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An open letter to Jim Carrey

22 Apr

Today on The Huffngton Post, actor Jim Carrey posted his thoughts about autism and vaccines. With his very first paragraph it became apparent how little Carrey understood the issues involved:

Recently, I was amazed to hear a commentary by CNN’s Campbell Brown on the controversial vaccine issue. After a ruling by the ‘special vaccine court’ saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn’t found to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ autism, she and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe. No one would be more relieved than Jenny and I if that were true. But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won’t be adversely affected by the MMR…

Point one Mr Carrey. The vaccine issue is only controversial to adherents of your belief system. Within scientific, medical, legal, autistic and parental circles its not even slightly controversial.

Point two, the three cases chosen were chosen – by the plaintiffs legal team – to represent their absolute best chance of winning. If they had won, there was an excellent chance all the cases that were suggesting MMR as causation would have just ‘won’ automatically. Thats why its called an Omnibus.

Point three, regarding the MMR, it has been firmly established that:

a) The data supporting the MMR hypothesis was fixed.

b) The science supporting the MMR theory was badly wrong – both badly done and exposed to contaminants.

You might also note that the court was not attempting to see if the children were ‘adversely affected by the MMR’, it was looking to see – using the three cases the legal team representing the families thought were the absolute best – if MMR caused autism. It didn’t. Thats probably why your Campbell Brown found it easy to say the MMR hypothesis was dead and buried.

You go to say Mr Carrey that:

Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.

Yes, we did – and do you know how? With _good science_ – just like the science that established in the three MMR test cases that the MMR didn’t cause autism. And its fascinating that you bring up this parallel to the smoking issue and then later in your blog post invoke the name of Bernadine Healy. Healy – who’s ‘more sensible voice’ you say you’d rather listen to. Did you know Healy used to be a member of TASSC:

TASSC was created in 1993 by the APCO Worldwide public relations firm, and was funded by tobacco company Philip Morris (now Altria)….

According to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their article How Big Tobacco Helped Create “the Junkman”, one of the forerunners of TASSC at Philip Morris was a 1988 “Proposal for the Whitecoat Project,” named after the white laboratory coats that scientists sometimes wear. The project had four goals: “Resist and roll back smoking restrictions. Restore smoker confidence. Reverse scientific and popular misconception that ETS (passive smoking) is harmful. Restore social acceptability of smoking.”

[own inserts]

Is that what you consider a sensible voice Mr Carrey? Someone who supported the tobacco agenda?

Moving on, you say:

If we are to believe that the ruling of the ‘vaccine court’ in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.

First and foremost, the vaccine court did not rule at all in the Hannah Poling case. HHS conceded. And what they conceded was that Hannah Poling was damaged by vaccines resulting in ‘autism like features’. In fact, when we look at the the one piece of medical science carried out on Hannah Poling (co-authored by her own father), we see that only three of the symptoms described as being the result of vaccine injury appear on the DSM (IV) diagnostic criteria for autism.

As for Bailey Banks, this is a perfect illustration of both how the vaccine court in the USA was designed to work and also how terrible the evidence was in the three MMR test cases.

The Banks ruling (subtitled ‘Non-autistic developmental delay’ by the way) drew a line of causation from vaccine to PDD-NOS. It is able to do this as the burden of proof for any science presented to the vaccine court is ‘50% plus a feather’. In other words, it just has to be plausible, no causation needs to be shown.

What doesn’t seem in doubt is that Bailey was injured by a vaccine which resulted in a condition called ADEM. The judge in the case then went on to accept the plaintiffs position that the ADEM in turn caused PDD-NOS. He did this seemingly because there was no evidence to the contrary – e.g. no evidence that ADEM *doesn’t* cause PDD-NOS.

In any scientific situation – including civil court in the US – this would never have been accepted. The plaintiff would have had to have demonstrated that ADEM *did* cause PDD-NOS. And a search of PubMed reveals nothing for ‘ADEM autism’ or ‘ADEM PDD’.

So, in the Banks case, because there was no evidence that ADEM does not cause PDD-NOS, they won. In every situation bar the vaccine court, the Banks’ would not have won their case. There is no science to support the idea ADEM causes autism.

Bearing this ‘50% plus a feather’ concept in mind it is clear just how utterly dreadful the evidence was to support the idea MMR caused autism. Not only could plaintiffs not provide any evidence that MMR causes autism, respondents produced reams of evidence to show it clearly doesn’t.

You carry on Mr Carrey to say:

I’ve also heard it said that no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has ever been found. That statement is only true for the CDC, the AAP and the vaccine makers who’ve been ignoring mountains of scientific information and testimony. There’s no evidence of the Lincoln Memorial if you look the other way and refuse to turn around. But if you care to look, it’s really quite impressive. For a sample of vaccine injury evidence go to http://www.generationrescue.org/lincolnmemorial.html.

Your analogy is ridiculous. I could go to any library and find evidence for the Lincoln Memorial without ever seeing it. In fact, what your analogy does is demonstrate exactly how blinkered and able to only face one direction at one time you and your colleagues are.

