2/09/2011

An Open Letter to Dr. Jay Gordon

He's such a pleasant man, really. He always wishes you the best when he comments on your post. Now, there's occasionally a hint that he might have an occasional crack in that kind demeanor; he was a bit intemperate with Kathleen and me at Orac's in June 09. I wish him nothing but the best, right back at him, which is why it would be nice if he'd use his critical thinking skills.

Alas, despite the increasing evidence that there's no link between autism and vaccines, the documentation that those who've promoted the link have used poor reasoning skills, misinformation and at times, apparently outright fabrications, Dr. Jay continues to accept the bad info over the good.

The Salon (and the Rolling Stones) have pulled Robert F. Kennedy's crappy "Deadly Immunity" article. In 2006, Orac wrote on just how bad a piece this was. Dr. Jay has had plenty of opportunity to reflect on this, to consider whether some of his beliefs might cause his patients harm.

But no, it's 2011, and despite Dr. Jay's penchant for claiming he reads Orac and the band of snarky, sciency commenters to learn from them, it's apparent he's missed some key lessons:








RFK's piece was badly flawed. Thanks to a comment by Orac at Mnookin's blog, I can direct readers to Skeptico's 2005 analysis of the RFK piece.


Dr. Jay, one of my kids' favorite book set and kids show is Todd's World, where they learn that it's okay. It's okay to be different.

It's okay to be wrong, Dr. Jay, and admit it. It really is. Continuing to hold fast to a sinking ship is not a sign of bravery, of character, and certainly not a demonstration of clear thinking. 

RFK was wrong. David Kirby was wrong. Your buddies at AoA are wrong. Dr. Bob's wrong, too. I get it, you're in the middle of all the Hollywood elites, but even Jenny's backing away from the vaccine-autism thing, Dr. Jay. You can, too, you know. We'll let you.

Best,

Kim 


And because I just can't resist it, this was Dr. Jay's response to Kathleen and me in June 2009 when he wasn't wishing us the best:
Stupid! I wrote a really wonderful post and just lost it trying to solve Kathleen's anonymity by clicking on her name while I was in the midst of writing. You live in the USA, Kathleen. I have discovered that fact
Kim Wombles is not anonymous.
Both of you have very personal experience with ASD.
Kim, take education wherever you can get it. Scientific journals or here. I respect what you do and I respect the attitude you have regarding ASD families. Children and parents. You and have Kathleen have some pretty mediocre social skills, though. You are just as unpleasant on your home court as you are here.
Kathleen, you are boring. Repetitious, rude, insulting and boring. Perseveration and speaking louder don't make your ideas more interesting.
I'm very happy you've not felt the financial strain of dealing with autism. Most of the patients I see are not wealthy enough to have skipped that aspect of caring for their children.
Some of the people here have spent their lives in disciplines other than mine and I am learning a lot from them. What a jerk I am for admitting that and subjecting myself to your witty remarks about my changing my opinions because I acquire new knowledge and perspectives.
Scientizzle, every time I thank someone I get my head handed to me again, but, thanks for understanding what I'm doing here. We all have core beliefs but there certainly details which can shift around.
Good Night, All!
Jay


Sometimes I get the feeling that Dr. Jay doesn't think much of women. 

27 comments:

kathleen said...

HA! I had forgotten how boring I was! And perseverating?..sigh..I guess my kids come by it honestly. But gosh! All I was trying to do was to get him to answer some questions. I didn't even call him names!!
perseverating...hmmm...looking at his statements on Orac's posts...and his tweets...dare I say..pot kettle black? Or would that be boring?

Amy Caraballo said...

Much like the AoAers blame the mythological international faction whose mission is to poison people in the name of profit, Dr. Jay seems to have followed suit by refusing to even acknowledge a person's right to question theory. Show me the science, Dr. Jay.

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Oh no he di'nt! I'ma knock a brotha out!

Kathleen is NONE of those things! What a dumbass! GRRRRRRRRRRR.

