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.

Sybil Ballew and the Anti-Vaccine Crowd

I’ve asked time and time again for evidence from the anti-vaccine crowd that a pro-vaccine person or a public health worker has ever bullied, threatened, or spread lies about them in any medium. They are yet to respond. The closest they have come to saying that they’re being “abused” online is to say that the public health requirement that their children be vaccinated for school is “discrimination” or “persecution” for their personal beliefs. They also say that “forced” vaccination is just as bad as sexual assault or rape, and that the people who support mandatory vaccination of children in order for those children to participate in publicly funded programs is just like human trafficking.

Instead, what I have been seeing from many anti-vaccine types is some pretty harsh words and “wishes” aimed at public health officials, physicians, and anyone else who supports vaccines, including myself. They wish that I were dead or threaten me on their online radio podcasts. Others are not as open about their identities and hide behind pseudonyms online. Then they laugh when I remind them that there really is no such thing as online anonymity.

There is no such thing as online anonymity. If you go to a judge right now and show them that I have violated the law in any way, or that I am a danger to myself, the judge will issue an order for WordPress to reveal my internet protocol (IP) address from where I have been logging onto WordPress to post. From there, it’s all a matter of using some simple IP lookup tools to figure out where I live. Then you take that information to local law enforcement and you can pretty much uncover my identity.

All of it depends on me doing something bad enough to warrant the intervention of law enforcement. Short of that, you could take all that I have written and run it against some algorithm somewhere to see if there are any similarities between my style and content and that of other writers, bloggers, etc. Of you could bribe someone at WordPress and have them give you my IP address, but, in doing so, you’d be making me a millionaire since I could sue WordPress for violating my privacy.

I feel the need to remind you that I can see your IP address when you comment on this blog. I have a strict policy of not revealing your identity to third parties unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, or you have agreed for me to do it. I’ll do it if the greater good is at stake. But I will never do it to “out” you because the anti-vaccine types want to know who you are. This brings me to the next theme of this blog post.

I was contacted through Facebook by a person who claimed to be a friend of one of the readers/commenters of this blog. That person wanted to know how the reader was doing, claiming that they had not heard from the reader but recognized their pseudonym from previous conversations. When I asked the person to tell me the true name of the reader, they devolved into hurling insults and claiming that they were “very close” to figuring out who I was and to suing me. When I asked what the lawsuit would be for, they blocked their Facebook account. It’s been three weeks, and I have not heard from them since.

As I am sure that the person who contacted me through Facebook has read this blog, and might even be reading this right now, I’d like to remind them (and anyone else who thinks that online activity can be anonymous), of the sad case of Sybil Ballew. Ms. Ballew is a woman in Georgia who thought her libelous rants against a person would be anonymous. She thought no one would find out who she was and that she could say whatever she wanted to say:

“Cooley’s saga began with the murder of his fiancee, Paulette Harper, at the hands of her ex-husband in September of 2008. A few days later, the postings on the Blairsville page of Topix.com started showing up.

The poster wrote Cooley was a “pervert” and drug addict with a lengthy criminal record, a man who had been in prison and rehab. Harper’s daughter, who was 9 at the time, must be protected from Cooley, the poster wrote.

“I didn’t really even know the woman. I knew her in passing,” Cooley, 44, told the AJC. “She worked at two places [where] I was a customer.”

Cooley had a criminal background check run on himself showing that he had no such past, but people didn’t seem to care. Eventually he had to leave Blairsville, where his mother, sister and two sons lived, to find another job. He now lives in Augusta and works as a hairdresser.

Ballew is the woman who wrote the posts under the pseudonyms Mouth, Calvin, Bugs, Yuck, Rebel and Slim. She admitted in court that she also had conversations with herself, posting her concerns on the site under one name and then agreeing with the posts under another persona.

When asked in court why she wrote those things about Cooley, Ballew answered, “I watched him and I can tell a pervert. Every time a pretty girl walked by, he would look at them. I get a feeling.””

That “feeling” of Ms. Ballews cost her an award of $404,000 by a court who found her libelous postings under different pseudonyms to be just that, libelous. In much the same way, what the anti-vaccine crowd says about any of us defending science and reason need to pay attention to that story and know that if any of us get an itch to go find a lawyer, we can bankrupt them in a heartbeat. There comes a point when their libelous statements and accusations cross a line from Free Speech into libel/slander, and there are plenty of legal remedies for any of us to follow.

We are not killing any children by advocating for vaccination. We are not discriminating against you by pointing out the stupidity in your anti-vaccine rants. And we are most certainly not being paid by “Big Pharma” to do all this. That last one is one that can be used against the anti-vaccine zealots because some of us have contracts which prohibit us from receiving money from pharmaceuticals. To accuse us of such a thing, and to do it publicly and in a way that can catch the attention of our employers, can very well be argued to be interference with our contracts.

Yes, you may have deep pockets and lots of lawyer friends, but that only allows for us to be richer at the end, and for us to give all of your wealth to vaccination programs the next day, just after we gloat about it on our blogs.

Studies show filmmakers are not experts in vaccines

Another day, another anti-vaccine “press release” from people who think they know better. This one would be extremely hilarious if it wasn’t deadly serious to put people at risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. If you think that Michael Moore should run the Treasury Department, that Quentin Tarantino should be our Attorney General, or that Steven Spielberg should run NASA, then you’re going to love this press release from the makers of “The Greater Good,” an anti-vaccine “documentary” from anti-vaccine zealot Leslie Manookian.

The “press release” begins with a lie:

“Health officials are blaming unvaccinated children for the recent measles outbreak that started at Disneyland. However, with no blood tests proving the outbreak is from wild measles, the most likely source of the outbreak is a recently vaccinated individual, according to published science.”

Wrong! Big shout out to Todd W. for bringing to our attention this statement from CDC:

“Measles genotype information was available from 9 measles cases; all were genotype B3 and all sequences linked to this outbreak are identical. The sequences are also identical to the genotype B3 virus that caused a large outbreak in the Philippines in 2014. During the last 6 months, identical genotype B3 viruses were also detected in at least 14 countries and at least 6 U.S. states, not including those linked to the current outbreak.”

So, no, Leslie Manookian, the virus that is infecting people and making them sick and started off in Disneyland is not the vaccine strain. It’s very much the wild virus that infects and makes people sick in “Third World” countries. (Congratulations, America, you’re now in company with the Third World when it comes to vaccine preventable diseases.)

The press release continues:

“Scientific evidence demonstrates that individuals vaccinated with live virus vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), rotavirus, chicken pox, shingles and influenza can shed the virus for many weeks or months afterwards and infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.1,2 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.”

Those numbers are citations, because press releases should read like scientific papers in order to confuse Google University attendees into thinking that they’re reading something that is well-researched. The citations are cherry-picked studies and abstracts of studies that Leslie Manookian probably thinks support her theory. For example, this study (reference #2) looked at the urine of 12 children after they got the MMR vaccine. Ten of those 12 children had measles RNA (the genetic material) in their urine. To Leslie Manookian, this probably means that ten children having RNA and not the whole measles virus in their urine means that these kids are shedding measles at a phenomenal rate and making everyone sick.

Reference #4 is a paper on sibling transmission of Rotavirus vaccine strain virus. This one I actually know a lot about because I did some epidemiological data analysis when they first started noticing what was happening. To Leslie Manookian, this probably looks like a whole bunch of kids were getting diarrhea and dehydration from the vaccine strain after their siblings were vaccinated. To the professional epidemiologist and anyone with an ounce of scientific reasoning, this means that you don’t need to vaccinate all children for Rotavirus if you’re low on resources. Vaccinating one per household seems to spread the vaccine virus to others, giving them much slighter versions of the full-blown disease and in fact immunizing them against any further infection from the actual virus. It’s an effect that we have seen with polio as well, and something that we’ve built into immunization plans in order to maximize effectiveness when the program country doesn’t have the resources to get everyone vaccinated. As a bonus, the rate of complications from the vaccine strain are much, much lower than the rates of complications from the wild strain.

Let’s keep reading the press release:

“Furthermore, vaccine recipients can carry diseases in the back of their throat and infect others while displaying no symptoms of a disease.11,12,13

“Numerous scientific studies indicate that children who receive a live virus vaccination can shed the disease and infect others for weeks or even months afterwards. Thus, parents who vaccinate their children can indeed put others at risk,” explains Leslie Manookian, documentary filmmaker and activist. Manookian’s award winning documentary, The Greater Good, aims to open a dialog about vaccine safety.”

Those three references (#11, #12, #13) all do not say what they think they say. Number 11 is about how influenza is passed from one animal to another. Number 12 takes you to the same link as number 11, so a big fail there. And number 13 is a New York Times article that actually emphasizes the need for parents to be immunized against pertussis so that they don’t get it and pass it on to their too-young-to-be-vaccinated children. Do anti-vaccine loons ever read their own citations, or just the titles?

And, yes, you read that right. The authority on this matter is Leslie Manookian because she made an anti-vaccine film. Why else? And what awards did it win? According to Wikipedia, it won an award from the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2011 for “Cinematic Vision.” Yeah, that makes the three anecdotes in the movie totally legitimate.

For the remainder of the press release, we get this:

“Both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals are at risk from exposure to those recently vaccinated.  Vaccine failure is widespread; vaccine-induced immunity is not permanent and recent outbreaks of diseases such as whooping cough, mumps and measles have occurred in fully vaccinated populations.14,15  Flu vaccine recipients become more susceptible to future infection after repeated vaccination.16”

Again, their citations are all being used in a misleading way. Yes, both vaccinated and unvaccinated are at risk from exposure, but the vaccinated will get the disease at a rate hundreds or even thousands of times less than unvaccinated people. If you have 100 people and 90 of them are vaccinated, you can have an outbreak of 20 cases where 10 are vaccinated and 10 are not. But, when you do the math, 100% of the unvaccinated are sick while only 1/9th of the vaccinated are sick. Ten out of ten is more than one out of nine. Math, however, has never been in the anti-vaccine person’s realm of mastery.

To mislead you even more, the press release cites another expert:

“”Health officials should require a two-week quarantine of all children and adults who receive vaccinations,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “This is the minimum amount of time required to prevent transmission of infectious diseases to the rest of the population, including individuals who have been previously vaccinated.””

It is the Weston A. Price Foundation that is putting out this press release, by the way. Sally Fallon Morell has degrees in English, with no apparent formal training in biology, medicine, or epidemiology. Yet that doesn’t stop her from making the ridiculously stupid suggestion that vaccinated children and adults should be quarantined. If her theory were to be true, which it is not, the quarantine should be longer than two weeks. After all, there are plenty of vaccine preventable diseases which have longer incubation times, like Hepatitis A. You should also note that they don’t make any distinction between live attenuated vaccines and killed vaccines, or vaccines that don’t even have whole viruses but only parts of them (like the acellular pertussis vaccine that we use today). The level of ignorance from Leslie Manookian and Sally Fallon Morell is phenomenal.

I’m impressed. I mean, look at this next in the press release:

“”Vaccine failure and failure to acknowledge that live virus vaccines can spread disease have resulted in an increase in outbreaks of infectious disease in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals,” says Manookian, “CDC should instruct physicians who administer vaccinations to inform their patients about the risks posed to others by those who’ve been recently vaccinated.””

Sweet Jesus, this is ignorant. If anything, CDC should instruct physicians to give their patients a medal for wanting to be part of the herd and protect those who are too young, too old or too sick to be vaccinated.

The press release closes with the real intent and level of epidemiological misunderstanding and misinformation from the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, the best protection against infectious disease is a healthy immune system, supported by adequate vitamin A and vitamin C. Well-nourished children easily recover from infectious disease and rarely suffer complications.

The number of measles deaths declined from 7575 in 1920 (10,000 per year in many years in the 1910s) to an average of 432 each year from 1958-1962.17 The vaccine was introduced in 1963. Between 2005 and 2014, there have been no deaths from measles in the U.S. and 108 deaths from the MMR vaccine.18”

These are probably the same loons that think that Ebola can be treated with IV vitamin C or something like that. And, no, well-nourished children don’t “rarely” suffer complications. The complications from things like measles are actually quite common, with ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death being much more common in those who get measles than in those who get the MMR vaccine. How much more common? Thousands of times more common.

Finally, the idiots who drafted this press release tell us that the measles deaths were on the decline before the vaccine came online. That’s true. We learned to keep people alive with medical technology. We also developed antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial complications from measles. There was also more access to healthcare and such. What they don’t tell you is that we continued to have cases of measles right up until the end of the 1960s, once herd immunity really kicked in from the measles vaccine that was introduced in 1963. And that last reference, #18, is a paper from CDC talking about how much of a resounding success the MMR vaccine has been. And, much to your surprise, there is zero mention of the “108 deaths from the MMR vaccine” in that paper. That number has been thrown around from VAERS reports, a database of adverse events associated with vaccines to which anyone and everyone can report and which has counted as “vaccine associated” deaths involving drowning or car accidents months after the last vaccine was given.

Anti-vaccine zealots like Leslie Manookian and Sally Fallon Morell go out of their way to bring this kind of misinformation to the public through press releases. If they had one shred of credible evidence to what they say, scientists would listen. But we look at their interpretations of the articles they cite and laugh. No, seriously, we laughed. Someone suggested sending them a copy of a Godzilla movie to scare them into anti-nuclear activism so they can help stop the giant lizards that roam the ocean floors near Tokyo. Because that is the level of ignorance of science and biology that we’re dealing with here. Anyone who takes this press release as genuine medical advice or some kind of scientific breakthrough is a fool.

What’s with the fear of the flu vaccine?

We’re right smack in the middle of flu season. The number of reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from influenza this season seems to be at its peak, meaning that we have about 6-8 more weeks of heavy influenza activity before it all ends. Those are just the reported cases. Not all cases get reported, and deaths associated with influenza in adults are not as closely observed as deaths associated with influenza in children. Many get classified as deaths from natural causes because a flu test is not done, though, many times, the person may have been complaining of flu-like illness.

The best thing we have against influenza is the flu vaccine. It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s the best thing we have. Short of the vaccine, we can also focus on washing our hands constantly, and staying away from sick people (or, if we’re sick, keeping away from people). But all those other things require us to make a conscious effort day in and day out during the yearly epidemic. If you sit and watch people, we’re quite nasty. We scratch our face, wipe our nose or mouth, and we touch things with unwashed hands all the time.

Even before the 2009 influenza pandemic, there were plenty of people who were afraid of the influenza vaccine. They saw a list of side-effects reported during the clinical trials of the vaccine and thought that all of those side-effects occurred at rates higher than stated. They were also convinced by anti-vaccine and anti-science activists that the vaccine was nothing but pure poison. They were told that the vaccine kills when, in fact, the vaccine saves lives.

Then the 2009 influenza pandemic happened and the anti-vaccine crowd had a collective orgasm (allegedly) when it was announced that the vaccine for that strain was going to be “experimental” or approved by FDA under an “experimental” protocol. They went nuts saying that we were being “experimented” on or that we were taking a risk by taking a vaccine that was not “fully tested” before it was given. Those and other statements just made it clearer that they didn’t know what they were talking about, even if they should know better.

A friend of mine gave me the example of pies as vaccine. We know what goes in an apple pie. We know what goes in a cherry pie. The difference in the two is the filling. Likewise, the difference in a flu vaccine is the strains it contains. For the 2009 vaccine, all they did was change the strain. Everything else about the vaccines was the same. It’s not like they went and created a new way of delivering the vaccine or a new way of growing the virus strains. That came later, and those vaccines underwent extensive testing, more than the testing that goes into a vaccine when strains are changed.

The anti-vaccine cultists will say that the flu vaccine has thimerosal. When you tell them that there is a thimerosal-free version, they’ll say that the vaccine has aluminum. (SEE COMMENT BELOW ON ALUMINUM.) When you tell them that aluminum covers the whole world, they say it has formaldehyde. Then you tell them that a pear has more formaldehyde than a vaccine, they’ll come up with some sort of bullshit like “it’s not natural formaldehyde like the formaldehyde in a pear.” Right. Because the body can tell the difference of where the formaldehyde came from.

I really wish that anti-vaccine cult members just stopped lying. That’s all. Stop lying and don’t get vaccinated if you don’t want to. But to lie and misinform so openly and so happily, associating vaccines with just about anything that happens to anyone at any time? That right there will earn you a special place in whatever hell you believe in. And, if you don’t believe in hell, we’ll still laugh at you in decades to come as yet another deluded person who thinks they know more than they do. (I’m looking at you, Sherry Tenpenny.)

What worries me the most is that there are a number of groups of nurses who are trying to stop mandates for them to get the influenza vaccine at their place of employment. On its face, it seems ridiculous that they wouldn’t want to do what they need to do to protect their patients. But, like so many other people around the world, they’ve been convinced of monsters under their beds by anti-vaccine activists. Either that’s the case, or their nursing schools really, really suck.

