Miss me?

You’ve got to give me some credit. I write more often on this blog than “the kid” does on his, and I check/cite my sources. There is more journalism in my pinky finger than in all anti-vax bloggers combined. Yes, combined.

I apologize for not posting more often lately. I’m between jobs and running in and out of cities while working on different projects. But I haven’t forgotten you.

While I come back, go check out check out the blogs over on the “blogroll” on the right.

As far as anti-vaxxers are concerned, I bet they miss me.

Dr. Bob Sears in not anti-vaccine, except when he is, which is pretty much all the time

The last time I wrote about Dr. Bob Sears, pediatrician to the uninitiated, I told you about his anti-vaccine views and his anti-vaccine activism on Facebook. Let me make it clear to you that he is an administrator of an anti-vaccine Facebook page:

PAOAVThe page is titles “Parents and Others Against Vaccines.” If that is not anti-vaccine, I don’t know what is. We rational people have a mole in that group, and that’s how we learned of Dr. Bob Sears’ involvement. Yet it doesn’t take covert action to see his anti-vaccine ways. Dr. Bob Sears does the anti-vaccine thing quite well out in the open:

“IF YOU DIDN’T HATE PAUL OFFIT BEFORE . . .
I typically just ignore my critics. None of them are worth my time or emotional energy, and very few of them have anything scientifically worthwhile to say.
But I’m going to give a shout out to my colleague, Dr. Paul Offit, for his brilliant discussion on How to Handle Questions About Vaccine Safety. Every answer he gives is spot on and completely accurate in every way. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking, questioning vaccine safety. His answers are so complete, so truthful, and so without holes that any doctor who is blessed enough to read it will be thoroughly armed with irrefutable answers, and any parent who questions vaccine safety will be instantly converted to the truth.
I wonder just how many doctors believe the arguments he puts forth in his answers. Part of me hopes that most doctors out there aren’t that stupid. That it’s just a select few who are hard-core party-liners that have lied to themselves for so long that they actually believe this stuff. A few of his laughable highlights include:
“You don’t have to trust pharmaceutical companies.” Trust the side-effect reporting system.
Every year, 18,000 young children somehow, magically, caught hepatitis B every year before the vaccine came into use.
And don’t worry about all the side effects on the package insert – they didn’t really happen (ok, that was MY paraphrase)
And the real doozy: $2.8 billion in compensation to vaccine-injured people isn’t actually for those unfortunate enough to have been injured. It’s all just for lawyers to make money. No one has to prove their case in court, so these awards mean nothing.
Now we can all rest easy and completely vaccinate all of our children, on schedule, without a care in the world. Thanks Dr. Offit for helping us see the light!
Dr. Bob”

The word “hate” is quite strong to throw around lightly against Dr. Paul Offit, pediatrician and vaccine creator, especially when Dr. Offit has received threats against his life for promoting the use of vaccines to prevent horrible death and disease in children. But it’s not like Dr. Bob Sears thinks things through very well, is it?

If you’re initiated, then you recognize the common anti-vaccine techniques that Dr. Bob Sears is using:

  1. Doctors are part of a conspiracy: “That it’s just a select few who are hard-core party-liners that have lied to themselves for so long that they actually believe this stuff.”
  2. Vaccines didn’t save us and maybe vaccines cause the disease they’re intended to prevent: “Every year, 18,000 young children somehow, magically, caught hepatitis B every year before the vaccine came into use.”
  3. If it’s on the package insert, it must be true: “And don’t worry about all the side effects on the package insert – they didn’t really happen (ok, that was MY paraphrase)”
  4. Because money has been paid out with no contest through the vaccine court, then the government must be admitting to something: “$2.8 billion in compensation to vaccine-injured people isn’t actually for those unfortunate enough to have been injured.”

I’m not going to waste MY time in debunking Dr. Bob Sears’ laughable assertions. A physician who should know better, and one who lets one of his patients kick off a measles epidemic then lies (or forgets) about it is not worth anyone’s time. Even worse when they pose for a happy time picture with one of the most disgraced medical frauds in recent memory known as Andrew Jeremy Wakefield:

BFFs? (Dr. Bob Sears on the left, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield in the center)

What I see here is a clear example of professional jealousy. I’ll explain.

