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

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

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

Me:  “Will Mr. Stone retract his false statements about Dorit Reiss, or will he continue to live in “Jake’s Labyrinth,” where “conflicts of interest” are a dime a dozen Is Age of Autism free of any outside influences, advertisements, or pharmaceutical support?”


JS: “Hi Reuben

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


JS: “Reuben

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

Please stop wasting everyone’s time.”


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


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

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


In other words, go look at the post!


JS: “Reuben

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

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

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


Me, responding to a question about my name: ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Me: “Nope, Mr. Stone. I’m very real, and very much an infectious disease epidemiologist: My real job is at the Washington, DC, Department of Health. Fifth Floor:

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

There is someone going by that name here also:

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

And then this:

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

And one more:

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

Not me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smear! Smear at all costs!

You know you’ve made it big in the anti-vaccine circles when they start attacking you personally, calling into question your integrity, and calling you names like “Pharma Whore.” Before that, you’re just another cog in the Big Pharma machine. After that, you’re a rock star. Take the recent example of “the daily web newspaper of the [non-existent] autism epidemic” and their recent blog post smearing a law professor. Instead of posting all of it, I’ll just post for you the objective portions of the 1,097-word screed (of which 627, or 57%, are quoted words). See if you can make out what the writer is going on about:

“Dorit Reiss, associate law professor Hastings campus University of California, first came to my notice the other week commenting on Rabbi Handler’s article about vaccination in the Jewish Press.”


Continue reading

An email from an anti-vaccine activist to their overlords (Or how the internecine war continues)

The kid claims that someone else sent the following email to Age of Autism, the online newspaper of the non-existent autism epidemic. I think it was he himself who did it, and I’ll tell you why once you read this. It’s a little long, and it repeats a lot of the anti-vaccine nuttery, but it’s worth a read for a good laugh. I’ve highlighted in bold the best parts. (By the way, the published this email on his site. I’ll link to it upon request, but I’m not giving him any more clicks than he needs. Props to my friend for telling me about this.): Continue reading

Believing what you want to believe, not what reality dictates

Thank you, Reasonable Hank, for pointing out to me this incredibly creepy thread going on on Facebook. (No login is required to read it.) NVIC, as I’ve told you before here, here, and here, is an anti-vaccine organization that seems to have a weird obsession with Dr. Paul A. Offit. It appears to me that they see no bigger threat on the planet than vaccines, followed closely by Dr. Offit. Of course, we know why they hate vaccines. Dr. Offit’s “crime” was to co-develop a vaccine that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. And that’s not some weird estimate based on opinion. It’s a fact.

But just go read the comments about the doctor. I won’t repeat the vile ones here. Hank has a good sampling.

One thing that is interesting is the complete disconnect from reality that the anti-vaccine activists seem to display. For example, this woman had this comment when a fellow skeptical blogger pointed out that the rotavirus vaccine has, as a matter of fact, saved countless lives:


I almost commented myself, but a friend and colleague stepped in before I did and pointed out that, yes, rotavirus kills hundreds of thousands of children per year and the vaccine prevents this:


Presented with actual evidence, the hounds were unleashed:


Yeah, we’re the morons.

In addition to his random capitalization and insults, “LS” refuted our friend’s link about cancer rates with a WHO link about overall population health, and then he called someone notoriously wrong on vaccines an”higher eminence.” Then he challenged our friend with this:


I died laughing.

So, does the WHO say something different about cancer than CDC? Remember, in the minds of the anti-vaccine activists, vaccines cause cancer. Yet cancer rates continue to fall. According to CDC:

“Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease in the United States between 2004 and 2008. The findings are from the latest “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” coauthored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.”


