Search results for 'Geiers'

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

4 Sep

As I’ve noted a few times already, the taped conversations between William Thompson at the CDC and Brian Hooker, proponent of the failed autism/vaccine notion, are very telling. There are certainly aspects of these conversations which I doubt Mr. Hooker’s team would like to be made public (and, as we will see, may be keeping out of the public eye). For example, when Hooker pressed Thompson to state that the CDC team worked to dilute an apparent association between the MMR vaccine and autism, Mr. Thompson declined (discussed here).

Here’s another statement by Mr. Thompson. This time it is in relation to Mark and David Geier, a father/son team that has written a great deal of junk science trying to promote the idea that thimerosal in vaccines and autism are linked. The Geiers have been criticized in many venues, being called “intellectually dishonest” as one of the more polite ways of characterizing their work. Brian Hooker relies upon the Geiers for his own beliefs about autism and thimerosal and even calls the Geiers his friends.

Dr. Thompson: But it’s a marketing thing. It’s a marketing thing. You have to figure out how to market this. And this has to come from other voices, it can’t just come from you because you…they made you the poster boy of, they want to portray you as crazy and you know um, and honestly I think, you’ve been persistent. You have been right most of the time. I will say the Geiers were not right and the Geiers…you know the Geiers; I do not know them personally. But, I know the things they did. They took exact copies of papers we wrote and published them under their own names. Word for word and I just thought that [UI].

Want to bet this quote doesn’t end up in the “documentary” Andrew Wakefield is making on Thompson?

[UI] likely means unintelligible. As in, “we can’t provide the transcript here because we can’t understand the recording.” I really have to wonder if [UI] means, “Thompson harshed on the Geiers even more and we decided to edit here.”

Who knows. We have enough to see that Thompson clearly thought the Geiers were wrong. And calls them out for their unethical attempt at getting a paper by copying the CDC’s team’s work.

There’s a list of papers out there that people claim shows there’s a link between vaccines and autism. I bet a lot of papers on that list are authored by the Geiers. And even their own hero, the “CDC Whistleblower” calls those papers out as junk.

The Geiers–the team that claimed that chemical castration was an autism treatment–criticized by Mark Blaxill* (another vocal proponent of the idea that vaccines cause autism) and now by the new hero to the movement.


By Matt Carey

*Although it must be said that Mr. Blaxill never showed the courage to make his opinion public.

Geiers lose case against PSC

20 Oct

The attorneys for the families in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP, the class-action type hearings held in the “vaccine court”) were grouped into the “Petitioner’s Steering Committee” (PSC). The PSC hired experts to help their case. Mark and David Geier did not serve as experts on the OAP but felt that they deserved compensation. $600,000 in compensation. Nearly 10% of the total costs for the OAP.

Thanks to Left Brain/Right Brain commenter Anne, we now know the Geiers lost this suit.

The Geiers presented eight counts, and failed to make them stick

Count I — Breach of Contract;
Count II — Joint Venturer Liability for Breach of Contract;
Count III — Ratification;
Count IV — Implied Contract;
Count V — Unjust Enrichment;
Count VI — Joint and Several Liability for Professional Negligence (Malpractice);
Count VII — Civil Conspiracy for Fraud; and
Count VIII — Breach of Implied Warranty.

Here are some excerpts from the decision:

In sum, the Geiers have failed to present a factual basis for the Court’s exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over the Law Firms

Even if the Court has personal jurisdiction over the Law Firms due to their continuous and systematic contacts with the District of Columbia, it is necessary to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim.

The Geiers’ malpractice claim is based on the disingenuous assertion that the agreement to assist the Geiers in petitioning the Vaccine Court for fee payment created an attorney-client relationship between the Geiers and the Law Firms. This allegation is not “plausible on its face.”

The Geiers’ civil conspiracy allegations are threadbare accusations that fail to state a claim, see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, let alone meet the heightened pleading standard required by Rule 9(b).

One does wonder where the future lies for the Geiers. Mark Geier (the father and doctor of the team) is 65 and could retire. David Geier (the son who holds a B.A.) is a bit young for retirement. Mark Geier’s medical licenses have been suspended. The Special Masters in the vaccine court have made it clear that neither Geier is qualified to act as an expert or a consultant. And, now, the Geiers have burned bridges with many of the attorneys in the vaccine court. I’ve heard that the Geier address in Florida is registered as a mail order pharmacy.


By Matt Carey

Mark Blaxill on the Geiers: they do sloppy work

13 Oct

Mark Geier and, more recently, his son David have been active promoting autism as vaccine injury for over 10 years (Mark Geier has been active as an expert in, and been criticized for his lack of quality work, the vaccine court on non-autism issues for about 20 years). They have written multiple papers, ranging from bad to worse, attempting to argue the case that vaccines (and especially thimerosal) are a primary cause of autism.

There are multiple discussions over the years of the Geiers here on Left Brain/Right Brain, Respectful Insolence as well as many other places. The best work was done by Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity.com, but due to a server crash much of that content is not readily available. (although it is worth searching for the cached versions or the versions on the Wayback Machine).

The work of the Geiers is so poor that it has always been a wonder to me that no criticism has come from anyone promoting the idea that vaccines caused an epidemic of autism. It isn’t that those promoting the vaccine-epidemic idea are not bright, leaving me wondering if they are too biased by their beliefs or just unwilling to speak publicly against an ally. But, recall, these are the same people who closed ranks around Andrew Wakefield in the face of clear and proved ethical violations.

