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J.B. Handley and the anti-vaccine movement: Gloating over the decline in confidence in vaccines among parents

UPDATE, 4/25/2011: I can’t resist pointing you to a hilariously misguided attack against me that proves once again that, for the anti-vaccine activists, it’s all about the ad hominem. Clifford Miller, a.k.a. ChildHealthSafety, was unhappy that I showed up in the comments of Seth Mnookin’s post complaining about J.B. Handley’s attacking him solely based on his having once been a heroin addict, an addiction that Seth managed to beat. In response, Miller writes. Not only was he unhappy about a post of mine that was over a year old, but he regurgitated Jake Crosby’s fallacious pharma shill gambit that he used against me last summer. Thank you, Mr. Miller, for, in your utterly irony challenged manner, proving my point that to the anti-vaccine movement it’s all about the ad hominem. You did it better than I ever could. Now, back to my post.

One of the key talking points of the anti-vaccine movement is to repeat the claim, “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine.’” Indeed, one of Jenny McCarthy’s favorite refrains has been “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine.’ I’m pro-safe vaccine,” or “I’m ‘anti-toxin.’” In doing so, the anti-vaccine movement tries very hard to paint itself as being made up of defenders of vaccine safety, as if the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and all the regulatory agencies don’t support safe vaccines. Many are the times that we have seen examples of this particular denial, both on this blog and elsewhere. For which specific anti-vaccine activists this is self-deception, delusion, or outright lie is a complicated question, but one thing that is clear to me is that the very existence of this talking point demonstrates that, at least for now, being anti-vaccine is still viewed unfavorably by the vast majority of people. If it were not, there would be no need for vaccine conspiracy theorists to use this particular line over and over again. Also, if the rhetoric from the anti-vaccine movement didn’t demonize vaccines so viciously as the One True Cause of autism, asthma, and a variety of other conditions, diseases, and disorders, leaders of the anti-vaccine movement wouldn’t be so anxious to assure us at every turn that, really and truly, they aren’t “anti-vaccine.” Oh, no, not at all.

Unfortunately for them, their rhetoric and activities betray them. For one thing, the anti-vaccine movement is not monolithic. There are indeed anti-vaccine zealots who are not afraid to admit that they are against vaccines. Many of them showed up to Jenny McCarthy’s Green Our Vaccines march on Washington two years ago with signs bearing slogans such as “Danger: Child Vaccine (Toxic Waste)”; “We found the weapons of mass destruction”; “Stop poisoning our children”; and, of course, “No forced vaccination! Not in America!” In the run-up to that march, I lurked on several anti-vaccine discussion forums, and I saw first hand how the organizers of the march were trying to keep people with these signs in line and less visible, not so much because they don’t agree with them but because they promoted the “wrong” message. In this, they remind me of political parties trying to rein in their most radical elements.

Among these groups, Generation Rescue has supplanted the former most influential anti-vaccine group, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). It has achieved this largely through somehow attracting a scientifically ignorant washed-up model, actress, and comedienne named Jenny McCarthy who, most recently before having a son diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum had been promoting “Indigo Child” woo on her IndigoMoms.com website, complete with a “quantum prayer wheel” invented by William Nelson, inventor of the quackalicious EPFX-SCIO. Back in 2007, just prior to the release of her first autism book, Louder Than Words: A Mothers’ Journey in Healing Autism, McCarthy’s “indigo” website disappeared from the web in a futile attempt to send it down the memory hole, but thankfully The Wayback Machine knows all. In any case, thanks to Jenny McCarthy and, at least as much to her boyfriend, the massively more famous Jim Carrey, Generation Rescue has been tranformed from an ignored fringe anti-vaccine group to a famous and influential fringe anti-vaccine group with all sorts of ins among the Hollywood elite, just as it’s been tranformed from just Generation Rescue to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization – Generation Rescue.

Its increasing fame and influence notwithstanding, Generation Rescue has been playing the “pro-safe vaccine” game for at least five years now. Indeed, J.B. Handley himself, founder of Generation Rescue, wrote just last year:

I have vaccinated my children. I encourage others to vaccinate. But when I question vaccine safety, or rather the lack thereof, I’m called “anti-vax” by people like you.

Tell me, how am I anti-vaccine? How am I endangering other people by encouraging them to read up on vaccine injuries. How am I endangering them by giving them as much information as possible in the hopes that their children will not have the same reaction as my son?

Of course, in the five years since I first learned of J.B. Handley, during which time I’ve been following his exploits, I have never once heard him say or seen him write anything that encouraged parents to vaccinate, that expressed anything other than regret or anger at having vaccinated his children and, apparently in his view, caused their autism, or that said anything good about vaccines at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. Last year, for example, J.B. Handley began April, which is Autism Awareness Month, by releasing a truly incompetent attempt at a “study” and then launching Generation Rescue’s deceptive Fourteen Studies website. All the while, I have seen J.B. paint himself as a guardian or watchdog of vaccine safety time and time again, while using familiar denialist tactics of sowing fear and doubt; misinterpreting, cherrypicking, or misrepresenting existing science; highlighting bogus science like that of Andrew Wakefield and Mark and David Geier; and demonizing his opponents, the last of which he is particularly talented at.

Consistent with this, it would appear that J.B has finally let his “I’m not anti-vaccine” mask drop. Last week, Handley laid down an unusually candid bit of his typical braggadocio about a recent study that appeared in the journal Pediatrics about parental attitudes towards vaccination. Tellingly, he entitled it Tinderbox: U.S. Vaccine Fears up 700% in 7 years, in which he gloated about having been responsible for the increasing mistrust of vaccines among parents. Since Handley prominently mentions yours truly, I felt that a bit of a friendly rejoinder was in order.

J.B. Handley starts off his post by boasting:

With less than a half-dozen full-time activists, annual budgets of six figures or less, and umpteen thousand courageous, undaunted, and selfless volunteer parents, our community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.

Cue the “Star Wars” music, with a rag-tag band of rebels fighting off an evil galactic empire. Citing the study (Freed et al), which found that 25% of parents surveyed believe that vaccines “can cause autism in healthy children” and that 60% of mothers agree or strongly agree that “I am concerned about serious adverse effects of vaccines,” Handley then gloats by congratulating his people:

Community, prepare to take a bow, America is listening.

I can’t help but make three points here. First, I’m not sure why anyone would want to “take a bow” for spreading misinformation based on ignorance, outright pseudoscience, and paranoid conspiracy theories about vaccines because it has started to have some traction among the public. In my book, that’s nothing to be proud of at all. Second, if J. B. Handley is “not anti-vaccine,” why on earth would he think it’s a good thing that, if the study he cites first is to be believed, parents are becoming more afraid of vaccines, so much so that he blusters and brags about his “success” in his typical fashion? J.B. clearly believes he and his ilk are the responsible for a huge increase in fear and doubt about vaccines and goes so far as to take the credit for it in the name of the “autism community” and lays out his anti-vaccine belief very clearly in a typically testosterone-laced style. Third, although the survey does raise some cause for concern, it is not as bad for supporters of science-based medicine and good for the anti-vaccine movement as Handley tries to paint it. Before I get to explaining why, let’s first note the full reason that Handley is gloating:

Taking a very different approach from the average journalist, I started doing some of my own research, and came across this study, Parental Vaccine Safety Concerns, Results from the National Immunization Survey, 2001-2002.

I was floored.

I remember 2001-2002. My son was born in 2002. I’d barely heard of autism. I’d heard the faintest whispers about vaccines causing autism, but wrote it off as hippy-conspiracy stuff. Not surprisingly, the 2001-2002 report, unlike the 2009 report, does not even mention the word “autism.”

And, in 2001-2002, what percent of parents expressed any concerns about the safety of vaccines? Seven. 7%. Less than 10. Five plus two. A full 93% of parents said vaccines were “completely safe.” In fact, the 2001-2002 study was exceptionally proud of the “low prevalence of vaccine safety concerns.”

What a difference seven years has made. Folks, the U.S. vaccine program literally has its hair on fire. 56% of parents today are concerned about the serious adverse effects of vaccines, and 60% of moms. 56% of parents is an 8-fold, or 700% increase from 2001-2002.

That’s right. J.B. Handley is taking credit on behalf of the movement he leads for cranking up hysteria about vaccines, concluding, “Parents, you can now take a bow. It’s way worse than we thought.”

Well, yes and no. You’ll see why this is a typical bit of J.B. Handley hyperbole in a minute. On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue that fear and loathing of vaccines haven’t increased during the last decade or so. This increase in mistrust of vaccines is particularly evident in the United Kingdom, where Andrew Wakefield’s shoddy, trial lawyer-purchased, incompetent, and possibly even fraudulent 1998 Lancet study linking the MMR vaccine to bowel problems in children, coupled with the aid of the credulous media, both witting and unwitting, has driven down MMR uptake in the U.K. to far below the level necessary for herd immunity. This decline in MMR uptake rates has predictably resulted in measles incidence skyrocketing over the last decade to the point where it has become endemic again. Although it took 12 years, the results of Wakefield’s malfeasance finally came home to roost last month, when, in rapid succession, Wakefield was found guilty of research misconduct by the U.K. General Medical Council, saw his Lancet paper retracted by The Lancet‘s editors, saw his infamous “monkey study” withdrawn by NeuroToxicology, and was then forced to resign from Thoughtful House by its board of directors, led, ironically enough, by Jane Johnson, heiress to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. If 2009 was a bad year for the anti-vaccine movement in many ways, 2010 looks to be potentially as bad, starting with the latest ruling from the Vaccine Court against the second batch of test cases, one year after the first batch also failed.

All of the above developments, and more, have led the anti-vaccine movement in general and J.B. Handley in particular to lash out, and I see this latest bit of braggadocio as part of that lashing out. I was particularly amused by this passage:

Referring again to the 2009 Pediatrics report that “current public health education campaigns on this issue have not been effective,” I am pleased to lay the blame for that on four people: Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. David Gorski, Amanda Peet, and Ms. Alison Singer. The data clearly shows that the efforts of these four to stem the tide of public opinion away from vaccines has been a miserable failure.

I must say, there’s nothing like being mentioned in the same sentence with Dr. Paul Offit, Alison Singer, and Amanda Peet as defenders of the vaccination program to give a nice little boost to one’s ego! And J.B. even called me “Dr.,” something he often apparently intentionally avoids doing! Seriously, I’m profoundly honored that in J.B.’s mind I deserve to be viewed as being on the same level. Think about it. Here I am, an itty-bitty blogger. Well, not exactly itty-bitty. This blog has a healthy and respectable traffic, as does my other, more infamous blog, so much so that to my shock when I traveled to St. Louis a couple of weeks ago the Skeptical Society of St. Louis thought enough of me to arrange an impromptu get together on short notice at a local bar. Even so, to compare my feeble efforts to combat the anti-vaccine movement to those of Paul Offit, who has been a vaccine researcher for decades and made real scientific and medical contributions to eliminating infectious disease, is ridiculous. To compare me to Amanda Peet, who has many orders of magnitude more name recognition that I have, either under my real name or my more infamous pseudonym, does seem a stretch, as does comparing me to Alison Singer, who was forced out of Autism Speaks because she doesn’t share the belief that vaccines cause autism and ended up forming a new autism charity called the Autism Science Foundation. Unrealistic or not, ridiculous or not, being considered to be on par with such people puts me in very good company indeed, although, in the words of Wayne and Garth from a couple of decades ago, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!”

we're not worthy

In comparison, all I’ve done is to have been a persistent thorn in J.B. Handley’s side through my blogging for the last five years about the vaccine pseudoscience promoted by Generation Rescue (and later Age of Autism), written one relatively popular blog, edited another popular group blog, and participated in a panel discussion about the anti-vaccine movement at TAM7 last year. All of these are worthy activities, but I can only conclude that it is a measure of J.B.’s fixation with me that he would be deluded enough to include me in such a list. Whatever influence I’ve garnered through my personal blog and, with the help of my cobloggers,though SBM is on the order of several thousand readers. That influence is not even close to being of the same order of magnitude as that of the mainstream media or of someone like Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy, which makes “blaming” me for whatever failure there has been in combatting the tide of misinformation spread by various anti-vaccine organizations rather silly. I also wonder why J.B. didn’t also target Steve Novella, who’s done at least as much, if not more, than I, as he’s done in the past.

Perhaps this is why:

Did Hollywood cast this guy as a villain? He’s perfect! Of course, Offit found Amanda Peet, who let the world know we were all parasites (anyone hear from her lately?). Go online to get the other side, and your likely to find Dr. Gorski’s blog, where a dozen anonymous commentators echo Dr. Gorski’s venomous invective – just the thing to build trust with a new mommy! The newest entrant, Ms. Peet’s replacement, is Ms. Singer, who looks like she stepped out of the morgue to take each interview and tell everyone that vaccines are safe and we all barely exist. Keep talking, Ms. Singer, keep Paul Offit on your board, and keep publicizing the “National Immunizations Conference” on your “autism science” website.

