A Study in Contrasts

There exists a huge divide between the scientific community and a subpopulation of the autism community as represented by Age of Autism and its avid acolytes. Nothing better represents this than a rant today by Kathy Blanco in the comments section of JB Handley’s roundly-offensive piece “Alison Singer Mispeaks at Yale: Flaming Moron or a Flaming Liar?” and an editorial in Vaccine by Dr. Gregory Poland and Dr. Ray Spier.

I’ll let the writers of the two pieces speak for themselves (what follows behind each author(s)' names are their own words verbatim):

Blanco: I think the pharmaceutical companies are doing everything within their power to fund nonsense research, cover their tracks so to speak, so no one, and anyone, can't find out etiologies to this "static" encephalpathy called autism.

Poland and Spier: On February 2, 2010, the Lancet officially retracted the 1998 Wakefield paper proposing a connection between receipt of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism [1]. Prior to this, most of the co-authors on this paper had removed their names from the work – recognizing the work as flawed. In addition, the UK General Medical Council concluded that Wakefield had “shown callous disregard”, “abused his position of trust”, and acted in dishonest, misleading, and irresponsible ways in the conduct and report of this study.

Blanco: Then by the next generation, if they drug up the moms/dads and babies just enough, they won't have to "explain" themselves, or will explain that...see...autism still happens without a vaccine. (remember push the epidemiological research and small cohort studies allison because that is key to putting "your truth" out on UPI news releases)....

Poland and Spier: Unfortunately, Wakefield had surprising success in shaping a generation of parent’s attitudes towards MMR vaccine in particular, and vaccines in general. Rarely does a research paper make so many headlines or have such large population effects on human behavior. The UK and US press quickly reported, headlined and sensationalized this report and its claims – repeatedly – over years.

Blanco: By that time, we shall all be sufficiently oxidatively stressed by our food supply, or other lovely chemicals and pesticides and heavy metals, that we won't be able to pinpoint the source of the problems. It will be so multifacited/intricate, that autism would have to be a recipe/lasagna layers of damage at key developmental times, not a one thing only etiology (oh wait, that's already happening).

Poland and Spier: The public received such information uncritically and many of them, particularly those who were parents of autistic children, accepted the theory of an association between vaccination with MMR and autism. Celebrities promoted the findings as fact, and were given a bully pulpit and an aura of legitimacy by the press and other celebrities. Autism advocacy groups latched onto the study and onto Wakefield as a way of providing visibility and justification to their cause. Public health authorities stumbled in responding poorly and immediately to the issue.

Blanco: By then, XMRV/lyme/viral and even STD like viruses and bacteria will be so infiltrated throughout the population, that children will be born infected and then when vaccinated replicates the virus, and normal will be autism and adhd and minimal brain dysfunction.

Poland and Spier: The result was a tragic, heart-breaking, and embarrassing public health tragedy hard to fathom in the late 20th and early 21st century of rational thought. Fearful, mistrustful, and uncritical parents began delaying and then refusing MMR vaccines. Some took the view that the trivalent vaccine was the problem and opted for immunization with monovalent vaccines. Others did not return for second doses, leaving their children with less than effective levels of protection.

Blanco: Normal will be kids getting leukemia right from the get go, and normal will be anaphylaxis to peanuts and other food allergies. Normal will be insulin shots and kids gasping for air due to asthma. Normal will be horrendous ear infections to point of deafness and every DSM thing in the book. Normal will be a huge rise in SIDS, and good luck if you even get pregnant, and if you did you did fertility treatments that "cause" autism.

Poland and Spier: Predictably, a sufficient susceptible population developed and outbreaks of these previously controlled diseases occurred in the US and the UK. Children were injured, hospitalized, and most tragically, died. Tens of millions of dollars were wasted on repeated research studies to refute Wakefield’s contention of an association between MMR vaccination and the development of autism. Time and attention were directed away from rational, scientific pursuit of more reliable and probable cause(s) of autism and toward a fatally flawed notion.

Blanco: By then Allison, you will have plenty of money in the coffers to send out to scientists attached at the hip to pharma and their agendas (aka psychotic drugs, or keep my job in research), so that we can drug up enough autistic kids, and make autism seem to hopeless, that people will actually start blaming themselves for their bad genes (oh wait, that is happening too)...

Poland and Spier: How could this have happened? In one sense it was a “collusion of co-belligerents”, unable to critically evaluate the evidence, place it into context, and appropriately respond with the best interests of the public health at heart. Some observations in this regard follow:

Blanco: Allison...all I can say is this. Your work and your minions have no power over the truth that WILL come to bare. The truth is, autism is complex, but it's not so complex and mysterious that we can't do something about it NOW.

Poland and Spier: 1. George Santayana is proved right again. Lessons from a mere 20 years earlier when pertussis vaccine was claimed to cause SIDS, and later debunked, were never learned, and hence doomed to be repeated again.

Blanco: I think most of our kids need antiretrovirals, antivirals, antiinflammatories, antifungals/biotics, good diets with good supplements, hyperbaric, detox, etc. This almost always yields results.

