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If this is what keeps a CDC researcher up at night, how would they ever keep a huge conspiracy going?

1 Sep

Since these stories have attracted many people from outside the autism community, let me start with a few things I’d like you to know.  I am not a science blogger.  I am the parent of an autistic child.  One with multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability.  While I try to stay as objective as possible in my discussions, these topics are personal to me.  Frequent readers here will know that the inequities in identification and services in autism, especially between racial and ethnic groups, is something that concerns me and is something I have long advocated to correct.  And this has nothing to do with the fact that my kid is mixed race (not mixed African American, but mixed race nonetheless).  I don’t think about that.  My kid is just my kid.  And that luxury comes because there are people who changed America and made it this way.  Still, equity means a lot to me; inequity bothers me a great deal.  I have upmost respect for those who have pioneered the civil rights we now enjoy and I abhor those who use race in order to sensationalize their message.

All this said, let me get this out of the way clearly right now: the CDC did not find that the MMR causes autism in African American boys.  The CDC has not been running some sort of experiment and allowing kids to be vaccine injured.

Many people have taken on the science–or better stated lack thereof–of Mr. Hooker’s paper.  And if Mr. Hooker’s paper has taught me anything, it’s that epidemiology isn’t something for amateurs, even ones with Ph.D.’s like Mr. Hooker and myself.  Sure, one can do some simple first passes, but there’s a reason why people get their Ph.D.’s in epidemiology.  Rather than have me go into the science and get diverted from what I really want to talk about, here are discussions by an Surgeon/scientist, scientist/writer  specializing in healthcare an epidemiology grad student.  When grad students are pointing out your very basic mistakes, this isn’t a close call.   Mr. Hooker’s paper is flawed. If you are so inclined, please go and read these.

Instead of summarizing the analyses of this re-analysis paper, let’s go to Brian Hooker, who wrote the re-analysis study, and William Thompson, who was an author on the original study and see what they have to say.

What did Mr. Hooker write in his paper?  The final sentence, the conclusion was “Additional research is required to better understand the relationship between MMR exposure and autism in African American males.”  Not, “we’ve shown that MMR causes autism” but “additional research is required”.  Of course he has since made much more sweeping statements.  But he wrote in the paper what he knew he could defend.  No one was going to read his paper and approve it for publication if he said “MMR causes autism”. Not because of some political reason.  He just didn’t have the data to make that claim. 

And here is a good time to point out: the CDC team did do additional research.  Both within the paper–the analysis adjusted for possible other factors, and other papers.

Now let’s look to Mr. Thompson.  It’s difficult here to discuss what he has to say.  Not because his statement isn’t clear, it is.  But because people tried hard to speak through him.  And by that I mean that Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker basically said, “We spoke to a whistleblower.  Here are some statements out of context.  And here’s our point of view, please believe that the whistleblower shares our view.”  As we have seen from Mr. Thompson’s own words, he was unaware that Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield were going to release his identity or use his voice.   So he clearly didn’t see, much less approve, of the video that was produced to promote the movie.  So, what has Mr. Thompson had to say?  We have his statement here, with no analysis, no editorializing. I’d encourage readers to go through that statement for themselves.

Everyone will pull one or more sentences out of his statement for further analysis, but given the discussion here I want to pull out the one where he expresses his concern: “My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine.”

That’s his concern.  Not “tens of thousands of African American boys were allowed to become autistic because we didn’t act.”  Not “there was massive fraud and a coverup at the CDC”. No, this result should have been openly discussed.

As a researcher with 30 years experience (yes, I started as an undergraduate student) I could go into a long discussion of both sides of this scientific debate and tell you about how I side with Mr. Thompson’s co-authors that this is not a strong result and there are very reasonable arguments for why social factors resulted in the higher calculated risk, and so it was appropriate to leave this out of the paper (it also would have been appropriate to leave in with a discussion in ). Let’s instead focus on the two simple words I just wrote: scientific debate.   Mr. Thompson appears to feel that this debate should have been opened up to the community, the broader scientific community, and I suspect and hope the autism community and the general population.  As a parent, an advocate and a citizen, I have to say I hold that sentiment.  That’s easy to say now.  Now that we’ve seen how cynically this result was used.  It’s easy to say we should have had this discussion 10 years ago and have this resolved and avoid this current PR campaign by Mr. Wakefield.

Can a researcher really be that troubled by the scientific debate behind a paper?  I can certainly see it.  I have over 100 publications to my name.  Some have been very highly cited. Some I am quite proud of. And out of all of those, the one that sticks out in my mind is one I never wanted to write.  There’s nothing wrong in it, but we held on to the results for years and instead of publishing them when they would have shown how far in front we were, they made it look like we were behind.  If it had been left up to me, we would never have published that. That’s industrial research.  So, yeah, I can understand on one level what Mr. Thompson seems to be saying.  Of course my experience is on a whole different level than that of a public servant doing research.  I didn’t have the responsibility Mr. Thompson has had and still has.  I can absolutely see someone feeling strong regret over holding back on a result, even one that his coauthors and he agreed to hold back.  

