Vaccines on the Hill III

26 Sep

Somehow I never thought there would be a “Vaccines on the Hill II”, much less III. That said, a question from Lisa (from got me thinking and, well, I’d rather do this a post than a response.

I admit, this isn’t directly related to her comment, who commented on how David Kirby makes a point of stating he is not “anti-vaccine”.

Instead this is about frustrations with Mr. Kirby. As an example, let’s discuss how Mr. Kirby “quoted” a response that the CDC made to an NEIHS report in his congressional briefing. Yes, “quoted” is in quotes for a good reason.

On his presentation, page six, Mr. Kirby “quotes” (there’s those quotation marks again!) the NIEHS report:

NIH: “We identified several areas of weakness that were judged to reduce the usefulness of the VSD for addressing the potential association between exposure to thimerosal and risk of ASD.”

With the response from Dr. Gerberding at CDC of:

Gerberding General Response: CDC CONCURS

What was the real quote?

The panel identified several serious problems that were judged to reduce the usefulness of an ecologic study design using the VSD to address the potential association between thimerosal and the risk of AD/ASD.

Emphasis mine.

Yep. Mr. Kirby left out the fact that the NIEHS was specifically talking about ecological studies.

Makes a BIG difference in how that phrase is interpreted. This was a major part of two epiwonk blog posts, here and here. Mr. Kirby’s original blog post on this was retracted, so Mr. Kirby is well aware of the importance of the fact that the NIEHS limited the statement to ecological studies.

By the way, the real CDC response?

CDC Response: CDC concurs with this conclusion and does not plan to use VSD for ecological studies.

They did most certainly not concur with the statement that Mr Kirby “quoted”. Instead, they see the limitation for ecological studies. There is strength in using the VSD. They don’t see it as valuable for discussing the thimerosal/autism question, as we’ve discussed before.

Here’s the NEIHS report, and here, the CDC response.

Mr. Kirby’s “quote” of the NIH was incorrect. This isn’t incorrect in the way Dan Olmsted thinks that “has” vs. “have” is an important difference. No, the quote by Mr. Kirby completely changed the very meaning of the statement that NIEHS made and implied the CDC concurred with.

It sounds like Mr Kirby was caught red-handed trying it too, by a staffer who obviously came in very well informed. The bright side is that the legislature got an idea of Mr. Kirby’s tactics. The down side, they may not realize that the entire autism community is not represented by Mr. Kirby and his tactics.

This misinformation effort has already had an effect. Mr. Kirby’s original treatment of the CDC response made people think that the CDC position is that the Verstraten study was flawed. As epiwonk makes very clear, the opposite is true. The NIEHS panel suggested expanding the Verstraten study (which was not ecological) with additional years.

And people wonder why I get frustrated with Mr. Kirby.

11 Responses to “Vaccines on the Hill III”

  1. Kev September 26, 2008 at 19:13 #

    Is this the time David redacted (uncommented) part of his HuffPo blog entry but not his identical AoA blog entry?

  2. HobNobs September 26, 2008 at 19:56 #


    I think you are thinking of the “scottish adults with autism” posts.

    To my knowledge, he never corrected the AoA post.

    The fact that he would leave one up with incorrect information is worse than his editing the Huffington Post blog and not noting it.

  3. Epi Wonk September 26, 2008 at 23:00 #

    Here’s some other interesting information about the NIEHS meeting on 16 Aug 2006 and subsequent report:

    1. In my original post on this subject, I mentioned that I had a long discussion on June 16th with one of the NIEHS Expert Panel Members. She told me that the major impetus for the meeting came from SafeMinds and a couple of other “mercury-autism-vaccine” groups. They wanted a meeting of independent scientists (i.e. independent of CDC) to discuss open public access to the Vaccine Data Safetylink (VSD).

    2. Take a look at the attendees/invitees at the NIEHS meeting. They include: Mark Blaxill (SafeMinds), David S. Baskin (Cure Autism Now), Thomas Dooley (Mothers Against Mercury), Bobbi Manning (Advocates of Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning), and Angela Medlin (Mothers Against Mercury).

