The $150,000 Vaccine Challenge

At the request of a correspondent from the Quackwatch Healthfraud discussion list, I recently got embroiled in a debate with a couple of anti-vaccinationists in the pages of an Amish community newspaper, Plain Interests, published in Millersburg PA. They followed the usual pattern: they told the same old lies, they told partial truths distorted out of all recognition, and they omitted all those other truths that contradict their beliefs. Then they both challenged me to take all the recommended baby vaccines adjusted for weight to “demonstrate that vaccines are safe and effective.” If I refuse to do this, they say it will show that vaccinators are dishonest and that I’m afraid of my own medicine. They said I could win $150,000 by taking the challenge.

I did a little investigating. There is indeed a published challenge by Jock Doubleday, although the exact amount of money currently offered is unclear. His challenge reads:

The offer will continued to increase $5,000 per month, in perpetuity, until an M.D. or pharmaceutical company CEO, or any of the 14 relevant members of the ACIP (see below), agrees to drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the poisonous vaccine additives that M.D.s routinely inject into children in the name of health. The mixture will include, but will not be limited to, the following ingredients: thimerosal (a mercury derivative), ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum.

According to Ratbags, this offer is bogus. He says:

For some years, anti-vaccination liar Jock Doubleday has had a bogus challenge where he supposedly offered $20,000 to any doctor who would drink a concoction of vaccine components. Any doctor who took him up was soon made aware that there was no way of proceeding, and Doubleday himself admitted this when he said that he didn’t want to be responsible for the deaths of anyone who drank the mixture. The amount of money now supposedly on offer is $75,000, but the amount doesn’t matter because Doubleday has no intention of giving anything to anybody. The “challenge” exists simply as a way of derogating doctors by claiming that they are too frightened to accept the offer. There is no money, there is no challenge. I think Doubleday and his supporters are lying both about his intentions and the reactions of doctors. I happen to know several doctors who contacted Doubleday and offered to accept his challenge. In every case something was found to be wrong with the application. An anti-vaccinator wrote to Doubleday in early 2001 to ask him how the challenge was going. Part of his reply was:
“There are two possible candidates, but they may turn out to be hoaxes. In any event, I don’t foresee them really following through. A person would have to be of unsound mind, and I don’t particularly relish the idea of sending a person of unsound mind (or any person, for that matter) to heaven before his or her time.”
At the time I said: “He’s already making excuses about why he won’t be paying anyone anything. He’ll refuse to go ahead because of his unwillingness to hurt someone (“first, do no harm”) and, a year from now, the anti-vax mythology will be talking about how nobody took up the challenge”. Was I right?

I found another challenge: Viera Sheibner’s challenge. Responding to an article by Simon Chapman, he says, “If vaccines are such a blessing I challenge Simon Chapman to appear on television and allow himself to be injected with all baby vaccines, adjusted to his body weight by a doctor of my choice and in my presence.
The vaccines to be administered to Simon are as follows:
• DtaP: 3 doses within 4 months
• Hib (any conjugates): 3 doses within 4 months
• OPV or IPV: 3 doses within 4 months
• Hep B: 3 doses within 1 month of each other.”

Someone has already taken a greater challenge by ingesting 1400 times as much mercury as a child gets from vaccines. Nobody is saying these toxins can’t cause harm. But remember, the poison is in the dose. There is no evidence that the amounts in children’s vaccines have harmed them, and any effects of larger amounts in adults would really be irrelevant. It would be just as irresponsible to assume that something was safe for children just because adults had taken it with impunity. But the really stupid thing is that Doubleday’s challenge involves taking orally the constituents that are injected during vaccination.

