Science and Reality and AIDS Denialism

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, physicians around the country started to notice that certain patients of theirs were coming down with some really weird infections. These infections, like pneumonia from a fungus, were not usually seen in otherwise healthy individuals. In fact, the fungal pneumonia being seeing at the time had only been seen in severely malnourished children and in people whose immune systems had been decimated. These physicians, being the astute people that they were, reported their findings among themselves and to health departments. It wasn’t until June of 1981 that a report from CDC documenting these cases of atypical pneumonias in gay men that the floodgates were opened. Healthcare providers from all over the nation started to report that, yes, there was something happening that people (usually gay men at the time) were coming down with atypical pneumonias and other infections termed “opportunistic” because they take advantage of weakened immune systems.

In 1983, two independent (and competing) groups of scientists in America and France isolated a new virus from people with what had come to be known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The viruses they isolated were named HTLV-III and LAV by the two teams, respectively, but it would be renamed Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 1986. It was then understood that HIV was the causative agent of AIDS because:

  • AIDS patients all had HIV in their blood and anti-HIV antibodies in their serum.
  • People without AIDS who were exposed to HIV and infected (by lab accidents and accidental needle sticks, NOT because they were deliberately infected) went on to develop AIDS.
  • In the lab, HIV was grown in media from all cases of AIDS and people without AIDS were not found to have HIV in them.

It would have been unethical to randomize people in a study into the “give them HIV” and “don’t give them HIV” groups, so a lot of these observations were based on observational epidemiological studies. Later on, antiretroviral drugs (drugs against HIV) showed that:

  • AIDS patients given antiretroviral drugs would get better, especially once their HIV levels went down.
  • People with HIV who were given the drugs before AIDS set in did not develop AIDS, or developed it at a much later time.
  • Pregnant women with HIV given antiretrovirals would have HIV-negative babies, while pregnant women with HIV who did not receive the drug would pass it on to their children.

Jesus once said that all who had ears should listen, but I’m going to take it one step further. Let all who have brains understand this:

No HIV, no AIDS. HIV, AIDS. Antiretrovirals, low HIV, no AIDS. No antiretrovirals, certain death from AIDS and the infections that come from it.

Sadly, not everyone has grasped this concept and there continue to be people who… Well… Read it yourself:

The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis came into existence as a group of signatories of an open letter to the scientific community. The letter (dated June 6, 1991) has been submitted to the editors of NatureScienceThe Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. All have refused to publish it. In 1995 The Group was able to get another letter published inScience.

Over the years more and more people have added their signature to the first letter. By signing the letter; the statement below, one becomes a member of The Group too.

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

There are 3100 signatories.”
There are 3,100 people who don’t believe that HIV causes AIDS, despite the overwhelming evidence that it does. They want “critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.” Well, they have. They’ve been devised and undertaken. Since we can’t randomize people into the HIV infection and non-HIV infection groups, we looked at people with AIDS and tested them for HIV. They all had it. Then we looked at healthy people and tested them for HIV. They all didn’t have it. (Of course, there are a couple of people who were exposed to HIV and even mounted an immune response to it, becoming positive for antibody testing, but they shed the virus and were not infected.) Further, people exposed to the virus by accident (e.g. needle-stick at the hospital) before the time of antiretroviral therapy, who then became infected, went on to develop AIDS. Once antiretroviral therapy was developed, people exposed to the virus, and even those infected, did not develop AIDS, or recovered from AIDS if they had it.
The people that don’t believe this are known as “AIDS denialists.” They believe in their hearts that HIV does not cause AIDS. Some believe that HIV doesn’t even exist. Others believe that AIDS is the result of the antiretroviral drugs and that these drugs are not necessary. Still others believe that AIDS has been made up by pharmaceutical companies wanting to sell their drugs to third world countries. And then there are the fringe elements, those in the most extreme, who believe that the government (or some big, malevolent force) created the virus, but that it doesn’t cause AIDS.
Now, if I may get personal for a little bit, it is painfully obvious to me that these people have not been to Africa, have not done real virological research, or may be otherwise sick in the head. But that’s just me. Now, back to the story I’m trying to tell you…
AIDS denialists wrote the following passage and signed it. (Scroll down to read the statement.) It’s a long statement, and, if you’re inclined to live in reality, you might find your blood boiling. But it is worth reading because you need the full “flavor” of what I’m talking about. After listing everyone that has signed this statement, the following reads, with my emphasis in bold:

