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An example of how people earn the title “denialist”

16 Dec

Denialist. One who denies. It is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot on the internet. You don’t agree with me? Well, you must be a denialist. The term has risen in prominence lately with Michael Specter’s recent book, “Denialism, How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives” One of his prime examples is the anti-vaccine movement, so this book has been discussed on a number of autism blogs (including this one).

Denial–here are definitions from dictionary.com

1. an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false: Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent’s charges.
2. refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.
3. disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
4. the refusal to satisfy a claim, request, desire, etc., or the refusal of a person making it.
5. refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal: the traitor’s denial of his country; Peter’s denial of Christ.
6. Law. refusal to acknowledge the validity of a claim, suit, or the like; a plea that denies allegations of fact in an adversary’s plea: Although she sued for libel, he entered a general denial.
7. sacrifice of one’s own wants or needs; self-denial.
8. Psychology. an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.

Many people “deny” that vaccines work. Many people “deny” that the diseases vaccines prevent are dangerous. People who do so are, in my book, denialists.

Case in point, a recent blog post by Kim Stagliano of the Age of Autism blog: An Autism Mom Goes Back to Christmas 1962. In it, she presents a doll from 1962. A doll with a changeable face, and one face shows the baby doll with measles. The message of the blog post is clear: measles wasn’t so bad. Ms. Stagliano writes:

Yes, in 1962, measles were a common childhood illness. And little girls played with dollies that had the measles, and made them all better. So did doctors for children who got the measles.

Well, yes. Most of the time children got better.

Let’s check what people wrote about measles in the early 1960’s, shall we? From Time Magazine, 1961 (with emphasis added by me).

When famed Harvard Nobel Laureate John Franklin Enders announced at a Manhattan meeting three years ago that he had isolated measles virus, his fellow virologists stood up and cheered. It would not be long, they hoped, before a vaccine could be developed to wipe out a disease that sends one child in 4,000 to institutions for the feebleminded. But the first live virus vaccine developed by Enders left much to be desired; four of five children got severe fevers, roughly half developed a rash. Last week, after much toil by Enders and others, a group of Pennsylvania physicians and virologists announced that they had successfully tested a measles vaccination technique. Children are first inoculated with Enders vaccine, which gives nearly 100% protection. Then, almost immediately, they are injected in the same arm with gamma globulin, which holds undesirable side effects, such as fever and rash, to a minimum. The Public Health Service still must approve the new measles technique, establish manufacturing standards. If all goes well, a vaccine will be on the market next year, just as measles heads toward its next cyclical peak.

Yes, virologists cheered, 1 in 4,000 children were sent to institutions.

Life Magazine, in 1963, discussed the new vaccines for Measles.

Though often joked about, this commonplace disease kills about 400 Americans each year–twice the number that polio now kills. Several thousand cases each year develop encephalitis, which can damage the brain.

The Age of Autism, where Ms. Stagliano blogs, was quite upset by Mr. Specter and his book for singling out anti-vaccine groups as denialists. My suggestion: if you don’t want to be labeled denialist, don’t be a denialist.

Study shows lower autism rate in vaccinated kids

3 Dec

A study just released claims that kids who are vaccinated against measles have a much lower autism rate.

The sudy was published in The Pediatric infectious disease journal.

Lack of Association Between Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination and Autism in Children: A Case-Control Study

the team is out of Poland:

Mrozek-Budzyn D, Kietyka A, Majewska R.

From the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Jagiellonian University, Collegium Medicum, Krakow, Poland.

