Yes, you should be concerned that measles is back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chemtrail_age_of_autism

A different definition of “fiction”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting the dots when you can’t connect two brain cells

Let me connect some dots for you. Merck makes one of the anti-HPV vaccines. Merck gave money to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to endow a chair. In the minds of the anti-vaccine crowd, anyone in that chair (figuratively and literally) might as well be Satan’s spawn. After all, who but Satan’s child would take a position paid for by Big Pharma? No one in their right mind would work for Big Pharma.

Furthermore, no one would ever want to study and become an expert on vaccines through education and hard work because that means you’re a shill. No, you must gain all your knowledge of vaccines and their side-effects from anti-vaccine websites, celebrities, and chiropractors. Sure, there are some honest-to-goodness physicians sprinkled among the nutjobs, but you know what they say about the company you keep. (Anti-vaxxers are not science-based if they have a few scientists and physicians in their ranks. It makes the very few scientists and physicians anti-vaxxers.)

If you, say, study law and become good at defending the legal framework that supports compulsory, mandatory, or required immunization, then you’re a shill. You can’t be anything else. That’s the way things are if you can’t connect two brain cells together then go about trying to connect the dots of the conspiracy theory in your head. Allow me to elaborate. Continue reading

John Stone of Age of Autism is officially a “weirdo”

Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you that someone called the department of health and wanted to report that someone there was impersonating an epidemiologist? That person said something along these lines: “This man demonstrates little knowledge or competence in epidemiology.” That was the whole of the evidence that I was impersonating an epidemiologist.

Guess what John Stone of “Age of Autism” just wrote? I bolded the best part:

“As it is her [Dorit Rubinstein] defence of vaccines often rests on the rants of David Gorski or the blog of Liz Ditz, and if she tends to play her hand courteously (at least superficially) she is surrounded by a ragbag of supporters and associates who do anything but. This week found her in trouble defending flu mandates for young children in New York on the comment page of theJohn Gambling Show  and resorting to anonymous Facebook page “notes/chillin-out-vaxin-relaxin-all-cool/flu-shots-for-kids-two-year-yes they are effective”.

But it got worse. She also cited the “Poxes” blog of “Reuben Gaines”, known as well for his “Edward Jenner” Facebook page. As I pointed out Gaines had made fraudulent claims in Age of Autism to be a professor of epidemiology working at the Department of Health in Washington DC  while naming Johns Hopkins as his academic institution. He has also demonstrated only very little knowledge or competence in epidemiology.”

Ta-da! We now have a better understanding of who called the health department and whined like a little girl with a scraped knee that someone there was “impersonating” an epidemiologist. No wonder we all had a laugh at your expense, John Stone of “Age of Autism”.

John Stone, I know you read this. You hint at what I write all the time. You neither know science or epidemiology enough to know my competence in it, or that of anybody else. You’re just a loon that is so opposed to vaccines that you even throw your own deity, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, under the bus just to smear someone. Guess what, John Stone? I’m still here. I’m still in public health. I’m still making decisions that save lives of the very people you seek to kill or maim with your anti-vaccine theories. And I’m going to be here longer than you will be alive. You will die of old age and your words will scatter into dust being nothing more than the fear-filled rants of someone who doesn’t want to see the world for what it is.

So good luck with your rants and conspiracy theories and random calls to health departments across the Atlantic Ocean, you foolish, foolish man. I may be “contemptible” to you, John Stone, but I am, and always will be, your huckleberry. (Until I get bored with your stupidity, of course.)

More smearing at all costs and the hunt for who I am

A few posts ago, I told you about this guy‘s article and how he smeared a person for even hinting at being pro-vaccine. He didn’t fact-check (of course) and smeared Dorit Reiss over and over again. Today, it was the turn of another person on his radar. He wrote this smearing post over at the daily online newspaper of the non-existent autism epidemic. Again, because Karen Ernst dares to defend vaccines, she must be on the payroll of big pharma. In fact, in true kiddo fashion, the guy (JS, are his initials) dreams up a conspiracy. And the comments section doesn’t get any better. Somehow, CDC and other government agencies should not be “pushing” vaccines because, you know, autism.

So I decided to post a few comments in the hit-piece, and JS decide to answer. What follows is our exchange (screenshots at the end of the post):

Me:  “Will Mr. Stone retract his false statements about Dorit Reiss, or will he continue to live in “Jake’s Labyrinth,” where “conflicts of interest” are a dime a dozen https://thepoxesblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/smear-smear-at-all-costs/ Is Age of Autism free of any outside influences, advertisements, or pharmaceutical support?”

**

JS: “Hi Reuben

You have not specified what false statements I have made, nor did Karen suggest I made false statements in my article about Dorit Reiss (although she certainly falsified what I had said). This is an article about unacknowledged conflicts primarily. In my earlier article I mentioned conflicts but I also offered a critique of Dorit Reiss’s views. I don’t like her views, and I don’t like yours.

