One of the stories dominating my blogging in 2015 was a manufactroversy that started in August 2014 when, after several months of rumbling in the antivaccine crankosphere that there was a CDC scientist ready to blow the whistle on an alleged coverup of evidence that vaccines cause autism, Andrew Wakefield, ever the publicity hog, released a video entitled CDC Whistleblower Revealed, in which he claimed that he had evidence of a “high level deception” of the American people about vaccine safety and revealed the “CDC Whistleblower” to be one William W. Thompson, PhD, a psychologist by training who worked for the CDC studying vaccine safety in epidemiological studies and who had had many telephone conversations with a biochemical engineer turned incompetent epidemiologist named Brian Hooker. Unbeknownst to Thompson, Hooker had been recording their conversations, and carefully cherry picked excerpts were included in the video, interspersed with Andrew Wakefield making hyperbolically offensive claims that this “coverup” was as bad as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, with the CDC being worse than Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. (I kid you not.) We now know that Thompson had been assisting Hooker in a “reanalysis” of a pivotal study of vaccine safety by DeStefano et al for which he had been co-author looking at whether the MMR vaccine was associated with autism in children in the Atlanta area. (Spoilers: It wasn’t.) The reanalysis claimed to have found an increased risk of autism for a small subset: African American males who had been vaccinated before age 3. Of course, the study, even with Hooker’s incompetent reanalysis, had failed to find a correlation in any other subgroup, leading me to refer to it as having proven Andrew Wakefield wrong.
Thus was born the saga of the “CDC whistleblower,” a.k.a. William Thompson, which has dominated Twitter through the #CDCwhistleblower hashtag for over a year now. There’s been a major new development in this story that I just couldn’t wait to tell you about: Matt Carey now has the CDC whistleblower documents, and, as a result, so do I and so can you. Let me explain.
But first, let me note that Hooker’s study was unbelievably incompetently done, with failure to control for some obvious key confounders, which is not surprising given Hooker’s misplaced love of “simplicity” in statistical analysis; that, and the fact that he did a cohort study using data collected to do a case control study. Epic incompetence indeed, so much so that his study was ultimately retracted by the journal—and rightly so. Unfortunately, it had been the supposed “coverup” of the preliminary “positive” result in a small subset of the study population that didn’t hold up when confounders were controlled for that had infuriated Thompson, who had felt dismissed and used. He’s been silent since, but the events he set into motion fueled more paranoid conspiracy theories in the antivaccine movement, which led to its teaming up with the Nation of Islam, pulling Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. out from whatever rock he had been hiding under and dusting him off, and holding a protest at the CDC in October. Meanwhile Kevin Barry published a book of transcripts of four of Thompson’s conversations with Hooker, which revealed a rather angry, troubled man out to strike out at his former CDC colleagues even though he still works at the CDC in another branch.
Right now, here’s where the manufactroversy stands. Thompson provided Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) with a bunch of documents that he claimed to have saved from being disposed of that “prove” that there was a coverup of unwanted results. One of his key claims was that the CDC changed the analysis plan after the study had started because the CDC didn’t like the race results that implied a correlation between MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys, which is a definite no-no. He also accused them of destroying original documents. Posey called for an investigation in a little seen speech a couple of days before Congress left for its summer recess, resulting in a resounding yawn and no action. Ultimately, an opportunistic Alex Jones wannabe anchor of the Atlanta CBS affiliate, Ben Swann, acquired the documents from Posey in late November and promised to do a report on them. There has been no story yet, and now, thanks to Matt, I know why. There’s nothing in those documents that support allegations of a coverup.
How did Matt acquire the documents? Let him explain:
Congressman Posey released the documents to a journalist recently and, given that they are now in the public domain, Dorit Reiss and I requested that they be made available to us as well. Mr. Posey’s office graciously granted our request and I have spent some time going through them.
Matt has also made the documents available to several other bloggers, including me, and I thank him for that. I, too, have gone over the documents, albeit not every single one of them and not in as much detail as Matt. He has also made them available at a DropBox link for anyone out there who is curious and wants to read them. I warn you, though. It’s very tedious reading, particularly various meeting agendas and the like, as well as SAS spreadsheets. In all, there are over 150 MB worth of scanned PDFs. However, there are most definitely not 100,000 documents there, as some antivaccine cranks have claimed. Matt says there are about 1,000 pages, and that seems about right to me, not having counted them all myself.
There are a few key points that arise from this document dump. First, there are multiple drafts of the analysis plan; that is, the protocol for collecting and analyzing the data that Hooker and Wakefield claim was changed after the first analysis of race data. They confirm what we already know, namely that the final analysis plan was dated September 5, 2001 and the first race analysis didn’t occur until October or November. But there’s more than that. Matt found what appears to be the first draft of the analysis plan, complete with markup and notes in the margins:
Note that this draft analysis plan is from April 3, 2001. Well before the final version, the “protocol”, which was September 5. More importantly, this is a long time before a race analysis was started. But even more, notice how there’s an annotation “I would include race as a covariate, not as an exposure variable.” That’s critical–they decided against using race as an exposure variable from the start. Before they did a race analysis. Another point: they were already planning on using birth certificate data right from the start.
A word of explanation here. In his original video, Wakefield zeroed in on a single sentence that says “The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race.” Based on that, and allegedly confirmed by Thompson during conversations with Hooker, Wakefield and Hooker claimed that “decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected,” further claiming, “Thompson’s conversations with Hooker confirmed that it was only after the CDC study coauthors observed results indicating a statistical association between MMR timing and autism among African-Americans boys, that they introduced the Georgia birth certificate criterion as a requirement for participation in the study. This had the effect of reducing the sample size by 41% and eliminating the statistical significance of the finding, which Hooker calls a direct deviation from the agreed upon final study protocol – a serious violation.’” Of course, the reason they did the birth certificate analysis is because it allowed them to “obtain additional information, such as each child’s birth weight and gestational age and the mother’s parity, age, race, and education.” More importantly, as Matt discovered, the very first draft of the analysis plan indicated that the investigators were already planning on using birth certificate data. There was no change in protocol to “cover up” results the investigators found “inconvenient,” namely the initial finding of a seeming correlation between a specific age range of MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys.
There’s no way Thompson didn’t know this, at least at the time he was working on this study with his collaborators. Perhaps he forgot. (I’m being charitable.) Of course, I’m not so charitable about Wakefield and Hooker, who also had all these documents. Surely they were poring over them with a fine-toothed comb for any dirt they could find, and in doing so they had to have read the early versions of the analysis plan. I also noticed, as did Matt, that Thompson annotated a number of the documents, in particular a file containing all the agendas for meetings on the study. It’s impossible to know when he did this, whether it was contemporaneously or long after the fact, but it looks as though it was probably after, given how prominently some dates are circled. As Matt notes, it also looks as though Thompson was trying to make the data fit his story, rather than the other way around. His purple marker is all over the place the annotations in purple appear everywhere.
There are other things in these documents as well. For instance, there is this statement by William Thompson with a timeline of his version of events dated September 9, 2014. The funny thing is, even his own timeline doesn’t really support the allegation being made by Hooker and Wakefield that the protocol was altered post hoc in order to “hide” the effect. Rather, he claims:
The final analysis plan described analyses for the TOTAL sample and the BIRTH CERTIFICATE sample which included assessment of the RACE variable. (See pages 7 and 8 of the Final Analysis Plan). There were two primary endpoints for the study. One was using a threshold of 36 months (see Table 3a of Final Analysis Plan), and the second was a threshold of 18 months. (See Table 3b of Final Analysis Plan). We hypothesized that if we found statistically significant effects at either the 18-month or 36-month threshold, we would conclude that vaccinating children early with the MMR vaccine could lead to autism-like characteristics or features. We never claimed or intended that if we found statistically significant effects in the TOTAL SAMPLE, we would ignore the results if they could not be confirmed in the BIRTH CERTIFICATE SAMPLE.
