Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Skepticism/critical thinking

I know you are, but what am I?

Denialism. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The story might be apocryphal, and it might not even be true, but it’s often used as a metaphor. I’m referring to the “boiling frog” story. Basically, the idea is supposedly based on an observation that a frog, when placed in a pot of hot water, will immediately jump out. However, or so the story goes, if the frog is placed in room temperature water and the water is heated gradually enough, the frog won’t notice and will eventually boil to death without trying to escape. The metaphor, of course, is designed to illustrate how people will almost always notice rapid change, but, if the change is sufficiently slow, might not notice it at all and will readily acclimate themselves to the new situation if given sufficient time. Of course, the phenomenon underlying this metaphor might very well not even be real, but it’s still probably a useful metaphor.

Being in the skeptic movement and having been very active over the last seven years blogging about skepticism, promoting science-based medicine, and combatting the antivaccine movement, this metaphor might be the reason why I didn’t notice a particular tactic being increasingly used by denialists of all stripes until relatively recently, which is also relatively late. It took Mark Hoofnagle, who had disappeared from the skeptical blogging front for a couple of years pursuing his general surgery residency, to be slapped in the face with it and comment to me that he had been noticing this phenomenon upon returning to blogging about science denialism on his very own denialism blog. He was right, but in fact denialists had been doing this for a long time, and it was only a shock to Mark because he had stopped paying attention for a while and then was, like the proverbial frog, thrown back into the water.

Part of what led me to think about this phenomenon was a doozy of a post published on–where else?–that wretched hive of scum and quackery (no, not The Huffington Post–I mean that other wretched hive of scum and quackery), the antivaccine crank blog extraordinaire, Age of Autism. The post is by someone whose name is not familiar to me as one of the regulars, Cathy Nevison, and entitled Autism and the Antarctic Ozone Hole. Yes, in this post, Nevison does exactly what the title implies and tries to liken “autism epidemic denialists” to anthropogenic global warming denialists. Before I delve into the numerous deficiencies in Nevision’s crank arguments, I do have to pause to express amusement about a passage right in the first paragraph:

A recent Associated Press report that 1 in 88 American children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) asserts that, “Better diagnosis is largely responsible for the new estimate…” Another AP report, on a study finding that 1 in 38 South Korean children has an ASD, quotes the lead author as saying, “It doesn’t mean all of a sudden there are more new children with ASDs. They’ve been there all along, but were not counted in previous prevalence studies.” These are extraordinary claims and examples of autism epidemic denial. Equally remarkable is that the AP presents them as unquestioned truth, making no effort to counter them with dissenting viewpoints. In contrast, the media has been diligent about “balancing” articles on the threat of climate change with opposing views from “climate skeptics,” which has contributed to climate change denial.

I rather suspect that the irony escapes Dr. Nevison here. For one thing, it’s unclear what side she is on in the climate change manufactroversy. She seems to lament that the media seems to accept statements from scientists that there is no autism epidemic, that the increased prevalence is due to factors like diagnostic substitution, broadening of the diagnostic criteria, and more intensive screening without presenting opposing viewpoints. Personally, I wonder what planet she’s living on, because most of the stories I’ve seen about, for example, the CDC report that pegs the prevalence of ASDs at 1 in 88 took the number at face value and made little effort to explain that this new estimate of prevalence doesn’t necessarily mean that the true prevalence has increased. What I’ve tended to see is reporters taking the 1 in 88 figure and using it to allow speculation over what’s causing it, in particular environmental factors.

Be that as it may, if we follow Nevison’s simile, she appears to be likening “dissenting viewpoints” on the autism “epidemic” (i.e., the antivaccinationists who believe this is a real increase in prevalence and blame it on “environment”–cough, cough vaccines) with “climate skeptics” who contribute to climate change denial. I rather suspect that that is not exactly the comparison that Nevison wanted to make, but it’s a very apt one. Antivaccinationists are very much like AGW denialists in that they deny the overwhelming weight of evidence to insist upon a belief that evidence does not support. The message seems to be that, because Nevison approves of “telling both sides” of the story with respect to the increase in autism prevalence where once side is based on pseudoscience (i.e., antivaccinationism), then she would also approve of telling the AGW side.

Nevison, who is apparently some sort of atmospheric research scientist at the University of Colorado then dives into a seriously tortured comparison between the ozone hole over the Antarctic and autism. You can read it in all its twisting glory for yourself, or allow me to try to summarize. Basically, Nevison points out that a hole in the Antarctic ozone layer first occurred in the 1980s due to human release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halocarbons. It turns out that the reason that the ozone hole over the Antarctic appeared there because of the extreme cold, which allowed the formation of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), and it’s on the surface of these clouds that the chlorine and bromine are released from CFCs as reactive ozone-destroying compounds. I didn’t delve too deeply into this. I assume that an atmospheric scientist probably knows what she’s talking about when it comes to ozone depletion. On the other hand, given the whoppers about autism and vaccines that follow, maybe I shouldn’t assume too much about Nevison’s scientific acumen.

To boil her message down to its essence, Nevison identifies CFCs as the cause of ozone depletion (correct) and the cold in the Antarctic as a “predisposing factor” that allowed the hole to form in response to CFC emission. Given that explanation, I bet you can see where her analogy is going, and it doesn’t take her long to go there:

The relevant point is this: while one can say with some accuracy that the ozone hole occurs because Antarctica is cold, the pre-1980s ozone layer over the continent was perfectly adequate at blocking harmful UV radiation. It was only with the accumulation of CFCs in the atmosphere, reaching dangerous levels by the 1980s, that the extreme cold over Antarctica became a threat to ozone. By distinguishing between the actual trigger for the ozone hole (CFC production and release to the atmosphere), which are within human control, and the predisposing factors (naturally cold temperatures), which are not, the international community was able to identify the cause of the problem and take decisive steps to end it.

Which leads to the analogy you knew she was going to make:

If atmospheric scientists had adopted the approach of many in the autism research community, Antarctic ozone column measurements prior to the 1980s would have been forgotten, leading the scientists to declare that the ozone hole had “been there all along.” Obvious clues, such as the elevated levels of reactive chlorine measured in the hole, would have been dismissed as pure coincidence. Believing the springtime hole to be a natural and unpreventable phenomenon, the scientists would have focused their efforts on early detection, enabling them to warn visitors to Antarctica to use sun protection. Statistical correlations between temperature and ozone would have led the scientists to note that cold temperatures increased the odds ratio of having an ozone hole. In short, the scientists would have concluded that the ozone hole occurs because Antarctica is cold.

Nevison concedes (reluctantly, I would guess) that what she refers to as “overvaccination” (a typical antivaccinationist term that is undefined) is “unlikely to be the only factor involved in the autism epidemic” because if it were she would expect the epidemiology to give a clearer result. However, even with her concession, Nevison’s analogy is clearly that vaccines and some other factors are the real cause of the “autism epidemic” and that scientists and epidemiologists are somehow mistaking something else for the cause the way she claims it would be possible for someone to conclude that cold temperatures were responsible for ozone depletion over the Antarctic. She goes on about how the CDC supposedly cuts off autism prevalence rates at a birth year of 1992 in order to hide a lower prevalence rate before 1992. Amusingly, she even cites some truly horrendous research that claims to have found that there was an inflection point in 1988 in which the rate of increase of autism took a sudden uptick. It’s a horrible study that I blogged about when it came out. At least, I think that’s the study Nevison is citing. She doesn’t provide a citation or a link, but the description fits.

