Search results for 'thompson'

Andrew Wakefield releases the trailer for his William Thompson video. Slick production and dishonesty

22 Mar

Remember the disasterous “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” movie? That’s the one where Andrew Wakefield was trying to create an autism reality TV show where he would swoop in with his “A”utism TEAM and solve problems for families and show that he was right all along. Except that after the “A”utism team filled a family with false hope, Alex’s mother and godmother brutally murdered Alex. Wakefield took on no blame. Instead he shifted blame from those who committed the act to mainstream medicine. Basically whitewashing a gruesome murder of a disabled young man.

I will note that in the trailer for “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis”, Wakefield spliced video from a completely different story.

Or, remember when Brian Hooker published a paper claiming that CDC data shows that vaccines cause autism and Wakefield followed up with a YouTube video that was so over the top bad that he claimed that non only were the CDC (including a civil rights pioneer) were engaging in a new Tuskegee Experiment, but that they were worse than Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot? Because, you see, those brutal dictators were at least sincere. No, I’m not making that up.

Wakefield has been working for some time to make a feature length film out of the Brian Hooker/CDC story. He has an early trailer for “Feast of Consequences” (as it was called then). Just as with the Alex Spourdalakis story, this trailer includes video unrelated to his actual story (the video of a police standoff and the pictures of the girl in the wheelchair appear to be from the Maryanne Godboldo story).

Well, not to be deterred from the film making business, Mr. Wakefield is at it again. This time with the full length movie, now called “Vaxxed”. Here’s the trailer:

The trailer starts with what appears to be a reenactment of a conversation between Brian Hooker (vocal advocate for the failed idea that vaccines cause autism) and William Thompson (CDC researcher):

Brian Hooker:

My phone rings and it’s Dr William Thompson

This is followed by recordings of a phone call with William Thompson:

“you and I don’t know each other very well. You have a son with autism, and I have great shame now.”

Then a narrator.

“There’s a whistleblower from the CDC who is going to come out and say that the CDC had committed fraud on the MMR study and that they knew that vaccines were actually causing autism”

Sit back for a moment and consider what your first impressions of this intro are. I know mine–they seem to be setting this up as the first or perhaps one of the early phone calls between Thompson and Hooker. Since the actual audio clips from Thompson weren’t that sensational, the narrator is quickly pulled in to tell us what really happened.

But this is Andrew Wakefield. And if we’ve learned anything about Andrew Wakefield over the years it’s that you have to check every single detail of what he’s saying. He does a lot of leading you to the conclusion he wants you to believe, whether the facts say something entirely different or not.

Let’s start with a small detail. I suspect many have already wondered why I referred to the clips from Thompson in the plural. It’s because that 10 seconds or so of audio is actually two different comments from Thompson spliced together. And taken out of context. We know this because a book was released with the transcripts of the calls that Brian Hooker secretly recorded.

“You and I don’t know each other very well” is from this part of a conversation. Well into the second call that Hooker secretly recorded. And Hooker didn’t start recording calls until later in their relationship, so this isn’t an introduction at all. We will get into the discussion of what Thompson meant later:

You and I don't know each other very well

“You have a son with autism, and I have great shame now.”

I have great shame

OK, the two clips are from completely different parts of a phone call that happened well into the Hooker/Thompson relationship. Wakefield spliced them together to create a story and, just in case we missed his point, brought in a narrator to tell us what the story “really” is.

So, documentary producer/director he is not. But we didn’t really expect that, did we?

Let’s take a look at those two exchanges in a bit more detail, shall we?

First, “we don’t know each other very well”, was Thompson saying that even after multiple previous exchanges, Hooker doesn’t understand Thompson’s motivations and fears. Hooker appears to be digging for dirt. Something about the behaviors of people at CDC. Likely to smear them later. This seems to be a bit of a trigger for Thompson as he has battled mental illness. He’s not comfortable because he can already see the day when people will say, “Well, he’s [Thompson] mentally ill and why would you believe anything he says, it’s just hearsay”. Hooker assures him that it’s none of their business, and that “I [Hooker] don’t want that to happen, period.”

That’s a heavily ironic thing to read now. Why? The only reason people know about Thompson’s personal medical history is that Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield made it public. Hooker and Wakefield filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services and included this statement from William Thompson:

Ya know, I’m not proud of that and uh, it’s probably the lowest point in my career that I went along with that paper and I also paid a huge price for it because I became delusional.

And this exchange between Hooker and Thompson

Dr. Hooker: Did you raise that…did you raise that issue at the time?
Dr. Thompson: I will say I raised this issue…I will say I raised this issue, the uh…two days before I became delusional.

and

Dr. Thompson: It is one of the reasons I became delusional because I was so paranoid about this being published.

So, not only is “you and I don’t know each other very well” not a “Hi, you don’t know be very well, but I’m about to spill the beans” sort of statement, it’s basically Thompson saying that one of his big fears is, well, exactly what Hooker did to him: out his struggles with mental illness.

