Autism Medicine Quackery

Vox responds

A few days ago, I fisked the antivaccination posturings of a certain “Libertarian Christian commenator” regarding the Geiers’ claim that mercury in the thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is a major cause of autism. Many of the comments predicted that Vox wouldn’t respond. (Personally, I was hoping that he would but, based on his nonresponse to my earlier fisking of his antivaccination nonsense, figured that he probably wouldn’t.)

Guess what? He actually did respond. Although I don’t want this to turn into a prolonged blog exchange, I figured that, since Vox went through the bother to respond, I should at least make a brief response.

Basically, after calling me and one of the commenters in the thread “ladies” (thus once again revealing his misogyny by his apparent belief that calling me a “lady” is somehow an insult), Vox confirmed what I said about his objections to vaccines in that they are clearly not due to science:

And as I have stated numerous times in the past, my opposition to the current vaccine schedule is not due to any adherence to existing theories as to WHY particular vaccines are harmful or precisely HOW they are harmful, but due to the political and legal structure behind the vaccine schedule which logically suggests that vaccines are far more harmful than parents or doctors understand.

In other words, there’s no science behind his objection to mandatory vaccination, and Vox can’t back up his claim that vaccines are “far more harmful than parents or doctors understand.” Thanks for admitting that, Vox. By the way, you’re starting to sound like mercury antivaccine warrior extraordinaire Lenny Schafer, who similarly has all but admitted that there is no science behind is claims that mercury causes autism and that his goal is to persuade in the courts and the political arena.

Vox continues:

This, combined with the way that obviously unnecessary vaccines are aggressively marketed to politicians and school districts, is far more persuasive to me than the many unscientific surveys of surveys that are used in the absence of genuine double-blind experiments with a control group to “prove” the safety of mercury in particular and various vaccines in general. The studies that Orac criticizes may well be scientifically questionable; it is certain that many of those which are cited to contrary purposes are. If Orac would like to try “fisking” away the logic of VAERS, the various related Congressional acts and the millions of dollars paid out in damages, I’ll be happy to respond to that.

In other words, Vox’s objections to vaccination are not based in science. He claims that many studies cited to “contrary purposes” (i.e., to show vaccine safety and efficacy) are questionable, but notably he doesn’t cite a single study that is questionable and, more importantly, explain, based on study design, why it is questionable. Instead, in essence, he just claims that studies used to support the efficacy and safety of vaccines are as bad as the Geiers (which at least he concedes might have flaws), suing argument by assertion rather than argument with the evidence.

As for the VAERS database, before going there, Vox should check out these references for the utility of using the VAERS database for any estimates of actual vaccine injuries:

The Geiers go dumpster-diving again
How vaccine litigation distorts the VAERS database

If this were the famous old Uncle Remus tale, Brer Orac would be saying to Brer Vox, “I don’t care what you do to me, Brer Vox. [Note: conveniently ‘Vox’ rhymes with ‘fox’]. You can use any other data you want, but please don’t throw me in dat VAERS briar patch, Brer Vox!”

The result would be the same as the end of the Uncle Remus tale.

And, finally:

What’s amazing about these logic-free lightweights is that they seem to think I have some inexplicable motive for opposing the vaccine schedule, when the reality is that it was the obvious dishonesty of health officials and others defending the need for the schedule that first got me interested in learning why those who were delivering what I considered to be an obvious public good should need to hide behind Congressional immunity and lying press releases.

In other words, Vox’s objections to vaccines are not based on any science, but rather his suspicions about that public health officials have been dishonest. Of course, Vox neglects to provide an example of such “dishonesty.”

I for one am glad that Vox cleared all that up for me so nicely. Now maybe he’ll take the time to answer Tara‘s and Mark‘s fisking of his misinformed implication that the mumps outbreak in Iowa somehow constitutes evidence that the mumps vaccine doesn’t work.

After all, he is a Mensa member. It should be child’s play for him.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading