NOVA: Vaccines — Calling the Shots

9 Sep

The question of vaccine safety comes up a lot in the online autism parent community. The PBS program Nova is taking a look at vaccines and vaccine safety in a show “Calling the Shots”. As they point out, it is OK to question vaccine safety, but that is just the start of the conversation. The program airs tomorrow (September 10) at 9pm.

It looks like it will be an excellent program.

Here is the webpage for the show complete with a brief sneak preview:

Here is a 3 1/2 minute

here is a “behind the scenes” look at the show


By Matt Carey

Harpocrates Speaks on: MMR, the CDC and Brian Hooker: A Guide for Parents and the Media

8 Sep

Todd W. over at Harpocrates Speaks has put together a FAQ like guide on the questions that come up with regards to recent research by Brian Hooker and the allegations Mr. Hooker has made about the CDC. That article is an excellent resource for people looking for some answers on this story. The article starts:

The anti-vaccine community has been in a tizzy lately over a supposed “CDC whistleblower”, Dr. William W. Thompson, who, according to them, revealed fraud at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To bolster their claim, they point to a new study from one of their own, Brian S. Hooker, that purports to show evidence of an increased risk of autism among African American boys who receive their first MMR vaccine late. However, the claims appear to be hollow and unfounded, and so they have chosen to rely on emotional arguments that may sound convincing to those who are not familiar with the issues and people involved. In a truly egregious fashion, they have erroneously and cynically compared this whole thing to the Tuskegee syphilis study, and equated the CDC with Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, combined.

With that in mind, here is a brief FAQ for parents, news media and others to help them understand what the claims are and what the evidence actually says. The questions below have been raised or implied by anti-vaccine activists. Hopefully, this will prevent inaccurate reporting and help parents feel reassured about the MMR vaccine.

That FAQ can be found at MMR, the CDC and Brian Hooker: A Guide for Parents and the Media


By Matt Carey

Every human life is worth living

4 Sep

This, like the previous article I wrote, is extremely difficult to write. I find words fail me and that a dry presentation doesn’t do justice to the topic. How, exactly, does one write about the fact that Germany has erected a monument to the disabled and mentally ill killed by the regime?

The New York Times discusses a monument erected in Berlin:

Monument Seeks to End Silence on Killings of the Disabled by the Nazis

BERLIN — The first to be singled out for systematic murder by the Nazis were the mentally ill and intellectually disabled. By the end of World War II, an estimated 300,000 of them had been gassed or starved, their fates hidden by phony death certificates and then largely overlooked among the many atrocities that were to be perpetrated in Nazi Germany in the years to follow.

One can read the full article on the New York Times website. And many other news outlets. I will take one more paragraph from the Times.

“Every human life is worth living: That is the message sent out from this site,” Monika Grütters, the German minister for culture, told a crowd gathered for the opening ceremony. “The ‘T4’ memorial confronts us today with the harrowing Nazi ideology of presuming life can be measured by ‘usefulness.’ ”


By Matt Carey

Kelli Stapleton, mother who tried to kill her autistic daughter with carbon monoxide, pleads guilty

4 Sep

Isabelle “Issy” Stapleton is a human being. Worthy of respect. She is endowed with inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Being disabled does not change this. Being autistic does not change this. Having an extremely challenging life in her pursuit of happiness does not change this.

And she was almost robbed of what we in America consider “inalienable”. Her mother tried to murder Isabelle.

There are multiple news stories carrying this. Below I quote from People Magazine: Kelli Stapleton Averts Murder Trial by Pleading Guilty to Abuse of Daughter with Autism.

On the eve of her trial for attempted murder, Kelli Stapleton – the Michigan mom and former blogger on autism issues who stood accused of trying to kill her autistic teen daughter – pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of first-degree child abuse.

Kelli Stapleton, the mother, still faces the possibility of a very long prison sentence. I hope those deciding the sentence do not in any way lessen the punishment compared to if Ms. Stapleton was attempting to murder a non-disabled child.

I am very thankful that I can still say Isabelle Stapleton is a human being. Her mother failed in her murder attempt.

I wish the young Miss Stapleton well. I hope the the pursuit of happiness turns into a life of happiness.


By Matt Carey

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

Comment on: Expression of Concern: Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data

31 Aug

It’s in a peer reviewed journal. We’ve heard that a lot about Mr. Hooker’s recent paper “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”

What does “peer” review mean when the person who wrote the paper has shown himself to have a bit of a problem with the truth? Who is the peer for someone who acts as the “priest” to a man in order to record his statements and put edited versions of them on the web?

I ask this because the editor of the journal Translational Neurodegeneration has published an “Expression of Concern”. I’ve never seen an editorial “expression of concern” before and I’ve been publishing papers for 25 or so years.

