system concerning critical thinking with a particular focus on adults/ parents of young children as well as rendering the internet inaccessible to the woo-entranced in general HOWEVER I suppose that would provoke a civil rights complaint by those so prohibited because of their SB deficiencies. It's bad enough that Mikey and Gary say that everything is censored without us actually censoring them.

Oracminion (tm) works somewhat like an SSRI to cool your chill without the addiction so common with opiates and dental stains associated with red wines. And you don't need to keep drinking water like you do with you-know-what.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ capnkrunch:

Of course.
Since Mikey opportunistically benefits from people's fears and worries ( as he discusses illness, social unrest and economic instability) why shouldn't he use tragedy and death as a way to garnish his numbers ( next to title of post)?

Calling him a parasite is insulting to parasitic organisms.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

According to the CDC, the number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990’s.

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/

Yes, and why is that?

I’m sure glad everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity to receive a rabies vaccine, if desired, but let’s not have it added to the CDCs recommended list of vaccines at the moment.

Orac’s minions are foolishly vaccine happy.

Could you please point out where Oracminions are suggesting that rabies should be added to the CDC's vaccine schedule?

A recent study suggests that getting the flu vaccine may reduce the incidence of pneumonia (new-moan-ya).

http://news.yahoo.com/flu-associated-pneumonia-tied-skipped-flu-vaccine…

It is amazing how the flu vaccine can stimulate some immune systems to give extra protection!

Some blanch at cuss words. Others find clunky disingenuity vulgar.

Could you please point out where Oracminions are suggesting that rabies should be added to the CDC’s vaccine schedule?

Ooh, ooh! Permit me! Put out some tasty troll bait with the oral vaccine.

I'm totally guessing, but I doubt if there are more than a few thousand people, maybe to the low tens of thousands, who get "routine" rabies vaccination in all of the US and Canada.

The fact that rabies vaccine is quite effective if administered promptly after exposure means that pre-exposure vaccination is of merit for a pretty small number of people. The effectiveness of the oral vaccine for wildlife will likely bring even that small number down.

Denice Walter@137
I'm astounded that every time I look at NN there seems to be something more offensive than the last time. But I haven't been around here for that long and don't frequently venture down the rabbit hole myself. As someome with much more exposure to Mikey and his ilk do you still get that sick "wait, they're actually serious?!" feeling or have you been desensitived?

Also, here's the link, I think I missed a quotation mark in my last comment.

http://www.naturalnews.com/051453_Christopher_Mercer_psychiatric_medica…

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

The fact that rabies vaccine is quite effective if administered promptly after exposure means that pre-exposure vaccination is of merit for a pretty small number of people.

I can't help but think that HRIG is being ignored here, but that really goes to the antivaccine trope that "it's impossible to vaccinate against a poison," which is usually deployed against tetanus.

@Grayfalcon

I’m trying to figure out what the anti-vaccine movement is trying to do, saying, “Very few people have died from something A was created to prevent after A was created, therefore, A is unnecessary.” Do they not understand cause and effect?

Quite. It's like saying "Very few people have died from tiger attacks since zoos ensured they were all kept in cages, therefore cages are unecessary."

Sebastian L. Jackson@127:

If you have an erection lasting more than four hours after taking Oracminion, immediately contact your doctor Craigslist.

FTFY.

Michael J. Dochniak is surprised that,

A recent study suggests that getting the flu vaccine may reduce the incidence of pneumonia (new-moan-ya).

It is amazing how the flu vaccine can stimulate some immune systems to give extra protection!

You know, MJD could read the article he linked -- even the title of the article you linked -- and learn that

The flu vaccine may help prevent flu-related pneumonia, a study suggests.

It's not some mockable exaggerated claim about effects of the flu vaccine; it's just that if you don't get the flu, you don't get complications of the flu. I should think even MJD could grasp that. 

Regarding rabies in America, it isn't on the list of recommended vaccines for people. It is, however, on the list for what used to be the most common vectors with which people come in contact, namely dogs and cats.

NN is also proclaiming that too many California high school students are lacking in academic proficiency and failing exit exams because they're "brain damaged by vaccines".

When your antivax fetish becomes so obsessive that you feel the need to work it into practically every story, that could be a sign of brain damage.

Mike is slipping though. After publishing screeds mocking Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 he apparently skipped 2014 - and I don't see any revelations on the subject yet in 2015.

Maybe he's sold out to the pink ribbon crowd. :(

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

@MJD, #124 --

Other posters have already pointed this out. But I'd be curious to know how you justify asserting that this...

The flu vaccine may help prevent flu-related pneumonia, a study suggests.

When researchers looked at patients with pneumonia, those whose pneumonia was related to the flu were more likely to have skipped the flu vaccine, compared to patients with pneumonia from other causes.

Pneumonia can be a serious and common complication of catching the flu, the authors write.

...suggests that the flu vaccine has the "amazing" ability to "stimulate some immune systems to give extra protection!"

It really couldn't be clearer that it's only suggesting that people who don't get the flu don't get complications of the flu. So it looks like a bad-faith argument, on the face of it.

JustaTech says (#129),

Just to clarify for other readers, it is more likely that the use of the flu vaccine reduces the incidence of pneumonia by reducing the incidence of the flu, given that pneumonia is a common complication of influenza.

MJD says,

The Protein Sciences Corporation package insert for Flublok says:

Flublok stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that help protect against influenza viruses contained in the vaccine, but does not prevent other respiratory infection.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ capnkrunch:

I am somewhat desensitivised: I know about him since 2007 IIRC and about Null for years before that. I venture that they do believe much of their own nonsense although they ramp up the lunacy to attract readers/ listeners/ customers.

If you research their educations ( Quackwatch / leephillips/ wikip__ for Null ; Health Ranger/ NN for Mike), you'll find that they haven't a background in science although they insist they do ( Null has a 2 year business degree and non-standard BA/ mailorder PhD; Mike has a BS in copy writing) However both of them self-studied their areas of 'expertise' in the days before University of Goog-- which includes nearly every pile of woo that exists in written form - from their tales I know Null studied Bernard MacFadden/ Linus Pauling and Mike accepts Weston Price and studied Null- including more recent charlatans like Burzynski and Wakefield.

