Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine Pseudoscience

Another study shows that autism is mainly genetic. Antivaxers go crazy.

This month the largest epidemiological study of its kind was published and concluded, once again, that autism is primarily due to genes and that the environmental component of autism risk is small. Not surprisingly, once again antivaxers didn’t want to hear that message.

The key belief of the modern antivaccine movement over the last two decades has been that vaccines either cause, contribute, or predispose children to autism. Although this particular belief is generally believed to have originated in 1998 with the publication of disgraced physician and scientist Andrew Wakefield’s case series of 12 children that reported an association between vaccination with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism and was published in The Lancet , the idea predates Wakefield’s fraudulent publication. After all, a lawyer paid Wakefield handsomely to do “research” that he could use to sue vaccine manufacturers on behalf of parents of children with autism. Wakefield’s case series was ultimately retracted due to findings of scientific fraud and Wakefield’s medical license taken away, but it didn’t matter. The idea that vaccines cause autism is the most prevalent antivaccine misinformation that fuels the movement, and Wakefield still milks it, having produced with Del Bigtree an antivaccine propaganda movie disguised as a documentary, VAXXED.

The idea is not just limited to the MMR vaccine, either. Another strain of antivaccine belief mistakenly attributes autism to the mercury in the thimerosal preservative that was used in many childhood vaccines until 2001, while others claim it’s “too many too soon,” and still others blame DNA fragments in vaccines crossing the blood-brain barrier and causing neuroinflammation. Many are the vaccines blamed for autism, and many are the bogus proposed biological mechanisms by which vaccines supposedly “cause autism”, but in the end it’s always about the vaccines. Always. Antivaxers deny that autism has a major genetic components, and, even when they do conceded a genetic component, try to divert to claiming that it’s a “genetic susceptibility” to “vaccine injury” that is responsible for autism, not primarily genetics.

All of this is why antivaxers generally lash out whenever a study comes out that reports a large genetic component to autism and autism spectrum disorders. This happened just last week, as the largest study of its kind, encompassing five countries and two million subjects was published last week and concluded that autism spectrum disorders are 80% reliant on inherited genes. Before I get to the study itself, here’s how it was reported in WebMD nearly two weeks ago:

The findings could open new doors to research into the genetic causes of autism, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says affects 1 in every 59 U.S. children. It might also help ease fears that autism is caused by maternal factors — a mother’s weight, mode or timing of delivery, or nutrient intake, for example. The new study found the role of maternal factors to be “nonexistent or minimal.” Instead, “the current study results provide the strongest evidence to our knowledge to date that the majority of risk for autism spectrum disorders is from genetic factors,” said a team led by Sven Sandin, an epidemiological researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The new study might help dampen public interest in supposed — but unproven — “environmental” causes of autism, such as vaccines. Long-discredited, fraudulent data linking childhood vaccination with autism is still widely cited by the “anti-vaxxer” movement.

I fear that last part is pretty much wishful thinking. Whenever a new study provides evidence for a genetic cause of autism, antivaxers tend to double down and attack the study. Will this study withstand the attacks? Scientifically, probably (as I’ll explain in a moment), but in the vaccine PR wars? Who knows?

Genes, not environment, are the primary driver of ASDs

The study under discussion, “Association of Genetic and Environmental Factors With Autism in a 5-Country Cohort“, was published online in JAMA Psychiatry on July 17 by a multinational group of researchers led by Sven Sandin, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The investigators set the stage in the introduction thusly:

Autism spectrum disorder has both genetic and environmental origins. Research into the genetic origins of ASD has consistently implicated common and rare inherited variation (heritability). However, evidence shows that there are other, noninherited, genetic influences that could be associated with variation in a trait.3 Given the prenatal origins of ASD, an important source of such genetic influences could be maternal effects.4 The term maternal effects is used to describe the association of a maternal phenotype with ASD in offspring (ie, the noninherited genetic influences originating from mothers beyond what is inherited by the offspring). Maternal effects have been associated with a substantial proportion of the variation in several traits associated with ASD, including preterm birth5 and intelligence quotient.6 Research on nongenetic origins has frequently pointed to a role for environmental exposures unique to different family members (nonshared environment), an example of which is cesarean delivery.7 In contrast, contribution from environmental exposures that make family members similar (ie, shared environment), has been uncertain.8 A meta-analysis of twin studies estimated heritability to be in the range of 64% to 91%,8 and 3 population-based studies from Sweden recently estimated the heritability of ASD to be 83%,9 80%,4 and 66%.10 Among those earlier heritability calculations from twin and family studies (eTable 1 in the Supplement), a single study has estimated maternal effects,4 reporting modest, if any, contribution to ASD. Estimates of the contribution of shared environment range from 7% to 35%,8 but multiple studies estimate the contribution to be zero.4,9,11,12 Thus, although the origin and development of ASD has been investigated for half a century, it remains controversial.

I can’t help but note here that, although there is controversy, most of the estimates cited fall within a fairly narrow range, which makes me think that how much genetics contributes to the development of ASDs is really not that controversial. Be that as it may, I do feel obligated to briefly discuss one point here before I dig into the meat of the study, and that’s to answer the question, “What do we mean by ‘genetic’?” The general public, given how these sorts of issues are reported, often tends to think that “genetic” means that there is a single gene (or a handful of genes) responsible for a trait, disease, or condition. That is, of course, very simplistic. While there are traits and diseases that can be determined by a single gene, most complex traits depend upon many genes and can be affected by many variants of those genes. What studies of this sort estimate is how much autism susceptibility is due to heritability. The other thing that you need to know is that, for purposes of this sort of model, maternal and environmental factors that impact autism risk are basically everything else that is non-heritable. We’ll come back to this point later.

So here’s what the investigators did. They examined the medical histories of more than two million children born in singleton births in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel, and Western Australia between 1998 and 2012. For Sweden, Finland, and Western Australia, investigators included all births between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2007, while for Israel they included all births between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2011. All were tracked for a diagnosis of ASD from birth up to December 31, 2014, in Sweden; December 31, 2013, in Denmark; December 31, 2012, in Finland; December 31, 2014, in Israel; and July 1, 2011, in Western Australia. Children were followed until age 16. Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Israel provided clinically ascertained diagnoses from national patient registers while the data from Western Australia was obtained from a government provided service and benefits register with clinically ascertained autism diagnoses. Of the cohort, 22,156 went on to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, for a prevalence in the group of 1.1%. Data were analyzed from September 23, 2016 through February 4, 2018.

