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How “they” view “us”: Colton Berrett edition

Colton Berrett developed transverse myelitis at age 13 and as a result was left permanently disabled, with significant paralsysis. Four years later, he died, apparently by suicide. Polly Tommy and the VAXXED crew have been promoting the message that it was Gardasil that caused Colton’s disease and therefore killed him. When I explained why Gardasil almost certainly had nothing to do with Colton’s disease and death, I learned once again how “they” view “us.”

One of the reasons skeptics do what they do is to prevent and mitigate harm by sound warning bells about pseudoscientific and false beliefs that can cause harm. Certainly, that’s one reason why I do what I do. Deconstructing stories, testimonials, claims, and pseudoscientific studies by, for instance, antivaccine activists can provide a counterpoint to what otherwise would be emotional and seemingly plausible appeals that could influence fence-sitters. However, as much as we view our motives as good and pure, you can be assured that antivaxers and others promoting pseudoscience do not view us that way. I’ve often written about how “they” view “us.” Not surprisingly, they do not view us as sincere, honest people only trying to do good. Quite the contrary, to a jarring degree. I was reminded of this again this week, and as a result thought that it might be a good idea to revisit the topic of how “they” view “us,” given that it’s been nearly three years since I last discussed the disconnect between how we view ourselves and how those whose misinformation we combat view us.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the tragic case of Colton Berrett, the 17-year-old boy who four years ago developed transverse myelitis. The disease initially rendered him quadriplegic and landed him in the hospital for a month and a half. Prior to his illness, Colton was a highly active 13-year-old who enjoyed motocross and a variety of other sports. By all reports, he was happy, healthy, and on his way to a fantastic life. After his illness, it took months and years of intensive physical and occupational therapy for him to regain enough neurological function to be able to walk. Unfortunately, he never regained use of one arm and regained only partial use of the other, while remaining dependent on a portable ventilator that weighed 15 lbs and that, because he couldn’t lift it due to his disability, he characterized as his “ball and chain.” Even more sadly, it appeared that Colton had regained all the neurologic function that he was likely ever to regain. Even so, he still seemed to be managing to lead a pretty active life within his new limitations, and he had a loving family with the means to provide him with the best opportunities possible. It wasn’t enough. To make a tragic story even worse, according to his family, on January 5, 2018 Colton apparently committed suicide. You have to have a heart of stone not to feel empathy to the point of tears for Colton and his family.

Not surprisingly, throughout it all Colton’s family sought explanations for why he suffered this horrific disease. It’s human nature, after all, to want to know what caused a disease that so dramatically harmed one’s child, and transverse myelitis is a rather mysterious disease with a number of etiologies ranging from autoimmune to infectious to that most frustrating of all medical descriptions, idiopathic, which basically means, “We don’t know what caused it.” Unfortunately, that very human characteristic led his mother to vaccines. The reason is that Colton had received the last of the three shot series of Gardasil a little more than two weeks before he started complaining of the initial symptoms of transverse myelitis. As was explained both by myself and Skeptical Raptor, it was highly unlikely that Gardasil caused Colton’s transverse myelitis based on the lack of evidence linking any vaccine to the disease, the fact that Colton received the first two shots in the Gardasil series with apparently no problem, and the timing. Transverse myelitis of the type suffered by Colton tends to be a rapid, fulminant disease that doesn’t wait two weeks after the inciting event to take off. Is it possible that Gardasil caused Colton’s deterioration? Yes, barely, but it’s incredibly unlikely. None of this, unfortunately, stopped antivaxers from immediately declaring Colton to have been “sacrificed” to Gardasil and to promote a message of absolute certainty that Gardasil killed Colton Berrett. The message began a mere three days after his death, with James Lyon Weiler blaming everyone and everything from Paul Offit to big pharma to the government to Dorit Rubinstein Reiss to Peter Hotez to fascism for Colton’s demise.

When I first learned of Colton’s death a couple of weeks ago, I was reluctant to write about his story and held off. The reason was not so much that I had any doubt about my conclusion that it is incredibly unlikely that Gardasil resulted in Colton’s death. Rather, it was because I didn’t know the story, and I also knew that blogging about it so soon after his death was perilous. However, as the blog posts, Facebook posts, and Tweets ranting about how “Gardasil killed Colton Berrett” mounted, I noted exactly zero skeptical posts as recently as a few days ago. As a result, I was alarmed that no one else was stepping into the breach. Because the narrative regarding Colton was being entirely driven by the most radical elements of the antivaccine movement, I therefore felt an obligation to do my part to counter that narrative. So, reluctantly, I dove in and produced my post. Yes, my view of myself in this case was of the reluctant warrior suiting up once again to take on what I knew would likely be a very unpleasant but necessary task.

Not surprisingly, my post and motivations were not seen this way by many. Indeed, to say that my post was not well-received by antivaxers is even more of an understatement than usual. A word of background is in order here. I don’t get very many antivaxers commenting on this blog any more. Back in the old days, there used to be a lot, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have accumulated a savvy bunch of regular readers who have no patience or tolerance for antivaccine pseudoscience and quackery. They have my back, and they generally take care of countering the worst antivaccine nonsense in the comments, thus freeing me to produce new content. I like to think of it as a symbiotic relationship. They get my pearls of Insolence, Respectful and, when appropriate, not-so-Respectful, and I get their insight and cover. In any case, it was not long before I started seeing comments like this one by someone named Margaret Pickering:

You are a despicable human being. There is NO doubt that the Gardisil vaccine cause his illness and the weight of that over the course of the past 4 years caused his suicide. Get off your damn high horse and face some facts. Gardisil is maiming and killing our children every day.

And this one, by someone named Elizabeth O. Warren:

HPV shots do not need to be given to children or anyone at all.. how dare you attack this boy and what happened to him b/c you are a paid shill DORIT!!!! No he didn’t die the other day from the shot he took his own life AFTER the shot destroyed his quality of life where he then felt like a burden to his family.

For someone that claims to be so smart how are you even still holding a job?

Im to the point Dorit if I ever see you in person you better pray your legs work and you can run the other way.

Liars never get far and your time is up. YOU CAN’T SILENCE US ALL!!! Especially with your week ass blogs filled with lies.

Note the threat of violence to Dorit, which was repeated in another comment:

really so how about a mother that watched his whole story? How about a mother that watches and helps 1000s of families DETOX AFTER THEY VACCINATE?? You guys are so full of shit. GUESS WHAT???? ANTI VAXER is just another name for people that followed the schedule and saw it kill their children. SO WHATS UP ORAC?? Ill meet you in person anywhere and settle this any time any place.