So I think that they actually follow most of what they prescribe to followers: juicing, veganism or natural meat/ dairy as the case may be, swallowing handfuls of supplements/ herbs/ superfoods, exercising like mad things, avoiding real doctors/ meds. Sure.

The politics and economic idiocies became much more apparent following the 2008 economic crisis - I suppose they were angry that their sales might plummet because people were being careful with their money so they demonised the System and each presented themselves as the Answer..

Both of them sound libertarian ( although they try to attract more liberal folk with their 'back to nature' vibe) with an emphasis on low taxes ( they earn lots of money) and less regulation/ government ( they're quacks). Actually, within the past few years, both have moved much of their operations to Texas - land of Andy and Stan- and less regulation. (Recently, Null has opened a health spa/ resort with medical services off site- see thetexasvilla, naturalhealthresort, garynull.com/ retreat).

The two vary on AGW ( Mike doesn't buy it) and gun mania
( Mike packs heat): and of course, they work these themes into their respective rants frequently. Both predict DIRE days ahead ( and they have done so as long as I can recall) so I don't know how much of that they believe because the catastrophes never really materialise. Both predict apocalyptic times for cities and advocate moves to the countryside and organic farming and living 'off the grid'. Mike is a prepper as well. Null works with Gerald Celente and Mike has quoted STANSBERRY!

Buried beneath their respective piles of crap, I do detect a whiff of nostalgia for the Golden Age of conservativism- the 1950s- with more rigid family roles and natural ascendency for white male privilege. All of this is hidden and only hinted at because most modern people- esp the youth they desperately wish to attract- would immediately reject it. It is least disguised when they discuss birth control/ abortion, parenting roles and the changes in the family over the years. Both originate in less urban areas ( WV and Kansas) with less edgy social views.

I could go on but won't. Let's just say that I believe they believe their own spiels and press and in their own superiority over medical consensus and fact checkers. Each wants a media empire as well as a vitamin factory store.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Capnkrunch @ 140

I would sooner sit naked on a colony of Australian Bull Ants while chugging a bottle of Liquid Plumr than read any of Mikey's rants.As has been pointed out here before,Mikey makes Alex Jones look sane by comparison.But you don't need to go to Natural News.Stories like this are all over the mainstream news this morning.

We have yet to come to a point where we can have a rational discussion about every single aspect of autism in this country.The autism debate is dominated by two very vocal factions,either the neurodiversity movement,or the antivaccine movement.Both are both blinded by their own ideologies,that run counter to science and to common sense.

The truth is there are definitely those at the higher functioning end of the spectrum,that have comorbid mental illness.There are certain more rational proponents of neurodiversity that will admit this,such as John Elder Robison,who will admit this.But as a whole you can't talk about this without sounding like an antivaxer railing against Big Pharma.

This is a very different situation than either high functioning autism,or mental illness on its own,without autism.Those of us who have family members with both conditions know this all too well,but most families like ours suffer in silence,unlike attention whore antivaxers.We need to tell our stories more.I know how difficult that can be.I still find it hard to talk about myself.

There is pathetically little research out there about this.We know very little about how comorbid conditions like autism,and childhood onset bipolar disorder,such as my sister has,interact with each other.Too much research has been directed towards other meaningless areas of study,like one pointless vaccine study after another.This lack of knowledge,is one reason why we get news stories that blame mass shootings on Asperger's alone,and groups like IACC or ASAN desperately trying to do damage control.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

MJD, really? Do you really not get it? I thought you were being deliberately shifty but I'm beginning to believe you aren't even remotely bright.

Apart from more NN slimebaggery about the latest mass shooting being Big Pharma's doing, there's a letter in today's Wall St. Journal from a physician who's decided that correlation equals causation as far as SSRIs are concerned.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/mental-health-and-stopping-mass-murderers-1…

It doesn't matter that the shooter had out-of-control personality traits identified as early as infancy, or that SSRIs have been linked with _lowered_ aggression and apathetic responses in some research. Nope, shooting up a school has gotta be the fault of SSRI-caused aggression.

Denice said: "Mike...BS"

I agree.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

MJD says,

The Protein Sciences Corporation package insert for Flublok says:

Flublok stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that help protect against influenza viruses contained in the vaccine, but does not prevent other respiratory infection.

That's correct. And so what? The article you linked to said:

The flu vaccine may help prevent flu-related pneumonia, a study suggests.

When researchers looked at patients with pneumonia, those whose pneumonia was related to the flu were more likely to have skipped the flu vaccine, compared to patients with pneumonia from other causes.

Pneumonia can be a serious and common complication of catching the flu, the authors write.

^^Where in there do you see anything that contradicts the package insert? Are you so fully pre-biased that you've latched onto the word "prevent," as if it was not immediately followed by "flu-related pneumonia"? Which is shortly thereafter explicitly distinguished from "pneumonia from other causes," about which no claims of flu-vaccine-related protection are being made?

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I sometimes imagine that the reason both of these loonies are so opposed to psychiatric care/ meds is because a professional may have suggested them in the past.

-btw- the older idiot does "counselling" for physical, mental and lifestyle considerations. Imagine his slant on relationship or educational counselling!
Yes, an abyss of woo propped up by confabulated whimsy and braggadocio.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

To Orac:

I’ve asked these questions multiple times here and gotten no answers, and I haven’t found an answer on the internet.

Do you have the answer to these?
1) What was the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. in the last 50 years or so?

2) What is the forecast of the death toll (and/or disability toll) of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the U.S. for the next 50 years or so?

By See Noevo (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Wow, someone is desperate for attention.......

I found that information in about 5 mins - someone's google-fu is pretty pathetic.

Flublok stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that help protect against influenza viruses contained in the vaccine, but does not prevent other respiratory infection.