I’ll admit that my other persona is a tad more–shall we say?–blunt (insolent, even!) than I am when I write for SBM, but to hear J.B. complain about “venomous invective” nuked my irony meter. Generation Rescue and its propaganda arm Age of Autism specialize in “venomous invective,” particularly against Paul Offit and anyone else who opposes its anti-vaccine agenda. After all, this is the same man who launched personal attacks on Steve Novella that can only be viewed as more than venomous. This is the same man whose misogynistic attacks on Amy Wallace, a journalist who wrote an excellent article on the anti-vaccine movement, made him infamous throughout the science-based blogosphere. This is the same man who periodically blasts away at me1,2,3 whenever I get under his skin too much. This the same man whose blog posted a Photoshopped picture of Steve Novella, Amy Wallace, Paul Offit, and Trine Tsouderos sitting around the table for a Thanksgiving feast, the main course of which was a baby, as shown by this screenshot taken from my computer around the time the post showed up:

cannibal

That was so over-the-top that even AoA ended up deleting it after a firestorm of criticism. I can’t compete with venom like that even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to.

But let’s get to the study touted by Handley. It did indeed show that 25% of parents polled think that vaccines can cause autism in healthy children, a disturbingly high rate, but, quite honestly, much lower than I feared it would be when I first heard about the story. However, what Handley neglects to mention is that, despite the 54% of parents expressing concern about serious adverse events due to vaccines, 90% of parents agreed that “getting vaccines is a good way to protect my child(ren) from disease” and that 88% agreed that “generally I do what my doctor recommends about vaccines for my child(ren).” These responses suggest that, although more than half of parents express concern about adverse events, most of these same parents don’t find the worries they have about vaccines compelling enough to refuse vaccination. In other words, they have heard about the concerns, most likely thanks to anti-vaccine groups and activists like Generation Rescue and J.B. Handley, but the concerns haven’t “stuck” enough to make them refuse vaccination. Unfortunately, J.B. Handley and his ilk are certainly doing their best to change that.

More disturbing is the finding that nearly 1 in 8 parents have refused certain vaccines for their children, with newer vaccines being more likely to be refused than older vaccines. This figure suggests to me that the “too many too soon” propaganda of Generation Rescue and others, and the “alternative vaccination schedules” touted by people like Drs. Bob Sears and Jay Gordon may be gaining traction. How much of that can be attributed to the propaganda of the anti-vaccine movement is impossible to say for sure, but certainly other factors are at play, including a general trend of questioning medicine more, along with the rise of the Internet, which has allowed people with no particular expertise in a topic to attend “Google U.” and conclude that they know more about a topic than researchers who have studied an issue all of their lives. While it’s true that science does advance and scientific consensuses do change, they do so through data, experimentation, and clinical research, not through conspiracy theories and misrepresentation of science. Moreover, changing public opinion has nothing to do with the validity of a position. Many more people believe in ghosts than in the scientifically discredited idea that vaccines cause autism. That does not mean ghosts exist.

In the end, I have to wonder whether the anti-vaccine movement has reached its high water mark in terms of public influence and J.B.’s gloating is a tad premature. After all, the last year or so has been very bad for him and his organization. Before 2009 started, study after study have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism or thimerosal and autism, many of which we’ve collected right here. In February 2009, strong evidence showing that Andrew Wakefield had committed scientific fraud came to light, and that was followed by a ruling against the first three Autism Omnibus test cases. A series of excellent reports by Trine Tsouderos and Pat Callahan of the Chicago Tribune demonstrated the depths of autism quackery driven largely by anti-vaccine ideas, while exposes of the anti-vaccine movement came fast and furious from Chris Mooney for DISCOVER (Why Does the Vaccine/Autism Controversy Live On?) and Amy Wallace for WIRED (An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All), leading to the aforementioned misogynistic attacks against Amy Wallace and a recent hilarious invocation of the “pharma shill” gambit against Chris Mooney. Since 2010 began, not only has Andrew Wakefield been completely discredited that he was forced to resign from Thoughtful House, but the Vaccine Court ruled against the second set of test cases. Meanwhile, later this year Paul Offit is scheduled to release a book about the anti-vaccine movement that paints it in a very unfavorable light. Increasingly, people are (correctly, in my estimation) viewing Jenny McCarthy as a dangerous loon abusing her celebrity.

I’ve been very critical of the AAP and CDC before. I and many others have been sounding the alarm against the anti-vaccine movement for at least five years now, and the AAP and CDC remained tone deaf to the growing vaccine denialism movement fronted by J.B. Handley and, since 2007, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. To me, it seemed that it wasn’t until 2009 (2008, to be generous) that health authorities in the U.S. seemed to wake up to the threat. So, since 2002, the anti-vaccine movement had the playing field to itself by and large. Now it does not. I may be the eternal optimist in this (either that, or I’m bipolar, cycling between extremes of pessimism and optimism), but for the first time since 2005, the year I first started paying attention to vaccine issues in a big way, I sense a positive shift in the national zeitgeist against the anti-vaccine movement. That’s one reason why I consider it important to mention two things. First, the questionnaires for this survey were administered in January 2009. Second, I’ve sensed this change most strongly beginning in late 2008/early 2009, and accelerating in early 2010, meaning that this survey could indeed represent the high water mark of mistrust of vaccines. I also note that the spectacular flameout of Andrew Wakefield in January and February, in particular as evidenced by the retraction of his 1998 Lancet paper, has seriously hurt the anti-vaccine movement, and don’t think they aren’t feeling it.

I do have to thank Mr. Handley though. His article did do more for my already inflated ego than anything since finding out at TAM7 that I’m not just an itty-bitty blogger anymore. I also thank him for laying it on the line: The goal of the anti-vaccine movement is to spread fear and doubt about vaccines among parents, to “bring the U.S. vaccine program to its knees,” as J.B. so aptly put it. Now that we know that, we know that, for all the disclaimers of “I’m not anti-vaccine” notwithstanding, J.B. Handley and Generation Rescue are anti-vaccine to the core.

ADDENDUM:

I can’t resist pointing out a perfect case of crank magneticism by an AoA commenter who left a doozy of a comment after the post above that amused me greatly:

First off Keebler count me in the quarter that denies the 18th century evolution theory that even the theorist decried before his death as he turned to God. His theory was just a 4 centuries removed from the 14th century world is flat group.

Also count me in the group that says global warming is Horse Sh– and the students paper it is based on, the emails that exposed the conspiracy of lies and the revelation that Al Gore used photos from a Hollyweird movie did not have anything to do with my firm conclusion. Anybody who is even remotely aware of the weather man/woman and the accuracy of their predictions clearly knows that the weather cannot be accurately predicted from Monday to Wednesday with any consistency therefore to take the word of these same people that the planet will be warmed significantly from CO2 from SUV’S and cars is beyond laughable. As any grade schooler can tell you the earth has more water than land, almost 72%, and the greatest emission of green house gases is from the ocean, God sort of planned it that way and you can take for granted that he is a wee bit smarter than you are ok genius.

Also Keebler the hysteria from people like you screaming that the glaciers are melting and that this will cause floods all over the world is nothing short of histrionics spawned by true ignorance, you see according to Archimedes principal, another high school physics tid bit, when an object displaces water, like ice does, even if it melts the water level does not rise because of the volume displaced by the ice is equal to it’s volume when melted.