I note that the protocol didn’t mandate reporting effects whose statistical significance went away when tested in the birth certificate cohort, either. Whether or not to report spurious results that disappeared when a more confounders were accounted for would have been a matter of judgment more than anything else. We can argue whether it was good judgment to leave the preliminary result out as insignificant (more on that later), but it wasn’t a violation of the protocol as far as I can tell. Also, as yet I haven’t seen anything objective or contemporaneous that even hints at hiding data, destroying data, or otherwise manipulating data. Instead, there are plenty of comments about including things to avoid any appearance of willful omission. If this is a coverup, it’s the worst coverup ever. None of that stopped William Thompson.
We also learn from these documents that Thompson was causing trouble resulting in his being in trouble. Matt was too circumspect to mention that, but I think it’s important to mention in order (1) to show that Thompson has an axe to grind now and (2) because you know that when it comes out the cry from the antivaccine crankosphere will be that Thompson was being “persecuted.” Thompson’s description in his own words is in the timeline:
On March 9th, I was put on administrative leave. In the Annex to the memorandum, they provided a list of my “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior in the work place” which included “you criticized the NIP/OD for doing very poor job of representing vaccine safety issues, claimed that NIP/OD had failed to be proactive in their handling of vaccine safety issues, and you requested that Dr. Gerberding reply to your letter from a congressional representative before you made your presentation to the IOM.” (See scanned Memorandum dated January 9, 2004.). I stand by that statement and I do not think it was unacceptable to convey that to Dr. Gerberding.
Elsewhere, there is a handwritten note from 2/4/2004:
And another annotation (click to embiggen) from 2/12/2004:
Why would Bob Chen have wanted to fire Thompson? It’s not entirely clear from the documents, but Thompson was clearly making trouble—and not just about the Atlanta MMR-autism study. It’s also not clear why it was Frank DeStefano who ended up warning Thompson his job was in danger. What were the reasons Thompson’s job was in jeopardy? This letter telling Thompson he was being put on administrative leave lists several instances of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior and makes it sound as though this action was being taken out of concern that Thompson was under extreme stress, which was certainly possible, given what we know from Hooker and Wakefield’s complaint to the CDC and Thompson’s own words in the transcripts of his phone conversations with Hooker. The letter notes the issue described above by Thompson as well as:
- Refusing to assist Dr. Gina Mootrey when she asked Thompson to clarify some points in a slide presentation regarding influenza so that Dr. Walter Orenstein could modify some of the slides for a different presentation.
- Approaching Dr. Orenstein in the parking lot and demonstrating “inappropriate anger towards Dr. Orenstein, his request, and your perception that Dr. Orenstein was responsible for permitting a hostile environment within your organizational unit.
- Sending emails to Dr. Orenstein requesting an apology
- Writing emails to senior staff complaining about Dr. Orenstein, accusing him of harassment.
The final paragraph:
The general tone and content of your e-mails were inappropriate and gave the appearance that senior management had not fulfilled their public health obligations as they pertain to vaccine safety. Your actions had the effect of eroding the employment relationship between supervisor and subordinate, and appear to make a mockery of management’s authority to direct the activities of this office. Furthermore, your interaction with Dr. Orenstein created concern about your level of anger being out of proportion to the facts.
One notes that none of these incidents, with the possible exception of Thompson’s e-mails complaining about the leadership’s handling of vaccine safety issues, appears to have had anything to do with the DeStefano et al study. Interestingly, the memo specifically said that it would not be placed in Thompson’s Official Personnel Folder, which means Thompson himself must have included it in the document dump to Rep. Posey’s office. This implies that Thompson likely wanted it to be seen by Posey, perhaps as “evidence” of “persecution” or retaliation for his complaints about the study that became DeStefano et al. Moreover, given that we know from elsewhere in the documents and from transcripts of his discussions with Brian Hooker that Thompson really, really wanted a congressional hearing on what he viewed as a coverup, he must have been OK with these documents becoming public. After all, that’s what would have happened if he had gotten what he wanted. In any event, it’s clear that Thompson appears to have had (and probably still has) what are referred to as anger issues. This is consistent with previous evidence that we have suggesting that Thompson doesn’t play well with others.
So what emerges from all these documents? One thing that doesn’t emerge is any evidence of a coverup. There’s no contemporaneous documentation to suggest an effort to “hide” findings viewed as “inconvenient,” although Thompson’s retroactive markups of the meeting agendas sure tries to make it seem as though there were. In the end, after this document dump, we’re left with no evidence of scientific malfeasance or attempts to whitewash data. Even in the part where Thompson states that the co-investigators got together to throw unneeded documents in the wastebasket, one has to wonder: What was thrown away? If this document dump is any indication, they probably got rid of old meeting agendas and old drafts of the protocol. No wonder Matt quipped, “I hope people at CDC are not keeping all this paper.” Even Thompson notes that all the original computer files still reside on CDC servers.
All of this brings us back to a point that Matt makes regarding whether it was a good idea to leave out the spurious statistically significant result:
Ah, one will say, what about the finding of an association between the MMR and autism for African American boys vaccinated late (between 18 months and 36 months)? Why wasn’t that included in the published paper or public presentations? The reasons given by Thompson/Hooker/Wakefield don’t hold water as I’ve shown. So, what was the scientific reason for not including this result in the paper? Many online writers have discussed how weak this result is; how it is a spurious result. But I’d like to know the reasoning at the time behind the CDC decision to leave this out. As a community member–an autism parent–I’d like to see all the results and understand the reasons why certain results are spurious. Of course it is easy to say now, but leaving this out of the public’s eye was a mistake. It gave Thompson, Hooker and Wakefield the chance to cherry pick, hide information and craft a story that has been very damaging to the autism communities and to public health.
Matt has a point. On the other hand, as a scientist myself, I realize that decisions are made all the time over what data to include and exclude from a manuscript. We frequently leave out raw data that seemed statistically significant at first but didn’t hold up to correcting for confounders. But, then, I don’t do research in an area where antiscience loons are waiting to pounce on any inconsistency in order to sow fear and doubt, something we know antivaccinationists were doing even in 2004 when the manuscript that became DeStefano et al was being written and submitted for publication. Still, it must be noted that word limits and limits on the number of figures and tables were generally tighter in 2004; it’s not like today, when journals seemingly encourage authors to dump every last bit of data that isn’t in the paper itself into supplementary online files, a practice that I’ve found to be a mixed blessing. It was necessary back then to be a lot more selective about what went into a paper because you couldn’t just dump everything else into supplemental figures.
Even so, although it’s easy to ask why the CDC didn’t see the potential for mischief at the time, it’s important to note that we’re viewing history through the retrospectoscope, which, as everyone knows, is 100% accurate. At the time, how could anyone ever have predicted that Thompson’s disillusionment and anger at his colleagues would lead him to pal around with Brian Hooker and funnel enough information to Hooker and Wakefield to make so much mischief? Maybe if the leadership had seen the handwritten note included in this document dump) that Thompson made to himself to get Andrew Wakefield’s contact information, there might of some indication. (Yes, it’s true, Thompson appears to have been in contact with Wakefield—or at least tried to contact him—12 years ago; see pp 66-68 in document A000561. Outside of that it’s hard to think of something that would have allowed the CDC leadership to have predicted this. That’s not to say that the CDC leadership is without blame; based on the contents of these documents, it’s hard not to conclude that it could have done a better job of dealing with a troubled employee.
