David Kirby, he's making a list, he's checking it twice…

29 Jul

As has become apparent in recent weeks, there seems to be a ‘backdoor’ movement underway from the mercury militia.

It all started when Kelli Ann Davis attempted to rewrite US legislative history by stating in a speech to the IACC Working Group that the Combatting Autism Act contained specific phraseology on vaccination. It of course did not. David Kirby repeated this error in a Huffington Post entry. This was, it seems, little more than an attempt to ‘set the scene’ for a coup d’état. The logic seems to be that, since, during the CAA process, vaccines were touted as causes, even though the CAA decided to reject them as being too specific and settled for ‘environmental’, Kelli Ann and David felt that this was sufficient cause for stating the CAA included vaccine language. This seems to me to be akin to saying that, as society once believed the world was flat, it still is.

Anyway, this statement seems to have cut little ice with the IACC and so, the mercury militia unveiled Plan B – getting Brad Miller House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight to write a letter to Secretary Leavitt (HHS) to strongly recommend the formation of an advisory ‘board’ that they (in the guise of SafeMinds and Generation rescue) would police and use to control access from the public to the IACC and vice versa.

Personally, the idea fills me with complete horror. I’ve already discussed why but just to recap, the idea of Generation Rescue and SafeMinds being even slightly even-handed or representative of autism parents is like a bad joke. I provided email addresses and names for people to express their displeasure also (and I hope many of you did. If you didn’t, I urge you to right now. Both US and non-US people).

Anyway, the latest chapter in this battle for the scientific soul of the IACC is now underway as we speak. I have it on good authority that David Kirby is in the process of contacting as many members from an IACC strategic planning workgroup as he can to ascertain which way their opinion swung. He is specifically interested in the question of whether anyone among the 20 or so workgroup members other than Mark Blaxill and Peter Bell recommended the IACC include in the strategic plan a separate initiative on vaccines. If you listened to the webinar, you know firsthand that no vote was taken. In fact, since the workgroup’s expressed purpose is just to provide feedback and it has no authority over the IACC, no votes whatsoever were taken. But David is going ahead and asking people anyway. To what end I wonder? I think there are a few possible reasons.

The email David sent around asked people their position on vaccines in the Strategic Plan and to explain how they got on the workgroup (the answer, which anyone at NIMH could tell him, is that each IACC member was allowed to nominate one person) I would hazard a guess that this number would be very low indeed. However, what he could also be doing is seeing how many people don’t seem to care either way. The IACC is made up of some scientists who are, shall we say, ambivalent about all things except their own institute or federal agency. By not really caring either way, they stand a good chance of letting this thing happen via the backdoor. David will of course (being the excellent author he is) know exactly how to phrase this to make it sound irresistible.

And then of course there is the third and more Machiavellian option. That a ‘hit list’ is being compiled to intimidate the members. We have seen time and time again on the Age of Autism blog how its authors post the names and contact numbers/addresses of those it doesn’t like or who feel have wronged it. Would David be so nasty as to post the names of people who may inform him they intend to voice their opposition? I hope not. I would like to think better of him than that.

54 Responses to “David Kirby, he's making a list, he's checking it twice…”

  1. Ruby Ridge July 29, 2008 at 09:17 #

    And David Kirby is doing this because he’s a journalist?

    Wouldn’t a reasonable person say that if the militia thought that they had a chance of convincing people with facts and science they wouldn’t need back room politicking?

    Apparently the militants are plotting some type of outrageous attack on ones they see as their enemies. It is what they are calling their “Fall Offensive”. It seems to be aimed at Paul Offit because he they fear he has written about the reality of what they have been doing, in his new book.

    I think what will happen is that people will read the book and reviews of the book, see that it states facts that are easily verified. Then people will check to see how those very people outlined in the book have reacted to it. I believe the outrageous actions of militia members will mark them as unreasoning.

    Could it be that the “Fall Offensive” they are gloating over will turn into fodder for TV talk shows? I would look to see the militants being described by the media as cut off the same cloth as one of the extremist cults that has made it into the news in the past 10 years.

  2. Kev July 29, 2008 at 09:41 #

    I suspect the Fall Offensive will be along the lines of ‘Dastardly Paul Offit hates Mothers!’ I would expect lots of head-shaking and false expressions of regret at how evil doctors have become. Maybe a concerted attack on high profile science bloggers like Steve Novella.