In some cases, antivaxers seemed to think that Dorit wrote this post. I’m not sure why. Dorit is a prolific commenter, but she has never written a guest post here, although she does contribute guest posts to Skeptical Raptor. In any case, this is what I mean, as indicated in a comment by Laura:

Dorit is such a disgusting human being. From openly supporting the idea of forced vaccination as I saw in a panel discussion she did, and now trying to push blame of fear mongering onto the Vaxxed movement. Seriously?? Why is it that people will blame EVERYTHING in the world but NEVER the vaccines! You’d be more likely to hear a doctor or a shill like Dorit blame wearing the color blue or that the wind was blowing southeast that day than to hear them blame vaccines. Makes NO sense!! Too many kids and teens and hell, adults too for that matter are being injured or killed by vaccines. How do you sleep at night Dorit??!! Oh wait, you probably sleep fine with your money made from supporting Pharma and from the fatigue from all those vaccines you’ve had to be up to date. Cause I’m sure with you speaking so strongly about being current on vaccines, you’ve obviously gotten boosters for all the ones that are new, right?!

And, of course, there was this one by someone named Jelica:

Cursed be you liars and evildoers, profit makers. Cursed be your money, may you never enjoy it! You liars…what have you done to millions of people, and us medical workers too..we are all infected with retroviruse and we have huge incidence of cancer. What fool trusts your lies? Your liars scientists be cursed too! Whatever you have let it be cursed except your children…I am sorry for them…They have scumbags for parents.

One more, this time by someone named Tonya Ankeney:

Absolutely amazing that this would be posted right after his death. Suicide or not the CONFIRMED vaccine injury of TM from the HPV destroyed this young mans life. He was dying from onset. DO you have any idea what an injury of this magnitude does to someones mind? LET ALONE THE MIND OF A CHILD?? Very little is known about TM. One thing that is known is that it CAN and IS in some cases brought on by severe reactions to vaccine. My daughter was diagnosed at almost 10 months old with ADEM and Transverse Myelitis with total permanent paralysis after a severe adverse reaction to the Hep B and DTaP vaccines. Proven and confirmed by a host of doctors and in court. Our court case was conceded, and if you don’t know what conceded means , It means without a doubt her injuries were caused by the vaccines she received in June 2003. These reactions are listed as possible side effects on these vaccines yet when it happens even those of you who keep screaming science call it a lie. Why did the SCIENTISTS list them as reactions if it is not so? The timing of this blog is horrible to say the least. Let this family mourn the loss of their child that was taken the day the HPV vaccine stole his life!

You get the idea. The general theme of the invective aimed at me boils down to a few elements. First is that I’m not just incorrect but that I’m a callous, insensitive, and downright evil person for questioning the antivaccine narrative that Gardasil killed Colton Berrett. Other elements include that I must be a pharma shill and that I’m hurting the parents and spitting on the memory of their son. Of course, the irony of this latter charge doesn’t escape me, given that I basically delayed writing about this case as long as I could stand it, hoping against hope that someone else would take up the needed analysis. Only when it was nearly two weeks after Colton’s death, with pretty much no skeptical takes in sight, did I decide that I had to write something, and even then I was reluctant. Contrast this to James Lyon Weiler, who only three days after Colton’s death, wrote a prolonged screed blaming everyone and everything he hates for having “killed” Colton. Elsewhere, on the same day, another antivaxer blamed Gardasil for having killed Colton, and even before that a semi-regular antivaxer here also blamed Gardasil.

Four days after Colton’s death, Mary Greeley posted this video blaming Gardasil for the tragedy:

A week after Colton’s death, there were videos like this one by Brandy Vaughan asking if anyone will go to jail for the “murder” of Colton Berrett:

I can’t help but note a bit of a double standard here. It’s perfectly fine—admirable, even—for people who believe that Gardasil killed Colton Berrett to glom on to his death as soon as they learn about it in order to promote the narrative that Gardasil is dangerous, using poor Colton as cautionary example and also utilizing all sorts of hyperbolic and histrionic language. Such articles are posted widely and praised. In contrast, if someone waits 12 days to post what I considered to be a measured, respectful treatment of the story that concludes that Gardasil almost certainly didn’t kill Colton, the negative reaction is swift and vicious.

I also can’t help but note that, in any discussion, passion and certainty often win over science, because we scientists rarely speak in absolutes because we can’t. You’ll note that I didn’t title my last post Gardasil didn’t kill Colton Barrett (although I was tempted). Rather, I entitled it Did Gardasil kill Colton Berrett? The answer is almost certainly no. That’s because, as a scientist, I can’t say with utter, 100% certainty that Gardasil didn’t cause Colton’s transverse myelitis, only that it is incredibly unlikely, based on what we know about Gardasil, transverse myelitis, and Colton’s history that Gardasil contributed to his disease. Antivaxers like the VAXXED crew are under no such prohibition and can freely state with utter confidence their false belief that Gardasil definitely killed Colton Berrett.

The pièce de résistance, however, comes from our old friend antivaxer Polly Tommey and the VAXXED crew:

You can safely ignore the first 20 minutes or so (that is, unless you want to subject yourself to some seriously painful burning stupid about influenza and the flu vaccine), complete with bogus claims that the vaccine can give you the flu. It’s around the 23:00 mark, where Tommey says she has a “mantra of ‘ignore the trolls'” philosophy, but couldn’t resist addressing—you guessed it—me. Her rationale, of course, is falls into the same sort of lines as the antivax comments, namely that somehow I’m being “disrespectful” to Colton’s mother and to the family, with her calling me “disgraceful.”

Amusingly, Tommey begins by focusing on my description of myself, the blog, and why I use the ‘nym Orac. She’s particularly taken by how I discuss my love of Blakes 7, Doctor Who, and other science fiction, intentionally emphasizing the word “fiction,” as though my longtime love of science fiction and old British SF series means that what I’m writing on my blog must also be fiction. I can’t help but point out the irony of Tommey calling my post and me “silly” (among other things) after having made such a—yes—silly characterization

After pointedly saying how she didn’t want to give me too much time or attention, Tommey then continues for another twenty minutes to give me lots of time and attention, going on and on about the VAXXED bus, how wrong I am, how disgraceful I am, and how “disrespectful” I was to the Colton family. To be honest, I didn’t listen to the whole segment but instead just skimmed the rest of it after the first few minutes, as it all became very tedious. The smarmy self-righteousness mixed with righteous indignation and nonsense was beyond epic.

The point, of course, is that, as respectful as I might try to be (and I don’t pretend that I don’t occasionally fail), as much as I acknowledge, as I did in my previous post, that “inevitably any skeptical look at the narrative being promoted by the antivaccine movement will be portrayed as an attack on the dead child and his grieving family,” my warning will be correct. Any skeptical take on the portrayal of a child as having been “martyred” to the cause of vaccination will result in angry pushback, lies about the one analyzing the story, attempts to smear that person, and, above all, the portrayal of that person as callous, cold, and indifferent to all the suffering of children that antivaxers attribute to vaccines.

