Just yesterday, I commented on a typical whine from the antivaccine crew at the crank blog Age of Autism in which Dan Olmsted became indignant over being reminded that science does not support his belief that vaccines cause autism, that they don’t work, and that they are dangerous. Olmsted, clueless as ever about science, viewed being reminded that the science overwhelmingly doesn’t support his belief as being akin to George W. Bush trying to convince the country that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to invade or to Richard Nixon urging people to stop investigating Watergate. Basically, having failed to convince using science, antivaccinationists fall back on demanding that people be “open-minded” and portraying scientific conclusions that they have no evidence to cast doubt upon those conclusions. They don the mantle of “intellectual freedom” and “free debate,” trying to paint defenders of science as somehow being against both of these things when they proclaim that there is no longer a credible case, for example, behind the hypothesis that vaccines cause or contribute to autism.
Being for “free speech” and proclaiming their critics as being against “true” science, is, unfortunately, a strategy that antivaccinationists, cranks, pseudoscientists, and denialists use with great abandon. Why? Because, unfortunately, it’s a strategy that all too often works to achieve their desired end: To keep the manufactroversy going and potentially persuade those who are ignorant of the science that they might just have a case. This point came up in the comments of my last post, when investigative journalist Brian Deer referred to the “debate” sought by antivaccinationists as now being “little more than abuse,” going on to say, “The dog has barked and the caravan has moved on.”
Later in the comments, regular commenter lilady pointed out an excellent refutation of the “debate” claim. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when Brian Deer appeared at the University of Wisconsin in LaCrosse? In response, the man most responsible for ginning up the false fear that the MMR vaccine causes autism, Andrew Wakefield, decided to head on over to LaCrosse to hold a press conference on the same Day that Brian Deer appeared there. Unfortunately, a rather clueless reporter for the LaCrosse Tribune bought into the exact framing that the antivaccine activists who showed up in LaCrosse with Andrew Wakefield wanted, entitling his coverage, Vaccine-autism debate coming to La Crosse. It represented the very worst reporting, the sort of reporting devoid of even a hint of critical thinking. What do I mean by this? The very article is a perfect example of the “tell both sides” fallacy for scientific issues that do not really have two sides or that have two sides but with one of those sides being vastly more credible than the other side from a scientific viewpoint.
This refutation was written by Michael Winfrey, who chaired the Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences committee that brought Brian Deer to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. First, Winfrey takes aim at the antivaccinationists’ framing of the event, apparently completely bought into by Patrick Anderson, the reporter who wrote the original article:
It’s unfortunate that the Tribune chose to promote this as a “debate” in its Sept. 30 article, which led to the misconception that the university was hosting a debate between two opposing views.
This series does not organize debates. We invite distinguished scientists (or in this case a journalist) whose findings have not only had a significant impact on science and society but also whose work is widely accepted by the scientific community.
Did Anderson do this? You bet he did. The title of his article alone did it, but so did passages like this, where, after interviewing an antivaccinationist, who is a volunteer for the Andrew Wakefield Defense Fund, Anderson wrote:
“The way we see it, an innocent man has been accused wrongly and falsely,” said Patti Carroll, a volunteer for the Dr. Wakefield Justice Fund.
The group organized a response when it heard about Deer’s presentation at UW-L, Carroll said.
Carroll stopped vaccinating her children when her son fell ill after receiving a vaccine and developed autism months later, she said.
“If Brian Deer is going to come to America and start trying to sell his story, people have a right to ask questions of the person he is accusing,” Carroll said.
Wakefield is scheduled to speak 1 p.m. at a location yet to be determined.
He said, she said. Deer was invited to speak at UW-LaCrosse. Wakefield was speaking nearby. The two must be equivalent. There are people there who believe that Wakefield was wrongly accused; so there must be a controversy! At least, that’s what Age of Autism, Andrew Wakefield, and the rest of Wakefield’s groupies want you to believe. Too bad they’re wrong, leaving them nothing except demonizing the messenger Brian Deer. Winfrey shoots this equivalency down, and shoots it down hard:
This series does not organize debates. We invite distinguished scientists (or in this case a journalist) whose findings have not only had a significant impact on science and society but also whose work is widely accepted by the scientific community.
This year we invited a journalist who exposed a grievous scientific fraud by a former British doctor. The former doctor, who was found guilty of this fraud by two prestigious medical journals and the British General Medical Council, invited himself and complained that he was not invited to debate Deer.
There are many topics worthy of debates. Whether a vaccine is the cause of autism is not among them.
Ouch! That one’s going to leave a mark! It’s also a perfect response, particularly the last sentence. There are indeed many topics worthy of debates. Whether vaccines cause autism is no longer one of them. There was a time when, although the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism was a highly implausible hypothesis, it was a hypothesis that was just plausible enough that it had to be investigated. It was investigated. The hypothesis didn’t pan out. To the best of science’s ability to determine, vaccines do not cause autism. If antivaccinationists like Wakefield want to reopen that case, as I pointed out yesterday, whining about “free and open debate” won’t cut it. They need evidence, and, as I pointed out, the evidence has to be of sufficient quality and quantity to cast doubt on the current conclusion of science that vaccines don’t cause autism.
The utter failure of the LaCrosse Tribune and Patrick Anderson aside, it can be done right. Trine Tsouderos used to do it right, before she unfortunately left the Chicago Tribune. Whoever wrote the Heath Q&A the other day for my hometown newspaper the Detroit Free Press also did it right. After urging the person asking the question about the MMR to have her baby vaccinated, the writer points out:
A 2004 investigation by England’s Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer discovered that Wakefield had planned to launch a business venture capitalizing on the MMR scare by selling his diagnostic medical tests for the new bogus syndrome of “autistic enterocolitis.” Deer believes that Wakefield might have earned as much as $43 million yearly in sales of his testing kits. Wakefield has since been stripped of his medical license to practice medicine in England. A 2011 article in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy described the MMR vaccine-autism connection as “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.”
And so it is.