    Aside from that I’d wager that their Fall Offensive carries as much weight as the studies they keep promising will appear. Oh, they’ll probably be a couple more bad studies too. Possibly the Hewitson one will find a home and I expect they think there will be movement in the mitochondrial front and I think they fully believe the Cedillo decision will go their way.

  3. Ruby Ridge July 29, 2008 at 18:52 #

    So if Cedillo doesn’t go their way, will they start stockpiling ropes, pitchforks and torches? I don’t expect Cedillo, or any of the other vaccine court cases, to go their way.

  4. Sullivan July 29, 2008 at 20:14 #

    Very interesting–they are looking for more support for the Blaxill/Redwood proposal.

    It is likely that some members of the IACC don’t know who Mr Kirby is or how he and others use information on their blogs. Kirby might be able to get a few responses.

    They (Kirby & Co) must think this is a high priority. This will only work once. After a blog post, the IACC people will have a better understanding of the methods groups like GR use.

  5. Kev July 29, 2008 at 20:48 #

    Ruby – I’ve tried my best to be open-minded when listening to all the sound files of all the Omnibus hearings and I have to say that if the Special Masters apply Daubert as they’re meant to, I genuinely can’t see how any of the cases presented as test cases so far can possibly succeed. But then, I guess I would say that.

    Sullivan – it does make one wonder – if there’s so much support for the idea of a separate vaccine idea as David seemed to be claiming in his last HuffPo post whats the need for all this double checking?

  6. TheProbe July 29, 2008 at 21:48 #

    The MM is utterly incapable of arguing facts and science, since they have none on their side. Instead, they will personally attack those with whom they disagree and, will try to make their personal and/or professional lives miserable. They are literally taking a few chapters out of the Scientology handbook. More and more, they seem like a cult.

  7. Orac July 29, 2008 at 23:19 #

    I suspect the Fall Offensive will be along the lines of ‘Dastardly Paul Offit hates Mothers!’ I would expect lots of head-shaking and false expressions of regret at how evil doctors have become. Maybe a concerted attack on high profile science bloggers like Steve Novella.

    No “maybe” about it. David Kirby and Jon Poling already launched a coordinated attack on Steve Novella. As they launched an attack on me in May, I’m fully expecting another one as part of this fall offensive. Anyone who speaks out against their dangerous pseudoscience is likely to be targeted. The indications are all there.

  8. kristina July 30, 2008 at 01:23 #

    I think too that Dr. Novella’s is onto something, as far as how the MM uses the “mommy gambit.” Kirby, R Kennedy, Dr. Poling, have all used the “they’re just moms worrying about their kids” phrase and they know that it makes those mean ol’ (male) scientists and doctors look all the more as if they are beating up on poor moms of disabled children.

  9. isles July 31, 2008 at 14:39 #

    It’s pretty laughable when someone who used to call himself a journalist takes part in something called a “Fall Offensive.”

    This isn’t college rugby, for heaven’s sake.

    I wonder if it would be possible to organize a consortium of *real* autism researchers, people who are sick of having to compete with woo-sters for research funding, to go to IACC and state firmly that they need to stop playing nicey-nicey with the antivaxers, who have had years to prove the plausibility of their case and who have – in every venue, every instance – utterly failed.

  10. Kelli Ann Davis July 31, 2008 at 21:28 #

    Kev,

    Okay. I’m totally laughing on this post and the fact that it is based on speculation and conjecture:

    First, all I did was read the letter verbatim into the record and state that I had every intention of following up on the issue with the Subcommittee — which I’ve done.

    Second, I’ve been working with this Subcommittee for almost a *year* — long before the current IACC crisis.

    Third, I am well aware of the language contained in CAA since I was working very closely with the HELP Committee and Barton’s staff during the whole process. I *KNOW* that the word *vaccine* is not in the bill but actually is in the Report language and Colloquy — and if you watched the Comcast video report from last week (http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/07/generation-resc.htm) that’s exactly what I said.

    Fourth, as the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

    Kelli Ann Davis

    PS…Thanks for getting the “i” correct in my name.

  11. Sullivan July 31, 2008 at 23:03 #

    Second, I’ve been working with this Subcommittee for almost a year—long before the current IACC crisis.

    What crisis? The IACC has done it’s job well. They have done everything by the rules. They have sought public input.

    Why did you start this process at a time when there wasn’t a “crisis”? You state that like it is somehow beneficial to your case, but from my view it speaks to working in bad faith on the IACC.