Yes, some of this is just posturing. (I’m talking to you, Polly Tommey; given your history you don’t merit my respect.) However, a lot of it from others is genuine. Antivaxers and others who have drunk the Kool Aid of quackery and pseudoscience don’t view themselves as cranks who have drunk the Kool Aid of pseudoscience, but rather as victims and heroes simultaneously. Just look at some of Kent Heckenlively’s fantasies about being Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, facing down Sauron’s forces in a doomed diversionary mission at the Black Gate of Mordor, his offer to accept the surrender of pro-vaccine advocates, and his fantasy about retributive justice against all of us promoting vaccination if you don’t believe me. They believe passionately that they are in the right and that people like me are villains on par with Sauron, Darth Vader, and Lord Voldemort all rolled into one. It’s why they are so quick to go on the attack. It’s why they are so intent on doxing pseudonymous skeptical bloggers and harassing them at work. It’s why they use frivolous libel lawsuits as a weapon. It’s why they report skeptical physicians to their state medical boards for no good reason.

When you are convinced that you are absolutely in the right and that your opponents are not just opponents, but downright evil, the ends justify the means. Also, they will not believe you when you say how sorry you are for the parents of a child who has died. Still, there is hope. I like to remember when I received an e-mail from the father of Amelia Saunders, a girl who was treated by cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski for her brain cancer but ultimately died anyway. I noted at the time that we as skeptics do have to be careful to make sure our understandable anger and revulsion at what antivaccine quacks like Andrew Wakefield are not misdirected at grieving families like the Coltons. As I like to say, no one knows how he or she will react to having a child with a brain tumor (like Amelia Saunders) or a child disabled by a crippling illness like transverse myelitis (like Colton Berrett). Even so, we cannot allow the potential emotional reaction of such families silence us. The stakes are too high. We can, however, try our best to be empathetic and respectful while keeping the focus on the target, in this case, antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience of the type being spread by Polly Tommey.

By Orac

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

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

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

To contact Orac: [email protected]

121 replies on “How “they” view “us”: Colton Berrett edition”

Nail, head, you hit it. Anti-vaxxers think nothing of exploiting the death of a child when they can blame vaccines and/or the medical establishment. Look at what they did to the Spourdolakis family. Wakefield and Tommey exploited him while he was alive, dumped him when they didn’t get their television show and bleated like sheep when he was killed by his own mother and godmother. They are vultures and ghouls and have no leg to stand on to criticise anyone who takes a critical look at their activities.

Orac writes,

Dorit is a prolific commenter, but she has never written a guest post here…

MJD says,

Let’s be honest, nobody has been allowed to write a guest post here at Respectful Insolence.

Orac, you’re a brilliant writer with many loyal followers and a few fence-sitters.

A guest post from a “fence-sitter” may affect a more open and honest discussion.

Of course I’d like to write a post but, unfortunately, I’ve been denied several times.

Alternatively, Polly Tommey who is the founder of The Autism File magazine has allowed me to write several articles for her magazine.

Thanks Polly!

@ Orac,

With great readership comes great responsibility, will you allow MJD to write a guest post for Respectful Insolence?

I can see why a death – especially to those who did, in fact, meet the boy and talk to him – would draw stronger reactions. But you captured incredibly well the double standard.

I admit that from some of these people righteous indignation reads a bit hollow.

MJD, there are important reasons why Orac will not allow you to write a guest post whilst Polly did:
Orac is smart, supports science and likes good writing.

Denice, the last time I posted here, I posted out of frustration that people in my circle were so anti-vaxx it was very hard for me to combat, even with trying to ask them why they believed the way they did, what type of evidence did they have, ect. One commenter even offered to help me combat this crazy stuff by volunteering to post on my facebook to mitigate the crazy. What ended up happening was the ringleader of anti science told me that I must be “doing this” because her husband makes more money than mine!!!!!

Why are there only five of them and where is Blake?

(I know the answer–it’s an in joke.)

Well, MJD, at least you’re not shooting up a pizzeria. I guess we can be grateful for small mercies.

Alternatively, Polly Tommey who is the founder of The Autism File magazine has allowed me to write several articles for her magazine.

Orac, unlike Polly Tommey, cares whether he’s publishing accurate information.

Anti-vaxxers remind me of a book I read on witchcraft beliefs in Africa. In the book, they give an example of someone who trips on a root, cuts his foot,it gets infected and he declares a witch caused his infection. When it’s pointed out that what happened was he tripped and cut his foot and sometimes cuts get infected, he responds that, first, he has walked past that same root hundreds of times. It’s right along the path he takes daily. So why did he trip it over this time? And, second, he’s had other cuts and they didn’t get infected, so why this one? He must have been cursed by a witch.

The human mind isn’t set up to accept random occurrences. So when people craft worldviews to help explain things. Why did this happen now, this time? There must be a cause. And if someone can’t tell them, they’ll find their own reason. Vaccines, witches, it’s all the same.

Your story reminds me of a report I read just recently, which highlighted that in some outlying regions of Nigeria twins are considered evil. The youngest is killed so that the oldest might live free of sin/harm/silliness/etc.

You can see practical reasons why a second birth might be considered dangerous for the mother and older child, yet the arse-about-face thinking which reduces the second-born to the spawn of Satan is deplorable.

Other cultures revere twins–there is endless variation in the human imagination.

rw23, it has been my experience in life to notice that people who cling to their traditions of holy books seem to end up in the newspaper in the crime section more often than not.

Polly thinks that Orac is “not well”.
Seems to me that Mikey similarly wrote that our host had psychological/ psychiatric issues and thus, should be ignored.

Interestingly, I find it odd that people with no background in psychology or psychiatry are making diagnoses over the internet. Without looking at their own actions.

But then they do.

They irresponsibly drum up invective against SB writers like Orac or Dorit which may encourage the faithful to make threats or even carry out real world actions like trying to get them fired ( as Orac and Rene know very well) as well as even more unthinkable possibilities.

If you keep telling your readers that some people are part of a VAST conspiracy aimed at destroying children in order to make a profit, a few of them, thinking themselves HEROES about to save mankind against evil itself, just might do something.

The latest barrage is angry parents emailing the dean of students at the school where I am, complaining that I made fun of them by calling them antivaxxers. Or they’ll say that I am “pushing” vaccines or some other nonsense. It’s really quite annoying, but I am protected by two things: I base my opinions on fact and don’t make up stories, like they do, and there’s this little thing called academic freedom… Not to mention freedom of speech.

I am sure that many at a school of public health also make fun of anti-vaxxers. Yesterday Science Friday had a segment on influenza:

One anti-vaxxer called in saying that mercury and aluminum should not be in the vaccines. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was having none of that. I heard quite a bit of frustration in his voice.

The double standard applies to more than just the accusation of exploitation. It applies to science, technology, law, compassion, drug safety and lots of other things.

Sorry Colton died. The vaccine was not linked. Without evidence, the antis are back to wailing in the dark after they turned out the light.

Dorit, keep on commenting (not that you need any encouragement) because it is nice to see familiar names in other places.

I sometimes have bad days. Fortunately, every so often something happens which makes a bad day a little bit better.

Maybe it’s just my twisted and undoubtedly evil soul, but every time and every instance in which the Daily Mail is recognised internationally as a lie-spawning, bile-filled shitrag, my day gets a little bit better.

