Search results for 'whistleblower'

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

4 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Draft Analysis plan segment 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race examined before final protocol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Matt Carey

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

4 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Matt Carey

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

The Brian Hooker/William Thompson conversations

24 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a quote attributed to Mr. Thompson:

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

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

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

Boggles the mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got that right.

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

And I’m sure there will be more.


By Matt Carey

Movie review: Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis

12 Feb

Alex Spourdalakis was an autistic youth. An autistic youth who faced the sort of crisis we all hope never happens. And that is even before he was killed by his mother and godmother. Much of the last year of his life was spent in a search for a way to treat his sleep disturbance and aggression, with his mother concluding at one point that these stemmed from gastrointestinal disease (she would later decide that lyme disease was at play), a conclusion which apparently put her and her advocates at odds with some of Alex’s doctors some of whom proposed a psychiatric approach. His hospital stays included four point restraints for days and weeks. As a recent study has shown, restraints are not unheard of for autistic patients. This is a topic that deserves attention to limit or end the practice. It is impossible to do justice here to just how serious this crisis was. And that’s leaving out the fact that in the end he faced murder by those closest to him.

He was murdered by his mother and godmother who poisoned him with an overdose of prescription medication and, when that failed, killed him using a kitchen knife to slit his wrist and inflict multiple stab wounds.

We now have a video showing some of the story. A one-sided view of the story. A video by Andrew Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield has a long history with the autism communities and, quite frankly, that history is marked by many less than accurate accounts of fact by Mr. Wakefield. I’ve watched his “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” a few times now and tried to put my thoughts into words.

“Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” is not a true documentary in that the film makers were a part of the story. It appears to have started out as part of their “Autism Team” reality TV show project. Mr. Wakefield’s “Autism Team” was not just standing back and documenting events, they were acting as advocates and advisers to Alex’s mother. For example, they put Alex’s mother in contact with Arthur Krigsman (pediatric gastroenterologist and former colleague of Andrew Wakefield) and arranged transporation for Alex to be seen by Dr. Krigsman. Roughly a week before his death, Alex was in the hospital again, where he was visited by the “Autism Team” in the person of Polly Tommy and it sounds like Andrew Wakefield. Alex’s mother discusses how they’ve been offered a placement in a psychiatric facility, but this would involve Alex being separated from his mother and godmother. A separation we now know was necessary to save his life. In this screenshot we see subtitles for Alex’s mother stating “not in a psych unit. Once a week” (referring to the chances to visit Alex). The godmother is stating, “it’s a psychiatric facility”. And the closed captioned words belong to Polly Tommy who is stating, “No, we can’t do that”. We? The Autism Team are documenting themselves as part of the story.

Before “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” was produced many questioned how much did Mr. Wakefield’s “Autism Team” contribute to the horrific outcome. Not directly, of course, but in terms of whether a different group of advocates or different advice from Wakefield’s team would have averted the murder. Alex’s mother was offered help from other groups, and declined it. This is a question that can not be independently explored given this team’s dual role of advocate/advisers and documentary videographers. We are also talking about Andrew Wakefield, who in the introduction to one of his books glorified a murder-suicide involving an autistic and his mother.

But I am now falling into the same trap as Mr. Wakefield: losing sight of the actual story. Because the story isn’t “who killed Alex Spoudalakis”. The story is Alex Spourdalakis. A young man, 14 years old when he was murdered, who was a valuable and often happy person who had reached a point in his life when he needed support: medical and other support. He was a person worthy of respect. Disability did not diminish that. His extraordinary needs did not diminish that. In fact, his extraordinary needs were a big part of the story that needed to be told clearly. While one can pick some of his story out of the video, it gets obscured as the video uses Alex and his story to promote the Wakefield message that vaccines cause autism and a harsh criticism for psychiatry and mainstream medicine in general. And the video argues that Alex’s mother is not responsible for the murder due to alleged use of antidepressants.

Alex needed help. A great deal of help. He couldn’t sleep. He had episodes of aggression. He was in the emergency room for weeks in restraints. Much of the video centers around a division between one side, his mother and the “Autism Team”, who felt that these were signs of an underlying gastrointestinal problem and another side, many of the medical staff, who were often pursuing a psychiatric explanation. It would have been valuable to see an honest account of the question of what was behind Alex’s crisis. But we don’t get that in this video. We get an antagonistic approach to psychiatric care and statements that instead “autism is medical”.

Mr. Wakefield and others would do well to recall that psychiatric care is medical care. For some it can be life saving.

Psychiatric and other medications can also result in extreme reactions. And this is a point Mr. Wakefield makes time and again, to the point of actually weakening the point. For example, we are told about how Alex had a serious allergic reaction to one set of medications, complete with a frame showing this event highlighted in his medical record. Not hightlighted but visible is the statement that this reaction cleared up with two doses of Benadryl. Making a big deal out of a reaction that cleared up with Benadryl, an over the counter medicine, struck me as overplaying this point.

Even with the possibility of adverse reactions to psychiatric medication, Mr. Wakefield would do well to recall that autistics can have psychiatric conditions. Mr. Wakefield is in the community that is quick to tell us that autistics often have comorbid conditions. But rarely does this community point out that a large fraction of comorbid conditions are psychiatric. This was explored by the Lewin Group for children. And by Lisa Croen’s team for adults.

Where GI complaints are 1.3 times more common in autistics, anxiety is 3.7 times more common and schizophrenia 22 times more common (just to name a few psychiatric conditions).

Autistics do have a difficult time obtaining appropriate medical care. One doctor told me that 75% of the information they use to make a diagnosis comes from listening to what the patient tells them. But what if a patient is nonverbal and doesn’t have effective alternative communication? Add to this the fact that autistics often have sensory issues. What happens when, as one friend of mine relates, a person can tell you “I’m in pain” but can’t say where that pain is? And this is before we consider issues such as poor insurance coverage for the disabled and other social factors that limit access to care. This is a story that needs telling. Psychiatric medications are prescribed more often to autistics in poor families than in wealthy families. And this video doesn’t do these points justice.

In the video one does get to see Alex. Yes, the images of Alex in restraints in the hospital that were common online shortly before his death. But also Alex before the hospital stay. Alex Happy. Alex Outside. Alex as a human, not a pawn. It’s telling that Alex’s father and sister do not appear in these videos. According to the video, Alex’s father declined to be interviewed. One does see a great deal of Alex with his mother. She is shown giving him a great deal of affection. I don’t doubt her love for her son. The intention, I suspect, is to portray her in a sympathetic light: the loving mother. She’s so loving that something else must have driven her to the brutal murder of Alex, right? At least that is the message I suspect the director was trying to get across. Well, except downplays the brutal nature of the murder. In the end, though, the scenes of affection between Alex and his mother are more jarring than sympathetic. Knowing that this woman would shortly be poisoning Alex and knowing that she is the one reported to have stabbed him repeatedly, well, the affection does not come across as endearing nor sympathetic. Knowing that Alex loved his mother makes the betrayal all the more painful.

One does have to address that horrific outcome, the question posed by the title of the film: who killed Alex Spourdalakis. Interestingly the first sentence of narration tells us: “what turned Dorothy Spourdalakis, a loving mother, and Jolanta Agatha Skordzka, a loving godmother, into killers?” While it is not contested that these are the killers, the video tries to make the case that it’s more complicated than just who actually committed the physical acts of killing. A critic’s statement, quoted on the facebook page for the group who produced the video tells us one interpretation:

The story of Alex is an indictment of our healthcare system’s ability to treat autism as a disease rather than a psychiatric disorder

In this interpretation, “the story of Alex” isn’t about him or how he lived. And we need to reject the possibility that autistics can have psychiatric needs, because autism is a disease.