  • “The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses, also known as incidence, among men decreased by an average of 0.6% per year between 2004 and 2008.
  • Overall cancer incidence rates among women decreased 0.5% per year from 1998 to 2006; rates remained level from 2006 through 2008.
  • Lung cancer death rates among women decreased for the second year in a row. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008.
  • Breast cancer incidence rates among women decreased from 1999 through 2004, and remained level from 2004 through 2008.
  • Incidence rates of melanoma and pancreas, kidney, thyroid, and liver cancers increased from 1999 through 2008.”

Someone made fun of that 0.6% drop between 2004 and 2008. I wish they could go and laugh in the face of those people who get cancer. Given what they’ve written about Dr. Offit, I wouldn’t put it past them. Now, remember that this is a CDC report on the United States. Here’s what WHO says is going on in the world (my emphasis):

“Infectious diseases will still dominate in developing countries. As the economies of these countries grow, non-communicable diseases will become more prevalent. This will be due largely to the adoption of “western” lifestyles and their accompanying risk factors – smoking, high-fat diet, obesity and lack of exercise. In developed countries, non-communicable diseases will remain dominant. Heart disease and stroke have declined as causes of death in recent decades, while death rates from some cancers have risen.”

But that’s opposed to what CDC said! No, it’s not. WHO is talking worldwide. CDC is talking US only. CDC is talking new diagnoses and death rates by cancer. WHO is talking only death rates, not new diagnoses. Also:

“Cancer will remain one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Only one-third of all cancers can be cured by earlier detection combined with effective treatment. By 2025 the risk of cancer will continue to increase in developing countries, with stable if not declining rates in industrialized countries.”

Well, I’ll be damned. They’re not saying opposite things.

Again, when discussing science with anti-vaccine and anti-science people, you’re not going to convince them to see reality for what it is. More likely than not, they’re going to lash out against you and vilify you like they’ve done with Dr. Offit. They’ll go cherry-pick some study or some article, and they will present it to you as evidence without really knowing what they’re doing. It reads/sounds good, so it’s “evidence.” There’s reality, and then there’s whatever these people want to believe.

One last thing, submitted with no comment:


There is zero evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness, except when there is

I told you before the story of a father whose daughter developed Type I diabetes and he decided to blame the hepatitis B vaccine she received at birth three years before her diagnosis. That’s one heck of an incubation time, by the way. I told you how he wrote a self-published book and now has gushing anti-vaccine fans on his Facebook page all the time, adoring his every word. I’ve also told you how not one of his followers calls him on his shenanigans. He’s even gone as far as to quote HIV/AIDS denialists on how mean and evil vaccines are. In short, there is no anti-vaccine theory that this guy is not willing to listen to. And there seems to be nothing he’s not willing to say, including this:

“if you show my (sic) one sound and independent conducted scientific study that vaccines prevent illness I will accept your words ‘vaccine preventable illness’. Those advocating vaccine safety and effectiveness are the first to pint (sic) out that correlation doesn’t equal causation, yet there is nothing but correlation to the claim that vaccines eradicated diseases. It is just as valid to claim that better sanitary conditions and nutrition eradicated diseases. When I was a child I had measles, chicken pox, etc. and so did everyone I know. Those were acceptable childhood illnesses and very few children suffered complications. Thanks to a massive propaganda campaign today even a cold is considered to be bad and therefore everyone accepts the notion that we need vaccines. Thanks to vaccines our children suffer now from autism, autoimmune diseases, etc. Great business model as those kids are hooked for a lifetime to receive drug treatments. Bad medicine though.”

Yeah, there’s is zero evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness, according to him. Notice how he brings out the “sanitation and nutrition” card. Yes, populations have less disease when they wash their hands, drink clean water, have working sewage systems, and eat well. “Populations” is the operating word. If they go without vaccinating, even the most industrialized nations fall prey to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Look at Wales. It is on the island of Great Britain, part of Europe, highly industrialized and advanced. Why are they having an outbreak of measles with hundreds of cases? Did their water run out? Did they run out of soap to wash their hands? Fruits and veggies no longer on the menu? No, they stopped vaccinating enough and measles came back. Simple.

