Tdap vaccine is not linked to autism, just like any other vaccine (including the flu vaccine)

I remember when my dad told me that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. He sat me down and told me that it had been him all these years who had been buying me gifts and placing them under the tree. It was quite a shock to have this revealed to me; it shook my world. I did everything in my power to reason it through. In my head, dad was a liar. Dad wanted to take the credit for the big jolly guy who’d given me all the gifts I’d ask for in the letters I sent him through my dad.

I was 27 years old.

Soon enough, I came to accept the truth. All the evidence was there in the form of my dad’s receipts for the gifts he had gotten me. People had seen him buy me those gifts. Mom swore to having helped him wrap them. The evidence was compelling, substantial, tangible, credible… Santa Claus was no more.

I’m sad to say that this is not the case with the anti-vaccine crowd. You can tell them all you want that vaccines do not cause autism, and that vaccines actually protect from diseases that are deadly and/or disabling. But they will refuse to believe it because their entire ecosystem depends on the belief that vaccines cause autism. Anything short of that sucks away their life, their reason for living.

One such anti-vaccine zealot is everyone’s favorite “kid.” Even with a master of public health degree in epidemiology, he seems to remain convinced that vaccines cause autism. He’s stated on his blog that evidence he saw in school to the contrary is all a conspiracy from the pharmaceutical industry. It seems that, to him, the lies he has been exposed to over and over from a very young age have made up his mind. To him, Santa Claus (i.e. vaccines cause autism) still exists, and it will continue to exist because anything short of that eliminates his reason for living.

Seriously, he doesn’t seem to live for anything other than that. The primary example is a recent blog post of his where he takes a study that clearly shows that the Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and acellular Pertussis) vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and then he states that the study confirms that the influenza vaccine does cause autism.

Yeah, I was confused too.

His whole argument hinges on one table in the Prenatal Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis Vaccination and Autism Spectrum Disorder by Becerra-Culqui et al.

This is table 3:

Screenshot 2018-08-14 10.18.59

Table 3 states that women who were vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy had a similar incidence rate per 100,000 person-years of having an autistic child. Vaccinated women had an incidence rate of 3.78 autistic children per 100,000 person-years while un-vaccinated women had an incidence rate of 4.05. The ratio between the two was 0.98, meaning that vaccinated women had a lower incidence rate than vaccinated. Anything over 1.0 would indicate that vaccination leads to more autistic children being born.

Because this is one study with a limited number of people, and not a study looking at the entire universe of children born, scientists also report the 95% confidence interval (0.98 – 1.09). The 95% confidence interval is a way of us saying, “We are 95% confident that the true hazard ratio in the entire population (the whole of the population) is between 0.88 and 1.09.” Because it includes 1.0, we cannot say that this observation is not by random chance.

But look at how the kid displays the table on his blog:

Screenshot 2018-08-14 10.18.22

Only point out the things that seem to support your argument.

He points out that the adjusted hazard ratio of 0.85 (with a 95% confidence interval of 0.77 to 0.95) is adjusted for, among other things, influenza vaccination during pregnancy. In epidemiology and biostatistics, “adjusted for” means taking it into consideration. Let me give you an example:

Suppose that there are a group of people from Texas and a group of people from Alabama, and that we look at their test scores in biology. The group from Texas had an average test score of 77% while the people from Alabama had an average test score of 89%. You would conclude that being from Alabama leads you to having a better test score, right?

But what if we told you that they don’t teach biology in all schools in Texas? What if we told you that they only teach it in private schools in Texas, and that only 30% of schools in Texas are private schools? And then we told you that they teach biology in both types of schools in Alabama, and that there is a 50-50 split in the proportion of private to public schools in Alabama? How does this change your conclusion?

To reach the proper conclusion, you have to compare apples to apples, and oranges to oranges. You would compare the private school scores in each state to each other, and likewise with the public school scores. This is an adjustment. This is taking into account the differences in the distributions of a characteristic between the two groups being studied.

As it turns out, in the study in question, women who get their Tdap were much more likely to get their influenza vaccine. It makes sense, right? Women who vaccinate in general are more likely to vaccinate in particular. So, in order to compare apples to apples, the researchers adjusted for influenza vaccination. That is, they compared flu-vaccinated women who got the Tdap and flu-vaccinated women who did not get the Tdap, AND non-flu-vaccinated women who got the Tdap and non-flu-vaccinated women who did not get the Tdap.