Are you really that dim? The measles vaccine doesn't directly prevent against pneumonia either but guess what has been reduced as a result of measles vaccination? Since you are that dim...measles-related pneumonia.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Orac:

YOU are the type of person I'm writing about in my article. The arrogant, keyboard-couraged fueled know-it-all, who has an answer for everything and whose only real purpose is to manufacture doubt.

When the truth about what has happened to a generation of our kids becomes common knowledge, I look forward to seeing the impact it has on your "legacy."

More to the point, you never actually address the truth of what I wrote: the studies that are often touted by people in your camp to claim "vaccines do not cause autism" do not come remotely close to doing that. Rather than focus on the substance of my argument, you choose to paint my words with the broad brush of someone consumed by irrational anger.

It's remarkable that a wanted felon and a whistleblower--authors on many of the studies used to "prove" "vaccine dod not cause autism"-- are dismissed by people in your camp. Of course, anyone who doesn't tow the party line is dismissed, because that's really the only purpose you have ever served on this topic: manufacturing doubt to confuse the layperson.

With zero respect, JB Handley

By JB Handley (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Delphine writes (#152),

I thought you were being deliberately shifty but I’m beginning to believe you aren’t even remotely bright.

MJD says,

Moving on... I believe with the assistance of Orac's minions we can improve vaccine safety.

Specifically, I'm in the early conceptual-stage of a biotechnology company that will analyze the secondary structure of antigenic proteins used in vaccines (e.g., Flublok). Then, a data base of structurally similar (homologous) endogenous/exogenous proteins to these antigenic proteins will be made available, for purchase by the vaccine manufacturer, to support contraindication disclosure.

For example, Antigenic protein x in Flublok has a ___% structural homology to food protein Y.

This valuable safety information can be used to disclose potential adverse immune responses from cross-reactivity.

Before investing in this venture I must admit/disclose that vaccine manufactures are not liable for vaccine injury and therefore may not have a financial interest in acquiring such forward-thinking safety data.

Anyone interested?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Where's Chris' cool page from the CDC where it lists the decrease in mortality and morbidity for measles? My work computer won't let me go to the CDC site (sigh)...

SN really hates doing his/her own research.

NN is also proclaiming that too many California high school students are lacking in academic proficiency and failing exit exams because they’re “brain damaged by vaccines”.

Odd how the kids from places like India and China who are kicking our kids' asses in math and science aren't suffering from brain damage, given the very high vaccination rates in in most SE and SW Asian countries.

@shay (160): I know. Unless the data is from one of his anti-abortion sites, he can't seem to find anything.

@JBHandley: As far as I have seen your critique of many of the studies had been addressed by more than one author in the past. Including Orac and Drs. Novella and Crislip.

As explained in the post, neither Thorsen's actions nor Thompson's claims really cast doubt on the data.

As explained here and elsewhere, there are really isn't credible support for the vaccines-cause-autism claim, and there's plenty against it. Arguing against protecting children from disease on the basis of that unsupported, counter-evidence claim is problematic.

Our children deserve better than to be left at risk because of anti vaccine misinformation.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

because that’s really the only purpose you have ever served on this topic: manufacturing doubt to confuse the layperson Truly breathtaking.

Tow ≠ toe

MJD, I doubt anyone here is interested, since you apparently can't even understand the relationship between influenza and pneumonia, despite having it repeatedly spelled out for you. You remind me of my 4 year old. She doesn't understand basic math, yet is convinced she is capable of engineering her bedroom reno.

One of the issues is that people read, see, hear not what is actually is said, printed or pictured but what they want to see, read or hear. We are all guilty of this from time to time but some people are guilty of this all the time.

My point about rabies vaccine was not specifically about rabies vaccine but in many parts of the world people are unable to receive a vaccine for a vaccine preventable disease for any number of reasons. Would they refuse the vaccines if they were available? Unless for religious reasons (as is seen in many of the poor parts of the middle east) vaccines are accepted. So here in the western world where vaccines readily available (free for those that can't pay) we have people refusing vaccines for reasons of woo.

I had a mother refuse the rabies vaccine for her boy because he was afraid of needles. She continued to refuse even when it was explained that if he contracted rabies; death would be the eventual outcome.

I would rather be a Oracminion than follow behind a horse's ass all day.

"Wow, someone is desperate for attention……."

Yes, that is all it is. sn has never looked at any article others supplied him as answers to other questions of his - he has studiously ignored them.

No surprise, but neither does he read the articles he links to. His most famous flub at Evolutionblog (I believe) was presenting an paper he claimed cast doubt on some point of evolution others had raised (as if, even if it had, would somehow mean he would be correct) and it turned out that the article not only didn't cast doubt, it supported the opposite of his claim.
His defense: He hadn't read it, but had been mislead because of the title the headline writer of the journal had given it.

My point about rabies vaccine was not specifically about rabies vaccine but in many parts of the world people are unable to receive a vaccine for a vaccine preventable disease for any number of reasons. Would they refuse the vaccines if they were available?

In all the years I spent in LDCs I have never seen someone refuse a vaccine. I have seen people who've walked for days to get to clinics, people who line up for hours in all kinds of weather (rain, extreme heat) to get their shots, but I've never witnessed vaccine refusal. Most of these people in these lines have either suffered from a VPD, lost someone to a VPD, or know someone who has lost someone to a VPD.

I work with colleagues who have encountered religious refusal. It is extremely difficult to overcome.

The Dochniaks of the world would probably say "if they knew what was in them, they'd refuse them!" but I believe they are wrong. Awareness of the consequences of VPDs is generally quite high. They don't have the luxury of invented angst.

The arrogant, keyboard-couraged fueled know-it-all, who has an answer for everything and whose only real purpose is to manufacture doubt.

Project much Bradley?

By the by, the "wanted felon" who had nothing to do with any of the autism study analyses is hiding out in the open in Denmark (Denmark isn't allowing extradition so go whine at them) and there is no whistleblower, just more of your magical-thinking.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Rather than focus on the substance of my argument

Your argument had substance?