As you might expect, the authors used Generalized Linear Mixed Effect Models (GLMM) to estimate genetic and environmental effects on the risk for ASD and autistic disorder (AD), using the three-generational data sources in the databases examined to construct families that vary by genetic relatedness and therefore are informative for genetic modeling. These included full siblings and cousins related through their mothers (maternal parallel cousins [mPCs]), or cousins of other relationships. To be honest, I’m not a statistician, which places the nitty-gritty of the statistics mostly beyond me. (If a statistician wants to chime in in the comments, I try never to be too proud do learn something. As Harry Callahan said in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”)

The key findings of the study were as follows:

  • The median (95% confidence interval) ASD heritability for the whole cohort was estimated to be 80.8% (73.2%-85.5%).
  • For the Nordic countries combined, heritability estimates ranged from 81.2% (73.9%-85.3%) to 82.7% (79.1%-86.0%).
  • Country-specific heritability estimates ranged from 50.9% (25.1%-75.6%) (Finland) to 86.8% (69.8%-100.0%) (Israel).
  • Maternal effect was estimated to range from 0.4% to 1.6%, and in all models used the 95% CI interval included zero, meaning that the estimates for maternal effects were not distinguishable from zero, leading the authors to conclude that there was no support in their models for a significant contribution from maternal effects. (The term maternal effects is used to describe the association of a maternal phenotype with ASD in offspring; i.e., noninherited genetic influences originating from mothers beyond what is inherited by the offspring). The authors note that maternal effects have been associated with a substantial proportion of the variation in several traits associated with ASD, including preterm birth and intelligence quotient.)
  • Estimates of genetic, maternal, and environmental effects for autistic disorder were similar with ASD.

The authors did a variety of sensitivity analyses to determine if changing their inputs had a major effect on the estimates, and the estimates remained pretty solid. The authors note the following strengths in their study:

The major strength of this study is the use of multiple large population-based samples with individual-level data in 3-generation pedigrees. Our data were based on prospective follow-up and health systems with equal access. This approach, following all participants from birth using population registers, avoids bias owing to self-report and retrospective collection of data and reduces selection biases owing to disease status or factors such as parental education. In addition to providing exceptional statistical power, the study directly addresses the concern of lack of replication in research findings31,32 replicating results across 5 countries and health systems.

And limitations:

Our study has several limitations. Despite its large overall sample size, the effective sample size for individual countries was limited by the low prevalence of ASD. Misspecification is another potential limitation. The first potential misspecification arises from the possible violation of the assumption of independence between genetic and environment. If this correlation is not specifically included in the model, its components will mostly be incorporated into the estimate of genetic variance component, potentially biasing the heritability estimate. The direction of the bias will depend on the sign of the covariance between genetic and environmental factors.36 The second misspecification arises from plausible gene-environment interactions that were not modeled and could also bias the heritability estimate. The direction of bias will depend on whether the environmental component is familial and whether the trait is multifactorial.36

Of course, in the case of autism and ASDs, what those “plausible gene-environment interactions” might be is rather unclear. Of course, predictably, antivaxers latched on to that one issue, as you will see. Before I get to that, though, let’s look at the accompanying editorial, “The Architecture of Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk: What Do We Know, and Where Do We Go From Here?” by Amandeep Jutla, Hannah Reed, and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, which notes:

The study by Bai et al1 elegantly summarizes and confirms, using the largest data set to date, a key truth about ASD’s risk architecture: the disorder is strongly heritable, with environmental factors, although important, contributing relatively less to its variance than genetic factors. Where do we go from here? One clear next step is to disentangle ASD’s heritability into components that can be identified in ever-growing molecular genetic data sets. The most robust data in ASD implicate de novo copy number variants and rare, de novo single-nucleotide variants in at least 99 genes,6 many of which are involved either in synaptic signaling or regulating expression of other genes, which suggests convergent pathways. Importantly, in a twin study, these noninherited (de novo) variants would be shared by a monozygotic twin pair but not dizygotic twins and would therefore contribute to an estimate of genetic risk. In a family study such as this one,1 these de novo variants are not captured in the estimate of genetic risk because they are not shared between nontwin family members. These rare mutations would instead land in the remaining variance not accounted for by either inherited genetic or shared environmental risk.

Of course, if it is true that de novo (new noninherited) gene variants play a significant role in the pathogenesis of autism and ASDs and, in this analysis, would show up in the nonshared environmental risk component, then it’s possible, even probable, that the genetic contribution to ASD was actually underestimated in this study. Jutla et al also note:

The contribution of the environment to ASD risk appears to be much smaller than the contribution of genetics, yet potential environmental risk factors often receive disproportionate attention from the public and the media, even when (as in the case of vaccine fears) they are debunked. Perhaps this is because environmental risk factors, at least in principle, are modifiable. Even with a smaller contribution to risk, it is worthwhile to enrich understanding of environmental risk factors, which remain relatively understudied.10 Some identified risk factors, such as preterm birth or birth complications,4 are already targets of public health efforts for other reasons. Others, such as a shortened interpregnancy interval or an infection during pregnancy,4 may also be modifiable if the underlying risk mechanisms can be better understood.

Ironically, one of those potentially modifiable environmental factors is congenital infection with rubella, which greatly increases the risk of autism in the child and is, ironically enough, preventable with vaccination of the mother with MMR. In any event, here’s the problem with the assertions above. To antivaxers, the top “environmental risk factors for autism” = vaccines, vaccines, vaccines, vaccines, vaccines, and then everything else. (Actually, perhaps I should have repeated “vaccines” ten times instead of five.) Indeed, I’ve said in the past that one additional harm caused by the antivaccine movement other than depressing vaccine uptake and thus making various populations susceptible to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, is that their fanatical belief that vaccines cause autism (1) has diverted funding and research effort to repetitive studies looking at correlations between vaccines and autism and (2) might have made researchers more reluctant to study potentially plausible environmental risk factors for autism because of the association with antivaccine pseudoscience and, of course, the inevitable attacks on them when they find potential environmental risk factors for autism that antivaxers don’t like (anything not vaccines).

A final issue noted in the editorial is that, although the population studied was geographically diverse, it was not as ethnically diverse as one would like. In addition, the smaller sizes of the Israeli and Australian populations studied hamper a clear understanding of whether contributions to ASD risk may differ geographically, leading as they did to higher variability in the estimate of the genetic contribution to ASDs and autism in those countries. I thus agree that it’s unlikely that the estimates for genetic risk will become much more precise with additional family studies, but I also agree that it “would be useful for the findings to be replicated in non-Western or more ethnically diverse countries”.

Antivaxers counterattack

Not surprisingly, antivaxers do not like this study. The reason they don’t like it is because it is practically gospel among them that autism and ASDs are not primarily genetic conditions, but rather caused mainly by environment, specifically vaccines, although they frequently obfuscate by attributing the conditions to vaccines and “other environmental influences” and “toxins”. Also not surprisingly, first out of the gate (that I could find, anyway) to attack the study was James Lyons-Weiler. We’ve met him before when he tried to attribute the death of a teenage boy to Gardasil. The sad thing is that Lyons-Weiler was once an actual reputable scientist (or at least not, to my knowledge, a disreputable one) who during his pre-antivaccine career directed two different bioinformatics cores, one at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the other at the University of Pittsburgh, the latter of which closed in 2014. Since then, he’s gone all-in on antivaccine pseudoscience, even going so far as to form an institute he dubbed the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK), which is about as arrogant-sounding a name for an institute as I’ve ever heard. IPAK isn’t just into antivaccine “science”, but that does seem to be its primary focus compared to others. Since then, Lyon-Weiler’s been battling it out with Leslie Manookian for the title of Most Antivaccine, appearing on antivaccine panels with Del Bigtree, Gayle DeLong, Sherri Tenpenny, and Toni Bark, and, it appears, helping antivaccine pediatrician Paul Thomas carry out a “vaxxed vs. unvaxxed” study.