One thing’s for sure. As unrevealing as Thompson’s document dump is, you can be sure that the antivaccine movement will, reality be damned, continue to spin it as proof of a coverup. Same as it ever was.
156 replies on “The CDC whistleblower documents: A whole lot of nothing and no conspiracy to hide an MMR-autism link”
Here’s something I don’t get.
Let’s assume the anti-vaccination loons are correct, and that there is a cover-up. It is *actually true* that if you’re black, and you get vaccinated late, you have a higher chance of developing autism.
Wouldn’t that still disprove their main thesis? Wouldn’t that mean that everybody else should still be vaccinated – and that black children should be especially careful to get vaccinated on time?
Wouldn’t that also disprove the basic “too many, too early” assertion that we keep hearing?
(I know this complaint is very similar to the “even if you’re right, autism is better than dead” counterargument.)
I was just talking myself out of checking out the Twatter API to see what it would take to grab the data. I was assisted at the last by learning that “#showupday” (FB, sorry) is trying to be a “thing.”
Not to my ears, and I’m autistic.
Someone took a half-baked story, didn’t provide any due diligence from medical or epidemiological professionals, and reported it as a news documentary using the CBS logo. That generated or aided in an unfounded public health fear to the community about infectious disease control.
I think I remember that NBC just had someone that went around making up little soundbites from his anchor desk, didn’t really bode well for him.
Only yesterday was I unfortunate enough to end up engaging in conversation with a crank, Greg Nixon his name was, when I explained to him that what he was spewing was wrong and pseudoscientific I was simply called a ‘narrow-minded asshole’, ‘jerk’ and told that I was ‘too young to understand’. It seems that many cranks do that, patronise and insult others when their arguments are shown to wrong.
Given that the charlatan Wakefield has claimed that any number of thousands of black children have been injured by all this, the killer line in the Thompson documents says:
“The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males does not mean that there was a true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.”
In other words, Thompson knows such subgroup analyses need to be treated with extreme caution.
This is in file “Documents for Mem and Comm” -> Statement of Dr William Thompson [etc] pdf file near bottom.
I mean conceptually. They’re both “even if you’re right”-style arguments, which anti-vaccination activists seem to have trouble with.
(As opposed to all other types of arguments…)
I’m 100% pro-speech, but how are Wakefield’s completely fraudulent claims over the years anything different than yelling “Fire!” in a theater? This morning on our local Facebook page, a parent wrote that they won’t vaccinate their African-American infant because of the “CDC thing.” Wakefield’s lies will cause harm to come to innocent people.
Julian [email protected]:
“You know the thing about an autistic, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’.” — Jenny McCarthy
“But, then, I don’t do research in an area where antiscience loons are waiting to pounce on any inconsistency in order to sow fear and doubt”… Uh….??
I believe it is fair to point out, and should be pointed out, that the 100,000 pages claim originated with a comment made by Ben Swann. It’s something that he has not, to my knowledge, bothered correcting.
I also note that Thompson’s handwritten memos note being in touch with Hooker and Wakefield way back when the study was being worked on. It’s possible that he wasn’t cozying up to them back then, but he at least knew about and interacted with them.
The game of whack-a-mole continues. What new rodent will the anti-vaccine crowd present in 2016?
If the study is large enough than it is a little surprising they did not discuss sub-groups a bit but if there was no difference when confounders were included in African American boys than bringing up before and after confounders were included would have just given them more ammo.
That scenario is really a damned if you do or don’t. As really, they were already willing to crow about something being true despite very small numbers and so on.
It might be worth mentioning that Foxit PDF Reader has a facility for searching every PDF in a folder. This makes it very useful for searching for key phrases in these documents.
Has #9: did she really say that? My flabber is truly gasted: no, but absolutely no, autistic bairn I ever met in many years could be described that way…
I’ve never claimed to be an expert in medical statistics, but even I can spot more than one potential confounding factor in that list. There is no plausible way that Thompson, who is supposedly such an expert, could not have known this.
Then again, the excerpts of the notes shown here suggest that Thompson’s emotions were interfering with his ability to perceive cause and effect. On 4 February he says that DiStefano called him in the evening to say that Bob Chen wanted to fire him. Eight days later, Thompson is fighting an urge to shoot the messenger: he’s angry at DiStefano for telling him that Chen wants to fire him. We also know that the note dated 4 February wasn’t written in real time, because there is a reference to a subsequent conversation about it: DiStefano had to be the messenger because the person he asked to be the messenger didn’t want to do it. I don’t want to play armchair psychoanalyst, but it’s clear that by this time something was already wrong with Thompson.
After reading (and re-reading) the documents, it really does come across the Thompson was bitter, angry, and looking for a way to lash out at his perceived “enemies” within the CDC….
It also appears that not only have Wakefield and Hooker taken many supposed “items” out of context, but that several of their assertions were made up out of whole cloth.
It was easy for them to make up whatever they wanted about the contents of these documents, while they were still private, but now that they have been made publicly available, they certainly now have some very serious questions to answer about statements that they have made – both indirectly and directly relating to the information provided.
Of course, they will never be held accountable…..
It was a mistake from a public relations point of view to leave that out, though they included elevated ORs for Blacks in the tables in the paper (with corresponding wide 95% CIs). But, from a publishing and research point of view, you have to save space. Include that number, and you’re left giving a dissertation in your paper about statistical significance versus relevance and how small subpopulations are just not good enough to hang your hat on.
For 2016, I predict that Young Master Crosby will reveal unto the world his PhD thesis project, and that it will involve dumpster-diving into VSS or VAERS or some such in order to prove his worth and win anti-vax people over to his side and away from his previous masters, Hooker and Wakefield.
It sounds as if Thompson was suffering from some psychological disorder at the time this study was going on.
Guess if he’ll use the same advisers (*cough*, geiers, *cough) as for his master degree for his dumpster diving…
ASD Dad says (#8),
I’m 100% pro-speech…
Wakefield’s lies will cause harm to come to innocent people.
This ASD dad is open minded, and appreciative, of Wakefield’s aggressive effort to disclose any possible vaccine/autism connection.
In retort, Orac et al., continue to provided rebuttals and refutations that effectively dispute some vaccine/autism connections.
When antigens from a known component in some vaccine packagings leach into a vaccine solution and cause an undesirable immune response is that call manufactroversy or unfortunate?
Reading over some of this material, I can’t help but remember that in his conversation with Hooker, Thompson said that he was “delusional” – I still wonder what that was all about.
Was he looking for an excuse to explain away how he behaved with his colleagues ? There seem to be several incidents with the possibility of reprimand and loss of his position. I didn’t realise that he was moved to another part of the agency.
Talking to outsiders with various axes to grind doesn’t seem to be a wise action to ensure job security and interpersonal peace making to me.
( -btw- I have been hearing the 100 000 meme for quite a while but then you know what kind of rubbish I follow).
It’s to be hoped that this case will serve to help increase knowledge about the psychological implications of “whistleblowing” and maybe even lead to public awareness that not all “whistleblowers” act from a position of moral superiority.
Based on my own experience seeing these folks in action (externally as well as on the job), there are motivations that go far beyond what is depicted by Hollywood. At the same time, I am really really tired of the classic defense presented by companies whose actions have been questioned (i.e. the complaints come from “disgruntled” employees, something that’s just occurred in the case of Theranos, the lab test firm under fire for allegedly overselling its micro-blood sampling techniques).
The following summary has interesting insights on the psychology of “whistleblowers”, including the description of fundamental attribution error (which seems to have relevance to Thompson’s accusations against his CDC colleagues).
One thousand pages of sound and fury. Who could ever have seen that coming? I’m surprised only that Rep. Posey’s office released the documents; good for them.