“There you have it. No “handful of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists.” No “right-wing racists,” as the Aids industry’s spinmeisters would have you believe. Just 2,916 very serious, concerned, highly educated people from every corner of the globe who sense that an enormous tragedy is unfolding due to the medical establishment’s unwillingness to face the evidence that the Hiv-Aids theory is a mistake.The people on this page were intellectually curious enough to have sought out and studied the arguments that discredit the Hiv-Aids theory. Since the mass media and professional journals censor these arguments, the vast majority of doctors and scientists, although decent people who want to do the right thing, have never been exposed to them, and so accept the biased conclusions of politicized bureaucracies like the CDC and WHO, whose coziness with the drug industry is legendary and whose recommendations always seems to dovetail perfectly with drug industry marketing plans.

Were it not for the massive media blackout of information that contradicts the Hiv theory, many more people would be asking tough questions.

The next time you hear the media say, “only a handful of scientists doubt Hiv’s role in Aids,” refer them to this page. Explain to them that it is wrong to misrepresent the fact that there is enormous dissent to the Hiv-Aids paradigm.

The next time you hear the media drone, “Hiv, the virus that causes Aids,” remind them that journalists are supposed to distinguish between what is a theory and what is a fact. That Hiv-Aids is only a theory and has never been proven, is admitted by top scientists even in the Aids establishment.

The next time the media announce that tens of millions of people are dying from Hiv in Africa, ask them how they know that. Remind them that journalists are supposed to question dubious assertions from powerful, drug-industry funded agencies like the WHO, not parrot them as if they were indisputable. Ask them why they report these numbers as if they were actual Aids cases, when in fact they are projections made by WHO’s computer programs, based on very questionable statistical methodologies and contradicted by many facts including the continual large population increases experienced in the countries supposedly worst affected.

Request that the media stop twisting the truth in support of a politicized, entrenched Aids establishment that profits financially by terrorizing people, pokes its nose shamelessly into people’s private sex lives, compels people to submit to inaccurate tests and literally forces mothers and babies to swallow toxic, unproven chemotherapy drugs with horrific, often-fatal side effects.

Explain to them that this is irresponsible, and that such actions cause needless anxiety, shatter people’s lives, tear families apart, destroy hope and trigger countless suicides. And that while we realize that sensational headlines about “killer viruses” sell newspapers, the social cost of these profits is unacceptable.

Make the media understand that keeping people in the dark about the large number of credentialed dissenters to the Hiv-Aids dogmas, and the financial conflicts of interest that are rampant among Hiv-Aids scientists and NGOs, is a violation of everyone’s human right to informed consent and freedom of information.”

If these statements sound familiar to you, they should. They’re the same kind of ploys used by anti-vaccine forces to try and discredit the proven science of vaccines. In their minds, there are conflicts of interest, secret arrangements, media blackouts, human rights violations, paradigms that need to be challenged, and mothers and babies dying. Never mind that independents organizations like Doctors Without Borders have been on the ground in Africa helping all these supposedly inexistent people dying from AIDS. Never mind that plenty of people here in the US have died from AIDS after being infected by HIV, not before. Never mind that our collective hearts have been broken time and time again at seeing children dying from AIDS after being born to HIV-positive women, only to be lifted up when we see thriving children whose mother received the antiretrovirals and didn’t pass on HIV to those children.
There is a sort of disconnection from reality that boggles the mind, really.
So why am I writing this? I am writing this because a friend alerted me to one of the people who apparently* signed this statement. That person has been described thus as “…one of the most influential voices in medical research today.” (NY Times). He was up until recently a post doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has participated in the Cochrane Collaborative, doing systematic reviews on research about influenza vaccines and Tamiflu. And now, he’s been hired as an associate editor of the British Medical Journal.
Let that settle in for a few seconds.
One Mississippi.
Two Mississippi.
Three Mississippi.
Four Mississippi.
Five Mississippi.
An associate editor of the British Medical Journal apparently* signed a statement supporting the idea that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, that there are no such things as actual cases of AIDS or deaths from AIDS or a pandemic of AIDS, and that there are plenty of groups interested in killing mothers and babies with antiretroviral therapy.
Sleep on that tonight and tell me in the comments if reality hasn’t been just a little bit distorted for you.
Below is a screen shot of the names of a few signatories. The person in question is the fourth one down. The first one you’ll recognize too, I believe.
Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.41.45 PM
*Then again, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. This PhD may have come around to accept the fact that HIV causes AIDS and that’s why he’s now focusing on the idea that influenza is not a big deal. After all, the page does not tell us when he signed it, and the form to be signed is pretty easy to spook (sign anonymously or sign in place of a different person).
What do you all think?