Of course, anyone who doesn’t tow the party line is dismissed

As Delphine has already noted, Handley has mangled the cliche. Perhaps he has some kind of piscatorial metaphor in mind, where the "party line" has fish-hooks every 20 meters or so and you tow it along behind your boat when you go fishing.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

I’ve asked these questions multiple times here and gotten no answers

Never mind, here are some answers to questions SN hasn't asked:
1. Under a rock.
2. With a long pointed stick.
3. In a fire.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

It's funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link. And, yet, Orac, from never-heard-of-it U somewhere in Ohio has it all figured out? I don't think so!

By JB Handley (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Oh look, it's JB.....

So, are you going to answer Sullivan, JB?

Delphine, I am old enough to have been among first children to get the polio vaccine. I can still remember all the kids in line with their mothers to receive the vaccine. There hundreds (or at least it seemed like hundreds to kid) of kids waiting to be vaccinated. Every mother knew of at least one kid who had been affected by polio. Many of these same mothers remembered a president who had been affected by polio.

As the Grateful Dead stated: What a long strange trip it has been to get to where we are now.

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link

Tell me, when they're saying these things, are they backing away from you? Slowly?

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

What are the names of these "doctor friends"?

I doubt you've spent much time, if any, searching for an answer to your question.

The measles death numbers should be available from any anti-vax site, as that crowd likes use these ... isolated from all other known/potential impacts associated with a measles epidemic ... to support their hare-brained "measles is no big deal" argument.

I'm sure this info is also available on various past RI posts however, I'm not searching those for you.

I have these handy, which should answer your question 1) and provide additional info re: costs and complications associated with a measles epidemic/outbreak.

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/189/Supplement_1/S1.long

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022280/

You should be able use the information to extrapolate a rough estimate in respect of your question 2).

Other commenters have responded to your inane initial comment at #47.

Just thought I'd point out that something similar could be asked on any blog.

Let's say we have a blog devoted to bass fishing.

A singularly dense person and/or troll might ask "With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on bass fishing", with the blatantly obvious response being something along the lines of "we're aware of the wrongs however, we're interested in discussing bass fishing and that is what this blog is focused".

on.vaccines? e.g., "I realize that this is just another silly attempt on your part ,

Sorry, #68 should just have been:

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

What are the names of these “doctor friends”?

“With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on bass fishing”
DGR is towing the party line!!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ See

I’ve asked these questions multiple times here and gotten no answers, and I haven’t found an answer on the internet.

I doubt you've spent much time, if any, searching for an answer to your questions and previous commenters are obviously aware of this and/or not interested in playing your silly games.

The measles death numbers should be available from any anti-vax site, as that crowd likes use these ... isolated from all other known/potential impacts associated with a measles epidemic ... to support their hare-brained "measles is no big deal" argument.

I'm sure this info is also available on various past RI posts however, I'm not searching those for you.

I have these handy, which should answer your question 1) and provide additional info re: costs and complications associated with a measles epidemic/outbreak.

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/189/Supplement_1/S1.long

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022280/

You should be able use the information to extrapolate a rough estimate in respect of your question 2).

Other commenters have responded to your inane initial comment at #47.

Just thought I'd point out that something similar could be asked on any blog.

Let's say we have a blog devoted to bass fishing.

A singularly dense person and/or troll might ask "With all the many and mammoth wrongs in this world, why this focus on bass fishing", with the blatantly obvious response being something along the lines of "we're aware of the wrongs however, we're interested in discussing bass fishing and that is what this blog is focused".

One could as well ask why some blogs are focused on whining about non-issues, such as gay marriage when there are "many (real) and mammoth wrongs in this world".

But, you likely wouldn't.

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

Yup sure they do Bradley. And what do these medical doctors say when you tell them that you give your autistic child bleach enemas and watch him defecate his intestinal lining out?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link

In which disciplines do these "friends" hold doctorates and what research have they published? More importantly, are they willing to sign their names to a published peer review of your work?

And what do these medical doctors say when you tell them that you give your autistic child bleach enemas and watch him defecate his intestinal lining out?

Given that in most states, physicians are mandated reporters, I'm pretty sure Handley doesn't reveal his support of child abuse to them.

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

And then they say "And we're going to tape your article to the refrigerator so everyone can see what a great job you did!"

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

What's even funnier is that "they" don't seem to show up anywhere to sing your praises.

BTW, could you get D'Ohlmsted to post AoA's Form 1023? Everybody loves transparency, after all.

Science Mom and shay,

this latest comment sounds astonishingly like a woo-meister's confession that many physicians and professors from a nearby university consult him and follow his advice.

Of course they do! All the time.

Honestly anyone can say that. Who will investigate!

I could say that frequently two physicists and I discuss scientific matters... but oh wait..

Or that an architect and I discuss her latest design interests but that would be true as well

Alright I have it:
Monsieur Lagerfeld called and asked if he should do the new line in black or grey. I could say it. Hasn't happened recently

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

MI Dawn: "Where’s Chris’ cool page from the CDC where it lists the decrease in mortality and morbidity for measles?"