Lyons-Weiler thus knows a lot, and he really should know enough to know that the complaints he has about the study are mostly irrelevant, save one, which was explicitly and openly acknowledged by the study’s authors. However, something about going antivaccine leads once competent scientists to embrace analyses that in their past lives they would have recognized immediately as nonsense. None of that stopped Lyons-Weiler from entitling his blog post “Yet Another Highly Unethical and Socially Irresponsible “Genes-Only” Study Fails to Show that Autism is 80% “Genetic”” and run with it. Oddly enough, he harps mainly on the WebMD article that I discussed above, rather than the actual study:

The article skips over the fact that the newest, latest study, like the prior studies, fails to actually measure the contribution of a single environmental factor. While the article rails against “anti-vaxxers”, the study ignores the vaccination status of those involved in the study. The mantra of so many studies never showing association has be tempered with a mature, responsible and realstic interpretation in the context of how those studies were conducted: restricted to one vaccine (MMR), and then there is this:

And here’s the list Lyons-Weiler presented:

I found it amusing that he repeated one of his criticisms of autism-gene studies twice. As for the Bonferroni correction, I’m not sure why he’s harping on that in the context of the Generalized Linear Mixed Effect Models. The Bonferroni correction is used for much simpler models than this. Actually, the whole thing is rather confused, a list of things that he thinks studies should do (Bonferroni correction) and that they do that he doesn’t like (analyze the data repeatedly until the effect “goes away”). Of course the latter of those two examples reveals shocking statistical ignorance, as quite frequently, raw data reveal an effect that turns out to have been spurious when adjustments are appropriately made for confounding factors. Apparently, like Brian Hooker, Lyons-Weiler prefers the simplicity of the raw, unadjusted analysis that doesn’t control for confounders and provides false positive associations between vaccines and autism.

Next up, Lyons-Weiler asks a question all scientists love: “Why didn’t you study and measure what I think you should have studied and measured?” Here’s what I mean:

Their entire methodology is based on familial correlations. In the current study under consideration, no exposure levels to pesticides, medical exposures in utero, smoking history, nothing environmental was measured. And yet somehow the study authors pretend they can estimate the % liability from environmental factors. How do they pretend to achieve such a feat?

This is just a diversion. Remember, if you accurately estimate the percentage of risk that is genetic, then whatever’s left over must include the environmental risk factors. You don’t have to measure exposure to each and every potential environmental risk factor.

Lyons-Weiler does make one valid criticism, but, as is his wont, he drives off the cliff of ridiculousness with it and fails to note that the authors themselves listed this as a limitation of their study, namely that there could be interactions between genetics and environment. Naturally, he assumes that these interactions would overwhelm the genetics component:

And if the interaction term “(Genetics + Environment)” is more highly significant than “Genetics” or “Environment“, a reasonable interpretation would be that we cannot interpret genetics in a vacuum, that the significance of many ADK risk alleles must be modified by environmental factors. If during model selection, G or E is significant, but then in the full model G x E is significant, we attribute liability to both G and E working together.

Of course, the problem is that we don’t know the size of this term, and it would have to be pretty darned large to push the genetics-only risk factor down to the second or third most important risk factor. We have no good evidence that this is likely, and, if you click on the review article cited, you’ll find that the examples cited by Lyons-Weiler are all supported by small studies, the largest of which had only 408 subjects. It’s wishful thinking to believe that these potential examples are going to overshadow the contribution of genetics to overall risk of autism and ASDs.

Lyons-Weiler then continues:

There are over 850 genes that have been determined to contribute to ASD risk – and not one of them explain >1% of ASD risk individually. Most of these are Common Variants – meaning they are ancient – as in, they pre-date both the ASD epidemic (and yes, there is an epidemic) and vaccination.

Here, he appears to be either falling prey to the simplistic idea that there must be “a” gene for autism or counting on the likelihood that antivaxers reading his screed won’t know that complex conditions and traits are often impacted by many genes, any one of which has little effect. Surely he knows this if he ran bioinformatics cores until 2014, and if he didn’t then he shouldn’t have been running those cores.

Now here’s the part that made me laugh out loud:

The study ignores the fact that environmental factors can impact genes, proteins and biological pathways in a manner that is identical to the effects of genetic variation. This is called Phenomimicry – a term so cool I wish I had invented it. Examples of Phenomimicry are known in science relevant to ASD.

Phenomimicry, if it exists, would indeed be a cool biological phenomenon, but basically here Lyons-Weiler is speculating wildly, pulling something out of his nether regions and using its lack in the study as a cudgel without telling us any plausible scientific rationale why the study authors should have even considered phenomimicry. It’s also a term that, as far as I can tell from Pubmed and Google, is only used by one person, Dorothy V.M. Bishop and is not a generally accepted concept. A PubMed search turns up only one article by Bishop using the term and Googling only turns up mainly articles referring to Bishop’s article.

Lyons-Weiler gives up the game not long after that:

It is highly unethical – and socially irresponsible – for “Genes-only” studies to be conducted that claim to rule out environmental factors. All “Yet Another Highly Unethical Genes-only Study”s – YAHUGS – should be replaced with fully and correctly specified models – that means measuring and studying both vaccination patterns and genetics.

See what I mean? To antivaxers “environmental risk factors” = vaccines, first and always. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the current study, the reason Lyons-Weiler doesn’t like it is because it doesn’t consider vaccines (why should it, given the mountains of epidemiological evidence that show no association between vaccination and autism risk?) and concentrated on genetics. Remember that.

Hilariously, Lyons-Weiler is still ranting and still not getting it. He keeps attacking the WebMD article, as if that article were actually the study. It’s not. He mindlessly repeats his criticism of the study that no environmental contributor to autism was directly measured in the study, even though it was explained to him why that wasn’t necessary for a study for this type. It’s really sad to see someone who was presumably a halfway decent scientist as recently as a few years ago fall so far. I’m beginning to wonder now if Lyons-Weiler just isn’t that bright.

The genetics of autism

None of this is to say that this and all the other studies examining the genetics of autism are without problems. Autism and ASDs represent a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorder impacted by many genes. Teasing out which genes and combinations of genes are most important in determining autism risk is incredibly difficult, as is the case for any complex multigene condition. I’ll even concede that sometimes scientists go too far in touting gene association studies. However, this study was not a gene association study, but rather the largest study to date to estimate how much of the risk of autism is genetic. As such, it produced an estimate that is in line with previous estimates and strengthens the scientific conclusion that autism is mainly heritable, with an effect on risk due to environment that is much smaller and, however large it actually is, not due to vaccines.