Right on cue, Anne Dachel and her Dachelbots have shown up to bury the comments with antivaccine talking points. Dachel, as you might recall, holds the dubious position of media editor at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. Her job description appears to be mainly to set up multiple Google Alerts for vaccine-related topics, particularly Andrew Wakefield, and then to swoop down on any blog post, news article, or op-ed that defends science and calls out antivaccine pseudoscience along with her flying monkeys to dive bomb the comment thread with poo, burying the comments with antivaccine nonsense. It’s what she does, and it’s obviously meant to perpetuate the manufactroversy. The good thing is, her talking points are so vacuous and her ability to defend them so nonexistent that all it takes are a handful of knowledgeable pro-science skeptics to shoot down her quackery. That’s why Dachel tends, having dropped her load on one article or blog post, to move on rapidly to other easier targets as her Google Alerts reveals them to her.
The entire LaCrosse incident is a perfect example of how cranks and pseudoscientists work. Having been appropriately not given the opportunity to speak at a scholarly conference, just as one would not allow astrologers to speak at an astronomy conference, creationists to speak at a biology conference, or moon hoaxers at a NASA conference, Wakefield and his groupies set up an alternate reality in which they are having a “debate,” as though having a small press conference in a little cabin makes them a credible alternative viewpoint. Then they film the proceedings, making it impossible not to conclude that the press conference cum debate was in reality primarily staged for the cameras. (One wonders if Leslie Manookian wannabe is trying to become the next great antivaccine propagandist.) Then, they rail at being excluded from speaking at conferences where they do not belong and spew venom at Brian Deer. Such is their little bubble of an echo chamber that they really think think they’re scoring points with their antics.
You know, I think Brian Deer was right.
119 replies on “The “no debate” debate, briefly revisited”
Somebody needs to sit Paul Anderson down and give him a severe talking to. I’m guessing he didn’t conduct even the most rudimentary research into Deer and Wakefield, he just posted what the anti-vaxxers told him. Had he even googled their names, he soon would have realised that he was being sold a pig with wings.
But what about my well-crafted theory that the earth is indeed flat ? surely we need to teach the controversy! Remember, it is also quite possible (for certain values of “possible”) that the earth is in fact shaped like a banana.
Actually the WMD analogy is quite apt, just not in the way Olmstead thinks. The antivaxxers are trying spread FUD about a non-existent danger just like the Bush administration did with Iraq’s non-existent biological and nuclear weapons.
There was a time when, although the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism was a highly implausible hypothesis, it was a hypothesis that was just plausible enough that it had to be investigated. It was investigated. The hypothesis didn’t pan out.
And this is exactly how science is supposed to work. Once in a while a just-barely-plausible hypothesis turns out to be true. The overwhelming majority of such hypotheses do not. “Vaccines cause autism” is one of the many that did not.
What has happened to Trine Tsouderos? I hope she has gone to another paper or is at least still writing!
As I’ve said many times before:
these people will never stop- their bizarre theories about autism serve psychological purposes that include their self-esteem, identities and vocations. These beliefs are articles of faith unreachable by mundane facts and data.
Where would all of the contributors and commenters at sites like AoA and TMR be without their pet perspective on reality? What would they do with their lives? It gives them focus and a sense of purpose. They are in the process of passing on these beliefs to their children while alt media spreads the anti-vaccine message far and wide.
“FUD”. I’ve read that in two comments today. Weird.
Trine Tsouderos joined GolinHarris, Chicago, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, as health care media director. She had been a reporter covering science and medicine at The Chicago Tribune.
Orac, I have, along with other *RI Regulars*, posted frequently on Mr. Anderson’s three articles that promoted Wakefield’s “side of the debate”.
Michael Winfrey did write an excellent “Letter-to-the Editor” that explained the position of the University and which took issue with Mr. Anderson’s three articles. You’ll find Mr. Winfrey’s “Letter-to-the Editor” here…
Take note of the spamming posts by “ASD Researcher”…he posted on…and spammed RI last year under “Blackheart”
I saw that Health Q&A in the Detroit Free Press. Good article, tells it like it is, says that Wakefield’s work was a hoax. Wakefield believes he was libeled by Brian Deer and the BMJ, but was only stopped in his quest for “justice” by jurisdictional issues. Why then, does he not move on to sue American media outlets who have said this? No jurisdictional problems there.
His lawsuit vs. Deer and the BMJ must simply be because he hates them and also because needs to keep his sad rump of supporters whipped up.
One interesting thing about the DFP article is that it mentions that “Wakefield might have earned as much as $43 million yearly in sales of his testing kits.” I’m wondering if did (or even continues to) earn some small portion of that money, and that’s how he supports his present lavish lifestyle. When he goes to Autism One is he actually selling something under the table?
@Broken Link: Wakefield did sue Deer in the UK, which is (1) Deer’s (and at the time, Wakefield’s) country of residence and (2) a much more plaintiff friendly venue for libel than the US. Wakefield’s suit in the UK was ultimately dismissed.
I’m sure Wakefield only filed suit in the US to keep supporter donations rolling in. His US lawyers must have told him that, even if his suit were not dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, he would have no hope of prevailing. Wakefield is a public figure, so to prove libel in a US court he would have to meet a standard that, in practice, is almost impossible to meet. If he tried to sue US media outlets, he would almost certainly be slapped for a frivolous lawsuit: US media (unlike the UK) have the additional defense that they were accurately reporting statements made by others (Deer and the BMJ).
@ Broken Link:
I wonder myself about what little business schemes he might have ongoing. IIRC there was something in Ireland, now his US concerns..
Because I survey woo-meisters, I KNOW that there is “counselling” going in by non-physicians/ non-psychologists who later sell their “clients” supplements, propaganda merchandise and participation in their exclusive”health retreats”.
So why would he behave any differently from other charlatans with a bill of goods to sell?
.. with BILLS of goods to sell
I always wonder how *counseling* by non medical or unlicensed personnel is not practicing medicine without a license. An example would be Mary Tocco. Where is the dividing line? Can anyone who understands the law better than me explain?