  • Dr. Paul Offit was part of a team who created a vaccine against Rotavirus, a virus that causes diarrhea and kills thousands of children a year around the world. Because of that vaccine, thousands of children have been saved. Thousands! Dr. Bob Sears, on the other hand, has not done such a thing and resorts to ad hominem attacks on social media to try and counter Dr. Offit’s credibility.
  • Dr. Paul Offit works at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a premier pediatric medicine institution. Dr. Bob Sears does not, and I’m willing to bet a month’s salary that Dr. Bob Sears could never get a job there, or anywhere where they take infectious disease of children seriously. What’s worse than an anti-vaccine pediatrician? Polio. Polio is worse.
  • Dr. Paul Offit could be living it up right now from the profits of the vaccine he helped create. Instead, he has given up all financial interests in that patent. He doesn’t make money from it. On the other hand, you know who makes money from vaccines? Dr. Bob Sears. Why? Because of his modified schedule, Dr. Bob Sears’ patients who want to “space out” their vaccines (a variation of the “too many too soon” anti-vaccine gambit) more than likely have to pay for each visit to his medical practice, or to the practice of their choice. Or, what, Dr. Bob Sears vaccinates for free? Besides, less (or no) vaccines mean sicker children, and those sick children go see pediatricians like Dr. Bob Sears.
  • Dr. Paul Offit has had dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles published. That’s a big deal if you want to call yourself an expert on something. You have to prove it in your research and your peers have to review and agree with you. Dr. Bob Sears? Not so much. I mean, he has sold hundred of thousands of copies of his anti-vaccine book, so…

One of the things I used to do in high school to impress “Pedro” (not her real name) was to act like I knew more than I did and did more than I did. Whenever some other suitor came around, I’d tell Pedro all about how the suitor was this or that. In essence, I talked smack. Then I turned 17 and realized that the true way to win a competition is to actually compete. With all the jealousy and “hate” that Dr. Bob Sears has against Dr. Paul Offit, one has to wonder about Dr. Bob Sears’ mental age. Is he trying to impress a girl or just the legion of anti-vaccine followers he has?

But, hey, I could be wrong. This could all be a misunderstanding and Dr. Bob Sears is not really anti-vaccine and doesn’t really administrate the Facebook group whose admin page links directly to his Facebook profile (something he would have had to approve of). If it is, I’d like to hear his side of the story.

What do you say, “Bob”?

Another dead autistic child killed by his mother

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes. My tears are from frustration and from a form of anger and, dare I say, hate that I feel toward certain people at this moment. I just read about yet another autistic child killed by his mother. This time, the mother (allegedly) threw the child off a bridge.

OFF A GODDAMNED BRIDGE.

Previous murders, and attempted murders, have been just as horrifying, but this one strikes me as particularly horrible because of the manner of death of the child. The child, who was a living, breathing human being with conciousness and self-awareness, who felt joy over seeing his parents reunited, was thrown off a bridge to his death in the river below. That takes planning. That takes time. His mother (allegedly) took him up to the bridge and then launched him to his death.

What was the child thinking? When he was dropping to the river, what were his thoughts?

I find myself begging and pleading to any higher authority in this universe that the child had no idea what was going on, and that his death was immediate upon hitting the water. That is the only kind of “fairness” I’d ask of God or a god.

My frustration grows even more when I realize that the Autism “false prophets” will likely use this tragic crime to bring attention to themselves and their pet projects and not to the thousands of autistic (and other special needs) children who need us to not waste money and time on chasing false causes of autism and funding false cures. Can you imagine if the money spent to buy congresspeople was donated to the family in question? That child would have likely not been killed like that.

My sadness only multiplies when I see so many parents blindly following Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and BS Hooker into the abyss.

The difference between them and us

I was talking to an anti-vaccine activist the other day, and she said that scientists, doctors, and anyone else who believed in the science of vaccines were “blindly devoted to the religion of vaccines.” I almost laughed in her face, but I was trying to be civil. After all, the woman had ventured into an institution of higher knowledge to have this debate. She was like a fish out of water as it was clear that she had no formal training in science, and she admitted to those present that she knew all she needed to know through her experience of being a mother of a child with autism.

I’ve never been tossed an easier softball for me to hit out of the park, but I just sat there and listened to what she had to say. She began her tale by telling us about her “stolen” child and how that child is now 5 and starting kindergarten. (More on how weird that sounded in a little big.) According to her recollection, her child was developing perfectly normal until he got his MMR vaccine at one year of age. It took her child two months before he started walking when most kids walk at 12 months, she said. Surely, it was the MMR vaccine that caused that delay.