By the way, water is the ONLY substance that when solid is less dense than when it is a liquid. If this were not true then the plants in the bottom of lakes, rivers and oceans in cold areas would die and not make oxygen and the fish would die and then we would eventually die. Again God planned it that way and when you know everything because you actually created everything it works really well.

Finally the vaccine scam will come to an end. Physicians and surgeons everywhere outside of pediatrics and psychiatry are telling people not to vaccinate. I stand straight up and tall and look parents in the eye and tell them not to vaccinate and give them my card and tell them to tell their pediatrician to call me if he has the guts to.

Evolution denial, anthropogenic global warming denial, and vaccine denial, all in one comment! Truly, we have the crank trifecta!

Less amusing is this:

After this scam comes to an end, and it most certainly will come to an end because ALL SCAMS COME TO AN END. I personally am hoping it is through mob violence so I can get my licks in. I am going to have all of these ass wipe fraudulent studies along with the pictures of the authors printed on toilette paper of my choice, with raised lettering( so it catches more fecal material when I clean myself) on double ply paper because I want to be real comfortable when these “peer reviewed” articles and their authors from Pediatrics, Elsevier the CDC and the New England journal of Medicine do their real job. I am certain they will be great at it and that this is what their true purpose in life is.

When J.B. talks about “venomous invective,” perhaps he should look at his own blog. Nowhere do I ever advocate (or even just hope for) “mob violence.”

Posted in: Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (62) ↓

62 thoughts on “J.B. Handley and the anti-vaccine movement: Gloating over the decline in confidence in vaccines among parents

  1. DLC says:

    wow.
    JB has no shame, has he?

    and that comment you referenced at the end — are you sure it’s not a Poe or something ? It seems awfully full of talking points.
    Oh well. . . . just remember — sometimes pointing and laughing is the proper response.

  2. Beowulff says:

    Well, that’s pretty rich. First Handley complains about “venomous injective” and in the very next sentence he introduces Ms. Singer, who according to him “looks like she stepped out of the morgue…”

    @DLC: I’m hoping it’s a Poe too. Hard to believe someone can be so ignorant to not know that there is a lot of ice on land (Greenland and Antarctica), to which Archimedes’ law is irrelevant.

  3. Adam_Y says:

    When J.B. talks about “venomous invective,” perhaps he should look at his own blog. Nowhere do I ever advocate (or even just hope for) “mob violence.”

    Isn’t this the guy who has written multiple paragraphs essentially calling you an idiot?

  4. windriven says:

    “…they remind me of political parties trying to rein in their most radical elements.”

    Which political parties are these?

    “…Jenny McCarthy as a dangerous loon abusing her celebrity.”

    I wish someone would help me understand this celebrity thing. For what exactly is she celebrated? For getting naked for Hugh Hefner? For being Jim Carrey’s roommate? Which begs the question: for what do we celebrate Jim Carrey? He is a high school dropout. And to be catty, he hasn’t made a decent film in 15 years.

    So we are supposed to take medical advice from a bimbo and a high school dropout? Good grief.

  5. Composer99 says:

    It would be very heartening if the anti-vaccine movement has peaked.

    On the other hand, it is very disheartening to see someone hoping for any sort of mob violence so that he (she?) can get his licks in under the cover of group anonymity.

    Oh, and noticed a small typo:

    Second, I’ve sensed this change most strongly beginning in late 2008/early 2009, and accelerating in early 2010, meaning that this survey could indeed represent the high water mark of mistrust of faccines.

    Empashis mine.

    Actually, you could make something of that mis-spelling: a ‘faccine’ could be a vaccine against factual information, not unlike what JB Handley and the Age of Autism/Generation Rescue/anti-vaccine groups appear to have inoculated themselves with.

  6. “and that 60% of mothers agree or strongly agree that “I am concerned about serious adverse effects of vaccines,”

    When I read that, as I mom, my first response was “Sure. I’m not going to say I’m not concerned. How would that look?” So it’s not surprising to me that number is high.

    “More disturbing is the finding that nearly 1 in 8 parents have refused certain vaccines for their children, with newer vaccines being more likely to be refused than older vaccines.”

    I also don’t find this surprising. When my daughter’s ped told me that the chicken pox vax was on my daughter’s list for that check-up, I considered declining it. Why, because when I was a kid, we all got chicken pox. It was safer to get chicken pox when you were young. I was concerned about the chicken pox vax* running out when it was less safe to get chicken pox (teen-age young adult.) What if something happens that she doesn’t get her booster. Say I get Alzheimer’s and forget to nag her, or the apocalypse or something? Anyway, it’s required for school, so I got it anyway.

    Funny thing though, when we were in China, she got chicken pox (atypical, mild) We didn’t even know she had it til we got home. But, if she had had a full blown case, we might have had to delay our return home for a week or more. So, I was happy she got the vax.

    (Sorry, that was a long way around the block for a small pay-off.)

    Anyway, I think there is a common perception among parents I know that all the really bad childhood diseases already have vaxs. So, anything new is probably not important. I have learned a lot in that regard from reading this blog. Perhaps there could be better education of the public on that topic.

    *apologies for the lack of correct medical terminology, I didn’t have time to look up the correct terms. Also, feel free to gently correct me if my representation of the chicken pox vax is unintentionally inaccurate.

  7. rork says:

    1) I’m not sure stooping to slam a demented commenter in the addendum, and the final two sentences trying to tie it to the intended target, were fair.

    2) The recent JAMA article (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20215608) studying infection rates in Hutterite communities after vaccinating some of them has been a useful additional weapon in combating some foolish opinions. Hope it is on people’s radar.

    3) While the battle of the famous is important, I think I am also seeing an upswing in pro-vax opinions being expressed at very low and local levels, where somewhat informed folks are more willing (and able) to say why some anti-vax opinions are wrong. (I do give our famous writers, including Gorski, considerable credit for that trickle down, and thank them all.)

  8. rork “1) I’m not sure stooping to slam a demented commenter in the addendum, and the final two sentences trying to tie it to the intended target, were fair.”

    I agree, since I often check out some comments on any newpaper, blog, etc I read, I tend not to hold the article writer responsible for the commenters. I have read perfectly reasonable articles with incredibly crazy commenters. So, I only hold writer’s responsible for their own crazy.

    But, I do avoid blogs that have too much crazy in the comments. I just don’t need that.

  9. David Gorski says:

    I’m not sure stooping to slam a demented commenter in the addendum, and the final two sentences trying to tie it to the intended target, were fair.

    I strongly disagree. Let me remind you what J.B. wrote:

    Go online to get the other side, and your likely to find Dr. Gorski’s blog, where a dozen anonymous commentators echo Dr. Gorski’s venomous invective – just the thing to build trust with a new mommy!