Thank you, friends and cousins abroad.

@science mom While i agree with you on most of the post, is VAERS really the place to find unbiased information? From what i know, it has become polluted with false antivax reports.

Daily Fail? Hahahahahahahahahahaaha
Peter Duesberg? Hahahahahahahahahahaha

Wait you’re serious? Let me laugh even harder hahahahahahahahahaadinfinitum

Shenton, Fiala and Duesberg show up in the same place- what is it an hiv-aids denialism conference?

It seems that these three- like a few others in the movement ( Baker, Montagnier, Ruggiero)- now appear at anti-vax conventions and in articles against vaccination
perhaps because so many of their hiv-aids denialist followers have died of aids or wised up after seeing them die. This is their new gig.

Scientific information from a person who didn’t believe viruses caused aids is not meaningful.

MJD: dropping your morning cup of coffee is a mistake. Saying Good Morning at 1pm when you work nights is a mistake. Forgetting to put a stamp on the envelope containing your credit card payment is a mistake.

Researching a promising idea is not a mistake. Continuing to advocate a once promising idea that is not supported by the evidence is not a mistake. Refusing to concede the idea just didn’t pan out is not a mistake.

Panacea writes,

Researching a promising idea is not a mistake.

MJD says,

Orac has taught MJD that proving a negative is medically unethical, therefore, I’ve used common-sense teachings to induce exclusionary measures that may affect the disease/disorder incidence thereafter.

In simplicity, stop what you’re doing and see what happens.

I like Orac, although, once a decade.

MJD: If that’s what you think Orac taught you, then you didn’t understand him. And this is why you continue to remain in auto moderation, and will continue to do so well . . . forever.

Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat.

The Daily Heil mentions “experts” in its title, and proceeds to cite Duesberg, the HIV denialist, who has progressed to being an HPV denialist in his continued search for relevancy.

It also cites “Joan Shenton, who narrates the documentary which is supported by the pressure groups SaneVax and the UK Association of HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters (AHVID) ”

“Pressure group” is a nice way of saying “handful of scammers and grifters”.

A cite from the Daily Mail. A newspaper I wouldn’t use to wipe myself after taking a dump for fear it would dirty my backside further.
A newspaper nicknamed the Daily Fail and the Daily Heil.
A known dishonest rag that reported on the case in Italy where it was ruled that MMR had caused a child’s autism, but was completely silent when it came to reporting that the verdict had been overturned on appeal.
Get a better cite. Preferably from PubMed.

Thanks, Patricia. That article was mightily entertaining because it’s so bad and so full of nonsense. But, then, it is the Daily Fail.

Will the Sun go super nova tomorrow? The technically correct answer is probably not. For that to happen, everything we know about nuclear physics would be spectacularly flawed. And possibly, it could be. But it is so highly improbable that even a scientist can say with certainty that the sun will rise next week, just like last week.

Scientists should take the same approach in many other in many other areas. Scientists cripple their ability to communicate when they use words in a sense that the general public does not.

If there is no known or suspected mechanism for a result in an area that has been extensively studied, a scientist can legitimately state that a particular thing “certainly” did or will not happen.

While I realize that the human body is an incredibly complex biological system that can rarely be described with certainty, given our extensive knowledge and study of vaccines and Gardasil, a headline of Certainly Did Not Kill is warranted, with a disclaimer in the article about “I considered all of the facts known in this case and there is simply no plausible connection between the patient’s death and Gardasil.”

Not least because his transverse myelitis wasn’t fatal. He was living with it, and had been for several years. Whatever actually killed him was one of the methods of suicide.

LOL all you Orac acolytes are sooo predictable and soooo ready to fly into paroxysms of laughter because I linked to DM. Funny thing, I thought it might just be about your intellectual level. Cmmon you know there is plenty of other sites that say the same thing. When you have finished sniggering and you haven’t wet yourselves like Science Mom probably did, you might just want to really start thinking like proper scientists and take a leaf out of David Brayton’s grown up reply. No. We do not know many things with certainty, but….so many deaths following Gardasil are not only horrendous and tragic but a fact that is worthy of further investigation by non conflicted unbiased real grown up scientists. It is NOT a laughing matter. You are all so lacking in genuine wit or originality of thought. Boring. I shan’t be back.

Sure you won’t. Sure you won’t.

It’s not as though all those “deaths” haven’t been studied in aggregate. There are multiple large studies showing no increased risk of death after HPV vaccination. THAT’s science.

No deaths directly associated with Gardasil. Sorry Patricia. Your sources are shit.

“[P]lenty of other sites that say the same thing” I found a site that recommends cobra venom as a great high. What’s your point?

Patricia, is there some reason that you are unable to express yourself with civility? At what point did it become acceptable to use this kind of language in a public discussion?

@ Megsaint,

Do you realize that this is the blog Respectful Insolence?

Orac allows, and often encourages, a free discussion in the absence of physical threats.

@ Orac,

I have a cat allergy, each time I see a cat image as the profile picture psychosomatic-symptoms inevitably shut me down, limiting my residence time.

Is there something you can do about this?

Please advise…


I have a cat allergy, each time I see a cat image as the profile picture psychosomatic-symptoms inevitably shut me down, limiting my residence time.

Althought I’m not Orac, I doubt the advices, if any, would be much different: go meet your friendly local pharmacists and describe said allergy.


You know, Science Mom, it seems we don’t hear much about hiv aids denialists these days- almost as though they want to distance themselves from their past work.

I wonder how many vaccine questioners or natural health enthusiasts would feel if they learned that their new information source on vaccines or a healthy diet once spewed lunatic theories against SB approaches to hiv and aids?
HOWEVER they seem to be rather quiet about that past.

What I presented above is only a partial list.

We should also look askance whenever an anti-vax group presents any of them as a scientific source.
Celia Farber speaking up for Andy doesn’t help his cause” choosing her doesn’t say much about the group’s
judgment or research,

…so many deaths following Gardasil …

Yes, children do sometimes die shortly after vaccination. And people being only human, they have a strong tendency to link the two events, regardless whether there is a link or not. even without any causal link, it is a statistical certainty that this will happen, because of two simple facts: a) people die, and unfortunately, this includes children too; and b) if you vaccinate lots of children, then sometimes, a will happen shortly after b, purely by chance. The problem is that antivaccine activists look at these conditional cases exclusively, without taking a and b into consideration separately. This strongly biased method of observation is then aggravated further by exaggeration, untruths, rumors, and appeal to emotion, often in strong language.

Or to blatantly copy/paste a previous explanation of mine with some numbers to clarify:
“Yes, of course numerous children come down with something or other shortly after being vaccinated; it would be very surprising if this didn’t happen. Here’s why: If annually 0.1% of children (so 1 in 1000) of a particular age develops some bad disorder, and you vaccinate one million children that age, this means that a thousand of those children will get that disorder, and that literally dozens of those children will have received their vaccination shortly before — all without there being any causal connection whatsoever. The problem is of course that those children and/or their parents feel quite certain that there is a connection; this is quite human. And that is why we have things such as science and statistics.”