Either way, fears of the influenza vaccine are founded in lies and misinformation from anti-vaccine groups. Many of those fears are founded on fantasies about toxins and inexistent injuries. While some people do react badly to the vaccine, their numbers and proportions are astronomical tiny compared to the toll that influenza exacts on humanity year after year. Chances are that these people would have had a similar, if not worse, reaction to getting the actual disease.

But I’m preaching to the choir, aren’t I?

Proof that Jacob Lawrence Crosby doesn’t know what “industrialist” means

I got bored the other night, so I decided to tally up all the names that The Kid has used for Dr. Paul A. Offit. Two of our blog readers are playing a game to see how many inaccuracies The Kid shoots off on his blog. I’d like to play, but I thought we should start with this instead. So here are the many different ways in which The Kid refers to the pediatrician he stalks goes out of his way to ask questions of. You’ll be surprised at the variety of names he calls Dr. Offit, maybe.

In the blog post “The Vaccine Industry’s Many Talking Heads“, the kid goes on a flight of fancy where almost anyone talking about the benefits of vaccines (you know, the benefits proven by science?) is a “talking head” for the vaccine industry. He calls Dr. Offit:

  • A vaccine industry “talking head”
  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”, twice

In the blog post “How Dan Olmsted and David Kirby Helped Kill A Landmark Autism Lawsuit“, the kid rebels against his former handlers and manages to spout off against Dr. Offit by calling him:

  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”

In the blog post “No More Federal Research Fraud – OPPOSE HR1757!“, the kid wants his three or four readers to oppose legislation aimed at an unethical “vaccinated vs. unvaccinated” study not because the study would be unethical and have serious methodological flaws (the kid doesn’t seem to know much about epidemiological methodology, bless his heart), but because the study is supported by people he sees as his enemies. How Dr. Offit figures into it is a little confusing, but the kid manages to call him, yes, you guessed it:

  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”

In the blog post “Take Action: Warn Congress about vax propaganda film Invisible Threat“, the kid wants his three or four readers to warn Congress about a movie full of facts about vaccines. (What is it with him and the truth?) In it, he refers to Dr. Offit as:

  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”
  • A “millionaire vaccine developer and industry spokesman”, for a change

In the blog post “Kennedy’s Ghostwriter Defended Thimerosal“, the chemical preservative found in minuscule concentrations in vaccines (you get more mercury from a can of tuna) which somehow turned the kid “toxic,” the kid refers to Dr. Offit as:

  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”

In the blog post “CDC Cover-up’s Ivan Oransky Conceals BMC Violation“, where the kid just rambles on about conspiracies at CDC and other places, he calls Dr. Offit:

  • A “millionaire vaccine industrialist”

Industrialist? I don’t think Jacob Lawrence Crosby knows what “industrialist” means. As Ren pointed out in his detailed analysis of the enemies he has made:

“For the record, several of the statements [made by the kid] about Dr. Paul Offit are plainly false. He was not reprimanded by Congress. He is not a “vaccine industrialist” if we use the common definition for industrialist. Yes, Dr. Offit helped develop a vaccine, and, yes, he was more than likely paid a ton of money for it. (I wish that is the case because developing a vaccine that has saved millions of lives should have some kind of reward.) Yet Dr. Offit has since given the patent rights away and is not getting paid for the vaccine anymore. But this is how the world of an antivaxxer operates, by quickly throwing in misinformation in between the truths.”

According to Wikipedia, an industrialist “is a businessperson of great influence, importance, or standing in a particular enterprise or field of business.” Dr. Offit is indeed very influential, important, and has great standing in the field of vaccines, but I doubt he has all that power in the business of vaccines. After all, he recused himself from voting on whether or not the vaccine he co-developed was to be added to the childhood immunization schedule. He also voted against a study to test whether younger and younger children benefit from the anthrax vaccine. (Do you know how much money could have been made by having everyone vaccinated against anthrax?)

And here’s what Dr. Offit did with the revenue from the vaccine he co-developed:

“Just for the record: I no longer financially benefit from the sales of RotaTeq. My financial interests in that vaccine have been sold out by either The Wistar Institute, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or me. I will, however, continue to stand up for the science of vaccines because unfounded fears about vaccines have hurt children. That is why I do what I do and why I have always done it. And I will continue to closely follow the distribution of rotavirus vaccines because these vaccines have the potential to save as many as 2,000 children a day, which is why I joined the research team at Children’s Hospital.”

He stated this in 2011. But here we are in 2015 and the kid appears to be obsessed with calling Dr. Offit something he clearly isn’t. I mean, six blog posts calling him the same thing? And that’s not the only unsubstantiated claim the kid has made about people he doesn’t like. For all the complaining about being libeled and whatnot, the Jacob Lawrence Crosby does seem to make a lot of unsubstantiated and sometimes less-than-truthful claims about others.

Now, if the kid wants someone or something to blame for his autism, he should look at his own father, if you are to believe the latest lie about autism being touted out there. But I’ll leave that for tomorrow.

All the fail you can fit into an infographic

Friends on social media pointed me to this infographic the other day. It states that it wants to “set the record straight” on vaccines and autism, and it uses all of the tricks that we know anti-vaccine cult members use to try and deceive those who are uninitiated. So let’s take it one panel at a time and dissect this thing for all the fail that it is.

fail_1

The answer from the paper was not “yes.” The answer from the paper, as I’ve told you before, is that there was no association between the MMR vaccine and the syndrome (chronic enterocolitis). It was Andrew Jeremy Wakefield who stated that it was his gut feeling that this association existed, and that chronic enterocolitis led to autism. Now, that whole thing about Walker-Smith being absolved and so should Wakefield, well, it’s not that simple. When two people commit a crime in tandem, finding that one was duped by the other into committing the crime doesn’t absolve the duper, only the dupee. And, of course, Wakefield was never “charged” with research fraud because it’s not a chargeable offense. His peers and independent investigators found that his research was a fraud, which is different than charging him.