    J.B. criticizes me for “venomous invective” and my commenters for “echoing” that invective, the clear implication being that I encourage such invective; yet we find on AoA far more venomous invective from J.B. himself, and anonymous (and not anonymous) commenters not just echoing but amplifying that invective far beyond anything seen on my blog.

    I could easily have found numerous other examples. A particularly rich source were the comments after the infamous “baby-eating” post on AoA. True, that wasn’t something J.B. wrote, but I could easily also find similar examples after posts by J.B. himself, some of the invective directed specifically at me. Craig Willoughby, a regular AoA commenter, is particularly nasty in that respect.

  10. David Gorski says:

    While the battle of the famous is important, I think I am also seeing an upswing in pro-vax opinions being expressed at very low and local levels, where somewhat informed folks are more willing (and able) to say why some anti-vax opinions are wrong. (I do give our famous writers, including Gorski, considerable credit for that trickle down, and thank them all.)

    I’d like to think that you’re right and I have something to do with it, but I also think that two other, larger factors are at play. First, the anti-vaccine movement has, in my opinion, finally overreached, particularly with its habit of attacking journalists who write about it unfavorably and even publishing private e-mails between journalists and its members. It’s even been known to preemptively crank up the smear machine when it gets wind that a journalist is looking at the vaccine-autism manufactroversy. Word of such behavior gets around among journalists and contributes to the perception that these people are cranks, like 9/11 Truthers. Second, the consequences of the anti-vaccine movement’s activities are finally starting to become apparent. Pockets of disease outbreaks among populations with low vaccine uptake have begun.

  11. Khym Chanur says:

    Second, if J. B. Handley is “not anti-vaccine,” why on earth would he think it’s a good thing that, if the study he cites first is to be believed, parents are becoming more afraid of vaccines, so much so that he blusters and brags about his “success” in his typical fashion?

    Maybe he thinks that if enough parents become afraid of vaccines, that vaccine manufacturers will have no choice but to make vaccines safer? I rather doubt that anything the manufacturers did could convince Handler and his ilk that vaccines are safe enough, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe that he’s not anti-vaccine.

  12. Harriet Hall says:

    I think the tide is turning. Even the Reader’s Digest recently spoke out against the anti-vaccine movement and told Jenny McCarthy that the science doesn’t support her.

  13. provaxmom says:

    I see his ‘gloating’ as a hail-mary play. I read it as this: “Hey you, yes you! In case you were starting to think that maybe I was wrong, that perhaps science is right and vax are safe……they’re not! See, you’re not alone. Half of us see it the same way. Don’t abandon me now, we’re just starting to make a difference!”

    When actually the opposite is true. I agree with Harriet, more parents are starting to come to their senses. He’s trying to rally the troops before his mission loses all of it’s energy.

  14. Martin A. Lessem, J.D. says:

    It is articles like this that keep me coming back here to SBM. The refreshing honesty of this blog is something which does it credit, especially in the fallacy ridden world of the anti-vax movement. Being a lawyer, I followed the decisions of the Vaccine Court very closely, and I have to admit I was happy with the outcomes. It was a vindication for science-based medicine in general. Even the recent Wakefield rulings were a major boost for science over woo.

    It heartens me to think that a pinnacle has been reached and that despite the anti-vax rhetoric the public is moving away from those ideas. Part of the credit goes to sites like SBM.

    Way to go guys!

  15. superdave says:

    In the great movie, Kung Pow:Enter the Fist, a bad guy is losing badly in a fight and declares,

    ” I’m bleeding, that means I win.”

    JB Handley’s writings always remind me of that line.

  16. JMG says:

    Comments from AoA are fair game, it’s a fully moderated comment system, so they are “approved” to appear by the author.

  17. cervantes says:

    It is interesting how these streams of denialism are starting to flow together. It seems to me that the convergence of creationism, global warming denial and anti-vaxism is more likely to produce mutual discredit than to give them greater strength.

    BTW, and in the same vein, can’t we do something about the atrocious and inexcusable fact that RFK Jr. is still chief counsel to the NRDC, even as they are calling out global warming denialism i the name of science? They ought to be ashamed. I think a concerted campaign could get results. Their global warming page is here, they have blogs on which one can comment. If people mention the hypocrisy of employing RFK Jr. at every opportunity they might have to pay attention.

  18. JMG

    “Comments from AoA are fair game, it’s a fully moderated comment system, so they are “approved” to appear by the author.”

    I think that’s a good point. But I still tend to think that Dr. Gorski’s article would have been stronger without the last psycho commenter bit. I think he makes his point on “venomous invective” when showing the awful Photoshop picture and the quotes about Singer.

    That last bit seems overkill to me. Just personal preference, I guess.

  19. Ryan says:

    It helps distract from the lack of evidence of efficacy, having these quackers shout about autism and magnets.

    http://www.cochrane.org/podcasts/influenza/summary-cochrane-reviews-influenza

    http://www.cochrane.org/podcasts/issues-1-3-january-march-2010/two-updated-reviews-influenza-vaccines

    Easier to beat up on the nut jobs than to look critically at what we might have done wrong for decades.

    It’s true that you don’t have to be a anti-vaxer to question the poor results from the blockbuster vaccines.

    The magnet sellers never managed to get a preventive measure adopted by a majority of the population that later turned out to be based on corrupt clinical data.

    The quacks never managed to milk billions of tax payer dollars for Gardasil, Varicella vax, influenza vaccines, and Prevnar. All of which are population based experiments (pre licensure trials inadequately designed and powered to show long term effects). All of which have more evidence of harm than benefit.

    I already talked about Prevnar but briefly

    Gardasil: Future 1 and 2 trials showed a decrease in abnormal paps in women mean age 20. Current guidelines from ACOG etc suggest ignoring abnormal paps in women 20 and younger since these will all resolve without intervention. The long term phenomenon of serotype replacement was unaddressed and it is possible one of the remaining 11 oncogenic serotypes will cause more disease than 16 and 18. Additionally, we have no idea how long the vaccine will remain effective at preventing 16 and 18 infections and since cervical cancer is a disease of 30 and 40yos we may cause a spike in cervical cancer 2-3 decades from now when these children vaccinated with gardasil are exposed to something they have no long lasting immunity to.

    Varicella vax: Shingles in teens , shingles in adults, shingles shingles shingles. Where is all the acyclovir going? There’s a shortage and all I can find is there has been “increased demand”. Are we seeing the shingles tsunami? Turns out children getting chicken pox probably boosted the immunity of adults and elderly in the community. Opps

    And good ole Thomas Jefferson MD/MPH had a couple pod casts I linked to to tell you all about the evidence regarding influenza vaccination.

    “At the briefing, the CDC reported that 155 million doses of H1N1 vaccine had been shipped for distribution throughout the U.S. and about 70 million doses had been administered”

    70 million doses administered after all the hype over swine flu? Some of those were children who got 2 shots. So less than 1/4 of the population took part…..

