Rest in peace, Dan Olmsted

Dan Olmsted, one of the editors of Age of Autism (the blog full of lies and misrepresentations, and a near-psychotic obsession with trying to link vaccines and conspiracies to anything that happens in the world) has passed away. There must always be honor in the battlefield of ideas, especially from those of us who fight with facts and evidence in our arsenal. So, please, do not celebrate his death. Be respectful of the people who love him and will be heartbroken at his passing.

Rest in peace, Dan Olmsted.

Age of Autism makes fun of Autism, draws in the AIDS denialists

This is the seventh post that has nothing to do with vaccines, for the most part.

Age of Autism, the web “newspaper” of the “autism epidemic” had a blog post that was supposed to be poking fun at the CDC response to autism, but it fell flat:

“Dr. Tom Insel, who is the nation’s leading expert in funneling funds away from research that seeks to pinpoint causation or could lead to cure, has been pulled from his post as head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to head up the HeEbeeGeeBee program.

An unidentified HeeEbeeGeeBee researcher said, “We anticipate results from HeEbeeGeeBee in approximately 50 – 75 years, really, a blink of an eye in genetics.  We’ve begun studying cockroach leg movement in detail and should progress to small worms within just seventeen years.”

He added, “If you think you have been exposed to Ebola, we assure you that you are wrong.  You have not. However, you are welcome to ask for a quarantine of up to 18 years from your local school district.””

In the minds of these people, Ebola is like autism, or autism is like Ebola. When will they stop comparing autistics with sick people, dead people, or worthless people, or kidnapped people?

Not to be outdone, the comments section has become a cesspool of AIDS-denialists claiming that the PCR test being used to diagnose Ebola cases is not reliable:

“As we know from our autism carnage (and all the other consequences of vaccines), the Media and CDC, et al. are not at all interested in objectively figuring out cause & effect along with their cock-ca-manie PR releases that some “previously healthy” people have come down with such as Ebola (or AIDS).”

AND

“My red flag IMMEDIATELY went up when I read with horror that they are using the PCR test to ‘diagnose’ Ebola cases. I learned via research into the HIV/AIDS issue the pitfalls with various diagnostic tools that were touted at the time to be the BEST diagnostics available during the HIV/AIDS crisis several years back.”

AND

“So the question is: can the PCR test allow researchers and doctors to say how much virus is in a patient’s body?

Many years ago, journalist John Lauritsen approached a man named Kary Mullis for an answer.

Source-1: For a brief excerpt from John Lauritsen’s article about Kary Mullis, see Frontiers in Public Health, 23 September, 2014, “Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent,” by Patricia Goodson. (See also this.)

Source-2: For John’s 1996 article in full, see “Has Provincetown Become Protease Town?”

“Kary Mullis… is thoroughly convinced that HIV is not the cause of AIDS…”

AND

“Already killed thousands Larry? And we should believe this because …. the main stream media is telling is us that it’s so???

There are only two places where the Ebola outbreak exists Larry:

1. In the mainstream media
2. In the heads of sorry asses like you, who are stupid enough to believe them”

Guess what? PCR works. Just because they don’t understand, or want to understand, the science doesn’t mean the science doesn’t work. You don’t screen with PCR for a virus on a healthy individual. Like all lab tests, you assess their risk of being infected and their symptoms. PCR is not used for general screening. It’s a diagnostic lab test.

But the best comment so far, which I’m sure is going to get deleted is this:

“So you reject Sin Hang Lee’s Gardasil claims, the finding of PCV in rotavirus vaccines, Wakefield’s finding of measles virus in cerebrospinal fluid, and any number of autism-related gut-brain papers?”

Science denialism cuts both ways, jerks.

Autism is like Alzheimer’s?

Think about that for a little bit.

Done?

The same people who tell us time and time again that death is better than autism is now telling us that autism is like Alzheimer’s disease. Sure, they slapped on the qualifier “4 many,” but how much is many? Too many, sadly.

Do I need to compare and contrast these two things? I hope not.

Yes, you should be concerned that measles is back

When we last met, I told you how the anti-vaccine crowd were not the only ones to blame for the current resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases. One of you mentioned how pediatricians who cater to anti-science views are to be blamed as well. I almost forgot about the likes of Dr. Jay Gordon and Dr. Bob Sears, and others. Thanks for reminding me. The one thing I did not do was absolve the anti-vaccine activists from any blame. Certainly, when you are outspoken about things that have been proven to be wrong to you, when you write about them here and there and post videos on YouTube and other places to continue to try and convince people of lies, then there is plenty of blame to come your way.

Hat tip to “Lilady” for a pointing me to this ridiculous blog post over at Age of Autism, the daily web newspaper of the non-existent autism epidemic. Remember, for them to continue to exist there must be an autism epidemic, and for them to continue to be supported by anti-vaccine luminaries like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, this “epidemic” must be caused by the MMR vaccine. They certainly walk a fine line by also blaming thimerosal, which was never in the MMR vaccine. Look at it this way: If any of the thousands of studies done to find a causal link between thimerosal and autism were proven to be true, then the MMR-autism causal theory would get blown out of the water. It’s a fine line indeed.