This is what gets to me, though: “Those were acceptable childhood illnesses and very few children suffered complications.” Yeah, to him, things like Congenital Rubella Syndrome were no big deal. Except when it was. If you read about CRS, you’ll see how horrible it is and how common it was before the MMR vaccine:

“Before vaccination was introduced in the early 1970s, it is estimated that 200 – 300 infants were born with congenital rubella syndrome in each non-epidemic year in the UK; many more were born in epidemic years. Rubella in pregnancy was responsible for 15 – 20 per cent of significant congenital hearing loss and two per cent of congenital heart disease…

Rubella immunisation was introduced in the UK in 1970 for women of childbearing age and school girls. Since then there have been than 800 babies born disabled as a result of their mothers catching rubella in the early stages of pregnancy. In the same period there have been over 6,500 rubella related terminations.

Since the triple MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988 in the UK there have been just 74 congenital rubella births and only 16 this century; the cases that are reported tend to be to women born abroad who were not immunised as children, and the women themselves have often acquired infection abroad.”

Yeah, deafness and blindness, no big deal. But he’ll say that it was good nutrition and hygiene since 1988 in the UK that have brought down these cases, making the vaccine only a happy coincidence. He really is that vile.

“Immunize vs. Vaccinate” from two perspectives

If you’ve read some of the mind-numbing comment posts about vaccination, you’ll will undoubtedly come across the following argument:

“Vaccination is not the same as immunization!”

That statement means different things to different people. To us scientists, it’s a “truism.” Vaccination is a way to immunize, so is a natural infectious process. Both may not immunize if the person getting the vaccine or the disease doesn’t react to the vaccine or the disease in a way that creates immunity. For example, there are plenty of people who are “non-responders” to the hepatitis B vaccine. That is, they don’t make detectable antibodies against hepatitis B when they go through the vaccination series. They’re not considered immune, but they are also not excluded from working in healthcare and other “risky” professions. Why? Because the jury is out as to whether or not non-responders are really not immune. That is, we don’t really know if they’ll be protected or not. But, by taking the vaccine series, they did the best they could to be protected, short of using personal protective equipment and universal precautions.

Continue reading

Someone doesn’t understand the difference between a virus and DNA

A virus is an infectious agent that can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. Did you read that? It is an infectious agent. It can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. A virus is also made up of DNA or RNA (genetic material) encapsulated in an envelope made up of protein or lipid (fat) or both. If a jelly-filled doughnut is a virus, then the dough is the envelope. The jelly is the genetic material. This doughnut would need to be put inside an over (host cells) to replicate. It wouldn’t be able to do it without that over.

Not only that, but the over would have to be a specific type of oven. See, the viruses that cause hepatitis only infect liver cells. The viruses that cause common colds only infect the respiratory pathway. The virus that causes AIDS? It only infects immune cells called T cells. They really are that specific.

Not only that, but viruses are species-specific. Viruses that infect one species need to adapt in order to infect another species. There are viruses all over you right now, and you’re perfectly healthy because they’re not adapted to infect you. However, they might bring death to, say, a cat. Yes, there are viruses like the flu which cross from species to another, but that spillover is not easy. (“Spillover” is also a book you should read.) Continue reading

At what point will someone call Shenanigans? (UPDATED)

I call Shenanigans! Well, not the restaurant, of course. I call shenanigans on this: (It’s a little long, so you can skip it and avoid the headache, or read and get a migraine.)

“My reasons for not vaccinating – what are yours?

Vaccine antigens cause a short term response as measured by antibody count (titer tests). The first problem we encounter is that, when tested after a few weeks those antibodies are, in most people, not present anymore. The next problem is that there is no study proving that a high antibody count actually protects from or prevents disease outside of the lab (real world). The third problem and major issue I have with vaccines is their effect on the immune system. In recent years science has learned that the human immune system is much more complicated than we thought. It is composed of two functional branches or compartments which may work together in a mutually cooperative way or in a mutually antagonistic way depending on the health of the individual.