Richard writes,

The problem is of course that those children and/or their parents feel quite certain that there is a connection; this is quite human. And that is why we have things such as science and statistics.

MJD says,

And sometimes the parents are scientists that use known biological mechanisms to show a connection and thereafter do the unexpected by speaking-up and attempting to rescue that 0.01% – 2.0% from possible harm.

This is quite superhuman considering the return on their investment. (i.e., anti-vaccine label)

Different example with less evil math: a toddler gets vaccinated and a few days later, runs in front of the car. And although you could make up a headline similiar to ” child dies days after vaccination!”, there would be no casual link between the events.

@Michael J. Dochniak (MJD)

And sometimes the parents are scientists that use known biological mechanisms to show a connection

Um, no, they don’t show a connection. At the very best, one can say that they speculate(*) — and until that speculation is confirmed by other scientists, it is very unwise to act upon that speculation as if it were a proven fact. And ‘speaking up’ is one of those things these people should certainly refrain from until their ideas are independently confirmed.

To put it another way: what a single person thinks for whatever reason, is by definition NOT science, at least not yet. It only becomes a part of science after other scientists have approved it as such.

Besides, can you come up with even one example where an individual scientist/parent spoke up about some sort of harm stemming from vaccination he or she discovered, and that was later proven to be true? I only know of ‘scientists’ who have raised the alarm on multiple occasions, but were proven wrong every single time.

*: There are complete antivaccine Web sites dedicated to ‘science’ that in reality is nothing but unwarranted speculation and overall bad science. Vaccinepapers is one such example.

@Michael J. Dochniak (MJD)
?? Where does it say that one or more of these contra-indications were found out or thought up by one wary person, independently from the scientists and pharmaceutical companies who developed the vaccines? A cursory search shows that all these warnings were issued with the vaccines from the very first registration onwards, and most warnings are no-brainers for virologists and other specialists in the field anyway. Still apart from this, ignoring most of these precautions wouldn’t lead to harm; they merely serve as precaution or disclaimer (e.g. because insufficient research data is available to guarantee safety for pregnant women).

So again, when has it happened that a single person discovered potential or actual harm of a vaccine after it was brought onto the market? And for which this person was subsequently seen as ‘antivaccine’, even when their findings or theories were actually confirmed by science?
All the antivaccine scientists that I know of fully deserve this qualification, because they come up with unwarranted speculation, horrible science or even outright lies and fraud, in order to ‘prove’ that vaccines are Evil.

Richard asks,

…when has it happened that a single person discovered potential or actual harm of a vaccine after it was brought onto the market? And for which this person was subsequently seen as ‘antivaccine’, even when their findings or theories were actually confirmed by science?

MJD says,

Thanks for adding clarity to your previous question.


Denise H. Dunn

Despoina, you make a good point. When I worked on drug studies I was surprised to learn that every adverse event was to be reported.
“What if he’s run over by a bus?” Report it. “What if she gets shot by a random killer?” Report it. “What if he gets hit by a meteor?” Report it! After all, maybe the drug somehow interfered with his ability to dodge meteors.
You get the idea. There was absolutely nothing adverse that was too random or far-fetched I could imagine that didn’t get reported. And it is reflected in the accompanying drug info.


Your third link does not support the other two, or your premise.

The charitable interpretation would be that you posted the wrong link, but I believe you intended to post that link, and provided further evidence to support the second link.

Johnny writes,

Your third link does not support the other two, or your premise.

MJD says,

Did you notice in the third link that the CDC has a flu-vaccine table which provides the content of both thimerosal and a potentially hazardous vaccine packaging component.

It is patently clear that said component is potentially hazardous based on the timing, frequency, and intensity of exposure.

Thus, Denise H. Dunn is a parent who has clearly shown the potential hazard of said component in vaccine packaging and thereafter has been publicly humiliated as anti-vaccine.

Enough said…

First off, when you say ‘Dunn’, we all know that you mean yourself.

Second, according to

Archaeologists have found that latex items were used as early as 1600 BC, but it took until approximately 1900 AD before surgical gloves were commonly used. Descriptions of apparent allergic reactions to natural rubber appeared in the medical literature in 1927, and irritant and delayed-contact reactions were reported in 1933. Although irritant and delayed-contact reactions to rubber products were increasingly recognized, immediate-type allergic reactions were not reported again until 1979. However, after 1980, increasing numbers of contact urticarial reactions to latex were reported, and investigations suggested that many of these reactions were IgE-mediated. In 1984, the first anaphylactic reactions caused by latex surgical gloves were reported, followed in 1991 by the first report of a fatal anaphylactic reaction to latex. Increasing recognition of latex allergy led to divergent paths of investigation. Critical early questions were whether the observed reactions were truly IgE-mediated, and if they were IgE-mediated, what was the source of the allergen? If the allergen was present in latex products, where did it come from? Was it present in raw latex or was it added during processing? As knowledge about the allergens improved, efforts were made to develop and test materials for skin testing and for allergen-specific IgE assays. Now more than 10 unique proteins are recognized as major latex allergens. Although much has been learned about latex allergy, important unanswered questions remain, including the sources of latex exposure that led to sensitization, why latex allergy increased dramatically during the 1980s, and the prevalence of latex allergy in diverse populations. This review concentrates on the history of latex use in medicine and the dramatic emergence of immediate-type latex allergy.

So the ‘hazard’ in vaccine packaging was known for about 30 years prior to ‘Dunn’ coming on the scene.

And to avoid the ire of our host, it’s the last i’ll Say on the subject.

Johnny writes,

So the ‘hazard’ in vaccine packaging was known for about 30 years prior to ‘Dunn’ coming on the scene.

MJD says,

How do you think that affects consumer confidence in vaccines?

Q. Where in medical science is ignorance bliss.

A. Vaccine packaging

Wow. This person obviously took a page out of “How to attack people without involving facts 101”. This is just painfully obvious trolling.

I am constantly amazed, although by now I shouldn’t be, at how little conspiracists of all stripes fail to do anything like research about their favorite alleged conspiracy. Neither do they attempt to gain any real expertise enough to evaluate the topic themselves.
A high school friend I was in touch with turned out to be a chemtrail believer. She saw the contrails crisscrossing the sky above her and found that suspect. She lives in New Jersey. Practically any flight between the New York metro area and points south or west is going to cross New Jersey. She knew it was bad because as soon as the chemtrail-spewing plane passed over her she felt sick. It takes a hell of a long time for an aerosol to descend six miles. She showed me a picture of a business jet with “spray nozzles” sticking out of the wings. It took me less than five minutes to find pictures online of that model of plane that clearly showed they were aerodynamic wing strakes. I showed her pictures going all the way back to the 1920s of contrails like the ones she was agitated about.All of these were things she either knew but didn’t apply, or she should have known, or could have found out for herself.
Antivaxers have the same mindset. You don’t need advanced degrees to evaluate what they think they know. Give them a concept that reinforces their biases and they forget everything they know or any common sense they might have. Never expect them to do anything to acquire the minimum of expertise that would let them evaluate all this stuff for themselves. Don’t have the right degree? Go down to a local college and find out what it takes to audit courses. Think you see something suspect? Buy or borrow a higher end camera. Think the Air Force is hiding alien tech at Wright Patterson? Join with some of your fellow travelers and get someone to hang around Yellow Springs and talk to the base personnel when they’re off duty (Okay, this is probably a good way to draw some attention from the FBI. But an accredited journalist or a PI working for a group of eccentrics might get pull it off.).
Facts will never change the mind of a true believer. Mockery works once in a while. Get them thinking about the right questions will change some minds.