Those I survey profess to be nutritionists and, unlike SB dieticians, believe that virtually all illness- including SMI- may be prevented and/ or cured by diet. I don’t know the law but it seems as though this sort of activity goes on in supplement shops/ websites, yoga studios, gyms, over internet radio ( PRN) and in blog comments ( Natural News).
Meanwhile, at Emily Willingham’s blog about Jenny McCarthy’s new *role* as a blogger/columnist, the comments are being posted fast and furious. Anne Dachel and her *buddies* are posting there:
DLC – actually the earth is flat to a fair degree of precision (7.98 inches/mile, or about 0.0126%).
What constitutes the scope of the “practice of medicine” seems like an interesting, historically moving target. I wasn’t aware that into the 1970s, there was a real question whether anyone but a physician could perform ear piercing or whether RNs could test blood pressure without a doctor’s order (see here [PDF]). Actual enforcement, though, seems to be driven by victim complaints — even David Geier was hung out to dry on this basis.
If I may offer the analogy when considering the weight of “both sides” to the argument . . .
“There aren’t really two sides here. This would be like asking that the Bespin City Tiger’s junior varsity football team play the San Francisco 49’ers for a shot at the Super Bowl. Science is on the side of the Niners.”
Feel free to insert your own local favorite, or sport. . .
Thanks for the update on TT–I will miss her reporting and hope the new gig results in exposure of her writing.
I was at Deer’s talk in LaCrosse and was pleased at the strong statement made by the professor (head of the Biology (?) Dept) who introduced Deer, about this not being a debate, but it’s too bad she even had to make such a statement. The crowd seemed large and I was hoping this was because science students were told to attend by profs making sure they hear the truth–or to disabuse them of any false equivalency thinking they may have fallen into from reading the local paper.
@Denice Walter, you say “these people will never stop- their bizarre theories about autism serve psychological purposes that include their self-esteem, identities and vocations. ” No! They’re *Thinking* they’ve got this whole critical thinking thing sussed dontcha know.
I know! I pointed that one out. Mike Adams had a post instructing his charges similarly at about the same time. Even better: both Mikey and the other one- a/k/a Mr Malaprop- criticise educational systems in the western world! LIke they could tell the difference!
This is often risable to me because I studied how tests that measure skills are constructed, how kids develop language abilities, abstract thought etc.
To riff on the politician’s lines:
I can think, all of my friends think, I even studied thinking..
and sister, you ain’t thinking!
I’ve got some news for you, Autismum. One of your *favorites* is leaving the U.K. and relocating in Austin, Texas. 🙂
I may be in a minority here but I would love a debate between Deer and Wakefield.
On a stage as your presidential candidates do.
Do you think Mr Wakefield would agree?
The “Thinking Moms” really outdid themselves with the lionization of Lujene Clark:
Do you note the author of that?:
LILADY… pardonnez-moi, Mme.
I haven’t been over here regularly for a bit. Been doing battle with a taxi company and my city council among other fronts upon which I’m fighting. See, us mums with autistic kids don’t just roll over and take any old poop dished out to us. Ooh! I’m ranty tonight!
She’s gone? Who’s going to trot out the same old yada yada in a low cut top on UK TV whenever there’s an autism story? Hmmm…I am rather well endowed…just sayin’
Wait, what am I missing? The Thoughtless Mums are wetting their panties because Ms. Clark once had a paid-for membership to a science club?
That’s about it. (Well, and that they now apparently capitalize “thinkers” in self-reference.)
@ Denice & Autismum: I’m clueless who Carol Stott is.
Did you notice one of the posts at the AoA?
“What will Polly be doing in the US, and how long will the family be staying? I hope she doesn’t stay. Polly would be a huge loss to the UK – like Andy Wakefield, of course.
Posted by: Dr Mark Struthers | October 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM”
I mean WTF…why do we get stuck with Polly and Andy?
Can’t we *nuke* Austin Texas?
You would be perfect as a TV commenter, whenever an autism story appears, Autismum. 🙂
@Lilady, they’d never get me to shut up! I was on the radio over the Patriot Nurse stuff and I have the voice of a stroppy teenager.
And Carol Stott is charm personified as Mr Deer knows. http://briandeer.com/mmr/carol-stott.htm
Lilady: Don’t you dare nuke Austin! I haven’t been to South by Southwest yet! Heck, just strand them in Dallas and release a human-specific toxin. My opinion about Texas is the same as my thoughts on Arizona- lovely state, shame about the people.
If you are ‘well-endowed’**, you need to become acquainted with Ms Karan ( see Donna Karan/ DKNY websites): drapey blouses, V-necks, clingey- but not too clingey, shirts with several buttons left open etc.
** saw your photo, you are.
@Denice Walters if they have flamingos on I’d give them a go xx
Hold on, you’re going on about Autismum’s bewbs and not a single link?
Thanks Narad, it was one of those moments that just couldn’t be ergo had to be something else you know?
@ Science Mom:
Oh, we all got ’em, no big deal
But seriously, if she is to take over for old Polly, don’t you think that the issue is of paramount importance?
I thought this was the “crank blog.”
But of course DW. When I think of autism advocacy I immediately think of bewbs. Doesn’t everyone?
I’m back from dinner now…with a short stop at my freezer where dear hubby had placed Pellegrino in a glass bottle…just to “chill it”. Shards of frozen green glass all over the freezer and I’m now defrosting it with pots of hot water.
So that’s who Carol Stott is!!!
lilady, after a few explosions of beer bottles in the freezer dear spouse now knows to use the oven timer to remind him that something is in the freezer.
His other method is to place the bottle in a container filled with ice and water.
He had the timer on…and it rang. He then proceeded to leave the bottle in “just to chill it some more”.
It happened in the upstairs (self-defrosting) freezer compartment of the refrig/freezer combo and the mess defrosting quite quickly.
