5/31/2010

Why the Vaccines-Did-This Crowd is Incorrect

A concerned commentator offered a long list of questions on my last blog, Sitting through Dateline's Wakefield Episode Sunday. It merited a substantial response, so I'm posting the comment, along with my response, here.

“Why isn't it plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to a child might not be safe?”
You do recognize that the sheer number of pathogens we are exposed to makes the 16 diseases protected against by the recommended US vaccination schedule look like chump change, right?
It makes every bit of sense to help our children avoid illnesses that can be through vaccination. Just because you may not remember these diseases or you remember everyone you know getting them and recovering doesn’t mean that they didn’t once affect, maim, and kill many and have the potential to do so again.

“Why is it not plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to All children is safe?”
This is a strawman argument. There are individuals who are immune compromised or who have allergies to ingredients in the vaccines who cannot receive vaccines. There are infants too young to get protected who benefit from herd immunity, from healthy people in the society getting the vaccinations so that there is less likelihood of these vulnerable populations  being exposed.

“Why is the vaccine schedule a one size fits all program?”
This, too, is a strawman. It’s not. These are the recommended vaccinations; an individual with his doctor will decide what and when.

“Why did the autism rate start to soar (1991) when the vaccine schedule had doubled in size?”
Why did the autism rate soar when the internet really got going? When satellite television took off? When cell phones really became popular? This is not science; this is faulty conjecture that is worse than meaningless. It shows a paucity of interest in how science is conducted and in what scientists have learned.

“Why are countless parents thought of as crazy when they say "my kid was typical" and then started to show autistic behaviors shortly after the MMR?”
Misguided, incorrect, guilty of illusory correlation, but I’ve never thought a parent was crazy for making the connection when so many others feed that idea into their heads, and when it’s such a neat and tidy explanation, and you’ve got a suave, dapper doctor telling them that.
I reserve crazy for folks who are off-the-deep-end, batshit crazy.
“Why did the gut dysbiosis, seizures, sensory disorders, loss of speech, etc start after so and so shot. Why can't can't it be a possibility that scores of parents observed something that merits investigation?”
It has received ample, exhaustive attention over the last decade and study after study have shown no connection between autism and vaccines.

“What if a child has an inability to detoxify the formeldehyde, aluminum, thimerosol (traces still count), and all the other preservatives in the vaccines?”
Since formaldehyde is produced in our cells, the kid would be thoroughly screwed, even without the vaccines. Thank gods the formaldehyde is used in the production of the vaccines to kill viruses and other things we really don’t want growing along with the vaccine, right? It’s aluminum salts, not aluminum, and unless you’ve made darn tooting certain that you don’t eat anything made with baking powder with aluminum in it, don’t eat or drink from food and beverages stored in aluminum cans, don’t cook with aluminum cookware, I’d say you have bigger problems. I guess it’s a really good thing there are ample studies showing no connection between thimerosal and autism, huh?
“Why can't we do testing to identify those kids and hold off on the most important shots until the immune system is more fully developed?”
Because the thousands of pathogens children are being exposed to daily are far more dangerous than the vaccines.

“What is your explanation of why the autism rate in this country is 1 in 100 and more in boys?”
Well, thankfully it’s science-based, having reviewed the studies dealing with autism and prevalence. It’s way better than relying on pseudoscience and woo.

“Why are children recovering and improving with biomedical intervention if this is a "psychiatric" genetic problem?”
I think this sentence demonstrates your completely inadequate knowledge base of autism. It isn’t a psychiatric problem. It’s a neurological disorder in which a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to how it manifests.

“Why is it wrong to question authority and to want studies that definitively prove that giving 36 preservative filled vaccines is totally safe for all children? Or that the combination of certain vaccines are safe for all children?”
Because it reflects an incorrect framing of the situation, a lack of awareness of the science that has already been done, and an incredible ignorance. The CDC, the government, experts, and scientists are aware that vaccines have potential side effects. No one is saying vaccines are safe for all children, just like no one says all drugs are safe for all people.

“Why is one of the more prominent pediatricians (Dr. Sears) not closing the door on the link between vaccines in his new book, "The Autism Book" and writes about biomedical intervention? (There's actually a picture of him and Dr. Wakefield smiling broadly at a recent biomedical conference - oh no -!!!)”
Because he’s pandering to parents in order to line his pockets? Because he’s also a dumbass? Take your pick.

“Why is Dr. Offit so revered when he clearly has a vested interest in vaccines and has never treated an autistic child or done any investigations or studies regarding autism as a medical condition?”
He’s not; in fact the evidence-based crowd doesn’t put Offit on a pedestal and make him a saint. He is an infectious disease expert who is eminently qualified to discuss vaccine safety. He wasn’t pretending to be an autism expert, something Wakefield is, by the way.

“History has shown that pioneers and people forcing a truth that is going to turn things upside down/rock the boat are demonized, maligned, and forced into silence.”
Oh for gods sake; it’s also shown that nutter-butter bars are too. Yeah, Wakefield isn’t being “demonized, maligned and forced into silence.” He’s an opportunist who has managed to cash in on desperate parents.

“If not Dr. Wakefield, then someone else would have come along to force the discussion of vaccine safety. Get ready. It's coming-- because 1 in 100 and counting is a very, very scary thing. So, like he said, "These children aren't going away, the parents are not going away, and I am most certainly not going away." --Dr. Wakefield”
Wakefield isn’t concerned about vaccine safety.

“Ya can't hold back a tidal wave forever!”
You’re right, there is, in fact, an endless stream of dumbasses.

Delete

Sitting through Dateline's Wakefield Episode Sunday

"You lost your job down in Texas..."