With friends like Brian Hooker…

So, the second part of the spliced statement that Wakefield included in his trailer, what is that in context? “You have a son with autism, and I have great shame now.” Is it, as the narrator leads us to think, a statement about fraud and that vaccines are proved to cause autism?

No. Or, in Thompson’s own words:

“No, no, no, no. Here’s what I shoulder. I shoulder that the CDC has put the research 10 years behind. Because the CDC has not been transparent, we’ve missed 10 years of research because the CDC is so paralyzed right now by anything related to autism.”

It’s a statement that in William Thompson’s view, the CDC hasn’t done enough vaccine/autism research. It’s a sentiment that I disagree with, given how much effort has been spent on researching the failed idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism. But let’s move on.

Let’s instead move to the narrator. Recall his statement

“There’s a whistleblower from the CDC who is going to come who is going to come out and say that the CDC had committed fraud on the MMR study and that they knew that vaccines were actually causing autism”

So, what about Thompson saying the CDC committed fraud on the MMR study? Didn’t happen, that’s what. Yes, he had criticisms. He starts his one voluntary public statement with, “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. ” But let’s stick to what we know Thompson said, rather than what Wakefield and Hooker claim he said in regards to fraud, shall we? What makes the decision to not report a finding “fraud” over a scientific decision? Well, Thompson never says in his statement that there was fraud or misconduct by the CDC team. He does say “Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information.”

Let’s back up a bit, what is the Hooker/Wakefield claim of fraud? In a nutshell, they claim that the CDC team found a result they didn’t want to make public and then changed the research plan/protocol so they wouldn’t have to report that. In this exchange from a phone call we can see Hooker apparently trying to get Thompson on tape saying this. Trying because Thompson refuses to say it:

Dr. Hooker: And then you basically deviated from that particular plan in order to reduce the statistical significance that you saw in the African American Cohort.

Dr. Thompson: Well, we, um, we didn’t report findings that, um…All I will say is we didn’t report those findings. I can tell you what the other coauthors will say.

As to the claim by the narrator that Thompson stepped forward and stated that …”that [The CDC] knew that vaccines were actually causing autism”. Nope.

Consider this part of the public statement by Thompson, a statement I doubt will be prominent in Wakefield’s movie

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.

That is not the statement of a person who believes that vaccines have been shown to cause autism and that the studies to the contrary are “fraud”.

Also, Thompson provided a summary statement to Member of Congress Bill Posey. That was made public along with a great deal more documents when I released them here. What does Mr. Thompson have to say about the study in question showing that vaccines “actually cause autism”?

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.

Let’s give this finding the greatest benefit of the doubt. Let’s ignore that it is an incredibly weak and almost certainly spurious result. Even then, it doesn’t show causation. A study like this can’t. And anyone who has done scientific research (such as Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield) should know that.

But, hey, let’s just make this simple–if Thompson had said something clearly claiming fraud, clearly claiming that the CDC knew vaccines cause autism, Wakefield would have included that in his video. Instead he splices disparate conversations together and has his narrator tell us what we should think.

In other words, if Wakefield had the facts, he’d use them. Instead all I see is more smoke and mirrors.

And that’s just the beginning. The first 30 seconds. We could go on and on, dissecting the trailer frame by frame. It’s that bad. And this is just the trailer. He has a full film out now.


By Matt Carey

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

6 Jan

Some people have forwarded to me online comments of people who are asking where the William Thompson documents are. I had included a link at the end of my recent article, but just to make it even more clear, here’s the dropbox link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jxtr06s5ddc82s7/AADaZvp7yu_daBhbuZwMfQy4a?dl=0


By Matt Carey

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

4 Jan

For those unfamiliar with the story of William Thompson, here’s a brief introduction. William Thompson is a CDC researcher who has worked on vaccine/autism studies. About 2 years ago he approached Brian Hooker (an autism parent and very vocal advocate for the idea that vaccines cause autism) stating that a statistically significant result was not only left out of an old study but that this represented not a scientific decision, but misconduct on the part of the CDC. It is worth noting that “statistically significant” is not the same as “proof of a connection”. Brian Hooker published his own analysis (incorrectly claimed as being the same as the CDC analysis method) in a now retracted paper. The result he presented was that there was an apparent increased risk of autism for one small subset of the study population: African American males, who were vaccinated not on schedule but before age 3.

There are some questions, of course, that this raises. Is this result very strong? Does the lack of inclusion in the paper represent scientific fraud or a legitimate scientific decision?

A few epidemiologists and other scientists have chimed in (for example here, here and here) and stated that the result was very likely spurious and that Hooker’s approach is somewhat flawed and definitely overplayed.