Here is the abstract:

OBJECTIVE:: The first objective of the study was to determine whether there is a relationship between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism in children. The second objective was to examine whether the risk of autism differs between use of MMR and the single measles vaccine. DESIGN:: Case-control study. STUDY POPULATION:: The 96 cases with childhood or atypical autism, aged 2 to 15, were included into the study group. Controls consisted of 192 children individually matched to cases by year of birth, sex, and general practitioners. METHODS:: Data on autism diagnosis and vaccination history were from physicians. Data on the other probable autism risk factors were collected from mothers. Logistic conditional regression was used to assess the risk of autism resulting from vaccination. Assessment was made for children vaccinated (1) Before diagnosis of autism, and (2) Before first symptoms of autism onset. Odds ratios were adjusted to mother’s age, medication during pregnancy, gestation time, perinatal injury and Apgar score. RESULTS:: For children vaccinated before diagnosis, autism risk was lower in children vaccinated with MMR than in the nonvaccinated (OR: 0.17, 95% CI: 0.06-0.52) as well as to vaccinated with single measles vaccine (OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.22-0.91). The risk for vaccinated versus nonvaccinated (independent of vaccine type) was 0.28 (95% CI: 0.10-0.76). The risk connected with being vaccinated before onset of first symptoms was significantly lower only for MMR versus single vaccine (OR: 0.47, 95% CI: 0.22-0.99). CONCLUSIONS:: The study provides evidence against the association of autism with either MMR or a single measles vaccine.

If we take these results at face value, the MMR vaccine may prevent autism. Also the single measles vaccine, recommended by Dr. Wakefield, is less “safe” than the MMR.

To be honest, I don’t think these results are consistent with previous, large population studies of MMR and autism. An odds ratio of 0.17 (meaning you are six times more likely to be autistic if you didn’t get the MMR) should have been picked up.

I look forward to reading the full study. Somehow I doubt it will be posted to the Generation Rescue or SafeMinds websites!

Dateline and Dr. Wakefield’s patent activities

16 Sep

In the recent Dateline NBC episode about Dr. Wakefield, Matt Lauer asked Dr. Wakefield about his patent activities.

As a bit of background: before Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet article was published, his hospital, the Royal Free, had submitted a patent application for an invention of Dr. Wakefield’s. The application was titled, “PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITION FOR TREATMENT OF IBD AND RBD”

IBD is “inflammatory bowel disease”
RBD is “regressive behavioural disease” “(also referred to as pervasive developmental disorder)”

(definitions taken from Dr. Wakefield’s Great Britain patent application 2,325,856)

As you might assume from the title, the patent has as a main thrust the idea that certain transfer factors could be used therapeutically. In other words, the main point appears to be to use this as a treatment. This does not exclude the fact that the patent also includes a claim for a classic, preventive vaccine.

The original patent application, filed June 6 1997 (before Dr. Wakefield’s first autism paper in The Lancet), is shown on Brian Deer’s website.

There are nine claims to the patent. Eight of which relate to the proposed treatment. Claim two, however, states:

The composition according to claim 1 adapted for use as a vaccine for the prophylaxis of measles virus.

Prophylaxis, of course, meaning to prevent.

The existence of such a patent application raises the obvious question of conflict of interest. In other words, was there the possibility that Dr. Wakefield’s invention could result in royalty payments to Dr. Wakefield for a vaccine? Could he profit from what amounts to a single vaccine for measles (as opposed to the combination virus MMR vaccine)?

Dr. Wakefield in a previous statement
(again hosted on Brian Deer’s website):

The reference to the possible use of TF [transfer factor] to protect children against measles infection – the thrust of the Sunday Times’ conspiracy theory – was put in as an afterthought in the patent. It was entirely speculative and never pursued in any shape, manner or form.

The provisional patent filing was entirely speculative and was for a possible therapy; as such, it had no bearing on the 1998 Lancet paper.

Note that Dr. Wakefield acknowledges that his invention was claimed to be able to protect against measles infection. As we will see below, this is in direct contrast to his statements on Dateline.

Before we delve into that, I must strongly disagree with Dr. Wakefield as to whether this had bearing on the 1998 Lancet article. Part of the patent application clearly claims the use of the invention as a vaccine. Whether the invention was speculative or that the main use was as a therapy is immaterial. The appearance of a financial conflict of interest should have been reported to The Lancet, the referees, and to the press, in my opinion.

In his statement, Dr. Wakefield goes on to say:

It constituted no potential conflict until the patent was awarded.

Again, I strongly disagree. If the patent was a potential conflict of interest, so was the application. Both are a potential to profit.