Hmph. I have never seen an overcooled beer bottle in the freezer explode. What usually happens is that a frosty gook is forced to ooze out from around the cap, which then runs down the bottle and fouls the bottom of the freezer.
I have, however, blown russet potatoes to bits in the oven after failing to provide them with vents.
Freezers & liquids: I’ve been making grape juice; our neighbor has green Concord grapes. I mash ’em a bit, bring to boil, simmer & strain. The thick juice is then frozen in ~ 1 qt. bottles with some head-space. To drink: thaw in refrigerator, swirl, let it sit and get a wonderful precipitate of potassium bitartrate crystals – and significantly sweeter juice. Wait, what, crank? Who showed up, someone from “Get Fuzzy”?
Oh, I have also succeeded in cracking a “four cup” automatic-drip coffee carafe by forgetting it in the freezer overnight. I’ve never quite figured that one out, as it was entirely uncovered and free to expand vertically. It wasn’t a sudden thermal shock.
Is the crank gone and have the foodies come out to play?
I’m stretching the summer season with the few tomatoes I buy at a local farm stand. We did the sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic, basil, EVOO meal tonight, along with garlic bread and prosciutto.
I’ve already started making soups in big batches for the downstairs deep freeze. I only use large plastic containers.
Well, since we’re discussing food, I’m going to have Italian salad, McCain’s microwave chips and microwave in the bag fish for dinner tonight.
I’m new at this. I follow some of the provided links and it’s always, for me; eeeek – Denice, lilady, Autismum, et al,, how do you read this stuff? I know, it’s a dirty job & someone’s got to do it. This “critical thinking” link, yeah, dontcha know indeed. This “Professor” – I guess she’s had a tough time, she says and she’s quick to tell you how smart she is. When I was a post-doc some river-boarding kids hung that label on me – Hey Professor, you going to take a ride? Me – I’m not a professor. Them – we don’t care. Then I realized I’d better accept that handle before they thought of another one. Closet to being a professor I’ll ever be. But my synapses need more insulation to wade into stuff you good folks read routinely. DW, it seems to be an avocation related to your profession. I still think there should be a manuscript in preparation.
@ Julian Frost: Sounds great. I take great pleasure, now that I am retired and have the time, to cook from *scratch*.
@ THS: See my post at Julian. I have the free time now, and I have an interest in kids with developmental disabilities. I’ve been intently involved with advocacy, since my disabled son was born 36 years ago.
The other “RI Ladies” are (quite) a bit younger than me and they are still employed.
speaking about recipes, I made an Imperial Milk Stout during the week-end along with a friend. I will let it age until christmas.
Alain (who once forgot a beer in the freezer).
Imperial Milk Stout? I’m intrigued.
Milk stout sounds good. Brains dark is my tipple of choice and it doesn’t need to be very cold so no freezer explosions
I’ve been freezing my rumballs for the holiday season.
Why is the rum gone??
My guess is that the truth about vaccines will emerge in time, just as the truth of the dangers of HRT emerged after over 40 years, despite protestations from the supposed experts, who assured millions of women that there was no need to be concerned. Did the experts ever apologise for their arrogance? Not likely. Trust us, the science is uneqivocal.Until too many people die & then the experts slowly fade into another “no-debate brainer”. Enter vaccines.
Give free thinking people a break. No need for debate, you say. Why don’t you ask Bernadette Healy , former Director of the NIH about whether there should be more debate about vaccine safety? But then she must be from the dark side, right, & who could trust someone from the dark side.
You sceptics might be sincere & have majority backing, but
the sincere majority has often been proven wrong. History is replete with such examples. Who is from the dark side then?
How long do we have to wait for your guess about the emergence of the truth about vaccines, Rocketman? Is 200 years suficient?
We’ve been monitoring vaccinations for 60 years now. We will continue to monitor them.
There is nothing in the data to suggest that vaccines are not safer than the risks of the diseases they prevent, and that they are not well tolerated by a vast majority of the recipients.
Because we’d need John Edward to do that. Besides, Dr. Healy wasn’t an expert in anything related to vaccines and supported the tobacco industries bogus studies.
@Rocketman. Who is going to replace Bernadette Healy (now late, and difficult to ask anything of) and Andrew Wakefield (a fraud) in your small stable of “reputable sources” that you (and the Dachel-bot) continue to trot out in your attempt to provide some tiny bit of credibility to your scientifically dis-proven convictions? Anyone of their stature waiting in the wings? The Geirs didn’t work out too well did they….
I think Hawaii is the only state which Mark Geier still has his medical license in now, right? He’s had it suspended or revoked in what, 10 other states?
I truly appreciate your encouragement. I feel uniquely qualified to scrape around the bottoms of various barrels and describe what I find there: I think that it’s important for sceptics to observe the inner mechanations ( and linguistics) of cranks in their own native habitat which I view through my lens, influenced by both clinical and experimental psych.
At any rate, the manuscript will have to wait until after I complete my updated version of Thomas Hardy in which the characters live in high rise buildings, use skype and have car trouble: welcome to my world!
(I can’t actually do that because people would sue me- but it is a good characterisation of my inner circle- bless them!)
My guess is it already has. As Chris pointed out they have been in use for 200 years, and are among the most closely studied and scrutinized medical interventions ever. I’m basing my guess on the mountains of evidence that the benefits of vaccines hugely outweigh their risks. What’s your guess based on?
What truth is that, exactly? I don’t think the HRT issue is quite as clear-cut as you seem to think. According to Dr Nick Panay, who is a Consultant Gynecologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, chairman of the British Menopause Society, and an expert on menopause and its treatment, countless women were scared off HRT by alarmist newspaper headlines, mainly about the Women’s Health Initiative and Million Women studies, and have suffered miserably and unnecessarily for a decade. Here’s an article by Dr. Panay discussing this.
You could argue that millions of women (and some doctors) panicked over irresponsible reporting of a couple of studies despite experts reassuring them there was no need to be concerned, and a decade later it seems that the benefits of HRT do indeed outweigh the risks, just as the experts said. This is somehow the fault of the experts?