I don’t see Mr. Thompson’s regret indicating, as some have suggested, that he feels that the MMR vaccine has allowed a huge number of African American boys to become autistic.  What do I base this upon?  Mr. Thompson’s statement:

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

He’s talking about the decision making process.  He specifically states that the data “suggested” an increased risk in African American boys.  He doesn’t say proved.  Not demonstrated. Certainly he does not say anything that can be extrapolated to say that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism in all groups, and while we are at it, all vaccines cause autism, as some advocates have portrayed this statement online.  And let’s take a look at another statement:

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

I wouldn’t make that statement if I felt that this statistically significant result meant definitively that autism could be prevented in African American boys. 

You know what I also don’t see in this statement?  Lie, fraud, cover-up, many of the terms that have been attributed to the Mr. Thompson when he was just being referred to as an anonymous whistleblower.  Now that he’s known, and has been apparently granted federal whistleblower protection, we aren’t hearing these terms.  We are hearing about a serious and important scientific debate.

People have tried to frame this, “since he feels so much remorse, since he’s stepping forward and risking his job” followed by one of myriad things this is supposed to tell us. Let’s remind ourselves of one point: it appears Mr. Thompson didn’t think he was stepping forward: he wasn’t planning on the fact that he was involved becoming public. Based on this, it doesn’t appear that his intent was to become a whistleblower.  I’m not trying to take away from his actions, just to point out that his focus seems to have been trying to get this result out.  He seems to have been guiding Mr. Hooker into doing the analysis so this result would be in the public domain and could be discussed.  

Given all that, ask yourself this simple question: if this is the sort of thing that really bothers a CDC scientist, if this is the sort of thing a CDC scientist would risk his job over, how could anyone expect that CDC would ever be able to keep a lid on the supposed conspiracy/cover-up that some people claim is happening in the CDC autism research program?

Think about that.  A single result, one which many people agreed didn’t need to be discussed, was held back and this CDC researcher struggled with that decision for a decade.  But he and his colleagues are just going along with what is supposedly the biggest cover-up in history?

I would then ask you to consider this: if Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield really felt they had their “smoking gun” with this result, why did they resort to their race-baiting video?  Data and facts would have spoken much louder. And that video attack was obviously going to cost them in credibility.  Then we could ask, why did Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker betray the trust of Mr. Thompson?  I’m pretty sure I have the answer to that: the image of a “whistleblower” was far more persuasive than the data Mr. Hooker was presenting.  And combining the “whistleblower” who wasn’t with playing the race card gave them an emotional hook that was much more powerful than their data.

Having brought up this ugly race-baiting video (I’d encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already even though it is ugly.  It is truly a step into the gutter for Mr. Wakefield, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Lewis), let’s address the questions that video poses.  Even though they are patently ridiculous.

Are the CDC engaging in a new “Tuskegee” experiment?  No.  Again, it’s sad to even grace this question with recognition.

But, then, why did Mr. Wakefield make this claim?  Well, I will say Mr. Wakefield was very shrewd, at least in the short term, to tap into such strong emotions.  The video was certain to enrage many people. And it got the re-analysis discussed. But while Mr. Wakefield was shrewd, even he must have seen that for many it would backfire immediately and in the long term this would eventually backfire for many more.  Eventually people start asking questions. 

It’s been long enough to start asking some of those questions.  Like, really, a Tuskegee experiment?  CDC are engaging in an experiment to allow African American boys to become autistic for some study?  And that would be because there are so few autistics that they need more for some study? (clearly not)  And, if there’s an experiment going on, why is it that one big issue right now is the lack of racial/ethnic minorities in autism research?  So, the CDC are allowing many more African American boys to become autistic for an experiment that they aren’t doing?

Of course the most obvious reason this strategy was only a short-term one was that eventually Mr. Thompson would speak.  And he has.  And he hasn’t said one word about this supposed “Tuskegee” experiment.

Let’s ask a very simple question: are we really supposed to believe that a civil rights pioneer who has devoted her life to people with developmental disabilities is running a Tuskegee type experiment? It is embarrassing to give this accusation credence enough to even address it. At the time that Marshalyn Yeargan-Allsopp was breaking down barriers, becoming the first African American to attend Sweet Briar College, the Supreme Court had yet to decide whether some states could continue to hold that marriages like mine were illegal. I live a life where I don’t even think about my kid’s mixed heritage and blended culture.  And I can do that because of people like Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp.  You can (and I’d say should) read her story online.  Being he first to attend and graduate Sweet Briar was tough.  She’d done more than enough but she didn’t stop.  She became the first African American woman to enroll in and graduate from Emory’s medical school.  Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp, if you ever read this know that I mean every word.  You are an example of what I see is best in America.  As are your colleagues.

Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp is just the most obvious example of how this whole mythos of a great CDC coverup is just without any merit. And that Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker are fabricating stories that are not just insulting to the CDC teams, they are insulting to us in the autism community.  

The CDC are made up of dedicated researchers and staff.  People who have devoted their lives to areas of public health, like developmental disabilities.  People who apparently struggle for years over a scientific decision as to whether to include a result that is so far from a smoking gun that Mr. Wakefield had to embellish his presentation with race-baiting attacks and play on fear and emotion. CDC staff are people.  People with families.  Some with autistic kids.  I suspect there are some who are autistic themselves, and more are broader autism phenotype.

And Andrew Wakefield, Brian Hooker and the rest of their group are trying very hard to make you believe otherwise.  They are  trying to dehumanize these people.  If they had facts, they’d use them.  They don’t.  Plain and simple.  If they felt that these facts spoke for themselves, they wouldn’t have burned their “informant”.  They wouldn’t play to our emotions with this nasty, race-baiting attack. Believe me, I know how strong those emotions are and how effective this video can be.  It is a very cynical approach they are taking.  Mr. Wakefield’s team is trying to drag more parents into the world of hatred that he’s built.  All so they can claim that their ideas are right.  Ideas which even now, even with access to someone “on the inside” at CDC, have no merit.

By Matt Carey

Online discussions discussing the recent CDC data “reanalysis” story

1 Sep

Educator/writer Liz Ditz often keeps a running summary of online discussions of trending topics. Below are some of her links. They are a few days old, but this gives you a starting place in case you wish to read multiple sources.

Posts discussing Hooker’s allegations, excluding anti-vaccine sources .

Timeline

August 8, 2014: Hooker paper published online

August 18, 2014: Focus Autism Press Release published online

August 18, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Alleging a CDC Whistleblower published online

August 22, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Naming William W. Thompson as “The CDC Whistleblower ” published online

  1. August 22, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence:  Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism

    Of course, the key finding in Brian Hooker’s paper is that Wakefield was wrong. Indeed, in this video, Wakefield even admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. Let that sink in again. He admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. OK, he says we were “partially right,” but the flip side of that is that he must have been mostly wrong.

  2. August 22, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

    Hooker is wrong in his assertions because the DeStefano paper did not leave out African-American children on purpose. Children were excluded from the analysis because of very legitimate and scientific reasons. They either were not the right age, did not have autism but some other neurodevelopment disorder, or were born outside of Georgia. Even if they were tossed into the analysis, DeStefano et al used a statistical analysis that took into account things like birth weight and mother’s age when analysing the data. They wanted to make sure that what they were seeing was most likely because of the MMR vaccine and not because of some other factor associated with autism.

  3. August 23, 2014,  Ren at Epidemiological: Directed Acyclic Graphs and the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism.

    I’m very skeptical that Dr. Hooker’s simplified statistical approach can be better than DeStefano et al’s approach of conditional logistic regression. Conditional logistic regression has the advantage of being able to control for a multitude of confounders and effect modifiers.

  4. August 24, 2014, Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams: L’affaire CDC-MMR: Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism Accuse African-American Senior CDC Researcher of Being A Race Traitor

    According to Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism, a respected senior African-American physician-researcher is a race traitor and a mass murderer.

  5. August 25, 2014, Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: The central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement 

    I can imagine three main possibilities for what happened. The first possibility from what I know is that Thompson had some sort of disagreement with his co-investigators, made the incredibly stupid—yes, stupid—decision to unburden himself to Brian Hooker, who, he must have known or should have known, is an antivaccine crank associated with Andrew Wakefield, and is now paying the price for that decision… The second possibility is that Thompson wanted to correct something Hooker was doing with the data and somehow let himself be drawn into saying things that could easily be taken out of context. The third, and (I hope) much less likely, possibility is that Thompson’s gone off the deep end and gone antivaccine.

  6. August 25,2014, David Gorski MD at Science Based Medicine: Did a high ranking whistleblower really reveal that the CDC covered up proof that vaccines cause autism in African-American boys?

    “What [Hooker] has done, apparently, is found grist for a perfect conspiracy theory to demonize the CDC, play the race card in a truly despicable fashion, and cast fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the CDC vaccination program, knowing that most of the white antivaccine activists who support hate the CDC so much that they won’t notice that even Hooker’s reanalysis doesn’t support their belief that vaccines caused the autism in their children. Meanwhile, there is no evidence, at least none, submitted by the antivaccine propagandists flogging this conspiracy theory, that there really was a CDC conspiracy to hide anything.