In fact, Brian Hooker’s paper was more of a publicity event than a scientific inquiry. When the paper was published, Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield released a video. It is difficult to describe just how bad this video was but here are a two examples. Wakefield tried to put forth the inflammatory claim that the CDC’s vaccine program was a new Tuskegee experiment. Which is to say that the CDC are intentionally allowing African Americans to become autistic due to vaccines as part of some sort of study. Second, according to Andrew Wakefield, the CDC team is so evil that they are worse than Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. =Mr Wakefield’s logic being that those dictators were sincere and the CDC team were not. No, really, Hitler was sincere per Wakefield.

In a series of phone calls between Thompson and Hooker (secretly taped by Hooker and released without Thompson’s permission), we find that Thompson was very interested in testifying before congress. It turns out that William Thompson kept much (if not all) of the paperwork involved in this study and, probably at least in part motivated by the hope for a hearing, passed these along to a member of Congress: Bill Posey. It has been claimed that this cache of documents numbers as many as 100,000 pages. Many have hoped that these documents will expose fraud by the CDC. (They don’t)

Congressman Posey released the documents to a journalist recently and, given that they are now in the public domain, Dorit Reiss and I requested that they be made available to us as well. Mr. Posey’s office graciously granted our request and I have spent some time going through them.

For those hoping for an exciting look into CDC malfeasance, sorry to disappoint you. Not only is it not present here, but these documents are very mundane and repetitive. Many people seem to think there will be evidence that the CDC are covering up. No “Vaccines cause autism! How do we cover this up”. Nothing like it. Wakefield and Hooker have already cherry picked–and misrepresented–whatever they could to “best” make their case.

For more introduction, I point you to these articles as a start:

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

Did a high ranking whistleblower really reveal that the CDC covered up proof that vaccines cause autism in African-American boys?
The “CDC whistleblower saga”: Updates, backlash, and (I hope) a wrap-up
Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield accuse the CDC of scientific fraud. Irony meters everywhere explode.

Given that long introduction, what is in the documents? Well, there’s about 1000 pages, not the claimed 100,000. Documents provided by Mr. Thompson and, also, documents that submitted as part of the complaint that Wakefield and Hooker filed with HHS were included in the zip file. Which is convenient as I had submitted a FOIA request for those.

There are multiple drafts of the analysis plan. Analysis Plan is the same thing as the “protocol” that Wakefield and Hooker claim was changed after the first race data were analyzed. And the fact that we have the revisions gives us the chance to check two of the fundamental claims behind the Wakefield/Hooker “fraud” charge against CDC. (1) Did the CDC plan to look at race as an exposure variable? Wakefield and Hooker are claiming (although they use different words) this is what the CDC was doing. This is different from using race as a control variable. (2) Did CDC add the birth certificate analysis after the first race analysis was done, in order to dilute the effect?

No. Very clearly no. I’ve covered (2) already based on information Wakefield and Hooker made available. The final analysis plan was dated Sept.5, the first race analysis wasn’t until late October or early November. And we see the same in these documents.

But now we have new information that answers (1). Here is what appears to be the first draft of the analysis plan. And here is a capture of a very important part:

First Draft Analysis plan segment 1

Note that this draft analysis plan is from April 3, 2001. Well before the final version, the “protocol”, which was September 5. More importantly, this is a long time before a race analysis was started. But even more, notice how there’s an annotation “I would include race as a covariate, not as an exposure variable.” That’s critical–they decided against using race as an exposure variable from the start. Before they did a race analysis. Another point: they were already planning on using birth certificate data right from the start.

William Thompson certainly should have known this, it’s very probable that he did know this. Wakefield and Hooker likely knew this. They showed documents from this collection in their video and elsewhere. But they told us the opposite.

Whether they knew or not, they were wrong. Wildly irresponsibly wrong.

Ever wonder why they didn’t make documents public? We can’t tell if Hooker and Wakefield had all the Thompson documents, but we know they had some. While they cry out for transparency, they were carefully guarding information in order to craft the story they wanted told. The full documents tell a different story.

Let me put this more simply: if Wakefield and Hooker worked for me they would be fired for just their handling of the Thompson story (of course, they would have been fired years ago for many other causes, but promoting this sort of misinformation is simply wrong.)

Also in that same directory appears to be the first draft of the paper (A000071.PDF), with William Thompson as first author. I find it interesting that Thompson is first author there as later it would be Frank DeStefano who would be first author of the published study.

There are also meeting notes. Lots of meeting notes. Here’s the first batch, as near as I can tell. Meetings were held every month or two.

Now is a good time to address the “garbage can” quote. Congressman Posey read a statement from William Thompson into the congressional record. Emily Willingham discussed this in A Congressman, A CDC Whisteblower And An Autism Tempest In A Trashcan. On the other side, here’s an article by Jon Rappoport Bombshell: CDC destroyed vaccine documents, Congressman reveals Bombshell: CDC destroyed vaccine documents, Congressman reveals; CDC whistleblower case is back.