The evidence you present as that being supportive of evidence between a link between vaccines and autism is equally ridiculous and blinkered. I simply don;t have the time to tackle the mountain of misinformation presented on the page you link to suffice to say there’s not a single section that doesn’t have a major error. Most of them have been tackled on this and other blogs over the years.

Next you say:

In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad. While ingredients like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze may help preserve and enhance vaccines, they can be toxic as well. The assortment of viruses delivered by multiple immunizations may also be a hazard. I agree with the growing number of voices within the medical and scientific community who believe that vaccines, like every other drug, have risks as well as benefits and that for the sake of profit, American children are being given too many, too soon. One thing is certain. We don’t know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe!

Mr Carrey, *vaccines do not contain anti-freeze* – for goodness sake, even Jay Gordon, Evan’s Paediatrician knows that! Did you also know that (to quote myself):

There’s also Aluminium in breast milk so lets compare the two.

According to this paper (which is from 1990 – any more up to date papers welcomed) the amount of Aluminium in breast milk is 49 ?g/L. The average amount of breast milk expressed per day is 0.85 liters.

This means that 41.65?g Aluminium per day is in breast milk.

Now, according to this paper, there is between 125 – 850?g of Aluminium per dose in a vaccine.

So, for a 6 year old, total Aluminium is between 2,125 – 14,450?g.

In real terms this means that after between 51 and 346 days breast feeding, a 6 year old will have taken onboard the same amount of Aluminium as from the total US vaccine schedule.

Now I couldn’t find out what vaccines contained the lower amount or which contained the higher amount. Even so, this means that if every vaccine a 6 year old has that contains Aluminium contains the highest possible amount, within a year of breast feeding they will have matched that.

Or to put it another way, an anti-vax tree-hugger soccer mom who doesn’t vaccinate her baby will have given him the same amount of Aluminium he would’ve had in six years after one year of breast feeding.

And thats of course, not even touched on the fact that:

In the Earth’s crust, aluminium is the most abundant (8.13%) metallic element, and the third most abundant of all elements (after oxygen and silicon)

And is found naturally occurring in sea water, fresh water, the human body etc etc.

[Regarding Formaldehyde]…There’s also Formaldehyde in Apples, Apricots, Banana’s and….ah, I lost interest. Lots of stuff. Including the human body.

So – how much is in vaccines?

According to this and using it in combination with the US vaccine schedule referenced above, we can see that the total amount of Formaldehyde in vaccines from the vaccine schedule for a 6 year old child is 1.2016mg (again, do your own maths, correct me if I’m wrong).

For comparison to that 1.2mg in all vaccines for a 6 year old, 1 (one) banana contains 16.3mg Formaldehyde.

Mr Carrey, you’ve got to stop throwing these scaremongering nonfacts around. Its damned irresponsible for a start.

Lastly Mr Carrey, you say:

If the CDC, the AAP and Ms. Brown insist that our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world, we need more independent vaccine research not done by the drug companies selling the vaccines or by organizations under their influence. Studies that cannot be internally suppressed.

In terms of autism, if you want to make a big deal out of the fact that ‘our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world’ then please consider this – the UK has less shots than you. We also have a higher prevalence than you. 1 in 100 vs 1 in 150.

And please also don’t invoke silly conspiracy theories. Think about how science works. A study is done, funded by Eli Lily for example. It is peer reviewed and found to be good quality and it is published in, lets say NEJM. Now, *every single reader of that study* can see exactly what methods and means were used to reach the studies conclusions. I ask you Mr Carrey, how much more independent can you get? How much more transparent? Basically anyone, anywhere can try and replicate that same studies results. If they can and a few others can – the results are good. If nobody can (think Andrew Wakefield) then the results must be bad.

And for goodness sake man, grow up, who is ‘suppressing’ what study exactly? Have you _any_ evidence at all that any study ever has been internally suppressed? Or are you just throwing this stuff out to scare people?

Mr Carrey, I loved the Truman Show but this isn’t it. There’s no god like figure overseeing every aspect of your life and wanting to control it. I ask you – get in contact with an actual scientist and go through your concerns with them. At the very least they’ll be able to stop you saying silly things like there’s anti-freeze in vaccines.

Did you think that was it? More MMR bull arrives

25 Feb

The recent decision by the Special Masters in the Autism Omnibus case that MMR/thiomersal can’t cause autism according to evidence presented by HHS and lack of evidence presented by Master et al hit the mercury militia hard. They genuinely thought they were going to win.

But, of course, there was a ‘Plan B’ ready just in case. Today we see its co-ordinated unveiling. In part one, that scientific heavyweight Jenny McCarthy, together with her partner Jim Carrey released a press release:

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Los Angeles-based non-profit autism organization, today announced that the United States Government has once again conceded that vaccines cause autism…

Both the inference and the statement of fact are in error here. The United States Government has _never_ conceded that vaccines cause autism. I challenge McCarthy and Carrey to show the statement that contradicts me. Team McCarrey’s announcement today also fails to establish that the US government have conceded vaccines cause autism.