    Is it conjecture that Mr. Kirby is polling the IACC on the vaccine question?

    The fact that people pushed hard for the word vaccine to be included in the CAA but that it didn’t make it speaks quite loudly to this observer.

  12. Kev July 31, 2008 at 23:05 #

    What speculation and conjecture Kelli Ann? The letter you read says:

    The CAA listed 13 scientific fields but the only specific research topic mentioned in the legislative history was vaccines and their preservations as a possible cause of autism.

    I read that as an attempt by you to place importance on something that doesn’t actually exist. If I’m wrong that you’ve got nothing to worry about, right? If I’m wrong then I’m very curious as to why David is contacting as many members as he can to see what their opinions are. If I’m wrong then it won’t matter how many of us contact the various functionaries involved to tell _our_ side of the story – the side of the autism community who think that what you’re doing is wastying precious time and resources in the pursuit of your own collective ego.

    _”Fourth, as the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!””_

    Oh Kelli Ann, I’ve been hearing this off other people associated with GR for at least four years now. So far…..nada.

    What you still (amazingly) fail to get is that all the celebs, all the political power play, all the legal threats – they don’t change one thing – science. There is no science establishing a link between any vaccine, any vaccine ingredient or any schedule of administration.

  13. Just curious July 31, 2008 at 23:17 #

    Kelli Ann,
    Could you come back a sec and explain what you meant by “vaccines and their “preservations”? Could you have meant “preservatives”? Do you realize that it’s very likely that the vaccine court is going to decide that vaccines did not/do not cause autism? How will you deal with that?

  14. Kelli Ann Davis July 31, 2008 at 23:39 #

    “There is no science establishing a link between any vaccine, any vaccine ingredient or any schedule of administration.”

    Well gee Kev, maybe that’s because they (establishment) don’t want to do the research. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean there’s no link.

    Enter,the current IACC situation.

    Regarding David, I never said one way or the other if he’s doing what you’ve suggested in this post.

    I can speak only for myself.

  15. Sullivan July 31, 2008 at 23:49 #

    I can speak only for myself.

    Do me a favor? Every time you speak to the IACC or someone in the government, start and end with that sentence.

  16. Kelli Ann Davis August 1, 2008 at 00:09 #

    Hey Sullivan,

    I may not represent *your* viewpoint, but guess what?? There are thousands of parents who support Generation Rescue’s message and *those* are the parents I’m representing.

    Bottom Line: No one is *stopping you* from advocating for your personal viewpoint on this issue. It’s a free country (last time I checked) and therefore you can go lobby Congress all you want if you so desire.

    Welcome to Politics 101 — Kev and Orac are recent inductees.

  17. Sullivan August 1, 2008 at 00:26 #

    Great–

    You represent Generation Rescue. Make that clear. You (individually, or as Generation Rescue) don’t represent the “Autism Community”.

  18. Kelli Ann Davis August 1, 2008 at 01:49 #

    “Make that clear”

    I do make that clear. And by the way, who do you think you are telling me what I can or cannot say?

    The fact is we *do* represent a segment of the autism community — just not *your* segment.

    And as you can see, I’m doing fine without your political pointers Sullivan. But thanks anyways.

    Like I’ve said — no one is *stopping you* from lobbying. So, go at it.

  19. Just curious August 1, 2008 at 02:04 #

    Well, Gee Kelli Ann, do you suppose it could be that there’s no physical way for vaccines to cause autism, and that if there were such a way that y’all would have been able to preservations it, I mean, present it to the Special Masters? Have you bothered to listen to all the testimony? The pols you are trying to win over with your immense charm are going to know about the vaccine court and you aren’t going to be able to convince them that there is anything to your claims about vaccines at all. Time to look for a new job. Have you thought about sales?

  20. Sullivan August 1, 2008 at 02:18 #

    I do make that clear. And by the way, who do you think you are telling me what I can or cannot say?

    If you want to present yourself as representing the ‘autism community’, I am a member of the community whom you don’t represent.

    You can say what you wish. If you (or anyone, say, like Ms. McCarthy who also represents Generation Rescue) purports to represent the autism community when you don’t have the support of many of us, that is propagating a falsehood.

    I also can say what I wish: Don’t pretend directly or indirectly to represent me. Generation Rescue is hurting my family through it’s efforts.

  21. Kelli Ann Davis August 1, 2008 at 15:39 #

    Sullivan,

    Let me say it again…I represent my son first and foremost. I will do whatever I need to do to be his voice in DC.