Here is that “Expression of Concern

The Publisher of this article [1] has serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions because of possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers. The matter is undergoing investigation. In the meantime, readers are advised to treat the reported conclusions of this study with caution. Further action will be taken, if appropriate, once our investigation is complete

Let’s start by exploring the “competing interests” statement on Mr. Hooker’s recent paper. Authors are supposed to list whether and what conflicts of interest they may have so the reader can weight that when reading the paper. Mr. Hooker’s article lists as “competing interests” that “Dr. Hooker has been involved in vaccine/biologic litigation.”

If memory serves, Brian Hooker has used this “competing interest” statement before. I remember that because I found it odd given that his case as a petitioner before the Court of Federal Claims (vaccine court) is still ongoing. The way the above is phrased does not capture the active nature of his case.

What about the question the editors raised about peer reviewers? Well, we can only speculate because we don’t know who those reviewers might be. An author can often suggest possible referees for his/her paper when it is first submitted. One should be intellectually honest and not just recommend one’s friends. The editor is not bound to use the suggested authors. If not, the editor may look for similar papers in his/her journal and ask authors of those papers to referee. There are only three papers involving vaccines at the journal Translational Neurodegeneration presently. Two of those involved Mark and David Geier, the father/son team that has been much discussed here and elsewhere. It would be reasonable for the editors to think about the Geiers as referees. One of the papers papers is “A two-phase study evaluating the relationship between Thimerosal-containing vaccine administration and the risk for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the United States”. It appeared in Tanslational Neurodegeneration last year.

Let’s take a brief aside. Ever heard of that paper? That’s what happens to mediocre science published by biased authors. No one cares. That is, unless, one comes out with dramatic press releases about “CDC Whistleblowers”.

Take a look at the competing interests statement in the “two-phased study”. It is the same as in the new paper by Mr. Hooker. Besides the fact that this doesn’t capture the active nature of Mr. Hooker’s case, it doesn’t capture the fact that Mark Geier is an expert witness in a case. Given that the Which is again odd as Mark Geier is currently engaged as an expert witness to Mr. Hooker’s ongoing court case. Mr. Geier has been hired by Mr. Hooker.

Back to the first paper–let’s say that one or both Geiers were chosen as referees. Either by recommendation of Mr. Hooker or because the editor is mining his previous authors. The fact that Mark Geier is working on active litigation for Mr. Hooker would be a pretty serious competing interest. Had Mr. Hooker recommended Mr. Geier, Mr. Hooker should have declared this business relationship they had.

Again, we can only speculate at this point. But this is an example of what sort of problem might be ongoing that the editors wish to investigate.

Mr. Hooker’s current paper (his reanalysis) has been replaced on the journal website with this statement:

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

My guess is that the editors took a second look at this paper after the very strange and very bad public relations campaign Mr. Hooker engaged in. Finding discussions by researchers online discussing how bad this paper is, the editors questioned how the paper got through. And found a possible problem with the referees chosen, resulting in their expression of concern.

From a list of discussions about the Hooker paper put together by educator/writer Liz Ditz:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Another cause for concern in my view would be Mr. Hooker’s declaration submitted with the paper. Authors are required to state that they are submitting original research. An analysis performed 10 years ago by someone at another organization (CDC in this case) which you duplicated is not, in my opinion, original research.

    Also there is a very broad competing interests statement on the Journal’s website

    Non-financial competing interests
    Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to) political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests. If, after reading these guidelines, you are unsure whether you have a competing interest, please contact the Editor

    Mr. Hooker certainly has some personal and ideological interests. Here’s a YouTube video of a presentation he gave last year, and discussed here at Left Brain/Right Brain. It’s a Skype-talk.

    Here’s a screenshot:

    hooker_autism_inside_job

    His talk is “CDC — Ground Zero for the decline of children in the United States”. His logo on every page is a mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb explosion. The title of Mr. Hooker’s talk in the program for that event was “Autism-an inside job”. I’m going with strong “ideological interests” here. Both in his views on vaccines and on his views on the CDC. But anyone seeing the recent videos he produced with Andrew Wakefield would know that.

    When I wrote about this talk before I noted that it was presented at a 9/11 Truther online conference. Mr. Hooker let me know that he took offence to the implication that he is a 9/11 truther. I wasn’t making that implication then and I’m not now. I do think Mr. Hooker makes very poor choices when he chooses to lend his name to a 9/11 truther event.

    In this case, it isn’t that Mr. Hooker’s decisions are poor (they are), it’s that his choices show that he has a rather strong ideological stance on vaccines and the CDC. One which the editors of his recent article likely wish Mr. Hooker had disclosed when he submitted his paper.

    Of course, with all this in the public domain, this also begs the question of why “CDC Whistleblower” William Thompson chose to work closely with Mr. Hooker. But that is a discussion for another time.


    By Matt Carey

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