Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. lays down even more antivax misinformation now that SB 276 has become law

SB 276 is now law, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is very unhappy, so much so that he’s laying down the antivax nonsense fast and furious. It’s particularly nonsensical, even for him.

After yesterday’s post, I wasn’t planning on writing about SB 276 and SB 714 again—or even vaccines. I really wasn’t. Leave it to antivaxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., though, to drag me back in just when I thought I was out. When I saw this from RFK Jr.’s antivax group, Children’s Health Defense complaining about New Yorker Magazine:

Yes, Children’s Health Defense was promoting an article by RFK Jr., who, apparently, is cheesed that New Yorker Magazine didn’t publish his response to an article it published a week and a half ago by Nick Paumgarten entitled The Message of Measles. It’s actually a pretty decent article about the latest measles outbreaks and the misinformation promoted by the antivaccine movement that fuels them. So RFK Jr., given that he has a website, decided to publish his article there. His decision to do so makes it abundantly clear that, in this case at least, the editors of New Yorker demonstrated excellent judgment. It’s the same sort of misinformation that RFK Jr.’s been peddling for decades now, a veritable antivax BINGO card.

I’m not going to belabor RFK Jr.’s pharma shill gambit (that much), his harping on “conflicts of interest,” and his claims that, in essence, big pharma controls everything and distorts the risk-benefit ratio of vaccines, all in order to profit. It’s the predictable conspiracy theory of antivaxers. No, I’m not claiming that big pharma is in any way pure or free from problems and greed. I am, however, pointing out that there is plenty of independent evidence out there to demonstrate that vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause the myriad health problems that antivaxers attribute to them. Of course, RFK Jr. is a man who has risibly declared himself “fiercely pro-vaccine” on more than one occasion, yet trafficks in the most overblown fear mongering based on pseudoscience over vaccines, autism, autoimmune diseases, and all sorts of other conditions, diseases, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

For example:

Mr. Paumgarten falls into this trap by parroting the industry canard that measles will kill 1 in 1000 infected Americans. But CDC’s mortality and morbidity data suggest that measles fatalities in the pre-vaccine era were 1/500,000 population wide; 1 in 10,000 among infected individuals. In fact, no one can say, scientifically, that any one of the 70 vaccine doses currently recommended for American children saves more lives than it costs. That question can only be answered by studies that compare long-term health outcomes in vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations. Despite concerns over inadequate safety science by the Institute of Medicine, the ultimate arbiter of vaccine safety science, captive regulators at HHS have refused to perform such studies and have exempted vaccine-makers from performing randomized placebo-controlled tests prior to licensing. HHS requires such studies for virtually all other pharmaceutical products. That means that no one knows vaccine risk profiles. Mr. Paumgarten makes little effort to advance the debate. He makes no mention of the MMR’s well-documented danger signals.

That part about only one in 500,000 people “population-wide” is a transparent attempt to make the measles death rate seem as low as possible though an obvious and intellectually dishonest ploy: Dividing the deaths by the whole population, rather than the infected population. We don’t care. Vaccines are intended to prevent the deaths from the disease by preventing the disease in the first place. Amusingly, that “1 in 10,000” figure links to an infographic from Physicians for Informed Consent. It’s a group I’ve discussed before, and it’s an antivax advocacy group. Indeed, it’s an embarrassment to me personally as a physician that an antivax physicians’ group like this exists.

But what about the figure itself? It’s based on figures from the CDC that, before the vaccine, approximately 500,000 cases a year were reported to the CDC out of what was estimated to have been around 3-4 million cases, resulting in around 400 to 500 deaths. So, let’s say that the mortality was “only” 1 in 10,000. RFK Jr. conveniently forgets to mention that there were also 1,000 cases of encephalitis and 48,000 hospitalizations for the complications of measles, such as pneumonia. Indeed, as I mentioned just last week, Sir Graham Wilson, a prominent vaccine scientist 50 years ago, someone who even wrote a book about the risks of immunization, had this to say about measles:

Measles presents an interesting example of a disease in which the mortality in relation to morbidity in Great Britain is extremely low but in which respiratory and neurological complications leaving behind them permanent damage are not infrequent.

As I said at the time, so much for the idea, frequently parroted by antivaxers, that 50 or 60 years ago everyone, doctors included, considered measles to be a mild, self-limited “benign” disease. It wasn’t and isn’t, and indeed the past and present rebuke antivaxers who try to make that argument. The measles is not benign. Today, the CDC estimates that one in four who get the measles require hospitalization, while 1 in 1,000 suffer the complication of encephalitis and roughly 1 in 1,000 die. That’s not even counting the risk of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), whose risk, according to recent studies, appears to be considerably higher than previously thought. SSPE, for those who don’t remember, is a late complication of measles in which encephalitis develops a decade or even longer after measles. That encephalitis is virtually always fatal. It turns out that SSPE, previously thought to occur at an incidence of 1-2 in 100,000 cases, could be as common as 1:1,367 for children less than 5 years, and 1:609 for children less than 12 months at time of measles disease. This is not uncommon.

As for the call for a study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children looking at long term health outcomes, I hate to tell RFK Jr., but, contrary to what he thinks, there are studies that have done just that. They don’t show what RFK Jr. apparently thinks they would show—just the opposite, in fact. If anything, vaccinated children are healthier, with less asthma, probably less SIDS, and no difference in allergic diseases.

RFK Jr.’s whole argument is despicable and deceptive. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he’s correct and that the mortality from measles is only 1 in 10,000, not 1 in 1,000. So what? It’s still very much worth preventing that many deaths. RFK Jr. appears to be arguing that it’s not worth preventing 1:10,000 deaths compared to 1:1,000, particularly when you take into account all of the morbidity in terms of pulmonary complications due to measles. Of course, RFK Jr.’s about more than that:

Studies support an unconscionably high injury rate from MMR. Merck’s own MMR pre-licensure studies found that 40% of children receiving the MMR suffered gastrointestinal illnesses within 42 days of the injection and 55% suffered respiratory illnesses – symptoms that might persuade rational consumers to choose the infections over the vaccine.

