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Jim Carrey, you are part of the problem for us in the Autism Community

15 Jul

Years back Jim Carrey was and autism were mentioned together regularly in the news.  This was at the height of the vaccine misinformation campaign of his then partner, Jenny McCarthy.  Mr. Carrey went so far as to be a speaker at the “Green Our Vaccines” rally in Washington.  That was 2008. Since then the Green Our Vaccines as a movement has died, Jenny McCarthy has tried to distance herself from her very vocal stance on vaccines, and given that Mr. Carrey and Ms. McCarthy split, it seemed like we had seen the last of Mr. Carrey.

Until recently.

You see Mr. Carrey took offense to new legislation in California.  A bill that will roll back vaccine exemptions to where personal belief exemptions will no longer be accepted in the schools here.  In other words, for the most part one will now need an actual medical reason to avoid vaccination in order to register for public school.

Mr. Carrey took to twitter with his complaints about the new law.  All well and good, free speech and all.  But Mr. Carrey went too far. He decided to take pictures of kids in distress and the implication that this is what happens when you vaccinate your kids. One tweet read ““A trillion dollars buys a lot of expert opinions. Will it buy you? TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST!”” and included a picture of an autistic kid (the other pictures he used appear to have been stock images). The story is discussed by Emily Willingham as Jim Carrey Unwittingly Brings Attention To Something Actually Linked To Autism

And Time Magazine in Jim Carrey Apologizes for Using Photo of Autistic Boy in Anti-Vaccination Tweet.

Because, to give him credit, Mr. Carrey did apologize to that family. (Ironically, it turns out that the kid was unvaccinated when he was first diagnosed autistic).

I harken back to Mr. Carrey’s time with the autism community (remember when Generation Rescue was tagged as “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization”?). At one speech, probably the Green Our Vaccines Rally, Mr. Carrey made the pseduo-profound statement, “We are not the problem. The problem is the problem.”

So while I do appreciate Mr. Carrey stepping up and apologizing to one family, I do want to point out: Mr. Carrey, you were one of the problems for the autism community. And you apparently still are.

Ms. McCarthy introduced you to a closed group of people, a small sampling of the autism community. You likely came away thinking that they *are* the autism community, because that’s how they think of themselves.

They aren’t.

Most of us autism parents don’t subscribe to the vaccine causation idea. I can provide the links to multiple studies if you like, but it’s just the way things are.

And autism parents are not the autism community. One thing that Generation Rescue and like organizations have done is act like autistics are some sort of second class citizens in the community. Who do you think the community primarily is, autistics or parents?

Here’s the thing: the vaccine-causation idea is probably the most damaging notion to have hit the autism community. Did you hear about the “refrigerator mother” theory during your time at Generation Rescue? It’s second to the vaccine causation theory. Telling generations of disabled kids that they are less than they are, that they should be someone else, is damaging. Mr. Carrey, did you attend any of those parent conventions, like AutismOne? Perhaps you look at alternative medicine favorably. Well, the vaccine causation idea is used to sell “therapies” that aren’t close to being “alternative”. They are just wrong. And, frankly, abusive. Chemical castration of disabled children? This was promoted multiple times at conventions where your former partner was a keynote speaker. Fake diagnoses of mercury poisoning, followed by chelation? Same. And even a major promoter of chelation has a new study showing it doesn’t work. Did anyone tell you why the NIH autism/chelation trial was stopped? Because if you chelate test animals who do not have mercury intoxication, they go down cognitively. If the same happens in humans, tens of thousands of autistic children lost some IQ due to chelation. Think that one over, since GR started out as primarily an org promoting chelation. Daily bleach drinks and bleach enemas? That one is probably new since you dropped out. But, yep, that gets sold as a cure for “vaccine injury”. Shall I go on? Because I can. The autism=vaccine injury idea sells junk medicine which is subjected upon disabled children.

And you added your voice to the vaccine-causation idea.

You’ve apologized to one family. That took guts. Now step up and start making amends to the rest of us. Parents and, especially, autistics.


By Matt Carey

Green Our Vaccines: science, slogan or smoke screen?

5 May

In June, 2008, Jenny McCarthy of Generation Rescue led the “Green Our Vaccines” rally in Washington. The stated reason for the rally was to “Demand Congress take action to Green Our Vaccine Supply while reassessing our current vaccine schedule.”

