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.

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Grasping at straws to blame vaccines for an infant’s death

I will never, ever be happy that a child dies. You will never hear me say that they are in a “better place” or that there is some grander plan behind said death. And I can only imagine how tough it must be for a parent to lose a child.

What really grinds my gears is when a parent who loses a child goes to great lengths to blame vaccines. It’s one thing to grieve and want to blame something, but it’s another to waste money and resources in order to blame vaccines. This is the story of such a story:

“Rachel French did what most parents do: she took her baby to the doctor to get vaccinated. She was unaware of the associated risks that come along with these drugs and learned the hard way. She lost her adorable son less than three days after he was given eight routine vaccines.”

Of course, anything that happens after vaccination is directly a result of the vaccination, no matter what. At least that’s how anti-vaccine nuts operate in Crosby’s Labyrinth. The story gets really weird further down, but look at this part first:

“Her son’s autopsy report stated he died from asphyxiation from an undetermined cause. There was nothing obstructing his airways, nor did he have any physical signs of trauma at the time of his death.

The medical examiner and detective handling the case did not provide a good enough explanation for Rachel to understand what had happened to her baby. This led Rachel on her own journey to find out the truth. Rachel was told by the doctors that the vaccines had nothing to do with what had happened.

Years later, her lost son came through to her in a dream and eventually helped her uncover the truth. Her own investigation involving a child death investigator and pathologists proved the vaccines were responsible. This is their family’s harrowing story.”

Again, losing a child is horrible, so I’m sure that “Rachel” wanted some evidence that something else, like vaccines, killed her child. It’s not that she was anti-vaccine, per se. After all, the child was vaccinated. But everything just goes flying off the rails after that dream she had:

“It wasn’t until more than a few years after Danny passed, that I had a weird dream of my son. He came to me in my dream and it is the only dream I know of him being in.

He was just sitting in his bouncy seat and a man’s voice said, “It was the ‘site-o-kin’ storm that killed me.”

I decided to Google the term and found the term cytokine storm.”

And this is where I call bullshit. Our dreams are these very impressive constructs of fantasy and reality created by our brains in order to help us file away memories in a proper manner. Dream help us sort things out that are in our heads bothering us. Without dreams, we’d go crazy in a most literal sense. This statement by Rachel tells us all we need to know. She had more than likely looked up “cytokine storm” in relation to her son’s death, or she read about the cytokine storm somewhere and associated it with her son’s death. In either case, the dream tells us that her brain was in the process of filing the information away. However, because the death of her child was so meaningful, her brain instead associated the two things, leading her to hire “experts” who must have taken her for a chump:

“Danny had blood samples taken when he was twelve months old. On the day of Danny’s well-baby visit two months later, just before he passed, the day he was given that last set of shots, they had to take his blood again because of a previous lab mix-up.

I wasn’t comfortable with the way things were going so I had requested that the samples be sent to a facility for storing.

I had kept a locket of Danny’s hair after he had passed away, some slides requested after his autopsy, and decided to send some teeth and bone fragments from his ashes to the pathologist, along with the stored blood samples I had requested be saved. I then made arrangements to have the evidence reviewed.

Everything was reviewed by three separate pathologists. All three confirmed the same findings. The pathologists stated vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia as the cause of my son’s asphyxiation.”

First, routine blood samples are kept for no more than a week after they are collected. So we’re expected to believe that they were kept for years after his death. Next, based on this likely inexistent blood, some slides, and some bone fragments, these “experts” came up with “vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia”?

I’ll give you one guess and one guess only as to who uses that term? Yep, anti-vaccine nuts.

What’s more puzzling? This:

“They were able to determine this in large part to the blood panel taken prior to Danny receiving his vaccines, in contrast with the samples I had stored.”

So the blood that was mixed up at the lab at twelve months, and the blood that was likely not available after, all helped in determining this? I repeat, Rachel states that blood was drawn at twelve months but re-drawn because of a mix-up. The re-draw she states was stored in a facility, which explains the availability of the blood. But how did she find the mixed-up blood drawn at twelve months?

The whole thing has more questions than answers.

According to Google, the child died on July 4, 2008. There was one record that matches his in VAERS (ID 573366-1). I don’t know if it is his or not, but it bares many similarities to the story on the above mentioned anti-vaccine blog. There is no information on the investigation, and there likely won’t be. VAERS doesn’t work like that.

So how did Rachel even start wondering if vaccines caused her child’s death? A friend lost a child, too:

“A friend I had met before learning the truth about what happened to Danny went through something similar with her baby. The coroner called her and said her baby’s death was a SIDS case related to the DTaP vaccine he received at two months of age.

She called the next day, got a new medical examiner who said the other medical examiner was gone, she waited eight months for the autopsy report that was filled out by a different person and it stated accidental suffocation or something along those lines.”