No, vaccines have definitely been around a lot longer than HRT, and the serious adverse events associated with vaccines are so rare that in most cases we can’t even be certain they are caused by vaccines at all. How do you detect a side effect that occurs less frequently than 1 in a million doses?
With vaccines you are looking at a choice between, for example, measles that will definitely cause death or permanent disability in more than 1 in 1000 people who catch it, and a vaccine that might possibly cause death or serious disability in fewer than 1 in a million people who are given it. Where’s the debate in that?
With HRT you are balancing the misery many women suffer during menopause against a treatment that offers a 80-90% reduction in symptoms, along with the possibility of an increased risk of breast cancer of about 35 in 1000, and a small increase in cardiovascular risk (7-8 cases per 10,000 women per year) but a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis and colorectal cancer. There are clearly arguments on both sides, and it’s not such an easy call to make. This is an issue that can be meaningfully debated.
In terms of risk and benefits HRT and vaccines are not really comparable.
Even when they are putting people’s lives at risk? The trouble is, free thinking people very often seem to be people whose only education on a subject comes from Google University. For some reason they seem to think this equips them to contradict the findings of thousands of scientists all over the world who have spent decades studying the subject.
I’m all for free thinking around difficult problems that need creative and innovative solutions, but not when it involves denying facts that have been established beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s just nuts.
Because she’s dead, as others have pointed out? That’s assuming you mean Bernadine Healy.
We didn’t trust her because she allied herself with the antivaccine movement and spouted antivaccine nonsense that had been debunked over and over again.
It’s using the scientific method, which is a relatively recent innovation, that makes us as sure as we can be that vaccines are safe. It’s the clinical trials, the constant monitoring of the vaccinated population and constant research into improvements that make us sure that vaccines are as safe as they currently can be, and that their benefits vastly outweigh any risks. Which of these examples from history you mention were supported by amounts of scientific evidence comparable to the amount of evidence that supports vaccine safety?
Hawaii and Illinois still.
Sure you can; just add zombies. You might even get a movie deal out of it.
And TMR never fails to provide us with gems-
today Ms Prima “settles accounts” by providing a “hit list” ( her words, not mine) of all of those who discouraged her “recovering” her son and scoffed at her dietary inyerventions and supplemental regimes: these professionals- doctors, therapists and educators- are controlled by the “system” and had ” no compassion” when they “condemned” her son. She also has no tolerance for other parents who don’t buy into her particular brand of bs about autism. They were ALL wrong.
It’s solipcism to imagine yourself correct in the face of such opposition by professionals and general opinion: her views are in the extreme minority-.I find it especially telling that she is able to maintain her views despite face-to-face interaction with these people.
This tendency has been illustrated by other advocates of anti-vax:, such as those at AoA:
a simple question for them-
if all of these professionals are so wrong and you are so correct, why do you accept their therapies and educational
provisions? If they are so WRONG, as is the “system”, why accept their tainted services of their horrible science?
Of course, when there is improvement ( as there is in her son’s case) , she of course, attributes it to HER OWN actions..
@autismum – thanks for the link to the Carol Stott-Brian Deer saga, I started to read and couldn’t stop. She’s a real piece of work, isn’t she? The MMR gravy train attracted some first-rate minds, all right..
Certainly. Right after you tell us the truth about measles and pertussis.
The MMR has been around for forty years, so there should have been data for Wakefield to base his hypothesis on. Do you mind listing the PubMed indexed papers dating from the 1970s to early 1990s that show an increase in autism and/or bowel disease in American children from the MMR?
@DW – is Prima’s last name Donna, by any chance? I can just picture the diva tantrums those doctors, teachers and therapists got to witness. Oh the nerve of those people, refusing to be an uncritical audience for her self-aggrandizing bullsh*t.
And tellingly, the “recovered” son is just a prop in this epic melodrama about mama’s heroic endurance in the face of (well-deserved) professional scorn. Oh, the humanity!
Let’s not forget that Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield are partners in the Autism Media Channel…which employs Carmel Wakefield. If Carol Stott worked for Andy at Thoughtful House, until he was canned…once Tommey settles herself in Austin, could Stott’s move be far behind?
How about Polly’s other interests…such as the Autism Trust, USA…where Carmel is on the Board of Directors and Executive Board? I think I *know* who will be the Executive Director of the Autism Trust’s Treatment Center:
Let’s also not forget that Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield have been having an affair for years. I’m not sure if the Wakefield’s have an ‘open marriage’, but I would suspect that, if there is not a swap, and Jonathan Tommey jumps Carmel Wakefield, the whole thing will end in tears.
@ Science Mom:
You might find this hard to believe but LONG ago a guy who produced cheap films wanted me to create a series of noir-ish, detective screenplays for reasonably decent money!
I didn’t take him up on it.
I am interested in representing reality- so why deal with zombies and vampires when I can talk about the REALLY frightening nitty-gritty of day-to-day life – horrors aplenty for which creatures of the night are just metaphors. Plus I have money.
However, I am always very pleased when people think I have something to offer- either substantially or stylistically.
So thank you.
@ Edith Prickley:
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if her *first* name were Donna that that her ‘nym is a “clever” ( to her) in-joke. I imagine that she is a JOY to be around.
I think that you may be quite right about her MO: she – and others- create histrionic scenarios wherein they triumph over adversity, proving the experts wrong, removing the evil spell from their bewitched child to the world’s amazement ..
people do this for a reason, you know.
I understand that AoA’s editor has written both purely fictional and semi-fictional chick-lit. ( sold in the side bar at that site)
Now, I must lie down because I’m feeling pretty awfully..
lilady – your dinner sounds tempting. I haven’t had mozzarella in a while. My dinner tonight will be the last of the apple chicken stew I made. It’s excellent and I’m definitely making it again.