The video argues that Alex would have had a happy outcome, similar to that of another “Autism Team” subject, had he followed a “medical” approach of treating GI disease rather than a psychiatric one. One sad irony is that Alex’s mother abandoned the GI approach to follow a different disease approach to his care: lyme disease.

The video downplays the events of the actual murder. Instead of giving the full details, the murder is used as one last critique of psychiatry. In Mr Wakefield’s telling of the murder presents it with a recreation of Alex’s father and uncle discovering the crime scene. The scene is merely described initially as Alex was found “dead in his bed”. This for a scene where a young man was stabbed multiple times and had his wrist slit to the point of nearly severing his hand. He had been dead long enough for rigor mortis to set in. The scene that Alex’s father and uncle found would have been grisly, to say the least. Alex had been bleeding and the blood had time to congeal. But we don’t hear those details. By the time the narration gets to the knife wounds, we hear only that he died of a knife wound to the heart. No mention of the slit wrist nor the other 3 stab wounds.

Instead the emphasis is given to the poisoning attempt. We are told how ironic it is that drugs which Alex is alleged to have had adverse reactions to did not kill him. Psychiatric drugs, alleged to have failed him in life, failed in killing him. This point is give far more emphasis than the actual act of killing Alex.

We are told how Alex’s mother and godmother were found near him, unconscious from a drug overdose. Alex’s mother and godmother had just failed to kill Alex with an overdose and yet chose this same method for their attempted suicide.

His mother and godmother were reported to be “semi conscious” when found. And one document, apparently a police report, shown in the video indicates that the mother and godmother were able to answer questions while still in the apartment. Which begs the question, how many pills did they take in their apparent suicide attempt? Were they really in danger of death?

We need to face the grisly nature of Alex’s murder because glossing over the brutal nature of the murder does not do the victim service. It does help paint the killers in a more sympathetic light. We also must face questions raised by these actions. It is stated that when Alex did not die from the overdose, his mother and godmother took to using the kitchen knife. Why? Was he taking too long to die? Did they fear being discovered? Was Alex waking up? How long did they wait for the overdose to kill him? Why didn’t they call for help in that time?

Mr. Wakefield argues in the video that it was once again psychiatry that failed Alex, and at the same time builds an argument that his mother wasn’t really at fault. The video alleges that his mother was taking antidepressants and the side effects include suicidal thoughts and violence, setting the stage for an insanity defense. There are a few problems with making that argument stick, starting with the argument made by the district attorney that the murder was planned in advance. This argument is supported by the fact that Alex’s mother and godmother made his father and sister leave the apartment a week before the murder. This could be a sign of premeditation: that they wanted to the apartment free to commit the murder. This avenue of reasoning is not explored by Mr. Wakefield in his video. Next, this murder was committed by two people, and Alex’s godmother is not alleged to have been taking antidepressants. In this insanity defense scenario, why didn’t the godmother stop the murder? Report the plans? Next, this isn’t a violent murder–or wasn’t intended to be. It started out as a poisoning attempt. We do not know how long they waited for the overdose to kill Alex, but certainly long enough for either of the killers to have second thoughts and call for help, especially the godmother who is not alleged to have been taking the antidepressants. Lastly, the video tells us that there’s no physical evidence of the antidepressants. They allegedly brought from Greece by Alex’s father, who is further alleged to have removed the drugs from the apartment.

At this point in the narrative Alex is dead. We’ve heard heard an argument as to why his mother isn’t guilty of the crime. But Alex isn’t the story of this video. Even “who killed Alex” apparently isn’t the story. The video next presents us with “one vital piece of this puzzle”. This is the segue into claiming that Alex was a victim of vaccine injury. Mr. Wakefield wasn’t content with telling us this at the beginning of the video, he had to bring it up again at the end. We are told that Aex was a child “…whose life was over in so many ways from the age of 18 months.” In one sentence he negates all the video he invested in showing us Alex as a happy, complete human. Being autistic is being a person “whose life is over.”

Recall that Mr. Wakefield has stated that he makes videos target people who are agnostic on the question of whether vaccines cause autism.

We also get a pitch for the idea that what Alex needed in order to avoid his death was more support from Wakefield’s team. That they are going to start the “Alex Spourdalakis Recovery Center”, a place for autistics and their families after seeing Arthur Krigsman. I am at a loss for words other than to say this is absolutely not the solution that comes to mind to avoid another murder like Alex’s.

In the credits we get snippets of video of Alex. Starting with Alex near the end of his life, naked and rocking. While Alex does appear to be happy in these clips, showing him naked without his permission is inappropriate (note that while Mr. Wakefield does not show Alex’s full body, I have further blurred this image). Then, after showing Alex as a baby and flowers for Alex (complete with business card for Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel), the credits end.

But, apparently just in case we didn’t get the message of the video, we need to be shown two more short scenes appear after the credits. Niether shows or mentions Alex. The last message Mr. Wakefield wanted those watching this film to take away. Nothing about Alex, just a simple screen stating “Merck face legal action for alleged MMR vaccine fraud”. The additional sad irony in this is that even if you accept the claims that Alex was vaccine injured and the claims in the lawsuit, the Merck case is unrelated to Alex’s story. It doesn’t involve Mr. Wakefield’s hypothesis of the measles component of MMR being linked to autism. It doesn’t involve allegations of vaccine injury at all but, rather, the effectiveness of the mumps component.

Alex deserved better in life. He deserved medical care, be it psychiatric, standard medical or both, to bring him back to the happy person he was before his crisis. But Alex also deserves better in death. He deserves that his life and death not be used as a tool to promote Andrew Wakefield’s poorly supported one-size-fits-all approach to autism. He deserves to be the story, not have his story framed as “who killed Alex Spourdalakis”.

Alex deserves better.


By Matt Carey

Over $20k in donations to Congressman Posey and now people expect another hearing

7 Feb

Remember a few years back when Representative Darrell Issa held autism hearings? One in 2012 and one in 2014. As chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he was apparently able to make that happen, even if he didn’t show up for the second hearing. It turned out that groups that promote the failed idea that vaccines caused an autism epidemic had done a fair bit of lobbying, including getting Andrew Wakefield (of all people) to meet with and dine with the one or more members of congress. And then there’s the fact that at least one activist in the vaccines-cause-autism cause had made rather significant ($40,000) donations to congressman Issa.

Even with the heavy lobbying and donations, neither Oversight hearing was quite what these groups wanted. The first only one of their advocates testified, and in the second hearing none. These lobbying groups did produce video clips of members of congress grilling members of the CDC, especially Congressman Posey reading questions and statements apparently prepared for him by these lobbyists. These video clips have been useful for these groups but, seriously, a full on congressional hearing to produce YouTube videos for the donors to the chairman? That’s the sort of wasted resources that Oversight is supposed to prevent, not create.

Last fall many of those pushing the idea of vaccine causation really wanted to use the leaks by CDC researcher William Thompson to get another congressional hearing. A hearing that would focus on vaccines (since the first two hearings held by Oversight did not). Or, to put it simply, one which could stay in their control. That didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean people have given up hope for a hearing.

It has become clear over the past year that whatever influence these lobbying groups had gained with Representative Issa, that influence had waned. The second Oversight hearing included no public representatives and Mr. Issa was not even present. Further, fundraising efforts no longer focus on Mr. Issa.

Attention has shifted to Mr. Posey, a representative from Florida. A fundraiser was held for Mr. Posey last year.

A recent story claims that a new hearing is in the works. This time in House Science Committee. Coincidentally, Mr. Posey sits on the Science Committee. Mr. Posey has been a friend to the vaccines-cause-autism groups for some time, and sat in on the Oversight hearings. Last year’s fundraiser was an interesting event for many reasons. First, Mr. Posey was in a very safe race, so he wasn’t really in need of donations to win. Second, the people putting on the fundraiser were mostly (if not all) from outside of the Congressman’s district. Third, one of the primary people organizing the fundraiser was the same person who had donated about $40,000 to Congressman Issa.