Not on my list of fun things to do, I recorded Dateline's A Dose of Controversy so that I'd be able to pause, rewind, replay to my heart's content so that I could blog about this, wanting to make sure I got the quotes and bits exactly right. I wish I'd kept last year's Lauer hour with Wakefield, Offit and Deer so I could have compared the footage used to see where it was just a rehashing of the previous piece. Alas and alack,  I did not. It does appear, though, that almost all of the old footage is reused (without updating the information provided in the voice-over) and added into the interview that Lauer did with Wakefield earlier this week that I dissected.


Matt Lauer asks in Dateline's A Dose of Controversy, "Was he motivated by medicine or money?" I think we can figure that one out pretty easily. It's a damn shame it seems to have taken Lauer so long to figure it out.


Anne Curry introduces the interview, and boy, have times changed. It doesn't appear that the media are loving Wakefield anymore. Says Curry: "This was a doozy." Curry continues, "What you may not know is that this entire controversy was first triggered by just one person." Doesn't this sound a wee bit different in tone compared to last year's interview with Wakefield?


Lauer starts his introduction with "He's one of the most controversial figures you've probably never heard of." He goes onto say that Wakefield's "stirred the passions of millions of parents worldwide." Yeah, I don't know about the millions. 


When Lauer then said Dateline was going to take "an unprecedented look at an emotional debate surrounding vaccines and autism," I really had to wonder where Lauer's been (or are they just reusing footage and verbage from the previous episode with Wakefield, Deer, and Offit? Were they too lazy to update and notice that Frontline recently covered this? I think, based on watching the entire hour, that yes, they were too lazy to update the voice-over).


What follows next is footage of emotional parents; I'm not sure what the intent is? Get people worked up? If a person is at all focused on this, aware of the debate, watching overly emotional parents blame vaccines (if you're not in that camp) leaves me, at least, cold and tired of people who can't think rationally.  Agghh, and the whole "sick" stuff, autistic kids aren't sick. An autistic child may be sick, but autism isn't sickness, and it's the most obvious split between the vaccines-did-it camp and the evidence-based side.


"Is Dr. Andrew Wakefield a hero who cracked the code of one of medicine's great and elusive mysteries or has he betrayed the trust of millions of parents around the world?"


Gee, what do you think?


For some reason, Lauer has to spend time talking about Wakefield's hometown as if this is important. I have no idea why. 


Snippets of the old interview with Lauer and Wakefield all but bumping knees, as the nuggets that Wakefield lets slip from his tongue follow:


17 May 1995: "the light within his eyes went out." Crap.  


Then there's a replaying of footage from last year when Lauer was still in thrall to Wakefield.  Wakefield says he was getting calls, saying "my child disappeared after a vaccine." I had no idea there were invisible kids out there, did you?


"Their children fell apart."  


Why would single vaccines over time make any difference if it's the measles vaccine causing autism? 


Hee: "His own exhaustive review of the literature." 


A hero doctor and a maverick. Yeah, not so much, is what I'm thinking.


This is just a replay of last year's video, to the best of my recollection; having to sit through it all again just to make sure is, well, deserving of chocolate, is what I'm thinking. 


Dateline then moves to the interview with Brian Deer, followed by the research that discredits Wakefield's theory, before returning to the old interview with Wakefield.


Dateline then shows video of these mothers who adore Wakefield. I just don't get why these moms think he's a hero;  I really don't. What is it exactly that Wakefield has done to actually help their kids? 


Lauer notes that Wakefield says while "he only suggested spreading out the vaccine schedule, many parents heard something different: vaccines cause autism."


Jenny McCarthy then gets her fifteen minutes (okay, maybe more like three); I can't believe Lauer didn't note the whole indigo children thing. 


Then it's Offit's turn. Ya'll remember this from last time. Lauer asks Offit for common sense advice: vaccines offer safety, says Offit. Once again, the contrast between Offit's intense, forceful reaction and Wakefield's unflappable, calm demeanor are there for everyone to see. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 


Thoughtful House is up after Offit's interview. Lauer leaves out Wakefield's stay in Florida, where Wakefield "became "research director" of the "International Child Development Resource Center", based in Melbourne, Florida, run by a Dr Jeff Bradstreet" (Brian Deer).  In fact, Lauer and Wakefield make it look like Wakefield didn't leave the UK until he came to Thoughtful House in 2004.
 Once again, I was struck with Wakefield's assertion that he has no direct communication with patients. 


Krigsman is up next, along with a family who spent over seven grand to get their son scoped from one end to the other (the father is a frequent commentator at AoA). After Krigsman, scoping, and daily enemas with a monthly colon cleansing, Lauer is back, providing voice-over, saying parents see Wakefield as a "medical groundbreaker." Lauer asks Wakefield about "parents who are so emotionally involved in this and who are so desperate for answers that they perhaps have not examined the science carefully enough" and whether Wakefield is providing these parents with something to blame. 


Dateline then moves to reporting outbreaks of preventable diseases. Autism research is then examined. 


Dateline finally moves forward in time and discusses the GMC findings, a new (brief) interview with Deer, the Lancet retraction, the resignation of Wakefield and Krigsman from Thoughtful House, and the striking off of Wakefield's medical license. Very little of Wakefield's new interview with Lauer was shown, just the bit about the "bump in the road" and "following his work to its natural conclusion."


What did Ann Curry wrap up the hour-long rehash with: the AAP's position on vaccines and autism. "Vaccines are not the cause of autism."


No mention of Wakefield's book was made during Dateline. Interesting, don't you think?


Wakefield's down to #444 on Amazon and #22,187 on Barnes and Noble. Guess there was no bump on the bookselling, then.