If we are to believe Jake Crosby, former writer for the Age of Autism blog, it appears that the tacit approval of the Geiers has, at least in part, been a case of “circle the wagons”. I.e. people defending an ally over speak their opinions. Mr. Crosby has blaxillwilliams and quotes more emails where Mark Blaxill (former board member of SafeMinds and a long-time proponent of the idea that mercury in vaccines are a primary cause of autism) expresses his views about the Geiers to Mike Williams (attorney involved representing the families in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding).

In an email image on Mr. Crosby’s blog, Mr. Blaxill is reported to have stated:

In the interest of full disclosure. I thought you might like to see my critique of the Geiers’ latest work on VSD. I have not been a big fan of the Geiers. I worry they do not represent our side well. They do sloppy work.

In another email (quoted by Mr. Crosby, the link to the original is nonfunctioning) quotes Mr. Blaxill as stating:

“As to the Geiers, I may be a bit of a minority voice here, but I worry very much that they can do our cause more harm than good. They are not very good scientists, write bad papers (both writing badly and reporting in sloppy fashion) and attract too much attention to themselves as individuals. In this last regard, they don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield but they’re trying to play the same role. Frankly, if I were on the other side and were asked to critique their work, I could rip it to shreds. I’m surprised they haven’t been hit harder. So I think you are wise to diversify.”

Mr. Crosby’s stance is that this constitutes “interference” in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. I.e. Mr. Crosby seems to imply that the Geiers are not sloppy scientists whose work is poor, but that the Geiers should have been allowed a more active role in the Omnibus.

In this case I find myself agreeing, in part at least, with Mr. Blaxill. The work by the Geiers is poor. Where I don’t agree is Mr. Blaxill’s decision to hold back on making those statement public. Not just because it’s hard to take the stance that one is a only “…interested in the quest for the truth” when one holds back on key information like an entire critique of the Geiers’ VSD paper. No. It goes deeper than that. The Geiers’ junk science went beyond promotion of the idea that thimerosal is a primary cause of autism. The Geiers ran a clinic for many years. Mark Geier was a licensed physician, David Geier worked in the clinic (and has been accused of practicing medicine without a license). Through their papers and their talks at autism parent conventions like AutismOne, the Geiers became well known. One of the “brand name” autism clinics. They reached this level of respect within their community because no one within that community dared to speak out.

I’ve noted on Left Brain/Right Brain many times before that these parent conventions differ markedly from real science conferences in that no one ever seriously challenges the speakers. They can present almost any theory or idea, especially if they tie it to autism as vaccine injury, without anyone standing up and saying, “that makes zero sense”. These aren’t science presentations, they are advertisements. It would be interesting to see how many of these conventions Mr. Blaxill attended and yet remained silent on the “sloppy” work that could be “ripp[ed] to shreds” that the Geiers presented. Instead, parents were presented a view that the Geiers were good scientists who suffered unjust criticism for their “brave” stance on vaccines.

The Geiers were promoters of chelation as a treatment for autism. Not only does chelation have no scientific basis to be an autism treatment, a study just out this week using rodents states that chelation could be harmful if there is no real heavy metal toxicity:

Finally, we also found that succimer treatment produced lasting adverse neurobehavioral effects when administered to non-lead-exposed rodents, highlighting the potential risks of administering succimer or other metal-chelating agents to children who do not have elevated tissue lead levels. It is of significant concern that this type of therapy has been advocated for treating autism.

It is highly likely that Mr. Blaxill would disagree with the statement that chelation has no good scientific basis as a treatment for autism. He’d be wrong, but that’s been covered over and over before. The Geiers moved on from standard chelation to stranger, more dangerous therapies. As an aside, if chelation was a successful treatment one has to wonder why the Geiers were prompted to move on to using Lupron as an autism treatment. Lupron is very serious medicine and it shuts down sex hormone production in the body. Why Lupron, one might ask? The Geiers convinced themselves (or convinced themselves that they could pass off this explanation) that mercury bound itself to testosterone in the brain, making it hard to chelate. They cited a paper showing that if one heats testosterone and mercury salts in benzene, one could form these mercury/testosterone complexes. They actually claim (yes, they tried to patent this idea to make money off it) that this paper shows that “It is known in the art that mercuric chloride binds arid forms a complex with testosterone in subjects”. The “subjects” are beakers of benzene, not animals and not people. Add to that the lack of an explanation of how shutting down hormone production would break up these complexes. The Geier “science” supporting Lupron would be laughably bad if it wasn’t used to subject disabled children to Lupron injections.

Lupron clearly has no basis as an autism therapy. In fact, the “lupron protocol” played a major part in Mark Geier losing his medical licenses. One has to ask, how did the get such traction for such an obviously bad idea? For one thing, the Geiers were considered respected scientists in the vaccine injury/alternative medicine autism community due to their previous and ongoing work trying to link thimerosal and autism. Work which Mark Blaxill considered “sloppy” and worthy of being ripped to shreds. But instead of sharing his views on the Geier papers with the public, Mr. Blaxill shared them privately within his own circle.

It’s worth noting that the email quoted above was written before the “Lupron Protocol” was developed. We don’t know if Mr. Blaxill was alarmed by the emergence of the “Lupron Protocol”. I can’t find where he spoke out against it. We can see that his blog (under a different writer) promoted the idea as “MERCURY, TESTOSTERONE AND AUTISM – A REALLY BIG IDEA!“. Mr. Blaxill doesn’t seem to have commented there. For all the papers the Geiers have published, Mr. Blaxill only mentions them once in his book “Age of Autism. But as we’ve seen, tacit approval (silence) may not be the same thing as real approval.