Here’s the thing–there’s zero “bombshell” involved in putting these documents into a confidential bin for shredding/recycling. There’s no reason to keep all these revisions of the analysis plan, all these meeting notes, all this redundant material. I hope people at CDC are not keeping all this paper. Beyond that, the rules are that they have to keep enough information to recreate the study. Aside from the fact that all these meeting notes are not required for that, Brian Hooker proved that requirement was met when he claimed to have done exactly that–recreated the study.

Mr. Thompson also provided a file with ALL Agendas for mmr autism meetings with written interpretation. Which is to say Thompson added his own annotations (purple pen) to the agendas.

Here’s an example of his annotations. And a great example of trying to make data fit a story. Thompson appears to be trying to support the idea that the CDC team changed the protocol to include the birth certificate analysis in response to analyzing the race data:

Race examined before final protocol

The implication that the race analysis and had somehow influenced the final protocol (as Wakefield and Hooker have claimed and this comment appears to support) is just plain wrong. First, as we have already seen, the birth certificate analysis was included from first draft of the analysis plan, in April 2001. That’s four months before this meeting note. Second, the so-called “race effect” isn’t seen in this meeting note. In fact, we see the opposite: “not statistically associated with case/control variable”.

From the phone conversations between Brian Hooker and William Thompson (secretly taped by Hooker), we have found that Thompson was very interested in participating in a congressional hearing. Hooker and his colleagues had been involved in arranging a previous congressional hearing on autism. Frankly it appears to me as though Thompson was involved in a bit of a quid pro quo: Thompson coaching Hooker in ways to spread fear about vaccines in exchange for a chance to be involved in a hearing. Which begs the question: why no hearing based on all that Thompson has laid out?

In case it isn’t already abundantly clear: there’s no hearing because there is no reason for a hearing. There’s no evidence of fraud. Many of the reasons given by Wakefield and Hooker to call this fraud are, well, just flat out wrong. Contradicted by the evidence. For those hoping that Thompson’s personal notes would show some evidence of a cover up, here they are mmr autism study 2001-2002 hand written notes.

Ah, one will say, what about the finding of an association between the MMR and autism for African American boys vaccinated late (between 18 months and 36 months)? Why wasn’t that included in the published paper or public presentations? The reasons given by Thompson/Hooker/Wakefield don’t hold water as I’ve shown. So, what was the scientific reason for not including this result in the paper? Many online writers have discussed how weak this result is; how it is a spurious result. But I’d like to know the reasoning at the time behind the CDC decision to leave this out. As a community member–an autism parent–I’d like to see all the results and understand the reasons why certain results are spurious. Of course it is easy to say now, but leaving this out of the public’s eye was a mistake. It gave Thompson, Hooker and Wakefield the chance to cherry pick, hide information and craft a story that has been very damaging to the autism communities and to public health.

The first thing I did when I heard about this story was email a few epidemiologists I know and point this story out and ask them if they had the data to address the question raised. I no longer feel this way. Why should the autism communities spend precious funds and researcher time every time Andrew Wakefield (Time Magazine’s #1 on their list of great science frauds) comes up with a new story? Especially now that we know the story was built on lies. But consider this: Wakefield and Hooker have not been calling for more research. Instead they are calling for a congressional hearing. If you watched any part of the previous hearings you know they are political theater and have done nothing (NOTHING) to help make a better life for autistics. They have done nothing except provide video and blog fodder for those promoting the failed idea that vaccines cause autism.

Also, consider this: before Thompson Wakefield and Hooker didn’t talk about the issues of racial/ethnic minorities. For the most part, the entire “autism is caused by vaccines” community have ignored minority communities. Why? Because they are a clear example that the vaccine hypothesis is a failure. Prevalence estimates for racial/ethnic minority groups have been typically much lower than for Caucasians (Hispanics are diagnosed at a rate of 1/3 that of Caucasians in California. And this has been consistent for over 10 years.) This presents a huge problem for the likes of Hooker and Wakefield. If vaccines are a major cause of autism, why do minority groups have such low prevalences? If they were honest about their own beliefs, they would be calling for a study into the “protective” effect for minorities. But they don’t. More importantly, if they were real autism advocates they would be calling for better diagnosis, better awareness, better services for these under served communities. Instead they have just ignored these minority communities. That is, until they could use them as part of their campaign against vaccines.

And they still aren’t calling for better services better diagnosis in these underserved groups. Instead they are just trying to recruit as many parents as they into the vaccines-cause-autism camp. Imagine being convinced, wrongly, that you participated in injuring your own child. The charlatans who prey on our community with fake–and sometimes abusive–therapies rely on the vaccine/autism idea for the majority of their business.

The vaccines-cause-autism story is built on lies and it is very damaging. There has been nothing since the Kanner/Bettleheim “refrigerator parent” idea that has caused so much damage to our community. And that is the real story here. A group of people perpetuating a failed idea by carefully crafting a story.