Anyway, the blog post in question is titled with the ridiculous question of “Should we be concerned”? (No question mark on their title, though.) It is written by the first half of this pair of American Loons. The reasonable person’s answer to that question is “Yes! Yes, we should be concerned. I mean, my God, we almost eradicated the goddamned virus, why the hell is it back?” But the authors at AoA and a majority of their readers don’t seem like reasonable people for me. So, of course, articles like that will find a natural home in that blog.

The post starts and continues will all manner of errors, misunderstandings and misinformation about measles:

“Prior to 1960, most children in the United States and Canada caught measles. Complications from the disease were unlikely. Previously healthy children usually recovered without incident.”

Notice how he makes it out to be that measles is a perfectly normal thing that every child got through. It’s not normal. It’s a viral infection. It causes complications and even death. You forgot to mention that, you lunatic! The post is also filled with convoluted reasoning like this:

“Authorities also claim that unvaccinated people are contracting the disease and spreading it to others. However, a study published this year in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that people who are fully vaccinated against measles can spread the disease to other people who are fully vaccinated against measles. Thus, vaccinated people are vectors for the disease.”

Did you catch it? He is trying to tell us that the unvaccinated are not to blame because there were a handful of cases where vaccinated people caught it and spread it. Like the two things are mutually exclusive. Of course vaccinated will still catch measles. The vaccine is not 100% effective. There will always be those for whom the vaccine doesn’t trigger immunity. But, because people are willingly not getting vaccinated, the number of non-immune is bigger than it has to be.

Then there is this enormous misunderstanding of how relative risk works:

“It is also important to note that in nearly every outbreak of measles, large percentages of the cases occur in people who were fully vaccinated against the disease. For example, in 1988, 69% of all school-aged children in the U.S. who contracted measles were adequately vaccinated. In 1995, 56% of all measles cases in the U.S. occurred in people who were previously vaccinated.”

In every single outbreak of a disease for which the large majority of people are immunized, there will be a majority of people who are immunized and are cases. However, when you break it down to relative risks, those who are vaccinated are less likely to be part of the outbreak. In 1995, there were 301 confirmed cases of measles in the United States. That’s an important number because, at the time, it was the lowest number of cases in the country since we started keeping more accurate records of measles in 1912.

But facts and figures and statistics don’t seem to bother Mr. Miller, the “health pioneer” and “independent researcher.” Also, vaccines don’t save anyone:

“Today, most developing nations require their infants to receive several inoculations, including a measles vaccine at 9 months of age. They have very high vaccine coverage rates (a percentage of the target population that has been vaccinated), yet their infant mortality rates are dreadfully unacceptable. For example, in 2011 Gambia, a poor country in Africa, required its infants to receive multiple vaccines, vaccinated 90% to 96% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines), yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays. Ghana also required its infants to receive several vaccines, vaccinated 91% to 98% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines) yet also had a dismal infant mortality rate: 52 of every 1000 infants died before their first birthdays.”

Ah, yes, silly us. We thought that children who have to deal with malnourishment, malaria, HIV/AIDS and all sorts of other existential threats could do without measles, but Mr. Miller smashes all causes of death together to tell us, basically, that we should stop vaccinating because children are still dying. The level of flawed reasoning is astounding. “Yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays,” he writes. You know what they DID NOT die from? Measles. Mr. Miller doesn’t tell us how much higher the death toll would be if these children also had to face vaccine-preventable diseases.

Another frequent reader of this blog, “Todd W.”, decided to step into the murky waters of the comments section, and I applaud him for that. But you can read for yourself that it is hopeless. Immediately, his credentials were questioned, and they wondered if he was being paid to comment. He was told that he reads “like a CDC commercial”. (Have you seen any commercials brought to you by CDC?) But, again, that’s par for the course for the quacks and hacks that know very well how to manipulate words and numbers to please their crowd.

Don’t be fooled. Age of Autism is all about pleasing the kind of people who want to believe in monsters under the bed. They are now even catering to the “chemtrail” crowd:

chemtrail_age_of_autism

How many times can you fit “whore” into a blog post and claim you’re not trying to insult anyone?

The Age of Autism people have a credibility and image problem on their hands, if you ask me. On the one hand, they are trying to come off as experts in all things autism and all things anti-vaccine, but, on the other hand, they are offending people left and right. Time after time, they manage to get themselves in hot water with their own readers. Posts go missing. Comments get erased.

A few years ago, on Thanksgiving, they published a post where they showed several pro-vaccine advocates eating a baby for Thanksgiving dinner. In that now erased post, Kim Stagliano chimed in with this comment:

“Dr. Nancy is under the table servicing Dr. Offit’s RotaDick. Wait, can you hear her? “Fere If doh bontrobersy!!” Someone should tell her it’s not polite to talk with your mouth full.”