  7. August 25, 2014, ToddW at Harpocrates Speaks, Andrew Wakefield Tortures History

    I want to focus on some statements made by one Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who committed scientific fraud, resulting in the full retraction of his 1998 case series study on MMR and the stripping of his medical license. Wakefield boldly added himself to the list of not only torturing science, but now adds to his accomplishments torturing history and ethics (granted, we already knew he was ethically challenged). You see, in his videos (here and here) about the alleged “whistleblower”, William Thompson,Wakefield compared the purported “cover-up” to the Tuskegee syphilis debacle. It’s a false comparison used simply to inflame people and claim the race card.

  8. August 25, 2014, Michael Simpson at Skeptical Raptor, Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism? cross-posted at at Daily Kos

    It’s clear what’s happening here. Thompson, through sheer ignorance or total incompetence may have had a conversation with Hooker. Given the fact that the antivaccination gang lacks any serious scientific evidence supporting their dogma that vaccines cause autism, they jump on anything, however tenuous, that makes it appear that all of the evidence that refutes their dogma should be thrown in the garbage.

  9. August 26, 2014, Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: Hey, where is everybody? The “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy continues apace

    Here it is, Tuesday already, and the antivaccine underground is still on full mental jacket alert over the biggest story the antivaccine movement has seen in a while. Fortunately, it’s a story that’s been largely ignored by the mainstream media, which tells me that maybe, just maybe, the mainstream media has figured out that it shouldn’t give undue credence to cranks.

  10. August 26 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism, Atlanta, MMR: serious questions and also how Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield are causing damage to the autism communties

    A study relying largely on a small group of subjects (about 20) with the conclusion that more work is needed. Sounds vaguely familiar. And, as we will see, Mr. Hooker has teamed up with Andrew Wakefield to put out a video where they jump past the whole this indicates more research is needed through this is absolute evidence of MMR causing autism directly to the CDC are engaging in a racist experiment sacrificing children to autism. It’s like the events around Mr. Wakefield’s 1997 Lancet paper cranked up to 11.

  11. August 26 2014,Lisa Lightner at Grounded Parents: the CDC vaccines/autism/coverup theory {spoiler alert-it’s not true!}

    a friend, a friend that I consider to be intelligent and reasonable….first posted a link to a CNN article. Correction–it’s iCNN…which is VERY different. ANYONE can post ANYTHING there. You can, really. It’s a crowdsourcing platform. Shame on you CNN for whoring out your name for page views. Because this is what happens–people will post just about anything…..

    I wish we knew the causes of autism, I really do. But vaccines ain’t it.

    Fear sells, don’t buy it.

  12. August 26, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: How to end a scientist’s career with some fancy editing

    As much as the anti-vaccine activists have been demanding that Dr. Thompson come out into the open and make some sort of a statement, no one seems to demand that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and his team publish the entire recorded conversation between Brian Hooker and Dr. Thompson. All we get are lies and innuendo. We have operatives like Ginger Taylor writing on Twitter that CDC deliberately didn’t look at birth certificates for African-American babies in the DeStefano study.

    August 26, 2014: Anti-Vaccine Group The Thinking Mom’s Revolution Hosts a #CDCWhistleblower Twitter Party

  13. August 27, 2014 Karoli Kuns at Crooks and Liars: Rob Schneider’s Anti-Vax Crusade Now Enters Alex Jones Territory

    There’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory to get the creative juices flowing. For actor Rob Schneider, that means getting your dander up over your incorrect belief that the CDC altered data to bury the “fact” that MMR causes autism.

  14. August 27 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism: Discussions of the recent MMR/autism paper (and why the study isn’t what the author wants you to believe it is)

    Below are a selected list of discussions about Brian Hooker’s recent paper and the highly irresponsible way he and his team are promoting it. Let me know if you spot one I should add to the list.

  15. August 27, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: The CDC “whistleblower” manufactroversy: Twitter parties and another “bombshell” e-mail

    … just how desperate the antivaccine movement is to have Brian Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis” of a ten year old vaccine safety study and Andrew Wakefield’s despicable race-baiting video gain traction in the mainstream media. The failure of this conspiracy theory to do so is driving antivaccine activists into ever-greater fits of lunacy online.

  16. August 27, 2014, Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, Slate: No, There Still Is No Connection Between Vaccines and Autism

    There’s a conspiracy theory going around that the CDC covered up a link between autism and vaccines. From what I can tell, this conspiracy theory is on the same level as the one that NASA faked the Moon landings. And you know how I feel about that.

  17. August 27, 2014, ToddW at Harpocrates Speaks, Anti-vaccine Activists Throw Twitter Tantrum

    … the hashtag #CDCwhistleblower to do what really amounted to the social media equivalent of a temper tantrum, whining about how the mainstream media is not reporting on the study. It was really a sad display, as they simply all copied and pasted from the same list of talking points, not even adding their own interpretation.