Mr. Blaxill had the courage to testify before a congressional hearing last year. A hearing where the politicians had been lobbied in advance to be favorable to his cause. When it came to disagreeing with one of his allies, that courage was lacking. He allowed “sloppy” science from an ally to go unchallenged. An example of the fallout of such a decision, in my opinion had he stood up he could have slowed or even stopped the “Lupron Protocol”, a therapy which in my opinion amounts to the abusive treatment of disabled children in an uncontrolled and unapproved experiment.


By Matt Carey

The Geiers’ Second Home

2 Feb

Mark Geier is well known within the autism alternative medicine community (think chelation, lupron) and as a consultant and expert for the attorneys in the vaccine court. David Geier is his son and has also been associated with the alt-med treatments (much criticised research, being accused of practicing medicine without a license) and tried to break in to the vaccine-court expert/consultant business. The Geiers are currently suing the attorneys who represented the families in the Ominibus Autism Proceeding (the vaccine court hearings on vaccine causation of autism). According to court papers, the Geiers are seeking $600,000 in fees and expenses they feel are owed to them. The vaccine court denied the application for paying for their fees.

In looking over the documents I was struck by an odd fact: the address given for the Geiers is not the same one I am used to seeing. It isn’t their usual home base in Maryland. So I decided to take a look at what sort of home they are currently claiming as their residence.

Here’s a picture (click to enlarge pictures):

House 1

The home is described online as 7,800 square feet, on a 20 acre lot. The backyard comes complete with a swimming pool.

House 2

Apparently, the estate was listed for $2.6M in 2011, but pulled from the market. Eidt to add: I’ve been informed that Mark and David Geier (not Mark and his wife) purchased the property in Nov. 2011 for $2M.

the Interior is not understated:

B-Room Geier

and

B-Room Geier

If you work out where they live, please don’t post it here. It is publicly available information, but it is not relevant to this discussion. What is releavant is this: there’s a lot of money in alternative medicine and promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism. Mark Geier has 20 years experience working with, and being critcized by, the vaccine court, including for double charging and for charging for costs well outside their roles (such as trips to Europe)

A single study they assisted in preparing for the Omnibus was billed at $440k, even though it was of low quality and was not useful in the case. The special master was very clear:

Clearly, no rational “hypothetical paying client” of the PSC would have agreed to pay for the production of such a flawed study. Thus, the fact that the Young-Geier article did not add any value to the petitioners’ causation presentation in this case is a very strong reason why I should decline to compensate the PSC for the cost of producing the article.

The Special Masters of the Court of Federal Claims (the vaccine court) appear to have closed the door on payments to the Geiers. But not until nearly two decades of low quality work was compensated. Mark Geier has lost his license to practice medicine in multiple states, but, again, not until after he was able to spend decades “treating” people with and charging people for therapies which make no sense.

The Geiers may not get the $600k they believe they are owed for work on the Omnibus. Their multistate franchise of lupron treatment centers may be closed. They may not be able to charge the American taxpayer for future low quality “expert” reports for the Court. Perhaps Mark Geier will have to retire a little early (reportedly, he’s 64), to his new home. Shared with his wife and son. Except for the living out one’s retirement with David Geier, I’m not seeing this as a difficult time for him. As to David Geier, one does wonder if he will ever amount to anything. Extrapolating from existing data, I’m not betting on it. But, as with his father, I don’t see cause to worry for his future. The U.S. taxpayers, and medical consumers, have taken care of this father/son team far better than we have our disabled citizens. And with less return to show for it.


By Matt Carey

AutismOne throws their support behind the Geiers in “Autism Science Digest”

16 Jun

When news came out about the legal troubles Mark and David Geier are facing, there was some hope expressed that maybe, just maybe, some of the groups that have supported the father/son team would take the chance to distance themselves. The Generation Rescue/Autism One conference was at that time still in the future, and the Geiers were scheduled to speak. Dr. Mark Geier had his license suspended for the “therapy” he was planning to tout at AutismOne, and that David Geier was facing the charge of practicing medicine without a license.

As we have seen, the optimism was ill founded. The Geiers presented their talk at AutismOne. And, as it turns out, AutismOne had already in-press their new magazine, the “Autism Science Digest”, which included an article by the Geiers. Someone forwarded it to me and it is frankly painful to read.

It is a nice glossy advertisement for the Geiers and their testosterone/autism theory. I don’t throw that out lightly. It is pseudo-science generated to promote an idea. and idea which really doesn’t stand up to real science.

For example, they present the article like a science study, complete with references. It makes it seem as though what they say is backed up by legitimate science. But citations do not make a study. Especially when they are misused.

It is difficult to describe the Geier hypothesis. This is for two reasons. First, it is hard to accept that they actually believe their own work, it is so bad. Second, it has morphed dramatically over the few years of its existence.

Let me explain. When they first proposed their idea that testosterone was somehow important, they claimed that testosterone was binding mercury in the brain, rendering it difficult to remove through chelation. If you listen to Lisa Sykes talk about the Geiers (the Rev. Sykes being a major spokesperson for the Geiers over the years), she tells how David Geier told her, “We figured something new out…..we think we can get rid of the mercury by lowering the testosterone”.

By the way, the Rev. Sykes mentions that she tested her child for testosterone. The range was 0 to 25 and her kid was “at the top of the range”. Not above it. At the top. As in, high but within normal.

If you listen to the Geiers speak now (and, again, I find this painful to do), they are still pushing the idea that mercury is the main causation factor in autism. But, here’s the shift with Lupron, they are downplaying the idea that is part of a chelation protocol. It’s all about reducing testosterone.