Let’s take a look again at the people listed as donors for that fundraiser:

Jennifer Larson of the Canary Party and Health Freedom
Sallie Bernard of Safeminds and Autism Speaks
JB Handley of Generation Rescue
Tony Lyons of Shy[sic] Horse Publishing
Barry Segal of Focus Autism
Mark Blaxill of the Canary Party and Health Freedom
Dr. Gary Kompothecras
Teri Costigan

I went to the Federal Elections Commission website and OpenSecrets.org and checked for donations from these individuals to Congressman Posey.

Jennifer Larson, 3 donations for $5200 total in 2014

Sallie Bernard, $1000

JB Handley, $1000

Barry Segal, $2600

Mark Blaxill $5000

Gary Kompothecras and his wife, $5200

If Terri Costigan is Theresa Costigan, then here’s another $1000

I did not find donations from Mr. Lyons

That’s about $21,000.

Of course there could be more donations other than the people advertised before the event. For example, there are also two donations from a Mary Lang, totaling $5000. There is a Mary Lang from the same city who runs an autism school and who has spoken at the AutismOne parent convention (AutismOne promotes heavily the idea that autism and vaccines are linked).

If those donations are also part of this fundraising effort, that would bring the total accounted for so far to $26,000.

If you go to the story that is claiming a hearing is in the works, it does appear to be still in the “wishful thinking” stage. The article doesn’t give any recent quotes from Mr. Thompson and quotes a staffer for Congressman Posey as stating “We’re working with the Science Committee to get a hearing”.

Representative Posey is on the Science Committee and the Subcommittee on Oversight. And people interested in a Congressional hearing organized a fundraising event for the representative in an election year where he was an almost sure win. And collected over $20,000 in that event.

Are the fundraiser and hopes for a hearing connected? Or is it just a coincidence that people flew from all over the U.S. to attend a fundraiser dinner in Florida and later push for a hearing in that same Representative’s committee? Decide for yourself. I don’t see it as coincidence.

I find a few more points worth noting. First, Generation Rescue and the Age of Autism blog put out a call for people to show support for Representative Posey. The donation link given states that:

Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual who contributions exceed $200 in an election cycle

Records available on FEC.gov and OpenSecrets.org show donations as small as $25 per individual.

I don’t see a large influx of donations in the record for Mr. Posey. I don’t see donations from, say Jenny (Jennifer) McCarthy of Generation Rescue nor Candace McDonald, executive director for GR. I don’t see donations from the bloggers at the Age of Autism. Perhaps I missed them or perhaps they were too small to be recorded. Or perhaps there just wasn’t a large turnout. There isn’t a large number of donors from out of state around the time of the Age of Autism call. Out of state donors would indicate that a nationwide call had an effect.

I also didn’t see any indication that many people showed up for the fundraiser outside of the group noted in the pre-event publicity.

The last point I find interesting is this: Congressman Posey is still not a member of the Congressional Autism Caucus. Nor have I seen him act as a strong supporter of autism related legislation.


By Matt Carey

Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker complain. Not honestly, but they complain

23 Oct

Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker have lately been trying to manage a “cdc whistleblower” story. The idea has been covered a lot recently, here and elsewhere. So, rather than go into more introduction, let’s take a look at the complaint they recently filed with the CDC office of research integrity. It’s long, so I’ll bring up a few glaring problems with the complaint letter. These problems have for the most part already been discussed here at Left Brain/Right Brain.

The basis of their arguments has been that allegedly the CDC found a statistically significant result suggesting that the MMR was associated with a higher odds ratio for autism in African American boys. They argue that the CDC then changed their protocol (analysis plan) to avoid reporting on this result. Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker have since added a similar argument for “isolated autism”–autism without comorbid conditions like intellectual disability. They claim the CDC hid those results as well.

So, what does the complaint say in specific? It’s long, but here’s an interesting and key part and a good place to start. Under the section titled “The Georgia Birth Certificate Cohort (GBCC): what was its stated purpose?“, Hooker and Wakefield quote the

[Exhibit 2, page 7, emphasis added] The Analysis Plan, “Statistical Analyses” states that “race” data were available for the entire sample:

The only variable that will be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample will be the child’s race.

[Exhibit 2, page 8, emphasis added]. Thus, “race” data came explicitly from the “school record” and not from the Georgia birth certificate/Georgia birth
records and was available for the “entire sample”.

The funny thing is that quote, “The only variable that will be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample will be the child’s race” doesn’t match what’s in the screenshot of the analysis plan that Wakefield included in his recent YouTube video (click to enlarge).

Draft Plan 2

The plan actually states:

The only variable available to be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample is child’s race.

emphasis added.

See how “available to be assessed” in the actual plan has been changed into “that will be assessed” by Mr. Wakefield? Mr. Wakefield would like us to believe that the analysis plan called for a study to be reported broken down by race using all the kids in the study. He’s been arguing that since his first ugly “It’s like the Tuskegee experiment!” video. The thing is that the plan didn’t call for that. As I recently discussed, the sentence Mr. Wakefield misquotes was a statement of the limitations of the dataset they had (MADDSP) and explains why the CDC needed to get the birth certificate data to do a more thorough analysis.

As I also noted, the full paragraph references table included in the analysis plan made it clear that race was to be analyzed for the birth certificate sample, not the total sample as Mr. Wakefield is leading us to believe.  The title of the table shows us that they were planning to report detailed data on the birth certificate group, not the entire sample.

What I find interesting is that Wakefield and Hooker are not just misinterpreting the statement as I originally thought. In the complaint they clearly changed what the statement said. Besides being wrong all on it’s own, this change tells me they know that phrase they latched on to ( “The only variable that will be assessed as a potential confounder using the entire sample will be the child’s race”) doesn’t come close to fitting in with his story. I don’t see this as an honest mistake.

The complaint also includes the “isolated autism” argument Mr. Wakefield recently put into another YouTube video. In this, Mr. Wakefield claims that all sorts of methods were used to hide an association observed for MMR and autism without other conditions like intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, etc.. In his complaint and video, Mr. Wakefield claims one of the methods used to hide this association was by limiting “other conditions” to only “MR” (mental retardation/intellectual disability). In the video Mr Wakefield gives us a fragment of an audio attributed to Mr. Thompson of the CDC saying, “the effect is where you would think it would happen. It is with the kids without other conditions, without the comorbid conditions.”

Mr. Wakefield even went on to say

But that didn’t seem to happen. They deviated further from the analysis plan by limiting the isolated group to only those with no mental retardation. Even changing the age categories and composition of the isolated subgroup may not have achieved the desired effect. Since, in the end, they simply omitted the relevant findings from the paper altogether

Emphasis added.

As I said before, I found this odd in that the CDC did report an apparent association in the raw data. The total sample/unadjusted data. To repeat a quote by Mr. Thompson, “It’s all there!”

Destefano_table_4 highlighted

It’s numerically almost the exact same result as Mr. Wakefield says was concealed. So, if it’s the same, how is it concealed? How is it omitted? Answer: it isn’t.

Remember that quote attributed to William Thompson from the video? Here’s a more full quote that’s from the complaint:

You see that the strongest association is with those [autistic cases] without mental retardation. The non-isolated [sic], the non-MR [mental retardation]…the effect is where you would think it would happen. It is with the kids without other conditions, without the comorbid conditions.

Mr. Wakefield wanted us to believe that by switching to autism without MR instead of autism without MR and/or other disabilities, the CDC were covering up the result.  Not only did the CDC report on the result, this isn’t what Mr. Thompson was saying.  Thompson is not saying, “hey look, we only used MR as a way to conceal the result.” He’s saying, in effect: when we looked at autism without MR, we saw this effect. It looks to me like Thompson is drawing Mr. Hooker’s attention to a result in the paper. Not describing an omitted result hidden from the public.