This is the same distortion that Del Bigtree tried out in May and that I discussed in detail then. (Read the post at the link if you want the details.) The short version is that this figure is not as out of the ordinary as RFK Jr. tries to make it seem just in a random sample of children whose mothers are carefully paying attention to their every health issue. More pertinently, I like to counter with a double blind placebo controlled twin study of MMR in which “respiratory symptoms, nausea, and vomiting were observed more frequently in the placebo-injected group than in the MMR vaccinated group.”

Next up, RFK Jr. can’t resist the “appeal to the package insert”:

The MMR’s package insert includes an almost two-page listing of over 60 adverse reactions ranging from vomiting and irritability to permanent brain damage to anaphylaxis. The Institute of Medicine has repeatedly pointed out CDC’s failure to perform the studies necessary to confirm whether MMR is causing these injuries. Merck acknowledges that an astonishing 26% of post-pubertal females might develop arthritis and arthralgia from the MMR.

One more time: The package insert is a legal, not a medical document. It’s a CYA document. It lists every health issue observed in the clinical trials done to apply for licensure of the vaccine, whether those health issues were thought to be due to the vaccine or not. The appeal to the vaccine package insert is nothing more than deceptive nonsense. Indeed, contrary to RFK Jr.’s characterization, in reality the MMR package insert favors vaccination.

Then RFK Jr. can’t help but invoke another hoary antivax trope:

A 2017 letter published in the British Medical Journal cited research showing that children receiving the MMR vaccine had five times the seizure rate of children with measles infections. A 2004 JAMA study found that an additional 1 in 640 children has seizures after MMR compared to unvaccinated children; about 5% of these will progress to epilepsy.

Note the deception going on here. That 2017 letter was from Shira Miller, of Physicians for Informed Consent, the aforementioned antivax physicians group. As for the study, yes, that study showed a risk of febrile seizures after MMR. What that study showed was that there is a transient increased risk of febrile seizures after MMR vaccination, but that, contrary to RFK Jr.’s implication, these febrile seizures do not increase the child’s risk of epilepsy. Let me quote the paper itself:

MMR vaccination was associated with a transient increased rate of febrile seizures but the risk difference was small even in high-risk children. The long-term rate of epilepsy was not increased in children who had febrile seizures following vaccination compared with children who had febrile seizures of a different etiology.


We found no increased rate of epilepsy among children who had febrile seizures after MMR vaccination compared with children who had febrile seizures of a different etiology. The rate of recurrent febrile seizures was slightly increased, possibly because the MMR vaccination introduced an extra febrile episode during the window of highest susceptibility and the total number of febrile episodes is a well known risk factor for recurrence.

Finally, RFK Jr. lays down a howler of an argument. No, really, I laughed out loud when I read this:

HHS’s voluntary post-marketing surveillance program on vaccines, VAERS, reports over 89,000 adverse reactions to MMR through March 31, 2018, including 445 deaths. However, VAERS is a voluntary and notoriously ineffective system. VAERS captures “fewer than 1% of vaccine injuries” according to a 2010 HHS funded study performed by another federal agency, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ). If you multiply the known adverse events from the MMR by 100, you get 44,500 deaths and 8,900,000 injuries making the measles vaccine far worse than measles. That AHRQ pilot study reported a possible reaction for 2.6% of vaccinations. When CDC officials saw these alarming figures, they quickly cancelled a machine-counting system that would have provided better tracking of vaccine safety.

VAERS? RFK Jr. is invoking VAERS? Yes, he’s doing what antivaxers love to do: Dumpster dive in the VAERS database. VAERS is a passive reporting system, it’s true, but it’s also a system to which anyone can submit a report, and it’s well known that lawyers representing antivaxers wanting to sue for “vaccine injury” have hopelessly distorted the VAERS database by reporting autism and all sorts of conditions not caused by vaccines. One of the most famous examples illustrating this is that of Jim Laidler, who famously reported that the flu vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk. (These days, he’s known as the Immortal Hulk.) Here’s how he described it:

The chief problem with the VAERS data is that reports can be entered by anyone and are not routinely verified. To demonstrate this, a few years ago I entered a report that an influenza vaccine had turned me into The Hulk. The report was accepted and entered into the database.

Because the reported adverse event was so… unusual, a representative of VAERS contacted me. After a discussion of the VAERS database and its limitations, they asked for my permission to delete the record, which I granted. If I had not agreed, the record would be there still, showing that any claim can become part of the database, no matter how outrageous or improbable.

Since at least 1998 (and possibly earlier), a number of autism advocacy groups have, with all the best intentions, encouraged people to report their autistic children—or autistic children of relatives and friends—to VAERS as injuries from thimerosal-containing vaccines. This has irrevocably tainted the VAERS database with duplicate and spurious reports.

Laidler wasn’t the only one. Kevin Leitch, to show that Laidler could have done what he claimed, entered a report claiming that a vaccine had turned his daughter into Wonder Woman. The report was accepted. Basically, it’s a fool’s errand to extrapolate the number of death reports in VAERS to mean anything. Undoubtedly, most of those reports are about victims of sudden infant death syndrome, which we know not to be caused by vaccines. Indeed, if anything, vaccines likely protect against SIDS. It’s even more hilariously ignorant of RFK Jr. to assume that, because it’s thought that only 1% of adverse reactions are reported in passive reporting systems, he should just multiply the number of deaths by 100 and call it a day. Of course, RFK Jr. ignores, as he has in the past, the existence of three active reporting systems that do not depend upon reports submitted to them but automatically looks for adverse events in electronic medical records. Why does he ignore them? Because they don’t show anyone dying from the MMR vaccine, much less 44,500 children.

