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.”


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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.

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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