So, what is it? Did the CDC “simply omit the relevant findings altogether” as Mr. Wakefield stated in his video? No, they didn’t. Don’t take my word for it, take the word of Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker. In their complaint they state

2.7. The Group further deviated from the Analysis Plan by limiting the “isolated” group to only those without mental retardation, as published in The Paper.

Emphasis added.

So, we in the autism communities get one story in the video (the result was omitted), but in a legal document he puts the truth (the result was published in the paper).

And, how did the CDC accomplish all this alleged cover up in the story told by Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker? Well, in part the CDC supposedly did this by creating a “revised analysis plan”. From the complaint:

Over the ensuing months and in contravention of the CDC’s own policies,10 they deviated from the Analysis Plan and introduced a “revised analysis plan”11

Wakefield and Hooker can’t provide us with that revised analysis plan. Here is reference 11 noted in the quote above:

11 See original notes of Dr. William Thompson of 9.6.2001: “Get revised analysis plan from Tanya.” Tanya Bashin – a relatively junior member of The Group – was the second author named on the DeStefano 2004 paper. [Exhibit 8] The revised analysis plan itself is not available

I discussed this recently as well. It’s not after “ensuing months” that Mr. Thompson wrote about the “revised” plan. It’s not after the data were analyzed (which the earliest dates given by the complaint are in November).  The comment attributed to Mr. Thompson is dated September 6, 2001, the day after the plan was finalized.

Or, to put it another way: Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker–the revised analysis plan is indeed available. It’s the one you are working from, dated Sept. 5, 2001.

In their complaint, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield disclose private details about Mr. Thompson which frankly have no real bearing on the complaint and should not have been disclosed.

The complaint is long, but it all hinges on the three major claims: (1) The CDC was supposed to do an analysis of the total group (not just the birth certificate group) by race, (2) that the CDC hid results on “isolated” autism and (3) that they deviated from their analysis plan, introducing a revised plan, to do this.

All three claims are false. And not false as in “I interpret them differently” but false as in “the very data Wakefield and Hooker depend on show them to be fabricated claims”.


By Matt Carey

note– I made significant changes for clarity after this was first put online.

A “reanalysis” of the Price study on autism and thimerosal goes very wrong

25 Sep

A few years ago a study came out looking intently at the question of whether thimerosal in vaccines increases autism risk. That study, Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism, approached the question from many angles, including those suggested by parent advocates who believed (and still believe) that thimerosal was a driving force in the increased prevalence of identified autism in the U.S.. There were so many questions asked and so many results that the paper did not include all of those results. They just wouldn’t fit in a published paper, for one thing. So the authors put out additional reports including those extra tests.

One question they asked was whether the combination of exposure to thimerosal before birth and after birth would increase autism risk. This was an “interaction” model–how do these factors interact to create any possible autism risk. In their report the authors included not only the final result, but the sub-results. The pieces that they combined to calculate the final analysis.

Below is an example of one of those analyses. These are data involved in calculating how pre-natal thimerosal exposure combined with post-natal exposure up to 7 months of age might interact to create autism risk. The authors were kind enough to put boxes around statistically significant results–blue for results which indicate decreased risk and red for increased risk.

Abt-Autism-873

Now, let’s say I took the exposure by 7 months point and said, “Hey, look! Thimerosal exposure in the first seven months of life reduces autism risk by a factor of 4.28!” Well, that would be dishonest wouldn’t it? Taking a single sub result in an interaction model isn’t valid.

If I chose a different model from the same report I could quote a 1/OR (inverse odds ratio) of 113.59. A huge “protective” effect. Very dramatic. 113 times lower risk! But just as with the previous example, if I cherry picked this data point my own community would call me out for being dishonest. And they’d be right to do so.

I’m going to repeat that for emphasis because it isn’t obvious but it is very important: taking a single sub result in an interaction model is not valid. These sub results are only valid when incorporated into the full model and calculation performed.

Here’s something else that would be incorrect, and is more obvious: reporting only the results one wants to report. Ignoring the other results–especially the final result. In this case the final result is that the interaction of prenatal exposure and post natal exposure by 7 months does not increase autism risk. If I pulled out the sub result and said, “hey post natal thimerosal is protective” that would be misleading. If I ignored that red box you see with an odds ratio of 8.73, indicating a higher risk with thimerosal, that would be misleading.

Incorrect. Dishonest. Invalid. Take your pick of terms. It’s wrong.

So, what if I told you someone sifted through the report and cherry picked the results in the red boxes and was going around telling people “prenatal exposure to thimerosal increases autism risk by as much as a factor of 8.73. Would that be honest in your opinion?

Remember Brian Hooker?

If you don’t, he’s the guy who decided to publicize his paper with a race-baiting YouTube video claiming that a scientific disagreement among CDC researchers amounts to a new Tuskegee experiment? That scientific disagreement being whether to discuss one preliminary result or leave it out of a paper?

For some time now Mr. Hooker has been giving talks about how the data from the Price study shows an increased risk for autism and regression with thimerosal exposure. He doesn’t show exactly where he got the numbers he reports. But the number he likes to quote, 8.73, pretty much only appears in the figure above. He’s reporting on a sub result in an interaction model, which is not valid. He’s not reporting on the other sub results, nor the final result of the interaction model.

You can see him do this in his recent talk which has been posted to YouTube:

Let’s go into this in more detail, for those who would like to see that. His talk on this study starts at about 32 min in to the video. Mr. Hooker claims that he got the background reports from a “congressional request”. That’s around minute 37 in the talk. Sounds really impressive. Perhaps Mr. Hooker did get them through a congressional request. Which would beg the question of why he didn’t just download them from the web. The reports have been freely available since the Price Study was published. If one reads the Price study, as one would expect Mr. Hooker has done, references 10 and 11 are the reports, complete with url. These are online (here and here). Minor point I know, but it goes to show the amount of spin coming from Mr. Hooker and his team.

A few other points from his discussion of the Price study:

Mr. Hooker calls the Price study “fatally flawed”. He goes into great detail about why he feels this study is not valid. It’s a lot of hand waiving and his arguments are not valid. But it’s also problematical to spend a great deal of time tearing down a study to then rely on it for your own argument.

You see after he goes on and on about how he feels this study is not statistically valid, Mr. Hooker then appears to forget why the study is not, in his view, statistically valid and goes for the least statistically strong part of the study–that involving the smallest sub group.

He calls his discussion of the Price study a “reanalysis”. That’s not the word I use for skimming through publicly available reports and pulling out results that the authors put red boxes around. Again, it’s just spin.

At 36 minutes in you can see Brian Hooker claiming that the refusal rate was too high for the study to be valid (again, somehow that argument magically goes away for his “reanalysis”) and cheering and telling his audience to refuse to participate in CDC studies.

This is not the act of someone who wants to know the truth, of a true advocate, in my opinion. This looks to me like someone showing a strong bias towards the CDC. This advice goes counter to what I and my family need.

As an aside: if you watch Mr. Hooker’s full talk (don’t worry, it isn’t the full 8 hours of the video, just about an hour) you will see that it’s basically three parts. Part 1 is about his MMR paper with lots of references to the “whistleblower” (what whistle was blown again?). Part 2 is the Price study “reanalysis” (since when is reading someone else’s report a “reanalysis”). Part 3 is a discussion of tics with references to the “whistleblower” again.

Notice the pattern–there’s no discussion of the “whistleblower” in the discussion of the Price study. The area that is the most important to Mr. Hooker, thimerosal and autism, and no input from the “whistleblower”? Take a look at the Price study and answer this question: who is the second author on that study? That’s right, the “whistleblower”.