    Second, my *official affiliation* is with Generation Rescue because I support their mission and message.

    Third, there are thousands of families who likewise support GR’s mission and message and it’s *those* families that I speak for along with my son.

    Fourth, I get that you aren’t one of them.

    Fifth, *no one* is stopping you from advocating for your child and your message.

    Sixth, likewise, *no one* is going to stop me from advocating for my child — not you, not Kev, not Orac, not Diva, not (insert name).

    Bottom Line: I don’t give a hoot on whether you agree with me or not. It doesn’t effect what I do one iota.

    Now, I bid adieu because I’ve got productive work to do.

  22. AoA Quoter August 1, 2008 at 22:23 #

    “Hopefully it will help with the headaches from the DMSA and ALA.”

  23. Joseph August 1, 2008 at 22:38 #

    Well gee Kev, maybe that’s because they (establishment) don’t want to do the research. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean there’s no link.

    The “establishment” has carried out so many studies on vaccination and autism that it would be fair to call it a huge waste of resources at this point. I’m familiar with most such studies, and I would make the following observation: The better the quality of the study, the more clear the lack of association. Case in point: Thompson et al. (2007) vs. Verstraeten et al. (2003).

  24. Kev August 1, 2008 at 22:43 #

    _”Sixth, likewise, no one is going to stop me from advocating for my child—not you, not Kev, not Orac, not Diva, not (insert name).”_

    Go for it. But be aware that the reverse applies also.

    _”Well gee Kev, maybe that’s because they (establishment) don’t want to do the research. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean there’s no link.”_

    And thats the _real_ bottom line for you guys Kelli Ann – its all a big conspiracy, right? The founders of the group your belong to are very, very rich and to fund science is well within their financial grasp. You don’t need the ‘establishment’. Just do your own.

    Thats reality 101 Kelli Ann, I doubt you’ll ever be an inductee.

  25. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 00:57 #

    Joseph,

    Thomson et al (2007) wasn’t an Autism study. Also, the study type was a higher quality study, with a very small sample size. It also had some restrictive exclusion criteria, so combined, it will have a similar power weakness as most of the epidemiology studies done to date.

    Verstraeten et al (2003), did not show any lack of association. It was a neutral study.

  26. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 01:08 #

    Kev,

    “The founders of the group your belong to are very, very rich and to fund science is well within their financial grasp. You don’t need the ‘establishment’. Just do your own.”

    Funding is not the only barrier to entry when public data is held by private organizations controlled by the government as it is in the US.

    The amount of money required to fund the type of trials you advocate is far beyond the ability of most individuals with the exception of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.

  27. Kev August 2, 2008 at 07:55 #

    _”The amount of money required to fund the type of trials you advocate is far beyond the ability of most individuals with the exception of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.”_

    If I take that as true, then it begs the question – why should any gvmt waste such a lot of money chasing a question for which the answer is pretty much known.

    However, I think it probably isn’t accurate or else no studies would ever get done. Privately funded science is far from uncommon.

  28. Joseph August 2, 2008 at 14:54 #

    Thomson et al (2007) wasn’t an Autism study.

    It was a neurological outcomes study that looked at 47 different outcomes, and a sister study that is autism-specific should be wrapping up I understand.

    Also, the study type was a higher quality study, with a very small sample size.

    It looked at 1047 children.

    It also had some restrictive exclusion criteria, so combined, it will have a similar power weakness as most of the epidemiology studies done to date.

    The limitations of Thompson et al. (2007) were not in any way similar to those of other epidemiological studies. For example, they administered standardized tests in order to evaluate outcomes instead of relying on outcomes administratively recorded previously. It was also an individual-level study.

    The exclusion criteria limit the scope of its conclusions, but they don’t invalidate its conclusions, obviously.

    Verstraeten et al (2003), did not show any lack of association. It was a neutral study.

    Which is my point exactly.

  29. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 15:03 #

    Kev,

    “If I take that as true, then it begs the question – why should any gvmt waste such a lot of money chasing a question for which the answer is pretty much known.”

    If the best available evidence isn’t very good, and there is a pattern of anecdotal evidence, that merits further investigation. Who would advocate ignoring known evidence of harm?

    “However, I think it probably isn’t accurate or else no studies would ever get done. Privately funded science is far from uncommon.”