Now, notice how the authors of this infographic try to explain to us what the study was all about. They call pathology reports “statistical data.” What the hell is that? They’re trying to say that the data was somehow valid, but it wasn’t. It was taken from children who underwent invasive procedures to get pathology samples. There is also the issue of a control group. Of course it was needed. A control group is always needed to ascertain associations and causation. If I take nine people off the street and note that they all wear size 9 shoes, can I say that all people on the planet wear size 9 shoes? No, I’d go to another city and take a bigger sample of people from there and measure their shoe size. But that would have been too much work for Andrew Jeremy, I guess.

Let’s go on to the next panel, because this one did a piss-poor job of defending the Wakefield fraud.

fail_2

A “rush”, huh? There was no such rush. If anything, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s study was rushed. Other studies looking at vaccines and autism — the serious and credible ones — take months to design and months to conduct. They’ve looked at rates of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated. It’s the same rate. They’ve looked at rates of vaccination in autistics and neurotypical kids. It’s the same rate. They’ve looked at how many vaccines and at what age autistics get their vaccines. It’s the same number and at the same age as neurotypical kids. Everything has been explored, but, because the cult of anti-vaccine activists need a demon to fear, they keep clamoring for more and more “research.” When the findings of said research doesn’t pan out, it’s not because there is no association between autism and vaccines. It’s because, in their mind, there is a big, huge conspiracy directed by a guy with horns and hoofed feet.

Also, as was explained in the now deleted comments of the infographic, epidemiological studies can be both about associations and about causation. (Correlation is not something you get from a study. You get that from simply plotting data on graph paper.) If Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s study was so ground-breaking, why did his published paper not talk about causality? They never made sure to say that the kids were free of enterocolitis before they had autism. They just said, “Hey, these autistic kids have enterocolitis.” Period.

fail_3

You have to give it to the anti-vaccine fanatics. They really do think that CDC is the end-all, be-all of things epidemiological. It’s not. It’s a big institution, yes, but not all research is conducted there. In fact, most research on vaccines and vaccine safety is done by universities and the manufacturers themselves. But these people think that a group of sadists sit around and find ways to create a product that will harm the most people for the lowest price. Those cases mentioned in this panel are laughable examples of “rampant fraud.” First, the CDC whistleblower clearly doesn’t seem to understand biostatistics. Tom Verstraeten? He himself explained why the data were analyzed the way they were. Hint: It was to get at the truth and not be confused by confounders. The Merck lawsuit? Let the Skeptical Raptor explain it better than I ever could:

“The heart of this is that there is no evidence that vaccine effectiveness is, in fact, lower than described. In fact, there’s evidence against that.

  • The number of mumps cases is still very low. Before the vaccine, the United States had over 150,000 cases a year. The outbreaks reported now are in the single thousands – the 2006 outbreak had 6500 cases total, and the 2009-2010 about 3500. With respect to the 2014 mumps outbreak, the CDC stated that “from January 1 to August 15, 2014, 965 people in the United States have been reported to have mumps.”

  • There is more than a little evidence suggesting that the problem – if any – with the mumps vaccine is waning immunity, rather than ineffectiveness when given. This evidence includes most of the outbreaks in question occurred on college campuses, i.e. long after immunization and not among school children, which supports waning immunity, rather than initial low effectiveness, as the problem.

  • Other evidence supports the claim of waning immunity as the likely culprit rather than lack of effectiveness.

  • Also, the major textbook, Vaccines, states that “such estimates may also be indicative of waning of immunity, which is not a factor in controlled clinical trials with a relatively short follow-up period.” (See Page 435.)”

Somehow, because the vaccine is less effective in the real world than in the lab, it must all be a conspiracy.

Paul Thorsen? So he stole money and was an author on a paper. So what? There have been plenty of papers written that confirm those paper’s findings. Bringing his actions up is just a way to trick people away from things that bother anti-vaccine activists.

fail_4One of the things that make me laugh about the anti-vaccine crowd is that they think that they’re “free thinkers” just because they go against facts. Going against facts doesn’t make you a “free thinker” or even smarter than anyone else. It just makes you that weird uncle who believes in UFOs, especially when there is plenty of evidence against your claims. What is even more laughable is that whoever created this infographic wants to come off as intelligent when it comes to science and math by writing “…and these U.S. parents statistically have collegial educations”. Statistically what? Significant? Are you trying to write “statistically significant” as in “there is a statistically significant proportion of non-vaccinating parents who are college educated”? So what? Being college educated doesn’t save you from being gullible to anti-vaccine fabricated pseudofacts.

Also, 1.8% may opt out completely from vaccination, but there are plenty of pockets were more than enough opt out of vaccination to bring us below the “not presumed but factual” herd immunity threshold. (Anti-vaccine people with fears of persecution like to deny that herd immunity exists much like Tea Party Conservatives like to deny that CO2 causes global warming.) And those “1000s of credible studies”? Well, search PubMed and you get a few hundred:

Totally not thousands

Totally not thousands

But that’s what anti-vaccine, irrational people do. They inflate the numbers… Or, as you will see, they deflate them as well.

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Notice how in both instances the “fully vaccinated” in outbreaks were in the minority. If you look up a couple of panels, the same people claim that anti-vaccine people are in the minority. Which is it? Proportionally, more anti-vaccine people — or unvaccinated people for whatever reason — will be part of an outbreak. They will represent more than their share of cases. Why? Because they’re not protected.

And that measles graph that supposedly shows that measles was gone before the vaccine? It only shows that deaths from measles were in decline. We got good at keeping people alive over the years. A better, more honest graph is this one:

measles

Cases of measles dropped precipitously when the vaccine was given. When a second dose was recommended in the 70s, the cases dropped to almost nil in the United States. But you won’t see that graph (published all over credible science websites) from anti-vaccine paranoids because it blows their argument out of the water. I mean, what, is it a happy coincidence that the vaccine went to market and cases dropped to nothing? Furthermore, we once thought that measles was done here in the US, but those pockets of unvaccinated people are bringing it back in a roaring fashion.