MJD @ 22, is it possible that you don’t know about Wakefield’s self-advancing fraudulence after so long hanging around RI, or are you just being stupidly contrary per your norm? And I’d be careful; you’re drifting back to your old, host-forbidden subject of fixation.
Forgot the link to Brian Deer’s investigation:
@ Michael J Dochniak:
Wakefield is making an “aggressive effort” to save his own @rse and make money off of his ‘fame’ ( rather, infamy) any way he can
I would call it an ‘allergic reaction’, unless the claim was that the vaccine caused the allergy in the first place. Then I’d call it a ‘hypothisis’ at best, but given the evidence I’m aware of, the word ‘fantasy’ comes to mind.
Are you open minded enough to accept they there is no link between vaccines and autism? What evidence would convince you of the ‘non-link’ and that Wakefield was, in fact, wrong?
It’s my understanding that in psychology it’s considered unethical to omit any statistically significant finding from your paper, even if you show that it’s because of a confounder and clearly spurious. The idea is that the reader is someone who is familiar enough with statistics to be able to identify likely spurious results, and that way if a subsequent study shows that it turns out to not be spurious, confirming evidence is already in the literature.
Perhaps the differences in practices between the discipline he was trained in and the one he was doing research in was one source of Thompson’s issues with his peers.
How I understand it, Thompson was later trained as an epi.
For some time, I’ve thought Thompson’s pique was due to what Matt Carey, Orac and Ren have noted: “leaving this out of the public’s eye was a mistake.” That is, he knew what a political hot-button this issue is, and argued that the info of African American kids be included (and, no doubt it’s lack of significance explained), regardless of standard scientific publishing procedure or strictly scientific relevance. He knew folks like Matt would think: “As a community member–an autism parent–I’d like to see all the results and understand the reasons why certain results are spurious.”
The problem then, I suspect, was that Thompson was a stressed-out eccentric, who had long been at loggerheads with colleagues who think he’s a pest. He, in turn, probably took them as arrogant and condescending. So here, he came up with a complaint that actually made sense – and no one listened to him. He began to obsess on this one little thing – whether the data on Black boys was in the paper – as a kind of synecdoche of every conflict in his work and life, making it The Most Important Thing in his increasingly paranoidal mind.
This may seem far-fetched — that someone could get so upset about procedure and disclosure of results that don’t affect the end conclusions — but I’ve seen this kind of thing happen in institutional politics. In fact, to a much lesser degree than Thompson, I’ve even been ‘that guy’. It can really burn to just be dismissed for lack of ‘go along to get along’.
The revelation for me, then, in the OP is that Thompson’s superiors wanted to fire him for being a pill in general, the disciplinary letter being mainly about a kerfuffle he had with Gina Mootrey and Walter Orenstein over a presentation on influenza. Thompson seemed to have been aware that he was stressed out — perhaps suffering from depression and anxiety attacks — and when his bosses put him on administrative leave because of his ‘anger’, that was a step toward pushing him out at a time he probably needed some sympathy and help for mental health issues. It doesn’t endear you to the adminstrators when they try to can you because you’re struggling with a treatable illness.
The passage that rings out from that letter:
They’re not ripping him for being wrong. They’re ripping him for questioning authority. It no doubt translated to Thompson as ‘Obey the Iron Fist, or else!’. Either Bob Chen is clueless about how to handle a distressed employee, or he was fanning the flames, trying to goad Thompson into more trouble — which is also clueless, come to think about it, given that Thompson did just that, and in spades.
Carey and Orac’s readings of the document dump reveal what I expected: no support for a vaccine-autism link, and an exaggerated implication of a cover-up ONLY of ‘stuff that should have been disclosed’ NOT ‘stuff that proves anything.’ Thompson knows there’s no real anti-vax ammo here, as he knows vaccines don’t cause autism. This isn’t about vaccines, it’s about revenge. Thompson wants to see Bob Chen and Frank DeStefano heads on the end of long sticks. To the extent he seems to have flipped sides, he’s perversely demonstrating that the bosses should have listened to him in the first place: “See, I told you there’d be trouble if we left out that data, and didn’t explain why we think it doesn’t matter!”
Thus, I’m even more sure now that Thompson will never testify before Congress, or anywhere else. There’s no political traction for anyone in what he’d say when questioned: ‘No, there’s no link between vaccines and autism, but we should have included the data anyway, as it was our ethical responsibility to do full disclosure on such a contentious issue.”
The letter putting Thompson on administrative leave, while mentioning behaviors that were out of line, also noted the Employee Assistance Program and other resources available for help dealing with stress, etc. The impression I get is that Thompson’s superiors felt that while his actions were inappropriate, they were likely the result of excess stress, hence it being an administrative leave and not punitive. They do note, though, that if there’s a repeat of these behaviors, more serious actions might be warranted, suggesting that they also know he has a bit of a temper.
We also know that Thompson had expressed concern about presenting data at an IOM meeting that would include a “hostile crowd of parents” (letter to Dr. Gerberding on 2/9/04).
@Todd W.: You have a point. I probably should have mentioned that bit about the mention of the Employee Assistance Program, etc. The impression I got is that Thompson’s superiors thought he was close to a breakdown in the high pressure environment of the vaccine division and needed a break to try to get his head together. He also appears to have had anger issues exacerbated by that stress.
I can’t argue much that it wasn’t a mistake from a PR standpoint to leave that bit of data out. Also one needs to remember that in 2004 it had not yet become standard practice to offer nearly endless space in supplemental documents posted online as a place to deposit such data whose inclusion in the manuscript would be a distraction from the overall results but that could really use an explanation.
I suppose that’s certainly possible, but see Todd’s comments regarding his letter putting him on administrative leave. It certainly appeared that the administration didn’t want to fire him and was giving him an opportunity to get his head (and act) together with a paid leave. I don’t know federal government employment; it’s possible that they had to put him on paid leave first to give him a chance before they could initiate an action to fire him.
Murmur #16: “did she really say that? My flabber is truly gasted: no, but absolutely no, autistic bairn I ever met in many years could be described that way…”
It’s a paraphrased quote from the character Quint in Jaws.
Yes, I recognized it. It’s the part where Quint is telling how he survived being in the open water after his ship (the USS Indianapolis) had been torpedoed in the Pacific during World War II and how the sharks had kept coming to kill so many of his fellow survivors:
[email protected]: Ahh, you’re no bloody fun.
(For the hard of humor among us, McCarthy’s exact words were “soon thereafter—boom—the soul’s gone from his eyes.” But I think my slight paraphrase much better captures the true intent. See also “soulless husks”, “empty shells”, “dead lifeless eyes”, and other delightful terms of endearment popularized by AoA types.)
@Jeff&Orac: Ah, you just squeaked in before me.
One more thing worth mentioning: although Quint’s (apparently not-so-famous-after-all) words may have been a fiction, the story behind them was absolutely, horrifyingly real. (Not something than can be said of the young Ms Wakefield’s heart-fluttery Hooker-slash-Thompson porn, of course.)
Great write up!
From what I understand, Dorit Reiss and Matt Carey obtained these documents through an FOIA request, correct? I ask because I’m sure anti-vaxers are going to argue that these are not all the documents and that there is more to this, yada yada. But wouldn’t there be some sort of penalty for not handing over all the documents if it was a FOIA request?
I don’t think it was an FOIA request, just a request to Posey’s office after learning that Posey had given the documents to Ben Swann. Matt can clarify.
A clear sign of a cover-up if ever I saw one…
Would Thompson have qualified for civil service protections, or was he a contractor working at CDC? I know the latter arrangement is common at NASA (i.e., several scientists whose offices are at Goddard Space Flight Center are nominally employed by some DC-area university or Beltway bandit corporation), but I don’t know about other government branches. It’s much easier to fire/lay off a contractor than a civil servant–indeed, short of serious misconduct it is nearly impossible to fire a civil servant after the probationary period.