    Mainly by corporations I would guess. The other type of private science is much more akin to the smaller size and less costly biological type — the type rejected by the the likes of the IOM as not as credible.

  30. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 15:15 #

    Joseph,

    “It was a neurological outcomes study that looked at 47 different outcomes, and a sister study that is autism-specific should be wrapping up I understand.”

    Yes, and it specifically avoided looking at Autism — you incorrectly used it as a higher quality example of a study on Autism.

    “The exclusion criteria limit the scope of its conclusions, but they don’t invalidate its conclusions, obviously.”

    Correct, the exclusion criteria limits the scope of the conclusions. The limited scope of conclusions ultimately results into zero visibility into small subsets of children that are undetectable by both this study and the epidemiology ones. This is a recurring theme and not addressed by this study of higher quality methodology.

    “Verstraeten et al (2003), did not show any lack of association. It was a neutral study.

    Which is my point exactly.”

    No, you stated: “, the more clear the lack of association”. That implies that Verstraeten showed a lack of association. A neutral study does NOT show a lack of association, it is neutral. As per the Verstraeten himself: “The article does not state that we found evidence against an association, as a negative study would.”

    Your statement was quite wrong on almost all counts.

  31. isles August 2, 2008 at 15:33 #

    JFC, Schwartz.

    Do you think that you could look at a group of autistic children and not find differences in verbal IQ, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, fine motor coordination, the NEPSY, the Connors Rating Scales, etc?

    The point of the study was NOT to avoid studying autism. It was to do it in a way that did not rely on a definition of autism but rather to refer to very specific, measurable attributes.

    None so blind…

  32. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 15:43 #

    Isles,

    Got it wrong again.

    From the study itself: “Since the CDC is conducting a separate case–control study of autism in relation to mercury exposure, a measure of autism was not included in the test battery.”

    That’s pretty crystal clear. If you think you can interpret the raw data better than the study authors, I look forward to your analysis.

    If you actually bothered to look up the data before you post, maybe you wouldn’t keep getting things wrong.

  33. isles August 2, 2008 at 16:34 #

    So, Schwartz of the infinite epidemiological wisdom, why did they bother to do this study? Was it idle curiosity?

    I’ll say it again slowly: “It was to do it in a way that did not rely on a definition of autism.”

    Which is what they said: “A measure of autism was not included.”

  34. Schwartz August 2, 2008 at 17:40 #

    Isles,

    No infinite wisdom required, just reading and comprehension. The purpose of the study is pretty well summarized in the title: Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years. As articulated by the scientists in the study, ASD was not in the set of outcomes studied.

    You stated: “It was to do it in a way that did not rely on a definition of autism”

    Since ASD is actually defined as a specific set of other symptoms, where is it noted that you infer a test of Autism from a measure of other individual tests? Do you have any evidence to show they did an analysis on a combination of the other measures?

    Could you even point out anywhere in the study literature, where they talk about the true intent which is to test a correlation with “Isles'” definition of Autism?

    As per all of the documentation, this study did not measure Autism as an outcome. This study was not designed to determine any correlation with Autism, and yet you insist it is applicable to Autism?

    Do you not realize how ridiculous your argument is?

  35. Joseph August 2, 2008 at 21:09 #

    Yes, and it specifically avoided looking at Autism

    You are not characterizing it fairly, Swartz. It didn’t look at autism, because there was another study designed to do that specifically.

    The limited scope of conclusions ultimately results into zero visibility into small subsets of children that are undetectable by both this study and the epidemiology ones. This is a recurring theme and not addressed by this study of higher quality methodology.

    That was not what I was referring to, but it is true that in any population study, even individual-level ones, the confidence interval could hide a real small (undetectable) effect. This is what they argued in the Omnibus. It also has to do with the saying “you can’t prove a negative.”

    Two points about that. If that’s all people are trying to prove exists, then what’s all the talk about vaccines causing an epidemic of neurological disorders? An epidemic-causing agent should be easily detectable with epidemiology.

    Second, if the effect seems to vanish as study methodology improves, this suggests the effect simply doesn’t exist. This is the more plausible explanation. The “effect is too small” explanation is a cop out or back-pedaling if you will.

    No, you stated: “, the more clear the lack of association”. That implies that Verstraeten showed a lack of association.

    You’re being picky with my semantics there. I’m sure you know what I meant.