I declined the challenge for two reasons:

  1. I have already taken a greater, more meaningful challenge by giving my two precious daughters all the recommended vaccines, as well as taking them myself. In the Air Force, I got a number of other vaccines that are not in the recommended schedule, like yellow fever and cholera. I get my flu shot every year. I have demonstrated to the satisfaction of any reasonable person that I’m not afraid of vaccines.
  2. It wouldn’t do a bit of good, because it wouldn’t prove that the vaccines are safe. If I took the challenge and had no adverse effects, it wouldn’t persuade a single anti-vaccine activist to change his mind and vaccinate his children. They would make excuses like “well, maybe it didn’t hurt her, but my children might be more susceptible” or “maybe it didn’t hurt her, but it hurts other people,” or “it did hurt her and she’s lying about it” or “it might not have caused problems yet, but it might have a delayed effect later on,” or of course, “she just swallowed them, but vaccines inject them directly into the child’s body which must be worse.” Such a trial would not be good science: it would not be science at all, but only a meaningless testimonial from one person. The truth does not emerge from publicity stunts on TV; it emerges from carefully designed scientific studies. These people are not about to let even good evidence change their minds because their unwillingness to vaccinate is not based on evidence and reason but on a belief system.

My challengers both think there is something wrong with the fact that the same vaccine dose is given to people of different weights. One of my challengers said “the one-size fits all approach is very unscientific and dangerous.” I don’t think I need to explain to the readers of this blog how totally wrong-headed this is. These people are so ignorant of science that one of them said foreign protein contaminants in vaccines can change our genetic structure!

Apart from other considerations, isn’t it logically inconsistent for these folks to give any importance to the results of one casual demonstration on one person after they have already rejected the demonstrations of controlled scientific trials on many thousands of people?

If someone could offer a challenge with the prize being the silencing of all anti-vaccine propaganda, then I might think it was worthwhile.

As a footnote: a letter to the editor in the same issue said that “In Pennsylvania there are 500 vegetables – children who are helpless and need to be tended like vegetables as a result of taking the flu shot.” Where did that misinformation come from and how could anyone believe it? To put just the numbers into perspective, during the Swine flu vaccine scare of 1976, a total of 500 people in the entire country developed Guillain-Barré syndrome – and most of them recovered completely.

Posted in: Public Health, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (27) ↓

27 thoughts on “The $150,000 Vaccine Challenge

  1. DLC says:

    Oh yes. I recall seeing Doubleday’s fake challenge somewhere before. Of course, nobody is going to be permitted to take him up on it.

  2. Ex-drone says:

    If I were challenged to consume a weight-adjusted amount of baby formula, I would have to drink about 1.5 gallons of it at a single sitting. I’m not sure I could survive that.

  3. mindme says:

    I exchanged email with this guy. I asked him why not offer it to any doctor who will vaccinate his/her own child in front of him. His rules seem unnecessarily byzantine. You have to read his books, prove you read his books by taking a test, you have to take a psych test to demonstrate you’re probably sane, etc. Vaccinating your own child to me seems as much of a test of faith as imbibing his recipe.

    His only response was “the test stands as it is”. He didn’t have a good answer. Of course, he knows 90% of doctors vaccinate their own kids no problem:

    And he’d lose his money in a second.

  4. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    Re the Sheibner challenge:

    “ethylene glycol (antifreeze)”

    Not this again. For the umteenth time, antifreeze is POLYethylene glycol and has never been in vaccines.

    My kids have had all of the shots on the schedule. Where is THEIR money? A jump on their college funds would be nice.

    James Randy puts his challenge money in an interest bearing account at Goldman Sachs and will make the statement available to any contender. Where do these clowns keep their money. Where are the statements?

    “The vaccines to be administered to Simon are as follows:
    • DtaP: 3 doses within 4 months
    • Hib (any conjugates): 3 doses within 4 months
    • OPV or IPV: 3 doses within 4 months
    • Hep B: 3 doses within 1 month of each other.”

    This is not the routine schedule. This is not even the “Catch-up Schedule”.

  5. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    My appologies to James Randi.
    I mispelled his name above.

  6. Skeptico says:

    No matter what the “prize” I don’t think I’d drink a cocktail of chemicals prepared by someone who doesn’t know the difference between ethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol.

