A look back at the so called “CDC Whistleblower” story and how Vaxxed is misleading

10 Feb

A short while ago I was asked to speak on a conference call for Voices for Vaccines. The topic was the events that are behind (and misrepresented in) the movie Vaxxed. With Wakefield trying to bring his movie to Europe, and the fact that President Trump spoke with Robert Kennedy on vaccines and autism, I though an analysis might be worthwhile now. So, here’s an edited version of that talk.

I have written a great deal about these topics. Specifically the topics of Vaxxed and William Thompson. I will try to embed those links where relevant below. Until then, they are at the bottom of this article (in no particular order).

Let me introduce myself: My name is Matt Carey. I hold a Ph.D. in physics and have been an active researcher for 30 years. More importantly–I am the parent of autistic child. I take the question of whether vaccines cause autism very seriously.

When my kid was diagnosed I did what many do: I went online to find information. I found claim after claim that autism is caused by vaccines. As a researcher, I pulled papers and dove into the question. I also dove into online discussions, reviewing published studies and news. I’m still doing this. Even though the answer has come back time and again, there isn’t evidence that vaccines cause autism, I keep checking on many of the claims that come up.

So when the story that became the movie “vaxxed” first came out, I took it seriously and I started investigating the claims. It’s too important not too. I’ve followed the story since.

Having done this, let me start by avoiding the trap that the “vaxxed” team has set out. They have worked hard by limiting access to information to not only get their conclusion out, but to control how we discuss the topic.

Here’s how they describe their film:

An investigation into fraud on the MMR autism study at the CDC as revealed by Senior Scientist & Whistleblower Dr. William Thompson.

No. Just no.

Sure, fraud may be what they made a film about—but that isn’t the topic that is important. The important question, the one real advocates would focus upon, is whether they unearthed proof that vaccines cause autism.

The answer is simple and clear: NO.

Before I discuss my reasoning and the results that the Vaxxed team are misrepresenting, here is one of the few public statements made by William Thompson (the so-called “CDC-whistleblower” himself):

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.

These are not the words of someone who thinks that vaccines have been shown to cause autism. They just aren’t. So, don’t take my word for it, or my analysis below. There isn’t proof of vaccine causation in this story.

If you want a very direct quote from Dr. Thompson on this point, here is another statement you won’t find quoted by the Vaxxed team:

The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males does not mean that there was a true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.

Put in simple language–no matter how you look at the data, it doesn’t show that vaccines cause autism.

What he’s saying there isn’t even that surprising. The type of study he’s talking about can’t—it just can’t—show causality. But that fact, and the fact that Thompson has made this statement, doesn’t stop the Vaxxed team from claiming the opposite.

These statements aren’t in Vaxxed. They aren’t discussed in the public appearances I’ve seen by those promoting the movie Vaxxed. They are in a statement that Thompson provided to Representative Posey. Mr. Posey read part of that statement into the public record–but not the very important parts quoted above.

Vaxxed is often billed as “the movie they don’t want you to see”. It’s pure hypocrisy given that there are important facts the Vaxxed team apparently doesn’t want you to know.

The vaxxed team apparently doesn’t want us talking about the fact that they haven’t unearthed evidence that vaccines cause autism. They seem to want us to just assume that they have evidence of causation and keep us talking about supposed fraud.

The fraud discussion is a diversion. As is much of the film. Again, the question that should be discussed is whether vaccines cause autism. And even their source, their so-called “whistleblower” isn’t saying there is a causal link shown.

The film Vaxxed and the activities by Andrew Wakefield’s team before and since has been from what I have seen largely about controlling the information so they can try to control the conversation. Rather than talking about the important questions, they want us to skip over that, skip over whether vaccines cause autism, and instead talk about parents’ stories, and claims of fraud.

I think it is important in discussions about these events to try to focus on the important topics and not let them get buried. And that’s why I bring the above points up first. That’s why I bring up those statements by Dr. Thompson. Statements which, as I noted, are not in Vaxxed. They do not get brought up by Wakefield’s team. And people should be questioning why such important statements are left out. From the beginning, they haven’t released documents and only given us partial information.

At this point, it’s worth posing the question–Why are we even asking again whether vaccines cause autism? To answer that, we need to now get into the narrative of the so-called “CDC-Whistleblower”.

This story revolves around a CDC researcher named William Thompson. Dr. Thompson was involved with a number of vaccine studies, but the story here centers on an MMR/autism study that was started in 2001. For this study, the CDC team chose to analyze data from an existing CDC autism study on Atlanta school kids—basically the prototype for the CDC prevalence estimates we see today. For that study the researchers added information on vaccines and other factors. The study was published in 2004 with Frank DeStefano as the lead author.

Dr. Thompson felt there were problems with the way the CDC handled this study and, years later, he reached out to Brian Hooker. Mr. Hooker is an autism parent, and a very vocal proponent of the failed idea that autism is a vaccine-induced epidemic. Thompson exchanged phone calls, emails and a number of CDC documents from the time of the study was being performed with Mr. Hooker.

Thompson raised two main concerns about the MMR study, and these are an important part of Vaxxed. The first concern was that there was an association found between the MMR vaccine and autism for African American boys. The second was that in a group the CDC termed “isolated autism”, that is to say autism with no other disabilities, there was an association with MMR and this was not correctly reported.

These points are important to Vaxxed, but not in the way a responsible advocate or documentary film maker would. Wakefield apparently wants us to believe that these are direct evidence that vaccines cause autism and they were hidden. The facts tell a different story.