It seems they changed the appendix letter, but here it is:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/appdx-fu…

This is the table I made from it a few years ago:
Disease: Measles in the USA
Year__Cases____Deaths
1950__319,124__468
1951__530,118__683
1952__683,077__618
1953__449,146__462
1954__682,720__518
1955__555,156__345
1956__611,936__530
1957__486,799__389
1958__763,094__552
1959__406,162__385
1960__441,703__380
1961__423,919__434
1962__481,530__408
1963__385,156__364
(^^ first vaccine licensed)
1964__458,083__421
1965__261,905__276
1966__204,136__261
1967___62,705___81
1968___22,231___24
1969___25,826___41
1970___47,351___89
1971___75,290___90
(^^^ MMR licensed)
1972___32,275___24
1973___26,690___23
1974___22,690___20
1975___24,374___20
1976___41,126___12
1977___57,245___15
1978___26,871___11
(^^^ Measles Elimination Program started)
1979___13,597____6
1980___13,506___11
1981____2,124____2
1982____1,714____4
1983____1,497____1
1984____2,587____1
1985____2,822____2
1986____6,282____2
1987____3,655____2
1988____3,396____3
1989___18,193___32 (this is what happens when
1990___27,786___64 measles vaccine coverage
1991____9,643___27 is reduced)
1992____2,237____4
1993______312____0 (vaccine coverage returns)
1994______963____0
1995______309____2
1996______508____1
1997______138____2
1998______100____0
1999______100____2
2000_______86____1
2001______116____1
2002_______44____0
2003_______56____1
2004_______37____0
2005_______66____1
2006_______55____0
2007_______43____0
2008______140___NA
2009_______70___NA

What I often post is US Census data, the link is to a huge PDF:
From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
Year.... Rate per 100000 of measles
1912 . . . 310.0
1920 . . . 480.5
1925 . . . 194.3
1930 . . . 340.8
1935 . . . 584.6
1940 . . . 220.7
1945 . . . 110.2
1950 . . . 210.1
1955 . . . 337.9
1960 . . . 245.4
1965 . . . 135.1
1970 . . . . 23.2
1975 . . . . 11.3
1980 . . . . . 5.9
1985 . . . . . 1.2
1990 . . . . .11.2
1991 . . . . . .3.8
1992 . . . . . .0.9
1993 . . . . . .0.1
1994 . . . . . .0.4
1995 . . . . . .0.1
1996 . . . . . .0.2
1997 . . . . . . 0.1

Denice: I could say that I am a retired USMC weapons and tactics instructor and work for the government as a bioterrorism expert.

The statement is 100% factual and at the same time completely misleading, but if people start to think that I'm some kind of ninja warrior goddess, that wouldn't be my fault.

Would it?

Perhaps he has some kind of piscatorial metaphor in mind, where the “party line” has fish-hooks every 20 meters or so and you tow it along behind your boat when you go fishing.

We used to have a party line when I was a kid. Possibly it could be towed in the physical sense, but I can't think of a reason to...

Orac, from never-heard-of-it U somewhere in Ohio

LULZ

#174:
It's certainly a good idea for a non-scientist to run anything with a scientific aspect by people with science background and expertise. I know I try to do it, and I'm grateful to the many well informed people who shared knowledge and devoted time to help me learn (and are still doing so). But it's a good idea to make sure the people in question are both competent to comment on the subject matter and willing to say honestly when the writer is wrong and to read with a critical eye, and to be open minded to criticism and correct errors pointed out.

One of the risks with friends is that they may be too willing to just pat the writer on the back and say what they think he wants to hear. That's one reason choosing your readers for their expertise rather than friendship or sharing a joint world view is a good idea.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Don't forget that there are always outliers**

you can find physicians who truly believe vaccines cause autism, a professor who is a hiv/ aids denialist and a scientist who believes AGW is a farce- the problem is they are few and far between.

It would be interesting if a single person could assemble several of these at one time ( unless it were at AutismOne). It's far easier to find parents who believe in anti-vax for obvious reasons.

** as well as out-and-out liars.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

AN hiv/ aids denialist

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

I really had to laugh out loud at JB's comment....uh...JB...I don't know what rock YOU live under, but most people in the USA have heard of the University of Michigan, and their really good medical school. And Orac has not hidden where he did his undergrad or med school.

I certainly think most Stanford grads have heard of U of M...does 49-0 mean anything to you?

Chris...THANKS!

Don’t forget that there are always outliers**

True.

you can find physicians who truly believe vaccines cause autism, a professor who is a hiv/ aids denialist and a scientist who believes AGW is a farce- the problem is they are few and far between.

True again, especially the last part. We are lucky human stupidity is not distributed with Cauchy tails.

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

Jesus. We've gotten to the "My imaginary big brother can beat you up" stage of the discussion.

Got the backbone to admit that the thimerosal part of the question has been studied? And that you were wrong?

That's right, you don't. You do have an echo chamber that will tell you what you want to hear.

Remember being fooled by Rashid Buttar and buying into the "transdermal" chelation scam?

Remember telling everyone that all you have to do is chelate your kid for 2 years and you will "get them back"?

Remember having the courage to call Paul Offit and fulfill your part of the bargain and pass the domain to him? (that's right, you didn't have that courage).

Remember having the courage to apologize to Bonnie Offit for your wild accusations? (that's right, you don't have that courage).

Based on your recent statements, you seem to have bought into the Kerri Rivera scam.

Your online persona as the "angry father" is a joke. You are gutless.

Much more to the point, you have been so spectacularly wrong for so long it's amazing that you seem to think you have any credibility outside of your shrinking circle of supporters.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

And who might those doctor friends be? Clearly, they need remedial education in analyzing epidemiological and clinical data. Of course, I could point out that Ben Carson graduated from Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School and did his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins, but he still manages to say some astonishingly stupid things about science, not just vaccine science but evolution, the Big Bang Theory, physics, and geology. Let's put it this way, most physicians are not scientists:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/09/24/most-doctors-are-not-scien…

It’s funny, when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic and my arguments are reasonable and the work clearly has not been done on honestly looking at the vaccine-autism link.

Well JB, when I run your ideas past my friends who do actual real publishable research in biomedicine (as opposed to the stuff that fills the intertubes), their usual response to me is "Is this guy a nutcase?"

To DGR #178:

Thanks for the two hyperlinks in response to my questions about the death/disability toll in the United States of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the last 50 years and projections for the next 50 years.

The first hyperlinked article indicates a measles outbreak in 1989–1991 resulted in 123 deaths due to not being vaccinated. It further says a study in 1994 estimated 1,859 annual deaths in the *absence* of a measles vaccination program. Apparently, the study did NOT estimate the death toll for the case of the current measles vaccination programs continuing as expected.