In any case, Nevison makes the truly brain dead argument that scientists are so stupid or ignorant that:

Again, the distinction is not made between predisposing risk factors and actual causes. Pertinent questions such as, was there a dramatic increase in maternal obesity in 1988?, are not asked, even as absurd pronouncements that 1 to 3 percent of children have always been autistic go unchallenged in the popular press.

Of course, trying to distinguish between predisposing risk factors and actual causes is what epidemiologists, public health officials, and doctors try to do. If I were an epidemiologist I would be profoundly insulted that someone like Nevison apparently thinks my profession is so incompetent that it could so easily (and apparently willfully) confuse such things. Her argument that going from a prevalence of 1 in 2,500 to a prevalence of 1 in 88 is impossible without some sort of cause (like vaccines, apparently) reveals a profound ignorance of medicine, too. I pointed out in depth why it is in fact very possible for screening alone to result in rapid increases in prevalence, using the examples of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and other conditions.

Just to pick one of them (DCIS, because I’m a breast surgeon) and at the risk of repeating myself too closely, I’ll point out again that back in the early 1900s, DCIS was fairly uncommon because by the time a DCIS lesion grew large enough to be a palpable mass, it almost always had become invasive cancer. Then, back in the 1970s and 1980s, widespread mammographic screening was introduced. Now, 30 years later, DCIS is very common, making up approximately 40% of breast cancer diagnoses. I’ll even point out that a recent study suggested that DCIS incidence rose from 1.87 per 100,000 in the mid-1970s to 32.5 in 2004. That’s a more than 16-fold increase over 30 years, and it’s pretty much all due to the introduction of mammographic screening. So it’s not at all inconceivable that a combination of widened diagnostic criteria, more screening, and higher awareness could cause the apparent prevalence of ASDs to increase 25-fold in 20 years. It might be that there has been a true increase in autism prevalence, but the evidence is fairly clear that there is not an “autism epidemic.” Of course, the antivaccine movement needs the “autism epidemic.” It needs it because if it can’t convince people that there is such an “epidemic,” than the central argument for its promotion of a vaccine-autism link collapses. If autism prevalence hasn’t been skyrocketing in a way that correlates with the increase in the number of vaccines in the recommended schedule over the last 25 years, then that’s pretty powerful epidemiological evidence that vaccines do not cause autism. Of course, we don’t actually need such evidence, given that we have numerous studies that have failed to find, as I like to say, a whiff of a hint of a whisper of a link between vaccines and autism, but antivaccinationists will never admit that.

Nor will an atmospheric scientist, apparently, admit that.

Of course, Nevison is not the first to try to draw an analogy between denialism of other scientific findings and the vaccine-autism link. In fact, she was rather more subtle than most in that she only mentioned the analogy once in her post before launching into her embarrassing analogy. Others like to try to pound the fallacious analogy home, hitting readers over the head with the proverbial brick, so to speak. Dr. Jay Gordon, for instance, was probably the first person I noticed doing that when he tried to liken vaccine manufacturers to tobacco companies. Yes, he didn’t use the word “denialist,” but his intent was clear, to liken vaccine proponents to the denialist tactics that tobacco companies used to try to deny that cigarettes caused cancer. Meanwhile, other antivaccinationists have taken to calling scientists “vaccine injury denialists.” Even Dana Ullman, everybody’s favorite loopy homeopath, is getting in on the act, referring to those who point out the extreme scientific implausibility of homeopathy as “denialists.”

I have a word of advice for Dr. Nevison. Stick to atmospheric science. You clearly don’t understand medicine or epidemiology, and I hate to see you embarrass yourself any more than you already have by making an incoherent analogy to climate change denialism to support your antivaccine views and then coupling that analogy to an even more incoherent analogy between ozone holes and the “autism epidemic.”

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]

134 replies on “I know you are, but what am I?”

Interesting that AoA would use an example of “Good Science” to support “Junk Science.”

Next year the designation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is going to be updated (at least it has been proposed), where ASD will be a single diagnosis for classical autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, and the focus will then be on severity of of the features. I am sure the AoA people will be freaking out over this, as it will also create, it seems, an artificial change in the diagnosis numbers.

Well, you know, it’s only denialism if it denies what you agree with, right? Otherwise, if you don’t have a dog in the game, it’s just telling both sides.

*shakes head*

I can only hope she doesn’t stoop to that within her own field. Climate change is real, and the ozone hole is real. But from this piece, to me she comes across as someone looking for manmade disasters. Just because there is something bad does not mean it’s the fault of manmade toxins. Just because the ozone hole is the result of human industry doesn’t mean every bad thing is.

I pointed out in depth why it is in fact very possible for screening alone to result in rapid increases in prevalence

That pattern isn’t limited to medicine either; it occurs frequently in geophysics (of which atmospheric science is a subfield) and astrophysics. I know of multiple cases where someone reports observations of a phenomenon with new instruments that for the first time allow us to figure out what’s really going on, and in less than a decade everybody is seeing the same thing in a lot of other places. That’s no different, in principle, from figuring out what autism really is and then detecting many more instances of it. It’s easier to find something when you know what you’re looking for.

An atmospheric scientist getting involved? I guess there were no dentists or engineers available to write for AoA that day.

Eric — and even more, sometimes you *have* seen the thing that’s now been discovered, but you just didn’t note it as anything special then, because you didn’t realize it *was* special.

Urbain le Verrier deduced the position of a previously unobserved eighth planet based on pecularities in the orbit of Uranus. On September 23, 1846, Johann Galle looked and found Neptune right where le Verrier said it would be. However, this was not the first time it had been observed. Since orbital mechanics is basically just a lot of math, you can figure out where a planet *was*, not just where it will be, and that means you can figure out if somebody saw it without knowing what it was.

And lo and behold, somebody had seen Neptune before! Galileo spotted Neptune on December 28, 1612, and on January 27, 1613. He was actually observing Jupiter, which happened to be in conjunction with Neptune at the time. Neptune moves very slowly against the background of stars, though, so he didn’t notice its motion; he thought it was just a faint fixed star. Bad weather prevented further observations before Jupiter moved far enough that Neptune was no longer in the same field of view in the telescope. Galileo wasn’t much interested in fixed stars (unless they appeared to have companions; he was determined to find a binary star, though he never succeeded, having severely underestimated the distances involved) so he didn’t go back to look at this one again, and never realized that it was actually moving.

This principle has been used many times since then, to find “precovery” images of moons and asteroids in photographic plates from old star surveys, which can be enormously valuable in confirming the calculated orbit and probing the sizes and composition of the objects. Pluto’s minor moons, Nix and Hydra, were observed by Hubble before they were discovered; nobody noticed them, but they were there. (Precovery is sort of the opposite of recovery; you have to recover an object — observe it again — in order to pin down its orbit. Precovering means observing it again in the past, thanks to archived imagery. The digital revolution has made precovery commonplace, since computers can much more rapidly compare archive images.) Pluto itself has been precovered in images going back to 1914, though it was not officially discovered until 1930.

Oh, dear heaven.