She repeated other things we’ve heard from anti-vaccine activists. Her child cried for days and days until she took him to the doctor. Her child didn’t look her in the eyes. Her child watches television for hours during the day and can’t fall asleep unless she gives him an iPad to play with. Oh, and her child has allergies against everything and anything that she feeds him. She now feeds him nothing but organic chicken and vegetables. Anything else and he develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation… Both? Yes, she said he gets both at the same time.

But her child is 5 and in kindergarten, but is somehow “stolen”? Again, all softballs, but I didn’t bite. None of us did. It wasn’t a fight we wanted to have.

She ended her presentation to us with a set of slides about the so-called “CDC Whistleblower” and the “cover-up” of data. In her conclusion, she asked us to be “skeptical” of those who are “blindly devoted to the religion of science” and to check out the information from the National Vaccine Information Center, an anti-vaccine group that wants to feed children anti-vaccine candy this Halloween. The woman then asked for any questions, and I couldn’t resist.

“Did you read the Wakefield paper from 1998?” I asked. After a brief pause, and after seeing that I pulled out the paper, she said that she did not. “In it,” I said, “the authors conclude that there is no association between autism and enterolytic colitis.” The expression on her face changed from amusement to anger in three seconds flat. I continued, “You told us not to trust those who blindly follow science, but what about those who blindly follow Andrew Wakefield’s…”

“DOCTOR Wakefield,” she interrupted.

“Andrew Wakefield’s ‘gut feelings’,” I said. “Are gut feelings better to follow than evidence?”

“Give me that,” she said as she reached for the now-retracted Wakefield paper. She scanned the paper to the part where I had highlighted the conclusion:

“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue”

The woman exploded into a barrage of accusations about me altering the paper (denial), telling me that she hated people like me who had “taken away” her child (anger), stating that if only follow-up studies to Wakefield’s were done so we all would know the truth (they were done, and also, bargaining), and then tears started rolling down her eyes (depression).

If the words in parentheses look familiar to you, it’s because they’re 4 of the 5 stages of grief. The only stage she did not display was acceptance. The woman was quiet and sitting, holding the paper between her hands, sobbing. The host thanked her for being here and we filed out of the room.

I felt like a jackass for making a woman cry. Women crying get me upset, and I honestly wanted nothing but to hug the woman and tell her that everything was going to be okay. But I think she would have completely snapped.

The difference between them and us, people who believe in anti-vaccine theories and us who don’t, is that we take the time to review the literature. We cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s. Because, in our world, being proven wrong or having someone find out that we lied or altered the data is the equivalent of social death. Just ask Wakefield, and, now, BS Hooker. They are pariahs who have either altered the data or failed to present it in an honest fashion. They may even be lying when they say that there was a “cover up” by CDC. Mark my words when I tell you that neither will ever be taken seriously by people who make policy decisions about vaccines and/or autism. And the people who follow them? Those people will never be taken seriously and be challenged on their assertions because they don’t read the papers, don’t do the homework, and don’t take the tests.

I’d like to thank the person who organized that meeting. They went to great lengths to get the woman in question to give the presentation to a group of us in northern Virginia. And that woman, if you are reading this, please know that we did not intend to deceive you into looking so foolish. You did that all on your own, and I hope you see things for what they are and not what groups like NVIC want you to believe.

Just in time for Halloween, an anti-vaccine “expert” rises like a zombie

I was looking through the blog’s stats the other day, and I found out that a ton of people were checking out the post about Peter Doshi, PhD. You know the one? The one where I explain to you that Peter Doshi, PhD is not an epidemiologist and how his attempt at epidemiology, at explaining to his audience that the flu is not that bad and that flu deaths were not really flu deaths, how all of that was pretty goddamn awful. Well, his screeds are back, and the anti-vaccine and conspiracy theory websites are plastering it all over the place. Lucky for humanity that people are skeptical about his claims, go and Google his name, and come to this blog.

Some of the most recent visitors are coming over from a blog called IO9. They are coming over specifically from a post by Tara Haelle about the myths and facts about the flu vaccine. It’s a good post. My only objection to it is the number of myths she’s trying to debunk all at once. There’s a lot of them, and blog readers are usually TL;DR kind of people. Keep it snappy and keep it short, says the guy who once wrote a 6,000-plus blog post on diabetes. Someone in the comments mentioned an article by Peter Doshi, PhD. It’s the same article from years back, but it has been resurrected, like a zombie, to try and scare people away from the flu vaccine.

I’m glad that so many are skeptical of Peter Doshi, PhD, and I truly hope that someone asks him about the AIDS denialist bit in his history. After all, we wouldn’t want a current professor at the University of Maryland and associate editor at the BMJ being an AIDS denialist, do we? It would be a little bit bad for science. So thanks for the natural news whackaloons for resurrecting Peter Doshi’s article from last year. It’s always fun to deal with zombies.