  7. Scepticon says:

    Blind Watchmaker, Ethylene Glycol is indeed used in antifreeze,
    this product description is on the Havoline website:

    “Havoline Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant DEX-COOL is a single-phase, ethylene glycol type universal automotive engine coolant based on a Texaco’s patented long life organic corrosion inhibitor system.”

    The MSDS is also available which gives the exact ingredients including CAS number, which is a unique identfier for chemicals.

    I belive you have in backwards, Polyethylene Glycol is in vaccines, Ethylene Glycol is not.

  8. Karl Withakay says:

    So if the hard core antivaxers will never change their positions, why do we bother with it all?

    Like an American election, the target is the middle ground. The hard core Republicans will always vote Republican, likewise the hard core Democrats.

    The battle is for the hearts and minds of the in betweens, the undecided, and the less than certain. The hard core Jenny McCarthyites are lost for good. We need to keep the reasonable uninformed from being hoodwinked by bad information and pseudoscience. We need to win back those reasonable uninformed who have already fallen for the antivaxers’ false propaganda.

  9. Harriet Hall says:

    The battle often seems hopeless, but there is an occasional ray of sunshine. In the periodical I mentioned, one issue contained an anti-vaccine article, the next issue contained my rebuttal, and the following issue contained two long anti-vaccine rebuttals of my rebuttal. I was thinking I might have done more harm than good, since there was now 3 times as much anti-vaccine propaganda as there would have been if I hadn’t responded.
    Then today I received this handwritten letter:

    I would like to express my thanks and appreciation for your article on vaccines. After reading the other articles on vaccines you need encouragement to continue as you are. Keep up the good work. Thanks again.

    Since one person took the time to write, I can assume that I reached others who were persuaded by what I wrote – so my efforts were not in vain. There are people out there who listen to reason and want to be informed. We have a duty to inform them.

  10. MedsVsTherapy says:

    Does a PhD count as a “doctor” on this one?
    Compared to us adults, the risk from heavy metals, such as mercury, is greater for the infant’s developing nervous system including brain. My brain is already organized, hemispherized, and sulci-fied, so not much to lose. If the mercury in my fillings has not given me autism, I don’t think some equivalent-dose of thimerosal will.
    BTW: I have repeated several of these vaccinations already: at a couple bureaucratic-heavy health care institutions where I have trained or worked, they have insisted upon medical documentation of various vaccinations, so for several I have simply had them repeated rather than track down the various records of these.

  11. doug shapiro says:

    How do you identify funding sources for published medical research?

  12. storkdok says:

    My thanks to Harriet and all the other science bloggers who are evidence based! We need you. You may not convince the hard core pseudoscience believers, but you are reaching those who have not made a firm decision yet and are searching for answers. I direct many mothers to science blogs. At least we can hopefully prevent the spread of pseudoscience.

  13. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    @ Scepticon

    You’re right, my bad. The point is, the anti-freeze one is not the one in vaccines. We always hear that it is.


  14. Mjhavok says:

    Good article Harriet.

    These morons don’t understand science at any level. How the method works or the knowledge obtained my it.

  15. Scepticon says:

    @Blind Watchmaker,

    So long as the right info gets out there, it’s good to highlight these inaccuracies.
    I’m lucky to live in NZ where this sort of thing hasn’t become as wide spread as the US.

    Good Luck

  16. Good call – this tendency in the media to create a completely bogus “balance” between two ideas, however crazed and extreme one (or both!) may be, is behind a great many cases public deception, and of course the problem of “selection bias” also plays an important role. The decision about which person gets to come on and be the “balance” against the genuine scientist will actually curtail the terms of the debate from the outset, for all the pretence of impartiality.

    Even the most bonkers and absurd propositions can be made to look almost-respectable when presented in this way. My personal favourite “balanced” media debate was when the ex-footballer David Icke declared himself to be the Son of God, and was then interviewed on British TV taking questions from a carefully-selected audience, half of whom thought that he might actually be the reincarnation of Jesus, and half of whom weren’t so sure:

  17. HCN says:

    To illustrate that Doubleday has no intention of even attempting allow anyone to take the challenge, read one of the links in LeftbrainRightbrain. That link is the contract which has all sorts of bizarre requirements: (for some reason this link no longer occurs in the offer letter, using the Wayback machine I found it disappeared late 2007).