Poland and Spier: 2. Sadly, we have moved from evidenced-based, to media- and celebrity-based medicine. It is apparent that some elements of the press are unable to balance reporting, risk communication, and ethics. In this instance, some have significantly tarnished their own image, and lost the trust of those they say they serve.

Blanco: If that is the case, why haven't we seen more research on these interventions and why we need them? Because it would pinpoint the source, and typically the source comes back to infections, and toxins on metabolically stressed human beings.

Poland and Spier: Serious thought should be given by the public as to whether the press can self-police their own conflict of selling their product and sensationalizing poor science – and if not, recognized as such, and remedies put into place. Freedom of speech and of the press is to be preserved – but this was clearly the equivalent of crying “fire!” in a crowded theatre. The result is that many people were and will continue to be harmed. This is not and should not, be acceptable and raises issues of liability. There may be a restoration of some of the tarnished reputation of those in the press who persistently and relentlessly supported and promoted the unreliable relationship between the vaccine and autism if they were to publicly acknowledge the error of their judgments and publish (if their Editor’s allow) a full “Mea Culpa” and reaffirm their commitment to public wellbeing by committing themselves to presenting information that impacts the public health more responsibly.

Blanco: These implicate the vaccine industry, lack of oversight over our blood supply, the food industry, the toxic and chemical industries, the dental and medical associations, the maternity clinics,the government themselves (I won't go there with conspiracy, but there is plenty of it there) you name it, a large swoth of industry that can ill afford being "found out" and paying for their sins for millions of damaged goods.

Poland and Spier: 3. Autism advocacy groups and vocal parents share a significant and disproportionate blame for wasted time, money, and damage to children and the public health by their unyielding support and zealous adoption and promotion of Wakefield and his study results – despite a mountain of scientific evidence to the contrary. Indeed, as responsible researchers, in a variety of ways and with repeated studies, sought to reassure parents and family members of those with autism with science-based evidence that vaccines did not cause autism – many scientists were verbally and publicly attacked and harassed in the most uncivil manner.
This is inexcusable and seriously diminishes the credibility of such organizations and individuals. Deep self-reflection would be appropriate.

Blanco: This is almost/is a national security issue, an economic collapse that would pale in what we just experienced. But the one thing I can't understand, is how the government can justify seeing this many damaged human beings, and knowing that if not treated, these human beings, will need lifelong supports, monies that we don't have in our coffers at SSI? What is the motivation?

Poland and Spier: 4. An innumerate (the inability to use and understand numbers and mathematical concepts) press and public resonated with one another. An innumerate person or organization uses such phrases as “I don’t care what the data show. . .I believe. . .”. The answer to innumeracy is a slow and long-term one – better scientific and public education. Absent such remedies, more tragedy will follow when the next sensational headlines appear.

Blanco: I have often felt the number one motivation is to cull the population. How many of our kids later go on to marry and procreate? Exactly people!

Poland and Spier: 5. A response from public health authorities that was “too little, too
late” and was characterized by low information content, scientific jargon, and lack of innovative social communication delivery methods. As a result, clear, actionable messages were drowned out and not heard by the public.

Blanco: This is an agenda, a chemical castration of the brain on the masses. How can we knowingly put rat poison in our water, BPA in our bodies originally a drug in the fifties in all cans we consume, MSG/Aspartame to make our brains full of glutamate primning us for further damage by vaccine, and lastly, vaccinate with foreign dna, which changes the actual makeup of cells and who we are?

Poland and Spier: 6. Elements of the press and public ready to immediately embrace conspiratorial theories. At one meeting I attended an antivaccine activist was asked the question “do you really believe that everyone in the CDC, FDA, NIH, pharmaceutical companies, and all the academic researchers have pulled off a giant conspiracy to hide the truth about vaccines and autism from you?” The answer, without flinching (or apparent thoughtfulness), was “absolutely.” Such individuals and the organizations they represent do not desire nor respond to the data and weight of scientific evidence. Hence, they are not part of the solution, and are innumerates, swayed by emotion, anecdote, and perhaps conflicts of interest in keeping their own organizations and beliefs alive and intact. Evidence for this has and will continue to emerge as these entities portray Wakefield as a martyr, rather than as fatally flawed in his approach. Such organizations and individuals should be distinguished from those with genuine questions and requests for data and evidence.

Blanco: Plueez, don't insult me Allison. Your works are showing...by their works, ye shall know them...and from what I have seen, your "work" has to me been...burying the information that could cure and alleviate our children from this manmade disorder Autism will never speak for you.

Poland and Spier: Will we learn any persistent lessons from this fiasco? We have not learned from similar episodes in the recent and distant past, and we doubt it will be long before another “vaccine and some bad disease or outcome” theory is again proposed. And the cycle will repeat itself, again and again – while children and the public health suffer.

Blanco: God help your children and those parents who "still" listen to your rants and rages. And by the way, my science is solid. I recommend the following Allison, go get yourself tested for XMRV, because clearly you have CFS brain fog, depression, and get yourself on some antivirals, possibly antidepressants pronto.

