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]
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45 replies on “While I’m crashing polls…”
dead link on my iPhone.
Very good synopsis by Mr Salzburg.
Not easy to cover the overall story/history in such a concise way.
it was a crappy synopsis with the usual bias of pharma sponsored website. The experts had never heard of regressive autism? WTF? Maybe one of the experts was Dr. prOffit who has never worked with autistic children.
Rene : I saw that. LOL!
If you actually read the rulings, you wouldn’t embarrass yourself so much with gross misunderstandings. Just a friendly tip.
I should in particular clarify that the respondent’s experts were clearly aware of regressive autism, but plaintiff’s experts attempted to create an entirely new and different “clearly regressive autism” which doesn’t actually exist.
Actually, the respondents’ experts had heard of “regressive autism” (more properly called “childhood disintegrative disorder” or “Heller’s Syndrome”) – they just hadn’t heard of “clearly regressive autism”.
Of course, since “clearly regressive autism” was made up by the plaintiff’s experts, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
What should be raising the “WTF?” flag is that the plaintiff’s experts were so vague and varying in their definition of “clearly regressive autism”. It seemed that, like Humpty Dumpty, the plaintiff’s experts deemed “clearly regressive autism” to mean whatever they chose it to mean, even if their meaning were contradictory.
In short, nobody (with the possible exception of hundreds of innocent parents) were deceived by the invention of “clearly regressive autism”. It was a (futile) attempt to make a sub-set of autism that could only be caused by vaccines – even if the timing and dose and composition of the vaccines in question were radically different.
“Clearly regressive autism” seemed to be defined as “autism developing sometime after a vaccination”, with the only criteria being that the parents believed that vaccines were the cause of their child’s autism.
Seems like a pretty poorly defined disorder – maybe they ought to work on it a while longer.
Err roger that, targeting data received… clear to engage. Strohman out.
Ordnances delivered, Strohman is Winchester and RTB at this time. Over and out.
Yeah, I’m that nerdy.
Posted on blog comments at the link:
I just came from a toxicology conference where I saw dozens of presentations (posters) by scientists examining links between autism (and ADHD and other neurological problems of childhood) and continuous prenatal exposure to lead, pesticides, PCBs, tobacco, and other environmental toxins. (The body is really good at detoxifying itself after brief exposures, but continuous exposures are worse.) Even at levels below EPA limits, or below levels that would cause illness in the mothers, researchers saw effects on brain structure, learning, and behavior in the offspring. As far as they can tell in rats etc. the damage is done and the die is cast for autism (and other neurological problems of childhood) by the end of the first trimester. A lot of mothers-to-be don’t even know they’re pregnant yet.
Another thing about autism: babies don’t have much intentional behavior when they’re first born, so it takes a while for them to develop enough for parents (or doctors) to notice they’re behind schedule. Add to that the natural ways we link events together in our memory, even if they didn’t really happen in that order, and it looks as though the baby suddenly developed autism after their shots.
We actually have less material in each shot nowadays (they’re more efficient) so children may have more shots but they get less total vaccine than in days gone by. And because there are so many shots, there are more opportunities for something to happen coincidentally. Maybe kids with undetected autism are more distressed by shots because they’re less able to understand that they’ll get over feeling bad (the natural effect of triggering an immune reaction, whether it’s a “fire drill” like vaccination or a cold).
The best thing to do now is to clean up the environment and try to prevent future problems–and find ways to help autistic kids (and adults) get along in the world. The damage is done. The toxins were gone long ago, so “detoxification” will only remove the metals any organism needs to function (calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, zinc, copper, etc.) and this has lead to at least one death. But children’s brains have enough plasticity that the right kinds of therapy can help get them back on the developmental track.
TK: whoever left that comment about “babies don’t have much intentional behaviour when they’re first born,so it takes awhile for them to develop enough for parents (or doctors) to notice they’re behind schedule.”
That is the biggest load of stupid I have ever heard. In fact early interventionists are finding the exact opposite. She/he must not have had a baby yet, too.
@jen (13): Actually, TK is correct. Babies DON’T have any intentional behavior when they are born; they develop it when they are several months old. At birth, all newborns have are reflexes. Smiling is a reflex, as is breathing, coughing, grasping (fingers and toes – a relic of our past when we, like apes, held on to our mothers’ fur). Purposeful behavior begins with social smiling around 3-4 months. Even the groups studying children for autistic behaviors (at risk because of siblings) aren’t finding much before 9 months.