They weren’t anti-vaccine, they were anti-toxin.

How sincere was this movement?

Consider this question and answer from Jenny McCarthy’s interview for Frontline:

Tell me about “Green Our Vaccines” and what you want to happen.

I don’t think there is a green vaccine. The purpose in our statement of Green Our Vaccines really is: Let’s take a look at our environment. Let’s take a look at some of these toxic ingredients and pull them out. Let’s take a look at a safer schedule. I mean, our motto was “Too many, too soon” with the Green Our Vaccines march. And like I said, it’s not like I’m looking for a Whole Foods version of a shot. We’re looking for just a smarter and safer one in that title of Green Our Vaccines.

Repeated for emphasis–“I don’t think there is a green vaccine”. Sort of vague there. Is she saying there can be no green vaccine? That’s how I read it at first. Considering that Jenny McCarthy considers the active parts of vaccines (bacteria and viruses) to be “toxic” ingredients, I’m not sure if she can believe in a green vaccine.

So, was it really about “too many too soon”, the vaccine schedule? No. It’s still mercury. Consider Generation Rescue’s mission statement from their tax form (dated 2009-11-16). (click to enlarge)

Mission Statement for Generation Rescue

My own rough transcription:

Generation Rescue, inc. has a four point mission. Gather information that exists about mercury toxicity and publicize the truth so parents can make the best decision to help their children heal. 2. Organize doctors to treat the millions of affected children through education and conference sponsorship. Sponsor research to further the understanding between mercury and neurodevelopmental and other health disorders and to help organize the cure for mercury poisoning. 4. Support legislation to ban the use of thimerosal in medicine on a worldwide basis.

The mission statement has nothing about “green vaccines” or “too many too soon” or any of the talking points. Just mercury.

Why bring this up? Is anyone surprised that “Green Our Vaccines” and “Too Many Too Soon” are just slogans?

Well, it is worth bringing up from time to time. Generation Rescue would like you to believe that there has been a big fail by the public health establishment. They would like you to believe that the government has been avoiding looking at “the schedule” and has only looked at “one vaccine and one ingredient”.

Well, one ingredient is exactly what Generation Rescue’s mission is all about.

As long as the tax form is available, take a look. Jenny McCarthy seems to be good for generating new revenue. GR brought in $1,185,255 in 2008. Pretty respectable. That’s up from $424,698 the year before.

Generation Rescue’s expenses went up to. They spent $229,213 fund raising alone. This was part of total expenses totaling $745,238.

Let’s break that down a bit. Of the total expenses, $220,654 went to “MARKETING &AWARENESS COSTS”. Let’s consider that to be part of GR’s mission, spreading the word.

What does that leave? Expenses of $524,584. Or, about 44% of the donations.

Another way to look at it: if you donate a dollar to Generation Rescue, 44 cents goes to overhead.

Of course, one could compare Generation Rescue to Autism Speaks, who takes in $66,000,000 in order to put out $27,000,000 in grants–or about 41 cents on the dollar goes to the mission. Autism Speaks has about $14,000,000 in fund raising expenses and about $18,000,000 in salaries.

Ah, but I am getting off topic.

Generation Rescue has a single mission. The same mission they’ve always had. They appear to expanding to “too many too soon” but, in reality, it is just about mercury.

Age of Autism Abandon Pretence

9 Dec

To many of us who have been following the online ‘careers’ of the various people and factions behind Age of ‘Autism’ for many years (at least 7 in my case) this will be no surprise but it still needs pointing out once more:

The Age of ‘Autism’ blog is a repository of and a flag waver for anti-vaccine quackery.

Easy to say and growing easier and easier to demonstrate every day. As of the time of publishing of this post, the latest *six* posts from Age of ‘Autism’ have absolutely nothing to do with autism. These posts are (in reverse order):

1) Counting Offit’s Millions: More on How Merck’s Rotateq Vaccine Made Paul Offit Wealthy
2) Is One Man to Blame for the WorldWide H1N1 Panic?
3) $300K to Banyan Communications from Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines?
4) Harvard and CNN Report on Lower than Expected H1N1 Vaccine Uptake
5) Oops. Flu Pandemic May Be The Mildest since Modern Medicine Began Tracking.
6) Kickin’ the Tires of the Green Vaccine Initiative

*All* the above have no relationship to autism. *All* the above have a direct relationship to anti-vaccine beliefs.