As for mediocre social skills, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black!? Gah! Now I'm all riled up!

GRRRRRRR

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

That post of mine was out of line and I apologize again for "losing it" that day. I'm sure it's the the only time I've responded intemperately on Orac's site. There is no excuse for the way I "spoke" in that post.

I have an incredibly busy flu-filled office day, but I'd like to comment later on why I still think so highly of RFK Jr. and the article he wrote about the Simpsonwood meeting.

Best,

Jay

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

NOT!! "NOT the only time I've responded intemperately . . . "
For heaven's sake. I've been a jerk on Orac's site an embarrassing number of times.

Jay

KWombles said...

:-) Jay, thank you for that last comment; had me chuckling. For a minute there I thought you'd singled Kathleen and me out for special treatment!

It gets heated at Orac's.

I think RFK got the Simsponwood meeting wrong and made a conspiracy where there was none, but I look forward to your take.

Chris said...

Dr. Jay, get yourself a copy of Seth Mnookin's The Panic Virus (borrow it from the library if you must). Go to chapter 18, "A Conspiracy of Dunces", that starts on page 221. In that chapter you will see in detail how Kennedy cherry picked quotes, and changed them by removing the context. Plus he transposed sentences and left words out, then he actually switched statements.

Kennedy changed the quotes he used. Why do you think highly of such bad behavior?

Liz Ditz said...

Dear Dr. Jay,

I hope all of your flu patients have excellent outcomes. I wonder if you have re-considered your stance on the value of vaccinating against the flu?

Sometimes, the words are hard to come up with. Let me give you a hand. You could issue a statement like this:

"I was wrong about the association between thimerosal and autism. I was mislead by Andrew Wakefield and his fraudulent research positing a relationship between the measles component of the MMR and autism. I still have reservations about the US vaccine schedule."

Or something like that.

Ren said...

It came to me yesterday and I wrote about it... How the hell can you take a case series of 12 kids chosen not at random and generalize the observations to all kids with (or without) autism? How? Someone tell me, please. Because I've been racking my epidemiological brain on how this whole thing got so out of hand. It seems to me that there is more than Wakefield to blame for the epidemic of fear over the "epidemic" of autism.
Not only that, but almost anyone who has taken Epi 101 (principles of Epi), Epi 201 (design of studies), and Epi 208 (statistical methods) can see that the supposed association between thimerosal and autism is bunk. Or maybe it's just the good-quality school I went to.
I wonder, is the good Doctor familiar with the ecological fallacy?

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

Ren, I agree: "The Lancet" should have published Dr. Wakefield's findings as a letter to the editor and not as major story and, Liz, I was so eager to have my thoughts about vaccines and autism confirmed that I did allow myself to get far too excited about this small study. I'm not convinced that there was fraud but I am convinced that no one should have relied on this article as a pillar of the vaccine/autism connection.

I'm not convinced that RFK had it wrong and Seth has it right. Rahul is so biased that he appears at least as close-minded as I'm accused of being. Brian Deer was hired to clobber he's hated for a decade.

The truth about Simpsonwood is undoubtedly somewhere between RFK's (and my) thoughts about the conspiracy and the corrupting of Tom Verstraeten's data and Deer's ranting and Orac's confederacy of scientists. (Quotation marks intentionally omitted this time because he really does have an impressive collection of occasionally misguided wise people over there.)

Thanks for the rather pleasant discussion of this topic. Nice to comment in a place where the nastiness doesn't spring up every third post.

Liz, I'm sure that you and others have noticed that the flu shot hasn't had much of an impact on the winter viral season.

Best,

Jay

kathleen said...

I wonder if those flu outbreaks were caused by people opting out of the flu vaccine?

KWombles said...

Jay, Liz beat me to it on twitter; I was going to recommend you read my piece "Bias In Reporting -- it's not the person but the claims that matter." Either here or at Science 2.0, whichever site you prefer.