    Begin quote
    A. Psychiatric Evaluations

    Participant agrees to undergo psychiatric evaluations ….

    B. Mental Health Records

    Participant agrees to submit, within 45 (forty-five) days of Participant’s signing of the Agreement, documents comprising a verifiable written history of all psychological counseling and therapy …

    C. Email Examination

    Participant agrees to take a written open-book examination (the “Basic Exam”) before becoming eligible to receive Part B of the Agreement….

    D. Book Purchase

    To assure Participant’s complete and thorough familiarity with and understanding of possible immediate and long-term physical and psychological hazards of chemicals commonly used as disinfectant, preservative, medium, or other additives in vaccines, as well as possible immediate and long-term behavioral changes that may occur from ingestion of or contact with these chemicals, Participant agrees to obtain at Participant’s cost the following recently published books (the “Books”):…

    E. Written Examination

    Participant agrees to take a written closed-book examination …

    F. Good Health Certification

    To certify that Participant is in normal health (“Good Health”) (so that, upon Participant’s possible sickness or death after the ingestion of the Mixture, Participant and/or agents of Participant cannot reasonably claim that sickness or death was due to causes other than the ingestion of the Mixture), Participant agrees to a general physical exam including a blood test (the “Physical Exam”), at Participant’s expense,…

    Securing of Medical Professionals:

    Participant agrees to secure three medical professionals …

    Television Appearances:

    Participant agrees to make at least five regional or national television appearances …

    Participant Donations:

    In the event that Participant signs Part A of the Agreement but fails to sign the Agreement-in-Full within 120 (one hundred and twenty) days of the signing of Part A of the Agreement, Participant agrees to donate by check the amount of $5,000.00 (five thousand U.S. dollars),…

    End quote

  18. Rumpled stiltskin says:

    I was just wondering how much the National Vaccine Compensation Act has spent since 1986, and how much does it spend yearly? Are there any figures on that and what percentage do they claim that is of the total claims filed? I heard the FDA a few of those people had been quoted claimed VAERS reporting was estimated by them to be 1 to 10% of the total claims out there? So what do we tell thsoe people when they say many parents have seen their healthy child regress into a brain damaged state shortly after vaccination. Who is that Dr Carley, they say she is crazy. Is there any truth to that she reveresed all those autism cases? Or have you found any parents that said it was all bogus? I was reading the other day on her site where she claimed several pshycologists examined her and said she was fine..I bet thats a lie? That Gardasil that came out I been hearing thsoe anti vax people claim that girls died from blood clots and Merck and the FDA never studied it combined with birth control pills either. They claimed that when they mixed Manactra with Gardasil and as well as alot of other vaccines…they claimed Merck never studied that either and grls were having severe adverse reactions and didnt recover. those people will make up all sorts of hideous lies. i bet they can find even one single case of that if you asked them. The they said polysorbate 80 caused accerated and incomplete growth of reporductive organ in rats and infertility. Those dosages in rats were much higher than in Gardasil I bet, thats what they been saying about it. So why should they exopect anyone to be still concerned with that crap. Where do they come up with it?

  19. Chris says:

    Rumpled Stiltskin asked lots of questions…

    Have you heard of Google? It is a website that is called a “search engine.” You can plug in words in a box and websites pop up with the answers.

    Like the Vaccine Commensation bit… a quick google brings up this:

    Oh, and Dr. Carley is very crazy. Another quick google search finds that her medical license was revoked:$FILE/ATTVAXXO/lc175786.pdf (and yes it was about the third page, but is was an official state site).

    It is a scanned copy, so I have to type in the pertinent sentence on the third pdf page; “Respondent suffer a delusional impairment that leaves her unfit to practice medicine and we vote 5-0 to revoke her License.”

    Does this help?