“…there are most definitely not 100,000 documents there, as some antivaccine cranks have claimed. Matt says there are about 1,000 pages…”
A claim that is only 100x in excess of the available evidence is quite modest for an anti-vaxxer.
rs: perhaps the 1000 documents were homeopathically diluted?
I’m struck that WT wrote Wharton at ESD in 2002 to protest her reprimand of Chen. Two years later, Chen reprimands WT. That could not have given him warm, fuzzy feelings about the institution.
Apologies if this went to moderation – my screen froze
But that’s only 1C. There’s still a detectable trace of data remaining, That isn’t like them.
Johnny says (#28),
Are you open minded enough to accept they there is no link between vaccines and autism?
Thx for asking Johnny! 🙂
I’m open minded enough to accept that a link between vaccines and an autism spectrum disorder has yet to be verified by medical science.
In a search for an answer, a proposed mechanism wherein the expression of neurotrophin, and forced immunity, affects atypical neurological development in some immune-sensitive children remains.
My apology for sneaking towards a host (i.e., Orac) forbidden subject. I’ll be more careful henceforth. Thx
“I’m open minded enough to accept that a link between vaccines and an autism spectrum disorder has yet to be verified by medical science. ” – MJD #48
So there is no number of studies that could ever be done that could ever convince you there is no link. Because that sounds like there must, in your opinion, be a link but they just haven’t seen it yet?
Could any study demonstrate to you there is any other cause? Or if it shows some other cause it must be a mistake?
Wait a minute!
I am correct in saying that the *younger* Ms Wakefield ( I.e. Imogen, not Dr/ Ms Carmel) wrote about this fol de rol?
I KNOW that the elder sent or received e-mails or something.
Fill me in: it sounds hilarious already.
Forgot to mention. Looks like I was mistaken about the text message lovefest between Wakefield and Thompson, lo those many months ago. I was clearly giving Thompson too much of the benefit of the doubt then. I base this on a text exchange between Wakefield and Thompson included in the documents:
Holy hell. I really did give Thompson way too much benefit of the doubt, to the point where I couldn’t accept that he was cozying up to Andrew Wakefield in addition to Brian Hooker.
I’m guessing that at least part of the reason DeStefano didn’t go ahead and report the clearly-spurious race correlation for the sake of completeness/ transparency was because they didn’t want to distract from the main focus of the paper, which was the effect of age of first MMR vaccination on different subgroups of autistics. It seems clear that the paper was intended to address the goalpost-shifting antivax claim that large epidemiological studies failed to find a link between autism and vaccination because it only affected a small subset of autistic children, especially those that regressed after seemingly normal development. The authors make a point of mentioning that particular group in the abstract, whereas they don’t mention race at all.
Do you think that Ben Swanson will show some journalistic integrity and revisit the story, with all the facts this time?
Yeah, me neither.
KayMarie says (#49),
Could any study demonstrate to you there is any other cause?
Of course, autism is a spectrum disorder which may have multiple causes.
Down playing forced-immunity as a cause because it serves the “better good” is unscientific and leans toward unethical, in my opinion.
It’s easier to walk on broken glass than it is to research a vaccine/autism connection.
Do you think that Ben Swanson will show some journalistic integrity and revisit the story, with all the facts this time?
The problem facing any journalist for an organisation with any sort of ethics or standards is:
(a) Thompson has made a statement in which he says that reasonable people can disagree over the data (via his lawyer). This voids any claim from the charlatan Wakefield that Thompson accused CDC staff of fraud.
(b) Thompson has stated (in his statement to Posey, in the latest bundle) that the statistically significant data that he says was excluded does not necessarily mean that black kids in the real world were impacted. This voids Wakefield’s bizarre (and I would say mentally ill) allegations that thousands of kids are now shown to have been injured.
Any editorial executive I’ve worked for would at this point agree with me that there’s no story, and we’d move on.
I have not been employed at the CDC myself, but am an epi and have been employed at state and local government levels. Dr. Thompson was likely not a contractor, I don’t know of any widespread use of contractors by CDC. So he should have been a full time staffer. So federal employee protections would apply. Meaning, he would have to be fired for cause. The warning letter mentioned is almost certainly the attempt by his superiors to document his behavior as a step in building that chain so that they could fire him. The fact that they sent him off on a paid (if forced) vacation and a letter that didn’t go into his permanent file is proof that they weren’t trying that hard (at that point) to give him the boot. It seems they were concerned that he might have ‘snapped’ under the pressure and were hoping he could get his head together and come back. My interpretation is that it’s very possible that he has a very large axe to grind and is making hay while the sun is shining. Although he has retreated from the public eye now, I think he did this knowing that it would get out and cause at least a black eye to his coworkers. Although it seems he either has cold feet or wants to preserve his pension by hanging in there a while longer. Although if he had been smarter he would have waited to burn his bridges until after his retirement. The guy seems really angry and bitter over what should have been only a mild disagreement among colleagues over data to be presented in a paper.
Having read through the documents, I get the distinct impression that these two events are connected. Thompson’s response to the reprimand to Chen spirals out of control until he is put on administrative leave. There is obviously more going on, as we can only read from the documents Thompson gave to Posey.
On the documents themselves, leaving aside the multiple copies of documents and the stuff written by Wakefield and Hooker, there is not a whole lot left. With respect to the documents that Thompson kept from the trash can, we have meeting agendas and analysis printouts. That seems to be it. And this was some conspiracy to hide the results of the study?
A last point that i have just noticed. There are a number of documents with purple hand-written notes. These are clearly written well after the events, by Thompson wanting to point out specifics. What really struck me was this item in the folder titled Sept 9 2014 WT Docs. This makes it look like the purple hand-written notes were added to the documents some time shortly before September 2014.
Some errant speculation…
I first read about the availability of the documents last night ( from ChrisP here) – that’s about 20 hours ago,
Whilst traipsing about my usual haunts, I have heard absolutely nothing- rien- nada- about the material ( which anti-vaxxers have been salivating over since August 2016)
No comment. No mention. Nothing.
Aren’t there supposed to be journalistic sleuths amongst their contingent? Great investigators?
Surely they can’t be such slow readers.
( We know they read Orac and possibly Matt).
That’s 2014- I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.
One last point that I forgot to mention in my previous post. In Thompsons memo to Wharton, one of the things he mentions is that the reprimand to Chen and the perceived loss of funding to the VSD on Thompson’s ability to collaborate with Sallie Bernard of SafeMinds.
Sometime before 2003, CDC initiated a study for which Thompson was ultimately the lead author and used Sallie Bernard of SafeMinds as a consultant in the set up of the study. This was a misguided attempt by the CDC to convince anti-vaccine groups that they were listening to them and investigating possible links between vaccines and autism. This is also the famous ‘mercury causes tics’ study.
This would seem to be Thompson’s entree into the sordid world of anti-vaccinationism and possibly how he got connected with Wakefield and Hooker.
Thx for asking Johnny! 🙂
I’m open minded enough to accept that a link between vaccines and an autism spectrum disorder has yet to be verified by medical science.
In a search for an answer, a proposed mechanism wherein the expression of neurotrophin, and forced immunity, affects atypical neurological development in some immune-sensitive children remains.
Like most antivaxers,MJD seems to be stuck back in the days of 1998,2004,or whenever,and has completely slept through all of the advances in recent years, that have discovered the role maternal immunity plays in the development of autism and related immune issues.The world,and autism research, has moved quite a bit on since 1998 and 2001.Fortunately,we have a handy little blog here that will help bring you up to date on some of the key points about autism and (inherited) immunity.