    August 27, 2014, in the morning: The Journal Translational Neurodegeneration removes Hooker’s paper from the public domain

  18. August 27 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism:The Brian Hooker article “…has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions”
  19. August 27, 2014, Adam Marcus at Retraction Watch: Journal takes down autism-vaccine paper pending investigation

    An article purporting to find that black children are at substantially increased risk for autism after early exposure to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine has been shelved, amid claims that a CDC whistleblower has accused health officials of suppressing information about the link.

  20. August 27, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: Even the bottom-feeding journals seem to have some sense

    ’m still left wondering how this paper got through peer review, or who did the peer review. They seem to not have bothered with checking the biostatistics or with looking back at the DeStefano paper.

    August 27, 2014, at approximately 2:30 pm, PDT, attorneys for William W. Thompson, the CDC employee, publish Thompson’s statement

  21. August 27, 2014: Ren at Epidemiological Dr. Brian S. Hooker gets the Andrew Wakefield treatment.

    My problem with Dr. Thompson’s statement is that the data were not omitted willy-nilly. There was a protocol that was established, and it excluded from the analysis children of different ethnicities, not just African Americans. In that exclusion, a vaccine-autism signal that was confounded by different factors was lost. It wasn’t lost out of bias but out of properly adjusting for different factors.

  22. August 28, 2014, Sullivan at LeftbrainRightBrain Andrew Wakefield betrays another “whistleblower” with Brian Hooker helping

    Apparently Mr. Hooker is unaware that the secrecy of confession is absolute. Priests, real ones, not self appointed ones like Mr. Hooker, have been known to go to jail rather than divulge what they’ve been told in confession. Real priests don’t record confessions so they can betray another.

  23. August 28, 2014, Debra Goldschmidt, CNN, Journal questions validity of autism and vaccine study

    Dr. Frank DeStefano, lead author of the 2004 study, said he and his colleagues stand by their findings. DeStefano said all the study authors, including Thompson, agreed on the analysis and interpretation before the study was submitted for publication 10 years ago. However, he said he plans to review his notes and will decide whether to run another analysis on the data.

  24. August 28, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog, Autism is not death, unless you want it to be

    While the black ribbon can mean different things to different people, it’s main use is for grieving or remembering the fallen, the dead. The way that these people have used it is to try to bring attention to their cause by equating autism with a death or a loss.

  25. August 28, 2014, Orac at Respectful Insolence A bad day for antivaccinationists: A possible retraction, and the “CDC whistleblower” issues a statement

    Betrayals within betrayals. This can’t all be laid on Wakefield. Thompson was played. Big time.

Posts discussing Hooker’s allegations from anti-vaccine sources and those believing Hooker’s allegations  .

Timeline

August 8, 2014: Hooker paper published online

August 18, 2014: Focus Autism Press Release published online

August 18, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Alleging a CDC Whistleblower published online

  1. August 18, 2014, Jake Crosby at Autism Investigated: CDC Whistleblower Reveals Yet More Research Fraud
  2. August 19, 2014 Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Whistleblower Says CDC Knew in 2003 of Higher Autism Rate Among African-American Boys Receiving MMR Shot Earlier Than 36 Months
  3. August 20, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News: Vaccine bombshell: CDC whistleblower reveals cover-up linking MMR vaccines to autism in African-Americans
  4. August 20, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Senior Government Scientist Breaks 13 Years’ Silence on CDC’s Vaccine-autism Fraud
  5. August 20, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog Breaking: Breaking: MMR vaccine, autism, CDC coverup 
  6. August 21, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: Vaccine-autism connection: US Congressman stonewalled by the CDC
  7. August 21, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: Advice for the secret CDC vaccine whistleblower
  8. August 21, 2014: Mike Adams at Natural News:  CDC refuses to turn over documents to Congress: Evidence linking MMR vaccines to autism intentionally withheld from investigators
  9. August 22, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News, CDC whistleblower confesses to publishing fraudulent data to obfuscate link between vaccines and autism
  10. August 22, 2014, metamars at My Firedog Lake: CDC refuses to turn over documents to Congress showing MMR vaccines caused autism in black children (note: metamars’ blog post, not an official Firedoglake post)

    August 22, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Naming William W. Thompson as “The CDC Whistleblower ” published online