As for the AHRQ issue? Basically, the CDC gave a grant to investigators at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to turn VAERS into more of an active reporting system by identifying required data elements and developing systems to monitor ambulatory care EMRs for adverse events following vaccine administration; prepare and securely submit clinician approved, electronic reports to the national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS); comprehensively evaluate ESP:VAERS performance in a randomized trial and compare it with existing VAERS and Vaccine Safety Datalink data. Why didn’t the CDC followup on it? Who knows? Maybe the CDC thought that existing active reporting systems (e.g., the Vaccine Safety Datalink or PRISM) were adequate and that there was no need to turn VAERS into such a system. Whatever the CDC’s reason, its failure to further fund Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to continue to develop its system has been cited by antivaxers for several years as “evidence” that adverse events due to vaccines are very much more common than the CDC “admits.”

This article wasn’t all that RFK Jr. has been doing in the wake of the passage of SB 276 and SB 714. For instance, he’s been pushing this video:

I was going to go through it, but this post had already ballooned larger than I had expected. Fortunately, Dr. Vincent Ianelli took it on so that I don’t have to. I can see just from his treatment that RFK Jr. repeated his usual lies about the current generation of children being the “sickest generation,” repeated the appeal to vaccine package inserts, and, of course, the usual rants about government in which RFK Jr. compares it to China. Gee, I wonder why he chose China, of all authoritarian countries. Why not Nazi Germany, as he’s done in the past, or other authoritarian countries or other dictators? It couldn’t be because the driving force behind SB 276, Sen. Richard Pan, was born to a Taiwanese family that had immigrated to the US, could it? Could it be that RFK Jr. is subtly echoing the racist attacks against Sen. Pan that antivaxers have been laying down since SB 277 in 2015? One wonders, one does.

In any event, RFK Jr. is as antivax as antivax can be, all his claims to be “fiercely pro-vaccine” notwithstanding.

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]

124 replies on “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. lays down even more antivax misinformation now that SB 276 has become law”

VAERS captures “fewer than 1% of vaccine injuries”

It seems to me that serious injuries are more likely to move people into making some sort of records, compared to trivial or quick-healed injuries/adverse events.
If anything, government authorities outside of healthcare providers tend to want to ask pointed questions whenever taxpayers drop dead.
Not to mention the family.

So the 99% not-recorded ‘vaccine injuries’ may not be exactly like the recorded 1%.

The most common reaction is “soreness at the injection site,” why on earth would those reactions be reported?

I’m not going to write into VAERS about “injection site soreness” any more than I’m going to complain to the airline that my suitcase gave me a bruise when I dropped it on my arm.

I mean, it’s just not worth the effort.

Kennedy’s assertion that 99% of vaccine injuries aren’t worth reporting is probably right. Nice of him to point that out.

@Athaic – If anything, government authorities outside of healthcare providers tend to want to ask pointed questions whenever taxpayers drop dead – Maybe where you’re from…not so much here in the U.S.

Not to mention the family – When questions are asked, medical providers deny any link, “Oh, it’s just a coincidence. It’s not the vaccine”. I don’t know the extent of training physicians undergo to recognize a vaccination reaction. I know they are shown the schedule and told the mantra “safe and effective”. For any other medical condition, a patient history is obtained and taken into consideration when diagnosing.

Maybe where you’re from…not so much here in the U.S.

I was surprised to learn that scopolamine was a PED in horse racing. Dig deeper.

The anti-vaxxers have strung together their own semi-functional bootstrap mechanism–if they can stay coherent and not fight too much for their piece of salmonella-infested pie. RFKjr/Bigtree are the rabble rousers. PIC/AAPS are the faux physician groups. All the state-level “vaccine choice” groups house the scat-flinging flying monkeys who must now decided whether to follow RFKjr or their prior leader, Barbara Loe Fisher. James Lying-Wailer is the bogus PhD “scientist”. Paul Thomas MD is the quack pediatrician doing “clinical” research”. Bob Sears is Kermit the Frog, and Jay Gordon Miss Piggy. Wakefraud hangs around like some dementia-ridden emeritus type. JPANDS is the back-up bottom feeding journal when all the real journals reject their 3rd grade science-fair level “studies”. Children’s Health Defense Fund and Highwire are the last-resort media outlets when other outlets turn down their dangerous nonsense. If only those damnable diseases like measles weren’t coming back due to decreasing vaccination rates brought on by these anti-vaxxers, they might chance of convincing the public they aren’t anything more than selfish, ignorant spreaders of injury and death having hissy fits at state capitols

Reading this dramatis personae list , I feel that life is sometimes too much like a bad James Bond movie.
Correction: nowadays, it’s actually more like a bad Austin Power movie.

Athaic, it’s far worse than that. It’s more like Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here.”
If you insist on a movie, then I would pick “A Face in the Crowd”, the film in which you can find a totally unwholesome Andy Griffith.

If he really believes the untrue things he says about vaccines being unsafe, why would he be “fiercely pro vaccine”? Does he fiercely want children to get an unsafe product?

It’s the usual sleight-of-hand: “I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe-vaccine.” And then magically, no vaccine is ever “safe-enough” for your standards.

If Orac and the Minions* are “racketeering syndicate insiders” (according to one social media commenter) then what happens when President Warren names RFK Jr. her Attorney General? We’ll all be prosecuted under the RICO statute and sent to Leavenworth!

Be very afraid. 🙁

*Band name!

She had a degree in speech therapy, and actually worked in the public schools. Then she got a law degree. She probably knows more about autism, and disability issues than RFK,jr.