The ozone hole thing is right. The analogy is bananacakes crazy. What actually happened was that observations by some scientists were put to indepth testing and analysis by which the mechanism for ozone hole formation through the build up of atmospheric CFC was found. It’s a simple chmical reaction, such that they can even teach it to high school chemistry students:

CFCL3 [pollutant] + UV Light ==> CFCl2 + Cl
Cl + O3 [ozone] ==> ClO + O2
ClO + O2 ==> Cl +O2

The extreme cold and lack of precipitation keeps the chemicals in the atmosphere and the preponderance of UV light in the summer summer causes the chain reaction.

scientists observed the phenomena and hypothesized a mechanism and causation and through further testing and experiments and observations and studies, they reached a consensus that this was in fact the right explanation in the case of ozone depletion over southern antarctica. However, in the autism/vaccine connection case, scientists (Wakefield) observed a phenomena, but all the testing and experiments and observations and research that came in the decade following (and there was a lot of money poured into that ) failed to prove that there was anything to it, and so the theory has been dropped my mainstream scientists.

I’m sure, back when they were studying ozone depletion in the eighties, there was a crank out there insisting that it was caused by an alien with a giant hoover. but you know, testing didn’t bear that out either.

If I were an epidemiologist I would be profoundly insulted that someone like Nevison apparently thinks my profession is so incompetent that it could so easily (and apparently willfully) confuse such things.

I’m sure a certain cub scout cadet reporter wannabe epidemiologist will set her straight to the concepts of confounding, effect modification, and bias once he finishes his studies.

If you believe that, I also have a bridge to sell you.

Again, my waking world is encased in a shimmering silver, a drizzle that intermittenly appears from the pearl grey sky and paints the road surfaces a glistening black as I drive along the dark cliffs. All of this might be rather attractive if I didn’t feel so morose…

You might ask- why so glum?- well, I too read AoA and other festering sinkholes of decaying vegetative material that masquerade as health information websites. Over the last few weeks, the idiots I survey have been been discussing mental illness ( it doesn’t exist!) and psychiatric meds ( they’re dangerous!); I believe that I have spotted a trend recently ( AoA, TMR, others) that tells me that the Forces of Rancorous Stupidity have alligned into an Armada of Idiocy.**

As Brett McCoy notes, anti-vax advocates will not be inordinately pleased when the DSM-5 changes entries on autism, decreasing numbers of those diagnosed: they’ve been ranting about this for months. However, the more generalist woo-meisters hate *any* categorisations of mental illness which, after all, merely pathologise every day life in order to sell drugs.. and foist them on children… and interfere with women’s rights by giving them SSRIs! ( I actually heard that last one on Monday- lord have mercy)

Despite the fact that these two groups have entirely contradictory positions ( one wants more diagnoses, one wants NO diagnoses), they are united by their over-arching hatred of the medical/ psychiatric/ pharma establishment and grand untainted love of Nature.

Today @ AoA, Adriana Gamondes calls for action! She asks concerned parents to join Mind Freedom and Psych Rights to protest the DSM-5 on Cinco de Mayo, in the City of Brotherly Love. I’m sure that the CCHR will attend.

Mike Adams informs us that the end of the world, Mayan Style, will not occur in 2012 but soon thereafter via “total grid-down situation with economic collapse, mass starvation and massive collapse of humanity” or suchlike.

Unfortunately for us, the world will probably not end and we’ll be listening to nonsense like the above for the rest of our lives.

** see also Health Freedom Expo and AutismOne Conference.

@ Ren:

JC is probably less likely to become an epi than I am to become queen of the elves.

Orac, may I suggest you come up with a new phrase to describe Age of Autism? For me “wretched hive of scum and quackery” will forever denote HuffPo, and I smile in anticipation whenever you use it.

Perhaps we can have a reader competition to come up with phrases for our “favorite” sites. I’ll kick it off with “despicable den of denialism and lies” for AoA.


Still, it will be interesting to go see him present his capstone project at GW since we do not have anything to fear of challenging people like him at his presentation, only what the consequences of not challenging him will bring. As long as we do not, our nation will lie there and drown in its own ignorance.

See what I did there? :-p

AutismOne’s webpage has an ad for Autism “Science” Magazine, the cover model being Jenny McCarthy……Science + Jenny McCarthy = ???? I have a headache from cognitive dissonance and I will lie down now.

From HFE website….”Health Freedom Expo CEO Julie Whitman Kline Interviews Ron Paul.”
I find it very disturbing that a presidential contender actually is shilling for this kind of nonsense.

@ Pete Cockerell:

I like to compare woo websites as swamps of decaying vegetation, sinkholes of festering biofilm and miasmic overgrowths of stench-emitting detritus. I usually throw in K-Y jelly and organic fertiliser.

@ Ren:

Ha! I wonder if his epi skills will match his breath-taking and awe-inspiring grasp** of the English language?

** probably, by its poor throat.

Brett McCoy:

AoA has been freaking out about the DSM5 proposed changes, with dozens of articles:

DSM5 site:ageofautism DOT com

Actually, the AGW versus vaccines/autism analogy is spot on. In the former, an overwhelming scientific majority says it is happening while a group of vocal idealogues denies it. In the latter, a group of vocal idealogues says it is happenig while an overwhelming scientific consensus denies it.

Errrrr…. Wait, there seems to be something different about those two sentences.

Oh my, there is a dissident voice that has posted there:

“I agree that Autism diagnosis has increased, but not just due to better detection but due to misdiagnosis so I don’t believe there is an epidemic. It seems nowadays any kid that isn’t 100% normal is diagnosed with an ASD and one such kid was Jenny McCarthy’s son. There is no cure for Autism YET, so her son was not autistic and if you really want to see what autism is like look at this video – this is really what we should be focusing our attention on as these are the people who really need the help and by people like Jenny McCarthy saying “I cured my son of autism”, they are giving false hope to those families who care for a truely autistic child.

Posted by: Concerned Mother and Skeptic | May 03, 2012 at 10:48 AM”

The *usual suspects* are ganging up on her…although I haven’t seen cub reporter posting yet. I think his day off from classes as GW University, has changed this semester.

Dear God Orac, those links you posted about Ron Paul scare the hell out of me.


It just depends on how you cast the second version. You could write it, “The overwhelming scientific consensus says there’s no link (between vaccines and autism) while a group of vocal idealogues denies it.” This fits much better to the AGW template.


I see you have a very “organic” view of these things (not sure where K-Y Jelly fits in, though, and I’m not sure I want to!)

Washington state reaches epidemic levels of whooping cough
“The waning effect of the vaccines was also observed in a March 2012 study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers in California observed 132 patients under the age of 18 who tested positive for whooping cough. They found out that 81 percent of them were up to date with their whooping cough shots, 11 percent did not complete the series and eight percent received no vaccination whatsoever.

@A-non Given that vaccinated individuals make up a substantially larger portion of the population, you would expect that in raw numbers, they would have higher infected rates, but as a proportion of the total population, compared to the unvaccinated, their proportional numbers are smaller.

Just imagine what those numbers would look like if no one vaccinated…..


I do think the word is getting out that pertussis vaccine wears off. In Missouri, there’s now a requirement that all incoming 8th graders get a TDap booster. Most people know they need a tetanus booster every 10 years, and now that it’s a combined shot, maybe some of that waning pertussis immunity will reverse. My sister made sure all aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents had received pertussis boosters before being around her newborns (she works in a NICU).

That said, there’s no doubt in my mind that some of these mini epidemics of pertussis and measles can be traced in part to the antivaccine movement.

And, further along in the article that “anon” linked to is this:

“Regardless if they were vaccinated or not, the study revealed that the number of whooping cough cases peaked around the pre-teen ages. On average, the researchers aid there were 36 cases for every 10,000 children between 2-7 who were fully immunized that got whooping cough. The number goes up to 245 out of 10,000 with the kids between 8 and 12. That number dropped drastically after the kids reached 13, possibly because most people receive the booster shot at the age of 12.”