Once that little seed of doubt got planted, it was only a matter of time until Rachel went looking for an answer, like a hammer looking for a nail.

The rest of the blog post is the usual dreck of anti-vaccine nuttery. In their pea brains, there is a cover-up and SIDS deaths are deaths from vaccines, accidental asphyxiations are deaths from vaccines, package inserts are confessions from pharmaceuticals about the evils of vaccines, and so on and so forth. You know the drill.

All in all, I really feel bad for Rachel. Here is a mother who lost her child and apparently wanted answers. When the answers were not enough, and when someone planted the idea that it was the vaccines, it seems that Rachel went looking for definitive proof of vaccines doing something to her child. And it seems that “experts” with some sort of anti-vaccine agenda took her for a ride and sold her the idea of “vaccine-induced cytokine storm.”

We do wonder who these “pathologists” are that confirmed this diagnosis. Are they board-certified, and, if so, does the medical board of the state where they practice know of these shenanigans?

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.

Autism is not death, unless you want it to be

The latest scandal to rock the anti-vaccine crowd has done nothing to sway the opinions of the True Believers® about vaccines and autism. If anything, they think that they have a smoking gun and all the evidence in the world to point their fingers at vaccines as the causative agent of autism. At best (for them), they have evidence that giving the MMR vaccine before 36 months increases the risk of autism for African American boys. That is a big assumption because the DeStefano paper that has been so widely criticized as of late dealt with a case-control study and odds ratios. Thinking that you can reanalyze it as a cohort study with relative risks is poor judgment and horrible reasoning.

I’m not here to talk about all that. Others are doing a fine job in peeling the layers of the ineptitude of Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and BS Hooker in trying to scam the American public about vaccines and autism again:

  • Orac tells us here, here, here and here about the whole goddamned thing. In fact, his latest post wraps it all up very neatly with a message to the “CDC whistleblower” and how the whistleblower’s scientific career is pretty much done.
  • Todd W. tells us here about Andrew Jeremy Wakefield confusion about history, here about anti-vaccine activists on Twitter not understanding Twitter, and here about the whistleblower telling us all about being betrayed by Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and BS Hooker.
  • Phil Plait tells us how, no, there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, yet again, here.
  • Liz Ditz tells us about the whistleblower statement here, about Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and BS Hooker implicating an African American researcher in an alleged scheme against African Americans here, and she gives us the overall backstory here.
  • Finally, Ren tells us why the whistleblower’s and BS Hooker’s epidemiological and statistical reasoning is unsound here, and how everything came undone for Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and BS Hooker yesterday here.

That right there should be essential reading for you to get caught up. Now, let me tell you about a special group of people…

There is a special group of people who are, for the most part, parents of autistic children (or children with other developmental delays). These people are special because, although their child is right there in front of them, they are under the impression that the child is dead. They refer to their “lost” child, or how their child was “taken” from them, all the while the child is breathing in front of them. In many cases, the child is not just breathing but trying to interact with them. I write “trying” because the amount of online activity these people have makes me wonder if they have any time for their living, breathing, interacting child in front of them.

I’ve told you before why I believe that these people need to walk away from their children, and I even got a rabid anti-vaccine and conspiracy theorist threatening to kill me if he ever saw me in person for it. (Some people react in the weirdest ways to being told the truth.) The joke is on him, though. Ideas are bulletproof.

With so many anti-vaccine activists “hooked” on the “BS” over the “whistleblower”, I started to notice something about how they were presenting themselves online. During their “twitter party,” many of them had a black ribbon as an avatar. Why? Because these “non-sheeple” were told to:

black_ribbons

While the black ribbon can mean different things to different people, it’s main use is for grieving or remembering the fallen, the dead. The way that these people have used it is to try to bring attention to their cause by equating autism with a death or a loss.

I call on these parents who think hours-long “parties” on Twitter are the best way to advocate for their children to walk away from their children immediately. Those children deserve love, caring, understanding, and acceptance. Why not go fight for them at school meetings to get them more inclusive curricula in public schools? Why not go to your elected representatives and demand laws to protect your children from scam non-medical treatments like bleach enemas and chemical castration? Why not write letters to the editors of your communities’ newspapers to advocate for acceptance in the community of your children with special needs so that they will not be shunned from your society and, instead, be integrated into it?

But to display black ribbons and say that your child is no more because he or she is autistic? How in any reasonable terms is that the best way for you to do something for your child? Again, walk away, because there are thousands more caring and loving people out there to take care of them than you, based on your brand of advocacy on line and in person.

On the death of Robin Williams and its consequences

I would be lying if I told you that the death of Robin Williams didn’t affect me. It did, and it did so very profoundly. Although I never knew Mr. Williams, I enjoyed his comedy very much. His quick wit and personality were something that I tried to emulate in my own life. I tried to be the funniest guy in the room, many times failing, but many times succeeding and making other people happy. A friend of mine told me that Mr. Williams likely committed suicide when he realised that his sadness inside could infect others, contrary to what he had set himself out to do in life. I agree.