One or two stories every now and then that don’t touch on your blog’s core subject is routine and only to be expected – but six in a row? Thats only routine if your core subject is drifting. Or if your *real* core subject is slowly being revealed.

A quicker guide to the ‘Green Vaccines’ Initiative

30 Nov

Some music to accompany this entry.

Over at AoA, Kent Heckenlively must be making the rest of the crew nervoous. Maybe you haven’t read his brand new idea for making the ‘green our vaccines’ initiative a political…um…’force’. To whit:

We’re not going to get anywhere with our current legal system because everything gets funneled into Vaccine Court. We’re not going to get far with the current media because they’re so heavily funded by pharmaceutical drug ads. We’re not going to get far with the medical community because they’re part of the machinery.

And don’t even get me started on the politicians. On one hand you have pharma handing out millions of dollars to politicians, and on the other you have parents of children with autism who are slowly bankrupted by this disease. Who do you think is going to have more money to ‘support’ the politician of their choice?

So Kent wants to tackle the legal system, the media, the medical community and politicians. And how?

In the months leading up to this announcement I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the necessary ingredients for a successful rebellion. Reading books on our own American Revolution has given me some guidance…

Cool. Nifty idea Kent. Tackle the legal system, the medical system, the political system and the media by reading a few books on the American Revolution. I think this is definitely a winner.

I’ve carefully scanned the article a few times (whilst wiping the tears of laughter away) but yep – that seems to be about it. And really, if we (god save us) look at this seriously for a moment what is it? Its a tacit admission that Kent doesn;t like the fact that these systems he wants to change don’t agree with him and his loon friends that vaccines cause autism. In fact, take a look at the comments and you’ll see its moved beyond autism to outright anti-vaxx. Is Kent proposing the very first anti-vaxx based political party? Some choice comments:

…thank you for the opportunity your statement gave us to refine the expression of our opposition to any form of vaccination.

I will never vaccinate again…

I no longer think any vaccine is safe…

There are no green vaccines. I am convinced.

I am in the camp that you can’t make vaccine safe ever

Finished listening to Pink Floyd yet? Good isn’t it?

Fallout of the vaccine-autism scare: Measles in Wales

24 Apr

Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield…what do these people have in common? They have all helped promote fear of vaccines–especially the Measles/MumpsRubella (MMR) vaccine–by claiming there is evidence vaccines cause autism.

To be fair, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy relatively new to the scene, unlike Dr. Wakefield, whose flawed research really fueled the fear. Perhaps the actors could learn from the doctor’s lesson: you claim MMR causes autism, that reduces the number of people getting immunized and people get sick. Pretty simple logic.

Measles was considered basically wiped out in the UK until a few years ago when it returned, sickening thousands and killing a few. Last year, measles returned to the US, and it’s back this year. Now we see that the UK isn’t being spared int he 2008-09 season: Wales has approximately 60 cases of measles suspected or confirmed.

Nineteen cases are in Llanelli–that’s in the lower left corner of this map:

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

That’s a short ride from Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol…lots of high density population centers. Any reasonable person would find that scary.

We in the autism communities need to stand up against misinformation that leads to people being sickened and, in some cases, killed. The MMR-Autism link never had good evidence, and now there is good evidence that MMR does not cause autism Even people like the autism-is-vaccine-injury proponent Rick Rollens admitted it’s time to look beyond MMR (and here).

Jim Carrey seems to understand at least on some level that it is wrong to dissuade people from vaccination. He claimed (incorrectly):

We have never argued that people shouldn’t be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio…

Maybe there is some Clintonian logic about the words “We” and “argued”. But, on Larry King Live, Jenny McCarthy stated:

You need to find a doctor that can find an alternate schedule. Generationrescue.org has three of them on there.

Generation Rescue, aka “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization” has alternate schedules on their website. The “favorite” of the three alternate vaccine schedules states, very clearly,

One should avoid vaccines that contain live viruses. This includes the combined measles mumps and rubella vaccines…

You’ve talked the talk, time to walk the walk, Jim. Pull that schedule off your website. Get your organization to make a clear statement about the value of vaccinating against measles.