Pertussis is also one of those things that lack of complete vaccine coverage has brought back. And, no, there are no findings that state that “the unvaccinated are not to blame” or that “pertussis vaccines do not control whooping cough”. This is all cherry-picking findings in studies. Just because there are some outbreaks with vaccinated people in them doesn’t mean that the vaccine is worthless. That’s the Nirvana Fallacy that a lot of these anti-vaccine types live in. They want all vaccinated to be disease-free (any disease) or the vaccines are not to be trusted.

The truth is simple. If you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get vaccine-preventable diseases, and, if you do get them, you are less likely to be part of an outbreak. Those two panels up there actually said that, in so many words. Note how in both panels the “fully vaccinated” are in the minority when it comes to cases and cases in outbreaks.

fail_7

Again, almost immediately, the creator of this infographic fails. Chemicals are only toxic at certain concentrations. At the concentrations found in vaccines, they are not toxic. Hell, some of them are downright inert. But these people want you to believe that you are bring injected with Satan’s own semen, it seems. “Live viral agents!” Jesus Christ! The LIVE VIRUS VACCINE is going to have “LIVE VIRAL AGENTS” because that’s how the vaccine works. And those “live viruses” are attenuated to the point that they cannot cause disease.

Then, the recommendation for the flu vaccine is for people 6 months and older, including pregnant women. It’s not just “6 months old & those who are pregnant.” It’s everyone. Thimerosal at the concentrations found in vaccines is safe. And that claim that the injection is not the same as daily contact is a truism. Daily contact with one of these things can kill, whereas vaccines won’t. Shedding? It only happens with certain attenuated virus vaccines, not with killed virus vaccines like injectable influenza, the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, and others. And, again, the live viruses have been attenuated to not cause disease. (Also, the MMR vaccine so feared by Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, though he was working on his own measles vaccine, never had thimerosal in it.) This panel is nothing but lies and fearmongering, plain and simple.

fail_8

Is there something that vaccines don’t cause? Nope, apparently not. Never mind that there is no evidence of most of these things (or that they think that “sequela” is a bad thing). Likely, these people took the package inserts, which must post everything that participants experienced after getting the vaccine in the clinical trials, and ran with it. I also can’t help but notice a couple of things that have not been proven but are talking points by people who sell “natural” supplements to treat these things.

So made this infographic?

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Ah, yes, Ms. Heather White. She shows up once in a while in anti-vaccine gatherings and blogs to talk about her knowledge of science, which always ends up giving me a chuckle. Ms. White more than likely has no formal training in science, which explains all her misconceptions about vaccines and autism (and thinking that “sequela” is a disease)… And her misunderstanding of numbers.

Ms. White, there are not “thousands” of studies linking autism to vaccines, especially not in a causal way. There are maybe a handful of those, and most are by cranks who’ve chemically castrated autistics and spread far and wide by people who see autism as an excuse to kill a child. And there are not “hundreds of thousands” of children with vaccine injuries. There just aren’t. Just like there are no monsters under your bed.

 

Homeopathy for autism? Negatory!

A friend of mine sent me a story the other day of a group of homeopaths who thought they could go peddle their magical thinking in West Africa and try and treat people with Ebola. I’m happy to say that they were soundly refuted by health authorities and are now left to wander around with their tails between their legs, begging for scraps. To think that you can treat anything with magic is idiotic at best and extremely dangerous at worst.

It’s not just Ebola that these idiots are attempting to treat with homeopathy, of course. They are also trying to treat autism with homeopathy. That really grinds my gears because they, the homeopaths, prey upon unsuspecting parents who are eager for a “cure.” I’m sorry to say this to you, but there is no cure for autism.

Check that. I’m not sorry. I’m glad.

The quicker we accept that autistics are and always will be autistic, the quicker we can move away from quack treatments for it and into what works: occupational therapy, behavioral interventions, accommodations at school and in public places… Acceptance.

Take this crackpot, for example. He read a book on homeopathy, became hooked, and then got a “four year degree” in it. Now he’s offering to consult and treat autism over Skype.

Over effing Skype. I guess he has a problem looking at the people he’s swindling in the eye?

Alright, so he does have a clinic in person:

“I graduated in 2009 & now work full-time as a homeopath. I see people in my clinic in London and over Skype. I also supervise a student clinic, as well as working in one of the homeopathic pharmacies dispensing remedies & giving advice on acute conditions.

I treat a wide range of conditions, but have particular interest in treating children with autism, which I believe to be a reversible condition often caused by toxins (be they from vaccinations, or other medications or sources of heavy-metals).”

Ah, yes, the damned vaccines. It’s always the vaccines.

If you look at his blog, there is nothing there but pure, unadulterated, non-diluted (non-homepathic?) bullshit. He claims that ultrasounds cause autism, without giving much of a citation to his evidence, and dares his readers to take the detox challenge, for a convenient fee, of course.

The more I read about this guy on his blog, the more I began to be convinced that some of his testimonials are not exactly true. For example, this is his experience with an Italian mother whose child he’s treating over Skype:

“There was a clear regression at both 8 & 22 months after he received his childhood vaccines. He went white, floppy and cold after his MMR vaccine at 8 months.”

To the uninitiated — and we are initiated, aren’t we? — this might sound legit. The initiated among us know that you don’t give the MMR under 12 months because the body will not mount an effective immune response. We’d also check the European immunization schedule and find, with no surprise, that the MMR there is given at 12 months in Italy (and most of the European Union). So someone is probably lying in that story.

Big surprise.