I wrote a Rapid Response (comment) on BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) about VAERS. Basically, one, there are teams who look for any serious events and investigate, only a few is enough to begin an investigation. Second, studies have found that serious events are reported more often than trivial ones. Three, VAERS is just one of several systems used by CDC. While VAERS is a passive system, for instance, the Vaccine Safety Datalink is an active system where CDC is directly tied into several large HMOs with over two million members, so can get “real-time” data, including vaccine, vaccine lot number, age, gender, comorbidities, dates, etc. See my Rapid Response at:

While I keep repeating myself, everything is sold for a profit, whether beneficial, worthless, or harmful. One can question just how much profit, e.g., insulin price quadrupling in less than a decade; but the fact that insulin is sold for a profit certainly has no relationship to its value. Same with many pharmaceuticals and, in fact, even foods, junk foods and healthy foods.

And, as Orac writes, there are so many independent studies of vaccines, different nations, different populations, different study designs, etc. that only people who lack critical thinking skills and want to see the world in black and white, want some simple explanation for a complex diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorders, think that pointing out that companies make a profit means anything. If they are against all profit, I suggest they move to the wilderness and live off the land.

The anti-vaxxers “in” with BMJ is Doshi. He’s pretty despicable too, and it’s a shame BMJ won’t do anything about him.

As an aside about this example of racism:
the images we’ve seen involving Chinese dictators and their oppressive regime are about the People’s Republic of China whereas Dr Pan’s parents are from Taiwan– not exactly the biggest fans of the Mainland. I would be interesting it Mike Adams did this because he often praises Taiwan, where his wife is from, where he started his e-empire ( and based some of his business) and whose citizens oppose communism.
But I guess they “all look the same” to a racist.

Signs and speech like this are simply a variant of showing Putin with a Hammer and Sickle,when bloviating about supposed election tampering by Russia.Gotta bash us commies anyway you can,even if it’s all made up.

“But I guess they “all look the same” to a racist.”
Some way off the map commentator says that Andrew Yang should go back where he came from. I don’t think he has any desire to return to Schenectady, NY.
Incidentally, Taiwan is a nice place. My daughter spent over two years there. She says the people are friendly and helpful, the streets are clean, public transportation goes everywhere efficiently, and biking is easy. Also, as a vegan she could almost always find a vegan restaurant, and when she couldn’t, other eateries would adjust their dishes for her.
It’s all pretty remarkable. I can remember when Taipei was ranked among the dirtiest cities in the world, and the Taiwanese legislature would sometimes dissolve into a brawling mess.

“MMR vaccination was associated with a transient increased rate of febrile seizures but the risk difference was small even in high-risk children. The long-term rate of epilepsy was not increased in children who had febrile seizures following vaccination compared with children who had febrile seizures of a different etiology.”

I’m not a pediatrician, but my degree and work are in immunology, and this just makes all of the intuitive sense to me. If a kid is vulnerable to febrile seizures, the most mild and complication-free fever a kid would get would be after a vaccine – a fever due to a disease would be more likely to be higher, and would be accompanied by, yanno, an infection. Preventing that would be even more important in those children. Indeed, the epilepsy RR was lower in vaccinated children vs children with febrile seizures for other reasons, it just wasn’t statistically significant (maybe due to the low numbers of unvaccinated children – they noted that the MMR vaccination rate started at 82% and increased from there).

From RFK:

However, VAERS is a voluntary and notoriously ineffective system.

Yet it is at the same time reliable and effective enough to act as anti-vaxxer “evidence” for a plethora of injuries by vaccines. Hmmm. . .

Before RFK Jr. speaks he should be legally required to handle out package inserts.

“Listeners to this person have in the past reported recurring incidence of cognitive dissonance, looseness of the jaw, heaviness of the hands causing the dropping of microphones, general confusion or even euphoria. Irony meters in the general vicinity have a higher reported incidence of malfunction or spontaneous combustion. While in most cases the symptoms recede in hours to days in some they may persist and become chronic.

“In severe cases listeners’ children are reported to have an increased incidence of VPD. Those with prior immunity, such as physicians and scientists, show far lower but non-zero incidence of side effects.

“If you suspect you or a family member have experienced any of these or similar side effects talk to your doctor.”

“Gee, I wonder why he chose China, of all authoritarian countries.”

Perhaps due to the recent Hong Kong protests? Or maybe the unsafe medication being produced in China e.g. cancer causing blood pressure medications? C’mon, aren’t you above stoking the racism fire?

Or maybe, just maybe, because he’s racist as f@ck and chose China because Dr. Pan looks Chinese.

Since when did mind reading people’s intent become a practice of the science based community? If I get to put on my cold reading cap too, I suggest you and Orac are trying to score woke points with obviously frivolous, evidence free and flimsy theories…..

JFK, Jr. is fiercely pro-vaccine but doesn’t like vaccines. Hmm, OD personality that strives for continuous improvement. I’d say he’s a “vaccine safety advocate” in the extreme.

RFK Jr is not an anti-vax loon, he’s an extreme “vaccine safety advocate.” RFK Jr is exceedingly unique in that he aggressively swims against a natural and powerful riptide i.e., vaccine safety complacency.

[RFK jr] is fiercely pro-vaccine

And Director Josef (from the movie Gattaca) doesn’t have a single violent bone in his body. He said so himself.

Spolier: he lied.

You’d probably say the same thing about Boko Haram murdering public health workers to stop them from vaccinating the populace.
I’d say that you were a dolt in the extreme, but you’re probably just fiercely pro-ignorance.
I want to see just how long the dochniak will distimm the doshes.

“I want to see just how long the dochniak will distimm the doshes.”

Reference appreciated

Andrew, look up “the gostak distimms the doshes”. You can search Wikipedia for the exact phrase and its intended purpose.
Don’t say anything here; let everybody make the discovery for themselves.