These figures indicate that the pertussis incidence proportion 245/10,000 in fully immunized older children (ages 8 through 12) is more than six times the pertussis incidence proportion 36/10,000 in fully immunized younger children ages 2 through 7). Incidence proportion drops off dramatically after age 13…after most kids received the Tdap booster vaccine.

This really is further proof that the recommendation from the ACIP, the CDC and the AAP to provide booster Tdap in early adolescence, does dramatically decrease disease prevalence while increasing herd immunity.

@ Pete Cockerell:

It is merely to conjure up an image of despicably vile, dripping substances that I wouldn’t want to get on my hands.

In real life, I once observed an *actual* swamp, filled with decaying vegetation, in a humid, tropical country where regulations about depositing human waste, industrial by-products and dead animals were non-existent. An oily, iridescent foam floated upon this putrifying wet land, illuminated by the noonday sun.

If you were to read the websites that I compare to swamps while knowing of my past experience, you will realise that I am a master of understatement.

@ Autismum:

“Is that Deb Marree in that video?”

I don’t know who the woman is in the video. I provided a link to a poster at AoA, who in turn, linked to the video.

I checked into Deb Maree, a/k/a Autism Mum Down Under who has all sorts of Alternative medicines/supplements that she “pushes”…which the lady in the video DID NOT “push”.

Is Deb Maree really from “down under”? The lady in the video did not seem to have an Aussie or Kiwi accent. 🙂

This falls more in the brain-dead than denialist category, but I need to nominate the following website for Mind-Numbingly Dumbest Antivax Site of 2012:


What this loon is going on about is a paper claiming to find that aluminum adjuvant in a vaccine caused a case of pseudolymphoma, a distinctly non-deadly inflammatory skin reaction that can occur in response to lots of different stimuli including bug bites and drugs. The conclusions in this particular case report are on shaky ground, but nowhere near as bizarrely inane as the antivaxer who linked to it. His howlers include:

“the adjuvants `may be effective’, but are also putting us at risk of acquiring far worse formations of viral bacteria.”

Dang, I hate those “viral bacteria”.

“Since the aluminum compound used as an adjuvant within the vaccines is taken so seriously, vaccine producers construct the vaccines to have more antibodies and less of the antigen, likely used as a method for profiteering.”

“If you’re at all concerned with vaccination, learn what to do before and after receiving a vaccine, and how to block the immune response.”

I would expect this website to be a fertile source of nuttery in the future, except that the twenty-somethings who created it appear to have minimal Internet design skills and attempts to access other pages generally produce Windows error messages.

What would we ever do without the “brill” articles on AoA to *critique*? (Thanks Autismum!)

They are still trying to revive with CPR, that dead equine (California AB 2109/Aluminum adjuvants in vaccines):

And here…just for Denice Walter…they are revving up the troops against the American Psychiatric Association:

@ Dangerous Bacon:

“Dang, I hate those “viral bacteria”.

And, I much prefer the “bacterial viruses” terminology.

Hey guys: Send some good wishes to Autismum who is hors de combat with a painful back injury:


I have read a lot of conflicting stuff about the DSM-V and autism.If I understand it correctly,the milder cases of Asperger’s would not be diagnosed at all,and everybody else would have the severity of their diagnosis pushed up a notch or two?

” She goes on about how the CDC supposedly cuts off autism prevalence rates at a birth year of 1992 in order to hide a lower prevalence rate before 1992.”

I’d be interested to see what the author is citing as a source for that assertion. The irony is, such a practice WOULD be justifiable: Autism diagnoses are usually made no earlier than age 2, and Asperger’s Syndrome was added to the DSM in 1994, therefore ca. 1992 would be the first birth year for which practitioners would be using the full set of modern criteria. By counting ONLY new diagnoses in children born from that year onward, one could arrive at a credible MAXIMUM figure actual increase in prevalence.

It’s also ironic that the author doesn’t mention the most obvious reason why representatives of the government might try to avoid recognizing autism diagnoses made in people older than twenty: To deny them social services and cut state and federal spending on the disabled. Not infrequently, the biggest failing of a conspiracy theory is underestimating the power of plain old petty greed.

David N. Brown
Mesa, Arizona

A recent Associated Press report that 1 in 88 American children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) asserts that, “Better diagnosis is largely responsible for the new estimate…” Another AP report, on a study finding that 1 in 38 South Korean children has an ASD…

Don’t these two reports together sort of uncut the standard antivax claim that, “America has the highest rate of infant vaccination and America has the highest rate of autism, therefore vaccination causes autism”?

@ Roger Kulp:

There’s a good discussion of DSM-5 changes and McPartland et al at Jon Brock’s blog, *Cracking the Enigma* – 2 parts, in late March, 2012. Graphs illustrate that probably about 3/4 of those currently diagnosed with autism will remain so under the new criteria while only about 1/4 of those currently diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD-NOS will remain designated as such.

I’m pretty sure that there was some underdiagnosis of autism in the past. I’m 50+ years old, and was never diagnosed as autistic.

However, even back in the 80’s when I first heard about autism, I told my roommate at the time that I identified with the description of the syndrome, just not to the point of being so dysfunctional. There was no concept of the time of high-functioning autism in the early 80s, and my college roommate said I just couldn’t be right about this, so I dropped it.

But I’m pretty much the prototypical geek. I’m very smart but not so good with getting along with ordinary people. I’m not too bad at working with other geeks like me as an adult. All of siblings especially my younger sister’s daughter are very much like me, very talented but not very good at getting along with people, especially when i was young.

I’m of the opinion that autism is almost (but not quite) the same as homosexuality. Both are genetically driven, both have some negative consequences – for autistics the ability to socialize with normal people, and for gay people it does somewhat reduce the incentives to have sex that will produce offspring.

But there has to be a benefit to the rest of the human population for a fraction of the population to be gay and/or autistic, or it would have been selected out of the gene pool. High functioning autistics sometimes have some very amazing skills. Gay people also have some skills that are not as common in straight people.

I’m probably somewhat autistic, and I’m most definitely gay, so I see the world from a very different perspective than most people.

In both cases, you end up with individuals that look at things and analyze situations from a different mindset and with different abilities, both technical / mathematical and social / emotional.

Perhaps pollution or some other factor makes for more autism, but we are so early in our understanding of this it will take some time to understand the genetic, social and environmental factors that shape all of us into what we are.

I’m pretty sure that the vaccine connection is wrong. The connection came about from research that is now considered fraudulent, but the hysteria continues. I guess that it is hard to accept that an autistic child resulted from simple genetic inheritance.

It isn’t exactly scientific, but I think that autism runs in some families. My father tells stories about my grandfather that sound like he was just as much of the “absent-minded professor” as I am. If there is any increase incidence of autism it is likely because modern transportation, workplace environments and communication make it easier for like-minded autistic people to find each other and produce offspring.

Oy. Please tell me the forces of antivaccination woo aren’t focusing on other mental illnesses now. I’m going to need a lot more Zoloft before I can face that…and maybe some Xanax.

@ Mara:

Not yet, but they are becoming awfully friendly with some of the health freedom/ natural health advocates who are definitely anti-psychiatry and anti-pharmaceutical ( Mike Adams, Gary Null). Some factions, like the Canary Party, rant about every chronic condition on the face of the earth. There have been sporadic complaints ( @ AoA, other places) about using psycho-active pharmaceuticals for autism.

Both movements are trying to expand so it’s only natural that they seek out others who who have an axe to grind against the medical establishment. Also, both sets of factions are attempting Occupy! type demonstrations and manoeuvering against their enemies of choice ( governmental and corporate).