I did raise whether Dorit was being paid (after Karen mentioned the so-called “shill gambit”) as a question although there was nothing in my original article, and Karen came back to deny Dorit had received payment from VfV but that of course would not rule out payment from other sources (Task Force for example?)

I don’t understand why you people are so sensitive about your conflicts given your views about agency capture – anything goes, surely?”

Of course, because Karen denies that Dorit gets paid by pharma, and because Dorit denies that she gets paid by pharma, it “would not rule out payment from other sources.” I guess because I’ve stated that I’m a human being, it doesn’t rule out that I was cloned? He did not answer if Age of Autism has any outside influences, advertisements, or pharmaceutical support. We all know the answer to that.

**

Me: “What do you mean “you people”? Yet another Brit thinking he’s smarter than us mutts in America.

If you read my take-down of your post, you incorrectly mentioned several things about Dorit Reiss. These things were pointed out to you in the comments section as well, and you could have easily discovered them and posted them (had they not been inconvenient to you). Do your due diligence, Mr. Stone, or stop portraying yourself as a journalist.

Now, if by “you people” you want to lump me in with the “pro-vaccinators” that you so fear, I’m afraid I can’t allow you to do that. I’m just a humble scientist in the garden of the Lord.”

**

JS: “Reuben

“You people” was certainly not a reference to US citizens. You say I said several incorrect things about Dorit Reiss but you can’t say what they are, and you say other people pointed them out, but I am still mystified. This is of course a troll technique to allude to things that have not happened to put someone in the wrong.

Please stop wasting everyone’s time.”

**

Notice that I pointed out where he could find what was wrong with his last smearing post. It’s over at my blog. I’m not going to cross-post what I wrote over to the comments section. So he just basically put his hands up to his ears and chanted in order not to hear me.

**

Me: “You said that her papers were not published. If you look at my post, you’ll see where they were published (reputable law journals). Then there is the subject of your entire treatise, that Dorit Reiss was in the pocket of Big Pharma. You failed to prove it, but, boy, did you ever insinuate it. And now you go after Karen Ernst. I almost hear you saying, “Here, kitty, kitty.”

Thanks for calling me a troll, Mr. Stone. I’ve addressed you by nothing but your given name and that’s how you treat me. Interesting to see your reactions. More interesting that I can see why AoA got rid of Jacob. With you to connect the dots where there aren’t even dots, who needs his “six degrees” game anymore?”

**

In other words, go look at the post!

**

JS: “Reuben

More evidence that you can’t read. Did I say you were a troll, no I said you used a troll technique.

I certainly did not say either that Dorit Reiss had nothing published although I had trouble finding many publications. I did of course mention her reply to the excellent, remarkable Mary Holland in Harvard Law Review.”

Wow! It took me ten seconds to copy the title of the study he was smearing and paste it onto the Google search page. It took microseconds for Google to tell me where her paper was published. Yet, JS “had trouble finding many publications.” I wonder how he puts on his pants in the morning, since putting on pants is slightly more difficult than looking things up on Google?

**

Me, responding to a question about my name: ”

“Mr. Gaines, As a scientist perhaps you can explain why science is based on research involving control groups? And then further why vaccine “research” does not seem to need controls, and how, given this state of things, possible and actual COI(s) are not very relevant data in evaluating vaccine promotion value?”

That’s Professor Gaines (like Professor Moriarty) to you, but I will forgive your trespass. I’m not widely known in the anti-vaccine circles, yet.

Science is not always based on using controls. For example, the Wakefield study, which concluded that there is no link between MMR and autism (shocker, I know, but read the “Results” section) did not use any controls. If and when controls are used, they are used to demonstrate that the exposure of interest is not found in people without the condition (in case-control studies). In cohort and randomized clinical trials, controls are used to demonstrate that the condition of interest is not present at the same rate in those who have not been exposed.

As for “conflicts of interest,” I don’t think you have the same idea of conflicts of interest as reasonable people do. See, reasonable people who don’t live in what I am now calling “Jacob’s Labyrinth” see CDC promoting a vaccine and don’t see a conflict of interest. They’re charged with keeping the nation healthy, and they do, partly through vaccines.

Now, perhaps someone will enlighten me and tell me why you’re so goddamned shocked that CDC, NIH, WHO, Merck, Pfizer, etc., are involved in promoting vaccines. Who do you want to promote vaccines? Barnum and Bailey? (Don’t answer that. There is enough of a circus going on as it is.) And, as Wakefield showed, not all research out there is pro-vaccine. Like Wakefield, I’m sure there are plenty of researchers with patents for single-shot vaccines also looking to take down the MMR. Can’t you rely on them to do the research you want?

Then there is the matter of the editors and contributors to this blog and other anti-vaccine organizations. How much money do they make? How much of that can they put toward a study that doesn’t need no stinkin’ IRB approval? If you can pay for it yourselves, you can do the “vax v. unvax” study you crave. That would be putting your money where your mouth is, and I would respect you for that.

“Rueben — rueben hmmmm sounds like a Russian name to me.”