One branch is the humoral immune system (or Th2 function) which primarily produces antibodies in the blood circulation as a sensing or recognizing function of the immune system to the presence of foreign antigens in the body. The other branch is the cellular or cell-mediated immune system (or Th1 function) which primarily destroys, digests and expels foreign antigens out of the body through the activity of its cells found in the thymus, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, lymph nodes and lymph system throughout the body. This process of destroying, digesting and discharging foreign antigens from the body is known as “the acute inflammatory response” and is often accompanied by the classic signs of inflammation: fever, pain, malaise and discharge of mucus, pus, skin rash or diarrhea.

These two functional branches of the immune system may be compared to the two functions in eating: tasting and recognizing the food on the one hand, and digesting the food and eliminating the food waste on the other hand. In the same way, the humoral or Th2 branch of the immune system “tastes” and recognizes and even remembers foreign antigens and the cellular or Th1 branch of the immune system digests and eliminates the foreign antigens from the body. But just as too much repeated tasting of food will ruin the appetite, so also too much repeated stimulation of the “tasting” humoral immune system by an antigen will inhibit and suppress the digesting and eliminating function of the cellular immune system. In other words, overstimulating antibody production can suppress the acute inflammatory response of the cellular immune system!

This explains the polar opposite relationship between acute discharging inflammations on the one hand and allergies and auto-immune inflammations on the other hand. The more a person has of one, the less he or she will have of the other!

A growing number of scientists believe that the increase in America, Europe, Australia and Japan in allergic and auto-immune diseases (which stimulate the humoral or Th2 branch of the immune system) is caused by the lack of stimulation of the cellular or the Th1 branch of the immune system from the lack of acute inflammatory responses and discharges in childhood. We need to identify the factors which cause this shift in the function of the immune system or which cause allergies and auto-immune diseases in childhood to increase!

If we now return to the original question of the mechanism of action of vaccinations, we find what I believe is the key to the puzzle. A vaccination consists of introducing a disease agent or disease antigen into an individual’s body without causing the disease. If the disease agent provoked the whole immune system into action it wouldcause all the symptoms of the disease! The symptoms of a disease are primarily the symptoms (fever, pain, malaise, loss of function) of the acute inflammatory response to the disease. 

So the trick of a vaccination is to stimulate the immune system just enough so that it makes antibodies and “remembers” the disease antigen but not so much that it provokes an acute inflammatory response by the cellular immune system and makes us sick with the disease we’re trying to prevent! Thus a vaccination works by stimulating very much the antibody production (Th2) and by stimulating very little or not at all the digesting and discharging function of the cellular immune system (Th1).

Vaccine antigens are designed to be “unprovocative” or “indigestible” for the cellular immune system (Th1) and highly stimulating for the antibody-mediated humoral immune system (Th2).

Perhaps it is not difficult to see then why the repeated use of vaccinations would tend to shift the functional balance of the immune system toward the antibody-producing side (Th2) and away from the acute inflammatory discharging side (the cell-mediated side or Th1). This has been confirmed by observation especially in the case of Gulf War Illness: most vaccinations cause a shift in immune function from the Th1 side (acute inflammatory discharging response) to the Th2 side (chronic auto-immune or allergic response).

The outcome of this line of thought is that, contrary to previous belief, vaccinations do not strengthen or “boost” the whole immune system. Instead vaccinations overstimulate the “tasting and remembering” function of the antibody-mediated branch of the immune system (Th2) which simultaneously suppresses the cellular immune system (Th1) thus “preventing” the disease in question. What in reality is prevented is not the disease but the ability of our cellular immune system to manifest, to respond to and overcome the disease. 

Those are my reasons for not vaccinating my children. What are yours?”