Old Rockin’ Dave writes,

Neither do they attempt to gain any real expertise enough to evaluate the topic themselves.

MJD says,

A paradigm shift, with respect to vaccine safety, is not immune to respectful insolence.

“A paradigm shift, with respect to vaccine safety, is not immune to respectful insolence.”
Please explain. A Magic 8-Ball is less opaque than this. Or maybe I don’t want to know – the explanation might actually be toxic.

<blockquote.LOL all you Orac acolytes are sooo predictable and soooo ready to fly into paroxysms of laughter because I linked to DM.</blockquote.>

So why did you do it, you numpty?

Cmmon you know there is plenty of other sites that say the same thing.

So you chose the Daily Fail. That says it all.

Boring. I shan’t be back.

If only.

Speaking of “going low” Levi Quackenboss has topped doxxing a 12 year old by trying to claim the Turpin case is a false flag operation to force homeschoolers to vaccinate.

I stopped reading her ravings on the Turpin case after this comment:

“And then I started looking at the photos and I thought, gosh, some of the girls in their family sure have shapely legs for people who have been starved. And gosh, they really aren’t short at all considering a female reaches her maximum height by 14 years old; 15 at the most, and their mom looks to be 5-foot-nothing. And gosh, their hair is absolutely lustrous and doesn’t look nutrient deficient at all.”

Ms. Quackenboss is some classy lady.

Dangerous Bacon, I wanted to respond immediately, but had to wait until I stopped gagging. She actually said that?? The first picture I saw brought to mind this thought: Those girls look just like my daughter’s friend X who suffered and almost died from anorexia when she was in her teens. If I hadn’t known her and her parents and what they were all going through, but just saw her somewhere, I would probably have contacted the proper authorities.

I didn’t think anything my opinion of the individual identifying as “Quackenboss” could go any lower, but I was wrong. “She” is a disgusting human being.

The oldest is 29, and weighed 82 pounds. If you look at the pictures, she looks 12. She’s taller than her mother but much shorter than her father. And her legs are not shapely.

But what’s really scary is the boys. The two older boys were 23 and 28 in the wedding photos. They are shorter than their mother and look like prepubescent middle school children.

Oh, and their hair looks bad.

I stopped reading her ravings on the Turpin case after this comment

You missed out on the insane babbling about the credit for the photo. (I dunno; does EXIF have a field?)

“She” is a disgusting human being.

No, it’s “she,” Robyn Ross, Colorado Bar No. 46782. Plenty of other pseudonyms, as well.

And gosh, they really aren’t short at all considering a female reaches her maximum height by 14 years old;

Hmm. Must explain why I continued to grow until I was 18 or so, and am nearly six feet tall in spite of being fully vaccinated with the schedule of the day. Oh, wait. It doesn’t.

Quackenstooge doesn’t know the first thing about child development.

“Quackenstooge doesn’t know the first thing about child development.”

Height was not the only thing in human female development that changes around age 14. I am pretty sure the clothing allowance in that family did not include bras.

Oh, no! It just occurred to me one reason for the systematic starving of the kids was to keep them as children to be controlled, which includes preventing puberty or any kind of sexual development.

We live in quite an amazing world. It is really incredible to me that our lives are generally so devoid of real suffering that it is possible to argue about perceived existential threats on the sole basis of believing in them. How differently were people motivated in the times when huge numbers of children actually died of Polio or Small Pox or Measles? It is very easy to have certainty about the “danger” of vaccines if there is little clear penalty to it. It’s like people don’t even believe that these things actually existed. I read an article in the New York Times just now about the outcomes of SB277 and about how the Measles outbreak that actually occurred in Disneyland has ultimately completely changed the vaccination landscape among Kindergarteners in that state. Perspective can be helpful and I think it sad that it took a law to enforce civic responsibility. As horrific as Colton’s experience was, we can be thankful that it also isn’t that common… not common enough for people to really know what the disease was and truly not common enough to be comparable to the incidence of deaths resulting from childhood disease prior to the advent of vaccination. If we had an actual outbreak with the scale and lethality of the Spanish Flu pandemic, say, can you imagine what the 24 hr news cycle would do? They flipped over Swine flu. It’s almost like SARS has to actually happen in the U.S. for people to believe that it can.

A big penalty of the pervasive media environment is that rare stories can be carried far and wide and held up as if they are typical. People buy Powerball tickets because everybody knows somebody will win, but they also become hopping angry over the notion that Colton’s situation might happen to them. It’s really sad that it happened to Colton. But, how many people even knew or cared about Colton prior to when he got tangled up in their causes? Maybe, if people actually took the time to get to know and understand others, particularly people with whom they do not agree and who aren’t members of their internet silo, it would be a less trivial thing to level threats of personal violence, which is wishing suffering on another person that is really no different than what happened to Colton. It’s become too easy to dehumanize people who might simply be our neighbors. “Eye for an eye” is wonderful until it’s someone you care about.

Though I try every day, simply can’t fix stupid in my clinic or ER. Almost 300 cases of influenza a in my region so far this year, half the population, aka antivaxxers, think we’re out to toxify everyone with pills for money. Virus don’t care, but we do. Stupid. Just can’t fix it.

My son just got diagnosed with the flu this week (we’re all vaccinated). It’s definitely been going around. Luckily we caught it early (in the first 24 hrs), so he got Tamilflu and the pediatrician said that the flu shot can make some of the symptoms less severe. I was talking to the teacher’s assistant today when picking up his homework, and she went on how she doesn’t give the flu shot to her kids and just hopes for the best. Why…why??? If she cold only see how miserable he’s been this week, and that’s with a relatively “mild” case. It just makes me sad.

If you keep telling your readers that some people are part of a VAST conspiracy aimed at destroying children in order to make a profit, a few of them, thinking themselves HEROES about to save mankind against evil itself, just might do something.

Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of ‘stochastic terrorism’.

@ Jenora Feuer:

The state of affairs I describe above is by no means a rarity at the places I survey unfortunately.

Just look at some of Kent Heckenlively’s fantasies about being Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, facing down Sauron’s forces in a doomed diversionary mission at the Black Gate of Mordor, his offer to accept the surrender of pro-vaccine advocates, and his fantasy about retributive justice against all of us promoting vaccination if you don’t believe me.