Also, if the patent itself is a potential for profit, how can one justify the previous argument that the application was not a conflict since it was merely “for a possible therapy”? Again, if the language of the patent was a potential conflict due to the inclusion of the vaccine, the application was a potential conflict as well.

So, after that long introduction, what did Dr. Wakefield have to say to Matt Lauer?

Dr. Wakefield is back to denying that the invention was for a vaccine to prevent measles and is claiming it as merely a therapeutic agent.

But as we have already seen above, this is not what the patent states. This isn’t even consistent with Dr. Wakfield’s own previous comments.

Here is the section where Matt Lauer of Dateline interviewed Brian Deer on the topic:

First impression: Matt Lauer’s team messed up with the statement that the vaccine was “for the elimination of MMR”. I heard that statement as though the purpose of the Wakefield vaccine was to eliminate the MMR as a vaccine. The wording of the first sentence of the patent application is:

The present invention relates to a new vaccine for the elimination of MMR and measles virus and to a pharmaceutical composition…

I read this as the vaccine for the elimination of the MMR viruses from someone with a persistent infection of one or more of measles/mumps/rubella, not as for the elimination of the MMR vaccine itself.

It is not well worded.

The statement from the patent application that most clearly shows that it covers the invention as a vaccine is claim 2. It is short, clear and direct to the point.

The composition according to claim 1 adapted for use as a vaccine for the prophylaxis of measles virus.

This is what Dateline should have used, in my opinion.

I think the segment below clearly shows that part of the intention of the invention was as a vaccine for the prevention of measles which is purported to be safer.

fragment of Dr. Wakefield's original patent application

fragment of Dr. Wakefield's original patent application

Back to the interview, I think that Mr. Deer makes a key point in stressing that the patent application discussed the invention as a “safer” vaccine. This makes it more clearly a possible contender to replace the MMR vaccine as a product.

Brian Deer notes on his website:

A letter from his lawyers dated Jan 31 2005 said: “Dr Wakefield did not plan a rival vaccine.”

It is very difficult to ascertain intentions. At a very real level, what Dr. Wakefield planned is immaterial. The fact of the matter is that there was a possibility (however remote) that Dr. Wakefield could profit if the combination MMR vaccine were removed. The appearance (at least) of a potential conflict of interest was there and should have been disclosed in the paper and press conference, in my opinion.

The information I would like to see on this would be Dr. Wakefield’s lab books (or notes, as the case may be). In particular, he is reported to have applied his “transfer factor” on at least one child. Were there any tests performed (say, measles titers?) that could have been used to justify development as a vaccine? For example, measles titers?

It is also worth noting that as far as I can see, all of the patents on this potential vaccine have been abandoned. In other words, Dr. Wakefield and/or the Royal Free Hospital do not appear to have continuing financial interests in the proposed measles vaccine, or the IBD/autism therapy.

As a final word–I find it interesting that in one of the patents Dr. Wakefield states that that the autism prevalence is about 1%. This from a document dated 1998, 10 years ago. So much for that epidemic, eh?

Section of GB patent 2,325,856

Section of GB patent 2,325,856

Andrew Wakefield gives NBC “talking points”

11 Sep

Dr. Wakefield “took issue” with a recent Dateline episode discussing him and his work. Thoughtful House (his clinic) has offered Dateline some talking points to, I gather, give “the full story” that Dateline supposedly missed.

Since there is next to zero chance that Dateline will act on them, I thought I would take a look at the talking points:

A. There has been extensive replication of the finding of bowel disease in children with autism (ASD) from five different countries. These findings have been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at scientific meetings. It is therefore incorrect and misleading of Matt Lauer to have stated that every aspect of my original hypothesis has been disproved. On the contrary, the main findings of the original Lancet paper, that is, bowel disease in autistic children, has been repeatedly confirmed. This obvious inaccuracy requires clarification by NBC.