Taking flu vaccination into account, and the bias that would creep in because women who vaccinate against influenza seem to be more likely to vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine, vaccinating with Tdap is not associated with having a child diagnosed with autism.

So why does the kid think this proves that influenza vaccine causes autism?

It beats me. All they did was make the adjustment to make things equal between the two groups, something every epidemiologist worth their salt should do… Unless you want to misinform the public?

Hmmmm?

He then takes a table from a different, unrelated study and points out to just one result on it as evidence that influenza vaccine causes autism:

Screenshot 2018-08-14 10.35.03

The red circle seems to be his way of saying, “Only this matters! Pay no attention to the whole of the evidence!”

This is another misrepresentation of the findings, and I kind of blame the authors of the study for making the table so busy. Look at the “Variable” column on the left. All that the data circled in red are saying is this:

“Of the 13,477 children whose mothers were vaccinated in the first trimester, 258 (1.91%) of them were diagnosed with autism. Their hazard was 26% higher for an autism diagnosis when compared to children whose moms were vaccinated in other trimesters. However, when adjusting for maternal allergy, asthma, autoimmune conditions, gestational diabetes, hypertension, age, education, race/ethnicity, child conception year, conception season, sex, and gestational age, the hazard of autism diagnosis went down to 20% over children whose moms were vaccinated in other trimesters.”

The fact that the hazard ratio went down after adjusting tells us that there is something else explaining the elevated hazard (risk). Look at what happened in the adjustment in the other trimester groups… Nothing changed. Look at what happened in the adjustment in the “Anytime During Pregnancy” group… Nothing changed. So what could that “something else” be? I’m not an obstetrician, but it’s reasonable to conclude that outcomes measured in the first trimester are different than outcomes measured in the other trimesters.

Finally, look at the reasoning that the kid used. In the first table, because numbers were adjusted for influenza vaccination, then it must mean that influenza vaccination causes autism. In the second, he doesn’t say that all the factors adjusted for cause autism… Because that would tear down his narrative.

I’m not surprised at all by his misunderstanding of all this. After all, to my knowledge, he doesn’t work as an epidemiologist anywhere. Like any good muscle, lack of practice of your epidemiology skills leads you to lose them. Being unpublished, not working as an epidemiologist, and a staunch defender of the so-called autism-vaccine risk leads the reasoning muscle to atrophy.

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Want to kill your employment chances?

Imagine that you’re not a wealthy, privileged “kid.” Imagine you’re just a regular Joe, or Jane. Imagine that you are going into a job interview and the people interviewing you have looked you up online to see what you’ve been up to. Are you at all concerned with what they’ll find?

I mean, yeah, they’ll probably see those pictures of you from college or high school, the ones where you’re acting the fool and making an ass out of yourself. They probably will find that angry blog post you wrote about your girlfriend. But will they find anything that will prevent you from getting the job?

If you’re a self-professed epidemiologist, and you want to get a job as an epidemiologist, do you think it’s a good idea to spew anti-vaccine, anti-science nonsense? Never mind the misogyny and racism, or the xenophobic language, but what about the anti-vaccine nonsense?

Would you hire someone as an epidemiologist if they said something like this?

“How is it that so many women march on Washington against something the president said on a hot mic 12 years ago, but not against the mandating of a vaccination that causes ovarian failure, paralysis and death? While the drug company Merck bought off feminists to lobby for the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, thousands of women and girls have been killed, paralyzed or sterilized as result of its side-effects.

All that was done in the name of preventing a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, even though early screening remains far-and-away the most effective prevention. Meanwhile, the vaccine offers a limited duration of immunity and virtual uncertainty that any risk of cervical cancer is reduced.

InfoWars and Daily Mail have more on the story.”

InfoWars? Daily Mail? Those are the source of your scientific information on the HPV vaccine? Jesus H. Christ. There is no credible evidence that the HPV vaccine causes “ovarian failure, paralysis and death,” but there is plenty of evidence that it prevents cancer.

Would you employ someone in an office with people from all sorts of backgrounds if they wrote this?

“That autistic women are much more likely to be dykes is not a huge surprise in light of how Asperger Syndrome has an even more disproportionately higher male-female ratio than the autism spectrum as a whole. This fact is likely due to Asperger’s diagnostic criteria restricting its diagnosis to people with average or above-average IQs. Men vastly outnumber women in above-average intelligence.”