Just remember, I sit through these things so you don't have to. And if you watched last year's Dateline, you're good. Don't waste your time sitting through this one.

"Because I understand how science works."

Vaccines or no vaccines, my children will not die of whooping cough, diptheria, tetanus, mumps, rubella. They will not go deaf or become infertile from measles. They will also not develop autism. Because I have protected them, by avoiding all vaccines.
And I am proud of that fact. Because I understand how science works. And I am grateful to the people who warned me and got me looking into the science before I had kids.
                          --   commentator on Julie O's strawman masterpiece 


I understand how little most people understand about the human body. I get just how bad, on average, our high school science education is for most folks. It isn't really surprising, with such piss-poor understanding of the scientific method, and with crappy specific information on the human body, the immune system, chemistry, etc. that folks so routinely butcher information. This comment might take the cake, though. I know, I know, AoA routinely puts crazy posts on by its most favored commentators that have me regularly scratching my head, but the idea that this person has saved her kid from all these infectious diseases by avoiding vaccines? Really?

I find it fascinating that she's proud of her ignorance that she casts as knowledge: because she understands. Umm, I think we can all resoundingly agree that no, no she doesn't.

On a related note, David Gorski breaks down Obradovic's piece with regular Gorskian eloquence today over at Science Based Medicine. Angela much more concisely argued Obradovic's piece, as well. I'd simply point out that another concise argument to Obradovic's post is the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Road Runner Funny Clip - Click here for the funniest movie of the week

5/30/2010

Scorching, Burning Irony

  • After you read Callous Disregard leave a review on Amazon please. Use your name and declare any "conflict" unlike the whackosphereabout an hour ago
  • AAP gets the last word on NBC "Vaccines do not cause autism" in statement read. US Vax court says differently. Stay tuned for more. about an hour ago

Does anyone else find it mindblowing that the AoAers actually think evidence-based folks are the wackosphere?

And, no the  "US Vax court" doesn't say differently. Two cases, Hannah Poling and Bailey Banks, do not replace the studies. Court decisions and settlements do not replace science. 

Kristina Chew wrote on Bailey Banks' case back in 2009. Also of interest is Gorski's coverage (thanks, Science Mom, for the link). Offit wrote on the Poling case. And isn't it cute that they ignore the cases that were not settled in the vaccines-cause-autism favor. 

Seriously, two cases, that's what the AoAers are going to rest their argument on? That and Bernedette Healy and the discredited Wakefield? Talk about shaky, shaky ground.

Don't Fence Me In

5/29/2010

AoA's Goal to Make Wakefield's Book a Bestseller Putzes Out?

As Sullivan reported, the bump for Wakefield's book appears to have been restricted to Amazon (where it got up to #11 for a short time). As of Saturday, 6:00 pm central, though, Wakefield's book had slipped to #188 at Amazon.

At Barnes and Noble, though, it's ranked at #26,012.

Books A Million doesn't rank books. Hmmm. Neither does Hastings.

It really looks highly unlikely that the AoAers will achieve their goal of getting Wakefield's book on The New York Times' bestseller list. Slate ran a piece on how books become best sellers back in 1998 that's still worth the time to read. This site also explains the bestseller lists. Here's a piece that explains how Amazon figures its ranking.  Wakefield's supporters may have been able to boost his Amazon number for a day, but it is highly unlikely that there are enough folks enamored with Wakefield to buy enough copies in a short enough time to get it to the New York Times.

On a related note, Olmsted and Blaxill's book sits at #30,107 at Amazon, and Stagliano's sits at #72,132. All three books can be bundled together and purchased for the low, low price of $52.73. I just know we're going to rush to get them all, including Kirby's new one, which can also be bundled with Wakefield's book.

In short, while I'd like nothing more than to wish these folks well, because who doesn't want success and happiness for their fellow man, as long as misinformation and dangerous rhetoric is the topic of choice, I really hope that their books have very little impact on the collective consciousness of our society.

AoA: "Any clear thinking person"

No one at Aoa picked up on the part on Dan Olmsted's rant about his buddy Andy getting struck off that his last paragraph could be construed as telling Andy, along with the UK to f*&k off. Interesting show of lack of reading comprehension. Anne Dachel, that oh-so-insightful media editor did have this comment to make, though:

Any clear thinking person can realize where this is going. The truth will prevail. You can't have two sides making totally opposite claims. Either vaccines are safe and there really is nothing about them that can cause autism, or else, our mandated vaccination schedule is responsible for horrendous suffering inflicted on a generation of children.
Well, that leaves everyone who buys into AoA's crap completely in the dark. Obviously, you can in fact have two sides making completely opposite claims: vaccines/not vaccines, evolution/creationism, global warming/no global warming, Elvis is dead/Elvis lives, and the list goes on.

There is no evidence to substantiate the gross, rampant emotionalism of the claim that "our mandated vaccination schedule is responsible for horrendous suffering inflicted on a generation of children."

None of us are going away. Not the parents and not the honest and courageous doctors and scientists sounding an alarm. And certainly not the masses of children with autism. NONE OF US.
I predict the end is fast approaching for this debate. "Studies show no link" and "vaccines are safe, vaccines save lives" won't be heard much longer because more and more people know the truth. The evidence is EVERYWHERE and the medical community/health officials have no answers.

I predict that mainstream media is losing its interest in the manufactoversy; I predict that most people will shunt the anti-vaccine folks over to the fringe where they belong. The "debate," however is going nowhere, just like all the other debates I mentioned. The last sentence sounds a wee bit X-Files. "The evidence is EVERYWHERE" isn't evidence, isn't rational, and isn't proof. The medical community doesn't have an answer dumbasses will buy. No one does.