Also, I'm curious, have you read the IOM's 2004 report on autism and vaccines. It seems to me that the report from the Institute of Medicine would carry far more weight than Kennedy's piece in the Rolling Stones. I know it's where I'd want my doctors to get their information. If you haven't read the 2004 report, it's linked over on the left hand side. I'll move it up to the top so it's easy to find.

http://bit.ly/evBJki

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

Kim, Liz--

I think that the IOM has reached questionable conclusions in the past and their important-sounding name should not increase the prestige of their findings.

And, if I named my practice "Dr. Gordon's Institute of Pediatric Science," it would still just be a quiet little pediatric office in Southern California.

Best,

Jay

KWombles said...

Dr. Jay, did you just dismiss all of the IOM because you allege they've reached questionable conclusions in the past? What evidence do you have of that? Which conclusions?

And then did you compound that example of fallacious thinking by actually suggestion that the IOM was in anyway the equivalence of a single pediatrician? Really?

See, this may be a pretty, soft, pink and flowery blog because, well, I like pink and roses, but that's no excuse to offer a nonsubtantive rebuttal that the IOM is basically two-bit and you don't like what they say. That's not even a claim, Jay.

I'd direct you to their about page:http://www.iom.edu/About-IOM.aspx

"Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Nearly 150 years later, the National Academy of Science has expanded into what is collectively known as the National Academies, which comprises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council, and the IOM."

According to the IOM, "Each year, more than 2,000 individuals, members, and nonmembers volunteer their time, knowledge, and expertise to advance the nation’s health through the work of the IOM."

Over 2,000 people working to create annual reports versus one lone pediatrician.

Hmmmm. Although, I'd reiterate again that it's not the person, it's the claims, Jay. You have to offer evidence that shows the 2004 report on vaccines and autism is flawed and that RFK's article is so flawless as to trump the IOM report.

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

RFK's report probably not flawless. IOM COI statements need to be reviewed.

I love being called "one lone pediatrician." Makes me want to buy a little black mask and get a nice horse.

Jay

Ren said...

Whoa! Wait a minute. What did you mean "I'm sure that you and others have noticed that the flu shot hasn't had much of an impact on the winter viral season"?

Last I heard, we had not reached the level of coverage for herd immunity, hence giving us the usual winter outbreak. Have you heard/seen otherwise, Doc? Or am I misunderstanding you?

It's okay if it takes you some time to respond. I think they're about to take you to task over the IOM comment for a bit.

Emily said...

Could it be that the heavy flu season isn't because of the vax components being a miss--it was my understanding that they were on target for this year's strains--but because uptake of the vaccine has dropped thanks to, say SafeMinds and, oh, others engendering unwarranted fear in people about it?

Also, I've noted several reports of people having died from the flu, even as the season has yet to peak for this year, including 19 pediatric deaths. Last year, there were 281 reported pediatric deaths related to flu. I believe the yearly average for flu-related deaths overall in the US is in the 30,000s. Have there been any reports of deaths from the vaccine?

Chris said...

Dr. Jay, you do not have to rely solely on Seth Mnookin's documentation of how Kennedy completely distorted the Simpsonwood report. You can go up the Skeptico site and see the transcript yourself (there may still be a copy on SafeMinds website, if you don't trust him).

The problem is that Kennedy made several errors, and of course it is all for naught: all pediatric vaccines can be obtained without thimerosal, since 2002 (which was before his misleading article appeared).

(don't go on that one DTaP or a couple of influenza vaccines still have thimerosal, there are other thimerosal-free versions)

Science Mom said...

Why am I not shocked that Dr. Jay continues with his arrogantly ignorant, mamby-pamby gut science whilst simultaneously casting Orac's regular commentors as misguided. Oh, oh, and while he's at it, yet again elevate his own daft perspective over the rigorous evaluations by the IOM. Dr. Jay, you have become a caricature.

sharon said...