Be sure to read the post about vaccines.
I am anxious to see just how open minded you really are. 🙂
FOIA doesn’t apply to members of Congress. Only to administrative agencies.
It was just a request.
Never fear, Gerg has been spearheading things in the AoA comments.
Greg seems to have his own version of the documents he is reading from.
I’m beginning to believe that Gerg might lack any ability to comprehend scientific documents….or meeting notes, for that matter.
What a long post, David!
My first thoughts when I heard about the whistleblower were that he had been deceptive in allowing the study to be published without initially protesting omitted/deemphasized subset data. Therefore, I was prone to question anything else he said after that.
This from Gerg. And they wonder why they get it wrong all the time. Thanks for the link Narad.
I’ve seen nothing to suggest that he’s looked at anything but the posts here and at LB/RB.
I am willing to bet good money that the AoA editorial board is having a fevered meeting on how to spin that there were not 100s of thousands of documents, that Thompson didn’t get things right, that Wakefield didn’t lie, and that Posey really did release the documents.
I see an AoA post about these not being the
droidsdocuments we were looking for.
@ Ren, they do sound rather miffed that Posey gave them to Matt and Dorit but not them or something like that.
Sarah A @ 52
“Do you think that Ben Swanson will show some journalistic integrity and revisit the story, with all the facts this time?”
He will double down on the stupidity, thus proving that he has no integrity, journalistic or otherwise. You can take it to the bank.
“@ Ren, they do sound rather miffed that Posey gave them to Matt and Dorit but not them or something like that.”
I am curious as to why he gave it to them and not anti-vaccine people who have been asking for the documents for a while now…
Because it’s just been a general whine to no one in particular. Matt and Prof. Reiss asked Posey’s office when Posey gave the documents to Ben Swann because they were in the general public. I’m sure Matt or Prof. Reiss will correct me if I’m wrong. I’ll bet you Wakefield and Hooker at the very least has had them all along. But their adoring flock would never get upset with them for holding out.
I guess that after all the rash promises of what was going to come out of these documents, there must be intense disappointment that there is no smoking gun, in fact there is not as much as a smoking cucumber among them.
The only options are to do as Greg is doing, boldly claim that they confirm all the claims of malfeasance at the CDC while at the same time hoping no one will read them, or to claim they are not the real documents.
The disappointment that despite the funds they have lavished on him, Posey is not doing what they want is palpable.
As the documents contained Wakefield and Hooker’s complaint to the Office of Research Integrity, your bet is such a sure thing that I won’t be laying odds against it.
With Exhibit 7 to Wakefraud’s ORI complaint, one does at least get to mock his hyperventilation:
Leaving aside that the complaint identifies row numbers inconsistently (sometimes counting the box heads), these are plainly labeled as an unmatched analysis using the “Black Model,” and it’s also necessary to pool the isolated and nonisolated subgroups to make them significant.
This last bit stands out because it’s further necessary to cherry-pick the isolated subgroup to try to get something out of the total-sample matched analysis.
Purely speculation but I would guess either the AV crowd has been posturing about requesting the documents but never formally asked Posey’s office for them or since Posey just recently released the documents, Matt and Dorit simply beat them to the punch. Or some combination of both. I highly doubt it is something untoward as the AoA crowd suggests.
Speaking of them, despite priding themselves on having “done their research” they seem wholly unable to read the original documents. Rather, most of them seem unaware that Matt actually made them public and I’m sure if they did bother to read them they would either continue to cherry-pick and spin or claim Matt doctored them.
Typical anti-vax psychology….they “knew” the documents were in trusted hands (Wakefield and Hooker) who already explained what was in the documents, so there was no reason for them (the anti-vax crowd) to ask to see them.
“What Thompson knows and what those documents contain, according to Bobby Kennedy, are ‘not just a smoking gun but a wildfire that will burn the CDC vaccines division to the ground.'”
Appears that Kennedy was smoking his own dope again…..
Narad, with Gerg involved, it gets even funnier.
I imagine that several editors at AoA are currently wringing their hands while having intense discussions about what to do,what to do.
I remember someone ( I forget who) predicting that the whistlerblower’s revelations would lead to the end of vaccination in the US.
[…] here as well. "The William Thompson Documents. There’s no whistle to blow." "The CDC whistleblower documents: A whole lot of nothing and no conspiracy to hide an MMR-autism link" and "A look at the “Garbage Can Quote” in full context" Lots of […]
ScienceMom is correct. Once the documents were released to Ben Swann I requestedthem from Representative Posey via his Facebook page.
Following that Dorit and I submitted a formal request to his office. Dorit did most of the real work. Including follow-up. Very mundane but gracious of his office.
Michael J. [email protected]:
Well, good for you. Speaking for myself, I’m open minded enough to accept that a link between MJD and invisible flying butt monkeys has yet to be verified by medical science. Still, until it is I think you should stick a cork in it, just to be sure.
Denice [email protected]:
Alas I was still mocking the Sainted Andrew; dreadfully naughty steamy celebrity man-on-man fan scribblings being notoriously the produce of fabulist ladies of a certain frustration. Eh. Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit using witty bon mots.
Brian [email protected]: “Mentally ill”? Ugh. Please don’t ever lump that cold calculating psychopath in with us honest nutters. All the crazies require is a firm slap with the old chemical cudgel now and again; to put right an implacably empathy-less carnivore like AW you’ll need something considerably harder. (Perhaps the heart of Barbara Loe Fisher, or some rocks out of John Stone’s head?)
[email protected]: With sharpshooting skills like those, is it any surprise AW lives in Texas?
[…] to discuss it "The William Thompson Documents. There’s no whistle to blow." "The CDC whistleblower documents: A whole lot of nothing and no conspiracy to hide an MMR-autism link" and "A look at the “Garbage Can Quote” in full context" “That […]
Michael J Dochniak:
Where is your evidence that “forced-immunity” (as you put it) is a cause of autism? Where is your evidence that this supposed link is being downplayed to (in your words) serve the “better good”?
Given the number of studies already done on the matter, demonstrably false.
As much as we’d like to think the antivaxxers will get their panties in a bunch over the release of these documents, I doubt they will even notice they have been proven wrong about something.
These are people who go through life with blinders on, willfully ignorant of anything that disagrees with their worldview. A handful of antivaxxers will simply insist against all reason that the documents vindicate their suspicions, and the rest will nod their heads in agreement.
A reference to anything to do with Jaws is always going to be lost on me: saw it shortly after it came out, wasn’t impressed, never understood why it is so highly regarded and haven’t seen it again.
Looking at this from the perspective of a journalist, another thing that gives the game away for those not too inclined to take a short course in epidemiology is this:
If Congressman Posey and his advisers thought there was anything in this material, they wouldn’t have given it to an Atlanta TV journalist, and Matt Carey (no disrespect).
Anybody who has any knowledge of media relations knows that to get serious exposure, you go to a credible journalist with a major media organisation, and give it to them exclusively. That way, it’s “secret documents” etc.
Given the relative ease by which these documents were obtained, it is fair to say that Posey has no intention of actually doing anything with them, other than to continue to solicit campaign contributions from anti-valets.
Hey, it was my first R-rated movie,* and my parents took me (despite a later freakout over Logan’s Run).
* Or something.
to continue to solicit campaign contributions from anti-valets.
These are people who have been repelled by the Uncanny Valet?
They want to park their car themselves and don’t want to be pestered by Sting. Just in case a sulfurous redhead French girl shows up.