@ Old Rockin’ Dave

Re: Gostak, Doshes

Thanks a lot! I just found my next Wikipedia deepdive topic. I’m a sucker for these types of things, even if I don’t understand half of it.

I find it very amusing that American Loon #628 thinks that American Loon #204 is not a loon. Looks like #628 is trying to move up in the pecking order.

Just discovered this….nice. It’s like earthquakes…we have more of them now because we have more instruments out there finding them.

“But what about the figure itself? It’s based on figures from the CDC that, before the vaccine, approximately 500,000 cases a year were reported to the CDC out of what was estimated to have been around 3-4 million cases, resulting in around 400 to 500 deaths.”

It is deceitful to use REPORTED deaths and ESTIMATED cases in order to derive the case fatality rate.
…How about their using ESTIMATED deaths* and REPORTED cases?
If they did that then there would be 1000 deaths for 500,000 cases, for a CFR of 1 in 500.
Did RFKJr do that? …hell no!

*There is good evidence that deaths from measles were 50% under-reported.
The true CFR for measles in developed countries with good healthcare is likely to be around 1 in 2000.

You realize that they get this number from hospitals. 1 in 1,000 die from measles that goes the the hospital. 99.9% of measles cases don’t go to the hospital for measles. So the 1 in 1,000 is crazy inflated.

Nope, they don’t get numbers of measles deaths from hospital data.
The data on measles deaths is obtained from death certificates.

“Measles deaths in the United States are recorded by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which aggregates death certificate data from state vital statistics offices, and by the national measles surveillance system, coordinated by the National Immunization Program (NIP)”

The efficiency of reporting is 64-71% (in other words they miss one third of the deaths)

The Christineods/Greggians are getting rowdy in Colorado – not content to have their own children at risk, some of them are threatening to kill the children of pro-vaccine advocates too. Apparently, they’re not insisting that diseases kill children – their goal is dead children, whether from disease or fire.

It’s amazing how willingly antivaxxers are doing the work of Boko Haram and Da’esh.

The internet sleuths on Reddit have also identified several stock photographs on that “memorial.” I know this may come as a shock to you, but it seems that some/most/all of the members of that anti-vaccine group are lying.

What? Next you’ll be telling Captain Renault that there’s gambling going on in this casino. I am shocked. Shocked!

Hmm. That gives me an idea. I’ll post pictures of Natalie, Christine, Kent, “Fore Sam” and the other antivaxxers at my candlelight vigil mourning the dead consciences of the victims of antivax ideology. Money raised by the vigil will go to the Bill Gates Foundation for vaccination (and to rescue children still held by antivax cultists).

I figured I knew who that was as soon as you mentioned it, and checking the link confirmed it. Wow, his smother* has really gone off the rails. I have two questions: One, was that a death threat? Two, how many more kids will that happen too, as they grow up and realize their smothers and narcissist dads were wrong?

*Not a typo. His mom’s the driving force in the family, and disowned him. His dad’s a doormat- or more likely, lying low until the last kid turns eighteen.

I found this via Katie Wright’s twitter:
@ RobertFKennedyJr links to a SPUTNIK.International ** story that says RFK’s son believes his father was killed by the CIA
and I don’t think that he was being ironic.
Does he believe *conspiracies
? All of them?

-btw- Prayer vigils for the living?

** is Sputnik related to RT?


I found that there was an article in the sad excuse of bathroom sh!tpaper…pardon, newspaper linking JFK’s death to the CIA…


Alain, maybe all of these crappy “news” outlets figure that it’s cheaper to hire conspiracy fabulists rather than people who can track down reality-based sources, do research, interview people reliably- like actual reporters. Epoch Times even let Jake submit articles!
— I did find that Sputnik Intl is similarly described as RT ( see Wikipedia for both), i.e. not good

What bothers me though is that how many adults can’t figure out what a decent source of information is and they quote various woo-meisters, anti-vaxxers, pseudoscientists and conspiracy mongers at garbage sites, faux news or “Someone told me”. And I’m not just talking about research oriented news.

Old Rocking Dave:

“Andrew, look up “the gostak distimms the doshes””

I should have been more clear. I meant that I appreciated the reference (which I did recognize) not that I would appreciate an explanation of the reference.

Andrew – & the 4th image from left, top row, is a stock footage picture! (Friend of mine posted the original image on their FB page, as a demonstration of the mendacity of plague enthusiasts.)

You forgot to mention that measles helps prevent every type of cancer except breast cancer

Put. Down. The. Bottle. Suffering measles disease per se is not pan-oncolytic.

If you are referring to a recent discovery a few years back about the measles virus targeting cancer cells, the study was done with the attenuated virus strain used to make the vaccine.
The wild virus may be less of a finicky eater.

all you provaxxers can get 100,000 dollars from Kennedy if you can prove that mercury in vaccines is safe…….Let’s see what you got provaxxers. Put your money we’re your mouth is. Cause Kennedy is……all you provaxxers are doing is repeating crap you hear from cdc. Not one of you have done the research.

Do we each get $100K or do we have to share? If it’s the latter it’s hardly worthwhile since there are so many pro-vaxx that my portion would only be a small fraction of a ningi.

About that…It comes across as similar to Jock Doubleday’s dishonest challenge. Take a close look at the terms and conditions.
The fact is, Kennedy has made his mind up, and I doubt that even incontrovertible proof will shake his beliefs.

Well I’ve got $1 million for anyone who can prove MMR vaccine killed anyone.
But, deploying “RFK Jr style rules”, you need to pay me $200 to apply, and I get to decide if your entry is valid, and my team of close buddies gets to decide what constitutes valid proof.
…go for it.

Is drinking a tablespoon of Hg enough? I’ve offered to for less, but the cranks tend to run away. Travel, accommodations, and per diem will also be required.