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94 replies on “Another study shows that autism is mainly genetic. Antivaxers go crazy.”

Two things. First, Dr. Lyons-Weiler wrote a second post trying to respond to your comments, though as far as I can see, it failed to do so.

Second, at least with Lyons-Weiler, his alleged gene-environment is “people have genetic sensitivty to the toxins in vaccines”, reviving the thimerosal bugaboo and adding aluminum. And he also revives MMR. Here is my question: whether the issue is purely environmental or a gene-environment interaction, if thimerosal did anything – or MMR did – to a sizeable group, wouldn’t it show up in large studies whether the issue was random or because of genetic sensitivity? I.e., wouldn’t existing studies on vaccines already capture even a combined gene/environment interaction?
I’d like to hear from the more expert here, either way.

“Phenomimicry” ….. was he referring to phenotypic plasticity? Or does he even know? I can’t believe he was teaching bioinformatics and has never run across this concept….

Here we have a study that’s helping us understand the etiology of ASD, and the antivaxers & woo-pushers are all outraged. I can’t help but think: if Big Pharma announced a treatment for autism that was comparably effective to SSRIs for depression, they wouldn’t celebrate, but instead they’d erupt in further outrage because “it’s not natural!

For that matter, why the obsession with autism? Similar percentages of the population are affected by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and cluster-B personality disorders, all of which are associated with a far higher rate of life-threatening outcomes: suicide, indirect suicide (“suicide by cop”, bipolar mixed-mood phase), mass shootings (paranoid schizophrenia), and violent crime including murder (1/3 of convicted violent criminals are diagnosable for cluster-B, sociopathic type).

Treatments for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder aren’t particularly effective, and there are no known effective treatments for cluster-B disorders. All of those are still essentially medical mysteries with no good solutions on the horizon, that often put people in the grave.

And yet, the universe of woo and conspiracy is obsessed with autism. What’s up with that? Where did the obsession with autism come from in the first place?

First of all, although you and I would say that SSRIs help many people who have depression, natural health advocates would shriek about any meds. They might even assert that SSRIs cause depression ( or suicide or mass shootings) and anti-psychotics cause schizophrenia just like HAART meds cause hiv/aids.

Why the obsession with autism?
I can only speculate but the other conditions/ situations you mention usually are dxed/ occur with older children and adolescents: although people who go on to develop schizophrenia symptoms may have earlier indications of a problem , the dx itself usually doesn’t happen until late adolescence ( later teens/ early twenties) mostly. Shootings, suicide and and crime also don’t often affect pre-schoolers ( although they do happen)

ASD diagnosis frequently is made at an early age- perhaps parents are most emotionally vulnerable to bad science when they have small children, being hyper-vigilant and over protective. Some of the anti-vax mothers I read speak of dashed hopes for their child and that their child was “stolen” by the evil medical establishment/ pharma.. This may be because they don’t actually know their child’s personality yet because it hasn’t developed much so they are mourning the loss of a projection of what they think should have been,

Also because until recently, there hasn’t been as much PUBLIC, speculation about causation – general articles often say, causation is not known although genetics are a factor- so woo-meisters can swoop in to “fill the blanks” in parents’ minds.
They appear to do this with many complex or partially understood conditions like cancer, MS, etc.

Anti-vaxxers like Kim Rossi and Katie Wright ( twitter) bemoan the money wasted on genetic research.

Denice: Excellent points.

I’m aware of the whole anti-psychiatry thing, and “meds are baaaad” etc. It didn’t occur to me to mention it.

Agreed, early childhood through pre-adolescence, as compared to late teens to early 20s for schizophrenia, and late 20s to early 30s for bipolar disorder.

But the signs of cluster-B are evident from an early age as well, sometimes as early as 6 – 8 years. There was a lengthy article in The Atlantic about what parents go through with sociopathic children, including overt violence and threats of murder against parents and siblings. Very often those kids have to be institutionalized to protect their family members.

Milder forms of cluster-B sociopathy involve constant pathological lying, emotional abuse & manipulation, and frequently getting in trouble in school.

The incidence is about the same, but cluster-B gets relatively little publicity, aside from the remote diagnoses of powerful figures in politics and business. In that context, cluster-B narcissistic type has been in the news of late.

So now let’s see the wackos claim that vaccination causes sociopathic symptoms including pathological lying. Come to think of it, that one is kinda’ true though not as they expected: antivaxers such as Wakefraud and Mikey the Health Stranger lie and lie and lie some more. And some of them are clearly narcissistic. Hmm…!

“Some of the anti-vax mothers I read speak of dashed hopes for their child and that their child was “stolen” by the evil medical establishment/ pharma.”
This sounds like a survival of the old Celtic belief in the changeling child. The parallels are striking, even frightening:
“In Celtic territories, fairies stole babies and children…leaving fairy substitutes in their place. Having identified such a switch, people did everything they could to make the fairies reverse it….[S]uch children were ritually abused by their own parents to this end. Immersed in rivers or placed at the margin of coastal tides, stood on hot coals or hung over fires, exposed in freezing weather, bathed in poisonous foxglove essence, beaten, threatened and subjected to forms of exorcism, these babies and children sometimes survived, sometimes not.”

“[A]n initially normal, healthy new baby presently begins to seem suspect. He cries almost incessantly, fails to grow, walk or talk….But these problems almost certainly took second place to the real and frightening belief that it was not yours, and that your child had been stolen.”

“[C]ertain of these conditions only manifested some time after birth. This, surely, was the smoking fairy gun: you had known your own baby, and this, now, was not him.”


This sounds like a survival of the old Celtic belief in the changeling child.

You’re a little behind the times. This has been hypothesised for years. Uta Frith is one proponent of this theory. Heck, years ago I wrote this article about it.

Julian Frost, I have been making this assertion for some years now. I have some experience with people from cultures where the curse/shame attitude still holds sway. I believe that no matter how old some point is, there is value in pointing it out now and again. People who haven’t seen it ought to, and people who have sometimes forget.

Grey Squirrel,

My wild @ss guess are: refrigerator mother, id!ot savant, ret@rd, infantile schizophrenia and other less glamorous terms which are deamed more painful for the mother & father compared to any other conditions like schiz or BPD.

Couple that with a different enough cognitive style to scare any other human being from these time and you have the perfect condition for the parents to treat at all cost. The situation is better today but it feel like we still have a million miles to go.



deamed == deemed

BPD == original context is bipolar disorder but could also apply to borderline personality disorder; hell, I potentially dated previously and in process of knowing / dating one person, respectively.


Yes to that (both comments). Re. borderline personality: that’s another one that folks tend to underestimate, but it can also be hellaciously difficult in relationships of all kinds.