One of my many failings is that I am a sloppy writer and, yet, I key in on imprecise language in the work of others. Case in point:

“On the contrary, the main findings of the original Lancet paper, that is, bowel disease in autistic children, has been repeatedly confirmed. ”

“…the main point of the Lancet paper, bowel disease in autistic children…”

Very imprecise. What about bowel disease in autistic children is the finding of the Lancet article that Dr. Wakefield wants us to know? The statement is so vague that all we are left with is the fact that some autistic children have bowel disease.

This is misdirection on Dr. Wakefield’s part. It isn’t even good misdirection. The Dateline story wasn’t “the career of Andrew Wakefield, what he got right and wrong”. It was about the assertions that MMR cause autism.

Dr. Wakefield makes it appear that this statement was Matt Lauer’s. It is a fine point, but Matt Lauer didn’t state that “…every aspect of my original hypothesis has been disproved”. The statement was from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which Matt Lauer quoted with attribution.

It’s worth recalling what the Lancet paper stated. The concluding paragraph of the 1998 Lancet article was:

We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

Had Dr. Wakefield himself distanced himself from the MMR-causation theory in the last 10 years, even a little, I’d think it reasonable for him to emphasize the the idea that he brought to light GI disturbances in autistic kids. But he hasn’t. It isn’t what the Dateline story was about.

The big question, if he thought this was important, why didn’t Dr. Wakefield himself emphasize that in the interview?

Dr. Wakefield’s second point:

B. The shortcomings and the flaws of the studies quoted by Dr. Offit, claiming to disprove an association between vaccines and autism, were not discussed in the program. In my interview with Mr. Lauer I took as an example a paper from Dr. DeStefano from the CDC claiming to exonerate MMR that actually showed that a younger age of vaccination with MMR is associated with a greater risk of autism. This study confirms the association and has been falsely portrayed as vindicating the vaccine. This should have been included in order to provide balance to the program.

Can someone tell me what DeStefano paper and what analysis he is talking about?

C. Reference was made to an autistic child in the vaccine court whose claim for MMR damage was overturned by the judge. No reference was made to the successful vaccine court case on behalf of the child Bailey Banks, coming just one week after the unsuccessful claim described by Mr. Lauer, in which the judge ruled that MMR vaccine can cause autism. Therefore, in the view of vaccine court, it is not a question of whether or not MMR can cause autism, but rather how many children are affected.

The case referred to in the Dateline episode was that of Michelle Cedillo. Her’s was the first “test case” to be heard by the Autism Omnibus Proceeding.

Her case was first heard by a “special master”, who denied compensation. The case then was appealed, and the judge didn’t “overturn” anything. The judge upheld the original decision.

The Bailey Banks case is one that gets debated a lot on the net. Rather than go into that again, let’s ask: how does this relate to Dr. Wakefield’s research? Perhaps I missed it as I did some very quick searches, but I didn’t find anything in the Bailey Banks decision that had anything to do with digestion/inflamation/enterocolitis/constipation/diarrhea… I think you get the idea–the case has nothing to do with Dr. Wakefield’s ideas about autism and the gut.

I.e. Wakefield’s point C is another diversionary tactic.

D. There was a complete absence of comment on the lack of any adequate safety studies of childhood vaccines and the vaccine schedule in particular. There was no mention of the admission by vaccine regulators that there is no data on the long-term safety of vaccines, the chronic disease burden caused by vaccines, and the likely potentially harmful interactions between various vaccines in the routine schedule.

Have you heard the phrase “diversionary tactic” too often yet? What does any of this have to do with whether Dr. Wakefield’s research? This is a favored diversion in online discussions of vaccines/autism. When people run out of real ammunition (and they do quickly), switch to trying to debate general safety of vaccines–and it almost worked. Instead of addressing some of your comments, I’ll move on to your fifth point:

E. Undue credibility was given to Brian Deer, a discredited freelancejournalist, whose false reporting has caused so much misunderstanding and damage to children through the misrepresentation of the doctors and parents who were seeking answers to the vaccine-autism question. Deer has repeatedly misled the public and the medical profession and has been unable to respond to clear evidence of his false reporting in the Sunday Times through the UK’s Press Complaints Commission.