When the truth is finally realized and all the lies are exposed, everyone will demand to know one thing:
HOW COULD THE COVER-UP HAVE GONE ON FOR SO LONG?
The caps let you know she's really, really serious about this. Yuppers, folks will want to know why the media foolishly gave Jenny McCarthy and wackawoos so much attention. They'll want to know why and how anyone could follow Wakefield for so long and through so much crap and lies.
That will be the question of the century.
No, I think global warming is probably more important than your bizarro world.
(Good story Dan! Chicago must agree with you!)
Anne Dachel
Media
Hee, now tell me you don't just love this last bit? How on earth does she get that from the rally turn out? And interesting that she left editor off of Media, isn't it?

Oh, I know Obradovic's got a doozy of a post up. I can counter it simply: Her conclusions are inaccurate; she's not even wrong. Even if she was only talking to Singer (I don't know, maybe she was being generic and talking to everyone?). I wouldn't say she looks pathetic, though. Just really, really, really wrong. Angela tackles the Obradovic piece simply and elegantly.

5/28/2010

Wakefield as a Sinking Ship

Wednesday, I posted live through the live stream of the wackawoos' rally in Chicago. Okay, until I got bored with it and took my daughters outside to swim. I've had the opportunity now to watch Wakefield's speech, joy joy, and although several others have covered his worst moments, well, how can I not?

First, though, Habakus introduces Wakefield, and what she gets wrong is important to note. Habakus thinks out of all the things that need to be researched, vaccines should be at the TOP of the government's agenda. Never mind that vaccines in fact go through testing.  Habakus insists that the "science that must be done isn't being done." I wonder what science that is precisely? Ahh, never mind, must be Wakefield's monkeys, because she asserts the "people who try to do the research are being condemned and destroyed."

The loudest cheers of the rally are heard when she announces she's reached that "special time" to introduce Wakefield. I love that Wakefield is a bestselling author before his book even became available. Well, if Amazon says it's #11, it must be hot, hot, hot!

Habakus really likes Andy (interesting how he's Andy now, everyone's best friend?) and gushes that he "represents the honest pursuit of scientific inquiry." If this were true, then we are all well and truly frakked.

Why does she think Andy lost his country? Did England throw his ass out? Or is it that he realized he had a ready base of sycophantic parents willing to lap up his every word over here in America?

One of the first things he brings up is his informal dress and asserts he's not a troublemaker. Nah.... I wouldn't call him a troublemaker.

The next thing up is that quote from the mother who tells Andy (heck, why not?) that when she dies, she's taking her child with her because she's the only one that loves him (with love like that, I'd certainly pass). Andy says he didn't judge her at all, but he was moved by the love of a mother for her child to kill the child. That isn't love. That's someone who isn't thinking rationally. Period. There can be no justification of this act. None. It is not acceptable.

Andy says that's been motivating to him. Umm, to what, fearmonger so as to reduce vaccination rates, increase the rate of infant and child mortality so that less children make it to adulthood to outlive their parents? Seriously, and then he has the brass balls to say he thinks we're at a turning point emerging from very dark times? What the hell is that? Christ, then he's labeling autism a worldwide pandemic. He then raises the strawman of a "purely genetic model." There has never been a purely genetic model. And if he were really an autism expert, he'd know that. He'd know that there has always been an awareness of the interplay of environment and genetics. As a physician, he really ought to be aware that very few things are "purely genetic" and that the environment almost always plays a role in how genetic disorders are manifested.

Why? Why do people listen to Doctor Andy? Because he gives them what they're looking for: they're right, they're interpretations are right. They know best; their interpretation of a link between vaccines and autism are right. Of course they listen to him, he's like god providing manna from heaven. He strokes their egoes and they stroke his. He then prattles on about "the denial of those children's rights time and time again." Seriously? This man, this person, who's foisted on thousands of children who've come to Thoughtful House potentially unnecessary and certainly traumatic colonoscopies? Seriously?

Ah, but it's all good, because it's all about a revolution. Wakefield badmouths the APA, badmouths the infectious diseases that are making a comeback. Wakefield says he's ashamed; it's too damn bad he's not ashamed of what he's done. He makes it clear that anecdote is key and "not to pander to the whims of public health."

And then he excuses himself, brings in big tobacco.

He then says several times: "I am in fact irrelevant." Best damned quote. He is.

No wonder these few, these desperate, love him. He gives them exactly what they want. It is only as parents realize that he has given them emptiness, vacuum, that they will begin to back away, to look for something of substance and value. The few, the egotistic, will remain. Even if they do, in a Freudian way, tell him to f%$k off.

****Just checked on Amazon, Wakefield's back down to 99.*****

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Capture for this picture?

Picture available here and here.
And Science Mom beat us to it here. :-)
Additional photos of the rally can be found here, demonstrating just how paltry the showing is.
Thanks to Ken Reibel for the suggestion.

Boy, that park sure is packed with folks supporting Wakefield and the whole vaccines are teh ebeel, ain't it?

5/27/2010

A Spot of Color

My mimosa is in bloom. :-)

An Endless Stream of Dumbasses (heavy dose of snark)

"But now that the deed is done, the fight has really begun. Autism was invented here, with the rise of organic mercury compounds in the 1930s, and here's where it took off when those exposures and others were recklessly multiplied many times over in the 1990s and today. This is the perfect time and place to end it. And as a parting shot to Andy and America's former overlords, the only phrase I can think of -- well, it rhymes with "Struck off"!"  --Dan Olmsted
I've stolen the title from Thelma; she had shared the title with me earlier and had gone off to nurse her Wild Turkey and think on it while I waited with baited breath to see what would come from her conversing with her muse, but then I read the above glaring stupidity and, well, Thelma waited too long.