I kind of doubt that that would flow though a 22 ga. needle, but let me check. You also don’t strike me as someone who could pay the bounty, so get cracking on escrow services.

Is Matt another one who thinks that research is reading what someone, who he agrees with, says extra loudly? Or has he actually signed people up to a well designed trial and had the results analysed by an expert for significance?

“all you provaxxers can get 100,000 dollars from Kennedy if you can prove that mercury in vaccines is safe”
And when you do, he will move the goalpost and not accept your proof. That’s how charlatans operate.Who will do the judging – him? His homeopath? His aunt who read an article? Unless his judge is impartial and qualified it’s an empty challenge. And all that without proof that he actually has $100,000.
All this not to mention that very few vaccines contain any mercurial compound for more than a decade now, and those that do have such a tiny quantity in any one dose that the likelihood of harm is infinitely small.
Not to mention that vaccines contain mercury is technically accurate only in the same way that a loaf of bread contains hydrogen. Thimerosal is not mercury like in your grandma’s thermometer anymore than your bread can be used for thermonuclear bombs.
By the way will you finish “Cause Kennedy is…”? Is what? The Second Coming? The true heir of James Buchanan? Talking out of his ass? Dumb as a box of hammers?

Matt: “all you provaxxers can get 100,000 dollars from Kennedy if you can prove that mercury in vaccines is safe…”

Not any more*. There’s a terse statement on R.F.K. Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense website that says ‘NOTICE: The $100,000 Challenge is officially over.”** No explanation. Not even a cock-a-doodle-doo of victory.

Did someone submit thimerosal studies and accompanying arguments that were a bit too compelling, such that it would’ve been overly embarrassing to reject them? Did the organization blow the 100K on fast cars and fancy meals? Who knows?

*not that there was ever the remotest chance that R.F.K. Jr. et al would’ve come across with the money, even if claimants had managed to get through their defenses and had a chance to present an appeal to the contest’s, um, “independent scientific panel”, the members of which I have never seen publicly identified. This was a phony “challenge” like previous such contests promoted by antivaxers, climate change denialsts, 9/11 Truthers, creationists and Holocaust deniers – merely publicity stunts. When you set the rules, it’s easy to rig the game so that payouts are unenforceable.
**I’m reminded of the notice posted by scammers in a Sherlock Holmes story: “The Red-Headed League Is Dissolved”.

@Narad – There are larger guage needles, ya’ know? Ingesting a substance is different than injecting a substance. I could raise the funds. What’s your price?

Urethral administration of mercury? Ouch. Although I’m sure there have been unfortunates subjected to such a “treatment”.

I don’t get the scopolamine horse racing reference from above. After having the patch for motion sickness and feeling really weird, I read up on it. Learned all about Jimson weed, Devil’s breath, use in voodoo, and twilight sleep (Dammerschlaf) <<< not a fan.

Ingesting a substance is different than injecting a substance.

And intramuscular, under the skin, in the abdominal cavity, or directly into a vein are all different forms of injections.
Since we are talking about administration, I would also mention inhalation and rectal administration. Both very fast at delivering the substance into the bloodstream.
Depending on the substance and its formulation, some ways of administration are faster at delivering it. Other ways lead to faster elimination.
I found pharmacology a fascinating field, even if I’m not working in it.

Make it an aluminium spoon, for the mercury challenge – two challenges in one. I have no trouble drinking its content.

Mercury by itself or compounded as given intraurethrally was used to treat STDs in the days before antibiotics. So were other heavy metals. Given that way, I would imagine they weren’t as harmful as other routes.

@Julian – Hey. I see your back. Silly Chris said I was restricting your comments. You seem to be commenting just fine, however, you left me hanging! What is the opinion of pHARMa and healthcare in general in South Africa? I recall that’s your home. HIV is a huge problem from what I’ve read. High infant mortality rate, too. Sad. If you have money you can get excellent healthcare, but no money….?

Well, regarding the task at hand – Thiomersal is a type of mercury. “Thiomersal features mercury(II) with a coordination number 2, i.e. two ligands are attached to Hg, the thiolate and the ethyl group.”
Lots of info under General Toxicity – Thiomersal is very toxic by inhalation, ingestion, and in contact with skin (EC hazard symbol T+), with a danger of cumulative effects. It is also very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in aquatic environments (EC hazard symbol N).[21] In the body, it is metabolized or degraded to ethylmercury (C2H5Hg+) and thiosalicylate.[12]

Yet this wiki goes on and on about it’s safety in vaccines:

Such a difference in description. Interesting.

Ms. White, you really need some lessons in reading comprehension.

Also, please tell us which pediatric vaccine on the present American schedule is only available with thimerosal.

Natalie, with regards to HIV in South Africa, you might be interested to look up Matthias Rath.

With regards to thiomersal, as Julian has already said, table salt is not chlorine. Meaning eating too much salt is not the same as chewing a lump of sodium while breathing chlorine. You should also remember that too much oxygen will kill you, too much water will kill you and too much alcohol will kill you. Mind you, I like to breath while having a cuppa and contemplating which wine I might have a glass of with dinner.

Too subtle?


What is the opinion of pHARMa and healthcare in general in South Africa?

Pharma in general is viewed like the atmosphere. It’s there, but not a topic of discussion. South Africa has larger problems to worry about.
Healthcare here is a mess. Years of incompetent leadership and outright corruption have ruined Government Healthcare. If you have Medical Aid and can afford it, it’s best to go to a private hospital. Also, even if you go to a private hospital you’re unlikely to be stuck with a ridiculous bill like in the US. There are plans to introduce a National Health Insurance, but the pilot projects failed.

HIV is a huge problem from what I’ve read.

