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Dr. Paul Offit appears on The Colbert Report

For a touch of the lighter side, here’s Dr. Paul Offit appearing on The Colbert Report to discuss his new book:

Looks like a win to me. I particularly like how Dr. Offit says that the question of whether vaccines cause autism has been “asked and, fortunately, answered.” Heh. That’s a shot across the bow to J.B. Handley, who, as Steve Novella has pointed out (as have I) is utterly clueless about science and how to interpret the medical literature, as he has demonstrated time and time again with his “14 Studies” nonsense. Of course, anyone who calls Handley out on his ignorance is subject to personal attack. Reporters have felt it. Steve Novella has felt his wrath. So have I. Meanwhile Handley gloats over the decline in confidence in vaccines that his organization Generation Rescue has helped foster.

Fortunately, Colbert appears to get it. I like how Colbert does a faux rejection of one of Dr. Offit’s points by pointing out that he is “ruled by fear.” I particularly like how he mentions Andrew Wakefield, but not by name (rather like Lord Voldemort), and how he asks Dr. Offit a bunch of questions based on talking points the anti-vaccine movement likes to use to frighten parents. No wonder the anti-vaccine collective at Age of Autism is going crazy, having posted (and reposted) numerous attacks old and new on Paul Offit ever since it was announced that he was going to be on The Colbert Report last night, all topped off with one by J.B. Handley himself in which he calls Dr. Offit a “blowhard liar.”

Stay classy, J.B. Stay classy.

Posted in: Science and the Media, Vaccines

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29 thoughts on “Dr. Paul Offit appears on The Colbert Report

  1. DanaUllman says:

    Pertussis spread to neonates by immunised staff
    * By Michael Woodhead on 31 January 2011

    http://www.6minutes.com.au/news/pertussis-spread-to-neonates-by-immunised-staff

    This story will link you to a new report from the Australian government: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi3404e.htm

    The highly transmissible nature of pertussis has been highlighted by an incident at a Sydney maternity hospital in which a fully-immunised nurse infected four neonates.

    Described this week in “Communicable Diseases Intelligence”, the incident shows that extra vigilance is needed in healthcare staff working with newborns, in whom any coughing illness must be suspected to be pertussis, say the report authors.

    It seems that health workers who get vaccinated are a threat to the health of neonates.

  2. Chris says:

    Newsflash for the guy with a “Masters in Public Health”: the vaccine is not 100% effective! Some people will not get immunity from the vaccine, and even from getting the disease.

    That is the reason herd immunity is so important.

    Now go and get yourself the Tdap, and help bring down the cases of pertussis in California. You might even save a baby’s life.

  3. BillyJoe says:

    Dull man,

    It seems that health workers who get vaccinated are a threat to the health of neonates.

    It seems you just don’t understand anything you read.

    This is a warning to medical staff about the very real problems of achieving and maintaining immunity to B. Pertussis. That’s why there are three vaccinations against the disease in the first year of life, followed by a fourth at age four before commencing school, and a fifth vaccination at 15 years before leaving school. Even then, there is still a sizeable percentage who do not respond to the vaccine or whose immune status wanes significantly over time. Even natural immunity is not long lasting.

    Therefore, it is an error to believe that you will not transmit whooping cough if you have been vaccinated. In other words, in addition to being fully vaccinated, you must absent yourself from work if you have a cough – especially if you work with neonates.

  4. BillyJoe says:

    Dull man,

    It seems that health workers who get vaccinated are a threat to the health of neonates.

    It seems you just don’t understand anything you read.

    This is a warning to medical staff about the very real problems of achieving and maintaining immunity to B. Pertussis. That’s why there are three vaccinations against the disease in the first year of life, followed by a fourth at age four before commencing school, and a fifth vaccination at 15 years before leaving school. Even then, there is still a sizeable percentage who do not respond to the vaccine or whose immune status wanes significantly over time. Even natural immunity is not long lasting.

    Therefore, it is an error to believe that you will not transmit whooping cough if you have been vaccinated. In other words, in addition to being fully vaccinated, you must absent yourself from work if you have a cough – especially if you work with neonates.

  5. BillyJoe says:

    Moderator, please remove my first post with the formatting error.

  6. BillyJoe says:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/01/paul-offit-and-the-original-sin-of-autism.html

    JB accuses Paul Offit of saying that there will never be a cure for Autism.