This is the guy I told you about before, the one who thinks that his daughter’s type I diabetes was caused by the hepatitis B vaccine she received months earlier, the one who thinks he did “academic research” in writing his book. He claims that he’s not anti-vaccine and that he just wants to inform the public so that the public can make their own decisions. “Inform,” I don’t believe that word means what he thinks it means because that whole bunch of drivel up there, all that stuff, it’s chock-full of misinformation.

“Vaccine antigens cause a short term response as measured by antibody count (titer tests). The first problem we encounter is that, when tested after a few weeks those antibodies are, in most people, not present anymore.”

Not so! Pregnant women are checked for immunity by testing their blood for antibodies (titer tests), measuring the immunoglobulin G levels. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) lasts for a very long time. If I take some blood from you now and do a protein electrophoresis on it (separation of proteins by weight), it will look just like this:

From left to right: Albumin, Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta, and Gamma globulins (proteins)
See the gamma globulins all the way on the right? They’re your antibodies. They’ll always be there unless you get sick, in which case you get an infusion of antibodies from a donor to keep you safe from infections. This guy is outright lying when he says that antibodies disappear. They don’t, and that’s why so many vaccines will give you long-lasting immunity.
He then dives into the whole “Th1 vs. Th2” thing, but he gets it completely wrong. Here’s what that system is all about: Th1 is about intracellular pathogens, like viruses. Th2 is about extracellular pathogens, like bacteria and fungi. But anti-vaccine people read that “Mercury depletes glutathione and polarizes toward Th2 dominance” and they went nuts over that. Mercury will do that to people. But there are reasons why this isn’t the case with vaccines.
First, the amount of mercury in vaccines was negligible before manufacturers removed all thimerosal (a mercury-containing compound much like salt is a chlorine-containing compound). Even when we do get thimerosal from a vaccine (usually the flu vaccine nowadays), the amount is negligible, and our bodies are really good at dealing with it. Again, it’s all in the chemistry. But, true to anti-vax ideology, this guy swallows the lie hook, line, and sinker, and it seems to me that he wants you to do the same.
But, hey, if you want to believe him, go ahead and spend hundreds of dollars on a lab test you probably don’t need.

“A growing number of scientists believe that the increase in America, Europe, Australia and Japan in allergic and auto-immune diseases (which stimulate the humoral or Th2 branch of the immune system) is caused by the lack of stimulation of the cellular or the Th1 branch of the immune system from the lack of acute inflammatory responses and discharges in childhood.”

I’d really like to meet these scientists and explain to them that the Th1 component really is being stimulated all the time because we’re under constant bombardment by viruses and other intracellular pathogens. Then again, I don’t think these scientists are a “growing number” of them. Rather, I suspect they are the few anti-vaccine “scientists” who like to claim things that aren’t.

“Thus a vaccination works by stimulating very much the antibody production (Th2) and by stimulating very little or not at all the digesting and discharging function of the cellular immune system (Th1).”

This is how I know this guy knows absolutely nothing about immunology. See, when an antigen is introduced into your body — an antigen that shouldn’t be there — macrophages eat that antigen and then present it to your T helper (the “Th”) cells. So, as you can see, the immune system is involved in everything from antigen response through absorption, digestion, and presentation to T helper cells; to B cells, cells that are not even part of the Th system. It is complex, and that’s why he’s getting it all wrong… All of it! It’s as if he can’t read Wikipedia or something.

“Vaccine antigens are designed to be “unprovocative” or “indigestible” for the cellular immune system (Th1) and highly stimulating for the antibody-mediated humoral immune system (Th2).”

What?! Read this and pay attention to this part on the first page:

“Most antigens and vaccines trigger both B and T cell responses, such that there is no rationale in opposing antibody production (‘humoral immunity’) and T cell responses (‘cellular immunity’). In addition, CD4+ T cells are required for most antibody responses, while antibodies exert significant influences on T cell responses to intracellular pathogens.”