Let’s talk about “isolated autism” first. In his written statement to Congressman Posey, Thompson stated:

In addition to significant effects for black males, we also found significant effects for “isolated autism cases” and for the threshold of 24 months of age. If we had reported the 24 month effects, our justification for ignoring the 36 month significant effects would not have been supported.In the discussion section of the final published manuscript, we took the position that service seeking was the reason we found a statistically significant effect at 36 months.

That’s sort of a long quote for this sort of talk, but I wanted to use his exact words before giving my own summary: Thompson basically said that the CDC team saw an association between autism and MMR for kids vaccinated by 36 months—and he acknowledges that they did report this. I’ll repeat that–they did report this. It wasn’t hidden. The CDC team attributed this to families who vaccinated their disabled children late. They needed vaccinations to be up to date for early start or special ed programs at age 3.

Thompson also claims that they saw an association between MMR and the isolated autism group vaccinated before 24 months, and that this means that the interpretation is wrong: the association can’t be driven by services seeking behavior near age 3.

The problem with that claim is that the CDC team did NOT find an association at 24 months. This is directly counter to what Thompson said and what Vaxxed The authors presented the 24 month data in the paper and there is no association there and—more importantly—there is no association at 24 months in the preliminary results Thompson provided in the documents recorded at the time of the study. Documents I made public and the Vaxxed team did not, even though they had them for over a year longer than I have.

I know that can be hard to follow in this sort of talk, but to put it simply: Thompson’s claim in this written statement and in what he apparently told Brian Hooker doesn’t match the facts. The facts in his own documents.

There is no substance to the “isolated autism” complaint.

Given that, what about the second argument, the one about the finding of an association between the MMR and autism found for African American boys? This is the finding that Brian Hooker presented in his now-retracted study. Based on the contemporaneous notes, yes, the CDC did find an apparent association between the MMR vaccine and autism in African American boys. As I mentioned earlier, Thompson himself has said this doesn’t mean that there’s a causal relationship. Now we can say even more: it was a spurious result. How can we say that? Because if that result were due to a true causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism, the autism prevalence in African Americans would be double that of Caucasians. And in study after study, that isn’t seen.

Let’s take an example. Here’s a recent CDC autism prevalence study. They state:

Estimated ASD prevalence was significantly higher among non-Hispanic white children aged 8 years (15.5 per 1,000) compared with non-Hispanic black children (13.2 per 1,000),

African Americans are being diagnosed less often than non-Hispanic white kids. Less often. If the claim that Vaxxed is making were true, African Americans would be diagnosed twice as often.

It was a spurious result.

So in the end, both of the pieces of evidence that Vaxxed claims supposedly show vaccines being linked to autism aren’t really links.

Having addressed that, what about the claims of “fraud” that we keep hearing? Wakefield’s fraud claims are convoluted, and don’t hold up to scrutiny. Let me explain.

Before starting the research, the CDC team laid out an analysis plan, which Thompson and Wakefield also refer to as the protocol. This plan went through many revisions over a period of nearly 6 months. From April to September of 2001.

One of the claims Wakefield made in his first videos was that the CDC saw the result for African American boys and needed to bury it. So they supposedly abandoned the protocol and introduced a new part of the study where they used data from birth certificates. According to the story, this birth certificate group was introduced to reduce the number of children in the analysis and reduce the statistical power of the result.

That would have been very problematic if it were true, but it simply isn’t. The plan to use birth certificates was included in the very first analysis plan, months before they actually did any analysis. This is clear from the documents Thompson had. I know this because Thompson turned those documents over to Congressman Bill Posey, and Mr. Posey was gracious enough to give them to me on request. This is also made clear in the timeline that Thompson spelled out in his written statement to Congressman Posey.

Let me make an aside here—if you are starting to think, this is going by really fast, you are correct. It’s very hard to really go into the details here simply. Which is another reason why it’s important to focus on the point that there isn’t really evidence here that vaccines cause autism. That Thompson’s own words are that the results don’t mean that there’s a causal link, and that he recommends people not skip vaccines.

And we can go on with what Thompson actually said, rather than what people claim he said.

In all the material made public to date, there isn’t a statement by Thompson that fraud was committed. In fact, his notes at the time include the statement that “everyone has good intentions”.

He did feel that the African American result should have been made public. Apparently feels this very strongly. And felt that not making that public amounted to lying. But he also states, “Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information.” That’s not, “my coworkers are fraudsters”, that’s stating that there were scientific disagreements.

Scientific disagreement isn’t fraud.

Thompson also discussed an event where he says many of his team got together at the end of the study to decide which paper documents to discard. He makes a very strong statement that he felt this was possibly illegal and he kept copies of the documents.

Let me first point out something: I’ve worked with confidential documents my whole professional career. Back when most communication was paper, one would collect a great deal from each project. It was completely appropriate to order a confidential bin—which looks like a garbage can with a lock—and discard those documents not critical to keep.

Let me point out something else: I have copies of the documents Thompson retained. He gave electronic versions to Congressman Bill Posey, and upon request, the Congressman graciously let me have a copy.

There are about 1000 pages of documents. Many will claim 10,000 or even more, but it’s roughly 1,000 pages. And I can see no reason why at the least most if not all of those could not have been discarded. There are pages and pages of meeting itineraries. There are multiple versions of the protocol—the analysis plan for the study. While these are interesting to look over, they show nothing that indicates anything unethical. The analyses presented can all be recreated with the original data. Which was preserved and offered to any qualified researcher, and this was made clear on the CDC website.