For a very long time, as long as I’ve been following their shenanigans, I’ve been catching whiffs of misogyny here and there from that blog, even from their female contributors. Yes, they attack male pro-vaccine advocates with a lot of vitriol, but they are downright nasty toward female pro-vaccine advocates, using colorful descriptions for what those women use. The latest bit of nuttery is this post about… It’s about… Well, to be honest, I have no idea what it’s about. I really don’t. Continue reading

20 reasons you’re misleading people on vaccines

Ah, that “Daily Web Newspaper of the (nonexistent) Autism Epidemic” never fails to entertain me and give me a good laugh. This time, “Tanner’s Dad” (aka Tim Welsh) has written his list of twenty reasons why he questions vaccine safety. Like every good anti-vaccine activist, it is full of misinformation. The casual reader coming upon this list might be tricked into thinking that Tim Welsh has done his homework… That his reasoning is sound.

His reasoning is so flawed that I had to laugh. So let’s break down the list one-by-one, shall we?

20. “I read Jenny McCarthy’s Story” – Really, Tim? Her story is that compelling? Which part was it, Tim? The part where her child was an indigo child? Or her new rewriting of history whereby she claims she is not anti-vaccine and never has been? If that’s reason #20, the rest should be really fun to read. Continue reading

A different definition of “fiction”

I was talking to a friend who works in a psych unit the other day, and he asked how I was dealing with the anti-vaxxers and other denialists. I told him that it was a little frustrated at times that there are so many people willing to ignore reality for fiction. He told me about a psychological concept called “fiction”. This is not fiction in the traditional sense. This is fiction in that a person has created a sort of reality around them that is real to them, maybe even tangible, even if all the evidence points to the contrary. You have probably seen examples of this in women who go to deliver a child and had convinced themselves all the time that they were not pregnant, even going on public record and saying that they had no clue (never mind the belly, the lack of a menstrual period, and other indicators of what reality was). You also see it too often in men who cheat on their wives and have convinced themselves that what they are doing is not wrong, or that there will be no consequences.

My thoughts went to the “Weirdo” John Stone of Age of Autism. He is convinced that I am someone else, someone employed by “Big Pharma”, and that I am in cahoots with a whole bunch of other people who are pro-vaccine. I’ve offered to him to become my “friend” on Facebook and get to see pictures of myself and my family, where I am working, and even my telephone number, but he has not agreed. Why? Because he is convinced that I am “despicable”. That, or he doesn’t want the fiction that he has created about me to be torn down. After all, if I turn out to be just a random guy and not who he thinks I am, there is no more boogeyman, no monster under his bed.

The Weirdo is not the only one, of course. There are plenty of leaders and followers in the anti-vaccine camp that have created a fiction around their lives. To many, their children were not autistic until the minutes or hours following their childhood vaccines. Even when they are shown videos of their children exhibiting autistic behaviors before vaccination, their fiction will not allow them to accept this. Their fiction dictates that vaccines and only vaccines cause autism, not their genes, not anything else. (Although some would concede that maybe the environment had something to do with it.)

In many, and very heated, discussions about vaccines (and even about science in general), public health officials and workers (and anyone in any way associated with the pharmaceutical industry) get compared to the Nazi regime which ruled Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. To take in and understand why that analogy is flawed, you have to understand what happened during that time in Europe. I won’t bore you with the history class, but I will tell you that public health working to save the lives of children today is nothing at all like what happened under the Nazi regime. We are not arbitrarily picking children and killing them en masse. We are not tying anyone down and performing medical experiments on them. We don’t believe that one ethnic or religious group is to blame for all of society’s ailments.

To be a person of science, and someone who believes in science, we cannot have the luxury of creating fictions around our lives. Sure, we may create mini-fictions to understand why someone like the weirdo or the kid may hate us with such a passion, but we pretty much accept reality for what it is. Personally, I believe the weirdo just has a psychosexual obsession with me, but that’s just me, and I’m no psychologist. That’s a very minor personal fiction compared to what he fantasizes believes about me, maybe. And I’ve told you about his obsession with Dorit Reiss as well. On the contrary, we need to live and accept the evidence and do something about it. Even those among us who believe in a higher power, I’m yet to find a true person of science who falls to their knees and prays instead of taking evidence-based action.

So how do you deal with a person or a group who is/are cocooned in their own fiction? With some, it will be just a matter of breaking down that fiction with facts. With others, there will be absolutely nothing you will be able to do. What they see as reality looks, feels, and even tastes like reality, so there cannot be anything else. In the case of the weirdo, it will not matter how many times I explain to him that I am not who he thinks I am, and that I’m not at all interested in him in the way that he seems to think I am interested in him… Which sends shivers down my spine.