No. Autism was not invented here.  For convenience sake, I'll refer to WebMD for this:

"Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms of schizophrenia.
In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term "autism" to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behavior of several children he studied. At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.
Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children."

Right, invented here, my rather ample posterior. And invented at the same time in Germany, too. Dude, you cowrote a history on autism?

Wait, Andy insists it was the frakking measles component of the MMR, right? So, he's happy to embrace your thimerosal crap? I know, the monkeys, the monkeys. Andy will embrace anything that has dollar signs and sainthood no doubt.  How do you explain the continued increase in diagnoses worldwide despite the removal of thimerosal, Olmsted?

Onto the rest of your rant: How are you going to end it, Olmsted? And exactly what are you going to end? Any lingering shreds of credibility you once had? Sorry, that's long gone and done. So is Wakefield's.

Ummm, dude, I'm gonna screen capture it because when you realize you slipped and told Andy to fuck off, essentially: "And as a parting shot to Andy and America's former overlords, the only phrase I can think of -- well, it rhymes with 'Struck off"!'", well that's frakking priceless, and I want to make sure I have it:


Uh, Dan, I think you meant FOR Andy. Hah. Freudian slip or what?

Thelma, no doubt, will understand that the title for this post just had to be used. Had to be. Absolutely no choice. I'd join her in a toast of the Wild Turkey, but I don't drink. I think I'll have some chocolate and chuckle over this little stumble of Olmsted's instead.

Yes, The Reason AoA is Resoundingly Rejected By Many

"But imagine how it feels for those with Asperger's and HFA as they learn that maybe this diagnosis isn't a purely genetic situation? Maybe it "happened" to them? It explains some of the intense anger and backlash we see from them. It must be breathtaking to realize that maybe life didn't have to be so challenging, despite the upside many feel and see from their diagnosis."  -- Kim Stagliano

You know, the only ones arguing autism as a "purely genetic situation" are the AoAers. The medical and psychological communities have long recognized that autism has both genetic and environmental mediators.

The reason folks are mad at anti-vaccine altmed wackawoos is that their portrayal of autism and their pursuit to recover damaged goods are harmful to autistic people specifically and society in general.

David Brown's New Gig

Linked through the title to this post and here is David Brown's latest piece at his new site. :-)

5/26/2010

The Rally in Chicago: An Exercise in Delusions

I, so that you don't have to, am watching this rally on live stream. I'll update the post as the rally commences.


The crowd response sounds like there's a couple dozen people there.


First lie: Louise Kuo Habakus says thousands of people are watching online. As of  3:05 pm central time, 186 viewers were watching.










"Vaccination choice is a human right."


Since vaccines aren't compulsory, this is a bit of a stretch. The first speaker is trying to connect vaccinations with the right to life, liberty, etc. And of course, Mary Holland almost immediately brings in the holocaust and is trying to suggest that vaccinations are tantamount to experimentation without informed consent.


Second lie: they aren't anti-vaccine. Holland immediately proves she is with the holocaust references. She talks about how vaccines are inarguably unsafe because an unknown small set will be harmed (I guess she's against all drugs, then, and is for people dying and suffering).  She argues there is no free informed consent because schools and jobs require vaccination. It's a stupid argument. There are exemption She's calling it a compulsory vaccination program. It is not. She knows this, because she keeps flipping between mandatory and compulsory as if they mean the same thing.


Habakus introduces idea two: that American children are not well. Even if that were true, it beats being dead. Converse, the next speaker, is a registered dietician, and argues that mild malnutrition is to blame for illness. There is no doubt that she provides accurate information concerning the importance of nutrition. However, that doesn't get around the fact that she offers some inaccurate information: she argues that American children are more chronically ill then ever before and that the one difference between now and before is the number of vaccinations. Seriously, that's the only change? Converse believes that vaccines kill and hurt more than they save.


Converse then says some horrendous crap about doctors saying that those who die from vaccines were defective and were going to die anyway? Seriously.


And it really sounds like there are like a dozen or so folks. At 3:23, there are 205 online viewers.


Big Idea Three deals with the military and their vaccination status. Captain Richard Rovet is the third speaker at the rally. As a former soldier, as the wife of a retired soldier who served in the first Gulf War, I understand the need to protect soldiers,  the need for discipline. Rovet argues that a quarter of the soldiers in the first gulf war have Gulf War Syndrome. 


Rovet argues that the anthrax vaccination is responsible for gulf war syndrome, specifically, squalene MF59, is implicated. Rovet gets choked up recounting horror story anecdotes and then jumps into conspiracy theories involving lobbies and defense contractors.


Habakus's big idea 4: everyone deserves vaccination choice. The problem is everyone has it. The Somali story is apparently going to be up. Abdulkadir Khalif speaks on behalf of the Somali immigrants. Khalif accuses schools and hospitals of bullying people into vaccination. Khalif has the balls to say that a "family with no children is happier than a family with several autistic children."


The problem with a lot of this by the speakers is that the information is not accurate. Now, this isn't surprising; look who's doing the talking.


206 online viewers as of 3:34. Yeah, where are the thousands watching? Methinks the AoAers and "vaccination-choice" folks were way off when they were estimating their power base.


Big idea number five: ah crap: gardasil. Geez. More misinformation. More bull. More lies. The speaker's daughter fell ill THREE WEEKS after the vaccination. Yes, must have been the vaccination. Couldn't be any other explanation whatsoever. Crap. What follows is a long, harrowing story that proves nothing. Of course the medical community wouldn't go on the record saying it was gardasil; nothing about this anecdote leads one to believe that gardasil did this. Pingel, whose story is heartbreaking, choked up and Habakus stepped up and finished Pingel's speech.