One can also piece together the timeline from these documents, and in so doing show that the claim that the CDC team added the birth certificate study after finding problematic results is, well, just false.

And that’s only one of the claims one can check in the “whistleblower “ story, details that just don’t match with facts.
At this point it is worth noting that Wakefield’s team supposedly had these documents, or many of them, well before they went public with their PR effort. And, they have to my knowledge never made the documents public. They did not allow people to check their claims. I think that is very telling.

You can find the documents online. I put them online. When I got them I worked to digest them and put a discussion online as quickly as I could. And with that discussion I put the documents so people could check my claims. This is something Wakefield and his team did not do.

And with that, let me bring this back to the beginning: Vaxxed, the “cdc whistleblower”, however this effort is labeled, it isn’t about disclosing hidden information to bring the truth to people. It has been about controlling information to get a specific message out. As far as I can see, that message is “vaccines cause autism and don’t trust research that says otherwise”.

And the bottom line here is that this isn’t evidence that vaccines cause autism. It is very easy to get bogged down in all the details, all the fact checking of Vaxxed (believe me, I could go on much longer about the inaccuracies in the film and public statements by their team). But that diverts attention away from this simple message—this doesn’t show vaccines cause autism—and that diversion plays into the apparent strategy of their team.

If you want to read the William Thompson documents, here’s the link

The William Thompson Documents. There’s no whistle to blow.

Another William Thompson quote they won’t tell you: “I will say the Geiers were not right”

Here’s a statement by William Thompson that they won’t be quoting

The Hooker/Thompson conversations: were significant analyses omitted from Hooker’s paper?

The Brian Hooker/William Thompson conversations

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

Movie review: VAXXED

Todd Drezner: Cinema Libre Studio and “Vaxxed”

Wakefield responds to his film being pulled by the Tribeca Film Festival. And it’s very classic Wakefield

A look at the “Garbage Can Quote” in full context

Emily Willingham takes on the Tempest in a Trashcan

Andrew Wakefield’s CDC Whistleblower documentary trailer. Words can not do this justice.

Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker complain. Not honestly, but they complain

A new Autism Media Channel video. A chance to watch some sleight of hand

A look at the analysis plan for DeStefano’s MMR study: no evidence of fraud
Harpocrates Speaks on: MMR, the CDC and Brian Hooker: A Guide for Parents and the Media

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

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


71 Responses to “A look back at the so called “CDC Whistleblower” story and how Vaxxed is misleading”

  1. doritmi February 10, 2017 at 00:18 #

    Great post. The only thing I would add is that when Vaxxed claims the movie is about the fraud, that’s also not what the bulk of the movie is about. The much larger part is the stories of parents who believe their children’s autism was caused by vaccines – and those stories are presented with no consideration of the children’s privacy or dignity. The stories are used to convince that vaccines cause autism and gloss over the lack of other evidence. It’s appeal to emotion over data, pure and simple.

    One more thing: the movie is also glaring in its omissions. First are the omissions of the many studies that show that MMR cause autism. There’s the omission of the fact that both Wakefield’s and Hooker’s studies were retracted. Then, Wakefield present himself as finding a pattern among children – omitting the fact that those children were recruited from among those suing MMR, recruited by asking for children with gastrointestinal problems and autism. Of course you’ll find a pattern when you recruit children who fit preexisting criteria.

    • Jack May 5, 2017 at 15:47 #

      If you really believe that a Trillion $ a Year industry would not do anything to protect itself then you are not very smart. You are the kind of people that believed Saddam had weapons of Mass destruction and that Assad whilst winning the war and entering peace talks uses Chemical weapons.

      Wake up you idiots the government is owned and sold out the people a long time ago

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 20, 2017 at 19:55 #

        Ah it must be true because you can concoct a motive for a conspiracy.

    • Mike September 9, 2017 at 18:20 #

      Do do we all agree that autism is on the he rise? Matt, what do you this can be attributed to?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 6, 2017 at 20:32 #

        Diagnoses are on the rise.

        We are absolutely doing better at identifying autistics. If there is any real increase, it is difficult to pull out of that huge increase do to diagnosing better.

        There are some indicatons that there is a “real” increase (increases in diagnoses due to better identification is very real). These are due to an increased risk due with older parents, and a shift in the age at which parents are having kids.

  2. therealtruther February 10, 2017 at 00:56 #

    Impressive and well written explanation of the true story behind the fake story that Vaxxed is selling.

    The fact that educated people can’t or won’t understand they are being lied to and used for a so-called film that has an extremely dangerous (and hateful) agenda is both sad and disturbing.

    This is a film that pretends to be about autism but doesn’t allow a single autistic person or autism expert to be interviewed on camera. Instead they spend the majority of the film talking to vulnerable parents they have brainwashed & the the so-called “experts” who are all profiting in some way from being “anti-vaccine.” It’s simply a disgrace.

    Keep up the good work pointing this out.

  3. Greg February 10, 2017 at 15:30 #

    Let’s not talk about the allegation of scientific research fraud, but the scientific reassurance that vaccines do not cause autism. Anyone else sees the problem with this?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 10, 2017 at 18:40 #

      You want to talk about fraud, go ahead. Just don’t pretend you are actually accomplishing anything for the autism communities.

