Science by legislation to pin all evils on vaccines

I should have never gone over to check the online “newspaper” of the “autism epidemic” this morning. I was met with this post:

“Please click on the Take Action Link above to send a message to your member of the House of Representatives asking him or her to co-sponsor House Resolution H.R.1757, The Vaccine Safety Study Act. This bill directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct a retrospective study of health outcomes, including autism, of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. The NIH adamantly refuses to do any study that compares health outcomes in these two groups. You have to wonder why.”

No, you don’t have to wonder why. The reason that kind of study is not done is because it would be unethical to do a randomized clinical trial, which is what these people want. Other studies, such as case-control studies, have already been done, and all show no association between vaccines and autism. But these people like to beat dead horses.

Proving that politicians don’t know crap about science, here’s some of the text of the proposed bill:

“(5) The number of immunizations administered to infants, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and adults has grown dramatically over recent years.

(6) The incidence of chronic, unexplained diseases such as autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders appears to have increased dramatically in recent years.

(7) Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines.

(8) The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.

(9) Childhood immunizations are the only health interventions that are required by States of all citizens in order to participate in civic society.”

It’s the anti-vax bingo right there: Too many, too soon; correlation must mean causation; there are no safety studies, and; they’re shoving vaccines down our throat and dammit we’re Americans!

Bingo!

So what do they want the Secretary of Health to do?

“(a) In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this Act referred to as the ‘Secretary’), acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health, shall conduct or support a comprehensive study–

(1) to compare total health outcomes, including the incidence and risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States; and

(2) to determine whether exposure to vaccines or vaccine components is associated with autism spectrum disorders, chronic conditions, or other neurological conditions.”

I can tell you with certainty that the authors of this bill are not scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, or anything of that sort. I can further guess that they are clueless as to the state of vaccine safety in the United States. Finally, I can also guess, and even put good money on it, that anti-vaccine organizations or people had a hand in this bill. I mean, it reads like an anti-vaccine manifesto:

“(c) Qualifications- With respect to each investigator carrying out the study under this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the investigator–

(1) is objective;

(2) is qualified to carry out such study, as evidenced by training experiences and demonstrated skill;

(3) is not currently employed by any Federal, State, or local public health agency;

(4) is not currently a member of a board, committee, or other entity responsible for formulating immunization policy on behalf of any Federal, State, or local public health agency or any component thereof;

(5) has no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy; and

(6) is not currently an employee of, or otherwise directly or indirectly receiving funds from, a pharmaceutical company or the Centers for Disease Control.”

I had to laugh about these requirements for researchers. They basically ruled-out anyone who won’t do a study because it’s unethical, and they don’t want anyone who has ever opposed the anti-vaccine groups. They’re shooting for objectivity but are really aiming for any number of quacks to step up to the challenge. I am, however, encouraged to read #5 above. That part rules out the Father and the Son, whose theories on autism have led to children being chemically castrated.

Perhaps the greatest proof that the authors of this bill are idiots unscientific is this:

“(d) Target Populations- The Secretary shall seek to include in the study under this section populations in the United States that have traditionally remained unvaccinated for religious or other reasons, which populations may include Old Order Amish, members of clinical practices (such as the Homefirst practice in Chicago) who choose alternative medical practices, practitioners of anthroposophic lifestyles, and others who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”

Selection bias, anyone?

If the bill were to pass, I’m sure there will be plenty of cranks, quacks, and other hacks to come out of the woodwork and propose their studies. They’ll even ask for funding for them, I guarantee it. And, when the results don’t agree with their theses (if and only if they do the study right, of course), the goalposts will move and the anti-vaccine people will seek something else to prove that vaccines are the ultimate evil.

I can see “the kid” furiously writing up a proposal right now, right along with placing the finishing touches on his talk at Autism One on how to stalk confronting the monsters under his bed.

13 thoughts on “Science by legislation to pin all evils on vaccines

  1. “(2) is qualified to carry out such study, as evidenced by training experiences and demonstrated skill;”

    Someone will have to explain to me how to find such an individual who simultaneously isn’t currently working for any government or private lab and generally qualify to the other conditions. Hard for someone to obtain training experience and to demonstrate one’s skills if he/she isn’t working in its field of expertise.
    Well, maybe among those whose last job ended recently. Or propose Australia (or Europe, China…) an exchange program: their experts against US experts.
    I somehow doubt a former employee or a foreign counterpart to US experts would be accepted.

    I believe there is a former UK doctor who started anew in the US a few years back. Maybe he would qualify…

    • I wouldn’t put it past them that they would put in a proposal for Andrew Jeremy to do it. I wonder what he’d find out and how fast it would have to be retracted?

  2. Reuben, I wish you would re-consider attending the kid’s presentation. If it’s anything like his AutOne presentation, it will be divine and frankly worth seeing his committee hang their heads in shame as they should. I would love to see how well his AutOne presentation is going to go over and if it won’t be “trimmed” by the time he gets their given his preview of it.

    • You mean how he openly and unabashedly attacks his masters, the same masters that will be right there with him at the same conference? Yeah, hilarity will ensue.

      As for his school presentation, who knows? I might be bored that day and wonder over from my office. It’s not that far. He keeps claiming that I’m someone else, yet he doesn’t know that we’ve been in the same room together a couple of times this past year alone. Poor kid.

  3. Hi, Reuben.

    I’m a little confused, though. Barring the difficulty of getting clean data, I don’t understand why a *retrospective* study is unethical. I certainly know why a prospective study would be.

    However, given their restrictions, the study would be more than slightly biased. And when it STILL didn’t tell them what they want to hear, they would howl about something (I’m sure they could find SOME flaw, even if they did the study).

    • Because it’s actively allowing the control group to go without vaccines. It’s not incidental. It’s by design. Even retrospectively, you’re looking at the unvaccinated group and allowing it to remain unvaccinated, discouraging them from being vaccinated, lest they confound the findings.

      But that’s not the case here, though. They want a prospective study, a randomized clinical trial. The one trial they can’t do themselves, and they want the government to fund it.

      • Ah..I see. I was thinking of retrospective as just looking at children who had had all their vaccines as opposed to those whose parents wouldn’t get them vaccinated, not the discouraging part.

        And I misread how it was worded. Their requirements certainly sound like they want a prospective study (and are the STILL harping on the Amish? Who do vaccinate and do have autistic children?), but their working in the first paragraph you mentioned confused me, since they do say “retrospective” there.

  4. The Quack Fest (Jenny McCarthy’s Conference) has managed to snare three of the Congressman for their “Congressional Panel”. These are the same Congressmen, who ran that sham Autism Congressional Hearing, November, 2012

    As soon as the Media Director of that notorious anti-vaccine blog published her interview with a parent who bragged about setting the agenda for that hearing, I started posting comments on science blogs.

    The back story is that the parent and the castrating/chelating disgraced former doctor met with the disgraced and discredited former doctor from the U.K. to plan their strategy of wining and dining Congressmen and their wives, eight months before the actual Congressional hearing.

    The “kid”, an epidemiologist wannabe, then went rogue and went to a crank blogger, to expose the dark underside of the anti-crank, anti-science organizations, to reveal the dirty dealings and Congressional influence peddling of these disgraced former doctors.

    This suggested unethical “study”, could be conducted by “independent” scientists such as the two defrocked, disgraced and delicensed doctors, with “the kid” as chief epidemiologist. :-)

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