    My question is: Why has Mark Blaxill not stepped forward and explained that David Kirby’s “reporting” on this issue is a complete lie? What about these other people — why have none of them stepped forward? (I realize the answer is obvious.) Meanwhile, ever since Kirby’s HuffPost articles, the blogosphere is filled with know-nothings rejoicing that “the CDC admitted that vaccines cause autism” or “Julie Gerberding admitted that vaccines cause autism.”

  4. Sullivan September 27, 2008 at 00:45 #

    Thanks for the comments, epiwonk. Thank you very much for exposing this mess in the first place, by taking apart Mr. Kirby’s Huffington Post pieces.

    You won’t find Mr Blaxill pointing out the failings of Mr. Kirby any time soon. Here is a bit from Mr. Blaxill’s acount of the day:

    I hasten to add, it wasn’t all sweetness and light. A man named Steve, who I heard was an aide to Rep. Henry Waxman, jumped in at the beginning of the Q&A session to play a game of “gotcha” with a quote on one of David Kirby’s slides. He then tried to turn that into a larger smear on David’s integrity and character. I said a few words in David’s defense and he backed off. I’d like to think that the audience saw through the tactic.

    It wasn’t a game of “gotcha”. It was a quite appropriate correction of Mr. Kirby’s methods. The “quotes” misused by Mr. Kirby were plainly misleading.

  5. ham ominous September 27, 2008 at 01:53 #

    Maybe Rep Maloney should be called into accountability for her sponsoring these two clowns to make misleading statements about the vaccine program to congress. I mean really, at what point does attacking vaccine program become domestic bio-terrorism? Huh? I’m serious, where is that line drawn?

  6. Science September 27, 2008 at 15:11 #

    ham ominous – I don’t know about terrorism, but the other piece is to contrast the big and small pictures: while the mercury militia and antivax crowd represents only the tiniest fraction of society and they’ve failed to break out of their extremist hit-and-run MO (the big picture), the militia leadership’s lies, ignorance, and single-minded efforts to generate large amounts of revenue have caused much pain and suffering for individuals in families that have been caught in the militia web (the small picture).

    We should never forget that while they bray about and beat their chests all while spinning their wheels, their lies have damaged young children and many families.

  7. notmercury September 27, 2008 at 18:28 #

    Kirby doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    And finally we see damage to myelin, which makes the sheath that protects the brain and the nervous system. Heavy metals have been shown to attack myelin. Myelin is implicated in other autoimmune disorders such as MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. And there is evidence of children with autism who have problems with demyelination, and there is some evidence that suggests that vaccines may be able to cause it.

    There isn’t damage to myelin in the brains of autistic people, as far as we know anyway. There are a few reports of circulating anti-myelin antibodies but those are probably wrong too. So I guess any of the diseases he lists that show up on a Pubmed search for ‘Myelin’ are also the result of mercury and/or vaccines?

    I guess any case of neurogliosis is really mercury poisoning?

  8. ham ominous September 28, 2008 at 05:38 #

    If a person planned to start an epidemic in the US by releasing a number of bacteria or viruses in order to tie up public health resources, to hospital workers or police, or just to distract and hurt people, they’d be seen as a terrorist whether or not they had a political motive. The anti-vaccine crowd are hoping for the return of epidemics. They desire them because they think they are more “healthy” than vaccination. The anti-vaccine goals are different from the terrorist, but the results would be the same.

  9. thing12mom December 31, 2008 at 15:43 #

    Kirby responds to the criticism.


  1. David Kirby (and the supposed vaccine-autism link) deconstructed, yet again - September 28, 2008

    […] a write-up are posted on the Age of Autism weblog. Sullivan has been posting about the hearing as Vaccines on the Hill III, Vaccines on the Hill II, and Vaccines on the Hill. Liz at I Speak of Dream noted that this latest […]

  2. Autism Blog - Kirby launches torpedo at Verstraeten, sinks Geier | Left Brain/Right Brain - October 8, 2008

    […] In his recent briefing on Capital Hill,  David Kirby took another jab at the Verstraeten study. He tried to assert that (a) the NIEHS claimed that the Vaccine Safety Datalink was unusable for autism studies and that (b) the CDC agreed. He was incorrect, and, luckily, a staffer caught Kirby at it. […]

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