Your rudeness led you to be inaccurate about neonatal development. Do a little reading about infant mental development and try again.
In the comments over yon, I was amused once again to see someone demonstrating his self-professed superior math skillz by (if I understand his poor grammatical constructions) by comparing dosage to concentration.
MI Dawn: Well that’s great but the person didn’t say neonate they said babies. If you did a little reading and worried less being rude you would see that. I have a major in early childhood development so I do kinda know about reflexes, thanks. And, that leaves quite a bit of time for the parents to see some typical development before autism diagnosis is evident. (if it’s regressive autism).
Comeon, MI Dawn, jen has a mommy sense that can overpower the best science has to offer!
My favorite is the Babinski reflex (where the toes spread when you touch the bottom of the feet)
I guess you are going to have to define “social smiling,” because the Gurg’s first deliberate smile was exactly at 34 days. We have plenty of big smile pictures that we were getting a week before 2 months. He had enough control that we could get him to smile for us before he was two months old (one of those pictures is still one of my all-time favorites).
And from talking to friends, he was not unusual.
Toxicology Kat said “babies … when they’re first born” you putz. And you’re still wrong, since even after the neonatal period it takes several more months for purposeful behavior to develop. And you have the gall to brag about an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Development?
LMAO, Jen makes an appeal to authority using an AA degree. Although we must concede that makes her quite a bit more educated than most in the anti-vax movement.
nsib, you’re the putz. She concluded saying “neonates…”
You show a lack of understanding of infant development. They are even researching “executive function” with respect to babies (not neonates). By 3 months many of the newborn reflex responses are lost, their vision changes dramatically and they become much more aware of their surroundings. They may use their hands and eyes in coordination. By four to seven months they can do more than simply cry when hungry or tired, laugh (mine laughed-not gas-at two months), babble consonants, distinguish emotions by tone of voice, find partially hidden objects. Hell, they even teach 6 monht olds ASL (American Sign Language).
Nick, what the heck is an AA degree?
Wow. Is ‘jen’ for real? She tries to make up plausible sciencey-sounding stuff and keeps tripping over her own bogosities. Nor is she the least bit abashed or embarrassed when she’s caught out.
In the US, an AA is an Associate of Arts. It is a 2 year degree, often received at a community college (which are local schools that provide remedial classes, community enrichment and freshman/sophomore level college courses that can transfer to a 4 year school.
That’s right, Jen, I’m calling you out on your mommyjacking.
You’ve been submitted to STFU Parents — enjoy!
oooh…jen has a MAJOR.
color everyone apathetic. everyone in college has a major of some kind. some are even declared. some ever result in degrees.
I’ve a degree in a field related to aeronautical engineering. doesn’t make me Kelly Johnson.
Well, you very nearly rendered me speechless (typeless?) with your post @22. Congrats. So, first off:
You and I are the only ones who have used the word “neonate” in this thread. No one else has mentioned it. But why would you even claim that Toxicology Kat said “neonates?” If she had, that would completely invalidate your original complaint that:
Secondly, well, thanks for refuting your own argument, I guess… doesn’t leave me much to do, though.
Is that really what it’s come down to, though? Shooting down your own arguments just to stop us from doing ourselves?
I would guess that Nick meant an “Associate Arts” degree when he wrote AA. That would be a two year community college equivalent of a 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree from a regular college or university.
So, rather than leave us guessing, would you please state what your degree is? (I’m assuming that you earned a full major in early childhood development.)
Not that it’s necessary or even relevant to this discussion, but to show I’m willing to provide what I ask for, I have a B.S. in Physics and an M.S. in Nuclear Effects.
The whole babies/neonates squabble is somewhat Clintonesque, but FWIW, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines neonatal as:
“of, relating to, or affecting the newborn and especially the human infant during the first month after birth”
So, Pablo’s Gurg’s first smile at 34 days was probably past the neonatal period.
Social smiling at 3-4 months or being able to diagnose autistic behaviors at 9 months or any effects after the MMR shot at 12 months are all past the “neonatal” period. But a newborn, neonatal baby is still a baby.