Most of us by about age 50 have experience with people in most if not all of the major diagnostic categories: family, friends, dating, coworkers, etc. One of the big surprises in one’s personal life vis-a-vis others one knows, though this shouldn’t be surprising, is that a given characteristic, whether a mood, an element of personality, cognitive style, perceptual item, etc., is a whole ‘nother thing when it reaches the level of qualifying for a diagnosis.

On one hand we should beware of “the pathologizing of neurodiversity,” but on the other hand, we shouldn’t fail to take it really seriously when someone is diagnosable or has been formally diagnosed. Special needs have to be addressed, medication taken per doctor’s orders and counseling taken seriously, and interpersonal/social issues dealt with.

It occurs to me that alties & quacks in psychiatry, and those who patronize them, might fall into two broad categories:

a) “Hair On Fire.” These are the ones who say, for example, that autism “takes your child away” and all of that sort of rhetoric. For them, the alt med routine is Urgent! Desperate! All Full Of Angst! (excess capitalization intentional).

The anti-vax component of that is based on fear & anxiety toward pharmacology: something bigger than themselves (Big Pharma) is threatening and scary.

b) “Que Sera, Sera.” These are so very laid-back & mellow, and operate on the basis that everything is an expression of God’s or the Nature’s Will, including “healing” by “natural” means. For them, failure of their alt-med treatment of choice “only” demonstrates that “God / Nature has a purpose in (the individual having the illness).”

The anti-vax component of this is based on the blissful embrace of “all natural health”: something bigger than themselves (God or Nature) is loving and healing.”

Notice the differences in outlooks vis-a-vis “something bigger than self.” Is this potentially useful?

@Grey Squirrel,

Alain <– Que sera sera but I may add a disclaimer: I’m firmly in the camps of fix what really need to be fixed, real pathology or commodities. Definitely not trying to transform myself into a normal human being (and yes, I’ve been infantilized by many who should know better).

Crux of the matter, I’ve studied and still keep on studying BPD enough to know what I’m getting into should I date again someone on that spectrum.


The answers to your question are fairly obvious by comparing autism with the SMIs you cite. Two year olds don’t get diagnosed as bipolar…

The thing to keep ion mind about hard-core anti-vax is that it’s a conspiracy theory, and CTs don’t make obvious logical sense. Why obsess about the moon landing, or the collapse of the Twin Towers, or ‘chemtrails’…? These objects of obsession are ultimately symbolic, stand-ins on which to focus some core personal angst that is too difficult to understand or deal with. Methinks the whole autism/vaccines thing is about the parents, not the kids, and more specifically about their future, dreams of a perfect life, or an a desirable life or a successful life shattered on rocks nobody saw coming. All those awful things AVs say about ASD kids – injured, broken, blighted and worse – are projections of what they fear will happen to the like-stories they’ve written for themselves.. In some cases that angst is actually borne of the difficulties of caring for an autistic child, but it doesn’t have to be. The obsession can be an outlet/coping-mechanism for a variety of other worries or problems.

One hypothesis might be that ‘where the obsession with autism comes from’ is actually something like the weltanschauung of a certain social subgroup, since AVs seems to share a fairly narrow range of demographic characteristics. (Broadly speaking, it seems to be a yiuppie kinda thing…)

Yuppie for sure.
And achingly white. Anti-vaxxers seek out black, Asian or Hispanic people in order to not look so un-diverse.

I was in your neck of the non-woods a month ago- at the infamous scenic Taco Bell in Pacifica watching surfers.

Treatments for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder aren’t particularly effective

I’ve seen treatment for grievous bipolar prove to allow someone live independently (albeit on disability) after years of touring nearly every inpatient ward in the state and getting into some truly dangerous situations. What leads you to this conclusion?

“Treatments for…bipolar disorder aren’t particularly effective”
I beg to differ. Although a personal anecdote, the meds I take for Type II Bipolar Disorder keep me from cycles of wanting to hide in a deep cave and feeling like I just took a hit from God’s own crack pipe. The peaks and troughs are smoothed out and make my daily life more tolerable.
And no, the upswings are like a high, but it’s only pleasant for a very short time, and then it feels like posing for wedding pictures. You’re happy and excited for the first few, but having to keep smiling for the next couple of hundred gets old young.

The Web MD article says that this study shows that just 20% of autism cases are due to environmental factors. That’s not what I took away from this article and the abstract of the paper (I do not have access to the entire article). I seems to me that the paper doesn’t address the other 20% and that those cases could be attributable either to environmental factors or to de novo mutations and CNV’s. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The next step is to look at the residual 20% and see if de novo genetic changes can be separated from environmental factors. My knee jerk reaction is that most of those cases will be shown to be genetic as well.

One way or the other, for the anti vaxxers, it is all about vaccines, and it still will be in 25 or 30 years when we better understand the etiology of autism and perhaps even have effective treatments.

. . . In a family study such as this one,1 these de novo variants are not captured in the estimate of genetic risk because they are not shared between nontwin family members. These rare mutations would instead land in the remaining variance not accounted for by either inherited genetic or shared environmental risk. . . .

That section extracted from the paper, and Orac’s comments show that the study was not designed to examine de novo variations of genes, but heritability.

Until now, I have considered Web MD to be a fairly reliable source of information. I’ll have to be more circumspect when I read their stuff.

I looked at a couple of Lyons-Weiler’s recent articles on his “lifebiomedguru” website, and found a rant in which he’s outraged about a recent publication in which the authors compared antivax moms to drunk drivers. L-W says “The analogy they make is a terrible logical fit in innumerable ways. For one, drunk drivers make bad choices with impaired judgement”

Um, yeah and…


Like other CTs, a benefit of being antivax is that there’s someone else to blame for all your problems. The narrative starts with victimhood, supplies a target for rage, and a mantle of brave agency in response. The moms, are blameless of course, and actually responding heroically doncha know. .

Am a medical geneticist with an interest in autism. Empirically, pathogenic karyotype defects are found in 5%, chromosomal microarray defects in 20% and exome sequencing defects in 50%. These aren’t oligo/polygenic, but monogenic causes of ASD. The study is interesting in the use of heritability as it’s a much higher empiric recurrence risk than has traditionally been counselled.

Phenomimicry is a synonym for phenocopy, evidently not used very often. A good example of phenomimicry is Jamaican Vomiting Sickness, in which a fatty acid oxidation disorder is created through ingestion of Ackee (containing hypoglycin A). The concept is well established but perhaps only discussed often in biochemical genetics and toxicology/toxinology.

The question of gene-environment is worth considering. Many monogenic disorders are heavily modified by the environment and indeed, this is the basis for treatment of many metabolic disorders. The two overlap. For instance, the testable heritable component of chronic beryllium disease due to occupational beryllium exposure, tested for in some militaries. Or the better known G6PD deficiency screened for in newborns of many countries.

Because of the message and perspective they are coming from, their credibility is problematic but not everything they are saying is smack.