      You want to talk about fraud–fraud that didn’t happen–as part of a fake news campaign while ignoring facts. Yep, that’s a problem.

    • doritmi February 10, 2017 at 18:53 #

      Reading the post would show you that the claims of fraud were actually also addressed.

      So far, the only good evidence of wrongdoing in this affair is that of repeated misrepresentations by Hooker, Wakefield and their collaborators.

    • Lawrence February 10, 2017 at 20:07 #

      Let’s see – those “allegations” have been vented all over the Internet & yet there has no other single statement made by Thompson, besides the letter put out by his attorney, where he specifically states that he fully supports vaccines and would never encourage anyone not to get them.

  4. Science Mom February 10, 2017 at 20:16 #

    The much larger part is the stories of parents who believe their children’s autism was caused by vaccines – and those stories are presented with no consideration of the children’s privacy or dignity.

    This. This can’t be spoken about enough. And I would have loved to hear Matt’s presentation, who has compiled the most comprehensive evidence of the Wakefield/Hooker fraud about the “CDC Whistleblower”.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 10, 2017 at 22:49 #

      There is a very strong correlation between parents who disregard their children’s basic rights and dignity and those who believe in misinformation from Wakefield and his team.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 10, 2017 at 22:56 #

      I will find the link to the talk. You have to listen to me say “um” about 1000 times. And “you know” another 1000 times.

      You also can hear Wakefield’s team call in for questions at the end. There’s that Sherrie Saunders person who jumps in a flat out lies. Then there was Wakefield’s camera person, who tells me about how “the pro vaccine side says all the time” that Wakefield’s Lancet paper says vaccines cause autism and this is a lie. Of course had he actually listened to the talk (he dialed in after the talk was over and the question period had opened), he might have noticed I didn’t do that at all. I don’t think I mentioned the Lancet paper.

      It was good to point out that if Wakefield had worked for me, I would have fired Wakefield many times over for ethical violations. I don’t put up with the sort of crap that man has gotten away with over and over.


  5. Greg February 10, 2017 at 21:15 #

    You want to talk about fraud, go ahead. Just don’t pretend you are actually accomplishing anything for the autism communities.

    Matt, isn’t it interesting that you would come with this, rather than denying the fraud as the choir did!

    So, let’s focus on cleaning up the mess (cue predictable retorts of ableism) rather than how it got made?

    Matt, autism parents like you really puzzle me. Surely you’re too smart and ‘informed’ to believe your own bullshit. Maybe I can understand not being brave enough to seek justice — but to side with the perpetrator?! Seriously Matt, if you indeed have an autistic kid, what gives?!

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 10, 2017 at 22:47 #

      I don’t deny fraud. I’ve shown that there is no evidence for it.

      It isn’t intelligence that brings me to my conclusions. A lot of intelligent people have been fooled. As long as people believe, as you apparently do, that intelligence is somehow a shield against being tricked, charlatans will be in business.

      No, it isn’t intelligence. It’s the fact that I’ve actually done my research. Read up on the, what, 18 articles I’ve linked to above. Read the documents. You know, the ones I made public but Andrew Wakefield hid from you.

      Then stop trolling and actually contribute to the conversation. Seriously–contribute or go away. I don’t have time for people like you.

    • therealtruther February 10, 2017 at 23:03 #

      Greg, if you are indeed intelligent, you are living proof of Matt’s hypothesis that intelligent people can fall for the snake-oil salesman just as much as the less intelligent, if not more.

      In fact, it seems most anti-vaxxers are actually more educated than most. Being intelligent and/or educated does not mean you aren’t vulnerable to being manipulated. In fact, I could argue it makes it more likely.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 10, 2017 at 23:13 #

        Charlatans don’t want to convince unintelligent people. For the most part unintelligent people don’t have money.

        Charlatans prey on people by convincing them that they “think for themselves” and, thus, flatter them on their intelligence (as well as use other techniques).

        There’s a guy out there by the name of JB Handley. He got completely taken in by charlatans, to the point that he spent his own time and money promoting the charlatans. To this day, he can’t seem to fathom that he could have been wrong. Even years after the promises the charlatans told him have proved to be false.

        Handley was a partner in a group that handled large amounts of money, investing in and running companies. The guy is intelligent, no doubt. When he emailed me once, there was much from him about how smart the people on “his side” are.

        If you think you are too smart to be fooled by a charlatan, you are half way to being fooled.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 11, 2017 at 00:01 #


      Like this 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.”

      Funny how that never gets pulled out and quoted.


      “Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information”

      Show me where he says “fraud”. I’ll answer for you: he doesn’t. So, why are so many people saying he claimed or admitted fraud?

      • Step February 11, 2017 at 14:25 #

        Fraud: Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain:
        When you use words, it convey meanings, some meanings can be associated with a word that encapsulate it better. In that instance a Fraud would be a word used criminally and into court. You can use it if the perpetrators of the deception had intent. Theu definitely intended to hide some data. The reasons of their behaviour still need to be put to light. Is their a climat of fear in the Industry? There might be reasons to believe so. There are lots of circumstancial evidences that shows wrong practice. How comes this story has not broken outbin the media likenit should!

      • reissd February 11, 2017 at 15:19 #

        Please read the post and the other posts.

        No data was hidden. Not all sub results go into a paper.

        Where’s the fraud?