Also, since you mentioned them and I am curious, what are your favorite references on “early interventionists” and “intentional behavior”? Also, on teaching ASL to 6 month olds?
Apparently a pronoun went AWOL in my last post. His initials are IT, and he was scheduled to be second to last in roll call. If you have any information on the object, please notify the nearest GP (grammar police).
@Orac: I saw your comments on the blog you linked. I don’t understand. Where do you find motivation for this? Constantly repeating the same arguments to people who constantly refuse to hear them. I mean I don’t see why you need to argue with them. They believe in the vaccine-autism link in the same way religious people believe in demons. IMHO, Enlightenment is not possible for them.
I agree the stupid on display over there is just overwhelming, I couldnât read the comments for long. Commenterâs are just making stuff up, donât know how you do it orac
@jen: (emphasis mine)
TK said “…babies don’t have much intentional behavior when they’re first born, so it takes a while for them to develop enough for parents (or doctors) to notice they’re behind schedule.”
Then you replied to my post “MI Dawn: Well that’s great but the person didn’t say neonate they said babies. ” A baby is a neonate until they are 1 month old, AKA a newborn.
@Pablo: I wasn’t too clear. Babies do smile, even at birth, and gain a bit more control to copy a smile (they smile because someone is smiling at them…they will frown, stick out their tongue, whatever the face is doing that they are looking at) around 1-2 months. “Social Smiling” as defined in my child psychology class, is that wonderful smile that your baby gives you around 3-4 months when they see you walk in the room (even if you don’t smile at them)…it’s the whole body-wiggling, eyes light-up,smile that we all love seeing.
@jen again: I’ll see your degree in early childhood education and raise you a master’s degree in Maternal-child nursing.
The last post is mine (MI Dawn). Since I have to sign in to comment on PZ’s blog, sometimes Sci Blogs will overwrite my name I use here with my google sign in. I can’t get it to not do it.
“Maybe one of the experts was Dr. prOffit who has never worked with autistic children.” – Jen
Okay, this is one of the things that drives me nuts: What does “working with autistic children” have to do with knowing what causes autism? Do the autistic children themselves send off some kind of signal that somehow offers a clue to the origin of their condition? So many anti-vax people claim you can’t have an opinion (or real fact) about autism and vaccine link without actually working with autistic kids. Now Jen claims you can’t have an opinion without having kids. So what? My OB/GYN is a guy…he has no uterus. Does that mean he is not qualified to diagnose uterine cancer? Or pregnancy? That whole argument is a HUGE cop out. Quit doing that!
Jen, you are being deliberately manipulative and obtuse. You keep referring to the work of “Thorsen”, yet he doesn’t seem to be first author (or even second or third) on any vaccination studies. Perhaps you mean “Madsen”. All indications lead me to believe that you want to promote the notoriety associated with the former’s name to negate the science done by the latter. I would imagine that Dr. Madsen would be very surprised that Dr. Thorsen appears, in your mind, to have contributed so much.
“I saw your comments on the blog you linked. I don’t understand. Where do you find motivation for this? Constantly repeating the same arguments to people who constantly refuse to hear them. I mean I don’t see why you need to argue with them. They believe in the vaccine-autism link in the same way religious people believe in demons. IMHO, Enlightenment is not possible for them.”
*raises hand* so that lurkers like me see the scientific smack-down of the anti-vaccine movement (over many months of reading) and realize we were so, so misguided (not to mention out-right lied to!). If not for people like Orac, I would not have vaccinated my future children.