    Maybe it’s because they were duped by the natropaths and homeopaths. Maybe it’s because they’re following the best evidence.

    Which takes more courage:

    Standing up to the quacks?

    Or

    Remaining critical of the richest corporations on earth?

  20. JJ from Cowtown says:

    @Ryan: If you have a point, make it. That style of unfocused rant is entirely useless, especially peppered with straw men, false dichotomies and unsupported claims.

    How many different topics do you dance between and what do you even bother supporting with links?

  21. TsuDhoNimh says:

    “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine, but” …

    Just like “I’m not bigoted, but …” “I’m not anti-Semitic, but …”, “I’m not a homophobe, but …”

  22. David Gorski says:

    Ryan,

    You’re new here, aren’t you? I’ve written several posts criticizing existing medical practices and/or big pharma, which you would know if you were a regular reader. Peruse the archives of posts written by me and you will soon see.

  23. pmoran says:

    Ryan, all your points are very arguable, some aggressively, but I note that you only mention more recently developed vaccines where the benefits are in some cases less definite (but reasonably predictable), and where the long term value may only emerge with time.

    Do you, then, accept that older vaccines are desirable — or are you against those too?

    The point is, why see only the most sinister motives behind these latest vaccines, rather than an inevitable aspect of the progress of medicine, i.e. that as major breakthroughs become less frequent the emphasis shifts onto medical activity having more marginal gains?

    These vaccines may save fewer lives and reduce morbidity at some small risk, but they exist for the same reason that many other present-day medical treatments improve outcomes by only a few per cent and have marginal benefits in risk/beneift terms. We doctors should not be ashamed to admit that. It is inevitable that medical progress sometimes creeps along on its hands and knees.

    So, each case that you mention has to be argued out with the fullest consideration of ALL the evidence from BOTH sides and the least initial bias. Can you do that? Much of the argument and counterargument has been covered on this blog, if you look.

  24. alisonsinger says:

    Totally worthy Dr. Gorski.
    –”Ms” Singer :)

  25. Enkidu says:

    Oh, no, one of the rotavirus vaxes was contaminated with a porcine virus. Prepare for an anti-vaxer freak-out on this very soon:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/22/rotavirus.vaccine/index.html?hpt=Sbin

  26. windriven says:

    Ryan-
    Dr. Gorski and most of the commenters on this site are quite polite when dealing with the, shall we say, oddly wired. I feel no such obligation.

    If you cannot formulate a coherent argument at least man up to your shortcoming and take a page from AA: “My name is Ryan and I am a wackaloon.” If you preface your comments in this fashion it will save the rest of us the drudgery of wading through your ad tedium nonsense.

    If you find that to be more than you can manage you might opt for brevity instead: “I hate corporations.” That pretty much sums up your … argument, doesn’t it? You could post that in bold face just so we all know you’re serious.

    I am particularly dumbfounded by this bit of egregious bullcrap: “70 million doses administered after all the hype over swine flu? Some of those were children who got 2 shots. So less than 1/4 of the population took part…..”

    Influenza – common garden variety influenza – kills about 36,000 people in the US annually (CDC statistic). When it emerged, H1N1 suggested that it might be particularly virulent. It takes months and a huge investment to prepare an influenza vaccine. Had a vaccine not been produced and had H1N1 proved to be as virulent as first feared, you would likely have been among the first to accuse BIG PHARMA of neglecting H1N1 vaccine in favor of some more profitable drug. As it happened, H1N1 was not nearly as bad as had been feared. Most of us take comfort in a tragedy averted. You see only greed and avarice. Do you have any idea how pathetic that makes you appear?

  27. Zoe237 says:

    RE: blockbuster vaccines gardasil and prevnar There was an interesting article from the AP a few months ago, basically the future of vaccines. I can’t count how many times I’ve read on the pro vax side “well, companies don’t make a profit off vaccines anyway.” Apparently, this is no longer true:

    http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2009/11/vaccines_market_gives_pharmace.html

    No matter how you look at it, newer vaccines have one major drawback: cost. Gardasil is $375 for the series. So is it worth it, for example, to have a mandated infant vaccine for traveler’s diarrhea (as one condition the article mentions?). What’s the hypothetical limit when the benefits aren’t worth the cost??

    I also understand the new health bill lengthens the amount of time patents are available, before generics can be sold. I wonder what effect that will have.

  28. Th1Th2 says:

    “Danger: Child Vaccine (Toxic Waste)”

    Who would deny that?

    “Examples of biohazards include microbes, anthrax, vaccines, and cell cultures.”

    http://www.ilpi.com/msds/faq/partb.html

  29. Th1Th2 says:

    Enkidu,

    For vaccine apologists it does not matter, for as long as the needle is sterile. That’s how dangerous their minds are.

  30. Zoe237 says:

    I also am noticing the tide turning, and think at least part of it is also due to the H1N1 disease and vaccine. I think the mainstream journalism has made parents more educated about the subject and perhaps more realistic about the risks of vaccine preventable disease.

    Combined and oral shots help too.

  31. wldflr says:

    dr. gorski,

    wakefield’s study was published as you know in 1998, which was the year i graduated OT school and began working with children with autism and their families. so it feels like i have been mucked into this mess for a long time. families tell you a lot when you spend over an hour a week with them for years. they expect a lot too; they have kept me on my toes and i have done my best to learn about all of the newer therapies and theories. unproven does not mean ineffective, and i have tried to keep an open mind while practicing within my scope. no way would i go near advising them on vaccines but i sure have heard a lot of opinions.

    last june, i had a baby. i had exactly 8 weeks to decide whether to vaccinate her. with all that i have seen these families go through, i hesitated more than i maybe should have. it is a whole other thing to be the parent, not the professional. autism is no joke, and i do not want to bring it on my family if there is a hope of preventing it. there is a lot of pressure from both sides. i live in a town where the vaccination rate is apparently near 50%. oy. my own parents are well educated anti vax conspiracy theory types. it is really tough to talk this out with someone who doesn’t already have a political agenda.

    in my efforts to make an informed decision, i read everything i could get my hands on. i found sbm, and the articles and links here were influential in my decision to vaccinate her, as well as a lot of time on medline and deep in the physiology texts. my conclusion was that the crazy stuff from the other side just doesn’t make sense. preventing whooping cough does. there’s not much to tell us how to prevent autism, except maybe win the gene roulette. i wish that more money went into research that was actually helpful to people i know with autism who work very hard and could use a break.

    my child is fully vaccinated and thriving. she’ll be wearing helmets and using carseats, because there’s evidence for that, too.

    thank you for your work, from a loyal reader and mom.

  32. windriven says:

    @zoe237

    “I also understand the new health bill lengthens the amount of time patents are available, before generics can be sold. I wonder what effect that will have.”

    I hadn’t read that but will take your word for it. I suspect that one group will argue (probably incorrectly) that longer patents will induce drug companies to lower prices as they can amortize their development costs over a longer period.