JLW’s got a really stupid one about vaccines and seat belts from 2 days ago. I’m not sure he could science his way out of a paper bag.

Yes spot on, except remove the word “probably” from “probably a scam”.

In addition to other things JLW demonstrates he doesn’t understand how to test a hypothesis. I’m shocked, and in a way I mean that given his previous posts at research universities.

Oh yawn …

Another Big Data tweak-fest & nobody invited me. Please tell me why I should be impressed. Sure; ‘I don’t like it’. An excessive waste of money to conclude that;

It’s genes n stuff. More research is needed

Wishing antivaxxers would quit waving the ‘toxins’ flag & realize that a dysregulated immune response can be more detrimental than almost any toxin known to man (read; sepsis, among others). And no; I didn’t suggest autism as an outcome from sepsis, just sayin that sepsis is more deadly & damaging than any other concoction I can think of. No toxins needed; just a pathogen & an immune response can kill in minutes.

Vaccines probably don’t cause autism but to say vaccination couldn’t … is kinda dumb.

If the issue is an immune reaction, why would vaccines cause it more than the natural pathogen? After all, vaccines are only created for diseases with a history of posing real challenges to our immune system, and often accompanied by an aggressive reaction on the part of the latter. Vaccines pose a lesser immune challenge than the pathogen.

As to the rest, the article addresses the genetic contribution to autism. You haven’t actually countered any of the point. And if anyone wants to claim that vaccines can cause autism after the extensive research looking at the link between the two, I think the burden is on them to provide evidence and a plaiusible mechanism. The anti-vaccine movement fails on both counts.

@ doritmi,

If the issue is an immune reaction, why would vaccines cause it more than the natural pathogen

Well, that’s an excellent question but sepsis (an immune reaction) from the flu (as an example) is much more deadly than the actual flu. Sepsis can occur from vaccination, although it is a ‘rare’ adverse event.

Maybe autism is ‘rarely’ resulting from an immune response to vaccination.

the article addresses the genetic contribution to autism. You haven’t actually countered any of the point

I don’t want to counter that point; I want to expand on it. Most children to not regress into autism after vaccination. A genetic component would be mandatory for my theory; not counter to it.

Also, why vaccines? Despite them finding several actual genetic sequences to several different versions of what is on the autism spectrum… why is it always just the vaccines?

It’s always the vaccines, Chris, because anti-vaxxers want to sue to the moon and back for their child and the deepest pocket they see are the vaccine manufacturers. They would gladly and gleefully drive all vaccine manufacturers out of the US–even though it would mean the horrific return of these deadly diseases vaccines so well prevent–just to sue. Paul Offit gives a good account as to how this almost happened in the 1980’s in his book Deadly Choices

You can’t sue for genetics.

@ Chris:

” why is it always just the vaccines?”

Just my wild guess that injecting foreign substances into a pure perfect baby is what irks them most.
Perhaps, like ancient peoples, they believe that death and illness can only originate from external forces – especially witchcraft and poisons, now re-named “toxins”. Death is not natural, it needs magic to occur.
People didn’t get sick from internal** ( organ-based) illness or the invisible (viruses or bacteria)- the ancients didn’t believe in them. Witches and poisoners are obviously the source- now re-named, “pharma”, “doctors”, “vaccines”.
The antidotes are supplements and diets as well as the stronger mana of powerful anti-vax/ woo practitioners.

** Hopefully Frazer will forgive my jest

@ Chris, Christopher Hickie & Denise,

I’m stunned by your superior skills of deduction in which you managed to say even less about science than most antivaxxers would.

You can’t sue for genetics


There is a guy in India who sued his parents for being born, because they didn’t obtain his consent before being conceived.

He didn’t win, and it was more about making a philosophical point.

But I could totally see people suing over IVF mix-ups and fraud.

You can’t sue for genetics


I guess you haven’t been keeping up with the Omnibus Autism Proceedings and related lawsuits by anti-vaxxers.

@ Science Mom,

Tip of the iceberg but why worry? It’s not like anyone but the taxpayers pay & the awards seem to be ‘capped’ to reflect the eye-rolling ‘1 in 1 million’ anyway.

Compensate a bunch of grownups with sore arms & the only thing left to be liable for is your conscience. Ignorance is bliss.

Vaccine court requires 50% plus a feather probability. Autism omnibus cases were not even close to that.
And taxpayers do not not pay. There are sales tax on vaccines for that purpose.

Award for deaths and pain and suffering in vaccine court are capped, but economic awards, or number of compensations, is not. As Aaron pointed out, the burden of proof is as low as other civil proceedings (in fact, the requirements are less demanding).

The autism decisions – and the mini omnibus and other things – were detailed, well reasoned, and very clear. There’s just no good evidence for the link, and plenty against it.

@ Dorit,

I have two choices here. I can assume that you’ve read at least as many case outcomes from the DOJ as I have (37 complete case histories & 204 outcomes) & you know exactly what you are talking about & are just being obtuse. Or, I can assume that you have only read a few & are just stating what you have been told.

Please help me not assume?

I gave her a hint on a previous thread, but apparently she didn’t follow up on it.


Check the link given by Narad and do try to understand, Dr Dorit Reiss is a professor of law. Again, Dr Dorit Reiss is a professor of law. Let it sink in…


Tip of the iceberg but why worry? It’s not like anyone but the taxpayers pay & the awards seem to be ‘capped’ to reflect the eye-rolling ‘1 in 1 million’ anyway.

Compensate a bunch of grownups with sore arms & the only thing left to be liable for is your conscience. Ignorance is bliss.

I rebutted your ridiculous assertion that the claim of anti-vaxxers are unable to sue for genetics was “paranoid” and this drek is what you came up with? An ignorant and callous attempt at distraction at best.

@ Science Mom,

this drek is what you came up with

Lucky you. I’ve got potential.

”the taxpayers pay…the awards…Ignorance is bliss.”

Christine knows full well that monetary judgements are paid through a tax on vaccine manufacturers. Like any commercial tax, the cost is passed on to consumers but if you don’t buy vaccines, you pay nothing.

Despite knowing this fact, count on her continuing to spread the “taxpayers pay” line. Antivax memes live forever.

@ DB,

Once I am too disabled, old & frail to care for my son, it will cost about $600/per DAY to care for him.

Until then, Medicaid & the taxpayers benefit from my voluntary surrender to trafficking for that purpose. Your welcome, have a great day at work. I’m jealous.

(Can’t wait to see how the neurotypicals manage to get this one wrong)

Last I checked with my wife, we pay a boatload of taxes.

People want us to forget that WE are THE taxpayers.

And you blithely forget that the roads you drive and your basic safety (like food products) are paid by taxes. Here is a good read: The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum. So how much wood ash is your coffee?