The Zip file provided to me by Representative Posey’s office is at this DropBox link
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jxtr06s5ddc82s7/AADaZvp7yu_daBhbuZwMfQy4a?dl=0

Again, I am grateful to Representative Posey and his staff for providing these files to me.


By Matt Carey

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.

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

3 Sep

For those who know the story of William Thompson–he’s the CDC researcher who decided it was a good idea to coach vaccine-antagonist advocate Brian Hooker in how to scare people from using vaccines–you know that he’s become a favorite sock puppet for the people who claim vaccines cause autism. I’ve seen many discussions where people say Thompson said this, or Thompson said that–all without any evidence.

Here’s a quote from Robert Kennedy Jr. in the book

“Dr. Thompsom told Dr. Hooker that whenever the CDC finds an adverse effect from vaccines, the agency supervisors assemble CDC scientists in a room and order them to massage the data until they have devised a gimmick for eliminating the unwanted signal.”

One does wonder if Kennedy actually read the transcripts. Because that isn’t in there anywhere. I don’t expect accuracy from Kennedy. Politics. Misguided politics. That’s what I expect. And he came through with his introduction to the book.

One more claim made by Mr. Hooker’s team is that the CDC abandoned their initial research plan (which, now that we’ve seen the plan, we know isn’t true) and that they did so in order to dilute an effect they saw in the African American Cohort. And this is all somehow backed up by William Thompson’s statements in the phone conversations.

Well, now we have transcripts of some of the calls. And here we can see Brian Hooker trying to get Thompson to say that and Thompson, well, not saying it.

Dr. Hooker: And then you basically deviated from that particular plan in order to reduce the statistical significance that you saw in the African American Cohort.

Dr. Thompson: Well, we, um, we didn’t report findings that, um…All I will say is we didn’t report those findings. I can tell you what the other coauthors will say.

Recall that Brian Hooker knew he was recording. He wanted this on tape. And that it appears Thompson didn’t know he was being recorded, but he still wouldn’t say what Hooker wanted him to say.

As I said–don’t expect this exchange to be widely discussed. It doesn’t fit the story they want to tell.

edit to add–here’s a screenshot of this exchange (click to enlarge):
Thompson---all I will say


By Matt Carey

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

27 Aug

As a few people have written about recently, a book was recently published in which we get to read transcripts of conversations between Brian Hooker (a vocal advocate of the idea that vaccines cause autism) and William Thompson (a researcher at the CDC).

The basic story we have been told is that supposedly the CDC team (of which Thompson was a member) saw a “statistically significant” association between MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys. Specifically for boys who got the vaccine late, but before age 3. The story then goes on to claim that he CDC team worked furiously to bury this association. William Thompson, wracked with guilt over this, finally reached out to Brian Hooker to guide him towards this result.

This story is full of holes, as has been discussed here and elsewhere. Rather than go through that again, just take this backstory and ask yourself: given this claim that significant results were omitted by the CDC, wouldn’t Brian Hooker make damned sure that nothing important was left out of the “reanalysis” paper? After all, the main criticism Hooker levied against the CDC team was omission.

You’d think so, wouldn’t you. But you’d also guess that I wouldn’t go through this long introduction if that was the case.

Brian Hooker sold his reanalysis as strong because he took a simple approach. I.e. he didn’t control for any confounding factors. Epidemiologists will tell you the opposite–a raw data analysis is suspect.

In the conversations, we hear that Brian Hooker was well aware that he would get criticism for not making corrections:

Dr. Hooker: Right. Right. Well, what would happen…Okay, so let me play this out … My paper gets published; my MMR paper gets published. They…I get heavily criticized, because I haven’t corrected for scioeconomic factors or maternal education. Yeah. I’ll take my hits, and then eventually it gets published. And then there’s a piece of information that I receive from the CDC, but I don’t source. Is that going to be a red flag?

OK, he knows that a “simple” approach is not considered strong. This begs the question: how important are socioeconomic factors and maternal education he’s worried about? I could tell you that they are huge factors for the conclusion he’s trying to make. But don’t take my word for it, because Hooker and Thompson did discuss the importance of maternal education in the recorded calls. And this discussion is very telling. Consider this exchange:

Dr. Hooker: Right. Right. Well, it does…You know, it does kind of play backwards.

Plays backwards–as in this goes against the story they are trying to tell. Going on:

Dr. Thompson: yeah.

Dr. Hooker:… in terms of: Will those kids that got vaccinated later; then you would expect less healthcare-seeking behavior; so they would be less likely to get an autism diagnosis.

Dr. Thompson: yep.

Yep?!? That’s all he can say? This is KEY to the entire argument that there is an increased risk in African American boys.