Nice slam, there, Dr. Wakefield. Given the sloppy nature of your previous comments, I am impressed that you pulled this together so well.

You make it seem like it is accepted that Brian Deer is “discredited”. I guess if you don’t get out of Thoughtful House or autism-parent conventions, you might think that.

The “unable to respond…” bit is pretty classic. The Press Complaints Commission isn’t hearing the complaint until after your own GMC hearing, correct? So, I guess he has been unable to respond at the PCC. But, did that really stop him from responding? I seem to recall a pretty sharp worded response that Orac hosted on Respectful Insolence.

Didn’t you, Dr. Wakefield, bring that complaint to the PCC? If so, nice job leaving out the fact. It would come across quite differently had you stated: “…and has yet been unable to respond to clear my claims of his false reporting in the Sunday Times through the UK’s Press Complaints Commission.”

F. It was not disclosed that I have repeatedly invited Dr. Offit to take part in public debate on the safety of MMR vaccine and the false and misleading claims that he has made in the media and his book. He has refused to accept this invitation and has continued to hide from an open and honest debate.

Why would NBC waste time on this? Was it pertinent to the discussion? Answer: no.

I think they did you a favor by not mentioning it. No one looks good with the “So and So won’t debate me” argument. They just don’t. The “please debate me” argument is a staple of the crank. I doubt you wish to appear to be in that category, do you?

Academics “debate” in the literature, not on some stage. If you want to debate Dr. Offit, come up with some good research. Publish it.

Alternatively, if you want to see how a Wakefield/Offit debate comes out, read “autism’s false prophets”. If that is “hiding”, he hasn’t done a very good job of it.

G. NBC alluded briefly to the fact that Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, was informed of my participation as a medical expert in the MMR litigation almost one year before publication of the Lancet paper in 1998. NBC failed to clarify that when Horton was challenged to respond to the fact that when he so enthusiastically denounced me and the paper in 2004 the Lancet staff was already fully aware of the facts and at that time did not consider them to be relevant. Horton refused to be interviewed by NBC and the interview segment shown was from 2004. This refusal is in sharp contrast to his willingness to denounce me in the media in 2004. NBC also failed to mention that in the light of these facts Horton has been reported to UK’s General Medical Council on an allegation of perjury.

Even if true, this is just more diversions. If you thought it important enough to fax all this information to the Lancet, why didn’t you include a conflict of interest statement in the article itself? The referees would have appreciated that, I believe. Was there any mention of potential conflicts of interest in your cover letter to The Lancet when you submitted the paper? Or in the cover letter for your acceptance? All of those were places where you should have made such statements.

H. It was unfortunate that NBC, having stated their determination to resist external pressure to distort the balance of the program, yielded to such pressure from the American Academy of Pediatrics, allowing them the final word in the program while denying representation from the National Autism Association who put forward to NBC a rational and well reasoned call for further science to resolve this very real issue.

I’m sorry, but are you seriously putting he “National Autism Association” on equal footing with the American Academy of Pediatrics? How many members does the NAA have? (a lot less than the AAP) What is the name of their journal (they don’t have one) What is the impact factor of their journal? (Pediatrics is a very well respected journal).

Given the NAA’s recent childish antics with their attempted slime job against Dr. Offit (which you, Dr. Wakefield, participated in), I think that Dateline has been proven correct for not airing their comments.

I. Dr. Offit cited a large population study of autism and MMR from Denmark in support of his claim to ‘certainty that there is no link.’ This study was so flawed that it was rejected from consideration by the gold standard scientific review by the highly influential Cochrane Collaboration. Dr. Offitt, who is not an epidemiologist, was clearly at a loss to understand the study’s fatal flaws.

“Dr. Offitt, who is not an epidemiologist…” What’s up with that comment? I’m sorry, is Dr. Wakefield an epidemiologist? Answer: no. Do you have to be an epidemiologist to understand the study or it’s strengths or flaws? No.

What fatal flaws is Dr. Wakefield referring to? The big Danish study was by Madsen, et al.. The Cochrane Review lists this study as one of the “cohort studies included in the review”. Not “rejected from consideration”.