Following up on a continuing story:

Jake Crosby( @ AoA) perseverates on about Dr Offitt..

No wonder he’s leaving us alone!

re Jake Crosby:

His new article relates the latest incident in his Aggravating Dr Offit Series: in excruciating detail, he gives us insight into his own thought process, as he outlines his interactions with Dr Offit, Prof Bergelson and a student, Jonathan, at a University of Pennsylvania lecture about 2 weeks ago.

Surprisingly, the dialogue seems to capture mood extremely well: I can imagine both Offit’s and Bergelson’s exasperation as well as the student’s carefully worded responses. In spite of himself, Jake manages somehow to effectively portray the encounters, allowing us to accurately infer exactly what those three fellows might be thinking at the time. Although Jake himself doesn’t have a clue.

The comments heap praise on Jake’s effort and encourage his mission: I think that some psychologists might call this *enablement*, but not me. I imagine, based on his work here, that his general skills in observation and analysis might be questionable and I wonder how that works out in his course-related writing. But I will venture that if I had seen the world as he does when I was a student and transferred that view and quality of processing material into my work I don’t think that I would have ever been able to complete my degrees.

@ Denice Walter: I see Jake is still stalking Dr. Offit, and still disrupting the Q & A period following a public lecture to rant on, and on, about his “fixations”:

According to Jake…he was very *respectful*, just wanted to pose a *question* (rambling statement of *facts* as Jake’s sees the *facts*) and Dr. Offit publicly humiliated Jake.

Who knows if Jake is reporting his encounter with Dr. Offit accurately. Jake has been known to *misinterpret* and incorrectly report his many stalking capers, in his efforts to curry favor with his *keepers* at AoA and with his readership at that yellow rag.

Who should be believe then? Dr. Offit who is a world- respected scientist and physician and the director of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Department of CHOP? Dr. Offit who developed a safe rotavirus vaccine and who has devoted his professional life to educating parents, physicians, nurses, and students about immunology, vaccine safety and vaccine preventable diseases?


Jake Crosby, who is clueless about Intussusception (the bowel *turns inside out*, according to Jake), who repeatedly commits libel in his writings and commits slander every time he stalks Dr. Offit and lets loose with his false accusations. Jake Crosby, who has an undying love for a disgraced former doctor, that causes him to stalk and accost Dr. Offit and other public figures. Jake who *uses* a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome to justify his atrocious anti-social behaviors that includes stalking and defamation of character.

I know Jake, his *handlers* and his readership lurk here. Just for you Jake…you are, in my opinion, a POS, you have an unnatural fixation on your hero Wakefield. And Jake, you may somehow graduate with a MPH…but you will never be an epidemiologist in the public health field.

Here you go Jake, perhaps you want to *correct* your copy:

I don’t see any mention of this condition that you describe as the “intestine turning inside out”.

Here too, for you Jake, is the definition of “libel” which you accused Dr. Offit of, when he SPOKE to you at the U Penn Seminar:

Jake, I’m happy to be your copy editor. Repeat after me Jake,

Libel is written defamation, which you have committed against Dr. Offit and many other public figures, in your scurrilous yellow journalism articles at AoA.

Slander is spoken defamation, which you have committed when you launch into your invective monologues when you stalk a public figure at a public meeting.

A lilady:

I think that Jake captures the MOOD perfectly- I can envision poor Dr O – thinking to himself: ” Oh no! Not again!” and Prof B, probably ready to scream- who wouldn’t feel the same?- I ask you. And the poor grad student, having to escort the wanker out the door, having been saddled with this un-seemly task, who still manages to express his SB views well, though ( the smart fellow left off his last name); similarly, Jake’s own cluelessness accurately shines through his words.. However, his reportage about *events* occuring in reality, as well as their interpretation, is certainly not to be trusted.

I can understand how he got through his baccalaureate- in history, IIRC- but in epi? Lord have mercy! His position is similar to what my own would have been had I attempted grad degrees while holding the nonsensical belief that- oh, let’s say- that depression is not related to neuro-physiology/ meds are in-effective *a la* cultist anti-psychiatry- going against research that has been pouring in for decades- I think that they would have had my head- and that I would have had to work in advertising or some other nightmarish profession. Fortunately, I did no such foolish thing.

-btw- we better watch what we say, we’re on the hit list already.Right. At any rate, he has provided entertainment. And off I go to.

I am really ticked that he’s at GW – what a way to slime my alma mater…….I still want to go down there at some point and have a chat with him, just to do the whole “in-person” thing.

So when are we DC insolenters going to get together?

Jake, I’m happy to be your copy editor.

Given that he claims to have retorted “This is constitutionally-protected free speech and a public event,” I don’t think that legal distinctions of any sort are going to sink in. (And no editor worth his or her salt would allow that hyphen.)

Jake, I’m happy to be your copy editor.

Given that he claims to have retorted “This is constitutionally-protected free speech and a public event,” I don’t think that legal distinctions of any sort are going to sink in. (And no editor worth his or her salt would allow that hyphen.)

Hey, Jake knows just as much about the law as he does about biology.

@ Denice Walter:

Here are Jake’s “credentials”:

“Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. Jake is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.”

As Orac has stated before…that’s some *gmish* of majors for an undergrad degree.

@ Narad: “…happy to be your copy editor” was stated facetiously 🙂

Johnny…stop spamming.

I told you that Jake and his sycophants lurk here on RI; just posted a little while ago at AoA by “Jen”…regarding RI:

“It looks like the vast majority of his blog is about vaccines compared to any other health topic. Why? Traffic there seems to be down- I guess many people cannot be bothered with them, it’s wasted energy. Some old nurse named Lilady has a particular fascination with Jake Crosby and really likes to analyze anything to do with him. It borders on obsession.”

Why don’t you come here to post “Jen”? Just remember that Orac put you on “probation” for your use of sock puppets i.e. “Sick Sauce” and “Dr. Dent”.

I have three tweeps who were there for Jake’s latest attack. (He was also late for lecture that night. Tsk, tsk, Jake.) They disagree with his version of events. No one recorded it, though. But I’ll trust their word over his any day of the week.

Seriously, I can’t wait to give him a taste of his own medicine when he presents his culminating project at my alma matter.

I say the DC RI regulars meet up, or, you know, “assemble” for that occasion.

They disagree with his version of events.

Proudly passive-aggressive narratives do seem to run into this problem. I hope somebody else is coughing up the $54 grand for this exercise.

@ Ren: As I recall I engaged Jake only one time…on the Ho-Po (Dr. Bob Sears unsuccessful attempt to derail the passage of California AB 2019). I also *recall* that a real epidemiologist partook in the dialogue with Jake.

Funny, Jake had the opportunity to refute what I had posted, but just *disappeared*.


No one recorded it, though. But I’ll trust their word over his any day of the week.

There should be standard procedure to get a video whenever Crosby shows up at these venues.

According to Jake Crosby, in reply to the accusation that Andrew Wakefield ‘did it for the money,’ Crosby replied “No he didn’t, he donated that money to a project to build a new GI clinic for sick children.”

Wakefield received the equivalent of about three-quarters of a million dollars for his work to support a lawsuit alleging tha tMMR causes autism, and the for-profit company that he co-founded received the equivalent of nearly a million more dollars. How much of that did that millionaire anti-vaccine industrialist donate “to a project to build a new GI clinic for sick children” do you think?