  20. fx says:

    “Then they both challenged me to take all the recommended baby vaccines adjusted for weight to ‘demonstrate that vaccines are safe and effective.'”

    Since an adult has a developed immune system, and already has immunity to the diseases, taking another dose of all the vaccines, adjusted for weight, would be a good way to demonstrate the safety of the vaccines regularly injected into millions of babies.

    Of course nobody has done such a thing, so it might be a good idea to do it to a chimp or two first, just in case, before Doctors and other healthy adults start injecting themselves with vaccines, just to make sure it won’t hurt. Or kill you or something.

    Then, after animal testing is done, Doctors, or anyone else, can regularly inject themselves with the current vaccine schedule, adjusted for weight, to ease the fears and misinformation about vaccines.

    It would not only show the vaccine skeptics that vaccines can’t hurt you, it will also shut them up about it.

    Who is going to go first?

  21. I also exchanged emails with this jerk. I’m a med student so he said I don’t qualify, when I asked why he said

    The rules of the offer stand, for reasons that will become clear with thought.

    Have a vaccine-free day!

    My response to this email was ignored.

    Not suprising really…

  22. To the med student above:

    I’m not sure why you’d want to call me a “jerk,” when I politely explained that the rules of the offer are the rules of the offer. :) You are not an M.D. — you are a med student. Med students are not eligible for the offer. Thus: your non-eligibility for the offer makes itself clear with thought. Yes?

    As for “Harriet Hall’s” blurb:

    A “little” investigating is right :) . . . Here’s the publicly available URL of the vaccine offer, now at $200,000:$75,000VaccineOffer.htm

    Now you know how much the offer is, “Harriet”!

    AND here’s my nearly three-year-standing Open Letter to Peter Bowditch (aka “ratbags”), never replied to, which shows him to be a 1) liar and a 2) fraud:)

    AND as for “Harriet’s” blurb:

    Ingestion of poisons is SAFER than injection. So: Why is it “stupid” to make the dosage safer for some science-challenged but well-meaning M.D. who is merely the unwitting front man for the death-dealing pharmaceutical companies?

    Please stop ranting about how great vaccines are and do some research. Actually, you don’t have to do research :) — I’ve done it for you:

    “Into the Labyrinth: Discovering the Truth about Vaccination”

    The article above explains how all of us were duped by money-driven forces into believing that vaccination works and provides the details of the subsequent cover-up when the fraud of vaccine efficacy/safety was exposed.

    AND . . . especially for med students, but really for all of us, here’s a short audio file by Dr. Russell Blaylock as he explains how Rockefeller created orthodox medicine in 1901 — for his own ends:

    (go to minute 5:20)–Social-engineering–Alex-Jones-Show

    Western medical schools are (Rockefeller’s) medicult schools. I urge all medical school students to get out while they can.

    In health,

    Jock Doubleday
    Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc.
    A California 501(c)3 Nonprofit Corporation

    Jock Doubleday is the author of
    “Spontaneous Creation:
    101 Reasons Not to Have Your Baby in a Hospital, Vol 1:
    A Book about Natural Childbirth and the Birth of Wisdom and Power in Childbearing Women”

  23. Chris says:

    Jock Doubleday:

    I’m not sure why you’d want to call me a “jerk,” when I politely explained that the rules of the offer are the rules of the offer

    Looking over this thread, it is clear you have no intention of doing a valid test. (go up to a post made on the 10th of January, it shows Doubleday requires purchasing books from unqualified authors, and several tests).

    Plus, it has been noted that Russell Blaylock has no real qualifications in immuniology or other pertinent fields. One of Mark Crislip’s Quackcasts has some interesting words about neurosurgeons!

    Oh, look… you are a guy telling women how and where to give birth. Well, isn’t that special! Thank you very much, but no. Without real medicine both my son and I would have died.

    What are your qualifications, again? What is your education?

  24. Harriet Hall says:

    If anyone wonders why I am not responding to Doubleday’s comment, they can read what I wrote about playing by the rules of science at:

    He is not even in the game.

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