Let’s step back a moment and look at this issue. Brian Hooker’s reanalysis is based on very few subjects (seven–African American autistic boys who got their MMR vaccine late). Implicit in his “simple” analysis is the assumption that these boys were in every way similar to the other boys in the study, aside from autism and when they got their MMR vaccine. Let’s say that there’s a reason why these autistic kids were vaccinated late–like their parents didn’t have insurance so they didn’t go to well baby checks. This would correlate with the education of the mother and, thus, this variable could help control for this “health-care seeking behavior”.

This leaves us with a HUGE potentially confounding variable in Hooker’s analysis, and in precisely the population they are most interested in–the kids who got vaccinated later. But he don’t address it in the “reanalysis”. He sweeps it under the rug.

Which is to say, this is a very ironic conversation Hooker and Thompson are having. Hooker appears to be doing exactly what he claimes the CDC was doing: crafting a story around the results he wants to report and omitting important information to make that point.

The conversation goes on.

Dr. Hooker: But if you had maternal education, then you could correct for that.

Dr. Thompson: Right. But …

Dr. Hooker: So, I don’t think I have it.

Dr. Thompson: You could argue the most important confounder was not included in that study. So, why would you even consider the results valid?

Dr. Hooker:Valid.Right. Right, you can’t say either way.

Dr. Thompson: Exactly.

Dr. Hooker: Essentially.

Dr. Thompson: Yep.

Dr. Hooker: You can’t…

Let’s repeat one line for emphasis: You could argue the most important confounder was not included in that study. So, why would you even consider the results valid?

The most important confounder being maternal education. They know this is a big deal.

And this wasn’t just a passing thought in that conversation. Later in that same call, Hooker asked again about how strong an effect one could see from maternal education. In this case, from Thompson’s experience from his 2007 thimerosal paper. And again Thompson tells him that maternal education is a strong factor that should be included in an analysis.

Given this repeated discussion of the need to adjust your results for external variables, you’d expect Hooker to explore maternal education in his own paper, wouldn’t you? As in, do the math and see how much this factor affects his calculated relative risk for MMR in African American boys, right? At the very least, you’d expect a discussion similar to the one above–how this is a potential confounding variable and how exactly it could affect his results (it could go “backwards”).

You’d expect that of an ethical researcher. I would.

Here’s the thing: Brian Hooker did not include maternal education in his re-analysis. the closest he gets in in the final paragraph of his reanalysis paper. This is where he focuses on the weaknesses of his study. He goes into detail about age of diagnosis and how that might affect his results, for example. When it comes to maternal education the closest he says:

In addition, socioeconomic factors were not assessed in the current analysis. Thus, any differences in “healthcare seeking behavior” among individuals vaccinated ontime versus late could not be assessed.

Sorry to be so repetitive, but no word about how important maternal education or other socioeconomic factors are to precisely the conclusion he’s trying to draw. Just a statement that amounts to “controlling for socioeconomic factors can’t be done because I didn’t do it.” The data were available to Hooker in the birth certificates. Hooker even used the birth certificate data elsewhere in his paper (from the paper: “Georgia state birth certificate information was used to further obtain each child’s birthweight”). So he can’t say he didn’t have it.

This is ironic in the extreme: after complaining that the CDC left out a “statistically signficant” result, Brian Hooker doesn’t include a factor which he knows is a major without which one can’t consider the results valid.

I’ll go beyond ironic. This is in my opinion scientifically unethical. And, since his study is really more political than scientific, I consider this politically unethical. Frankly, if someone working for me did something like this as part of his work, he’d be fired.

But, wait, the story is even more strange. Recall how Thompson was bashing the original study (DeStefano, et al.) for being invalid due to not controlling for maternal education (“You could argue the most important confounder was not included in that study. So, why would you even consider the results valid?”). DeStefano et. al did control for maternal education. And not only should William Thompson and Brian Hooker have known this if they were reanalyzing the paper, William Thompson was a coauthor on the DeStefano paper!

One does have to wonder if Hooker did the analysis using maternal education and chose to not report it. Given the discussions he had with Thompson, my opinion is that either Hooker did the analysis or he’s incompetent.

Bottom line, though, if you are going to make some public relations/political hay claiming some group omitted a result, you shouldn’t be omitting important analyses yourself.

Were significant analyses omitted from Hooker’s paper? In my opinion, yes. And from his conversations with William Thompson, we see that Hooker was aware of the importance of factoring in maternal education.


By Matt Carey

The Brian Hooker/William Thompson conversations

24 Aug

A year ago we learned that a CDC researcher (William Thompson) had reached out to Brian Hooker (of all people!) and was talking about his (Thompson’s) view of what goes on inside the CDC. Most especially, Thompson appears to have guided Hooker towards a spurious result one can obtain from an old CDC dataset: that if one avoids controlling for any possible confounding variables one can claim that in a small subset of the study population, there is a calcluated risk of autism from the MMR vaccine.

