When your math doesn’t make sense

I’m just going to leave this here. It’s a comment published on The Kid’s blog. One of his friends posts a link to another anti-vaccine website and perpetuates a lie. Then he realizes that the math doesn’t work out. So then he pleads that his comment not be published. The Kid publishes it anyway.

“But, what happened in Kenya, uncovered by 27 Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, is, to me, the signpost for “The Plan.” There, in Kenya, just three months ago, vaccines were used to permanently, and without their knowledge or permission, sterilize forty-two million (42 million) young Kenyan women. The World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, were caught, by the Catholic Church leadership, lacing what they described as “Tetanus Vaccine” with Beta-HCG, a hormone that, when combined with the ingredients in the Tetanus vaccine, leads to sterility.”

Then this (with my link to show you who Tim Bolen is):

Tim Bolens story of 42M Kenyans doesn’t make sense given the total Kenyan pop is 45M – so please don’t publish that comment .”

Comedy gold. Here’s a tip, weirdos: FACT. CHECK.

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The mental contortions of The Kid

Last time, I told you all about how The Kid wrote that Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia was the result of a failure of the pneumococcal vaccine. He wrote:

“Despite her proclaiming that “#vaccineswork”, the pneumonia vaccine obviously did not work for her in that instance assuming she even followed the CDC’s advice as she wanted everybody else to do.”

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From his blog post.

Then, on Twitter, he doubles down on his conspiracy theory:

“The fact that you have an infectious disease but came into contact with children.”

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The fantasies of the anti-vaccine crowd

I really feel bad for people who are deep into the anti-vaccine cult. It has got to be a horrible existence to have to explain away reality day after day. Vaccines do not cause autism, but they have to go to enormous lengths to try and convince themselves (and others) that vaccines do cause autism. They make really weird movies with really bad reviews. Then they show up in the comments section of the reviews to ask the reviewer how much they got paid by Big Bad Pharma to write the review. Because a mockumentary directed by a disgraced former physician who uses spliced audio as evidence of ultimate evil could not possibly get bad reviews.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they try to convince themselves that Robert De Niro is still a supporter of the mockumentary. For example, “Tanner’s Dad” (aka “Tim”) sent out a tweet stating that Robert De Niro and his wife went to the premiere of the mockumentary:

If you can’t tell it’s a photoshopped picture, here’s a picture from the original event:

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The original event was a gala for Autism Speaks. After it was explained to Tim that the photograph was photoshopped, he claimed it was a “cruel” April Fool’s joke… One sent on April 2. Again, you have someone trying to explain away reality.

This is par for the course for the anti-vax crowd. Reality: De Niro took back his support for the quackumentary. Anti-vax Fantasy: De Niro showed up at the quackumentary’s premiere. Reality: The picture is fake. Anti-vax Fantasy: It was a cruel joke. (The equivalent to “my account’s been hacked!”)

Reality: Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and was struck off the register. Anti-vax Fantasy: Big Pharma did it. Reality: Wakefield was trying to patent his own vaccine and discredit the existing one. AV Fantasy: Nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you!

Seriously, pay close attention to everything the anti-vaccine cult members write or do or say. They’re constantly trying to explain away reality any way they can. I can’t imagine it’s an easy thing to do. They must be exhausted, and it must be a very scary world. At every turn, reality pops up and slaps them across the face, and they find themselves having to explain it away all over again.

Let me tell you a story…

Spoiler alert: This story does not have a happy ending.

Back in 1932, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) decided that it would be a good idea to understand the natural history of syphilis infections. They wanted to know what happened to a human body when the infection took place, from beginning to tragic end. To that end, they “enrolled” 600 African-American men from Tuskegee, Alabama, into a study where the men would be given free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance.

Over the course of the next 40 years or so, this would become one of the most shameful episodes in the history of my profession. It was shameful for several reasons. First, the men in the study were not fully told what the study was about. They were not told that scientists would observe their bodies succumb to a disease. Second, when penicillin became widely available in the 1940’s (especially after World War II), the very effective antibiotic treatment that penicillin offered against syphilis was withheld from the study participants. Third, by the time the “study” was concluded in 1972, an untold number of men had died or been hurt by syphilis unnecessarily. Their wives were infected as well.

Some good did come from this, however. Because of this embarrassment, this abomination to science that was eclipsed only by the Nazi human experiments during the Holocaust, protections of human subjects in research studies (private and public) was finally codified into law. Today, you cannot have someone participate in a research study without their complete and fully informed consent, without the study benefiting the subject in some way, and without doing all that is possible to keep the subject from any harm. If you do something that violates these principles, the consequences can be very grave.