    My response was:

    “When Paul Offit says that there is no cure for autism, he is not saying that there will NEVER be a cure, he is saying that there is no cure NOW. He is saying that there is no evidence that any of the “cures” being offered at present actually work”

    I wonder if it will get consored. :rolleyes:

  7. I think that Colbert got his talking points from an occassional poster on this site, although he did miss the “naive immune system” argument.

    I always give points to the guests on Colbert who can get through the rapid fire interview without a Alice in Wonderland, everything is upside down, moment. Although the guest do seems to be learning that if you are dizzy you can just chuckle and wait for the next question.

  8. David Gorski says:

    Ah, Dana, Dana, Dana. So annoyed that Steve took on your ridiculous post on Luc Montagnier at HuffPo that you felt the need to pollute unrelated threads?

  9. desta says:

    The interview went well; I think generally Colbert does a great job bringing out the skeptical standpoint. All the “Dr. Stephen J. Colbert, MFA” segments crack me up to no end.

    However, I was a little disturbed at the way he constructed the interview/coverage of the fellow who claims he measured precognition. Did anyone see that? Seemed uncharacteristically credulous to me. Sure, Colbert joked around, but something about it wasn’t irreverent enough compared to his usual bits.

    http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/thu-january-27-2011-brian-greene

  10. BillyJoe says:

    “I wonder if it will get consored. :rolleyes:”

    Predictably my response did not appear.

    Funny isn’t it. Anyone can post here and be heard. Even when they talk utter nonsense like Dana. But just try to get the voice of reason heard on an alternative health forum.

  11. tmac57 says:

    BillyJoe-That just illustrates the intellectual dishonesty that the anti-vaxer movement is based on.I wonder if the followers of these sites realize the level of censorship that is going on behind the scenes.Probably not.

  12. Scott says:

    I suspect that they do, but don’t think of it as censorship. It’s just enforcing “civility” or some such; probably they think of it the same way we’d view banning somebody who posted 100 comments at once trying to sell their fake Viagra.

    The disconnect is in recognizing that, when the standard of civility demanded includes agreeing with the specified position it has become censorship.

  13. rjc3 says:

    To paraphase a different infectious disease specialist
    “The world needs more Paul Offit”

  14. scott “I suspect that they do, but don’t think of it as censorship. It’s just enforcing “civility” or some such; probably they think of it the same way we’d view banning somebody who posted 100 comments at once trying to sell their fake Viagra.”

    I belong to a few of parent yahoo groups that have pretty strict “civility”, on topic and “supportive environment” rules. They also outright forbid certain controversial topics.

    BUT they are honest about it. They state the rules up front and when they remove a post, the moderator posts and says a post (or series of posts) on this topic was removed, or the discussion was too heated on this topic, so we removed the posts.

    To me, this is the way to go on a moderated board. To be above board on what has been deleted.

    It seems dishonest, to me when posts just disappear or never are published.

  15. Joe says:

    @micheleinmichigan on 03 Feb 2011 at 1:04 pm wrote “… They state the rules up front and when they remove a post, the moderator posts and says a post (or series of posts) on this topic was removed, or the discussion was too heated on this topic, so we removed the posts.

    I’ll meet you part way on this. If a post (or posts) is removed it really is not informative if there is simply a note about it. It would be good if specific complaints were cited.

    I fully agree with you, if I understand you correctly, that in a private arena there is no First Amendment right of free speech. The government cannot infringe on your speech; private forums have no such requirement. However, when dissident voices are suppressed (in private forums) it gives them propaganda and (possibly) prevents their opponents from knowing what (exactly) is wrong with the dissidents.

  16. “However, when dissident voices are suppressed (in private forums) it gives them propaganda and (possibly) prevents their opponents from knowing what (exactly) is wrong with the dissidents.”

    I agree that banning certain topics from discussion on certain forums inhibits the participants from making informed decisions on those topics (I think that’s what you are saying).

    But sometimes the whole purpose of a forum can be under minded by allowing a hot controversy to become pervasive, in that case, I do believe that the purpose of the forum should be allowed to take precedent over the educational benefits of continuing to discuss a controversy.

    Ex: The parents of Deaf and HI children board I belong to bans criticizing or lobbying for a particular communication method (ASL, Total Communication, Oral, etc). A parent can say what their communication method is. They can ask for advice in getting school, relatives, etc on board with the CM or learning the CM, but not criticize another poster’s choice or suggest their’s is better than others, etc.