Or this?

“Self-styled victims come in many other forms of identity-defined politics: man-hating feminists, cop-killing Black Lives Matter terrorists, illegal immigrants who think they are entitled to amnesty and Muslims who complain about “Islamophobia” and deny that Islam has anything to do with Islamic terrorist attacks.”

Or this?

“There are third-wave feminists who exaggerate sexual assault statistics, who fabricate claims that men have higher wages than women and who advocate the killing of all white men. There is the Black Lives Matter movement which has proven itself to be a form of social justice cancer similar to feminism – advocating racially segregated dormitories and the murder of police officers (two of whom were actually murdered in New York City by a BLM supporter).”

Yeah, I didn’t think so. Lucky us this kid will never see the inside of an office at a health department or work in any capacity to set policy. Unlucky for us that he has the wealth from his family to allow him to continue spewing this anger and hate for a while instead of flipping burgers at a local burger joint.

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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Does The Kid Have Inside Knowledge of Hillary Clinton’s Pneumonia?

Of course he doesn’t. He just seems to think that he does.

In yet another rambling post by The Kid, he seems to think that he knows what kind of pneumonia Hillary Clinton has:

“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults over 65 receive a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia. Yet shortly after collapsing during an early exit from a 9/11 memorial gathering over what her campaign blamed on the illness, 68-year old Crooked Hillary Clinton was photographed hugging a young girl. 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.”

So she has pneumococcal pneumonia, Jake? I mean, how else to interpret that statement. If she took the pnumococcal vaccine, and “the pneumonia vaccine obviously did not work for her,” then she must have pneumoccocal pneumonia. Clinton’s campaign has not revealed what type of pneumonia she has been diagnosed with, but facts have never really gotten in the way of a good rant by The Kid.

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The Kid lets his true colors show

We haven’t talked a lot about The Kid lately. This was partly because he’s not worth the time and partly because he hasn’t had a whole hell of a lot of interesting things to say. But something caught our attention the other day, something that may very well earn The Kid a nomination for this year’s Douchebag of The Year award. In a blog post titled “Neurodiversity Is Social Justice Cancer,” The Kid shows us his true colors. He managed to be racist, elitist, and ableist at the same time.

Before we move into the meat of what The Kid wrote, let’s look at the term “Social Justice Warrior.” From Wikipedia:

“‘Social justice warrior’ (commonly abbreviated SJW) is a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views; including feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, political correctness, and identity politics. The accusation of being an SJW carries implications of pursuing personal validation rather than any deep-seated conviction, and being engaged in disingenuous social justice arguments or activism to raise personal reputation.”

In other words, a Social Justice Warrior (SJW) is a hypocrite. It’s someone who goes on and on about a subject but is not really wanting to act on it. Kind of like The Kid, who writes and writes about being wronged by being vaccinated and, in his world, developing autism from those vaccines. And yet, he hasn’t put together any kind of significant (or coherent) evidence for a vaccine-autism link. Now, in desperately trying to tie together SJW and neurodiversity proponents, The Kid reveals some interesting aspects about his personality. He begins:

“Today’s political and academic climate is tainted by a new wave of “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) – far-left activists who shirk facts for emotion and who bully people they disagree with. Their weapon of choice? Political correctness.

There are third-wave feminists who exaggerate sexual assault statistics, who fabricate claims that men have higher wages than women and who advocate the killing of all white men. There is the Black Lives Matter movement which has proven itself to be a form of social justice cancer similar to feminism – advocating racially segregated dormitories and the murder of police officers (two of whom were actually murdered in New York City by a BLM supporter). But there is yet another incarnation of so-called “social justice” that has proven itself quite destructive despite catering to a smaller community: Neurodiversity.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sexual assaults don’t happen as often as they do because of feminists. Feminists also exaggerate that there is a wage gap between genders. And the Black Lives Matter folks? Why they are racists and cop-killers. And thrown into the bunch are the growing number of scientists and autism advocates who are discovering and supporting the idea of neurodiversity. Everyone’s a liar or a hypocrite on these things, it seems.