@ Narad:

“Proudly passive-aggressive narratives do seem to run into this problem. I hope somebody else is coughing up the $54 grand for this exercise.”



You are right, his actions need to be documented and posted on YouTube for all to see.

Is it immature of me to wish that his Master’s should have an external referee and that person should be Dr. Offit or an RI regular?

@ Narad: Never mind. I located the cost of tuition for Jake’s MPH degree at GW University:

“The current rate of tuition for the 2012 Academic Year is $1206 per credit hour. Please see your program description for the exact credit requirement for your degree of interest. For example, the MPH program requires 45 credits of coursework, totaling $54,270 in tuition dollars for the degree.”


“The office of Graduate Life estimates that the cost of living in the DC metro area is $18,060 for twelve months, including housing, food, and utilities for one person. Health insurance during that time is roughly $1485. Books and materials for a nine month academic year average $880.”

That’s a nice chunk of change, for Nicole and Giff to send Jake to GW University for his MPH-Epidemiology Degree. And, that doesn’t count the costs for Jake’s trips off-campus to stalk Dr. Offit.

I do wonder how Jake managed to remember his conversations verbatim? Did he record them? Because, you know, misquoting someone in writing, publicly, and with malice is… Say it with me… Libel.

Or, as he writes it, liable. Hehehehehehe. What a maroon.

@ Ren:

“I do wonder how Jake managed to remember his conversations verbatim? Did he record them? Because, you know, misquoting someone in writing, publicly, and with malice is… Say it with me… Libel.”

Oh, me thinks Jake is in violation of Pennsylvania State law if he did record conversations that took place between him and Dr. Offit and between him and other parties…without their “consent”.

“…When must you get permission from everyone involved before recording?

Twelve states require the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to make the recording lawful. These “two-party consent” laws have been adopted in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington (Hawai’i is also in general a one-party state, but requires two-party consent if the recording device is installed in a private place). Although they are referred to as “two-party consent” laws, consent must be obtained from every party to a phone call or conversation if it involves more than two people…”

Last I heard Ren, U Penn is in Pennsylvania 🙂

There should be standard procedure to get a video whenever Crosby shows up at these venues.

Indeed. It’s even odder that Jake can’t muster one himself, since it’s clear from this self-report that he was only there to put on a public display of axe-grinding in the first place. I wonder whether he fails to realize that such campuses are in fact private property or is just waiting for the day that he gets to “have to” wear a disguise.

Some members of Jake’s fan club are complimenting him on his *shorthand* (or short-hand)…one of them is urging him to post *the audio* on YouTube:

“Look for Jake to have a major role in Offit’s next book.
Great work. You must be a wiz at short-hand, getting this all down. BTW-I thought it was the Italians who did all the hand gestures.

Posted by: maurine meleck | May 05, 2012 at 07:49 PM”

“Jake, post the audio on YouTube.

Posted by: Atticus | May 05, 2012 at 07:24 PM”

#51 Narad

Given that he claims to have retorted “This is constitutionally-protected free speech and a public event,”

Great, so I’m assuming Jake & Co. will be delighted to have a few science-based skeptics turn up and “participate” in Q&A of speeches given at a few antivaxx propaganda rallies. Like Autism One for example.


I despise those laws because they always seem to prosecute people who record others in the public interest, like when that kid in Maryland recorded cops performing a false arrest. That said, I will eat my hat (given said hat is made of nummy food) if he wrote these conversations short-hand. I can’t see them having a conversation with him if he was writing stuff down.

So that leads me to believe that he did indeed record this. If that is the case, he really should post the audio. I don’t want him to do this because I want him in trouble with the law. That will come later should he follow wakefield’s footsteps. I want his to provide extraordinary evidence, an audio recording, of his extraordinary claim that Dr. Offit came looking for him at the Au Bon Pain AFTER the encounter in the lecture hall AND that Dr. Offit actually said anything to the effect of “get the f*ck out you piece of sh*te.”

If he neither recorded nor made notes, then he is doing (in my non-lawyer opinion) what he accuses Dr. Offit of doing, libel, by quoting instead of paraphrasing or even clarifying that he is just writing it from memory.

While we’re talking law, I’m still in discussions with experts on the subject as to whether reproducing Jake’s letter to my bosses is Kosher. I think it is. He let go of any expectation of privacy when he wrote so many falsehoods about me to third parties, but, unlike Jake, I’m getting my ducks in a row and not going off half-cocked.

That’s a nice chunk of change, for….

My point was intended to suggest that publishing, essentially, a diary of making an ass of oneself is not a good way to land a position that would pay off such debt any time soon. I wouldn’t hire a secretary with that routine clanging around in his head (n.b.: IDNHAS). Jake is an adult. Which is all a roundabout way of saying that I don’t think there’s any need to explicitly drag in the kin. There’s too much of that sort of thing that goes on already.

@ Ren:

(IANAL-But Married To An Attorney)

I rather doubt that Dr. Offit made those remarks to Jake at U. Penn or anywhere. Jake has his a very well documented history of fabricating and *embellishing* public and private conversations.

He is one sick puppy, whose behaviors have nothing to do with his *diagnosis* of Asperger Syndrome…and everything to do with the manner in which he was brought up by his parents Nicole and Giff…and by his unabated devotion to Wakefield.

Just be aware Ren, that his family has unlimited resources to back up Jake:

@ Narad: There is every reason to bring in the *kin*…especially when they enable, encourage and pay for Jake’s stalking behaviors.

Lilady @55: I will respond to you as to why I never post anymore (Orac may not even post this). I actually did respond as to why I used Sick sauce- nothing as fancy as you will know doubt have theorized about. I simply was tired of people’s comments to my real name. I never used any other name in something like 10- 15 subsequent posts but he has never let me out of moderation purgatory. So that’s why I won’t bother posting here anymore. It’s pretty impossible to keep a discussion going when this is the case. I know my views questioning vaccine safety are wasted here and I’m pretty sure “scienceblogs” will take a predictably negative stance on new CCSVI dvelopments. My friend is scheduled for a permanent solution to her blocked right jugular- not angioplasty. PS you should really take the advice of one of your fellow bloggers who basically called your Jake Crosby fixation childish and annoying (I’m paraphrasing). You seem obsessed with Jake. Good bye “science”blogs.

I simply was tired of people’s comments to my real name.

Oh, well, I guess that takes care of everything.

Hi all

I have found a hive of scumbags and quackery that makes AoA seem like a sensible place to be. Take a look at NatMed talk. The cancer forum is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Mind boggling stuff.

Please take a moment to look for yourself as words cannot convey the stupidity that is on display there.

@ Jen: Nice that you came to post here…under your real ‘nym.

You do know, don’t you, that Orac has never moderated you…and only put you on notice for posting multiple times under “Sick Sauce” and “Dr. Dent”. We have your many posts available here…both before and after Orac “outed” you and your sock puppets. When you were “outed” you offered the *lame excuse* that no one *listened to you” and also *vowed* to not resort to using sock puppets ever again.

CCSVI developments Jen? I don’t believe you have ever posted about CCSVI…so why the reference now? As I recall you and your sock puppets flooded threads here, and derailed threads here, with your devotion to Wakefield, as well as your unscientific gibberish about vaccines.

You’re some piece of work Jen. You are also on record at AoA for libeling Dr. Offit and other public figures in the science community.

“Good bye “science”blogs.”

Promise, Jen?