Is anyone surprised that if you change the testosterone levels in a person you will see changes in behavior? Does this have anything to do with autism? Does it have anything to do with mercury?

The Geier article relies heavily on the work of Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen’s group. They cite Dr. Baron-Cohen’s group 5 times in their article. It makes the article look legitimate. The first paragraph states, “In fact, ASD’s have even been described as the result of an “extreme male brain” by psychologist Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen”.

At this point, it is worth recalling what Dr. Baron-Cohen had to say about the work the Geiers are doing:

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, said it is irresponsible to treat autistic children with Lupron.

“The idea of using it with vulnerable children with autism, who do not have a life-threatening disease and pose no danger to anyone, without a careful trial to determine the unwanted side effects or indeed any benefits, fills me with horror,” he said.

Some how “fills me with horror” was not included in the Geier article.

Dr. Baron-Cohen’s theories include the idea that fetal testosterone levels affect the development of the brain. This is a prenatal process. The Geier notion is that autistics have high testosterone levels (even though they have documented cases of children they treated who do not have high levels). It is intellectually (and otherwise) very dishonest to claim that the work of Dr. Baron-Cohen in any way supports the Geier’s application of the drug Lupron to autistic children.

It isn’t just Dr. Baron-Cohen’s work that is misused to sell this therapy. The Geier’s write, “”Also, some investigators have found that leuprolide acetate administration resulted in improvements in cognition” ( Bryan et al. , 2010)”

Here is the abstract for Bryan, et al.:

Down-regulation of serum gonadotropins is as effective as estrogen replacement at improving menopause-associated cognitive deficits.
Bryan KJ, Mudd JC, Richardson SL, Chang J, Lee HG, Zhu X, Smith MA, Casadesus G.
Source

Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Abstract

Declining levels of estrogen in women result in increases in gonadotropins such as luteinizing hormone (LH) through loss of feedback inhibition. LH, like estrogen, is modulated by hormone replacement therapy. However, the role of post-menopausal gonadotropin increases on cognition has not been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that the down-regulation of ovariectomy-driven LH elevations using the gonadotropin releasing hormone super-analogue, leuprolide acetate, improves cognitive function in the Morris water maze and Y-maze tests in the absence of E2. Furthermore, our data suggest that these effects are independent of the modulation of estrogen receptors alpha and beta, or activation of CYP19 and StAR, associated with the production of endogenous E2. Importantly, pathways associated with improved cognition such as CaMKII and GluR1-Ser831 are up-regulated by leuprolide treatment but not by chronic long-term E2 replacement suggesting independent cognition-modulating properties. Our findings suggest that down-regulation of gonadotropins is as effective as E2 in modulating cognition but likely acts through different molecular mechanisms. These findings provide a potential novel protective strategy to treat menopause/age-related cognitive decline and/or prevent the development of AD.

The short version: the authors removed the ovaries from mice, putting them into a menopause state. They found that these mice decline cognitively, but that they can treat this with a leuprolide acetate (a drug similar to lupron).

Yes, somehow the animal model for autism to the Geiers are post-menopausal mice.

This study has nothing to do with improving cognition in children, or autistic children in particular. Don’t take my word for it. I contacted one of the researchers who wrote the paper:

Well… The principle of gonadotropins working on cognition in menopausal women or patients with AD has nothing to do with autism nor with improving cognition via the depletion of gonadal steroids such as testosterone or estrogen. For example, we know that when women that are in reproductive age (and men to a lesser extend) are given leuprolide their cognition is impaired, indicating that gonadal steroids are important for cognition. However, we have shown that after menopause, gonadal steroids can be by-passed by downregulating gonadotropins to improve cognition.

If you want the message in a single sentence:

The beneficial effects of leuprolide on cognition in ovariectomized (menopausal) female mice has nothing to do with the treatment of autism in children.

Another study the Geiers cite: “Increased marble-burying behavior in ethanol-withdrawal state: Modulation by gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist”

No, I am not kidding. It is a study about alcoholic mice burying marbles. Here’s the abstract:

A characteristic behavior in alcohol abstinence state indicates the possibility of obsessive–compulsive behavior in alcoholics. Ethanol is known to reduce hypothalamic synthesis, release, and mRNA expression of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) that modulates serotonergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic systems, which experience adaptive changes on chronic exposure to ethanol. Such changes are also evident in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Therefore, it was proposed to investigate the effect of ethanol-withdrawal on marble-burying behavior in mice, particularly because it simulates some aspects of obsessive–compulsive behavior; further, the influence of GnRH agonist was studied on the same. Ethanol-withdrawal state was induced after its chronic administration, and marble-burying behavior was observed at 0, 6, 24, 48, and 96 h interval. Further, the influence of leuprolide—a GnRH agonist (50–600 ?g/kg, s.c.) or fluoxetine (5–30 mg/kg, i.p.) was investigated on ethanol-withdrawal-induced changes in marble-burying behavior. The results indicated that ethanol-withdrawal led to a gradual increase in marble-burying behavior upto 48 h with peak at 24 h interval. Administration of leuprolide (100–600 ?g/kg, s.c.), 30 min prior to 24 h interval, dose dependently reduced ethanol-withdrawal-induced increase in marble-burying behavior, and this effect was comparable to that of fluoxetine (15 and 30 mg/kg, i.p.). Further, twice daily administration of leuprolide (50 ?g/kg, s.c), concomitant with ethanol, prevented the gradual increase in marble-burying behavior after ethanol-withdrawal and this effect was comparable to fluoxetine (5 mg/kg, i.p.). In conclusion, ethanol-withdrawal on chronic administration increases marble-burying behavior in mice; its development and expression is attenuated by leuprolide.