Mr. Williams’ suicide is going to have a lot of consequences. Friends of mine in the mental health field have told me that a lot of people are reaching out to suicide prevention groups to do everything from talking to asking for help. His death has also brought mental health in general, and suicide in particular, to the forefront of our discussions as a nation. (If only we weren’t so preoccupied with things like Ebola in West Africa and wars all over the goddamned place.) If you look at the numbers, there are twice as many suicides as homicides in this country, which should be all the evidence we need to demand a revolution in how we treat people with mental health.

There are many evidence-based treatment for mental health problems, including a variety of medications and therapies. While the fields of psychiatry and psychology are sorely underfunded, plenty of information comes out year after year on what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, the great majority of the population doesn’t read journal articles. Instead, most people rely on what they hear or see on social media and experience in popular culture. As with the “vaccine wars,” it is sometimes dangerous what a celebrity (even a minor one) has to say about suicide and depression.

Staying with Mr. Williams’ case, a friend of his, comedian/actor Rob Schneider, took to Twitter to announce to the world that it was the medication that Mr. Williams was taking for his newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease that triggered the successful suicide attempt. I don’t know if Mr. Schneider had confidential knowledge of the medications prescribed to Mr. Williams, but I do know that Mr. Schneider likes to dive into pseudo-science and make some “controversial” claims. For example, he has stated that vaccines cause all sorts of ailments:

“The doctors are not gonna tell you both sides of the issue… they’re told by the pharmaceutical industry, which makes billions of dollars, that it’s completely safe.”

“The efficacy of these shots have not been proven,” he later continued. “And the toxicity of these things — we’re having more and more side effects. We’re having more and more autism.”

Excuse me for being a little skeptical of Mr. Schneider’s assertion on what made Mr. Williams commit suicide. I can’t help myself, based on what he has said in the past. If he is making this assertion based only on the listed side effects of any medication used for Parkinson’s, then he is not helping anyone. He would not be helping people with moderate to severe depression or people with Parkinson’s.

The worst thing is that he would not be the only one whose statements can be “dangerous.” Plenty of other people of questionable mental health credentials came out shooting-off their mouths about what made Mr. Williams commit suicide, most if not all of it based on assumptions, most if not all of them wrong.

Please give up your children and walk away from them

The Canary Party, an anti-vaccine political action group, has hit a new low. On Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama posted a picture of herself holding a sign that read “#BringBackOurGirls”. It was a reference to the 200+ young women in Nigeria who were kidnapped by an Islamist terrorist group and are now in danger of being sold off as slaves or suffer much worse fates. So what does the Canary Party do with that? This:

Canary Party Photoshop

That’s right. In their twisted minds, autistic children are suffering the equivalent of being kidnapped at gun point, dragged into the jungle, physically and mentally tormented, and being sold off into slavery. And we wonder why parents of autistic children kill those children in the most heinous of ways? Why organizations and individuals in the anti-vaccine groups whitewash those murders and defend the alleged and confessed murderers of those kids?

I call on all the parents of autistic children who see their children as being in a state of despair beyond comprehension and beyond help to give up those children to child welfare, to foster parents, to relatives who do not see those children as “missing”, “lost”, “dead”, or “gone”. Give those children a chance to fill with joy and purpose the lives of better people than those of you who feed them chelation chemicals, bleach enemas, and all other sorts of quackery. Walk away from them because you’re not doing them any favors. You’re not making their lives better.

Do it quickly, because another autistic child murdered because of your ideology is one too many.

Nothing justifies the murder of a child. Period.

I’ve written to you before about the anti-vaccine, so-called autism advocates who have tried to justify/whitewash the murder of Alex Spourdalakis. In their minds, a parent who is unable to take care of their developmentally delayed (and, in the case of Alex, disabled) child are justified if they murder said child. Why? What would justify murder? Why, it’s the lack of funds to give that child care by quacks, liars and thieves. When Alex was found murdered in a most heinous manner, the so-called autism advocates (those who say there is an epidemic when there is none and seemingly blame nothing but vaccines) said, “Oh, poor mother, poor caretaker, they had no other choice.”

Really? They had no other choice? They had a choice to give the child up to child protective services among other choices that did not involve slowly poisoning, nearly severing his arm, and stabbing him repeatedly. In fact, it was well-documented that child protective services offered help, but Alex’s mother turned it down. No, she wanted quackery, and even Andrew Jeremy Wakefield was there to try and encourage people to donate money for said quackery. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and his giant balls then asked whose fault it was that Alex was murdered. Well, I’m no forensic expert, but we have the confession of the mother and caretaker, their description of the crime, and the weapon… And, saddest of all, the motive. Continue reading