217 online watchers as of 3:42. The crowd sounds a bit louder now.


Habakus then argues a complete strawman. People already have vaccination choice. No one argues that vaccines are perfectly safe and no one argues that everyone should get them. The government already tells the truth concerning vaccine safety. Habakus then invokes Bernedette Healy.


And the free and informed consent nonissue is raised again. Of course, the unvaccinated and vaccinated study canard is raised again.


Big idea 6: parental rights. Hah, almost no claps. Sirens sound, and Habakus quips that they're coming for them. William Wagner raises the slavery issue and talks about how much fun that was. Emotionalism is rampant here. Choked up voices, drama, anecdote. "All things sacred face destruction." OMG. 


That's about all I'm gonna stand for now. I'm taking my kids swimming.  3:53 and 231 viewers are watching (some, as Sirenity volunteers, are not the wackawoos). I've paused the stream. If I can stomach the rest, I will wade through the rest.  5:29pm update--pausing the feed didn't work, so I've missed the rest of it. Anyone who watched the rest of it and wants to offer their commentary, either add it in the comments, or email me and I'll add it to the rest of this post.


Excellent article on skeptics who mounted a counter-protest and got their photo taken with Wakefield can  be found here.


All in all, though, I think I was better served taking my kids out to swim. :-)

A Corner of the Garden and Reflections



You've no doubt noticed that my garden looms large in my various blogs (and facebook and flickr, as well). I spend a lot of time in my garden, and despite random strangers thinking the front garden is an overgrown yard (the idea of a front garden is a weird one to Americans), I think there's tremendous beauty to be had in the garden.

I don't know if my perceptions of my garden match others, whether they are seeing what I see. It may be that part of the difference is that I work in it, am close up with it, see the seedlings emerge from the ground, track their growth, see in my mind's eye what will be, and that this continues throughout the growing season so that I, unlike those who view the garden from the distance, know what flowers lurk beneath the current selection blooming and can see what can be. I chart the changes day by day with my camera, and if there is such a thing, with my soul, as well.

I resonate with the changes in the garden, my heart bursts to swelling, and joy overflows, despite the dratted mosquitoes. There is the chance to see mysteries, to witness nature writ both small and large, and long swaths of time to contemplate the world and all its denizens.

I ache when I am through each day in the garden, but I know that I have had an impact, although a temporary one, on the world around me. I have nurtured something, both in the outer world and within my inner reality. I have learned to balance pride in a job well done (nothing like having someone say that hours of work haven't put a dent in the work to be done for knocking pride out) and humility that all my work can be undone in a moment by nature's whimsy. It keeps me centered, somewhat precariously, but without any of the accompanying mythical powers, like Nataraja.


(nice explanation of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, can be read here)

It's important to find balance, to find peace, to recognize that dance we must, and often to someone else's tune, but if we work at it enough, we can make sure the underlying beat is our own.

(text and second picture crossposted at Detritus)

5/25/2010

A Divide That Will Not Be Bridged

Offit said he doubted Britain's decision to strip the 53-year-old Wakefield of his medical license would convince many parents that vaccines are safe.
"He's become almost like a Christ-like figure and it doesn't matter that science has proven him wrong," Offit said. "He is a hero for parents who think no one else is listening to them."

Wakefield told The Associated Press Monday's decision was a sad day for British medicine. "None of this alters the fact that vaccines can cause autism," he said.
                                          Huffington Post article on Wakefield being struck off 

Notice here that the backtracking that occurred immediately after the ruling on what his case series showed, etc., had been fully dropped for the bold statement by Wakefield that vaccines cause autism. Never mind that there's an abundance of science to show this is not the case.  Offit characterizes it accurately. These parents will follow Wakefield wherever he chooses to lead them. It doesn't even matter if their ideas line up squarely behind him all the way; a ballpark approximation is close enough for them. It's enough that he too sees a global conspiracy.

The Huffington Post article already has over a thousand comments up on it, both sides of the divide slugging away at each other. Many are familiar faces to the autism related threads over there. Nothing new really is being said between the two camps, although I admit that some of the posts by the regulars on the wackawoo side, if their delusions weren't as serious as they are, would be amusing.  It's hard, though, to see anything amusing about people who want to bring down the vaccination program, who see bogeymen behind every immunization yet push crazy treatments and offball ideas, who use jargon yet make clear that their understanding of that jargon is akin to Damon Wayan's character in In Living Color all those years ago.

Give them the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are noble; they want safe vaccines and to "save the children." Their way will harm thousands of children and save not one from autism because autism isn't caused by vaccines. Just as bad as this, though, is that the legitimate claims by people who do suffer adverse reactions to vaccines will not be taken as seriously; calls to make sure that vulnerable populations are identified so they can avoid vaccination will go unheeded, and even if these subpopulations (like those with egg allergies) are safely identified, they will not have the protection of herd immunity because individuals like those attending the rally tomorrow in Chicago would deprive them of it.

This is not a divide that can be bridged. It is not one that should be. Choosing woo, pseudoscience and conspiracies over science, evidence, and rationality is a foolhardy choice, at best. At worst, it is calamity.

Stopping to Smell the Flowers


In the midst of all the dust-up over Wakefield's being struck off, his interview with Lauer that either shows him to be a consummate liar or supreme self-justifier (or worse), the Autism One conference and upcoming rally for wackawoos against vaccines, I'd like to take a moment to step back, stop, and smell the flowers, appreciate the beauty that there is to be had in the world and in our children.