It’s Reuben, with the e before the u, and it’s Jewish, the name of the eldest son of Jacob and Leah. But, again, I’ll let it pass.”

**

JS: “Jeannette Bishop seems to think that Reuben Gaines is a scientist and Benedetta seems to think he’s a Russian. I thought Reuben Gaines was the name of a 19th century Texan judge which may have been adopted by a non-wellwisher because of the Wakefield lawsuit.

http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/just/justices/05.html

But there possibly are actual people called Reuben Gaines alive today. It doesn’t strike me that our Reuben Gaines is on top of anything very much: I think he is someone who is non-plussed by the inability of his side to mount any effective defence of their beliefs or their behaviour when really challenged.”

These last two comments appear out of sequence on AoA for some weird reason, though they appeared mine then his originally.

**

Me: “Nope, Mr. Stone. I’m very real, and very much an infectious disease epidemiologist:https://www.facebook.com/reuben.r.gaines My real job is at the Washington, DC, Department of Health. Fifth Floor:

https://thepoxesblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/image-7-4-13-at-11-35-pm.jpg?w=387&h=290

Please do look me up if you are ever in the States. I would so much love to take you out to lunch. This is my last posting for the day. I’ve been in the field all day and need to get back to the office and write up some reports. I look forward to you posting this publicly and having your followers do “their thing,” meaning contacting DC DOH and complaining that I’m a big meanie or something. Also, you have my email, if you feel an itch you can’t scratch.”

**

JS: “Well Reuben Gaines exists, apparently, but it is a bit difficult to see how anything in his account of things in the pharmaceutical government complex could ever constitute a conflict, so it is really quite insightful. Also, he accuses me of making false statements about Dorit Reiss but he has not really come up with anything, except that I may have worked insufficiently hard to turn up her publications(but then he didn’t produce a lot either). The message once again seems to be “anything goes”, and I am sure that we don’t much look forward to meeting each other.

Of course, AW was trying to develop a product for therapeutic purposes a long way from marketing, and he advised using single vaccines in which he had no financial interest.

PS I said exists “apparently” but I can’t find a lot of evidence for it (and certainly not from the information provided).”

**

At this point, I went to Facebook and asked JS to be my friend. Still no response as of this post. I’ll update it if he does accept and come to see that I do, indeed, very much exist.

But then it got weird. The commenters decided to try and see if they could figure out who I am:

“John,

Thank you, getting back on track, for tracing these connections. I get the feeling that in some areas, Washington D.C. is likely one, many become influenced by a pro-established-wealth-generating-entities attitude that may influence their altruist endeavors more than they want to see, but that does not even seem to be the case here.

Getting back off-track, I did to be completely accurate think there was a very good possibility Mr. Gaines believes himself to be a scientist.

There is someone going by that name here also:

http://www.quora.com/Reuben-Gaines

I for one would like to see such “scientists” call for actual safety research so as to not further compromise the value of that field overall in the eyes of what I think is an increasingly waking public, but they do not themselves seem to be pro-vaccine in belief enough for that. I can’t think of one positive reason that groups like VfV aren’t on the frontlines in support of neglected vaccine research such as directed by Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney/Bill Posey’s bill.”

And then this:

“Frankly Benedetta I don’t know who he was, and I can’t find any trace of such a person on the web. A high ranking government official with a professorship? A hoax more likely – just the kind of defender Voices for Vaccines Dorit, Karen & co deserve.”

And one more:

“Rueben or Reuben is going to let it pass – I am so relieved. First born — I wonder if he knows what Jacob said at the end of his life about “ALL” of his first 10 sons. It was not pleasant and he told them what evil men they were. Although I think Rueben is sincere coolaid drinker with a big job in Washington as an epidemologist. So he knows enough about it to make a good argument but does not know enough about it to push on through and see the truth. Heck who wants too.

Not me.

I was forced here after years of stupidity on my part. Perhaps Gaines will be lucky and never be forced here too.”

Hi, guys! I’m right here! And what the [expletive deleted] was that part about Jacob and his sons? I mean, seriously?

Oh, I forgot, they’re all about the Bible and stuff:

“All those involved with Voices for Vaccines are going to need a lot of luck when they meet their Creator at whatever time in their futures, unless they drastically change their course and tune before then. I don’t have any expectation of that occurring, however. It is interesting, though, how the vast majority of these scientific types reject God, in favor of industry-funded “science.” They don’t appreciate how wonderfully their human bodies were designed. How sad.”

Even sadder that the person who wrote that hasn’t read the Bible, or any other religious text for that matter. Because, frankly, that doesn’t sound like Jesus.

Of course, I could just go ahead and tell them who I am, post a picture of my ID or something, but what’s the fun in that. If Mr. Stone is reading this, I say this: Accept my friend request on Facebook, and you’ll see who I really am, something not even those living in “Jacob’s Labyrinth” know.

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.51.40 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.49.31 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.49.25 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.49.20 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.46.24 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.45.45 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.45.37 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.45.30 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.41.11 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.39.41 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.39.08 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.36.54 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 8.36.16 PM