I realize that I have concentrated a lot on Jim Carrey in this piece. But, there is a man who can make a difference in the future. That future will see people in the US and the UK sickened by measles. The question is how many. What Jim Carrey says could make that number larger or smaller, it all depends on whether he makes good on his sentiment that measles is a serious disease worth immunizing against.

David Kirby – Thimerosal does not cause autism

29 Oct

In something of a jaw-on-chest admission, David has finally admitted that thimerosal does not cause autism:

David Kirby, a journalist and author of “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy,” said he believed that thimerosal, which still exists in trace amounts in some childhood vaccines, was no longer the “smoking gun.” Several national studies have found no connection, and a California study found that, even after thimerosal was removed from vaccines, diagnoses of autism continued to rise.

I would go on to say then that the claim that mercury in vaccines ever caused a never-established autism ‘epidemic’ needs to be retracted also. I would further like to see David (who has appeared on TV, Radio and in the press speaking as if thimerosal was definitely the cause) question his previous belief that this was ever a medical controversy.

We need to be clear on this issue. In the US, the idea that mercury in vaccines cause autism is the reason so many parents are not vaccinating their children. David was the chief media spokesperson in this belief and whilst it is gratifying to hear him publicly admit thimerosal does not cause autism – it needs to be proclaimed widely and David needs be much more public than this.

However, its not all good.

But, he said, the links between vaccines and conditions like autism are still strong and more research is needed.

Conditions like autism or autism?

David seems to have moved from targetting thimerosal to simply targeting vaccines in general. Contrary to his statement that there are strong links between autism and vaccines, the fact is that there are none. No decent science supports this hypotheses and (with apologies to David) he has a now self-admittedly bad track record when talking about ‘strong links’ between vaccines and autism. David’s ‘strong link‘ between thiomersal and autism was CDDS data and we all know how that one turned out. I’d ask David to please consider very carefully his ideas about ‘strong links’ of today turning around to bite him in the future. Does international public health really need another three/four year gambol through the wilderness based on a non scientific ‘strong link’ which in reality is simply an opinion?

We all know the recent makeover the vaccine hypotheses has been getting. Generation Rescue now no longer claim that autism is simply mercury poisoning for which the cure is two years chelation resulting in a child 100% neurotypical, no different from their peers. SafeMinds – an organisation dedicated to Mercury in their very name – attack MMR, a vaccine that has never contained mercury. Jenny McCarthy is now on board and gives credence to the idea that an average parent (such as myself) knows more about the sciences of medicine, epidemiology, toxicology etc etc than specialists who have spent years in their field. Whilst at the same time Ms McCarthy simply cannot keep her story straight about incidents from her book or even when her son was recovered or not.

The inconsistencies mount and mount and whilst I am glad that David has admitted the non-role of thimerosal in autism causation this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Are Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, NAA, TreatingAutism, A-CHAMP queuing up to admit the same? Are these same organisation prepared to go back onto the same TV/Radio stations they first proudly proclaimed they knew the cause and had the cure and admit they were wrong? Or will it all continue to be held behind the Emerald City of the new ‘Green Our vaccines where we are urged to never, ever look behind the curtain in case we see the simple, obvious truth about the grand machinations?

Reality bites back II

2 Oct

Its all going wrong for the believers of the vaccine/autism religion. This was supposed to be the time of their Fall offensive, spearheaded of course by Mother Warrior Jenny McCarthy and her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

So far though, the media seem markedly less keen to talk to her about her recovering/no, recovered/ah….recovering/no, recovered/oh whatever autistic child. And the science is beginning to get equal air time. Recently, Dr. Ari Brown, Dr Lou Cooper and our very own Ken participated alongside a couple of minor league celebs on a discussion regarding autism and vaccines on the US show Good Morning America.

Yesterday the Age of Autism exhorted its members to mob a website that had created a Jenny vs Amanda poll (because popularity contests will definitely help autistic people). When the Pharyngula blog got wind of this PZ, the blog owner, asked his readers to vote too. The outcome?

Yikes.