@ RI regulars:

I took a quiet walk at the seaside and thought long and hard about how we call out the anti-vaxxers ( and myself especially, concerning alt med entrepreneurs): are we perhaps being mean-spirited? Are we poking fun at people who just don’t *know* better, who may not have had either the opportunities or abilities that may be the root cause of our own very good fortunes?

It was an overcast day and the sea barely rippled- it flowed instead like liquified steel- the air was clear and I felt at peace with the world -as though a weight had been lifted. It is irrelevant- in the long run- whether we are mean or not; it doesn’t matter if we use logic, ridicule or clever repartee to get our points across; we shouldn’t care whether people approve of us or not… because we are attempting to overturn mis-information, prevarication, posturing and often, downright lies that, because they relate to health, have the power to harm people. All that really matters is the truth. And there are thousands of pathways to it: some may be adroitly diplomatic while others might commit social *faux pas* but cherish the spirit of reality – as expressed by data. It’s what we *have* to do, our calling, our *raison d’etre*.

Lord almighty! I think I’m finally getting the hang of the brooding introspection routine!


CCSVI developments Jen? I don’t believe you have ever posted about CCSVI

Why are you surprised at this crank magnetism. If I recall correctly Jen is Canadian and Zamboni’s CCSVI quackery was 2011’s quack treatment of the year in Canada. With a high incidence of MS, Canada is prime territory for the CCSVI charlatans thanks to credulous reporting.


know that asperger syndrome (not autism) can aggravate mental illness problems? in any case, my previous PI had data for that phenomenom and published it (mostly in case studies) so I wouldn’t be surprised if Jake suffer from that.


@ Autistic Lurker:

I’ve stated before on numerous posts, that whether or not Jake actually has Asperger Syndrome, is immaterial. His stalking behaviors in person and in print are well documented and, instances where he has libeled scientists, doctors, journalists and others on his *radar screen*…have nothing whatsoever to do with Asperger Syndrome.

His history of going after people at their places of employment in order to get them fired indicates to me, that he has never learned how to live within civilized society. He truly is a nasty vindictive person.

He already blogged about his intention to stay with *family* in Austin during the legal proceedings involving Wakefield and the BMJ, Godlee and Deer…in order to provide emotional support to Wakefield.

Where Jake will strike next is anyone’s guess…but there will be a “next time” and many more “next times”.

@ sheepmilker:

While I thank you for your enthusiastic support, I would never write a vampire novel because I already have enough money and vampires are escapism for candy@sses who can’t deal with the true darkness of reality.

However, I attempt to utilise my gifts, meager as they may be, to illustrate how people can present themselves anyway they choose: this is an important because woo thrives on mis-representation through speech and writing. If you scan any of the websites I survey, you’ll immediately see what I mean: it’s advertisement, PR and fiction masquerading as health information and science. Lately, they’ve being doing *noir*- badly, I might add.

-btw- because I treasure reality, I should mention that I do frequently feel morose and pensively contemplate the vicissitudes of nature.

As if to congenially provide a salient example for my position, Lisa Goes (today, @ AoA and TMR) presents her manifesto. I’m not sure whether this article or Jake’s takes the cake.

Lilady — was there any previous evidence they had any minds to lose?

I LOVE that you all read AoA. Picturing Orac reading about himself and Offit reading about his encounter with Jake makes me smile. Having said this…. It absolutely amazes me that despite the fact that Offit knows his commentary / reactions to Jake will ultimately end up being on display at AoA, he is still unable to react rationally in public. Guys, your prophet (Offit) is completely coming unhinged. There can be no doubt. He should look for beds in an asylum now. No time to waste.


Sorry, I was too flippant. A vampire book would definitely be a waste of your obvious talents.

Regards, sheepmilker

@ Shay…right you are, there was no evidence they had minds to begin with. The theme on their website is *The Reason Why We Became Thinkers*.

I’m still wondering what a *Swanky* dress code is.

At the last Wakefield Justice Fund fundraiser in Long Beach California, the dress code was *California Casual*.

Anyone know the status of the motions filed for the Texas case?

I think the dress code is a misspelling. Substitute a “k” for a “w” to correct the problem

@ sheepmilker:

Next time, I’ll try a little harder to please you.

@ lilady:

OK, swanky. I’ll just focus on ladies ( a guy can do gentlemen’s):

Something slinky by Calvin or Vera will always work. I just saw a poison green silk and a black silk w/ plunging neckline and ruching, both short @ Burberry Prorsum. You’ll want to look like you broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

Personally, like a quatorzieme, I’m always prepared because I have my choice of a killer black silk trouser suit, worn jacket buttoned, with not much underneath ( Ms Jolie would approve) AND a bias-hemmed, spaghetti-strapped, black evil faery dress dripping tulle streamers.
Unfortunately for them, I’ll not attend.

I doubt that they’ll get swanky right. I just don’t want to think about it but I have a vivid imagination. ( However, the Wakefields *will* dress correctly)

Gentlemen’s swanky would be white shirt, black dinner jacket, black trousers, black bow tie. Cummerbund optional. Shoes should be plain black dress shoes. Socks should be black, though the more daring may mix this up – perhaps black socks with cartoon characters, or red socks a la Bedazzled. Members of the armed forces should wear dinner dress uniform appropriate to the season and locale.

Those attempting to impress would wear a contrasting vest.

Those too rich or too powerful for words would wear black t-shirt, blazer, dark trousers, docksiders, no socks.

Naturally, whimsical novelty cuff links are suitable for all (except military ranks, where the cuff links are prescribed).

About that *Swanky* (or *Skanky*) dress code.

If I were going to the Quackfest (I’ll be in Italy then), I would be dressing a wee bit downscale…so that I wouldn’t be *targeted* as a wealthy benefactor by Andy or the Geiers to pay for their legal fees.

See the picture of Andy embracing the Stars and Stripes.

So, wear that frock from the back of your closets ladies and find some tacky costume jewelry to adorn yourselves.

Gentlemen, feel free to wear that blue pinstriped suit with the frayed cuffs…or rent a tuxedo in a larger size and have the tailor hem your pants too short.

Do not wear any real gold jewelry and ladies stash your diamonds in the vault.

***I hate *classy* and *swanky*…those words should be banned from the English language.

I was looking around at the Wakefield defense fund yesterday. I don’t think they’ve raised much (no reporting of course) but few Facebook likes etc.

I too would think about going to the swank fest if I weren’t traveling far, far away.

If you are a facebook user, I encourage you to take a look at Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children (PPUC). The questions and comments there make both AoA and TMR look sagacious.

A big point of the anti-vaxxers in objecting to AB 2109 is that vaccine-rejecting parents are “more educated” about vaccine ingredients and adverse effects that vaccine-accepting parents.

here’s an example (you can see for yourself by clicking on my name)

Reba wrote ~
Mercury! Apparently you can ask for non-mercury vaccines. Now if there is no mercury being used in a vax, what is the ingredient replacing it??

Sample answers:

different brands vary in ingredients. the ones that have absolutely no mercury usually have more aluminum. some have gross animal cells and dna while the other brand has very high levels of aluminum or traces of mercury [or both!].. its always a catch-22.

thimerosal. the aluminum and formeldahyde are still in most of them though. both known neurotoxins.

Mercury is only 1 of the deadly ingredients in a vaccine. I would just concern myself with mercury. There are fetal cells (dna), other various animal cells, so so so, any ingredient not of which are safe. A vaccine with or without mercury i…

There is no such thing as mercury free. Where it says mercury free there is an * and if you read the fine find print it says there’s still mercury in it just in such a tiny amount its allowed to be classed as mercury free.

Such nuanced understanding of vaccinology.