That aside, I have the Cochrane Review “Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children (Review)” open. The version I have open is noted: “This is a reprint of a Cochrane review, prepared and maintained by The Cochrane Collaboration and published in The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 3”, so I think it is the most recent.

I guess if the Cochrane review is “highly influential” and the “gold standard” it would make sense to see what they think of the autism/MMR hypothesis, eh? The review states:

No credible evidence of an involvement of MMR with either autism or Crohn’s disease was found.

Was this because they didn’t know about Dr. Wakefield’s work? Hardly. Four of Dr. Wakefield’s papers were listed. All were listed in the “excluded studies” section.

So where does this leave us? We have, what, nine talking points which are mostly diversions or misrepresentations. Anyone wonder why I don’t think Matt Lauer will be responding to these soon?

Autism Omnibus: Hazelhurst appeal denied

29 Jul

The Autism Omnibus Proceedings is, for better or worse, one of the big stories in the world of autism news. Hearings have been held, using the best science and arguments that could be brought to bear. The two theories were (1) does MMR cause autism and (2) does thimerosal cause autism.

Each theory was tested using three “test cases”. Essentially, three trials for each theory, each discussing an individual child plus arguments on “general causation”.

So far, the decisions are only in on the MMR question
. The answers were clear and decisive: “this is not a close case”.

The Omnibus decisions are not the end of the vaccine/autism lawsuits. Not by a longshot. The first step was an appeal, and the first appeal has been decided.

Here is the conclusion of the Judge who heard the appeal for the Hazelhurst case:

In hearing this appeal, the court is not without sympathy for Yates, the Hazlehursts, and the other children and families dealing with autism and autism spectrum disorders. And this court, like the special master, acknowledges both the burdens many of these families have faced and the tremendous love and support they have shown their children. The facts, however, do not support petitioners’ appeal and we have no choice but to deny their motion. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, the special master’s decision of February 12, 2009, is AFFIRMED.

I.e. the appeal failed. The decision stands. The Court holds that MMR does not cause autism.

The judge’s decision in the appeal gives a good summary of the original case. If you want to read about the Hazelhurst case, it would be the first place I would send you.

From the appeals judge’s ruling, here are the two “cardinal” flaws in the petitioner’s case:

1) First, the special master explained that petitioners’ experts based their opinions on the characteristics of the “wild-type” measles virus rather than on the characteristics of vaccine-strain measles, despite the fact that the measles vaccine is distinguishable from the wild-type measles virus in several key respects.

2) Second, the special master observed that petitioners’ experts further based their opinions on studies (detecting the presence of the measles virus in the gut tissue of autistic children) that the special master found to be unreliable.

The special master considered the presence of the measles virus in the gut to be the “linchpin” of the petitioner’s case. In other words, they needed to show reliable data or studies demonstrating that the virus was still in the tissues of the children long after the vaccination.
The two studies they had to rely on were (a) that by Dr. Wakefield’s team and (b) an unpublished study by Dr. Stephen Walker, presented as a poster at the 2006 IMFAR conference. Well, the Wakefield study was pretty well discredited, and the Walker study was never published.

In the appeal, the Hazelhurst’s lawyer argued that the testimony of Dr. Stephen Bustin should not have been considered. Amongst the arguments were that some of the information was submitted at the last minute.

No arguments were made that Dr. Bustin was wrong in his analysis of the O’Leary laboratory. That was one of those strange moments in law–no one challenged Dr. Bustin on being right. The judge hearing the appeal noted that the rules for the Vaccine Court are different from a typical court of law. Specifially, the rules are designed specifically to allow more information in to inform the Special Master. The judge further noted that under the typical rules of evidence, the Walker study would never be admitted anyway.

If you haven’t read about Dr. Bustin’s testimony, you should consider it now. Dr. Bustin basically discredited the entire “persistent measles in the gut” idea by showing that the O’Leary laboratory that made tests had serious methodological flaws and, basically, couldn’t make the tests at all.