My personal favorite example of Kent’s fantasy life is his post about a conversation he had with President Trump.

Well, it was a Trump doll, but he had a conversation worth telling the world about with it.

Yesterdays AoA posting (lamenting about how Trump hasn’t been their savior this last year) starts with “Note: About a year has passed since our dear Dan Olmsted, leader of the Rebel Alliance, died. Feels to me as crushing as when Dumbledore died in the Harry Potter stories. Just an unfathomable blow.”

Even dumber, a few days prior they attribute teens eating Tide laundry pods to vaccinations. I attribute it to the Idiocracy.

It’s always the vaccinations for these people. Something’s not right in their life? It’s a vaccine injury.

@ Chris Hickie:

Oh I know!
Pop culture references are alright IF and only if the rest of your post makes sense. No chance of that.
Her twitter ( @ kimrossi1111) is even more ridiculous.

In related news…
Jake Crosby ( Autism Investigated) insults our esteemed host and deletes any links his commenters might make.
( post about Colton).

I’m sure that Orac will be just heartbroken that he won’t get any comments from Hans

None of Jake’s fanbois would be able to figure out how to find Orac on his own.

Given that one of my most lovely and humorous friends just started treatment for HPV rectal cancer (she is one of the funniest people I know, so we are inundating her with buttocks gifs and memes), I’m inclined to encourage the Gardasil vaccine. Okay, so anecdote X1, but anyway, HPV cancers are tragic too, and at least partially preventable by vaccine.

But….but… What about all the good Christian girls???? Seriously though, the sheer irony is enough to make one sick. Sure, we are the ones who burying the cancer cure for money. Mark my words. When the HIV vaccine is invented, we see the unholy alliance between right-wing moralists and anti vax emerge again.

Well, Orac, at the very least searching for “Colton Berrett” on Google comes up with your post about this as the first hit, with this post itself as the second. Sadly, most of the rest of the hits, except for Skeptical Raptor’s (#5 as of this writing) are all antivax pages promoting the foolishness that his tragic death was caused by Gardasil.

Please keep up the good work, sir, continue shining the light of science as a candle in these days of gathering darkness.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the only reason they may come up as first and second is because you frequent this site. Go to an incognito window and try again. I bet you dollars to donuts (mmm… Donuts!) that the results change.

On my iPad, I deleted chrome, and reinstalled it. Searching “Colton Berrett” brought up our host’s other post on this subject as #1, with the Raptor in the #4 slot. I didn’t find this OP on the first 10 pages.

One of my cases this week as a pathologist involved a recurrent anal squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer which like cervical squamous cell carcinoma is heavily linked to HPV infection. This is a hard to treat disease even when not fatal. And as with cervical cancer, there are precancerous conditions requiring close monitoring and treatment (including surgical procedures) with resulting pain and other unpleasant consequences.

As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, antivaxers focus only on the death rate, hoping to use the smallest numbers they can find to minimize the need for vaccination, while ignoring the serious non-fatal effects of the disease.

It’s a threadbare and sick strategy.

“That’s because, as a scientist, I can’t say with utter, 100% certainty that Gardasil didn’t cause Colton’s transverse myelitis, ”

Then it must be TWOO!

RW 23: Interestingly enough, among the Yoruba (who also live in Nigeria) twins are sacred, which suggests it’s less about economics/ spirituality and more about identity. Or, equally possible, that one or more tribes got more Christianized than some others.

No, it’s just the incredible variation in human culture. Funerary practices are another example.

In other anti-vax news…. no,,,LUNACY…

Mikey ( Natural News) prints a death threat sent to Suzanne Humphries by vaccine supporters
AND THEN, tacks on prevarication about someone we know
as if the two item might be related somehow

Are his readers really that gullible?

“Mikey ( Natural News) prints a death threat sent to Suzanne Humphries by vaccine supporters”

Well, that’s super-believable, along with manufactured outrage coming from someone linked to public posting of a hit list of pro-GMO advocates (and drawing interest from the FBI as a result).

I noticed that James Lyons-Weiler provides the visitor with an estimated read time for his posts ( e.g., 2 min read).

When has Orac’s posts at Respectful Insolence ever been so user friendly and sympathetic?


Since you don’t like what Orac does or says, why do you hang around here?
It’s not like you’re getting a special invitation or something- quite the contrary.


blockquote>I noticed that James Lyons-Weiler provides the visitor with an estimated read time for his posts ( e.g., 2 min read).



I am amazed that I can still be amazed by the depths of stupidity plumbed by MJD — someone who purports to have written something valuable able “artificial intelligence,” no less. Is there a patent for word count? Division?

Denice Walter asks,

Since you don’t like what Orac does or says, why do you hang around here?

MJD says,

Book sales.

My next book titled, Patents and Artificial Intelligence: Thinking Computers (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) has a quote therein from Orac and I’m expecting significant sales from his minions.

Also, Orac is one of my favorite science FRICTION writers and commenting here is a guilty pleasure.

Now that I’ve answered your question please answer this:

Q. Why do you call well-intended vaccine safety advocates anti-vaccine.

Q. Why do you call well-intended vaccine safety advocates anti-vaccine?

More JAQing Off from MJD. When Orac and the minions slam people for being antivaccine, it’s because said people ARE antivaccine, and just hide behind “vaccine safety advocate”.


I can hardly believe that you sell many books.

No, I think that you like getting our attention even when it is mocking and insulting.

Why do I call you – and others- anti-vaxxers?

Because you are.

You hide behind the mantle of “vaccine safety advocates” when you believe that vaccines are basically unsafe.
So the title is true in a way but misleading.It’s so that the general public won’t automatically dismiss you..

If you were truly a vaccine safety advocate, you would be STEEPED in research that shows how vaccine safety has improved over the years and how it is continuously monitored. You wouldn’t fall prey to ideas like those we find on anti-vax sites like AoA, TMR, NVIC.

You would know the real risk numbers not the made up ones.

Can you name any safe vaccines? Are there any vaccines that you would be willing to take or have your children take?

True vaccine safety advocates are people like Orac, Dorit, Dr Offit,,Dangerous Bacon, Chris Hickie, Chris and most of the minions.

Denice Walter writes,

If you were truly a vaccine safety advocate, you would be STEEPED in research that shows how vaccine safety has improved over the years and how it is continuously monitored.

MJD says,

It is well documented that I’ve promoted, with enthusiam and admiration, the forward-thinking developments of Flublok.

Calling someone anti-vaccine does not, in my opinion, enhance their status as a vaccine safety advocate.

Note :I;m having trouble posting this


I doubt that you’ll sell many books. How many have you sold already TOTAL?

I call you an anti-vaxxer because that’s what you are: you hide behind “safety” so that the general public won’t reject your ideas IMMEDIATELY. Just like AoA, TMR,NVIC, RFK, NN, prn etc.

Are there any vaccines that you think are safe?

REAL safety advocates know the numbers and risk figures; they also know how vaccine safety has improved, how it’s tested, how likely injury is IN REALITY not in their imaginations.

