Someone wasted their time in biostats class

There have been many times when I’m standing before master of public health (MPH) students, giving them a presentation on epidemiology, and I wonder how any of them can even put on their shoes in the morning. Don’t get me wrong; they’re bright students. Many of them have graduated from college with impressive grades and great projects. They wouldn’t be in these top-notch universities if they were not bright. (Or if their benefactors didn’t see brightness in them.) Still, I’m not surprised when I see many of those kids getting an MPH in epidemiology and not become epidemiologist.

Being an epidemiologist is tough. It requires you to be able to think critically and analyze a problem from different sides and different points of view. Most public health problems requiring epidemiological analysis are big, huge puzzles with many working parts. Just being book smart is not enough. Being street smart is not enough. Being charismatic is not enough. Having an MPH in epidemiology or otherwise is not enough.

Like many people, I have issues completely comprehending biostatistical analyses. Biostats is tough. Few people get through it and continue to take classes in it. In fact, I look at the biostats crew at my job and shake my head in amazement. They can slice and dice data in ways I can’t even dream of. So I go to them with questions about biostats. It was one of them, a PhD-level young lady, who explained to me why the paper by Dr. BS Hooker was full of, well, BS.

I have never claimed to be all-knowledgeable on things like epidemiology and biostats. I just know what I know, and I know when to ask for help. I don’t like to pound my chest and say that I’m the best epidemiologist out there. I’m not.

So who wasted their time in a biostats class? Who else, the kid. What leads me to that opinion? First, some background.

In epidemiological studies, there is a hierarchy of what studies contribute the most evidence. At the very bottom is professional opinion. Surely, you would not guide public health policy based on what I or any other person would write on their blog or in an op-ed, or in a letter to the editor. Right above professional opinion are cross-sectional studies. Cross-sectional studies are basically surveys. You survey the population to get an idea as to what is going on before you move on to bigger, better-designed studies, like case-control and cohort studies. After case-control and cohort studies come randomized trials, where issues of confounding and bias are better addressed, and the results have a lot more weight on how to go about solving a public health problem. At the very top of the hierarchy are meta analyses and systematic reviews, where you take all the data from different studies and weigh all the evidence to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Did you notice how I bolded where cross-sectional studies lie on the hierarchy? Why would I do that? Again, some more background.

The paper by BS Hooker took the data from the DeStefano study and treated those data as a cohort study. That right there was one of many flaws in the BS Hooker paper. You don’t take case-control data (which was how the DeStefano study was conducted) and treat it as cohort data. You just don’t.

When the kid tried to defend the findings of the BS Hooker paper as if his life depended on it, using only a screenshot from a video published by Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (and nothing more), someone pointed out to him (again) the flaws in the BS Hooker approach:

“Hooker didn’t crunch the data as a case-control; he crunched it as a cohort study and without knowing temporality of MMR vaccination with ASD diagnosis, it’s dead in the water.”

The kid took exception to this and made what I believe to be the epidemiological and biostatistical mistake of the year:

“No, he crunched it as cross-sectional.”

I spat my coffee all over my desk when I read this. Not only did BS Hooker torture data, his protege is now saying that BS Hooker downgraded the way he treated the data. Remember where cross-sectional studies rank in the hierarchy? I mean, holy sh!t. I knew the kid wasn’t that good at epidemiology, but this confirms how bad he is with biostats.

The same commenter tried to correct the kid (again):

“Anyone looking at how he modelled the data can see that it was a cohort design and if that wasn’t enough, Hooker explicitely states that, “In this paper, we present the results of a cohort study using the same data from the Destefano et al. [14] analysis.” Taking a tumble down the hierarchy of study-design strength, particularly when the dataset available to him was sufficient to conduct a case-control is a bizarre strategy to salvage Hooker’s miscalculated results.”

But the kid can’t be wrong, not even in this case:

“He should have said cross-sectional in that sentence, but it doesn’t change the validity of his results. Relative risk would be more meaningful to the average person than odds ratios and this is an issue which effects (sic) everybody, so I would imagine that is why Brian Hooker conducted it that way.”

HOLY SH!T. He thinks that cross-sectional analyses are better than cohort, and better than case-control as well!!! Even worse, he thinks people are effected, not affected. So call the grammar police!

Of course, to the uninitiated, this doesn’t matter. To the true believer antivaxxer, the kid is an authority on epidemiology and biostatistics. God help anyone who places their faith on him for analysis of scientific evidence. But thank God that, although my comments are not being allowed through by the kid, he allows comments from other people who can see through his, well, BS.

If you have some minutes to waste, and you want to have a good laugh, go read the comments section of the kid’s blog post. It’s comedy gold. If you know epidemiology and biostatistics, you’ll have a good laugh at the errors in logic and reasoning that are pervasive throughout his commentary and his readers’ comments.