  11. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: CDC whistleblower revealed: William Thompson
  12. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: What CDC whistleblower William Thompson needs to do now
  13. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappaport at Jon Rappaport’s Blog Breaking: CDC whistleblower Thompson in grave danger now
  14. August 22, 2014, at TMR at Thinking Moms’ Revolution: CDC Whistleblower William Thompson Blows the Lid on Malfeasance and Fraud at the CDC
  15. August 22, 2014, Jake Crosby at Autism Investigated, Andrew Wakefield Betrays CDC Whistleblower
  16. August 23, 2014, Inquisitr CDC Whistleblower’s Claims Cause Uproar In Autism Community
  17. August 24, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CNN iReport on CDC whistleblower spreads like wildfire, then censored
  18. August 24, 2014, Jon Rappaport at Jon Rappaport’s Blog Rob Schneider says he has smoking gun on CDC vaccine-autism fraud  (For beginners: Rob Schneider is an actor who has in the last few years become an anti-vaccine activist. Why he would have access to sensitive information is an open question.)
  19. August 24, 2014, Sally Colletti, Examiner:  Autism and The CDC: Now What?
  20. August 25, 2014, Kent Heckenlively, Age of Autism: A Break in the Wall – William W. Thompson
  21. August 25, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News: CDC whistleblower exposes massive autism cover-up perpetrated by government agency
  22. August 25, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News: CDC whistleblower’s secret letter to Gerberding released by Natural News as mainstream media desperately censors explosive story
  23. August 25, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News CNN caught red handed covering up CDC medical genocide of African-American babies (much handwaving over open-source reports at iCNN being changed or deleted.)
  24. August 25, 2014, Zorro at Thinking Moms’ Revolution: Stop Calling Us Crazy: Autism, MMR, and Institutional Gaslighting
  25. August 25, 2014, Megan Heimer at Living Whole CDC Whistleblower Comes Out and They All Play Dead
  26. August 25, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Rob Schneider Demands Answers on CDC MMR Fraud
  27. August 25, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CDC vaccine-autism fraud: what victory looks like
  28. August 25, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Activist Post: CDC whistleblower, watch out; here come the mothers
  29. August 25, 2014, Kelly Brogan at Kelly Brogan MD CDC: You’re Fired. Autism Coverup Exposed.
  30. August 25, 2014, Patrick “Tim” Bolen at the Bolen Report The CDC Whistleblower… The Story Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Run…
  31. August 26, 2014, JB Handley at Age of Autism: Knock-out Blow Needed: Dr. Thompson Must Speak Out on MMR African American Autism Connection.
  32. August 26, 2014, John Stone at Age of Autism:CDC Frauds: Connections Between the DeStefano Paper and the Thorsen Affair.
  33. August 26, 2014, Celia Farber, Epoch Times:  Whistleblower Reveals CDC Knowingly Put Children at Risk of Autism, Media Remains Silent (Video)
  34. August 26, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CDC whistleblower is just the tip of the iceberg
  35. August 26, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell email from CDC whistleblower reveals criminality of vaccine cover-up as far back as 2002
  36. August 26, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: CDC Whistleblower on Thimerosal in Pregnant Women (note: video interview with Brian Hooker, not William W. Thompson)

    August 26, 2014, in the evening: Anti-vaccine Activists at The Thinking Moms’ Revolution Host a #CDCWhistleblower Twitter Party

  37. August 27, 2014, “Bobby Dee” at Gianelloni Family: Erased by a Birth Certificate
  38. August 27, 2014, John Stone, Age of Autism: The CDC: the Detective Agency Which Could Never Find Anything<
  39. August 27, 2014, Anne Dachel, Age of Autism: CDC Whistleblower Story: Danke to Franchi
  40. August 27, 2014, Marcella Piper-Terry, CDC Whistleblower and Probability of Post-MMR Autism Diagnosis
  41. August 27, 2014, Marcella Piper-Terry at Thinking Mom’s Revolution How Many African-American Boys Have Autism as a Result of the CDC’s Lies?
  42. August 27, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News: Congressman Posey discusses autism, vaccines and lack of CDC transparency in interview with Dr. Brian Hooker
  43. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: Media conspiracy to bury CDC whistleblower story protects vaccine makers at the expense of human life
  44. August 27, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog Update: CDC whistleblower in touch with members of Congress

    August 27, 2014, in the morning: The Journal Translational Neurodegeneration removes Hooker’s paper from the public domain

  45. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: Scientific journal censors Brian Hooker’s analysis of CDC vaccine data; the Church of Science orders ‘burning of books’
  46. August 27, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Translational Neurodegeneration Removes Vaccination Timing Article

    August 27, 2014, at approximately 2:30 pm, PDT, attorneys for William W. Thompson, the CDC employee, publish Thompson’s statement

  47. August 27, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Statement from William Thompson, RE Pediatrics MMR African American Males Data
  48. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: BREAKING: CDC whistleblower confesses to MMR vaccine research fraud in historic public statement
  49. August 27, 2014, The Event Chronicle at The Event Chronicle: CDC whistleblower confesses to MMR vaccine research fraud in historic public statement
  50. August 28, 2014 Celia Farber, Epoch Times Vaccinegate: CDC Whistleblower Admits Claims of Data Fixing Were True, Complains at Being Recorded and Outed

Other links

Alycia Halladay, PhD, Named Chief Science Officer of the Autism Science Foundation

29 Aug

Below is a press release for the Autism Science Foundation. They are growing and have added a Chief Science Officer.