  36. Kev August 2, 2008 at 21:12 #

    _”If the best available evidence isn’t very good, and there is a pattern of anecdotal evidence, that merits further investigation. Who would advocate ignoring known evidence of harm?”_

    I happen to think the best available evidence _is_ pretty good. Its certainly vastly better than what you agree is what the ‘other side’ have – anecdotes (which, by the way, seem to me to not fall within any coherent pattern at all).

    _”Mainly by corporations I would guess. The other type of private science is much more akin to the smaller size and less costly biological type—the type rejected by the the likes of the IOM as not as credible.”_

    You would _guess_ ? Not good enough 😉

    No, I’m sorry, at least two of the orgs I can think of are run by people who are very, very rich indeed. There’s absolutely no reason at all why they couldn’t fund decent studies.

  37. Schwartz August 4, 2008 at 04:11 #

    Joseph,

    “You are not characterizing it fairly, Swartz. It didn’t look at autism, because there was another study designed to do that specifically.”

    I know that. But you used it as an example of a higher quality study on the measure of Autism which it is not.

    A neutral study means that no conclusions can be drawn. It does not move the scale of likelihood either direction. You used it as an example that the direction was moving futher (i.e. it was already sitting in a particular direction). Using Verstraeten as an example here is not correct because it’s effect on the overall evidence is nothing since it is neutral. The only conclusion one can draw from Verstraeten is that the data and methodology can’t be used to measure the correlation between Autism and Thimerosal exposure.

    As noted earlier, your second example didn’t include any measures of Autism, so it didn’t apply either. Neither examples you used to support your argument can support your argument.

    I’m not being any more picky than the last 10 articles on this site. The statement “The more clear the lack of association” is a proper statement as it states that a lack of association was tested and found, but Verstraeten can’t be used as an example to back that statement up because it could not conclude whether there was an association or whether there was a lack of association. It could show neither.

    I do realize that you were referring to a better methodology in the Johnson (2007) study. I fully agree with that point. My point however, is valid, in that despite the better methodology, it still has a common weakness shared with the epidemiology studies so that issue still exists. No backpedaling.

    “Two points about that. If that’s all people are trying to prove exists, then what’s all the talk about vaccines causing an epidemic of neurological disorders? An epidemic-causing agent should be easily detectable with epidemiology.”

    I didn’t realize the CDC was trying to prove anything? They are the only ones with full access to the data and I was not aware they were trying to find an association. It is well recognized (the authors have even stated it) that the epidemiology studies do not have the power to detect issues in small subsets (small being relative) of the population. There is little debate on this point. Additionally, epidemiology results rely on good data. You yourself don’t agree with the published prevalence data, so how can you support epidemiology studies based on that data?

  38. Schwartz August 4, 2008 at 04:46 #

    Kev,

    “I happen to think the best available evidence is pretty good. Its certainly vastly better than what you agree is what the ‘other side’ have – anecdotes (which, by the way, seem to me to not fall within any coherent pattern at all).”

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion. Many would disagree, hence the ongoing debate.

    “You would guess ? Not good enough ;)”

    OK, Kev, your assertion that rich individuals could fund epidemiology studies (despite not having access to the data) which to date have only ever been funded by government or pharmaceuticals is not good enough either.

    We’re both stating opinion here. Unless we both bring out the numbers, neither of us will have much to stand on on this point.

  39. Sullivan August 4, 2008 at 06:21 #

    “You are certainly entitled to your opinion. Many would disagree, hence the ongoing debate.”

    Not in the world of science. In the science world, it would be “few would disagree”.

    If you don’t think that is accurate, drop a line to Elizabeth Mumper at ARI. She admitted that this is a closed book to the vast majority of the scientific community.

    There are “many” who would disagree in the non-science community by

    (a) “many” is not a majority by any means. A few thousand at a rally in a country of 300 million, most of whom don’t even know about the ‘controversy’ is only “many” if you are standing in the crowd at the rally.

    (b) science isn’t up for a vote anyway. “Many” parents can think that demonic ley lines can burn your bum. Doesn’t make it true.

  40. Schwartz August 4, 2008 at 15:26 #

    Sullivan,

    “Not in the world of science. In the science world, it would be “few would disagree”.”

    You seem to be under the impression that the science is settled (on bad data). Fortunately, scientific study is still ongoing and thus there is no “scientific consensus” — an idealistic term if I ever heard one.

    “If you don’t think that is accurate, drop a line to Elizabeth Mumper at ARI. She admitted that this is a closed book to the vast majority of the scientific community.”