As I recall, Mr. Hooker claims to have been in contact with his “whistleblower” for about 10 months. It strains credulity to think that in that time Mr. Hooker never asked about the Price study. It further strains credulity to think that if Mr. Hooker had anything from the “whistleblower” to attack the Price study, he would hold it back.

Which is to say: I think he got nothing from his “whistleblower” on the Price study.

There’s a lot more wrong with Mr. Hooker’s “reanalysis”. But I’ll bring this back to this:

Abt-Autism-873

Yes, I admit it’s a bit obscure to know that you don’t pull a sub result out of an interaction model. It’s not so obscure that Mr. Hooker should be excused for doing it. But reporting the one sub result in the red box and ignoring 8 blue boxes? That’s not obscure. That’s just wrong.


By Matt Carey

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

8 Sep

Todd W. over at Harpocrates Speaks has put together a FAQ like guide on the questions that come up with regards to recent research by Brian Hooker and the allegations Mr. Hooker has made about the CDC. That article is an excellent resource for people looking for some answers on this story. The article starts:

The anti-vaccine community has been in a tizzy lately over a supposed “CDC whistleblower”, Dr. William W. Thompson, who, according to them, revealed fraud at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To bolster their claim, they point to a new study from one of their own, Brian S. Hooker, that purports to show evidence of an increased risk of autism among African American boys who receive their first MMR vaccine late. However, the claims appear to be hollow and unfounded, and so they have chosen to rely on emotional arguments that may sound convincing to those who are not familiar with the issues and people involved. In a truly egregious fashion, they have erroneously and cynically compared this whole thing to the Tuskegee syphilis study, and equated the CDC with Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, combined.

With that in mind, here is a brief FAQ for parents, news media and others to help them understand what the claims are and what the evidence actually says. The questions below have been raised or implied by anti-vaccine activists. Hopefully, this will prevent inaccurate reporting and help parents feel reassured about the MMR vaccine.

That FAQ can be found at MMR, the CDC and Brian Hooker: A Guide for Parents and the Media


By Matt Carey

If this is what keeps a CDC researcher up at night, how would they ever keep a huge conspiracy going?

1 Sep

Since these stories have attracted many people from outside the autism community, let me start with a few things I’d like you to know.  I am not a science blogger.  I am the parent of an autistic child.  One with multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability.  While I try to stay as objective as possible in my discussions, these topics are personal to me.  Frequent readers here will know that the inequities in identification and services in autism, especially between racial and ethnic groups, is something that concerns me and is something I have long advocated to correct.  And this has nothing to do with the fact that my kid is mixed race (not mixed African American, but mixed race nonetheless).  I don’t think about that.  My kid is just my kid.  And that luxury comes because there are people who changed America and made it this way.  Still, equity means a lot to me; inequity bothers me a great deal.  I have upmost respect for those who have pioneered the civil rights we now enjoy and I abhor those who use race in order to sensationalize their message.

All this said, let me get this out of the way clearly right now: the CDC did not find that the MMR causes autism in African American boys.  The CDC has not been running some sort of experiment and allowing kids to be vaccine injured.

Many people have taken on the science–or better stated lack thereof–of Mr. Hooker’s paper.  And if Mr. Hooker’s paper has taught me anything, it’s that epidemiology isn’t something for amateurs, even ones with Ph.D.’s like Mr. Hooker and myself.  Sure, one can do some simple first passes, but there’s a reason why people get their Ph.D.’s in epidemiology.  Rather than have me go into the science and get diverted from what I really want to talk about, here are discussions by an Surgeon/scientist, scientist/writer  specializing in healthcare an epidemiology grad student.  When grad students are pointing out your very basic mistakes, this isn’t a close call.   Mr. Hooker’s paper is flawed. If you are so inclined, please go and read these.

Instead of summarizing the analyses of this re-analysis paper, let’s go to Brian Hooker, who wrote the re-analysis study, and William Thompson, who was an author on the original study and see what they have to say.

What did Mr. Hooker write in his paper?  The final sentence, the conclusion was “Additional research is required to better understand the relationship between MMR exposure and autism in African American males.”  Not, “we’ve shown that MMR causes autism” but “additional research is required”.  Of course he has since made much more sweeping statements.  But he wrote in the paper what he knew he could defend.  No one was going to read his paper and approve it for publication if he said “MMR causes autism”. Not because of some political reason.  He just didn’t have the data to make that claim. 

And here is a good time to point out: the CDC team did do additional research.  Both within the paper–the analysis adjusted for possible other factors, and other papers.

Now let’s look to Mr. Thompson.  It’s difficult here to discuss what he has to say.  Not because his statement isn’t clear, it is.  But because people tried hard to speak through him.  And by that I mean that Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker basically said, “We spoke to a whistleblower.  Here are some statements out of context.  And here’s our point of view, please believe that the whistleblower shares our view.”  As we have seen from Mr. Thompson’s own words, he was unaware that Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield were going to release his identity or use his voice.   So he clearly didn’t see, much less approve, of the video that was produced to promote the movie.  So, what has Mr. Thompson had to say?  We have his statement here, with no analysis, no editorializing. I’d encourage readers to go through that statement for themselves.

Everyone will pull one or more sentences out of his statement for further analysis, but given the discussion here I want to pull out the one where he expresses his concern: “My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine.”

That’s his concern.  Not “tens of thousands of African American boys were allowed to become autistic because we didn’t act.”  Not “there was massive fraud and a coverup at the CDC”. No, this result should have been openly discussed.

As a researcher with 30 years experience (yes, I started as an undergraduate student) I could go into a long discussion of both sides of this scientific debate and tell you about how I side with Mr. Thompson’s co-authors that this is not a strong result and there are very reasonable arguments for why social factors resulted in the higher calculated risk, and so it was appropriate to leave this out of the paper (it also would have been appropriate to leave in with a discussion in ). Let’s instead focus on the two simple words I just wrote: scientific debate.   Mr. Thompson appears to feel that this debate should have been opened up to the community, the broader scientific community, and I suspect and hope the autism community and the general population.  As a parent, an advocate and a citizen, I have to say I hold that sentiment.  That’s easy to say now.  Now that we’ve seen how cynically this result was used.  It’s easy to say we should have had this discussion 10 years ago and have this resolved and avoid this current PR campaign by Mr. Wakefield.

Can a researcher really be that troubled by the scientific debate behind a paper?  I can certainly see it.  I have over 100 publications to my name.  Some have been very highly cited. Some I am quite proud of. And out of all of those, the one that sticks out in my mind is one I never wanted to write.  There’s nothing wrong in it, but we held on to the results for years and instead of publishing them when they would have shown how far in front we were, they made it look like we were behind.  If it had been left up to me, we would never have published that. That’s industrial research.  So, yeah, I can understand on one level what Mr. Thompson seems to be saying.  Of course my experience is on a whole different level than that of a public servant doing research.  I didn’t have the responsibility Mr. Thompson has had and still has.  I can absolutely see someone feeling strong regret over holding back on a result, even one that his coauthors and he agreed to hold back.  

I don’t see Mr. Thompson’s regret indicating, as some have suggested, that he feels that the MMR vaccine has allowed a huge number of African American boys to become autistic.  What do I base this upon?  Mr. Thompson’s statement:

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

He’s talking about the decision making process.  He specifically states that the data “suggested” an increased risk in African American boys.  He doesn’t say proved.  Not demonstrated. Certainly he does not say anything that can be extrapolated to say that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism in all groups, and while we are at it, all vaccines cause autism, as some advocates have portrayed this statement online.  And let’s take a look at another statement:

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

I wouldn’t make that statement if I felt that this statistically significant result meant definitively that autism could be prevented in African American boys. 