I'm going to play in my garden today and pretend that there aren't a bunch of people so far gone into woo that they'll subject their children to hookworms, nicotine patches, HBOT, chelation, IVIG treatments, mining chelators, and all sorts of hairbrained homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, etc., who believe in global conspiracies to render a generation of children damaged goods in order to cull the herd and other absurdities. Although I don't believe in a higher power, I will send my wishes to the accidental cosmos that these parents manage to pull their heads out of their arses and realize the harm they cause their children.

None of this garbage that the AoAers do does a darn thing to make the world a better place and in fact works to make sure it's a damn sight worse.

5/24/2010

Sitting through the Wakefield-Lauer Interview on a Monday Morning

Interestingly, in the background before the interview, Lauer notes that the GMC found Wakefield acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" but leaves out that the GMC also said he acted with "callous disregard."

Almost obligatory, don't you think? First off, after that hour-long piece Lauer did last year, coupled with something earlier this year that led me to write the Today show (I forget what it was), I quit watching Matt Lauer. Honestly, none of the reporters' interview styles impress me. And I hate the fake conciliatory head nods they all do. So, it took some doing to keep me sitting this morning with the Today show on, muted, waiting for the interview. The anticipation was almost more than I could stand. What would Lauer say? What would Wakefield say? Would it be a love fest? Would their eyes meet and a spark be lit, you know, like last time?

Of course, while letting the anticipation build, I wandered the web reading the various accounts of Wakefield being struck from the register in the UK. How would Wakefield respond? Okay, I kid quite a bit when I talk about anticipation and wonderment concerning Wakefield's reaction. We all should have known exactly how he'd react, so I suspect those of us willing to stomach the interview weren't much surprised that it was a governmental conspiracy to shut him down.

The first question Matt asked was if he could still call him doctor. Of course, he can, says Wakefield. You can't take the medical degree away, after all.

Wakefield immediately asserts that the government forced the GMC to rule the way it did. It was a foregone conclusion. I've written about self-justification, and this interview is a classic example of self-justification. It should be noted that in the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Wakefield is uses as an example of self-justification (the book did mangle the thimerosal/MMR part). See, for years Wakefield has been playing this game that everything he did was good, right, just, and everyone else is out to get him. It at least looks like Lauer finally got that Wakefield might not be the white knight, or at least that Lauer's credibility could go down the tube with Wakefield.

Lauer asks Wakefield if this is "the final blow to your credibility" and then runs down all the blows Wakefield has taken this year. Wakefield doesn't really answer, except to finally say it is "a bump on the road."

Lauer then rebuts Wakefield's assertions that Wakefield's findings have been replicated. Wakefield keeps asserting that the American government knows that vaccines cause autism because they keep settling cases. Wakefield asserts "they've secretly been settling cases as early as 1991." Lauer doesn't rebut any of this; this is a very short interview and whether Lauer knows that Wakefield is lying or not is not clear. Lauer's gotten as confrontational as he is willing to get.

What do I take away from the interview? Wakefield will not budge: the American government knows and is in on the conspiracy! Wakefield gets essentially the last word in the interview: that he is not going away, he will "continue this work until its natural conclusion."  What the hell does that mean?

A Book Review: Rudy's Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!


Lisa Jo Rudy is the About.com guide for Autism, and as such, she works hard at impartiality and inclusivity. I’ve previously asserted that this amounted to straddling the fence, and as such, was bound to irritate both those who think vaccines did it and those who don’t.  At Countering, I don’t straddle that line of impartiality, wanting to provide factual and helpful information while not offending parents.  I don’t have to keep my opinions to myself and not choose a side and I’m not trying to be a central watering hole, so to speak. Rudy, on the other hand, manages a site that is a central water hole, and she does it well. On any given post, you will see comments from people who believe fervently in vaccines as a cause of autism discussing the post’s contents alongside science-based, neurodiverse advocates. The exchanges can and do get heated, but by and large, areas of commonality can be revealed and discussed openly and freely.

I seriously underestimated Rudy and the level of tact and maneuvering it takes to create that kind of welcoming environment and of the importance of doing so.  Not everything is two dimensional and the divide between parents is not nearly as stark as Huffington Post regular posters and Age of Autism would make you believe. This is something I’ve learned as I’ve stepped further away from the pugilistic enterprise that posting over at Huff on the autism-related threads is.  It’s also helped that I’ve communicated more over the last year with parents whose beliefs regarding their child’s autism run the gamut and yet somehow, we’ve managed to fairly easily work together to try to advocate for others in need and to forge friendships, as well, based on the mutual desire to make the world a better place for our children. It’s refreshing and heartwarming to realize that we have common interests that rise above the questions of causation.

I’ve come a long way from that us or them view. I think it’s important to directly counter misinformation, but I don’t think that should be the only thing or the main thing to engage in. Far more important is the question of how do we make the world more accepting, more appreciative of, and more accommodating for our children and others with disabilities?

Rudy indirectly addresses this question in her newly published book, Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun! Within the first twenty pages, I realized that here, too, was another person whose common interests and, more importantly, common experiences resonated with me. From the beginning, Rudy makes it clear that those divisions of causation and therapies won’t be present in her book: it isn’t about that. And what a relief to just have that all shoved aside as so much of the background noise that it really should be. Most of us, hopefully, don’t spend all our time stuck in that morass, fighting out those battles. For all that Countering focuses on refuting misinformation regarding vaccines, autism, and various therapies, almost none of it spills over into my real world life with my children, which is focused on helping them navigate the wider world successfully.

Here , then, is a book that isn’t going to wade through that mess of divisions, either. Instead, Rudy’s book will focus on “getting out into the real world and participating in community activities.” In the end, Rudy’s right when she points out how important this is; this will matter far more for our children’s future than any spittle-filled rant war at Huffington Post or any of the other places where such debates can be had between the diehards.