    But, this is across the board, there is no preference for one CM method, where ASL posts are left, but Oral posts are deleted.

    This in ables the parents to focus on being supportive on area’s that they can agree and makes the forum a pleasant place to ask advice.

    BUT, It is true that families in the process of choosing a communication method will have to look for information somewhere else, because the posts may not offer a full picture. Although sometimes, on controversial questions, people will just give a email address and ask for answers offline.

    But, that is for a specific purpose (parent support on difficult questions). The openness on the SBM comment area fulfills another purpose in my mind (general science education).

  17. BillyJoe says:

    The problem is that you don’t need to be uncivil on these forums.

    You can make like an angel but, if you say something that might prove difficult to respond to or that exposes some cognitive dissonance on the part of the believers, you don’t get to be heard.

    Also, I’m pretty sure they put permanent blocks on you. After having one provocative post blocked, I’ve sometimes attempted to post something completely innocuous and had it blocked also.

  18. Doc says:

    Dr. Wakefield responds.

    Interview with Dr Andrew Wakefield about the British Medical Journal, science and vaccines. In this video interview, Dr Wakefield says that BMJ is factually incorrect in accusing Wakefield of falsifying the study data in his 1998 paper published in The Lancet.

    http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=608256A446123276E4E72A5351322186

    The controversy continues and what about that Brian Deer?

  19. Chris says:

    Doc, why do you think we care what is on “naturalnews”? And if Wakefield has issues with Deer, where is the libel suit?

  20. Scott says:

    @ Doc:

    Nothing of note there. Just the same lies. Stressing that the paper never claimed there was a link, while completely ignoring the fact that Wakefield very explicitly said so in a press conference, etc. Not a single shred of evidence contradicting a single one of the charges. The same over-and-over-rehashed claims (“the parents came to me completely unsolicited”) that have been proven false beyond any shadow of a doubt.

  21. stanmrak says:

    It’s a comedy show… right where Dr. Offit belongs! Colbert wouldn’t think of asking Dr. Offit about his financial ties to the vaccine industry and conflict-of-interest, or why there are no double-blind placebo studies to determine whether vaccines work… or are even safe.

  22. Joe says:

    @Chris on 04 Feb 2011 at 12:41 pm asked “… And if Wakefield has issues with Deer, where is the libel suit?”

    If memory serves, Wakefield did sue for libel, and his lawyers advised to drop it and cut his losses (remember, in England the loser pays the winner’s legal fees). So, Wakefield incurred a large bill, PLUS the withdrawal happened after Deer received all of Wakefield’s documents pertaining to the case (“discovery”) and those papers resulted in further, public disclosures of Wakefield’s bad actions. Once burned, twice shy.

  23. stanmrak says:

    Just because there’s no lawsuit (yet) against the BMJ doesn’t mean they haven’t got a solid case. Do you what’s involved when you as an individual sue someone like that? You’d better have very deep pockets, even if you’re right.

    Watch the movie, “A Civil Action” and you’ll know what I mean.

  24. Chris says:

    stanmrak:

    Just because there’s no lawsuit (yet) against the BMJ doesn’t mean they haven’t got a solid case.

    Who is “they”? How good is their case. Wakefield has sued for libel before, so he knows what is involved. Why is he just whining on odd websites instead of directly countering the BMJ editors?

    I missed this:

    Dr. Offit about his financial ties to the vaccine industry and conflict-of-interest, or why there are no double-blind placebo studies to determine whether vaccines work… or are even safe.

    Also, Offit has not been part of the ACIP for several years. That is easily verified by looking at the publicly available minutes, like these from 2005 (this is a link, click on it). Please tell me if Offit was on ACIP then, and what he is listed as.

    Next, about the double blind placebo studies. Could you please explain how you would design those studies to protect the placebo group from measles, pertussis, Hib and other vaccine preventable diseases that are returning? We know from various studies and experience from around the world that the non-vaccinated are more likely to get the diseases, so ethically you need to make sure these children are not harmed. The studies include:

    Pediatrics. 2009 Jun;123(6):1446-51.
    Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children.
    Glanz JM, McClure DL, Magid DJ, Daley MF, France EK, Salmon DA, Hambidge SJ.

    and

    N Engl J Med. 2006 Aug 3;355(5):447-55.
    Implications of a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana for sustained elimination of measles in the United States.
    Parker AA, Staggs W, Dayan GH, Ortega-Sánchez IR, Rota PA, Lowe L, Boardman P, Teclaw R, Graves C, LeBaron CW.