The world view of the autism/vaccine zealots was shaken mightily yesterday. They’ve always imagined themselves as a large group with considerable power. Yesterday, they got squashed like a flea on a windscreen over something as meaningless as a celeb poll. Imagine how they must’ve felt to read some of the comments there. In fact, I’ve been tracking a lot of the gossip websites who’ve mentioned Jenny of late. She’s not popular outside her own crowd. Parents of autistic kids are catching on. Here’s a quote from someone I do not know and have never heard of before today commenting on Hollywood Today:

I am a single father of an autistic child and agree that Jenny Mcarthy is doing more harm than good. Why do we put more credibility in an actress / playboy bunny than doctors and other more credible sources.

And a mother of two autistic kids says on Ecorazzi:

As a mother with TWO autistic children, I find McCarthy’s ignorance appalling. Don’t we have enough difficulty in dealing with and understanding the Autism Spectrum without letting fad pseudo-science sway our families away from proper health care for our children?

These are not isolated examples I am very happy to report.

Yesterday the mercury militia – who think we’re just a few people compared to their ‘tens of thousands’ got a great big wet fish slap of reality.

Mother Warrior McCarthy is now complaining the US Presidential candidates are snubbing her. For goodness sake, why on earth did you ever think they would listen to you? You’re a D-list celeb who can’t even get her story straight on whether her son is recovered or not.

Anyway, she says:

I literally flew to go see MCCain, his team agreed to it (meeting), I was prepped and then all of a sudden his campaign manager said, ‘We’re ahead in the polls and this is a very, very touchy subject. Let’s not give this interview right now.

Wow, McCain employs the worst PR people in the world. They tell someone that they’re not going to interview them as they’re too controversial. How convenient for Jenny!

I’m thinking the conversation went something more like this:

JM: Hi, I’m Jenny McCarthy, can I speak to John McCain?

PR Dude: Sorry? You’re who?

JM: Jenny McCarthy, I’ve appeared in films such as ‘Scary Movie 3’ and…uh…

PR Dude: Whatever…why do you want to speak to the boss?

JM: About vaccines and autism! They’re poisoning our kids! Except mine is now recovered! No, wait – I have a book coming out, make that ‘recoverING’.

PR Dude: The country – no, the world – is in a national financial crisis and you want to talk to the boss about some quacky ideas never supported by science. Go away lady.

JM: But…but…I’m JENNY MCCARTHY…BULLSHIT!….BULLSHIT!!! (Where’s the camera?)

Now Jenny is desperate to get ahold of Obama:

MCCarthy is now desperately hoping Barack Obama, MCCain’s opponent in the race for the White House, agrees to champion her cause and address the autism versus vaccines issue.
She says, “We are trying (to contact him)… We have sent numerous (requests).

This is the same Barrack Obama who has said:

I am not for selective vaccination, I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.

He might see you Jenny. Me might even pretend to listen. You might even get your picture taken with him. Better yet, he might pass on the opportunity to see you and then you can tell people how its a big conspiracy. You might even manage to squeeze another book out of it.

None of that will change reality though. The tide isn’t changing just yet but there’s been a few signs that it might be on its way.

Arthur Allen – vaccine skeptics vs your kids

11 Sep

Whilst, I’m not sure that the people Arthur is writing about are skeptics as I understand the term (having a scientifically valid basis for not accepting an argument or position), I know what he means. And he’s right that it is this group of people vs the health of people everywhere.

The sub-header is even more accurate ‘immune to reason’. One only has to take a look over at the recent rantings on a certain blog we all know about where the latest themes are:

1) Presidential candidate Barack Obama is now a big pharma shill because he told one of them: “I am not for selective vaccination, I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.”.

2) The latest study in a long line of studies that show once more there is no link between MMR and autism is both flawed and exonerates one of their heroes.

3) Kathleen Seidel is wrong because….uh….well, no one knows why but she must be. Apparently.

Immune to reason indeed.

As Arthur points out, there is a great deal at stake:

…in the last trimester of her pregnancy, Helena Moran caught a cough that she couldn’t get rid of. She figured she’d picked up the germ—whatever it was—from one of her patients at a Boulder dentist’s office. But the real nightmare began after her daughter, Evelina, was born: The baby began to cough and cough, and then she’d curl up in a little ball and turn blue. At the emergency room, she was diagnosed with whooping cough. She spent the next five weeks in intensive care and suffered permanent lung damage.

Now, this isn’t *all* the fault of the so-called autism community, but as I’ve discussed before, I’m ashamed to say that a lot of it is.