Then again, there are plenty of people who do fall for this stuff. After all, our homeopath friend would not be in the business if it weren’t profitable. That’s the reason I teach. It pays well. I wouldn’t do it for free, that’s for sure.

He also has a history of lashing back at his detractors, so we’ll see how he reacts to some “choice” comments I made on his blog. Who knows? He might be reading this blog right now and furiously googling my name to know more about me.

You can find me in Atlanta, bro. *wink*

Before you do contact me, you should look and see what the Advertising Standards Agency has said to homeopaths like you, then decide if you want to continue your game. Read this part with particular care, almost like as if it was written by Hannemann himself:

“Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation.”

Can you independently prove your magic works, Alan?

The only controversy here is why this is “controversial”

In life, there are things that are true and there are things that are not true. In between those things are things that could be true and things that could not be true. To figure out where things gall on that spectrum, we have science.

Science is not an abstract concept that is hard to understand. When you look at how science works, it’s a pretty simple thing. You probably do quite a bit of science every day and don’t even know it. Science begins with a question, then a period of gathering of evidence, then the formulation of a theory on what the answer might be, a series of experiments to confirm that theory, and then a period of analysis to confirm those findings. Very rarely will we scientists accept something as true based on one study or one set of data.

Question: Do vaccines work? Answer: Yes. But that answer is not written blindly and with no thought behind it. I don’t write it with passion or because I have a personal stake in the answer. I write it because there is a wealth of evidence that shows that vaccines work, and they work wonderfully. It wasn’t until the introduction of the MMR vaccine in the 1960s that cases and deaths from measles truly started to come down. The introduction of other vaccines has done the same for some other very deadly diseases.

It’s human nature to cling on to something we believe in and refuse to let it go no matter what the evidence. Just look at all the abusive relationships where either party (or both) think that they can change themselves or change each other. Even with beatings and arrests, they cling to each other in the hopes that they’re wrong and that they truly will live happily ever after. Anti-vaccine activists do the same thing. They hope against all odds that they are correct, even when children die from vaccine-preventable diseases, even when mothers lose pregnancies to Rubella. They pray to God (or their version of a god) that they are correct and that all this science, all this research done by devoted and hard-working people, is wrong. They pray to be correct.

With something as serious as people’s lives, I like to go with the evidence. I throw away any and all personal beliefs and gut feelings and go with what works. It’s not only in my nature as a scientist, but it should be in my nature as a “thinking ape.” Our brains should be in the business of allowing us to think and allowing us to let go of gut instincts whenever we can.

Working in the quote mine

If you’ve ever watched a politician speak, you might have noticed that they tend to be very, very careful with what they say. Most of them, anyway. They’re very careful with what they say because their opponents are quick to jump on the first little thing that doesn’t quite make sense. Remember John Kerry, our current Secretary of State and former Democratic candidate for President? He said that he voted for something before he voted against it. In the abstract, that sounds like a ludicrous statement. He sounded like a “flip-flopper” and the Republicans let him have it. When you look at what he did, you see that it was a procedural move to kill a bill. He voted for the bill in committee to then vote against it in the full Senate and kill it.

It makes sense to me, but it didn’t make sense to the masses of Republicans who brought flip-flops with them to Kerry’s rallies. They didn’t want to listen to reason, either. When people tried to explain to them why he did that, they basically covered their ears and ran away while screaming.

Anti-vaccine advocates are the same way. They’ll take something out of context and run with it, feeding it to the unsuspecting minds. The unsuspecting minds will then parrot what they’ve been fed without going to the source to make sure they’re not being fooled.

Take as a prime example the public statement by Dr. William Thompson from yesterday. Here is the full text:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—AUGUST 27, 2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph. D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where I have worked since 1998.

I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub-group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with the receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive emails that I have received over the last several days. I will not be answering questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data of development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists outside of the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted out of the building as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan, Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio.”

And here’s what the anti-vaccine people are saying about it:

tmr_poster1

tmr_poster2

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Note how none of them mention this from Dr. Thompson:

“I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.”

Of course they don’t disseminate that because it goes against everything they believe. They also don’t mention this:

“I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.”

That is, no mention of the betrayal of trust (and possible criminal action in recording someone without their knowledge) of Wakefield and BS Hooker.

The Drinking Thinking Moms also don’t mention that the findings were only statistically significant for African American boys. Most, if not all, of the children they claim were “lost” or “dead” or “stolen” by autism are white boys and white girls.

Of course, the moms are not the only ones lying by omission about this whole thing. Plenty of anti-vaccine people online have been flooding comments sections of blogs with falsehoods. They say that data were omitted when they weren’t. Others said that Dr. Thompson was escorted off the CDC campus when was not. And, of course, the loonier of the loons are blaming everything from the Illuminati to the Reptilians for this.

The worst of the worst, however, keep using racially-charged language over this, and they keep stoking something that I’m sure not even they want to see catch on fire.

 

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

Let’s say that I have a secret. Well, not that I have the secret but more like I discovered a secret. Let’s say that it is a secret so heinous that telling it to the world may change the world or, at the very least, save a lot of lives. And let’s say that I’ve vetted the information contained in that secret and I have found it to be true. Do I…

  1. Go to the media with the secret and the evidence and make the news?
  2. Bury the secret in a bunch of convoluted science-speak in a paper that I want to publish in a bottom-feeding journal that no one with any real credentials has heard about while I make a video, edit the video, narrate the video, edit some more and post the video online only to take it down, edit some more, and then post it again?

Me? I’d go to the media immediately. I’d take all the money I’ve been given by fearful parents and call a press conference ASAP. What Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided to do is, well, you’ll see.