Don’t defend the science, refute the lies, expose the liars

When I read an anti-science screed, I usually want to fire right back with something like “you’re lying” or “you’re full of it,” but I’ve found this to be non-productive. It’s non-productive because the person writing the screen is 99% of the time sold on the anti-scientific concepts that they are displaying in their writings (or speeches). It’s also non-productive to fight anti-science with science because science really doesn’t need to defend itself. In the end, one way or another, science gets proven right.

There was a time when people thought the Earth was the center of the known universe. Then Galileo proposed that the sun was the center of our solar system, based on scientific observations of the movement of celestial bodies, he was accused of heresy. It would take some time, but his theories were tested and found true. If we were still locked into the way of thinking of that era, we wouldn’t have a space program that yielded us things like satellite communications, GPS, or even dried ice cream. Yes, people died for these scientific beliefs, but the science they adhered to was proven true. Continue reading

If it’s not normal, it must be broken

There are those people in the world who see everything that is not normal (or expected) as something that is damaged, wrong, or evil. They see a hurricane and, instead of acknowledging that it was caused by a low pressure weather system over warm and moist air in the tropics, they see a conspiracy by the government to control the weather through radio waves. They see a child with a neurodevelopmental delay, and they see a child who is a victim of a vaccine injury, genetics be damned. Even when all the evidence tells us that low levels of folate in the diet of expectant mothers is the main cause of spina bifida (a condition in which the spinal canal doesn’t close as the fetus develops), these people will blame chemical contamination of food or water by a big, multinational corporation.

In essence, they blame the unlikeliest of things for what they see as abnormal.

Along the same lines, we have the people who go overboard with their belief in the supernatural. They blame children born with cleft palates on the mother seeing an eclipse. Or they say that a person with schizophrenia is actually possessed by a demon. Again, they seem to ignore the most common, rational, and possible explanation and go with the most far-fetched idea.

Now, is it possible that the far-fetched is the correct explanation for what they’re observing? Yes, everything is possible, but it is incredibly improbable. We’re talking probabilities of one in a million or less.

There is this website that always seems to take the news of the day and apply the most unlikely of explanations to it. When the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, happened last summer, the author of the site, or his underlings, blamed the shootings on a “false flag” operation by the US Government as an attempt to scare the public into shifting their opinions on gun control. Same thing with the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Yesterday was no different for that site. In case you don’t know, there is a court case being heard right now in Florida. It involves a neighborhood watchman shooting a young man deemed suspicious by the watchman. There was some sort of a fight, and the young man ended shot dead. The only two people that know what happened are the deceased and the watchman. Some say it’s a clear case of self-defense. Others say it’s a clear case of racial profiling and a trigger-happy watchman. We’ll see how it goes.

One of the witnesses on the stand yesterday was a friend of the victim. She is Black, from Florida, overweight, and female. As almost anyone who’s been on the stand in a court of law, and as almost anyone who’s been put in front of the cameras without previous experience in the limelight, she was observably nervous. She mumbled some words, moved around in her seat, and asked for the person questioning her to repeat the question.

What did the “natural” website make of her nervousness, her looks, and her demeanor on the stand? Here:

“Watching defense witness Rachel Jeantel testify in the Trayvon Martin trial was horrifying, shocking… disturbing. Here is a 19-year-old high school senior, raised in America and educated in public schools, who is wildly illiterate (she simply cannot read) and who seems unable to speak in coherent sentences. Almost right out of the movie Idiocracy, she makes odd grunting noises and seems to display wild emotional swings, verbal inconsistencies and irrational behavior.”

Frankly, she wouldn’t be the first high school senior, raised in America, who was not proficient in English. But look at the other things written about her. “Wild emotional swings”? There’s more, and it’s worse:

“On the issue of lead, Rachel’s behavior strongly resembles that of a lead-poisoned individual. This isn’t just a one-time exposure issue, either: it’s a chronic exposure during childhood development issue.

It’s possible she actually ate lead paint as a child, for example, if she was living in a much older house where the paint was flaking off. (Lead was removed from paint in 1978, but many homes still contain that lead-based paint.)”