The story did not end with the class-action lawsuit that the Tuskegee participants launched against the US Government. It didn’t end when President Clinton apologized on behalf of the nation for that horrible crime. Oh, no. Thanks to the wild imaginations of people like Brian Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, the story continues today. Although, today, the perpetrators of the lies and deceit of the African-American community are not in the employ of the US Government. Today, it’s the anti-vaccine groups that are lying through their teeth so that Hooker wins his court case (and the sweet, sweet cash that comes with it), and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield gets some sweet cash donations for his next film.

After all, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield is now a filmmaker, don’t you know?

Yes, these two sorry excuses for human beings are telling the African-American community that the so-called “CDC Whistleblower” has “revealed” that a study by staff from the Immunization Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly shows that there is an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, and that this association is more pronounced in African-American male children than in any other group.

This is a bunch of baloney, as several people have explained here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and here.

In their long-winded speeches about what the “whistleblower” may or may not have said, neither BS Hooker nor Andrew Jeremy Wakefield mention how much money they stand to make from the whole thing. They don’t mention the mountains of evidence against them, either. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield never mentions how he is no longer a licensed physician anywhere in the world because of his elaborate fraud to try and link the MMR vaccine to autism when he was getting paid by lawyers to find that link (by any means necessary?) and how he was planning to patent a vaccine of his own to compete with the vaccine he was trying to destroy.

BS Hooker doesn’t tell people about his current case in the Vaccine Court and how he stands to get money if he wins it. It even seems that he goes one step further and not tell even the people he’s suckered into working with him about this, citing no conflicts of interests in his papers and being an “independent” researcher according to hack reporters he’s using to spread the “whistleblower” mythos. But, somehow, a study of children in Georgia done with full institutional review, adhering to the Belmont Principles, and whose results are clear and verifiable, somehow that study is the big lie being told to the African-American community?

Brian S. Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (and RFK Jr. and company) must think that African-Americans are stupid in general. There’s no other explanation for why they are proudly and openly lying about the “whistleblower.” If you look at the documents that the “whistleblower” passed on to Congress at the behest of Hooker and Wakefield (in the expectation that Congressional hearings would be called and someone would have a Perry Mason moment on the stand) there is nothing of substance in any of those documents. Even Ben Swann, the orange-colored not-so-super reporter who was fooled into making a YouTube video about this, kind of put out his video and then walked away.

But you know what is really the worst part of this? Hooker and Wakefield and friends do not tell African-Americans the very real consequences of not getting vaccinated. They are two fat, happy White men who have the resources available to get care if they get sick who are going around to communities of people whose access to care is less-than-appropriate telling people in those communities to forgo one of the most important ways of staying healthy. And, should it come to pass that any of those unvaccinated children are harmed by a vaccine-preventable disease, I bet you good money that both of these very privileged men will wash their hands of the whole thing.

Heck, I’ll even go one step further and predict that they will distance themselves from the Nation of Islam and other African-American-centric groups the minute they feel that they are not getting their money’s worth. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield already did it with the Somali community in Minnesota. He went up there and scared them away from the MMR vaccine, triggering a measles outbreak, and has not been back since. He might as well have mooned them when he heard there was a measles outbreak.

Yes, I’m blaming you, Andrew Jeremy, for the measles outbreak that hurt African-American children in Minnesota. And I’m not the only one. And now, I’m blaming you and your friend, BS Hooker, of scaring away an even wider audience of African-Americans from the one public health intervention that has not failed them, of trying to break the trust that we in public health have been trying to rebuild since Tuskegee, and of me, personally, being physically threatened over something that happened before my time and that you two despicable jerks are bringing up as if it is happening again.

Remember how I wrote up there that this story doesn’t have a happy ending? It really doesn’t. We all lose when lies and greed seed so much doubt and fear that people, even one person, gets hurt. Last time there was this much mistrust toward my profession was for a very good reason. This time, it’s because BS Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield seem to can’t do without that sweet, sweet, motherf*cking cash.

I hope they’re happy.

If you can’t sell your journalism, sell controversy

I’m in the nation’s capital, as I am from time to time when the rigorous requirements of my job demand it, and I picked up a copy of the Baltimore Sun. (I like to see what’s up in the city where my alma matter is located.) It was the usual bit of this and that, with the mayor resigning, a ton of people coming out of the woodwork to try and replace her, and more violence in the streets. Then I saw that someone had tweeted an article from the Baltimore Sun to a friend of mine… And then my blood boiled.

To call it an “article” is too much. It was an opinion piece by William Reichel and Emily Tarsell from Timonium, Maryland. It has a ton of misinformation about the HPV vaccine. The usual tropes about how the vaccine is not safe, is not effective, causes too many deaths and disabilities. If they had the space to write it, these two would have probably blamed the Kennedy assassination on it.