Happy Halloween! And don't forget to get your flu shot!

“Scary” Peter Doshi, PhD (taken off the conspiracy website and altered a bit)

How to convince the world that vaccines are the ultimate evil. Step one: Buy yourself a Congressman

What do you do if you’re in desperate need of some sort of validation about your misguided, uninformed, fraud-driven beliefs about vaccines? Do you fund more research into vaccine technology and how to make it “safer”? Do you use your money to fund autism programs that look to make the lives of autistics better at all levels? Or do you find a Congressman who will believe your drivel and give you some sort of credibility and pour money into his coffer?

If you’re a reasonable person, and you have a lot of money, and you’re worried about autistics, you would be inclined to fund organizations and programs that look to advocate for autistics (and other people with developmental disabilities). You might contact your representatives in Congress, maybe even the President, but you would know better than to give them any money directly. After all, you’re always going to have an elected representative. There is always going to be someone to answer the phone when you call Congress. So why give money to them? Let them get their own money.

Ah, but if you’re not a reasonable person, you believe in all sorts of conspiracies, and people are making fun of you over your delusions about vaccines and autism, well, then you need to buy yourself a Congressman. How do you do that? By paying between $500 and $1,500 just to meet and greet the person who is most likely to give you a sympathetic ear in congress. Lately, that person has been Representative Bill Posey from the Florida 8th Congressional District.

Allow me to step back for a moment. Look at the situation. If you want to meet and greet the person who owes you his current job in Congress, you have to pay a minimum of $500. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can call up their office and get an appointment. Regular folks don’t get that usually. Maybe if you’re from a relatively small district. Maybe if you know people who know people. Most of the time you’ll end up just talking to staffers, because money.

Now, let’s go back to the anti-vaccination activists who are trying to buy themselves a Congressman. How much do you think they’ve “invested” in buying Rep. Bill Posey? One thousand? Two thousand? Three thousand dollars? According to the Federal Elections Commission, the following people have given money to him:

Jennifer Larson, who sits on the board of the “Autism Recovery Foundation” and is a big anti-vaccine activist who seemingly loves to defend Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, gave $1,000 to Bill Posey. I could be wrong, but Ms. Larson doesn’t live in Florida’s 8th. So you do the math on why she’s giving him what to a family with a special needs child would be a windfall.

Mark Blaxill, who is not a scientist and not a journalist, also donated $1,000 to Representative Bill Posey. Why if not to win favor with Representative Bill Posey?

J. B. Handley also gave $1,000. Mr. Handley is a very wealthy man who seems to be convinced that vaccines and nothing but vaccines caused autism in his child. He is so convinced that he is happy to see public health in the United States on the decline.

And then there is Barry Segal, who also gave $1,000. He sits on the board of Focus Autism, the organization which funded the hilariously inept “study” (more like back-of-the-napkin miscalculations of numbers) by BS Hooker, who also sits on that board.

Wait a goddamned minute! Did two board members of an anti-vaccine organization look at each other and decided to fund and conduct a study on vaccines and autism and come out with findings that vaccines cause autism? I’m shocked!

And don’t waste your time trying to say that Focus Autism is not anti-vaccine. Their own “vaccine” page is filled with anti-vaccine tropes.

This is just the donations that we know of from “autism advocates.” There could be more, but the federal election donation laws are so murky that it is impossible to tell how much people gave to what congressperson or political action committee. At the very least, they gave $4,000 to a man who already has received over a million dollars in donations and has plenty of cash on hand to spend. That is $4,000 that could have gone toward something meaningful for autistics. Instead, it goes to a wealthy congressman from Florida who is in no way threatened to lose his seat.

But those are the priorities of people who think that there are monsters under the bed, who saw that their children are autistic and deemed those children to be lost, stolen, or worse.

Welcome, minions!

Well, well, well. It seems that this old blog got some sort of an enormous boost over the last 48 hours. As a result, I want to take a moment and welcome all the new readers. Now, most of you are here because you are interested in my blog post about one Dr. Peter Doshi, PhD. However, if you look around the blog, you’ll see that I cover a whole range of other issues, 99% of them having to do with science denialism and its consequences. The other 1% is just me on a rant.

There is something for everyone here, from abortion to male circumcision to one of our favorite subjects: vaccines.

So thank you for stopping by and boosting the number of views. I mean, come on, look at this:

poxes_views