Yeah, it’s possible, but not really probable since most states, including Florida, have made it a law to not rent/sell houses with lead-based paint. Furthermore, there is a very robust lead poisoning surveillance system in Florida and other states. Just because she’s nervous on the stand, and a teenager prone to distraction like any other teen, it doesn’t mean she’s lead poisoned.

“In addition to being poisoned by fluoride, lead, aspartame and vaccines, Jeantel is obviously eating a diet that is completely lacking in the nutrients needed to protect the brain from oxidative damage.”

I agree that her size is indicative of an imbalanced diet, but I don’t agree that she is necessarily “poisoned” by any of those things. Like any good anti-science and anti-vaccine website, this “natural” site blames chemicals and vaccines. It couldn’t be that her circumstances have allowed for her to gain extra pounds, like so may of us? No, it must be the damned vaccines.

And her speaking with a regional accent or in a regional/cultural dialect (?) doesn’t mean she’s illiterate. I certainly don’t think that people from the Caribbean who speak an different version of English are illiterate or brain, damaged. Same for Black people in the inner city or Latinos in downtown LA, or even White people in Boston. The more I listen to that young lady speaking, the more I understand what she is saying. Brain damaged? Poisoned? Not likely.

But that’s how those people react, people who see monsters under their bed, in the closet, on the side of the road, and everywhere else. It’s all a conspiracy. It’s all the fault of Big Pharma, Big Government, Big Business, and they are the only ones who know the truth, especially when no one is listening.

Finally, if you go to the comments section of that particular blog post, you’ll see the outrage from a lot of readers at the gigantic leap this person tried to make in attacking that young lady.

Sometimes enough is enough

Before you watch the following video, let me set it up for you. There’s a guy called Bart Sibrel who likes to question the authenticity of the trips to the moon. He spews some nonsense about radiation and God’s will and such. If there were him and a dead loon on the road, I’d assume that the loon was on his way to a gig while Sibrel was on his way to harass Buzz Aldrin. Because that’s where this video takes us. It takes us to the last few moments when Buzz Aldrin walks out of the hotel where Sibrel lured him for a fake interview. Sibrel (or his people) told Buzz that they were filming a children’s science show, so Buzz showed up. Instead of a children’s show, he was cornered by Sibrel and… Well, watch the video:

God, that was a satisfying punch!

Sometimes enough is enough. Buzz was trying to get away from this jerk and not give him the pleasure of an “interview” or even a statement, but the jerk kept calling Buzz names. I’m not normally one to respond with violence, but I cannot fault Buzz at all for punching this guy. Enough is enough. You can only allow lies and insults so much before you need to stop it. Some of us respond with insolent, albeit reasonable, blog posts. But I guess Buzz is not much of a blogger. And there is nothing wrong with that.

What you need to know to fight anti-science activists

A lot of the focus of this blog has been on the anti-vaccine forces out there. That was kind of the original intent since “The Poxes” is kind of a dystopian story of what happens when we just stop vaccinating, cold turkey. (That reminds me that I need to get back to writing that story.) But there are other dangerous lines of thought out there, and I’d like to give you a list of things you need to know to fight them.

We all know that you need a primer on immunology and chemistry to fight the anti-vaccine types. Maybe you can throw in a little toxicology. Knowing these things will help you understand why thimerosal, a chemical that contains mercury, doesn’t behave like mercury alone. It’s not as toxic, and it is delivered in such a small amount that your body deals with it well. A little biology will help you know that you produce more formaldehyde just sitting there reading this and eating fruit than you will ever get through all the recommended vaccines. Again, toxicology will help you understand that your body deals well with those tiny amounts of formaldehyde, and you have nothing to worry about. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

I’m done with the kid, for now

It should be no secret to anyone reading this that I have a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from an accredited univeristy. What is an MPH? It’s a professional degree in public health that accredits the person who earns it as someone who has done the readings, written the papers, and taken the exams to prove that he or she is trained to look after the public’s health.Some of us, the very idealistic among us, have taken a Public Health Oath:

“I will work to ensure that people have the chance to live full and productive lives, free from avoidable disease and disability and supported in their pursuit of physical, mental, and social well-being.

I will hold myself to the highest ethics, standards, values, and responsibilities as I move forward the science and practice of public health.

I will respect the rights, values, beliefs, and cultures of those individuals and communities with whom I work.