The researchers gave mice alcohol over a long period. When they made the mice stop, cold turkey, they exhibited behaviors such as burying marbles. While the mice are going through the first stages of withdrawl, the researchers gave them a lupron like drug and found that the mice didn’t bury marbles as much.

Once again, who finds this to be a valid animal model for autism? Is your child an alcoholic, marble-burying mouse?

But you don’t see this if you just read the article. What you read is, “similarly, other investigators have used an anti-androgen medication called leuprolide acetate, which reduces the production of male hormones, in the treatment of anxiety, hyperexcitability, depression, impaired social interaction, and obsessive compulsive behaviors in laboratory animal species”.

The Geiers have obviously felt the need to respond to the criticism that they are using a drug used for chemical castration. They write

Finally, the administration of anti-androgen medications to individuals diagnosed with an ASD is not intended to deprive the individual of their sexuality nor to alter their normal developmental trajectory, but rather to regularize a process that was proceeding in an abnormal fashion and producing adverse effects and, thereby, improve the health of the patient and reduce the clinical symptoms associated with abnormally elevated androgen levels.

Here is an example patient from the patent application the Geiers submitted (US20070254314A1: Methods of treating autism and autism spectrum disorders):

Laboratory analyses did not reveal elevated levels of mercury or elevated levels of at least one androgen. Specifically, undetectable levels of mercury were present in Child D’s urine and minimal levels of mercury were in Child D’s blood (1.5 ?g/L, reference range=0.0-14.9 ?g/L). Additionally, analyses of Child D’s blood androgen metabolites revealed a serum testosterone=153 ng/dL (age- and sex-adjusted LabCorp reference range=0-350 ng/dL) and serum/plasma DHEA=291 ng/dL (age- and sex-adjusted LabCorp reference range=183-383 ng/dL) within their respective reference ranges.
After extensive discussions with his parents concerning the risks, benefits, and alternative treatments available, a decision was made to place Child D on a course of LUPRON® therapy.

Yes, Child D has testosterone well within the normal level. And, yet, the child was treated with Lupron. How, exactly, does this fit with improving “…the health of the patient and reduce the clinical symptoms associated with abnormally elevated androgen levels”?

Also, in the Autism Science Digest article itself, the authors note:

The child underwent antiandrogen therapy until the age of 13, when he entered puberty at an age typical of his sibling

Age 13 is within the normal range to start puberty. So is 9. Why did they delay this child 4 years? As of age 9, the child was not in central precocious puberty.

The Geiers make this comment in their recent article:

Two months prior to his 9th birthday, he was given a test dose of leuprolide acetate. After administration, he went outside and began to swing on a tire swing using his feet to push – a neurotypical behavior never seen before.

Dramatic, isn’t it? First shot, and the kid goes outside and uses the swing for the first time. This caught my eye, because they mention swinging in their patent. In the patent they note, “Within a few days of the second shot of LUPRON DEPOT®, Child X learned to swing by himself using leg timing for propulsion”

I’m betting that this is the same kid. If so, did the kid get his first shot and go outside and start swinging, or did he go a few days after his second shot?

One issue the Geiers (and others) have faced is inflation of credentials. David Geier, for example, listed himself as a “diagnostician” to get on the Maryland Autism Commission. The Autism Science Digest article is no different. Mr. Geier gives as his credentials that he “Has been a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of Biochemical Genetics.”

Take a moment, if you will, and think what that statement means to you, ” research scientist at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of Biochemical Genetics”. I ask you to do this before we see what his job really was.

We can read Mr. Geier’s resume here, which lists his experience including:

I. T. R. A. Summer Fellow Appointment at The National Institutes of Mental Health (under Laboratory Chief [Redacted] of The Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics)
Projects:
(1) Protein Gel and Phage Research

That was in the summer of 1998. That’s the summer before he entered college, if I read the rest of his resume correctly. At this point I have to do something I rarely do, point out my own credentials. I’ve been a summer intern. I’ve been a research scientist. I’ve been a research scientist supervising summer interns. While I find the work of my summer interns has been valuable and of high quality, they weren’t “research scientists” in the way that is clearly implied in the article. Sure, it would have taken more space to write, “He was an intern the summer of his freshman year at the NIH”, but it would have made his position much more clear.

Dr. Mark Geier lists as part of his credentials, “His extensive research has resulted in him being invited to address the Institute of Medicine at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on six occasions.” I find it remarkable that he uses this to build credibility, given the fact that the IOM clearly was not impressed by his work.

Let’s look at what the Institutes of Medicine had to say about the Geiers’ research:

The first was an ecological study (Geier and Geier, 2004a) that reported a potential positive correlation between the number of doses of measles-containing vaccine and the cases of autism reported to the special education system in the 1980s. The second was a study of passive reporting data by the same authors (Geier and Geier, 2003c) that reported a positive correlation between autism reports in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and estimated administered doses of MMR. However, these two studies are characterized by serious methodological flaws and their analytic methods were nontransparent, making their results uninterpretable, and therefore noncontributory with respect to causality (see text for full discussion).

It isn’t news that the Geiers are poor scientists. It isn’t news that the Geiers have been called out for their ethical lapses multiple times over the years. It is fairly recent news that the Geiers have actually faced charges. And, yet, AutismOne and Generation Rescue continue to support this team by inviting them to speak at conferences and giving them space in their magazines to promote the same bad medicine that has cost Dr. Geier his license.