Shhh, we only turn into a foodie blog, when old blinky box is in “sleep mode”. 🙂
“My guess is it already has. As Chris pointed out they have been in use for 200 years, and are among the most closely studied and scrutinized medical interventions ever. I’m basing my guess on the mountains of evidence that the benefits of vaccines hugely outweigh their risks. What’s your guess based on?”
My guess is based on the fact that infectious disease mortality rates were falling appreciably since 1890 long before the advent of vaccination mania.It has only been quite recent that we have started injecting one day old babies with formaldehyde, adjuvants & its many partners.
I also guess that the very diseases you so fear are not singularly caused. The germ theory & herd immunity are very limited theories. Most people in my community do not get the flu jab, so you would argue that such insufficient numbers must compromise supposed “herd immunity”. But where is the epidemic of flu? Why hasn’t it run rampant? I have never had the flu jab & have never had the flu. You cannot claim that I owe my good fortune to the majority, who have done the right thing & got their jab, which supposedly would offer herd immunity,because the majority have eschewed the flu jab.
Why is that people who have suffered the flu seasonally for years become flu-free without ever having had flu jabs. Perhaps it’s because they change their way of lives. This is my experience time & time again.
My children have never had any flu jabs, yet they continually associate with their friends who regularly get colds & flus. Why could these anomaly exist. Please explain.
Perhaps the mortality rate decreased due to advances in medical care.
How come you did not answer my questions? Exactly what is the risk of the MMR vaccine compared to measles? Since that vaccine has been used since 1971, where are the PubMed indexed papers dating from then to the early 1990s that alerted Wakefield that there may be a problem with it?
And now I have another question for you. The following is a table from a census report (it is a very bit pdf). Please explain very carefully why the morbidity (incidence) of measles in the USA dropped 90% between 1960 and 1970. Do not mention mortality, do not change decades and do not change countries (hint: England, Wales and Japan are not part of the USA). Provide actual citations to support your answer.
Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
1912 . . . 310.0
1920 . . . 480.5
1925 . . . 194.3
1930 . . . 340.8
1935 . . . 584.6
1940 . . . 220.7
1945 . . . 110.2
1950 . . . 210.1
1955 . . . 337.9
1960 . . . 245.4
1965 . . . 135.1
1970 . . . . 23.2
1975 . . . . 11.3
1980 . . . . . 5.9
1985 . . . . . 1.2
1990 . . . . .11.2
1991 . . . . . .3.8
1992 . . . . . .0.9
1993 . . . . . .0.1
1994 . . . . . .0.4
1995 . . . . . .0.1
1996 . . . . . .0.2
1997 . . . . . . 0.1
Oh, look, we have a winner.
The absence of Th1th2 has opened up a vacancy.
This actually is giving me a fairly strong Pegemily vibe.
Influenza isn’t really all that contagious, with an R_0 around 2. It also helpfully lays one low rather promptly, leaving a window of about a day for asymptomatic transmission. There is also likely some lingering immunity.
Who “suffer[s] the flu seasonally for years”? I have contracted the flu at roughly 20-year intervals.
Every 3-4 years for me.Usually I leech off my mom’s vaccine. This year, I actually got my own vaccine.
Apart from the tiny, almost insignificant details that germ theory is one of the most succesfull advances in medical science ever, and herd immunity is a validated product of some rather basic maths, you might be on to something, Rocketman.
Also, why is it anti-vaccine cranks focus on the flu? Take Rocketman here:
Well, flu kills a lot of people in the US every year, and in fact was the #8 leading cause of death in the US (taken together with pneumonia) in 2009 (and following some further links suggest it has been a “respectable” top 10 cause of death for decades).
What was that about flu not “running rampant” again?
Sorry for the mis-spelling folks, make that successful.
” the “recovered” son is just a prop in this epic melodrama about mama’s heroic endurance in the face of (well-deserved) professional scorn. ” Is just about perfect.
It seems Jonathan Tommey’s autism clinic has shut up shop.
Mr Tommey is about as much of an autism expert as his mrs. He has a degree in sports’ science and a foundation degree (whatever that is and surely a foundation degree should precede a full degree) in “Nutritional Therapy” though he has described it as “clinical nutrition”. He got this on a course designed by Patrick Holford who once had a whole website dedicated to him (Holford watch) but you’ll get the gist from Ben Goldacre http://www.badscience.net/category/patrick-holford/
Did the Tommey’s lose their country too or is the U.S. just the land of opportunity for charlatans?
I think we all know what the utility of a “nutrional therapy” degree is right? Get in the effing sack!
I get the impression that the true blue advocates of whimsy-based medicine ( including followers of AJW and degreed nutritional therapists) are very few in number but EXTREMELY vocal and busy at commenting against SBM.
They remind me of an animal that puffs itself up in order to appear larger than it really is to its potential rivals.
Austin Texas is going to be the woo capital of the United States. We have the Wakefield dynasty and now the Tommey Dynasty; the best soap opera since Dallas left the airwaves.
I know that the Tommey’s clinic came in for a lot of criticism. The consultations alone I think were around £300 and they were encouraging families to apply for grants from very reputable charities like Cauldwell children http://www.caudwellchildren.com/
I don’t know what the system is elsewhere but here in the UK anyone can set themselves up as a nutritionist but dietician is a protected term. So clinical nutritionists/nutritional therapists don’t have to hold any qualifications whatsoever, sadly, few people are aware of such distinctions.
Take it back, the clinic does still seem to be running but has relocated. Not sure why I was getting a “this domain may be for sale” message before? http://www.theautismclinic.com/consultation.php
Autismum: “Registered Dietician” is a protected name here in the USA, as well. They undergo 4 years of university education and take licensing boards. I presume they would have some rotations in hospitals and nursing homes, during their university education, being mentored by a senior R.D.
@ Denice Walter,
…(including followers of AJW and degreed nutritional therapists) are very few in number but EXTREMELY vocal and busy at commenting against SBM.