Rudy’s first focal point is on the inadequacy of the school system to educate our children, how often the time with our children is wasted trying to achieve normalcy, and yet acknowledging the reality that the school system is hamstrung with the current legal requirements.

Schools, in general, are poorly equipped to foster curiosity and interest in typically developing children. For children with autism, school can be one long nightmare. Rudy points out that schools aren’t set up to give kids, especially our children, the kind of learning environment that would best benefit them: “In fact, professional visitor-study organizations have reviewed, codified, and assessed the impact of hands-on, inquiry-based learning for children, teens, and families
and found it to be extraordinarily valuable across the board.” Unfortunately, that’s not what most kids get: “Overall, students with autism have a very limited school life.”

Rudy’s book, then, is a guide to create that for our children outside of the school environment. With the schools’ concerns focused on normalizing our children, our children are “unlikely to connect with like-minded individuals, build relationships based on common interests, or find opportunities to learn, grow, and lead in fields that interest them.” We must do what we can to help foster our children’s creativity, their areas of interest and help them forge relationships with like-minded individuals, and we can do this by getting out into the community.

Rudy details the ways in which community businesses’ interest in catering to the needs of the autism population has changed as the prevalence (and awareness) of autism has increased, as well as the financial pressure many businesses face creating an incentive to draw in any customers. She notes, though, that many families continue to be reluctant to explore the wider world with their autistic children: many providers of daycare and kid-centered activities don’t really display the tolerance towards special-needs children that they purport to; the mistaken assumption by parents that therapy should be nonstop, parental fears regarding “failure or embarrassment,” “low expectations” of autistic children by adults, over-protectiveness by parents, lack of awareness by parents of the importance of” multisensory learning,” autistic children’s lack of interest in regular kid-centric activities, and a lack of information regarding available local resources.

The above reasons for keeping autistic children at home and uninvolved in the local community can all be mitigated. Information is a key way to get around many of these issues. Working with local businesses to foster acceptance and understanding is important. Making sure that unfriendly businesses know that the word will indeed get around regarding how unfriendly they are to the disabled is a powerful tool.

Parents need to be better informed regarding the need for balance; real world experiences are an important and absolutely vital component to helping our children fit into the wider world. If the goal is integration and acceptance into society, this cannot be done while hiding our children at home and immersing them in narrow therapies that do not translate to real world situations. We can find a way to balance the need to keep our children safe while letting them experience the wider world.

Rudy notes our children need a variety of experiences if we want to discover their potential talents and interests. She points out: “Besides—and this is very important—the fact that a child is “typically developing” does not mean he will be capable, kind, attentive, or self-aware. In other words, you needn’t assume that your child’s autism will make him more difficult or less competent than other children.”

Chapter one closes with a list of practical tips that helps to set the stage for chapter two, which covers getting started on getting out and exploring. Preparation is key, as almost all of us parents of autistic children well know!

Rudy visits again the reasons for getting our children involved in the wider world. Yes, it absolutely takes more work, more thought, more effort to do this with our children, but it is a fundamentally important part of making them ready for their future. Rudy writes, “By involving your child—and yourself, by extension—in the ordinary world, you make it possible him to know what’s expected
of him, not just by therapists, parents, and teachers but also by peers.”

As parents contemplate this somewhat daunting idea of helping our children engage in the wider world, Rudy provides some suggestions: remembering that our children often walk the “fine line between interest and perseveration,” that our children “may do things differently,” that talking isn’t always important, and as a mother of three on the spectrum, one I wholeheartedly echo: “a thick skin” is imperative.

Rudy provides a series of things for families to try: popular culture, the natural world, musical instruments, “marble mazes”—a very interesting idea, as well as sports. If your child doesn’t seem to have regular kid interests, that’s okay; Rudy suggests a number of things that relate to your child’s particular special interest and activities that might interest them.

Once you’re ready to get on out there, Rudy suggests some handy tools you’ll need: “an intact sense of humor” (I’ve found a tendency to delight in the odd, the wacky and the absurd really helps), time, energy, patience, flexibility, and gasoline. Sometimes the things that most interest our children will require an investment of time and money to drive to the particular activity, event, or person who makes a connection with our children.

If your family is a blend of neurotypicality and neurodiverse, Rudy offers suggestions for siblings of autistic children, as well.

Chapter two, as will all the chapters in this delightful book, ends with a series of top tips. Chapter three focuses on the community and how to select the right opportunities for you and your children. Chapter four looks at various sporting events and activities, while chapter five picks up on various youth groups like the scouts, 4-H, and the YMCA. Chapter six looks at learning environments like museums, zoos and aquariums. Chapter seven explores faith-based options. Chapters eight through ten explore the performing arts, the natural world, and special interests and family outings. Each chapter is well-organized, filled with ideas and with solid tips for making these ideas a reality. Personal anecdotes are helpfully placed. This is not dry reading by any means. Rudy has a warm, friendly demeanor throughout the text, and readers will feel right at home with her as she leads them through an abundance of ideas. There really is something here for everyone.

The book closes with the concerns we as parents have for inclusion. It also, importantly, offers Rudy’s own experience with accepting the need to stop for a minute, an hour, a day, or more, when things have just gotten to be too much. It’s absolutely okay to take breaks from trying to take the world by storm, from trying to carve a place for our child in the wider world, and to take care of ourselves so that we can emerge refreshed and ready to wade back into the challenges of working for inclusion.

This is a book that any parent of autistic children will find entertaining and helpful. I highly recommend it.

5/23/2010

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.


References:
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.