I will rely on evidence to support my decisions and actions, and translate that evidence into policies and programs that improve health for all.

I will add to the body of research and knowledge and share my discoveries freely.

I will continuously seek new information and be open to ideas that can better protect and promote the health of populations.

I will advance health literacy for all and seek equity and justice for vulnerable populations.

With this oath, I commit to the ideals and mission of public health.”

Unfortunately, not everyone who earns — or is looking to earn — an MPH degree agrees with this oath, let alone follows it. Continue reading

Is it evil?

I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but, as I’ve been dreaming up the plot of “The Poxes,” I’ve been thinking a lot about the criminal mind. This all came to the forefront yesterday as I watched what was happening in Boston. All at once, I was worried about the people there and the people I know who live in Boston, and then I began to think about the kind of person who does something like bombing a group of people at a sporting event.

Like Ren wrote yesterday:

“Those people were not there in a political protest. They were not there as part of a religious sect. And they were certainly a mix of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. They were as innocent as innocent people get.”

Whoever places bombs in such a group of people is no less than evil.
Continue reading

Another day, another anti-vaccine book

Lately, I’ve been tangoing online with this man. He wrote this book. Here is the book description. It’s a little long, and I’m going to deconstruct it (hence my emphasis in bold in some parts), so I won’t hold it against you if you don’t read it all:

“Using a highly personal approach, [book title] educates parents about the scientifically-documented risks involved in vaccination. Author [name] speaks from traumatic personal experience, as the father of a vaccine-injured child. His daughter developed type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, at the age of three-and-a-half-years old. After much research in scientific journals and federal databases, he has concluded that a Hepatitis B vaccine, administered shortly after her birth, is to blame. “You don’t have to play the lottery with your children’s life, hoping nothing goes wrong when they are injected with the potentially lethal neurotoxins routinely included in vaccines,” writes [the author]. “This book provides you with a review of the medical and scientific literature surrounding vaccination risks as well as personal stories from those whose lives have been touched by vaccine-related injuries.” According to the author’s research, tens of thousands of children are severely injured, or in some cases, killed by their exposure to vaccines. Targeting parents and health professionals, [book title] draws on verifiable databases and peer-reviewed research to make its controversial claims. [The author] is aware that many will try to discredit his work, given that he is not a doctor or a scientist. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education, he is equipped to analyze scientific claims of experienced researchers who have been investigating the connections and correlations between vaccinations and the development of childhood autoimmune disorders, such as type-1 diabetes. Through his academic research, he has discovered that vaccines pose an ongoing danger to our children. [The author’s] book is a good choice read before doctors and nurses approach your family and newborn bundle of joy with a vaccination injector in hand. What lies inside the hypodermic needle is a potential mix of neurotoxins and other reactive chemical preservatives that will challenge an infant’s fragile immune system to its core. As the author reminds the readers, most parents wouldn’t take a chance on a car seat or formula without first consulting the literature or their friends. Yet when we cede ultimate authority over vaccinations to our pediatrician, we throw a far more consequential decision into another’s hands without having personally done the requisite research. This book will help parents make a proactive, informed choice no matter what their ultimate decision may end up being. “Only parents whose children have been harmed by a vaccine, or who know children who have been harmed by a vaccine, tend to research the topic of vaccine safety and effectiveness on their own,” writes [author]. “I am one of those parents.” Drawing on his research and his anger over his daughter’s illness, the author writes with passion about a topic of vital interest to families everywhere. Cogent and comprehensive, [book title] will transform your understanding of vaccines and pediatric medicine alike.”

Now, one of the personal attacks that the author has launched against myself and others is that we have not read his book. He’s right with regards to me. I have not read his book. I will not read his book. You’d have to put me in a FEMA concentration camp before I’d read his book. Why won’t I read his book? Because his own statements, along with the description of his book up there, tell me enough. They tell me that he is ignorant about science, that he holds an unbalanced, highly anti-vaccine stance, and that he thinks less of anyone who opposes him.

Here are some snippets of what he’s posted on Facebook. I’d post the links, but he tends to delete postings when enough refutations are posted to his assertions.

Too bad tens of children this flu season have not had the chance that he did. But, hey, as long as they didn’t get a vaccine injury, right?
There is no evidence in any academic or peer-reviewed studies that the flu vaccine compromises the immune system. But we’re supposed to believe that he did research?
Gives equal weight to comments on CNN’s website and medical research. Seems legit. (It’s “complement”, by the way, unless Dr. Buchwald read that comment and gave it a flattering review. But I’m not a published author. Or am I?)
Read that carefully: “I also believe that we as parents have been equipped with an instinct that supersedes science.”