To support his assertions about feminists and Black Lives Matter, The Kid links to some racist, elitists, and misogynistic blog posts and web sites, naturally. (He is yet to support any of his assertions with something that disagrees with his world view. Or, if he has, I’ve missed it.) Then he goes hard after Ari Ne’eman and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network:

“Recently, people in Ari Ne’eman’s group protested a screening of the documentary film Vaxxed despite never having seen it and had the nerve to argue that people hosting the venue did not have a right to film them protesting. They further dismissed the film’s director on the basis that he has no medical license, yet members of ASAN can join and consider themselves “autistic” even if they have no real diagnosis – merely if they “self-identify” as such.

While ASAN and neurodiversity claim in principle that having autism as as inevitable as being black, in practice being “autistic” to them is essentially a choice. Not only does ASAN hardly represent the autism community, some of them do not represent it at all. Moreover, many neurodiversity “autistic” self-advocates appear to be disproportionately women – especially strange considering that there are far more men and boys diagnosed with autism than there are women and girls. These folks – Ari Ne’eman included – also identify as feminists. It is hardly surprising then that neurodiversity is intimately linked with other contemporary social justice cancers that are using political correctness to advance their destructive goals.”

This is not the first time that The Kid has lost his marbles over Mr. Ne’eman. A few years ago, he went after Mr. Ne’eman on a blog post on Age of Autism because President Obama appointed Mr. Ne’eman to the National Council on Disability:

“Well President Obama, this “fine individual,” Ari Ne’eman, who you are nominating to a position on a disability council, was quoted as indicating that autism is not a disability. In an essay he wrote about autism, Ari concludes by saying, “Difference is not disability.” Furthermore, he told Newsweek that autism is not a medical mystery that needs solving, he said on Good Morning America last year that being anti-cure is not anti-progress, speaking above a superimposed caption that read, “There’s nothing wrong with us! Autistic and proud!”

Ari has called the vaccine-autism link “pseudoscience,” an assertion with no basis in science other than phony reports put out by phony scientists with drug ties to protect their employers from litigation. He has also descended further into espousing belief in outright epidemic denialism, citing an earlier diagnosis of his with ADHD as misguided proof that the tremendous growth in autism, is merely due to “better diagnosing. This does not explain an increase from 3 in 10,000 with autism spectrum disorders twenty years ago to 100 in 10,000 with autism spectrum disorders today.

Not only does he impose his views onto others based on his limited experience, but even on no experience. Ari Ne’eman has made comments about employment, speaking before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, despite having no work experience of his own whatsoever. (This was confirmed in an email from him to Jonathan Mitchell.) Ari stated that social pleasantry should be eliminated from the workplace. As a person with an autism spectrum disorder who has job experience and suffered as a result of having a very abusive boss, I take great objection to what he said, given his non-existent work experience.

Is this the kind of person we want serving in the new presidential administration? Do we want him on a council on disability policy when he does not even see autism as a disability, at least not in the classic sense of the word?”

See, for The Kid and so many others in the anti-vaccine cult, the fact that people like Ari Ne’eman and others want autistics to be accepted is some sort of an unforgivable sin. I guess that, in their view, if society accepts a person with autism as a person, then they lose any kind of ability to call autism a “tragedy” (or worse). They can’t say that their children are “lost” or “dead” due to autism. And they’ll probably have to come to terms with the fact that autism cannot be cured… And preventing it is akin to wanting to prevent someone from existing because of the way they were created/conceived/born.

But the clincher for us on why The Kid is an elitist racist misogynist is his closing paragraph on his “neurodiversity is cancer” post:

“It is shameful to think that politicians are catering to these groups. Fortunately, one presidential candidate – presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump – does not give in to such nonsense. Autism Investigated wants an honest president who speaks his mind, who slams Crooked Hillary Clinton and her shameless abuse of the woman card, who rebukes Black Lives Matter by emphasizing that all lives matter and who acknowledges that autism is an epidemic caused by vaccination instead of taking autism policy advice from the likes of Ari Ne’eman. If elected, Donald Trump will be that president who will acknowledge these harmful social justice movements – whether they be feminists, Black Lives Matter or neurodiversity – for what they are:

Cancer.”

Yes, to The Kid, people who want gender equality, civil rights protections, and acknowledgement of autistics as people and not broken things, to him all these people are cancer. To him, Donald Trump is a savior. Think about that for a second, because this is the same kid who is working on a doctoral degree in epidemiology at the University of Texas (where his uncle is on the board of regents). If the fact that someone like The Kid is getting a PhD in epidemiology doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.