Dr. Geier has lost his license to practice medicine. To which I can only say, what took so long? What do they have to do to lose the support of the alternative medical community?

Should the Geiers be granted a patent on Lupron?

22 May

As many in the autism community will tell you, drug patents are big money. Usually this is used by people claiming, “he is not trustworthy–he makes a lot of money off of drug patents”. Funny how those claims aren’t applied to the father-son team of Mark and David Geier, who have applied for a patent for their method of “treating” people with autism using a very strong drug that dramatically reduces the levels of the hormone testosterone in the body.

This “protocol” has been called into question in recent articles in the Chicago Tribune, here and here. These stories have been blogged on LBRB by Kev and myself.

As an aside, at the time of writing, one of the Tribune articles is #5 on the Tribune’s “most viewed” list, and #1 on the most emailed list.

The Geiers originally looked to Lupron with the justification that somehow testosterone was binding with mercury in the brains of people with autism. This made it difficult or impossible for chelating agents to remove the mercury. Since, in the world of Mark and David Geier, mercury is at the root of autism, it made sense to get rid of the testosterone in order to treat the mercury poisoning in order to improve or recover the autistic person.

Sound convoluted and implausible? You are right.

First off, autism isn’t mercury poisoning. Geez, that’s one dead horse that will never be given a rest.

Second, Lupron shuts down production of testosterone. It does not remove testosterone from the system. Who is to say that reducing the amount of testosterone in the system would break up the supposed “crystalline sheets” of mercury/testosterone compound that the Geiers believe are in the brains of autistics?

Third, even the Geiers don’t buy into the mercury/testosterone connection (at least in public). Read the Tribune stories. All the discussions are about reducing the amount of testosterone in the body.

The Geier’s patent application, US27254314A1, has 109 claims (a lot!). What is claim #1 (the most important claim in any patent)?

1. A method of lowering the level of mercury in a subject suffering from mercury toxicity, the method comprising the steps of:
a) administering to said subject a pharmaceutically effective amount of at least one luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition; and

b) repeating step a) as necessary to lower the level of mercury in said subject.

I.e. they are patenting using Lupron (and similar compounds) to help remove mercury from people.

If they aren’t actually reducing mercury, or treating people with “mercury toxicity” (isn’t the real term intoxication?), why should this be granted?

The Geiers may state that they see behavioral differences in their patients. Well….they are reducing their testosterone levels to near zero. Of course they will see behavior differences. But, are they, as they claimed, reducing the mercury levels in their patients? If you read the article, you will see that mercury really isn’t discussed. It is all about reducing testosterone levels.

How does the Reverend Lisa Sykes, co-author with the Geiers on papers, and parent of probably the Geier’s most well known patient have to say? In the comments on the Tribune website, she states:

As the parent of the first child to be treated by Dr. Geier for high testosterone, a condition caused by cinically diagnosed mercury-poisoning from the theraputic use of vaccines and RhoD, I can only wait for the day the press gets it right.

Yep. The story has changed. The good Rev. Sykes, who used to claim that the idea behind lupron was to get the mercury out, now claims that mercury causes high testosterone levels. Well, at least they are consistent in always making mercury and vaccines the villan.

So, again, I pose the question: if Lupron isn’t working by helping to remove mercury, should the patent be granted to the Geiers? From where I sit, the answer seems to be a clear, “No”.

Of course, a second question is “does it have any benefit for people with autism”? The Geiers recruited Dr. Mayer Eisenstein to “treat” people with autism using Lupron in the Chicago area. After a few months of being part of the Geier “franchise”, what does Dr. Eisenstien have to say?

“It’s highly unlikely that we’re going to be part of the autism program much longer,” Eisenstein said. “I’m not pleased enough with it. It’s not where I want to put my energy.”

I just don’t see this patent as being granted.

Geiers, Jim Adams – oh and some science

22 May

As I alluded to in my last post, there’s been a glut of publications regarding autism and thiomersal/mercury of late.

First (as they reached me) was Jim Adams latest nothing paper. Do’C has the full story but the salient points to take home about this study is that:

There’s plenty of other silliness in this paper, including citations of Geier and Geier, and a tiny sample size that produced data that I think most people would look at and ask, “so what?”. But the bottom line is this – is the authors’ conclusion supported by the data?….Neither mercury body burden nor excretion was demonstrated to be related to mercury levels in teeth, autistic children were not demonstrated to be “poor mercury excretors”, and high usage of oral antibiotics was not demonstrated to impair mercury excretion in humans.

An interesting side note – this paper was published in a journal that recently published the latest Geier twaddle. Seems like the editor likes a bit of woo. As Do’C uncovered from the editor of this journal:

“According to the literature there is a relationship between vaccines and autism.”

Which is weird as numerous literature reviews have shown the exact opposite. Either the editor is a very credulous sort or…well, no, he’s just a bloody idiot.

Now we turn to a study called ‘Lack of association between Rh status, Rh immune globulin in pregnancy and autism‘.