I do like the comment from Ronald Kostoff over at AoA:
Perhaps if they had the courage to venture outside their little echo chamber, they’d discover that the documents are already open to the public. Funny how they never clamored before about the people on their side of the fence holding on to the documents and not dishing anything out. Nope. It’s all a conspiracy to hide the truth!!!eleventyone!!1!
I posted this at the excellent site of Matt Carey – Left Brain, Right Brain. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk
So, I wonder who will be first to put together the Thompson killer quotes that expose Wakefield yet again for the charlatan that he is. Maybe it’s me. Here we go:
“Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism.” – Thompson’s statement of August 2014
“The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males does not mean that there was a true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.” – Thompson’s statement September 2014
“All the associated MMR-Autism Study computer files have been retained on the Immunization Safety Office computer servers since the inception of the study and they continue to reside there today.” – Thompson’s statement September 2014
Cut out and keep!
But Brian, he was probably forced ( at gunpoint- in a locked room- shackled to a chair) by lawyers to say that- it wasn’t what he REALLY wanted to say!
J-sus! I read so much of their tripe I’m starting to be able to reproduce it automatically.
I can assure everyone that I don’t think like that at all.
You are rather hilarious. Keep up the good work.
[…] wannabe Ben Swann, who promised a story on it over a month ago but thus far hasn’t delivered. Brian Deer, appropriately enough, pointed out some quotes that I hadn’t really elaborated on […]
Autism caused by vaccines is not a mere illusion as you want to believe or make people believe. It is a fact, as observed by many parents who have had a direct observation of it following their kids regression following vaccination. There are so many manufacturing sites so short coming on quality that readily put products on market just to be recalled massively months later. Vaccine manufacturers are not excempt. Just look at the GSK flu vaccines which was halted sales in US. Contamination of all sorts with their flu vaccines (strains from farm manure) lack of efficiency. Only fools like Brian Deer love to believe in vaccines. The most corrupt one of all.
Let me wish you a warm welcome as our next chew toy. You’ll find it very welcoming in here 😀
I won’t ask you for a link to AoCr*p but I’d like to have the title(s) of the article(s) where gerg is regurgitating his sh!tz. I need a good laugh 🙂
Narad provided a link up-thread.
I just did a little calculation using US data:
for 322 000 000 (approx.) vaccinated persons or child, there has been 703 petitions disposed of in the Court of Federal Claims. Being generous, I made this simple calculation which can be improved:
(703 / 322 000 000) * 100 == 0.00021832% prevalence of vaccines injured persons.
I can conclude that vaccines are absurdly incredibly safe.
Would you have preferred that the contamination remain undisclosed and the vaccine remained on sales?
And also, could you, at least, post the link were you found out manure contaminated vaccines; that is, I suppose you don<t have imagined it 🙂 Right?
Jay Gordon: “What a long post, David!”
Jay’s lips are sore from having to move so much.
OMG! I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I got to the part about Walt Orenstein. I work for him. He is the most mild-mannered, even handed person I have ever met. Harassment?!? LOLOLOLOLOLOL
This is really sticking out for me. Why is it that Donchiak thinks it’s bad to serve the better good? This is right up with the “better dead than autistic” mindset, except he seems to be acknowledging that the CDC recommendations are based on an ethical choice to do the right thing. Which of course they are.
Vaccination (or “forced-immunity”) is for the better good. It definitely does more good than bad. Why would anyone be opposed to it who understands that? Even if he is right that it causes latex allergy (which is extremely unlikely), it would still be doing far more good than harm and we should still vaccinate.
Yerushalmi @ 1 makes an excellent point.
To which I’d add, if it was the case that black kids were at risk of vaccine-induced autism altogether, then logically they would qualify as medical exemptions (same as egg allergy) and we should be taking even stronger steps to get every possible child of every other race/ethnicity vaccinated to beef up herd immunity.
I’d love to see someone pin down the antivaxers as follows:
“If we agree with your conclusion that black kids are at risk, are you willing to agree with the conclusion of the rest of your own data, that white, Latino, and Asian kids are _not_ at risk?”
“If we both agree, using your data, that black kids are at risk, and that white, Latino, and Asian kids are _not_ at risk, then will you support us in calling for much stricter requirements for all white, Latino, and Asian kids to get vaccinated on schedule, to strengthen herd immunity and protect the medically vulnerable black kids?”
I’ll bet anyone the price of a house that the antivaxers will say No to both of those and wave their hands around in circles like they’re trying to pretend they’re helicopters.
And what’s really sick is, there are probably virulent racists out there who are rubbing their hands together and gloating over this, because they know it’ll lead to more black kids going unvaxed and coming down with dangerous diseases.
Good one, Bacon.
@ Brian Deer #90
But, btw, I’m with has #85 on the cavalier use of “mentally ill”. Most of “us honest nutters” never threaten anyone but ourselves, and we get stigmatized by being lumped in with the psychopaths and sociopaths in the popular imagination…
The nice people over at AoA seem not to have realized yet that the documents are now public.
If one of them is reading, maybe you should help your colleagues. Orac linked to them above. Or: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jxtr06s5ddc82s7/AADaZvp7yu_daBhbuZwMfQy4a?dl=0
Rahman, you are aware that the plural of anecdote isn’t evidence, right? That’s all these accounts offered by parents of autistic children are–anecdotes–and ther conclusion that the vaccines they received were the cause of their observed regression is founded in nothing other than a classic logical fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc).
If you want to convince anyone that the existence of causal association between routine childhood vaccination and autism spectrum disorders has been established as factual you’re going to have to come up with actual evidence that is the case.
Does anyone have a link to the Hooker video where he says “simplicity is elegance”? The old link is blocked.
In related news, Stone still hasn’t figured out that there’s no such thing as “applying for whistleblower status.”
Rahman seems to forget that Michelle Cedillo’s parents insisted she was developing normally, and even brought videos to prove their point – from which experts pointed out all the signs that she *hadn’t* been developing normally from a very young age…
I doubt the AOA lords will ever look at the documents, and none of their followers will bother if the lords of the site don’t mention them. Why should they bother to think when AOA does it all for them?
“Why should they bother to think when AOA does it all for them?”
The same is seen in some religion groups where the flock relies on spiritual leaders to interpret the texts to tell them what to think and what to do. Verification with the source documents isn’t a valued skill, and may be actively discouraged.
Odd. It says, “This video contains content from UMG_MK, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.” Can anyone outside the US access the video? Damn, I knew I should have downloaded it….
It seems now to be in a Google Hangout here:
But Hooker’s talk is also blocked. Bizarre…UMG is Universal Music Group, and apparently it’s been making a lot of false copyright claims:
Did Hooker or the conference use any music from UMG or images of UMG artists? I highly doubt it, which makes this even more bizarre.
“UMG_MK” seems to be perplexing a number of people.
One might further note that this further links to a post, which itself links to a Y—be Help entry. The latter states that “[y]our account will not be penalized at this time.” This makes it different from some of the other appearances of “UMG_MK” in which user accounts were terminated based on Y—be’s “three strikes” rule.
The video there points to , which has also received the “UMG_MK” treatment.
^ b0rk3d markup, but I imagine yall will get the drift
^^ I now see that I multitasked my way into misreading the part about the Google Hangout in any event. With respect to this:
Tor’s handy-dandy ExcludeExitNodes option has at least allowed me to get the same “blocked it in your country” message from the U.S. the Netherlands, Germany, and finally Moldova,* at which point I gave up.
* Assuming I’m not leaking anything. It’s clear that G—le itself reckons based on IP, but I’m not sure whether Y—be does more geolocation. Part of the reason I abandoned the project was because I started testing both Flash and HTML5 versions.
I tried VPNs in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Malaysia, Iceland, Canada, Costa Rica and the video is still blocked in all of them.
Yeah, the google hangouts link said the same thing. Dang it.