….the movement got a huge boost from the controversy over the mercury-laden preservative thimerosal, which some theorized might be linked to autism. That link has been disproven—by, if nothing else, the fact that autism rates remained steady after pediatricians and public health authorities told manufacturers to stop making thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines in 1999. But the anti-vaccine movement has kept going, finding ever new reasons to distrust immunization.

The are a lot of zealots out there who have fed upon the autism community. A parent who might not believe vaccines case autism listens to horror stories and reads links sent to them from such places of quackery as whale.to who are nothing to do with the autism community but who market their own brand of ridiculousness (the owner of whale.to believes dolphins can manipulate gravity and has the pictures to prove it!) regarding vaccines and the autism parent greedily sucks it down.

Arthur discuss the practice of abusing ‘religious exemption’ by these people:

Right now, in many states, all it takes to get an exemption from vaccine requirements is signing a form. Some, including a group of doctors at Johns Hopkins University, have proposed making it harder—allowing a philosophical exemption only after parents demonstrate a good-faith effort to educate themselves.

But an article I read in yesterdays ‘Edmond Sun’ stated:

….a person “who has reached the age of majority and is mentally competent to do so may justifiably refuse immunizations for himself or herself, but may not impose this refusal on a child, who has no choice in the matter.” Courts have consistently upheld this principle.

That makes sense to me. Who would want to refuse such a simple thing that has no link of any kind to autism?

Arthur closes with the following:

But while questioning authority is healthy, facts are facts. If vaccines really were responsible for autism, it would be too much to ask parents to do the altruistic thing. But more than a dozen studies have failed to discover such a link—and not a single legitimate study has shown that one exists.

He’s spot on. All the celebs and all the money in the world cannot change that simple fact. We need to get past this. Those who believe autism is caused by vaccines need to put up or shut up. They are holding up progress on autism research and causing the health of our societies to suffer.

I urge readers to visit Arthur’s piece and read the comments. The first few demonstrate exactly the sort of mindset Arthur is talking about – the one’s who bring shame on the autism community. They truly are immune to reason.

"I don't believe that"

29 Aug

To promote his new book ‘Autism’s False Prophets. Bad science, risky medicine and the search for a cure’ (Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada) – and look for a review here very, very soon – Dr Paul Offit went on the US radio show Talk of the nation ‘Science Friday’ earlier today.

It turned into a microcosm of exactly the sort of scenario that those of us who have blogged about this for some time have come to expect. A question, a reasoned response and then a flat statement of denial.

The show began with the show host (who’s name I didn’t catch) asking why people weren’t vaccinating. Offit gave the answers we all know.

Then the show took a turn into what could’ve been a blog argument on any one of a number of blogs – including this one. A caller called Chantelle/Chantal came on the line and essentially asked Dr Offit how it could possibly be safe for a newborn to receive up to 1250micrograms of Aluminium and that there hadn’t been any studies on how Aluminium could affect a child. She said –

that is why I will not follow the CDC’s guidelines….my child will be vaccinated on my own schedule.

(Her emphasis)

Dr Offit answered with a brief overview of Aluminium’s role in a vaccine is and then told Chantal the simple truth – one that I blogged about fairly recently – there’s more Aluminium in between 50 days to a years worth of breast milk than in the entire vaccine schedule:

We live on the planet Earth. If we choose to live on the planet Earth that means we’re going to be exposed to light metals like Aluminium and heavy metals like mercury.

Chantal then seemed (I wasn’t entirely clear) to want to compare kids with kidney issues (who clearly need to be careful with Aluminium) with _all_ kids. As Dr Offit stated – that’s hardly a valid or real-world comparison.

Then the host asked a great question:

Chantal, is there anything Dr Offit could tell you that would change your mind

.

The answer: “Absolutely not”.

And there we have it. That is the rock bottom of every single argument the autism/antivax brigade peddle. Screw the science, screw the facts. I just don’t want to hear it and I will put my fingers in my ears and make ‘la-la’ noises until you go away.

Chantal then goes on to justify this ridiculous stance by saying (a la Jenny McCarthy) that there is no independent science supporting vaccine safety. This is tosh. A study this is submitted for peer review to a science journal is peer reviewed by independent experts from the relevant field all over the world. And then, the ultimate test of impartiality takes place – the science is either replicated or it isn’t. Replicated science _has to be_ by definition be independent of its author. How could it not be? If we want to see the opposite of reproducible science, then that can be arranged.