Poland and Spier: Are there any antidotes? We cannot propose any panacea, but rather steps to take us in the right direction. Questions about vaccine safety and efficacy can and should be freely raised – after all the goal is vaccine safety. Immediate attempts to investigate biologically plausible theories can often be rapidly examined using retrospective methods on large population-based databases, and passive reporting mechanisms (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System; VAERS) as is done in the US and elsewhere. If a safety signal is detected, basic and clinical (case-control, ecologic and prospective) studies can and should be quickly funded, carried out, and results widely disseminated. The latter point is fundamental.

Blanco: Your bags on your eyes, indicate deep and entrenched food allergies, if not hemachromatosis. While your at it, test your kids..oh wait, you think that is voodoo blog science and you only do genetic testing, well good for you....ok, go ahead...just be you...just keep on making a fool or yourself, while we get our kids better..because "they didn't have autism in the first place", and they are all due to bad genes....right...

Poland and Spier: Vaccine safety research deserves more visibility and funding than it receives in the US and EU if legitimate public concerns are to be answered with credible data, and every effort – contingent with cost-efficacy considerations – should be made to insure that vaccines are safe and study results readily communicated to providers and the public. A critical new approach to vaccine safety research is that of vaccinomics and adversomics such that safety signals currently on the far fringe of, or outside of, traditional detection can be identified, and risk:benefit decisions personalized [2,3]. In addition, coordinated and winsome public health responses should occur using innovative delivery methods appropriate to the audience – including vigorous debunking of sensationalist media reports and acknowledging the limits of the data.

Blanco: Has anyone eluciedated to you epigenetic? Environmental gene interaction, or even environmental viruses and gene interaction? Oh wait, I am stupid and I don't know what I am talking about...right...

Poland and Spier: One and only one principle should characterize all actions and discussions in this regard – truthfulness and credibility via full transparency that evokes the trust of the public MUST be the one and only goal.

Blanco: Get a clue Allison. Get a clue big and mighty pharma, we don't listen to you anymore! Get a clue, we will fund our own science and publish it. Get a clue, we are SOO on to you! Oh wait, you do know we are on to you, thusly, why you protest too much.

Poland and Spier: Thus one sad chapter in public health and vaccinology closes and we learn some hard realities. MMR vaccines do not cause autism. Ignorance and hype do not either, but are significant barriers to discovering truth and the causes and effective treatments for autism. Let’s all do better as we move ahead. The health of us all depends upon it.

Blanco: Oh wait, you bought off the media to tell your lies..oh wait..welcome to our lovely AMERICA, the land of the hopeless, drugged, believing sheeple and are not free. No wonder the Bible predicts the undoing of our own selves will be by our own hands.

Poland, G., & Spier, R. (2010, March 11). Fear, misinformation, and innumerates: How the Wakefield paper, the press, and advocacy groups damaged the public health. Vaccine, pp. 2361-2362. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.02.052.


David N. Brown said...

Multiple irony meter blowouts. Most egregious: the reference to "chemical castration", when anti-vaxxers are the ones who used it frivolously.

I also find much irony in the "Hairy Biped's" headline, compared to AoA's attempt to equate my proposal that they had posted a forged document with a direct accusation that AoA was directly responsible for a forgery.

Science Mom said...

Great job Kim. The rabid, conspiratorial, paranoid, melodramatic tenor of Blanco et al.'s posts is irrefutably, desperation. While I really do feel sorry for them, I can't help but think how they are merely influencing any newcomers or fence-sitters far away from their mission.

Their ad hominem attack on Dr. Singer, rather than calmly and rationally addressing the issues that she raised is quintessential AoA, desperate rhetoric. It speaks only to the quality of their following, which while getting louder, can only be dwindling as they get pushed further and further into the fringe where they belong.

Diana said...

"We will fund our own science and publish it."

Great. Maybe AoA would be better off directing its funds to such endeavors than full-page ads, attempts to sponsor fruitless legislation, or conducting unpublishable surveys that they try to pass off as science.

Sullivan said...

"We will fund our own science and publish it."

That's what they've been doing for some time. It hasn't helped their arguments at all.

Roger Kulp said...

As someone who,in the last few months,has been able to figure out the cause of their own autism, regressions,developmental and medical issues,I have only begun to truly see the scope of the horror that AoA,GR,and the rest have unleashed on society.

MTHFR is the key,all babies should be tested at birth.A lot of autistics have multiple mutations. MTHFR mutations can cause neurological autoimmune sydromes,which could easily explain vaccine-induced regression.Folate deficiency in infants,would explain a lot of the other non-autistic developmental garbage,but we are now so far into all this hysteria,it has gotten so out of hand that once answers have been found by mainstream sience,the antivaxer parents will not listen,and their children suffer.This is the other tragedy of all this,and while not as serious as epidemics of vaccine preventable diseases,it is just as detrimental for these children,and for society at large.

I only wish this piece by Poland and Speir had been published in mass market outlets where more people could read them.

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