There are so many strange aspects of this story. So many. One that has wracked my brain for the past year is this: why did Thompson reach out to Brian Hooker? Brian Hooker is not an unknown quantity. In the world of people claiming vaccines cause autism, far from it. Brian Hooker is a fixture in the community that promotes the idea that vaccines cause autism. His claim to fame for years was that he was constantly placing freedom of information act (FOIA) requests for documents from the CDC. His family are petitioners to the Court of Federal Claims (i.e. they have a claim in about a family member whose autism they believe was caused by vaccines). Mr. Hooker even spoke with CDC vaccine researchers–including William Thompson–many years back.

In the end, Brian Hooker published a paper (now retracted), teamed up with Andrew Wakefield, totally misused their spurious result in an ugly, race-baiting attack on the CDC, and betrayed Thompson’s trust by outing him.

And pretty much all of that was predictable, if you had any idea who Brian Hooker is.

Given that, there were two possibilities in my mind as to why Thompson reached out:

1) William Thompson was so stressed by what he thought was an unreleased result that he reached out to someone, anyone outside of CDC to get the result out. That he wasn’t aware of who he was working with.

2) William Thompson either didn’t care about the harm that would be cause by his actions, or wanted to cause harm. Let’s face it, Thompson chose the precise person who could make the most damage with the information. It wasn’t a strong result, or even a good result. But it was something that an intellectually dishonest person could sensationalize.

(2) Was very hard to believe. Thompson has spent many years working on public health. He was the lead author on one paper that showed no risk of neurodevelopmental disorders from thimerosal in vaccines. The idea that he would willingly ally with someone whose efforts are very much, let’s say, vaccine antagonistic, is difficult to accept.

As noted above, Brian Hooker betrayed the trust of William Thompson: Hooker not only outed Thompson, but Hooker secretly recorded at least 4 phone calls. And purported transcripts of those calls have been gathered together in a book. The forward is by Robert Kennedy Jr. (who has a long history of claiming he’s “pro vaccine” while acting completely the opposite) and is filled out by a someone named Kevin Barry. It’s a thin book and the material by Kennedy and Barry is basically filler, so you are left with transcripts from 4 phone calls.

From the conversations in the book we see that Thompson is angry. Angry at people. Not as much angry about science or omitted data. You can read more about that at Science Based Medicine.

Was Thompson aware of who he was dealing with in Brian Hooker? Yes. He says, “I see a lot of your stuff online. I saw that you interviewed Congressman Posey, is it?”

There’s a lot of talk of Posey and Congressman Issa. It seems like Hooker’s connections with congress were a big draw for Thompson.

Here’s one exchanges. Not about congress, but we get an idea of Thompson at work.

Dr. Hooker: I’m afraid of those people. I’m afraid of Kevin Malone. I’m afraid of Deborah Tress, I mean, these people, ya know, they don’t like me.

Dr. Thompson: They’re scumbags. But here’s the deal. She is like a twenty-five-year-old and I apologize as I am saying this, she’s like a twenty-five-year-old bimbo that they have do their dirty work. So her sending this email, the fact that they didn’t come from someone with a lawyer. It came from this woman who’s just out of school and just doesn’t know her head from her ass. This is the type of stuff they do. They don’t say who it’s from, they just say OGC.

Here’s a quote attributed to Mr. Thompson:

“But I also have to say these drug companies and their promoters, they’re making such a big deal of these measles outbreaks and they are now, they’re making a big deal that polio is coming back and polio comes back all the time in third world countries. It’s like a never- ending thing where the press loves to hype it and it scares people. It scares the crap out of people when they hype those two types of outbreaks”

Really? A vaccine researcher at CDC thinks it’s “hype” to talk about polio coming back?

Here’s the thing–we want to eradicate polio. That’s what vaccine researchers at CDC are supposed to be helping. Polio is really bad. If it weren’t for people like Brian Hooker, Thompson’s new friend, we might have done that by now. Any outbreak is a big deal. But not to William Thompson.

Boggles the mind.

In discussing the MMR paper–the one where Hooker claims a large risk for MMR in African American boys who are vaccinated late (by not controlling for any confounding variables)–Hooker notes in his conversation:

“I mean, whites are getting diagnosed twice as much as blacks”

That’s a pretty key observation. If you are going to claim a large risk for African American’s, you have to discuss in your paper the fact that this doesn’t mesh with the actual prevalence. The raw prevalence has African American’s not getting counted as much as caucasians.

Does Brian Hooker bring this up in his paper? Address it? No. He ignores a significant result of the analysis. That’s right, he does exactly what he claims is fraud. Well, not exactly–he compounds his error. Let’s look at his (now retracted) paper:

It should be noted that a recent publication has shown that the prevalence of autism in African Americans is nearly 25% higher than that of whites [15].

Yes–even though the data he is analyzing says exactly the opposite, he claims a higher than average prevalence of autism in the African American population.

Let’s belabor that one step further–if he actually believes a higher prevalence in this population, there is a huge issue with the data he’s analyzing. He doesn’t account for this, controlling for any socioeconomic factors, for example. He doesn’t even mention it. It appears that he intentionally omitted significant findings from his paper.