Chantal goes on to say that Dr Offit ‘makes millions’ from speaking about the safety of vaccines. A bizarre claim that I’m pretty sure is not true. He then goes on to describe the ‘high bar’ that vaccine studies must pass. Studies with tens of thousands of participants.

Next, Chantal tries the ‘too many too soon’ dogma that we’ve become recently familiar with. She claims ‘six at one time is absurd’. Dr Offit gives Chantal some facts to play with on that score too:

…the bacteria that live on their nose [a newborn], or the surface of their throat are literally in the trillions. Those bacteria have between 2,000 and 6,000 immunological components and consequently our body makes grams of antibody to combat these bacteria….The number of immunological challenges contained in vaccines is not figuratively, it is literally a drop in the ocean of what you encounter every day.

(Emphasis his, slight paraphrasing)

Chantal then got a bit snappy.

So tell me…how many studies have been done on vaccine loading, which means five or six vaccines at one time. How many?

Dr Offit’s answer:

Somewhere in the vicinity of the high hundreds to low thousands.

Chantal:

I don’t believe that.

Boom! There it is again – she simply doesn’t believe it. Screw the facts, screw the evidence, my fingers are going right back in my ears…la-la-la-la…I can’t hear you…

Dr Offit explains further that any vaccine in the US has to undergo something called a ‘concomitant use study’. These are to establish that vaccines work OK together.

You have to show that vaccine does not interfere with the immune response or the safety of existing vaccines and similarly that existing vaccines don’t interfere with the immune response or the safety of the new vaccine

Dr Offit said ‘high hundreds to low thousands’ of studies (Chantal didn’t believe that remember). A simple Google search reveals over 1,800 results for that phrase. Searching PubMed for ‘concomitant vaccine’ returns over 700.

Dr Offit closes the interview by saying he doesn’t believe all parents are as close minded as Chantal. He uses a nicer phrase than that as he’s a gentleman but that’s how I see it. Close minded to the point of obstinate stupidity.

For some people, it truly doesn’t matter what the facts are, or what the science is. They just stick their fingers in their ears.

La-la-la.

Sharyl Attkisson – are you sure?

19 Aug

Searchingly diligent and totally impartial CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson has managed to uncover a third case of autism/vaccine related activity via the the Vaccine Courts. Never mind that Kathleen found it 5 months ago eh?

This case originates from a person born in 1974 who had a DTP shot that very same year, exactly 4 months later…..and thats about all we know.

Comparing autism in 1974 with autism in 2008 is not comparing apples to oranges. Its more like comparing apples to trains. In 1974, the DSM, didn’t even contain the _word_ autism. This is the existing DSM in use at the time:

DSM II (1968)
295.8 Schizophrenia, childhood type

This category is for cases in which schizophrenic symptoms appear before puberty. The condition may be manifested by autistic, atypical and withdrawn behavior; failure to develop identity separate from the mother’s; and general unevenness, gross immaturity and inadequacy of development. These developmental defects may result in mental retardation, which should also be diagnosed.

So, in 1974 autism was not even a defined disorder. It was a behaviour. A symptom of Schizophrenia. That’s worth remembering as we go forward.

Atkinson says:

In excerpts from the case below, the government agreed the child suffered “a residual seizure disorder” after his second Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis (DPT) vaccine but attempted to argue that the child’s mental retardation and brain injury were unrelated to the seizure disorder and were, instead, caused by his autism. On the other hand, the court found that the autistic behavior, brain injury and mental retardation were all part of the vaccine injury.

Did they? Is this accurate? Did the court find that _the autistic behaviour_ was part of the vaccine injury?

Atkinson quotes at length from the transcript of the case.