      • Step February 11, 2017 at 16:55 #

        There was deception. A decision to destroy inconvenient datas. Can you deny this. Have you listened to the tapes?
        Also, can you tell me what financial gain Wakefield had originally.
        You guys, knowing the facts are deceptive. Or you are intellectualy dishonest. I am out of here.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 11, 2017 at 18:16 #

        Yep. I listened to the tapes. I read the transcripts too. That discussion is in the links above.

        That’s why I know the recordings are edited.

        Did you notice that?

        Did you notice that one of their favorite quotes from Thompson isn’t in the transcripts or recordings?

        It was either edited out of one of the calls or they were recording more calls than they admit.

        More to the point, what is the context of that quote that Wakefield doesn’t want us to hear?

        Of course you are out of here. You are discussing a failed idea with people who actually have researched the facts.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 11, 2017 at 18:20 #

        What was Wakefield’s financial gain originally?

        Seriously, you don’t know?

        You don’t know he was paid over $700k by lawyers?

        You don’t know he had multiple businesses set up to profit from the scare? A testing company? That the lab work that he was doing was being performed by a company he partly owned? That he had a patent and business plan for a vaccine?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 11, 2017 at 18:21 #

        What data were destroyed?

        Thompson states that the data were kept on CDC servers the whole time.

      • Lawrence February 11, 2017 at 14:58 #

        Because there was no fraud.

  6. Science Mom February 11, 2017 at 03:47 #

    So, let’s focus on cleaning up the mess (cue predictable retorts of ableism) rather than how it got made?

    “Let’s”? WTF have you ever done for the autism community? Shit-stirring and kissing up on AoA is hardly a feather in your cap.

  7. Greg February 11, 2017 at 04:32 #

    Matt, you accuse me of trolling, but please understand that’s not my intention. It’s just that I sincerely think you are full of crap. Anyone that would strive to diminish serious allegations of reaearch fraud, by advising his readers to focus instead on considering that vaccines do not cause autism has to be full of crap. Heck — I would respect your argument more if you were to insinuate, so what if the CDC committed research fraud, vaccines do not cause autism. I consider such an argument more honest.

    Now Matt, if by the off chance I am worong, and you’re not full of crap, please accept my apology. I also imagine it may have appeared pointless to ask how you can sell-out your autistic kid by siding with the perpetrators, if I felt you weren’t being honest. It’s just a sincere curiosity of mine, and I was just hoping that even if you weren’t forthcoming, you would, nevertheless, telegraph something in your reply.

    • brian February 11, 2017 at 04:51 #

      It’s useful to be able to distinguish “serious accusations of reasearch [sic] fraud” from pathetically frivolous accusations of research fraud. For example, Wakefield faced serious accusations of research fraud that are supported by the evidence, while the “CDC whistleblower” did not accuse anyone of fraud; instead, the frivolous accusations of fraud came from the fraudster Wakefield and his cronies.

    • therealtruther February 11, 2017 at 05:32 #


      It would be better for your sake if you were trolling.

      If you actually believe the Vaxxed “CDC fraud” story as told by Vaxxed and not as outlined here, then you have bigger issues to deal with. And for that, there’s not much we can do except to hope you wake up.

      • therealtruther February 11, 2017 at 05:32 #

        I meant Greg, btw. not Matt. 🙂

    • Lawrence February 11, 2017 at 14:57 #


      That is the very definition of trolling.

      It appears that you still haven’t read the Thompson documents, provided by Matt months before Wakefield decided to release them.

    • Broken Link February 12, 2017 at 05:19 #

      Greg, I understand that you sincerely believe that you have witnessed the “descent” of a child into autism, and the fact that the “descent” was closely connected in time to vaccines. This you consider to be the proof that the child’s autism was caused by vaccines.

      I also understand that you hang out on AoA, and FB pages, where you receive plenty of stories that back up your impression that there is a close correlation between autism and vaccines.

      If I tell you that science has proven that there is no such correlation, and that all those people you have met (that believe this to be the case) are mistaken, I don’t expect you to believe me.

      But, I can’t sit here and let you say that Matt is “full of crap” because he’s not. He has actually had an open mind, and looked in detail at the scientific literature. He has not JUST read those things that reinforce his point of view. That’s your problem. You can’t deny science. You just can’t. Because you will never win that way.

      Science seeks truth. You simply seek that which reinforces your mistaken viewpoint.

  8. Step February 12, 2017 at 12:20 #

    You guys are paid for doing this. You work for the pharmaceutical industry, doing what we call Astroturfing.

    • Lawrence February 12, 2017 at 14:27 #

      Yes, the shill gambit.

      The last refuge of the desperate anti-vaxer.

      Step wouldn’t know real science if it came up and bit her.

    • reissd February 12, 2017 at 14:31 #

      You could try reading the post and the linked post and understanding why the claims of fraud are wrong – or pointing out why, in spite of points made, you still think they’re right. Discussing the merits helps.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 12, 2017 at 20:04 #

        Or offer counter information.

        “You are paid” isn’t an argument. It’s just a grown ups version of a school yard taunt.

        More to the point, all it does is say “I believe things for which I have no evidence. I spread misinformation. “.

        That works with people who are open to misinformation and who don’t check facts. But not with others.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 12, 2017 at 20:02 #

      When you guys give up actual discussions, you always fall back on claiming people are paid.

      I’m not paid.

      Also, you don’t understand the term astroturfing. But neither does that former journalist who relies on it. What usher name again?

    • educationcomboplatter March 5, 2017 at 02:26 #

      Firstly,I am sure you have some evidence of people being paid. Kindly provide it.