God help us all.

Sincerely,

The Poxes

(See what we did there?)

 

Why we’re not covering The Kid anymore

The editorial board of this blog has come together and decided that we are no longer going to cover the anti-vaccine writings of one Jacob Lawrence Crosby. The reasons for this are many, but they boil down to one main thing: We believe that he is unable to understand the context of things he reads. As such, there is nothing that we can communicate to him without him taking it personal. The evidence for this?

A few years ago, friend-of-the-blog Ren Najera wrote a “diss rap” about Jake Crosby based on the lyrics of “Fighting Trousers” by Professor Elemental. The song is about Prof. Elemental “dissing” Mr. B, another rapper. Mr. B raps about life in Victorian England, and so does Prof. Elemental. So the professor is telling Mr. B to stop copying him. Ren re-wrote those lyrics when Jake Crosby decided to be an epidemiologist (something he hasn’t achieved, by the way) and go get his master of public health degree at the George Washington University, where Ren got his MPH. Part of the lyrics read like this:

“Let’s settle this like gentlemen: armed with heavy sticks, On a rotating plate, with spikes like Flash Gordon, And you’re Peter Duncan; I gave you fair warning”

The movie “Flash Gordon” is a science fiction movie from 1980 where the title character is put to the test against a man. They both fight on a rotating platform with spikes. They fight with sticks. So Ren is using lyrics from a rapper who is poking fun at another rapper. How did Jake Crosby interpret this?

jake_afraid

That’s right. Jake has been stating all this time that Ren physically threatened him, even writing this in a letter to different administrators at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. What was the threat? A diss rap. A spoof of a diss rap. You can read more about Ren’s interactions with Jake here.

There are other interactions with Jake by other people where his replies have made little sense, at least to us. There were his claims that Orac was being paid by Big Pharma when Orac was not being paid by Big Pharma. Orac happened to be working at a university which got research grants from pharmaceuticals, yes, but he never really got paid by said pharmaceuticals. If that were the case, that we get money from pharma because we work alongside or in an institution funded by pharma grants, then we’re all in cahoots with pharma.

Then there is the latest blog post by Jake Crosby. This one sealed the deal for us in deciding to just stop trying to refute him. In his blog post, Jake Crosby accuses a writer for The New Republic by the name of Elizabeth Bruenig as writing against anti-vaccine notions not because those notions are wrong. No, she writes them because, in Jake Crosby’s understanding, she doesn’t like Jake Crosby:

“Some “journalists” spread misinformation denying the dangers of vaccines because they are trained to by CDC, for which they deserve none of the protections intended for a free press and should be fully investigated by Congress. For The New Republic’s newly-hired Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig – who wrote hit-pieces against Rand Paul and Chris Christie while ignoring Obama contradicting himself on vaccines – the most likely reason is a lot pettier. It goes back to her years as a student at Brandeis University where she seemed to have developed a personal grudge against your humble blogger: me.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about Jake Crosby:

“Letting a grudge from four years ago shape your views on an important public health issue is about as self-interested as it gets. The New Republic is already declining, but it hit a new low with the hiring of Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig.”

In his world, Ms. Bruenig writes about the anti-vaccine lies because she has a grudge against Jake Crosby.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is only but a small sliver of what Jake Crobsy has written and put out into the big bad world. His anti-vaccine writings are, in our opinion, more than just misguided. They are screeds attempting to connect things that are very, very far away from each other on many dimensions. While that is the game plan for most anti-vaccine activists, to try and put together events and concepts that are completely unrelated to each other, we believe that Jake Crosby takes it one step further. He genuinely seems to believe that the world somehow revolves around him. He claimed credit for Seth Mnookin leaving PLoS blogs, after all. If tomorrow any of us gets pulled over for a traffic citation or get some form of cancer, we wouldn’t be surprised if he claimed credit for that. If the day after that we write something he misunderstands, as he has misunderstood other things, he might lash out in ways that would not be good.

As a result of realizing that we’re dealing with someone who is not playing by the rules, who seemingly attributes everything to his existence, we have decided to let him be. Jake Crosby will have to say or do something phenomenally stupid to get our attention. The odds are 3 to 1 that he will.