Alycia Halladay, PhD, Named Chief Science Officer of the Autism Science Foundation

August 25, 2014- New York, NY)– The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding autism research, today announced that Dr. Alycia Halladay will join the organization as Chief Science Officer. The announcement was made by Autism Science Foundation president Alison Singer.

“Dr. Halladay is the perfect person to lead our growing science department” said Singer. “She has extensive experience in all aspects of autism research, as well as a deep understanding of how to maximize investment in research to provide the best outcomes for families. I could not be more thrilled to have her as part of our executive team.”

Halladay previously served as the Senior Director of Clinical and Environmental Sciences and Interim Head of the Etiology Portfolio at Autism Speaks. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, she was Associate Director for Research at the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). While at NAAR and Autism Speaks, she worked across all areas of autism science, directing or managing portfolios relating to risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of ASDs. In addition, she led activities relating to family services, communications, awareness, and advocacy. She has a Ph.D. in psychology and behavioral neuroscience from Rutgers University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers where she later joined as faculty and currently holds an adjunct position. She has participated as a guest editor for a number of journals including Neurotoxicology, Autism Research, Brain Research and Gastroenterology and has served on grant review panels for the CDC and the NJ Governor’s Council for ASD.

“I am proud and honored to lead the growing science program at the Autism Science Foundation” said Halladay. “This is an exciting and important time for autism research, and I look forward to working with ASF to continue and also expand its scientific contributions.”

In its five years of operations, the Autism Science Foundation has funded over $1.6 million in grants including pre and postdoctoral fellowships, medical school gap year research fellowships, 3-year early career awards, treatment grants, undergraduate summer research funding, research enhancement mini-grants and travel scholarships to enable stakeholders to attend the annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).

“Autism Science Foundation’s research programs have grown consistently year after year and now need full time leadership to oversee their continued expansion”, said Dr. Matthew State, chair of ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco. “Alycia is a highly respected autism scientist and has exactly the right experience to lead ASF into the next phase of its growth.”

Dr. Halladay will begin work with the foundation on September 8, 2014.

Founded in 2009, Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org.

Andrew Wakefield betrays another “whistleblower” with Brian Hooker helping

28 Aug

Probably the biggest story in years for the groups claiming that vaccines cause autism was when last week vaccine antagonistic activists Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker announced that they were in contact with an “informant” at the CDC who guided them to do a re-analysis of an older dataset. Andrew Wakefield has a history of not respecting the responsibility that one has when speaking with a whistleblower, having first threatened then actually outed a whistleblower who trusted him. As the recent story has unfolded, I’ve been asked and I’ve told many people that in my view, Brian Hooker sees himself as an honest person and, as such, he would not be a party to the sort of deception that would be involved in secretly recording someone while acting as his “priest”, then betraying him.

Apparently I was wrong.

When Wakefield and Hooker first released their story, they claimed that their “informant” wanted to remain anonymous. It says so right in the press release dated August 18. The (disgustingly race-baiting) video they put out was censored as if they wanted to protect the anonymity of the informant. But by the night of August 21st, 3 days later, the video had been changed without announcement. Mr. Wakefield (he owns/runs the Autism Media Channel that is putting out these videos) apparently uploaded the noncensored version. In it, Mr. Thompson is named early and repeatedly. His voice is no longer obscured. Mr. Thompsons’ anonymity (weakly veiled to begin with) was no more.

From the start many people questioned whether the “CDC Whistleblower” as he has been dubbed had agreed to be recorded, knew about the video that was made, or agreed to let his identity be known. Or if he ever had any intention that anyone would even disclose that there even was help from someone at the CDC on this.

My read on the press release Mr. Thompson has put out is that Mr. Thompson never intended for his role to be made public. That Mr. Hooker would just present the study as his own work and use that to advocate for a follow on analysis. Much less that his name would be revealed.

But, as we see, that didn’t happen. He was outed. His participation was revealed immediately. His name was revealed in a few days. His conversations with Mr. Hooker were edited for effect and put on the web.

How did Mr. Hooker describe his interaction with Mr. Thompson? From the video we hear:

“Dr. Thompson had appointed me his priest. And when he appointed me his priest, then he started confessing.”

Apparently Mr. Hooker is unaware that the secrecy of confession is absolute. Priests, real ones, not self appointed ones like Mr. Hooker, have been known to go to jail rather than divulge what they’ve been told in confession. Real priests don’t record confessions so they can betray another.

I once thought that perhaps Mr. Hooker and I were at a very basic level similar. That we were focused on doing what was best for our kids. I no longer think that way. At a basic level one either has integrity or one doesn’t. A person who takes on the role of a confessor in order to secretly tape and betray another has no integrity.