If you remember correctly, there’s a PhD biochemist by the name of Brian Hooker. Dr. Hooker has actively sought legal relief for his son’s autism. In his mind — as that of others — it was the vaccines his child received that caused the autism. So Dr. Hooker has time and again tried to play epidemiologist and biostatistician and try to debunk studies that have debunked the autism-vaccine myth.

Hooker’s latest “research” dealt with a study by CDC epidemiologists where children with autism and children without autism were compared to see when they got the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. That study (DeStefano et al) found no difference in the odds of receiving the MMR shot between groups of autistic and neurotypical children of the same age all living in the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area. Hooker has come along and claims that data left out from the DeStefano paper shows that there is an increased risk of autism in African-American children receiving the vaccine at 36 months.

I read Hooker’s paper, and it is rife with problems. First, he uses as his references papers written by the Geier father-and-son team. The Geiers were involved in some shady treatment of autistic children by using chemicals typically used to chemically castrate people. They contended that, because mercury binds with testosterone in a petri dish at high temperatures, then the same must be true in a human being. In their mind, mercury in thimerosal binds with testosterone and triggers autism. Their solution? Chemically castrate male children by giving them chemicals that reduce their testosterone. For that, the father lost his medical license in just about every state he had one. The son faced charges for practicing medicine without a license.

Next, Hooker cites Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s paper, a paper that has been retracted for being an “elaborate fraud.” So, right off the bat, the Hooker paper is not looking too good. Next come the statistics. Hooker uses Pearson’s chi squared test to see if there is a significant association between MMR and autism in children at different ages. DeStefano et al used conditional logistic regression. For the non-biostatisticians out there, the technique that DeStefano et al used accounts for confounders and effect modifiers, different traits in their population that could skew the results. Hooker’s technique doesn’t really do that, unless you stratify results and use very, very large datasets. Hooker’s approach is more “conservative,” meaning that it will detect small effects and amplify them, and those effects can come from anything.

Even with that approach, Hooker found that the risk of autism associated with getting the MMR vaccine was not there or it was negligible, except in one population: African-American male babies. He found that African-American male babies at 36 months had a higher than 3-fold risk of autism if they had received the MMR vaccine. Pretty damning, right?

Well, as is the case with most anti-vaccine activities, there is more than meets the eye. I’ll explain that in a second. First, I want to show you what Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and Hooker did with this information:

Yes, instead of calling a press conference or otherwise going to the media with this information, thereby maybe halting all MMR vaccination of African American babies at 36 months, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided to create a video, edit it, narrate it, edit it some more, and then post it online. This is not the first version of the video, mind you. There is another version where the “whistleblower” is not named by name. If you want to believe another anti-vaccine activist (The Kid), Hooker never wanted to reveal the identity of the whistleblower. I guess Andrew Jeremy Wakefield just did it because the internet, or something.

So, just so we’re clear before I go into why Hooker is wrong in his assertions, we have Wakefield admitting he was wrong (as we all knew) and we have Hooker on the phone with a researcher of a well-known paper, on video, but the whistleblower’s identity was supposed to be kept secret. Right.

Hooker is wrong in his assertions because the DeStefano paper did not leave out African-American children on purpose. Children were excluded from the analysis because of very legitimate and scientific reasons. They either were not the right age, did not have autism but some other neurodevelopment disorder, or were born outside of Georgia. Even if they were tossed into the analysis, DeStefano et al used a statistical analysis that took into account things like birth weight and mother’s age when analysing the data. They wanted to make sure that what they were seeing was most likely because of the MMR vaccine and not because of some other factor associated with autism.

The nail in the coffin for the Hooker paper is that autism is usually diagnosed by the time a child is three years old. There was no increased risk at 18 months, higher but not by a whole lot at 24, and then the three-fold increase at 36 months. Gee, was it the MMR vaccine, mister? No, the effect is being modified by age. It’s as if I asked you if your shoe size was bigger at 36 months because you drank milk vs because you were 36 months. It’s age. It’s the way that autism is diagnosed. You’re going to have more children diagnosed as autistic at 36 months than you will at 18 months or at 24 months. Using the chi square test doesn’t tease this out, Dr. Hooker! That’s more than likely why DeStefano et al used conditional logistic regression, to take age into account in the analysis.

So why did we not see this in the other ethnic groups or in girls? The answer here is simple, again. Hooker had a limited dataset to work with when he boiled it down to African-American baby boys. In this table, for example, he tells us that he had to modify the analysis to 31 months instead of 36 because he had less than 5 children in that group. It’s the same goddamned mistake that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield wanted to pass off as legitimate science. You cannot, and must not use small numbers to make big assertions… Big, racially-charged assertions:

“Dr. Hooker stated “The CDC knew about the relationship between the age of first MMR vaccine and autism incidence in African-American boys as early as 2003, but chose to cover it up.” The whistleblower confirmed this.

When asked if there could be any scientific basis for excluding children born outside of Georgia, Hooker responded, “I know of none, and none has been provided by the authors of the DeStefano study.” He added, “The exclusion is reminiscent of tactics historically used to deprive African-Americans of the vote by requiring valid birth certificates.””

That is pure race-baiting right there. With the situation in Ferguson, MO, as it is, I am wondering if Hooker and Wakefield didn’t try to capitalize on that and bring even more racial tension into the mix. I mean, Tuskegee and autism, really?

Autism is not syphilis. It cannot be cured with a shot. It cannot be cured, period. It is also not like the Holocaust or genocide, like Wakefield claims toward the end of his little video montage. Autism is not a death sentence. It’s time that parents of autistic children and autistic adults put an end to Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s lies and his propaganda machine by speaking out against him and by convincing his devout followers not to fund him anymore. After all, if the paper by Hooker and the assertions of the video are true, Wakefield and his “Autism Media Channel” chose to sit on the information in order to make a good video (and maybe even a good buck) while thousands upon thousands of African-American babies continued to receive the MMR vaccine the world over.