    That will only happen when the feds move to control drug prices as they inevitably will and as they have already begun to control physicians fees.

    We are embarking on a very different path in medical care than we have been accustomed to. I reckon that some of the changes will be quite positive. Others not so much.

  33. Enkidu says:

    Zoe: I found a few “overstatements” in that nj.com article.

    First of all, they are not anywhere close to an AIDS vaccine, and people in the industry are even contemplating if they should waste any more time or effort on trying to develop one after that disasterous trial last year. Also, I just attended a seminar by a leading researcher in Dengue virus and a vaccine for that is way off too. She was thinking that they would have a better chance of finding a drug against Dengue than a vaccine. And the last I heard of an HSV vax was a few years ago. It provided some protection for women, but not men. I’m not sure where they are at with that now. So a lot of the conditions listed are probably way hypothetical and no where near the “ready in five year” mark for a vaccine.

    Second of all, they say that yeast technology for making vaccines isn’t approved in the USA, but Gardasil is made in yeast.

    That said, I have no idea what the finances are like for pharma companies regarding vaccines. If I am to believe the Merck scientist that gave a talk in our building last year, they won’t be making a profit from Gardasil until this year sometime.

  34. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    “I also understand the new health bill lengthens the amount of time patents are available, before generics can be sold. I wonder what effect that will have.”

    As a primary care physician whose PO (physician organization) holds us to 75% GUR (generic utilization rate), I don’t think it will change things very much. Most major classes except the Angiotensin Receptor Blockers have a generic equivalent, and many of those are on numerous pharmacies $4 lists. The ARB’s will be generic soon next year when Cozaar finally goes. There won’t be a golden age of ‘Big Pharma’ anytime soon unless there is a big breakthrough.

    I can tell you that there has been less angst in the general population of parents regarding vaccines lately. I hope that trend continues. It is good to question your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any treatment, but we have studied this autism claim to the hilt and it should be over. Moving on.;

  35. David Gorski says:

    That last bit seems overkill to me. Just personal preference, I guess.

    You mean you haven’t figured out yet that I’m all about the overkill? :-)

  36. Davdoodles says:

    I read Handley’s smarmy gloating as being a rallying cry.

    And when does an admiral most need a rallying cry?

    When he senses that his team is on the ropes.

    Metaphor-mangle-eriffic!
    .

  37. BillyJoe says:

    Oh it’s so hard to be so soft on the softies.
    But I must simply ignore the simply ignorant.

    So I’ll just sing a lovely tune…

    “Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon his head.
    Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that he was dead”

    …oh, I feel much better now.

  38. # David Gorskion 22 Mar 2010 at 11:12 pm
    “You mean you haven’t figured out yet that I’m all about the overkill?”

    Actually, no I hadn’t. But thanks for the light bulb moment. I can usual spot intentional quirky, but have a blind spot for intentional overkill. (I’m working on it.)

    Carry on then.

  39. Adam_Y says:

    Who would deny that?

    People who aren’t idiots. You do realize that the MSDS system and similar EPA regulations are for industrial and large scale practices? Anything can be dangerous given the right conditions.

  40. FreeSpeaker says:

    Adam: People who aren’t idiots. You do realize that the MSDS system and similar EPA regulations are for industrial and large scale practices?

    Adam, the Handleys of the world rely on the fact that people are idiots. They rely on people having taken high school science classes because they were required for graduation, not because they wanted to learn anything. As of the use of MSDS and EPA, they regularly use them because they believe that their audiences are idiots. And, the audience does not disappoint.

    As for Dr. G’s comments visi-a-vis CDC and FDA inaction early on. Quite wrong. Back in 1999 or 2000, in response to the growing concerns over vaccination uptake, since the anti-vax propagandists were having an effect, they removed Thimerosal from vaccines. This, of course, the anti-vaxxers immediately jumped on as “proof” they were right. Recently, it seems, that the CDC and FDA are thinking more clearly. As Paul Offit says, though, you cannot unring the bell.

  41. DC says:

    These aren’t opinions, the evidence shows more harm than good.

    Here’s the future 1 trial , one of the two trials that won gardasil FDA approval

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/356/19/1928

    Check out the magnitude of benefit between the placebo and shot groups then look at the demographics of the women studied , the average is this trial was 20 and in women under age 20 getting that prevention of abnormal paps , well abnormal paps aren’t an issue in those women according to ACOG

    http://content.nejm.org/content/vol356/issue19/images/large/06f2.jpeg

    ” From January 2002 through March 2003, a total of 6463 women between the ages of 16 and 24 years were screened for eligibility at 62 study sites in the Asia–Pacific region, Europe, and North, Central, and South America. Of these women, 5455 met the inclusion criteria, and 2723 women were randomly assigned to receive quadrivalent vaccine and 2732 were assigned to receive placebo”

    Another issue is the vaccine being tested on a population not destined to receive the vaccine. It’s rich americans who are to get the vaccine.

    Here’s future 2

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/356/19/1915?ijkey=4b03523ec245ce40d29ec1bc7f9cf707de4562d5

    Check out the magnitude of benefit; again this is an average age of 20 ;

    http://content.nejm.org/content/vol356/issue19/images/large/05f1.jpeg

    Here’s one of the lead researchers of future 1 and 2 expressing concerns.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/19/cbsnews_investigates/main5253431.shtml

    But back in the day when it first came out, the only thing I could find online was this one OBGYN with some interesting concerns. It’s not like most of the stuff on this site is valid, his letter is pretty interesting though.

    http://www.vaccineinfo.net/immunization/vaccine/hpv/doc_against_HPV.shtml

    Here’s a couple warnings about the shingles tsunami (sorry I can’t resist calling it that; just like I can’t resist calling screening CT scans “sprinkling cancer juice”)

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18999945

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1177968/?tool=pmcentrez

    As for influenza vaccine, google the cochrane collaboration and see what you think, they are as evidenced based and unbiased as you can get and they have consistantly called into question the efficacy of the influenza vaccine. The science tells us we’re doing the wrong thing. This is a highly personal journey. If you can suspend the dogma spoon fed to you by the CDC, FDA, and the corrupt professional organization in industrialized medicine and critically look at the evidence, you will see billions of wasted dollars based on corrupt clinical data.

    The Truth About the Drug Companies by the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine is a great book exposing the shenanigans of the pharmaceutical industry. The same industry that got rich off Prevnar, Gardasil and influenza vaccines.

    I challenge you to not simply choose your beliefs based on credentials of the speaker but on your own critical investigation of the data.

  42. David Gorski says:

    As for Dr. G’s comments visi-a-vis CDC and FDA inaction early on. Quite wrong.