You have to give Dr Jay some credit. He is at least reading a few decent blogs. I think your open letter says it all. C'mon Dr Jay move into the light:)

Sheldon said...

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...
Ren, I agree: "The Lancet" should have published Dr. Wakefield's findings as a letter to the editor and not as major story...

If Wakefield had been honest, the information he had would have so suitable for round filing that it wouldn't have been published as a letter to the editor of JPANDS.

Maybe not... evidence that measles vaccine virus was not found in samples of children with developmental problems (PCR by Chadwick)might have been worth publishing. Naaaah... there was still that ethics issue.

Dr. Jay, next time you see Wakefield or Prof.Walker or Krigsman, see what you can do to get the gene typing of those samples from over a 100 consecutive kids with GI issues warranting colonoscopy by Krigsman in kids with autism. Walker had a poster in 2006 with a very high percentage... but since then silence.

It is an important resource going to waste. Do what you can.

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP said...

"Dr. Jay, next time you see Wakefield or Prof.Walker or Krigsman, see what you can do to get the gene typing of those samples from over a 100 consecutive kids with GI issues warranting colonoscopy by Krigsman in kids with autism. Walker had a poster in 2006 with a very high percentage... but since then silence.

Great idea! I think I might know who could do this.

Sometimes during my office day I wonder why this is such a defining and polarizing issue for pediatricians: Give parents information, tell them your particular point of view and why you feel this way, and then let them participate in decisions. I know that one could use that statement as a pinata, and I'm not recommending megaphones broadcasting extreme opinions. I just think that we've overstated the benefits and risks of vaccines so vociferously that dialogue is diminished and research efforts discouraged.

Best,

Jay

P.S. My favorite old epithets were from those reading my website and then calling me "just another California anti-fluoridation whacko."

J

Matthew Cline said...

About RFK and Simpsonswood: here's an post at Skeptico about RFK's quotemining.

Matthew Cline said...

Oops, Skeptico's piece was already pointed out. Is Skeptico this "Rahul" person? If so, I don't see how him being "biased" would matter, since you can just look up the things he quotes to see if he's lying.

Also, Dr. Gordon, when you say that Brian Deer hates Wakefield and/or is biased against him, what do you base that on? Merely that Deer has spent X number of years reporting him, suggesting obsession on his part, and if Deer wasn't obsessed he would have moved on to reporting something else by now?

Liz Ditz said...

Rahul is Rahul K. Parikh, another California pediatrician. He publishes fairly widely including at Salon.

Last fall he published an article on Dr. Sears' Vaccine Book, which began

Dr. Robert Sears' "The Vaccine Book" is slim, hugely popular with parents -- and the bane of pediatricians' existence.

He is pro-vaccine and pro-science, which may be why Jay refers to him as "close-minded".

Matthew Cline said...

Rahul is Rahul K. Parikh, another California pediatrician. He publishes fairly widely including at Salon.

Ah. So when Jay Gordon said:

I'm not convinced that RFK had it wrong and Seth has it right. Rahul is so biased that he appears at least as close-minded as I'm accused of being.

Did he mean "Seth is so biased"?

Science Mom said...

Sometimes during my office day I wonder why this is such a defining and polarizing issue for pediatricians: Give parents information, tell them your particular point of view and why you feel this way, and then let them participate in decisions. I know that one could use that statement as a pinata, and I'm not recommending megaphones broadcasting extreme opinions. I just think that we've overstated the benefits and risks of vaccines so vociferously that dialogue is diminished and research efforts discouraged.

The problem with this is, that it highly depends upon the expertise of the physician giving the information. I don't hold Dr. Jay to be particularly authoritative with regards to vaccines. Just because he has chosen an alternative path to the CDC schedule (so have I for that matter) and relies upon his gut-science, he believes that grants him some kind of dominion over those far better qualified to understand the disciplines culminating in vaccinology. Good luck getting Dr. Walker to provide genomic sequence data for his alleged findings; he's only had several years to deposit them in GenBank and write them up for a journal submission.