You know what I also don’t see in this statement?  Lie, fraud, cover-up, many of the terms that have been attributed to the Mr. Thompson when he was just being referred to as an anonymous whistleblower.  Now that he’s known, and has been apparently granted federal whistleblower protection, we aren’t hearing these terms.  We are hearing about a serious and important scientific debate.

People have tried to frame this, “since he feels so much remorse, since he’s stepping forward and risking his job” followed by one of myriad things this is supposed to tell us. Let’s remind ourselves of one point: it appears Mr. Thompson didn’t think he was stepping forward: he wasn’t planning on the fact that he was involved becoming public. Based on this, it doesn’t appear that his intent was to become a whistleblower.  I’m not trying to take away from his actions, just to point out that his focus seems to have been trying to get this result out.  He seems to have been guiding Mr. Hooker into doing the analysis so this result would be in the public domain and could be discussed.  

Given all that, ask yourself this simple question: if this is the sort of thing that really bothers a CDC scientist, if this is the sort of thing a CDC scientist would risk his job over, how could anyone expect that CDC would ever be able to keep a lid on the supposed conspiracy/cover-up that some people claim is happening in the CDC autism research program?

Think about that.  A single result, one which many people agreed didn’t need to be discussed, was held back and this CDC researcher struggled with that decision for a decade.  But he and his colleagues are just going along with what is supposedly the biggest cover-up in history?

I would then ask you to consider this: if Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield really felt they had their “smoking gun” with this result, why did they resort to their race-baiting video?  Data and facts would have spoken much louder. And that video attack was obviously going to cost them in credibility.  Then we could ask, why did Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker betray the trust of Mr. Thompson?  I’m pretty sure I have the answer to that: the image of a “whistleblower” was far more persuasive than the data Mr. Hooker was presenting.  And combining the “whistleblower” who wasn’t with playing the race card gave them an emotional hook that was much more powerful than their data.

Having brought up this ugly race-baiting video (I’d encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already even though it is ugly.  It is truly a step into the gutter for Mr. Wakefield, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Lewis), let’s address the questions that video poses.  Even though they are patently ridiculous.

Are the CDC engaging in a new “Tuskegee” experiment?  No.  Again, it’s sad to even grace this question with recognition.

But, then, why did Mr. Wakefield make this claim?  Well, I will say Mr. Wakefield was very shrewd, at least in the short term, to tap into such strong emotions.  The video was certain to enrage many people. And it got the re-analysis discussed. But while Mr. Wakefield was shrewd, even he must have seen that for many it would backfire immediately and in the long term this would eventually backfire for many more.  Eventually people start asking questions. 

It’s been long enough to start asking some of those questions.  Like, really, a Tuskegee experiment?  CDC are engaging in an experiment to allow African American boys to become autistic for some study?  And that would be because there are so few autistics that they need more for some study? (clearly not)  And, if there’s an experiment going on, why is it that one big issue right now is the lack of racial/ethnic minorities in autism research?  So, the CDC are allowing many more African American boys to become autistic for an experiment that they aren’t doing?

Of course the most obvious reason this strategy was only a short-term one was that eventually Mr. Thompson would speak.  And he has.  And he hasn’t said one word about this supposed “Tuskegee” experiment.

Let’s ask a very simple question: are we really supposed to believe that a civil rights pioneer who has devoted her life to people with developmental disabilities is running a Tuskegee type experiment? It is embarrassing to give this accusation credence enough to even address it. At the time that Marshalyn Yeargan-Allsopp was breaking down barriers, becoming the first African American to attend Sweet Briar College, the Supreme Court had yet to decide whether some states could continue to hold that marriages like mine were illegal. I live a life where I don’t even think about my kid’s mixed heritage and blended culture.  And I can do that because of people like Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp.  You can (and I’d say should) read her story online.  Being he first to attend and graduate Sweet Briar was tough.  She’d done more than enough but she didn’t stop.  She became the first African American woman to enroll in and graduate from Emory’s medical school.  Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp, if you ever read this know that I mean every word.  You are an example of what I see is best in America.  As are your colleagues.

Dr. Yeargan-Allsopp is just the most obvious example of how this whole mythos of a great CDC coverup is just without any merit. And that Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Hooker are fabricating stories that are not just insulting to the CDC teams, they are insulting to us in the autism community.  

The CDC are made up of dedicated researchers and staff.  People who have devoted their lives to areas of public health, like developmental disabilities.  People who apparently struggle for years over a scientific decision as to whether to include a result that is so far from a smoking gun that Mr. Wakefield had to embellish his presentation with race-baiting attacks and play on fear and emotion. CDC staff are people.  People with families.  Some with autistic kids.  I suspect there are some who are autistic themselves, and more are broader autism phenotype.

And Andrew Wakefield, Brian Hooker and the rest of their group are trying very hard to make you believe otherwise.  They are  trying to dehumanize these people.  If they had facts, they’d use them.  They don’t.  Plain and simple.  If they felt that these facts spoke for themselves, they wouldn’t have burned their “informant”.  They wouldn’t play to our emotions with this nasty, race-baiting attack. Believe me, I know how strong those emotions are and how effective this video can be.  It is a very cynical approach they are taking.  Mr. Wakefield’s team is trying to drag more parents into the world of hatred that he’s built.  All so they can claim that their ideas are right.  Ideas which even now, even with access to someone “on the inside” at CDC, have no merit.

By Matt Carey

Online discussions discussing the recent CDC data “reanalysis” story

1 Sep

Educator/writer Liz Ditz often keeps a running summary of online discussions of trending topics. Below are some of her links. They are a few days old, but this gives you a starting place in case you wish to read multiple sources.

Posts discussing Hooker’s allegations, excluding anti-vaccine sources .

Timeline

August 8, 2014: Hooker paper published online

August 18, 2014: Focus Autism Press Release published online

August 18, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Alleging a CDC Whistleblower published online

August 22, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Naming William W. Thompson as “The CDC Whistleblower ” published online

  1. August 22, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence:  Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism

    Of course, the key finding in Brian Hooker’s paper is that Wakefield was wrong. Indeed, in this video, Wakefield even admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. Let that sink in again. He admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. OK, he says we were “partially right,” but the flip side of that is that he must have been mostly wrong.

  2. August 22, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

    Hooker is wrong in his assertions because the DeStefano paper did not leave out African-American children on purpose. Children were excluded from the analysis because of very legitimate and scientific reasons. They either were not the right age, did not have autism but some other neurodevelopment disorder, or were born outside of Georgia. Even if they were tossed into the analysis, DeStefano et al used a statistical analysis that took into account things like birth weight and mother’s age when analysing the data. They wanted to make sure that what they were seeing was most likely because of the MMR vaccine and not because of some other factor associated with autism.

  3. August 23, 2014,  Ren at Epidemiological: Directed Acyclic Graphs and the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism.

    I’m very skeptical that Dr. Hooker’s simplified statistical approach can be better than DeStefano et al’s approach of conditional logistic regression. Conditional logistic regression has the advantage of being able to control for a multitude of confounders and effect modifiers.

  4. August 24, 2014, Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams: L’affaire CDC-MMR: Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism Accuse African-American Senior CDC Researcher of Being A Race Traitor

    According to Hooker, Wakefield, and Focus Autism, a respected senior African-American physician-researcher is a race traitor and a mass murderer.

  5. August 25, 2014, Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: The central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement 

    I can imagine three main possibilities for what happened. The first possibility from what I know is that Thompson had some sort of disagreement with his co-investigators, made the incredibly stupid—yes, stupid—decision to unburden himself to Brian Hooker, who, he must have known or should have known, is an antivaccine crank associated with Andrew Wakefield, and is now paying the price for that decision… The second possibility is that Thompson wanted to correct something Hooker was doing with the data and somehow let himself be drawn into saying things that could easily be taken out of context. The third, and (I hope) much less likely, possibility is that Thompson’s gone off the deep end and gone antivaccine.