    and

    J Infect Dis. 2010 Nov 15;202(10):1520-8. Epub 2010 Oct 7.
    Measles in the United States during the postelimination era.
    Parker Fiebelkorn A, Redd SB, Gallagher K, Rota PA, Rota J, Bellini W, Seward J.

    and

    J Infect Dis. 2000 Feb;181 Suppl 1:S35-40.
    Epidemic diphtheria in Ukraine, 1991-1997.
    Nekrassova LS, Chudnaya LM, Marievski VF, Oksiuk VG, Gladkaya E, Bortnitska II, Mercer DJ, Kreysler JV, Golaz A.

    and

    J Infect Dis. 2000 Feb;181 Suppl 1:S27-34.
    Diphtheria in the Russian Federation in the 1990s.
    Markina SS, Maksimova NM, Vitek CR, Bogatyreva EY, Monisov AA.

    and

    MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009 Jan 30;58(3):58-60.
    Invasive Haemophilus influenzae Type B disease in five young children–Minnesota, 2008.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    and

    Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Oct 1;33(7):1004-10. Epub 2001 Aug 22.
    Mass vaccination of children with pertussis toxoid–decreased incidence in both vaccinated and nonvaccinated persons.
    Taranger J, Trollfors B, Bergfors E, Knutsson N, Sundh V, Lagergård T, Lind-Brandberg L, Zackrisson G, White J, Cicirello H, Fusco J, Robbins JB.

    and

    Euro Surveill. 1999 Dec;4(12):128-129.
    Marked decline in pertussis followed reintroduction of pertussis vaccination in Sweden.
    Olin P, Hallander HO.

    and

    Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Apr;4(2):173-84.
    Acellular pertussis vaccines in Japan: past, present and future.
    Watanabe M, Nagai M.

    and

    Auris Nasus Larynx. 2005 Jun;32(2):125-8. Epub 2005 Apr 7.
    Epidemiological study of mumps deafness in Japan.
    Kawashima Y, Ihara K, Nakamura M, Nakashima T, Fukuda S, Kitamura K.

    and

    Jpn J Infect Dis. 1999 Oct;52(5):208-13.
    Pediatric admission for vaccine preventable diseases: a 5-year survey from 1994 to 1998 in Aichi Prefecture.
    Ozaki T, Morishima T, Hirota T, Sugiyama K, Asano Y.

    and

    BMC Public Health. 2005 Jun 4;5:59.
    Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan.
    Matsumura T, Nakayama T, Okamoto S, Ito H.

  25. stanmrak says:

    “Could you please explain how you would design those studies to protect the placebo group from measles, pertussis, Hib and other vaccine preventable diseases that are returning?”

    The pharmaceutical industry could conduct clinical trials in third-world countries like they do for all their other drugs. That way, they don’t have to be concerned about causualties.

  26. Scott says:

    That doesn’t make it any more ethical. Arguably it’s LESS ethical because it would be taking advantage of the disadvantaged.

  27. Chris says:

    Yes, stanmrak, Africa was a common place for vaccine research. So were institutions like Willowbrook. Also, those “third world” countries are moving higher economically, and do not like being guinea pigs. Funny how you are so quick to push that idea.

    But it did not answer my question:

    Even in Africa, how would you protect the placebo group from the vaccine preventable diseases? It is up to you bring up a valid design that would pass an ethics review board, they must comply with these guidelines.

  28. Chris says:

    stanmrak, I want you to read this old study on measles vaccine done in Africa. Look at Table 1, you need to design a study where the second and third columns of that table will just be filled with zeros. You might go back to those who are promoting the type of study you are championing and checking their credentials. See if they have designed studies, if they have expertise in epidemiology or infectious disease.

    It doesn’t matter that not all cases resulted in the consequence of the third column, because death is not the only bad thing caused by measles.

  29. stanmrak “The pharmaceutical industry could conduct clinical trials in third-world countries like they do for all their other drugs. That way, they don’t have to be concerned about causualties.”

    Yes, there are all those orphanages in China, Haiti, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, etc, we privileged American should get some use out of them by experimenting on the orphans. What does it matter if the children die from measles, polio, etc? It’s not like they have basic human rights or anything. {sarcasm off}

    Or here’s an idea, rather than waste money doing the same research over and over just to appease people who refuse to believe the expensive research that’s already been done, we could take some of that money and properly vaccinate ALL the children in those orphanages.

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