This one, posted by Autism One, lives on. From Todd W.’s joint, it should be ~17:00.
^ But by all means, do check it out ~16:40:
“Where are the notes? There are no notes.”
@Narad, THANK YOU! 🙂
Someone should download this just in case…
@Annie: De nada. It’s downloaded.
Dorit [email protected]
They are well aware. But now they are upset that you and Matt got the documents before them (nevermind Hooker and Wakefield apparently have had access for a long time now).
Oh those AoA commenters. There’s a lot of asserting that the documents vindicate them but somehow not one of them has cited a single passage from the documents. I suppose because Hooker and Wakefield already cherry-picked all the good bits. Plus evidence has never been their strong suit.
Narad beat me to it as I was typing this, but here’s a handy link in case it goes away, or if you don’t know how to download YouTube videos*: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ytn0uhwbvfxjvpe/%E2%80%9CWHISTLEBLOWER%21%21%21%21%21%E2%80%9D%20presentation%20of%20Dr.%20Brian%20Hooker%20at%20AutismOne_Thriiive%20Event%20-%2008_29_2014.mp4?dl=0
*Hint: don’t use add-ons or standalone programs. Just about every one I’ve come across is adware or worse.
Hint 2: keepvid.com
is blocked “for copyright reasons” in Germany. Normally you’d put it down to the infamous GEMA.
As I have pointed out here and elsewhere many, many times before, as an former CAMHS senior nurse who spent far more time than I liked conducting assessments for autism, I can safely say that if there was any remotely credible evidence for vaccines being linked to autism everyone, but everyone, working in CAMHS, paediatrics, special needs education and the like here in the UK would have been all over it and screaming at our politicians to get rid of a preventable cause.
There isn’t, we haven’t.
Oh, and don’t bother with any of the “You were a nurse so you are a Big Pharma Shill!” bolleaux.
Glad to see my page is still finding use in this whole “whistleblower” kerfuffle.
MI Dawn @ 115
Actually, the Cedillos lawyers fought to keep the family videos out of the hearing, and lost. The special master issued an order for production.
@Brian Deer (#133). Ah. Thanks. Don’t know how I mixed that up, but life has been interesting lately so maybe that did it.
Roger Kulp writes (#61),
I am anxious to see just how open minded you really are. 🙂
In an article, “Anti-vaccine websites are misinforming parents, study says” author Yvette Brazie writes “Researchers are looking for ways to counter skepticism about vaccination”.
In my opinion, researchers and government should be looking for ways to provide a financial incentive for vaccinations.
Suggestion, generous tax-credit for fully immunized children.
Giving the child a lollipop or decorative band-aid after a vaccine will not help counter skepticism anymore.
MJD, your position is that simply providing skeptics evidence demonstrating routine vaccination is both safe and effective we should instead offer to in effect pay them to vaccinate their children, even though they fear they’d be harming their children by doing so?
JGC says (#136),
… pay them to vaccinate their children…
Provide a tax credit for ALL fully- immunized children/families.
We can agree that herd immunity is for the “better good” but vaccine injuries do occur (e.g., vaccine contraindications).
Until vaccines are 100% safe every child/family that is fully vaccinated, based on CDC recommendations, should be rewarded with a tax-credit.
Is it easier to punish a tax-paying family with unvaccinated children (e.g., SB277) than to reward them for changing their behavior with a tax credit?
Herd immunity through vaccinations is a gift of medical science.
Vaccine injury is the ignorance of medical science.
Therefore, the U.S. Government must recognize this and provide a vaccination tax-credit for children/families.
A tax credit might help boost herd immunity, and it’d certainly help poor families remember to vaccinate, but I don’t think it goes far enough and it wouldn’t be enough of an incentive to upper middle-class families, who are the real problem. I think families that vaccinate should get parties, access to toys in the waiting room, opportunities to jump the line (in non-urgent situations) and more access to other help (financial, consulting, therapy, rehab, etc.) as needed.
Off topic, but interesting
Anti-vaxxers mounted an effort recall California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan following his sponsorship of the vaccine-related SB 277. They had to submit 35,926 valid signatures from among the 436,318 registered voters in Pan’s district for the recall to proceed to the ballot by December 31.
The total number of signatures collected in Pan’s district: zero.
@ brian (#139),
Must the United States of America (i.e., Vaccine Nation) be governed with punishment instead of reward, insolence instead of respectfulness?
Forced immunity, in the absence of force, will heal the anti-vaccine movement.
Regarding incentives for vaccination: arguably, we already do reward them — we let them get a quality education absolutely for free. I honestly don’t think more incentive is needed, and it would not convince the antivaxxers anyway.
Nothing will convince the anti-vaxxers (for the most part). Any incentive program would rather be geared at improving uptake rates among the fence-sitters.
Calli Arcale:Regarding incentives for vaccination: arguably, we already do reward them — we let them get a quality education absolutely for free.
Sorry, what country are we talking about here? England? Norway? Finland?
PGP, it was due to a school in Bloomington, MN during seventh grade that was I was to get more than a year of math that allowed me to take 9th grade algebra in the school I ended up in 8th grade. This allowed me to graduate a year early from the 9th school district I attended (so I could go to college instead to a 10th school district after my dad retired from the Army).
I find your comment very offensive. At least two of the schools I attended were in developing countries where education was not a priority.
PGP, can you please clarify something for me? Are you holding England’s state-funded school system up to the light as an example of quality education?
If I may interrupt this PGP exchange (of which I’m only seeing half), this seems like as good a place as any to note that Laura Hayes has a brain-meltingly incoherent item up at AoA a-splainin’ why doctors are obligated to issue medical exemptions.
Gven that it comes with a list to print out, it’s another iteration of the old passive-agressive “reverse liability form” routine, but with a bonus of completely harebrained legal and pseudomedical elaborations (hint: fetuses may have allergies).
I see Age of Autism is still parroting the “100,000” documents line…
And now Ben Swann is promising to do his story on the CDC whistleblower documents on January 26. I predict…hilarity.
[…] I myself also reviewed the CDC whistleblower documents and agreed with Matt that there’s a whole lot of nothing going on there, noting from the documents’ contents that even William Thompson doesn’t appear to […]
[…] here. I myself also reviewed the CDC whistleblower documents and agreed with Matt that there’s a whole lot of nothing going on there, noting from the documents’ contents that even William Thompson doesn’t appear to believe that […]
[…] scientific fraud in its analysis of the data for their study. Of course, we all know now that nothing of the sort happened and that Thompson never accused his co-authors of fraud, at least not explicitly, although he sure […]
[…] conspiracy, which is what the movie appears to be mainly about. As I’ve written so many times before, there’s just no “there” there to that story. It’s worse than that, […]
[…] But what’s done is done, as I’ve said elsewhere. However this Expelled!-level bit of pseudoscientific propaganda found its way onto the Tribeca Film Festival schedule, be it through a big name star putting in a good word to the organizers or an antivaccine-sympathetic and science-averse reviewer thinking that there really is a conspiracy on the part of the CDC to “hide” the evidence that vaccine cause autism (it is, after all, one of the organizing “principles” of the antivaccine movement), it’s there now. Never mind that this “conspiracy” is a whole lot of nothing. […]
[…] theory about the CDC “covering up” the evidence that vaccines cause autism that has no basis in fact is not a good way to go about […]
[…] they were nothing of the sort. Indeed, when the documents given to Posey by Thompson didn’t show any evidence of fraud at the CDC, and even Thompson himself didn’t seem to buy the accusations that they did. […]
[…] scientific data. Big surprise there, given that he believes Wakefield and Hooker. Matt Carey and I have both examined the primary documents, and we’ve found no evidence of fraud, although we did find […]