Dr. Jen Gunter (an awesome, brilliant medical writer and physician) wrote a lengthy rebuttal of Reichel and Tarsell’s nonsense. In it, she goes point-by-motherf*cking-point over the whole thing and demolishes it. The opinion piece is so full of inconsistencies that I’m beginning to wonder if William Reichel really is a doctor. Because, he’s a doctor.

See, the opinion piece omits the titles of the people who wrote it, but they submitted it to an anti-vaccine website a month ago and clearly show the titles of the two people. Furthermore, in the antivaccine site, they post links and “references” to articles about cervical cancer and vaccines from three years ago (or longer). Just their first claim, that the vaccine has “never” been shown to prevent cervical cancer is an enormous lie. (Or it’s a lack of researching more recent findings about the vaccine’s ability to reduce the rate of cervical cancer precursors in women who were vaccinated compared to women who were not, which they’ll probably chalk up to better vaginal sanitation or something.)

First, who is Emily Tarsell? She’s a board member of an anti-vaccine organization and has stated that her child died from an HPV vaccine reaction. She also published “research” in the form of data analysis of a questionnaire and outright dumpster-diving of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. She was even interviewed by Katie Couric because, you know, ratings. Something happened to her child, sadly, and she has swallowed the anti-vaccine hook, line and sinker.

And William Reichel? He’s thanked in the “paper” published by Emily that I mentioned previously. (Seriously, they interviewed about 40 people who were not selected at random for any kind of adverse event after the vaccine and, surprise, found that the vaccine is made from Satan’s sperm is dangerous.) Anyway, he’s been a darling of the anti-vaccine legions for a while. Back in 2011, he apparently sent Senator Barbara Mikulski a letter about his concerns with the HPV vaccine. In it, he states that he is personally concerned about the vaccine. He signs the letter by identifying himself as an affiliated scholar of a center for bioethics. I guess ethics don’t apply if you’re anti-vaccine.

Oh, have no doubt in your head that these two are anti-vaccine. They’re collaborating with anti-vaccine activists. They ignore some very good, very solid research on the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. And they play the anti-vaccine card of finding causation between vaccine administration and severe effects (like death) when, at worst, there is an association and, at best, there is nothing there. (See what I did there with the whole worst/best thing?)

What really grinds my gears is the Baltimore Sun’s willingness to publish this nonsense. I’m sure that they’ll say that it’s an opinion piece, and that it wasn’t written by a journalist. (It wasn’t written by an objective person, that’s for damned sure.) But why publish dangerous misinformation? If I were the parent of a teen, and I didn’t know anything about the vaccine, I’d be thinking twice about whether or not to give my teen the vaccine. I’d be wondering if there is any truth to what these two have written. I’d probably Google them and then go down a dark path that would end in my teen getting, at best, genital warts one day or, at worst, cervical/penile/anorectal/throat cancer.

It’s not the first time that the Baltimore Sun has published an anti-vaccine piece. I guess that, if you can’t sell your journalism, you gotta sell controversy.

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?

Perhaps not the best anti-vaccine argument you should use

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In a Facebook discussion about vaccines, “Kitti St. John” decided that she was going to display her bigoted views of autistics. While trying to convince people that vaccines are bad, she linked vaccines to autism and then compared an autistic child to “an agro chimpanzee.” She then goes on a rant about diets and nature and how vaccines have torn us all apart or something. She even believes that people, healthy people, “do not catch contagious disease.”

Kitti is just one of thousands of anti-vaccine activists who take their misinformed views of vaccines a step too far and demonize autistics of every age. It’s not just the comparison of children with learning disabilities to animals like Kitti just did. It’s also the whitewashing of murders of autistic children. Calling a mother and a caregiver who brutally killed Alex Spourdalakis the victims rather than the murderers that they confessed to be is just one more step in the anti-vaccine playbook of people like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, people without a shred of evidence that vaccines cause autism but yet want to paint autism as a horrible “disease” that is preventable, avoidable, or curable.

Autism is not preventable, avoidable, nor curable. In fact, one of the biggest signs of quackery is someone who wants to sell you an autism cure or an autism preventative. That’s when you know you’re dealing with loonies, with fraudsters.

I’d like to ask the Andrew Wakefields of the world what they’re doing to ensure that autistic children and adults get all the help they can to live a long and fruitful life. Because, whatever Wakefield did to “help” Alex Spourdalakis failed phenomenally and no one should trust him in any way with their autistic child, ever.

If you want to argue that vaccines are part of some big plot, go ahead. If you want to say that they cause more harm than good, go ahead. All your points are easily refutable. What you shouldn’t do is denigrate autistics to the point that you endanger them and, by extension, endanger all of us. Because failing to protect the weakest among us is a sign that we’re on a downward spiral as a society. We’re circling the drain, so to speak.