This study looked at:

whether mothers of children with autism are more likely to be Rh negative (Rh-) or to have received RhIg preserved with thimerosal, which is 49.6% ethyl mercury

So – do kids with autism come from a population who’s mothers had received RhIg? Thats what this study asked. The answer was:

Rh- status is no higher in mothers of children with autism than in the general population, exposure to antepartum RhIg, preserved with thimerosal is no higher for children with autism and pregnancies are no more likely to be Rh incompatible. This was also true for autism subgroups defined by behavioral phenotype, gender, IQ, regressive onset, head circumference, dysmorphology, birth status, essential, or complex phenotype

Of course, this answer didn’t suit SafeMinds Mark Blaxill. He released his usual pontificating crapola:

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of RhIg products and the defendant in several lawsuits alleging a link between autism and mercury in RhIg. In an earlier 2005 poster presentation, the study authors acknowledged that the research was “supported by Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research,” but the University of Missouri press release omits mention of this conflict of interest.

Last I heard Marky, scientists don’t write press releases. Marketing depts do. As you yourself admit, when the poster version of this paper was presented, the *authors* (as oppose to the marketing dept) *did* acknowledge their funding. So, whats your point? That Missouri University Marketing dept. screwed up? Talk about a strawman.

And lets top beating around the bush here. If defendants in lawsuits can’t fund science, then why is it OK for prosecutors to fund science? If you want to go down the ‘conflict of interest’ route than that means Geier, Adams and a whole host of others who have already profited to the tune of several thousand pounds and who stand to profit even more should be equally discounted.

The press release headline falsely claims that the “Study Finds No Link Between Autism and Thimerosal in Vaccines.” The study is about Rh immune globulin, and immune globulins are not vaccines. “The headline deceives the public,” noted Mark Blaxill, director of SafeMinds. “It says an autism-mercury in vaccines link has been disproved when the research did not do so.”

Once again Marky – try and assimilate the difference between a press release and the actual paper. The paper’s abstract doesn’t mention the word vaccine until the very last sentence – and then only to point out thiomersal is also in vaccines. None of Blaxill’s point address _science_ at all. They try and make a strawman out of a press release. A press release the scientists who wrote this _paper_ no doubt had no control over whatsoever.

Blaxill then goes on to say that SafeMinds found numerous errors with the poster presentation but neglects to state what they were. Guess we should just trust them.

And if we want further verification of the non-link between the Rhogam issue then we should look no further than ‘Rh and ABO Maternal-Fetal Incompatibility and Risk of Autism‘ published in 2006 (Zandi et al) which states:

Moreover, some have speculated that RhD immune globulin injections may itself increase autism risk due to increased prenatal
exposure to thimerosal [Blaxill et al., 2004], an ethyl mercury containing vaccine preservative used in some formulations. The current findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of autism is increased due to existing potential complications of maternal-fetal incompatibility with or without prophylaxis, nor do they appear to be consistent with the suggestion that the use of prophylaxis itself may increase risk.

Of course, SafeMinds don’t mention this as it clearly demonstrates the quackery that Blaxill wallows in.

And by the by, isn’t it incredible that for a group of people who are now claiming it never was _just_ about the thiomersal (See Brad Handley’s amazing feat of flip-flopping for details) they are certainly clinging on like grim death to that fallacy?

And hey – what about all those ‘other things’ (usually in vaccines) that ’cause autism’? Well, another recent study looked at just how well the practice of provoking reactions using a chelator (DMSA in this case) actually worked. ‘24-hour provoked urine excretion test for heavy metals in children with autism and typically developing controls, a pilot study.‘ looked at:

…Seventeen children with autism and five typically developing children were enrolled in a pilot study to test for chelatable body burden of Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), and Mercury (Hg)

And the results?

Fifteen autistic children and four typically developing children completed the study. Three autistic subjects excreted one metal in greater quantity during the provoked excretion than baseline. Two of these were very close to the limit of detection. In the third case, the provoked excretion of mercury was between the upper limit of normal and lower limit of the potentially toxic reference range.

In other words – none of the kids, autistic or otherwise had clear progression into the toxic range of body burden of any metal. Three autistic kids had slightly higher results when DMSA was used to provoke than when it wasn’t. However, again, none was high enough to get into the toxic range. And as for the third autistic child, the team did one more thing:

Fish was removed from this child’s diet for greater than one month, and the provoked excretion test repeated. The repeat excretion of mercury was within the normal range.

Hilarious. The conclusion:

In the absence a proven novel mode of heavy metal toxicity, the proportion of autistic participants in this study whose DMSA provoked excretion results demonstrate an excess chelatable body burden of As, Cd, Pb, or Hg is zero.

Zero. None. Nada. Zip. Bugger all.

Lets hope that this pilot study is expanded upon and replicated.

And talking of chelation studies, Diva has some hot gossip regarding the fate of the NIMH chealtion study:

Dr. Swedo was running a chelation study at the NIMH until recently. The word, coming from a reliable source, is that the study has been shut down. This is good news, because it was a horrible study with horrible ethical problems and no legitimate scientific underpinnings. The study still appears on the clinicaltrials.gov page, but the link to the NIMH page is dead. So maybe the study rests in peace, too.

Last, but far from least, a fascinating theoretical study called ‘The Autism Epidemic: Fact or Artifact?’ has looked at the epidemic wankfest:

Using a prediction analysis, we calculate how broadening diagnostic criteria, younger age at diagnosis, and improved efficiency of case ascertainment could produce temporal trends in the incidence and prevalence of AD.

and what did they come up with?

Time trend studies report an increase as large as 11.0-fold over a 13-year period for AD. Conservative changes in the three methodological factors produced increases in the frequency of AD ranging from 2.1- to 28.8-fold

Interesting stuff. Hardly conclusive, but certainly food for thought. I can’t help but note that it comes from researchers at Columbia University. I wonder what that other CU employee Mady ‘they chewed through my skull’ Horning thinks about this study?

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

Autism Speaks:  The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism…but doesn’t let that statement stand alone.

