11/03/2009

Fighting the Right Fight at the Right Time: Calling out Misinformation

"We didn't start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world's been turning

We didn't start the fire

No we didn't light it

But we tried to fight it"
Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start the Fire"


I call it. You use the censure gambit, you better be able to back it up with proof. I'm going to show in this blog why it's wrong. Maybe you were relying on what others you trusted had told you. But I'm saying now, showing here, it's bunk. I've spent the last several months showing where AoA gets it wrong. I wasn't here first, though. Others have been fighting this much longer. Fighting woo. Fighting pseudoscience. Fighting ignorance. Fighting paranoia. And fighting back against bullies.

It can be hard to stand, hard to fight. But ignorance and paranoia have been around since the beginning and the anti-vaxxing thing is based on just those two precepts. It is. This idea that vaccines are worse than the diseases they protect against is bunk. And it's enough. Woo sells and it sells big. I don't get it, but I get that it needs to be stood up to. So, here I am. Doing my part. Yes, it gets me out of studying the muscular system, so I'm biased. I need a break from homework. And I do so love tilting at windmills.

One of the things that the anti-vaxxers and those unfortunate people who get hoodwinked by the AoA/GenRes/whale.to organizations trot out on a regular basis is the allegation that Dr. Paul Offit was censured or reprimanded by Congress. They do their flat-out best to make it appear that both houses of Congress got together and cast a vote to censure Offit for various conflicts of interest.

This is most assuredly not the case. They tout: “In August 2000, the Committee on Government Reform of the US Congress issued a highly critical document called Conflict of Interest in Vaccine Policy Making. Dr. Offit was reprimanded by Congress and his actions were a primary focus of the report” (http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/05/dr-paul-offit-q.html).

They don’t link to the report and they offer no evidence that Offit was in fact reprimanded by Congress. Digging through the interwebz finds plenty of anti-vaxxer sites, and oh gag me the conspiracy theory-holocaust-denial mecca, whale.to, are all over this mega-major report (whale-to has a copy—can’t find it anywhere else, though).

So, it’s there, right, when you go the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s website and go through their 2000 archives? I mean, it was highly critical, it was a big deal, right? Some guy named Berger even quotes it over at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/03/rising-vaccine.html. Nope. Not there.

I love that if you google Conflict of Interest in Vaccine Policy Making that the number one hit is whale.to. They’ve got this all important document, but the actual government committee that supposedly sponsored it doesn’t have it? At all? You go all over that website and its archives and this is what you find: http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=763. This all important report that the anti-vaxxers trip over themselves to prove that Offit is tainted isn’t there, wasn’t issued by the committee.

And what’s even worse is that if you actually read the document on whale.to, it isn’t damning to Offit. He isn’t censured in it. He isn’t reprimanded. Seriously. His name comes up nine times.

Here they are in order:

“b. Dr. Paul Offit (Exhibits 38-41)

Dr. Offit shares the patent on the Rotavirus vaccine in development by Merck and lists a $350,000 grant from Merck for Rotavirus vaccine development. Also, he lists that he is a consultant to Merck.

Dr. Offit began his tenure on ACIP in October of 1998. Out of four votes pertaining to the ACIP’s rotavirus statement he voted “yes” three times, including, voting for the inclusion of the rotavirus vaccine in the VFC program.

Dr. Offit abstained from voting on the ACIP’s rescission of the recommendation of the rotavirus vaccine for routine use. He stated at the meeting, “I’m not conflicted with Wyeth, but because I consult with Merck on the development of rotavirus vaccine, I would still prefer to abstain because it creates a perception of conflict.”[lxvii]”

“C. Timeline for Vaccine Approval and Universal Use Recommendation


Date

Individual or Organization

Action

August 1, 1987

Wyeth Lederle

Filed Investigational New Drug (IND) Application to the FDA

December 9, 1994

Fred Clark, Paul Offit, Stanley Plotkin (Inventors); Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology and Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (Assignees)

Filed U.S. Patent for Rotavirus reassortant vaccine. Application number 353547

June 1, 1995

Fred Clark, Paul Offit, Stanley Plotkin (Inventors); Wistar Institute of Anatomy & Biology and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Assignees)

Filed U.S. Patent for rotavirus reassortant vaccine. Application number 456906

May 6, 1997

Fred Clark, Paul Offit, Stanley Plotkin (Inventors); Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology and Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (Assignees)

Awarded U.S. Patent # 5,626,851 for Rotavirus Reassortant vaccine.

December 12, 1997”



“c. Dr. Paul Offit

Dr. Offit lists that he is a consultant to Merck on an attachment to his OGE 450, but does not disclose whether or not he received any remuneration for his services. (Exhibit 39)”


That is the extent of Offit’s mention in this supposedly damning document that censures or reprimands him. That’s it. Seriously.


And from Anne in the comments section:

Dr. Offit wasn't reprimanded by Congress. What happened was that the Committee on Government Reform held a hearing on June 15, 2000, on "Conflicts of Interest and Vaccine Development." Congressman Dan Burton showed up with a report prepared by his staff, and that is the report that whale.to has on its site. The report was not made a part of the public record of the hearing. The only one who was reprimanded was Dan Burton, at the hearing, when Congressman Henry Waxman censured Burton for making unsubstantiated allegations and smearing people's reputations. You can read the transcript of the hearing here: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgidbname=106_house_hearings&docid=f:73042.pdf


So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t take anti-vaxxers’ bitching about Offit seriously. One, they get their talking points and accept them blindly, without even actually reading the supposedly damning documents. Two, whale.to. Seriously. How many times do I have to say you lose any and all credibility if you think that site is anything other than a wackaloonfest. Three, get over Offit. You’re pissed because someone has the balls to stand up to a small but nasty group of people who think it is appropriate to threaten the lives of the people who stand up to the small but nasty group and dismiss, based on the scientific evidence at hand that, the idea that thimerosal or MMR are implicated in autism. Plus, you appear to think acceptable writing that women reporters who report on the danger the anti-vaxxers pose society must have been raped or drunk the kool-aid by the bucketful.