Since Thabo Mbeki was forced from the Presidency, not so much. It’s still bad, but better than it was.

@ Natalie White

Well, regarding the task at hand – Thiomersal is a type of mercury

You are… trying to teach chemists about chemistry???


To see just how poisonous thimerosal is, I looked up the LD50. It is 75 mg/kg.

I checked others for comparison and found Vitamin D3 has an LD50 of 37 mg/kg.

So thimerosal is only half as poisonous as the Vitamin D tablets I take twice a dsy!

You are… trying to teach chemists about chemistry???

Yes Athaic, it comes down to that…let me coin a new word:

Vexxplainers: shorthand for vexxatious antivaxx explainers (kinda like mensplainers but obviously, that can apply to all ilks of antivaxxers).


People were prescribed mercury pills for syphilis 100 years ago: Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen / Karen Blixen was treated this way in Denmark ( as is recounted in her bio by Judith Thurmond) and began a career as a celebrated writer afterward– so she wasn’t very brain damaged.

@Deni₡e – Evidently she also took arsenic on the regular and had terrible stomach pain.. She was mental too, panic attacks and anorexia. Hmmm… brain damage? Sadly she died of malnutrition. Out of Africa is a great story.

Hard to say. I had a patient with tabes dorsalis whose mentation didn’t seem to be particularly affected. His gait was the giveaway.

This was the pre-anti-biotic era : she was diagnosed in 1914 or so and yes! treated with mercury and arsenic
which is ALL THEY HAD! The doses of mercury were huge compared to vaccines. She lived and wrote for nearly 50 years after treatment. Now, syphilis is treated with antibiotics. Brought to you by Big Pharma

@ Chris – Ms. White, you really need some lessons in reading comprehension – Perhaps.

Also, please tell us which pediatric vaccine on the present American schedule is only available with thimerosal.

It was removed from all U.S. pediatric vaccines in 2001, if my memory is correct. It is still being used in multi-use vials esp. in places that have issues with maintaining cold chain management.

There is a reason I specified pediatric vaccines. Apparently the “mercury causes autism” is ridiculous, since it is a developmental issue in children. Adults do not become instantly become autistic. Especially since autism is not just one syndrome, it is hundreds of different genetic syndromes:

And I “love” how you are all so interested in what happens to kids on poor countries. Essentially wanting to make if more expensive to prevent diseases. It is just another reason why the “mercury bad” narrative is foolish.

This is why Bobby, jr should be ignored.

@Chris – Good job bringing it around to autism! No more time for now…you’ll need to dance with another.

Blame Bobby, jr. From his newest organization the very “timely” paper:

And his perseverance on the subject:

Please look at the title of this article, who is it about? What is the subject? What was Kennedy’s debut over a decade ago in Salon and Rolling Stone all about? What was the drama queen who flooded the comments of this blog for weeks going on about constantly? It was SIDS and one other very big thing? Can you remember?

Full citation (as supplied by Robert Kennedy Jr):
Jeff Bradstreet, M.D., David A. Geier, B.A., Jerold J. Kartzinel, M.D., James B. Adams, Ph.D. Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. Behavioural Neurology, Volume 2015, Article ID 545674. SUMMARY Researchers found the mean levels of mercury, lead and aluminum in hair of the autistic patients were significantly higher than controls.
I could not find this paper, but there is this one:
Assessment of Hair Aluminum, Lead, and Mercury in a Sample of Autistic Egyptian Children: Environmental Risk Factors of Heavy Metals in Autism
Farida El Baz Mohamed, Eman Ahmed Zaky, Adel Bassuoni El-Sayed, Reham Mohammed Elhossieny, Sally Soliman Zahra, Waleed Salah Eldin, Walaa Yousef Youssef, Rania Abdelmgeed Khaled and Azza Mohamed Youssef
Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015, Article ID 545674, 9 pages
(Article ID is same)
Metal levels in hair and blood are not well connected, as everybody should know by now. And this it not about vaccines:
“Mercury, lead, and aluminum levels were positively correlated with maternal fish consumptions, living nearby gasoline stations, and the usage of aluminum pans, respectively.”

As I’ve pointed out before, I am massively allergic to thimerosal, but influenza vaccines from multidose vials have never even given me a sore arm. Wouldn’t you think that if there isn’t enough to make me react that there wouldn’t be enough to cause much of any other kind of injury?

Impressive. 144 articles about RFK, Jr. One could say ORAC is obsessed with the guy!

The tenacity of this pack is impressive. I’m starting to suspect many of you who do not have industry ties are on the spectrum. The retreaded retort, a little poison is okay and even good for you is tiring. Please help yourself… may your cup runneth over.

As one other commenter noted, the autism phenotype is widespread in the population.

What is your point, Natalie, and what is it based on?

“Impressive. 144 articles about RFK, Jr.”

Not really. Those are all the articles that mention him, many are not about him. The first few are the more relevant as per the search algorithm. Try reading the titles.

Also Orac has been doing this for well over fifteen years. Things tend to add up.

@ Natalie White

a little poison is okay and even good for you

We don’t say it’s good. Just that your body is fully able to deal with it
Some people may not, but usually elimination issues are not limited to a single compound, so these people are easy to spot. Oh, and yes, these people do have a valid reason to ask for a medical exemption.

In the water you drink, there are very small quantities of arsenic, lead, cyanid and a few other toxic compounds.
And you drink water everyday.
If you dring alcoholic beverages… Um, where to start, first ethanol, of course, and then…

Name me a single substance which will never be toxic to humans in the right conditions. You won’t be able to. Even inert gases (e.g. helium) can be asphyxiating, if there is enough to displace oxygen.

are on the spectrum

Congratulation, this is the right assumption for a number of regulars (not me, although my family may carry some other genetic thingie).
So what?