The Hazelhurst’s lawyer then argued that the Special Master failed to include all the relevant evidence., In specific, that the Walker study wasn’t given due weight.

Again, one of those strange moments in law. The laywers moved directly from trying to get the Special Master to exclude evidence that was clearly relevant, to claiming that the Special Master had to include all relevant evidence. I guess that’s why I am not a lawyer. I couldn’t pull that off with a straight face.

As it turns out, even the witness for the Hazelhurts’ side stated that the Walker study wasn’t reliable:

Respondent additionally notes that Dr. Hepner herself acknowledged that the preliminary data from the study was “not useful at this time” (Cedillo Tr. at 682), declined to draw any conclusions about the biological significance of the Walker group’s findings (Cedillo Tr. at 682), and identified what respondent describes as several significant drawbacks to the study, including that the experiments had not been “blinded”28 and had lacked negative controls.

So, it is rather moot as to whether the Walker study was considered, since it doesn’t really provide substantial evidence to support the MMR theory.

The third main argument used in the appeal was that the Special Master failed to decide on a “critical issue”. Namely, whether regressive autism exists as a separate phenotype.

The Special Master wrote in his decision, and the appeals judge agreed: since the decision held that MMR doesn’t cause autism, there was no point in deciding on the question of regressive autism as a separate phenotype.

Given that the expert testimony was against this idea, it is probably better for the petetioners that this question was left unanswered.

The main result is, of course, the original decision was upheld. Looking forward, it doesn’t look good for the MMR theory to win in civil litigation from my perspective. The Bustin testimony is very damning to the little evidence there is, and that will be allowed in a civil case. The Walker study, however, will almost certainly not be allowed as it is unpublished and has severe limitation

Jenny Mcarthy on HBOT

6 May

Given the recent death of a woman and serious injury of a child in a hyperbaric chamber. It is perhaps worth highlighting Jenny McCarthy’s recent “tweet”.

Im inside a hyperbaric chamber. This thing makes me feel amazing.

If a vaccine “exploded” killing one person and critically injuring another with such clear causality, one can imagine McCarthy would be the first to stand up and denounce it. Instead, as one commentator says it’s “All risk, no benefit” when it comes to the quackery surrounding autism, and that’s before you risk dreadful gluten-free and casein-free cup cakes. Meanwhile, despite having no evidence, McCarthy suggests vaccines are dangerous toxic products and may be responsible for the start of an explosion of preventable childhood diseases.

Liar Liar

24 Apr

Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy are very critical of vaccines. They assert that vaccines cause autism.

Criticising vaccines is a dangerous business. Vaccines are arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, medical advances in history. Anyone whose causes people to stop vaccinating their children runs the risk of being blamed for illness, permanent injury and death if/when the diseases return.

Mr. Carrey seems aware of this. In his recent blog piece he made a point of noting:

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

This statement bothered me enough that I discussed it in two pieces (here and here) about measles outbreaks in Wales and the US.

I wanted to highlight the fact that the website for Mr. Carrey’s organization (Generation Rescue) includes language specifically telling people to avoid the measles vaccine.

Even after blogging that, somehow Mr. Carrey’s statement statement still bothered me. Then I remembered why.

A year ago, Mr. Carrey’s movie, “Horton Hears a Who”, was in theaters. One group in New Mexico decided to offer a screening of Horton with an added benefit: free vaccinations for children who came.

This didn’t sit well with Mr. Carrey, who decided to put a stop to the free vaccination program. According to Lisa Akerman of TACA (Talk About Curing Autism, another group that has had Jenny McCarthy as a spokes-person):

Once word from the autism community (Who-ville in this case) got to the Carrey & McCarthy super team about this story of a New Mexico vaccination plot things got a brewing. After his morning coffee, Jim made a few calls this morning on behalf of the autism community.

Following a long discussion with his representatives at Fox Entertainment – Who-ville – once again through Horton – was heard. The New Mexico test market of drive thru vaccines while at the movies with your children was stopped. Halted by Horton himself…

So, Mr. Carrey doesn’t “argue” that people shouldn’t be immunized. He just stops them from being immunized.