They may be vocal but they’re really silent faced to my question:
what would be the most likely cause of smaller minicolumn size and 23% more minicolumns in the brain’s neurons? (corrected to minicolumns hosts neurons, not the inverse. I had this confused in my previous comment. The end effect would be more neurons in the brain (avg 23% more).)
Alain…You know that anything you post at AoA regarding a scientific study, will be roundly rejected, don’t you. 🙂
No, they absolutely will not consider brain tissue donations, because they still cling to their theories of vaccine-induced-autism.
From Rocketman (who is clearly no rocket scientist – or indeed rocket anything)
But this has nothing at all to do with whether vaccines are dangerous as you claimed previously. Do I detect a large amount of goalpost shifting?
What I really wanted to know was how long your guess was? How many years would be needed before the ‘truth’ came out? Vaccination has been going on for 200 years, so far. Why hasn’t the impending doom caused by vaccination been noticed yet?
How do you know what disease I fear? My father’s best friend as a child died of diphtheria. It is a diseased to be feared caused by a bacterium.
The ‘flu? I don’t particularly fear the ‘flu. I am healthy, not institutionalized and don’t work with children or the elderly. I might catch the ‘flu, but it would only inconvenience me. Influenza is not all that infective, except among those living in close contact. I last caught the flu in 1980. That doesn’t mean it is not a serious disease. It certainly is among the elderly and ill. Hence the recommendations for who gets vaccinated.
It is rather more complicated than that.
Perhaps you are confusing influenza with the common cold?
Ah, I see you are confusing influenza with the common cold. Vaccination for influenza will not stop you catching the common cold. Does that explain things?
@Chris: Thanks for posting the table! What happened w/ 1990?
Rocketman, you do Pynchon fans a disservice. And what’s this nonsense about the germ theory of infection disease, a fundamental medical triumph, as a “limited theory”? Comic relief?
typo: should read “infectious disease”
What happened w/1990?
We had major measles outbreaks 1989-1990, when the CDC Prior to 1989 only one dose of measles was recommended That recommendation was changed in 1989 when the CDC recommended a 2-dose measles vaccine series.
“From 1989 through 1991, a dramatic increase in cases occurred. During these 3 years a total of 55,622 cases were reported (18,193 in 1989; 27,786 in 1990; 9,643 in 1991). In addition to the increased number of cases, a change occurred in their age distribution. Prior to the resurgence, school-aged children had accounted for the largest proportion of reported cases. During the resurgence, 45% of all reported cases were in children younger than 5 years of age. In 1990, 48% of patients were in this age group, the first time that the proportion of cases in children younger than 5 years of age exceeded the proportion of cases in 5–19-year-olds (35%).
Overall incidence rates were highest for Hispanics and blacks and lowest for non-Hispanic whites. Among children younger than 5 years of age, the incidence of measles among blacks and Hispanics was four to seven times higher than among non-Hispanic whites.
A total of 123 measles-associated deaths were reported (death-to-case ratio of 2.2 per 1,000 cases). Forty-nine percent of deaths were among children younger than 5 years of age. Ninety percent of fatal cases occurred among persons with no history of vaccination. Sixty-four deaths were reported in 1990, the largest annual number of deaths from measles since 1971…..”
You wrote “My guess is based on the fact that infectious disease mortality rates were falling appreciably since 1890 long before the advent of vaccination”
These sort of arguments are old news among those who know vaccines and vaccine history. (It also gets a bit tedious to see them circling around!)
If you need an easy “one-step” to see that vaccines work, it easiest to just look to where countries have stopped a vaccine. The result is invariably a return of the disease that the vaccine aims to prevent.
A simple example can be seen in Japan. The older pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine was a ‘cellular’ vaccine (or ‘whole cell’ vaccine). It had a side-effect rate that was higher than the present acellular pertussis vaccine. Despite the side effects the experience of the Japanese illustrated that the old cellular vaccine was still much better than no vaccine.
Japan stopped that vaccine. In the 3 years prior to stopping it, there were about 400 cases of pertussis and 10 deaths (over the 3 years). After stopping it, they had over 13,000 cases and over 100 deaths. It’s easy to see how much that vaccine was – and that’s a vaccine with a lower safety record than those we have today. Unsurprisingly the Japanese government re-instated the vaccine.
Rocketman is basing his *opinion* on the “sanitation theory” of transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Which childhood vaccines prevent diseases that are transmitted via the fecal-oral route?
Which childhood vaccines prevent diseases that are transmitted via the airborne/droplet route and/or exposure to oral secretions?
Which childhood vaccines prevent diseases that are transmitted via exposure to infected blood or through sexual contact?
Rocketman, you do Pynchon fans a disservice.
Fickt nicht mit dem Raketemensch!!
lilady, I understood Rocketman to be using the miasma theory of disease causation. Given that Rocketman claims that these diseases are not caused by organisms.
I hear you, but it seems to me it wouldn’t matter. The Japan case would still be an example illustrating that vaccines work, regardless of how of his opinions.
The reason I use this example from time to time is that it doesn’t require the other person to have any real background knowledge in how vaccines work. They ‘merely’ have to note the consequences observed when others stopped used them.
(I’d much rather people learnt the proper background, of course, but failing that let’s just have them understanding “that” they work by example.)
I detect an overwhelmingly strong vibe, though a little better disguised than Dr. Greg’s last sockpuppet. We’ve had nutrition, fasting and meditation curing cancer, a tirade against vaccines and HRT, the permanently cold and flu-infested neighbor’s kids and the telltale Aussie spelling. Nothing about PSA being no better than a coin toss, but it was only a matter of time.
Still, every time he feels compelled to return here a little bit of science penetrates his brain and lodges itself there permanently. Each time it takes him longer and longer in the company of his germ denialist, nutritionist, naturopathic peers to recover enough certainty that he is a “free thinker” for him to come back here with the same tired old nonsense. He’s hooked and can’t help himself, and it’s only a matter of time before he embraces science-based medicine completely. I hope he’s started looking for an honest way to make a living.