  6. August 25,2014, David Gorski MD at Science Based Medicine: Did a high ranking whistleblower really reveal that the CDC covered up proof that vaccines cause autism in African-American boys?

    “What [Hooker] has done, apparently, is found grist for a perfect conspiracy theory to demonize the CDC, play the race card in a truly despicable fashion, and cast fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the CDC vaccination program, knowing that most of the white antivaccine activists who support hate the CDC so much that they won’t notice that even Hooker’s reanalysis doesn’t support their belief that vaccines caused the autism in their children. Meanwhile, there is no evidence, at least none, submitted by the antivaccine propagandists flogging this conspiracy theory, that there really was a CDC conspiracy to hide anything.

  7. August 25, 2014, ToddW at Harpocrates Speaks, Andrew Wakefield Tortures History

    I want to focus on some statements made by one Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who committed scientific fraud, resulting in the full retraction of his 1998 case series study on MMR and the stripping of his medical license. Wakefield boldly added himself to the list of not only torturing science, but now adds to his accomplishments torturing history and ethics (granted, we already knew he was ethically challenged). You see, in his videos (here and here) about the alleged “whistleblower”, William Thompson,Wakefield compared the purported “cover-up” to the Tuskegee syphilis debacle. It’s a false comparison used simply to inflame people and claim the race card.

  8. August 25, 2014, Michael Simpson at Skeptical Raptor, Great CDC Coverup–suppressing evidence that MMR vaccines cause autism? cross-posted at at Daily Kos

    It’s clear what’s happening here. Thompson, through sheer ignorance or total incompetence may have had a conversation with Hooker. Given the fact that the antivaccination gang lacks any serious scientific evidence supporting their dogma that vaccines cause autism, they jump on anything, however tenuous, that makes it appear that all of the evidence that refutes their dogma should be thrown in the garbage.

  9. August 26, 2014, Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: Hey, where is everybody? The “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy continues apace

    Here it is, Tuesday already, and the antivaccine underground is still on full mental jacket alert over the biggest story the antivaccine movement has seen in a while. Fortunately, it’s a story that’s been largely ignored by the mainstream media, which tells me that maybe, just maybe, the mainstream media has figured out that it shouldn’t give undue credence to cranks.

  10. August 26 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism, Atlanta, MMR: serious questions and also how Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield are causing damage to the autism communties

    A study relying largely on a small group of subjects (about 20) with the conclusion that more work is needed. Sounds vaguely familiar. And, as we will see, Mr. Hooker has teamed up with Andrew Wakefield to put out a video where they jump past the whole this indicates more research is needed through this is absolute evidence of MMR causing autism directly to the CDC are engaging in a racist experiment sacrificing children to autism. It’s like the events around Mr. Wakefield’s 1997 Lancet paper cranked up to 11.

  11. August 26 2014,Lisa Lightner at Grounded Parents: the CDC vaccines/autism/coverup theory {spoiler alert-it’s not true!}

    a friend, a friend that I consider to be intelligent and reasonable….first posted a link to a CNN article. Correction–it’s iCNN…which is VERY different. ANYONE can post ANYTHING there. You can, really. It’s a crowdsourcing platform. Shame on you CNN for whoring out your name for page views. Because this is what happens–people will post just about anything…..

    I wish we knew the causes of autism, I really do. But vaccines ain’t it.

    Fear sells, don’t buy it.

  12. August 26, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: How to end a scientist’s career with some fancy editing

    As much as the anti-vaccine activists have been demanding that Dr. Thompson come out into the open and make some sort of a statement, no one seems to demand that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and his team publish the entire recorded conversation between Brian Hooker and Dr. Thompson. All we get are lies and innuendo. We have operatives like Ginger Taylor writing on Twitter that CDC deliberately didn’t look at birth certificates for African-American babies in the DeStefano study.

    August 26, 2014: Anti-Vaccine Group The Thinking Mom’s Revolution Hosts a #CDCWhistleblower Twitter Party

  13. August 27, 2014 Karoli Kuns at Crooks and Liars: Rob Schneider’s Anti-Vax Crusade Now Enters Alex Jones Territory

    There’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory to get the creative juices flowing. For actor Rob Schneider, that means getting your dander up over your incorrect belief that the CDC altered data to bury the “fact” that MMR causes autism.

  14. August 27 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism: Discussions of the recent MMR/autism paper (and why the study isn’t what the author wants you to believe it is)

    Below are a selected list of discussions about Brian Hooker’s recent paper and the highly irresponsible way he and his team are promoting it. Let me know if you spot one I should add to the list.

  15. August 27, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence: The CDC “whistleblower” manufactroversy: Twitter parties and another “bombshell” e-mail

    … just how desperate the antivaccine movement is to have Brian Hooker’s incompetent “reanalysis” of a ten year old vaccine safety study and Andrew Wakefield’s despicable race-baiting video gain traction in the mainstream media. The failure of this conspiracy theory to do so is driving antivaccine activists into ever-greater fits of lunacy online.

  16. August 27, 2014, Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, Slate: No, There Still Is No Connection Between Vaccines and Autism

    There’s a conspiracy theory going around that the CDC covered up a link between autism and vaccines. From what I can tell, this conspiracy theory is on the same level as the one that NASA faked the Moon landings. And you know how I feel about that.

  17. August 27, 2014, ToddW at Harpocrates Speaks, Anti-vaccine Activists Throw Twitter Tantrum

    … the hashtag #CDCwhistleblower to do what really amounted to the social media equivalent of a temper tantrum, whining about how the mainstream media is not reporting on the study. It was really a sad display, as they simply all copied and pasted from the same list of talking points, not even adding their own interpretation.

    August 27, 2014, in the morning: The Journal Translational Neurodegeneration removes Hooker’s paper from the public domain

  18. August 27 2014, Sullivan (Matt Carey) at LeftBrainRightBrain Autism:The Brian Hooker article “…has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions”
  19. August 27, 2014, Adam Marcus at Retraction Watch: Journal takes down autism-vaccine paper pending investigation

    An article purporting to find that black children are at substantially increased risk for autism after early exposure to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine has been shelved, amid claims that a CDC whistleblower has accused health officials of suppressing information about the link.

  20. August 27, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: Even the bottom-feeding journals seem to have some sense

    ’m still left wondering how this paper got through peer review, or who did the peer review. They seem to not have bothered with checking the biostatistics or with looking back at the DeStefano paper.

    August 27, 2014, at approximately 2:30 pm, PDT, attorneys for William W. Thompson, the CDC employee, publish Thompson’s statement

  21. August 27, 2014: Ren at Epidemiological Dr. Brian S. Hooker gets the Andrew Wakefield treatment.

    My problem with Dr. Thompson’s statement is that the data were not omitted willy-nilly. There was a protocol that was established, and it excluded from the analysis children of different ethnicities, not just African Americans. In that exclusion, a vaccine-autism signal that was confounded by different factors was lost. It wasn’t lost out of bias but out of properly adjusting for different factors.

  22. August 28, 2014, Sullivan at LeftbrainRightBrain Andrew Wakefield betrays another “whistleblower” with Brian Hooker helping

    Apparently Mr. Hooker is unaware that the secrecy of confession is absolute. Priests, real ones, not self appointed ones like Mr. Hooker, have been known to go to jail rather than divulge what they’ve been told in confession. Real priests don’t record confessions so they can betray another.

  23. August 28, 2014, Debra Goldschmidt, CNN, Journal questions validity of autism and vaccine study

    Dr. Frank DeStefano, lead author of the 2004 study, said he and his colleagues stand by their findings. DeStefano said all the study authors, including Thompson, agreed on the analysis and interpretation before the study was submitted for publication 10 years ago. However, he said he plans to review his notes and will decide whether to run another analysis on the data.