And then he posts this about a recent ruling that anti-vaccine groups have been misrepresenting:

Never mind that there was never an autism diagnosis in that child. But he doesn’t let facts get in the way.

But enough of what he’s written to seal the idea that he’s anti-science all the way around. Let’s move on to the description of his [expletive deleted] book.

“Using a highly personal approach, [book title] educates parents about the scientifically-documented risks involved in vaccination.”

One of the first things you need to do if you’re going to research something about science is to let go of the personal aims of your research. Otherwise, you fall into what we call “confirmation bias“, a tendency to only look at information, data, evidence that backs up your claims, ignoring everything else. We’re all guilty of it as human beings, but we in the world of science and public health have to be more careful than that. If we let confirmation bias get in the way, the consequences can be very, very serious. In this man’s case, however, letting confirmation bias get in the way only guarantees a “great” book for the anti-vaccine forces to tout.

“Author [name] speaks from traumatic personal experience, as the father of a vaccine-injured child. His daughter developed type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, at the age of three-and-a-half-years old. After much research in scientific journals and federal databases, he has concluded that a Hepatitis B vaccine, administered shortly after her birth, is to blame.”

And so we get to find out why he’s so against vaccines. He blames the hepatitis B vaccine given to his daughter as the causative agent of his daughter’s type I diabetes. Remember what I just wrote about making it personal. One has to wonder if he blamed the vaccine before or after he did his “academic research”?

” “You don’t have to play the lottery with your children’s life, hoping nothing goes wrong when they are injected with the potentially lethal neurotoxins routinely included in vaccines,” writes [the author].”

Ah, the time-honored toxins gambit. You’d think that, in all that research, he would have researched some toxicology and find out that the “potentially lethal neurotoxins included in vaccines” are included at concentrations that make them neither “potentially lethal” nor “neurotoxins”. It’s like saying that chlorine gas is a chemical weapon, and that table salt, which is half chlorine, is also a chemical weapon. It’s all in the chemistry.

“[The author] is aware that many will try to discredit his work, given that he is not a doctor or a scientist. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education, he is equipped to analyze scientific claims of experienced researchers who have been investigating the connections and correlations between vaccinations and the development of childhood autoimmune disorders, such as type-1 diabetes.”

He’s right. His work needs to be discredited, but I’m not here discrediting it on his academic credentials. I’m here discrediting it based on the conclusions he came up with, what he’s been stating on public postings, and what his own book description reads. There have never been and will never be any studies linking type I diabetes to vaccines, because it just doesn’t work that way. Vaccines don’t screw with your immune system, they boost it. If your own immune system was wacky from the get-go, that’s a completely different thing.

“What lies inside the hypodermic needle is a potential mix of neurotoxins and other reactive chemical preservatives that will challenge an infant’s fragile immune system to its core.”

Here’s another example that the author has no clue what he is writing about. A hypodermic needle? Not all vaccines are injected, and not all injected vaccines use hypodermic (under the skin) needles. Some, like the MMR, require an intramuscular needle. But it’s the imagery of a needle that always brings fears to parents and children alike. No one likes seeing their child look like a pin cushion, even though the current schedule of vaccines in the United States is safe.

“As the author reminds the readers, most parents wouldn’t take a chance on a car seat or formula without first consulting the literature or their friends. Yet when we cede ultimate authority over vaccinations to our pediatrician, we throw a far more consequential decision into another’s hands without having personally done the requisite research.”

This also gives us a big clue on why he is writing this book. He wants to assert himself as an authority more knowledgeable than a medical doctor. Who knows why? He mentioned something about “instinct” and “gut feelings” in our conversations on Facebook.

“Drawing on his research and his anger over his daughter’s illness, the author writes with passion about a topic of vital interest to families everywhere. Cogent and comprehensive, [book title] will transform your understanding of vaccines and pediatric medicine alike.”

Ah, the cherry on top. The author draws on his anger to make do the research and to reach the conclusions that he does. I’ve rarely seen a better case study in confirmation bias. Scratch that, I have, all the time.

One last morsel of what this guy is all about. Hint: He’s not about science. It’s not about his “academic research”. It’s about public opinion:

Read his last sentence slowly, then think about it.