@Athaic – In the water you drink, there are very small quantities of arsenic, lead, cyanid and a few other toxic compounds.And you drink water everyday

You might drink it….I do what I can to limit my toxic load and filter the water I drink and cook with …reverse osmosis. I don’t drink soda.

If you dring alcoholic beverages… Um, where to start, first ethanol, of course, and then…
I rarely drink ETOH …again I do what I can to limit my toxic load.

You keep on believing one arm of the beast wants to protect you with vaccines, but look at what the other arm is up to: MERCK is at it again….and we are REQUIRED to trust these criminals. Sad. At least the victims have hair now, they’re just depressed and can’t get a boner.

You seem to think that only pharmaceutical companies test pharmaceutical products. You seem to think that pharmaceutical company bad behaviour is not a concern to the medical establishment (See Ben Goldacre’s efforts with trial data). You seem to think that a news story is evidence. Nice blinkers. You guys must get a discount for bulk orders.

Funny how the Big Conspiracy machine fails so many times on niche products but the really wide spread stuff with many more people involved just keeps rolling along, worldwide, different companies, different governments, people retiring, people getting sacked, no one suddenly deciding that they cant keep the ‘secret’ any more…… Yep. Logic ain’t your strong point.

Only 144? I thought it was more.

Consider it this way. That total is from just shy of 14 years of blogging on this platform, which means I’ve written about RFK Jr. a little more than 10x a year, which is much less impressive. Now, consider that there are roughly 5,800 posts on this blog. Out of that, 144 would make up just under 2.5% of the content of this blog. That’s even less impressive.

Math. It’s your friend.

I suppose to most people it isn’t. Sometimes, if I read opinions in a local free newspaper, I think those people should learn some math, because they make some logic mistakes. If the taxes on food are raised, which means that healthy food gets more expensive, this doesn’t mean unhealthy food gets more attractive, because that gets more expensive as well.

To anti-vaxxers math, statistics (yes, I know it’s part of math) and chemistry are their enemies, things they hardly seem to know anything about.

Your productivity and longevity frightens anti-vaxers.

And, yeah, I noticed that math is not their strong point. Especially when asked to calculate the ratio between the number of compensated claims of the VICP versus the total number of vaccine doses given. Apparently none of them can figure out to use the calculator on the device they use to post comments, even when I provide the actual numbers from the latest version of the statistics.

A couple things… about what Orac and others said

–The woo-meisters / anti-vaxxers are very afraid of Orac. How do I know this?
— a lot of time, money ( hiring assistants/ lawyers) and time is spent attacking him and other sceptics? How many
articles has Mikey written about Orac’s “crimes”? How many articles/ shows have Null et al produced in order to cast aspersion upon Orac & Co? In both cases, LOADS! ( see NN, PRN for these efforts)

These poseurs present themselves as experts in health, science, medicine, whatever and create an all encompassing atmosphere ( via their venues) to educate”their followers that serves as an advertisement that is adversarial to SBM BUT THEN, an entranced advocate reads Wikipedia about either their educator or his methods ( such as homeopathy, energy medicine etc) punching a hole into that woo balloon. So they are pissed off at Orac and friends.

This anti-scepticism takes time and money which would be better spent ( to them anyway) selling products and singing their own praises.

— about woo belief and mathematics:
And it may not just be woo-followers alone: you would be surprised how many grad students tremble and quake when they are told that they have to take several courses in statistics in order to get degrees.

@ Renate

OT / nitpicking

If the taxes on food are raised, which means that healthy food gets more expensive, this doesn’t mean unhealthy food gets more attractive, because that gets more expensive as well.

Ah, that may be the wrong reasoning, but the conclusion may not be that far off.

If all food prices increase, but your budget for eating stay the same, you may have to switch to cheaper food. It’s not that unhealthy food gets more attractive, it’s that cheaper food gets more attractive. And there is some good overlap between the two categories. (although – maybe I would be surprised by how much unhealthy food is also expensive)
A better way of saying that would be – if food prices increase, it’s easier to go into malnutrition, because of reduced choice.

Yes I am on the autism spectrum and I resent your stereotyping and your use of it as a perjorative. Please go away. You’re clearly the worst kind of neurotypical and you have nothing to say to me that is worth the seconds it takes me to read it, bigot.

Exactly. The dose makes the poison
There is a long history of substances in foods, beverages or products being deemed “dangerous” and sometimes banned or sold with warnings ( saccharine, cyclamates, complex chemicals in for example, Scotch whiskey, many more). In fact, in California, you might run into a sign saying that ingredients in the food you order in a restaurant can “cause cancer”. because research somewhere showed a link which could be considered meaningful. If you eat large amounts of browned meats frequently ( or cured meat, sausages, etc) that could lead to cancers. Sometimes the bans are lifted or changed because of how unlikely the danger is. Recently, Orac wrote about how research in rats sometimes doesn’t equate to research in humans. Much of the research for foods originated in animals – large doses for small rats.
The most famous- and retracted research- ( Seralini) about GMOs and tumours was on a specific type of rats that develop tumours.

Ooops! I misspelled saccharin. There’s an article about its history on healthline.

If you are pro-vaccine but developed GBS after vaccination with the trivalent Adacel and Menactra, how do you know which vaccine to avoid in the future so that you can continue to be vaccinated with the other vaccines?

Most people should be able to understand that GBS occurs much more commonly following an infectious disease than following vaccination. If you’re not just trolling, the infectious disease docs here may be able to provide more information, but If you already have GBS you’re probably predisposed to an abnormal reaction. I’d try to avoid infection if I were you..

@Edith – This is something you need to discuss with your doctor who knows your medical history. This pack will advise you to keep getting vaccinated until you are on a ventilator.

The research tends to validate the truism that if you find an autistic person in a family then if you look you’ll find others. True in my family, anyway.

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