This was the eighth post that has nothing to do with vaccines, for the most part.

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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.

Some are just too far down the rabbit hole

I’ve told you before that the true anti-vaccine activists blame anything and everything wrong in their lives, or with the minds and bodies of their children, on vaccines. The same goes for anyone who believes in conspiracies, alternative medicine, ghosts… You name it. They will believe their bias before believing anything else, including clear and tangible evidence.

A friend of mine pointed me to this link from “GeoEngineering Watch”, a website dedicated to conspiracy theories having to do with “weather engineering”. If you look through the site, you’ll see the usual hodgepodge of unscientific theories about what is going on with the crazy weather we’re seeing around the world. Instead of going with the science of climate change because of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (most of it from our pollution, and a lot of it from volcanoes), the authors of the website seem to go with contrails, radio wave transmissions, military experiments, etc. Continue reading

Those who have eyes but won’t see (UPDATED)

I woke up this morning to two very different bits of news that really put the world in perspective. First, a friend of mine delivered a talk on how research studies are carried out and how people in the field of mental health should “analyze” them, no pun intended. It was a good talk, and I could tell that it was difficult for him to explain to his audience the difficult concepts of biostatistics and research studies. These are difficult concepts, as my friend put it.

See, there is a hierarchy to research studies. Graphically, that hierarchy looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 11.13.15 AM

It’s in the shape of a pyramid to distinguish the amount of these types of studies out there. There are a ton of editorials and way fewer systematic reviews. However, systematic reviews are better than all other studies (from an evidence point of view) because they’ve adjusted for biases and other internal and external threats to validity. Epidemiological studies (Case-Control, Cohort, and Randomized Controlled Trials), are in the middle of the pyramid, and they’re how we go from case series to systematic reviews. Epidemiology, as you can see, is what holds the whole goddamn thing up.

This is how reasonable, science-oriented people see evidence. We trust editorials and case series, but we need that science to make sure that what we’re seeing is not based on our own biases and is not the result of chance. Just ask Wakefield how it went when he went backwards and issued his “expert opinion” that the MMR caused autism when his case series paper showed no association between the two things. Even people who are not scientists want to make sure that policy is driven by evidence. Otherwise, you’re just doing things because they feel good, and the chances of failure are multiplied endlessly when you do that.

(CONTENT IN THIS SECTION DELETED AT THE REQUEST OF KAREN ERNST)

Copyright infringements aside, the intent of this woman, as you can see, is to (once again) collect anecdotes from people who are convinced that vaccines “stole” their children. So I went on Facebook and asked a pertinent set of questions, as you can see:

“I know that some pro-vax “sciency” people are probably going to give you a hart time for this, but, personally, I’m looking forward to [how] you collect the data, analyze it, and present it to us. Quick question: Where will you draw the control group from? People who have not been harmed by vaccines? [An anathema to antivaxxers.] And how will you collect THAT data? Or are you going the case series route? ‘Cos case series don’t really rank well in the hierarchy of evidence.”

Now, I’m only making an assumption here, but I bet you dollars to doughnuts that “DK,” who commented after me, went to look at what “hierarchy of evidence” meant, and made what is perhaps the most idiotic statement from an anti-vaccine activist I’ve read this week (besides the ramblings of some petulant kid). As you can see above, she wrote:

“Individual cases and even (horrors) stories are part of the pyramid of evidence based medicine. Epidemiological studies are not. True, individual case histories are at the bottom of the pyramid, but there they are.”

Read it again: “Epidemiological studies are not.”

I must be seeing things. Because I see “case control,” “cohort,” and “randomized clinical trials” right there. Am I crazy?

Of course I’m not. Ren saw the same thing in his presentation yesterday. The people who attended saw the same thing. When I studied for my MPH, my professors and my colleagues saw it.

We all [expletive] saw it!!!

Except for the people who have eyes and won’t see.

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.”

Damaged, but not damaged enough

I told you just the other day about “Your Baby’s Best Shot“, a book describing the necessity of vaccines and placing the risks and benefits in real terms, and how an error in the book was being used and abused by anti-vaccination groups to say that the entirety of the book was in error. Well, if you go to the Amazon.com page for the book, you will be able to read some reviews on it. Most of the reviews are positive, and then there is this one. It is a 3,466-word rant about all of the perceived errors and “sloppiness” in the book, combined with plenty of anti-vaccine propaganda.

I can’t possibly review the entire review. That would be very meta, and I just don’t have the time or the intestinal fortitude. However, if you’re familiar with anti-vaccine rants, you’ll be able to pick up on the reviewer’s antics right away. Also, a few people responded to her rants, including a friend of this blog. They pushed the reviewer to reveal some interesting things about herself. As always, I will not mention the reviewer by name, but you can read this rant by her — in the form of a letter to the editor.