If a genetic difference results in autism only in the presence of some environmental issue, it’s still a genetic difference. From the research data, it is extremely unlikely that vaccination could be such an environmental issue (somewhere between zero and one one-millionth). My guess is that eventually, autism will be recognized as either a genetic disorder or perhaps a family of genetic disorders — the latter seems plausible, considering the use of the term “the spectrum” to describe a wide range of severity and even of symptoms. The problem right now is that we don’t yet know how to predict all the minute effects of even one genetic abnormality because biochemistry and cell function are so complicated.

The more I read this blog, the more I suspect that there are at least two varieties of parents of autistic children. One is normal, and treats the child’s differences as a challenge to be faced. They have to make adjustments in life for sure, but I don’t hear a lot of complaining. I know several of these parents.

The other type of parent was already a little wacky to begin with — think high functioning but a little paranoid schizophrenic. It’s out of these types that you see the really wacky behavior of the anti-vaccine types. They already had a thought disorder, and now they have a natural target to pin everything on. Their level of conspiratorial thinking goes far beyond the usual, run of the mill playful sort of conspiracy theorizing. I suspect that it’s possible to be a skeptic of the Warren Report without being totally nuts.

@ Bob,

So now parents can’t complain cause that means they are schizophrenic? LOL … You sound like a well-educated intellectual.

What do you know about susceptibility to propaganda?

@ Bob,

If a genetic difference results in autism only in the presence of some environmental issue, it’s still a genetic difference

Yes, it’s a multifactorial genetic condition, not a multifactorial vaccination condition. No argument here. It would also be a contraindication for vaccination.

And likely one with enough prevalence to threaten herd immunity. ‘More research is needed’ but who would touch that one with a 10 ft pole?

How good is your science when the research needed is intentionally avoided? And why is that science considered as adequate for compulsory law?

Yes, it’s a multifactorial genetic condition, not a multifactorial vaccination condition. No argument here. It would also be a contraindication for vaccination.

So you’re going with the time-honored “susceptible groups” angle?

who would touch that one with a 10 ft pole?

How good is your science when the research needed is intentionally avoided?

Fortunately those brave mavericks in Denmark have done just that (as Orac reported some months back):

Of course I’m not going to change your mind by linking to that since your particular hobby-horse is that the it’s immune mediated and therefore not limited to any one vaccine (although I must have missed the explanation of why it’s only vaccination immune responses that trigger this not ones to wild pathogens?) but it does rather put the lie to your assertion that no-one would ever even dare to look at the notion of “susceptible groups” doesn’t it?

And as for the “more research needed” into the genetic properties of autism well that’s just flat out forbidden isn’t it? I mean any large scale research project directly investigating the role of genetics and potential environmental factors wouldn’t even be allowed to form?

Oh. Wait.

Yeah, I mean the research community just flat out sucks at intentionally avoiding this stuff. Sorry about that.

@ Squirrelite,

That wasn’t me & yes, I know who she is. I like her, actually & I don’t understand why she seems to be disliked by others.

@ Narad,

Yes, again, I know who she is. That does not mean she speaks from actually plodding away through all those case reports.

@ Dorit,

Hi. I know who you are but I’m really bad at introductions. I’m Christine. I DO like you because you are a very smart woman, a mother & you are brave to stand up for what you believe in. And I can call you ‘prof.’ not mzzzzzz.

@ DB,

Knock it off. You didn’t even come close to showing me to ‘be wrong’ & you overestimate my capability (or lack thereof) for conversational manipulation.

I’m aware of the ‘sales tax’

I believe the court only awards to reflect ‘serious’ adverse events at the rate of 1 in every 1 million doses, instead of at the rate they are actually occurring to avoid any discrepancies. This is not a conspiracy theory, it’s just my observation & whether or not I’m more well versed than Prof Reiss in this remains to be seen but as far as you are concerned? oh Okay. I just don’t know.

I see no reason why Prof Reiss would not believe what she has been told & who told her.


blockquote>I believe the court only awards to reflect ‘serious’ adverse events at the rate of 1 in every 1 million doses, instead of at the rate they are actually occurring to avoid any discrepancies. This is not a conspiracy theory, it’s just my observation & whether or not I’m more well versed than Prof Reiss in this remains to be seen but as far as you are concerned?
Emphasis mine. That is, by definition, a conspiracy theory. Your “observation” of what exactly? Although personal observations are rather meaningless as I’m sure you’ll agree.

To clarify, the conspiracy theory here is assuming that there is a deliberate effort to only compensate less than the actual rate of injury. That lacks evidence for – a. An actual discrepancy. B. A deliberate effort to do it.

I do not see how observation would provide either. You’re welcome to explain.

Thank you for the kind words.

@ Science Mom;

Actually yes, I do agree. I’ve seen the research that states the risk of serious adverse events from most vaccines is 1 per 1 million doses. The HRSA then states the compensation rate is for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, approximately 1 individual was compensated

This just seems strange to me; given that the amount of alleged serious events (cases filed) seems to vary widely.I would think the rate of compensation would vary with the amount of cases filed & sometimes not seem to be related to anything at all; if it were to be valid. Random chaos that wouldn’t stray too far from the epidemiology.

It’s like micromanaged disability. It feels anomalous. Like a line is being toed. I also know that phrases like “feels like’ or ‘seems to’ don’t carry much weight here & I have no proof but something is awry.

the risk of serious adverse events from most vaccines is 1 per 1 million doses. The HRSA then states the compensation rate is for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, approximately 1 individual was compensated.

Key word “approximately”.

This just seems strange to me; given that the amount of alleged serious events (cases filed) seems to vary widely.

Vary how?

I would think the rate of compensation would vary with the amount of cases filed & sometimes not seem to be related to anything at all;

Once again, the key word is “approximately”.

@ Doritmi,

the conspiracy theory here is assuming that there is a deliberate effort to only compensate less than the actual rate of injury

Yes, it’s my weakest argument, to be sure. It will likely remain that way because I do not process digits very well & I’ll procrastinate to find the data to support my position.

A deliberate effort to do it

This would be at a level where I would not be able access any evidence. Probably not even available upon subpoena, similar to the key documents needed during the two congressional hearings on SV40.

SV40 would actually be the motivation for the ‘deliberate effort’ today. The ‘snowball rolling downhill’ would turn into an avalanche that would bury the immunization policy & program. A smarter strategy for antivaxxers would be to focus all efforts on SV40 first.

Nothing for ya’ll here to worry about regarding that: I dipped into an Autism One convention in 2017 with my son & asked around; “What do you know about SV40?” & I got blank stares in reply. I couldn’t stick around; I was the only parent there with a severely impaired child.

SV40 was in only in a polio vaccine, and SV40 do not cause cancer (certainly true in the case of polio vaccine). So there are no need to can anything.

@ motosubatsu,

although I must have missed the explanation of why it’s only vaccination immune responses that trigger this not ones to wild pathogens

Clearly you missed it, as I have repeatedly stated in threads here that MIA is suspected (variety of pathogens) & also influenza & HSV (I may not have actually stated HSV but I’m aware of it).