      But still..let’s suppose you’re right.

      Let’s examine how that affects the data:

      Case #1

      Just supposing we really are all paid shills for the pharma companies. We’re writing because we’re paid to express those views, not because we have arrived at them by honestly examining facts and evidence.

      That means we’re writing irrespective of the facts, and so may well be factually inaccurate. If that’s true, it should be easy for our opponent (in this case, you) to point out these inaccuracies, shouldn’t it? So why don’t you? Why do you insist instead on just saying we’re pharma industry shills? Surely what matters is if the arguments we have presented is correct or not?

      Case #2

      Alternatively, suppose we’re still all pharma industry shills, and we’re still writing because we’re paid to do so, but suppose that what we have to say just happens to coincide with the facts. We’re factually correct, purely by accident. So what is the relevance that we are pharma industry shills? We’re correct regardless. Surely what matters is that the arguments we have presented are correct?

      Case 3

      We’re not paid shills for the pharma companies, and have written based on what I think is a good honest evaluation of the facts and evidence. Of course, our arguments could still be wrong – we’re only human after all. So how does anyone tell if our arguments is correct? Surely they would still have to examine our arguments to see if they are correct or not?

      In all three cases above, the status vis-à-vis being paid by the pharma industry or not is irrelevant: what is important is the data – if the piece is correct or not. It’s always the data that’s important, not political affiliations, not who pays me, not our qualifications (or alleged lack thereof), not any other agenda we might have. Nothing about us is important. Only the data is important.

      That said though? In the case of a “shill” who is pretending to be “objective” and to have no connection with pharma it is quite appropriate to “out” that person. Even in appropriate cases, however, the ad hominem is not a refutation of that person’s arguments; it merely serves to increase (appropriately) the level of skepticism about what that person is saying. That still leaves the task of actually using evidence, logic, and sound arguments to refute what that person is saying.

      However, you need to have evidence even there.

      Comment is totally nicked from skeptico’s blog and orac’s comment – all I did was change the pronouns and meld them together a bit.

      Orac’s comment on the above.

  9. Wendy Stephen February 14, 2017 at 13:58 #

    In Vaxxed Wakefield poses the question of whether or not age of exposure to MMR is a risk for autism and then says that in order to understand why that might be the case, there is a need to understand something of the past history of MMR vaccine.

    He then provides his version of the historical background to the Urabe containing Pluserix MMR brand of vaccine (Trivirix in Canada)

    It should always be remembered that the “meningitis” risk identified in respect of Pluserix MMR in numerous countries, was a laboratory confirmed risk of Urabe strain mumps meningitis ie it was the mumps component in the trivalent vaccine which was problematic. What the Brazilians identified was NOT an age range risk of contracting meningitis following exposure to “MMR” but an age range risk of contracting mumps meningitis following exposure to the Urabe vaccine mumps strain when it was delivered in one specific brand of MMR ie Pluserix /Trivirix.

    That risk cannot be visited on non urabe containing brands of MMR, of which there were several, or indeed on other Urabe containing vaccines where the component parts, excipients and dosages differed. Many countries including the US never used Urabe containing vaccines.

    The Brazilian findings in no way identify an age range risk for contracting meningitis following exposure to “MMR”. Even the title of the paper by Dourado et al clearly identifies the significance of what they found ie it was a Urabe containing MMR.

    “Outbreak of Aseptic Meningitis associated with Mass Vaccination with a Urabe-containing Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine” by Ines Dourado et al.

    • Marc (@MarcWizy) June 19, 2017 at 20:38 #

      Apart from autism how many children have suffered, are still suffering for the fake vaccines? Thousands of them. Some have even died. What have you got into your breast instead of a heart? Are all those people showing their crucial pain are fake or paid for that? Take Gardasil vaccines for example. It is a useless vaccine as after 4 or 5 years it looses its ‘power’ to heal, if ever it had one. Open only the site regret.ir and see what kind of damage was done to poor innocent girls and their family. As the poet said: “If you do not cry for this, then what are you used to weep for?”

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 20, 2017 at 19:37 #

        Ah, the classic attack. I am heartless. Vaccines are “fake”

        If you want to take your anti vaccine anti gardasil argument on the internet. Do it somewhere else.

        I am sick and tired of you anti vaccine activists pretending to care while you use and abuse the autism community.

        We aren’t your tool to attack vaccines.

      • doritmi June 20, 2017 at 19:42 #

        Serious harms from vaccines are extremely rare (and don’t ignore autism), so very few children (though each is tragic):

        In contrast, vaccines save tens of thousands of lives a year and prevent millions of hospitalizations. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6316a4.htm

  10. Talli May 6, 2017 at 13:55 #

    I appreciate these conversations. I just want to remind people that just because they cant find a link between vaccines and autism, doesn’t mean a link does not exist. There are far too many variables in people to obtain proof one way or the other, i.e., genetic predisposition, environmental/ dietary exposure to contaminants prior to administration, etc. It cannot be proven to cause or not cause autism either way. I keep hearing people say that there is no evidence of the vaccine-autism link, but that is simply not true…Parents telling stories of their vaccine-injured autistic child IS evidence. Another worthwhile consideration is that we are still struggling to define autism, and vaccine injury can take many forms. The vaccine package inserts describe some possible and sometimes severe ill-affects, it’s entirely possible that the severe reactions happen more often than their number-crunching concluded.