CHILD was born on August 23, 1974, the 9 lb. 9 oz. product of an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. CHILD developed normally until the age of four months when he was administered his second DPT vaccination on December 23, 1974… That evening, he experienced a grand mal seizure. CHILD’s mother… took CHILD to the… emergency room where he was found to have a fever of 101.8 degrees at that time and a *bulging fontanelle* …CHILD had a *seizure* on March 25, 1975, with a temperature of 102 degrees. The next day, he had another *seizure* with a *fever* less than 102 degrees…On April 15, 1975, CHILD experienced a *petit mal seizure* without an associated fever… CHILD apparently did well until mid-July 1975, when he had four *seizures, with fever* around 100.7 degrees… CHILD had *additional seizure activity* in November 1975. Again in February 1976, CHILD had *seizures*. At that time, a repeat EEG was grossly abnormal…when CHILD was 21 months of age, (CHILD’s doctor) noted that CHILD had a vocabulary of only two to three words. At that time, (CHILD’s doctor) discussed… the *possibility that CHILD was mentally retarded and developmentally delayed*. CHILD currently is severely mentally retarded and has an intractable seizure disorder.

(The government) respondent has conceded that CHILD suffered a residual seizure disorder as set forth in the Vaccine Injury Table, but argues against a finding that CHILD also suffered an encephalopathy (brain injury). Moreover, (the government) contends that CHILD suffers from autism, which has produced his severe mental retardation and developmental delay. Consequently, (the government) urges that compensation in this case be limited to those expenses that reasonably might be incurred for CHILD’s residual seizure disorder, not for expenses he might accrue because of his mental retardation, developmental delay and autistic behaviors.

The question of encephalopathy.

*(Government physician) believes that CHILD currently suffers from autism and mental retardation that are the result of an independent underlying neurologic condition that pre-dated the vaccination*. However, all tests that were conducted to determine possible causes for CHILD’s condition have revealed none. Furthermore, (government physician) has posited no origin of any underlying neurologic condition. (Government physician) would have us believe that CHILD’s grand mal convulsion following his second DPT vaccination was simply a manifestation of benign febrile seizures and that CHILD had another concurrent underlying (but etiologically undetermined) neurological disorder which later produced his severe mental retardation and autism.

I reject this theory for several reasons. First, the Vaccine Act’s defines encephalopathy as “any significant acquired abnormality of, or injury to, or impairment of function of the brain.” Section 14(b)((3)(A). This definition is extremely broad. CHILD’s initial grand mal seizure indicated an impairment of function of the brain. The question becomes whether this was a benign event unrelated to any lasting neurological sequelae. In my view… (CHILD’s treating pediatric neurologist) is in a better position to accurately assess CHILD’s illness than (government physician). Beginning in 1980, when he first evaluated CHILD, (CHILD’s neurologist) diagnosed CHILD as having static encephalopathy probably related to the time of his first seizure at four months of age.

Based on the foregoing, *I find that there is a preponderance of the evidence that CHILD suffered an encephalopathy within 72 hours of the administration of a DPT vaccination on December 23, 1974, and that no alternative cause for such encephalopathy has been satisfactorily shown*.

Read all that carefully? Good. Now, where in that summation does the Special Master find ‘that the autistic behavior, brain injury and mental retardation were all part of the vaccine injury’

Brain injury – yes. mental retardation – yes. But where is ‘autistic behaviour’ mentioned by the court? In fact, the truth is that the only person who raised the issue of autism at all were the government. They tried to explain away CHILD’s injury by blaming it on autism (which bizarrely wasn’t an actual diagnosis in 1974).

Bottom line: the court did not, I repeat *did not* find that this child (a grown man now) had autism, autistic features or autistic behaviours as a result of vaccines. The closest we get is the phrase ‘static encephalopathy’ which basically means that a child doesn’t develop. This can _lead_ to autism (as well as a whole host of things such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, Schizophrenia) but it is not autism. When this diagnosis was given (1980) the child would’ve been 6 and thus well past the age at which autistic symptoms must appear.

An interesting sidenote. We can guesstimate the 1974 schedule. Well, maybe not the schedule but we can at least see which vaccines were in use.

In 1960, the US was using Smallpox, DTwP and Polio. By the mid-80’s, the schedule was made up of DTP, MMR and Polio.

Smallpox was dropped in 1971 and MMR stared in 1963. Therefore we can guesstimate that in 1974 the schedule was the same as the 1980 one. DTP, MMR and Polio. At some point however, the Polio switched from injection to Oral. I can’t find out when.

So – how is this ‘too many too soon’? How is a case from when there wasn’t even an autism category relevant? How is a case where the claim is that one single vaccine caused autism in any way similar to the idea of ‘too many too soon’?