Don’t cherry-pick my words to make me look stupid. I will freely admit to anything I’ve done or said wrong. If you really ‘knew’ what I’ve said here you would also know I use the phrase; ‘I could be wrong’, frequently.

Don’t cherry-pick my words to make me look stupid.

You’re doing an excellent job all on your own. How is this new conspiracy theory supposed to be organized? Who would your imaginary subpoenas go to, and what would they seek?

@ Narad,

You’re doing an excellent job all on your own

I was actually going to say that but then I decided to leave it for you.

At the lowest; two level above the special masters.

At the lowest; two level above the special masters.

Could you rephrase this in English?

You’re imagining that one can somehow subpeona the Supreme Court? I can’t make heads or tails of this “two level” business, no matter how long I stare at it.

Clearly you missed it, as I have repeatedly stated in threads here that MIA is suspected

I don’t think repeating this helps you at all.

@ Narad,

I don’t think repeating this helps you at all

Zombie Mommy? It’s a thing. It’s stupid to call it ‘the’ thing but I can’t ignore it, as much as I’d like to.

Zombie Mommy?

Please read the linked paper and come back with something intelligent to say about MIA. “Zombie Mommy” appears to be a purely idiosyncratic coinage on your part.

@ Julian,

Vary how

By month, year, vaccine & reaction. Reasonably random. While compensation seems to be rigid,

Rigid how?
If I follow your argument, and please correct me if I’ve misunderstood:
Claims vary by “month, year, vaccine & reaction.” Compensation “seems to be rigid”. So you’re stating that rulings favourable to plaintiffs are made not on the merits of cases, but to fill a quota. Have I got your argument right?
If I have, you need to bring the evidence.

Christine first said ” It’s not like anyone but the taxpayers pay (federal claims court awards for vaccine injury claims)”.

It was pointed out to her that any such awards are financed by a tax on vaccine manufacturers, at which point she changed the subject to talk about taxpayers eventually having to pay for care of her autistic son.

Christine doesn’t want to admit changing the subject (or that she was wrong in the first place), so we get this harangue:

“@ DB,

“Knock it off. You didn’t even come close to showing me to ‘be wrong’ & you overestimate my capability (or lack thereof) for conversational manipulation.”

“I’m aware of the ‘sales tax’”*

The followup excuse will probably be that it’s the fault of her ASD, and nevermind, how about this SV40 stuff?

*bonus points for use of ‘scare quotes’, which would seem to indicate Christine wants to deny that the tax exists. It does make for a better antivax story line if the general public has to shell out to pay vaccine injury awards, rather than vaccine manufacturers.

@ DB.

It does make for a better antivax story line if the general public has to shell out to pay vaccine injury awards, rather than vaccine manufacturers

Is this true? If so I owe you an apology.

Christine doesn’t want to admit changing the subject

It seems to be her main talent, along with starting exchanges and then simply dropping them, such as the incoherent business about subpoenas above.

“… perhaps I should have repeated “vaccines” ten times instead of five.”
Or, as I like to put it, “ten times out of three.”

The “Institute for Pure and Applied…” construction seems to have been lifted from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, which is a real institute funded by the NSF, and from similarly named organizations such as the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics; the Graduate School of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan; and any number of less formally named or described schools, faculties, or organizations.
I suggest truth in labeling: The Klown Kollege of Pure and Applied Antivaccine Crankery.

Regardless of who pays, vaccine purchasers or taxpayers, that is still MY money being used.

Taxpayers is all of us. People want to act like that has no possible effect on anyone, it adds up and is the wrong attitude.

I will gladly help fund the disabled and sick, if an autistic person needs help, sign up my tax dollars. But I don’t want to pay damages.

So who has to pay those damages?
The manufacturer? He adds the damages to the price, so in the end the consumer pays. And the consumer is the taxpayer.

The consumer of vaccines is not equivalent to the taxpayer.

Antivaxers who wail about “the taxpayer” or “you and me” funding payouts in the vaccine court are being dumb or disingenuous. If you don’t buy a vaccine you don’t pay.

Same goes for any specific regulation or tax that manufacturers build into the price of their product.

@ DB,

The consumer of vaccines is not equivalent to the taxpayer

I suppose I can see what you mean. When I pay sales tax, am I not a taxpayer?

When you do the arithmetic it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether it is vaccine consumers or the general public who pays. The total payout over the years is a trivial fraction of the US budget. For anyone who actually had to go somewhere to receive a vaccine, the excise on the vaccine would likely be well below the cost of driving or even taking public transit.

McDonald’s was found liable for $640,000 in the notorious “hot coffee” lawsuit.

People who weren’t McDonald’s customers did not pay to fulfill that judgment.

Came late to this post and thread,but I have a few observations,on comments upthread.
I can tell you,from my own family,children can be diagnosed bipolar.It is rare,but it does happen.Often,in the case of a close relative of mine,after the child starts school,and before puberty.

If a child is diagnosed bipolar,they are often diagnosed with either comorbid ADHD,or ASD,as my relative is.Some of the genes for bipolar can also be autism genes.

Speaking of genes,does the original JAMA article mention any autism genes not covered in previous research?I can’t read the article,because I am not a subscriber,and the article is behind a paywall,but I am pretty familiar with all the other autism genes that have been discovered.

Christine K said “You can’t sue for genetics.”

A simple internet search proves you wrong.There have been numerous cases,in recent years,of parents suing fertility clinics,where the child has been born with a genetic disorder,from egg or sperm donations.Sometimes damages are paid out.

doritmi said “If the issue is an immune reaction, why would vaccines cause it more than the natural pathogen?”

It can be either,specially if we are talking about live virus vaccines.But,in the case of vaccine induced regression,it is a clear case of correlation does not equal causation.Regressive autism,and autism without regression are not the same condition.This is a point that is not made often enough,and one lost on many people.Think about all the medical issues children have,whose parents say they regressed after vaccination.Vaccines can often be the first major challenge a child’s immune system has,or the first clue a parent may have something is wrong with their child’s immune system.This can be either a primary immune deficiency,or an inborn autoimmune disease,as is the case with me.If a child regresses once,they will regress over and over again,from another community acquired wild infection,as I know all too well.I was diagnosed with autism,as a child in school,almost fifty years ago.I had my first regression as an older infant,from pneumococcal meningitis,after my immune system was weakened by the flu.It is now documented babies can regress,between the ages of six months and one year.I would go on to have four more severe regressions,two as an adult,all from acute bacterial infections,mostly meningitis or pneumonia.My regression from severe illness only stopped after my autoimmune disorders were identified and treated,and genetic defects were found.

Parents whose children regress after vaccination may not be aware enough to think their child has a genetic or inherited immune disorder,which is where a caring,and dedicated pediatrician is needed,to educate the parents,and do a proper workup.If these children are not getting the care and attention they need,the fault lies with the doctors,not the vaccines.

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