    We are, as a race, very arrogant–believing we can so easily know all the answers.

    I could say more in the defense of a parent that is deeply concerned about vaccinating her children, but I will leave it at this.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 20, 2017 at 19:54 #

      The main argument for a link between vaccines and autism is the idea that vaccines are behind an “epidemic” of autism.

      That’s clearly not the case. And it if were, the link would have been shown by now.

      This has been a gigantic waste of time and money.

    • Mike December 25, 2017 at 08:45 #

      Well said. I’m much more inclined to believe those who say, “we can’t be 100% sure”. There is a lack of arrogance and narcissism in that phrase. To be so 100% sure on one side or the other seems a bit like people who blindly side with one political party. It shows a lack of truly trying to find out and learn more.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 25, 2017 at 18:19 #

        So, all those people who are 100% sure that vaccines cause autism, they put you off that side of the discussion?

      • Mike December 25, 2017 at 18:30 #

        I wouldn’t say “put you off” but yes. I think, I don’t know that vaccines may be the culprit here. There a million variables so it is hard to be sure in every instance. I believe that people my parents age thought it was ok to smoke. If I’m not mistaken the surgeon general of the United States said as much. It’s not imposssible nor illogical that pharma could have a hand in the increasing frequency and quantity of vaccaines administered. I’m in business and vaccines are a sweetheart business to be in.
        They have a product they can almost make every human buy and can not, y US law be sued if it’s not safe.

        I think more vaccines used to use mercury but now don’t. Why?

        I have questions and people on any thread that are “100%” make me skeptical.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 25, 2017 at 18:55 #

        Let me expand on my previous reply–

        There is this myth that “vaccine skeptics” are open minded and other people are closed minded. It is a method used to mount a passive-aggressive attack on people who accept the science and don’t support the idea that vaccines cause autism. This debate tactic is often used with the virtual high five as used here (“well said”).

        It is perfectly fine to actually make up one’s mind. I, for example, do not entertain that there is any benefit to myself or mandkind in donating all my money to terrorists, for example. Would you praise those who say “well, how can you be 100% sure that’s a good idea”? Of course not.

        Anti-vaccine activists and the soft-core of the movement (“vaccine skeptics” and those who falsely claim the title of “vaccine safety” advocates), want to play on an uneven field. They want to be able to make blanket statements. They want to be decisive. But they also want to discount anyone else who is decisive.

        They want everyone else to accept that nothing is 100% but they never criticize their own for those statements. It’s a cheap and transparent debate tactic. It’s effective in the “cheerleading/group-support” sort of way. But to people who are actually being critical of the information being exchanged, it is, again, cheap and transparent.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 27, 2017 at 01:27 #

        Let’s add to that Del Bigtree, another Wakefield business partner, stated that having an autistic kid is like having “an exotic dog”. Others in Wakefield’s louder supporters sat back and laughed at this.

        The question isn’t whether Wakefield and his supporters characterize Autistics as sub-human. The question is why you aren’t aware of it.

      • Lawrence December 29, 2017 at 11:50 #

        The Surgeon General said no such thing.

        One of, if not the first, national public health initiatives of the CDC was an anti-smoking campaign.

  11. Shaun May 9, 2017 at 17:09 #

    the biggest problem that I have encountered with those who believe wakefields work and support this video is that they will refuse to look at any evidence that indicates anything other than what he makes as a claim. Believing one man and his representation of what he calls truth. There is no convincing of the diehards.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 20, 2017 at 19:50 #

      It is hard to take the time to do the research to debunk him.

      The people doing the most harm are people who, like Brian Hooker, know enough to know Wakefield is lying.

      But honesty and Brian Hooker are not terms usually used in the same sentence.

  12. ScumbagsSellingOUT4BigPharma May 13, 2017 at 03:21 #

    You’re a lying P.O.S.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 20, 2017 at 19:47 #

      Very eloquent.

      And you are so brave with your anonymity.

      When I used a pseudonym I was not abusive. I am not now. You are a coward.

    • doritmi June 20, 2017 at 19:52 #

      No, he’s not.

      Now, is there anything in this article you wish to respond to?

  13. Emmie June 29, 2017 at 14:40 #

    Your son IS autisitc from his vaccinea. Period. You juat do not want ti believe you could have avoided it if you weren’t being so willfully ignorant. Find me an autistic child 100% unvaxed , who also did not receive the vit K at birth or whose mother skipped vaccines while pregnant. YOU simply cannot. Dr Eisenstein had 50k unvaxxed patients…ZERO autism. I know its comforting to think it’s bad luck or genes but you sir are WRONG.

  14. Michelle Rukny August 12, 2017 at 21:40 #

    It’s a shame that your own child has autism and yet you are pushing the same narrative that pharmaceutical companies are making. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 6, 2017 at 20:53 #

      It’s a shame because it makes it harder for people like you to use and abuse my community.

      Save your prayers. I don’t need anything from the likes of you. You abuse my community in order to provide a narrative that vaccines are bad. You make a fraction of autism parents feel shame and guilt, so you can feel good about yourself and your online crusade. You help feed disabled children to charlatans for abuse “therapies” to “cure vaccine injury” because you are an ignorant fool, and too ignorant to know your own limitations.

      Pray for actual understanding. When you get that, pray for forgiveness. Not from me, but to the thousands of parents and thousands of disabled people whose lives you contributed to ruining.