Naturally, whimsical novelty cuff links are suitable for all (except military ranks, where the cuff links are prescribed).

Enamel on copper is the only way to fly.

@ Mephistopheles O’Brien:

To be honest, my suit jacket is a feminised version of the traditional dinner jacket: YSL started playing around with that concept in the ’70s. I somehow manage to not look like a boy.

@ lilady:

It’s amusing that they chose that word. There are far better appellations like black tie, semi-formal etc.
Perhaps they’ll post photos of the event.

-btw- what’s in the back of *your* closet? Probably Prada. Or Ralph.

@ Liz Ditz: When I “lurk” at AoA…I’ve seen many similar comments about vaccine ingredients. My personal *favorites* are the ones that confuse preservatives and adjuvants. Other *favorites* are the comments about *boosters* for MMR vaccines and Hepatitis B vaccines.

@ Denice Walter: Prada and Ralph? No, not on my civil servant salary and civil servant pension. Most of the *jewels* have been given to my daughter. Although, I have been rewarded this year with prudent investments in the market.

Ms. Walter – I can’t wait to see it at Lord Draconis’s next do. Though, naturally, I shan’t be invited…

No cufflinks. Although swanky, I have it on good information they contain mercury and aluminum…(and probably fetal cells.)

Gentlemen’s swanky would be white shirt, black dinner jacket, black trousers, black bow tie. Cummerbund optional. Shoes should be plain black dress shoes. Socks should be black, though the more daring may mix this up – perhaps black socks with cartoon characters, or red socks a la Bedazzled. Members of the armed forces should wear dinner dress uniform appropriate to the season and locale.

Am I wrong to imagine a scene from the Bertie Wooster novels? Drones Club behaviour optional.

@ Narad:

“Enamel on copper is the only way to fly.”

Plain copper maybe…for the *medicinal* value of copper.

Enamel is kind of dicey because of the *dangers* associated with toxic lead in certain enamel overlays.

“Enamel is kind of dicey because of the *dangers* associated with toxic lead in certain enamel overlays.”

You think the food will be bad enough that one would be tempted to eat one’s cufflinks instead?

@ Mephistopheles O’Brien:

You’re there. We need more reps of non-lizard royalty, which I surmise you are based on your ‘nym.

Herr doctor – I was thinking Casino Royale (the Peter Sellers version) but Bertie Wooster is a suitable template for swanky when dressed up.

LW…”You think the food will be bad enough that one would be tempted to eat one’s cufflinks instead?”

Here is the menu for the Quackfest’s dinner/fundraiser for Wakefield’s Justice Fund:

I have already *sent regrets* to the Quackfest’s organizers; I’ll be in Europe. I expect that the RI regulars will be viewing the *Red Carpet* webcast…

“Join us for the night where you are the shining star! Dress to impress as you have your picture taken on the red carpet (webcast Live!).”

DW – With the possible exception of my amygdala, I am currently 100% lizard free.

Has anyone thought of education the corporate donors about what AutismOne is really about? Would they listen?


I checked out Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children (PPUC) on Facebook.


Amanda is in a panic over at PPUC. Her ex got her son vaccinated yesterday and she needs “emergency detox information” for her “worst nightmare.”

The comments are amazing.

“I have a word of advice for Dr. Nevison. Stick to atmospheric science.”

And maybe you, “Orac,” should stick to cancer surgery.


And maybe you should take some basic science classes.

Your little fact-free whine was amusing, but not much else.

And, maybe you “Rita”, ought to try to bring some facts to the discussion…before you make a fool of yourself. Troll.


Name calling looks so becoming on you. FYI – punctuation ends come before quotation marks. Wouldn’t want all of your “knowledge” to look foolish when backed by poor grammatical skills.


FYI – punctuation ends come before quotation marks.

That depends on where you live. And a grammar pedant is just another form of troll.


If all you have is a whinge about the placement of punctuation, you’ve got nothing.

The difference between Dr Nevison’s arguing outside of her area of expertise and Orac’s is simply that Dr Nevison is basing her arguments on poor analogies and a single prevalence estimate of autism, whereas Orac is basing his argument on the weight of decades’ worth of carefully gathered and examined evidence.

In effect, Dr Nevison is taking on the role of a climate science pseudoskeptic (aka denialist), who argues against mainstream climatology in an almost indistinguishable fashion from Dr Nevison’s argument against mainstream immunization practice.

With regards to your criticism of lilady’s punctuation, you will find that your statement is only half-correct: see here. lilady’s punctuation is correct per British stylistic rules.

Finally, for your entertainment, I have deliberately placed an inappropriate apostrophe as an expression of my sentiment regarding your punctuation-trolling. Enjoy.

Aww well aren’t you all sweet. Throwing out the troll terminology and fabricating names. It’s lovely that you all waste your time citing sources on grammar on a science blog. Flattered, really.

Now here’s one: Vaccines do not provide protection from secondary exposures (hence secondary immune response); the pros do not outweigh the cons – the risks do not outweigh benefit; and they are not safe (or effective).

Can’t wait for all of you to waste your time proving those statements wrong. Yippee!

Aww well aren’t you all sweet. Throwing out the troll terminology and fabricating names. It’s lovely that you all waste your time citing sources on grammar on a science blog. Flattered, really.

Now here’s one: Vaccines do not provide protection from secondary exposures (hence secondary immune response); the pros do not outweigh the cons – the risks do not outweigh benefit; and they are not safe (or effective).

Can’t wait for all of you to waste your time proving those statements wrong. Yippee!

Can’t wait for you to provide citations that you are right Rita. You said it, you show it.

“Aww well aren’t you all sweet. Throwing out the troll terminology and fabricating names. It’s lovely that you all waste your time citing sources on grammar on a science blog. Flattered, really.”

Aww well aren’t you a Pedant Troll, sweetie. Throwing out the grammar terminology. It’s lovely that you wasted our time citing sources on grammar on a science blog. Flattered, really.

-FTFY Pedant Troll

Now here’s one: Vaccines do not provide protection from secondary exposures (hence secondary immune response);

WTF do you even mean? Do random words just roll off your fingertips and you expect to impress?

the pros do not outweigh the cons – the risks do not outweigh benefit; and they are not safe (or effective).

Oh how original. Do share your citations for this.


Now here’s one: Vaccines do not provide protection from secondary exposures (hence secondary immune response); the pros do not outweigh the cons – the risks do not outweigh benefit; and they are not safe (or effective).

Actually, in a way they do. One of the sneaky things that measles does is hijack the immune system, which is why one of the main reasons it kills with a secondary bacterial infection. So if you get the MMR and do not get measles, then you cannot get the secondary infection.

Though your statement falls apart in another way: How do you get a secondary infection if you don’t get a primary measles, pertussis, mumps, etc infection in the first place?

Rita: You practice black magic. Prove me wrong. Seriously, how can you not understand the concept of burden of proof?


Aww well aren’t you all sweet.

If you’re going to complain about other folks’ grammar, you could try using commas where needed.

As for the rest of your comment:

Can’t wait for all of you to waste your time proving those statements wrong.

We might, but unless you tell us what you think “those statements” mean, it is a waste of everyone’s time.

Here is my corrected comment for the blockquote fail.

Now here’s one: Vaccines do not provide protection from secondary exposures (hence secondary immune response);

WTF do you even mean? Do random words just roll off your fingertips and you expect to impress?

the pros do not outweigh the cons – the risks do not outweigh benefit; and they are not safe (or effective).

Oh how original. Do share your citations for this.

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