26 Mar

Autism Speaks has come out with some very strong statements about autism and vaccines.  And the back peddled. 

First, here is a statement by Robert Ring, Chief Science Officer:

Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.  We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.

Rob Ring
Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks

 
In the past Autism Speaks had been sympathetic towards the idea that vaccines cause autism.  More than sympathetic, some would say.  Such a clear statement as above would have been unthinkable from Autism Speaks only a few years ago.
I wish they had made these statements earlier, but I am glad they are making these statements now.  The vaccine hypothesis has been the most damaging idea in autism since the refrigerator mother theory.  With Autism Speaks position as a well known autism organization, perhaps even fewer families will get caught in the vaccines-cause-autism trap in the future.Here’s the way the Autism Speaks vaccines and autism page looked just last year.  It includes many problematic statements and concludes: “A list of publications that used VAERS information to study associations with autism can be found here“.  “Here” is a link to pubmed with the search terms “vaers” and “autism”.  No surprise, it’s a list that is padded out by works by Mark and David Geier.  The Geiers have been performing poor research for years and have been discussed here at Left Brain/Right Brain many times.


The above statement by Mr. Ring was picked up by the press in February as it was so clear.
Next, Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks:
 

Over the last two decades extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccines and autism. Scientific research has not directly connected autism to vaccines. Vaccines are very important. Parents must make the decision whether to vaccinate their children. Efforts must be continually  made to educate parents about vaccine safety. If parents decide not to vaccinate they must be aware of the consequences in their community and their local schools.

Bob Wright
Co-founder, Autism Speaks

It’s a fairly stilted paragraph in my read.  It comes across as though Mr. Wright is trying to appear to ride the fence while at the same time pulling back dramatically from the clear statement by Mr. Ring.  Scientific research has not directly connected autism to vaccines?

Even with that, I can’t imagine that admitting that vaccines are “important” will go over well in some circles.  Close circles.  Even “important” is to positive a word for some.  But, seriously, here we have an invention that has saved more lives that possibly any other in medical history and we get “important”?

Yes, Mr. Wright, efforts must be made to educate parents about vaccine safety.  That’s what your chief science officer did.  Sadly, you can’t let Autism Speaks be a science led organization.

By Matt Carey

Note: I accidentally published an early draft of this article yesterday.

Andrew Wakefield: paid $316k to administer $80k in grants by the Strategic Autism Inititiative

7 Nov

When Andrew Wakefield left Thoughtful House (which has since changed it’s name and removed all mention of him from their website), he announced a new effort: the Strategic Autism Initiative. He was going to manage research into the causes of autism. That was in 2010. Now he bills himself as a video director of the Autism Media Channel. Makes one wonder how well that Strategic Autism Initiative thing worked out.

Well, we can’t tell for sure as tax forms are only available through 2012. But the trends tell us that perhaps, just perhaps, the Strategic Autism Initiative lost steam in their fundraising.  Donations are way down.  And a lot of money has gone into salaries and very little into actual programs.

Strategic Autism Initiative 2010 tax form
Strategic Autism Initiative 2011 tax form
Strategic Autism Initiative 2012 tax form

Let’s do a little summarizing. Let’s look at trends for the money they take in (contributions) and the money that they’ve put out in salaries. The Strategic Autism Initiative pays Andrew Wakefield and Terry Arranga.

SAI contributions and salaries

OK, you gotta hand it to Andrew Wakefield–he pulled in $623k in 3 years, basically on his name and reputation. And, he took $316k of that money, about 50%. In total, salaries accounted for 58% of what the SAI took in. The first year of the SAI (2010) was a short year, hence the low salary. Mr. Wakefield’s salary appears to be based on $270,000/year full time. Officially he was working 30hours/week in 2010 and 2011. 15 hours/week in 2012.

Notice that the contributions were way down in 2012. Still a sizable $113k, but down from the previous years.

How does the salary outlay compare to the intake over the years? Well, it was relatively low the first year (the short year) and climbed to 80% in 2011 and 100% in 2012.

Salary Fraction

Not what one would call sustainable. Well, I guess if all one does is put money into salaries, that’s sustainable. Not exactly what a charity is supposed to be, though. Which begs the question, how much money did they have on hand at the end of each year?

Assets

Yep, pay out most of your money in salary and watch your assets go down. Also gives a partial explanation for why Mr. Wakefield is only listed as working 15 hours a week in 2012–there wasn’t the money to pay him more. The SAI would be about $70k in debt had they paid him for 30 hours/week.

In 2010, they paid out $20,260 in a grant to perform a UK Somali study.

SAI 2010 grants

In 2011 they paid out a $25k grant to Generation Rescue for a “vax/unvax study”

SAI 2011 grants

In 2012 they paid out $35k in grants. One to Mr. Wakefield’s former Thoughtful House colleague Arthur Krigsman and another to the Geiers for a study using the Florida medical database.

SAI 2012 grants

So, let’s consider this. In three years, Mr. Wakefield managed to give out 4 grants. Total of about $80k in grants. And for that effort he was paid $316k. What’s the supposed goal of the Strategic Autism Initiative?

SAI mission

“…to promote research in areas of autism and neurological disorders…”

Right. Promote research. About 13% of their budget went to promoting research. And that’s before we even consider the quality of that research.

Some bright people believe Andrew Wakefield. Some wealthy people believe Andrew Wakefield. Why, I don’t know. But even those who believe in what he says may someday question whether getting $0.13 on the dollar to the cause is worth keeping Andrew Wakefield employed.


By Matt Carey