    • Thirty-three December 27, 2017 at 16:18 #

      I hope your prayers lead you to repentance and reform. When it does, forgiveness will follow, and we will welcome you to the fight against those who try to use our children as an attack against public health.

  15. Brandon November 1, 2017 at 16:27 #

    The type of study he’s talking about can’t—it just can’t—show causality.

    If the study cannot show causality how can it prove that there is none? This is doesnt add up to me because if you want to prove that the MMR doesn’t cause autism then it would only make sense to do a study that cannot prove that it does. It doesn’t make sense scientificly to waste time on studies that cannot prove a link and then come out and say there’s no evidence of vaccines causing autism, because there obviously couldn’t be a link if the study can’t show it

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 6, 2017 at 20:18 #

      wow, did you read what you wrote before hiting “send”? You lack logic. Of the sort one needs to evaluate the information on vaccines and autism.


  16. Gwynn Smith November 16, 2017 at 21:18 #

    It seems you didn’t watch the doccumentary, at least not in its entirety at all.

    The who point was the fact that the CDC threw out all sorts of research, changed numbers, didn’t supply the amount of research they should have had with the amount of time they were given.

    Who else is testing and researching? If the CDC is withholding evidence then of course you wouldn’t get any “facts” that mmr vaccines or any other vaccines and their ingredients cause autism or symptoms similar with autism.
    Of course you wouldn’t find evidence when a multibillion dollar corporation funded group that is supposed to provide evidence is lying and withholding the truth because their funding is more important than a few injured kids.
    The fact of the matter is this. The CDC has everything to lose if they are found guilty of fraud.
    What do the parents who are coming forward with their stories gaining?
    It is pretty Damn coincidental that there are all these people with the same stories.

    If you had a child injured by a vaccine and then someone threw in your face that the people profiting from said vaccines says there is no evidence your child was harmed by the vaccine how would that make you feel?

    You just going to follow what they tell you because they have some paper showing some research they did? Even though they cant be held responsible so they have no incentive to tell you the truth and provide truthful research.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 6, 2017 at 20:11 #

      I had an audio recording of it following the first showing. I had a screener copy of the documentary before it was released on DVD or shown in my area. So, yeah, I’ve seen it.

      I have also researched the background. I’ve checked the documents that William Thompson released. Have you? NO. You are taking Andrew Wakefield’s word. Andrew Wakefield, a clear charlatan. A man who has lied and lied and lied and lied for 20 years.

      Wakefield put out a crappy “documentary” spinning lies. And made money. Off people like you.

  17. Diane Bingham December 3, 2017 at 12:51 #

    Please ask the parents to show you videos of their children before and after MMR vaccine. Sometimes even dramatic regression within 24 to 48 hours. Parents study and observe their children like a book, due to the close connection. Read their diaries and see the vaccine schedule they used.See correlations also in symptoms reported to their doctor in the medical records. See correlations. And see also with your own eyes, children becoming unresponsive, losing eye contact, etc. Then please tell me there is no correlation.
    Writing such a long, detailed article gives space and time for much rationalization, which is not needed in articles stating direct link. Do more research. Dr Suzanne Humphries is qualified. And any doc with vaccine damaged child.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 6, 2017 at 20:01 #

      I am a parent. The parent of an autistic child. Are you? Based on your comment, I think not. Instead you are likely part of the horrible community that has latched on to my community (autism parents) in order to spread a misinfirmation about vaccines.

      Jenny McCarthy–here story was inconsistent at best (and at some points clearly lies).

      JB Handley (founder of Generation Rescue) changes his story.

      Ginger Taylor (paid shill for the “canary party”) changed her story.

      Then go and read the documents from the vaccine court. You will see over and over and over parents misremembering and mis-representing their children’s histories.

      Suzanne Humphries? Really? You were taken in by that charlatan and you think I’ve never heard of her? Wow.

    • Chris December 6, 2017 at 21:25 #

      This is real research:

  18. Steve December 23, 2017 at 08:58 #

    I find this reply of yours troubling:

    “There is a very strong correlation between parents who disregard their children’s basic rights and dignity and those who believe in misinformation from Wakefield and his team.”

    How on earth do you substantiate this statement?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 25, 2017 at 07:17 #

      I find the fact that my comment is accurate troubling. I find that Wakefield supporters who don’t think about the problems they are responsible for troubling.

      Wakefield and his supporters promote medical abuse of disabled people, especially disabled children. I do not make that claim lightly. They do this under the guise of “alternative medicine” to “treat vaccine injury”, using false and damaging ideas of what is the cause of autism. Chelation (which has been shown to result in cognitive declines in lab animals) was very strongly promoted for years. That was under the completely false idea that autism is a form of mercury poisoning. Chemical castration, again as a method of treating fake mercury intoxication, was also used on disabled children, using the drug Lupron. Bleach enemas, strong enough to cause a child to pass their intestinal lining is now being used. When this practice is brought up to Wakefield and his business partner Polly Tommey, they dodge the question (gutlessness is common in Wakefield and his followers) by saying they haven’t heard of it. They attend conferences where it is promoted and have been alerted to the practice, but refuse to address this abuse in their community.

      There is a problem with parents murdering their autistic children. Wakefield not only refuses to take a stand against this practice, but he calls the act of murder an act of love. His business partner, Polly Tommey, refuses to judge parents who kill their children. She is quite willing to judge the parents of autistic children who criticize her. The message they send is quite clear, autistic children do not have the right to life and are not afforded the dignity of being defended against parents.

      Shall I go on?

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