@ Sharon B.:
While I don’t want to discourage you from participating in the conversation, I’d like to say on the record that I’m not really interested in what the autism quacks are doing in their private lives, not unless it’s directly relevant to their attempts to distort science in the public sphere.
If, for example, someone popped up into the public eye and said “Gosh, I have independently replicated the work of Wakefield, thus proving this stranger I don’t know to be correct!” and they turned out to have a close connection with Wakefield contrary to their public claims to be unconnected, I would consider that directly relevant. But if two people whose public activities are already very obviously aligned with each other turn out to be visiting a bed together, with or without permission of their significant others, I’m not sure why it matters to me to know that.
It must be standard in Antivax 101 to teach students never, ever to mention sickness, hospitalizations and permanent complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. “Only refer to mortality, since we can construct graphs going back to 1800 to show that the death rate was declining long before vaccines. If we plot the numbers just right, we can mostly conceal the decline after vaccines were introduced!”
This sleazy ploy is exposed nicely here:
Yeah, once we stopped bleeding people and utilized antiseptic techniques, not so many died. But maybe it’s better to get vaccinated and not get deathly ill in the first place.
Herr Doktor Bimler — You beat me to it with the “Fickt nicht mit dem Raketenmensch” line!
I didn’t know that anyone else in the universe had actually finished that book.
Correcting for a typo, here’s Bacon’s link.
(By the way, does anyone else have a compulsion to treat HTML tags as if they were brackets for the purposes of deciding where to put punctuation?)
Correcting for a typo, here’s Bacon’s link.
(By the way, does anyone else have a compulsion to treat HTML tags as if they were brackets for the purposes of deciding where to put punctuation?)
Sorry for the double post, no idea how that happened.
Austin is also home to Mike Adams and Natural News.
Lovely place, huh? Glad it is very far from where I am.
They don’t answer reasonable questions like that-
they instead shout their own perseverating, multi-purpose responses to any question-” Vaccines ( toxins) DID IT!”
I think I’ve listed a set of findings, more than once, that illustrate that ASDs appear to precede the age at which children receive the MMR-
differences in gaze patterns
differences in brain waves
differences in physiognomy: ( head size, inter-facial proportions, ear locus et al)
structural brain differences ( in post mortem finding)
brain differences via MRI
I’m glad that you are doing the HARD WORK of real research that will eventually expand this information further.
One of you is worth more than a crowd of poseurs spouting nonsense.
@lilady: Thanks. I enjoy your comments and have learned a lot from them, including what the strange crew spews & how to counter.
hdp, p: A screaming comes across the sky…(lots of stuff)…Now everybody-
THS, that measles epidemic was the reason the following organization was started, and for more effort to get children vaccinated:
The entire CDC Pink Book for every vaccine is available on the internet. It provides an overview of the virus and bacterium that cause each disease, transmission routes, prevalence/incidence before and after vaccines were developed and licensed…and major outbreaks, etc.
Now…start studying. Chris and I will be springing surprise mini-quizzes on you, periodically. 🙂
Thanks Denice and Lilady; for the moment, Jen will likely take some time to digest the information I posted but I’ll wait.
Should prove interresting.
This is now getting reprehensible. How quickly we forget autism. I wonder if they will ever get it.
@ John Davis:
Your link to this *Christian* Victory University, Nashville Tennessee is here:
“Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Sciences
The purpose of the major in Allied Health Biology is to prepare students for careers in allied health or nursing. An essential goal of this program is to help students integrate the study and practice of science with their Christian faith, in the worship of God and service of man. The Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Sciences is a 121 credit hour degree program available on-campus only.”
Victory University does not confer a B.Sc.-Nursing degree and is not on this list of schools that confer an A.S.-Nursing or B.Sc.-Nursing degree.
(I doubt that few…or any… of the science courses that are taught based on a *Christian* faith would be transferable to A.S.-Nursing or B.Sc.-Nursing degree programs).
Why do I suspect that Anderson was called with a tip, and was too excited to sit down and do some basic research before rushing out to the press conference? (And too rushed when he got back as well I suppose)
Today’s update at AoA regarding the “non-debate”.
Here Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larson, the Canary Party operative in Minnesota, now rebuts Brian Deer’s rebuttal of her own scurrilous “open letter” to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.
This is getting beyond ridiculous…
@flip: see my very first comment on this thread.
Seen. I have briefly commented on small-market media in this regard previously, and I will reprise myself by stating that “I’m guessing he didn’t conduct even the most rudimentary research into Deer and Wakefield, he just posted what the anti-vaxxers told him” seems to be very wide of the mark.
I’m going to disagree with you Narad. Let’s go through the sequence of the articles.
-September 24, 2012 Ed Arranga at AoA first blogged about Deer’s seminars scheduled for October 4th and 5th at Lacrosse.
-September 30, 2012 Patrick Anderson reporter for the LaCrosse Tribune writes an article “Vaccine-autism debate comes to LaCrosse”
October 2, 2012 Dr. James Conway, Pediatric ID specialist writes an article about vaccine safety and Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent study…
October 5, 2012 Patrick Anderson reporter for the LaCrosse Tribune writes an article “Finding vaccine truth-crowds hear two takes on dismissed study”
I’ve had experience with local, regional and national media reporters…I was one of the “go-to people” for them whenever they did articles, or series, on the care of the developmentally disabled in institutions, in group homes, in various school and day treatment programs and for school bus transportation safety. A few times I wrote articles for local and regional newspapers. I know how these reporters work; they will pick you brain and use you for the history of a particular topic…but they also source their own information from newspaper archives.
Now Orac blogs about the “Letter-to-the Editor” written by Michael Winfrey who was the chairman of the committee at the University which issued the invitation to Brian Deer. Read the “Letter-to-the Editor” written by Michael Winfrey which was published in the LaCrosse Tribune…he obviously is distressed by the way the Tribune’s reporter framed the articles and, IMO, Professor Winfrey *knows* that this reporter did not do his own research…and *relied* on AoA and certain of their local operatives/parents for the content of the articles.