    You should remember that I’ve only been paying attention to the anti-vaccine movement since maybe 2002 on Usenet and since 2005 in the blogosphere. Based on my frame of reference during the time since then, I stand by my assessment. Also, the removal of thimerosal was driven primarily by one man, as you may recall, and it was a P.R. disaster. So what we’re left with is either not paying enough attention to a problem or incompetently dealing with it.

  43. BillyJoe – “Oh it’s so hard to be so soft on the softies.”

    I have been working on the assumption that th1th2 was possibly more coherent in another language, dimension or on different medication. I had not considered the fact that they may be a softie. http://i.treehugger.com/images/2007-2-21/softies.jpg

    That explains a lot.

  44. JJ from Cowtown says:

    DC – “As for influenza vaccine, google the cochrane collaboration and see what you think, they are as evidenced based and unbiased as you can get and they have consistantly called into question the efficacy of the influenza vaccine. The science tells us we’re doing the wrong thing.”

    I strongly suggest you read more of the content of this very blog. Mark Crislip (whom the world needs more of) has written extensively on the Cochrane reviews on influenza vaccination.

    The short version: The policy today tends to be targeted vaccination of ‘at risk’ populations (read: the elderly) and the science behind that policy is a mixed bag.

    Now, does that mean there’s no science behind influenza vaccine efficacy? Far from it, and there are plenty of studies to demonstrate efficacy, especially as we move from targeted to universal immunization.

    But it’s much easier to skip the nuance and claim there’s no efficacy to the influenza vaccine. Sound bite answers to complex issues with nuanced answers.

    “If you can suspend the dogma spoon fed to you by the CDC, FDA, and the corrupt professional organization in industrialized medicine and critically look at the evidence”

    …why doesn’t the above read…

    “If you can critically look at the evidence”

    That’s the focus of this site. Not invoking boogeymen with an abundance of emotionally charged language. That only raises the ire of other commentators, it does nothing to actually advance the debate.

  45. Chris says:

    DC, let me add to what JJ said, read this. Plus the Quackcast version for those who have trouble reading.

    Because the world needs more Mark Crislip.

  46. Ryan says:

    “In conclusion we have no reliable evidence on the effects of influenza vaccines on the elderly and health care workers who work with the elderly. What we do have evidence of is widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies.”

    That’s TJ speaking. That’s not a mixed bag good sirs.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/288946

  47. Ryan says:

    I’ve always wondered why it’s said to be unethical to do a randomized controlled trial with influenza vaccines when less than half the population chooses to get the vaccine some years.

  48. Chris says:

    Ryan, read the link I posted above yours. Also, listen to Dr. Crislip’s podcast.

    Also, the ethics of doing RCT for influenza involve withholding a real medical procedure by substituting a placebo. Especially since the person involved does not know if they are getting a real vaccine or a placebo. And they are actually requesting the vaccine, why give them placebo?

    You can, however, check to see influenza levels of those who declined vaccination versus those who chose to be vaccinated. Ideally the groups would be balanced, but that is highly unlikely.

  49. David Gorski says:

    “In conclusion we have no reliable evidence on the effects of influenza vaccines on the elderly and health care workers who work with the elderly. What we do have evidence of is widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies.”

    That’s TJ speaking. That’s not a mixed bag good sirs.

    Commentary on TJ:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2495
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2258
    http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/10/journalists_sink_in_the_atlant.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/10/the_atlantic_article_sur_rebut.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/10/the_atlantic_methodolatry_and_pandemic_s.php

  50. LizB says:

    The anti-vax crowd is a little scary. I can completely understand being concerned about what you’re injecting into your child, but everyone from this group that I’ve met in cyberspace appears to have no sense of reason at all – they’re impossible to have a rational discussion with.

    The post says… “On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue that fear and loathing of vaccines haven’t increased during the last decade or so.”

    Curious – do you think this is partly from an inreased lack of trust in authorities (including medical) in general? I’ve had a couple of rotten experiences (example: doctor associated with a local medical university spent five minutes with me before diagnosing carpal tunnel… thankfully the physical therapists I saw after were able to determine that it was definitely NOT carpal tunnel. Very scary, since my work is all computer-related.) that have honestly made me feel like I just can not trust anyone, doctors included, to absolutely know what’s going on.

    (I’m just imagining that a couple generations ago, the thought of questioning your doctor was perhaps unheard of?)

    At any rate, I just found your blog (someone recommended I check out “functional medicine” – I was trying to figure out what it was about and found your article, thanks!) – It looks like there’s alot of very detailed, helpful info here – can’t wait to read more of it. Thanks.

  51. BillyJoe says:

    micheleinmichigan:

    “BillyJoe – “Oh it’s so hard to be so soft on the softies.”

    I have been working on the assumption that th1th2 was possibly more coherent in another language, dimension or on different medication. I had not considered the fact that they may be a softie.”

    Now you’ve done it.
    …and I was trying so hard not to mention his name.

    (Congratulations on picking it though. I tried really hard to be obscure, but there’s no getting past some people :))

  52. BillyJoe says:

    Ryan,

    “I’ve always wondered why it’s said to be unethical to do a randomized controlled trial with influenza vaccines when less than half the population chooses to get the vaccine some years.”

    Because, dear sir, the group that chooses not to have the flu vaccines are likely to be different (ie healthier) from the group that chooses to have the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine could be effectively mitigating the effects of the flu in the second group without actually reducing it below the effects of the flu in the first group

  53. BillyJoe – Sorry, I didn’t realize that it was a “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” situation.

  54. Prometheus says:

    To quote the Bard:

    …it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    I was actually encouraged by the response to the H1N1 (“Swine”) influenza outbreak this summer – people saw a potentially dangerous disease and responded responsibly (i.e. they got vaccinated). The problem, as I see it, is that most of the vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood have become rare, so the average person doesn’t fear them (not to mention that most – if not all – of the adults in the anti-vaccination movement were vaccinated by their responsible parents).

    At some point – if the anti-vaccination loons are successful – there will be a large outbreak of some vaccine-preventable disease and the general public will get a chance to see children they know – maybe even their own children – suffer, die or become disabled. Then vaccine uptake will return to the levels seen before the fear-mongers started their campaign.

    Prometheus

  55. cloudskimmer says:

    Here’s an idea: Check out this website: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health/autism/

    Vaccines don’t cause autism! Insufficient Vitamin D causes autism! So says the Vitamin D Council, an organization dedicated to curing many diseases, not just autism, which are caused by Vitamin D deficiency. Yes, the rise in autism coincides with staying indoors and riding in automobile. It’s simple; it’s easy to see; it’s a logical fallacy!

    How about telling Jenny McCarthy about the Vitamin D Council, then stand back and watch them fight it out? It could be interesting.

  56. Harriet Hall says:

    I predict Jenny McCarthy would not fight the Vitamin D Council. She would figure out a rationalization by which they could both be right. Low vitamin D levels allow the evil vaccines to do their damage, or something like that.

Comments are closed.