    I stated that there was no consensus. How do you figure that one person’s opinion changes that? There are scientists who disagree with Elizabeth Mumper.

    “(a) “many” is not a majority by any means. A few thousand at a rally in a country of 300 million, most of whom don’t even know about the ‘controversy’ is only “many” if you are standing in the crowd at the rally.”

    The “majority” don’t agree on most things and thus the term isn’t particularly relevant. Even if 51% of a scientific population thinks one thing, that certainly doesn’t imply consensus, or even close to the settlement of an issue. What is the point of that argument?

    “(b) science isn’t up for a vote anyway. “Many” parents can think that demonic ley lines can burn your bum. Doesn’t make it true.”

    I’m not sure what your point is. I stated that many disagree with Kev — that includes scientists and medical doctors — so I’m confused as to how you thought democracy entered into my argument?

  41. Sullivan August 4, 2008 at 16:05 #

    You move from complaining about my use of quotes around a paraphrase to inserting (bad data) into “my impression”.

    You seem to be under the impression that the science is settled (on bad data). Fortunately, scientific study is still ongoing and thus there is no “scientific consensus”—an idealistic term if I ever heard one.

    It appears to be your impression that this is bad data.

    “scientific” study is ongoing at the level of vaccine-court litigants like Hewitson. You are welcome to read Orac’s blog, Science Based Medicine and this blog (amongst others) for a discussion of that.

    There are other levels of “scientific” study ongoing. At the level of Mark and David Geier, Boyd Haley and others. Sorry if they fall of my radar when I think of “scientific”. Based on their track record, I think it accurate.

    You stated that there is no consensus. I agree–that is what you stated. It is an incorrect statement. There are a few people who disagree. That is why it is a “concensus” and not a “unanimity of thought”.

    Let’s leave it at “vast majority”, then? If you wish to disagree with that, well, you are incorrect. The “vast majority” of people in the medical field have agreed that the data do not support the idea that vaccines cause autism.

    The vast majority of people, including the likes of Dr. Jon Poling, see vaccines as one of the greatest inventions of the modern era

    I realize you are not sure what my points are. It happens a lot. But if you want to move from a discussion of “consensus” into questioning why I bring up the idea of majority.

    The point is simple–you are in a very small minority. You share that minority with the likes of Scudamore.

    If you want to push the idea that a small minority breaks a “consensus”, we are using different definitions of the word.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus

    I don’t think “unanimity” is the proper definition.

  42. Schwartz August 4, 2008 at 16:33 #

    Sullivan,

    I realize that this site often parrots Orac (or vice versa), but if you think his website is an accurate or credible representation of anything other than colourful commentary, then clearly I’m wasting my time.

    “There are other levels of “scientific” study ongoing. At the level of Mark and David Geier, Boyd Haley and others. Sorry if they fall of my radar when I think of “scientific”. Based on their track record, I think it accurate.”

    Glad we’re talking about your opinion again. It doesn’t change my point.

    “You stated that there is no consensus. I agree—that is what you stated. It is an incorrect statement. There are a few people who disagree. That is why it is a “concensus” and not a “unanimity of thought”.”

    I assumed we were speaking about the general medical community, and I didn’t realize we were discussing “LBRB selectively chosen scientific community”. In that context, I guess the consensus is pretty clear. In the broader medical context, there is no consensus.

    “Let’s leave it at “vast majority”, then? If you wish to disagree with that, well, you are incorrect. The “vast majority” of people in the medical field have agreed that the data do not support the idea that vaccines cause autism.”

    This is classic. Do you see how subtly you changed your argument? We aren’t discussing what the current evidence shows because the current evidence is weak and full of issues. We are discussing the quality of the current evidence — Kev said he thinks the current evidence is good. I disagreed and stated that many others disagree as well.

    When you tried to make a clear concise statement, you had to change the topic.

    “The vast majority of people, including the likes of Dr. Jon Poling, see vaccines as one of the greatest inventions of the modern era”

    In case you missed it, we’re discussing the quality of the evidence. Dr. Poling has stated quite clearly that the quality of the evidence is lacking.

    “If you want to push the idea that a small minority breaks a “consensus”, we are using different definitions of the word.”

    I think it’s your definition of “scientific community” or “medical community” is what’s lacking.

  43. Kev August 4, 2008 at 16:54 #

    Schwartz, I’m trying to see what point(s) your making but I’m sorry, you seem to be disappearing down a hole of your own making.