The more he posts on his Facebook page, the more I’m convinced he’s one chicken McNugget short of a Happy Meal®.

UPDATE: A reader of the blog asked me to correct/clarify some things. So I did. I’ve bolded them. Also, he posted this on Facebook to counter the anti-vaccine activist’s rant:

Click to enlarge.

I bet it gets deleted because it’s full of truth.

Another day, another anti-vaccine book

Lately, I’ve been tangoing online with this man. He wrote this book. Here is the book description. It’s a little long, and I’m going to deconstruct it (hence my emphasis in bold in some parts), so I won’t hold it against you if you don’t read it all:

“Using a highly personal approach, [book title] educates parents about the scientifically-documented risks involved in vaccination. Author [name] speaks from traumatic personal experience, as the father of a vaccine-injured child. His daughter developed type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, at the age of three-and-a-half-years old. After much research in scientific journals and federal databases, he has concluded that a Hepatitis B vaccine, administered shortly after her birth, is to blame. “You don’t have to play the lottery with your children’s life, hoping nothing goes wrong when they are injected with the potentially lethal neurotoxins routinely included in vaccines,” writes [the author]. “This book provides you with a review of the medical and scientific literature surrounding vaccination risks as well as personal stories from those whose lives have been touched by vaccine-related injuries.” According to the author’s research, tens of thousands of children are severely injured, or in some cases, killed by their exposure to vaccines. Targeting parents and health professionals, [book title] draws on verifiable databases and peer-reviewed research to make its controversial claims. [The author] is aware that many will try to discredit his work, given that he is not a doctor or a scientist. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education, he is equipped to analyze scientific claims of experienced researchers who have been investigating the connections and correlations between vaccinations and the development of childhood autoimmune disorders, such as type-1 diabetes. Through his academic research, he has discovered that vaccines pose an ongoing danger to our children. [The author’s] book is a good choice read before doctors and nurses approach your family and newborn bundle of joy with a vaccination injector in hand. What lies inside the hypodermic needle is a potential mix of neurotoxins and other reactive chemical preservatives that will challenge an infant’s fragile immune system to its core. As the author reminds the readers, most parents wouldn’t take a chance on a car seat or formula without first consulting the literature or their friends. Yet when we cede ultimate authority over vaccinations to our pediatrician, we throw a far more consequential decision into another’s hands without having personally done the requisite research. This book will help parents make a proactive, informed choice no matter what their ultimate decision may end up being. “Only parents whose children have been harmed by a vaccine, or who know children who have been harmed by a vaccine, tend to research the topic of vaccine safety and effectiveness on their own,” writes [author]. “I am one of those parents.” Drawing on his research and his anger over his daughter’s illness, the author writes with passion about a topic of vital interest to families everywhere. Cogent and comprehensive, [book title] will transform your understanding of vaccines and pediatric medicine alike.”

Now, one of the personal attacks that the author has launched against myself and others is that we have not read his book. He’s right with regards to me. I have not read his book. I will not read his book. You’d have to put me in a FEMA concentration camp before I’d read his book. Why won’t I read his book? Because his own statements, along with the description of his book up there, tell me enough. They tell me that he is ignorant about science, that he holds an unbalanced, highly anti-vaccine stance, and that he thinks less of anyone who opposes him.

Here are some snippets of what he’s posted on Facebook. I’d post the links, but he tends to delete postings when enough refutations are posted to his assertions.

Too bad tens of children this flu season have not had the chance that he did. But, hey, as long as they didn’t get a vaccine injury, right?
There is no evidence in any academic or peer-reviewed studies that the flu vaccine compromises the immune system. But we’re supposed to believe that he did research?
Gives equal weight to comments on CNN’s website and medical research. Seems legit. (It’s “complement”, by the way, unless Dr. Buchwald read that comment and gave it a flattering review. But I’m not a published author. Or am I?)
Read that carefully: “I also believe that we as parents have been equipped with an instinct that supersedes science.”