Age of Autism is run by bullies, by people who think intimidation and threats are the way to push people into, what exactly was their goal, again? That’s right, Olmsted wrote that it was to “follow the truth wherever it leads” (http://www.ageofautism.com/a-welcome-from-dan-olmste.html). Maybe their original goal was noble. Maybe. I wasn’t reading when they started it back in the summer of 2007. I guarantee you, though, that since March of 2009 when I started reading it, it’s slipped further into the muck and mud. Sheoples, trolls, sticky blood, monkey virus, lyme disease, hep B, Dtap, adjuvants, squalene, viruses as false pandemics, and anything they can find that looks like they can blame on vaccines. Fake dystonia, anyone? Oh, and the new age of martyr parents and can I get an MB12 Pop, please?

**Please note that the you is a generic you and not specifically addressed to one individual.**

9 comments:

Heraldblog said...

Damn you and your facts and research!

Please don't stop. ; -)

kathleen said...

Well said Kim,
I stay away from AoA because they lie-and I wonder, just what is their agenda-really? As Craig so aptly said in the last post.."profit above health" I would love to see where they get their funding from?

Corina Becker said...

Thanks Kim, I now have that song stuck in my head....


and wait? sticky blood?


I really don't want to go poking over there, not when I have two assignments (yay, "crunch time" in school!) due next Monday and company coming this week, and I know I'll get onto something if I go over there to see whether I can get answers, but I've been wondering, what exactly IS an MB12 Pop? some sort of Chelating soft drink or lollipop?

KWombles said...

Yes, sticky blood as a cause.

MB 12 pops are a special, more effectively absorbed B 12 that are in lollipop form, for about a dollar a lollipop. Absolutely no clinical evidence they do anything other than cost you money.

Hey, I've had "Another one bites the dust" stuck in my head on repeat for a solid week now. :-) Trade ya.

Anne said...

Dr. Offit wasn't reprimanded by Congress. What happened was that the Committee on Government Reform held a hearing on June 15, 2000, on "Conflicts of Interest and Vaccine Development." Congressman Dan Burton showed up with a report prepared by his staff, and that is the report that whale.to has on its site. The report was not made a part of the public record of the hearing. The only one who was reprimanded was Dan Burton, at the hearing, when Congressman Henry Waxman censured Burton for making unsubstantiated allegations and smearing people's reputations. You can read the transcript of the hearing here: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_house_hearings&docid=f:73042.pdf

KWombles said...

Anne, excellent! Thank you for adding the info. I'm going to copy and paste it into the main text.

Anyone else with good information to add? I did this in an hour of free time yesterday (okay, I did it instead of studying, so it wasn't really free). There has to be more.

Any time readers have some good info to counter misinformation, please pass it on to me; I'll add it here and catalog it so that it's easy to find; then when someone trots out a falsehood, we trot out a link back. :-)

Margaret Romao Toigo said...

The June 15, 2000 Hearing Before The Committee on Government Reform was the hearing at which Congressman Dan Burton made all sorts of baseless accusations and was publicly admonished and reprimanded, by Congressman Henry Waxman, for trying to pass off innuendo and conspiracist hogwash as "proof" of impropriety.

From page 19 of the pdf document, or page 15 of the original:

"If indeed a real threat to objective decisionmaking by our health agencies is identified during these hearings, I will call for a full investigation, as I have done in the past. I know that conflicts can be dangerous, not only because of the possibility that a financial interest could exert undue influence on critical policy decisions, but also because they can lead to loss of public confidence in the system.

"But there’s a right way and a wrong way to investigate conflicts of interest. The right way is to investigate first and then reach conclusions later. The wrong way is to accuse first and then investigate later. Unfortunately, our chairman has a propensity to investigate in the wrong way, not just in this issue, but in other issues. He has made unsubstantiated allegations that smear people’s reputations but turn out to have no basis in fact.

"The chairman made his latest allegation last Sunday on Meet the Press. On national TV, he accused the President, the Vice President and the Attorney General of obstruction of justice and other crimes. But when he was asked to provide evidence to back up these accusations, the chairman refused, stating, ‘I can’t give you the specifics of it right now.'

"My fear is that the chairman has reached a predetermined conclusion that vaccines are dangerous. It is difficult for him to persuade others to agree with his conclusion because it is so far out of the scientific and medical mainstream. But rather than accept the fact that he may be wrong, the chairman has decided that those who disagree with him must be part of a drug company conspiracy."


http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_house_hearings&docid=f:73042.pdf

Squillo said...

If you read the entire document, you see that Waxman hit it bang on.

Burton continually tried to badger the FDA/CDC and ethics officials into testifying that COIs were not handled appropriately, and that the public should mistrust the groups in question. It's no surprise that, when faced with testimony that didn't support his foregone conclusions, he resorted to appeals to emotion based on his grandchild's autism and the children who suffered intussuceptions subsequent to RotaShield vaccination.

Burton tipped his hand when he complained "that the CDC’s advisory committee has no public mem-
bers, no parents have a vote in whether or not a vaccine belongs on the childhood immunization schedule."

Are/were none of the advisory committee members parents? And what special knowledge about vaccines, vaccine safety or publich health does parenthood itself confer?

Heraldblog said...

It's a shame that so many caring parents have been played by Generation Rescue.