    On one side we have evidence, which, even if every single piece was 99.99% rubbish (which it clearly isn’t) would _still_ be better that what is on the other side, which is – as you say – anecdotes.

    Now, we can sat at this point that there should be more funded science pointed at these anecdotes. Why? What aspect of the various vaccine hypotheses has not been refuted? The simple fact that thiomersal is not in vaccines and yet autism cases keep rising kills that one. The other fact that the lab that undertook all the published MMR work was contaminated and found nothing kills that one.

    What else do you want to look at? What testable hypothesis do you want to see? What study design of that hypothesis would you like to see?

  44. Schwartz August 4, 2008 at 18:33 #

    Kev,

    “On one side we have evidence, which, even if every single piece was 99.99% rubbish (which it clearly isn’t) would still be better that what is on the other side, which is – as you say – anecdotes.”

    That’s where your assumption is incorrect. Patterns of anecdotal evidence are still considered evidence, just of a different level.

    I’m not stating it’s all rubish at all, just very weak and limited in its applicability to the problem.

    “The simple fact that thiomersal is not in vaccines and yet autism cases keep rising kills that one.”

    Let’s be specific then: 1) Early Thimerosal exposure has not been eliminated, nor do we have accurate data on it’s schedule of removal. 2) Data on Autism prevalence is highly disputed, so I can’t see how you draw any firm conclusions. 3) Adverse Event reporting from vaccines is not very rigourous 4) Toxicity of Thimerosal has not been determined. There are many metals and chemicals that have been shown to be toxic in very small amounts or even at different times of exposure.

    All of these factors limit the conclusions you can draw.

    You also seem to forget that the extensive Cochrane review of MMR concluded that safety studies were inadequate, so how can you conclude that all of the safety investigation has been completed? You seem to be going against the scientific consensus. You’ll find the same conclusion on the flu vaccine (which also happens to contain Thimerosal).

    At the risk of repeating myself, the weaknesses of all of the epidemiology studies are well documented and centre around lack of power to detect issues in subsets of the population, and the general use of poor data full of unaddressed confounds.

  45. Margaret Romao Toigo August 4, 2008 at 22:49 #

    What a fascinating discussion — with Joseph, Kev, Sullivan and others explaining the forrest while Schwartz analyzes microbes on tree bark in an apparent attempt to disprove the existence of the forrest.

    There is a scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. Although there are a few dissenters out there, this scientific consensus is now sufficiently broad to relegate notions about some causal link between vaccines and autism to the lexicon of urban mythology.

    Either that, or I have been swept into some kind of temporal vortex, and this is not 2008, but the late 1990s.

  46. Schwartz August 5, 2008 at 00:15 #

    Sorry MRT, I’ll pass on your bait here. If you found some evidence or logic to back up your faith based position — since you went silent — in our last couple of discussions I’d be glad to continue them before opening up yet another round of the same.

  47. María Luján August 5, 2008 at 00:29 #

    Hi
    There are several studies that have not been done considering the full schedule of vaccines and related to the metabolic, biochemical and gastrointestinal/digestive impact of them- full combination in different subgroups of individuals-beyond the immunological answer in terms of levels of specific antibodies.
    At least I have a lot of unanswered questions related to vaccines and how today many adverse events are not prevented, detected as such, tested properly and treated when they take place.

  48. Joseph August 5, 2008 at 01:02 #

    While it is true that thimerosal studies (and MMR studies) don’t look at the whole schedule, vaccines in general, and so on, I would suggest that thimerosal exposure in the 90s is a good proxy of vaccination load. In this sense, Thompson et al. (2007) along with other studies are good evidence that vaccines in general don’t cause detectable adverse neurological outcomes.

  49. Schwartz August 5, 2008 at 01:25 #

    Joseph, I suspect we can agree on several points from the Thomson et al (2007) study except you’ve extended the conclusions to a far wider scope than I would accept.

    The results only apply to:
    1) A healthy population of infants (since many illnesses were excluded)
    2) Exposure to Thimerosal, not vaccines in general (as per the study methodology)

    Additionally, the results did find a correlation with Tics (as did Verstraeten) which should not be casually dismissed because it is a neurological problem, so Thimerosal certainly isn’t vindicated from evidence of neurological harm.

    I notice you also threw in “along with other studies”. On this point I also disagree. Johnson et al. 2007 is the only widely published study of it’s type that I’m aware of to test Thimerosal exposure in children.

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