The second article says California in 1988-1990 had 75 deaths, believed due to low measles immunization levels in the preschool-aged low-income Hispanic communities.

You suggested I could extrapolate from this.
Well, I guess my rough estimate answer for my question #2, at least with respect to measles, would be less than 2,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

But if we look only at children - and this blog’s lead article seems to be focusing more on vaccinations for children - the death total rough estimate would be lower, maybe a small fraction of the less than 2,000.
http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa-cause-of-death-by-age-and-gender

By See Noevo (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Oops. Forgot to respond to Mr. Handley's first comment, which, you'll note, I did approve. I wonder if Handley or his buddies at AoA would approve a similarly hostile comment by me were I to post one? Better not to think of it. Instead, Onward! Mr. Handley takes me to task:

YOU are the type of person I’m writing about in my article. The arrogant, keyboard-couraged fueled know-it-all, who has an answer for everything and whose only real purpose is to manufacture doubt.

Ah, the old "keyboard courage." One notes that I did come face-to-face with your former protege Jake Crosby and had little problem dealing with him, although I will admit that he did creep me out a bit. But, then, I'm not the only one who's reported that. Be that as it may, I doubt I'd have any more problem dealing with you in person, unless you resort to your usual bull-in-a-China-shop technique and tried to shout me down, in which case I wouldn't bother engaging with you until you calmed down and behaved.

When the truth about what has happened to a generation of our kids becomes common knowledge, I look forward to seeing the impact it has on your “legacy.”

If decreasing vaccine uptake leads to more and more outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease and children die as a result, that will be your legacy. I'll take my legacy of science-based advocacy of vaccines to prevent disease and death in children over your pseudoscience-based legacy promoting practices that lead to disease and death in children any day.

More to the point, you never actually address the truth of what I wrote: the studies that are often touted by people in your camp to claim “vaccines do not cause autism” do not come remotely close to doing that. Rather than focus on the substance of my argument, you choose to paint my words with the broad brush of someone consumed by irrational anger.

Actually, it's not your anger per se that is irrational. It is the belief that produces that anger that is irrational. If vaccines truly were responsible for your child's autism, it would not be irrational to be angry about it, although being consumed even by righteous anger for so long is not healthy and has a deleterious effect on reason. Fortunately, vaccines do not cause autism, as far as science can tell. Science has failed to find a link between vaccines and autism, and it's not for a lack of looking. As for the "substance" of your argument, my first temptation was to echo another commenter who asked, "What substance?" However, I deconstructed your projection-laden comparison of vaccine manufacturers to tobacco companies. I dropped copious links that show why your criticisms of various studies are off-base and explained why your belief in the "biological plausibility" of the vaccine-autism idea and your view of autism as "brain injury" are mistaken. I pointed out why your faith in the "wisdom of crowds" is highly misplaced in questions of science.

As for the studies, silly Mr. Handley. No one says that any one study is sufficient to show that vaccines cause autism. Rather, it is the accumulated weight of the findings of each study, taken in context with and added to what we learned from previous studies, that leads to the conclusion that vaccines do not cause autism. Or, not to use that shorthand and to put it more precisely, it is the accumulated weight of these studies failing to find a link between vaccines and autism makes it incredibly unlikely that there is a significant link between the two, because if such a link exists it is so small that multiple well-designed, very large epidemiological studies have failed to detect it.

It’s remarkable that a wanted felon and a whistleblower–authors on many of the studies used to “prove” “vaccine dod not cause autism”– are dismissed by people in your camp. Of course, anyone who doesn’t tow the party line is dismissed, because that’s really the only purpose you have ever served on this topic: manufacturing doubt to confuse the layperson.

I explained why Poul Thorsen's alleged fraud with CDC grant money is not relevant to whether the two main MMR studies on which he was co-author are good science, complete with links to detailed discussions I did of this very issue in the past.

As for your claim that I'm manufacturing doubt to confuse the layperson, it's tempting to respond, "I know you are, but what am I?" Yes, it's childish, but in this case it's accurate, because manufacturing doubt about vaccines by bloviating about science, touting crap studies, and attacking good studies as though you knew one thing about good scientific practice and the proper design of epidemiological studies and clinical trials is what you do.

With zero respect, JB Handley

I only care about whether people I respect respect me in turn. Whether you respect me or not matters not one whit to me.

my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard

"You said Stanford twice."
"I like Stanford."

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

you can find physicians who truly believe vaccines cause autism, a professor who is a hiv/ aids denialist and a scientist who believes AGW is a farce- the problem is they are few and far between.

Also, usually the same person. Crank magnetism is a harsh mistress.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

when I run my articles by my Stanford-eductaed doctor friends who went to med school at places like UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard, they tell me I have sound logic [etc. etc.] And, yet, Orac, from never-heard-of-it U somewhere in Ohio has it all figured out? I don’t think so!

Orac received his B.S. from The University of Michigan, which is not in Ohio, and which many people have heard of, (especially people in Ohio). He also received his MD from Michigan. If you average the med school rankings from the top four hits on Google – U.S.News, StartClass, Business Insider, the NIH – Michigan finishes ahead of UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard. Orac received his PhD from Case Western, which is in Ohio and would be "never heard of it" to most Americans because it's in NCAA DIII,. But it's probably more familiar to scientists, having 16 Nobel Laureates among it's former Students and Faculty. More to the point, doctors are not well-trained in science, and Orac not only has a PhD in medical research, but Case has a top-10 doctoral program in his field of study, while UCSF, UCSD, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard do not.

Thus, Mr. Handley's 'argument' here is specious on it's own terms, which happen to be anything but "sound logic" to begin with. His friends (n=?) are undoubtedly a small sample, and unrepresentative besides because, well, they're his friends.