Of course, the historical reference is to Hannah Poling. As has been discussed numerous times, Hannah Poling’s autism has not been shown to have been caused by vaccines. I have asked various people, including David Kirby numerous times to provide back up to their belief the government have said vaccines caused ehr autism. They cannot. They have not. In point of fact, only three of Hannah Poling’s symptoms that were described by both HHS and a scientific case study co-authored by her father as those being caused by vaccines, tally with the DSM (IV) criteria for ASD.

The case of Hannah Poling is a red herring.

As we shall see, so is this ‘new’ case.

Team McCarrey go on:

The announcement comes on the heels of the *recently unsealed* court case of Bailey Banks vs. HHS

If by ‘recent’ one means July 2007 then they may have a point. But I don’t think ‘recent’ can really apply to a case which has had open access to it (Kathleen blogged about it in May 2008) for about a year and a half. So why lie? To add to the drama, whip up mystery and confusion of course.

But now we get to the meat of it – the actual ruling. In Part II of today’s coordinated attack, RFK Jr and David Kirby blogged about this case.

Kennedy jumps straight in:

…last week, the parents of yet another child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for autism services and care) in compensation by the Court, which ruled that the measels-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine had caused acute brain damage that led to his autism spectrum disorder.

Whereas David is a tad more circumspect:

Is vaccine-induced ADEM (and similar disorders) a neurological gateway for a subset of children to go on and develop an ASD? That question will now become subject to debate…Special Master Abell had no trouble linking MMR to ADEM in Bailey Banks’ case. But linking his ADEM to PDD/ASD was more difficult.

So, lets rewind a little. Bailey was awarded a payment because he was found to have suffered vaccine induced damage. Cool. Thats the system working as it should – a child is damaged by a vaccine, they get compensated. What the MMR vaccine was established to have done in Bailey’s case was cause something called ADEM. What McCarthy, Carrey, Kennedy and David are now all claiming is that this ADEM resulted in an ASD diagnosis.

They rest their case on the conclusion of Special Master Abell:

The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

On the fact of it, it looks like they are right. But they aren’t.

Bailey has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) which is indeed a subtype of ASD.

However, whilst PDD-NOS is a subtype of ASD (alongside autism etc). ASD is in turn a subtype of PDD. As the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities notes, the term PDD actually refers to a category of disorders and is not a diagnostic label. So when Abell refers to Bailey’s vaccine induced ADEM as leading to PDD he is not referring to ASD. He is referring to PDD. Not PDD-NOS, which _is_ a subtype of ASD but PDD, of which ASD itself is a subtype. Or, to quote Wikipedia:

PDD-NOS is often incorrectly referred to as simply “PDD.” The term PDD refers to the class of conditions to which autism belongs.

Abell made something of a worrying statement in his conclusion. I’ll quote from David Kirby:

Abell also chided MacDonald for his assertion that “all the medical literature is negative” in regards to an ADEM-PDD link. “However, soon thereafter, he corrected this statement by clarifying, ‘I can find no literature relating ADEM to autism or [PDD],'” Abell wrote. “It may be that Respondent’s research reveals a dearth of evidence linking ADEM to PDD, but that is not the same as positive proof that the two are unrelated, something Respondent was unable to produce. Therefore, the statement that ‘all the medical literature is negative’ is incorrect.”

Was any evidence that there _is_ a link between ADEM and PDD produced? I’ll have to read through more carefully. Its worrying that the SM is reduced to ‘chiding’ a witness for such a thing as a clarification of terms. Wasn’t he more worried that there was an extreme lack of evidence linking ADEM to PDD at all? Did Petitioners produce _any_ evidence that there was a link? A quick search of PubMed reveals nothing for ‘ADEM autism’ or ‘ADEM PDD’. I don’t want to second guess a Special Master but it does make me worried that maybe he simply didn’t get some of the science.

David also lists some of the symptoms of ADEM:

Symptoms usually appear within a few days to a couple of weeks. They include: headache, delirium, lethargy, seizures, stiff neck, fever, ataxia (incoordination), optic nerve damage, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, irritability and changes in mental status.

None of these say autism to me. I also did fine one ADEM paper in PubMed together with measles:

We report a seven year old male with measles associated acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) despite having received measles vaccination in infancy. The diagnosis was based on serum antimeasles antibodies and MRI brain. The patient was managed with high dose corticosteroids along with supportive measures. There was a complete neurologically and physica recovery.

There was a complete mental and physical recovery. This doesn’t seem to indicate causation or autism.

In my opinion based on what I’ve read so far here we have a little boy who either already had or was on the cusp of PDD-NOS. He was also vaccine damaged resulting in ADEM….and thats where the link breaks down. It might be enough for 50% and a feather but the fact that PDD is not PDD-NOS, together with the total lack of any evidence I can see to link ADEM to PDD, let alone PDD-NOS speaks volumes.