And then he posts this about a recent ruling that anti-vaccine groups have been misrepresenting:

Never mind that there was never an autism diagnosis in that child. But he doesn’t let facts get in the way.

But enough of what he’s written to seal the idea that he’s anti-science all the way around. Let’s move on to the description of his [expletive deleted] book.

“Using a highly personal approach, [book title] educates parents about the scientifically-documented risks involved in vaccination.”

One of the first things you need to do if you’re going to research something about science is to let go of the personal aims of your research. Otherwise, you fall into what we call “confirmation bias“, a tendency to only look at information, data, evidence that backs up your claims, ignoring everything else. We’re all guilty of it as human beings, but we in the world of science and public health have to be more careful than that. If we let confirmation bias get in the way, the consequences can be very, very serious. In this man’s case, however, letting confirmation bias get in the way only guarantees a “great” book for the anti-vaccine forces to tout.

“Author [name] speaks from traumatic personal experience, as the father of a vaccine-injured child. His daughter developed type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, at the age of three-and-a-half-years old. After much research in scientific journals and federal databases, he has concluded that a Hepatitis B vaccine, administered shortly after her birth, is to blame.”

And so we get to find out why he’s so against vaccines. He blames the hepatitis B vaccine given to his daughter as the causative agent of his daughter’s type I diabetes. Remember what I just wrote about making it personal. One has to wonder if he blamed the vaccine before or after he did his “academic research”?

” “You don’t have to play the lottery with your children’s life, hoping nothing goes wrong when they are injected with the potentially lethal neurotoxins routinely included in vaccines,” writes [the author].”

Ah, the time-honored toxins gambit. You’d think that, in all that research, he would have researched some toxicology and find out that the “potentially lethal neurotoxins included in vaccines” are included at concentrations that make them neither “potentially lethal” nor “neurotoxins”. It’s like saying that chlorine gas is a chemical weapon, and that table salt, which is half chlorine, is also a chemical weapon. It’s all in the chemistry.

“[The author] is aware that many will try to discredit his work, given that he is not a doctor or a scientist. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education, he is equipped to analyze scientific claims of experienced researchers who have been investigating the connections and correlations between vaccinations and the development of childhood autoimmune disorders, such as type-1 diabetes.”

He’s right. His work needs to be discredited, but I’m not here discrediting it on his academic credentials. I’m here discrediting it based on the conclusions he came up with, what he’s been stating on public postings, and what his own book description reads. There have never been and will never be any studies linking type I diabetes to vaccines, because it just doesn’t work that way. Vaccines don’t screw with your immune system, they boost it. If your own immune system was wacky from the get-go, that’s a completely different thing.

“What lies inside the hypodermic needle is a potential mix of neurotoxins and other reactive chemical preservatives that will challenge an infant’s fragile immune system to its core.”

Here’s another example that the author has no clue what he is writing about. A hypodermic needle? Not all vaccines are injected, and not all injected vaccines use hypodermic (under the skin) needles. Some, like the MMR, require an intramuscular needle. But it’s the imagery of a needle that always brings fears to parents and children alike. No one likes seeing their child look like a pin cushion, even though the current schedule of vaccines in the United States is safe.

“As the author reminds the readers, most parents wouldn’t take a chance on a car seat or formula without first consulting the literature or their friends. Yet when we cede ultimate authority over vaccinations to our pediatrician, we throw a far more consequential decision into another’s hands without having personally done the requisite research.”

This also gives us a big clue on why he is writing this book. He wants to assert himself as an authority more knowledgeable than a medical doctor. Who knows why? He mentioned something about “instinct” and “gut feelings” in our conversations on Facebook.

“Drawing on his research and his anger over his daughter’s illness, the author writes with passion about a topic of vital interest to families everywhere. Cogent and comprehensive, [book title] will transform your understanding of vaccines and pediatric medicine alike.”