Orac is a true vaccine safety advocate, you poseur.

If he is admitting to being here to gain publicity from a hostile blogger, then he should be expelled at last. It would be one thing if he had some interesting-but-flawed arguments or perspectives; this is not that thing. Orac has a high tolerance; I like that. But freakface just admitted to free-riding on Respectful Insolence. Ban.

@TRT: JLW’s Medium post on neonatal Hep B was horrifying something of an eye-opener, i.e., if one hadn’t already noticed how not even wrong he is generally. In it he insists that the proper risk::benefit evaluation should be made between infant mortality through month 2 for the disease versus month 1 for those vaccinated, demonstrating once again how little he understands. And his full-throated endorsement on his blog of what by all available information appears to be an MbP mum*—presented credulously as a so-called medical kidnap due to alleged vaccine injury and subsequent refusal—is beyond irresponsible. It shows that no due diligence is needed as long as the story told seems to support the increasingly more paranoid anti-vaccine narrative.

I also couldn’t help but notice that he’s closed comments to his original Colton Berrett post, deleting any that may’ve been made (I seem to recall some, including yours, but may be misremembering) and leaving behind only two pingbacks. One of which is his own. I almost feel sorry for him. Is he still employable working, outside the IPAK grift organisation he founded and book sales?

OT: said case involves CPS removal of an infant with life-threatening, repeated hyponatremia and, reportedly, (pseudo-?)hyperaldosteronism—factitious Bartter Syndrome? Anita Vasquez is an RN with a TX license under stipulation (basically, on probation) and a colourful/troubled past, including an appearance on Judge Judy. Vasquez claims her daughter’s illness resulted from an errant HPV vaccination at four months, which was intended for her son. However, labs don’t lie, and it’s trivially easy to induce symptoms that don’t add up. Poor baby. In any case, a motions hearing is scheduled today, the first appearance of new co-counsel Allison Folmar, a name familiar here. It will be interesting to follow, and to see whether it remains a cause célèbre within the fringey-er parts of antivaxdom.

@ Panacea:

I think that Jake has TWO or THREE fanbois- who may be the same person- ( Hans, White Rose, Sophie)

OK, so fanBOI

Kissmetoad: Could be. I just find it interesting that two neighbors have such diametrically opposing viewpoints.

Do you ever talk to your neighbors? I’m pretty sure mine have different viewpoints from me on a lot of things, from the conversations we’ve had, though I don’t get into the weeds too much.

Weiler: “When you engage in vaccine risk denialists like Dorit Reiss, and so-called ‘Orac’, and others who refuse to acknowledge the full body of science”

Hey, why wasn’t I warned to double-shield my irony meter? Next time I’m invited to visit the Institute for Pure and Applied Bullshit, I expect full disclosure, like on them vaccine package inserts.

“I used to visit these sites, and I used to engage with these individuals on Twitter, and it took a while, but eventually I became bored, tired of winning arguments, tired of their stale tactics. So I baited them.”

Ah, an admitted troll.

JP: Do you ever talk to your neighbors?

My parent’s neighbors, yes. But this isn’t seeing something blue as green, it’s two entirely different worldviews. Like one side viewing walking on their hands as normal.

MJD: Book sales.

Haha, seriously? Man, you need to see someone for that delusion. Only ONE of the posters here ever bought one of your books; and he bought it second hand, for about fifty cents. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of ‘libraries?’ They’re stocked chockfull of better books, usually by people who know the subject they write about, and they’re free. (Also, they have books on how to improve one’s writing skills. I’m just saying.)

@ PGP:

In a way, you don’t need to discuss these very divisive issues with people you know- and get into arguments- because there are polls and data about how people feel.

Right now, there are some surprising figures that reveal participants’ worldviews: there are strongly opposing views about immigration and governmental control amongst other topics.( like Trump’s abilities)

I heard a comment the other day ( MSNBC) that the people most opposed to immigration live in places where there are few immigrants.

In a financial news source, a sociological paper ( Woodard) illustrated 11 different “nations” in the US based on average political views about diversity, government control etc. The NY metro area is New Netherlands- liberal, diverse, business oriented; Yankeedom extends from New England to the Great Lakes and the Left Coast which contrast with the Deep South, El Norte and the interior west.

It’s worth looking at. Of course, majority views aren’t the only views in each region. Conservatives and Trumpers live even in Manhattan and Brooklyn – but they’re not the majority.

The responses from anti-vaxxers, pseudo-scientists and woobers sound almost identical to devout religious cranks. You’re evil, rebellious and destined for hell. Reason, evidence is not even a concern. It is all rather predictable and tiring.

[…] One of the more extreme claims about Gardasil and Cervarix that makes the rounds from time to time is that the vaccine is killing prepubscent girls. I’ve discussed a number of these cases over the years, both here and elsewhere. Suffice to say, when these cases are critically evaluated, the evidence for a link between Gardasil and the deaths attributed to the vaccine is almost always incredibly thin and unconvincing. One example is Annabelle Morin, whose mother Linda Morin blames Gardasil for her daughter’s death, even though it almost certainly did not. Another example is Jasmine Renata, whose death at a young age was cynically exploited by antivaxers. It even attracted our old antivaccine “friend,” scientist Christopher Shaw, to the proceedings, where he tried to convince New Zealand health authorities that HPV vaccination can cause sudden death and that it caused Renata’s death. The most recent case I discussed was that of Colton Berrett, an active, happy 13 year old boy who received the old three shot series of Gardasil and, two weeks after his third dose, developed symptoms of transverse myelitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the spinal cord. It left him dependent on a ventilator, with one arm completely paralyzed and the other greatly weakened. Four years later, he committed suicide. His case has since been used to promote the idea that “Gardasil kills.” […]

I lost a child to a cancer that is found only at a rate of 1 in 2,000,000 live birth. I obviously have an understanding of the mental state of a parent who has lost a child. I have watched in bereaved parent groups, people questioning everything they did while they were pregnant or exposed their child to during their life and if they “allowed” their cancer to happen. A dr / researcher gave us insights into the current research showing that nearly 100% of childhood cancers are not caused by any environmental exposure. His death was three years ago and I now have peace that this was just bad luck and could not be pinned on a single event.

It is so upsetting to me to watch science be attacked. This mom may feel so much guilt for allowing her son to get this vaccine and be carrying that guilt. She shouldn’t.

I’m grateful that you are putting a voice out there to try in any way to counter balance the mass hysteria. It is a strange time we live in.

I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain.

My oldest had neonatal seizures when he was two days old, long before there was a newborn HepB vaccine. So I know very well that they can just happen. He also has a severe genetic heart disorder… plus he is autistic.

I call it a bad roll of the genetic dice. Stuff just happens. You can prevent some things like a case of measles by vaccinating, serious injury by actually not running a red light and not smoking. But some things are just too random.

If I am going to blame anything it would be yogurt. I now get a gag reflex when I see the stuff. That was the problem with buying it from Costco and bringing it into work to eat while I was pregnant with oldest.

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