So, no, I won’t be buying this book or any other books by this author. It is clear from his Facebook page that he is very angry that he has to be bothered with a sick child, that he needs someone to pay for that wrong done to him, and that vaccines, the government, and pharmaceutical companies are the best scapegoats he can find. It is even clearer that he doesn’t give a hoot about science or evidence, or any of those things that make something real in this world. No, he cares only about public opinion.

He’s the guy in high school who flunked his courses but made prom king, basically.

Also, I hear from people who’ve read his book that it reads like it was drafted by a “kindergartner high on acid.”

Life sort of imitates "The Poxes"

In my ever-continuing fictional story, “The Poxes“, a horrible accident bring about the virtual end of the immunization program in most of the United States. The consequences of this are yet to be seen, but you can already see in the story some of the waves emanating from the fears of vaccines. Those waves were amplified in the story’s “Vaccination Day” events.

What if this happened in real life?

In real life, a Congressional hearing on autism was held a couple of weeks ago. Not surprisingly, anti-vaccine organizations and people tried to monopolize the discussion to be all about vaccines causing autism, despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary. The hearing didn’t end with any specific “next steps” to be taken or any kind of legislation to be considered.

Apparently, that didn’t make the anti-vaccine people happy. So they have taken it upon themselves to demand ten things from Congress. (I should warn you, plenty of irrational stuff is about to be covered.) Here are the ten demands:

“1. Pass an Act of Congress banning vaccine mandates nationwide, an Act which
would override any state mandate laws.
2. Immediate ban of all mercury and aluminum in vaccines, including in the
manufacture of vaccines.
3. Immediate recall of all mercury and aluminum-containing vaccines.
4. Immediate retraction of the CDC’s recommendation for the Hep B series for
infants, toddlers, and children.
5. Repeal the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
6. Immediate investigation of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
7. Criminal charges need to be brought
8. All Members of Congress need to be educated
9. Use the monies in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s fund
10. Bring Paul Thorsen back to the U.S. to face charges for fraud”

They go on to discuss each point. I won’t bore you with their details. You can go read them, if you can stomach it.

Instead, here are my responses to these ten points, and here is another point of view on this list.

1. The authority to require vaccinations for school and other public services belongs solely to the states and not to the Federal Government. Sure, the Feds can ask that you be vaccinated for certain jobs, e.g. military and research, but the Feds cannot force you, compel you, or require of you a vaccination in order to receive a public service administered by the Federal Government. The anti-vaccine person that wrote these demands states: “Vaccine mandates are unconstitutional, violating both the First Amendment and parental rights, they violate international codes of ethics, and they violate fundamental human rights.”

I can tell you with near certainty that this person is not a lawyer, and certainly not a constitutional lawyer. If they were, they would have seen that the US Supreme Court has upheld vaccine requirements (even in light of religious claims) time and again, and again, and again. And, no, parents don’t have the right to refuse vaccines based on religious grounds, either.

2. Never mind that some vaccines never had thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) and others don’t have it anymore. Never mind that thimerosal has been ruled out as a cause for autism. And never mind that aluminum has also been found to not be implicated in autism. Never mind all those things. No, look at the amount and concentrations of those metals in the vaccines we receive, and then look at the amounts and concentrations of those metals in the environment and even inside you. The dose makes the poison, my friends. And you will come into contact and absorb far more mercury (organic and inorganic) and aluminum from day zero than you will from vaccines. We all will.

Are these anti-vaccine activists also going to ask that we walk around in bubbles?

3. See number two.

4. Here we go again with the Hepatitis B vaccine for children. If you want to read the rational, evidence-based reasons for recommending that newborns get the Hepatitis B vaccine, go read these recommendations. The vaccine series is safe, effective, and, given to enough people, will eventually wipe out Hepatitis B. That’s right! If we vaccinate enough people, we won’t have to vaccinate anymore.

The fear of the vaccine being given to newborns comes from cases of babies dying as infants. Even when other causes are determined to be at fault for these deaths, anti-vaccine people will point to the vaccines. That’s just what they do. And they’ll go to great lengths to convince us that it was the Hepatitis B vaccine and nothing else.

5. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was actually the brainchild of this lady and her like-minded friends, all known anti-vaccine activists. They claimed that children were being irreparably harmed by vaccines and that vaccine manufacturers needed to pay for these harms. On the other hand, manufacturers claimed that they would have to close their operations if awards to individuals who claimed to have been vaccine-injured were too high and too common. To settle all this, anti-vaccine advocates, pro-vaccine advocates, and legislators settled on the Act. The Act created a court system that was low-cost for the litigants and awarded damages based on an actuarial table, not so much the evidence of the claims. In fact, unlike civil courts, these plaintiffs in these courts only needed 50% plus a feather of evidence of vaccine damage.

Is it a good system? A bad one? Personally, I think we could have a slightly better system, given the data on the decisions rendered so far:

“Since the first Vaccine Injury Compensation claims were made in 1989, 3,101 compensation payments have been made, $2,379,597,663.81 disbursed to petitioners and $93,863,172.49 paid to cover attorney’s fees and other legal costs.
To date, 9,705 claims have been dismissed. Of those, 3,917 claimants were paid $52,339,370.47 to cover attorney’s fees and other legal costs.”

It looks to me like the ones coming out on the winning end of this are the attorneys.

The most likely reason why anti-vaccine types don’t like what their predecessors created is that so many claims have been dismissed because the evidence wasn’t there. It has been my experience that anti-vaccine types don’t like evidence. So they would rather rake vaccine manufacturers through the coals in civil courts, costing much, much more money to both plaintiffs and defendants, bringing the whole thing down.

6. See number five.

7. They expand on number seven thus:

“Criminal charges need to be brought against those who knew that vaccines were causing autism and other childhood disorders and diseases, but who then chose to manipulate data, cover up evidence, lie about it, refuse to investigate it, continue to approve and recommend vaccines, etc. Rationale: Evidence exists that data manipulation, lying, and cover-ups have occurred. Crimes against humanity have been committed. They can not go unpunished. Justice must be served in its most severe form against those who perpetrated these crimes and against those who perpetuated the autism epidemic, not to mention other vaccine injuries.”

Remember what I wrote about evidence up in number five? Well, I looked and looked and looked, and I couldn’t find the author of the list citing any evidence that “exists that data manipulation, lying, and cover-ups have occurred” to deliberately cause autism. If anything, there is plenty of evidence that data manipulation, lying, and cover-ups occurred to blame the MMR vaccine for autism. CITATION HERE.
So, yes, let’s bring some criminal charges.
8. Number eight seems legit, right? Member of Congress should be educated. God, I hope so. But that’s not what the anti-vaccine author of this list means. Here’s what they mean:

“All Members of Congress need to be educated about our nation’s unproven and dangerous vaccine program, not just a small handful of them. Members of Congress also need to bear witness to what vaccine injury looks like to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the holocaust that has been carried out against our nation’s children in the name of “the greater good.””

Again with the Nazi comparisons. Last I heard, the Holocaust was the systematic murder of about 12 million people in an attempt to do away with Jews, Homosexuals, people with disabilities, and other “undesirables”. If vaccines are bringing a “holocaust”, then they’re doing a horrible job at it. More and more people are not getting serious childhood illnesses that would have killed them. Vaccines are preventing people from becoming the “undesirables” that would have been killed in Nazi Germany because vaccines are preventing encephalitis, meningitis, limb amputations, and even intellectual disabilities or birth defects in newborns.
It’s right about here that I began to think that I was living in an alternate reality to the list’s author.
9. See numbers five and six above. They want it both ways.
10. Ah, Paul Thorsen. (I’m breaking the rule about names because this one bears repeating.) He’s Person C in my last post. Basically, he was a co-researcher in some studies that looked into thimerosal and autism, studies that have been replicated and have passed the test of peer review, studies in which he was not the primary researcher or even in charge of analyzing the data. As it turns out, he is accused of embezzling money for those research projects. He is now sitting at home waiting to be deported to the US.
Against what you have been told in the movies, the extradition process is a lengthy one, especially from Europe to the United States. Legal things need to happen. We can’t just go over there and drag him here. Can we? Anyway, anti-vaccine advocates will use him as an example of why that research, which has been tested, reviewed, and replicated, should be thrown out. Yet, somehow, they won’t say the same of that fraudulent MMR “study”.
No, we don’t live in the same reality.
But what if these anti-vaccine people were to find a champion in Congress (beside the retiring Representative who seems to believe in conspiracies and in human heads being much like pumpkins). What if one of them, an anti-vaccine activist, got into a position of power whereby some or all of the demands in the ten-point list were accepted?
It would be tragic, to say the least. And us epidemiologists would be stretched thin.