Mr. Hooker will no doubt be the hero of parent conventions in the future. It’s a very low price for one’s integrity in my opinion.

For whatever it is worth: Mr. Hooker lives in a state with a very clear two-party rule. It’s against the law there to record someone without his/her knowledge. Mr. Thompson also lives in a two-party state.

Below is that press release again.


By Matt Carey

August 27, 2014 Press Release, “Statement of William W. Thompson, Ph.D., Regarding the 2004 Article Examining the Possibility of a Relationship Between MMR Vaccine and Autism”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-AUGUST 27,2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph.D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his beliefthat CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days.
I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, http://www.morganverkamp.com.

“Statement of William W. Thompson, Ph.D., Regarding the 2004 Article Examining the Possibility of a Relationship Between MMR Vaccine and Autism”

28 Aug

I will discuss this soon, but here is a press release from the attorney representing William Thompson, a CDC researcher involved who appears to have spoken with vaccine antagonistic activists Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker about work he had performed on autism.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-AUGUST 27,2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph.D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his beliefthat CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days.
I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, http://www.morganverkamp.com.

Mr. Thompson has been called the “CDC Whistleblower” by the groups promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism.


By Matt Carey

Discussions of the recent MMR/autism paper (and why the study isn’t what the author wants you to believe it is)

27 Aug

Below are a selected list of discussions about Brian Hooker’s recent paper and the highly irresponsible way he and his team are promoting it. Let me know if you spot one I should add to the list.

Here on Left Brain/Right Brain, I have discussed this as:

Autism, Atlanta, MMR: serious questions and also how Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield are causing damage to the autism communities

and

The Brian Hooker article “…has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions”

Here’s the press release for the recent reanalysis study

as put out by the group that funded it.

Here is a video by Andrew Wakefield where he relies upon ugly race-baiting slander to promote himself and the study.

Here’s a discussion of that study by an epidemiology grad student showing some ways in which this is a very poorly done study:
Directed Acyclic Graphs and the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism

And another discussion of that study and it’s low quality can be found on The Poxes Blog:
Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

Educator and Advocate Liz Ditz discusses the PR approach that has been taken by those promoting the study here:
L’affaire CDC-MMR: Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism Accuse African-American Senior CDC Researcher of Being A Race Traitor

also she has

The CDC, the MMR Vaccine, and Allegations of Whistleblowing and Malfeasance: The Backstory (which includes nearly 50 links about this dicussion, from all viewpoints).

The Surgeon Scientist who writes under the name ORAC has done the most discussion of this study and the way it is being overplayed and misused:

The CDC “whistleblower” manufactroversy: Twitter parties and another “bombshell” e-mail

Hey, where is everybody? The “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy continues apace

The central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement

Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism

The Skeptical Raptor has
Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism?

Phil Plait at Slate.com and Bad Astronomy
No, There Still Is No Connection Between Vaccines and Autism

Todd W. at Harpocrates Speaks
Andrew Wakefield Tortures History

and

Anti-vaccine Activists Throw Twitter Tantrum

The CDC have a simple statement here about the original study:
CDC Statement Regarding 2004 Pediatrics Article, “Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children With Autism and School-matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta”

One will certainly find more articles, especially searching for the names of the people involved and terms like “CDC Whistleblower”

So far none of the groups who promote autism as a vaccine-induced epidemic have stepped forward to distance themselves from Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker’s disgusting race-baiting attack. I hope that will change.


By Matt Carey

The Brian Hooker article “…has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions”

27 Aug

The paper recently published by Brian Hooker, Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data has been pulled. Currently the journal’s website has this in place of the article:

This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.

I wish they had thought this through before publishing it. Be that as it may, my own view (as an author and one-time editor) is that the revelation that this is not an original work by Mr. Hooker should have warranted some action. Mr. Hooker has discussed how the idea to do this study came from someone else and the analysis is a recreation of a previous analysis. Minor point, I know. And I know my online friends did not agree with me on that.

I do appreciate the journal taking this step. While Mr. Hooker, Andrew Wakefield and their team try to make as much political hay out of this paper as they can.

More discussions of this paper

Autism, Atlanta, MMR: serious questions and also how Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield are causing damage to the autism communities

Here’s the press release for the recent reanalysis study

Here’s a discussion of that study by an epidemiology grad student:
Directed Acyclic Graphs and the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism

And another discussion of that study from The Poxes Blog:
Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

And Surgeon/Scientist Orac takes on the study and more here:
Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism

Educator and Advocate Liz Ditz discusses the PR approach that has been taken by those promoting the study here:
L’affaire CDC-MMR: Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism Accuse African-American Senior CDC Researcher of Being A Race Traitor

And the CDC have a simple statement here:
CDC Statement Regarding 2004 Pediatrics Article, “Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children With Autism and School-matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta”


By Matt Carey

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