So what did she reveal in her follow-up comments? In this follow-up comment, she writes:

“I got a tetanus booster at 19 which paralyzed both arms for two days, brachial plexus neuropathy, and then I went on the develop MS, caused by the mercury in that and previous vaccines I had gotten. My daughter and I are two of the millions of severely vaccine-damaged people in the U.S., and in the world.”

MS stands for “Multiple Sclerosis“, a neurological condition in which the nerves lose their ability to properly conduct electrical impulses because the myelin sheath — a layer of insulation — around the nerves gets worn down or destroyed. Multiple Sclerosis is caused by inflammation that destroys the myelin. That inflammation is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the myelin. What triggers the auto-immune reaction is not known. But you know what has been ruled out? Thimerosal has been ruled out as causing MS. It’s been pretty much ruled out as causing anything because there is just not enough mercury in thimerosal to cause anything. It’s too little, and it’s the kind of mercury that doesn’t accumulate in the body. It’s all in the chemistry.

The reviewer mentions her injury and subsequent disability on her next reply:

“So, Binky Boy [Ed. a person replying to her rants], have you seen the medical records I provided Voc Rehab with recently, in an attempt to find employment I can do with the limitations imposed by my MS, most seriously the mitochondrial damage which leaves me with very little energy? Have you seen my daughter’s medical records, were you there when we both had severe reactions to vaccines? If you were not there, then you are only trying to insult us with your lies, plain and simple. We have suffered vaccine damage in extremely classic ways. I have read Dr. Wakefield’s Callous Disregard, which I puchased on Amazon two years ago. I have read many books on the subject. I have read the articles about and by him in Vaccine Epidemic. I have read about every one of the false calumnies which you and your colleagues have attempted to smear him. I am proud that you put me in the same category as Dr. Wakefield. It is you who are endangering children by your mindless, absolute defense of all vaccines all the time, at any cost, and the cost is quite a large one, both in terms of permanently damaged lives and the monetary gain from vaccines, which rains down on their paid promoters as well. I submit that it is you and your little army of fellow pharma employees who are the real danger, the real fraud.”

I bolded the “Pharma Shill” Gambit for you, one of the many gambits she tries to use to prove her point. No science, just gambits.

Did you catch the part where she has “limitations” due to her MS, wherein she has “very little energy”? Another person replying to her mentioned it. Here’s the interesting part: Up to this comment, she has written 4,855 words. That’s one weak disability if you can write that much. But she keeps going, and going, and going, and going. She even states this, my emphasis added:

“I am dizzy, wobbly, and exhausted all the time. The hospital records from an MS attack which completely paralyzed my left arm and leg for over a months were sufficient proof of my disability (caused by the mercury in the DPT) to qualify me for help from Voc Rehab and Job Point.”

But not exhausted enough to post, by this point, 6,469 words.

Seven thousand words in, she tells us why she is an authority on the subject of vaccines:

“I consider myself well-informed on this issue because I have read books and articles on both sides of this issue. I have read things by Offit, the tawdry book that is the subject of this review, and the shallow propaganda on Shot of Prevention.com You people, on the other hand, cannot bring yourselves to read books and articles from our side, which you really should do to prevent you from making as many stupid mistakes as you do. You might even learn something about the immune system.”

Well, we don’t read anti-vaccine books to educate ourselves because fiction doesn’t educate, it just entertains — and misinforms.

When asked why she keeps using the “Pharma Shill” Gambit, she answered with this:

“You haven’t actually said that you are not. Let’s clear that up first.”

Ah, well, if one doesn’t state that one is a murderer, it’s okay to be called a murderer, right? Aside from all her other statements, this one was very telling. It was telling because it shows exactly the level of paranoia and mistrust that many in the anti-vaccine camp seem to show. Further evidence was her reply to when someone mentioned their education:

“If you have degrees from accredited institutions, it means you have vested interests in the vaccine issue, which means that you are not a reliable source for credible information on the question. Vaccine-damaged families are much better sources for information when trying to decide whether to risk the vaccines for their own children.”

When someone states that they have degrees in the sciences, this was her response:

“College and master’s degrees in what? I have a B.A. in French, with honors, 4.0 average, a Ph.D. in Spanish, 4.0 average, and a J.D. in law. If just having college degrees means one knows what one is talking about, then I have more than you, so must be presumed to know better what I am talking about.”

I almost fell out of my chair reading that. Two degrees in languages and one in law make her an expert? I ask you again, what universe is she living in?

It seems to be a universe in which she is too damaged to work, but not damaged enough to post over 7,300 words on her review and subsequent comments. Not damaged enough for 1,035 words here, the myriad of comments here, comments here, comments here, another letter to the editor here, and so on and so forth. Someone with her ability to communicate should not be unemployed. Then again, someone who is exhausted, dizzy, and wobbly all the time because of vaccines should probably rest up and save their energy, PhD in Spanish or no PhD in Spanish.

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.