  24. August 28, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog, Autism is not death, unless you want it to be

    While the black ribbon can mean different things to different people, it’s main use is for grieving or remembering the fallen, the dead. The way that these people have used it is to try to bring attention to their cause by equating autism with a death or a loss.

  25. August 28, 2014, Orac at Respectful Insolence A bad day for antivaccinationists: A possible retraction, and the “CDC whistleblower” issues a statement

    Betrayals within betrayals. This can’t all be laid on Wakefield. Thompson was played. Big time.

Posts discussing Hooker’s allegations from anti-vaccine sources and those believing Hooker’s allegations  .

Timeline

August 8, 2014: Hooker paper published online

August 18, 2014: Focus Autism Press Release published online

August 18, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Alleging a CDC Whistleblower published online

  1. August 18, 2014, Jake Crosby at Autism Investigated: CDC Whistleblower Reveals Yet More Research Fraud
  2. August 19, 2014 Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Whistleblower Says CDC Knew in 2003 of Higher Autism Rate Among African-American Boys Receiving MMR Shot Earlier Than 36 Months
  3. August 20, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News: Vaccine bombshell: CDC whistleblower reveals cover-up linking MMR vaccines to autism in African-Americans
  4. August 20, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Senior Government Scientist Breaks 13 Years’ Silence on CDC’s Vaccine-autism Fraud
  5. August 20, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog Breaking: Breaking: MMR vaccine, autism, CDC coverup 
  6. August 21, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: Vaccine-autism connection: US Congressman stonewalled by the CDC
  7. August 21, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: Advice for the secret CDC vaccine whistleblower
  8. August 21, 2014: Mike Adams at Natural News:  CDC refuses to turn over documents to Congress: Evidence linking MMR vaccines to autism intentionally withheld from investigators
  9. August 22, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News, CDC whistleblower confesses to publishing fraudulent data to obfuscate link between vaccines and autism
  10. August 22, 2014, metamars at My Firedog Lake: CDC refuses to turn over documents to Congress showing MMR vaccines caused autism in black children (note: metamars’ blog post, not an official Firedoglake post)

    August 22, 2014: Andrew Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel Video Naming William W. Thompson as “The CDC Whistleblower ” published online

  11. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: CDC whistleblower revealed: William Thompson
  12. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog: What CDC whistleblower William Thompson needs to do now
  13. August 22, 2014 Jon Rappaport at Jon Rappaport’s Blog Breaking: CDC whistleblower Thompson in grave danger now
  14. August 22, 2014, at TMR at Thinking Moms’ Revolution: CDC Whistleblower William Thompson Blows the Lid on Malfeasance and Fraud at the CDC
  15. August 22, 2014, Jake Crosby at Autism Investigated, Andrew Wakefield Betrays CDC Whistleblower
  16. August 23, 2014, Inquisitr CDC Whistleblower’s Claims Cause Uproar In Autism Community
  17. August 24, 2014 Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CNN iReport on CDC whistleblower spreads like wildfire, then censored
  18. August 24, 2014, Jon Rappaport at Jon Rappaport’s Blog Rob Schneider says he has smoking gun on CDC vaccine-autism fraud  (For beginners: Rob Schneider is an actor who has in the last few years become an anti-vaccine activist. Why he would have access to sensitive information is an open question.)
  19. August 24, 2014, Sally Colletti, Examiner:  Autism and The CDC: Now What?
  20. August 25, 2014, Kent Heckenlively, Age of Autism: A Break in the Wall – William W. Thompson
  21. August 25, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News: CDC whistleblower exposes massive autism cover-up perpetrated by government agency
  22. August 25, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News: CDC whistleblower’s secret letter to Gerberding released by Natural News as mainstream media desperately censors explosive story
  23. August 25, 2014, Mike Adams at Natural News CNN caught red handed covering up CDC medical genocide of African-American babies (much handwaving over open-source reports at iCNN being changed or deleted.)
  24. August 25, 2014, Zorro at Thinking Moms’ Revolution: Stop Calling Us Crazy: Autism, MMR, and Institutional Gaslighting
  25. August 25, 2014, Megan Heimer at Living Whole CDC Whistleblower Comes Out and They All Play Dead
  26. August 25, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Rob Schneider Demands Answers on CDC MMR Fraud
  27. August 25, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CDC vaccine-autism fraud: what victory looks like
  28. August 25, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Activist Post: CDC whistleblower, watch out; here come the mothers
  29. August 25, 2014, Kelly Brogan at Kelly Brogan MD CDC: You’re Fired. Autism Coverup Exposed.
  30. August 25, 2014, Patrick “Tim” Bolen at the Bolen Report The CDC Whistleblower… The Story Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Run…
  31. August 26, 2014, JB Handley at Age of Autism: Knock-out Blow Needed: Dr. Thompson Must Speak Out on MMR African American Autism Connection.
  32. August 26, 2014, John Stone at Age of Autism:CDC Frauds: Connections Between the DeStefano Paper and the Thorsen Affair.
  33. August 26, 2014, Celia Farber, Epoch Times:  Whistleblower Reveals CDC Knowingly Put Children at Risk of Autism, Media Remains Silent (Video)
  34. August 26, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog CDC whistleblower is just the tip of the iceberg
  35. August 26, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell email from CDC whistleblower reveals criminality of vaccine cover-up as far back as 2002
  36. August 26, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: CDC Whistleblower on Thimerosal in Pregnant Women (note: video interview with Brian Hooker, not William W. Thompson)

    August 26, 2014, in the evening: Anti-vaccine Activists at The Thinking Moms’ Revolution Host a #CDCWhistleblower Twitter Party

  37. August 27, 2014, “Bobby Dee” at Gianelloni Family: Erased by a Birth Certificate
  38. August 27, 2014, John Stone, Age of Autism: The CDC: the Detective Agency Which Could Never Find Anything<
  39. August 27, 2014, Anne Dachel, Age of Autism: CDC Whistleblower Story: Danke to Franchi
  40. August 27, 2014, Marcella Piper-Terry, CDC Whistleblower and Probability of Post-MMR Autism Diagnosis
  41. August 27, 2014, Marcella Piper-Terry at Thinking Mom’s Revolution How Many African-American Boys Have Autism as a Result of the CDC’s Lies?
  42. August 27, 2014, Ethan Huff at Natural News: Congressman Posey discusses autism, vaccines and lack of CDC transparency in interview with Dr. Brian Hooker
  43. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: Media conspiracy to bury CDC whistleblower story protects vaccine makers at the expense of human life
  44. August 27, 2014, Jon Rappoport at Jon Rappoport’s Blog Update: CDC whistleblower in touch with members of Congress

    August 27, 2014, in the morning: The Journal Translational Neurodegeneration removes Hooker’s paper from the public domain

  45. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: Scientific journal censors Brian Hooker’s analysis of CDC vaccine data; the Church of Science orders ‘burning of books’
  46. August 27, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Translational Neurodegeneration Removes Vaccination Timing Article

    August 27, 2014, at approximately 2:30 pm, PDT, attorneys for William W. Thompson, the CDC employee, publish Thompson’s statement

  47. August 27, 2014, Age of Autism at Age of Autism: Statement from William Thompson, RE Pediatrics MMR African American Males Data
  48. August 27, 2014 Mike Adams at Natural News: BREAKING: CDC whistleblower confesses to MMR vaccine research fraud in historic public statement
  49. August 27, 2014, The Event Chronicle at The Event Chronicle: CDC whistleblower confesses to MMR vaccine research fraud in historic public statement
  50. August 28, 2014 Celia Farber, Epoch Times Vaccinegate: CDC Whistleblower Admits Claims of Data Fixing Were True, Complains at Being Recorded and Outed

Other links