Hooker at one point notes, “I am not an epidemiologist by training”.

Got that right.

You can read more about the conversations at Science Based Medicine as
Vaccine Whistleblower: An antivaccine “exposé” full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

And I’m sure there will be more.


By Matt Carey

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

28 Aug

I will discuss this soon, but here is a press release from the attorney representing William Thompson, a CDC researcher involved who appears to have spoken with vaccine antagonistic activists Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker about work he had performed on autism.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-AUGUST 27,2014

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, Ph.D., REGARDING THE 2004 ARTICLE EXAMINING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MMR VACCINE AND AUTISM

My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

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.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his beliefthat CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days.
I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, http://www.morganverkamp.com.

Mr. Thompson has been called the “CDC Whistleblower” by the groups promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism.


By Matt Carey

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

Del Bigtree, just admit your mistake and apologize.

20 Jul

I recently wrote about an incredibly irresponsible statement made by a Mr. Del Bigtree (Del Bigtree crosses the line: tells Vaxxed audience “Now’s the time” for guns.)

The problematic statement I focused upon was:

“Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.

It’s now. Now’s the time.”

emphasis added.

The statement is clearly bad. And I criticized Del Bigtree for it. Rightly so.

Mr. Bigtree has responded. Full version on his facebook page. As you will see he starts to do the right thing, then he fails. He admits the message is bad, but then tries to defend himself by stating that apparently he was trying to show solidarity for people fighting for gun rights (the statement above has nothing to do with that). He then claims that he was taken out of context and edited (no edits, and one can watch the full video and see the context changes nothing).

Just say it’s a wrong statement and apologize, Mr. Bigtree. It takes courage in being able to admit mistakes and apologize. I greatly appreciate that you distanced yourself from your irresponsible statement, but do it honestly and completely. When people hear you equivocating and making up excuses, it weakens your clarification. It makes it all about you, rather than correcting the message. It makes it easier for people to ignore your clarification.

Let’s address some of the accusation Mr. Bigtree uses to defend himself. Is the Q&A video I took or the statement above taken out of context? Is it edited? No. Mr. Bigtree is just trying to deflect criticism. Want the context? Watch the full video on his Facebook page. Please do–because this is just the worst of a number of really bad statements he made that night. By claiming it is “taken out of context” he is simply attempting to avoid staring his own mistakes head on. As I’ve already said, besides demonstrating a lack of moral fiber there, it weakens Mr. Bigtree’s attempt to distance himself from the message he gave.

And we need his response to be clear and concise.

Since Polly Tommey has difficulty understanding the point I’m making, let’s spell it out. What I did was saying, “I’m judging you Del Bigtree so that people know this isn’t acceptable behavior.”

Which, you have to admit, is far more effective than, “I will sit in the audience and laugh nervously and hope no one takes Mr. Bigtree seriously.” Or, “I will sit next to Mr. Bigtree and look as though I am not even paying attention.” Mr. Bigtree was criticized and he has tried, however poorly, to distance himself from his statement.

As the old saying goes, the first step in getting out of the hole you’ve dug is to stop digging. Del Bigtree just digs and digs. Having rewritten history to make him stand in solidarity with guns rights activists, he then goes on the attack: I am a “troll”.

Del, I’m an autism parent and you know it. I am a scientist and you know it. I have spent more time looking at the facts behind your film than you have. I’m either better at understanding them or more honest than you. I obtained the William Thompson documents from Bill Posey. I gave my analysis–and I gave the documents so that my analysis would be put in context. If context is so important to you now, why hasn’t your team ever released the documents you hold? People can check what I say. You manipulate the situation so that your message can not be challenged.

More to the point, Del, you are being criticized not trolled. This is an important discussion and given the damage you are doing, you should damned well act like an adult. Because right now you are not.

Polly Tommey shows a similar lack of moral fiber by refusing to face head on the criticism levied against her in a different post (Polly Tommey won’t judge parents who murder their disabled children. That’s part of the problem). She defends herself with the statement, “I had a clip of me that made it look like I endorsed murdering children with autism”. It’s a classic straw man argument.

Let’s break this down simply:

There is the act of murder.
There is encouraging the murder.
There is refusing to murderers that they are wrong.

Ms. Tommey, you are in the third category. Let me remind you of your own, unedited, words:

Parents are taking the lives of their children already because they will not leave them in the world as it is today. And I for one will never judge them for what they do.

Why is this statement wrong? Let’s put this in language Mr. Bigtree just used in his attempted defense. A famous poem:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

People are “coming” for our own. As you say, parents are murdering their autistic children. It isn’t a matter of stopping this before “they come for me”. They are already coming for us as these children (and adults) are our own.

If you will not speak out, your use of that poem is just empty rhetoric.


By Matt Carey