squirrelelite: I have a B.A.Sc (Child Studies degree with a major in Early Childhood Education) since it matters so much to you. It includes courses in statistics, research methods, child development,infant development, nutrition, physiology, principles of assessment and evaluation etc. etc. Four year degree; three practicums (two in pre-school labs). nsib: Yes, I know the difference between the neonatal period and infancy. Whoever wrote the post only said, “babies” and admittedly that leaves quite a space of time. MIDawn @15 used the word neonate. MIDawn has enlightened us all with her comment that babies social smile at 3-4 months. Pablo’s baby and mine are apparently gifted having smiled and laughed at around 2 months. In that same vein, many parents have time to see that their child is developing gangbusters only to see that reversing at some point (perhaps due to an environmental assault). I worked with an early intervention program for six years (before I had my children) and I honestly don’t have any one favourtie reference on “early interventionists.” Early intervention requires the worker to be very familiar with all areas of development from about birth to 3 years. (physiology, fine motor, speech and language development, and play).The background for an early intervention worker varies and may include one like mine, a psychology degree or occupational therapy degree etc. Different assesment tools (DISC, ABC) are used to determine a lag in two or more areas-in our area in order to qualify there needs to be a developmental delay in two or more areas. Other programs may have different entry criteria. Many of the children we saw had syndromes (and there are lots!) or cerebral palsey. I do not work in the field of early intervention now but I understand that it is very common to teach signs to babies now, even in gymboree type classes. We certainly use sign language with kids in the school system who have autism and do not speak or understand alot. (toilet, sit, help me, eat, etc. are commonly used).
Trisklethecat: Is it a contest? Do you go by two names and expect us to know that?
marciarn: your point is well taken.
momkat: Thorsen’s name certainly does appear on the studies. Fombossities just don’t do any favours for your side and if I were you guys I would be pissed off that the peer review system isn’t working too well in some cases. I mean, really, looking at immuniz’n rates in one city and autism prev in another, screwing up the study group with having a negative enrolment bias. And then, funny how Wakefield and Hewitson get slapped with all these objections to their studies. It just seems intellectually dishonest.
“babies don’t have much intentional behavior when they’re first born”
Direct quote. Perhaps you missed the “when they’re first born” part?
and then,”it takes them awhile to develop enough for parents (or doctors) to notice they’re behind schedule. Add to that the natural ways we link…”
Well, I think most parents (including Pablo) would know that their child was developing normally and then suddenly lost skills. This happens in Rett’s syndrome, for example.
Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, Jen, you complain about others not comprehending what they read and yet you can’t get what I said correct. I didn’t say Thorsen’s name wasn’t on the research, I said he wasn’t FIRST (no closer than FOURTH) author. Madsen was first author, thus it is Madsen’s research. Thorsen is the name of your strawman. And what is a “Fombossities”? Google and I have no clue.
If anyone had any doubt, here’s the conclusive proof. Jen will make up any lie that happens to suit her. Pathetic, really – and oh-so-illustrative of the dishonesty inherent in the disease promotion brigade.
There are some who are honestly wrong, and they deserve respect and education. Then there are some who are dishonest liars; they deserve nothing but contempt.
I guess it’s a fine distinction. Because I can tell you this shot here
fits that last set of criteria, and was before 2 months.
Scott, get caught up in the he said, she said bullshit all you want. I’ll say it again. ToxKat mentioned that ‘someone’at the poll site said, “Babies don’t have much intentional behaviour when they’re first born, so it takes awhile for them to develop enough for parents (or doctors) to notice they’r behind schedule. Add to that the natural ways we link event together in our memory, even if they really didn’t happen in that order, and it looks as though the baby suddenly developed autism after their shots.”
In other words the writer makes it seem as though there really isn’t much time/space for the parents to ascertain that the baby is developing normally, and people like Pablo may just be mixed up in thinking about their baby’s milestones and the realization that there could be a problem. Babies can and do develop alot within the first year, and yes, it is not uncommon to even teach babies a sign such as “more” as early as even 6 months,which only requires the baby to bring his hands to midline and touch his/her fingers together several times.
Plus, if you notice in her argument s/he makes the case for PREnatal exposure which clearly means that s/he thinks the baby is not likely developing normally anyways. I believe s/he says, “the die is cast.” A toxicology conference given by scientists! Wow. But vaccines could never be a part of those prenatal or neonatal “exposures”, could they?!
Also, I really tend to believe the parents. Once I worked with a parent in the early intervention program and this baby was her fourth. There was nothing really glaringly wrong but she always new he was different. She did have a problem in the pregnancy (pre-eclampsia or something for which she needed to take drugs). Sure enough, he eventually was diagnosed with autism. Conversely, though, I believe parents who insist their child was developing normally and then things really fell apart. (toxic exposures to things like vaccines may be responsible).
hey Scott, the lab called and they want you back to actually do some research or work or something instead of so much posting.
Adorei, gosto demais de emuladores Se torna mais uma coisa que pode repercutir e vender bastante