Having patronized some taverns in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, I can imagine that some folks got eductaed rather than educated on The Farm, and would indeed give a pass to an article that says chimps are monkeys, Brain Hooker is "a good scientist", autism is brain damage; touts a study linking Hep B vaccine to children receiving Special Ed services (EIS) based on survey reports, without distinguishing what condition qualifed the students for EIS or controlling for other factors among the un-vaxed population that might have mitigated against children receiving those service; and claims Wlliam Thompson has asserted "that many of the CDC-produced studies exploring the vaccine-autism link were fraudulent" – when, in fact, Thompson has only alleged that one published study should have included one piece of admittedly statistically-insignificant data under principles of thorough full-disclosure.

The reason I imagine this is that Stanford-eductaed folks have a rep around here for sucking up to any source of capital – which Mr. Handley apparently has and distributes to anyone willing to lend some credentials to his cause – and bs-ing investors who are clueless to the validity of the actual science and tech questions involved. I.e., Stanford is a great place to learn how to separate fools from their fortunes.

Perhaps Mr. Handley can tell us whether his Stanford-eductaed pals encouraged him to post his reply here, imagining that readers would be taken by their sound logic, and reasonable arguments. I don't think so.

Oh yeah, I used to teach rhetoric (among other things). Unlike Mr. Handley's doctor pals, I'm actually qualified by specific training to judge the soundness of logic and the reasonableness of arguments, and have been employed to do so by two major universities, a well regarded private college, and a large metropolitan high school system. My grade for Mr. Handley's work: F.
_____

Note to Mr. Handley:
For the record, Orac and sadmar are not friends. In fact, Orac doesn't like my web persona very much.

MI Dawn@195

I really had to laugh out loud at JB’s comment….uh…JB…I don’t know what rock YOU live under, but most people in the USA have heard of the University of Michigan, and their really good medical school. And Orac has not hidden where he did his undergrad or med school.

I think he was talking about Case Western. Not that it changes anything since Case is also a well known and highly rated school but at least that means JB got the Ohio part right.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Ah, the old “keyboard courage.”

Ironic coming from a man who couldn't even email, much less call Paul Offit when it came time to make good on his promise.

Ironic coming from someone who couldn't muster the courage to apologize to either Dr. Offit.

Keyboard courage. Pot, meet Handley.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

I think he was talking about Case Western. Not that it changes anything since Case is also a well known and highly rated school but at least that means JB got the Ohio part right.

It's just Handley trying (and failing again) to be clever in his insults. Take a jab at the school.

Let's not pay attention to the fact that Handley has zero credentials in science. That he can't rely upon his arguments but rather nameless doctors from good schools.

Heck, I bet Bob Sears went to a good medical school. May even be one of Handley's echo chamber advisers. If there was ever an example of a doctor who has zero understanding of science, it's Bob Sears.

But, again, we are talking here about JB Handley. Who got scammed by Rashid Buttar.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

@176

Rich Bly, I have a colleague from India who wept the day that India was declared polio-free. He saw the terrible effects of polio on his family and friends and he never in his wildest imaginings thought it would happen. He cried like a proverbial baby. It was fantastic. :)

Delphine,

I was on a trek in Nepal in the fall of 1996 when I learned that (at the time) Nepal had reached 97% coverage for polio vaccine. 97% coverage is an amazing number because most people in Nepal are not on a road network. Most vaccine is taken to villages by doctors, nurses etc. trekking into the villages.

What would US vaccination rate be if the people had to walk 30, 40, 50 miles either to receive a vaccine or give it?

I showed jb's post to a doctor here at the hospital (who, may I say, has a better education than mr handled here has posted), and he said "If his friends claim the education that he had posted' the universities should recind his friend's degrees".

All of the nursing students whom I am working with this rotation also agreed that jb made himself look like an uneducated fool with his postings here, and a few of them wondered if child protection services should have been contacted regarding the abuse he inflicted on his child.

Orac@199:

And who might those doctor friends be?

Dr Bunbury, Dr Harvey, and Dr Durden, T. Impeccable sources, all.

sadmar@205:

Orac received his B.S. from The University of Michigan

And JB receives his BS from cranial-rectal inversion. Hey, one's as good as another right?

See Noevo says,

Well, I guess my rough estimate answer for my question #2 [projected death/disability toll in the United States of vaccine-preventable epidemics in the next 50 years], at least with respect to measles, would be less than 2,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

And you're ... okay with that? Thousands dead, thousands more deafened, blinded, brain-damaged, every year? You're okay with that?

But if we look only at children – and this blog’s lead article seems to be focusing more on vaccinations for children – the death total rough estimate would be lower, maybe a small fraction of the less than 2,000.

Nope, the victims would be mostly children. When such diseases are able to run rampant through a population in the absence of vaccination, the vast majority of people get the disease as children and are therefore immune as adults. If they survive the disease as children, of course. There's a reason these diseases (measles, mumps, chickenpox) were known as childhood diseases.

herr doktor bimler@172
...Handley has mangled the cliche. Perhaps he has some kind of piscatorial metaphor in mind, where the “party line” has fish-hooks every 20 meters or so and you tow it along behind your boat when you go fishing.
I'm no fisherman, but I believe the technical term for that activity is "trolling".

By Lancelot Link (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

@capnkrunch: you could be right. Case Western Reserve may not be well known on the west coast. In the Midwest, and on the East coast, it has quite a good reputation and if you have a degree from it, you are considered quite intelligent. (I had the option of getting my MS from CWRU or SUNY-Stony Brook. Since SUNY entailed a lot less travel from NJ, I went there.)

MI Dawn: You may be missing the point. In order to know Orac attended Case, Handley would had to check Orac's cv, thus discovering that Orac has a PhD a scientific field, something his 'friends' don't have. And, had he mentioned this to said friends, they probably would indeed be familiar with Case, either by general rep in the medical community, or by attending med school alongside someone who did their undergrad at Case, here biological sciences are the largest UG major. So, Handley is knowingly comparing apples (MD degree) to oranges (science PhD), and lambasting the orange by criteria he either knows are false, or would know if he did one iota of inquiry. Inexcusable sophistry either way.

Handley trolls, plain and simple.

He's well aware of Orac's credentials. In the past he made some sort of snide comment about Orac being an "assistant" professor at the time. Something along the lines of "I'd never be an assistant anything"

Sadly, trolling fails miserably when all you do is demonstrate ignorance of the tenure system and the professor ranking system.

Handley has a degree in east Asian studies and economics. So he has to throw out schools as being the important factor because his own background is useless for this discussion.

People without science backgrounds can and do often have a good idea of science. Mr. Handley is not one of those people.

People with medical backgrounds can and do have often lack a science acumen. Having taught premeds, I know this to be true. Mr. Handley has his select team of doctors who tell him he's great. And they must be right because they went to good schools?

Again, let's look at Handley's track record. He's not only shown that he can and has believed in nonsense, but he's believed so much as to throw his money away advertising charlatans and, worse, subjected his family to fake medicine.

But he's "angry". And that's his online persona. His schtick.

And he can spew out thousands of words basically justifying to himself why he still clings to his failed ideas.

Same old Brad.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

Hell, I have been placed on “RI probation,”

Really?!?!

When? Link?

@JB Handley

I'm not the first generation to be vaccinated. There's at least three vaccinated generations following me. (I only have children, but younger family members have great-grandchildren...)

Census records show that for each successive vaccinated generation more children are surviving to become adults, and they then are going on to live longer and healthier lives.

Which of these generations is the "vaccine-injured" generation that you keep burbling on about?

For the record, Orac and sadmar are not friends. In fact, Orac doesn’t like my web persona very much.

I wouldn't put it quite that way. it's more like I think you're full of crap on some matters, and you think I'm full of crap on some matters.

If you have an erection lasting more than four hours after taking Oracminion, immediately contact your doctor.

Or brag about it on Facebook. Whatever.

Me think that this nice "sexologist" (don't know if she hold the title) might be a better fit to talk about the issue:

http://kimanami.com

Al

Me think that this nice “sexologist” (don’t know if she hold the title) might be a better fit to talk about the issue:

Woooow - Alain, you owe me a new keyboard!

"My vagina can lift coconuts. Can yours?"

Uh, never tried.

The "enter here" bit on the "front page" of the site reminded me of this time in Budapest, when I was staying with my friend Michael and his ladyfriend Vikus. It was a small flat, and they had had some kind of a big fight, so he and I were looking for a hostel for me to go stay in for a couple days. (Vikki ended up going to her mom's instead, which was big of her. I only make it to town every couple of years.) Anyway, we found one that was called... Enter Privates. I kid you not. (It had rooms with a private entryway. I'm still not sure if the, uh, double entendre was intentional or not.)

" Mr. Handley has his select team of doctors who tell him he’s great."

And lots of researchers and drug company employees who have written him anonymously to say they'd be willing to surrender and admit their vaccine crimes and frauds, except they can't risk losing their jobs and being murdered by pharma hit squads.
Plus, let's not overlook all the regular followers of RI who've contacted Handley to say that they secretly agree with him but can't admit it here.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ JP:

How about those coconuts?

It must be that ancient art of chi weight lifting by the naughty bits - I used to have a brochure, I forgot the name, selling equipment. Women use marble eggs to... er...strengthen. .uh.. muscles within.. I imagine that those tales about launching ping pong balls for sport ( and wages) in Thailand might be true. Men get a weight that is suspended by a string and attached to the part in question.

I have only read about this I can assure you. Some T'ai Chi folk I knew attended a class.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

@Denice:

You really should, um, poke around that website if you're in need of a laugh. She does indeed mention "energetic sex" or whatever; it definitely had a Taoist kinda vibe. (Something something energetic penetration something. No mention of the jade stalk or the pearl on the jade step, though.) She actually mentions the ping pong ball, too.

There are also a lot of references to 50 freaking Shades of Grey.. Speaking of which, if you ever want to read some of the worst abuses ever perpetrated upon the English language, you're welcome.

^ ping pong ball thing.

BTW, were the ancient Chinese freaking green or something?

correction:

JADE egg.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

@ JP (# 225):

That was English?

A while ago, at the movies, I saw the trailer for the film with one of my gentlemen who, laughing out loud, thought it hilariously bad which incited laughter from other audience members as well as sarcasm.

Pity the young youngsters who sneak watching the film and thus become sadly misinformed about how adults behave sexually- not to mention mimicking the awful dialogue.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

Woooow – Alain, you owe me a new keyboard!

:D

The things that I find on the intertoob...

Anyway, how about an Observer blinded clinical trial between coconut lifting by vaginas versus kegel in post-partum vs control subjects?

Given that I don't want to cause keyboard malfunction all over the world, I will leave the objective primary outcomes to your imagination while the subjective one would be a questionnaire about satisfaction in the act.

Al

Umm...I'll get back to the drawing board to figure out how to make a 3 or 7 tesla MRI scanner perform both fMRI and MRS scanning at the same time.

Al

Ooooooh, as we playing "How many important and qualified people I know"?

Can I play please? Is it my turn?

Mr Handley, I could run your ideas by any number of consultants in child and adolescent mental health, paediatrics, neurology, pathology, whatever of my acquaintance (30 years in nursing, knowing a load of medical students at university and the like kinda helps), all educated at good medical schools up and down the UK, whose number includes several professors of and lecturers in child and adolescent mental health, one of whom is an international authority on autism, worked with Michael Rutter and co-wrote the ADI-R, and they would all say "Ha", followed by a few more "Ha"s, with a "FFS!" or 2 thrown in and a whole lot of face/palm...

And that is not counting the psychologists, biochemists, and...and...

Oh, and even in the UK some of us have heard of U of Michigan and Case Western...

Your blog is dumb.

Pillex: "Your blog is dumb."

What a brilliant assessment of the comment. So full of detail, and precise cites that show exactly where the author erred.

Did you go to JB Handley school for eloquence?

Your blog is dumb

Could you please have some kind of phrases resembling like an actual argument? You look like a really dumb *ss stating a non-fact without having some *kind* of evidence to back up that statement.

Al