Ah, the cherry on top. The author draws on his anger to make do the research and to reach the conclusions that he does. I’ve rarely seen a better case study in confirmation bias. Scratch that, I have, all the time.

One last morsel of what this guy is all about. Hint: He’s not about science. It’s not about his “academic research”. It’s about public opinion:

Read his last sentence slowly, then think about it.

So, no, I won’t be buying this book or any other books by this author. It is clear from his Facebook page that he is very angry that he has to be bothered with a sick child, that he needs someone to pay for that wrong done to him, and that vaccines, the government, and pharmaceutical companies are the best scapegoats he can find. It is even clearer that he doesn’t give a hoot about science or evidence, or any of those things that make something real in this world. No, he cares only about public opinion.

He’s the guy in high school who flunked his courses but made prom king, basically.

Also, I hear from people who’ve read his book that it reads like it was drafted by a “kindergartner high on acid.”

Vaccine apologetics?

I don’t usually associate apologetics with scientific concepts. I associate them with religious things. Often, you have people on the radio or on television, defending their faith. I don’t blame them nor find any fault with this. For things that are untestable, apologetics is a good way to defend beliefs. For science, we have evidence. You either believe the evidence or you don’t. If you don’t believe in something that is tangible, testable, and objective, then you’re a denialist.

Denialists are scarier to me than apologists because these are people who are presented with actual, verifiable evidence of scientific claims, and they still find it in themselves to deny the evidence and continue to live in their own world. One such denialist showed up on “The Poxes” and commented on the “Measles” chapter. Here is what the denialist wrote:

Click to enlarge, of course.
The denialist was responding to this passage in that chapter:

“It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that a highly effective vaccine was developed and launched all over the world. The number of cases dropped precipitously to almost nothing in many parts of the world. While deaths had been avoided through better medical care once someone was infected, outbreaks still occurred in great numbers right up until the time when the vaccination level reached 90%, then outbreaks were halted because of herd immunity.”

That part of that chapter was not fiction. It is true that the advent of the measles vaccine in the 1960’s brought about the decline of measles cases and measles outbreaks in the United States. There were no huge leaps in food preparation, food hygiene, sewer systems, or hand washing in the 1960’s. Those things were well in place before the 1960’s, and they did squat to stop the spread of measles. Here’s the number of cases per year of measles:

Here is a graph with more information:

Can you see when measles cases dropped precipitously? When did we start having sewers or washing our hands in the United States? Sometime around the 1960’s? Nope.

The reason why improvements in hygiene and food preparation don’t do anything against infections like measles, rubella (German measles), or chickenpox, is that these infections are transmitted through droplets suspended in the air. You can scrub down a room until you can eat off the floor and still have measles suspended in the air if a person infectious with measles had been there a few hours earlier. You can hermetically seal all food, water, and waste, and these viruses would still linger in the air.

The best infection prevention against measles is to cycle the air in a room through a filter or let the room stand unoccupied for several hours and then scrub it down once the droplets settle onto surfaces. The thing is, you wouldn’t know that these droplets were there because they’re microscopic. Furthermore, someone with measles is infectious a few days before they get any symptoms. So you could very well have a healthy person walk into a room and contaminate the hell out of it.

I’m willing to give the denialist the benefit of the doubt and say that they have not “done their research” on measles, hence the misunderstanding. But this is another comment this person left for me on a blog post about the flu vaccine:

Click to enlarge, won’t you?

This person is not dumb. They’ve done “research”. They just refuse to see the evidence. (Of course, that Cochrane Collaboration did not find anything like that. The denialist is reading into it what the denialist wants to see.)

So, no, I’m not apologizing for vaccines. I don’t need to. The evidence is there. It is clear. It is testable. It is objective. Let whoever has ears (and eyes and intelligence) to understand the evidence listen and learn and help us move forward as a species.